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Thu, 27 Jul 2017
The World for People who Think

Health & Wellness


Are you coco-nuts to eat coconut oil?

Did you know that 50 percent of media headlines about medical studies are dead wrong? And that many of these headlines don't accurately match the conclusions of the studies they cover? That's from a review published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It makes me sad and furious at the same time that journalists don't do their homework and create firestorms of confusion because of their negligent work.

That is exactly what happened when USA Today published their article, "Coconut Oil Isn't Healthy. It's Never Been Healthy." Shame on you USA Today editors for doing such a sloppy job of journalism.


Half of all opioid prescriptions go to patients with mental disorders

Adults with a mental illness receive more than 50 percent of the 115 million opioid prescriptions in the United States annually, according to a study released Monday. The results prompted researchers to suggest that improving pain management for people with mental health problems "is critical to reduce national dependency on opioids."

People with mental health disorders represent 16 percent of the U.S. population.

The findings are worrisome, the researchers reported. They had expected that physicians were more conservative in prescribing these painkillers to people with mental illness.

Comment: Pain management and the roots of the opioid epidemic


Sunless tanning sprays are a recipe for cancer

Melanin is the pigment that gives skin (as well as hair and eyes) its color. Dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin, and the presence of dark melanin, known as eumelanin, is associated with a low skin cancer risk.1 It would seem plausible, then, that creating an artificial way to stimulate pigmentation in human skin could lower the risks of damage from excessive exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.

There is a natural way to do this — get regular exposure to the sun in short increments, gradually building up your time spent in the sun to create a natural tan. As part of my healthy sunbathing tips, I recommend building up your tolerance by starting early in the spring, with as few as five minutes of exposure time, and gradually increasing the time you spend in the sun to avoid getting burned.

Once your tolerance has been built up, aim for 15 to 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure two to four times per week, around midday, to maximize vitamin D production and other benefits of sun exposure. Health officials, on the other hand, would generally have you believe that virtually all sun exposure should be avoided (or only chanced after the application of copious amounts of sunscreen); hence, the creation of a sunless tanner "drug" that artificially boosts melanin in human skin.2

Comment: See also:


A diet of Cokes and Oreos: Do poor people eat more junk food than the rich?

Warren Buffet chugging a Cherry Coke.
Eating fast food is frequently blamed for damaging our health.

As nutrition experts point out, it is not the healthiest type of meal since it is typically high in fat and salt. More widely, it's seen as a key factor in the growing obesity epidemic in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Because it's considered relatively inexpensive, there's an assumption that poor people eat more fast food than other socioeconomic groups - which has convinced some local governments to try to limit their access. Food journalist Mark Bittman sums up the sentiment succinctly:
"The 'fact' that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes."

Comment: More on junk food consumption:


Dirty money: DNA, drugs and bacteria found on dollar bills

© Inconnu
We live in a dirty world. Wherever we go, we are among microbes. Bacteria, fungi and viruses live on our phones, bus seats, door handles and park benches. We pass these tiny organisms to each other when we share a handshake or a seat on the plane.

Now, researchers are finding we also share our microbes through our money. From tip jars to vending machines to the meter maid - each dollar, passed person to person, samples a bit of the environment it comes from, and passes those bits to the next person, the next place it goes.

The list of things found on our dollars includes DNA from our pets, traces of drugs, and bacteria and viruses that cause disease.

The findings demonstrate how money can silently record human activities, leaving behind so-called "molecular echoes."


Sickeningly sweet: More than half of foods marketed to kids are junk - obesity research

© Jochen Tack / Global Look Press
Your morning cereal featuring Tony the Tiger on the box is likely to turn out to be an unhealthy option, as a new study conducted by Australian obesity researchers branded half the products using animation in their promotions detrimental to health.
"It's extremely frustrating to see cartoons and animations being used to lure children and create pester power to push parents into buying unhealthy products for kids,"said Jane Martin, an executive manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC), which is behind the new finding.

Comment: These companies know full well what they are doing, and they don't care what it means for children's health so long as their products fly off the shelves.

Light Saber

Study shows how high fat diets can alter gut bacteria to combat harmful inflammation

© unknown
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have shown a high fat diet may lead to specific changes in gut bacteria that could fight harmful inflammation--a major discovery for patients suffering from Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel syndrome, causes debilitating intestinal swelling, cramping, and diarrhea. The disease affects half a million people in the United States, but its cause is yet unclear.

In the new study, a diet of plant-derived "good" fats, including coconut oil or cocoa butter, drastically reduced bacterial diversity in mice with Crohn's-like disease. Mice fed beneficial fatty diets had up to thirty percent fewer kinds of gut bacteria as those fed a normal diet, collectively resulting in a very different gut microbial composition. Some of the species changes showed up in feces, while others were different in cecum, a portion of the intestine commonly inflamed in Crohn's disease. Mice fed even low concentrations of coconut oil or cocoa butter also had less severe small intestine inflammation.
"The finding is remarkable because it means that a Crohn's patient could also have a beneficial effect on their gut bacteria and inflammation by only switching the type of fat in their diet," said Alexander Rodriguez-Palacios, DVM, DVSc, PhD, first author on the study and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. "Patients would only need to replace a 'bad' fat with a 'good' fat, and eat normal amounts."

Comment: For the sake of your health, learn how to distinguish a good fat from a bad fat:


Is the current rise in kidney disease due to our over-consumption of animal source foods?

I periodically get asked about concerns regarding the growing rates of kidney disease and concerns about kidney health in general in relation to a diet based in animal source foods. The worry is that consuming animal protein might somehow put a strain on kidneys and even lead to kidney damage over time.

Here are the facts:

In the United States, approximately one in three adults aged 65 years and older currently has chronic kidney disease. Certain mainstream sources are determined to find every which way to blame and further vilify animal source foods in this equation (and innumerable others), while extolling the supposed virtues of a plant-based diet. This is a pervasive misinformation trend, and one that I take on in my newest book, Primal Fat Burner.

For starters, I don't see the rise in kidney disease as necessarily being unrelated to the rise in metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the result of insulin resistance (which, in turn, is overwhelmingly the result of excess carbohydrate consumption—not fat or protein consumption). As my friend, Ron Rosedale, MD has aptly pointed out (and I'm paraphrasing somewhat), the development of obesity, in some respects, is technically the price your body pays to try and keep you from becoming diabetic. Excess sugars continually get stored through the efforts of insulin in your fat cells until the day your fat cells are no longer able to respond to insulin and there's no place else for the sugar to go.

Among the tissues unfortunate enough to lack the capacity for insulin resistance include your nerve cells and brain tissue, which may become chronically bombarded with excess tissue-damaging insulin and glucose and undergo degenerative changes. Nerve cells are readily damaged by glycation and through this process eventually develop neuropathy. Brain cells similarly are extremely vulnerable here and deteriorate, rapidly glycate and oxidize, creating cognitive and memory problems in setting the stage for dementias, including Alzheimer's disease. The arterial endothelium gets increasingly damaged and scarred by the effects of insulin and the oxidation of glucose. Surges of insulin and leptin stimulate sympathetic nervous system activity, causing the body to rapidly lose magnesium and the vessels to constrict, raising blood pressure and impairing cerebral and other vascular circulation. Vulnerable constricted blood vessels, clogged with glycated and oxidized plaques, and especially smaller vessels that supply the eyes and kidneys begin to become compromised, impairing blood supplies there. Although this gets directly associated with diabetes, it is a process that is quite literally happening to everyone over time. It is simply a matter of how quickly this occurs in anyone based in large measure on how a person is choosing to eat.


New claims against Monsanto in consumer lawsuit over Roundup herbicide

Another day, another lawsuit against global seed and chemical giant Monsanto Co. In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Wisconsin, six consumers alleged that the company's top-selling Roundup herbicide has been falsely promoted as uniquely safe when it actually can have profound harmful impacts on human gut bacteria critical to good health.

The lawsuit, which also names Roundup distributor Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. as a defendant, specifically alleges that consumers are being deceived by inaccurate and misleading statements made by Monsanto regarding glyphosate, the active weed-killing ingredient in Roundup. Plaintiffs include residents of Wisconsin, Illinois, California, New York, New Jersey and Florida.

Glyphosate, which Monsanto introduced as an herbicide in 1974 and is widely used in growing food crops, has been promoted for years as a chemical that kills plants by targeting an enzyme that is not found in people or pets. The lawsuit claims that assertion is false, however, and argues that research shows glyphosate can target an enzyme found in gut bacteria in people and animals, disrupting the immune system, digestion, and "even brain function."

Comment: One has to wonder how many more lawsuits against Monsanto will come to light in the coming years, especially when the following health effects have been documented from the overuse of Roundup in the environment:


Brain drain: The mere presence of your smartphone reduces brain power

© ZME Science
Exerting self-control impairs your capacity to form memories
Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach—even if it's off. That's the takeaway finding from a new study from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.

McCombs Assistant Professor Adrian Ward and co-authors conducted experiments with nearly 800 smartphone users in an attempt to measure, for the first time, how well people can complete tasks when they have their smartphones nearby even when they're not using them.

In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration in order to score well. The tests were geared to measure participants' available cognitive capacity—that is, the brain's ability to hold and process data at any given time. Before beginning, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room. All participants were instructed to turn their phones to silent.

Comment: The real Zombie Apocalypse? People check their Smart Phones 85 times a day!