September News Round-Up

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Full-fat cheese good for the heart

The Express (September 23rd) reports on a study that assigned 139 adults to one of three cheese regimens.
One group was given high-fat cheese daily, the second received a reduced-fat version, while the third group had jam and bread (!). The high-fat cheese group saw a marked increase in their HDL cholesterol levels.
We say: Measuring surrogate endpoints such as HDL levels is not the same as demonstrating that cheese actually prevents heart disease, but this research is part of a considerable body of evidence that full-fat cheese appears to be heart-healthy.

Eating real food “could prevent 20000 deaths in UK each year”. Maybe.

Many newspapers including The Telegraph (September 29th) discuss research from the UK’s Medical Research Council in conjunction with Cambridge University, who followed nearly 24,000 people in the UK for up to 17 years to see how their diet affected the health of their heart.
They found that eating more real foods (aka the Mediterranean diet) including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and olive oil was linked to a 16% reduction in cardiovascular disease incidence.
We say: The Mediterranean diet is poorly defined. What it really amounts to is eating real foods, as opposed to processed foods. As we saw in a previous news roundup, nutrition can be more effective than statins when it comes to heart disease.
Call for a global ban on trans fats
Hear hear. We support the growing demand to remove these dangerous industrial fats from the global food supply. (New Scientist – September 7th)

Foods high in vitamin B3  (The Times, Sep 24th)

Meat and Fish in Pregnancy may protect offspring from Eczema
So sayeth the Times (September 24th) who report on a study that found that women with the highest levels of B3 when pregnant had children who were a third less likely to have eczema at the age of one. Nicotinamide (B3) is found primarily in fish and meat.
We say: Again and again in this blog we have reported on evidence linking the quality of Mother’s diets to the health of their offspring. When will we as a society give the health of the next generation the attention it deserves?
Body clock gene may help spread breast cancer
New Scientist (Sep 22nd) reports that the higher incidence of breast cancer among shift workers has been linked to a circadian rhythm gene in a new study.

“The fact that inherited variations in this gene seem to be associated with progression of cancer raises the possibility that disruptions to normal circadian rhythms might have an effect [on metastasis],” lead author Kent Hunter, at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

We say: Sleep hygiene is increasingly being shown to be one of the central pillars of health. Find out how to improve your sleep in our post Sleep & Health.
Drugs in our water supply a cause for concern
New Scientist (September 14th) “We don’t know what it means if you have a lifelong uptake of drugs at very low concentrations”
Sugar Industry conspired to distort nutrition research 50 years ago
Medpage today (12 September) reports on a study published in the JAMA that found evidence that 50 years ago the sugar industry gave secret financial support to prominent Harvard researchers to write an influential series of articles in the New England Journal of Medicine that downplayed the negative effects of sugar.
Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, said that the article “..shows how the food industry manipulates nutrition science – something that still goes on today and has largely been given a pass.”
We say: A nice article from a mainstream medical news site giving some of the background to the increasingly challenged low-fat diet policy that has dominated nutrition for half a century
Low fat, low sugar warning
The Telegraph (31st August) had a neat little article warning of the dangers of low-fat and low-sugar foods which often are full of artificial sweeteners that can actually promote a sweet tooth and associated cravings.
Gluten intolerance – fad or fact?
New Scientist (September 27th) says that gluten-free diets are not simply a fad:

[Studies] conclude that 7 to 30 per cent of those who believe they have a problem with gluten really do have one. So at least some of those who claim to be suffering from “wheat belly” are right.

We say: We’ve been saying this for years, and have a long list of patients who can attest to the benefits of gluten-free or grain-free diets.

The ketogenic diet can be difficult to manage without support but has proven medical applications in epilepsy, other neuroinflammatory conditions, cancer management and endurance sports (click to read our keto lunch guidelines)

Ketogenic Diet
The Sunday Post (September 16th) covered the story of a boy with intractable epilepsy who became drug and seizure free with a ketogenic diet. Now aged 16 he has remained free of epilepsy and can eat a normal diet again.
Epilepsy Research UK (September 6th) reports on a study that found the benefits of a ketogenic diet in childhood epilepsy on mood and activity levels compared to epilepsy medication alone. In my clinical experience, this method works for adults with epilepsy just as well as children. In a condition where the medications are so profoundly dampening of normal brain activity, leading to living life in some degree of fog, the option of management through diet is obviously a wonderful discovery. Women with epilepsy are particularly advantaged by using a diet approach to managing their condition as such drugs are known to cause birth defects if they become pregnant while on them. This could be avoided by the dietary approach in a great many cases.
Ketogenic Diets for Endurance Athletes
A nice article in the Financial Times (21st September) discusses the increasing use of the ketogenic (high fat) diet amongst long distance runners and Tour de France cyclists. Unfortunately, the article is behind a paywall, however, if you google “A low-carb diet to fuel athletes longer” you get to read one article before they block you.
Here is the introduction:

What do some extreme distance runners have in common with the athletes at the Tour de France cycle race? Suddenly, everyone seems to be talking about adopting a high-fat diet.
The idea behind these diets is that when humans enter starvation mode, their bodies are able to switch from burning glycogen, the sugars produced by eating a meal including carbohydrates, to burning stored body fat which is released into the bloodstream as ketones. These extremely low carbohydrate diets are called ketogenic.
The rationale is that there is only about 40 minutes of glycogen stored in leg muscles, which is why runners have to keep gulping down sweets during marathons or they end up “hitting the wall” two-thirds of the way through the race.
But even lean athletes have several pounds of stored fat reserves, so if those could be tapped, you could cycle for hours without running out of fuel. So some Tour de France cyclists have started using this approach.
What’s tempting more athletes to try ketogenic diets is recent research that casts doubt on the link between saturated fat in the diet and heart disease.

So, that’s all for our round-up of diet and health items in the news this week. Hope you enjoyed it! Let us know what you think below.

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