What science has revealed over the past decade about the role our resident microbes play in keeping us healthy has truly been remarkable. It’s now clear that the more than 100 trillion microbes living on and within us are, moment to moment, playing a fundamental role in virtually every system within the human body. Who would have conceived that research would have revealed, for example, that the bacteria living within the colon are helping shape our mood, regulating our appetite, manufacturing health-sustaining vitamins, controlling our immune systems and inflammation, and even influencing the expression of our DNA?
This expanding science is compelling, humbling, and, at the same time, empowering, as we now are beginning to make real inroads into understanding how changes in the microbiome (the collection of the microbes, their genetic material, and the metabolic products they create) affect health, disease resistance and longevity. Continue reading
The message that we should all dramatically reduce our sugar consumption is really gaining traction and for good reason. This was a central theme of Grain Brain, and these ideas have certainly been validated since I published that book back in 2013.
Unfortunately, as people have learned about the threats of sugar consumption, soft drink manufacturers have decided to emphasize sugar-free beverages, sweetened with artificial sweeteners, as a “healthy” alternative. To be clear, nothing is further from the truth.
To those of you who follow my blog, the recent study demonstrating a remarkably increased risk for stroke, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, in relation to consumption of artificially-sweetened beverages should not come as a surprise.
First, let me break down what the researchers did, and learned. The stroke portion of the study evaluated 2,888 adults (age 45+), while the dementia arm focused on 1,484 adults (age 60+). The researchers reviewed food frequency questionnaires for the years 1991 to 2001 and determined how often the participants consumed artificially-sweetened beverages. Continue reading
Diet books, as a category, are among the most popular titles sold in bookstores, and with good reason. With soaring rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic conditions, and an overall lack of any meaningful “medical” fixes for these issues, consumers are desperately seeking out other venues that may provide answers and actionable information to combat these common maladies.
But whether a nutritionally-themed book is focused on blood type, targeting gene expression, lengthening telomeres, or even going gluten-free, one central theme that has emerged with widespread commonality is the importance of reducing sugar.
Whether it’s questions about organic maple syrup, or honey from organic bees, there’s a big push to understand the “right” kind of sugar in the diet.
Just know this: at the end of the day, sugar is sugar. Organic or otherwise, sugar in the diet is still going to have harmful impacts on the body.
As many of you know, I have written extensively over the past several years about the important role of the microbiome. Those 100 trillion organisms that live within the gut, as well as their genetic material, are essential to the body’s regulation and metabolization of food. Notably, this has specific relevance as it relates to obesity.
Previously, I have described how researchers have taken the fecal microbiome from overweight humans, and transplanted it into laboratory mice that specifically lack any gut bacteria (germ-free mice). When germ-free mice are inoculated with the gut bacteria from overweight humans, they begin to gain weight quite dramatically, without any changes to their diet.
By now, pretty much everyone is dialed in to the message that sugar threatens health. No doubt, this is a powerful and motivating bit of information for people to adopt dietary strategies that limit sugar exposure. Unfortunately, because of this information, we are seeing a surge in the consumption of artificially sweetened foods and beverages.
In this video, I explore the fallacy and misconception of the health benefits related to non-caloric artificial sweeteners. I explored the research that actually demonstrates a dramatic increase in risk for weight gain as well as type 2 diabetes in those individuals who favor the consumption of these foods and beverages. Continue reading