Saturday, February 21, 2009

Food Link-O-Rama

By Diana Hsieh

  • Dumb scare-mongering headline of the day, supported by a total non-story: How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer.

  • Dr. Eades on the ethics of eating animals: A better way to die? As I said in a comment I posted, I'd really like to investigate this issue more. I trust Dr. Eades reports, but they're rather old. Today's accounts are too often driven by some kind of partisan agenda. So I'd like to know what might have changed for better or worse over the last 30 years. Undoubtedly, federal regulations and subsidies have exerted a major influence over farming in that time -- e.g. subsidizing corn-feeding of livestock and the clean up of large confinement operations, pushing small farmers out of business by eating up their profits with burdensome regulations, forcing the closure of a large number of slaughterhouses by federal certification requirements, and so on. I want facts -- and for that, I'll likely have investigate for myself.

  • Stephan of the always-interesting Whole Health Source analyzes a recent study showing some rapid health improvements from eating a "paleo" diet: Paleolithic Diet Clinical Trials Part III. The study was small, and the diet wasn't fully paleo. But the results were very suggestive:
    Participants, on average, saw large improvements in nearly every meaningful measure of health in just 10 days on the "paleolithic" diet. Remember, these people were supposedly healthy to begin with. Total cholesterol and LDL dropped, if you care about that. Triglycerides decreased by 35%. Fasting insulin plummeted by 68%. HOMA-IR, a measure of insulin resistance, decreased by 72%. Blood pressure decreased and blood vessel distensibility (a measure of vessel elasticity) increased. It's interesting to note that measures of glucose metabolism improved dramatically despite no change in carbohydrate intake. Some of these results were statistically significant, but not all of them. However, the authors note that:
    In all these measured variables, either eight or all nine participants had identical directional responses when switched to paleolithic type diet, that is, near consistently improved status of circulatory, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism/physiology.
    Translation: everyone improved. That's a very meaningful point, because even if the average improves, in many studies a certain percentage of people get worse. This study adds to the evidence that no matter what your gender or genetic background, a diet roughly consistent with our evolutionary past can bring major health benefits. Here's another way to say it: ditching certain modern foods can be immensely beneficial to health, even in people who already appear healthy. This is true regardless of whether or not one loses weight.
    The lesson: don't suppose that a change in your diet won't do your body good just because you're not fat -- or not yet fat. Stephan has some more interesting comments; I recommend reading his whole post.

  • Cheeseslave on How to Make Lobster Stock. Yummy!

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