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Lead buckshot Credit: Wikipedia

If you use lead bullets or buckshot when hunting wild game or birds, then some of the lead will get into you when you eat the meat. Even after the bullet or buckshot is removed, tiny lead fragments remain that can not be easily seen. A recent study found this is also true with wild pheasants that were killed with lead buckshot or pellets.

Studies show that even after the bullet is removed from a dead animal, numerous very small lead fragments remain in the soft tissue. In deer, lead fragments have been found as far away as 45 cm from the lead bullet's path. Lead shotgun pellets also fragment into small pieces when they are fired into gamebirds and waterfowl.

The researchers purchased carcasses of wild pheasants (all shot by hunters on farmland in the UK) from a butcher shop. All the pheasant carcasses contained tiny metal (lead) fragments, and most contained a large number of them - 75% had more than 15 small fragments. These could be seen on the micro-CT scanner, which shows more than x-rays.

Very important: Studies find that the more people eat meat killed using lead ammunition - the higher their blood lead levels. This is because they are eating the small lead fragments in the meat. These fragments are too small to be easily detected and removed by the consumer during food preparation or while eating.

Bottom line: Avoid eating any meat that was killed with lead ammunition. Lead is toxic when ingested, and there is no save level. Instead, hunting should be done with non-lead ammunition.

From Science Daily: Pheasant meat sold for food found to contain many tiny shards of toxic lead

Eating pheasant killed using lead shot is likely to expose consumers to raised levels of lead in their diet, even if the meat is carefully prepared to remove the shotgun pellets and the most damaged tissue. ...continue reading "After Using Lead Ammunition, Lead Fragments Remain In the Hunted Meat"

For a long time we thought that our genes determine how long we will live (longevity). A new study says not so fast - how we live is more important than our genes. Specifically, how much physical activity and sedentary time (time spent sitting) both have an effect on whether we die early or later, no matter our genetic make-up.

Researchers found that among older women - having higher weekly amounts of light, moderate, or vigorous physical activity was associated with a lower risk of early death. Having higher amounts of sedentary (sitting) time was associated with a higher risk of early death. It didn't matter if there was a genetic predisposition for longevity or not - the findings applied to everyone.

Bottom line: Get off the sofa or out of your chair and move, move, move. All types of physical activity are good for longevity and to lower risk of disease. While this study looked at older women, the findings are also thought to apply to older men.

From Science Daily: Physical activity may have a stronger role than genes in longevity

Previous research has shown that low physical activity and greater time spent sitting are associated with a higher risk of death. Does risk change if a person is genetically predisposed to live a long life? ...continue reading "Physical Activity May Be More Important Than Genes In Longevity"

All of us want to have a healthy gut microbiome (the microbial community of viruses, fungi, and bacteria). For health reasons many people try to lower their intake of sugars. However, ingesting artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners such as stevia, sucralose, aspartame, or saccharin may also have an effect on the body.

A recent study in both humans and mice found that these sugar substitutes cause gut microbiome changes and had an effect on a person's glycemic response (blood sugar levels). Saccharin and sucralose significantly impaired glucose tolerance in healthy adults - it impacted their glycemic response even at doses below FDA allowances (average daily intake or ADI).

The non-nutritive sweeteners also had an effect on the oral (mouth) microbiome. Each sweetener had a different and distinct effect on both oral and gut microbiomes. And the effects varied in each person, due to everyone having a different (unique) microbiome.

Earlier studies found negative health effects from sugar substitutes (e.g., higher incidence of diabetes, higher risk of cancer, gut microbiome changes). So be cautious until more is known. One of this study's researchers suggested drinking only water.

From Medical Xpress: Non-nutritive sweeteners affect human microbiomes and can alter glycemic responses

Since the late 1800s non-nutritive sweeteners have promised to deliver all the sweetness of sugar with none of the calories. They have long been believed to have no effect on the human body, but researchers publishing in the journal Cell on August 19 challenge this notion by finding that these sugar substitutes are not inert, and, in fact, some can alter human consumers' microbiomes in a way that can change their blood sugar levels. ...continue reading "Sugar Substitutes Alter Gut Microbiome"

Hair loss is a huge concern among adults, especially as they age. This week the NY Times printed an article about an inexpensive medicine that works amazingly well to restore hair. The treatment is to take a small dose of minoxidil daily and this results in hair growth.

This is the same hair loss treatment drug that is typically applied directly to the scalp (it's the active ingredient in Rogaine). But taken as a very low-dose pill it works even better. Taken in this low dose pill form is taking it "off-label" , which is a common practice in dermatology. Minoxidil is also an anti-hypertensive medicine (at higher doses).

The before and after photos in the article are fabulous - from very thin to lush, thick hair.

Excerpts from the New York Times: An Old Medicine Grows New Hair for Pennies a Day, Doctors Say

The ads are everywhere — and so are the inflated claims: Special shampoos and treatments, sometimes costing thousands of dollars, will make hair grow. But many dermatologists who specialize in hair loss say that most of these products don’t work. ...continue reading "Restoring Hair With Low Doses of A Common Medicine"

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This month a number of persons asked me about the probiotic Lactococcus lactis (in Probiorinse) and whether it works. This product is marketed to people with sinusitis or sinus infections, with the message that it improves the sinus microbiome and sinus health. Does it?

Unfortunately, the research says no. A well-done study published last year found that the bacteria Lactococcus lactis (Probiorinse) doesn't help to improve sinus symptoms in those with sinus issues. Yes, that bacteria is found in the sinuses, but it is not a keystone bacteria (one with a big effect) in sinus health.

The study compared the Probiorinse (Lactococcus lactis) product to Xlear (xylitol) and regular saline rinses.

The researchers tested xylitol, the probiotic Lactococcus lactisand ordinary saline rinses separately for one month in a group of persons with chronic sinusitis. They found that none of these improved sinusitis symptoms or sinus microbial diversity (the sinus microbiome). In other words, there were no significant differences among the 3 groups.

Those with chronic sinus problems still had them at the end of the study, and their sinus microbiomes and symptoms were still very different from those of the healthy participants.

By the way, another study analyzed Lactoccocus lactis (using the product Probiorinse) against some strains of harmful bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa) collected from persons with chronic sinusitis and found "no effect on 4 strains, a modest inhibitory effect on one strain, and a modest proliferative effect on one" (it increased this harmful strain!). Basically no effect - not a good result.

Bottom line: Stick with ordinary saline rinses to help with sinus congestion. The medical view is that saline nasal irrigation is recommended because it helps a little with nasal stuffiness or congestion, even though this effect is temporary (a few hours?). Also, try the probiotic Lactobacillus sakei, which is a keystone bacteria in the sinuses and which kills/dominates over many harmful bacteria (e.g., Staphylococcus aureus - a problem bacteria in many with sinusitis).

Excerpt from the 2021 study by Lambert PA, et al., in the medical journal  Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology:  Microbiomics of irrigation with xylitol or Lactococcus lactis in chronic rhinosinusitis

No significant trends in alpha or beta diversity as a result of treatment were observed. SNOT‐22 score did not change significantly following treatment with xylitol, L. lactis, or saline. [Translation: the microbiome (alpha and beta diversity) didn't change, and symptoms (SNOT-22 score) didn't change]

Vegetarian diets have many health benefits, but there may be one downside - weaker hip bones. A recent study conducted in the UK found that women following a vegetarian diet had a higher risk of hip fractures (compared to women who ate meat regularly - 5 or more times a week).

In other words, meat eaters were at a lower risk for a hip fracture. Occasional meat-eaters (less than 5 servings a week) or pescatarians (ate fish, but not meat) were also at a lower risk of hip fracture. Meat products appear to be important for bone health. Other studies also find more hip fractures among persons following a vegan or vegetarian diet.

The researchers point out that vegetarian diets have a lower intake of nutrients important for bones (bone mineral density), and which are more abundant in animal products than in plants (e.g., protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, certain fatty acids).

From Medical Xpress: Vegetarian women are at a higher risk of hip fracture

A study of over 26,000 middle-aged UK women reveals those with a vegetarian diet had a 33% higher risk of hip fracture compared to regular meat-eaters. ...continue reading "Vegetarian Diets and a Higher Hip Fracture Risk"

It is very exciting whenever a study has good results in preventing cancer, especially if this is from simply eating certain foods. This recently occurred in a large study of people with a high hereditary susceptibility to certain cancers, called Lynch syndrome.

The study found that just eating some resistant starch (e.g., the amount in a green tipped banana) daily was enough to cut the incidence of upper GI cancers (e.g., pancreatic, bile duct, stomach, and duodenal cancers) by 60% over the next ten years. These are fabulous results.

However, it did not have an effect on the incidence of colorectal cancer and endometrial cancer.

In the well-done study (conducted in England, Wales, and Finland), people were randomly assigned to either a group that ate 30 grams of resistant starch daily or a placebo daily for up to 4 years. Then they were all followed for up to a further 10 years, and a portion up to 20 years. [Note: the researchers said the 30 g daily was equivalent to one slightly green banana]

Resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber found in foods such as slightly green bananas, potatoes, whole grains, beans, chickpeas, lentils, and seeds. Resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine, but is fermented by gut microbes to produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, in the colon (large bowel).

Bottom line: Eat a variety of fiber rich foods (whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts) daily, including foods that provide resistant starch. Your gut microbes and health will thank you!

From Science Daily: Cancer study: Major preventive effect from resistant starch in people with Lynch syndrome

A trial in people with high hereditary risk of a wide range of cancers has shown a major preventive effect from resistant starch, found in a wide range of foods such as oats, breakfast cereal, cooked and cooled pasta or rice, peas and beans and slightly green bananas.
...continue reading "Preventing Cancers By Eating Foods Containing Resistant Starch"

Jarlsberg cheese Credit: Wikipedia

Good news for cheese lovers. A recent well-done study found that eating a little Jarlsberg cheese every day is good for the bones as well as for metabolic markers in the blood, such as total cholesterol levels. A little bit of Camembert cheese just didn't have those beneficial effects.

Jarlsberg cheese is a Norwegian cow's milk cheese. The beneficial effects of the cheese are thought to be because it naturally contains vitamin K2 and 1.4-dihydroxy-2naphtoic acid (DHNA) - both necessary for bone health. Studies find that low intake of vitamin K2 is linked with increased risk of bone fractures. Jarlsberg contains the bacteria Proprionebacterium freudenreichii, which produces vitamin K and DHNA.

An earlier study by the Norwegian researchers found that eating 57 grams of Jarlsberg cheese (about 2 ounces) daily was optimal. Camembert was chosen because it is a cheese without vitamin K, but with similar fat and protein content. Women participated in this study, but it is thought that the results also apply to men.

Bottom line: Eat a little Jarlsberg cheese frequently for your health. Enjoy!

From Medical Xpress: Small daily portion of Jarlsberg cheese may help to stave off bone thinning

A small (57 g) daily portion of Jarlsberg cheese may help to stave off bone thinning (osteopenia/osteoporosis) without boosting harmful low density cholesterol, suggest the results of a small comparative clinical trial, published in the open access journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health. ...continue reading "Jarlsberg Cheese Has Beneficial Health Effects"

Kidney stones Credit: Wikipedia

Kidney stones are not only incredibly painful, but are also associated with chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, and heart disease. New research suggests a good way to prevent a recurrence of kidney stones is to increase consumption of calcium and potassium rich foods. Very simple!

The Mayo Clinic researchers also found certain dietary factors associated with a higher risk of getting kidney stones for the first time. They are: lower consumption of calcium, potassium, caffeine (e.g., coffee, tea), and phytate in the diet. As well as a lower daily fluid intake. Foods matter!

Some foods to eat to lower the risk of kidney stones:

Calcium rich foods: dairy products (e.g., cheese, milk, yogurt), dark green leafy vegetables (e.g., spinach, collard greens, broccoli, kale), and sardines. [Note: Calcium supplements are associated with kidney stones, while eating calcium rich foods is protective.]

Potassium rich foods: include legumes (beans and lentils), potatoes (with skins), tomatoes, some fruits (e.g., bananas, kiwi, orange juice, melons), dairy foods, some seafood (e.g., salmon, halibut, tuna, shad, clams), leafy greens (e.g., spinach), yam, squash.

Phytate rich foods: include beans, legumes, unprocessed cereal grains (e.g., oats), nuts, seeds, and potatoes.  Some people have referred to phytate rich foods as "anti-nutrients" and say to avoid them (because they may slow down absorption of certain minerals). However, recent research finds that the health benefits of eating phytate rich foods (e.g., they are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory) and other plant foods outweighs any concerns.

From Science Daily: Diets higher in calcium and potassium may help prevent recurrent symptomatic kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause not only excruciating pain but also are associated with chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. If you've experienced a kidney stone once, you have a 30% chance of having another kidney stone within five years.  ...continue reading "Certain Foods Lower the Risk of Kidney Stones"