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Thu, 12 Dec 2019
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Health & Wellness


Our diets are killing us and doctors aren't trained to help

obese obesity
© Getty Images
What if your doctor failed to talk to you about the most important threat to your health? Wouldn't you worry about the quality of your health care? Poor quality diet is a leading cause of death in the United States, but it is unlikely that your doctor has the knowledge to even begin a meaningful conversation about your nutrition or to make an appropriate dietary referral.

Most doctors lack the knowledge necessary to offer nutrition advice to patients; indeed, fewer than 14 percent of physicians report feeling equipped to advise on diet or the connection between food and health. This is unsurprising given that, for example, 90 percent of cardiologists in a recent survey reported receiving minimal or no instruction on nutrition during medical training.

Yet it is also concerning. Obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States, all are closely linked to diet and nutrition.

Comment: Make no mistake, the authors of this piece are vegan diet-pushing, plant-based fascists who would like nothing more than to see meat consumption removed from the planet and veganism enforced worldwide. Walter Willet has been involved in multiple initiatives to push the climate narrative to support global dietary changes.

Despite this, there's nothing wrong with what's being stated above - they are absolutely right that doctors are unprepared to deal with diet-related illness and will simply keep throwing pills at these problems, hoping they'll go away. At the very least, people on multiple sides of the diet debate can agree on at least one aspect of the problem.


What's going on in your gut can affect your emotions, cause anxiety, depression

© Al Berry/Getty Images
You are what you eat. We've known this for a long time. Michael Pollan's observation took it a step further: you are what what you eat eats. This is especially relevant when choosing grass-fed versus grain-fed beef, or wild versus farmed salmon, for example.

A growing awareness of nutrition and neuroscience is helping us understand just how important what you eat (and what what you eat eats) truly is, even if Hippocrates said 'all disease begins in the gut' over 2,300 years ago. Sure, we know that obesity and energy levels are dictated by what we put into our stomach. Recognizing that anxiety and depression, at least in part, also stems from nutrition is changing how we view the larger question of health.

It comes down to bacteria. For years bacteria have been enemies, marketed by hand sanitizer and soap companies as devils incarnate. While hand sanitizers are extremely important in the operating room and armed forces, there is something to be said about the folk wisdom of getting a little dirty to build your immune system.

Comment: See also:


Can the gut microbiome unlock the secrets of aging?

A new study has shown how the gut microbiota of older mice can promote neural growth in young mice, leading to promising developments in future treatments.
gut bacteria

PinterestScientists are suggesting that gut bacteria may drive the neurological aging process.
The research group, based in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, transferred the gut microbiota of older mice into the gut of younger mice with less developed gut fauna.

This resulted in enhanced neurogenesis (neuron growth) in the brain and altered aging, suggesting that the symbiotic relationship between bacteria and their host can have significant benefits for health.

The past 20 years have seen a significant increase in the amount of research into the relationship between the host and the bacteria that live in or on it. The results of these studies have established an important role for this relationship in nutrition, metabolism, and behavior.

The medical community hopes that these latest results could lead to the development of food-based treatment to help slow down the aging process.

In this study, the research team attempted to uncover the functional characteristics of the gut microbiota of an aging host. The researchers transplanted gut microbiota from old or young mice into young, germ-free mouse recipients.

The findings appear in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Comment: See also, Objective:Health: The Shit Show - Fiber, Fecal Transplants and the Microbiome

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Psilocybin for major depression granted 'Breakthrough Therapy' designation by FDA

psychedelic mushrooms image
© vgorbash/Depositphotos
The FDA has awarded another Breakthrough Therapy designation for psilocybin, this time focusing on research into the effect of a single dose on patients suffering from major depressive disorder.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted psilocybin therapy a Breakthrough Therapy designation for the second time in a year, this time with a view on accelerating trials testing its efficacy treating major depressive disorder (MDD).

Back in late 2018, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy status to the ongoing work from COMPASS Pathways investigating psilocybin, the key psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression. A large, multi-center Phase 2 trial spanning the US, UK and Europe is currently underway testing a variety of dosing strategies.

This new FDA Breakthrough Therapy approval focuses on a seven-site, Phase 2 trial currently underway in the United States. Coordinated by a non-profit research organization called the Usona Institute, the trial is exploring the antidepressant properties of a single psilocybin dose in treating patients with major depressive disorder.

Comment: See also:


Pediatric allergist traces 'mystery' reactions to pea protein — an increasingly popular ingredient

pea protein ingredients label
Pea protein is listed in the ingredients but it does not have to be flagged as an allergen in Canada.

Pea protein is often used in vegan cheeses and yogurt, and as an alternative to meat protein

As a pediatric allergist, Dr. Elana Lavine often advises parents to avoid peanuts, eggs and seafood. Now, she's warning them that allergies can also be triggered by "pea protein" found in a growing number of foods.

Lavine described what happened to a two-year-old patient after eating non-dairy yogurt.

"When given the yogurt, they had a full-blown anaphylactic reaction in the aisle of the grocery store," she said.

Comment: The only reason anyone would need to worry about an allergic reaction to pea protein is if they're eating garbage processed fake foods (we're looking at you, Beyond Burger). If you're eating real foods, it would be relatively easy to avoid peas (they're the little green balls that float in the soup). And while it would probably be a good idea for food manufacturers to start listing pea protein as a possible allergen, it would be even better if they weren't "formulating" concoctions that rely on non-food ingredients like this and make something nourishing with real food.

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If you want to save the world, veganism isn't the answer

© Illustration: Matt Kenyon
‘Calls for us all to switch entirely to plant-based foods ignore one of the most powerful tools we have to mitigate against these ills – grazing and browsing animals.’
Intensively farmed meat and dairy are a blight, but so are fields of soya and maize. There is another way

Veganism has rocketed in the UK over the past couple of years - from an estimated half a million people in 2016 to more than 3.5 million - 5% of our population - today. Influential documentaries such as Cowspiracy and What the Health have thrown a spotlight on the intensive meat and dairy industry, exposing the impacts on animal and human health and the wider environment.

But calls for us all to switch entirely to plant-based foods ignore one of the most powerful tools we have to mitigate these ills: grazing and browsing animals.

Comment: Learn more about Regenerative Agriculture: This Farm Is Medicine


Permissible additives: There are 2,000 untested chemicals in packaged foods — and it's legal

packaged foods
© Pixabay
The only way to minimize your exposure to dangerous chemicals that are currently allowed in packaged foods is to purchase products that are certified organic.
A major but largely glossed over report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental and public health nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., shows that thousands of untested chemicals (an estimated 2,000, to be exact) are found in conventional packaged foods purchasable in U.S. supermarkets. And yes, all of them are legal.

The extensive collection of permissible additives includes several known or suspected carcinogens, such as synthetic sodium nitrate, found in processed meats and considered probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organization, and butylated hydroxyanisole, also known as BHA, a chemical listed as a cancer-causing chemical by the state of California and found in commonplace items like frozen pepperoni pizza. Other unappealing chemicals are commonly found in our food packaging, such as polypropylene, sulfuric acid and bisphenol A — all of which can have impacts on human health and the environment.

Comment: We Interact with 100,000 + Chemicals, and the Dangers Are Barely Understood
As for long-term testing, only about 900 chemicals have been studied for cancer effects with enough depth to be assessed by the major cancer-research agencies, and about 300 chemicals have been assessed for reproductive and developmental effects and birth defects.

Obviously, we can't assume that majority of the 140,000 or even the 50 million chemicals are nontoxic. There are probably 140,000 surprises out there for us. We are really clueless about this swamp of chemicals through which we slog.

The advertising from most manufacturers leaves consumers with the assumption that all of the ingredients they use in their products have been tested for all kinds of toxic effects, including cancer.

Bacon n Eggs

Why it is so hard to figure out what to eat

cartoon eating weight control diet
© Benoit Tardif
Most diet trials in the best journals fail even the most basic of quality control measures. That's the finding of a study by us published today on JAMA Network Open.

Investigators receiving funding for any clinical trial from the National Institutes of Health must register in advance what they plan to test, among other design features, to ensure that the data are fairly analyzed. Comparing the original registries with the final published studies, we found that diet trials in the past decade were about four times as likely as drug trials to have a discrepancy in the main outcome or measurement — raising concern for bias.

This quality-control problem of diet trials in comparison to ones on pharmaceuticals leads to a bigger issue: underinvestment in nutrition research and in how we tackle the mysteries of a healthy diet.

Comment: As Mark Sisson points out here, waiting for a top down approach to solve the problems of diet-caused disease means waiting forever. It isn't going to happen (it's really a fool's errand anyway - trying to find a one-size fits all diet for a diverse population with different needs is like trying to find the one size of shoe that will fit everyone). Far better to do one's own research, experiment and find out what foods suit your needs. It may take a lot of trial and error, but it's better than listening to "the experts" who have repeatedly illustrated that they don't know what they're talking about.

See also:

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Lab tests show that some traditional soup broths have antimalarial properties

soup broth
Some traditional vegetable and meat soup broths can interrupt the life cycle of the most deadly of the malarial parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, reveal the results of lab tests, in what is thought to be the first study of its kind, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Given that malaria poses a risk to half the world's population, and that resistance to the drugs used to treat it continues to emerge, there may be other natural resources worth tapping to fight this scourge, say the researchers.

In light of the development of the antimalarial artemesin, which originates from qinghao, used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine to treat fever, the researchers wanted to see if other 'natural' remedies might also have antimalarial properties.

Comment: While it makes sense from a scientific perspective to try to isolate the specific ingredient in the soups that are providing the antimalarial compounds, from a layperson perspective, maybe it's enough just to keep on eating grandma's soup.

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What we get wrong about childhood obesity

obese children
Weight Watchers (recently rebranded to WW) put out an app for kids and teens who want to lose weight a few months ago. It's called Kurbo, and it assigns "traffic light" color codes to different foods. Green foods like fruits and vegetables can be eaten freely, yellow foods like low-fat dairy, lean meat, and bread can be eaten in moderation, and red foods like full-fat dairy and sweets should be eaten sparingly or "planned for." Kids under 13 need to sign up with a parent, while older kids can sign up on their own. Online coaching is available for an extra fee. Users are urged to track their food intake and body weight, even if they choose a goal like "Have more energy."

Critics hit back. The Atlantic claimed that using apps like Kurbo won't make a difference for the kids who need it most — those living in "food deserts," those exposed to junk food marketing, those whose parents can't afford healthy food and haven't the time to fix healthy meals. Outside Online warned against the potential for Kurbo to create unhealthy fixations on food and "clean eating" in kids, setting the stage for eating disorders that can increase the risk of mortality, depression, and anxiety later in life. They called for an overhaul of "food policy" instead.

It's wrong. They're all wrong.

Comment: See also: