Well Connect Feature: Carbs & Cancer, Antibiotics, MSG, Vegans, Saturated Fat...
Carbs and Cancer
Steve: The role of carbohydrates in our diets and the differences between healthy and unhealthy carbs, most often in the context of weight control have been magnified in the last decade, finally!
A new study presented at the American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting is one more reason to avoid sugary beverages, processed foods and other energy-dense carbohydrate-containing foods: lowering intake may help reduce your risk of cancer.
Regular consumption of sugary beverages was associated with a three times greater risk of prostate cancer and higher intake of processed lunch foods such as pizza, burgers and meat sandwiches doubled prostate cancer risk. By contrast, healthy carbohydrate-containing foods like legumes, non-starchy vegetables, fruits and whole grains were collectively associated with a 67 percent lower risk for breast cancer.
What is reaffirming is the type of carbohydrates you consume impacts your cancer risk. Healthy carbohydrate sources, such as fruit, vegetables, and legumes tend to protect us from cancer.
What's extra special about this study is that researchers tracked the eating habits of over 3,000 volunteers since the early 1970s.
Eating foods with a higher glycemic load was associated with an 88 percent higher prostate cancer risk. The risk increase was most pronounced for people who regularly consumed processed lunch foods or sugary beverages, a category that includes sugar-sweetened soft drinks in addition to fruit juices.
Among individual foods, legumes such as beans, lentils and peas were associated with 32 percent lower risk of all overweight- and obesity-related cancers, including breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.
The findings are in line with previous studies, which have shown that malignant cancer cells seem to feed on sugar, and that diets high in refined carbohydrates may lead to a range of adverse health effects primarily due to their impacts on body fatness and on the dysregulation of insulin and glucose, both of which are factors that may increase cancer risk.
MSG Toxic to White Blood Cells
Bonnie and Steve: One food additive we have always denounced since it became ubiquitous in food is MSG, or monosodium glutamate.
While many public health experts have supported MSG, as has some research, we have held steadfast in our belief because we have seen the cause and effect in our clientele. A new study from the May issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology backs us up.
The aim was to evaluate the genotoxic potential of MSG. Five different genotoxicity tests were performed in human white blood cells, called lymphocytes. As most of you know, white blood cells are crucial for our immune system.
The results showed that MSG has genotoxic effects on human lymphocytes in vitro.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is one of the most widely used flavor enhancers throughout the world. Six concentrations (250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 and 8000 mg) of MSG were used.
The results indicated that MSG significantly and dose dependently increased the frequencies of chromosome aberrations, causing major DNA damage at all MSG concentrations after one hour of exposure.
The results demonstrate that MSG is genotoxic to the human white blood cells. If you want a properly working immune system, then you should try to avoid MSG whenever possible.
How Antibiotics Promote C. Difficile
Bonnie: New research from mSphere finds that bile acids which are altered by bacteria normally living in the large intestine inhibit the growth of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff.
C. diff is a harmful bacterium that can cause painful and sometimes fatal infections. The work sheds light on the ways in which some commonly used antibiotics can promote C. diff infections by killing off the bile acid-altering microbes.
To colonize the gut, C. diff. spores need to germinate and become growing bacteria that produce toxins and damage the large intestine. Primary bile acids are made in the liver and travel through the intestinal tract. In the large intestine, bacteria convert these to secondary bile acids, of which found many have an inhibitory effect on C. diff growth.
This is why it is crucial to take not only sacchromyces boulardii when on an antibiotic, but a probiotic with acidophilus and bifidus. This will help control the growth of C. diff in the large intestine. The other method is to avoid antibiotics unless it is a last resort.
mythbusterVegetarians and Vegans Do Not Have Lower Cancer Risk?
Bonnie: Participants in a study from the March issue of British Journal of Nutrition found that those who followed a vegetarian dietary pattern did not experience a lower risk of breast cancer as compared with non-vegetarians.
In another study, scientists have found that a vegetarian diet has led to a mutation that - if they stray from a balanced omega-6 to omega-3 diet - may make people more susceptible to inflammation, and by association, increased risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
The discovery, in journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, shows that with little animal food in the diet, the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) must be made metabolically from plant PUFA precursors. The physiological demand for arachidonic acid, as well as omega-3 EPA and DHA, in vegetarians is crucial. With a genetic mutation that reduces the ability to transfer plant fats to usable omega-3 fats changes in the dietary omega-6 to omega-3 balance, therefore contributing to the increase in chronic disease.
Bonnie - This is one of the numerous reasons I have never touted a vegetarian or vegan diet. The vegans I have encountered as new clients are usually the sickest. Most vegetarians eat too many high glycemic grain carbs and sugar because they haven't filled up on protein and healthy fats. Thus, I am not surprised by the results. If the study had been based upon a traditional Mediterranean Diet... choosing fish, eggs, and low fat goat/sheep cheeses with lots of fruits, vegetables, and olive oil...their results would have been wonderful!
Clarifying How Saturated Fat Can Be Bad
I have told you many times that not all saturated fats are bad. Saturated fats are an essential part of our diet. However, it is what, when, and how we consume saturated fat that deems whether it affects us positively or negatively.
For example, trans fats are not just bad, they are horrible. Luckily, they have been removed from much of the food supply, but still exist in certain processed foods.
Another example is too much saturated fat from conventional animal protein. The fat structure is much more unhealthy than that of animals who are fed their normal diets.
Finally, new research from journal EBioMedicine suggests that it also may be in the timing of saturated fat consumption. While more research needs to be done, this first-of-its-kind study is fascinating.
Circadian clocks, which exist in cells throughout the body, regulate the local timing of important cellular processes necessary for normal functioning and help keep inflammatory responses in check. When you disrupt that timing, there are consequences, and this is a contributing factor in many human health disorders, especially metabolic disease. Consumption of saturated fats at certain times may "jet lag" internal clocks, resulting in inflammation.
The study found that one type of saturated fat in particular, called palmitate, is the big culprit in compromising the accuracy of our body clocks. Also called palmitic acid, it is one of the most commonly consumed long chain saturated fats in the Western diet. The most common places to find it is in conventional meat, dairy, and foods that contain palm oil.
Guess what disrupted the palmitic-acid inflammatory response? The omega-3 fatty acid DHA!