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!
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.
Whole Egg consumption + Low-carbohydrate diet improves lipid profiles and insulin sensitivity in individuals Metabolic Syndrome.
I know I push egg yolks alot, but too many people still freak out about the whole “cholesterol” thing—it’s old science people! A recent study out of Metabolism (2012) looked at individuals with Metabolic Syndrome (obese, hypertensive, dylipidemic, elevated fasting glucose) who were put on a low-carbohydrate (25-30% of energy from carbs) diet and either asked to consume 3 whole days per day or the equivalent amount of yolk-free substitute for 12-weeks.
A serving of the whole-eggs: 534 mg cholesterol, 0g carbs, 16g protein, 12g of fat.
A serving of the yolk-free substitute:0 mg cholesterol, 2g carbs, 14g protein, 0 g of fat.
What did the find? The combination of carb restriction and whole egg consumption resulted in weight loss and improvements in blood lipids. Most notably “all participants had reductions in VLDL particle size, atherogenic lipoprotein subclasses (small LDL, large VLDL, IDL), and oxLDL.” OxLDL are those associated with infiltration of blood vessel walls leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease. This kind of shows again that a low-carbohydrate diet can improve your blood lipids, especially the blood lipid particles that greatly influence heart disease risk. But it also shows that consuming a whole-egg can have positive outcomes on cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism. It shows that increased consumption of dietary cholesterol (from whole eggs) does not lead to heart disease risk—opposite of what many people believe—or at least in the presence of a low-carbohydrate diet! Now, don’t go out and eat a dozen eggs like some meat-head trying to impress the ladies just don’t toss the egg-yolk out when you scramble up eggs in the morning.
Gut Issues from eating Beans and Wheat—due to plant lectins
Let’s get to the “gut” of the issue. You probably have a messed up intestinal tract—and it’s probably due to a few things: unbalanced gut bacteria, environmental toxins, or even what you eat. I am going to point my finger at beans and wheat here. Beans (legumes) and wheat (cereal grains) contain potentially harmful substances called lectins. Lectins in plants function to improve the survival of these plants (mainly their seeds) because, unlike animals, plants can’t get up and run away (derp!)—so they need some type of “defense mechanism” to increase their survival. Lectins in the diet come from grains and legumes. A study from Gut (2000), kind of old I know, feed rats two dietary lectins (Phaseolus vulgaris lectin (PHA) from kidney beans, and wheat germ agglutinin (WGA)) and looked at changes in the stress response of these gut cells. These gut cells have special molecules called heat shock proteins (HSP), which respond to stress or environmental conditions, like infection or inflammation. HSP are like little housekeepers inside your cells that make sure everything is clean and working properly. It’s like having a babysitter around with the kids—the HSP make sure the house doesn’t get destroyed!
What did the study find? Well, when the gut cells were exposed to these lectins their HSP decreased dramatically, meaning their stress response was lowered. In other words, the housekeeper job of HSP was impaired and the kids were allowed to run wild! The house burned to the ground! We want our HSP to be in working order, especially in our gut because our gut is the first line of defense against a lot of harmful substances we consume in our food! Another reason to eat a Paleo diet? I think so!
Blesso CN et al. “Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome.” Metabolism. 2012 pii: S0026-0495(12)00318-6. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.08.014.
Ovelgonne JH et al. “Decreased levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells after exposure to plant lectins.” Gut. 2000; 46:679-687.
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!
Everyone will see this at some point during the day—maybe not exact, but it’s close. Whether a vending machine or even your own frig, drinking your calories in the form of pop, fruit juices and even sports drinks is just plan wrong. Don’t drink your calories! A study from the Journal of Clinical Endocriniology and Metabolism found that a 25% increase in consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and fructose leads to increases in fasting LDL (low-density lipoprotein), triglyceride levels and apoB containing lipoproteins (apoB is a protein—used as a marker). Therefore, leading to risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke and also insulin resistance. Most individuals consume more than 25% of their calories from drinks every day.
Honestly, people have become so reliant on “sugar-loaded” drinks that it leads to a slew of issues—not only for adults, but also for kids. I am sure you have heard of the proposed sugar tax in NY, and that “sugar is toxic” (Dr. Lustig)—these are revelations that are coming out in order to protect our health. Others would argue that sugar is not toxic, it’s up to someone’s free will to decide whether they consume too much sugar. Both arguments are valid, but when you look how we are wired, look at our DNA and our purpose you must come to understand that we were hard-wired to find nutrients the easiest way possible. The more readily available calories, proteins, vitamins, sugar, etc. become the more we flock to them. Give a bear the option of a jar of honey or hunting salmon in the river—he’s going to pick the honey. Why? It requires the least amount of energy and yields a lot of energy in return. We act very much the same way. Why do you think you get cravings? We crave foods because of what they provide for us: nutrients (sometimes essential sometimes non-essential). And most of the time all they provide are unneeded sources of fuel (i.e. sugar, fructose, trans fats).
The fact of the matter is that sugar is toxic and you probably have horrible free-will and consume so much that’s why it becomes toxic. The solution? Fix your free-will or hide the sugar-loaded drinks? I think the latter would make more sense because I am no therapist, nor to I want to be!
Drinking your calories comes easy—the hardest part is opening the lid! Do I think people should consume pop, diet pop, fruit juices, sports drinks, etc.? No, at least not in the manner most people do it now: everyday. Drinking these 1-2 times a month as a cheat, not as a staple in your diet will do wonders. And don’t get all flustered and upset by that small number. You want to live healthier, lose weight and feel better about yourself? Then listen to what I say—don’t complain or make up excuses. You can live without drinking crappy liquids. Its not that hard.
Replace those drinks with water, coffee, and tea. I like stevia or xylitol for sweeteners.
Don’t get your paw stuck in the honey jar—go fishing instead.
Some facts about cholesterol so you don’t freak out next time you eat egg yolks, a ribeye or some bacon.
- Cholesterol is an organic molecule essential for life—we consume it, we can make it, we can store it and we can get rid of it.
- No cholesterol means no life.
- Cholesterol comes in 2 forms: unesterified (free) cholesterol and esterified.
- Therefore, not all cholesterol we eat is absorbed because some is in the esterified form (it needs to be de-esterified to be absorbed in your gut).
- Most of the cholesterol in our body is made by our body (endogenous production).
- Consumption of cholesterol, that is dietary cholesterol, has very little impact on cholesterol levels in our bodies. Think otherwise? Read this then.
- Having high total cholesterol (TC) does not mean you have cardiovascular disease.
- Cholesterol and triglycerides (i.e. fats) must be carried in your blood by lipoproteins—these are like little cargo ships that shuttle cholesterol and triglycerides around your body.
- Lipoproteins are: VLDL, IDL, LDL, HDL
- Proteins exists within lipoproteins they help classify them: apoB are found in VLDL, IDL, LDL; and apoA-1 are found in HDL.
- Classifying LDL cholesterol as “bad” and HDL cholesterol as “good” is all wrong. These lipoproteins work synergistically to transport lipids efficiently in the body—neither one being “good” or “bad.”
- The most significant part of plaque build-up, that is “clogging” arteries, is the penetration of blood vessel walls and retention within the walls by apoB lipoprotein LDL. Inflammation of the blood vessel walls makes things worse.
- Having high LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) does not mean you will have clogged arteries. You must measure the LDL particle (LDL-P) size.
- Meausre LPL-P by measuring apoB or LDL-P NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance).
- Lower LDL-P number will prevent/stop plaque build up.
The American public is constantly being tricked, especially when it comes to food. I saw this at the grocery store the other day and it got me thinking.
“Good source of Vitamin D.” Haha…nice try. You can add all the vitamin D you want to this, but it’s missing one thing: fat. Look now at the ingredients
Total fat: 0g
No saturated fat, no trans fat, no mono-/polyunsaturated fat. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning in order to be absorbed into your body and be an effective nutrient you need fat around. And what are you probably eating with this cereal? Skim milk! No fat there!
This is the problem. Stay away from products that “add, “enrich” or “reduce” certain ingredients! These are processed foods that wreck havoc on your health. Don’t eat processed crap.
This is a better source of Vitamin D:
Nutrition Science Initiative or NuSI was just launched! A new look on nutrition, disease and what you can do to prevent it! Here are a few figures from their site:
US Obesity Trends have grown over the last 40+ years. Interestingly enough the US government began making recommendations on what to (and what not to) eat around this time.
US Diabetes Trends—that type 2 diabetes, not type 1!
Increased consumption of grains (whole and refined) as well as sugar—in many forms! Eating less and exercising more isn’t going to cut it anymore. Change what you eat!
Found this awesome figure in Science magazine from a few months ago! The gut microbiota is super important in human health—and develops throughout a lifetime. PS. Those are my highlights & sorry it’s kinda small!
Keys from the figure:
- Gut bacteria (or microbiota—same thing) is essential for maintain human health, and physiological function (i.e. immune, digestive) from birth and through the life cycle.
- During pregnancy, maternal gut bacteria influences that of the baby and much of the gut bacteria is passed on.
- After birth, many factors influence the gut environment—like method of delivery, nutrition (breast or bottle-feeding), and even antibiotic use. Antibiotics actually destroy a lot of the gut bacteria increasing the risk of infection, sickness or disease in kids.
- There is a shift in the type of gut bacteria as you age, from high levels of the bacterial strain Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes. Individuals with metabolic disease have higher levels of Firmicutes than Bacteroidetes.
- Gut bacteria help in production of bile salts (aid in digestion fats), choline and SCFA (short-chain fatty acids).
- SCFAs like Butyrate actually helps regulate fat in adipose tissue (through the hormone leptin) and can “turn-on” the immune system to decrease inflammation in cells. Inflammation is associated with heart disease, atherosclerosis, obesity and autoimmune disorders.
Nicholson et al., “Host-Gut Microbiota Metabolic Interactions”. Science 336,1262 (2012).