Dietary fat is a class of nutrients of which there are many different types. Some types appear to have clear beneficial effects on human physiology in certain contexts, like for example olive oil, while others appear to impair our health when they comprise too high a fraction of our calorie intake over time. Saturated fat has been called out for decades by health authorities as something we should monitor and limit. Recently, however, this idea has been called into question by several meta-analyses, which is a type of scientific examination where all the research on a subject pooled and analyzed together to help determine what the weight of the evidence tells us on that subject. In this interview with Dr. David Katz at Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, we discuss not only the findings but also how to best interpret them so that you can continue to make good dietary choices in your own life.
We’ve known for a long time that people who consume more olive oil – as opposed to other sources of dietary fat – are protected in certain ways from heart disease. And some recent research has started to uncover the reasons why.
One compelling and unappreciated way that olive oil prevents cardiovascular disease has to do with its impact on blood pressure.
High blood pressure is often characterized as a “silent killer” because it can cause permanent damage throughout the body without any obvious symptoms. Tragically, by the time the problem becomes obvious, it is sometimes too late to reverse the damage.
About 70 million adults in the US have hypertension – that’s 1 in every 3! And only around 52% of people with hypertension have it under control. It is also likely that many are walking around with the condition who don’t even know they have it.
In this post, we will discuss why consuming extra virgin olive oil seems to help keep blood pressure in check – and how you can best take advantage of this in your own diet.
Does the ideal diet change across the lifespan? I couldn’t help circling back to this idea regularly while writing this article. In the last article on this subject of growth promotion and better aging, we discussed the concept of antagonistic pleotropy, which suggests that natural selection may favor genes that increase reproductive potential – even at the expense of long-term vitality and longevity. But can we harness an understanding of this idea to alter how we live in our post-reproductive window, to stay younger and live longer? In my latest post, I address just that – lifestyle modifications that may not only be effective to help us surviving longer, but also to live better along the way.
We evolved to love sweet food – which is an adaptive preference for a hunter-gatherer. But in the modern world, we are inundated with tasty sugary treats 24/7. For many of us, this ready access to palatable food has come to the detriment of our waistlines, and has driven demand for sugar substitutes. Ostensibly, this might allow us to continue to fulfill our urge for sweet stuff without paying the price in extra calories. But is this safe? Or is it even an effective strategy?
In this article series, we will examine some of the evidence surrounding these sugar substitutes, and try to determine if they are indeed safe and effective. We will begin by discussing how these sweeteners are sensed by the body, and how the body handles them once they are consumed.
Every day, we collect the most interesting health and biology news out there, and post it on our Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter. But news and social media move fast, and it’s hard to keep up with everything that comes out every day. Here is a handy roundup of all of the most compelling stories we encountered this week – in case you missed something awesome.
This week, we covered information related to 1) nutrition, 2) sleep & circadian rhythms, 3) physical activity, and 4) aging, fasting & inflammation.
When we think of foods that improve athletic performance, chocolate is maybe not one of the first options that comes to mind.
We’ve known for a while that certain molecules found in chocolate, known as flavonols, are associated with health benefits to the heart and the brain. Epicatechin, in particular, has exhibited widespread effects throughout the body.
But some emerging evidence suggests that chocolate may also aid in exercise performance – weird as it may sound.
Here’s what the research says so far, and how it seems to work.
Here is a recap of some of the most interesting stories in science and health that we’ve been reading and discussing this week – focusing on regulation of body fat and blood sugar.
First, a group of Japanese researchers demonstrated how circadian misalignment, caused by shifted feeding patterns, can wreak metabolic havoc. Perhaps more importantly, they uncovered what precisely is happening inside of the brain and body to cause this.
Next, we look at an English study, which revealed a way to that we might be able to put diabetes in remission – without drugs.
Finally, we all know that losing weight is hard, and keeping it off can be even harder. Does the struggle ever get easier? This experiment determined that is you keep the weight off for a year, your body adjusts to help you maintain the new weight.
When the system in our body that controls the timing of our physiology becomes uncoordinated or misaligned, bad things happen. This can happen in several ways.
The most well-understood way is due to big fluctuations in the timing light exposure from day to day. This is why Apple recently introduce night shift to help limit the impact cell phones can contribute to this issue. But big fluctuations in the timing of light exposure is not the only way to misalign our rhythms. The type and timing of dietary fat also impact’s this system.
Around this time of year, much of the world is advancing their clocks by one hour to make efficient use of seasonal daylight. Americans switched to Daylight Savings Time last week, and this week Europeans will revert to Summer Time.
When this happens, we all “lose” an hour of sleep, because we have to get up and get things done an hour earlier than we have been. This is in relation not just to the light and dark cycles of the day, but also to our body clocks.
One hour sounds like a small change, but it can make a big difference in how we function, at least in the short term. For example, data from the past two decades shows that there is a statistically significant spike in the number of car wrecks on the Monday immediately following the shift to Daylight Savings Time in the US.
As we all adjust to the time change, it’s worthwhile to consider how other aspects of our lives can sway our circadian rhythms. Circadian clocks govern the rhythms of sleep and activity in virtually all animals and are responsive to a variety of stimuli like light and stress. Research is starting to suggest that our eating patterns – specifically when we eat – can also have a pervasive impact.
Biologists have known for nearly a century that some types of cancer cells consume significantly more glucose than normal cells.
Regular cells burn most of a sugar molecule in their mitochondria in order to make energy, which is why mitochondria are often referred to as cellular “power plants.”
Cancer cells, however, function quite differently. They rely heavily upon another energy-producing process in the metabolism of sugar called glycolysis. This produces energy faster, but also extracts much less of it from the sugar molecule. Cancer’s preference for glycolysis has been dubbed the “Warburg effect,” after German physiologist, and Nobel Prize winner, Otto Warburg, who was the first to demonstrate it experimentally.
It has never been entirely clear why the difference exists. Cancer cells presumably need a considerable amount of energy in order to grow and proliferate throughout the body. How do they do it?