Skip to content

Good news for coffee lovers! Drinking 1 or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a reduced risk of heart failure in three large heart disease studies. However, drinking decaffeinated coffee was not.

Researchers analyzed results of the 3 studies, in which more than 21,000 adults were followed at least 10 years. The studies did not differentiate between type of coffee consumed and how it was prepared (drip, espresso, percolated, French press). The researchers point out that other studies have similar findings - that increased consumption of coffee is associated with decreased heart disease deaths or deaths from any cause.

Many studies also find other benefits from daily coffee consumption, such as lowered risk of diabetes, some cancers, and some neurological conditions. However, avoid caffeine when trying to conceive and during pregnancy - then it is associated with harm to the pregnancy and fetus (e.g. with miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight and/or small for gestational age).

Excerpts from Science Daily: Coffee lovers, rejoice! Drinking more coffee associated with decreased heart failure risk

Dietary information from three large, well-known heart disease studies suggests drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee may reduce heart failure risk, according to research published today in Circulation: Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.  ...continue reading "Drinking Coffee Associated With Lower Heart Failure Risk"

Bleeding gums are usually considered a sign of gingivitis, and the typical advice is to brush and floss more. However, new research suggests that bleeding gums can also be due to low vitamin C levels, and that extra vitamin C in the diet or supplements could help reverse the bleeding in these cases.

After reviewing fifteen studies, the authors found that bleeding in the eye (retinal hemorrhaging) and cerebral strokes are associated with an increased tendency for gum (gingival) bleeding, and that vitamin C supplementation (e.g. ascorbic acid) reverses the retinal bleeding associated with low vitamin C  levels in the blood.

These bleeding tendencies may reflect trouble in the person's microvascular system (microvascular fragility), which can be reversed with increased vitamin C (ascorbic acid) intake. [microvascular means the tiny vessels (e.g.venules and capillaries) of the circulatory system.] The researchers point out that current recommended vitamin C (ascorbic acid) doses are enough to prevent scurvy, but may be too low to prevent microvascular fragility.

Getting more vitamin C in the diet is easy to do by eating more fruits and vegetables. Especially high levels of vitamin C are in orange juice, oranges, citrus fruits, kiwis, red peppers, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, and grapefruit.

From Medical Xpress: Bleeding gums may be a sign you need more vitamin C in your diet

Current advice from the America Dental Association tells you that if your gums bleed, make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day because it could be a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease. And that might be true. So if you are concerned, see your dentist. However, a new University of Washington study suggests you should also check your intake of vitamin C.  ...continue reading "Bleeding Gums Can Be Sign Of Low Vitamin C Levels"

Have you wondered whether a totally vegan diet for young children is healthy? Are they missing nutrients? A study from Finland attempted to answer this question by comparing young children eating vegan diets with those eating vegetarian and omnivore (both meat and plants) diets. A vegan diet contains no animal products, including eggs and dairy.

The researchers studied 40 healthy Finnish children, average age 3 1/2 years. They found that a vegan diet, even with recommended levels of supplementation (vitamin B12, iodine, vitamin D), resulted in significant effects on the children's metabolism and lower levels of certain nutrients, such as Vitamin A, vitamin D, and retinol-binding proteins (RBP). The vegan children also had a lower protein intake and lower levels of essential amino acids.

A vegan diet is practically devoid of cholesterol, EPA, and DHA, and so the children had significantly lower total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and DHA (docosahexanoic acid) levels. DHA is a fatty acid needed for development of visual function. The researchers were concerned about the visual health of the vegan children due to the combination of low vitamin A and DHA levels. On the other hand, folate levels were high in the vegan children.

It is interesting that these differences occurred, even though all the children received nutritionist planned daily meals at high quality day care. The intake of vitamins D and A were the same in the different groups. All vegan children had followed a vegan diet since birth and were breastfed for 13–50 months by vegan mothers.

The researchers said that while a vegan diet is generally viewed as having health benefits in adulthood, they have concerns with a vegan diet for young developing children. The vegan children had low cholesterol levels, but the researchers said cholesterol is "essential for cellular growth, division, and development of physiological systems due to its major role in the synthesis of cell membranes, steroid hormones, bile acids, and brain myelin".

We currently don't know long-term health effects (whether good or bad) of a strict vegan diet from birth. Studies are needed! But we do know that young developing children need cholesterol. Another very important nutrient that may be lacking in vegan diets is choline, which is critical for brain health - a good source is eggs.

From Science Daily: Vegan diet significantly remodels metabolism in young children

The study concludes that vegan diet has a broad effect on children's metabolism. Serum biomarker levels for vitamins A and D, cholesterol forms and essential amino acids were significantly lower in children on vegan diet compared to age-adjusted omnivores. In addition, docosahexaenoic acid is absent from vegan diet. The results were recently published in a high-profile international scientific journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.  ...continue reading "Some Concerns With A Vegan Diet In Young Children"

There is strong evidence for a link between the foods a person eats, the microbes that live in the person's gut (gut microbiome), and the person's health, according to a large international study. Yes, it's all related.

The researchers were able to find clear patterns of the types of foods eaten and the microbes in the gut. They found that the presence of 15 specific bacteria are consistently associated with good health ("good microbes") and some other bacteria ("bad microbes") are associated with poor metabolic health (including inflammation, blood sugar control).

Study researcher Tim Spector (of King's College London) said: "When you eat, you're not just nourishing your body, you're feeding the trillions of microbes that live inside your gut."

They found that a diverse diet rich in minimally processed plant-based foods (e.g. fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, whole grains, dietary fiber) and fish supports and feeds "good" gut microbes associated with health, with favorable blood sugar levels (glucose control), lower levels of inflammation, improved metabolism, and thus lower risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions (e.g. type 2 diabetes).

On the other hand, persons that ate more highly processed foods, added sugars (desserts!), low fiber foods, artificial sweeteners, foods with additives were more likely to have "bad" microbes linked to poor health, inflammation, unfavorable blood sugar levels, and obesity.

They were able to see that specific foods clearly had an effect on specific bacteria, for example eating tomatoes with an increase in beneficial species of Roseburia. Eating a variety of plant based foods was also associated with an increase in diversity of bacteria (this is considered good), and also with the presence of beneficial keystone bacteria such as  Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.

VERY IMPORTANT: The beneficial bacteria the researchers list are NOT in probiotic supplements. Instead, you must eat a variety of foods that feed beneficial bacteria (e.g. eating a Mediterranean style diet). In fact, some of the microbes the researchers found have not yet been named. Foods also contain bacteria, and these are ingested. For example, an apple contains about 100 million bacteria!

From Science Daily: Link between gut microbes, diet and illnesses revealed

Diets rich in healthy and plant-based foods encourages the presence of gut microbes that are linked to a lower risk of common illnesses including heart disease, research has found.  ...continue reading "Your Diet, Your Gut Microbes, And Your Health"

1

Well... once again a study found that frequently eating fried food is not good for health - that it is linked to a higher risk of major heart disease and major cardiovascular events (e.g. heart attack, stroke).

Apparently there has been some debate over this issue, so researchers at  Shenzhen University in China reviewed 19 studies on fried food consumption. They found that there is a linear increase - the more fried food is eaten each week, the higher the risks of heart disease, major cardiovascular events, and heart failure.

The risk for a major cardiovascular event or heart disease increases by 2 to 3% with each additional serving (one serving = 114 g or 4 oz) of fried food per week. Which bring us to the bottom line: Eat fried food sparingly!

From Science Daily: Fried food intake linked to heightened serious heart disease and stroke risk

Fried-food intake is linked to a heightened risk of major heart disease and stroke, finds a pooled analysis of the available research data, published online in the journal Heart. And the risk rises with each additional 114 g (4 oz) weekly serving, the analysis indicates.  ...continue reading "Fried Foods and Risk of Heart Disease"

Microplastics, which are tiny pieces of plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size, have now been found in human placentas. To find tiny plastic particles on both sides of the placenta (the baby's side and the mother's side), as well as in the placental membranes, is an alarming finding! Why is this occurring? And are they causing harm to the developing fetus?

First, it is important to realize that we are surrounded by plastic in products that we use, and also in our environment. Eventually all plastic degrades into tiny pieces called microplastics and nanoplastics. These tiny plastic pieces are found throughout the world, including in the oceans and rivers, indoor air, and the food we eat and water we drink, especially bottled water. The particles get into us, and while some is excreted in the feces, they also get into our organs.

The Italian researchers examined small portions of 6 human placentas (from normal pregnancies) and found a total of 12 plastic particles in 4 of the placentas. The researchers said that all the particles were "pigmented" (colored), with 3 being tiny polypropylene pieces, and the other 9 could only be identified as pigments (e.g. from man-made coatings, paints, adhesives, cosmetics, and personal care products).

Human placenta. Credit: Wikipedia

The researchers did not know how the plastic particles entered the mother's blood stream and so got into the placenta - whether it was from the mother's respiratory system (breathed in) or the gastrointestinal system (from ingested foods). They thought that differences in foods eaten and lifestyles might result in why four placentas had plastic particles and two others not.

A big concern with microplastics in humans, especially developing fetuses, is that they can contain substances that can act as endocrine (hormone) disruptors and so could cause long-term effects on human health. Will they have an effect on the developing immune system? At this point we do not know. We have many questions and studies are needed.

What should one do to lower exposure to plastic particles? There are many things one can do. Especially important is to no longer drink bottled water or other beverages in plastic bottles, or store or cook food in plastic containers. List of tips on how to lower exposure to plastics and the harmful chemicals in them - Avoiding Harmful Chemicals

Excerpts from The Guardian - Microplastics revealed in the placentas of unborn babies

Microplastic particles have been revealed in the placentas of unborn babies for the first time, which the researchers said was “a matter of great concern”. ...continue reading "Tiny Plastic Particles Found In Human Placentas"

Americans think that their system of healthcare is the best in the world. Nope. Not even close. Not even for privileged white Americans. We're number 13 in a recent ranking of 13 countries.

A team of researchers compared six health outcomes in the wealthiest (top 1% and 5%) American counties to health outcomes of average citizens in 12 other developed countries. In three areas, such as infant mortality, maternal mortality, and heart attack survival, U.S. patients fared worse, and in two areas health outcomes are no better than for average citizens in other countries. Again: Health care for privileged Americans living in the wealthiest counties ranked worse overall than health care for average people in 12 other countries.

As expected, the health outcomes of White US citizens living in the 1% and 5% richest counties are better than those of average US citizens (not surprising!).

Breast cancer survival was the only area in which wealthy white American patients fared as well as average patients from all of the comparison countries, and better than 1 other country.

Infant mortality and maternal death rates in the US are disgraceful.  The infant death rate in the wealthiest American counties (4.01 deaths per 1000 live births) was higher than all the other 12 comparison countries. For example, in Finland the infant mortality rate is 1.7 per 1,000 live births. The average rate in America is even worse: 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. [See study tables for numbers.]

Again: Health care for privileged Americans living in the wealthiest counties ranked worse than health care for average people in 12 other countries. The 12 other comparison countries were Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Yes, the other countries all have universal health care with a single payer system. And we don't.

From Medscape: Even for Wealthy, US Healthcare Fails to Match Care in Many Other Countries

When it comes to health care, even privileged white Americans fare worse than the average citizens of 12 other developed countries, a new study suggests.  ...continue reading "Healthcare In the US Lags Behind Other Countries"

There is much concern nowadays about all the many chemicals we are exposed to in our lives. These include pesticides, heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury), and chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors (hormone disrupting chemicals), such as BPA and phthalates. These chemicals are all around us and are linked to all sorts of health effects, including chronic diseases and reproductive effects - such as infertility, declining sperm counts, adverse effects on the developing baby, and endometriosis.

There is an excellent 7 part series of webinars that one can watch called Generation Chemical: How Environmental Exposures are Affecting Reproductive Health and Development. Big names in the field discuss the latest science on the impact of harmful chemicals and pollutants on female and male reproductive health, pregnancy, and development, starting from preconception and through  life.

Yes, it's in depth, but also eye-opening. For example, the evidence is now raising the questions: Are fertile people healthier? Does poor sperm quality mean poorer health? Or earlier death? Research suggests that sperm count and quality are "canaries in the coal mine" for male health - evidence of harm to men from environmental and lifestyle influences.

Also, keep in mind that while you can't totally avoid harmful chemicals, you can really minimize your exposure and the levels measured in you. Avoiding Harmful Chemicals gives good ways to reduce exposures to harmful chemicals. This is especially important for both males and females if thinking about conception or pregnant.

SEVEN PART WEBINAR SERIES: 1) Introduction. Oct. 29, 2020. Discussed declining sperm counts that have been occurring worldwide over the last few decades - 52.4% decline in 38 years among men from Western countries, and the decline is still continuing. Effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on men's and women's fertility, conception delay, pregnancy loss, some diseases, and endometriosis. ...continue reading "Top Scientists Explain How Harmful Chemicals Are Affecting Reproductive Health and Development"

Vegan diets may be popular, but there is concern whether someone following a vegan diet can get all necessary nutrients from the diet and whether this impacts health in a negative way. This is because a person following a vegan diet avoids all animal foods - which means no dairy, no meat, no eggs, no honey, no fish, no shellfish, and no insects. This can mean difficulties in getting enough protein and some nutrients, for example choline (necessary for the brain), vitamin B-12, and calcium.

A recent study by University of Oxford researchers examined this issue by following about 55,000 people for 18 years: meat eaters, vegans, vegetarians (avoid meat, but eat dairy and /or eggs), and pescatarians (a vegetarian diet, but also eats fish). They found that when compared to meat eaters, vegans had a higher risk of fractures in their bodies (number of total fractures), and especially hip, leg, and vertebral fractures. Vegetarians and pescatarians also had a higher risk of hip fractures when compared to meat eaters, but a lower risk than vegans.

Other studies have shown that vegetarians have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than non-vegetarians, and that both calcium and protein intakes are linked to bone health. In this study and other studies, vegans had substantially lower intakes of calcium than the other dietary groups (since they do not consume dairy), and both vegetarians and vegans had lower protein intakes than meat and fish-eating groups.

Bottom line: Research finds diets rich in whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, some fish, meat, eggs, and dairy (similar to the Mediterranean diet) as healthy and providing all nutrients. Pregnancy and childhood are times when one should be especially careful about getting all needed nutrients.

From Science Daily - Vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians may be at higher risk of bone fractures

Compared with people who ate meat, vegans with lower calcium and protein intakes on average, had a 43% higher risk of fractures anywhere in the body (total fractures), as well as higher risks of site-specific fractures of the hips, legs and vertebrae, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.  ...continue reading "Vegan Diets and Increased Risk of Bone Fractures"

Every study I've seen in the past decade finds that eating berries has health benefits. A recent study from Finland adds to this by finding that eating some blackcurrants after a meal has beneficial effects on blood glucose levels. This beneficial effect occurred even though the blackcurrants were eaten as a puree with a little sugar (because they are sour berries).

The study found that one didn't have to eat a lot of the blackcurrants - 75 grams or 2/3 cup, which was eaten as a puree. Since this study was done with 26 young healthy volunteers, they did not find an effect on inflammatory markers - which were good to start with.

Other studies have found similar beneficial blood sugar level effects from eating other kinds of berries. Berries are rich in polyphenolic compounds, and dark colored berries are especially rich in anthocyanins. The blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) were chosen for this study because blackcurrants are native to Finland, and both grow in the wild and are cultivated there. Cassis liquor is made from blackcurrants.

From Science Daily: Blackcurrants are favorable for glucose metabolism

Blackcurrants have a beneficial effect on post-meal glucose response, and the required portion size is much smaller than previously thought, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows.  ...continue reading "Benefits Of Eating Blackcurrants For Dessert"