Junk food is bad for you, but there is a very strange yet liberating reason why junk food appeals to you and your “food brain”.
It’s because junk food’s appeal is BIGGER and STRONGER than your resistance can put up with.
Junk food runs your food brain rather than the other way around.
Your resistance is infinitely INFERIOR to its pulling power. Your resistance is miniscule whilst junk food appeal is a well-oiled machine ready to bulldoze you in a flash.
You only need to faintly imagine junk food in your mind and your appetite begins to rev up.
But before you go celebrating your blamelessness in this whole business of junk food allure, there is one hidden danger that’s just been published recently in the Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This danger is a new reason why junk food is bad for you.
What’s this danger of junk food?
That danger is the new-found relationship of junk food to some cancers.
We have known for a while that some cancers may have their roots in our choice of diet. What we eat may actually contribute to our risk of developing cancer.
We also know that about 30% of cancers can be prevented by changing the way you eat and what you eat. It’s a simple equation really. If diet can cause cancer, altering your diet can reduce your cancer risk.
What we didn’t know until now is that the energy density of food can also contribute to our cancer risk.
Yes, you read that right. The Dietary Energy Density (DED) of the food you eat can actually increase your risk of developing cancer according to that research paper.
> The dietary energy density of food is a barometer of the quality of that food as it tells us the relationship between calories and nutrients per gram of that food.
How does this relate to junk food:
Junk foods are calorie-high low-nutrient foods typically.
In case you are wondering what types of foods are junk foods, here are a few examples for you.
Foods like pretzels, chips (crisps), pizza, cheeseburgers, crackers, a lot of dressings, candy bars and other sweets are examples of junk food.
Those foods are calorie-high foods and their nutritional value is pretty much very low.
What does that mean?
It means you have to consume lots more of that food to get the same nutritional value as you would from a calorie-low high-nutrient food like vegetables.
That’s the main reason those junk foods can end in obesity because you need to consume large quantities of them to feel full.
You know how you can eat a large pack of potato chips (crisps) in a sitting and probably another before achieving that feeling of satiety. That’s exactly what I am talking about. It’s very easily done and the worst part being you get minimal nutritional benefits from that munching exercise.
Having these junk foods one-time is not a problem but when these foods are part of your staple diet, then obesity may come calling later on. It’s only a question of time!
> And obesity is known to be associated with cancers of the womb, ovary, breast, colon and kidneys.
Want to know about the study?
92,295 women aged between 50 and 79 were entered into the study that spanned over 15 years.
The women enlisted in the study volunteered detailed information about their diet and from this information, the researchers headed by Professor Cynthia Thomson of the University of Arizona deduced the calorie density of each woman’s diet.
In the study close to 9,600 cancers were reported in the study group over the 15-year period. The most reported cancers were those of the breast and colon.
Confounding factors like age, exercise habits, drinking and smoking habits were factored into the final analysis and what they found somewhat surprising.
What they found:
Cancers were more common the group of women who preferred junk foods. Women in the higher 40% bracket of high-calorie food lovers had a higher incidence of cancers.
What was even more surprising was the fact that normal weight women were 12 – 18% more likely to develop those cancers in the study group.
What does this tell us:
It tells us that having a normal weight does not entirely protect you from the risk of developing cancer if you engage in a love of junk food eating.
Normal weight individuals are usually under the impression that all is well and “I can eat what I like”.
Not so fast.
The main reason being the metabolic havoc that these high-calorie foods can cause you.
Readers of this blog will know that I always talk about metabolic competence.
> Metabolic competence being a measure of how your body is able to deal with blood glucose load, deal with triglycerides and other fatty acids and lastly deal with cholesterol.
You could be thin and be metabolically incompetent. This puts you at risk of developing the same life-threatening diseases that obese people are at risk of.
Another possible explanation for this cancer risk finding in the study is that of substitution. If you excel in eating junk foods, you will be missing out on the healthy options of fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Such substitution of healthy foods for unhealthy energy dense foods can prove costly as demonstrated in this research.
The conclusion from Cynthia Thomson and her colleagues is that high-calorie foods are contributory factors to obesity-related cancers independent of weight.
What’s more important is that consumption of high-calorie or energy dense foods is a behaviour that can be altered by you.
You certainly can change the way you eat. Avoiding junk foods for more healthy options. It is clear from this research that a new reason junk food is bad for you is the cancer risk it presents over time.
Even if you are normal weight now, there’s a good chance that if you don’t avoid junk high calorie foods, you will gain weight over time, exponentially increasing your risk of developing cancer.
Primarily, weight gain is the number one reason junk food is bad for you. Other follow-up consequences are the direct result of that.
This research is however warning you that even without weight gain, you still need to be very careful with your junk food addiction.
I was on-call on the previous night in what was a busy shift. Nothing new there.
What was new however was what I saw on my TV screen on the Monday morning when I got home and turned on the TV.
I turned on the TV to listen to the news (I am news-obsessed), I saw there was a war of words going on the screen about my favourite subject – Obesity. More specifically it was a news item on the topic: does fat make you fat?
Hmm, this should be interesting, I said to myself. So, I perked up my ears to see if it was a breakthrough that’s going to shrink everyone’s waistline to healthy proportions.
That would be great but of course would only work if everyone bought into the idea in the first place, right? Thought so.
Okay, what was on my TV screen wasn’t exactly ground breaking but it was a move in the right direction. A starting point if anything.
The war was between the National Obesity Forum and Public Health England. The charity organisation, the National Obesity Forum had decided to answer that burning question: does fat make you fat?
The National Obesity Forum went all gung ho along with Public Health Collaboration to say, No, eating fat does not make you fat. If anything, eating fat encourages your body to burn fat and you look trimmer and healthier.
I was expecting a lot of fireworks with this explosive subject that is so important to our overall health but what did I get?
I will illustrate what I got with the Evander Holyfield Vs Lennox Lewis heavyweight boxing fight of 1999. This much-publicised heavyweight fight was scheduled to take place on the 13th of March, 1999.
Prior to that fight, Evander boasted that the fight would only last 3 rounds. Evander Holyfield who is a sharp contrast to Muhamad Ali in terms of pre-fight antics surmised that the first 2 rounds of the fight would be his for the taking and by the 3rd round, Lennox Lewis would be reeling on the canvas, knocked out, wishing he hadn’t agreed to fight him in the first place. One fight too far. I was getting all excited. Yep, I was.
That was Evander Holyfield’s prediction. But that didn’t happen. What happened instead was that Lennox Lewis was the clear winner of the first 2 rounds scoring way more points than Evander. Evander did however go for his predicted knockout in round 3 ramping up his combination jabs. He nearly succeeded but didn’t.
The fight continued lasting all 12 rounds. In the end the fight was controversially scored a draw between the heavyweight fighters sparking comments from everywhere and anywhere. Most people believed Lennox Lewis was robbed on the decision. Yes, the fight wasn’t exactly ‘Thrilla in Manila’ between Muhamad Ali and Joe Frazier but it was enjoyable and watchable all the same.
I had the same feeling on that Monday morning when the day was over because there was no victor as so often happens with debates over public health issues. Nothing changes. Everyone goes to bed holding on to the same ideology they had the night before.
> “The National obesity forum is a charity formed in 2000, with the remit of raising awareness of obesity in the UK and promoting the ways in which it can be addressed. This includes public-facing initiatives and the training of clinicians and healthcare professionals on how to identify and address weight management issues and obesity. The National Obesity Forum campaign to raise public awareness of obesity and the ways it can be tackled through achievable and manageable lifestyle changes.”
What was the public spat about?
The National Obesity Forum issued a document to the press urging people to eat more fat to get rid of fat and reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes. As expected, the press found the document very interesting and went wild with it.
Key points in the report included:
Eating fat does not make you fat.
Saturated fat does not cause heart disease and full-fat dairy is probably protective.
Processed foods labelled “low fat”, “lite”, “low cholesterol” or “proven to lower cholesterol” should be avoided.
Starchy and refined carbohydrates should be limited to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes.
Optimum sugar consumption for health is zero.
Industrial vegetable oils should be avoided.
People should stop counting calories.
You cannot outrun a bad diet.
Snacking will make you fat.
Evidence-based nutrition should be incorporated into education curricula for all healthcare professionals.
The idea of eating more fat to reduce body fat is always intriguing as it is counter-intuitive. The notion has always been to cut fats to reduce body fat. This has been the advice given by the Department of Health in the UK and for the last 40 years or so, practically all government departments in the Western world have stuck by this advice.
So, it wasn’t surprising that Public Health England came out to the media straightaway to dispute what the National Obesity Forum was putting out. Public Health England were not prepared to listen to what the National Obesity Forum was saying and issue new advice accordingly.
Instead Public Health England told off the National Obesity Forum to stop confusing the public with advice that was not evidence-based.
As far as the National Obesity Forum was concerned Public Health England was being too timid or shall we say stubborn to change their advice even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Maybe it’s pride.
But “pride” should not be a verb that gets in the way public health because it is way too important.
The National Obesity Forum did argue that their approach to weight loss is nothing new. They refer to the fact Hippocrates, the Father of medicine actually advocated people ate “rich foods” to lose weight. Hippocrates did include the consumption of fatty meats as part of his strategy especially if these meats came from grass-fed animals.
The Forum makes reference to another historical fact that physicians of old have said in the years gone by what the forum was now espousing. They refer to Raymond Greene’s classic text “The Practice of Endocrinology” in which Raymond talked about foods to avoid when dealing with obesity and diabetes as a problem.
Raymond Greene recommended you avoid:
What Raymond Greene prefers you eat:
The National Obesity Forum’s recommendation were no different. The Forum mirrored Raymond’s walked-on-path. The NOF/PHC report was entitled “Eat Fat, Cut The Carbs and Avoid Snacking To Reverse Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes” by the way.
Trudi Deakin of the Public Health Collaboration picks up on the foundation of the “eat fat to lose fat” argument. Trudi insisted that eating fat will not make you fat.
> It’s all about insulin and Trudi is quite right. If you can suppress your insulin levels, you draw on your fat stores, ultimately using up the stored fat for your energy needs daily. Here’s the skinny (no pun intended): if you eat fat, you suppress your insulin levels. Low insulin levels mean you can tap into your fat reserves and use them up.
So, does eating fat make you fat?
No, eating fat doesn’t make you fat when done correctly. The operative phrase there is “when done correctly”. High glycaemic carbohydrates will make you fat though.
I like her analogy of how cows get fattened up by farmers to get the best bang for their effort, if you like. How do farmers achieve that? They feed the cows with lots of carbs. Essentially saying carbs make you fat, not the fat.
Members of the National Obesity Forum have been watching with disgust the way the health of the nation has been deteriorating and felt they needed to do something about it. At the very least, speak about it even if they don’t have the vested powers to make the change.
The NOF wants a major shake-up of the dietary guidelines to undo the current damage done to the health of the nation.
Prof David Haslam, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum said “The role of poor dietary advice has been ignored for too long. Specifically, the ‘low fat’ and ‘lower cholesterol’ messages have had unintended disastrous health consequences. The change in dietary advice to promote low-fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history”
“As a clinician, treating patients all day every day, I quickly realised that guidelines from on high, suggesting high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets were the universal panacea, were deeply flawed.
“Current efforts have failed – the proof being that obesity levels are higher than they have ever been, and show no chance of reducing despite the best efforts of government and scientists.”
In the video below David Haslam also points out the confusion the role of fat and the role of carbohydrate in the diet. Quite rightly he talks about the fact that dietary fat has been seen as synonymous with blood fat or body fat, totally ignoring the huge role played by carbohydrate in body fat generation.
He does acknowledge that care needs to be exercised when consuming fats though. I suspect he is referring to the distinction between good fats and bad fats.
What’s not to like you’d say.
Well, Public Health England felt otherwise and came out vigorously opposing the Forum’s good intentions. Public Health England were having none of it. Described the report as irresponsible and urged National Obesity Forum to stop confusing the public with their recommendations.
Other health professionals and nutritionists not to be left out joined in the debate. If the National Obesity Forum thought they would get support from some eminent authority figures to drive their message home, they were in for a huge disappointment.
“This report is full of ideas and opinion however it does not offer the robust and comprehensive review of evidence, said Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation. “This country’s obesity epidemic is not caused by poor dietary guidelines; it is that we are not meeting them.”
He warned that “focusing on single foods, nutrients or risk factors is short sighted and will perpetuate confusion and fear amongst the public about what they should and shouldn’t eat.”
John Wass, a special adviser on obesity at the Royal College of Physicians, also said the issue was not as simple as fat or no fat. He warned campaigners not to quote selective studies and risk “misleading the public”.
> “There is good evidence that saturated fat increases cholesterol and problems with arterial disease,” he said. “What is needed is a balanced diet, regular physical activity and a normal healthy weight.”
> “In the face of all the evidence, calling for people to eat more fat, cut out carbs and ignore calories is irresponsible. It’s a risk to the nation’s health when potentially influential voices suggest people should eat a high fat diet, especially saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in the diet increases the risk of raised cholesterol, a route to heart disease and possible death.
“Prof Tom Sanders from King’s College London said:
“It is not helpful to slag off the sensible dietary advice.
> “The harsh criticism of current dietary guidelines meted out in this report is not justified as few people adhere to these guidelines anyway. There is good evidence that those that do follow the guidelines have less weight gain and better health outcomes.”
The Royal Society for Public Healthdescribed the report a “muddled manifesto of sweeping statements, generalizations and speculation.”
So, there you have it. Any wiser? Thought so.
Changing official national guidelines will always be a tough task. An uphill struggle. For one thing, there are vested interests, both commercial and otherwise.
In the end, all you get is “eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and you will be fine”.
Kind of makes sense, but I see this as a cop out advice designed to please everyone. Guidelines don’t change, those suggesting change are hushed up by louder voices, probably justifiably too sometimes I should add.
Now you see why I said, the whole episode was similar to the Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield fight. You expect so much excitement and all you get is a tawdry draw.
Surfing online yesterday I saw a video advertisement from howcast.com that offered the following advice:
> “Don’t use food as a reward or as a distraction from your life problems”
Prior to that advice, the video clip showed a young lady surfing the web on her smart phone (most probably on Social Media), sitting comfortably on a sofa, with a fairly sizeable chunk of chocolate cake in front of her.
Every now and again, she will slice a mouthful of the chocolate cake and off she gulps it.
In the same video, another footage of the same lady proceeds to do something more productive. Surfing the web, but this time using a laptop, making notes and generally being more productive.
This is capped by the young lady moving along to the kitchen and prepares a decent healthy looking dish.
The caption that followed read:
> “Meals and snacks prepared at home are not only healthier but less expensive”
Fast forward some more, another caption appears on screen:
> “The average food portion in America was 25% more than you have in France whilst vegetable portions were 24% smaller”
For me, that video was one of the better public service messages that has been delivered to my computer screen for a long time.
Even though the video I assume was targeted at the American audience, I was able to see it over here in the UK.
I don’t know if that ad audience targeting on their part was deliberate or accidental, but what I do know is that the same message is applicable and indeed relevant to the UK resident.
And good on them for letting me and whoever else saw it outside of the US. It was a nice selfless thing to do.
I’m not sure why a company like Google with all their financial muscle and solid infrastructure doesn’t produce similar videos and propagating them using their Youtube platform. They don’t have to show paid video ads all the time.
I know they do occasionally show public messages in their display ads on content websites as fillers when ad spots aren’t taken up by companies with commercial intent and we all appreciate that.
But I believe they could do more on their video platform. Videos do have an immediate and subconscious impact that text ads would struggle to match.
We tend to remember images more than texts. A video has an audio-visual impact that stays with you for a long time especially if it is well produced.
Google can give back, by doing just that little bit more on the video side. Just a suggestion. The people who call the shots at Google don’t read my lowly blog, so they may never see my suggestion.
If you happen to somehow know anyone over there at Google headquarters, can you send them this link please to alert them.
Getting back on track…
There is no doubt that subconscious overeating and over reliance on fast foods, takeaway meals are certainly contributory factors to the current obesity epidemic affecting the globe, worse in the west.
We have always thought America as the nation with the highest obesity rate but apparently not anymore.
South Pacific Obesity
There is a small host of countries in the South Pacific that have taken over that notoriety as reported in this Daily Mail news. These countries are America Samoa, Nauru and Cook Islands coming first, second and third.
Here is the latest obesity league table (Top 10)
9 out of the top 10 countries are small islands located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.
Yes, these countries actually do have a serious obesity ratio per capita. I remember watching a TV documentary a couple of years ago, about how obesity was becoming an issue in Tonga.
I do remember vividly the image sizes on my TV screen. I was astounded.
At the time, there was a lot of western diet infiltration into their diet but something I noticed as well was how huge their food portions had become which was not the case several decades earlier.
I remember the TV presenter asking the dad of a family of 4 why they would eat up a whole medium size pig in one sitting and all the dad did was offer a wry smile.
> Obviously, their collective appetite has gone through the roof with time.
Besides, traditionally they used to move a lot but that was no longer the case.
Practically, all families that couldn’t afford a car at the time in Tonga, now had access to a motorbike which they proudly rode around their little villages. Walking did look like it had become a taboo in a small island like that.
The men I also noticed did appear to be disinterested in any physical work of note. They were more interested in lounging around participating in leisure activities that reinforced a sedentary lifestyle.
> When I saw that TV program at the time, I suspected that there was no going back.
So, it is not surprising these small countries have leaped up on the obesity league table. I hope they aren’t proud of it because it’s not something to be proud of.
If anything, these small countries are facing a serious public health issue.
> Obesity as we know is a major health risk factor. Obesity has been proven to be associated with heart disease, stroke, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and early death.
It’s no laughing matter for these little countries with limited resources.
A lot of theories have been expanded as reason for these epidemics in smaller communities, one of which is the one given by Oxford Researchers as reported by the daily mail:
“Traditional foods of the islands such as fresh fish, meat and local fruits and vegetables have been replaced by rice, sugar, flour, canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, soft drinks and beer and these newly introduced foods are ‘energy-dense, nutrient poor’ products which have led to rising levels of obesity.”
Indeed, this was one of my early observations watching that TV documentary.
Professor Stanley Ulijaszek also said:
‘Theories have suggested that islanders are genetically predisposed to putting on weight, but we believe this does not explain why obesity has emerged so rapidly on these islands.
Well, I have to disagree with the esteemed Professor Stanley Ulijaszek and here is why.
These small populations have been largely considered “outreach” communities. Traditionally, they are used to the feast and famine environmental paradigm. The so-called hunter-gatherer phenomenon still applied to these communities until western influence came too close for comfort.
> These people, it would appear have been genetically programmed for feast and famine. An adaptation that makes their genetic make-up very energy efficient.
What this means is that evolutionally, their bodies have been designed to store energy quite efficiently for periods of starvation when food may not be available. Energy conservation is ingrained in their DNA.
When all of a sudden, these feast and famine cycle is broken positively with a predominance of feast at the expense of famine, metabolic dysfunction occurs leading to easy storage of fat.
> Genetic predisposition to energy storage compounded by less physical activity can only result in one thing – obesity.
This same phenomenon is replicated in smaller indigenous communities found in the US and Australia.
A case in point is the huge percentage rate of obesity seen in Native Americans in Arizona. This report puts the obesity rate of Native Americans of Arizona at 81%.
That is astonishing when you consider that this same population had practically an obesity rate was in the region of 3% previously in the early part of the 20th century. The obesity rate in this subset of the population has certainly contributed to the state of Arizona’s unenviable tag of the fattest state in America.
Kshatriya GK noted in this review about Native Indian American:
“Like all developing countries, large-scale developmental activities and urbanization in India have brought significant changes in the lifestyles, occupational patterns, and dietary habits of these tribal communities, once considered outreach groups. Furthermore, new “urban centers” are developing quickly near rural and tribal areas”
By the way, this same phenomenon is seen the Aborigine populations of Australia.
And if you thought that this may be just a fluke, you can look at this study that compared the Native Indians in Arizona with the Native Indians living in the mountains of Sonora, Mexico.
Their contrasting Native Indians in the Sonora mountains have largely maintained their traditional lifestyles that involve non-mechanised, labour-intensive methods of agriculture. They have had very little modernisation from the European Americans.
The result – the Sonora mountainous Indians have one of the lowest obesity rates in the world. Certainly, considerably lower than their fellow Arizonan Indians!
> There is no doubt that low level physical activity, sedentary lifestyle, nutrition that consists primarily of processed foods and overeating are all active contributors to rising obesity the world over and the South Pacific Ocean countries in particular.
Tackling the global obesity crisis is everyone’s task. I am doing my own little bit on this blog and I am just a small, small fry.
Bigger organisations with bigger influence and the infrastructural capabilities like Google can certainly have a huge role to play. They already have the platform. All it takes is a little will on their part to commit.
If by any chance event you came across this blog and read this piece…and you happen to know Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google…
…and you stop over at their Beverley Hills mansion for dinner, can you whisper my suggestion into their ears please.
That dinner might just taste a little better, knowing you’ve played a role in “changing the world”.
Enter Krista Varady and Michael Mosley into the boxing ring.
But before then I should say that cat fights in the digital and analogue world aren’t new. Before I delve into the shenanigans between Michael Mosley and Krista Varady, it might be appropriate to remind us of a similar cat fight between two technology heavy weights the world has ever known.
I’m talking about Bill Gates and our dear late Steve Jobs.
Someone once described Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as frenemies and he was right.
Bill and Steve’s relationship goes way back to the early 80s. Steve Jobs was an ideas machine and Bill was the programmer who can help bring ideas to life. So, it looked like a relationship made in heaven, right? Hmm, maybe.
Bill and Steve would meet regularly as often as the partnership demanded. Bill would eventually fall for Steve’s weird spiel and assign a team of programmers to work on Steve’s project which in his opinion was to change the world. What a visionary he was. Did he succeed in the end or what?
Bill’s recollection of Steve’s spiel was something along the lines of:
> “It was kind of a weird seduction visit where Steve was saying we don’t really need you and we’re doing this great thing, and it’s under the cover. He’s in his Steve Jobs sales mode, but kind of the sales mode that also says, ‘I don’t need you, but I might let you be involved.”
Anyway, the working relationship between the pair blossomed but there was always an air of suspicion between them. Steve was the more paranoid of the two and probably for good reason too. The inspiration for their project was from the Xerox Alto system.
Steve and Bill both admired the Xerox’s graphical interface…a lot. So much so that the Xerox’s graphical interface was going to be the spring board on which the Macintosh computers will debut.
Unforeseen hitches meant there was a delay in the proposed Apple launch in 1983. That’s life, isn’t it? Even the best laid plans never sail smoothly.
For Bill though, Steve’s failure to launch had a different meaning at least from his point of view anyway.
Bill saw an opportunity and pounced. Bill made a decision to launch Windows on IBM computers based on that Xerox’s inspiration – the graphical interface that is. Steve naturally felt betrayed and was very angry. The two giants had a meeting that was supposed to clear the air but as you can tell anger makes people lose all perspective.
In the clear-the-air meeting where Steve was raving and ranting, Bill sat quietly and after Steve was done, Bill retorted:
> “Well, Steve, I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbour named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”
The long and short of it is that Steve felt ripped off but Bill thought otherwise and so the feud between the pair continued but eventually they buried the hatchet before Steve passed away.
Even in all of these rifts and make-ups, both technology giants had mutual respect for each other’s ability and vision. Their styles may be different but their goals were essentially the same.
Now back to Krista Varady and Michael Mosley intermittent fasting catfight.
These two are by no means on the same scale as Bill and Steve but there is some similarity in how Krista and Michael fell out with each other.
Krista has been working tirelessly on the concept of intermittent fasting. Alternate day fasting to be more precise. By that I mean, getting deep on the research. Krista has probably done more research on the subject of fasting than most people in the last 12 years or so.
If you are looking for scientific evidence backing intermittent fasting, then you won’t go far wrong to look at Krista Varady’s work. It wasn’t therefore surprising that Michael Mosley turned to Krista when he had the idea of doing a documentary on intermittent fasting.
Michael wanted to learn more about longevity and optimum health without the use of pills or potions and similar stuff. Oh, it should be cheap and readily accessible too. Staying young and fit well into retirement.
If you haven’t watched the documentary, you should below if anything just to see the 101-year-old man running a marathon. Mind-boggling…
I don’t know about you but when I first watched the documentary I couldn’t help becoming emotional when the 101-year-old man had the medal placed on his neck at the finish line. You will also like Luigi’s bluntness. Krista’s input into the documentary is deep into the video.
Krista and Michael even shared a burger and milkshake together just to prove a point. Hmm, tasty!
The point being that intermittent fasting can still have positive impact in your life even with an unhealthy diet like processed food.
Michael and Krista looked like BFFs (means ‘Best Friends Forever’ in case you are not down with the kids) in the documentary.
In concluding the documentary, Michael made a tweak to Krista’s focus of research.
(Update: The documentary sadly has been taken offline. But the video below does show snippets of clips from the original documentary – you will still get the gist, although the scene between Michael and Krista is not included. Not the end of the world!)
Here’s the skinny.
Krista has been working on the science to back intermittent fasting because claims have been made but hardly supported by facts. So she set out to see if intermittent fasting actually does have benefits that can be supported by science.
Krista chose to study alternate day fasting as the focus (or model if you like) of her research. The extent of her research meant she gets quoted (her studies that is) everywhere. Michael was impressed with this.
However, in deciding to try fasting as a way of improving his health, Michael decided to make a tweak to Krista’s alternate day fasting, having come across this study by Michelle Harvie and her colleagues published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
That study looked at the effect of intermittent fasting on 115 overweight women. The participants were randomized into 3 groups. One group had 25% calorie restriction diet for 2-day-a-week. 2nd group had 25% calorie restriction done daily for 7 days a week like most diets do.
The 3rd group were allowed as much protein and fat as possible but still had carb restriction for 2 days a week. The outcome measures were insulin resistance reduction and loss of body fat. The study ran for 4 months.
What they found in that study was that the 2-day intermittent fasting per week calorie restricted diets produced better results in terms of reduction in insulin resistance and body fat loss than the 7-day week daily calorie restriction. Michael was hooked.
He decided to experiment on fasting 2 days a week. His method was a middle of the road kind of fasting. Instead of a complete fast where no food is eaten in the 24 hours of the day, aside from sugar-free hot beverages, he preferred to restrict his calories to 20% of his total daily requirement.
So we are talking having between 500 – 600 Calories on the 2 days of his fast. The other 5 days of the week he ate as normal. It worked – He lost 20 lbs.
To drum up publicity for his documentary, he had an interview with Daily Mail Newspaper journalist, Mimi Spencer, whom as if to test the validity of his claim tried out Michael’s fasting strategy. It worked for her too.
Mimi lost 21 lbs.
As normally happens in life, both Mimi and Michael developed a brain wave. Hey, we’ve got these amazing results, why don’t we write a book. Yep, sounds like a good idea. Not sure who first dreamt up the idea, but one of them sure did and the other complied.
It sold like hot cakes powered by the BBC documentary and the Times article.
In providing scientific backing to what they did, Krista Varady’s work had to be quoted and referenced in the book.
> Krista was livid and seething with anger when the book got released. As you know, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Krista demanded that her name and her scientific papers be removed from future reprints and editions of the book.
Krista who is based at the University of Illinois felt her work had been taken out of context in Michael’s Fast Diet book.
How? Krista’s research is on alternate day fasting (ADF) which means individuals on her fasting model will fast 3 or 4 days a week alternately given that there are 7 days in a week. Michael’s model is fasting 2 days a week.
You cannot take the research results of 3 or 4 days fasting a week and extrapolate them on a 2-day-a-week fasting method, Krista argued. They are not the same as far as she was concerned and demanded a dissociation.
In fact, Krista requested all references to her research papers be removed from future reprints of Michael’s book. Michael was forced to comply when the 2nd edition of the book was published. Hmm, I did tell you it got catty. I wasn’t joking. From BFFs to ‘don’t mention my name, ever’. Friendship collapsed in a flash!
Over The Top reaction?
Oops, a few months later after the row, Krista reveals she’s written her book, titled ‘The Every Other Day Diet’. Now there’s a surprise. Want a copy of the book to see for yourself? Get it here on Amazon.com and here on Amazon.co.uk
This then begs the questions: Was Krista angry because her thunder was stolen or because her research was misrepresented? Would Krista have raised any objections about 2-day fasting Vs 3 or 4 -day fasting had Michael co-written the book with her instead of Mimi?
Hmm, the mind boggles. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. Obviously that relationship has turned frosty. In fact, it is on ice at the moment. Will it thaw out? Only time will tell. But for the moment both books are selling well, so no one has lost out.
Only someone else’s pride was hurt…just a tad.
It would appear Krista wanted to test out her idea some more with further research before writing her book or may be Krista was just too slow in actualizing her book idea. In the meantime, Michael smelt an opportunity and pounced like Bill Gates did to Steve Jobs.
A little lesson there for you all. If you’ve got an idea, run with it before someone else does. You may not forgive yourself when that happens and will be kicking yourself for just being a little too sluggish on the take-off.
One last thing:
When it comes to intermittent fasting, there’s one name that you mustn’t forget. His name is Brad Pilon.
He is the Canadian dude who brought back to life, this age-old idea of fasting as a way of optimizing our health. He is the Chief Protagonist. Brad practically dragged intermittent fasting into prominence.
When it comes to human longevity, it seems as though Google may just have unwittingly made a pointless investment. Sometime in the first quarter of 2013, Google revealed a new subsidiary, Calico. Calico is essentially a human longevity research and development company.
This Google subsidiary was charged with a responsibility of conducting human longevity research that will enable us live until the very ripe old age of 500. Dream? Maybe. At least that’s what current research seems to be telling us.
Google Ventures President, Bill Maris said at the time that living for 500 years was going to be possible because of medical breakthroughs and advancement in biomechanics. After all, research made a breakthrough that restores hearing to the hearing-impaired using cochlear implants that stimulate the cochlear nerve.
Living in a world where deafness will become a thing of the past when this device becomes widely available to everyone who is hard of hearing will be something to celebrate.
So it was no surprise when Bill Maris figured human longevity research will create the potential for humans to live for as long as possible. Certainly 500 years of age was not unrealistic by Bill’s reckoning.
Human Longevity Research Reality
Were you therefore paying attention to Bill and craved to live as long as or even longer than the Japanese Okinawans?
Well, a new human longevity research may come as a surprise to you and Bill Maris. A lot of people crave to live not just longer but healthily too whilst at it.
But this recent research suggests the ceiling for longevity may have been reached and unlikely to be breached even in the coming decades.
Up until this recent human longevity research revelation, an experiment that involved genetic manipulation in worms prolonged the lifespan of these worms by five-fold successfully and this was reproducible.
Dr Pankaj Kapahi of the Buck Institute for Research On Ageing who did the genetic re-coding told the Daily mail “It’s quite probable that interactions between genes are critical in those fortunate enough to live very long, healthy lives. Future research is expected to use mice to see if the same effects occur in mammals.
The idea would be to use mice genetically engineered to have suppressed insulin signalling and then treat them with the drug rapamycin, which is well-known to suppress the TOR pathway”
It made sense that this approach was going to be extrapolated to humans. Some of us were bracing ourselves for it. Now we feel deflated that this may not be possible any longer.
So, how long can we live for?
There’s the idea of ‘how long we can live for’ that we dream about at least in theory. This dream idea is encouraged and motivated by science. But there’s also the idea of what is actually realistic. On this account, researchers have been dissecting huge amounts of data for some time now.
The backdrop of this recent human longevity research was to establish what was realistic rather than a prediction based on hope.
The conclusion is that humans are unlikely to breach an ageing ceiling of 122 years which is the world record currently held by Jeanne Calment who hailed from France. Jeanne Calment died in 1997.
Indeed, at a push, maybe we will extend our lifespan to 125 years but beyond that it will be impossible regardless of what Google’s Calico R & D may suggest.
People will continue to live long. Just like the Okinawans of Japan who have more centenarians per capita than any other group of individuals. However, it is unlikely that modern technology will make humans from any nation exceed those lofty existential heights set by Jeanne.
What Prolongs life?
The people of Okinawa in southern Japan are known for their longevity thanks to their specific diet rich in anti-oxidants and low calorific constitution. Research does indicate that nutrition is the main force behind what prolongs life as it does to the Okinawans and the Mediterraneans.
On the average, the researchers did note that average life expectancy did increase immensely in a linear fashion in the 20th century having analysed enormous Human Mortality statistics from over 40 countries.
Vijg’s was quoted in the Guardian as saying thus: “While the proportion of people surviving to 70 and over has risen since 1900, the rate of improvements in survival differ greatly between levels of old age. Large gains are seen for ages 70 and up, but for ages 100 or more the rate of improvement drops rapidly.
For the oldest old people, we are still not very good at reducing their mortality rates. What’s more, in 88% of the countries, the ages showing the greatest rate of improvement have not changed since 1980.”
Other factors contributing to what prolongs life include:
Improvement in health care
Improvement in diet and
Awareness towards a healthier lifestyle.
An example is awareness about how and why type 2 diabetes gets initiated. Possession of this knowledge encourages a healthier lifestyle which directly has a positive impact on cardiovascular risk factors. This in turn reduces incidence of heart disease, the number 1 killer disease in most countries.
Author of the research, Jan Vijg, Head of Genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City concluded that maximum life expectancy barrier set by Jeanne cannot be broken in future even though overall life expectancy will be enhanced by medical science and technology. This is in contrast to what some demographers and biologists will have us believe.
Vijg was quoted as saying “While it’s conceivable that therapeutic breakthroughs might extend human longevity beyond the limits we’ve calculated, such advances would need to overwhelm the many genetic variants that appear to collectively determine the human life span”
He goes on to give a sobering advice “Perhaps resources now being spent to increase life span should instead go to lengthening ‘health span’ — the duration of old age spent in good health”
The question does arise though. Why on earth do you want to live forever anyway?
Living forever is not sustainable for the planet. There’s a reason why life terminates naturally at a certain point.
For a start, the world population will explode beyond what the working younger age group can support skewing resources in favour of the old and infirm. I’m not sure that’s what we want.
A more pragmatic approach would be to live as long as possible, maybe about as long as Jeanne Calment. So long as the burden on the generations coming through is not overbearing. I don’t know about you but for me, I will be more than satisfied with that.
Have you heard about walking meetings yet? Well, it’s an idea that could energise your white collar staff and boost productivity at the same time.
Sedentary jobs have a tendency to make workers lazy and therefore prone to chronic diseases. Did you ever think health improvement ideas can arise from unexpected quarters?
Well if you did, you are right. Recent research has shown that boring meetings in the office can be spruced up with the simplest physical activity known to man – walking.
Those of us who attend regular office meetings can testify how totally tedious and uninspiring these meetings can be. Sometimes these meetings drag on unnecessarily with the inevitable consequence of diminshing levels of concentration to attendees. There are individuals who to all intents and purposes exemplify the “broken record” phenomenon. They make meetings laborious and tedious.
We share a few tips and guidelines on how you can make walking meetings part of your corporate strategy.
Walking Meetings Tips and Benefits
Walking meetings research has now demonstrated that “walking meetings” may just be the antidote these boring office boardroom meetings need. For a start this solution is free and has added benefits.
So, what is a walking meeting? A walking meeting is a regular meeting but the only difference being that the meeting is held with all participants in the meeting walking in and around any chosen venue, other than the regular boardroom.
The venue could be within the corporate premises or some other external venue like a park.
Russell Clayton, an assistant professor of management with the Donald R. Tapia School of Business at Saint Leo University in Florida discussed the benefits of walking meetings.
Russell suggested that companies embracing walking meetings should expect to get improved job satisfaction and accelerated job engagement in return for being that innovative in their work practices.
Apart from those corporate benefits, individual staff members participating in such meetings should expect some personal health benefits too. Such personal benefits include improvement to health like reversal or prevention of high blood pressure, lowering of cholesterol, preventing or reversing diabetes, weight loss and overall fitness. Talk about killing more than one bird with one stone!
This translates to one forgotten corporate benefit – Less absenteeism. Holding regular walking meetings means staff members will have less sick days contributing more to overall annual productivity as less disruption to company duties will occur as a result of the health benefits of walking.
Study author Hannah Kling, a graduate of the department of public health sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who carried out the research on white collar workers from the same university does accept that activities such as taking notes and document reviews might represent a challenge during walking meetings.
Hannah did offer some walking meetings tips and guidelines especially tackling problems relating to secretarial issues, a major obstacle seen by bosses as a hindrance.
Hannah talking to medicinenet website suggested that temporary stops to take notes or using digital voice recorders are ways to meet writing challenges during walking meetings.
A regular cell phone can be used for voice recording. How about the old reliable dictaphones? Minutes of meetings can be recorded using any of those devices. Don’t forget we now have speech-to-text software which can be used for transcribing purposes or simply transcribe minutes manually afterwards.
Appropriate attire like sunglasses, hats, water bottle, sunscreen would be necessary in hot weather conditions.
During walking meetings, do resist the temptation to have some sort of processed food snack along the way. No need for sugar-loaded coffee along the way as a reward for the meeting. This takes away the health benefits of the walking exercise and indeed it isn’t necessary at all..
Hannah Kling recommends:
A sit-and-conclude time after the 30-minute walk to go over paperwork or other things that couldn’t be addressed while walking
Keeping the group small, usually 3 – 4 team members is about the right group size and
Planning it in advance so attendees can come prepared — for example, wearing good walking shoes and weather-appropriate attire.
The conclusion from the walking meeting research was that this approach has the potential to combat the negative effects of sedentary behavior.
This idea of walking meetings may sound impractical at first, but the more you think about it the more realisable it is. All that is required is the courage to implement it.
Just remember that corporate and personal benefits await all bosses willing to take on this innovative idea. Give it a try and see how it pans out. It might require a few tweaks here and there to make it work for everyone but it is certainly worth a try. Besides, you might just have a lot of fun doing it.
Need to learn more about how you may use walking as a superfood? Go here.
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