ATLANTA - Here's a look at some of the research published in 2008 and how it might apply to you.
•Dietitians and moms always tell people to slow down when they eat, but does it really work to cut calories and curb the waistline? A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that women who ate fast consumed more calories than slow eaters. The slow eaters also reported a greater feeling of satiety or fullness at the end of the meal and rated the eating experience as more pleasant than the speed eaters.
Bottom line: Listen to mom and dietitians - take smaller bites, put your fork down between bites and chew each mouthful thoroughly to reduce calories and shed a few pounds.
•Can chewing gum reduce your stress? Researchers in Melbourne, Australia, studied young adults as they multitasked by completing an activity designed to induce stress. The gum chewers had less anxiety, more alertness and had lower levels of a stress hormone measured in their saliva compared to the non-gum chewers.
Bottom line: Although this study was funded by Wrigley, it may be that gum chewing has benefits for stress reduction. Make sure to choose sugar-free gum, as it has proven cavity-fighting properties, too.
•Back in my clinical dietitian days, we always told patients who had diverticulitis to avoid nuts and seeds, which could get trapped in the diverticuli (little pouches in the intestinal wall) and worsen their condition. Research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that high-fiber foods - including nuts, seeds and popcorn - were not associated with causing the disease or worsening symptoms.
Bottom line: Those with diverticular disease can enjoy foods that they may have been eliminating - strawberries, poppy or sesame-seed bagels or tomatoes. Any foods with small seeds can be included in the diet.
•Immune function tends to decline as we age, setting the stage for infections and even some cancers. Researchers in Illinois (published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association) wanted to find out what nutrients are most associated with improved immune function in 65- to 80-year-olds. Although zinc and vitamin C frequently are mentioned as immune boosters, participants in this study had adequate zinc and vitamin C levels in their diet. Researchers did find that dietary intake of omega-3-fatty acids and selenium were low in elderly men and women.
Bottom line: Older adults are advised to consume more healthy fats from fish, flaxseed or walnuts and include selenium-rich foods such as salmon, tuna, beef, chicken, eggs and peanut butter to help boost immune function.