Facebook Isn’t Sorry


On Monday morning Facebook revealed a new gadget — a voice-activated video chat tablet with an always-listening microphone and camera for your living room or kitchen that can detect when you are in your own house. This in-home panopticon is called Facebook Portal, and its debut comes at what might seem like an inopportune time for the company — days after a Gizmodo report revealed it was harvesting two-factor authentication numbers; less than 10 days after it revealed that an attack on its computer network had exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users (and left 40 million more vulnerable); and barely six months after CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress to explain how it let Cambridge Analytica acquire the private information of up to 87 million users without consent to be used for psychographic profiling.

To call Facebook’s newest home surveillance device ill-timed is generous. It’s like Trump announcing a new resort and casino in Moscow or BP announcing a fleet of Deepwater Horizon oil tankers. It’s a flagrant flex of Facebook’s market share muscle and a yet another reminder that the company’s data collection ambitions supersede all else.

It’s also further confirmation that Facebook isn’t particularly sorry for its privacy failures — despite a recent apology tour that included an expensive “don’t worry, we got this” mini-documentary, full-page apology ads in major papers, and COO Sheryl Sandberg saying things like, “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.” Worse, it belies the idea that Facebook has any real desire to reckon with the structural issues that obviously undergird its continued privacy missteps.

But more troubling still is what a product like Portal says about us, Facebook’s users: We don’t care enough about our privacy to quit it.

Tone-deaf business decisions like Portal are nothing new for Facebook. Eleven years ago, before Facebook was even a full behemoth, it was rolling out invasive features only to issue awkward apologies. The company didn’t appear to have the foresight then, and it doesn’t appear to now.

Weeks after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal broke, Facebook announced at its annual conference that it would soon use its trove of user data to roll out a dating app to help pair users together in “long-term” romantic relationships. Later in the year, while Zuckerberg told Congress “I promise to do better for you” and pledged increased transparency in its handling of users’ data, the company admitted to secretly using a private tool to delete the old messages of its founder. This summer, just days after Zuckerberg assured “we have a responsibility to protect people,” reports surfaced that Facebook asked US banks for granular customer financial data (including card transactions and checking account balances) to use for a banking feature. Even the company’s good faith attempts to secure its platform feel ham-handed and oblivious, like last November when Facebook asked users in Australia to upload their nude photos to Facebook for employee review to combat revenge porn.

To observers, these might seem like easily avoidable errors, but to Facebook, whose very identity and foundational mandate is the instinctual drive to amass personal data, they make perfect sense.

Facebook’s unquenchable thirst for personal information is often interpreted as sinister or malicious in nature — a frame that feels a bit too convenient. Facebook is quite obviously interested in profit and power, but its problems seem to stem less from some inherent evil than a broader, foundational failure to see itself outside of this data-gathering, world-connecting prism.

Facebook is a company founded on the principle of collecting data, and virtually every part of its two core missions (“to bring the world closer together” and to deliver profit to shareholders) require amassing more data and finding creative new ways to parse and connect it. Almost every part of Facebook — from Messenger to News Feed advertisements — improves with every new morsel of personal information collected. For this reason, many of Facebook’s biggest problems are technological problems of scale — of amassing and processing so much data — and yet Facebook argues that amassing more data is the way to improve every experience, which includes fixing its myriad problems. Advertisements intrusive and clumsy? Collect more and more precise information with which to make them more relevant! Too much algorithmically tailored, low-quality content in News Feed? Ask people to rate and rank it! Collect more data! Feed it to the algorithms! Then collect even more data and use the algorithms to police it.

Facebook has seen enormous success with this strategy. Despite all of the bad press and fallout (which includes everything from disrupting the media business to election interference to ethnic cleansing in places like Myanmar), the company is vast, powerful, and profitable. You know what happened after the Cambridge Analytica scandal? After its first president, Sean Parker, expressed regret over its ruthless monetization of attention? After legislators trotted out examples of election interference in front of executives? Facebook reported earnings and monthly average users that exceeded expectations. The stock spiked.

For Facebook employees, there’s often a cognitive dissonance between their work and how they see it described beyond company walls. “If you could see what I see, a lot of this would make more sense,” one current employee told me in October of 2017. Only recently does that answer really begin to make sense: It’s about the data.

A former senior employee described this as part of the “deeply rational engineer’s view” that guides Facebook’s decisions. “They believe that to the extent that something flourishes or goes viral on Facebook — it’s not a reflection of the company’s role, but a reflection of what people want,” they said. Data informs how decisions get made; it also conveniently absolves Facebook of blame.

It is the crystal ball that allows the company to see ahead and do what might feel to us mere mortals (privacy advocates, the media, regular users) as reckless. This is why Facebook might feel confident rolling out an always-listening home camera a few weeks after a report revealing the company harvested two-factor authentication phone numbers to target users for advertising purposes. And it might be one reason — perhaps among many — that the founders of both WhatsApp and Instagram have left the company in recent months.

Facebook is intimidatingly large and deeply woven into our cultural fabric, largely because we have allowed it to become so, and we can’t consider a world without Facebook in it. It’s not that we aren’t worried about politics becoming a Facebook data acquisition and targeting game, or outsourcing the public square to a private technology company. It’s that it’s so mind-numbingly hard to imagine how to actually loosen the company’s grip on our discourse, ad ecosystem, and our personal information that we often focus only on superficial or temporary ways to relieve it.

And that’s a great substrate for apathy. We’ve already given it so much, why stop now? No one else is going to delete Facebook, so why should I? Facebook understands this — the data tells them so. It also tells them that slickly produced videos and contrite congressional testimony are small ways to ameliorate lingering public concern.

But the real truth lies in the company’s innovations and ambitions, products like Portal. Facebook doesn’t really care. And maybe we don’t either.

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Think You Don’t Need A Flu Shot? Here Are 5 Reasons To Change Your Mind


Alex Schwartzman, a law student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is one of only 8 to 39 percent of college students who get the flu shot in a given year.

 

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the flu shot.

But following a winter in which more than 80,000 people died from flu-related illnesses in the U.S. — the highest death toll in more than 40 years — infectious disease experts are ramping up efforts to get the word out.

“Flu vaccinations save lives,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams told the crowd at an event to kick off flu vaccine awareness last week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “That’s why it’s so important for everyone 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year.”

But many Americans ignore this advice. The U.S. vaccination rate hovers at about 47 percent a year. This is far below the 70 percent target. And college students are among the least vaccinated.


“We have long known that college students are at a particularly high risk of getting and spreading flu viruses,” says Lisa Ipp, an adolescent medicine specialist at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Yet, on U.S. college campuses, flu vaccination rates remain strikingly low,” she writes in a 2017 post published by the National Foundation for Infectious Disease. The group sponsored a survey of college students and found that only between 8 and 39 percent of students get the vaccine.

So why aren’t people getting the vaccine? The college survey data point to a mix of misperception and fear.

For instance, among students who don’t get the vaccine, 36 percent say that they are healthy and don’t need it, and 30 percent say they don’t think the vaccine is effective. Then, there’s the fear: 31 percent say they don’t like needles.

So, let’s do a reality check. If you’re on the fence about a flu shot, here are five arguments to twist your arm.

1. You are vulnerable.

People 65 and older are at higher risk of flu-related complications, but the flu can knock young, healthy people off their feet, too. It does every year.

“The flu can, on occasion, take a young, healthy person and put them in the intensive care unit,” says William Schaffner, medical director at the NFID.

And, even when it’s not that severe, it’s still bad. “If you get the flu, you’re [down] for the count for about a week,” Ipp tells her college-age patients.

Here’s a sobering thought: Healthy children die from flu, too. According to the CDC, 172 American children and teens (under the age of 18) died from the flu last winter. Eighty percent of them had not received a flu vaccine. And about half had no underlying illnesses before getting the flu. In other words, they’d been healthy children.

And there’s this: The flu doesn’t just make you feel lousy. It can increase the risk of having a heart attack, according to a study published this year.

2. Getting a flu shot is your civic duty.

“Nobody wants to be the dreaded spreader,” says Schaffner. But everybody gets the flu from somebody else. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have caught the flu virus are contagious one day before they start to feel sick and for up to seven days after. (Check out our video on flu contagion if you really need to be convinced!)

So getting the flu shot will help protect your family, friends and co-workers. “It’s the socially correct thing to do,” Schaffner says.

3. You can still get the flu, but you won’t be as sick.

After last winter’s severe season, some people are skeptical. They say: “I got the flu shot, but I still caught the flu.”

In fact, the 2017-18 season was the deadliest in more than 40 years. “We had a very vicious virus, the so-called H3N2 influenza strain,” says Schaffner.

And yes, it’s true that the vaccine does not offer complete protection. The CDC estimates that flu vaccination reduces the risk of the virus by about 40 to 60 percent. Think of it this way: If you catch the flu, the vaccine does still offer some protection. It cushions the blow. “Your illness is likely to be milder” if you’ve had a flu shot, says Schaffner. You’re less likely to get pneumonia, which is a major complication of the flu, and less likely to be hospitalized.

4. Pregnant women who get the flu shot protect their babies from flu.

Women who are pregnant should be vaccinated to protect themselves. The vaccine also offers protection after babies are born. “[Women] can pass the protection on, across the placenta,” Schaffner explains. And this will protect their baby during the first six months of life, until the baby is old enough to be vaccinated.

5. You cannot get flu from the flu vaccine.

It’s still a common misperception: the idea that you can get the flu from the flu shot.

The NFID-sponsored survey of college students found that close to 60 percent of students seem to think that the flu vaccine can cause flu. “That’s, of course, incorrect,” says Schaffner.

The most common side effects are a sore arm, and perhaps a little swelling. “A very small proportion of people, 1 to 2 percent, get a degree of fever,” Schaffner says. That’s not the flu, he explains. “That’s the body reacting to the vaccine.”

Because the flu is unpredictable, it’s too soon to know what to expect this winter. But Schaffner has this advice: Don’t wait. “The time to get vaccinated is right now,” he says.

If that doesn’t move you, maybe a little reward will. The survey data of college students found that incentives are a good idea. Think: free food, free entertainment or a gift card for a free coffee. Ipp found about 60 percent of students said these types of incentives would increase the likelihood of their getting the flu vaccine.

Another way to nudge people? Make it super convenient. On the campus of George Washington University, the medical director of the student health center has organized flu-clinic pop-ups in venues where students hang out, such as the library. “We don’t wait for them to come to us,” Isabel Goldenberg told us.

For workers in offices, flu clinics at the workplace can be an effective way to encourage vaccination, too.

What about the use of social media to motivate people? “I’ve had the flu, which was horrible,” Max Webb, a student at George Washington University, told me. He thinks if people shared their flu stories, it could help nudge people in their social networks to get the flu shot.

And what would you name this campaign, I asked Webb? “Say boo to the flu,” Webb replied. Or simply, #boo2flu.

Kinda catchy.

Brain Activity Has Been Recorded as Much as 10 Minutes After Death


main article image

 

Doctors in a Canadian intensive care unit stumbled on a very strange case last year – when life support was turned off for four terminal patients, one of them showed persistent brain activity even after they were declared clinically dead.

For more than 10 minutes after doctors confirmed death through a range of observations, including the absence of a pulse and unreactive pupils, the patient appeared to experience the same kind of brain waves (delta wave bursts) we get during deep sleep.

And it’s an entirely different phenomenon to the sudden ‘death wave’ that’s been observed in rats following decapitation.

“In one patient, single delta wave bursts persisted following the cessation of both the cardiac rhythm and arterial blood pressure (ABP),” the team from the University of Western Ontario in Canada reported in March 2017.

They also found that death could be a unique experience for each individual, noting that across the four patients, the frontal electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings of their brain activity displayed few similarities both before and after they were declared dead.

“There was a significant difference in EEG amplitude between the 30-minute period before and the 5-minute period following ABP cessation for the group,” the researchers explained.

Before we get into the actual findings, the researchers are being very cautious about the implications, saying it’s far too early to be talking about what this could mean for our post-death experience, especially considering their sample size is one.

In the absence of any biological explanation for how brain activity could possibly continue several minutes after the heart has stopped beating, the researchers said the scan could be the result of some kind of error at the time of recording.

But they were at a loss to explain what that error could be, as the medical equipment showed no signs of malfunction, meaning the source of the anomaly cannot be confirmed – biologically or otherwise.

“It is difficult to posit a physiological basis for this EEG activity given that it occurs after a prolonged loss of circulation,” the researchers wrote.

“These waveform bursts could, therefore, be artefactual [human error] in nature, although an artefactual source could not be identified.”

You can see the brain scans of the four terminal patients below, showing the moment of clinical death at Time 0, or when the heart had stopped a few minutes after life support had been turned off:

brain-waves-deathsNorton et al. (2017)

The yellow brain activity is what we’re looking for in these scans (view a larger version here), and you can see in three of the four patients, this activity faded away before the heart stopped beating – as much as 10 minutes before clinical death, in the case of patient #2.

But for some reason, patient #4 shows evidence of delta wave bursts for 10 minutes and 38 seconds after their heart had stopped.

The researchers also investigated if a phenomenon known as ‘death waves’ occurred in the patients – in 2011, a separate team observed a burst of brain activity in rat brains about 1 minute after decapitation, suggesting that the brain and the heart have different moments of expiration.

“It seems that the massive wave which can be recorded approximately 1 minute after decapitation reflects the ultimate border between life and death,” researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands reported at the time.

death-wave

When the Canadian team looked for this phenomenon in their human patients, they came up empty.

“We did not observe a delta wave within 1 minute following cardiac arrest in any of our four patients,” they reported.

If all of this feels frustratingly inconsequential, welcome to the strange and incredibly niche field of necroneuroscience, where no one really knows what’s actually going on.

But what we do know is that very strange things can happen at the moment of death – and afterwards – with a pair of studies from 2016 finding that more than 1,000 genes were still functioning several days after death in human cadavers.

And it wasn’t like they were taking longer than everything else to sputter out – they actually increased their activity following the moment of clinical death.

The big takeaway from studies like these isn’t that we understand more about the post-death experience now than we did before, because the observations remain inconclusive and without biological explanation.

But what they do show is that we’ve got so much to figure out when it comes to the process of death, and how we – and other animals – actually experience it, from our bodies to our brains.

Can Exercise Worsen Dementia?


Could exercise worsen dementia? The idea runs against one of the fondest hopes of patients with Alzheimer disease, their caregivers, and physicians. It contradicts some early research and tentative recommendations. But it is a key finding of one of the largest studies yet to examine the question.

In the Dementia And Physical Activity (DAPA) trial, the mean score on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-cog) worsened more for people with dementia who were assigned to a year of vigorous exercise than for people who kept to their usual routines.[1]

The difference was small but statistically significant, says Bart Sheehan MRCPsych, MD, consultant liaison psychiatrist at the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust in Coventry, United Kingdom. “It does raise the possibility that, at this point, vigorous exercise might be damaging for people.”

The finding has experts in the field taking a harder look at what they thought they knew about the way physical activity affects a declining brain. It comes as a particular blow because no one has found a way to halt Alzheimer disease. “People are desperate for a treatment,” Sheehan said.

Until the DAPA results came out, exercise was looking like one of the most promising possibilities—if not to stop dementia, then at least to slow its progression. “Among patients with dementia or mild cognitive impairment, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) documented better cognitive scores after 6 to 12 months of exercise compared with sedentary controls,” wrote the authors of a 2011 meta-analysis.[2]

Such results were enough to prompt the Mayo Clinic website, a health information website for consumers, to advise that “Exercising several times a week for 30 to 60 minutes may… improve memory, reasoning, judgment and thinking skills (cognitive function) for people with mild Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment.”[3]

But these findings were from relatively small trials. And negative results have also cropped up in the literature for years, including in other reviews of the literature.[1] Funded by the British government, Sheehan and his colleagues set out to settle the question with the most authoritative trial possible.

They recruited 494 people with mild to moderate dementia according to the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV). All lived in the community and were able to sit on a chair and walk 10 feet without assistance. The average age was 77. Sixty-one percent were men.

The researchers randomly assigned 329 to exercise and 165 to make no change in their physical activity. The exercisers attended group sessions in a gym twice a week for 4 months under the guidance of physical therapists. Each session lasted 60-90 minutes. The researchers asked them to work out for an additional hour each week at home during this period. The sessions included cycling in place for 25 minutes of moderate to hard intensity, as well as weight training such as biceps curls, shoulder forward raise, lateral raise, and sit-to-stand using a weighted vest or waist belt.

After the 4 months, the researchers prescribed a home-based program of unsupervised exercise of 150 minutes each week. They encouraged the participants to choose activities at home that they preferred and followed up with phone calls to encourage them. Eighty-eight percent reported continuing the exercises at home. Less than 1% of the participants reported doing structured exercise outside of the trial.

The people who evaluated the patients didn’t know which ones participated in the exercise programs and which ones did not.

After 12 months, the patients improved their fitness compared with the usual-care group. But when it came to cognitive function, the researchers recorded abysmal results. On the ADAS-cog, where a higher score means worsening function, the usual-care group went from 21.4 to 23.8, a worsening of 2.4 points, as might be expected with the progressive diseases that cause dementia.

But the exercisers fared even worse, going from a mean score of 21.2 to 25.2, a worsening of 4.0. For perspective, a normal score for someone who does not have dementia is 5, while the average score of someone diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment is 31.2.

The difference was statistically significant (P =.03). It’s not clear whether it has clinical significance, Sheehan says. Still, it startled the researchers.

Despite their improved physical fitness, the exercisers did not improve in activities of daily living, behavior, or health-related quality of life.

“It didn’t come as a surprise that physical exercise was not effective as a treatment for dementia, because dementia is notoriously difficult to treat,” he said. “I think what was a surprise is the very strong signal that it may make dementia worse.” They ran the statistics again and again but found no mistake.

And the finding held up regardless of the patients’ sex or mobility and regardless of whether they were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s versus other kinds of dementia, or whether they had mild versus severe cognitive impairment.

Despite their improved physical fitness, the exercisers did not improve in activities of daily living, behavior, or health-related quality of life.

The finding should influence what clinicians say to people with dementia and their caregivers, said Sheehan, who has treated many such patients. He now tells them that exercise won’t help with such core features of dementia as memory or the ability to organize oneself, and that it might actually do damage.

People who are already exercising and enjoying it shouldn’t necessarily stop, he added. But they must weigh the enjoyment and other health benefits—which are many—against the risk for harm.

Not everyone interprets the results of the DAPA trial as pessimistically as Sheehan. “We don’t have the evidence yet to be able to say that exercise is going to improve cognitive function,” said J. Carson Smith, PhD, an associate professor of public health at the University of Maryland. “But there is more evidence of a benefit in mild cognitive impairment and in people at increased risk for dementia.”

He is among the researchers whose small studies have suggested that exercise can improve cognitive ability in people with mild cognitive impairment. Epidemiologic studies measuring the benefits of long-term exercise for preventing dementia are even more impressive.

This includes a recent sample of 191 Swedish women who were 38-60 years of age in 1968 when they underwent an ergometer cycling test. Examinations of dementia were done six times up to 2010 and supplemented with information from medical records. Women with high physical fitness at middle age were nearly 90% less likely to develop dementia decades later, compared with women who were moderately fit.[4]

Smith and others have found biological differences between more and less fit people that could explain a difference in dementia risk. Lower cardiovascular fitness is associated with a smaller brain volume two decades later, for example.[5]

It’s hard to explain why exercise in healthy people might protect against cognitive decline, but exercise in people with dementia might make it worse. Sheehan theorized that already weakened brains might be too fragile to withstand the temporary loss of oxygen that comes with vigorous exercise. But there isn’t much information yet to support or refute such ideas.

Such studies can’t prove cause and effect. Not only physical activity but also genes affect physical fitness. And people who exercise may have other healthy behaviors.

But even Sheehan has not given up on the idea that physical activity can help people in their declining years. Some kinds of exercise can improve balance, for example. “People say, ‘I wish my father could recognize me,’ but they also say, ‘I wish my father didn’t fall over,'” he points out.

Why BMI is a Big Fat Scam


Story at-a-glance

  • Body mass index (BMI), a formula that divides your weight by the square of your height, is one of the most commonly used measures of overweight, obesity, and overall health
  • Initially, BMI was primarily a tool used by insurance companies to set premiums (people with BMIs in the “obese” category may pay 22 percent more for their insurance compared to those in the “normal” category
  • BMI is a flawed measurement tool, in part because it uses weight as a measure of risk, when it is actually a high percentage of body fat that increases your disease risk
  • BMI also tells you nothing about where fat is located in your body, and the location of the fat, particularly if it’s around your stomach (visceral fat), is more important than the absolute amount of fat when it comes to measuring certain health risks
  • Your waist-to-hip ratio is a more reliable indicator of your future disease risk because a higher ratio suggests you have more visceral fat.

 

BY DR. MERCOLA

In 1832, a Belgian mathematician named Adolphe Quetelet developed what is today known as the body mass index (BMI).1The formula divides a person’s weight by the square of his height, and is one of the most commonly used measures of excess weight, obesity, and overall health.

Initially, BMI was primarily a tool used by insurance companies to set premiums (people with BMIs in the “obese” category may pay 22 percent more for their insurance compared to those in the “normal” category2).

Today, however, BMI is an accepted tool used in medical research and in clinical practice. When you have your height and weight recorded at your doctor’s office, it will give him or her an automatic calculation of your BMI, classifying you as underweight if your BMI is below 18.5, normal if it’s 18.5-24.9, overweight if it’s 25-29.9, and obese if it’s 30 or over.

Your doctor may use this number to advise you on your weight, as well as your risk of related conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, BMI is an incredibly flawed tool, and a high BMI doesn’t automatically mean you’re unhealthy, the way many physicians and health insurance companies imply that it does.

The Obesity Paradox: Sometimes Higher BMI Is Healthier

Research involving data from nearly 3 million adults suggests that a having an overweight BMI may be linked to a longer life than one that puts you within a “normal” weight range.

The research, which analyzed 97 studies in all, found that people with BMIs under 30 but above normal (the overweight range) had a 6 percent lower risk of dying from all causes than those who were normal weight, while those whose BMIs fell into the obese range were 18 percent more likely to die of any cause.3

Separate research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also found that a high BMI was associated with a lower risk of death, a phenomenon known as the “obesity paradox.”4

Indeed, it is quite possible to be overweight and healthy, just as it’s possible to be normal weight and unhealthy. And in some cases, it may, in fact, be healthier to carry a few extra pounds. In a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)editorial, Steven Heymsfield, M.D. and William Cefalu, M.D. explained:5

“The presence of a wasting disease, heart disease, diabetes, renal dialysis, or older age are all associated with an inverse relationship between BMI and mortality rate, an observation termed the obesity paradox or reverse epidemiology. 

The optimal BMI linked with lowest mortality in patients with chronic disease may be within the overweight and obesity range. 

Even in the absence of chronic disease, small excess amounts of adipose tissue may provide needed energy reserves during acute catabolic illnesses, have beneficial mechanical effects with some types of traumatic injuries, and convey other salutary effects that need to be investigated in light of the studies…” 

However, for the vast majority of those who carry around extra pounds, health problems will often result. So why would these studies suggest otherwise? They are likely examples of why BMI is such a flawed tool for measuring your health.

Makers of Weight Loss Drugs Altered BMI Categories, Making 29 Million Americans ‘Overweight’

BMI is used as the measure of national obesity rates, which currently stand at close to 35 percent for adults and 18 percent for kids. However, the cut-off for classifying a person as normal or overweight seems to be quite arbitrary – and at one point was significantly modified by a task force funded, primarily, by companies making weight loss drugs. Mother Jones reported:6

“In 1998, the National Institutes of Health lowered the overweight threshold from 27.8 to 25—branding roughly 29 million Americans as fat overnight—to match international guidelines. 

But critics noted that those guidelines were drafted in part by the International Obesity Task Force, whose two principal funders were companies making weight loss drugs. 

In his recent book ‘Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind America’s Obesity Epidemic,’ political scientist Eric Oliver reports that the chairman of the NIH committee that made the decision, Columbia University professor of medicine Xavier Pi-Sunyer, was consulting for several diet drug manufacturers and Weight Watchers International.”

BMI Uses Weight, Not Body Fat, to Measure Risk

Branding yourself as unhealthy or overweight simply based on your BMI is not recommended (unfortunately, your insurance company probably won’t see it this way). On the other hand, assuming you’re healthy just because your BMI is normal isn’t advised either.

Research suggests BMI may underestimate obesity rates and misclassify up to one-quarter of men and nearly half of women.7 According to researcher Dr. Eric Braverman, president of the nonprofit Path Foundation in New York City:8

“Based on BMI, about one-third of Americans are considered obese, but when other methods of measuring obesity are used, that number may be closer to 60%.”

One of the primary reasons why BMI is such a flawed measurement tool is that it uses weight as a measure of risk, when it is actually a high percentage of body fat that increases your disease risk. Your weight varies according to the density of your bone structure, for instance, so a big-boned person may weigh more, but that certainly doesn’t mean they have more body fat or make them more prone to heart disease, for example.

Athletes and completely out-of-shape people can also have similar BMI scores, or a very muscular person could be classified as “obese” using BMI, when in reality it is mostly lean muscle accounting for their higher-than-average weight. BMI also tells you nothing about where fat is located in your body, and it appears that the location of the fat, particularly if it’s around your stomach, is more important than the absolute amount of fat when it comes to measuring certain health risks, especially heart disease.

Waist-to-Hip Measurement Is Superior to BMI, But Only 10 Percent of Physicians Use It

Your waist-to-hip ratio is a more reliable indicator of your future disease risk because a higher ratio suggests you have more visceral fat. Excess visceral fat—the fat that accumulates around your internal organs — is far more hazardous to your health than subcutaneous fat (the more noticeable fat found just under your skin) – a measure that BMI tells you nothing about. The danger of visceral fat is related to the release of proteins and hormones that can cause inflammation, which in turn can damage arteries and enter your liver, and affect how your body breaks down sugars and fats.

Unfortunately, according to Donna Ryan, a physician who has trained thousands of primary-care doctors in obesity screening, only about 10 percent use waist circumference as a health indicator. She told Mother Jones:9 “Doctors are so pressed for time… And it’s intrusive. You have to put your arms around the patient.” To determine your waist-to-hip ratio, get a tape measure and record your waist and hip circumference. Then divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference. For a more thorough demonstration, please review the video above.

Waist to Hip Ratio Men Women
Ideal 0.8 0.7
Low Risk <0.95 <0.8
Moderate Risk 0.96-0.99 0.81 – 0.84
High Risk >1.0 >0.85

How Much You Exercise Also Predicts Your Disease Risk

Your fitness level is also a far better predictor of mortality than your BMI. One study found that people who rarely exercised had a 70 percent higher risk of premature death than those who exercised regularly, independent of their BMI.10 If you want a simple test to gauge your fitness level, try the abdominal plank test (for a demonstration of how to do a plank, see the video below. If you can hold an abdominal plank position for at least two minutes, you’re off to a good start. If you cannot, you’re likely lacking in core strength, which is important for overall movement stability and strength.

A strong core will also help prevent back pain. Being unable to hold a plank for two minutes may also indicate that you’re carrying too much weight and would benefit from shedding a few pounds. Unfortunately, over 50 percent of American men, and 60 percent of American women, never engage in any vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week.11 This despite a growing body of research clearly showing that “exercise deficiency” threatens your overall health and mental well-being, and shortens your lifespan.

In fact, according to research published in the American Journal of Physiology, the best way to stay young is to simply start exercising, as it triggers mitochondrial biogenesis, a decline of which is common in aging.12 Researchers have also suggested that exercise is “the best preventive drug” for many common ailments, from psychiatric disorders to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.13 According to Jordan Metzl, a sports-medicine physician at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery and author of The Exercise Cure: “Exercise is the best preventive drug we have, and everybody needs to take that medicine.”

So rather than stressing over an arbitrary number like your BMI, you’d be better served by coming up with a comprehensive fitness plan. I recommend incorporating high-intensity interval training (HIIT)strength training (including super slow), core exercises, stretching, and non-exercise activity into your routine. The key is to simply get moving, and work at a high enough intensity with enough variance to keep your muscles adequately challenged.

Every person is different, so there’s not just one “correct” way to exercise. Equally, if not more, important is incorporating regular intermittent movement into your day, as this will help to counteract some of the effects excess sitting has on your body. If you exercise correctly and keep moving throughout your day, and combine it with a healthy eating program, you will optimize your body-fat percentage naturally, and with it gain a predisposition for optimal health.

America’s ‘virgin births’? One in 200 mothers ‘became pregnant without having sex’


The findings were based on a study of 7,870 women and girls aged 15 to 28

 

The results of a long-term study of reproductive health, published in the British Medical Journal, have revealed that one in two hundred US women claim to have given birth without ever having had sexual intercourse.

The Christmas issue of the BMJ reports that, of the women who took part in the study, 45 (0.5%) reported at least one virgin pregnancy, "unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology."

 

The findings were based on a study of 7,870 women and girls aged 15 to 28, as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which ran from 1995 to 2009.

The Christmas issue of the BMJ reports that, of the women who took part in the study, 45 (0.5%) reported at least one virgin pregnancy, “unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology.”

In short, they claimed to have conceived – yet had not had vaginal intercourse or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

The BMJ article notes that virgin births, or parthenogenesis (from the Greek parthenos for virgin and genesis for birth), can occur in non-humans as a consequence of “asexual reproduction, where growth and development of the embryo occurs without fertilization”.

The article notes that as well as the story of the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary, parthenogenesis often appears in popular culture, “including the Spielberg blockbuster Jurassic Park3 and the 2008 Dr Who episode “Partners in Crime.”

For the study of putative virgin pregnancies, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill analyzed data from the thousands of teenage girls and young women who took part in the long-running study.

They found that the girls who had become pregnant, despite claiming they had never had sex at the time of conception, shared some common characteristics.

Thirty-one per cent of the girls had signed a so-called ‘chastity pledge’, whereby they vow – usually for religious reasons – not to have sex. Fifteen per cent of non-virgins who became pregnant also said they had signed such pledges.

The 45 self-described virgins who reported having become pregnant and the 36 who gave birth were also more likely than non-virgins to say their parents never or rarely talked to them about sex and birth control.

About 28 per cent of the “virgin” mothers’ parents (who were also interviewed) indicated they didn’t have enough knowledge to discuss sex and contraception with their daughters, compared to 5 percent of the parents of girls who became pregnant and said they had had intercourse.

The authors of the study, entitled “Like a virgin (mother)”, – say that such scientifically impossible claims show researchers must take care in interpreting self-reported behavior. Fallible memory, beliefs and wishes can cause people to err in what they tell scientists.

Is homeopathy a proven science?


Answered: Is homeopathy proven?

The words you are looking for is “Is homeopathy backed by evidence?”

You do not prove things in the real world, you back them by evidence. Proving things is something done in the world of mathematics and logic.

Now about the question. Is it backed by evidence?

No.

It has been around for 200 years and it has not performed better than placebo under controlled double blind conditions. But it is not expected to either, since none of its underpinnings are scientific either.

Homeopathy is based on the idea of like cures like. For example: If you are sleepless, you take a substance known as a stimulant like caffeine. You then take a solvent, usually water, and dissolve the active ingredient and dilute it.

You then do some process of shaking and diluting repeating the process. In when repeated often enough the homeopathic brew is diluted beyond a point where it is even unlikely that a single molecule of active ingredient left. The proposed mechanism is that water has memory and the more you dilute the homeopathy remedy, the more potent it becomes.

Packed in there are two claims.

  1. Water has memory. This claim is not backed by evidence, and is selectively applied. There for example is no reason why it works on the active ingredient perfectly but not at all for any minerals present in the solvent.
  2. A substance gets more potent the more diluted it is. This has never been demonstrated and goes against verified chemistry, physics and biology.

So why was it proposed this way? Because 200 years ago people did not know about atomic theory, germ theory of disease, Avogadro’s number and a host of other pieces of verified science that directly contradict it.

It is not backed by evidence, it has never been backed by it, and it would violate a lot of verified science for it to work.

 

Does Marijuana Harm Your Heart?


As more states legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal uses, it appears here to stay. So, let’s talk about options for using and possible medicinal uses. Like anything, speak with your holistic doctor prior to acting on any information in this post.

Over half the states in the U.S. have legalized marijuana.

Marijuana (cannabis) has two major constituents: THC and CBD. Both can be therapeutic, but it is the THC that is linked to psychological effects in the short and long term.

So, let’s get to the science.

Marijuana has also been found to be effective in relieving some of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis.

Marijuana has been used for chronic pain for decades. Chronic pain is linked to a higher risk of hypertension, heart attack, and death. If marijuana can reduce pain, this should mean good outcomes.

What I want to point out is that marijuana is a band-aid like alcohol, ibuprofen, narcotics etc.

I choose to find the CAUSE of pain and remove cause and treat naturally, including chiropractic care. If we find and treat CAUSE, and pain remains, this is a place for medical marijuana.

I do not propose that we are all better off consuming marijuana as first line therapy.

There are similar studies that show the risks associated with the use of marijuana. Longitudinal studies have shown the harmful effects on lung function2 and the increased risk of schizophrenia and psychosis.

A recent study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s meetings that cautions us about the risk of recreational and medicinal use in a population with established cardiovascular disease or in people with an increased risk of heart disease. The observational study results serve as a warning to patients with heart conditions. There are other studies that failed to prove long-term effects on cardiovascular mortality.

However, most of the studies mentioned above are observational and experimental animal studies, and there are no randomized human studies.

Marijuana, known as cannabis, has receptors all over the body. There are 2 types of cannabinoid receptors in humans. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) activation is pro-atherogenic and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) activation is anti-atherogenic.

Cannabinoids modulate the immune system, alter lipid metabolism, and affect endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs). This means that they have the potential to cause massive positive or negative effects. Not to mention genetic and epigenetic abnormalities.

EFFECT OF MARIJUANA ON THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM

Essentially, whatever your complaint or health issue, cannabis can make it better or worse.

In humans, marijuana use is associated with increased heart rate and postural fluctuations in blood pressure, which may be implicated in developing heart attacks or strokes. Multiple case reports of acute coronary syndrome after marijuana use have been published. More recently, a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association reported that there are potential cardiovascular dangers to young adults using marijuana.

18 case reports of stroke from marijuana in a recent report.

Another study found links to heart failure and marijuana use.

Almost 5x higher risk for myocardial infarction (MI) within 1 hour of smoking marijuana.

In patients with a history of MI, marijuana use more than once a week was associated with a 3-fold increase in mortality.

The Good Heart Health News for Marijuana Users

Users have a lower risk of atrial fibrillation with marijuana.

Another study compared use with no marijuana use with association with incident CVD, stroke or transient ischemic attacks, coronary heart disease, or CVD mortality. Marijuana use was not associated with CVD when stratified by age, gender, race, or family history of CVD.

To Smoke or Eat?

The delivery method of cannabis is likely are major factor in overall risk.

Substances within the inhaled smoke, such as carbon monoxide and burnt plant particles, can harm lung tissues and damage small blood vessels. This is like tobacco smoking, which can have negative effects on the heart and can also lead to strokes, especially in patients with existing heart and circulatory problems.

At this time, there are no randomized human trials regarding cannabis consumption.

The Future

The future will try to decipher what effects THC has and what CBD has. Combinations will be tried for various ailments. Since it will be tough to patent a combination product, science may not offer answers to satisfy us.

CONCLUSION

Stay tuned. In the meantime, I would not recommend starting cannabis in any form until all other health factors are improved.

I think this gives your body the best chance to accept the benefits and minimize possible harm.

Is Full-Fat Dairy Good for Your Heart?


Story at-a-glance

  • A new, very large study shows that eating more full-fat dairy was linked to a lowered risk of death from cardiovascular disease, including death from cardiovascular causes, such as stroke and diabetes
  • While it couldn’t prove cause and effect, people in the study who ate three servings of dairy per day had an overall lower risk of death during the course of the study than people who ate no dairy at all
  • Cardiovascular disease is a global epidemic, with 80 percent of cases found in low- and middle-income countries
  • Organic, raw, grass fed and full-fat yogurt, kefir, cheese, butter and milk are examples of dairy products that contain the omega-3s, amino acids, vitamins and minerals essential to optimal health

By Dr. Mercola

A new study confirms (again) that whole-fat dairy is not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease as has been asserted for more than 60 years. The evidence is overwhelming that consuming whole fats can be an important part of maintaining optimal health and actually fights heart disease and other diseases prevalent today rather than causing them.

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study1 was published in Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, and gives one cause to second-guess the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans2 set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Those agencies continue to maintain that your best bet for reducing your heart disease risk is to pass up full-fat dairy products and reach for no-fat and low-fat options instead.

However, while some doctors are finally beginning to acknowledge that full-fat dairy isn’t the killer it’s been made out to be, just as many are still touting those erroneous recommendations for their patients. The confusing guidelines mentioned above may be one of the reasons, but evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.

As lead study author Mahshid Dehghan, a senior research associate and nutrition epidemiology investigator at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, noted in the featured study, “Our results showed an inverse association between total dairy and mortality and major cardiovascular disease. The risk of stroke was markedly lower with higher consumption of dairy.”3

The PURE study was large and extensive, involving researchers from Canada, India, Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, Pakistan, Columbia, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Iran, Turkey, Chile, Poland, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, China, Bangladesh and the U.S.

Lasting an average of nine years, the study used controls for such factors as age, sex, smoking, physical activity, education levels and consumption of vegetables, fruit, red meat and starchy food for a total of 136,384 people in 21 countries, with ages ranging from 35 to 70.

At the end, researchers reported that when people ate two or more servings of full-fat dairy (one serving being defined as 8 ounces of milk or yogurt, 1 teaspoon of butter or a half-ounce slice of cheese), it was associated with:

  • A 22 percent lower heart disease risk
  • A 34 percent lower risk of stroke
  • A 23 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease or a major cardiovascular event4

Semantics on Fat Consumption: Full-Fat Versus Low-Fat Dairy Products

According to Dehghan, current guidelines are rooted in the belief that saturated fatty acids are harmful based on a single risk marker: LDL, aka “bad,” cholesterol. However, she says dairy products contain a number of nutrients and avoiding them prevents you from getting other important nutrients.

Dehghan noted that people shouldn’t be discouraged from eating dairy products, and if they don’t eat much already, they should in fact be encouraged to increase their consumption.5

Overall, people should focus on moderation, she added, especially since cardiovascular disease is a global epidemic. In fact, 80 percent of heart disease cases are found in low- and middle-income countries, Reuters observes, quoting Dehghan from an earlier study.6

It should be noted that eating more whole-fat foods from the dairy section did not make a significant difference in the overall outcome of the study for either total mortality or major cardiovascular disease, MedPage Today explains. In fact, “the findings were similar but not significant for people who ate both full-fat and low-fat dairy.”7

The controversy continues, however, and the naysayers are still adamant. Jo Ann Carson, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, maintains that “Currently with the evidence that we have reviewed, we still believe that you should try to limit your saturated fat including fat that this is coming from dairy products.”

With those statements, Carson essentially upholds the now-disproven assertions of Ancel Keys, the University of Minnesota professor who started the “fat is bad” ball rolling back in 1953. Keys used faulty science and patchy data to conclude that eating saturated fat raises your cholesterol and then leads to heart disease. The medical community embraced the concept and adopted a collective stance.

Saturated fat was then summarily vilified, and in its place, vegetable oils and shortening, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine were pushed to the forefront and quickly became all the rage. Unfortunately, the “fat kills” mantra launched a movement in the food industry that’s proving very difficult to turn around, but the PURE study helps lay the myth to rest.

‘Robust, Widely Applicable’ Science Supports Whole Dairy Consumption

Dehghan says that while the PURE study was largely observational, it was still “robust and more widely applicable” because it was all-encompassing over a broad range of types of dairy consumption and reflected many different settings and cultures.

In 2017, Dehghan and her cohorts involved in the featured PURE study submitted another facet of the review that looked at the issue from another view, associating fat and carb intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality, and concluded:

“We found that high carbohydrate intake (more than about 60 percent of energy) was associated with an adverse impact on total mortality and noncardiovascular disease mortality. By contrast, higher fat intake was associated with lower risk of total mortality, non-cardiovascular disease mortality, and stroke.

Furthermore, higher intakes of individual types of fat were associated with lower total mortality, noncardiovascular disease mortality, and stroke risk and were not associated with risk of major cardiovascular disease events, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality.

Our findings do not support the current recommendation to limit total fat intake to less than 30 percent of energy and saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of energy. Individuals with high carbohydrate intake might benefit from a reduction in carbohydrate intake and increase in the consumption of fats.”8

It’s interesting to note that the PURE study was considered controversial for several reasons, such as the stance it made on healthy salt intake and increased vegetable recommendations.

Additionally, while there have been inquiries into the entities that funded the study, Marion Nestle, a master of public health at New York University, notes that while numerous government entities and pharmaceutical companies around the world helped fund the study, the dairy industry did not.9

What’s the Skinny on US Health Organization Recommendations for Dairy?

When it comes to some of the biggest names and entities in the medical community, most still say low-fat dairy is best. As an example, an American Heart Association (AHA) article on milk, yogurt and cheese10 still insists that adults should opt for two to three servings of fat-free, zero-fat, no-fat or nonfat milk dairy products, and children, teenagers and older adults should have four servings, per day.

The USDA says pretty much the same thing.11 People in Europe and North America have the highest dairy consumption, as they have more than four servings per day, the study notes, but in Africa, China, South Asia and Southeast Asia, individuals tested had less than one serving per day.

When comparing people who ate three servings of dairy per day with those who ate none, Web MD12 noted that those who ate no dairy had higher rates of:

  • Overall death — 3.4 percent versus 5.6 percent
  • Heart-related deaths — 0.9 percent versus 1.6 percent
  • Major heart disease — 3.5 percent versus 4.9 percent
  • Stroke — 1.2 percent versus 2.9 percent

Significantly, studies are stacking up that support the PURE study. One is very significant for two reasons: one because a two-decade-long review concluded that full-fat dairy consumption led to a reduced diabetes risk and better weight management consequences, as well.

Nutrition & Metabolism published research showing evidence that fewer carbs, not adopting low-fat foods, is the key to reducing and often completely eliminating diabetes medication in 90 percent of the participants.13

In 2003, a study14 in The New England Journal of Medicine found that when people focused more on healthy fats and less on non-vegetable carbs, it improved insulin sensitivity and fasting blood glucose. It also stabilized the A1C or average blood glucose tests for diabetic patients.

According to a 2015 study15 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, children who drink raw milk, which is typically full-fat, have lower rates of viral and respiratory tract infections, including regular colds, fevers and respiratory infections by around 30 percent.

Raw Milk and Pasteurized Milk: What’s the Difference?

While governmental agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA contend that consuming raw milk is a ticket to disease and maybe even death, it’s interesting to observe that Europe has no such issues. Ted Beals, a pathologist from the University of Michigan Medical School, writes that you are actually 35,000 times more likely to get sick from any other food than raw milk.16

Pasteurized milk products are heated to kill bacteria because of the often dreadful conditions cows in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) live in, and that’s where the overwhelming majority of milk in the U.S. is produced. Animals in CAFOs are often deprived of sunlight, are fed genetically engineered (GE) grains and soy products and stand knee-deep in each other’s excrement.

To counteract these conditions, the animals are given antibiotics. What pasteurized milk offers is essentially milk laced with dead bacteria; the bacteria are dead, but not removed. When your body is hit with these foreign proteins, an allergic response is often the result because your body tries to fight them off.

Conversely, when cows raised on grass (as opposed to grains) produce milk, the raw, unpasteurized form contains whey protein, which stabilizes those same fighting cells in your body and reduces the allergic effect some people experience.

When cows eat grains, their body composition is altered, and with it, their milk. Pasteurization destroys many valuable nutrients, some which are important for your digestion and immune function.

What About Cheese, Butter, Yogurt and Kefir?

Not a few experts in the field noticed that the PURE study “exonerates” high-fat cheese. As a whole, one food analyst reported, the combination of nutrients in cheese are varied and plentiful, and many are new to the conversation in regard to nutritional value.

One study17 found whole-fat cheese can improve your overall health because it raises your HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, cholesterol, which protects your body against both heart disease and metabolic diseases.

Further, when it’s made from the milk of grass-pastured animals, cheese provides several important nutrients, including protein, amino acids, omega-3 fats, vitamins A, D, B2, B12, and K2 (especially Gouda, Brie, Edam and to a lesser degree hard goat cheese, Colby, Swiss, Gruyere and Cheddar), minerals such as phosphorus, calcium and zinc, and conjugated linoleic acid or CLA.

In another study described in The Telegraph, researchers found that eating eight servings of full-fat milk, cheese, cream and butter was linked to a 23 percent lower risk of developing diabetes, compared to those who ate fewer portions. One serving counted as 200 milliliters (ml) (a little under a cup) of milk or yogurt, 20 grams (0.7 ounces) of cheese, 25 grams (2 tablespoons) of cream or 7 grams (1.4 teaspoons) of butter.

More importantly, “There was no link between low fat dairy products and diabetes.”18 Kefir, a traditionally fermented food that is loaded with probiotic bacteria, as well as yogurt, both of them ideally made from organic, grass fed raw milk, present excellent ways to boost your immunity and increase your energy.

The bacteria used to make kefir and yogurt consumes most of the lactose in milk, which can otherwise be a problem for someone with insulin resistance. Both help you develop and maintain a healthy microbiome.

When it comes to butter, the best you can do is to seek out the organic raw form from grass-pastured cows. The next best is pasteurized butter from grass fed or pastured organic cows, followed by regular pasteurized butter common in supermarkets. Surprisingly, fat levels in your blood are lower after eating a meal rich in butter than after eating one rich in olive oil, canola oil or flaxseed oil, one study noted.19

Taken altogether, the message is clear: Including saturated fats, including raw, organic and full-fat dairy products, is a healthy choice. That includes organic butter from grass fed cows, virgin coconut oil and raw whole milk and cheese. Far from being the culprits in cardiovascular and “high cholesterol” issues, eating them can actually improve your heart, and at the same time, improve your insulin sensitivity.

In any case, avoid trans fats and non-vegetable carbohydrates that have led to ever-rising rates of chronic disease and obesity. Reversing this trend is simpler than you might think, at least on an individual level. Don’t just eat more dairy; go for healthy, full fat, grass fed dairy instead.

‘No one should be doing the ketogenic diet,’ says top U.S. cardiologist


Ketosis is known to work wonders in terms of short-term weight loss. But what about the diet’s effects over the long term?

 

The ketogenic diet is one of the latest dietary fads to sweep the U.S., promising rapid weight loss, enhanced brain function and sustained energy throughout the day. These effects are achieved by replacing high-carb foods with fatty, protein-rich foods that will eventually put the body in ketosis: a natural metabolic state in which the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.

Ketosis is known to work wonders for short-term weight loss. But what about the diet’s effects over the long term?

According to Dr. Kim Williams, former president of the American College of Cardiology, no one should adopt the ketogenic diet over the long term—unless weight loss is more important than lifespan.

“I like the idea, the basic concept: you change your dietary habits and you change something,” Williams told Plant Based News. “Unfortunately, the science of it is wrong. If all you wanted was short-term weight loss—and short-term could be a year or two—if that’s all you’re looking for, great.”

Williams’ argument is based on a 2013 systematic review of 17 studies that found low-carbohydrate diets to be associated with an increased chance of death, with particularly increased risks to cardiovascular health.

“So I was talking about that and making sure everyone was hearing about that, and then there was one the Journal of the American Heart Association published a few years later that isolated the people who had had a heart attack in the past, the cardiology population that we’re seeing, and they were doing a ketogenic diet,” Williams told Plant Based News. “It was a 53 percent increase in mortality. No one should be doing this.”

The authors of the 2013 systematic review offered similar advice:

“Given the facts that low-carbohydrate diets are likely unsafe and that calorie restriction has been demonstrated to be effective in weight loss regardless of nutritional composition, it would be prudent not to recommend low-carbohydrate diets for the time being. Further detailed studies to evaluate the effect of protein source are urgently needed.”

The ketogenic diet can pose long-term health risks because “low-carbohydrate diets tend to result in reduced intake of fiber and fruits, and increased intake of protein from animal sources, cholesterol and saturated fat, all of which are risk factors for mortality” and cardiovascular disease, wrote the authors of the review.
What foods can you and can’t you eat on the keto diet?

It’s worth noting that the review focused on low-carbohydrate diets, which are not always ketogenic. To be sure, there are balanced ways to adopt the ketogenic diet, and it can beneficial to some. In addition to its proven weight-loss effects that can be especially helpful for obese people, the diet is also a proven treatment for children with epilepsy. That’s because the state of ketosis produces a natural chemical called decanoic acid, which can reduce seizures.

But if you’re looking for a safe diet that you can rely on over the long term, you might follow the advice given by Dr. Marcelo Campos in an article posted on the Harvard Health Blog:

“Instead of engaging in the next popular diet that would last only a few weeks to months (for most people that includes a ketogenic diet), try to embrace change that is sustainable over the long term. A balanced, unprocessed diet, rich in very colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water seems to have the best evidence for a long, healthier, vibrant life.”

Watch the video discussion. URL:https://youtu.be/VNW_5EqqWoo

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