An 11 year study proves that reducing animal protein decreases risk of Metabolic Syndrome

The general advice for a healthy diet is less meat and dairy and more vegetables, legumes, grains and fish. Managing weight, reducing cholesterol and systemic inflammation are some of the reasons for reducing meat and increasing plant based nutrients. A recent study shows that after following people’s diets for 11 years , the people who ate more meat were more likely to develop Metabolic Syndrome. Here’s the study below

Dietary protein from different food sources, incident metabolic syndrome and changes in its components: An 11-year longitudinal study in healthy community-dwelling adults


Background & aims

Limited data are available on the relationship of protein from different food sources with metabolic syndrome (MetS) or changes in its components. We aimed to prospectively examine the relationships of protein intakes from animal, plant and major food groups with incident MetS and changes in its components.


5324 participants from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, hyperlipidaemia, elevated plasma glucose, elevated blood pressure and elevated waist circumference (WC) at baseline (1990–1994), were included in the present investigation. Dietary intake was assessed using a validated 121-item Food Frequency Questionnaire and MetS components were measured at baseline and follow-up (2003–2007).


We documented 459 new cases of MetS during a mean of 11.2 years’ follow-up. Multivariate-adjusted odds ratios (ORs) (95% CI) of incident MetS for the highest compared with lowest quartile of percentage energy intake from total, animal and plant protein were 1.46 (1.01–2.10), 1.67 (1.13–2.48) and 0.60 (0.37–0.97), respectively. Positive associations with incident MetS were seen for protein from chicken (OR (95% CI): 1.37 (1.00, 1.87)) and red meat (OR (95% CI): 1.47 (1.01, 2.15)), while inverse associations with incident MetS were observed for protein from grains (OR (95% CI): 0.62 (0.40, 0.97)), legumes and nuts (OR (95% CI): 0.74 (0.53, 1.04)). Each 5% increment in energy intake from animal protein was associated with a 0.97 cm (95% CI: 0.50, 1.45) increase in WC, a 0.97 mmHg (95% CI: 0.13, 1.82) increase in systolic blood pressure, and a 0.94 kg (95% CI: 0.57, 1.32) increase in weight over 11 years. However, an inverse association between plant protein and change in WC (−1.38 cm (95% CI: −2.68, −0.07)) and weight (−1.97 kg (95% CI: −3.00, −0.94)) was identified.


Our findings suggest that higher plant protein and lower animal protein consumption may help to prevent MetS.

Broccoli protects your gut from chemical toxins

Broccoli is much more than a  great source of nutrients. It contains phytochemicals that help protect your gut from damage by toxic chemicals.

A recent study proved that Broccoli activates  a protective ligand called AHR. AHR protect cells in the intestinal tract from fibrosis and helps suppress inflammation.

It would be very hard to avoid in-digesting any traces of harmful chemicals so it’s good to know that eating broccoli , other cruciferous vegetables  and fruits  help protect our gastrointestinal tract from the toxins in our environment.

In contrast eating junk food provides no protection of your gastrointestinal lining, it causes inflammation,  delivers toxins into your gut and a heap of empty calories that usually end up as fat.



Troy D. Hubbard, Iain A. Murray, Robert G. Nichols, Kaitlyn Cassel, Michael Podolsky, Guray Kuzu, Yuan Tian, Phillip Smith, Mary J. Kennett, Andrew D. Patterson, Gary H. Perdew, Dietary broccoli impacts microbial community structure and attenuates chemically induced colitis in mice in an Ah receptor dependent manner, In Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 37, 2017, Pages 685-698, ISSN 1756-4646,

Consumption of broccoli mediates numerous chemo-protective benefits through the intake of phytochemicals, some of which modulate aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) activity. Whether AHR activation is a critical aspect of the therapeutic potential of dietary broccoli is not known. Here we administered isocaloric diets, with or without supplementation of whole broccoli (15% w/w), to congenic mice expressing the high-affinity Ahrb/b or low-affinity Ahrd/d alleles,for 24 days and examined the effects on AHR activity, intestinal microbial community structure, inflammatory status, and response to chemically induced colitis. Cecal microbial community structure and metabolic potential were segregated according to host dietary and AHR status. Dietary broccoli associated with heightened intestinal AHR activity, decreased microbial abundance of the family Erysipelotrichaceae, and attenuation of colitis. In summary, broccoli consumption elicited an enhanced response in ligand-sensitive Ahrb/b mice, demonstrating that in part the beneficial aspects of dietary broccoli upon intestinal health are associated with heightened AHR activity.

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all nutrition.

Diets are fads. None work as they claim to do. Diets are the  snakes oil cure for a post war problem. The consumption of high calorie high sugar processed foods that lead us to becoming overweight and the obesity epidemic.

There are so many myths about food and diets that go unquestioned we’ve forgotten to listen to our body and remember what people used to eat before processed foods were mass produced and fruit and vegetables were imported.  Today we can eat our favourite fruit all year round. Unfortunately  non-organic food is produced on such a massive scale that their nutritional value has dropped considerably since post war era.

People used to only eat what was available during the seasons. They ate whole foods and hormone and antibiotic free meat. Now we eat whatever we want when we want and without question. We put on weight, become unhappy with our body shape and decide to choose a diet. The diet usually fails.  But there is another diet that may work and that is your diet. The one that works for you. Of course all humans need certain nutrients and we know that vegetables and fruits, nuts and source of EFAs, and some meats are an important part of any diet.

We also know that too much of one type of food can be detrimental to our health. Perhaps the most important thing is eating the infamous “balanced diet” and also being aware of our needs throughout life and as the seasons change. You are usually going to better off ignoring your afternoon craving for mars bars but craving red meat or leafy greens is useful information and a  clue we are in need of nutrients from these food sources. Once you stop the junk , return to home cooking and whole foods you will crave healthy foods not empty calories that leave you feeling unsatisfied.

Ever our bacteria in our gut influences what we crave and how we metabolise food. So don’t believe the hyperbole , follow you gut instinct. Your little friends may be trying to tell you something .

Here’s a short article below that explains how the composition of our gut microbiota can determine whether we are better off on brown or white bread.

Author:  posted on

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all nutrition. In 2015, researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel laid the foundation for this statement with an article that proved that each of us metabolises food differently due, in part, to gut microbiota.

Researcher Niv Zmora explained to Gut Microbiota for Health the main results of that study during the GMFH World Summit held in Paris in March 2017.

Now, this same team has focused on bread, one of the most frequently consumed foods worldwide. And they have shed some light on one of the eternal questions in nutrition: is it healthier to eat white bread or brown bread? Until now, nutrition experts often shunned white bread because of its low fibre content and potential to spike the blood sugar.

For the study, published in Cell Metabolism, Israeli researchers recruited 20 healthy people; half ate whole-wheat sourdough bread and the other half white bread for a week. Then both groups took a two-week break and switched bread diets.

Researchers measured 20 health markers and focused on blood sugar levels after eating, what is known as the glycaemic response, a biological measurement of how quickly the body can process glucose consumed in the food.

The scientists found that on average, neither of the breads emerged as less likely to affect blood sugar.

For first author Eran Elinav, “The findings of this study are not only fascinating but potentially very important, because they point toward a new paradigm: different people react differently, even to the same foods”.

So, according to the results of the study, individuals can differ in their response to the same food, in this case bread, due to individual differences in the gut microbiota. So there is no good or bad bread, but it depends on each person’s gut microbiota.

The findings of this new research are linked with other current research from the Weizmann Institute of Science and to a series of earlier studies that suggested diets should be tailored to each person’s gut microbiota in order to maximize health benefits.





Korem T, Zeevi D, Zmora N, et al. Bread affects clinical parameters and induces gut microbiome-associated personal glycemic responsesCell Metabolism. 2017. DOI:

Moderate Drinking Tied to Lower Diabetes Risk – A NYT Article

Researchers used data on 28,704 men and 41,847 women free of diabetes at the start who reported how often they drank and the amounts of alcohol consumed. They followed the group for an average of five years. The observational study is in Diabetologia.

After adjusting for diet, family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, physical activity, smoking and other factors, they found that compared with abstainers, men who drank 14 drinks a week had a 43 percent lower risk of diabetes, and women who drank nine drinks a week a 58 percent lower risk. The mechanism is unknown, and the study could not distinguish between different types of drinks.

Consuming alcohol three to four days a week, compared with only once, was also associated with a lower risk, even after adjusting for the amount of alcohol consumed. The senior author, Janne S. Tolstrup, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark, said that spacing out your drinks over the week may be at least as important as the amount consumed.

“Keep consumption at moderate levels,” she said, “about seven drinks a week for women and 14 for men. Alcohol is associated with many diseases and conditions — at the same level where it may protect against diabetes, the risk of other diseases is increased.

Here’s the Danish study

Alcohol drinking patterns and risk of diabetes: a cohort study of 70,551 men and women from the general Danish population


Alcohol consumption is inversely associated with diabetes, but little is known about the role of drinking patterns. We examined the association between alcohol drinking patterns and diabetes risk in men and women from the general Danish population.


This cohort study was based on data from the Danish Health Examination Survey 2007–2008. Of the 76,484 survey participants, 28,704 men and 41,847 women were eligible for this study. Participants were followed for a median of 4.9 years. Self-reported questionnaires were used to obtain information on alcohol drinking patterns, i.e. frequency of alcohol drinking, frequency of binge drinking, and consumption of wine, beer and spirits, from which we calculated beverage-specific and overall average weekly alcohol intake. Information on incident cases of diabetes was obtained from the Danish National Diabetes Register. Cox proportional hazards model was applied to estimate HRs and 95% CIs.


During follow-up, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes. The lowest risk of diabetes was observed at 14 drinks/week in men (HR 0.57 [95% CI 0.47, 0.70]) and at 9 drinks/week in women (HR 0.42 [95% CI 0.35, 0.51]), relative to no alcohol intake. Compared with current alcohol consumers consuming <1 day/week, consumption of alcohol on 3–4 days weekly was associated with significantly lower risk for diabetes in men (HR 0.73 [95% CI 0.59, 0.94]) and women (HR 0.68 [95% CI 0.53, 0.88]) after adjusting for confounders and average weekly alcohol amount.


Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over 3–4 days per week is associated with the lowest risk of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account.

Your guide to the difference between fermented foods and probiotics

A useful article from Gut Microbiota New Watch


For many years, humans have known that bacteria and other microorganisms are capable of transforming food substratesmaking them both tasty and nutritious. More and more, chefs and other food-makers are putting bacteria to work to produce fermented foods. With delicious results.

Besides flavour, though, are there other reasons to seek out fermented foods? Scientists around the world are trying to answer this question by studying the possible health benefits of consuming live cultures.

Robert (Bob) Hutkins, Professor of Food Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA), studies bacteria in fermented foods and factors that affect their survival in the gastrointestinal tract. In untangling the health benefits we can attribute to fermented foods, he says, it’s important to address the common misconception that fermented foods are the same thing as “probiotics”—the latter being live bacteria that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate numbers, according to the definition set by an international panel of experts in both 2001 and 2014.

“Not all fermented foods contain live organisms,” Hutkins tells GMFH editors. “Beer and wine, for example, undergo steps that remove the organisms [like yeasts that allow fermentation]. Other fermented foods are heat-treated and the organisms are inactivated. Bread is baked and sauerkraut is often canned. So while these foods may be nutritious, they do not have probiotic activity.”

He continues, “That being said, there are still lots of fermented foods that do contain live organisms, including yogurt and other [fermented] dairy foods, most cheeses, non-heated sauerkraut and kimchi, even many of the European-style dry fermented sausages.”

So then, can the term probiotic be applied to the subset of fermented foods that do contain live microorganisms when consumed? Hutkins says it cannot: “The live organisms present in these products are there for one main reason – to perform the fermentation (i.e., convert milk into yogurt or cheese, or cabbage into kimchi). These cultures do not necessarily have any probiotic functions. By definition, probiotics must ‘confer a health benefit’. That means the probiotic must have been characterized and have clinical evidence of a health benefit. Cultures are not probiotic unless they have met this requirement.”

Click on link to read the full article 

Gut Microbiota News Watch

About the Author

Kristina Campbell
Science writer Kristina Campbell (M.Sc.), from British Columbia (Canada), specializes in communicating about the gut microbiota, digestive health, and nutrition. Author of the best selling Well-Fed Microbiome Cookbook, her freelance work has appeared in publications around the world. Kristina joined the Gut Microbiota for Health publishing team in 2014

What are Prebiotics and why we need them

Prebiotics are a very specific type of food. While many of the food ingredients we consume are digested immediately, prebiotics are a healthy non-digestible food ingredient. When the non-digestible ingredient reaches our large intestines, it allows for growth of bio-cultures . This can provide good digestive health. The positive effects prebiotics have by reaching the intestine in an unaltered form is known as the prebiotic effect.


Prebiotic Effect

A prebiotic effect occurs when there is an increase in the activity of healthy bacteria in the human intestine. The prebiotics stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the gut and increase resistance to invading pathogens. These foods induce metabolic activity, leading to health improvements. Healthy bacteria in the intestine can combat unwanted bacteria, which are associated  with many diseases and gut complaints.

Prebiotic sources

An example of some prebiotic sources you will find in your local store or supermarket are: –

  • raw Jerusalem artichoke.
  • raw garlic.
  • raw leeks.
  • raw or cooked onions.

However not all prebiotics sources are the same and often prebiotic powders with high concentrations of  more potent prebiotics can be useful as part of a treatment plan for many gut problems and also just for supplementation. For example a good source of chicory Root (containing inulin ) will help the bacteria  in your gut to produce large amounts of short chain fatty acids, a vital nutrient for gut cells and for metabolism of fats and glucose.

Some Health Benefits of Prebiotics

A recent study reported


  • The gut microbiota influences metabolic syndrome-associated alterations.
  • Prebiotics reduces peripheral and brain inflammation in obese db/db mice.
  • Link between prebiotics, hippocampal neurogenesis and spatial memory.


Mounting evidence shows that the gut microbiota, an important player within the gut-brain communication axis, can affect metabolism, inflammation, brain function and behavior. Interestingly, gut microbiota composition is known to be altered in patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS), who also often display neuropsychiatric symptoms. The use of prebiotics, which beneficially alters the microbiota, may therefore be a promising way to potentially improve physical and mental health in MetS patients.

This hypothesis was tested in a mouse model of MetS, namely the obese and type-2 diabetic db/db mice, which display emotional and cognitive alterations associated with changes in gut microbiota composition and hippocampal inflammation compared to their lean db/+ littermates. We assessed the impact of chronic administration (8 weeks) of prebiotics (oligofructose) on both metabolic (body weight, food intake, glucose homeostasis) and behavioral (increased anxiety-like behavior and impaired spatial memory) alterations characterizing db/db mice, as well as related neurobiological correlates, with particular attention to neuroinflammatory processes.

Prebiotic administration improved excessive food intake and glycemic dysregulations (glucose tolerance and insulin resistance) in db/db mice. This was accompanied by an increase of plasma anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 levels and hypothalamic mRNA expression of the anorexigenic cytokine IL-1β, whereas unbalanced mRNA expression of hypothalamic orexigenic (NPY) and anorexigenic (CART, POMC) peptides was unchanged. We also detected signs of improved blood-brain-barrier integrity in the hypothalamus of oligofructose-treated db/dbmice (normalized expression of tight junction proteins ZO-1 and occludin). On the contrary, prebiotic administration did not improve behavioral alterations and associated reduction of hippocampal neurogenesis displayed by db/db mice, despite normalization of increased hippocampal IL-6 mRNA expression. Of note, we found a relationship between the effect of treatment on dentate gyrus neurons and spatial memory. These findings may prove valuable for introducing novel approaches to treat some of the comorbidities associated with MetS.



Artificially sweetened soft drink consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia.

A cohort study published in journal Stroke has implicated diet soft drinks in increasing risk of stroke and dementia. Another good reason to stay away from drinks that are naturally sweetened, better still filtered drink water.

Here’s the study abstract below

Background and Purpose—Sugar- and artificially-sweetened beverage intake have been linked to cardiometabolic risk factors, which increase the risk of cerebrovascular disease and dementia. We examined whether sugar- or artificially sweetened beverage consumption was associated with the prospective risks of incident stroke or dementia in the community-based Framingham Heart Study Offspring cohort.

Methods—We studied 2888 participants aged >45 years for incident stroke (mean age 62 [SD, 9] years; 45% men) and 1484 participants aged >60 years for incident dementia (mean age 69 [SD, 6] years; 46% men). Beverage intake was quantified using a food-frequency questionnaire at cohort examinations 5 (1991–1995), 6 (1995–1998), and 7 (1998–2001). We quantified recent consumption at examination 7 and cumulative consumption by averaging across examinations. Surveillance for incident events commenced at examination 7 and continued for 10 years. We observed 97 cases of incident stroke (82 ischemic) and 81 cases of incident dementia (63 consistent with Alzheimer’s disease).

Results—After adjustments for age, sex, education (for analysis of dementia), caloric intake, diet quality, physical activity, and smoking, higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease dementia. When comparing daily cumulative intake to 0 per week (reference), the hazard ratios were 2.96 (95% confidence interval, 1.26–6.97) for ischemic stroke and 2.89 (95% confidence interval, 1.18–7.07) for Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar-sweetened beverages were not associated with stroke or dementia.

Conclusions—Artificially sweetened soft drink consumption was associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia.

How Vitamin D can help manage Multiple Sclerosis by protecting the nervous system.


There is evidence that Vitamin D Deficiency is associated with Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended to protect against progression of MS. In a study published in 2013, in JAMA Neurology the researchers found that higher serum 25(OH)D levels in the first 12 months predicted reduced MS activity and a slower rate of MS progression. By the end of the follow-up at 5 years, participants with serum 25(OH)D concentrations of at least 50 nmol/L (20-ng/mL, a moderate level) had significantly fewer new active lesions, a slower increase in brain lesion volume, lower loss of brain volume, and lower disability than those with serum 25(OH)D concentrations below 50 nmol/L. These results suggest that vitamin D has a protective effect on the disease process underlying MS. (

In a new study (below) published  in October 2016, the authors report how the active form of Vitamin D helps to reduce the inflammatory factors that destroy the myelination of the central nervous system and also helps restore a healthy immune function preventing the destructive demyelination of nerves.

Vitamin D modulates different IL-17-secreting T cell subsets in multiple sclerosis patients

Vitamin D deficiency is an environmental risk factor for MS, a Th17 cell-mediated autoimmune disease that results in demyelination in the CNS. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the ability of in vitro 1,25(OH)2D in modulating different Th17 cell subsets in MS patients in remission phase. In the present study, the production of Th17-related cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-17, IL-22), as well as GM-CSF, was significantly higher in cell cultures from MS patients than in healthy subjects (HS). The 1,25(OH)2D reduced all pro-inflammatory cytokines essayed, mainly those released from HS cell cultures. The proportion of both IL-17+IFN-γ+ (CD4+ and CD8+) T cells and IL-17+IFN-γCD8+ T cells was positively related with neurological disorders, determined by EDSS score. The addition of 1,25(OH)2D reduced not only these pathogenic T cell subsets but elevated the percentage of IL-10-secreting conventional (FoxP3+CD25+CD127CD4+) and non-conventional (IL-17+) regulatory-like T cells. Taken together, the results indicate that the active form of vitamin D should benefit MS patients by attenuating the percentage of pathogenic T cells. This effect could be direct and/or indirect, by enhancing classical and non-classical regulatory T cells.


Vitamin D modulates different IL-17-secreting T cell subsets in multiple sclerosis patients – da Costa, Denise S.M. Medrado et al. Journal of Neuroimmunology , Volume 299 , 8 – 18

Do you think holistically about your health?

Looking at your health holistically emphasises the important of the whole body and the interdependence of its parts. This perspective changes our how we talk about ourselves. Instead of saying body and mind, we can say mind-body accepting there is no separation of these two concepts. Some might say they think holistically about their health when in fact they  still  see their  body and mind as separate. Most of us accept distress and mood affect our health, but we might overlook that the internal state of our body can affect our mind,  our feelings and behaviour. The Gut-brain-axis  is an example of the interdependency of many life-sustaining systems that are influenced  by the  constant bi-directional communication between our gut and our brain. It is a reminder we are not in control of our bodies , our bodies are often in control of our minds.

Here’s a some examples of how our body affects our mind/brain.

When you get a cold or flu , the immune system sends messages (cytokines) to the brain to tell you are sick .The brain then does numerous things to protect the body from infection including turning up  the body temperature to create a fever to kill the virus. The brain activates many immune functions  and research has shown these cause behaviours that are characteristic with feeling depressed, for example: – withdrawing from people, fatigue, irritability, and feeling flat.

There are thousands of species of bacteria in your body and some thrive on certain types of food and will perish when deprived of its favourite diet. Bacteria cause cravings for certain foods that it needs. So is it you who craves sugary drinks or your tiny friends/foes? When you change your diet your bacteria population changes and the craving for food will change. When I find some good studies on this I will share them with you.

Food and drink can make you feel anxious, restless, irritable and even depressed. Your gut is constantly communicating to your brain about how it is.  When your gut is under attack from toxic substances from processed foods or drinks it informs the brain so you are aware you have  something inside that probably shouldn’t have. This process activates the immune system and stress system to protect you from the toxic chemicals. These changes affect your mood. There is  research that up to 60% of people who are diagnosed with a gut complaint (e.g. IBS, IBD, SIBO, Gastritis) also suffer from mood disorders (anxiety, depression, OCD). This is more than coincidence. Our guts produce many hormones that influence our mood. One prime example if serotonin . An hormone associated with the brain, which is true to some extend , but serotonin is key to gut motility and most of it is produced in our gastrointestinal tract. When our gut doesn’t work well it can have a profound affect on production of serotonin and this affects our mood.

Don’t underestimate the profound influence your gastrointestinal tract has on how you feel. The reward for giving up junk food is that you are going to feel happier and have more energy.








Are you still feeding your family margarine ? Time to switch to butter

Butter  has many benefits for your health and if you still believe the hyperbole that margarine is more healthy and butter is bad than you are still buying into out-dated health advice based on weak and questionable scientific theories. Here’s some reasons to return butter to your fridge and give it to the whole family.

  1. Butter contains healthy fats which help raise HDL (the good cholesterol )
  2. Butter in modest amounts will not make you put on weight or increase your risk of heart attack
  3. Butter has anti-inflammatory properties
  4. Butter contains vitamins A, E and K2


Grass fed butter is best , but any real butter is a wiser option than margarine. For one thing margarine contains emulsifiers and emulsifiers kills the good bacteria in your gut , which is not what you want for your growing children who need the bacteria for a healthy digestion and strong immunity.