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Alex Leaf graduated from Washington State University with a focus in accounting, but a passion in nutrition and exercise physiology. He is currently attending Bastyr University for their masters of nutrition and didactic program in dietetics with the goal of becoming a registered dietitian. Alex is an ACE certified personal trainer, co-author of the Performance Nutrition and Sports Supplement Coach Certification Course Manual, a researcher for the Examine.com Research Digest, and the News Director of Super Human Radio. More About Alex Leaf

Could Thrīv’s bacteria reduce the risk of breast cancer?

Could Thrīv’s bacteria reduce the risk of breast cancer?
Thrīv Advance provides 350 million colony forming units of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum, per serving. But these aren’t just any bacteria, they are lactic acid bacteria. Lactic acid bacteria are a diverse group of microbes that feed on carbohydrates and produce lactic acid as the major end product. It is thanks to this group of organisms that we are able to enjoy the sour taste of yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, and kimchi, to name a few commonly eaten fermented foods. More importantly, these bacteria are also some of the first to populate the infant gut, as they are present on the breast skin and in the breast milk of breastfeeding mothers. In fact, women’s breasts harbor a unique set of microbes – their own microbiome, if you will. Although most people immediately think of the gut when the microbiome is mentioned, there are numerous microbiome communities on and within the body....
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Proteinaholic Rebuttal

Proteinaholic Rebuttal
Howard, I applaud you for co-authoring the book Proteinaholic and approaching the Super Human Radio interview with a combination of open-mindedness, thoughtfulness, and skepticism. You were a joy to listen to and I believe that we need more individuals such as yourself promoting the diversity of thought that Proteinaholic brings to light. While the bulk of this letter addresses certain topics that we do not see eye-to-eye on, I want to start by highlighting the numerous points of agreement that were brought up throughout the hour interview. The irony with these, of course, is that they have little to nothing to do with protein. 1)      All humans in the world are the same species and we will therefore have a fundamental dietary pattern that best suits our needs. At the core, this will be a whole-foods, plant-based diet without all the processed crap (can I say that on here?). 2)      The...
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Realistic fructose consumption is not detrimental

Realistic fructose consumption is not detrimental
As I was about one-third of my way through writing about this study, I realized that I was biased. My understanding of the literature surrounding fructose has led me to conclude that most studies showing detrimental effects are not applicable to the general population (let alone a healthy population) because of methodical limitations such as using fructose in isolation, using doses well above reasonable consumption levels, and using rodents that have known differences from humans in fructose metabolism (e.g., the fact that de novo lipogenesis under conditions of long-term, high-carbohydrate feeding accounts for 60% to 70% of fatty acids in rodents but less than 5% in humans). I therefore deleted everything I had and replaced it with what you are now reading. My goal this time around is to be more objective. As such, I apologize in advance to those of you who find my focus on the nitty-gritty annoying, but...
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Exercise for health, not weight loss

Exercise for health, not weight loss
Among clinical trials investigating long-term weight loss, exercise as the only intervention is virtually useless. When total daily energy expenditure among industrialized societies is compared to contemporary hunter-gatherer tribesmen, they are similar despite the hunter-gatherers performing markedly more physical activity. The risk of dying is reduced dramatically as time spent being active each day increases towards 1 hour, after which it somewhat flat-lines (no additional benefit). Why? Shouldn’t being more active increase energy expenditure? According to the additive energy expenditure model, it certainly should (figure 1). However, as Pontzer et al show in their latest publication, the relationship between physical activity and energy expenditure is far more complex. They provide support for the constrained total energy expenditure model in which energy allocation among physiological tasks responds dynamically to long-term shifts in physical activity. As such, daily energy expenditure is maintained within a relatively narrow range. Five populations hold the answer In...
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Severely malnourished? Whey beats soy yet again

Severely malnourished? Whey beats soy yet again
Three weeks ago I wrote about a study comparing a whey-based ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) to a soy-based RUTF in the treatment of moderate malnutrition. The results showed a clear advantage to the whey-based RUTF, with a significantly greater 3.4% recovery rate, despite a markedly lower amount of calories (-8%) and protein (-33%). What’s more, this study showed that this superior product was similarly affordable, costing a mere $1.36 more per child who recovers from malnutrition. Not everyone agrees that this price is affordable. In a recent study by Bahwere et al, it was argued that “the high milk content of this formulation makes it very expensive for sustainable use in resource-poor settings and increases the proportion of ingredients that have to be imported into developing countries.” Accordingly, they conducted a study comparing the efficacy of a RUTF made from soy, maize, and sorghum (SMS-RUTF) to the efficacy of a peanut...
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Salt your fat if you want to eat more

Salt your fat if you want to eat more
How would you define “junk food?” I have spent a bit of time pondering this question and my best definition is a highly palatable food high in salt, sugar, and/or fat. Clearly this doesn’t cover everything, but I would argue it encompasses most things people agree shouldn’t be dietary staples. Given my definition above, I was both surprised and joyful that Bolhuis et al from Deakin University recently published a study investigating what impact fat and salt, alone and in combination, have on appetite, food and energy intake, and food palatability. In a randomized crossover design, 48 healthy adults (16 men) completed 4 experimental trials in which they consumed a standardized breakfast followed by an all-you-can-eat lunch. The lunch consisted of elbow macaroni and tomato sauce made with 100% tomato passata (low-fat; LF) or 60% tomato passata, 30% canola oil, and 10% heavy cream (high-fat; HF). The sauce had no added...
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Effect of mindfulness on weight loss

Effect of mindfulness on weight loss
When an obese individual loses weight, there is a good chance that maintaining weight loss will be a lifelong battle. Nonetheless, certain behaviors can influence weight maintenance success. For instance, drinking diet soda has been shown to be more effective than drinking water at not only promoting weight loss, but at keeping the weight off over one year. By contrast, the speed at which one loses weight does not appear to influence weight loss maintenance. Another possible tool for dieters is mindfulness-based approaches to increase awareness in the moment and promote adaptive self-regulation. There is support for its use in improving maladaptive eating behaviors, such as binge eating and emotional eating, that can no doubt impede weight loss or cause weight gain. However, whether mindfulness can aid weight loss and weight loss maintenance was only recently investigated by Daubenmier et al from the University of California, San Francisco. Being Mindful… This...
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Diet or exercise – what makes you hungrier?

Diet or exercise – what makes you hungrier?
If your goal is to lose weight, then you need to create a caloric deficit. This can be done by reducing eating less calories or by increasing caloric expenditure via exercise (ignoring the complexities of the body and nutrition such as reducing caloric intake by replacing added fats with nuts). Of course, for weight loss to be successful, the intervention must be sustainable. This led Cameron et al to investigate how dieting alone or aerobic exercise alone differently affects appetite and appetite-related hormones, food hedonics and food reward, and olfaction. Ten young, healthy male volunteers were recruited to undergo three 3-day interventions (with a 2-week washout between each) in which each participant first completed a control condition, followed by a diet or exercise conditions (in random order, so some started with diet and others started with exercise). Thus, this was a crossover study with the sequence of testing being either CON-DIET-EX...
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Can 4 days of paleo benefit health?

Can 4 days of paleo benefit health?
According to the abstract of Freese et al’s latest study, “returning to our Paleolithic roots may have positive effects on risk factors commonly associated with metabolic disorders.” This conclusion is based on the data obtained from sending 13 healthy men and women into a National Park for 4 days and 3 nights. The goal was to return them to a “metaphorical paleolithic hunter-gatherer condition of living.” Accordingly, they lived and slept outdoors with no shelter. And just like all other hunter-gatherer tribes before them, water was available every morning from a nearby holiday apartment. Food was also provided to the participants, including a morning ration of fruit, nuts, and tubers alongside instructions not to eat before noon, and “paleo meals” supplied at night. At the end of the 4-day intervention, the participants showed significant reductions in fasting glucose (-18%), fasting insulin (-50%), and HOMA-IR (-58%; proxy for insulin resistance), as well...
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Evidence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity?

Evidence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity?
Gluten is the main structural protein of wheat and related cereal grains. The two best-known diseases related to gluten exposure are a wheat allergy and celiac disease. In both conditions the reaction to gluten is mediated by T-cell activation (adaptive immunity) in the gastrointestinal mucosa. However, a wheat allergy is defined by the IgE-gluten interaction that triggers a release of chemical mediators, such as histamine, whereas celiac disease is defined by an autoimmune response to gluten exposure. It is now recognized that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) represents a third disease in which neither allergic nor autoimmune mechanisms are involved. The problem is that the NCGS clinical picture is heterogeneous and not specific, including intestinal (diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea, and epigastric pain) and extra-intestinal (lack of well-being, anxiety, tiredness, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, foggy mind, and headache) symptoms. Indeed, the exclusion of celiac disease or a wheat allergy and a favorable response to a...
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