Even If You’re Old, You Can Preserve Muscle Mass During Weight Loss. Here’s How.

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

“Honey, please come to the gym with me.”

We’ve known for a while that resistance training helps preserve muscle mass in younger folks during weight-loss programs. I’ve always figured the principle applied to older folks, too. Now we have proof. Average age of these study participants was 67.

From UPI.com:

Seniors who want to lose weight should hit the weight room while they cut calories, a new study suggests.

Older folks who performed resistance training while dieting were able to lose fat but still preserve most of their lean muscle mass, compared with those who walked for exercise, researchers report.

“The thought is if you lose too much lean mass, that this will exacerbate risk of disability in older adults,” said lead researcher Kristen Beavers, an assistant professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Our findings show if your treatment goal is to maximize fat loss and minimize lean mass loss, then the resistance training is probably the way to go.”

 

 

Seafood May Contaminate You With Mercury, But Does It Matter?

Dead whole fish aren't very appealing to many folks

Dead whole fish aren’t very appealing to many folks

I advocate consumption of cold-water fatty fish a couple times per week for long-term protection against heart and brain disease. The protective component of fish may be the omega-3 fatty acids.

On the other hand, much seafood is contaminated with mercury, which can be toxic. So, is the mercury in fish actually toxic to brain tissue of folks eating reasonable amounts of fish?

A recent autopsy study answers, “No.”

Read further for details.

Much more appetizing!

From the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2016 Feb 2;315(5):489-97. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.19451. “Association of Seafood Consumption, Brain Mercury Level, and APOE ε4 Status With Brain Neuropathology in Older Adults.”

IMPORTANCE:Seafood consumption is promoted for its many health benefits even though its contamination by mercury, a known neurotoxin, is a growing concern.

OBJECTIVE:To determine whether seafood consumption is correlated with increased brain mercury levels and also whether seafood consumption or brain mercury levels are correlated with brain neuropathologies.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:Cross-sectional analyses of deceased participants in the Memory and Aging Project clinical neuropathological cohort study, 2004-2013. Participants resided in Chicago retirement communities and subsidized housing. The study included 286 autopsied brains of 554 deceased participants (51.6%). The mean (SD) age at death was 89.9 (6.1) years, 67% (193) were women, and the mean (SD) educational attainment was 14.6 (2.7) years.

EXPOSURES:Seafood intake was first measured by a food frequency questionnaire at a mean of 4.5 years before death.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:Dementia-related pathologies assessed were Alzheimer disease, Lewy bodies, and the number of macroinfarcts and microinfarcts. Dietary consumption of seafood and n-3 fatty acids was annually assessed by a food frequency questionnaire in the years before death. Tissue concentrations of mercury and selenium were measured using instrumental neutron activation analyses.RESULTS:Among the 286 autopsied brains of 544 participants, brain mercury levels were positively correlated with the number of seafood meals consumed per week (ρ = 0.16; P = .02). In models adjusted for age, sex, education, and total energy intake, seafood consumption (≥ 1 meal[s]/week) was significantly correlated with less Alzheimer disease pathology including lower density of neuritic plaques (β = -0.69 score units [95% CI, -1.34 to -0.04]), less severe and widespread neurofibrillary tangles (β = -0.77 score units [95% CI, -1.52 to -0.02]), and lower neuropathologically defined Alzheimer disease (β = -0.53 score units [95% CI, -0.96 to -0.10]) but only among apolipoprotein E (APOE ε4) carriers. Higher intake levels of α-linolenic acid (18:3 n-3) were correlated with lower odds of cerebral macroinfarctions (odds ratio for tertiles 3 vs 1, 0.51 [95% CI, 0.27 to 0.94]). Fish oil supplementation had no statistically significant correlation with any neuropathologic marker. Higher brain concentrations of mercury were not significantly correlated with increased levels of brain neuropathology.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:In cross-sectional analyses, moderate seafood consumption was correlated with lesser Alzheimer disease neuropathology. Although seafood consumption was also correlated with higher brain levels of mercury, these levels were not correlated with brain neuropathology.

Source: Association of Seafood Consumption, Brain Mercury Level, and APOE ε4 Status With Brain Neuropathology in Older Adults. – PubMed – NCBI

Steve Parker, M.D.

Lose Weight With Diet; Maintain Weight Loss With Exercise

Exercise was natural when we were kids

It’s a lesson most of us working in the field learned years ago.

From The New York Times:

It is a question that plagues all who struggle with weight: Why do some of us manage to keep off lost pounds, while others regain them?

Now, a study of 14 participants from the “Biggest Loser” television show provides an answer: physical activity — and much more of it than public health guidelines suggest.

On average, those who managed to maintain a significant weight loss had 80 minutes a day of moderate activity, like walking, or 35 minutes a day of vigorous exercise, like running.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PURE Study: High Carb Consumption Increases Risk of Death

How many innocent lives will be cut short by this tasty but silent killer?

Here’s the abstract of a new epidemiological study that investigated the relationships between diet, cardiovascular disease, and death rates. I don’t have the entire article. My sense is that the 18 countries studied are mostly non-Western:

Background

The relationship between macronutrients and cardiovascular disease and mortality is controversial. Most available data are from European and North American populations where nutrition excess is more likely, so their applicability to other populations is unclear.

Methods

The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study is a large, epidemiological cohort study of individuals aged 35–70 years (enrolled between Jan 1, 2003, and March 31, 2013) in 18 countries with a median follow-up of 7·4 years (IQR 5·3–9·3). Dietary intake of 135 335 individuals was recorded using validated food frequency questionnaires. The primary outcomes were total mortality and major cardiovascular events (fatal cardiovascular disease, non-fatal myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure). Secondary outcomes were all myocardial infarctions, stroke, cardiovascular disease mortality, and non-cardiovascular disease mortality. Participants were categorised into quintiles of nutrient intake (carbohydrate, fats, and protein) based on percentage of energy provided by nutrients. We assessed the associations between consumption of carbohydrate, total fat, and each type of fat with cardiovascular disease and total mortality. We calculated hazard ratios (HRs) using a multivariable Cox frailty model with random intercepts to account for centre clustering.

paleo diet, paleolithic diet, caveman diet

“Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”

Findings

During follow-up, we documented 5796 deaths and 4784 major cardiovascular disease events. Higher carbohydrate intake was associated with an increased risk of total mortality (highest [quintile 5] vs lowest quintile [quintile 1] category, HR 1·28 [95% CI 1·12–1·46], ptrend=0·0001) but not with the risk of cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular disease mortality. Intake of total fat and each type of fat was associated with lower risk of total mortality (quintile 5 vs quintile 1, total fat: HR 0·77 [95% CI 0·67–0·87], ptrend<0·0001; saturated fat, HR 0·86 [0·76–0·99], ptrend=0·0088; monounsaturated fat: HR 0·81 [0·71–0·92], ptrend<0·0001; and polyunsaturated fat: HR 0·80 [0·71–0·89], ptrend<0·0001). Higher saturated fat intake was associated with lower risk of stroke (quintile 5 vs quintile 1, HR 0·79 [95% CI 0·64–0·98], ptrend=0·0498). Total fat and saturated and unsaturated fats were not significantly associated with risk of myocardial infarction or cardiovascular disease mortality.

Interpretation

High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality. Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke. Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings.

Source: Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study – The Lancet

My Solution to the U.S. Opioid Crisis

Not your typical street-level drug pusher, but a great source of oxycodone

The mainstream news outlets in the U.S. tell us we are in the midst of a narcotic use epidemic. People are dropping like flies from overdose.

Narcotics are also called opioids. I’m talking about oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), morphine, fentanyl, heroin, etc. Not Xanax, Ativan, or Valium.

On average, it takes three weeks of daily narcotic use to get physically dependent on it. “Dependent” means that when you stop the drug completely and suddenly, your body may crave it and you could have withdrawal symptoms. The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person. Possible symptoms include anxiety, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, restless legs, weakness, easy fatigue, shaking, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, and muscle pain or cramps.

Good and bad news, bad news first: Narcotic withdrawal can be very uncomfortable but rarely causes medically serious complications. The serious complications are usually in folks with pre-existing heart disease, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, or heart rhythm disturbances.

Here’s how you stop your chronic daily narcotic habit without suffering a withdrawal syndrome (if needed, see the postscript for an example):

  1. Total up your current total daily dose in milligrams
  2. Determine 10% of the amount by dividing the milligrams by 10
  3. Reduce your daily milligram intake by that 10% every week
  4. Nine weeks later you’ll be off narcotics

Congratulations! You’ve done your part to solve America’s opioid crisis. You’ve reduced your drug bill, avoided Opiate Use Disorder, and reduced your risk of narcotic overdose death by 100%. And you did it without political meddling or an expensive stay at a detox center.

Be aware that as you taper off your narcotic, you may have a flare of an underlying psychiatric condition such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, or psychosis. If so, see a mental health professional posthaste.

Good luck, America!

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Take Percocet 10/325 for example. It’s 10 mg of oxycodone and 325 mg of acetaminophen. Say you’re taking Percocet 10/325, four pills at at time, four times a day. That’s a total daily oxydocodone dose of 160 mg (16 pills x 10 mg). 160 mg divided by 10 = 16 mg. We have to round off 16 mg to 15 mg due to the availability of various strengths of Percocet. So starting today, you reduce your daily oxycontin dose by 15 g, which is one-and-a-half pills. After one week, you reduce your daily pill count by another one-and-a-half pills. Etc.

PPS: Let you’re doctor know what you’re doing beforehand. He’ll be overjoyed and ensure it’s safe for you to do this taper.

Who Said the Paleo Diet Cures Dementia?

Christopher E. Pitt, a general practitioner in Australia, wrote an article in 2016 questioning the safety of the paleo diet and veracity of some of its more prominent advocates. Dr. Pitt reviewed most of the available scientific studies and concluded:

Overall, conclusions about the effectiveness of the Palaeolithic diet should be considered cautiously. Positive findings should be tempered by the lack of power of these studies, which were limited by their small numbers, heterogeneity and short duration. Nevertheless, there appears to be enough evidence to warrant further consideration of the Palaeolithic diet as a potential dietary option in the management of metabolic diseases. Larger independent trials with consistent methodology and longer duration are required to confirm the initial promise in these early studies. Claims that the Palaeolithic diet could treat or prevent conditions such as autism, dementia and mental illness are not supported by clinical research.

The Palaeolithic diet is currently over-hyped and under-researched. While the claims made by its celebrity proponents are not supported by current evidence, the Palaeolithic diet may be of benefit in the management of various metabolic derangements. Further research is warranted to test these early findings. GPs should caution patients on the Palaeolithic diet about adequate calcium intake, especially those at higher risk of osteoporosis.

I’ve read most of the clinical studies cited by Dr. Pitt and reviewed them here, except I don’t recall the Bligh study. [Bligh HF, Godsland IF, Frost G, et al. Plant-rich mixed meals based on Palaeolithic diet principles have a dramatic impact on incretin, peptide YY and satiety response, but show little effect on glucose and insulin homeostasis: An acute-effects randomised study. Br J Nutr 2015;113:574–84.]

I’m not going to address Dr. Pitt’s article point by point. I merely bring it to your attention for your consideration. I will say I think Dr. Pitt is being too deferential to entrenched and sclerotic “authoritative” panels (e.g., Australian dietary guidelines). I was the same until 2009. Regarding calcium, you’ll find my assessment via the search box above and to the right.

I certainly agree with Dr. Pitt that the paleo diet is no panacea, and that further research is warranted.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Weight-Loss Diets Don’t Work: True or False?

Does A Whole Food Plant-Based Diet Work?

Carb-rich whole-grain bread

Depends on how you define “work.”

New Zealand researchers found significant long-term weight loss and improved cholesterol levels over six and 12 months with a low-fat vegetarian diet. Surprisingly, this was accomplished without restriction on calories and without an exercise component. Weight loss measured at six months was 27 lb (12.1 kg) and they only gained a little back by six months later.

The authors think the successful weight loss was from “… the reduction in the energy density of the food consumed (lower fat, higher water and fibre). Multiple intervention participants stated ‘not being hungry’ was important in enabling adherence.”

I scanned the article pretty quickly and don’t see that they referred to the diet as vegetarian. Here’s their test diet description:

We chose a low-fat iteration of the plant-based diet [7–15% if calories as fat] as this has been shown with previous research to achieve optimal outcomes, especially for heart disease and weight loss. This dietary approach included whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. Participants were advised to eat until satiation. We placed no restriction on total energy intake. Participants were asked to not count calories. We provided a ‘traffic-light’ diet chart to participants outlining which foods to consume, limit or avoid. We encouraged starches such as potatoes, sweet potato, bread, cereals and pasta to satisfy the appetite. Participants were asked to avoid refined oils (e.g. olive or coconut oil) and animal products (meat, fish, eggs and dairy products). We discouraged high-fat plant foods such as nuts and avocados, and highly processed foods. We encouraged participants to minimise sugar, salt and caffeinated beverages.

Perfect diet compliance would make this a vegan diet. I didn’t catch it in the text of the article, but I’m guessing protein calories were 10–15% of the total, and carbohydrates were around 75%.

The researchers called their investigation the BROAD study. All study subjects were overweight or obese adults. A control group ate their regular foods. The intervention group eating the whole food plant-based diet numbered 33, including 7 with type 2 diabetes. All studies like this have people that drop out. I.e., they quit or otherwise get lost to follow-up. Of the intervention group, 75% lasted for six months, 70% stuck with it for the entire 12 months.

There weren’t enough diabetics in the study to make statistically significant conclusions, but the authors write, “Hemoglobin A1c reductions favoured the intervention and all intervention patients with a diabetes diagnosis improved while adherent, and two resolved their condition by HbA1c.”

I’d love to see these researchers repeat this study with 50–100 overweight or obese folks with T2 diabetes. Clearly, it’s a radically different diet than what I recommend for my patients with diabetes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: For science nerds, here’s the study abstract:

Background/Objective: There is little randomised evidence using a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet as intervention for elevated body mass index (BMI) or dyslipidaemia. We investigated the effectiveness of a community-based dietary programme. Primary end points: BMI and cholesterol at 6 months (subsequently extended).

Subjects: Ages 35–70, from one general practice in Gisborne, New Zealand. Diagnosed with obesity or overweight and at least one of type 2 diabetes, ischaemic heart disease, hypertension or hypercholesterolaemia. Of 65 subjects randomised (control n=32, intervention n=33), 49 (75.4%) completed the study to 6 months. Twenty-three (70%) intervention participants were followed up at 12 months.

Methods: All participants received normal care. Intervention participants attended facilitated meetings twice-weekly for 12 weeks, and followed a non-energy-restricted WFPB diet with vitamin B12 supplementation.

Results: At 6 months, mean BMI reduction was greater with the WFPB diet compared with normal care (4.4 vs 0.4, difference: 3.9 kg m−2 (95% confidence interval (CI)±1), P<0.0001). Mean cholesterol reduction was greater with the WFPB diet, but the difference was not significant compared with normal care (0.71 vs 0.26, difference: 0.45 mmol l−1 (95% CI±0.54), P=0.1), unless dropouts were excluded (difference: 0.56 mmol l−1 (95% CI±0.54), P=0.05). Twelve-month mean reductions for the WFPB diet group were 4.2 (±0.8) kg m−2 BMI points and 0.55 (±0.54, P=0.05) mmol l−1 total cholesterol. No serious harms were reported.

Conclusions: This programme led to significant improvements in BMI, cholesterol and other risk factors. To the best of our knowledge, this research has achieved greater weight loss at 6 and 12 months than any other trial that does not limit energy intake or mandate regular exercise.

Source: Nutrition & Diabetes – The BROAD study: A randomised controlled trial using a whole food plant-based diet in the community for obesity, ischaemic heart disease or diabetes

For T2 Diabetes: Diet, Exercise Better Than Drugs According to Canadian University Study

Exercise is more helpful for preventing weight gain than for inducing weight loss

From the Vancouver Sun:

“Taking medication to tightly control and lower blood glucose levels is the advice frequently given by doctors to the 400,000 British Columbia residents with Type 2 diabetes — but it’s a “misguided” approach, according to the University of B.C. Therapeutics Initiative [the TI].

More than $1 billion is spent annually on diabetes drugs in this province, but in its latest bulletin to doctors, the TI says a growing body of research casts doubt on the effectiveness of Type 2 diabetes treatment. Doctors should focus instead on prescribing lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, exercise and healthier diets instead of medications to many patients, it says.

Type 2 diabetes, characterized by resistance to insulin, is largely caused by obesity, lack of exercise, high-carbohydrate diets and aging.”

Source: Type 2 diabetes: Exercise, diet better than medicine, says UBC study | Vancouver Sun

Read the short article for an opposing viewpoint. Namely, some diabetes drugs may help prevent cardiovascular disease (I’m not yet convinced).

h/t The Low Carb Diabetic

Hey, I know a diet that helps!

No degludec up in here!

Paleolithic Dieters: You May Have an Iodine Deficiency

A pinch of salt may cut the bitterness in a cup of coffee

An article in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that paleolithic-type diets may be deficient in iodine. See my comment after the link below.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:

Different diets are used for weight loss. A Paleolithic-type diet (PD) has beneficial metabolic effects, but two of the largest iodine sources, table salt and dairy products, are excluded. The objectives of this study were to compare 24-h urinary iodine concentration (24-UIC) in subjects on PD with 24-UIC in subjects on a diet according to the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) and to study if PD results in a higher risk of developing iodine deficiency (ID), than NNR diet.

SUBJECTS/METHODS:

A 2-year prospective randomized trial in a tertiary referral center where healthy postmenopausal overweight or obese women were randomized to either PD (n=35) or NNR diet (n=35). Dietary iodine intake, 24-UIC, 24-h urinary iodine excretion (24-UIE), free thyroxin (FT4), free triiodothyronine (FT3) and thyrotropin (TSH) were measured at baseline, 6 and 24 months. Completeness of urine sampling was monitored by para-aminobenzoic acid and salt intake by urinary sodium.

RESULTS:

At baseline, median 24-UIC (71.0 μg/l) and 24-UIE (134.0 μg/d) were similar in the PD and NNR groups. After 6 months, 24-UIC had decreased to 36.0 μg/l (P=0.001) and 24-UIE to 77.0 μg/d (P=0.001) in the PD group; in the NNR group, levels were unaltered. FT4, TSH and FT3 were similar in both groups, except for FT3 at 6 months being lower in PD than in NNR group.

CONCLUSIONS:

A PD results in a higher risk of developing ID, than a diet according to the NNR. Therefore, we suggest iodine supplementation should be considered when on a PD.

(European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 13 September 2017; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2017.134.PMID: 28901333 DOI: 10.1038/ejcn.2017.134)

Source: A Paleolithic-type diet results in iodine deficiency: a 2-year randomized trial in postmenopausal obese women. – PubMed – NCBI

Parker here. I thought I knew a little about the Paleolithic diet, so was surprised to read above that table salt is excluded. It’s not excluded from the Paleobetic Diet. Most table salt purchased in the U.S. iodine-fortified. The introduction of iodized salt in the U.S. in 1924 raised IQ in iodine-deficient regions by 15 points!