The research – conducted by pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, and Jean-Marc Schwarz of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University California – examined 43 obese children who had high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, or signs of too much fat in their livers. The children were between the ages of nine and 18.
The children were put on a restricted diet which eliminated added sugar from sodas, sweet, and other foods.
Sugar intake was reduced from about 28 percent of total calories to about 10 percent. Fructose – a form of sugar believed to be particularly bad for health – was reduced from 12 percent to four percent of total calories.
Sugary foods were then replaced with starchier alternatives, such as hot dogs, potato chips, and pizza.
“This ‘child-friendly’ study diet included various no- or low-sugar added processed foods including turkey hot dogs, pizza, bean burritos, baked potato chips, and popcorn that were purchased at local supermarkets,” the study authors wrote.
Each child’s caloric intake closely resembled the amount they ate before the study began. However, the children reported feeling less hungry with the new diet.
“They told us it felt like so much more food, even though they were consuming the same number of calories as before, just with significantly less sugar. Some said we were overwhelming them with food,” Schwarz said.
After weighing themselves daily as part of the study’s requirements, one-third of the children said they could not eat enough food to stop losing weight. The children lost an average of nearly two pounds in just nine days.
“I have never seen results as striking or significant in our human studies; after only nine days of fructose restriction, the results are dramatic and consistent from subject to subject,” Schwarz added.
Blood pressure went down by an average of five points. The triglyceride measurement of cholesterol fell by 33 points, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, also known as “bad” cholesterol) fell by 10 points. Blood sugar and insulin levels also fell. Glucose tolerance and the amount of excess insulin circulating in the blood improved.
“Every aspect of their metabolic health got better, with no change in calories,” Lustig said, adding that sugar isn’t harmful because of its calories or its effect on weight, but rather “because it’s sugar.”
He stressed the study proves “a calorie is not a calorie.”
“Where those calories come from determines where in the body they go. Sugar calories are the worst, because they turn to fat in the liver, driving insulin resistance, and driving risk for diabetes, heart and liver disease,” he said.
The study was published in the journal Obesity on Monday. The researchers noted that further examination is needed to determine whether the short-term gains in health with low-sugar diets remain present in the longer term.
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From earliest recorded history, a procession of emperors, alchemists and charlatans have searched in vain for the mythical elixir of life. So perhaps it should be no surprise that the hunt for a cure for ageing is the latest investment fad among the gods of our time: US technology entrepreneurs.
Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, and Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and an early Facebook backer, are among those to have poured personal wealth into the quest. They were joined last year by Google, whose secretive biotech start-up, Calico, is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the internet group to support its bid to unlock the secrets of ageing.
Some have mocked such ventures as Silicon Valley hubris. But others believe these west coast visionaries have accurately anticipated the next big breakthrough in medical science: a significant extension in healthy human lifespan.
Finding ways for people to live even longer might sound like the last thing needed in a world whose ageing population increasingly looks like a social and economic time-bomb. But what if life could be extended in such a way that allowed people to remain active and economically productive for longer?
This was the vision set out by Jay Olshansky, professor of public health at the University of Illinois, when he presented a paper to an audience including Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, two years ago.
“He was asking some interesting questions about what our health priorities should be,” recalls Prof Olshansky. “I told him a cure for cancer would create more problems than it solved because if you save people from one disease you are just exposing them to an increased risk of dying from something else. The aim should be to look at the underlying risk factors behind age-related diseases.”
Prof Olshansky cannot be sure that he influenced Google’s decision to create Calico – short for the California Life Company – but he says its push on ageing research has brought credibility to a field once associated with cranks and dreamers.
Google’s potential to use its powers of data analysis to advance medical science has made big pharma take notice. In September, AbbVie, the US drugmaker, agreed an alliance with Calico that will see the pair jointly invest up to $1.5bn to develop treatments for age-related conditions.
Arguably the most pressing medical challenge posed by an ageing population – and one of the biggest commercial opportunities – is Alzheimer’s disease. Worldwide incidence is projected to triple to 135m cases by 2050 but so far no drug has been found to slow the memory-erasing condition, less still cure it.
Companies have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in failed trials, leading some such as Pfizer and Sanofi to drop out of the race. Others have doubled-down. Eli Lilly, for example, last year embarked on its third late-stage trial after two failures. Trafford Clarke, managing director of Eli Lilly’s neuroscience research centre, says: “We’ll find out in two years whether that was the smartest decision we’ve made or whether we’ll be thinking ‘what possessed us to do that?’”
While an Alzheimer’s drug would be a big prize, a treatment for ageing itself would be even bigger. Calico is one of several start-ups exploring this frontier. Another is Human Longevity, founded by Craig Venter, the celebrated US geneticist, with the goal of “expanding a healthier, high performing, more productive lifespan”.
Some of the most promising science is in the field of regenerative medicine, which involves repairing or replacing malfunctioning cells and tissues.
Prof Olshanksy believes that, rather than trying to cheat death, the priority should be to “close the gap between when you die and when you get frail”. This could produce huge social and economic benefits in reduced healthcare costs and increased productivity and consumption.
Others are more explicit about their desire to extend life itself. “There is nothing built into our biological system that says we can only live for a certain number of years,” says Michael Kope, chief executive of the Sens research foundation, an anti-ageing research charity.
The oldest human on record was Jeanne Calment, a French woman who died in 1997 aged 122. What would be the social implications if such a lifespan became commonplace in future? Mr Kope says the world would adapt. “When we give vaccines to children we don’t say ‘what are we going to do with all those extra people?’ We do it because saving lives is the right thing to do.”
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Steve Jobs lived more than 30 years after developing pancreatic cancer thanks to his vegan diet.
That’s the preposterous claim made by Dr. John McDougall in a lecture that has been viewed by more than 52,500 people on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81xnvgOlHaY and widely touted in the vegan community as a scientifically sound example of veganthink.
McDougall speculates that Jobs first developed cancer in his twenties, which might well be the case given that most cancers develop years before diagnosis. But by that line of thinking, anyone diagnosed with cancer who has made it to mid life could be living thirty years past the initial cancer cell divide. Most of those people will have been on Standard American Diets, high in sugar, starch, factory-farmed animal products and all American junk food. Somehow McDougall holds that animal products caused those cancers but Jobs’s nearly lifelong obsession with veganism could only have prolonged his life!
So why did Jobs develop cancer despite what McDougall himself concedes was a “strict vegan diet” with few lapses over his lifetime? McDougall’s position — and he’s sticking to it! — is vegan diets prevent and cure cancer. Therefore, it must have been bad luck — the equivalent of “being struck by lightning” or “hit by a car” – that caused Jobs’s cancer and fueled its progression. How else to explain the fact that Steve Wozniak (an overweight fast-food junkie), Bill Gates and other computer pioneers are alive despite similar exposure to carcinogenic lead and cadmium from soldering computer parts, long-term bombardment from radiation and EMFs, and other lifestyle risk factors that would have put all of them at increased risk for cancer? The reason those things caused cancer in Jobs but not the others must have been luck of the draw because Jobs’s vegan diet “could only have helped him.”
None of us, of course, can say for certain what caused the pancreatic cancer that led to Steve Jobs’s death, or what, if anything could have saved him. Dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors all must have come into play. But McDougall’s failure to even consider the role that Jobs’s vegan diet – and frequent fruitarianism — may have played in his death is unhelpful at best and irresponsible at worst.
Shortly after Jobs’s death on October 5, 2011, I read the Walter Isaacson biography Steve Jobs
and posted two “iVegetarian” blogs at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s website and one at Psychology Today. The links are:
With the help of the Isaacson biography, I thoroughly documented a longstanding pattern of food fanaticism, eating disorders and mood swings dating back to Jobs’s teenage years. On the plus side, his diet seems to have been organic and high quality, and at no point, did he appear to have been a junk-food vegan who indulged in all-American junk foods such as soda, chocolate, cookies and crackers. On the con side, Jobs was a picky eater who moved in and out of fruitarian phases for most of his life, but consistently favored a lot of fruit and fruit juice. The refrigerators at Apple were always well stocked with Odwalla juices, and numerous sources over the years reported him ordering juices frequently at restaurants. Indeed, this was the most consistent part of his diet for life.
Fruits and fruit juices are not only high on the glycemic index, but loaded with fructose. In all but small quantities, they greatly stress the liver and pancreas, contribute to diabetes and many other blood sugar disorders, and have been linked to pancreatic cancer. Jobs suffered from a type of pancreatic cancer known as islet cell carcinoma, which originates in the insulin-secreting beta cells.
That the fructose in Jobs’s fruit heavy diet likely contributed to this cancer is supported by research published in the November 2007 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which concluded there was “evidence for a greater pancreatic cancer risk with a high intake of fruit and juices but not with a high intake of sodas.” In other words, the “healthy” juices regularly drunk by Jobs may have been been even worse than the soft drinks he seems to have rejected. More recently, in the August 2010 issue of Cancer Research,Dr. Anthony Healy of UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and Director of the Pituitary Tumor and Neuroendocrine Program at UCLA, proposed that aberrant fructose metabolism—and not just aberrant glucose metabolism—might be involved in the pathogenesis of Jobs’s type of pancreatic cancer. Seems fructose provides the raw material cancer cells prefer to use to make the DNA they need to divide and proliferate.
Although the UCLA findings are preliminary, done with cell lines, and at this point more suggestive than bulletproof, the Reuters headline “Cancer Cells Slurp Up Fructose” is fair warning to any of us addicted to fruit and fruit juices.
McDougall read the Isaacson biography and based a lot of speculation on it. Yet he somehow missed — or chose to ignore – the fact that Jobs’s brand of veganism included massive amounts of fruit juice, with its dangerous load of fructose. Instead, McDougall speculates that the main flaw in what he sees as Jobs’s mostly excellent diet was eating meat analogue products high in carcinogenic soy protein isolate. In fact, as I discuss extensively in Chapter 16 of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food, products are risk factors for the exocrine type of pancreatic cancer that killed actors Michael Landon, Patrick Swayze and astronaut Sally Ride, but not for the much rarer endocrine type that killed Jobs.
Furthermore, we have little evidence that Jobs ate much soy. In a book full of food references, Isaacson does not mention soy even once. Certainly, the Apple culture was soy friendly with soy milk readily available in vending machines and at coffee stations and with soy meats served up at company cafeterias, but we have no good evidence at this point that Jobs ate much of it over his lifetime. Indeed, it is very likely he rejected it because of his longstanding fascination with the book The Mucusless Diet Healing System by Arnold Ehret (1866-1922). Ehret’s peculiar brand of VeganThink held the human body is an “air-gas engine” that runs well only on fruits, starchless vegetables and edible green leaves. Soy and other legumes, according to this way of thinking, were to be disdained as mucus-producing forbidden foods. Ehret — whose own “air-gas engine” sputtered, stalled and died at age 56, the same age as Jobs – not only condemned protein and fat as “unnatural” but said they could not be used by the body.
Inspired by Ehret’s theories, Jobs appears to have eaten a diet low in both fat and protein for most of his life. And what did he eat instead? Carbs high in fructose, the very type of carbs linked to blood sugar problems and pancreatic cancer.
McDougall’s VeganThink also includes a strong opinion about Jobs’s earlier trials with painful kidney stones, which he declares were not kidney stones at all, but misdiagnosis of a diseased pancreas. How so? Those organs are located close together in the body after all, thus easily confused by doctors less wise than himself. His main reason though is kidney stones simply cannot occur to anyone on a vegan diet. As per the VeganThink theory of kidney stones, the acid load from animal proteins causes loss of bone, leading to dissolved calcium in the blood, overwhelm in the urinary tract, and build up of kidney stones. Vegan Jobs could not have had acid buildup, therefore could not have developed kidney stones.
A more likely scenario is Jobs’s kidney stones were the predictable result of his high fructose diet. Sugar – including fructose, the fruit sugar vegans believe is super healthy – upsets mineral balance in the body, interferes with calcium and magnesium absorption and can lead to a host of health problems, including kidney stones. Indeed there is so much research linking high consumption of fruit juices by children to higher incidence of kidney stone development in youngsters as early as kindergarten age that the issue has been covered in the New York Times.
Veganthink further fails to recognize how often kidney stones develop from oxalates, which are indigestible compounds found only in plant foods. Oxalates are especially high in vegan staples such as spinach and other dark leafy greens, parsley, beets, carrots, strawberries, nuts, peanuts, soy and chocolate. Isaacson says nothing about Jobs eating nuts, peanuts, soy or chocolate, but a great deal about his love affair with fruits, veggies, salads and juices.
Where else does McDougall go astray? Interpreting reports of Jobs’s skin and eyes turning yellow and orange in his twenties as proof of the obstruction of the bile ducts and the early onset of the deadly pancreatic cancer that Jobs’s vegan diet somehow kept at bay for an astounding 30 years. The obvious reason — widely acknowledged even in the vegan literature — is excessive carrot juice consumption, which Jobs was well known to have consumed.
In short, McDougall’s lecture is a whole lot of speculation, assumptions and questionable claims, including the entirely wrongheaded idea that it is the nature of cancer cells to divide and tumors to grow in such an orderly, predictable way that disease progression can be calculated using multiplication tables. Really? Though even his simple math doesn’t compute, most of the YouTube “commentators” have chosen instead to carp on his pseudo-French pronunciation of the word centimeters as “sahntometers.” I guess some doctors somewhere sometimes say it that way, but the overall impression is pretentiousness in the service of pseudo science.
McDougall starts out by saying he “like the challenge of learning new things.” He ends by saying that noone – noone – has yet or ever will disprove his theory. Veganthink
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It is well known that obesity is a leading cause of diabetes, a disease where the body fails to control blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels are characteristic in obesity and diabetes. What is less well known is that diabetes and obesity are also linked to an increase in cancer risk. That is, the diabetic population has up to double chances to suffer pancreatic or colon cancer among others, according to well sustained epidemiological studies. With obesity in British and Spanish children reaching 16%, the highest in Europe, this epidemic has major health implications. How obesity or diabetes increase cancer risk has been a major health issue.
Scientists led by Dr. Custodia Garcia-Jimenez at the University Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid have uncovered a key mechanism that links obesity and diabetes with cancer: high sugar levels, which increase activity of a gene widely implicated in cancer progression.
Dr Garcia Jimenez’s laboratory was studying how cells in the intestine respond to sugars and signal to the pancreas to release insulin, the key hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Sugars in the intestine trigger cells to release a hormone called GIP that enhances insulin release by the pancreas.
In a study published in Molecular Cell, Dr Garcia Jimenez’s team showed that the ability of the intestinal cells to secrete GIP is controlled by a protein called β-catenin, and that the activity of β-catenin is strictly dependent on sugar levels.
Increased activity of β-catenin is known to be a major factor in the development of many cancers and can make normal cells immortal, a key step in early stages of cancer progression. The study demonstrates that high (but not normal) sugar levels induce nuclear accumulation of β-catenin and leads to cell proliferation. The changes induced on β-catenin, the molecules involved and the diversity of cancer cells susceptible to these changes are identified.
Dr. Custodia García said “We were surprised to realize that changes in our metabolism caused by dietary sugar impact on our cancer risk. We are now investigating what other dietary components may influence our cancer risk. Changing diet is one of easiest prevention strategies that can potentially save a lot of suffering and money”.
Colin Goding, Professor of Oncology at the University of Oxford, UK said ‘Previously we were unsure about how increased blood sugar found in diabetes and obesity could increase cancer risk. This study identifies a key molecular mechanism through which high blood glucose would predispose to cancer. It opens the way for potential novel therapies aimed at reducing cancer risk in the obese and diabetic populations.’
Estimations published by the World Health Organisation (WHO): Obesity predisposes to diabetes and its prevalence is doubling every 20 years worldwide. More than 1 in 10 adults worldwide (12%) are obese (BMI>30). 1 in 6 children in UK and Spain suffer obesity.
Diabetes caused 4.6 million deaths in 2011, more than 2 deaths per hour in Spain, more in USA. Worldwide, 1 in 10 adults (10%) suffered from diabetes in 2010 and more than one-third of individuals with diabetes are unaware they suffer from the disease. The national cost of diabetes or cancer is in the order of billions of pounds or euros in Spain or England.
More than half (63%) of premature deaths worldwide are due to non communicable diseases (NCD) of which cancer and diabetes are among the 4 causes more frequent.
At least 1 in 3 of the main cancers (27–39%) can be prevented by improving diet, physical activity and body composition.
Office for Universities and Research
Council of Education of Madrid
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Egged on by massive food-industry marketing budgets, Americans eat a lot of sugary foods. We know the habit is quite probably wrecking our bodies, triggering high rates of overweight and diabetes. Is it also wrecking our brains?
That’s the disturbing conclusion emerging in a body of research linking Alzheimer’s disease to insulin resistance—which is in turn linked to excess sweetener consumption. A blockbuster story in the Sept. 3 issue of the UK magazine The New Scientist teases out the connections.
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Although it is a central premise of the whole Wheat Belly argument, I fear that some people haven’t fully gotten the message:
Modern wheat is an opiate.
And, of course, I don’t mean that wheat is an opiate in the sense that you like it so much that you feel you are addicted. Wheat is truly addictive.
Wheat is addictive in the sense that it comes to dominate thoughts and behaviors. Wheat is addictive in the sense that, if you don’t have any for several hours, you start to get nervous, foggy, tremulous, and start desperately seeking out another “hit” of crackers, bagels, or bread, even if it’s the few stale 3-month old crackers at the bottom of the box. Wheat is addictive in the sense that there is a distinct withdrawal syndrome characterized by overwhelming fatigue, mental “fog,” inability to exercise, even depression that lasts several days, occasionally several weeks. Wheat is addictive in the sense that the withdrawal process can be provoked by administering an opiate-blocking drug such as naloxone or naltrexone.
But the “high” of wheat is not like the high of heroine, morphine, or Oxycontin. This opiate, while it binds to the opiate receptors of the brain, doesn’t make us high. It makes us hungry.
This is the effect exerted by gliadin, the protein in wheat that was inadvertently altered by geneticists in the 1970s during efforts to increase yield. Just a few shifts in amino acids and gliadin in modern high-yield, semi-dwarf wheat became a potent appetite stimulant.
Wheat stimulates appetite. Wheat stimulates calorie consumption: 440 more calories per day, 365 days per year, for every man, woman, and child. (440 calories per person per day is the average.) We experience this, sense the weight gain that is coming and we push our plate away, settle for smaller portions, increase exercise more and more . . . yet continue to gain, and gain, and gain. Ask your friends and neighbors who try to include more “healthy whole grains” in their diet. They exercise, eat a “well-balanced diet” . . . yet gained 10, 20, 30, 70 pounds over the past several years. Accuse your friends of drinking too much Coca Cola by the liter bottle, or being gluttonous at the all-you-can-eat buffet and you will likely receive a black eye. Many of these people are actually trying quite hard to control impulse, appetite, portion control, and weight, but are losing the battle with this appetite-stimulating opiate in wheat.
Ignorance of the gliadin effect of wheat is responsible for the idiocy that emits from the mouths of gastroenterologists like Dr. Peter Green of Columbia University who declares:
“We tell people we don’t think a gluten-free diet is a very healthy diet . . . Gluten-free substitutes for food with gluten have added fat and sugar. Celiac patients often gain weight and their cholesterol levels go up. The bulk of the world is eating wheat. The bulk of people who are eating this are doing perfectly well unless they have celiac disease.”
In the simple minded thinking of the gastroenterology and celiac world, if you don’t have celiac disease, you should eat all the wheat you want . . . and never mind about the appetite-stimulating effects of gliadin, not to mention the intestinal disruption and leakiness generated by wheat lectins, or the high blood sugars and insulin of the amylopectin A of wheat, or the new allergies being generated by the new alpha amylases of modern wheat.