Quick Studies: a snapshot of the latest research on diet, exercise, and more

Got an Hour to Exercise?

Just one hour of strength training may help people with prediabetes. Scientists had 10 sedentary overweight or obese middle-aged men with prediabetes either rest or begin a one-hour bout of strength training 4½ hours before a late lunch.

The men did 3 sets of 7 exercises—leg presses, knee extensions, chest presses, shoulder presses, seated rows, pull downs, and bicep curls. Each set included 10 to 12 repetitions at 80 percent of each man’s “one- repetition maximum” (the maximum weight he could lift).

After the meal, insulin and triglyceride levels were lower on the exercise day than on the rest day. The men also burned more fat on the exercise day.

What to do: Whether or not you have prediabetes, try the Mayo Clinic’s strength exercise videos (go to mayocl.in/2xsy9CR). You can do them at home.

Diabetologia 63: 611, 2020.

Keeping Lungs Young

Excess weight can age your lungs. Researchers measured the lung capacity of 3,673 adults 3 times over 20 years, starting when they were aged 20 to 44. While lung capacity declines with age, it dropped more in those whose weight gain was “moderate” (about ½ to 2 pounds per year) or “high” (more than 2 pounds per year) than in those who stayed at a healthy weight.

What to do: Try to keep your weight from creeping up over time.

Thorax 2020. doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2019-213880.

Eat Healthy, Stay Strong

Can a healthy diet ward off frailty as you age?

Researchers tracked nearly 72,000 women aged 60 or older for roughly 20 years. They sized up the women’s diets by seeing how they stacked up against the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet (DASH), and the alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED).

Women with the highest scores on each diet had about a 20 percent lower risk of frailty than those with the lowest scores. High scores on each were linked to a lower risk of four components of frailty: fatigue, difficulty climbing stairs, inability to walk several blocks, and unintentional weight loss.

What to do: Aim for a healthy diet. Though this study can’t prove that it will prevent frailty, it should lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2020. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqaa028.

Gut Change?

Can certain diets help you lose weight by changing your gut microbes, as some people claim?

Two years ago, when researchers randomly assigned 609 overweight or obese people to healthy low-fat or low-carb diets for a year, both groups lost the same amount of weight. Now scientists have gone back to look at the gut microbes of 49 of the participants. The results:

Microbes changed after 3 months on each diet, but neither those changes nor the participants’ original gut microbes predicted how much weight they lost after a year. And in both groups, gut microbes returned to their original state within 6 months, even though most participants stayed on their diets.

What to do: Until we know more, be skeptical of claims that diets—or probiotics—can change your gut over the long term.

Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2020. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqaa046.

Photos (top to bottom): stock.adobe.com: contrastwerkstatt, Monkey Business, mimagephotos, nobeastsofierce.