The Food Industry Wants The Public Confused About Nutrition

This is true. All of it. Great job putting it all together, Dr. Greger:

You can find the transcript here. Click the “View Transcript” button right under the video.

Two things:

  1. He talks about corporations pushing the “personal responsibility” angle, which gets them off the hook. Most people I know defend it! They say “no one controls what people put in their mouths except themselves” or something to that effect. Untrue. The food environment is a stronger player in controlling what people put in their mouths.
  2. Doubt is their product. Remember that.

Defecation Frequency (How Often Do You Have A Bowel Movement?)

I was reading this study and saw something unusual, well, unusual for me. Here’s the study:

Faecal pH Value And Its Modification By Dietary Means In South African Black And White Schoolchildren, South African Medical Journal, May 1979

The finding of the study isn’t surprising. I’ve spoken about it for years … how a high-fiber diet feeds bacteria in the colon, causing them to produce organic acids, like short-chain fatty acids. Those acids lower the pH (make more acidic) of feces. A more acidic environment in the colon is protective against colon cancer. I talked about this in my posts on resistant starch (RS). RS isn’t exactly fiber, but it feeds colonic bacteria quite well. There’s a lot of resistant starch in cooked, cooled cornmeal, a staple food in Africa. (Here’s my post on making ugali, the bread of Africa.)

I came across this photo while researching baobobs in Madagascar. I really liked it.

Here’s the thing that surprised me:

Feces Collection: Black Schoolchildren
Each pupil was given a cardboard plate, 23 cm (9 inches) in diameter, and a square of paper towel for covering the sample. Pupils went to the toilets in batches to lessen confusion over sampling and to avoid ‘cheating’. Approximately 90% of pupils are able to pass a stool on request, which is a common phenomenon among Black children.

Previous studies have indicated that Black children, compared with White children, defaecate roughly twice as frequently, and have about half the transit time.

Defecation on demand. Not in America!

Here’s what they were eating:

Among rural Blacks, maize meal in one form or another is still the staple diet, supplemented in certain parts with kaffir corn (Sorghum vulgare), millet and wheat products. Additional foods include dried peas, cowpeas, groundnuts, pumpkin, kaffir melon and other vegetables, fruit and wild greens (m’lino, morogo). Meat is consumed irregularly and milk is usually consumed in small quantities. … Most children eat plenty of fruit, according to region and season, such as oranges, pineapples, guavas, bananas, papaws and mangoes. Most of these are good sources of crude fibre.

I think it’s their diet, in part at least, that allows them to defecate on demand. And that diet is very McDougall-like: starch-based, low-fat. They were getting less than 10% of their calories from fat – quite low. Maize or corn meal is usually eaten 3 times a day, along with every meal, like bread. That’s a lot of resistant starch.

For the white schoolchildren (who didn’t defecate on demand, but were sent home with a carton):

Their diet is substantially the same as that eaten by Whites in Western countries. It is high in energy value, protein (especially animal protein), and fat (especially animal fat), and low in carbohydrate foods (most of which are refined).

Here in the West, passing stool is often problematic. That’s what I’ve learned in speaking to patients and people over the years. And it seems more problematic for women. This study bears that out:

Defecation Frequency And Timing, And Stool Form In The General Population: A Prospective Study, Gut, June 1992.

Although the most common bowel habit was once daily this was a minority practice in both sexes; a regular 24 hour cycle was apparent in only 40% of men and 33% of women. Another 7% of men and 4% of women seemed to have a regular twice or thrice daily bowel habit. Thus most people had irregular bowels. A third of women defecated less often than daily and 1% once a week or less. Stools at the constipated end of the scale were passed more often by women than men. In women of child bearing age bowel habit and the spectrum of stool types were shifted towards constipation and irregularity compared with older women and three cases of severe slow transit constipation were discovered in young women. Otherwise age had little effect on bowel habit or stool type. Normal stool types, defined as those least likely to evoke symptoms, accounted for only 56% of all stools in women and 61% in men. Most defecations occurred in the early morning and earlier in men than in women. We conclude that conventionally normal bowel function is enjoyed by less than half the population and that, in this aspect of human physiology, younger women are especially disadvantaged.

I’ll throw up a couple graphs from that study. Here’s frequency. Black is men, hatched is women. That peak at 24 means that many people visited the bathroom once every 24 hours. A blip at 12 means that they emptied their bowels every 12 hours, or twice a day. Men were more prone to that:

Here’s time of day. Women tended about an hour later than men:

You know what else bears that out? That defecation is a problem in the West? The array of products at the drug store meant to assist stool passage: MiraLax, Metamucil, FiberCon, Ex-Lax, Citrucel, etc.

By the way, I saw this study on an older video by Dr. Greger:

The Dancing Gorilla Might Not Be Dancing

I have to say something about this video, taken at the Dallas Zoo:

It’s sweeping the internet. Most people think it’s great. It may be great, but its “greatness” comes from the power we see exhibited by an enslaved animal. Maybe he’s dancing. Maybe he’s exhibiting deep frustration at being caged. Maybe it’s depression, stress, or some other pathologic behavior shown by caged animals, something which I’ve learned actually has a name: zoochosis.

It reminds me of how Romans were entertained by gladiators. Most gladiators were slaves, placed in arenas to fight for the delight and distraction it gave their enslavors.

Diarrhea? Crohn’s Disease? Reducing Dietary Fat Leads To Significant Improvement

I’ve talked about this a lot but it’s worth a revisit.

When you eat fat, any fat, even the little bit in a few nuts or a bowl of plain oatmeal, your body attempts to absorb that fat for its calories and nutrients, like fat-soluble vitamins. It uses bile acids to do that. Bile acids are produced in the liver, stored in the gall bladder, and squirted into the intestine when fat is detected. The bile acids emulsify the fat and make it easier to absorb.

Most bile acids are reabsorbed in the small intestine before they reach the large intestine or colon. Sometimes they aren’t (lots of reasons, especially if there is damage to the small intestine or ileum). Bile acids in the colon cause irritation and pain in the colon, less-solid stools, frequent bowel movements, and diarrhea. (They also increase the risk for colon cancer, which I’ve discussed.)

So, eating fat leads to bile secretion; eating lots of fat leads to lots of bile secretion, some of which can end up in colon, irritating it.

The less fat you eat, the less bile you secrete, which calms the intestines. We’ve known this for decades:

Fat-Reduced Diet In The Symptomatic Treatment Of Small Bowel Disease, Metabolic studies in patients with Crohn’s disease and in other patients subjected to ileal resection, Gut 1974

A fat-reduced diet is recommended in the symptomatic therapy of chronic diarrhoea in patients suffering from diseases of the ileum.

Effect Of A Low-Fat Diet On Bile Salt Excretion And Diarrhoea In The Gastrointestinal Radiation Syndrome, Acta Radiologica: Oncology, Radiation, Physics, Biology, 1979

Nine patients with diarrhoea and bile salt malabsorption after pelvic irradiation for malignant gynaecologic tumours were treated with a low-fat diet (40 g of fat per day) for 3 to 6 months. Faecal excretion of bile salts decreased in all patients concomitant with relief of symptoms.

If you are experiencing any irritable bowel or intestinal discomfort, try it. Just try it. Stop eating fat for 1 week. No oil. No butter or cheese or eggs or meat or even peanut butter or nuts. Just 1 week. You can go back to eating anything you like after that. What do you have to lose?

Cephalopods (Octopus, Cuttlefish) Are Masters Of Color-Change. They’re Also Colorblind.

Octopus, cuttlefish, squid, and other members of the cephalopod class are masters of color-change and camouflage. Here’s an octopus:

But …

Cephalopods, in almost all cases, are said to be colorblind.
-Peter Godfrey-Smith, in Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness

How do they do it?

One-Third Of All Humans Are Now Overweight Or Obese

This is big news in the public health field. I couldn’t even access the journal’s site yesterday when it came out, “server too busy.” Here’s the NYTs:

More Than 10 Percent Of World’s Population Is Obese, Study Finds, New York Times, 12 June 2017

Instead of accompanying this post with a photo showing how people look today, I thought I’d go back in time and show how people (some people) used to look. Here’s an iconic photo from the Woodstock, New York music festival, August 1969. Now, 48 years later, 2 out of every 3 of these people would be overweight or obese.

The authors of the study said the obesity problem is not a result of less activity, which I have been writing about for years (e.g. Modern-Day Hunter-Gatherers, Who Lead Physically Hard Lives, Burn Same Number Of Calories As More Sedentary Populations In US And Europe)

The study largely did not go deeply into the causes of obesity, but the authors said the growing accessibility of inexpensive, nutrient-poor packaged foods was probably a major factor and the general slowdown in physical activity was probably not.

“The change in physical activity preceded the global increase in obesity,” said Dr. Ashkan Afshin, assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and lead author of the study.

It’s the food:

What people eat is the key factor in whether they become obese or not,” said Adam Drewnowsk, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington.

I also think it’s chemicals in food, something I’ve written about over the years. Pesticides, plastics, and other pollutants act as endocrine disruptors in the body, which have been shown to increase risk for obesity, diabetes, and reproductive disorders. By the way, Monsanto’s popular herbicide glyphosate in Roundup, which many countries and localities, even here in the US, ban or restrict, is a potent endocrine disruptor. I think that’s a bigger problem with it than its carcinogenicity because it takes a lot less glyphosate to disrupt metabolism than to promote cancer.

Our body burden of these chemicals is higher today than it was 10, 20, 50 years ago, and it’s increasing: “The Burden Of Industrial Chemicals Will Continue To Grow Unless We Change Our Path”

Here’s a simple visual from the NIH that shows how Americans’ weight has changed over time. What was going on in the latter part of the 20th century that could have caused that blip up, and maintained it?

Here’s the study:

Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years, New England Journal of Medicine, 12 June 2017

Condor Visits Man Who Saved His Life

When he was born he fell from the nest and people from a nearby farm took care of him. Now the animal lives in the wild completely free, and he passes by to salute his rescuer.

Look at those wings!

Birds are like little dinosaurs, aren’t they. Little flying dinosaurs. Actually

The fossil record indicates that birds are modern feathered dinosaurs, having evolved from theropod ancestors during the Jurassic Period. As such, birds were the only dinosaur lineage to survive the mass extinction event.

Wood Thrush In June

Wikipedia says:

The song of the male is often cited as being the most beautiful in North America.

It’s 7:30 am, 75 degrees, and I’m listening to a wood thrush through the open windows. It doesn’t get any better than this. Once you identify his sound, it never leaves you. There’s a characteristic 3-tone phrase in the middle of its song that sounds like a flute!

The first subsong component is often inaudible unless the listener is close, and consists of two to six short, low-pitched notes such as bup, bup, bup. The middle part is a loud phrase often written ee-oh-lay, and the third part is a ventriloquial, trill-like phrase of non-harmonic pairs of notes given rapidly and simultaneously. … The male is able to sing two notes at once, which gives its song an ethereal, flute-like quality.

Where I live, the wood thrush waits until all the robins (wood thrush and robins are related) and cardinals and blue jays and song sparrows and other early risers and singers calm down. Then in the stillness … ee-oh-lay! ee-oh-lay!