November News Round-Up

In_the_News_November

  • Fizzy drinks can’t claim to be part of a balanced diet
  • Aged cheese and longevity?
  • Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut (VIDEO)
  • How your calf muscle affects weight loss (!)
  • High-fat diet fuels long distance runner
  • Coffee reduces risk of dementia
  • Aspartame may be to blame for weight gain from sugar-free drinks
  • Vitamin D – do supplements work?
  • How cooking made us human

Read time: 6 minutes (1200 words)

Fizzy drinks cannot be part of a balanced diet

UK children sugar consumption

One of the tricks of purveyors of manufactured foods is to claim that their products can be consumed as ‘part of a balanced diet’, whilst failing to define the word ‘balanced’.

However, The Telegraph (15th November) tells us that researchers are now calling into question the validity of such claims after testing 169 types of fizzy drinks sold by major supermarkets in 2014 and finding that over 55% of exceeded the recommended limit of 30g of sugar per day (based on 330ml can serving size). One of the things that jumped out at me from this article is that of the 1.3 million employees in the NHS, 700,000 are overweight or obese! Yup, I think that’s about right, and yet I remember at some point in my childhood being struck by how slender nurses were and how their belts accentuated their waists. Not any more I fear! And we all know that there is a correlation between being a lower IQ and waist circumference. Just sayin’…

‘Eating cheese could be the key to a longer life’

…So went the headline of an article in that most highbrow of journals The Metro (15th November), who in their typically classy style go on to inform us “That’s right. Cheese is what you need to live forever.”

Behind the silly headline is a very interesting research paper which found that increasing intake of spermidine – a compound originally isolated from sperm, but present in all cells and found in high doses in foods including aged cheeses – extended the lifespan of mice. Please ignore the nonsense towards the end of this short article that crashes into the debunked theory about fat. Clearly cheese, fat content and all, made a positive difference in the study cited, so the fat cannot possibly be doing harm. The article did not consider the presence of vitamin K2 in cheese, but that glorious subject is for another time…

Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut

Read the article here: New Scientist (30 Nov) and remember, the gut has been called ‘the second brain’ for many years. It now looks more and more appropriate to call the gut ‘the first brain’. In other words, mess with your gut at your peril.

Astonishing new insights into what one of your leg muscles does (which will blow your socks off!)

soleus-muscleThe Mail online (25th Nov), has a fascinating article looking at how dieting reduces resting metabolic activity via – get this -the soleus muscles of the calves. (That’s it in the diagram opposite).

Apparently, these muscles are referred to as our ‘secondary hearts’ as they are responsible for pumping fluid back to the heart. ‘Sol‘ means sun, and the solar plexus is where the heart resides, and the sun is the source of life here on earth, so there seems to be a sun/life origin to these organs, recognised by the names the anatomists, in their wisdom, gave them, unless I am mistaken.

Dieting reduces their efficiency, reducing heart output and thus resting metabolic energy expenditure. This must be part of the explanation for the all round positive effects of walking (as opposed to running, which has all sorts of drawbacks).

The author emphasises the importance of keeping these muscles fit through long duration low intensity exercise. Well done Mail Online health reporters for finding this gem!

High-fat diet fuels long distance runner

The Business Insider UK (29th Nov) has a nice personal story “Why a guy who runs 100-mile races eats a high fat diet while training”

Anyone still doubtful of the work of Volek and Phinney, or Prof Tim Noakes, or even good old Robert Atkins, or any of the others who have been demonstrating the superiority of fuelling the body with fat, rather than carbohydrates, will appreciate this article.

Coffee reduces risk of dementia

The Express (30th Nov) reports on a study indicating that regularly drinking three cups of coffee per day reduces the relative risk of dementia by 27%.

“Moderate coffee consumption could play a significant role in reducing cognitive decline which would impact health outcomes and healthcare spending across Europe.“

The findings were presented at the European Union Geriatric Medicine Society’s 2016 Congress in Lisbon.

Aspartame may be to blame for weight gain from sugar-free drinks

New Scientist (24th Nov) reports on studies indicating that the artificial sweetener aspartame can lead to higher blood sugar levels and weight gain in mice by changing gut microbe composition and suppressing intestinal alkaline phosphatase which works by neutralising lipopolysaccharides, bacterial toxins that can irritate the gut lining.

Note in this article the voices of those in the soft drinks industry. Not too good on the actual science huh; more weighted to the emotional argument eh? Typical.

Vitamin D – do supplements work?

Low levels of vitamin D have now been associated with hundreds of different diseases. This month, for example, Science Daily reports on a study that found low levels of vitamin D in newborns is linked to a higher risk of multiple sclerosis later in life. What is not clear in many such associations is whether vitamin D plays a causative or contributory role, or whether is is just a marker for some other factor.

Trials using supplements have many times failed to show benefits, leading many to question the value of vitamin D supplementation. A headline in The Express (24th Nov) says it all: “Are YOU taking Vitamin D? It’s a waste of time and doesn’t prevent disease, scientists say”. If you are interested in the research behind this headline I would recommend NHS choices (24th Nov) who bring some clarity to the story!

There are however, many examples of where vitamin D supplementation has shown benefit, including reduction in asthma severity (see our October News roundup last month) and this month News Medical (21st Nov) report on a trial that found improvement of autism symptoms.

“Autism symptoms—such as hyperactivity, social withdrawal, and others—improved significantly following vitamin D3 supplementation but not after receiving placebo,” said Dr. Khaled Saad, lead author of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry study.

 

Vitamin D blood levels are largely a marker of sun exposure, rising in the summer and falling in winter. A recent paper looking at the benefits of sunlight shows that these extend well beyond vitamin D production, News Medical (21 November) reports: “Vitamin D supplements have not been shown to be an adequate substitute for sun exposure. Risks of insufficient sun exposure include increased risk of many types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease/dementia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, myopia and macular degeneration.”

The importance of cooking in human evolution

New Scientist (2nd Nov) – A really nice article about the importance of cooking in human evolution and it’s health implications. I am sure you will enjoy reading it.

 

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