- Scientists are constantly researching food and nutrition.
- It feels like there’s more information every week about what we should and should not eat.
- Here’s a round-up of everything we learned in 2018.
There’s been a lot of research into what we should and should not be eating, drinking, and consuming this year. With such a vast amount of information being passed around, it’s hard to keep up with the latest advice.
So, INSIDER has created a list of some of the most recent and important research about food, drink, vitamins, and diets that you should be following.
Ultimately, not a lot has changed from the widely accepted advice – diets rich in vegetables, fruit, protein, and with not too many processed foods and refined carbs are good. A broad diet is best, and everything should be eaten in moderation.
Scroll down to see the latest research behind the advice in 2018.
Do drink: milk
A study in September found that milk is good for the body, despite having many naysayers. Results showed that people who had 3.2 daily servings of low-fat dairy products had a lower mortality rate than those who had none, and also had a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke specifically
Some people in the world are lactose-intolerant because they don’t have the necessary enzyme to break down the components of dairy. But for everyone else, there isn’t much evidence to suggest you should avoid milk to be healthy.
Do drink: alcohol (in moderation)
A study published in the summer found there may be some evidence that people who drink in moderation outlive tee-totalers. Results showed that people who never drink alcohol had a 7% higher chance of dying or getting cancer than people who drank up to three bottles of beer or glasses of wine per week.
Another study this year found that drinking in moderation could also increase male fertility, as men who drank four to seven units a week had higher sperm counts and semen volume.
However, a global study in August concluded that no amount of alcohol is safe, and the risks far outweigh any benefits.
Do eat: nuts
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A study from July found eating two handfuls of nuts a day could improve men’s sperm counts. The research came after an alarming study found that men’s sperm counts in the western world have been dropping since 1973.
Do follow: a Mediterranean diet
Research published in September found that the Mediterranean diet could be a powerful protective shield against ageing. It adds to a growing body of evidence confirming that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and protein is one of the best for the body and brain.
Do follow: an anti-inflammatory diet
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Research in September found that anti-inflammatory foods, such as coffee, red wine, and chocolate, could be linked to a longer life. Researchers looked at data from 68,000 Swedish men and women aged 45 to 83 and found that those who followed a diet consisting of anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, wholegrain bread, breakfast cereal, low-fat cheese, olive oil and canola oil, nuts, chocolate, and moderate amounts of red wine and beer were 18% less likely to die prematurely.
Do eat: chocolate
A study in August found that people who ate chocolate three times a month had a reduced risk of heart failure of 13%, compared to those who ate none. But you can have too much of a good thing, as those who treated themselves every day in the study had an increased risk of heart failure of 17%, probably due to the high fat and sugar content in chocolate. Experts recommend small amounts of dark chocolate, and avoiding adding too much sugar and cream to hot chocolate drinks to see the benefits.
Do eat: eggs
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An egg a day could keep the doctor away, according to research published in May. The study found that people who ate eggs daily had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease overall. Up to one egg a day was associated with a 26% lower risk of haemorrhagic stroke, a 28% lower risk of dying from a haemorrhagic stroke, and an 18% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. There was also a 12% reduced risk of ischaemic heart disease for people eating about five eggs a week, compared to people who ate them rarely.
Do eat: oily fish and legumes
A study in May found that a diet rich in oily fish and legumes was associated with reaching the menopause later. According to the study’s discussion, fresh legumes and oily fish are good sources of antioxidants, which could partly explain the association, as egg maturation and release are harmed by chemicals containing oxygen.
Do not eat: too much white pasta and rice
The same study found that a higher intake of refined carbs like white rice and pasta can increase the risk of insulin resistance, which can interfere with sex hormone activity and boost oestrogen levels. This can increase the number of menstrual cycles and deplete egg supply faster, meaning women can reach the menopause earlier – about one and a half years earlier, on average.
Do eat: zinc
Adding zinc to a diet rich in a component found in wine, coffee, tea, and chocolate, could increase life expectancy, according to a study from November. Zinc combines with a molecule found in these foods to mimic an enzyme that breaks down superoxide – a compound that damages proteins, lipids, and DNA, and contributes to ageing.
Do eat: a plant-based or vegan diet
A plant-based or vegan diet might be the best to follow for people with type 2 diabetes, according to research from November. The results showed people’s quality of life – both physically and emotionally – improved when following a plant-based or vegan diet, and any depressive symptoms improved significantly.
Do eat: bugs
Not only are insects an environmentally way of getting enough protein, they are also full of vitamins and micronutrients, like B12, iron, manganese, and calcium. If you’re not keen on the idea of eating bugs as they are, you can get mealworm or cricket powder. It has all the same nutritional benefits, so it’s a bit like protein powder.
Do eat: cheese
There is increasing evidence that saturated fat isn’t as bad as it has been made out to be. A study, published in September, found that people who regularly indulged in cheese, whole milk, and other full-fat dairy products did not have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks or strokes. They also didn’t face a higher risk of death from any cause compared to people who avoided the products.
Do drink: coffee
People who drink coffee are less likely to die early than non-coffee drinkers – even those who drink as much as eight cups a day. That’s according to a study of more than half a million people conducted this year. The results suggested that people who drank two to five cups of coffee in a day were about 12% less likely to die than non-coffee-drinkers over 10 years, people who drank six to seven cups were 16% less likely to die, and people who drank eight or more cups were about 14% less likely to die.
Coffee has been linked to a longer life and better health in many different ways, including a lower risk of cirrhosis and type 2 diabetes.
Do take: vitamin B6
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According to research published in April, taking vitamin B6 supplements could help you remember your dreams better. It was a small study, but the results did show those who took the vitamins could better recall their dreams than the placebo group.
Participants said of their experiences that their dreams were “clearer and easier to remember,” and they didn’t “lose fragments as the day went on.” Another said, “My dreams were more real, I couldn’t wait to go to bed and dream!”
Do not eat: oysters
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In July, a man died after eating a raw oyster. It was contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, which can cause necrotizing fasciitis – flesh eating disease. The bacteria thrive in warm, salty water, where oysters are often kept. This type of infection is very, very rare, but according to the CDC, there’s no way to know if an oyster carries bacteria like Vibrio, so the risk is up to you.