Archives for category: science

Here’s an introduction to the world of lipids, proteins, and other pieces making up the internal language of goo that runs us.

It’s an almost-40min presentation by Dr. Cate Shanahan, medical doctor and previously trained biochemist (YAY for science ladies!).

I won’t do any of the jargon justice, not yet anyway. So, here’s the presentation with a good deal of useful explanations on PUFA’s, oxidative stress, lipid panel measurements and what the hell these words mean:

Take a look at this blog and this blog post, specifically:
Dropping My Cholesterol At Record Speeds – Part 1.

 

This is just one man’s journey into the [real] science of cholesterols, but it is a fascinating process to watch (or read, rather) unfold!

Blogger Dave is kind enough to share all of his body data online. He is truly “putting himself out there” for everyone to see and showing what food input does to all your inner data.

Have a look!

I woke up to a table of dreams today.

Marty Kendall from Optimising Nutrition posted an incredibly dense set of tabled data. Luckily he is an awesome person and took the time to sort out the data for everyone.

The end product: nutrient density analysis.

(Click on the table below or link above to go the full set of charts.)



The complete list of comparisons is found below the table, bottom right. He has given four main comparisons with all foods in each sheet, followed by the breakdown for each food group. Sweet. 🙂

The main comparisons are:

  • Nutrient Density vs % Insulinogenic
  • Nutrient Density vs Insulin Load
  • Nutrient Density vs Energy Density
  • Nutrient Density vs Net Carbohydrates

Marty uses “nutrient density” to describe the amount of nutrients per calorie of a foodstuff. Please see that link to his post on nutrient density to understand more about the different ways of measuring it.

Insulin load” is defined to include the combined effects of carbohydrates, fibre and protein, specifically:

insulin load = total carbohydrates – fibre + 0.56 x protein

He has defined the proportion of insulinogenic calories, “% insulinogenic“, as:

image011

Now, if all of this is completely overwhelming, it’s okay! Not everyone reacts well to this amount of information in graphs.

The basic ideas are useful though: if you want to get more micronutrients in, but don’t want to overdo your energy intake, there are certain foods that are perfect for this goal.

Similarly, if you are insulin resistant and want to control Type 2 Diabetes,  you can tailor your diet specifically to control your insulin response.

Of course, every single person is different. And that’s not even talking about the multitude of invisible friends (and/or foes) that live inside you: your own gut microbiota.

This means that what you eat might not have the exact same effect on you as your sibling or friend, but the ideas  above of optimising your diet are a fantastic starting point in the road to improving your health!

 


The bottom line, as always: eat real food!


 

A Canadian senate committee has just released a new report, along with some very nice summaries for public consumption, on obesity in Canada and what to do about it.

Why is this report a little less depressing than other governmental reports from around the world? It is pushing research, and therefore funding, into areas that are difficult to fund without government support.
And the people involved have the guts to call their current guidelines dated, which, to me, is a euphemism for just a little bit incorrect:
Canada’s dated food guide is no longer effective in providing nutritional guidance to Canadians. Fruit juice, for instance, is presented as a healthy item when it is little more than a soft drink without the bubbles.

Recommendations

I wanted to list a bunch of the recommendations, but I’ll stick to two…
Get a strong group of scientists to ask challenging research questions across disciplines, not just nutritionists:

Recommendation 7

The committee further recommends that the Minister of Health revise the food guide on the guidance of an advisory body which:

  • Comprises experts in relevant areas of study, including but not limited to nutrition, medicine, metabolism, biochemistry, and biology; 
The second-to-last recommendation sums it up nicely. I quite like that this paragraph does not keep hammering on about poor diet and obesity, but rather poor diet and chronic disease. This is where society’s money and people’s quality of life goes down the drain, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Recommendation 20

The committee therefore recommends that Health Canada design and implement a public awareness campaign on healthy eating based on tested, simple messaging. These messages should relate to, but not be limited to:

  • Most of the healthiest food doesn’t require a label;
  • Meal preparation and enjoyment;
  • Reduced consumption of processed foods; and,
  • The link between poor diet and chronic disease.

 

Report links

The report summary is very user-friendly and includes:

 

Of course, you can also read the whole report (pdf warning, 56 pages) if brevity is not your thing.

Here is the full text of a pilot study on the effects of an oral contraceptive on a group of obese women, some with PCOS and the rest (the control group) without.

The researchers were specifically looking at what happens to the level of insulin resistance/sensitivity to these women when they start taking a particular oral contraceptive.

From the discussion:

After 3 months of OC use, we found significant worsening of glucose tolerance (AUC glucose) in PCOS women compared to control women. There was no significant difference between the two groups in other metabolic parameters at the end of 3 months.

While the glucose tolerance seem to worsen for the PCOS group, the measured level of insulin resistance did not. However, insulin sensitivity did worsen for the women in the control group:

Hence, it appears that when insulin sensitivity is already profoundly reduced at baseline, as in the case of the combination of both PCOS and obesity, the effect of OCs in further reducing insulin sensitivity may not be evident. This may explain why only control women, but not PCOS women, experienced a significant increase in fasting insulin, and worsening of insulin sensitivity after 3 months of OC when compared to baseline.

The full paper is available online, so please have a look at it yourself! It is a very small pilot study, but it is great news that all these factors are being studied.

It’s a big step in the right direction, especially when so many women (and men) have never heard of PCOS or thought twice about the possible metabolic effects of oral contraceptives.

(*Note: I haven’t had the time to look in-depth at the stats in the paper. I’m just so damn happy to see something like this which will hopefully get funding for a bigger, and scientifically rigorous, study.)

I’m posting this more as a “note-to-self” than anything else.

I haven’t done much research on this at all, mostly because it takes a lot of time to find sane and compelling sources, so it is highly likely that a lot of the answers I’m looking for are out there.

If anyone actually reads this and is involved in the field, please let me know!

There is such a wide spread of hormonal experiences when transitioning to ketosis on all the forums and groups I visit online. Some women lose their cycles, for how long I don’t know.  Many who stay on a ketogenic diet seem to regain a normal cycle after some months, but I have absolutely no idea what the norm is. I don’t know if a norm exists. And then some are on birth control, some not.

I don’t make any conclusions because all reported experiences end up being an echo-chamber. The only conclusion I have so far is that different things happen to different women, but there seem to be a few subsets of common experiences.

There are two things in particular that interest me:

  • the differences between menstrual cycles on a ketogenic diet, a non-ketogenic carb-restricted diet, a “normal” middle-of-the-road diet, and a very low-fat diet,
  • the effects of different forms of hormonal birth control on all of the above cases.

The first set of baseline questions seem to me to cover the continuum of metabolic regimes. (My background is in applied maths and fluid mechanics, so it seems that this is how I now process the world: hard definitions, mathematically defined regimes and effects during regime changes. What have I become!)

It should go without saying that this kind of data should be long-term data and tested for metabolically healthy women as well as those who have already developed shit like PCOS.

Then I want the corresponding set of data for the same questions, but during periods of active weight (i.e. fat) loss.

I really want good sets of data to exist with ALL the parameters available. Influences on mood, period pain (damn you forever omega 6’s and prostaglandins), bloating, PMS-cravings, flow rate, cervical mucous, give me everything.

With online food-tracking and cycle-tracking being as easy as it is these days, there really is no excuse. It should be “relatively simple” to get a first-pass investigation going with so many people voluntarily switching to different diet regimes.

Tools like MyFitnessPal, My Days, FatSecret and all similar apps are sitting on a wealth of information. I want it!

All the data. That’s my Christmas wish.

 

 

 

Reblog: lessons on intervention from cardiology by Dr Bernard Lown.

“Our forty-year struggle essentially concerned medicine’s first and inviolate principle, primum non nocere. “First do no harm” is the litmus test sanctioning the privilege to practice medicine.”

Update: I had no idea who Dr Lown was before reading this post. And now I’m sitting here completely floored and grateful for his existence:

Dr Bernard Lown, wikipedia

And here’s a quote from his comment on the blog post above:

It is good to know that not every one tweets, some still consume a longer, probing essay.

Dr. Bernard Lown's Blog

Bernard Lown, MD

As I have just passed my 90th birthday, writing this essay reminds me of Machiavelli’s admonition when he was receiving final Communion on his deathbed. “Renounce the devil and embrace the Lord,” intoned the priest. A long silence. Then came Machiavelli’s whisper: “This is no time to make new enemies.”

Let me start with a confession: I not only harbored dangerously unorthodox views during my career; I practiced them. Being allowed to voluntarily retire from the practice of medicine in 2007, rather than having had my medical license revoked decades earlier, was either an egregious establishment oversight or an act of divine intervention. Though my medical transgressions were never obfuscated or hidden, few are aware of them.

My deviant behavior consisted of sharp departures from the accepted norms of medical practice. I deemed such behavior an act of civil disobedience, for which I was ready to accept…

View original post 4,882 more words

The search for gainful employment in Norwegia seems pretty darn futile at the moment, but the gloom was lifted yesterday by this interesting job posting:

As Field Medical Advisor you will be part of a dedicated and dynamic medical affairs team. Together we are responsible for the medical and scientific information supporting appropriate use of [company name] innovative treatments of well-established and future products as well as local ongoing clinical trials. As Field Medical Advisor you will build strong long standing relationships with key stakeholders within the diabetes community, with the aim of ensuring optimal delivery of scientific information, ultimately leading to better treatment for patients with diabetes.

Oh, really! I’d love to be on board and talk about some innovative and better treatments for patients!

Your main responsibility will be to provide medical and scientific support to health care personnel, in strong collaboration with sales, market access and marketing in [company name] . You will initiate and drive medical activities within [location], facilitating development of symposia, meetings and education seminars for health care providers, as well as supporting advisory boards.

This is fascinating. And starkly revealing.

I would actually relish the opportunity to be involved in this work in order to get an insider’s perspective, and I’m almost desperate enough right now to apply, but my soul is not quite ready to be sold. Not yet, in any case.

I’m not against medical treatment when it is necessary, especially for anyone suffering from the effects of diabetes, but holy cow the job description above gives me the heebeejeebees.

In all fairness, the company could be rolling out some very effective medication that could really improve the quality of life of some people. Let me not be too cynical today.

The last week has delivered two absolute gems to my screen.

The first, Strong Medicine by Dr Blake F. Donaldson, is available to read and download on Babel!

I accidentally came upon it via Ash Simmonds and his HighSteaks blog. His meat-filled twitter feed is also recommended. (I have to admit that I’m getting absolute grills, Afrikaans for the heebeejeebees, mentioning some stranger’s twitter feed. StalkerPro here.)

The book itself is quite the entertaining read! A lot of pervasive life truths are punctuated by some boldly stated and highly cringeworthy thoughts straight out of a totally different cultural era. It is a bit of a rollercoaster, but Doc Donaldson pulls out some great one-liners that keep me reading, consider:

“It seems to me there are three horns to the dilemma of the fat man.”

and

“There are probably only two perfect foods-fresh fat meat and clean water.”

Always cutting straight to the point, as he also was in his recommendations to patients:

“Unless you are willing to stop eating flour now and forever, I don’t want to take care of you.”

But the zinger award must surely go to:

“You are out of your mind when you take insulin in order to eat a Danish pastry.”

And then there are musings on medical science that shows some perceptions really have not changed, not one little bit:

“…cholesterol has been made a whipping boy, which is unjustified.
Since the determination of its importance much of the research work on cholesterol has been abandoned, though some is still going on. Talk about cholesterol is old hat, forget it, and certainly it would never help you with weight reduction.”

Sigh.

Donaldson put his patients on a very strict but simple regimen, mostly fatty red meat and coffee three times a day. After the desired sustainable weight was reached, meals could be expanded to include four ingredients. I had a look at my breakfast of eggs, chorizo and tomato cooked in ghee and thought, ja, why overdo the ingredient list and make it more complicated for my body. It’s just a machine, after all.

The man had a sympathetic heart to make up for his stern and strong medicine. He recalls his experiences of working in a hall of soldiers in varying stages of recovery or death, or both, after mustard gas exposure. He crafts a striking image of a Hungarian violinist coming to the hospital ward to play beautiful songs by request from the suffering men, but the doctor, having built up strong armour to defend against the daily horrors of slow deaths, is suddenly overwhelmed by the atmosphere:

“As the strains of that old melody swept through the hall I had to leave. Some things in life you just can’t take.”


The other goodie was another one of the lectures from the Low Carb Down Under series: Marty Kendall on “Managing Insulin to Optimise Nutrition”.

If you know someone who is unlucky enough to have Type 1 Diabetes, have them watch this talk. There is no sensationalism and the explanation behind why Marty and his wife eat like they do is wonderfully clear and logically explained.

But also, this is science communication done right! Yay!

By this I mean that someone has not only made an effort to understand the underlying science, but has taken the extra (and necessary) step of translating it beautifully so that I can get an intuitive grasp of what the hell you are on about. I don’t want to spend two minutes figuring out your graph and axes in a short lecture. Stick some proper labels and pictures in the graph so that I can see what’s up! I think it can be even better, as is always the case, but this is already great to see. Clear, concise and pretty.

Marty Kendall’s blog is over at Optimising Nutrition. Go have a look.

A quick manual re-blog (does blogger talk to wordpress some other way?):

The Hopeful Geranium (George Henderson’s The High-Fat Hep C Diet ) on the rise of diabetes in India.

Quite relevant to me today as I just cooked a whole heap of fatty chicken thighs in ghee. My conclusion is that ghee is awesome. 🙂

Henderson quotes the following from B.S. Raheja on his post:

It is suggested that the real remedy for DM, ACVD and all the risk factors lies not in drugs or surgery but in the kitchen.