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

Covid-19 & Brain Health

woman at the doctor

Covid-19 may raise the risk of roughly a dozen neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Scientists looked at more than 236,000 people six months after they had been diagnosed with Covid-19. By that time, 13 percent of them had also been diagnosed with a new neurological or psychiatric condition.

For example, compared to people who had been diagnosed with the flu six months earlier, Covid patients were roughly twice as likely to also be diagnosed with a brain bleed (including hemorrhagic stroke), a non-hemorrhagic stroke, dementia, insomnia, or a psychotic disorder.

What to do: Get vaccinated. Though this kind of study can’t prove that Covid caused these disorders, why take the risk?

Lancet Psychiatry 2021. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(21)00084-5.

Stimulants in your Supplements?

Andrey Popov/stock.adobe.com.

Researchers analyzed 17 brands of weight loss or sports products labeled as supplements that listed deterenol (or a synonym) as an ingredient. All contained either deterenol or other unapproved stimulants (or both). Some, like 1,3-DMAA, may cause heart attacks, warns the FDA. All are illegal.

What to do: Beware of supplements marketed as weight, fat-burning, or pre-workout aids. Some may contain unsafe stimulants.

Clin. Toxicol. 2021. doi:10.1080/15563650.2021.1894333.


man doing pushups

“Studies show exercise is more effective when paired with a higher-protein diet,” says beefitswhatsfordinner.com, the beef industry’s website. Not according to a new industry-funded study.

Researchers randomly assigned 50 middle-aged adults to do strength training while on a “moderate” protein diet (0.5 grams per pound of body weight) or a “high” protein diet (0.7 grams per pound). The “moderates” ate 3 oz. of lean beef after training and drank 15 grams of beef isolate protein powder dissolved in water each night before bed. The “high” group got twice as much of both.

After 10 weeks, strength increased equally in both groups, regardless of protein intake.

What to do: To build strength, work out. Extra protein won’t help.

Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 320: E900, 2021.

Gluten & Inflammatory Bowel Disease

woman with gluten sensitivity

An estimated 2.7 million Americans eat a gluten-free diet even though they don’t have celiac disease. Some may fear that gluten—a protein in grains like wheat, rye, and barley—will lead to inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).

Scientists studied more than 200,000 men and women who started out with neither celiac nor inflammatory bowel disease. After roughly 25 years, those who reported consuming the most gluten had no higher risk of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease than those who consumed the least gluten.

What to do: This study can’t prove cause and effect, but keep it in mind if you’re avoiding gluten and don’t have celiac. “Gluten- free” on the label doesn’t make breads, crackers, cookies, or other packaged foods healthier. Many replace wheat flour with potato, corn, or tapioca starch (plus gluten-free flours).

Clin. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 2021. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2021.03.029.