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Monday Musings: Intergenerational Diabetes, New and Improved Pasteurization, Sitting is Still Bad, and Really Old Wine

Diabetes [1] is that rare brand of nasty disease that fails to strike real, visceral fear. It doesn’t carry the weight of a cancer or an AIDS or a heart disease. It’s something you get, like a gut, a long list of prescriptions, and a walker, as you grow older. People just live with it – millions upon millions across the world – and are rarely shocked or surprised to hear that others have it. Their ranks are ever growing, with, if a recent study [2] on the effects of gestational diabetes on the fetus has anything to say about it, much of the conscription taking place in the womb. It’s called intergenerational diabetes, and it means that pregnant women with diabetes or even just poor maternal glucose tolerance could be turning their little ones into future type 2 diabetics. This is fetal diabetes without a genetic component; this is epigenetic [3] owing to environmental (womb) input. The authors speculate that pregnant mothers with type 2 diabetes (diet and lifestyle induced, remember) could engender irreversible alterations to both the unborn kid’s hypothalamic neural network (where leptin [4], the satiety hormone, does its thing), pancreatic function, and muscle and liver insulin signaling. The idea is that they pop out with type 2 diabetes right off the bat. It’s diet-induced, sure, but not how we normally think of it. No baby bottle full of Coke required here. Of course, I still see this sort of condition as being reversible with diet and exercise…it’s just that it will require a LOT more adherence and starting at an earlier age. Moving on…

A Spanish research group has come up with an alternative to dairy pasteurization [5]. Its particular brand of high-pressure processing replaces heat treatment while deactivating the same yeasts and moulds, boosting shelf life, and tasting better than pasteurized dairy. The jury is definitely still out on whether ultra high pressure (up to 6,000 bars worth) affects the nutritive content of the dairy and the rancidity/stability of the butterfat. I’d bet it does. Yeah, it lasts longer than pasteurized, but that doesn’t preclude the fats from being damaged or oxidized. Maybe the WAPF [6] folks will speak on this. They’re certainly no fan of high-pressure homogenization.

Next on the docket, we’ve gone over this before [7], so it’s nothing new, but it is good to reiterate: prolonged sitting isn’t good for you. It’s not good for your joint mobility [8], your posture [9], or your overall health. According to a recent study [10], people who spend more than four hours a day watching TV or sitting at the computer are at a greater risk for dying earlier than those who spend fewer than two hours. Risk of cardiac events experienced significant gains among couch potatoes.

Are you still sitting?

Oh, and although I’d never suggest the mere presence of evidence of early consumption of a particular food justifies declaring said food healthy [11], I was admittedly happy to hear that wine consumption just got pushed back [12] 1,000 years to 4100 B.C.. Archaeologists searching an ancient Armenian cave complex found a wine production facility, complete with vines, seeds, press (and press remains), fermentation vat, wine-soaked shards of pottery, plea a cup and “drinking bowl.” I like the idea of drinking wine [13] from a bowl, and I think reenactment is totally justified here. Have a bowl tonight without guilt!