Sunday, April 28, 2019

Are Eggs Really Bad for You?

Demonizing eggs seems to occur on a regular cycle, and there has been a lot of bad press lately based on yet another study on eggs and health that came up with negative conclusions.      So what is the deal with this study and are eggs and egg yolks bad for people?   

To answer this question lets take a look at cholesterol since it is the bad actor that everyone tends to blame for blocking arteries and causing heart attacks and stroke.     Almost all of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver, and in fact the most popular cholesterol lowering medications work by decreasing your body’s production of cholesterol in the liver.  

Even if you eat NO cholesterol your body will make it because you cannot survive without it!  In addition, for most people your dietary intake of cholesterol has little to no effect on your circulating levels of cholesterol, and this includes egg yolks!  

As reported by NPR:

“[E]ating cholesterol can raise levels of it in the blood, but, as a growing body of research has shown, not by that much. Consuming sugar, trans fats or excessive saturated fat (from unhealthy sources) can be more harmful to cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol itself.

Most of the cholesterol in our bodies we make ourselves in the liver, and total body levels are heavily influenced by genetics, gender and age. As more and more research suggests that some degree of cholesterol consumption is harmless, if not healthy, the egg's reputation is gradually returning.”
In 2015, dietary cholesterol (and egg restriction) was finally eliminated from the U.S. dietary guidelines, and the controversy appeared to have settled. Now, a new study is again urging people to avoid eggs, linking egg consumption and dietary cholesterol to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.”

Latest Egg Study in the News

The study, published in the journal JAMA on March 19, 2019, analyzed data from 29,615 American adults pooled from six prospective cohort studies with a median follow-up of 17.5 years, and claims to have found a dose-dependent relationship between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality.

According to lead researcher Wenze Zhong, Ph.D., the results suggest there’s no safe amount of egg consumption, and the team believes the results should be taken into consideration when the U.S. dietary guidelines are updated.

Big Problems with this Egg Study

A careful review shows that are the multiple major flaws in this study.  According to Stuart Phillips,  Ph.D., director of the McMaster Centre for Nutrition, Exercise, and Health Research -- the amount of risk, that is reported in the study is trivial because the actual change in risk is insignificant.    For example the study quotes a relative risk increase of 17%.  However, the absolute risk (which is all that counts!) paints a very different picture and equates to 17 versus 15 coronary events (2 events total) per 1,000 person years.   Needless to say this difference is meaningless.

It is also important to note that their data is based on people’s memory of what they ate which has been proven over and over again to be very inaccurate.

Andrew Mente, PhD., principal investigator for the Epidemiology Program at the Population Health Research Institute, pointed out another problem with the data from this study:

“The primary hypothesis here is that eggs increase your bad cholesterol, and the more you eat, the worse it gets. But buried way down in the appendix is a note that they found higher egg intake is related to a reduction in LDL, your bad cholesterol. So, what’s driving the association in this research? It seems like there’s a contradiction with the findings.”

Several Studies Have Confirmed Eggs Are Good for Your Heart

There have been several large meta-analyses have completely refuted the claim that egg consumption raises your risk for CVD.

Not All Eggs Are Created Equal

Unfortunately most eggs you see in the store come from concentrated animal feeding operations, which are notorious for causing Salmonella infection. Eggs can become contaminated while they are being formed if the Salmonella bacteria exist inside a chicken’s ovaries.

So look for organic, cage free eggs or free range eggs meaning the chickens are not given any chemicals or medication and the same thing with the chickens feed.  Chickens are omnivores by nature and thrive on a diverse diet and roaming free range for their food. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Can a Week of Camping Change a Night Owls Daily Circadian Rhythm?

Circadian Rhythm is commonly referred to as your sleep/wake cycle, and this cycle has huge implications for human health and longevity.      Ideally your daily cycle should be in sync with the earth with wake cycles controlled by exposure to high levels of “blue light” early in the day and lack of exposure to Blue or Green light during the evening.

Many aspects of our modern lifestyle can wreak havoc on our ideal circadian rhythm with potentially deadly consequences if continued over the long haul.    Three of the biggest disrupters of a healthy circadian rhythm include:

Overexposure to blue and green light spectrum in the evening and night

Underexposure to Blue and Green light early in the day

Out of sync feeding cycles with a lot of eating occurring in the evening and night

Blue and green light are part of the spectrum of light given off by the sun, digital screens (including phones, tablets, TV’s and computers, electronic devices and fluorescent and LED lighting.      Early exposure to sunlight is the ideal source with an early walk outside.

In the normal course of human evolution prior to the advent of electricity humans got no blue/green light exposure at night and this is important because Blue and/or Green light signals “wake-up” to the pineal gland in the brain and shut off melatonin production.    This is a very big deal because melatonin does a whole lot more than make you sleepy including supporting the healthy functioning of all our cells and specifically the energy powerhouse of your cells the mitochondria.

Out of sync prolonged eating – another key element of our evolutionary heritage is that humans rarely ate anything at night.     There was no light so people tended to eat during the day and go to sleep relatively early.      In addition, modern life includes way too long a daily window of eating with most Americans eating during a 15-hour window with almost constant food/calorie intake.

This prolonged eating window coupled with late night eating is also out of sync with our genetic heritage.   Constant food supply and nighttime lights are a very new phenomenon for humans beings. This is only something that has only been part of our existence for the past 50 – 100 years.   For hundreds of thousands of years prior to this no one ever ate at night, and people consumed all their calories during a much shorter time window during the day.    In addition, people were forced to fast on a frequent basis.

Camping to the Rescue! - Believe or not something as simple as going camping for one week has been proven to rapidly fix all of these issues!   A 2013 Study in “Current Biology” showed that people’s circadian rhythm will synchronize to a natural, midsummer light-dark cycle if given the right stimulus (camping)/    For the first week of the study participants went through their normal routines of work, school, social activities and their normal sleep schedules.

For the second week participants camped in tents outdoors with only natural light and campfires (no blue or green light!).    No digital devices were allowed.     The response was pretty amazing:  they shifted their wake up time approximately 2 hours earlier and melatonin release and shut-off was optimized with light/dark cycles of the earth.    This was true even for self-proclaimed “night owls”. 
Needless to people almost always adjust their food intake timing while camping as well with the strong tendency to not eat during darkness.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Is it Worth It to Start Exercising Late in Life?

If a person has not been active for the entire life and is in their 50’s it is easy for them to feel that starting so late in life is not worth it.   A new study suggests it definitely is worth the effort!

People who start exercising in their 50’s reduce their risk of an early death just as much as people who’ve been exercising their whole lives as compared to people who are sedentary the whole time.     What is also interesting is that in this study the lowered risk occurred regardless of how an individual’s BMI fluctuated throughout their lives.    This means that people whose weight fluctuated a lot go the same benefits as those whose weight and BMI (Body Mass Index) stayed steadier.

Researchers looked and 315,059 people and divided them into three groups:

People who were active throughout their whole lives

People who were inactive as youngsters but became active as they got older

People who were active in their youth who because inactive in later years

Of course, those who regularly exercised throughout their lives fared well.     However, those who upped their activity level in their 30's, 40's, and 50's had mortality rates 32 to 35 percent lower than the control group – just as much as those who exercised their whole lives!

Other studies including a 2009 Swedish Study showed the same kind of risk reduction specifically for men who started exercising in their 50’s.     A 2003 study from Denmark showed similar results for men and woman.   A 2017 study found that people who increased their activity level later in life still reduced their risk of early death from cardiovascular disease by 25%.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Muscle Increases Metabolic Rate and other Surprising Benefits of Resistance Training

Because the muscles function as the engines of our bodies they play a major role in maintaining our metabolic rate.    Even at rest, muscles account for almost 30% of the total calories burned because muscles require lots of caloric energy for muscle remodeling which happens 24 hours per day.    For those who do not perform resistance training exercise, each pound of their muscle uses approximately 6 calories per day.   However, for those of us who perform resistance exercise regularly each pound of our muscle uses approximately 9 calories per day because of higher levels of muscle remodeling and building stimulated by resistance training.

The key take home is that the resting energy requirements of strength trained muscles is 50% higher than the energy requirements of non-strength trained muscle!   In addition stronger muscles allow you to perform physical activity at a higher level which increase the energy demands of exercise as well.    Actual overall resting metabolic rate increases approximately 7% for 3 full days following a strength training session!   Over the course of a year, this increase can add up to the energy contained in 10lbs of fat.   Put another way strength trained muscles can help you lose 10lbs of fat over the course of a year.

Strength training is also highly effective for regulating blood sugar.   Your muscles are you largest storage area for sugar, in the form of glycogen, so larger and stronger muscles help pull out more sugar from your blood.   Strength training also increases insulin sensitivity and glycemic control for enhanced sugar transport from your blood to your muscles.

Resistance training has also been shown to reduce resting blood pressure and decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol.   In fact the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association both recommend regular resistance training to combat cardiovascular disease and diabetes.