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A meta-analysis of the Paleolithic nutrition pattern; an interview of authors

Just today, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – the most prestigious nutrition journal in the world – published a systematic review and meta-analysis of the paleolithic nutrition pattern (the Paleo diet).

The audio interview below is with study authors, Hanno Pijl, M.D., Ph.D., and Ester van Zuurin, M.D., both of Leiden Unversity in the Netherlands. They, along with authors Eric Manheimer and Zbys Fedorowicz, first performed a systematic review of six online publication libraries for all possible qualifying research. From there, they winnowed the list to four studies, pooling together 159 subjects for their analysis, looking for mean differences in primary endpoints related to metabolic syndrome: 1) Waist circumference, 2) Blood pressure, 3) Triglycerides, 4) HDL cholesterol, and 5) Blood sugar concentration. Secondary endpoints included change in body weight, even though some of the studies included in the analysis tried to prevent weight change so that the results would be less confounded by it. Weight loss, while healthy for someone who is overweight, can also improve these endpoints independently, making it harder to know if it is the nutritional properties of the diet or the weight loss that influenced results. We discuss this specifically in the interview, which you can listen to it here in its entirety.


The Freakonomics of Sleep (Part 1)

Back in May of this year, I give a presentation entitled Sleep, Productivity, and Peak Performance at a CEO summit in Manhattan hosted by VC firm, Firstmark Capital. After I presented, Steven Dubner of Freakonomics spoke about the man who smashed the world record at Nathan’s hot dog eating contest. See more about this story in the blog post. After we both presented, Dubner approached me for an interview to discuss sleep. My interview was included in the two-part series that they just published on the subject.


How to design health for life (video)

This may seem like a strange question, but have you ever wondered if the makers of your health apps design their products based on a clear idea about how it helps you achieve health? This video of my presentation at the HxRefactored conference in Boston, which was released today, describes the thesis upon which we base the design of our entire health-supporting ecosystem. As a member of our community, I encourage you to give it a look and add comments below.







What Your Doctor Isn’t Thinking About (Dragging Medical Professionals Into the Modern Era)

The other day I came across this alarming video of what it’s like to drive in Poland. My first thought after watching the clip was “What’s the Toxoplasmosis gondii infection rate in Poland?” T. gondii is a brain parasite easily acquired from eating undercooked meat, or contact with cats, and is associated with a six-fold increase in traffic accidents (this association has been replicated a number of times, in different countries). Well, I looked it up, and found that the latent infection rate in 2003 was around 41% (at least among pregnant women). That’s quite high — in the U.S. the infection rate is only about 11%.

Is there anything to my hypothesis that terrible driving in Poland is related to the relatively high T. gondii infection rate? Probably not. The accident fatality rate in Poland is relatively high for a modern industrialized country. But France has a very low accident fatality rate, and a much higher rate of T. gondii infection. So while T. gondii might be a contributing factor, it’s probably not the most important variable.

I’m fascinated by latent/chronic biological infections, and how they affect human health and behavior. T. gondii in particular is linked to changes in personality, and even schizophrenia.