This year, researchers have identified the CMAH gene in meat, dairy, and even caviar from some fish that produces a sugar-protein called Neu5Gc, which may explain the association between eating red meat and increased risk for certain cancers. We do not have an explanation for the association between eating meat from mammals and various diseases in humans, but a leading theory was offered by Ajit Varki in 1982 when he discovered a sugar-protein on the surface of all cell membranes in mammals except humans. He called this sugar-protein Neu5Gc.
A recent news headline proclaimed, "An Egg a Day May Keep Heart Disease Away" (Time, May 21, 2018), based on a study of 512,891 adults in urban and rural areas of China. Those who ate one egg a day were reported to have an 18 percent reduced incidence of heart attacks and an incredible 26 percent reduction in bleeding strokes.
Researchers followed 38,981 adults for 16 years (1999-2014) and found that those who ate the most vegetables and the widest variety of vegetables, particularly dark green vegetables, had the lowest rate of heart attacks and heart disease. Studies show that many of the impressive health benefits from eating vegetables, beans, whole grains and fruits come from the short chain fatty acids produced when bacteria in your colon ferment soluble fiber from plants.
A review of 79 randomized and controlled studies of more than 110,000 men and women, with or without heart disease, shows that omega-3 fats in fish oil or in cod liver oil pills, taken for one to six years, do not prevent heart attacks, strokes or deaths in general. Fish oil pills did lower triglycerides which may be healthful, but they also lowered blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol, which may be harmful.
Nobody can correct a faulty diet just by taking pills. A review of 18 studies, following more than two million men and women for an average of 12 years, shows that vitamin and mineral pills do not reduce risk for dying from heart disease or strokes, or even getting a stroke, regardless of age.
The hottest area of medical research today may well be on the bacteria that live in your gut to affect how much you weigh, how long you live, and your susceptibility to many diseases. In the largest and most complete study of its kind ever, researchers analyzed genes of colon bacteria from 1,046 healthy Israelis and found that the bacterial composition of your colon is determined primarily by your lifestyle and what you eat, and has less than a two percent association with your genes.
Fasting can help people lose weight and slow the diseases being overweight causes (Obesity, Feb 2018;26(2):254-268). For several years I have been recommending the various types of intermittent fasting, but perhaps the easiest way to use fasting for weight loss and weight control is just to eat during the daytime and avoid eating at night.
The National Institutes of Health cancelled and withdrew funds for a prospective study on how drinking alcohol affects heart attack risk because it was to be largely funded by the alcohol industry itself, and for "concerns about the study design that cast doubt on its ultimate credibility."
Ketogenic diets are controversial popular diets that can temporarily help you to lose weight by restricting carbohydrates. A keto diet usually restricts carbohydrates that are absorbed only as sugars, and lets you eat lots of fat and moderate amounts of protein.
Much controversy still exists over whether dairy products are healthful or harmful. However, the recent literature shows that milk is a high-sugar drink, and accumulating evidence over the last few years shows that fermented dairy products such as cheese and plain yogurt, which humans have made for more than 8000 years, may be far more healthful than milk.
At the European Society of Endocrinology meeting in Barcelona (May 20, 2018), a study was presented that found that three months of alternating 24-hours of fasting on one day and eating unrestricted food on the next day caused rats to eat less total food and lose total body fat, but the rats developed signs of becoming diabetic.
The gigantic food industry in North America and its lobbyists are happy with the concept that most people are fat just because they eat too many calories. This message relieves them of their responsibility for harm from the typical western diet that consists largely of low-cost, highly-refined "junk" foods that are full of added sugars and have most of the fiber removed.
Intermittent fasting works because it causes repeated "flipping of the metabolic switch." After you have fasted for about 12 hours, you start to lose body fat because your body is forced to change temporarily from its main energy source, glucose (sugar) to fat from the fat stored in your body, and using these fatty acids that are converted to energy to produce ketones that are also used for energy.
Several recent articles show that eating tree nuts or peanuts with a high-fat or high-sugar meal prevents the expected high rise in blood factors that increase risk for the inflammation that can lead to diabetes, heart attacks or strokes.
A review of 83 scientific studies covering almost 600,000 current alcohol drinkers in 19 higher-income countries shows that men and women who take in as few as six drinks a week (100 grams of alcohol) are at increased risk for death from strokes, heart failure, heart disease and aortic aneurysms, but not heart attacks.
Many scientific studies show that eating whole fruit is healthful, even for people who are diabetic. However, this month I learned that some people, especially those who are overweight, prediabetic or diabetic, may be harmed by eating very large amounts of fruit.
Virtually all scientists agree that North Americans need to reduce their intake of sugar, but their views on artificial sweeteners are not as clear. Increasing evidence is showing that artificial sweeteners are not benign substitutes for sugar. In a new study, people who took sucralose (an artificial sweetener) for just one week developed signs of insulin resistance and diabetes.
The latest fad diet tells you to try to avoid lectin-rich foods and to buy their products that are supposed to block lectins in the foods that you eat. However, scientific studies show that eating the common foods with high-lectin content is associated with living a long life and avoiding diseases such as heart attacks, certain cancers, and diabetes.
More than 70 percent of North American adults are overweight and almost 50 percent will become diabetic. A new study from China shows that eating more fiber-containing foods encourages growth of bacteria in your colon that can lower high blood sugar levels to normal.
Overweight people who eat mostly whole foods rather than processed foods can lose weight without counting calories or restricting portion sizes. A new study from Stanford showed that restricting processed foods, particularly added sugars and other refined carbohydrates, is more important for weight loss than going low-carb or low-fat.
Most doctors tell patients suffering from osteoporosis to increase their intake of calcium, but the scientific literature shows that calcium pills do not help to prevent or treat bone fractures. This implies that you should get your calcium from foods rich in that mineral. A review of the scientific literature found 18 articles following 363,557 participants for 3 to 23 years showing that yogurt and cheese, but not milk or cream, are associated with decreased risk for hip fractures.
We have known for a long time that high-fiber foods such as vegetables, fruits and seeds are associated with lower risk for heart attacks, strokes, many cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes, dementia and other diseases. Recent studies on gut bacteria are helping to explain why fiber-rich foods are beneficial.
A review of 33 studies shows that calcium and vitamin D pills do not prevent fractures, regardless of dose. An editorial in the same issue of JAMA states that the evidence is so overwhelming that extra calcium does not prevent fractures that we have to ask ourselves why these products are still so widely used.
Researchers from Denmark performed a detailed survey of studies published between 2005 and 2015 on the associations between egg consumption, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.. They concluded that "up to seven eggs per week can safely be consumed, but in patients with established cardiovascular diseases or type 2 diabetes, only with special emphasis on a prudent diet and proper medical treatment."
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors spent all their waking hours scrounging for food and trying to keep from starving to death. They developed a taste for the most calorie-dense foods that satisfied best, such as honey, meats and starchy roots.
The World Cancer Research Fund International Continuous Update Project has released its recent findings from their review of about 400 studies. They found that the risk for colorectal cancer increases by 12 percent for every 100 grams per day of processed meat or red meat.
A study of 4400 North American men and women, ages 45 to 79, followed for eight years, showed that those who ate fried potatoes two or more times a week were at increased risk for dying during the study period, compared to those who ate fried potatoes occasionally. Those who ate potatoes that were not fried had no increased risk of death.
The rate of obesity worldwide has doubled in 73 countries since 1980. Today 30 percent of North Americans and 10 percent of the world's population are obese, an estimated 604 million obese adults and 108 million obese children. A recent article suggests that this world-wide increase in obesity is driven by the huge companies that make processed foods, sugared drinks and refined carbohydrates, and the extensive advertising they do for their products.