Author Archives: Bix

Swapping A Meat-Burger For A Veggie-Burger May Slow Progression Of Diabetes

These aren’t tofu burgers like they used in the study. They’re veggie burgurs that I wouldn’t mind trying. Made with beans and rice. From Nora Cooks.

Sit down to a sandwich. Swap the meat for a tofu burger. See less post-meal oxidation and better blood markers:
A plant-based meal reduces postprandial oxidative and dicarbonyl stress in men with diabetes or obesity compared with an energy- and macronutrient-matched conventional meal in a randomized crossover study, Nutrition and Metabolism, 10 September 2021

In conclusion, our results indicate that the plant-based meal ameliorated the exacerbation of postprandial oxidative and dicarbonyl stress* in type 2 diabetes and obese men compared with a conventional energy- and macronutrient-matched meal, and thus can provide better protection against the development of complications associated with diabetes and obesity. Further studies are needed to verify these effects, in particular after a long-term adherence to a plant-based diet.

* Oxidative and dicarbonyl stress is a key mechanism in the development of vascular complications during the post-meal phase.

The vegan meal had the same amount of fat as the meat-based meal (22 grams!). It still showed better. (They ate a sandwich. Tofu burger vs. cooked pork with cheese. Same fat. Imagine the fat in that tofu burger.)

The study was out of the Czech Republic. The US is not a good source for diet studies anymore. They’re a good source of (profit-generating) drug studies though.

Iodine. It’s Important.

From: National Institutes of Health: Iodine

Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones.

We need about 150 micrograms a day.

If a person’s iodine intake falls below approximately 10–20 mcg/day, hypothyroidism occurs, a condition that is frequently accompanied by goiter.

Mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency can cause goiter as well as impaired mental function and work productivity secondary to hypothyroidism.

Groups at Risk of Iodine Inadequacy

    • People who do not use iodized salt
    • Pregnant women. The RDA for iodine increases during pregnancy.
    • Vegans. Seafood is one of the best natural sources for iodine (that includes seaweed but most people in the US don’t eat it). Eggs contain iodine because it’s added to chicken feed so free range eggs are iffy. Dairy products contain iodine because it’s used as a disinfectant on udders and machines. (What else is in there?)

Soil contains varying amounts of iodine which impacts the iodine content of crops. Most fruits and vegetables are poor sources of iodine. (Their table lists essentially zero iodine in broccoli, banana, lima beans, green peas, pasta, brown rice, and corn). Iodine content of meat and animal products varies depending on what animals are fed.

Iodized salt in the US contains 45 mcg iodine per gram of salt (between 1/8 and 1/4 teaspoon). Not all salt is iodized:

Drinking Water Increases Metabolic Rate, Thermogenesis (Heat Production), Can Assist Weight Loss

Drinking two cups of plain water on an empty stomach can produce “a 60% surge in the adrenal hormone noradrenaline within minutes, as if you just smoked a few cigarettes or downed a few cups of coffee, which boosts your metabolic rate up to 30% within an hour.” – Michael Greger MD. Photo: Cooks Illustrated

Dr. Greger just posted this video about water and metabolism. The concept is new to me. Beneath the video are 9 studies I pulled from his presentation and a quote or paraphrase about each. Beneath that is the video’s transcript if you’d prefer to read. Greger does a great job of summing this all up in 5 minutes. At the very end are my comments.

1. Water-induced Thermogenesis And Fat Oxidation: A Reassessment, Nutrition & Diabetes, December 2015

The increases in REE [resting energy expenditure] over 90 min post drink found in the two studies conducted in the laboratory of Boschmann et al. [they are the following 2 studies] using the same fixed water volume (500 ml) and same water temperature (21–22°) are uniquely spectacular.

2. Water-Induced Thermogenesis, The Journal of Clinical Endorinology and Metabolism, December 2003

Drinking 500 ml of water [16 ounces or 2 cups] increased metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30–40 min.

In men, lipids mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate. In contrast, in women carbohydrates were mainly used as the energy source.

The increase in energy expenditure with water was diminished with systemic β-adrenoreceptor blockade. [So, taking a beta-blocker – say, for high-blood pressure – would defeat this increase in metabolism.]

3. Water Drinking Induces Thermogenesis Through Osmosensitive Mechanisms, The Journal of Clinical Endorinology and Metabolism, August 2007

Context: Recently, we showed that drinking 500 ml water induces thermogenesis in normal-weight men and women.

Objective: We now repeated these studies in a randomized, controlled, crossover trial in overweight or obese otherwise healthy subjects (eight men and eight women), comparing also the effects of 500 ml isoosmotic saline or 50 ml water.

Results: Only 500 ml water increased energy expenditure by 24% over the course of 60 min after ingestion, whereas isoosmotic saline and 50 ml water had no effect. Heart rate and blood pressure did not change in these young, healthy subjects.

Conclusions: Our data exclude volume-related effects or gastric distension as the mediator of the thermogenic response to water drinking. Instead, we hypothesize the existence of a portal osmoreceptor, most likely an ion channel.

4. Influence Of Water Drinking On Resting Energy Expenditure In Overweight Children, International Journal of Obesity, July 2011

A subsequent rise in REE [resting energy expenditure] was observed, which was significantly higher than baseline after 24 min and at most time points thereafter. Maximal mean REE values were seen at 57 min after water drinking which were 25% higher than baseline.

5. The Osmopressor Response To Water Drinking, American Journal of Physiology, January 2011

Indeed, water drinking raises resting energy expenditure in normal weight and obese subjects. The stimulus setting off the response is hypoosmolarity rather than water temperature or gastrointestinal stretch.

The increase in metabolic rate with water drinking could be systematically applied in the prevention of weight gain and associated metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors. In essence, water drinking provides negative calories.

6. Drinking Water Is Associated With Weight Loss In Overweight Dieting Women Independent Of Diet And Activity, Obesity, September 2012

Results: Absolute and relative increases in drinking water were associated with significant loss of body weight and fat over time, independent of covariates.

7. Effect Of ‘Water Induced Thermogenesis’ On Body Weight, Body Mass Index And Body Composition Of Overweight Subjects, Journal of Clincal and Diagnositic Research, September 2013

This was an odd study. 50 young women drank 2 cups of water 3 times a day, before meals, in addition to any other beverages. After 8 weeks, the women lost weight, their BMIs went down, they lost body fat. However, you don’t know if all that water before meals affected calorie intake. Also no control group. Nonetheless, they drank water and lost weight without dieting.

8. Water Consumption Increases Weight Loss During A Hypocaloric Diet Intervention In Middle-Aged And Older Adults, Obesity, February 2010

Weight loss was ~2 kg greater in the water group than in the nonwater group, and the water group showed a 44% greater decline in weight over the 12 weeks than the nonwater group.

Thus, when combined with a hypocaloric diet, consuming 500 ml water prior to each main meal leads to greater weight loss than a hypocaloric diet alone in middle-aged and older adults. This may be due in part to an acute reduction in meal EI following water ingestion.

9. Efficacy Of Water Preloading Before Main Meals As A Strategy For Weight Loss In Primary Care Patients With Obesity: RCT, Obesity, August 2015

After adjustment, the water preloading group (500 ml 30 min before meal) lost about 1.2 kg (2.6 pounds, not much) more than the comparison group over 12 weeks. Barely reached significance: P = 0.063. However, those who actually DID drink the water 3 times a day lost about 9.5 pounds from baseline.

Here’s the transcript:

Given the 60 percent surge in the adrenal hormone noradrenaline within minutes of just drinking two cups of plain water, might one get the weight-loss benefits of noradrenaline-releasing drugs, like ephedra, without the risks? You don’t know until you put it to the test. Published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, the results were described as “uniquely spectacular.” Drinking two cups of water increased the metabolic rate of men and women by 30 percent. The increase started within 10 minutes and reached a maximum within an hour. In the 90 minutes after drinking a single tall glass of water, the study subjects burned about an extra 25 calories. Do that four times throughout the day and you could wipe out 100 extra calories— more than ephedra! You’d trim off more calories drinking water than taking weight loss doses of the banned substance, ephedrine—the active component of ephedra—three times a day. And we’re just talking about plain, cheap, safe, and legal tap water!

Using the 10-Calorie Rule I explained previously, unless we somehow compensated by eating more or moving less, drinking that much water could make us lose 10 pounds over time. “In essence,” concluded one research team, “water drinking provides negative calories.”

A similar effect was found in overweight and obese children. Drinking about two cups of water led to a 25 percent increase in metabolic rate within 24 minutes, lasting at least 66 minutes until the experiment ended. So, just getting the recommended daily “adequate intake” of water—about 7 cups a day for children ages 4 through 8, and for ages 9 through 13, 8 cups a day for girls and 10 cups for boys—may offer more than just hydration benefits.

Not all research teams were able to replicate these findings, though. Others only found about a 10 to 20 percent increase, a 5 percent increase, or effectively none at all––pouring cold water, one might say, on the whole concept. What we care about, though, is weight loss. The proof is in the pudding. Let’s test the waters, shall we?

Some researchers suggest, “The increase in metabolic rate with water drinking could be systematically applied in the prevention of weight gain….” Talk about a safe, simple, side-effect-free solution—in fact free, in every sense. Drug companies may spend billions getting a new drug to market; surely a little could be spared to test something that, at the very least, couldn’t hurt. That’s the problem, though. Water is a “cost-free intervention.”

There are observational studies suggesting those who drink, for example, four or more cups of water a day appear to lose more weight, independent of confounding factors such as less soda or more exercise. But you don’t really know until you put it to the test.

And finally, in 2013, “Effect of ‘Water Induced Thermogenesis’ on Body Weight, Body Mass Index and Body Composition of Overweight Subjects.” Fifty overweight “girls” (actually women, ages 18 through 23) were asked to drink two cups of water, three times a day, a half hour before meals, over and above their regular water intake, without otherwise changing their diets or physical activity. And, they lost an average of three pounds in eight weeks. What happened to those in the control group? There was no control group, a fatal flaw for any weight loss study due to the “Hawthorne effect,” where just knowing you’re being watched and weighed may subtly affect people’s behavior. Of course, we’re just talking about water; so, with no downsides one might as well give it a try. But I’d feel more confident if there were some randomized, controlled trials to really put it to the test. Thankfully, there are!

Oh, I hate it when the title ruins the suspense. Overweight and obese men and women randomized to two cups of water before each meal lost nearly five pounds more body fat in 12 weeks than those in the control group. Both groups were put on the same calorie-restricted diet, but the one with the added water lost weight 44 percent faster. A similar randomized controlled trial found that about 1 in 4 in the water group lost more than 5 percent of their body weight compared to only 1 in 20 in the control group.

The average weight loss difference was only about three pounds, but those who claimed to have actually complied with the three-times-a-day instructions lost about eight more pounds compared to those only did the extra water once a day or less. This is comparable to commercial weight loss programs like Weight Watchers, and all they did was drink some extra water.

Not cited by Greger but related:
The Pressor Response to Water Drinking in Humans, Circulation, February 2000

Conclusions — Water drinking significantly and rapidly raises sympathetic activity. Indeed, it raises plasma norepinephrine as much as such classic sympathetic stimuli as caffeine and nicotine.

In sum … Drinking a cup or two of water on an empty stomach raises metabolism. Less than that or drinking tea, soda, beer, or other beverage won’t work. Mechanism: When a dilute solution passes over a cell (possibly in digestive tract, liver, or hepatic portal vein), a receptor on the cell’s surface senses that extracellular hypoosmolarity (water is hypoosmotic).

It’s vital that a cell be able to sense what’s going on around it, because:

Extracellular hyperosmolarity causes cell shrinkage, whereas extracellular hypoosmolarity causes cell swelling.

Either of those sets off a chain of events, e.g.

Indeed, osmotic cell swelling activates anabolic processes including glycogen and protein synthesis in the presence of suitable substrates.

Also, Did you notice? If your metabolic rate goes up and you produce heat, you need to be burning a fuel. What’s the fuel? It’s different for men and women:

In men, lipids mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate. In contrast, in women carbohydrates were mainly used as the energy source.

There is a whole lot going on here, a whole lot to learn.

What Is The Fate Of Excess Carbohydrate? Does It Turn Into Fat?

Does eating carbohydrate, starch, make us fat? The short answer is “No.” The caveat is “No, as long as the diet is not also high in fat.”

The carbohydrate we eat has many fates. One fate, after it’s broken down into glucose, is energy production. That’s its primary fate. Its next fate is the replenishment of glycogen. (Glycogen is a form of energy storage. It’s made up of many units of glucose strung together.) A pound of glycogen stores about 1800 calories. We can store several pounds of glycogen in the body – in liver, muscle, even fat cells store glycogen. We can store A LOT of calories from the carb we eat as glycogen without turning it into fat. Fat production does occur, but it does not rank high in the body’s use of glucose.*

In humans there is little lipogenesis [fat production] from glucose under normal conditions.

What is the fate then of excess glucose?

1. It warms the body:

Thermogenesis [heat production] can help eliminate a sizeable part of the excess unused dietary glucose.”

2. It can be consumed by gut bacteria:

An undetermined part of the excess body glucose may find its way into the intestinal lumen [glucose freely diffuses across the intestinal wall, both ways], where it may be taken up and metabolized by the microorganisms.

3. It can be lost in urine: From blood, glucose travels to kidneys where it’s excreted. At one time, people tested for diabetes by tasting urine for sweetness.

People known as “water tasters” diagnosed diabetes by tasting the urine of people suspected to have it. If urine tasted sweet, diabetes was diagnosed. To acknowledge this feature, in 1675 the word “mellitus,” meaning honey, was added to the name “diabetes,” meaning siphon.

4. It can be used for fat production. But that has limits:

Excess glucose has difficulty entering cells (for fat production) if the cell has already satisfied its glucose needs. How does the cell close the door to too much glucose, which can damage the cell? By becoming resistant to insulin, a hormone which opens the door. High-caloric/high dietary-fat environments cause cells to become insulin resistant. Blood glucose then rises. That causes insulin to rise even more, leading to a cascade of largely undesirable effects. Insulin is an anabolic hormone and supports lipogenesis/fat production – but the preferred substrate or building block for fat production is fatty acids, not glucose:

Brown adipose [fat] tissue (BAT) enhanced consumption of glucose may represent a quantitatively significant possibility for rodents, but it is doubtful that in humans, with a limited BAT presence, it may represent a significant dent in the pool of excess circulating glucose, especially when BAT preferred substrate is, again, lipid.

A number of tissues, such as white adipose tissue (WAT), however, develop the ability to deactivate a significant proportion of the insulin carried by the blood, a mechanism that protects the tissues themselves of being force-fed an unwanted and not metabolizable [because of saturation of normal pathways] load of glucose.

A high-caloric diet where fat calories are in abundance can lead to chronic insulin resistance, diabetes, inflammation, high blood cholesterol, fatty liver … the very definition of the metabolic syndrome.

People do not get fat eating lots of carbohydrate. Look at the rice diet, or the potato diet. In fact, people tend to lose weight … as long as they are not pouring oil on salads and pasta or melting cheese over vegetables or eating lots of just about any animal food which contains most of the saturated fat and cholesterol in the human diet.

Whole populations have survived and thrived on diets that received most of their calories from carbohydrates – rice, potatoes, corn, wheat, barley. And they did not not have the obesity problems we have today.

Dr. McDougall says, “The fat you eat is the fat you wear.” He’s right. (This article said it more scientifically, “Dietary lipids favor their metabolic processing.”)

* Utilization Of Dietary Glucose In The Metabolic Syndrome, Nutrition and Metabolism, 2011

Another Study Demonstrates The Calorie-Lowering Effect Of Cooking Then Cooling Starch – This Time In Rice (Repost)

This photo accompanied the Telegraph article. While it’s beautiful, it somewhat misrepresents the research’s finding – that cooled rice contains fewer calories than hot rice. Does cool rice steam? Although reheating rice after it has cooled does not eliminate its resistant starch.

What happens to the starch in pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, oats, and many other starchy foods when you cook them, then allow them to cool slowly? The starch becomes resistant to our digestive enzymes. I’ve been writing about resistant starch (RS) for 10 years now so it’s probably familiar to you. Resistant starch passes through to the colon undigested and ends up feeding resident bacteria. We derive significantly fewer calories from starchy food that has been heated and cooled compared to just heated. We also derive benefit from the byproducts of the bacteria that eat the starch, e.g short-chain fatty acids and some vitamins. And, given the findings in this study, we may also derive cognitive benefit by populating our gut with beneficial RS-eating microorganisms.

Research presented at the American Chemical Society annual meeting last week described a technique for reducing calories in rice by up to 60%. You simply cook then cool the rice:

“The cooling is essential because amylose, the soluble part of the starch, leaves the granules during gelatinization,” explains [team leader Sudhair A. James]. “Cooling for 12 hours will lead to formation of hydrogen bonds between the amylose molecules outside the rice grains which also turns it into a resistant starch.” Reheating the rice for consumption, he notes, does not affect the RS levels.


RS is not broken down in the small intestine, where carbohydrates normally are metabolized into glucose and other simple sugars and absorbed into the bloodstream.

One more point. I say this often but it seems to go into the ether or something:

“After your body converts carbohydrates into glucose, any leftover fuel gets converted into a polysaccharide carbohydrate called glycogen,” [James] explains. “Your liver and muscles store glycogen for energy and quickly turn it back into glucose as needed.

People say that leftover glucose gets converted to fat. It doesn’t. It gets converted into glycogen, which is not fat.

Some headlines:

I wouldn’t call this technique “new,” would you?
New Low-Calorie Rice Could Help Cut Rising Obesity Rates, Press release from the American Chemical Society

This next title implies it’s more about the cooking. It’s not. It’s more about the cooling. By the way, this author says starch “has one central flaw: it isn’t that good for you.” The starch in potatoes, pumpkins, squashes, beans, peas, corn, carrots, barley, oats, wheat, and rice aren’t good for you. He also says that cooked potatoes are less healthful than raw potatoes. I don’t think I would ever eat a potato that wasn’t cooked:
Scientists Have Discovered A Simple Way To Cook Rice That Dramatically Cuts The Calories, Washington Post blog

Simple. Yes, it’s simple:
Simple Rice-Cooking Hack Could Reduce Calories By 60 Per Cent, The Telegraph

It’s true, eat it cold for fewer calories. But you can also reheat it if you don’t like it cold. Reheating won’t eliminate the resistant starch. In fact, the more you reheat and recool, the more resistant starch you create:
‘Eat Rice Cold For Fewer Calories’, BBC

Repost: Popcorn Has About Double The Antioxidants Of Fruits And Vegetables

Popcorn: The Snack With Even Higher Antioxidants Levels Than Fruits And Vegetables, Presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, March 2012

The amount of polyphenols found in popcorn was up to 300 mg a serving compared to 114 mg for a serving of sweet corn and 160 mg for all fruits per serving. In addition, one serving of popcorn would provide 13 percent of an average intake of polyphenols a day per person in the U.S. Fruits provide 255 mg per day of polyphenols and vegetables provide 218 mg per day to the average U.S. diet.

The levels of polyphenols rivaled those in nuts and were up to 15 times greater than whole-grain tortilla chips.

The hulls of the popcorn — the part that everyone hates for its tendency to get caught in the teeth — actually has the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber.

Popcorn may be the perfect snack food. It’s the only snack that is 100 percent unprocessed whole grain.

If most of the polyphenols reside in the hulls, do we digest them enough to get the benefit? Dr. Joe Vinson, the study’s lead researcher, did a “digestion simulation”:

“We did our own digestion (research) that doesn’t use enzymes, and you as a human being have enzymes and different pH changes to digest food,” he said.

So there’s a good chance those antioxidants are getting digested and absorbed.

Popcorn is whole grain, high in fiber, low in fat, low in calories, and high in antioxidants. There’s not a lot out there that can compete with that.

Blue Jay Left Me A Gift

I think a blue jay left me a gift. I could be reading into it, but, so what. I’m going to say it’s a gift. I had been feeding these one or two jays and this morning, in the exact spot where I leave them a nut, one of them deposited this little shell. Perfectly intact. Then flew away.

Did Crows Actually Make These Gifts for the Human Who Feeds Them?, Audobon, May 2019

Crows, as members of the corvid family*, are highly intelligent creatures that make tools, recognize individual humans, and learn from one another. … They do occasionally leave behind objects like keys, lost earrings, bones, or rocks, for the people who feed them, a behavior that John Marzluff, conservation ecologist and Swift’s colleague at the University of Washington, calls “gifting.”

*Blue jays are members of the corvid family.

It’s not the first time I’ve found odd objects where I leave food for birds. I bet they’re watching me. Every time I go outside … they’re watching. Right? The world feels so crowded.