The Latest in Health & Medicine

fruit-handsHave you kept up-to-date on the research on nutrition, the human microbiome, and ancestral health lately? If not, here’s your chance to catch up. In these semi-regular posts I include links to recently published articles, videos, and scientific papers that I find particularly interesting and that revolve around topics that are frequently discussed on this site, such as the human microbiome, physical activity, and ancestral diets.

Let me know in the comment section if you have any thoughts/opinions related to the articles in today’s post or if you’ve come across any interesting new research on diet, health, and exercise that you think deserves to be mentioned.

Nutrition

‘Everything in moderation’ diet advice may lead to poor metabolic health in US adults

Diet diversity, as defined by less similarity among the foods people eat, may be linked to lower diet quality and worse metabolic health, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. The study was published today in PLOS ONE. Read more…

Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic cancer-causing chemicals, say experts

Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases, according to leading scientists, who are now recommending food be fried in olive oil, coconut oil, butter or even lard.

The results of a series of experiments threaten to turn on its head official advice that oils rich in polyunsaturated fats – such as corn oil and sunflower oil – are better for the health than the saturated fats in animal products. Read more…

Even a little is too much: One junk food snack triggers signals of metabolic disease

We hate to ruin Thanksgiving, but a new report appearing in the Nov. 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal suggests that for some people, overindulgence at the dinner table or at snack time is enough to trigger signs of metabolic disease. Specifically, in some people just one high-calorie shake was enough to make people with metabolic disease worse, while in others, relatively short periods of overeating trigger the beginnings of metabolic disease. Read more…

What’s the Deal With Game Meat?

Game meat, Cordain says, contains the optimal balance of both omega-3 and omega-6. It is lower in calories and fat, has a higher protein content than livestock meat, and is lean by its very nature (nutritionists recommend lean meat because it is low in the saturated fats that research has linked to cardiovascular disease) since animals in the wild are constantly on the move. And it is completely free of additives and contaminants. It is also high in polyunsaturated fats. Read more…

Podcast: How the Paleo Diet (and Movement) Will Change Your Life with Top Authority Robb Wolf

This week, we start with the biggest name in Paleo, and in my mind, the guy who popularized it and made it into a movement: Robb Wolf. He’s a former research biochemist. He’s the NYT bestselling author of The Paleo Solution. He is a student of Loren Cordain, the originator of the Paleo diet. He runs one of the top ranking podcasts on iTunes. He is co-owner of one of the most influential CrossFit boxes in the world, one of the top 30 gyms in America. He serves on the board of numerous health-related companies… Oh, and on top of all of this, he’s a former California State powerlifting champion, and a recovering vegetarian. His incredible story is matched only by the massive influence he’s had on millions of lives! Listen to the podcast…

Are you hardwired to enjoy high-calorie foods? Research links genes to heightened brain reward responses to foods high in fat and sugar

Those participants with a variant near the FTO gene, which predisposes a person to obesity, had greater activation when looking at high-calorie foods in a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex. They also found these foods more appealing, which was not seen for low-calorie foods. Read more…

Insufficient evidence for the use of omega 3 supplements in treating depression

New research out today concludes that there is insufficient evidence for the use of taking an omega 3 fatty acid supplement in treating major depressive disorder. Read more…

Reversing Nutritional Deficiencies by Eliminating Entire Food Groups

Far from promoting nutrient deficiencies, a careful examination of the evidence shows the Paleo diet reverses nutrient deficiencies caused by junk food and other imbalanced diets. This is accomplished by eliminating problematic food groups, including dairy, cereals, and legumes, while embracing the healthiest food groups, including meat, fish, organ meat, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and fruit. Read more…

Podcast: The Past, Present, & Future of the Human Diet With Dr. Loren Cordain, Father of the Paleo Movement

In this episode, we discuss all the questions you’re dying to hear answered… we talk about the origins of the paleo diet. We talk about what the data has to say. We discuss evolution at length, and what foods we should and should not avoid. It’s a fascinating episode with one of the world’s most respected health experts, and I know you’re going to LOVE it. In fact, Dr. Cordain generously compliments me at the end of the interview – a compliment that I personally will cherish for a long, long time. Listen to the episode…

The Human Microbiome

Scientists Urge National Initiative on Microbiomes

Scores of leading scientists on Wednesday urged the creation of a major initiative to better understand the microbial communities critical to both human health and every ecosystem.

In two papers published simultaneously in the journals Science and Nature, the scientists called for a government-led effort akin to the Brain Initiative, a monumental multiyear project intended to develop new technologies to understand the human brain. Read more…

An Early Whiff of Dogs or Hogs May Lessen Asthma Risk

Exposure to dogs or farm animals in early childhood significantly reduces the risk for asthma, a large study has found.

Researchers prospectively followed more than 650,000 children born in Sweden from 2001 to 2010. They recorded exposure to dogs and farm animals and assessed the risk for asthma in school-age children at age 6 and in preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5. The study is in JAMA Pediatrics.

Compared with children who had no exposure to farm animals, the rate of asthma was 52 percent lower in school-age children and 31 percent lower in preschoolers who lived on farms. Read more…

The gut microbiota can influence the effectiveness of dietary treatments

Prevotella, a group of bacteria previously shown to be associated with high fiber intake, was present in higher proportions in those who responded beneficially to barley kernel bread than in those who did not respond to this dietary intervention.

By transferring the gut microbiota of these individuals to germ-free mice, the research group could demonstrate that the altered gut microbiota contributed to the beneficial effects of the barley kernel bread. Read more…

Gut microorganisms cause gluten-induced pathology in mouse model of celiac disease

“Importantly, our data argue that the recognized increase in celiac disease prevalence in the general population over the last 50 years could be driven, at least in part, by perturbations in intestinal microbial ecology. Specific microbiota-based therapies may aid in the prevention or treatment of celiac disease in subjects with moderate genetic risk,” explained lead investigator Elena F. Verdu, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON (Canada). Read more…

Competition between ‘good bacteria’ important for healthy gut

The vital ecosystem of bacteria in the human gut operates like a jungle, with competition between microbes helping maintain the stability necessary to keep us healthy. Read more…

Study reveals a key role your gut bacteria play in body’s self-defense

Human intestinal flora regulates the levels of the body’s main antioxidant, glutathione, which fights a host of diseases, new research confirms. The findings could lead to new probiotic-delivering foods, and a better understanding of the metabolic processes behind diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Read more..

Human immune system shapes skin microbiome

The scientists identified the patients’ skin microbes by sequencing microbial DNA from skin swabs. The immunodeficient patients had types of bacteria and fungi on their skin not found on healthy individuals, suggesting the patients’ skin was more permissive to microbe growth. “Our findings suggest that the human body, including our immune systems, constrains and potentially selects which bacteria and fungi can inhabit skin,” said Kong. Read more…

Intestinal Worms May Boost Our Immune System By Communicating With Gut Bacteria

Now, a study published Thursday in the journal Immunity claims to have provided a piece of the puzzle. Intestinal worms may actually recruit a host’s naturally occurring gut bacteria (or microbiome) as allies — a strategy which in turn subtly changes that host’s metabolism and eventually its immune system. Read more…

Diet lacking soluble fiber promotes weight gain, mouse study suggests

Eating too much high-fat, high-calorie food is considered the primary cause of obesity and obesity-related disease, including diabetes. While the excess calories consumed are a direct cause of the fat accumulation, scientists suspect that low-grade inflammation due to an altered gut microbiome may also be involved. A new study in the American Journal of Physiology — Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology finds in mice that a diet missing soluble fiber promotes inflammation in the intestines and poor gut health, leading to weight gain. Moreover, incorporating soluble fiber back into the diet can restore gut health. Read more…

Gut microbiota changes in diabetic kidney disease contribute to chronic inflammation and vascular complications

Among patients with type 2 diabetes and advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD), a shift in gut microbiota diversity in combination with elevated plasma zonulin levels substantially impacts the degree of chronic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Zonulin could be a potential future target to control inflammatory immune responses, according to a new study. Read more…

It Takes Guts

Eat less, move more. That’s been the mantra of the weight loss movement for decades. But as those who have fought the battle of the bulge will tell you, there’s a lot more to obesity than just too much junk food or too little willpower. Even when genes are taken into account, scientists have struggled to explain why one person can eat cake and stay skinny, while another munches on carrots and can’t shed a pound.

Now, exciting new research reveals there is a missing piece to the obesity puzzle, one that is highly complex and intensely personal: gut microbes. Read more…

Fecal Transplants Made (Somewhat) More Palatable

Now OpenBiome has made the process, called fecal microbiota transplantation, far simpler. The bank has come up with a capsule containing fecal microbes that can be taken much like any other drug — poop in a pill. Read more…

Other topics

Restoring Global Soil Quality Is One Of The Best Things We Can Do For Climate Change

Scientists have proposed all kinds of complicated—and probably dangerous—ways to take carbon pollution out of the atmosphere or mitigate its effect. But there’s actually a far simpler geo-engineering technique available to us: improving soil quality.

“Improving soil” doesn’t have quite the same ring as, say, pumping sulphur into the air to block out the sun. Yet soil is known to be highly effective at storing carbon, because the Earth has been doing it for millions of years. Just the first meter of soil contains 1,500 gigatons of organic carbon, or three times as much carbon as there is in the atmosphere. If we could restore more carbon to the world’s soil—it’s lost 50% to 70% of its carbon content since we started land cultivation—we could put a huge dent in the climate change problem, say researchers and campaigners. Read more…

This Is What Our Skyline Could Be In a World Without Any Light Pollution

Stargazing has become quite the anomaly in an age of smelly fumes, smoggy cities and slow moving traffic jams. With a stroke of luck, I am surprised by shooting stars a couple nights out of the year: a sight I won’t see unless I drive a couple hours north.

Attention needs to be placed on the smog and filth blocking the beauty of our skyline. Read more…

Immune system may be pathway between nature and good health

Spending time in nature provides protections against a startling range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more, research shows. How this exposure to green space leads to better health has remained a mystery. After reviewing hundreds of studies examining nature’s effects on health, an environment and behavior researcher believes the answer lies in nature’s ability to enhance the functioning of the body’s immune system. Read more…

Green office environments linked with higher cognitive function scores

People who work in well-ventilated offices with below-average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) have significantly higher cognitive functioning scores–in crucial areas such as responding to a crisis or developing strategy–than those who work in offices with typical levels, according to a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University. Read more…

People Without Electricity Don’t Get 8 Hours’ Sleep Either

Members of three hunter-gatherer societies who lack electricity—and thus evenings filled with Facebook, Candy Crush, and 200 TV channels—get an average of only 6.4 hours of shut-eye a night, scientists have found. That’s no more than many humans who lead a harried industrial lifestyle, and less than the seven to nine hours recommended for most adults by the National Sleep Foundation. Read more…

Teenage exposure to pesticides may lead to abnormal sperm, new study says

Adolescent exposure to environmental pollutants known as organochlorines may lead to defective sperm, according to a new study. The research is the first to look for associations between exposure to these chemicals in the teenage years and abnormalities in sperm that are associated with fertility problems later in life. Read more…

Comments

  1. Hi Eirik,
    I read most of these articles with interest, although I’m quite skeptical of a few. For instance:

    ” One junk food snack triggers signals of metabolic disease.”

    In general, I don’t think snacking is a particularly good idea and don’t do much of it myself. (One of the nice thing about Paleo is that you lose your desire to snack.) And sure, testing blood immediately after eating junk food is certain to produce a variety of weird results. But I seriously doubt that healthy persons are triggering disease with the occasional shake, piece of pumpkin pie, slice of birthday cake, or what-have-you. Healthy people just aren’t that fragile, and our bodies do have the ability to normalize themselves after indulging. Rather, I think it’s people who eat a steady diet of junk food over a long period of time who will eventually become obese and/or (for a number of reasons) contract metabolic disease. What do you think?

    In any case, thanks for making these study results available.

    • Hi Shary!

      Your opinions/statements and the study results seem perfectly in agreement to me…

      The study found that “relatively short periods of overeating trigger the beginnings of metabolic disease”. The researchers never claim that their study shows that the body doesn’t have the ability to normalize itself after a couple of meals of junk food.

      I think it’s people who eat a steady diet of junk food over a long period of time who will eventually become obese and/or (for a number of reasons) contract metabolic disease.

      Absolutely. It takes more than the occassional “cheat” meal to become metabolically deranged and/or obese. The problem is that junk food can trigger addictive-like responses, so one meal of burger, coke, and fries often ends up becoming two meals, and then three, and so on.

      Let me know if you want my input on any of the other research papers or articles that I included in this edition of “The Latest in Health & Medicine”.

      • Hi Eirik,
        I reread the article and still find it to be quite alarmist. Obese or unhealthy people should definitely take heed, but I’m glad you agree that the occasional cheat isn’t particularly health-threatening for most of us.

  2. Adeel khan says:

    Erik, just want to thank you for posting this. I’m a resident doctor, going to be practicing integrative and functional medicine and reading your blog helps me keep up to date on nutrition and obesity.

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