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.

New review shows a strong association between anxiety and metabolic syndrome (MetS)

A recent meta-analysis of previous studies on MetS and anxiety concluded that there is a strong association between MetS and anxiety. This is more evidence that chronic diseases often involve mood / psycho-emotional problems (

Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) is a major risk for heart disease and diabetes mellitus. MetS is also associated with systemic inflammation, which a risk factor for other chronic diseases like cancer. MetS refers to a cluster of abnormal changes in the body. MetS is diagnosed using a set of pathology tests and also clinical assessments. Lab tests include inflammatory markers (CRP), blood glucose levels, cholesterol, blood levels of triglycerides  and insulin levels. Clinical assessments of blood pressure, BMI and sometimes waist-to-hip ratio, are important indicators of those who are at risk for MetS and DBII.

It has been known for sometime depression is strongly associated with obesity and inflammation however MetS does not consider mood or psychological state as important indicators of those who are at risk of MetS or who have been diagnosed with it.  Depression is not a single disease but is a spectrum of mood / emotional and phycological symptoms that overlaps with anxiety disorders. It is common for people with depression to also feel anxious to the point it interferes with their lives. Many patients may suffer frequently from anxiety and depression and are treated for both.

Perhaps part of the reason for the lack of integration of psycho-emotional and psychical problems is that we live in a culture of specialization and reductionism. We typically  seek a psychologist for help with our mood , self-confidence or to change behaviour. We see a GP for physical problems.  In reality these compartmentalized  aspects of ourselves are not separate but one and science is beginning to reveal this with ample evidence that mind and body are an integrated system.

It is understandable people with MetS  suffer from anxiety . Anxiety is a prevalent in modern society and it can affect anyone. Being in an anxious state can drive behavior that leads to ill health. Self-medicating, excessive alcohol , lack of exercise, comfort eating , lack of sleep,  isolation are all associated with leading to one or more of the  abnormal changes that are measured for MetS.


Is working in an office really as unhealthy as smoking?

Well yes sitting down for eight hours a day is slowly killing you and shortening your lifespan equivalent to being a smoker.

Sitting for hours without any activity in the office and then coming home and slumping in front of the television is a ticket to an early grave so the experts are telling us. Good news is physical activity doesn’t mean high intensity training in the gym or running 5km every day. It means movement. but with some exertion e.g. do some chair squats, lunges, chair push-ups,  – who cares what your coworkers think they’ll be pushing up daises whilst you are reaping the benefits of a your office exercises.

Why not walk to a cafe that is a 10 min round trip , find some stairs and walk up and down them 5 times. Do something for a few minutes until you can feel your heart pumping.  This is more or less what the research is saying: do something for 5 minutes every hour in the office. I recommend  including real exercise in your weekly routine where you break a sweat and get your heart racing to 70% of your maximum. However the good news is that recent research says low intensity  frequent activity that adds up to an hour of movement seems to cancel out the deadly consequences of not moving at all.

Here’s some highlights from the article and a link to it

Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to combat the “deadly” risk of modern working life, a major study has found.

Sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent, the study of more than one million adults published in The Lancet found, with sedentary lifestyles now posing as great a threat to public health as smoking and causing more deaths than obesity.

Workers who spend several hours each day at their desk should change their routine to include a five-minute break every hour, as well as take exercise at lunchtimes and evenings, the study recommended.

An hour of brisk walking or cycling spread over a day was enough to combat the dangers of eight hours sitting in the office, the researchers said.

Current public health advice recommends just half this level of activity – yet almost half of women and one third of men fail to achieve even this.

Prof Ulf Ekelund, the lead scientist, from Cambridge University and the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, said: “We found that at least one hour of physical activity per day, for example brisk walking or cycling, eliminates the association between sitting time and death.”

He added: “You don’t need to do sport, you don’t need to go to the gym, it’s OK doing some brisk walking maybe in the morning, during your lunchtime, after dinner in the evening. You can split it up over the day but you need to do at least one hour.”

Researchers said the typical modern routine of spending a day in front of a computer, followed by an evening slumped in front of the television was proving fatal.

Five life-changing reasons to loose your belly fat

Five life-changing reasons to loose your belly fat

Belly fat gets a bad rap, but why? Well the fat around your belly is not  inert. Every fat cell is busy communicating with the rest of our body reinforcing a poor state of health that has implications on your future and what you die from. Belly fat causes low grade inflammation; it produces hormones that affect appetite and fat storage,  it impairs  energy metabolism  and belly fat is associated with insulin resistance, depressed mood and chronic stress to name a few. A little belly fat is probably ok, but how much belly fat is considered a health risk?



The Waist to hip ratio

The waist to hip ratio (WHR) has become a strong indicator of predicting a number of chronic debilitating illnesses including Type II diabetes, depression , chronic stress,  heart disease and increase your risk of many cancers. Evidence suggests the WHR is more reliable way to predict chronic disease like depression and type II diabetes. Another way to look at WHR is that
people with “apple-shaped” bodies (with more weight around the waist) face more health risks than those with “pear-shaped” bodies who carry more weight around the hips. For women this means they can be less concerned about their thighs and buttocks , but keeping the belly fat off is critical for a long healthy life.

The currently accepted guidelines for a healthy WHR and therefore better health and longevity is as follows: –

Men who have a WHR of more than 0.9  and Women who have a WHR ratio of more than 0.8 are at greater risk of chronic diseases and a shorter life.


So to recap there are many reasons to loose that excess belly fat, here’s five big one

  1. You are less likely to feel depressed, stressed or anxious.
  2. You are less likely to to develop Type II diabetes
  3. You reduce you risk of many cancers
  4. Your fertility is improved significantly
  5. You will live longer, have a greater vitality and have a healthier heart.

More evidence that resveratrol protects our brain and lowers diabetic markers

red wine

More evidence that resveratrol protects our brain and lowers diabetic markers

Resveratrol, a  phytochermical found in red wine, blueberries, dark chocolate and red grapes, is a popular supplement to take these days. It has a broad range of medicinal effects on the body with claims of anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective properties. Such claims stack up against  many in-vivo and in-vitro studies that demonstrate these properties.

In this recent published study of postischemic mice  (see abstract 1 for the science) the mice treated with resveratrol had less brain damage following a ischemic stroke. Inflammation was also lower in visceral fat tissue and the visceral fat cells had reduced in size.

Another study published this year measured the effect of resveratrol  on out-of-range / unhealthy metabolic markers. The study reported “The data showed that a higher dose of resvervatrol supplementation significantly lowered the concentration of glucose, plasma total cholesterol, total triglyceride concentrations, and hepatic cholesterol in high-fat-diet-fed mice”. (Yu et al, 2016. Resveratrol treatment improves plasma and blood glucose concentration and lipid metabolism in high-fat-fed C57BL/6J mice. 10.1007/s00217-016-2684-2. )

If you are considering taking resveratrol then that could be a good thing. However do you know the correct daily dose for your condition? Do you know this is all your need ? and are you doing this instead making necessary lifestyle changes?

There are no panaceas in nutrition or medicine and it is a foolhardy to self-prescribe supplements if you have a chronically diagnosed condition.  You could be wasting your money and not getting the results you expect. Always consult an appropriately qualified practitioner before taking supplements.

Abstract 1

Resveratrol is known to improve metabolic dysfunction associated with obesity. Visceral obesity is a sign of aging and is considered a risk factor for ischemic stroke. In this study, we investigated the effects of resveratrol on inflammation in visceral adipose tissue and the brain and its effects on ischemic brain injury in aged female mice. Mice treated with resveratrol (0.1 mg/kg, p.o.) for 10 days showed reduced levels of interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α, as well as a reduction in the size of adipocytes in visceral adipose tissue. Resveratrol also reduced interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α protein levels and immunoglobulin G extravasation in the brain. Mice treated with resveratrol demonstrated smaller infarct size, improved neurological function, and blunted peripheral inflammation at 3 days postischemic stroke. These results showed that resveratrol counteracted inflammation in visceral adipose tissue and in the brain and reduced stroke-induced brain injury and peripheral inflammation in aged female mice. Therefore, resveratrol administration can be a valuable strategy for the prevention of age-associated and disease-provoked inflammation in postmenopausal women.


Comment about study: It is shocking to think that ischemic strokes were induced in mice in this study. But this is typical of the kind of experiments carried out to learn more about the effects of substances on our bodies. Perhaps if we lived in a civilisation without obesity , type II diabetes  and hypertension we wouldn’t have to conduct so many brutal animal experiments to find new medicine. There is something ironic about finding medicine to treat preventable diseases that are in the most attributed to our culture and the life style choices it makes available to us.


Anxiety more common in people with diabetes

A recent study found that the incidence of anxiety disorders is almost double in people with diabetes than the general population. Diabetes, and diabetes Type II (DB II) in particular is a chronic preventable disease that has been associated with depression and obesity , but no studies have looked at associated of anxiety disorders and DBII.

What is anxiety? We feel anxious is because we anticipate a perceived threat. It is common to feel anxious about a job interview or an exam.  However feeling anxious and worrying habitually over ordinary things : – like getting to work on time, meeting people, going outside your neighbourhood , worrying about things you should have done or said. This kind of anxiety begins to interfere with our health and well-being and so our life.  In an anxious state people’s fight-flight body response is activated. This causes you heart rate to increase, your breathing may become shallow and more rapid, you become restless and hyper-vigilant. Your blood pressure increases and your liver releases glucose into you bloodstream to supply energy to your muscles in anticipation of moving away from danger. Your gut may decide to jettison its contents and this is why it is common to have diarrhea when we feel anxious.

Why is it  more common in people who also have diabetes?

When we are anxious and the flight-flight response is activated , our bodies use more stored energy. The loss of stored energy increasing craving for sugar and fats , otherwise known as comfort eating.  Anxiety may cause us to eat more processed high sugary foods, which we know if regularly eaten in excess can contribute to insulin resistance  and elevated glucose. These are both key markers of DBII. Secondly fat deposits can build up around the waist and this fat is bad for your health. It causes inflammation, insulin resistance and interferes with your metabolism. Obesity is strongly associated with DB II.

Another physiological change from chronically feeling anxious is the release of more cortisol into our bloodstream. Cortisol is hormone that activates the release of more glucose into the body for energy we need to flee. Unfortunately if cortisol is released for  repeatedly everyday for a long period this demands more and more insulin. Insulin is required everyday to get glucose into our cells, but  if our bodies are on  “full throttle” all day then eventually the functions that regulate healthy levels of insulin and glucose begin to weaken and we are at risk of developing DB II. These are two ways that chronic unresolved anxiety could be more common in people with DB II.


Results from Study

The prevalence of diabetes in patients with anxiety disorders was higher than that in the general population (11.89% vs. 5.92%, odds ratio, 1.23; 95% confidence interval, 1.17–1.28) in 2005. The average annual incidence of diabetes in patients with anxiety disorders was also higher than that in the general population (2.25% vs. 1.11%, risk ratio 1.34; 95% confidence interval, 1.28–1.41) from 2006 to 2010. Compared with the general population, patients with anxiety disorders revealed a higher incidence of diabetes in all age groups among both females and males.


The National Health Research Institute provided a database of 1,000,000 random subjects for study. We obtained a random sample aged 18 years and over 766,427 subjects in 2005. Those study subjects who had at least two primary or secondary diagnoses of anxiety disorders were identified. We compared the prevalence of diabetes in anxiety patients with the general population in 2005. Furthermore, we investigated this cohort from 2006 to 2010 to detect the incident cases of diabetes in anxiety patients compared with the general population.

High-dosage EGCG treatment can significantly reduce body weight in women with central obesity.

More EGCG research and this time with regard to weight loss. This study evaluated the effects of high dose of EGCG (Green Tea Extract) of per day on weight loss in women with central obesity (abdominal obesity). To get this dose of EGCG from green tea you would need to drink between between 15 and 40 cups a day  depending on type of tea.  So either way you would be drinking tea all day to get the equivalent EGCG used in this 12 week trial.

The results stated


High-dosage EGCG treatment can significantly reduce body weight in women with central obesity.

High-dosage EGCG treatment has good tolerance among subjects without any side effect or adverse effect.

The mechanism of high-dose EGCG in obesity might be through decreasing the secretion of ghrelin and lead to increase of adiponectin level.


This is a promising result and interesting because EGCG  affected hormones involved in hunger, satiation and weight gain.

EGCG inhibited secretion of ghrelin a hormone produced in the stomach that tells the brain when we are hungry. When our stomachs are empty ghrelin increases. However other studies have found Ghrelin to be lower in obese people when compared to lean people. This is puzzling and I did not read the whole paper so don’t know what the authors make of the EGCG affects on ghrelin and how that related to weight loss.

Adiponectin is a protein hormone that modulates a number of metabolic processes, including glucose regulation and fatty acid oxidation. Adiponectin is exclusively secreted from fat tissue into the bloodstream and the levels of adiponectin increase when people loose weight.

What we don’t know is what controls the study had.  E.g. Did they stick to their normal diet?

Interestingly I found an older  study of EGCG and weight loss that used a daily dose of 300mg and found there was no affect on weight loss.


New Study: Type II diabetes patients overall cancer risk is 28% higher


A population-based cohort study of cancer in 32,247 type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients.

•T2DM patients had an overall 28% significantly higher cancer risk.
•Particularly elevated risks were found for liver and pancreas carcinomas.

•T2DM patients with breast cancer had a lower 5-year survival probability than breast cancer patients without diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is associated with an elevated risk of cancer. The aim of this study was to assess cancer risk and survival in individuals with type 2 DM (T2DM) in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. A retrospective population-based cohort study of 32,247 T2DM patients aged 40–84 years was conducted through a record linkage of local healthcare databases and cancer registry for the period 2002–2009. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) with 95% confidence intervals (95%CIs) and 5-year survival probabilities after T2DM and cancer diagnosis were computed. The SIRs for all cancers (n = 2069) was 1.28 (95%CI: 1.23–1.34). The highest SIRs were observed for cancers of the liver, female genital organs, small intestine, and pancreas. After 3 years from T2DM diagnosis, a reduced risk of prostate cancer (SIR = 0.73, 95%CI: 0.54–0.96) was found in men aged 65–74 years, and a higher risk for breast cancer (SIR = 1.24, 95%CI: 1.00–1.52) was found among T2DM female patients. The overall 5-year survival after T2DM was 88.7%. Furthermore, T2DM appeared to have a negative effect on survival of women with breast cancer. This population-based study confirmed that T2DM patients are at increased risk of several cancers, and of premature death in women with breast cancer.



Andrea Gini, Ettore Bidoli, Loris Zanier, Elena Clagnan, Giorgio Zanette, Michele Gobbato, Paolo De Paoli, Diego Serraino, Cancer among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A population-based cohort study in northeastern Italy, Cancer Epidemiology, Volume 41, April 2016, Pages 80-87, ISSN 1877-7821,



A smartphone app proves when we change our eating patterns we can loose weight and improve sleep

The evidence exists to show that fad diets and the regular gym work-outs will not help you shed those undesirable kilos of belly fat and more importantly keep it off. There is much more to the science of weight loss and metabolism. Healthy food choices and regular physical activity are a must , but we have to make permanent changes to eating habits. The study below proves once again that the length of time between eating has a bearing on our metabolism.

A study asked participants to record their eating patterns on a smartphone app. Not what they ate, but when they ate. A key  finding is that participants who were eating for more than 14hr a day and then reduced the eating pattern to 10-11 hours actually reduced weight, had more energy and even better sleep. This means we need 12-13 hours of no food and ideally no alcohol to help metabolise the energy we consumed during the day. In fact sleep is a energy burner, but we need to go to sleep on an empty stomach.

Study Highlights

The daily eating pattern in healthy adults is highly variable from day to day
More than half of the adults eat for 15 hr or longer every day
Sleep duration parallels the fasting duration
Reducing the daily eating duration can contribute to weight loss

A diurnal rhythm of eating-fasting promotes health, but the eating pattern of humans is rarely assessed. Using a mobile app, we monitored ingestion events in healthy adults with no shift-work for several days. Most subjects ate frequently and erratically throughout wakeful hours, and overnight fasting duration paralleled time in bed. There was a bias toward eating late, with an estimated <25% of calories being consumed before noon and >35% after 6 p.m. “Metabolic jetlag” resulting from weekday/weekend variation in eating pattern akin to travel across time zones was prevalent. The daily intake duration (95% interval) exceeded 14.75 hr for half of the cohort. When overweight individuals with >14 hr eating duration ate for only 10–11 hr daily for 16 weeks assisted by a data visualization (raster plot of dietary intake pattern, “feedogram”) that we developed, they reduced body weight, reported being energetic, and improved sleep. Benefits persisted for a year.


‘Fat but fit’ may be a myth, researchers say

By Ariana Eunjung Cha

One of the most controversial ideas in medical science today is whether people can really be fat and fit. That is, is weight in itself a marker of health – or simply a suggestion of a person’s physical fitness?
A key study in this debate was published in 2012 by a team of researchers from the United States and Europe in the European Heart Journal. They argued that overweight and obese people were at no greater risk of heart disease or cancer as compared with those of normal weight – as long as they were “metabolically fit.”

By that they meant not having insulin resistance, diabetes, high triglycerides or high blood pressure and having good cholesterol levels. An astounding percentage – nearly half of the 43,000 obese people they had data on – were deemed fit according to this criteria, and when compared against similarly healthy normal weight participants, the fit obese participants had no higher risk of death.
That settled the issue for many, but a large new study out this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology adds another dimension to our knowledge about how weight affects our health by focusing specifically on aerobic fitness.

The analysis involved data from 1,317,713 men in Sweden for an average of 29 years. Researchers evaluated their aerobic fitness by asking them to cycle until they got tired.

Men who weighed in in the normal range, regardless of their fitness level, appeared to have a lower risk of death as compared to those who were obese but fit (in the highest quarter of aerobic fitness). Even more striking: the beneficial effect of high aerobic fitness appeared to be reduced with increased obesity. In fact, those at the most extreme in terms of obesity did not see a benefit at all from aerobic fitness.
The researchers said the findings suggests that being obese may reduce the protective effects of being fit. “This data does not support the notion that ‘fat but fit’ is a benign condition,” they wrote.

Of course this study is limited because it only involved men and the researchers noted that many in their sample died relatively early. Other recent research has highlighted the idea that it isn’t just your weight that impacts your health risks, but where it is on your body (like your mid-section or belly).
In fact, as one researcher told The Washington Post as far back as 2004, “this is something that really shouldn’t be a debate of one versus the other.”

“It’s clear that both fitness and fatness are important,” said Walter Willett, an expert on nutrition and health at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It’s definitely good to be as fit as possible no matter what your body weight. But it’s also clear that it is optimum to be both lean and fit. It shouldn’t be a question of one or the other.”