Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Study Dissuades Ingestion of Too Much Red Meat

From CNN/Health.com, we get the following information skimmed from a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine:  too much red meat increases risks of dying, weight gain and more.

The source of the information is:  "Using data from two long-running studies of health professionals, researchers tracked the diets of more than 121,000 middle-aged men and women for up to 28 years..." so for anyone who is informed, this was not a clinical trial but an observational study.  Due to this fact, one can conclude from the data that was accessed - only correlation or link - not causal information.  However, we see the "AP" version on CNN/Health.com state things like:  "If everyone in the study had slashed their average red-meat intake to less than half a serving per day, the researchers say, 9% of deaths among men and 8% of deaths among women could have been prevented."  Really?

Other great excepts include:  "Why is red meat, and especially processed red meat, potentially harmful? In addition to the high saturated fat content, which can contribute to heart disease, charring red meat at high temperatures can produce carcinogens on the surface, Pan says. And processed meats contain certain additives that in high quantities are believed to promote cancer as well." 

I thought we were all aware saturated fat has never clinically been proven to be harmful - and is in fact beneficial to health.  Yet, it is continually blasted in observational / meta-analysis studies.  And here we have scientists explaining why meat is also bad - the carcinogens produced.  What part of the study was that in?  I call it grasping at straws.

There is a small voice of reason toward of the CNN article in which Staffan Lindeberg, M.D. from Sweden questions the validity of the study.  He states that the real threats to health is sugar and starch-heavy Western diets.  Lindeberg advocates an offshoot of the Paleo lifestyle.  

It is nauseating to read that "Sure enough, Pan and his colleagues found that the men and women in the study who ate the most red meat also tended to be heavier, less physically active, and more likely to smoke and drink alcohol than their peers.". 

Perhaps a more viable study would be to review the diets of those who mainly ate red meat - there are plenty of individuals available!  Don't worry about the study's validity however, they took into account those who were less active, smokers and drank alcohol.  Must have been a simple formula for the thousands of participants.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Newest Non-Fasting Lipid Panel

Due to a recent minor surgery (endoscopic sinus) my primary doctor had a full blood panel done.  I was surprised (as was my ENT when they saw I had one done prior to surgery) but went along with it.  Too bad I didn't fast though, as I had a full lunch (whole avocado and lots of other fats) just a couple of hours prior to the test.  Whoops.  I discovered that the result is an extremely high level of triglycerides in the blood.  This is entirely normal for those on low-carbohydrate.  Your triglyceride count may actually be higher than your high or moderately high carbohydrate eaters.  The main difference being, a few hours after your triglycerides will be kicked in their place if you subscribe to LC.

Without further ado, here are some interesting results from my non-fasting full blood panel:
(All mg/dL unless noted)

Total Cholesterol:  207
Triglycerides: 143 (YOWZA!)
HDL:  57
Chol/HDL Ratio:  3.6 ratio
LDL (Direct):  126

Other interesting readings:

Glucose:  90
Bun: 19
Creatinine: 0.8
Sodium: 140mmol/L
Potassium:  4.6mmol/L
Chloride:  98mmol/L
Calcium:  9.8
Uric Acid:  5.4

(For those that state low-carbers have low calcium and high uric acid - eat those results!)

Note:  The test results state again:  Your lipid profile is abnormal.  Please continue to work on a low fat diet, exercise and weight management.  Please return in 3 months.  OK for surgery.

To borrow from Tom Naughton (http://www.fathead-movie.com

It appears there was a good increase of HDL.  From the clinical trials and studies I read up shortly after receiving this test, triglycerides are the most affected by not fasting before the test - and eating fatty foods will only compound the figure.  The other reading may also be total cholesterol.  But we all should know by now that cholesterol counts (even in the "High" range) are not cause for concern.  We need it.

And for comparison, my last fasting lipid panel (which didn't have a full spectrum of other cool stats):

Total Cholesterol: 189
Triglycerides: 50
HDL: 51
Chol/HDL Ratio: 3.7
LDL (Direct): 117

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Science-Based Dietary Guidelines

I am in the midst of a project in grad school to come up with a new way to save money and provide better health to the elderly - by way of implementing a new information system. This is in conjunction with following the requirements set forth in the "Health Care Innovation Challenge", run by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMI), within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services.

I plan on getting blasted for my remarks, as the professor is most likely highly ingrained in the current health paradigms. I will find out shortly.

My intent is to shed light on the fact that if you simply try and push a new information system, without first reforming dietary guidelines, general health suggestions and other preventative measures, success will be limited. The majority of health improvements for the elderly - and cost savings associated with it will be seen if such ideas are successfully addressed and implemented. I realize this would never happen, especially in such an organization as the CMS, however it is important to point out.

Here is the short section which is simply a quick breakdown of the reasoning behind the necessary re-thinking of these dietary guidelines:

Science-Based Dietary Health Program

Before deciding on specifics regarding the proposed system, there is salient issue that merits addressing. With regard to health, the United States of America is on the brink of disaster. In 1985, no state in America had over 15% of its population labeled as obese (that is BMI equal to or greater than 30). [7] This is still a high amount, yet nothing compared to the 2010 data showing all states averaging around a 30% obesity rate, one state as high as 34%. [7] Even more startling is the fact that “Nearly 70 percent of men and women are either considered overweight or obese….and 32 percent of children ages 2 to 19 are considered overweight or obese.” [8]

Why do we have such an epidemic of obese and overweight Americans? The US Government has produced the MyPlate program [9] after the Food Guide Pyramid failed to get America into a healthy state. Children were informed by the government to increase their daily exercise routine to keep obesity at bay with the Let’s Move program. From the Food Guide Pyramid, MyPlate program and the Let’s Move program:

“1. Ensuring students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day of the week
2. Substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods
3. Offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties
4. Limiting calories based on the age of children being served to ensure proper portion size
5. Increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.” [10]

Most of the recommendations made above are not science-based dietary guidelines. These dietary guidelines are based on a food nutrition paradigm shift that began several decades ago, pushed by both the United States government and food industries. In the 1970s, the United State Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, chaired by Senator George McGovern, created the Dietary Goals for the United States in response to a number of health conditions facing the U.S. The recommendations put forth were to avoid fat, cholesterol, eat less meat and ingest whole grains, fruits and “complex” carbohydrates. We can see that the MyPlate program almost forty years later mirror these same guidelines. The Committee’s dietary outline conflicted with many scientists at the time, due to the fact the suggestions and recommendations were indeed not based on reliable scientific data. Indeed the American Medical Association protested along with many other large organizations. [11] Yet, in 1977 the dietary guidelines were set and have been in place ever since.

The dietary plan found its way into school lunches, the Women, Infants and Children program and almost every facet of society involving food distribution. For example, with the WIC program, the USDA touts research into the program from 2004: “…WIC participation is associated with improved diets…reduces intake of fat as a percentage of energy, increases the intake of carbohydrates as a percentage of food energy…” [13]

Essentially, through fat’s demonization, it has been removed or lowered in just about every food item and replaced with carbohydrate. This replacement of fat with carbohydrate gives a much longer shelf life to food items and is also cheaper to produce, due to crop subsidization. As a result, nearly every meal children eat is filled with carbohydrates. Fat is avoided as it is seen as artery-clogging and the reason one gets fat. Babies drink formula which is extremely high in carbohydrates, school-aged children typically ingest cereal, sandwiches, pasta, chips, juice and more every day.

A continually surfacing theme in current scientific study is the hypothesis that weight gain is merely an effect of a larger metabolic disorder, directly related to insulin resistance. The highest degree of impact on rapidly increasing insulin resistance is sustained blood-glucose levels. This is turn is a direct result of a large level of carbohydrate ingestion. There are also major clinical studies which completely discredit much of what is still touted as science derived from the Dietary Goals formulated decades ago.

When one looks at the Let’s Move program [10], we see many of the major unscientific dietary information surfacing. Counter to the five points made previously with regard to this program, scientific data include the fact that whole grains and bread in general is a fattening food; fat ingestion does not increase fat accumulation; saturated fat does not clog arteries or increase cardiovascular risk; sodium ingestion has little to no effect on health; dietary cholesterol intake has no bearing on cholesterol count; attacking cholesterol is misguided; and calorie restriction has many negative consequences for the human body.

The current dietary guidelines have produced 100 million individuals in the United States with either pre-diabetes or type II diabetes. This represents over one quarter of the entire population. As the American Diabetes Association states, “Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they most always have “prediabetes” – blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes…Recent research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during prediabetes.” [12] However, even the ADA suggests eating “healthy” which in turn points to the aforementioned unscientific dietary guidelines. What should be suggested is eliminating the main cause for insulin spikes. Those who have full blown type II diabetes that have followed the scientific dietary guidelines have eliminated all medication and symptoms associated with this potentially devastating metabolic disorder.

Implementing an information system to save money is important. However, to truly and drastically also improve health care for the elderly, adopting scientifically-based dietary health guidelines is paramount. Allowing this type of access in the home will further improve health and cost.

That is it, so far. Interesting from the Dallas Morning News (1977) regarding the dietary committee:

Oh, but it was accepted.