June news roundup

Read Time: 5 min

Toxic chemicals in our food, plastic and air are poisoning our children, warn leading scientists

The Independent (30th June) reports that US scientists, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the International Neurotoxicology Association, and the US National Medical Association, have issued a “call to action” over common toxins.

They warn that 90% of pregnant women are contaminated with dozens of potentially harmful substances such as heavy metals, organophosphate pesticides, PBDE flame retardants and phthalates found in plastic, which are all known to interfere with the development of the unborn brain. They link these observations to the alarming rise in autism spectrum disorders.

Emulsifiers and Artificial Sweeteners

The Sun (27th June) reports on Professor Tim Spector who claims that emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners in processed foods and zero-calorie drinks disrupt gut microbes and contribute to obesity.

For improved gut diversity, Professor Spector recommends the following foods, all good sources of prebiotic nutrients to keep the microbiome happy.


(I have to add here that there is one joke food on that list, as far as I am concerned, and that is the Jerusalem artichokes. Don’t even ask!)

Coffee is good for the liver

Our recent post on the benefits of coffee looked at the huge range of research pointing to coffee’s health-promoting properties. So I was pleased to spot an article in the Coventry Telegraph (30th June) reporting on a review by the British Liver Trust (!), who said:

“The evidence in this report shows that drinking coffee can protect you from developing liver disease and in addition reduces the risk of progressive disease for those already affected. We have an epidemic of liver disease in the UK. The numbers affected are growing at an alarming rate. It is the third biggest cause of premature death in the UK.”

Eating protein with every meal

Dietary protein has multiple benefits: reducing snacking, helping with weight control and reducing age-related muscle loss, which shockingly, for most people begins after the age of thirty.

Most people’s daily protein consumption tends to be focused in a single meal at the end of the day, but because protein cannot be stored in the body this single large dose does not allow optimum protein utilisation. Spreading the protein out over three meals is far more effective.

So it is nice to see Time magazine (29th June) tackling this subject with an article titled “Nine simple ways to eat protein at every meal”.

High-fat Mediterranean diet does not cause weight gain

The Guardian (6th June) reports on a study which found that people whose diets were rich in olive oil and nuts lost more weight than those on a low-fat regime.

“Fear of fat is misplaced and guidelines that restrict it in our diets are wrong, say the Spanish researchers”

No link between butter and heart disease

Many papers, including Time magazine (29th June), reported on the latest study by Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts in Boston. The researchers looked at people’s butter consumption and their risk for chronic disease and found no link to heart disease. In four of the nine studies, people who ate butter daily had a 4% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

In April, Mozaffarian published a separate study in the journal Circulation that analyzed the blood of 3,333 adults and found that people who had higher levels of three byproducts from full-fat dairy had a 46% lower risk of getting diabetes than people with lower levels.

Here is Dr Dariush Mozaffarian reading his 2015 JAMA paper “The 2015 US Dietary Guidelines: Lifting the Ban on Total Dietary Fat”

Does the Ketogenic diet have a place in Multiple Sclerosis?

A news item from the Multiple Sclerosis Trust (25th May) reports on research indicating that a ketogenic diet eaten for one week per month is well tolerated and led to improvements in symptoms and quality of life in a small study. Professor Valter Longo, who led the research, was optimistic about the results but cautioned, “What we don’t want is patients trying to do this at home without the involvement of their specialist”.

TV’s Dr Mosley sees the light after reversing his Diabetes with diet

The Mail (18th June) ran an article by TV’s Dr Michael Mosley, titled “You CAN eat to beat diabetes – so why isn’t the NHS telling you how?”

Dr Mosley is promoting a low-carb, Mediterranean diet, which he used successfully to reverse his own diabetes. He has made his own version of the ‘eat-better’ plate, which, apart from the grains, is pretty good by my reckoning, and certainly a million times better than the Government’s version. Here it is:

This is pretty close to what I eat, and what I recommend to my patients (except, grain-free). The slow-carb section, for me, would include nuts – including ground almonds – and seeds such as sunflower and linseed, and lentils in moderation. But the rest of the plate I am happy with. The rest of the article is pretty good too. Certainly worth a read.

Separately, many papers reported that the Government’s carb-heavy healthy eating guide could be CAUSING obesity and type 2 diabetes (Mail, 13th June). However, I think that The Huffington Post (14th June) is bang on the money with it’s headline: “Guide Promotes Industry Wealth Not Public Health.Government-eat-well-plate

The official UK government Eatwell guide shows a plate stuffed with processed food products, and heavily dominated by refined carbs.

Gluten-induced psychosis

Live Science (22nd Jun) has an interesting story about a young woman who was institutionalised due to psychotic episodes but recovered fully on a gluten-free diet.

The differences between how the woman behaved on a gluten-free diet and after being exposed to gluten was like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,”

Three generations of one family diagnosed with Coeliac. The disease is particularly prevalent among Celtic people – red hair, blue eyes, pale skin.

While on the personal gluten story theme, there was a good one I missed last month in the Mirror (May 30th) that tells how three generations of one family were all diagnosed with Coeliac disease.

Why popping vitamin pills may be doing more harm than good

This article in the Mail (21st June) is pretty good, ending with the rather obvious statement that ‘it’s better to get your vitamins from food than pills’. Most people only need vitamins where there is an identified deficiency, taking more as an ‘insurance policy’ is increasingly being shown to be counterproductive. The exceptions are vitamin D, selenium, iodine and B12 as deficiencies in these are widespread in the UK. Regular fish consumption can help with all of these, especially selenium and iodine.


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