Monday, November 18, 2013

Health Research Recap (Week of 11/11/2013)

Researchers have discovered an association between dietary acid load and an increased risk of diabetes.  Participants who ate more foods that created an acidic environment were 56% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.  While some see this as a knock against meat because animal protein intake increases net acid load, I would imagine this is more of a knock on low vegetable intake as fruit and vegetable consumption reduce net acid load in the diet.  Regardless of how you look at it, eating a diet high in meat and low in fruits and vegetables, which is the typical Western diet, may increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers in Canada theorize that eating vegetable oils high in Omega 6 fatty aids but low in Omega 3 fatty acids may not be a good idea for heart disease after all.  In a review of the literature, they discuss a recent study that found people who replaced saturated fat with safflower oil, a vegetable oil high in Omega 6s but low in Omega 3s significantly reduced their cholesterol levels but also increased their risk of dying from cardiovascular events.  Vegetable oils such as corn and safflower oil are high in Omega 6 fatty acids, low in Omega 3 fatty acids, and often used in processed foods.  The researchers recommend removing the heart healthy label from oils high in Omega 6s and low in Omega 3s.

In more fat news, the FDA announced plans to gradually remove artificial trans fats from the food system due to their toxic effects in humans.  Despite evidence in 1956 that suggested that trans fats were not safe, the FDA has categorized them as GRAS(Generally regarded as safe) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest(CSPI) has pushed them as being a healthy alternative to saturated fat.  Unfortunately, not only have saturated fats been vindicated, but evidence piling up since the 90s have shown trans fats to be far worse for cardiovascular health than previously thought.  From my perspective, this shows you how quickly we are to put something in to the food supply without enough evidence to determine it's safety.

In a study that yields both interesting and spooky results, many of the beneficial microbes found in young children had antibiotic resistant genes, even if the children had not been exposed to the antibiotic that the microbes had become resistant to.  This is worrisome because there is the potential that these genes can transfer to unhealthy bacteria, causing problems for the person harboring them.

Another study found that gluten in the diet may induce Type 1 diabetes by altering the microbiome in mice.  Mice who were fed a gluten free diet appeared to be offered a form of protection against Type 1 diabetes that went away once gluten was introduced in the diet and the microbiome of the mice changed.  What is interesting about this study is that these mice are bred to develop Type 1 diabetes, so a gluten free diet appeared to alter genetic expression in a way that prevented it from developing.  The researchers believe the effect was due to the change in the microbiome.

A recent study on gastric bypass surgery found that the procedure reversed aging at the cellular level, increasing the length of telomeres.  Telomeres are little caps on the tip of DNA that reduce in length over time and are associated with aging and disease.  In patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery, their telomeres actually increased in length as their levels of systemic inflammation decreased.  Call me cray, but this effect just screams microbiome.

A new study on caffeine consumption showed that 2-3 cups of coffee in the afternoon can reduce sleep time by up to 1 hour, even when it is consumed 6 hours prior to bed.  Furthermore, the subjects in the study weren't even aware that their sleep was disturbed.  If you don;t feel this pertains to you, remember that it's the umber of ounces you drink, not the total number of cups you fill with coffee. Do you hear that venti drinkers? :)