Thanks for visiting! My goal here is to discuss the latest scientific research to separate the good from all that "guff" in nutritional sciences and all aspects of human health. Because the more you Know, well...the more you Know!

Looking for a specific post? You can browse the Most Read Posts, the Blog Archives, or use the Search function in top left of this page. Thanks for your support and stay healthy!

Monthly 3D Poll


No-Fat Salad Dressings May Promote Nutrient Deficiencies

Unquestionably, it should be common knowledge by now that vegetables are full of important vitamins and nutrients, but a new study suggests you won’t absorb much of those beneficial compounds without consuming the right type of fat at the same time.

Now this may not be so new if you've read media coverage on this study last week. I saw this study the day it came out, but scheduled this post a week later since I had other posts lined up. Luck had it that mass media picked up this study, so for this post, it appears I'm out of the gate late. But in case you missed it...

In this human clinical trial, researchers fed subjects salads with dressing containing either saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated fat and tested their blood for the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, specifically a group called carotenoids (such as lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin).

These carotenoids are associated with reduced risk of several chronic and degenerative diseases such as cancer, age-related macular degeneration, and cardiovascular disease.


Many Not Meeting Numerous Vitamin Requirements

Vitamins, by definition, are essential and it's undisputed that they play a crucial role in health. However, modern lifestyles may lead to suboptimal intakes even in affluent countries. So the researchers of this recently study aimed to review vitamin intakes in Germany, the UK, The Netherlands and the USA and to compare them with respective national recommendations.

For Germany, the UK, and The Netherlands, data on adults from the most recently published national dietary intake surveys were used. For the US, data for adults from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2008 were used.


Calcium with Vitamin D Reduces Premature Death Rate

Here's another positive study on calcium and vitamin D, only weeks after THIS positive study, and a welcome glimmer of light after another study linking it to heart attacks.

This new study reviewed 8 clinical trials and found that vitamin D, when taken with calcium, can reduce the rate of death in seniors. The data was comprised of nearly 90% women, who had an average age of 70 years.


Don't Worry, Be Happy (by Eating Bacteria)

Another study adds evidence to how normal human brain and cognitive function depends on the presence of gut bacteria during growth and development. Very interesting indeed, and great timing to follow the publication of the Human Microbiome Project I discussed last week.

This new study is just an animal study on mice, but shows that the absence of bacteria during early life, significantly affects the brain's serotonin level during adulthood. The research also highlighted a possible influence of sex, with greater effects in male compared with female mice.


Exercise: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Looks like the answer could be "yes!" You've heard the adages, "nothing is 100% good, and nothing is 100% bad" and "it's the dose that makes the poison."

Well, here is some evidence that those who've taken the recommendation for exercise to the extreme may be doing some harm.

A new study abstract presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's 2012 Annual Meeting suggests that running more than 20 miles (32 km) per week may increase your risk of all-cause mortality (death).

The hypothesis of the study was that at some "dose" of running, benefits would level off. However, the fact that the plateau was reached at such a low level (relatively) was surprising. However, even more surprising was the fact that it didn't level off but actually went the other way.


Do Omega-3s Really Offer No Cardiovascular Benefits or Protection from Alzheimer's?

This seems like a silly question since many studies have shown omega-3 fatty acids offer multiple benefits to many bodily systems, including the cardiovascular and nervous systems. However, results from two recently published studies cast a shadow of doubt on these benefits, so let's dig deeper.

First, a study using a pharmaceutical-type omega-3 product indicated no heart benefits, compared to placebo, for people at high risk of cardiovascular events. The researchers behind the Outcome Reduction with Initial Glargine Intervention (ORIGIN) Trial concluded: “Daily supplementation with 1 g of omega–3 fatty acids did not reduce the rate of cardiovascular events in patients at high risk for cardiovascular events.”

Since the totality of evidence for omega-3s give solid data to support its use, what could be behind the null results of this study at hand? For this study, researchers recruited 12,536 patients at high risk for cardiovascular events with diabetes, impaired fasting glucose, or impaired glucose tolerance. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either a daily placebo or a 1 g capsule with at least 900 mg omega-3 fatty acid ethyl esters. The participants were also taking “more concomitant cardioprotective therapies”, said the researchers.


The Human Microbiome Project Publishes Its Findings

Ok, I really try to find the interesting studies to share, and sometimes they are hard to come by. Other times, there are a number of them and to minimize the onslaught of emails to my subscribers, I try to filter them down to the most interesting. However, this month so far has been full of them. I hope I'm not inundating you, but today I've got a study that will blow your mind, almost like this...

In the last decade or so, we've really started to gain a better understanding of bacteria, and no longer view them as universally bad and evil. In fact, if you haven't been living in an isolated forest for the past 5 years, you'll know that probiotics (the good bacteria) are essential for human health, and we wouldn't be alive without them.

However, besides some studies that show they are essential for human life, digesting food, synthesizing certain vitamins, forming a physical and biochemical barrier against disease-causing bacteria, etc., we didn't know a lot about them. As researchers began to investigate the human-bacteria link in small studies, we began to appreciate their importance. Now we know that not only do the bacteria help keep people healthy, but they also help explain why individuals react differently to various drugs (as I discussed in THIS post last year based on my own research), and why some are susceptible to certain infectious diseases while others are resistant. When the balance of bacteria is disturbed (as with antibiotic treatment, for example), we see how they (or a lack or them) contribute to certain chronic diseases and conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, candidiasis (yeast infections), asthma, eczema, obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, etc. 

Now researchers have taken a detailed look at these bacteria--the over 100 trillion good bacteria that live in or on the human body. 200 scientists at 80 institutions sequenced the genetic material of bacteria sampled from 242 "healthy" individuals in this five-year endeavour called the Human Microbiome Project (which has been compared to the Human Genome Project).


Folic Acid Helps Keep Arteries Elastic

A new meta-analysis by Chinese scientists has confirmed that folic acid consistently and significantly reduced thickening of artery walls.

Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) is a  good marker for both the presence of early atherosclerosis and the degree of atherosclerosis within an individual. This new meta-analysis provides further evidence that folic acid therapy is suitable for populations with a high cardiovascular disease risk.

This is because folic acid is required to reduce the levels of homocysteine (a toxic amino acid that's been linked to an assortment of diseases) in the body.


Coffee Can Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

I should invest in Starbucks, Second Cup, Kicking Horse, Merchants of Green Coffee, or others...here's another study on the health benefits of coffee. The researchers of this new study monitored the cognitive status of 124 volunteers between 65-88 years of age, who displayed mild cognitive impairment, an early sign of Alzheimer's disease. Most participants were expected to develop Alzheimer’s within a few years.

However, patients with a blood caffeine level above 1,200 ng/ml did not develop the disease over the 2-4 year study period. For these individuals, the main (or only) source of caffeine was coffee.


Popular Antibiotic Increases Risk of Cardiac Death

Before I get to this study on antibiotics, I just wanted to quickly discuss social hygiene and social responsibility. On a couple separate occasions recently, I've shook the hand of sick person without them disclosing the fact that they're sick. Now, I'm not a germophobe (well maybe about 3 on a scale of 1 to 10), but I can't believe I even have to write about this.

For the record, if you're sick, YOU have a responsibility--as a member of our society who chooses to live and interact in a community setting (as opposed to isolation somewhere far from others)--to do ALL that you can to ensure that whatever communicable disease you have, doesn't get passed on to anyone.

This not only means basic hygiene (frequent hand washing, coughing/sneezing into your elbow, etc.), but also full disclosure with anyone you may touch directly (e.g. shaking hands) or indirectly (touching something that someone else may touch afterwards).

Please, be considerate to others and recognize the fact that we all live together. Is there value in getting sick and building an immunity? Of course! But this will happen even with exceptional social hygiene, and we don't need to function as willing vectors in propagating some DNA of unknown origin.

Ok, now back to the program...

The FDA has announced it will review a new study recently published that shows patients taking azithromycin (Zithromax, one of the world's best-selling antibiotics) face a small increased risk for sudden cardiac death compared with patients taking amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, (other types of antibiotics) or no antibiotic at all.


C-Section Doubles Risk of Obesity

The contribution of cesarean deliveries has steadily increased in the United States, and in 2007, reached a level of 32% of all deliveries. This trend is disturbing for many reasons, but most conventional healthcare practitioners do not consider the implications of altered gut flora during childhood as consequence associated with cesarean deliveries. However, with the gut's bacterial diversity being associated with numerous health conditions, perhaps it's time this is seriously considered by both conventional healthcare practitioners (during the patient intake and medical history) and by mothers (who are contemplating elective c-section).

The authors of this current study explain that altered gut flora is the leading theory of why a history of c-section delivery increases the risk of childhood obesity. It's been shown that children delivered vaginally have different types of intestinal flora compared to children delivered via c-section--and this may not only explain a propensity toward obesity among children born via c-section, but may also explain higher rates of asthma, eczema, and allergies.


Dark Chocolate for Everyone! It Lowers the Risk of Heart Attacks

Here is another study on dark chocolate's benefit in keeping us healthy. This new study used data from the participants selected for the Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study, among whom cardiovascular risk was estimated individually.

All participants had hypertension and met the criteria for metabolic syndrome (also called Syndrome X), but had no history of heart disease or diabetes and were not on any blood pressure lowering medications.

In the best case scenario, the researchers estimated that dark chocolate consumption (at least 60% cocoa solids) could potentially prevent 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events (like heart attack or stroke) per 10,000 eating dark chocolate over 10 years--meaning consumption could be considered an effective intervention strategy.