New Study Says Poor Diet Linked To Deaths From Chronic Diseases

A new study in JAMA found that nearly half of the deaths in the US due to cardiometabolic diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes) were diet-related.

Researchers looked at 10 foods and found that low intakes of vegetables, fruits, and nuts/seeds; and high intakes of red meat, processed meats, sodium, and sweetened beverages were associated with these premature deaths.

There’s a lot of info in this study, lots of demographic breakdown, but high consumption of processed meat stands out as particularly risky for heart disease and diabetes, especially for men. (They didn’t look at cancer deaths, but processed meat has a strong link to cancer in the published literature, especially colon cancer). Low consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as high sodium, stood out as risky for stroke.

The study:
Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States, Journal of the American Medical Association, 7 March 2017

Here’s Dr. Barnard discussing the study:

I liked the comparison he drew between processed meat and tobacco. At one time in this country, in the 1950s, close to half the population smoked. Now, less than 20% smoke. He says that even though many people eat processed meat today – bacon, sausage, hot dogs, ham, deli meats – that number may decline as we come to understand its harmful effects. Do you think?

The Neanderthal Diet: Some Were Vegetarians

Trying to get my blog set up on new servers. In the mean time, enjoy Ed Yong’s piece on the real Paleo diet:

Neanderthal Dental Plaque Shows What a Paleo Diet Really Looks Like: Some Ate Woolly Rhinos, Some Were Vegetarians, The Atlantic, 8 March 2017

“When people talk about the Paleo diet, that’s not paleo, that’s just non-carb,” Weyrich says. “The true paleo diet is eating whatever’s out there in the environment.”

“We need to revamp the view of Neanderthals as these meat-eating, club-toting cavemen,” adds Weyrich. “They had a very good understanding of what foods were available to them.”

They appeared to use plants medicinally too:

One of the El Sidron Neanderthals even seemed to be self-medicating with edible plants. One of his teeth had an abscess, and his plaque contained a parasite that causes diarrhea. But the plaque also contained Penicillium, the mould that produces the antibiotic penicillin, and poplar bark, a natural source of the aspirin-like painkiller, salicylic acid.

Samuel L. Jackson Eats A Vegan Diet

I was reading the comments of our new Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson last night, where he said, “That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less.”

Which elicited this response from actor and film producer Samuel L. Jackson:

Samuel L. Jackson in 2016 promoting “Legend of Tarzan.”

Which had me looking up Jackson’s bio, where it said:

In August 2013, he started a vegan diet for health reasons, explaining that he is “just trying to live forever”, and attributes a 40 lb weight loss to his new diet.

Two comments. One, slaves did not work for less, they worked for nothing. Slaves were distinct from immigrants not least of which because they were owned; immigrants were free. Slaves, in fact, were counted as three-fifths of a person for election purposes.

Two, vegan diets are high-carb diets. Low-carb enthusiasts claim you cannot lose weight on a high-carb diet, that carbohydrates make you fat.

We’ve Been Eating 100 Grams Of Fiber Every Day For Millions Of Years

Here’s Dr. Greger talking about fiber:

I pulled out that chart he included from this study…
Studying the Human Gut Microbiota in the Trans-Omics Era – Focus on Metagenomics and Metabonomics, Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2009

… that shows our fiber intake from Paleolithic times to present:

Greger: “We’ve been eating 100 grams of fiber every day for millions of years.” That’s a lot! I can’t imagine eating that much fiber. I think I do better than that 12-18 grams of most Americans though, because everything I eat is a plant. Only plants provides fiber.

The Mind Of An Octopus

I had to share this with you. It’s an excerpt from the book, Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. The first paragraph sets it up, the second … you’ll see.

[Jean] Boal has a reputation as one of the most rigorous and critical cephalopod researchers. She is known for her meticulous experimental designs, and her insistence that “cognition” or “thought” in these animals should be hypothesized only when experimental results cannot be explained in any simpler way. But like many researchers she has a few tales of behaviors that are baffling in what they seem to show about the innder lives of these animals. One of these has stayed in her mind for over a decade.

Octopuses love to eat crabs, but in the lab they are often fed on thawed-out frozen shrimp or squid. It takes octopuses a while to get used to these second-rate foods, but eventually they do. One day Boal was walking down a row of tanks, feeding each octopus a piece of thawed squid as she passed. On reaching the end of the row, she walked back the way she’d come. The octopus in the first tank, though, seemed to be waiting for her. It had not eaten its squid, but instead was holding it conspicuously. As Boal stood there, the octopus made its way slowly across the tank toward the outflow pipe, watching her all the way. When it reached the outflow pipe, still watching her, it dumped the scrap of squid down the drain.

Here’s another story I happened upon: Inky The Octopus Makes An Amazing Escape, 14 April 2016

Inky the octopus swimming in a tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, New Zealand. (AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Inky the octopus waited until it was dark and the staff had gone home from the National Aquarium of New Zealand before making his move.

He squeezed and pushed his way through a tiny gap in the mesh at the top of his tank and slithered 2 metres to the floor. Then he made a beeline across the room to a drain hole.

With a body the size of a rugby ball, Inky managed to stretch out and squeeze into the hole. From there, he shimmied down the 50-meter pipe until he was back in the Pacific Ocean.

People With Metabolic Syndrome Need More Vitamin E (And Probably More Vitamin C And Other Nutrients)

Excess fat around the waist is one of a cluster of conditions known as Metabolic Syndrome.

Here’s the study. New, out this month:
Metabolic Syndrome Increases Dietary Α-Tocopherol Requirements As Assessed Using Urinary And Plasma Vitamin E Catabolites: A Double-Blind, Crossover Clinical Trial, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2017

The title says it all. People with Metabolic Syndrome* (MetS) need more vitamin E than their healthier peers.

* Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Participants with MetS, compared with healthy participants, excreted lower amounts of urinary vitamin E catabolites. … Overall, we concluded that participants with MetS had decreased vitamin E catabolism.

As we reported previously, plasma alpha-tocopherol concentrations during the 4 milk interventions were significantly lower, and turnover was significantly slower, in participants with MetS than in healthy participants. Moreover, participants with MetS had increased biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby suggesting that they had increased requirements for alpha-tocopherol.

Of note:

In addition, participants with MetS had lower plasma ascorbic acid concentrations despite having eaten similar amounts of vitamin C as were consumed by healthy participants.

The people with MetS in this study were relatively young, average age 32.8. Imagine the needs of someone with MetS in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s? When absorption and metabolism can be further compromised?

I’m back to thinking that a low-dose vitamin-mineral supplement for older people or anyone with Metabolic Syndrome isn’t a bad idea. Unnatural circumstances call for unnatural solutions. But which one? How to trust an industry that resists regulation and that has been found to lie?

Kaiser Permanente Says Eat Plant-Based, Little To No Meat And Dairy

From: Challenging patients to try plant-based diet

Kaiser Permanente doctors say eating more vegetables, fruits and grains and little to no meat and dairy will not only prevent disease but will also treat and even cure some chronic conditions.