Fitness Factoids: Volume 45
Diet Can Alter Gut Bacteria Faster Than Previously Thought
The composition of our gut bacteria has become a major topic of interest in the scientific community as of late. Although research into the effect of the microbiome on our digestive and overall health is still in its infancy, scientists are beginning to understand the role that having a healthy gut can play in our everyday lives. According to new research published in the journal Nature the adaptive ability of the gut to adjust to dietary changes occurs must faster than previously thought. Researchers from The Harvard School of Public health conducted a study in which recorded baseline data on the gut microbiome. Participants were then asked to keep detailed food logs as they ate their normal diet for four days, followed by a vegetarian diet for five days, immediately followed by a five day period in which they consumed only animal products. Researchers carefully monitored mircobiome activity and found that gut bacteria was able to adjust to the dramatic dietary changes in as little as one day. Researchers believe that the results of the study show promise for future applications of dietary modification to specifically improve health without the use of drugs or medications but through diet alone.
Omega-3’s From Fish and Plant Sources Lower Risk of Death from Heart Disease
Traditional Western diets are rich in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids while typically deficient in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Having systemically high levels of inflammation and inflammatory markers is one of the calling cards of chronic disease that we see afflicting modern culture. A new study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology has found that those who consume the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids from both animal and plant sources have a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. The meta analysis contained data from the Singapore Chinese Health study which followed 63,257 individuals over a five year period. The results of the study showed participants in the top 25% of omega-3 fatty acid consumption from animal products had a 12% decreased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and those who consumed high levels of omega-3’s from plant and animal sources had a 19% lower risk of death. Consuming smart fats that improve health and mitigate the damaging effects of inflammation will not only improve your overall health, but your physique as well.
Statin Drugs Increase Arterial Plaque Accumulation
The prevalence of heart disease in Western culture has lead allowed pharmaceutical companies to make tremendous profits with the introduction of “cholesterol lowering” statin drugs. However, the use of statin drugs has been associated with a myriad of health problems including a dramatic increase in the risk of developing diabetes and Alzheimer’s for those who are prescribed statins. New evidence now has been able to associate statin usage with increased accumulation of arterial plaque. For the study researched analyzed 6,673 participants, 2413 of which were on prescribed statin drugs. Researchers gave each participant a Coronary CT angiography, which is a test that allows them to view the arterial walls and determine plaque accumulation. After completing the examination they found that statin drugs users had a higher risk of having arterial plaque accumulation and that no statin drug user had signs of statin drugs limiting or decreasing arterial plaque buildup.
High Fiber Diets May Protect Against Asthma
Although the traditional Western diet is considerably low in its fiber content, the popularity of the paleo diet has given rise to the importance of dietary fiber for maintaining health. According to new research published in the journal Nature Medicine, eating a high fiber diet offers protective effects against asthma. For the study scientists took three groups of mice and fed them all diets that varied in fiber content. Group one ate a traditional Western diet that was low in fiber content, group two ate a standard diet that contained slightly more fiber, and group three consumed a standard diet with additional fiber supplementation. The scientists then exposed the mice to allergens in order to trigger an immune response. They found that the group that consumed the high fiber diet had the least severe reaction to the allergen and decreased mucus production in the lungs. Scientists attribute this effect to fermented fiber in the gut being transformed into short-chain fatty acids that then influence the development of the immune system. This study appears to suggest that your parents and grandparents may have actually known what they were talking about when they told you to eat your fruit and vegetables to keep from getting sick.
Smart Fats Improve Health
Since the late 1950’s the dietary recommendations for Americans have centered on a low fat, high carbohydrate approach that has resulted in historically high levels of obesity, diabetes, dementia, heart disease, and a myriad of other chronic disease that are directly tied to poorly constructed diets. Despite what has been pushed on the public, the scientific literature has never supported the health benefits of high carbohydrate diets espoused by so called experts. After over six decades of refusal to accept the truth, it appears that ideas about nutrition are finally coming out of the dark ages. A recent paper published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is calling for a reduction of carbohydrate intake and increasing dietary fat and consumption of omega-3 fatty acids to 20-35% of daily calories – a stark contrast to the sub 10% levels that have been the standard recommendation. The paper urges for a reduction in refined and processed carbohydrates and replacing them with health promoting fats. It appears we may finally be on the precipice of a long overdue nutritional change.