Around the Web

WWW on sandCarbohydrate consumption is probably the most debated topic in the nutrition and health community. In my latest guest post at I tried to approach the issue by using evolution and science as a guide, and the article received a lot of positive feedback. If you haven’t already checked it out, do it now. It’s kind of a long read, but should cover most of the basic questions regarding carbohydrates and weight gain.

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Around the web is a set of posts where I digest some of the latest scientific research on nutrition, exercise, microbes, and human health.

Impulsive personality linked to food addiction

The same kinds of impulsive behavior that lead some people to abuse alcohol and other drugs may also be an important contributor to an unhealthy relationship with food, according to new research.

In a recent post about food reward I highlighted the fact that food manufacturers hire scientists that help them design products with the most rewarding combination of fat, starch, salt, sugar, and glutamate. These hyper-rewarding foods drive the obesity epidemic because they trigger addictive processes in the brain.

Consumption of processed food high in sugar and refined flours also changes the balance of bacteria in the gut, and since gut microbiota can impact our appetite and food preferences, it seems likely that dysbiosis also contributes to “food addiction”.

Is the air we’re breathing damaging our health?

As my regular readers know well by now, I believe (and the scientific research shows) that the human microbiome is extremely important to our overall health. Our body is a complex superorganism that’s shaped by the microbial communities we encounter from food, water, humans, soil, and animals. The air we breathe also impacts our microbiome, and one of the consequences of modern urban living is that we’re no longer breathing clean, clear, and unpolluted air. While probably not as damaging as broad-spectrum antibiotics and western processed food, indoor living and air pollution have a significant impact on our overall health.

The scientific research on the human microbiome has exploded, and we’re now learning that the lung microbiome plays an important role in cystic fibrosis, respiratory viral infection, pulmonary inflammation, bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and many other airway diseases. While there’s still a way to go before we’re able to establish causality in a lot of these disorders, it’s clear that the lung microbiome has a significant impact on our respiratory health.

Studies show that air pollution can contribute to lung disease, but it also seems likely that poor indoor air quality plays a role. In the Ted Talk below, biologist Jessica Green discusses how we can design buildings that encourage happy, healthy microbial environments. Considering how much time most people spend indoors, this could be very important to our overall health.

More interesting stuff

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