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Nutrition and Health News

Summer 2018

(Alcohol, Marijuana, Coconut Oil, Breakfast Cereals, Carb Levels)

By Gary F. Zeolla

 

      In this article, I will review several items related to health and nutrition that were in the over the summer of 2018.

 

Is Any Amount of Alcohol Unhealthy?

 

 

      It has been common health teaching for decades that moderate drinking is healthy. By moderate is meant one drink a day for women and two a day for men. The reason that is said to be healthy is alcohol raises HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, which lowers heart disease risk.

      However, newer research is calling that idea into question. It is showing that alcohol in any amount can be unhealthy. The reason for that is alcohol elevates cancer risk. It also elevates heart disease risk that is caused by factors other than cholesterol levels. Those factors override any benefit from elevated HDL levels.

 

      The health risks likely only increase the more you drink, the study found. Compared to non-drinkers, people who had one alcoholic beverage per day had a 0.5% higher risk of developing one of 23 alcohol-related health problems, including cancer, road injuries and tuberculosis, in a given year, the study says. At that level, the absolute increase is small, equaling only four additional deaths per 100,000 people per year, according to the study. But those who had two drinks per day had a risk 7% higher than non-drinkers. At five drinks per day, the risk was 37% higher, the study says (Time).

 

      However, this study looked at drinking worldwide, and some experts question the validity of this research when it comes to those of us in the United States. The reason for that is, the propensity for alcohol drinking to elevate the risk of tuberculosis is significant in other countries but not here, as few Americans contract tuberculosis. When you factor out the increased risk of tuberculosis, there is no detrimental effect of moderate drinking. Notice also the very tiny risk from moderate drinking even with tuberculous factored in.

      But what about moderate drinking being beneficial? It is now being seen that the claim of benefit from moderate drinking did not take into account what is called the “sick quitter.” This term refers to people who used to drink alcohol but stopped altogether due to being alcoholics but who are now trying to reform or who stopped drinking alcohol due to other health problems.

      Such people would show up as non-drinkers in a study, but reforming alcoholics would still have increased health risks due to their many years of excessive drinking, and those who stopped for other health reasons would still be dealing those problems.

      Bottom line is, if you are currently drinking alcohol moderately and have no problems with it, meaning you have no prosperity to overdo it, then there probably is no reason to stop drinking altogether. Just don’t think you are benefiting yourself health-wise by doing so.

      On the other hand, if you do not currently drink alcohol at all, then it would be best not to start. And if you are currently drinking more than 1-2 drinks a day, that habit needs to be changed, as there is no doubt it is detrimental in many possible ways. And those ways go far beyond potential health problems.

      This can be seen in the Confirmation Proceedings for Judge Kavanaugh that are occurring as I write this article. No matter who you believe and what you think about that fiasco, one thing is certain—at the root of all of the alleged actions is excessive alcohol drinking. As I write in my two-volume set God’s Sex Plan, “People will do things while they are drunk that they would not do while sober.”

 

 

Marijuana Use Makes People Stupider

 

 

      In the early 2000’s and up until 2016, there were some studies that seemed to show there were no adverse health risks in regard to brain health from the use of marijuana (Wired). This research was used to push to decriminalize marijuana use, and it has been working. Many states now have legalized marijuana use at least for medical purposes, while some have even decriminalized it for recreational use. My own state, Pennsylvania, already has legalized medical use of marijuana, and the push is on to legalize recreational use.

      However, new research is showing marijuana use negatively effects brain health by lowering blood flow to the brain.

 

      A new study has found that marijuana appears to have a widespread effect on blood flow in the brain. … “Our research demonstrates that marijuana can have significant negative effects on brain function. The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug, this research directly challenges that notion. In another new study just released, researchers showed that marijuana use tripled the risk of psychosis. Caution is clearly in order” (Slashdot).

 

      Additionally, those that used marijuana showed a significant lack of blood flow in the right hippocampus, the area of the brain that helps with memory formation. This part of the brain is severely affected with those that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease (Amen).

 

      The lowering of memory function can have both short and long-term effects, from reducing learning ability to increasing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

      The bottom line is, marijuana use is not safe. The current trend towards legalizing it and the resultant increased use of it in America will have long-term negative effects for individuals who use it and for the country as a whole.

 

 

Is Coconut Oil Healthy or Poison?

 

 

      Dr. Karin Michels, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg in Germany, went on record to label coconut oil “one of the worst things you can eat” (Truth).

 

Moreover, she:

      … calls the health claims surrounding coconut oil “absolute nonsense” and says it’s “pure poison” for its saturated fat content and its threat to cardiovascular health. The video of her lecture has amassed close to a million views and counting (Cancer).

 

      On the other hand, many on the Internet claim coconut oil is one of the healthiest things you can eat. It is put forth as a treatment for a whole host of ailments, including low thyroid levels, high blood pressure, skin and hair problems, and type II diabetes, and it is said it will aid in weight lost and to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease (15).

      Which is the truth? Is coconut oil horrible or healthy? As often is the case, the truth is somewhere in-between. The main issue concerns the type of fat found in coconut oil and its effects on the body.

      Coconut oil is 80% saturated fat, and saturated fats are well-known to elevate LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and that includes the type of saturated fat in coconut oil. However, defenders of coconut oil will say saturated fats do no elevate LDL levels. But I refute that notion in my book Creationist Diet: Second Edition, so I will not pursue it here.

      However, it is true the saturated fat in coconut oil is somewhat different from the saturated fat found in animal foods. It is half lauric acid. All saturated fats raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, but lauric acid does so more than other forms of saturated fat. That effect is said by coconut oil proponents to offset the deleterious effects of elevated LDL levels.

      That is true to some extent, but unsaturated fats found in vegetables oils also elevate HDL levels without the elevation of LDL levels, so they are a preferred form of fat.

      It is also true that the saturated fat in coconut oil consists of medium chain fatty acids, while the saturated fat in animal foods consists of long chain fatty acids. And it is said, the former is less likely to be converted into bodyfat than the latter. But there is no proof of that claim, as I detail in my book God-given Foods Eating Plan.

      There is also no proof of any of the health claims made for coconut oil. When you read such Internet articles, you will not see any citations of scientific studies. At best, you will see testimonies, followed by ads for a particular brand of coconut oil.

      Finally, those who try to defend coconut oil will try to refute the whole notion that LDL cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease. But the best they can do to support of that claim is to claim some type of “conspiracy” involved in the LDL “hoax.” Such sites will then claim that added sugars are the real culprit in heart disease.

      Now, it is true that added sugars are a serious health risk, as are other refined carbohydrates. It is also true that replacing saturated fats with added sugars and other refined carbs will not decrease heart disease risk. But that does not mean saturated fat is not unhealthy. It just means that added sugars and other refined carbs are just as unhealthy as saturated fats.

      This can be seen in that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats does lower heart disease risk. Replacing saturated fats with unrefined carbs most likely also reduces heart disease risk, though that point is not as clinically supported as the former. I explain all of this in more detail and cite the evidence in my Creationist Diet book, so again, I will not pursue it here.

      But here, I would agree with the following:

 

      Coconut oil is “probably not quite as ‘bad’ as butter but not as good as extra virgin olive oil,” Kevin Klatt, a molecular nutrition researcher at Cornell University who is studying the metabolic effects of coconut oil, previously told CNN (CNN).

 

      To put it another way, coconut oil is not as bad as the detractors say but not as good as the proponents say. Overall, you would be better off using extra virgin olive oil or unrefined nut oils, as I recommend in my both of my nutrition books.

 

 

Contaminants in Breakfast Cereals and Snack Bars

 

 

      A well-published study recently found a dangerous chemical in many oat-based breakfast cereals and snack bars. The contaminate is, “Glyphosate, also known as Roundup, is the most widely used herbicide in the US. It is the most commonly used pesticide in parks and is even found in foods that adults and kids love.” And, “Glyphosate is sometimes used to dry out oats just prior to harvest” (CEH). It is this use in the final stage of oat production that makes oats particularly likely to contain trace amounts of glyphosate.

      But is glyphosate dangerous? “For years, evidence has been mounting that glyphosate is carcinogenic, which is quite alarming considering that it is the most widely used (and overused) agricultural chemical ever” (Waking). Moreover, “Because a child’s developing body is more sensitive to exposure than adults and takes in more of everything – relative to their size, children eat, breathe, and drink much more than adults – they are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals” (CEH).

      Testing was done by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on a wide variety of oat-based foods, including breakfast clears, both hot and cold, and snack bars. The full list is found here. As you read the list, notice that the vast majority of products that contain significant levels of contaminations are non-organic items, while organic items have little or no contamination.

      Glyphosate is not used in organic farms, but trace amounts might still be found in the soil of organic farms, either due to still being there from before the land was converted from chemical farming to organic farming, or it can ger there from runoff from nearby non-organics farms. But even then, the amounts in products from organic farms are far less than in products from non-organic farms. That is important, as some websites only list items that tested positive, without giving the relative amounts.

      What that means is, “You can avoid this toxic chemical by buying organic cereals! Glyphosate is not used in the production of organic food” (CEH).

 

 

Low Carb, High Carb, or Moderate Carb?

 

 

      What is the healthiest diet plan to follow, a low carbohydrate (carb) diet, a high carb diet, or a moderate carb diet? The question being asked here is not which is best for weight loss, but which is the healthiest? A recent study looked into the longevity of people who followed each of these varying dietary plans.

      I first heard about his study on the “Health Minute” heard between segments of Sean’s Hannity’s radio show on his iHeart Radio rebroadcast station. I then found further details on BuzzFeed’s website, from which the following quotes are taken. But I could not find any further information on it.

      “Low carb” was defined as less than 40% of calories from carbs, “high carb” as more than 70% of calories form carbs, and “moderate carb” was in-between, but most specifically 50-55% carbs.

 

      In the study, Dr. Sara Seidelmann, a cardiologist and a nutritionist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues looked at 15,400 people aged 45 to 64 who lived in four communities in North Carolina, Mississippi, Minnesota, and Maryland. The participants filled out dietary questionnaires back in the late 1980s, and then again six years later, according the report in the Lancet Public Health.

 

      The results were that those following the low carb or high carb diets “were slightly more likely to die during the study than people with a carb intake in the 50% to 55% range.” The estimate was that those following a moderate carb diet would live one year longer than those following a high carb diet and four years longer than those following a low carb diet. Thus, the ranking was, moderate carb best, high carb next, and low carb worst.

      But there was a caveat. The researchers found that those in the low carb group whose diets focused on low carb animal foods, namely meats, fared worse than those whose diets focused on low carb plant foods, “like vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole grain bread” (though I don’t see how bread is low carb).

      I found this study very interesting as a moderate carb/ moderate fat diet is the very type of diet I most advocate in my books God-given Foods Eating Plan and Creationist Diet: Second Edition. In addition to being very healthy, such diets are easier to follow than a low carb or low fat diet, as I detail in those books.

      However, where I have misgivings about this study is its knock on animals foods. As is always the case when studies find health risks associated with animal foods, especially meats, is they do not make a distinction between factory farm animal foods and what I call “old-fashioned” animal foods in the latter book above. I explain these terms and the incredible differences between these kinds of animal foods in that book.

      But here, I will say, without making this distinction, this and other studies are not relevant to the health effects of old-fashioned animal foods. The point is, maybe if the low carbers had consumed old-fashioned meats rather than factory farm animal meats, they might not have fared so badly.

      Further, Sara Seidelmann says the problem with the high carb diets could be that they contained large amounts of refined carbs “like white rice or white noodles.” If the high carbers consumed unrefined carbs, like oatmeal and sweet potatoes, maybe they also would have fared better.

      But overall, I would agree with the assessment of dietician Cynthia Sass, “I find that clients who follow moderate carb diets — about 40% of calories — are able to successfully lose weight and see marked improvements in health.” and that populations who have the “healthiest lives (without high rates of chronic diseases) have a high consumption of whole plant-based foods.” Though I would add old-fashioned farmed animal foods to that.

 

References:

Alcohol:

Time. A New Study Says Any Amount of Drinking Is Bad for You. Here's What Experts Say.

Vox. It’s time to rethink how much booze may be too much.

 

Marijuana:

Amen Clinics. New Research Shows How Marijuana Drops Blood Flow to the Brian.

Men’s Journal. Shocker: 20-Year Study Says That Marijuana Makes You Stupid.

Slashdot. New Study Shows Marijuana Users Have Low Blood Flow To the Brain.

Wired. Does Marijuana Make You Stupid?

 

Coconut Oil:

CNN. The facts behind coconut oil is “pure poison” claim.

Truth About Cancer. Is Coconut Oil Really a “Poison”?

USA Today. Coconut oil is “pure poison,” Harvard professor says in talk on nutrition.

Your Wellness Guide. 15 Benefits of Coconut Oil.

 

Breakfast Cereals and Snack Bars:

CEH. Center for Environmental Health. Glyphosate pesticide found in popular cereals.

EWG. Environmental Working Group. Breakfast With a Dose of Roundup?

Waking Times. The List of Products and Foods That Have Tested Positive for Monsanto’s Carcinogenic Glyphosate.

 

Carbs:

BuzzFeed. Both Low- And High-Carb Diets Were Linked To Shorter Lifespans In This Large New Study.

Health Minute on Sean’s Hannity’s iHeart Radio rebroadcast.

 

Nutrition and Health News: Summer 2018 (Alcohol, Marijuana, Coconut Oil, Breakfast Cereals, Carb Levels). Copyright 2018 by Gary F. Zeolla.



The above article initially appeared in the free FitTips for One and All email newsletter.

It was posted on this Web site October 1, 2018.

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