To prevent erectile dysfunction, eat blueberries and citrus fruit, say researchers

Study reveals just a few weekly servings of flavonoid-rich foods combined with exercise can stave off impotence. Also in the news: skimping on fibre may lead to irreversible hereditary gut problems

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 January, 2016, 8:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 January, 2016, 8:00am

Flavonoid-rich foods are associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction, according to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Of all the different flavonoids, anthocyanins (found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes and blackcurrants), flavanones and flavones (found in citrus fruits) were found to offer the greatest benefits in preventing the condition. “Men who regularly consumed foods high in these flavonoids were 10 per cent less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction. In terms of quantities, we’re talking just a few portions a week,” says lead researcher Professor Aedin Cassidy from the University of East Anglia. The study, done in collaboration with Harvard University, also showed that a higher total fruit intake was associated with a 14 per cent reduction in the risk of erectile dysfunction, and that a combination of consuming flavonoid-rich foods with exercise can reduce the risk by 21 per cent. More than 50,000 middle-aged men were included in this large population-based study. They were asked about their ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse – dating back to 1986. Data on dietary intake was also collected every four years.

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Pre-pregnancy potato consumption may be linked to gestational diabetes risk

Women who eat more potatoes before pregnancy may have higher rates of gestational diabetes – the form that occurs during pregnancy – compared to women who consume fewer potatoes, suggests a US National Institutes of Health study. Writing in The BMJ, the researchers propose that substituting potatoes with other vegetables, legumes or whole grains may help lower gestational diabetes risk. They evaluated data from more than 15,000 women tracked from 1991 to 2001. The women had no history of illness before pregnancy and had not had gestational diabetes before. Every four years, the women filled out a questionnaire on the kinds of foods they had eaten during the previous year. Women who ate more potatoes had a higher risk of gestational diabetes, which can lead to future health problems for mother and child. The authors caution, however, that their results do not prove conclusively that potato consumption directly leads to gestational diabetes.

Low-fibre diet may cause irreversible depletion of gut bacteria over generations

A study by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators raises concerns that the lower-fibre diets typical in industrialised societies may produce internal deficiencies that get passed along to future generations. The mice study, published in Nature, indicates that low-fibre diets not only deplete the complex microbial ecosystems residing in every mammalian gut, but can cause an irreversible loss of diversity within those ecosystems in as few as three or four generations. Once an entire population has experienced the extinction of key bacterial species, simply “eating right” may no longer be enough to restore these lost species to the guts of individuals in that population, the study suggests. Those of us who live in advanced industrial societies may already be heading down that path, the researchers say. A somewhat more aggressive measure – fecal transplantation – did result in these lost species’ retrieval, the study found. Introducing fecal contents of fourth-generation high-fibre-diet mice into the intestines of fourth-generation low-fibre mice, together with putting them on the high-fibre diet for two weeks, fully restored their bacterial profiles within 10 days.