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.
Fish oil pills are among the most unstable supplements on the market because the oil oxidizes quickly when exposed to oxygen. Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that are unusually susceptible to being oxidized to products that can be harmful.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that can live in your body and help to keep you healthy. Probiotics are available in live-culture fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir (a probiotic milk drink), buttermilk, kombucha (fermented tea), tempeh, miso and natto (fermented soybean products), kimchi, sauerkraut, some pickles, and some fermented cheeses.
A vegan diet with no added fats caused 117 obese people, average age 54, to lose 13 pounds over 16 weeks (JAMA Netw Open, Nov 30, 2020;3(11):e2025454). They decreased their risk of becoming diabetic by increasing the rate that they burned calories by more than 14 percent, and reducing insulin resistance.
In our North American diet, more than 90 percent of the sugar and almost 60 percent of the calories from sugar are consumed in "ultra-processed foods" (BMJ Open, March 9, 2016;6(3)). The U.S. government recommends that you get no more than 10 percent of your calories from added sugars. Yet 71 percent of North American adults take in more than 15 percent of their calories from added sugars. Excess sugar intake leads to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers and tooth decay.
Milk is a high-sugar drink. We know that D-galactose, a sugar found in milk, causes the same oxidative damage and chronic inflammation that is associated with diabetes, heart attacks, certain cancers and bone loss.
If you take a sugared drink while eating meat, the animal protein reduces your ability to burn off the calories from sugar by more than a third. In this elegant new study, 27 healthy-weight adults spent two full days in a sealed "metabolic room" that measured how many calories their bodies burned each minute by tracking their intake of oxygen and outflow of carbon dioxide and measuring calories lost in their urine.
Eating regular meals five days a week and markedly reducing calories for the other two days may be the best way to lose weight and keep it off. This approach to weight loss is called "intermittent fasting." We have some good data on how effective this diet regimen is for animals, but we are just starting to see the results of research on humans. Most of the studies on humans do not ask participants to avoid all food on their "fast" days.
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.
Egg yolks are among the richest food sources of cholesterol, and almost 100 million North American adults have high blood cholesterol levels, signifying increased risk for heart attacks. Most of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver and less comes from the food that you eat.
Several papers have raised concerns about the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners. In one study, researchers showed that a sweeter-tasting, lower-calorie drink caused people to eat more food, to have higher blood sugar levels and to be more likely to gain weight and become diabetic than a less-sweet, higher-calorie drink.
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.
A review of 95 different studies involving two million people shows that just two and a half servings of fruits and vegetables per day is associated with a 16 percent reduced risk of heart disease, an 18 percent reduced risk of stroke, a four percent reduced risk of cancer and a 15 percent reduced risk of premature death.
A brilliant and very important breakthrough study shows that restricting mammal meat and eggs markedly lowers blood levels of TMAO. Mammal meat and eggs are rich sources of choline, carnitine and lecithin that are converted in your body to a chemical called TMAO that can damage arteries, which can cause plaques to form and later to break off to cause heart attacks and strokes.
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.
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."
Our food industry works to bring you more and more ultra-processed foods that have little or no fiber, but there is no debate in the scientific community: you should eat lots of plants that have not had their fiber removed. A review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) of 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials, covering 4600 adults, shows that for every 8-gram/day increase in dietary fiber, there was up to a 31 percent decrease in deaths from all causes, a 30 percent decrease in deaths from heart attacks, 22 percent reduced risk of stroke, and a 16 percent reduced risk of diabetes, colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
Many processed foods are full of sugar and salt that raise blood pressure, increasing risk for heart attacks, strokes, and premature death. Most dietary salt does not come from the salt shaker and most dietary sugar does not come from the sugar bowl.
A study in mice showed that emulsifiers can disrupt intestinal bacteria to cause inflammation and weight gain (Nature, Feb 25, 2015). Emulsifiers are added to many foods, such as ice cream, salad dressing, pastas, bread and cookies, to prolong shelf life and keep ingredients from separating.
Eating lots of nuts and fruits is associated with reduced risk for diabetes and heart attacks. Nuts are low in absorbable calories and provide many essential nutrients. People who snack regularly on nuts have fewer blood markers for diabetes and arteriosclerosis than the general population, intermittent fasting
A prospective study from nine European countries (European Heart Journal Trial) followed for 12.6 years showed that heart attacks are strongly associated with eating mammal meat and processed meats. Many previous studies have shown that a vegetarian diet is associated with reduced heart attack risk.
Whole grains are easy to cook on the stovetop, just as you would cook rice or pasta. I always cook one pound (2½ cups) of whole grains at a time, since they keep well -- refrigerated or frozen. Leftovers can be reheated in a microwave or used in salads. I make my own "instant grains" by packaging ½-1 cup portions in baggies and storing them in the freezer. They take a minute or less to thaw in the microwave.
In a recent study of time-restricted eating, a group of 19 people with metabolic syndrome (also called pre-diabetes) ate their usual meals but ate only between 8AM and 6PM (10 hours) and took in no calories during the other 14 hours each day.