Research Round-Up


I have a stack of scientific articles I’ve been meaning to review in depth and blog about.  But I have to finally admit I don’t have the time.  Here they are.  Click through for details.

  1. Long-term calorie restriction in humans appears highly effective in reducing atherosclerosis risk factors (lab tests) and actual carotid artery atherosclerosis. Only 18 study subjects, however.
  2. A very-low-carbohydrate diet improved memory in older adults with mild cognitive impairment over six weeks.  Twenty-three subjects were randomized to either high-carb or very-low-carbohydrate diet.  The low-carbers improved verbal memory performance, lost weight, reduced fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin levels.  Ketone levels were positively correlated with memory performance.
  3. A high-fat diet impairs cognitive function and heart energy metabolism in young men.  Sixteen test subjects.  Crossover study design with a five-day high-fat diet deriving 75% of energy from fat, compared to a low-fat diet deriving 23% of energy from fat.  High-fat diet led to impaired attention, speed, and mood.  I’m sure low-carb bloggers have been all over this.  At first blush, it appears they were testing during “induction flu” phase of very-low-carb eating, between days 2 to 7 of a new ketogenic diet.  It takes several weeks to adapt metabolism to running almost entirely on fat rather than standard carbohydrates.  Suspect results would have been different if given time to adapt.
  4. Weight-loss with the laparoscopic gastric banding procedure has poor long-term outcome, according to Belgian surgeons reporting on 82 patients.  Four in 10 patients had major complications.  Nearly half of the 82 patients needed to have the bands removed, and six of every 10 required some kind of re-operation.
  5. Trust me, you DON’T want age-related macular degeneration.  Women, reduce your risk of ARMD with a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, avoidance of smoking,  and by eating abundant plant foods (vegetables [including orange and dark leafy green ones], fruits, and whole grains) and limit foods high in fat, refined starches, sugar, alcohol, and oils.  At least according to these researchers. 
  6. Leafy green vegetables and olive oil are linked to reduced heart disease (CHD) in Italian women.  Fruit consumption had no effect.  This is from a subset of the huge EPIC study, following 30,000 women over almost eight years.
  7. The Mediterranean diet protects against metabolic syndrome, reducing risk by about a third according to a huge meta-analysis from Greek and Italian investigators.  It works best in Mediterranean countries. 
  8. The Mediterranean diet was linked to slower rates of cognitive decline in Chicago residents over the course of almost eight years.  The comparison diet was the Healthy Eating Index-2005.  Of the 3,800 participants, about two-thirds were black.  A Manhattan population showed lower risk of dementia when eating Mediterranean-style.

There ya’ go.  This is better than letting the articles just sit in my briefcase for months on end, eventually to be thrown out.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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