Consumers’ Underestimate Calories at Fast Food Restaurants
While I don’t ever eat at Fast-food joints nor do I ever count calories—I don’t think the general population should—this is an interesting study published recently: Consumers’ estimation of calorie content of fast food restaurants cross sectional observational study.
Asparagus helps Regulate Blood Pressure
A recent study looked at previously hypertensive rats, that is those who already had high blood pressure, and administration of Green asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) for 10-weeks lowered (1) blood pressure, (2) angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and (3) creatinine. ACE is secreted from the lungs and kidneys and acts to constrict blood vessels. Creatinine, not to be mistaken for creatine, is actually the by-product of creatine breakdown in the muscle and is an indicate of kidney health. They were able to isolate 2″-hydroxynicotianamine from Green asparagus and conclude it is an inhibitor of ACE. So, asparagus could be a part of treatment for hypertensive patients. Very interesting stuff!
"Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic."
A recent study analyzed whole kiwifruit and its effects on blood glucose levels. I like reading articles like these because they actually look at the whole food, rather than it’s consecutive parts (e.g. vitamin C or fructose).
The kiwi is roughly 80% dry matter available for carbohdyrate digestion as either fructose, glucose or sucrose. The other 20% consists of dry cells walls and protein, respectively. Interestingly enough, eating a whole kiwi results in the the dietary fiber to swell to four times it orginial digestion, at least in vitro. This study actually shows the benefitcal effects of whole fruit consumption and glucose entry into the blood stream as dietary fiber decreases the rate of diffusion by about 40%, that is, the time it took glucose and fructose to enter from the gut into the bloodstream was reduced by 40%! Cool stuff!
They also note that 100g of kiwifruit, which is just over 1 whole kiwi based on this, equals 5g of glucose (1 teaspoon). However, facts like these overshadow the more important take away from this article: fiber + fructose lows the glycemic response. Most people are worried about the fructose itself and you should if you are drink fruit juices, and smoothies that take away the fiber. These fruit juices are not better for you—don’t consume them.
Eat whole foods!
"Cooking is the great divide between good and bad eating."
"Someone consuming a Nutri-Grain bar in the morning, a Subway Chipotle Chicken and Cheese sandwich for lunch, and a DiGorno pepperoni pizza for dinner, for instance, will have ingested a total of sixty-eight nonfood additives (not including vitamins and minerals) that until recently no human being ate"
Science Round-Up: Omega-6 fats and heart disease, CLA Fights Inflammation and Supplements Do More Harm than Good
Replace Saturated Fat with Vegetable Oils = get Heart Disease.
The battle between what does and does not cause heart disease will continue to ensue. Almost every person in the world has heard that saturated fat causes heart disease. We’ve heard it, told someone else and avoided saturated fat for this reason. But this statement is false and because of only one word: causes. The correct statement should be, “almost every person in the world has heard that saturated fat is associated with heart disease.” Of course there is a difference between cause and association. We cannot come to such a drastic conclusion based on associations. A analogy to help clarify this:
“ice cream is associated with increased risk of drowning.”
There is actually a strong association with an increase in ice cream consumption and death by drowning. Can we come to the conclusion that ice cream causes drowning? No! We do know that when it gets hot outside during the summer months people increase their ice cream consumption and increase their time practicing their backstroke under the sun.
Vegetable oil— it doesn’t even sound right!
Back to my point of saturated fat and heart disease. An association turned causation has lead most people to avoid saturated fat—mainly through animal products and turn towards other fats for “health.” These new “healthy” fats, polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), replaced saturated fats for cooking and food preparation. Put down the butter and use vegetable oils (PUFA) like canola oil, corn and safflower oil for cooking has been suggested for the last few decades. But, these vegetable oils are actually worse than first anticipated. Ramsden et al. recently (Feb 7 2013) publish the “[u]se of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Syndey Diet Heart and updated meta-analysis.” The investigators looked at 458 men who had recently recovered from a coronary event. One group replaced saturated fat with omega 6 vegetable oils (from linoleic acid) and the other group was given not dietary advice.
What did they find? “[S]ubstiuting dietary linoleic acid in place of saturated fats increased the rates of death from all causes, coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.” The authors concluded that linoleic acid did not provide any benefit for preventing a cardiovascular event.
So what is bad saturated fat or vegetable oils? Well, anytime you have an excess of anything in the body it’s a bad thing (too much water). Do I think you should live by the motto “only in moderation?” No. Eliminate these vegetable oils from your diet they contain high amounts of linoleic acid.
Vegetable oils: safflower, poppyseed, grape seed, sunflower, hemp, corn, wheat germ, cottonseed, soybean, walnut, sesame.
Use saturated fats for cooking, especially at higher temperature as they are more stable at these high (>350) temperatures. Keep in mind saturated fats need be in the diet—they maintain brain function and help cell integrity.
Saturated fats for cooking: extra virgin coconut oil, grass-fed butter, clarified butter, ghee, lard, tallow
C.E. Ramsden et al. Use of dietary linoleic acid for secondary prevention of coronary heart disease and death: evaluation of recovered data from the Syndey Diet Heart Study and updated meta-analysis. BMJ. 2013; 346 (feb04 3): e8707 DOI
CLA in Grass-fed Beef & Inflammation
I have asked many of my professors about their opinion of grass-fed meats vs. grain-fed meats. Grass-fed takes the “cake” on being a better opinion mainly because grass-fed beef is lower in fat (and calories), higher in fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin E and A) and also have lower levels of omega-6 fats—the same fats that are responsible for pro-inflammatory eicosanoids.
Another benefit of grass-fed beef comes from the naturally occurring trans-fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is very different from the trans fats of hydrogenated vegetables oils. CLA has anti-inflammatory properties [1.]
Reynolds et al. (2009) looked at rats that were induced with sepsis—an inflammatory condition resulting in a dysfunctional immune system—through lipolysaccharide (endotoxin). Lipolysaccharide reacts havoc on the immune system by increasing pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNFα, interleukins). What did this study show? Well, high-CLA fed mice had significantly less concentrations of lipopolysaccharides done so by acting through various “downstream” pathways. When I say “downstream” I mean through pathways that act more at the genetic level and how certain genes are expressed (or turned on) can be regulated through environmental factors, like in this case through diet.
The difference between the high-CLA fed mice and low-CLA fed mice was the percent fat composition, 4.3% total fat composition and 0.84%, respectively.
Include meats from grass-fed cattle, and if you tolerate lactose then obtaining cheese, butter are other ways to include CLA in your diet. Keep in mind that the CLA that is sold as a supplement is very different from the CLA you find in beef or cheese, where the former does not offer the same benefits.
Reynolds et al. A conjugated linoleic acid-enriched beef diet attenuates lipolysaccharide-induced inflammation in mice in part through PPARgamma-mediated suppression of toll-like receptor 4. J Nutr. 2009; 139(12):251-7.
Supplements may not be good for your health.
I was walking down the isle at Wal-mart the other day, perusing the aisles looking for some deals while also watching the very interesting people that go to Wal-mart (that’s a different story in itself) when I walked by and saw a sign that read “Diet.” I was not surprised at all to see protein drinks, Slim Fasts, weight loss pills and in the next aisle over a whole section of supplements. Vitamin C, E, A, D, multi-vitamins, every mineral you can not think of, extracts out the wazoo! I got to thinking, “most people when they want to live healthier they turn to supplements.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Supplements are not healthier, I do not recommend taking them. Why? Well, two recent studies confirm my belief.
Might Want to rethink poppin’ some Vitamin C next time you’re feeling under the weather!
A recent study from Journal of American Medical Association found that Swedish men who took vitamin C supplements (greater than 1000mg) were twice as likely to develop kidney stones compared to those who didn’t supplement with vitamin C. Kidney stones develop usually due to excess calcium or oxalates, and deposit in the ureter leading to some pretty intense pain. Vitamin C is pretty common in the diet I don’t see anyone ever really being deficient in vitamin C.
The second study, also from Journal of American Medical Association, found an association between supplementation of calcium and risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) Now, increasing calcium intake via supplementation does not mean you will get CVD, your risk for getting CVD only increases—just keep that in mind. This was a pretty large study (n=388,229) and of an older population (ages 50-71) therefore these observations have strong implications especially towards an older population worried about osteopenia and osteoporosis (degrading of bone integrity). Supplemental calcium of more than 1,000mg/day increased CVD death, but this was only found in men not women. Interestingly enough, I decided to do a little more research and found a study by Samelson et al. (2012) who looked at calcium intake and coronary artery calcification—that’s build up of calcium in the blood vessels of your heart (not good). In this observational study there was no significant evidence concluding calcium intake increases coronary artery calcification. The difference between the JAMA and Sameson et al. study? Well, the former looked only at supplementation, while the latter looked at calcium intake (either from food or supplementation). The calcium content of food and that of supplements play very different roles in your body because it’s
What can we learn from these supplemental studies? Taking supplements doesn’t correct for poor food choices, even poor lifestyle choices. Whole foods provide the vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients you need—don’t pop pills! It’s not good for you!
Thomas LD, et al. Ascorbic Acid Supplements and Kideny Stone Incidence Among Men: A Prospective Study. JAMA. Internal Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.2296
Xiao Q et al. Dietary and Supplemental Calcium Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality: The National Institute of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013.
Samelson EJ et al. Calcium intake is not associated with increased coronary artery calcifcation: the Framingham Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 96(6):1274-80.
If you are interested in leaning out, managing those food cravings or just want to experiment with intermittent fasting (IF) then I suggest you check out the link above. Dr. Berardi has very extensive review and personal experience with IF that will answer any questions and hopefully get you started!
Video by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a Family Practice doctor and Assistant Professor in Ottawa. Here is his blog: Weighty Matters
This video is on the food industry—very interesting. Personally, I would have to agree with much of what Dr. Freedhoff says, especially when it comes to kid’s nutrition. Avoid the processed foods—in fact don’t even walk down the aisles at the g-store! It’s a trap!
Minding Your Mitochondria by Dr. Terry Wahls
A great talk about MS and the ability to cure (or at least slow) the process of disease through diet—functional foods!
It takes 2-5 times more energy to break down protein (thermogenic effect of food) than fats and carbohydrates.
The level of cooking (steaming vs grilling) can actually increase the absorptive capacity of nutrients in that food. For example, the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes is better absorbed in cooked than raw sweet potatoes (kinda obvious there, who wants to eat a raw sweet potato?).
Humans lack a desaturase enzyme in their tissues to create a carbon-carbon double bond in fats (past carbon-9 actually), therefore, long-chain fats like linoleic acid (omega-6 fat) and linolenic acid (omega-3 fa) are essential—we must consume them in our diet.
The first vitamin to be clinically defined was thiamine (B1) in 1911.
Whey protein stimulates the release of insulin from your pancreas, and insulin actually acts as an anabolic hormone to aid in muscle recovery and growth (it’s actually the amino acid leucine found in whey protein that causes the release).
A low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet (or ketogenic diet) can increase HDL levels and decrease triglyceride levels—improve dylipidemia levels in overweight and obese individuals.
Lipoproteins (VLDL, LDL, IDL and HDL) that transport cholesterol and triglycerides in our bodies actually prevent bacterial, viral and parasitic infections, protect against pathogen-induced tissue damage and present toxins to the immune system that help trigger antibody release.
Glutamine, Medium-chain Triglycerides (MCTs), exercise and colostrum (found in milk) are effective at treating “leaky gut syndrome.” They increase gut integrity by increasing IgA.
Grass-fed beef contains a trans fat called Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)…Oh no! However, CLA is a healthy trans fat that has been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial, weight loss and thermogenic effects!
Your liver can hold roughly 50-120 g of glucose (stored as glycogen), which is about 1/4 of a pound.
Our body can make fat (in the liver and adipose tissue) from carbohydrates, and this fat is called palmitic acid—this is the same saturated fat found in animal fat and many people consider to be toxic.
Krill Oil is esterfied into phospholipids where as most fish oils are packaged in triglycerides. The esterifed krill oil makes it better absorbed in the gut—one benefit of taking krill vs fish oil.
Vitamin D is required to absorption of calcium, however, a majority of the population is vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is best obtained via sun light, but can be obtained in the diet. Best sources are fatty fish (salmon, mackerel) and fish liver (cod liver).
Dr. Stephan Guyenet also writes a blog, Whole Health Source, I suggest you take a look. Smart dude, interesting perspective.
How To Lose Weight: The Real Math Behind Weigh Loss
I agree with:
- Getting away from the 3500=1 lb myth. I hate this idea because it assumes our body is a lab experiment and that hopping on a treadmill, entering our weight and then watching a machine (that really isn’t even accurate) tell us how many “Calories” we burn running is an effective way of “burning” fat. Sorry your body has no clue that 3,500 calories = 1 lb body fat, all it knows is that it needs to keep using whatever you have stored away for energy. And the most readily available source is actually not fat, but glucose in the form of muscle glycogen (stored sugar). Most people are “sugar burners” rather than “fat burners” because they constantly supply their body with glucose, they will use glucose because a hormone, insulin, is around preventing the release of fat so it can be used as energy (insulin blocks lipases—enzymes that release fatty acids from stored body fat, among other things). This does depend on many things—how long you exercise, the intensity and what you ate before you starting exercising.
I disagree with:
- Pouring in more water into the bucket causes you to gain more weight. This is just another way of saying that the more calories you consume than you burn equals weight gain or calories in = calories out. Personally I am against the entire calories in equals calories out and counting calories for weight loss (here is are my thoughts: Not All Calories are Created Equal). The analogy of pouring water into a bucket and having a leak at the bottom is cleaver and thoughtful, but honestly our bodies don’t really work like that. The timing of the calories (i.e. time of day), how much and most important the quality of the calories—that is are these calories coming from processed foods like Twinkies (RIP), and pizza or are these calories coming from almonds and salmon. Quality matters, not so much calories. This has been shown a lot in low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diets. Yancy, et al. found that compared to a low-fat group over a 24 week period, a low-carbohydrate group lost more body fat even though the low-carbohydrate group consumed slightly more “average” calories per day (1,502 calories vs 1,461 calories) In fact, they also found that the low-carbohydrate group decreased their triglycerides and improved their HDL (“good” cholesterol) more than the low-fat group. I do think at some level calories matter, but deciding to buy a snack because it has a “100 calorie” label on it is a bad reason to buy the snack. Buy a snack for the nutritional value or quality of the food rather than the calorie count.
Yancy et al. “A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic Diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia.” Ann Inter Med. 2004; 140:769-777.
“Made with real fruit”…because we won’t accept fake fruit, it tastes like plastic!
If a food makes claims like these, then I would not buy them or consider an alternative:
- “Fortified with..”
- ”____% less fat/sugar”
- “Fat-free; reduced-fat”
- “No added sugar”
- “Contains real fruit”
It’s funny that people listen to the food they buy for nutrition advice. In reality they are buying lower quality, highly processed crap that doesn’t make their situation any better!
In fact I wouldn’t even suggest buying foods that have claims like these on the box because most likely they are a processed food!