#skimmed The Times – Nutrition

Hi readers! I’ve been a fan of the Skimm newsletter for a while now and thought I would do a something similar with The Times recent publication of 100 New Health Discoveries. I paid the 13$ and read it in its entirety – but you don’t have to!



In the 1970s, America changed the nutrition guidelines to say ‘Eat less fat, meat, and cholesterol, eat more carbohydrates.’ As a country, we rocked out at following orders and our consumption of corn products doubled and HFCS increased 8,853%, while our beef consumption decreased by a third. Trailing behind about 10 years, our rate of diabetes has sored 166% from 1980-2012.

The most recent research suggests that it is overeating carbs, sugar, and sweeteners that is mostly responsible for obesity and Type 2 diabetes. A 2010 meta-analysis (a study studying other studies) concluded that there was no significant evidence that saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

But how is this possible?! We now know that HDL (“good”) and LDL (“bad”) are only part of the cholesterol story. There are different types of LDL cholesterol: small dense particles and big fluffy particles. The small dense particles seem to be riskier, as they can attach to vascular walls – whereas fluffy particles ‘bounce’ off. Eating more fat increases the fluffy particles, whereas eating more carbs increases the dense particles.

Lauren’s note: This does not mean that we can eat all the fat that we want and be healthy and trim. Eating too much fat (or anything) is still going to cause weight gain and possibly other health problems. The point is that in a healthy (=largely unprocessed, normal portions) diet, the macronutrient breakdown need not be skewed against fat.

A small but scientifically rigorous study in Cell Metabolism concluded that a reduced carb diet may be better than a reduced fat diet for obese individuals. People lost weight on both diets, but they lost more weight, slightly more fat, and reduced insulin levels more in the reduced carb diet.

Eating Bugs

The UN has been promoting eating insects as the future’s way of feeding 9 billion people. Sustainability advocates say that this might be possible in the future, but not yet.


Fad Diets

Out of many studies investigating the effectiveness of 4 popular diets, 12 were found to be scientifically sound. Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Zone had similar results in weight loss and maintenance. After 2 years, some people on Atkins or Weight Watchers regained a portion of the weight lost. There is no evidence to support the alkaline diet, blood type diet, or grapefruit diet (which prob works because you only eat 1000 calories a day).

Lauren’s note: The key thing to look at when selecting a diet is the makeup of food it recommends and how likely you are going to be able to stick to it. A diet made of unprocessed foods (Zone, South Beach, Atkins) is better than a diet made of tiny portions of unhealthy foods (Weight Watchers). I get that people really miss lava cakes and lasagne and by eating tiny portions of these foods you can lose weight, but the nutritional makeup of a diet like that is still poor. Diets like Weight Watchers are successful not because the food is so healthy but because the calorie reduction is there and people are able to stick to it due to the allowance of their favorite foods.

Fabulous Fiber

Your intestinal tract is teaming with bacteria. They outnumber the cells that make up your body. These bacteria interact with your immune system and secrete compounds that have a plethora of effects we do not yet understand. One effect is on our weight and leanness. One species, Akkermansia muciniphila, has been associated with leanness and better glucose tolerance in mice. You can increase this bacteria, and others, by eating a diet rich in fiber. Bacteria feed on fiber (=a prebiotic).

Lauren’s note: What has fiber? VEGGIES!, fruits, whole unprocessed grains, seeds and nuts. Try to get vegetables at every meal, or at least lunch and dinner.



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