Favorite Five Articles from Recent Medical Journals
Coke Keeps You Thin (Sugar Is Not Fattening)
A Randomized Trial of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Adolescent Body Weight by Cara B. Ebbeling, in the October 11, 2012 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, found that “Among overweight and obese adolescents, the increase in BMI was smaller in the experimental group than in the control group after a 1-year intervention designed to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, but not at the 2-year follow-up (the pre-specified primary outcome).”1 A group of 224 adolescents (124 boys and 100 girls) who reported consuming at least one serving (12 oz.) per day of sugar-sweetened beverages or 100% fruit juice were enrolled. The 1-year intervention consisted of home delivery of non-caloric beverages (e.g., bottled water and “diet” beverages) every 2 weeks, monthly motivational telephone calls with parents (30 minutes per call), and three check-in visits with participants (20 minutes per visit). The authors’ conclusion: “…replacement of sugar-sweetened beverages with non-caloric beverages did not improve body weight over a 2-year period…”
Comment: Laying the blame for obesity on sugar is the latest diversion used by agribusinesses to keep you consuming large quantities of meat and dairy products and oil-laden processed foods. Please do not misunderstand me: I am not saying sugar is health food, but that it is not the primary cause of our national epidemic of obesity. Nor should removal of simple sugars be looked to as the primary solution.
Refined sugar is “empty calories,” which can lead to nutritional imbalances. Simple sugars cause tooth decay, and in sensitive people, can cause a rise in blood fats (triglycerides). Confusion from past research tying sugar to obesity comes from the fact that children who drink more sugar-sweetened beverages also tend to eat more fast food with meat, dairy, and oil (the real culprits) and watch more television (reflecting less physical activity).
Coke keeps you thin! (1961 Coke commercial)
This 1961 Coke commercial, “Coke keeps you thin!” has more much truth to it than the recent dairy campaign to consume milk products to lose weight, for 4 reasons:2
1) The fat you eat is the fat you wear. Milk is 50% fat, low-fat milk is 30% fat, and cheese is 70% fat. Fat is moved almost effortlessly from the glass to the gut. Coke has no fat to wear.
2) Sugar is converted to body fat only with great difficulty. The calories from Coke are 100% simple sugar. Excess sugar calories are not converted to body fat under usual conditions, but are wasted in physical activity and heat production.
3) Sugar is appetite satisfying. As Connie Clausen says in this Coke commercial, “The cold crisp taste of Coke is so satisfying it keeps me from eating something else that might really add those pounds.” (Appetite satisfaction is not provided by dietary fat. You eat fat as if you were a bottomless pit.)
4) Coke is low in calories compared to milk. One 8-ounce glass of Coke has 97 calories, compared to 146 calories in the same size glass of whole milk. More than half the calories in milk are from unsatisfying fats that are almost effortlessly stored in your body fat.
Besides calories, milk is loaded with allergy- and autoimmune disease-causing proteins, poisonous environmental chemicals, artery-clogging saturated fats and cholesterol, precocious puberty causing hormones, and infectious agents, such as leukemia viruses, mad cow prions, and listeria bacteria.
Yes, I am saying that drinking Coke is far less harmful to you and your children’s waistline and health than is drinking cow’s milk. The current campaign in America for solving poor health and obesity by exclusively focusing on sugar as the culprit is doing little or no good, and great damage. The really sickening and fattening foods—meat and dairy products and vegetable oils—are bypassed by making sugar the scapegoat.
1) Cara B. Ebbeling, Ph.D., Henry A. Feldman, Ph.D., Virginia R. Chomitz, Ph.D., Tracy A. Antonelli, M.P.H., Steven L. Gortmaker, Ph.D., Stavroula K. Osganian, M.D., Sc.D., and David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D. A Randomized Trial of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Adolescent Body Weight. N Engl J Med 2012; 367:1407-1416
Secondary sexual characteristics in boys: data from the pediatric research in office settings network by Marcia A. Hermans-Giddens, published in the November 2012 issue of Pediatrics, found that “Observed mean ages of beginning genital and pubic hair growth and early testicular volumes were 6 months to 2 years earlier than in past studies, depending on the characteristic and race/ethnicity. The causes and public health implications of this apparent shift in US boys to a lower age of onset for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in US boys needs further exploration.”1
This data on a total of 4131 boys was collected primarily from medical doctors’ offices in the US. Results varied by race.
Average age of onset of puberty (boys):
10.14 years for whites
9.14 years for blacks
10.04 years for Hispanics
Comment: Puberty is the process of physical changes by which a boy or girl matures into an adult capable of reproduction of offspring. One of the earliest signs of the beginnings of sexual maturity for both sexes is the development of pubic and auxiliary hair. At about the same time (or shortly afterwards), in boys the testicles and penis enlarge, and in girls, breast buds mature and they menstruate. Functional sperm and eggs are the end result. The completion of sexual development takes about five years from the onset. The onset of sexual maturity earlier than would occur naturally is referred to as “precocious puberty.”
Girls, like boys, are maturing earlier than in the past. A 1997 report of 17,077 girls in the US showed “At age 3, 3% of African-American girls and 1% of white girls showed breast and/or pubic hair development, with proportions increasing to 27.2% and 6.7%, respectively, at 7 years of age. At age 8, 48.3% of African-American girls and 14.7% of white girls had begun development.2
Average age of onset of puberty (girls):
9.96 years for whites
8.87 years for blacks
Historical accounts show that girls normally start puberty (menarche) at about ages 16 to 17. Boys sexually mature a few months later. During their late teens, a person is physically, mentally, and emotionally an adult and ready to start a family. Precocious puberty causes children to have sexual desires and functions long before they are psychologically ready.
Examples from history of onset of female sexual maturity (menarche = first menstrual period).3
In Norway, in 1830, menarche began at the age of 17.2 years. In 1950, girls began menstruating at the age of 13.2 years.
In Britain, the average age of menarche has fallen from 16.5 years to 12.8 years during the past 150 years.
In the United States, girls started their first periods at age 14 years in 1900; by 1960 they were menstruating by an average age of 12.7.
In Japan, in 1875, girls became women at 16.5 years of age. In 1950, they started their first periods at age 15.2. By 1960, the age of menarche was 13.9; by 1970, it fell to 12.5.
Women of Papua New Guinea in the 1960s began menarche between 18 and 19 years of age. Note: 92 percent of the diet was from sweet potato leaves and roots at this time.
The age of onset of sexual maturity is pushed forward by the rich Western diet.3 Research on girls show the more meat and total protein consumed, the earlier a young girl’s periods begin (menarche).4 Vegetable oils, which cause weight gain, are also associated with earlier maturity. Rising rates of overweight and obesity have had a major impact on precocious sexual development. Fat cells act as little factories for the production of estrogens. (The fatter a person, the more estrogen made.) Foods themselves contain hormones. For example, cow’s milk is the largest source of dietary estrogens for most people.5
Milk-producing cows today are usually pregnant, and the pregnancy causes high levels of estrogen to circulate in the animal's body and to become part of the cow’s milk, which the children drink. Hormones are also added to animal feeds to stimulate the animal’s growth. Hormone-mimicking environmental chemicals, including plastics (Bisphenol A), affect a child’s sexually developing body. Fortunately, various components of plant foods, for example, dietary fiber and phytoestrogens, mitigate the effects of excess hormones on the body.
Early onset of sexual maturity has a profound importance to the child, their family, and society.3 Early sexual maturation is associated with an earlier initiation of sexual activity and an earlier age of first pregnancy. Risk for sexually transmitted diseases begins earlier as well. Children having their own children results in high rates of single motherhood, a disruption or discontinuation of the mother's education, and poverty. A teenage mother has a far greater risk than an older mother of experiencing complications in pregnancy and childbirth, including prematurity, prolonged labor, preeclampsia; and low-birth-weight babies with a greater risk of complications, such as respiratory distress syndrome and bleeding. Low-birth-weight babies are also 40 times more likely to die during their first month of life than normal-weight infants. Later in life, early menarche is associated with a much higher risk of breast cancer and heart disease.3
The devastating effects of precocious puberty can be avoided with a starch-based diet fed to children. Even if your children and grandchildren have already have started precocious puberty, this process can be halted with a change in diet and associated weight loss. (Exercise encourages weight loss and lower sex hormones too.)
1) Herman-Giddens ME, Steffes J, Harris D, Slora E, Hussey M, Dowshen SA, Wasserman R, Serwint JR, Smitherman L, Reiter EO. Secondary sexual characteristics in boys: data from the pediatric research in office settings network. Pediatrics. 2012 Nov;130(5):e1058-68.
2) Herman-Giddens ME, Slora EJ, Wasserman RC, et al. Secondary sexual characteristics and menses in young girls seen in office practice: a study from the Pediatric Re- search in Office Settings network. Pediatrics. 1997;99(4):505–512
4) Rogers IS, Northstone K, Dunger DB, Cooper AR, Ness AR, Emmett PM. Diet throughout childhood and age at menarche in a contemporary cohort of British girls. Public Health Nutr. 2010 Dec;13(12):2052-63.
5) Melnik BC, John SM, Carrera-Bastos P, Cordain L. The impact of cow's milk-mediated mTORC1-signaling in the initiation and progression of prostate cancer. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Aug 14;9(1):74.
Sperm Counts Reduced by Eating Meat and Dairy
High dietary intake of saturated fat is associated with reduced semen quality among 701 young Danish men from the general population by Tina K. Jensen, published in the December 2012 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found “a dose-response association between increased intake of saturated fat and a lower sperm concentration and total sperm count.” (Saturated fat means meat, poultry, and dairy products.) The authors speculated that the observed effects could have been due to changes in the cholesterol concentration of sperm’s membrane, which may affect membrane dynamics and sperm functionality.
Comment: Men traditionally have been the hunters who carry back the slain animals to feed the village; you know the saying: “They bring home the bacon.” Scientific research confirms meat is viewed as a superior masculine food.2 The acts of killing, butchering and eating animals are associated with power, aggression, virility, strength, and passion—attributes desired by most men—and eating meat has long been associated with aggressive behaviors and violent personalities. Men say they need more, and they do eat more meat, especially more red meat, than women.
Based on male anatomy, real men should be vegans (no animal foods). Human males have seminal vesicles: no other meat-eating animal has these important collecting pouches as part of their reproductive anatomy.3 The seminal vesicles are paired sacculated pouches connected to the prostate, located at the base of the bladder. They collect fluids made by the prostate that nourish and transport the sperm. Ejaculation occurs when the seminal vesicles and prostate empty into the urethra of the penis. In many ways ejaculation is the ultimate act of male performance. Seminal vesicles are essential organs for proper male function and therefore, they should tell us much about man’s true nature.
This research shows that eating meat, poultry, and dairy foods (saturated fats) decreases male potency (a lower sperm count). But, the American diet diminishes sexual performance and masculinity in many additional ways.2 Meat-eaters are likely to become impotent because of damage caused to the artery system that supplies their penis with the blood that causes an erection. Erectile dysfunction is more often seen in men with elevated cholesterol levels and high levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol—both conditions related to habitual eating of animal foods.
The greatest threat to a man’s virility is from the high levels of environmental chemicals concentrated in modern meats and dairy products of all kinds. These chemicals interfere with the actions of testosterone, decrease ejaculate volume, lower sperm count, shorten sperm life, cause poor sperm motility and genetic damage, and increase infertility. When eaten by a pregnant woman, they influence the development of the male fetus, increasing the risk that the baby boy will be born with a smaller penis and testicles, as well as deformity of the penis (hypospadia) and an undescended testicle (cryptorchism). Estimates are that 89% to 99% of the chemical intake into our body is from our food, and most of this is from foods high on the food chain: meat, poultry, fish, and dairy products.
Good health is attractive because of natural selection. Your basic instincts cause you to want to share your genetic materials (sperm and eggs) with healthy, not sick, people, in order to produce the highest quality offspring. At microscopic (lower sperm counts) and macroscopic (erectile dysfunction) levels the body is responding as expected to the burdens of malnutrition. Unfortunately, these effects seem to be insufficient to select out of the gene pool people who fail to follow a starch-based diet—and as a result poor eating habits are passed on to the next generations.
1) Jensen TK, Heitmann BL, Jensen MB, Halldorsson TI, Andersson AM, Skakkebæk NE, Joensen UN, Lauritsen MP, Christiansen P, Dalgård C, Lassen TH, Jørgensen N. High dietary intake of saturated fat is associated with reduced semen quality among 701 young Danish men from the general population. Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.042432
3) Coffey D. Similarities of prostate and breast cancer: Evolution, diet, and estrogens. Urology 57(4 Suppl 1):31-8, 2001.
Fat Paralyzes Insulin, Making Diabetes Worse
Dietary fat acutely increases glucose concentrations and insulin requirements in patients with type 1 diabetes: Implications for carbohydrate-based bolus dose calculation and intensive diabetes management by Howard A. Wolpert, published November 2012 in the online issue of Diabetes Care, found that “this evidence that dietary fat increases glucose levels and insulin requirements highlights the limitations of the current carbohydrate-based approach to bolus dose calculation…and suggest(s) that dietary fat intake is an important nutritional consideration for glycemic control in individuals with type 1 diabetes.”
Comment: In most people’s minds (including medical doctors), carbohydrate (sugar and starch) is the cause of diabetes. One result is that diabetics manage their disease and medications by “carbohydrate counting.” According the American Diabetic Association this meal planning technique is used to keep your blood sugar in control by keeping track of how many carbohydrates are consumed. Although carbohydrate calories do count in the sense that the blood sugar goes up right after eating a meal, this effect does not make the underlying disease of diabetes worse.
Diabetes (both type-1 and type-2) is due to the reduction of the metabolic effects of the hormone, insulin. Insulin is released from the pancreas after eating and causes body cells to take up carbohydrate and fat cells to take up fat (triglycerides). When the actions of insulin become insufficient the blood sugar rises and diabetes is diagnosed. This ineffectiveness is caused by lack of insulin production (as in classic type-1 diabetes) or is due to insulin resistance (as in type-2 diabetes). This study shows that dietary fat reduces insulin activity. (In this case the insulin injected by a person with type-1 diabetes, but the same is true for insulin produced by the pancreas, as in a person with type-2 diabetes.)
Contrary to popular belief, refined sugars actually make the body’s insulin work more efficiently. When the refined sugar content of an experimental diet of people with mild diabetes was doubled from 45 percent sugar to 85 percent sugar, every measurement of their diabetic condition, including fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin levels, and the oral glucose tolerance, showed that their diabetes improved.2 The researchers concluded, “These data suggest that the high-carbohydrate diet increased the sensitivity of peripheral tissues to insulin.” The increase in insulin’s sensitivity (efficiency) counteracted any blood sugar-raising effects from consuming more carbohydrates and calories.
Therefore, diabetics should be “fat-counting,” not “carbohydrate counting” in order to improve their underlying disease. Almost all type-2 diabetics can be cured of their disease by strictly avoiding fat (and the weight loss that follows eating starches, vegetables and fruits). Type-1 diabetics will find their insulin needs decreasing by about 30% when they avoid the fat and add the carbohydrate. All people, with or without diabetes, will find great improvements in their health from this simple dietary change.
1) Wolpert HA, Atakov-Castillo A, Smith SA, Steil GM. Dietary Fat Acutely Increases Glucose Concentrations and Insulin Requirements in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes: Implications for carbohydrate-based bolus dose calculation and intensive diabetes management. Diabetes Care. 2012 Nov 27
2) Brunzell JD, Lerner RL, Hazzard WR, Porte D Jr, Bierman EL. Improved glucose tolerance with high carbohydrate feeding in mild diabetes. N Engl J Med. 1971 Mar 11;284(10):521-4.
Avoid Annual Physical Exams
General health checks in adults for reducing morbidity and mortality from disease by L.T. Krogsbøll of The Nordic Cochrane Center published in the Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews, found that “General health checks did not reduce morbidity or mortality, neither overall nor for cardiovascular or cancer causes, although the number of new diagnoses was increased.”1
“General health checks involve multiple tests in a person who does not feel ill with the purpose of finding disease early, preventing disease from developing, or providing reassurance. One possible harm from health checks is the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that were not destined to cause symptoms or death. Their diagnosis will, therefore, be superfluous and carry the risk of unnecessary treatment.”1 One trial found a 20% increase in new diagnoses per participant over six years compared to the control group.
Comment: The annual physical exam is an intensive, well-orchestrated experience designed to make people who are apparently well, sick (with good intentions). You walk into the doctor’s office as George or Francine and you leave as a patient with a disease (hypertension, breast cancer, prostate cancer, or heart disease).
Despite unanimous agreement by major health policymakers worldwide, a survey published in July of 2005 in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that nearly two-thirds of doctors still recommend annual physicals.2 The main reason given for this contradiction with the evidence is that doctors want to avoid having dissatisfied patients: doctors fear patients would be disgruntled by this lack of “proper medical care.” This is a valid concern since two-thirds of patients also consider the annual physical an important part of their health care and may not return to doctors who believe otherwise.
In addition to the hope that an annual physical will ward off future problems, one common reason given for this kind of routine visit is to get to know their doctor better. People fear becoming ill and having to be cared for by a doctor who is unfamiliar to them and unknowledgeable about their underlying health. In the real world, care is provided through emergency rooms and outpatient facilities by medical staff previously unknown to the patient. The financial rewards to doctors for the annual physical exam play no small part in its continued existence.
The main reasons detecting disease early does not help reduce death, suffering, and/or disability is that the treatments (pills and surgeries) are ineffective and dangerous. If the annual physical were instead used for motivating dietary changes in patients, then the Cochrane Center would have come to different conclusions.
There are a few non-emergency contacts with the medical businesses that may be worthwhile. Tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar can serve to motivate people to make dietary changes. Repeating these tests after a change in diet can be rewarding when the numbers improve. I recommend a few early detection tests: PAP smears every 3 to 5 years in sexually active women from age 21 to 50, one sigmoid exam at age 60, and checks for precancerous changes in the mouth and skin. I do not recommend mammograms, PSA tests, or other routine screening procedures. The harms from over-diagnosis and treatments far outweigh any benefits.
Patients should seek medical attention when their body tells them that they are having trouble. These messages come in the form of a few signs and symptoms, like pain, nausea, weakness, bleeding, and discharges; or as changes in normal functions, like shortness of breath, difficulty in urination, hearing loss and decreased vision. Otherwise, as the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The goal of every patient should be to remain outside of the medical care system. This is accomplished safely by staying healthy. This highly desirable state is not simply a matter of good luck, but rather a result of cost-free behaviors; more specifically, following a starch-based diet, getting moderate exercise and sunshine, and having clean habits.
1) Krogsbøll LT, Jørgensen KJ, Grønhøj Larsen C, Gøtzsche PC. General health checks in adults for reducing morbidity and mortality from disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Oct 17;10:CD009009. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD009009.pub2.