The Digest - May 3

Here's the latest & most interesting from the studies and articles I've read over the week:  

  • Another one bows to public pressure.
  • This food item takes only five days to do serious damage to your body.
  • Maybe I should open a restaurant just to sell bottled water.
  • For the n’th time: the glycemic index is obsolete!
  • Asia is facing high diabetes and heart disease. Is rice to blame?
  • If your building is on fire, why would you turn away firefighters??


  • Last week I talked about how Pepsi, Coca Cola, Gatorade and Chipotle bowed to public pressure and announced the removal of harmful ingredients from some of their products. A few days ago, there was another announcement, this time by Tyson (largest chicken provider and supplier to McDonald’s in the US), with a commitment to stop using antibiotics in chicken by 2017. This is indeed good news because (i) the world is suffering from increased antibiotic resistance in humans (where antibiotics work less and less in combating disease) and (ii) this is yet another example of “big food” companies being pushed to change through public pressure, something we should encourage and support through education and activism.^


  • It only takes five days: your muscle’s ability to oxidize glucose drops dramatically, increasing risks of diabetes and toxicity and you start to lose muscle mass. In parallel, your tissues become inflamed, your blood vessels constrict (increasing blood pressure), damaging free radicals are generated, etc. All of these things happen to you after only 5 days of eating fast-food products! In fact, even a single day of eating fast food can start to do damage. Thankfully, the damage is reversible after a few days of eating “real food”.^


  • Well that’s a shocker… or not… The National (leading UAE paper) published the price of bottled water at various well-frequented restaurants and cafes vs. retail price from your local supermarket: there is something seriously twisted in the world when Rosa Mexicano makes a 500% (!!!!) margin on a bottle of water!^


  • The Glycaemic Index (GI) of foods rich in carbs remains a hot topic. Last year I discussed the weakness of the GI at length… Even though I haven’t updated that article since, the research I’ve read over the past year as well as the self-experimentation I’ve done (and experiments I’ve observed in others) have me convinced more than ever that while the types of carbs do matter for health and weight loss, the quantity + timing are MUCH more critical (as I also discuss here). This is due to the fact that food (especially carbs) impact our health and weight gain/loss by triggering changes in our hormonal balance, and knowing how to time carbs to trigger hormonal changes in a positive way is the key to success. I just came across another article which dispels the misconception that “low GI foods” make you feel “full” and help in weight loss.^


  • In the same vein, new research coming out of Asia sheds some light on a big problem plaguing populations in India and parts of China: dramatic rise in Type II Diabetes and heart disease. The study in question (involving Chinese, Indian and Malaysian subjects) demonstrated that even though various types of rice (Jasmine, Basmati) have relatively low Glycaemic Index, their consumption by Asians leads to an “unusually high” glycaemic response (higher insulin and higher blood sugar levels), a key factor in the development of Type II Diabetes and heart disease. Unfortunately such high-carb foods remain a staple for many populations around the world simply because of their low production cost ($ per Kcal). By the way, that’s one of the main reasons why carbs took over the “western diet” after World War II and led to the problems we face today: they’re much cheaper to produce and sell…^


  • Here’s another attempt to blame LDL Cholesterol for heart disease: in this study, scientists showed that that lowering LDL lowers risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of arterial wall) and thereby reduces risk of heart disease. Let me ask you something: if a building is on fire and the water sprayed by the firefighters to put out the fire damages the furniture, do you blame the fire or the firefighters? In this example, LDL is the firefighter: LDL is an anti-inflammatory molecule produced by your own body to combat inflammation. It’s a “repair” molecule sent to fix the damage done to the arterial wall… As part of that process, it will stick to the wall where the damage is to “plug the hole”! Yes lowering LDL will reduce atherosclerosis, in the same way moving the firefighters away will reduce water damage to the furniture… wouldn’t be a better idea to stop the fire (the damage to the arterial wall) in the first place??^

As usual, any questions / comments, hit reply.