General Health

Articles

We Need an Unconventional Approach to Care for Your Health Better (with Guest Chris Kresser)

The current approach to healthcare in the United States isn’t working.

Modern medicine has been a remarkable triumph. In the twentieth century, the development of antibiotics, antimicrobials, and vaccines eradicated a wide array of diseases that formerly killed millions of people.

Things have obviously changed. Now, most patients are coming to the doctor not to be treated for tuberculosis or pneumonia, but instead for ongoing treatment of chronic diseases, like atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, cancer, etc. In fact, half of all Americans have a chronic disease, and seven of the top ten causes of deaths are chronic illnesses. No doubt, part of the reason for this predicament is simply because we are living longer, long enough to develop these conditions. Yet the burden of chronic disease appears to be cascading into younger generations. Diseases that were formerly only found in older people, like type 2 diabetes, are now being diagnosed more and more in children. It has gotten to the point that public health experts have projected that the steady rise in life expectancy of the past two centuries may be coming to an end.

This is an alarming trend – and very difficult to reverse.

Why? Unfortunately, chronic disease is a more complicated problem than infectious disease. We can’t eliminate atherosclerosis just by taking a pill or an injection. Conditions like diabetes and heart disease develop gradually over the course of decades and are closely linked to the patient’s diet, environment, genetics, and lifestyle habits. A 10-15 minute doctor’s visit can only do so much. These conditions demand a more complex intervention, with more active participation on the part of the patient and the medical practitioner. The modern medical model, relying upon a battery of pharmaceutical drugs to suppress symptoms, falls hopelessly short of addressing the root causes of these types of illnesses, and we’re all paying the price.

We’ve come a long way, but we can’t solve modern challenges using the methods of last century. We need a new system. And my guest today has a plan for how to make it happen.


Chrononutrition: Consistent Eating Patterns, Caffeine, and Principles for Better Health (Part 3 with Podcast)

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we set the stage for this post by exploring some important roles of diet in circadian system function and metabolic health. We focused in particular on diet timing.

In this final installment, I’ll first touch briefly on the importance of consuming foods and drinks at consistent times from one day to the next. Next, we’ll consider some commonly consumed dietary compounds that influence the circadian system. Then, I’ll leave you with some key takeaways that you can immediately put to practice in your pursuit of better health.

Finally – if you would like to learn even more about the topics addressed here – Dan, Jeff Rothschild, and I did a podcast together discussing aspects of chrononutrition, which you will find at the end of this article. 



Is Good Cholesterol Overrated? How to Make Your HDL Work Better

For years, we’ve heard that there are two primary types of cholesterol on a standard lipid panel that really matter for heart health.

The first one is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol,” which you want to keep low. The other type is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good cholesterol,” which you want to have as much of that as possible. Right?

Well, recent research has suggested that the relationship between HDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease is far more complicated than previously believed. In fact, having high HDL may not necessarily mean that you’re at reduced risk of having a heart attack.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at HDL, and discuss some important nuances.


Sweeteners Part I: Sensation & Metabolism

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.


Research Reveals a Surprising Link Between Melatonin and Type 2 Diabetes

We typically associate the hormone melatonin with sleep. However, melatonin is actually involved in the timing and synchronization of a number of different physiological functions throughout the body. One of these functions is the regulation of blood sugar.

Recent research has found that a relatively large proportion of the human population is genetically predisposed to be more sensitive to the impact of this hormone on blood sugar control. This can lead to higher blood glucose levels, and ultimately greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Here’s how it works, and what you can do about it.



Top Health News This Week (May 7-20, 2016)

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.


Starving Cancer of Glucose and Glutamine

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?


Hot Sauce For Cancer Prevention (and more)

Chili pepper is a culinary element consumed worldwide, especially in China, Mexico, and Italy. Capsaicin is a biologically active alkaloid produced by chili peppers that produce their spicy flavor. The irritation produced by these plants is probably a protective mechanism, evolved to deter animals (like us) from devouring them. But ironically, these compounds, which ostensibly emerged to harm us, may actually offer certain health benefits when eaten – like with respect to cancer.