The Latest in Health & Fitness

latest-health-fitness

Do you want to stay up-to-date on the latest research in the field of health & fitness?

In these semi-regular posts I go through some of the recently published articles, videos, and science on health & fitness. As always, the focus is on diet, physical activity, stress, and other health-related topics that are frequently discussed on this blog.

Diet

We Are What We Eat: Hunting the Hadza Way With Bows, Arrows, and Ingenuity

Most of all though, what marks my time with the Hadza is how happy they seem. In their language, there is no word for “worry”. The concept of “worrying” is something that is related to either the future or to the past. In their ancestral ways, the Hadza truly live in the moment. When focusing on daily survival is the most natural thing to do, there is no need for chakra alignment to get yourself centered, or mindfulness courses to experience the here and now. The Hadza, without overthinking it, have kept their focus unchanged, and that is admirable. Read more…

My comment: The Hadza are sadly one of the last hunter-gatherer societies left on our planet. They give us a window into our past, as they live in the same part of the world as our African Paleolithic ancestors. Even if you don’t have the time or will to read the article, you should head on over to check out the beautiful pictures.

Study suggests milk doesn’t strengthen your bones – it ages you instead

Interestingly, unlike milk, when the dairy product was fermented, like in yoghurt, the results were reversed. The participants who consumed more yoghurt showed a decreased risk of experiencing bone fractures. Michaelsson told BBC News that the difference could be down to the sugars that are found in milk – lactose and galactose. Both have been shown to accelerate ageing processes such as inflammation and oxidative stress in previous research using animals. Read more…

My comment: As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’m not a fan of dairy milk. Fermented dairy is definitely the preferred option, as it is lower in sugars and hormones and contains probiotic bacteria. Although this study doesn’t provide any causal conclusions, it adds to the pile of evidence which shows that milk (especially the low-fat, ultra-pasteurized stuff we find at the grocery store) isn’t the health food some people have been led to believe.

Interview with Dr. Stephan Guyenet from Whole Health Source

… today’s guest is the brilliant Dr. Stephan Guyenet, who is an obesity researcher and runs WholeHealthSource.org. If you’ve never visited his site and you enjoy evidence-based discussions of nutrition science I recommend giving it a shot. He received his PhD in neurobiology from the University of Washington, which is that same place this author got his Master’s! However, we only just met for the first time a couple weeks ago at the Diamond Knot brewpub where this podcast was recorded. Read more…

My comment: Stephan Guyenet from Whole Health Source is a smart man who knows a thing or two about nutrition and obesity. This podcast is well worth a listen if you want to expand your understanding of diet and the neurobiology of obesity.

Can you train your brain to like broccoli?

A new study by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and at Massachusetts General Hospital shows that eating a low calorie, high fiber diet combined with behavior change education, can, over time, actually increase your desire for healthy foods and lessen the hold fatty, sugary foods have on your brain. Read more…

Food Addiction vs. Eating Addiction: Why A Single Word Makes All The Difference

“Humans have been eating food since we’ve been in existence, but we haven’t seen this boom in eating-related problems, binge eating and obesity until very recently,” she said. “The thing that’s parallel to this big burst of problems on the scene is foods that have been developed that are unnaturally high in fat, salt, sugar, and are particularly rewarding.” Read more…

Physical Activity

How Exercise Changes Our DNA

But the message of this study is unambiguous. “Through endurance training — a lifestyle change that is easily available for most people and doesn’t cost much money,” Ms. Lindholm said, “we can induce changes that affect how we use our genes and, through that, get healthier and more functional muscles that ultimately improve our quality of life.” Read more…

My comment: One of the main purposes of this blog is to explore how our environment interacts with our genome, and find ways to realign our lifestyle with our genetic legacy. This study adds to the pile of research which shows that physical activity has a powerful effect on gene expression.

The Human Genome

How epigenetic memory is passed through generations: Sperm and eggs transmit memory of gene repression to embryos

A growing body of evidence suggests that environmental stresses can cause changes in gene expression that are transmitted from parents to their offspring, making ‘epigenetics’ a hot topic. Epigenetic modifications do not affect the DNA sequence of genes, but change how the DNA is packaged and how genes are expressed. Now, scientists have shown how epigenetic memory can be passed across generations and from cell to cell during development. Read more…

My comment: Accumulating research supports the idea that “parts of our environment” are passed on to our offspring through epigenetic tags.

Epigenetics & the Multigenerational Effects of Nutrition, Chemicals and Drugs — Jill Escher (AHS14)

My comment: This video from last year’s Ancestral Health Symposium gives a great overview of epigenetics. How does your lifestyle impact the genetic blueprint of your offspring?

The Human Microbiome

Gut Bacteria: Now Assuming Control Of Your Brain

“Microbes have the capacity to manipulate behavior and mood through altering the neural signals in the vagus nerve, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make us feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make us feel good,” said Aktipis, who is currently in the Arizona State University Department of Psychology. Read more…

My comment: I’ve covered the connection between gut bacteria and food cravings in several posts now (e.g., here and here). It’s definitely an intriguing subject. When a person transitions from a refined western diet to a healthy diet, the gut microbiota shifts to a different state. This can help explain why many people report that their cravings for sugary junk food tend to subside after a while on a healthier diet. Those bugs who were once gorging on substrates from doughnuts and sugary drinks dwindle in numbers…

Microbiome may have shaped early human populations

Could the microscopic fellow travelers that consider the human body to be their home – collectively known as the microbiome – have played an active role in shaping and maintaining this unusual aspect of human nature? Read more…

The trendy microbes

After dominating the earth in numbers and biomass for a good 3.5 billion years, microbes are now finally in the public consciousness. The vigorous surge in the study of microbes promises to yield novel approaches to treating diseases and maintaining health. In the middle of the deluge of scientific publications and lay articles, we pause to reflect on this trend. Read more…

Diet Soda May Alter Our Gut Microbes And Raise The Risk Of Diabetes

Their experiments showed that artificial sweeteners can alter the mix of bacteria in the guts of mice and people in a way that can lead some to become glucose intolerant. Read more…

My comment: The results from this study made headlines a little while ago. Science has shown again and again that foodstuffs which were recently introduced into the human diet generally have some adverse effects on our health.

Pucker Up: French Kissing Can Give You 80 Million New Bacteria

A 10-second kiss on the lips can transfer as many as 80 million bacteria into a person’s mouth, a new study from the Netherlands finds. Read more…

My comment: Health is contagious.

Our Germs, Our Future. Human Microbiome as a Community of Self. | Miriam Lueck Avery | TEDxMarin

Can Good Gut Bacteria Protect Against Food Allergies?

The researchers found that this sensitization to food allergens could be reversed by reintroducing a mix of Clostridia bacteria into the mice’s guts. Reintroduction of another major group of intestinal bacteria, Bacteroides, failed to alleviate food sensitivities, indicating that Clostridia play a unique, protective role against food allergens. Read more…

My comment: As those who’ve been reading this blog for some time know, loss of biodiversity in the gut and gut dysbiosis set the stage for food intolerance. Accumulating evidence – such as this animal study – also indicate that the trillions of critters in our gut play a fundamental role in celiac disease and food allergies.

Stress

How Chronic Stress Leads to Hormone Imbalance

The natural follow-up question is what can you do if you think you have hormone imbalance as a result of chronic stress? Well, first and foremost: reduce your stress! Say “no”, ask for help, get enough sleep (at least 8 hours!), be active (but avoid strenuous activities), have fun, laugh, spend quality time with loved ones, orgasm, spend time outside, learn to meditate, make time for hobbies, and go for a walk. It’s time to give up caffeine and alcohol (temporarily!). Support liver health by eating a nutrient-dense diet that includes organ meats, seafood, and plenty of vegetables. I recommend The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sarah Gottfried and Sexy By Nature by Stefani Ruper as two excellent resources for optimizing diet and lifestyle to restore sex hormone balance. Read more…

Exposure to harmful substances

The Case Against Chlorinated Tap Water

The chlorination of municipal tap water is considered one of the 20th century’s best public health ideas. The American Water Works Association credits the practice with increasing life expectancy by 50 percent over the past century by virtually eliminating water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera. But chlorine in drinking water can cause health risks of its own. Read more…

How GMOs affect Gut Health with Tom Malterre

General lifestyle and living

Supernormal Stimuli: This Is Your Brain on Porn, Junk Food, and the Internet

Given the rapid pace of technological change, one has to wonder whether or not our brains (and bodies) have been able to keep up with all the new stimulation that is available. Some research suggests that a few of the things we enjoy today might be classified as “supernormal stimuli,” a term evolutionary biologists use to describe any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which the response evolved, even if the supernormal stimulus is artificial. Are sources of superstimulation like junk food and porn more likely to hook us into bad habits? Read more…

My comment: This is an excellent article –  with a great infographic – that describes one of the key health challenges humans face in the modern, industrialized world. Our ancient instincts and tendencies, which were adaptive in Paleolithic environments, are working against us in a world filled with supernormal stimuli.

The Paleo Lifestyle: The Way, Way, Way Back

“It’s like taking the red pill or the blue pill in ‘The Matrix’; once you take the red pill, there’s no going back,” said Karen Phelps, a freelance writer in Ashland, Ore., referring to her conversion to the diet a few years ago, when a successful weight-loss push ended up becoming a total-life commitment. “It’s a total rabbit hole,” she said. “You start thinking, ‘Wait a minute, if I can fix my diet from ancestral health principles, what else can I fix through ancestral health principles?’ The list is endless.” Read more…

The 15 Habits of Supremely Happy People

It seems a grandiose notion to define happiness with research, doesn’t it?

Fear not, that’s not what I’ll be addressing here—instead, I simply feel that research is a great place to start when observing the patterns of happy people.

By looking at proven ways that have increased happiness for many people, we can begin with a gameplan to change or evaluate our own lives. Read more…

Three great articles by Steve Kamp at NerdFitness.com

My comment: This guy has quickly become one of my favorite health & fitness writers. Definitely worth checking out.

Comments

  1. LOTS of interesting articles! Thank you for all the info!

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