Tag: research analysis
One of the more exciting developments over the past few years has been the explosion in population genetics research. People are a diverse lot, and even though we’re all people who essentially want the same things out of life (and we’re working with the same basic machinery), there’s a lot of wiggle room. It’s not just information for curiosity’s sake. The information researchers are uncovering about human ancestry can have real ramifications for how said humans should eat.
A couple years ago, I wrote a post laying out a few guidelines for using your personal ancestry to inform your diet. Today, I’m going to talk about another one: polyunsaturated fat metabolism.
Imagine money is no object. Imagine you wield absolute control over the scientific community and can direct it to run whichever study you desire. If you can dream it up, they’ll get the subjects, produce the money, and make it happen. All you need to come up with is the overarching design. What would you choose? What do you wonder? What questions do you want answered once and for all?
Here’s what I’d choose:
“Back in my day, science came harder. We may not have had your fancy longitudinal data analyzing software, your iterated pool of available data upon which to build, or your worldwide network of instantaneous communication and information transmission, but we rolled up our sleeves and got to work just the same. And man did we do some science and discover some things. Boy, you don’t even know the half of it.”
When I turn my sights back to older research, I realize that a lot of this stuff we “discover” in health and nutrition has already been found, or at least hinted at. Today, I’m going to explore some of my favorite research from years past that, if posted to Science Daily or linked on Twitter today, would get a huge response.
Valter Longo is a leading fasting researcher. Since the early 2000s, he’s been one of the top guys running legitimate fasting studies in cancer patients, regular people, and, of course, rodents. He’s gotten great results, elucidating the idea that fasting causes human cells and tissues to enter “survival mode” which allowed them to survive the withering effects of cancer treatment. I’ve cited many of his studies in previous posts.
Several years ago, he came up with an “easier” way to induce the fasting effect in people: the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD). Instead of having people skip food altogether—which may not sound crazy to readers of this blog, but probably does to most people—he designed a low-calorie 5-day diet for people to follow at periodic points throughout the year. Longo thinks the FMD is the best way for people to reduce their risk of aging-related diseases, extend lifespan, and live healthier, longer lives. It’s designed to give cancer patients and other people access to the benefits without the mental deprivation that often accompanies true fasting.
Each year is fuller than the last. More and more scientific papers are published each year, and that trend is only quickening. The same trend goes for books, products, businesses. Humans are incredible producers. It’s what we do—create and consume.
So, whenever I do a “year in review” type of post, it’s harder than the previous year. There’s too much to cover. Hell, in 2017 alone there were over 17,000 papers published on saturated fat. 17,000.
But let’s give it a shot. What are some takeaways as we finish out 2017?
No matter what kind of evidence comes out to the contrary, the anti-saturated fat sect won’t relinquish its dogma. Whenever its advance is rebuffed—perhaps by an observational study showing the lack of relations between saturated fat intake and heart disease, or a study showing the beneficial effects of saturated fat on multiple health markers—they regroup and try another route. The latest is a study that several readers sent to me, worried that the attack had finally made it through the defenses. In it, researchers purport to show that saturated fat increases the solidity and rigidity of cellular membranes, reducing membrane fluidity and eventually leading to cell death.
Is it true? Have we finally lost? What was this study all about?
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from readers. First, I give my take on a new, big coffee study, which analyzed several meta-analyses of existing coffee and health data. Second, should you let a fever run its course or try to defeat it at all costs? The body obviously “wants” to get hotter in these situations. Is there a good reason? And finally, how much glycine do people need per day?
Keto may not be for everyone, and low-carb is not the only way to eat well, but most would agree that people in the modern world tend to eat way too many carbohydrates—far more than their lifestyles and activity levels warrant. Along with some other big factors, excessive intake of refined carbohydrates is a major player in the modern epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other disorders. This is no longer controversial. Reducing carbs is a good move for most folks.
The majority of my readers are on some kind of low carb diet. Maybe they’re not fully keto. But they all tend to acknowledge the utility of limiting one’s carbs to only those they need. One of the more common questions I receive from this group concerns carb cycling—periodically adding more carbs to an otherwise low-carb diet.
Most discussion of chronically-elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) and insulin resistance revolves around their relationship to bodyweight. This is unsurprising. Bodyweight’s what “sells tickets.” It’s why most people get interested in diet, health, fitness, and nutrition—to lose weight or avoid gaining it.
But improving insulin sensitivity and reducing fasting insulin levels have major ramifications for your health, longevity, and resistance to disease. And it’s not just because “weight gain is unhealthy.” Insulin itself, in excess, exerts seriously damaging effects. Today, I want to impress upon you the importance of controlling your insulin response by laying out some of the health problems that stem from not controlling it.
Some months ago the issue of gender bias in medical research came up on the comment board. It was certainly an issue I’d occasionally read about. But I’m also a proponent of lifestyle design and intervention. I don’t spend as much time as others on the nitty-gritty of medical treatment for good reason, but the conversation got me thinking. Maybe it was time for an article after all….
And, so, the questions started coming. How does gender figure into medicine, and what exactly is gender bias in this context? How does it operate? How has it been measured? What consequences are there? How much should it influence our trust in medical literature and subsequent recommendations—the validity of findings, the efficacy of treatment, the safety of drug prescriptions? And, finally, what if any progress are we making or can we count on in the near future?