Research Recap – Aug 2015

With the recent developments in nutrition, you’d think pigs were flying. The government removed the restrictions on dietary cholesterol, and the unfair demonization of saturated fat is finally getting exposed.

That being said, it’s fair to say that the memo still hasn’t arrived at a few million cubicles. Including those of the doctors and dieticians handing out health and nutrition advice on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, they’ve been preaching and we’ve been following the same advice for so long, that it’s not going to happen over night. As discussed in Eat Meat And Stop Jogging, humans have the tendency to believe something is true the more they hear it (illusion of truth), and the tendency to believe what’s familiar and easy (cognitive fluency).

So what can we do to help?

Keep piling on the evidence!

A systematic review and meta-analysis was published in the August issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzing data from 40 studies between 1979 and 2013, and found no association between dietary cholesterol and heart disease. In fact, the HDL:LDL ratio improved, and there were no statistically significant changes in triglycerides or VLDL concentrations.

Similarily, a research team in the British Medical Journal performed a systematic review looking at the risk of all cause mortality, CHD/CVD mortality, total CHD, ischemic stroke, and type 2 diabetes, in relation to saturated fat (like butter) and unsaturated trans-fat (like margarine) intake. Not surprisingly, trans-fats were associated with all-cause mortality (1.34), CHD mortality (1.28), and total CHD (1.21), while saturated fats were either benign or showed a slight reduction. Interestingly, the trans-fat in meat (ruminant trans-palmitoleic acid) was also tested, and showed an inverse association with type 2 diabetes (0.58).

And while we’re on the topic of heart disease, we were also blessed with a 10-year observational study that found no connection with salt intake, and a randomized crossover trial on 14 overweight post-menopausal women that a diet high in saturated fat from meat and cheese was less atherogenic (arterial plaque causing) than the standard low-fat, high-carb recommendations.

Both are not necessarily the gold standard in research, but they’re definitely worth mentioning. Since, as we’ve previously discussed, salt and fat are not to blame for heart disease.

The other notable research studies from August are listed below. You’ll notice that Sleep has been highlighted with it’s own category, as it seemed to be a hot-topic this month.


One night without sleep can negatively affect circadian-related genes – Researchers attempted to mimic night-shift work, and found elevations in glucose and fat storage, and reductions in cortisol the morning after.

A lack of sleep dulls our ability to read facial expressions – Potentially affecting our relationships and career.

When coupled with stress, a shortened sleep duration can negatively affect our short-term memory.

We seem to sleep better when close to nature (more reason to go camping to reset your circadian clock!).


A 52 study review in Food Science & Nutrition found a variety of dairy products (fermented, high-fat, etc) to be anti-inflammatory. The only evidence of a pro-inflammatory came for those allergic to the protein in bovine milk.

High-fat cheese reduced cholesterol levels in those with the metabolic syndrome.

Eating your bananas a little green may not be a bad thing – The resistant starch in green bananas seems to help lower insulin sensitivity and improve glucose control.

Spicy food may improve longevity – An observational study on the diets of more than 500,000 Chinese found that those eating spicy foods 1 or 2 days a week had a 10% reduced risk of death. Those going spicy 3-7 times a week, 14%.

Hunter-gatherer (paleo) diet proved better than the standard ‘healthy’ diet (low-salt, low-fat, whole-grains, legumes) for improving metabolic health in type 2 diabetics.

In 2010, worldwide consumption of antibiotics by livestock was 63,151 tons. Recent projections expect that to grow by 67% by 2030. Posing a huge risk to our health because of antibiotic resistance.

Health & Longevity

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (the thing they tell us doesn’t exist) linked to fibromyalgia – chronic pain and fatigue.

Direct link identified between the brain and immune system. Meaning a big future for the treatment of degenerative disorders of the brain…and a lot of textbook rewrites!

More negative side effects from statins:

  • Recent evidence in the journal Cell Metabolism, suggests that they disrupt the function of mitochondria in approximately 25% of users; leading to muscle pain and weakness
  • A study on 140 patients with acute myocardial infarction in the journal Atherosclerosis found that those given an aggressive dose of statins (80mg) had an increase in arterial plaque.


Children can experience near-sightedness from a myopia gene, but only if they aggravate it by excessive ‘nearwork’ indoors and inadequate time outside.

Chronic low intensity radiation from electronic devices (aka smart phones) has oxidative consequences in humans.

Kids are becoming just as sedentary as their desk-jockey parents. Meaning they need to be just as conscious of activity breaks as we do.

Similar to a lack of sleep, stress makes it more difficult to resist unhealthy food.

Participation in a social organization appears to be good for depressive systems, but it depends on what that organization is all about. Religious seems to be positive; politics, not so much.


Muscle loss and a lack of stimulation may cause cognitive degeneration.

Physical activity improves cognitive function in teens.

Climbing trees may improve working memory.

High-intensity low-volume sprint training (SIT) improves long distance running time (5km). Better cardio without cardio!

The front squat produces equivalent muscle stimulation as the back squat, despite lighter weight. (Lift Light Get it Right!)


Omega-3 supplementation (seal oil) improves neuromuscular performance in athletes.

Those with low-vitamin D levels (because of genetic predisposition) appear to be at a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

Stay Lean!
Coach Mike


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