The Latest in Health & Medicine

holding-foodHave you kept up-to-date with the latest research in nutrition and ancestral health? If not, here’s your chance to catch up. In these semi-regular posts, all entitled The Latest in Health & Medicine, you’ll find an overview of recently published articles, videos, and scientific papers covering topics that are frequently discussed on this site, such as evolutionary health promotion, physical activity, and ancestral diets. The articles that are included in these posts are ones that I find particularly interesting and think the readers of Darwinian-Medicine.com will enjoy.

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.

Darwinian medicine, hominin evolution, and natural selection

Evolution and medicine: the long reach of “Dr. Darwin”

We believe it is important for the public, as consumers of medical services, and for medical practitioners themselves to have a greater appreciation of the medical implications of evolutionary biology. At its cutting edge, evolutionary biology has serious consequences for our understanding of human health and well-being – consequences that we ignore at our peril. The issues here will take us into the doctor’s office and the hospital – places a long way away from the study of fossils of long-dead animals. Read more…

Humans have faster metabolism than closely related primates, enabling larger brains

Loyola University Chicago researchers are among the co-authors of a groundbreaking study that found humans have a higher metabolism rate than closely related primates, which enabled humans to evolve larger brains.

The study, published in the journal Nature, found that humans also have a higher percentage of body fat, providing the energy reserves to fuel their faster metabolism. The findings may point toward strategies for combating obesity, researchers said. Read more…

Inbred Neanderthals left humans a genetic burden

The Neanderthal genome included harmful mutations that made the hominids around 40 percent less reproductively fit than modern humans, according to new estimates. Non-African humans inherited some of this genetic burden when they interbred with Neanderthals, though much of it has been lost over time. The results suggest that these harmful gene variants continue to reduce the fitness of some populations today. The study also has implications for management of endangered species. Read more…

New support for human evolution in grasslands

Buried deep in seabed sediments off east Africa, scientists have uncovered a 24-million-year record of vegetation trends in the region where humans evolved. The authors say the record lends weight to the idea that we developed key traits — flexible diets, large brains, complex social structures and the ability to walk and run on two legs — while adapting to the spread of open grasslands. Read more…

Why cancer is so hard to beat: Is it evolution?

A new study may have identified one of the key reasons why cancer is so hard to beat; it’s an evolutionary mechanism to protect the survival of life on Earth. As authors explain, our bodies are usually very efficient at identifying and repairing damaged DNA in our cells though a series of ‘checkpoints.’ When the damage cannot be repaired, the cell usually dies in a process called apoptosis. But when that doesn’t happen, cancer can result as a last-ditch ‘checkpoint’ to remove defective cells, the mutations that caused the damage and their DNA from the gene pool. Read more…

Nutrition

Just a few more bites: Defining moderation varies by individual, study finds

Though eating in moderation might be considered practical advice for healthy nutrition, a new study suggests the term’s wide range of interpretations may make it an ineffective guide for losing or maintaining weight. The more people like a food, the more forgiving their definitions of moderation are, said the study’s lead author. Read more…

Boys and Girls May Get Different Breast Milk

Researchers at Michigan State University and other institutions found that among 72 mothers in rural Kenya, women with sons generally gave richer milk (2.8 percent fat compared with 0.6 percent for daughters).* Poor women, however, favored daughters with creamier milk (2.6 versus 2.3 percent). These findings, published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in September, echo previous work that showed milk composition varying with infant gender in gray seals and red deer and with infant gender and the mother’s condition in rhesus macaques. The new study also follows findings that affluent, well-nourished moms in Massachusetts produced more energy-dense milk for male infants.

Together the studies provide support for a 40-year-old theory in evolutionary biology. The Trivers-Willard hypothesis states that natural selection favors parental investment in daughters when times are hard and in sons when times are easy. Read more…

Five ways Game of Thrones’ The Mountain’s diet can make you mighty

Health and exercise scientists from the University of Stirling have analysed the daily diet of around 12,000 calories that helps Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays “The Mountain” in hit television series Games of Thrones, maintain his 6ft 9in and 180kg stature. Read more…

Alcohol makes you momentarily happier but not more satisfied

Research suggests people are momentarily happier when drinking alcohol — but that over longer periods, drinking more does not make them more satisfied with life. Read more…

Junk Food Is Bad For Plants, Too

Most of us are familiar with the much-maligned Western diet and its mainstay of processed food products found in the middle aisles of the grocery store. Some of us beeline for the salty chips and others for the sugar-packed cereals. But we are not the only ones eating junk food. An awful lot of crops grown in the developed world eat a botanical version of this diet—main courses of conventional fertilizers with pesticide sides. Read more…

Studies on ancestral diets

Cardiovascular, Metabolic Effects and Dietary Composition of Ad-Libitum Paleolithic vs. Australian Guide to Healthy Eating Diets: A 4-Week Randomised Trial

Conclusions: In healthy females, the Paleolithic diet induced a more favourable effect on body composition over the short term intervention period. The reduction in carbohydrate consumption did not impact on fibre intake in the Paleolithic group, however, significant reductions in thiamin, riboflavin and calcium were noted. We observed no significant differences between groups for cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors and further, larger studies are recommended to assess the impact of the diets over a longer term period. Read more…

Effects of a Paleolithic diet with and without supervised exercise on fat mass, insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control: a randomized controlled trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Conclusions: A Paleolithic diet improves fat mass and metabolic balance including insulin sensitivity, glycemic control, and leptin in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Supervised exercise training may not enhance the effects on these outcomes, but preserves lean mass in men and increases cardiovascular fitness. Read more…

Palaeolithic diet decreases fasting plasma leptin concentrations more than a diabetes diet in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised cross-over trial

Conclusions: We show that a Palaeolithic diet results in significantly lower fasting plasma leptin, non-significantly lower fasting plasma glucagon concentrations as well as weight loss, compared to a standard diabetes diet. Human beings are well adapted to food groups similar to those found in the Palaeolithic era during our evolution, and, hypothetically, the lower leptin and glucagon levels could indicate that deviations from this template is not optimal and could explain our previously reported findings on glucose control, blood lipids, blood pressure and satiety. But the small sample size of the present study makes it impossible to perform adjusted multivariate analysis and the observed weight loss after the Palaeolithic diet may also contribute to explain our results. Long-term and adequately powered trials investigating the effects of Palaeolithic diet are warranted. Read more…

Modern times: Environment-genome misfit

Can plastic program your baby to be obese?

Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a chemical commonly used in the food manufacturing process, can increase fat stores in the body even before we’re born, according to a new study. BBP is not used in food preparation, but it is used in the conveyor belts and plastic fittings on machines used to process many prepared foods. Food becomes contaminated when BBP leeches into it from the plastic. Read more…

Epigenomic alterations contribute to obesity-associated diabetes

Obesity is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, yet not all obese humans develop the disease. In a new study, researchers have identified epigenomic alterations that are associated with inflammation and type 2 diabetes. The findings help to explain how alterations of the epigenome during the progression of obesity can trigger insulin resistance and diabetes. Read more…

Why malnutrition is an immune disorder

Malnourished children are most likely to die from common infections, not starvation. New experimental evidence indicates that even with a healthy diet, defects in immune system function from birth could contribute to a malnourished state throughout life. Researchers speculate that targeting immune pathways could be a new approach to reduce the poor health and mortality caused by under- and overnutrition. Read more…

It Could Be Mold

Mold is everywhere, from the unsightly spores that dot your shower tiles to the tasty blue veins of your favorite cheese. And while mold is one of the earth’s oldest life forms, there is a growing awareness that it can trigger debilitating health symptoms in some people.

Healthcare providers have long considered mold a fringe health complaint, but they are beginning to recognize that as many as a quarter of Americans are susceptible to mold-related illnesses, as well as a condition called chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS). Read more…

Other topics

The Matrix Has You Prisoner! Take The 2-Week Break Free Challenge.

In non-nerd terms, we’re hooked on digital “junk food:” Empty calories that we consume, making us temporarily happy but ultimately unfulfilled: soda, chips, candy. Because these things have minimal nutritional value, we eat them to feel satisfied in that moment (RIGHT NOW THIS MAKES ME HAPPY!), and then feel empty after and need to eat more. Read more…

New research reveals benefits that aren’t linked to vitamin D

Emerging research indicates that sunlight may protect us against a wide range of lethal or disabling conditions, such as obesity, heart attacks, strokes, asthma and multiple sclerosis. Sunshine has also been shown to boost our libidos and general mood. This is not simply about vitamin D – which our skin manufactures from sunlight. The vitamin helps us build healthy bones and teeth and may protect against bowel cancer. But new research indicates that solar rays benefit our bodies in multiple other ways. Read more…

Why You Should Make Your Bed Every Morning

How you do anything is how you do everything. If you focus on laying a perfect brick you can build a cathedral, and likewise, starting with a perfectly made bed can have a ripple effect on the rest of your day. Read more…

Comments

  1. Interesting stuff. Actually, I do make my bed every morning, probably because my mother did but also because not doing so seems to set the stage for a rapid slide into general laziness. If I didn’t make my bed, chances are I wouldn’t clean up the kitchen either, or vacuum the carpet, wash the car or do any of the other little things that keep my personal space from becoming a disaster area. But then, I’m a girl. Guys are better at ignoring these things. What about you, Eirik? Do you make your bed every day?

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