Thursday, October 02, 2014

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Engine 2 Food Line Expanding

Rip Esselstyn's Engine 2 Food Line has been expanding. I've tried his Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (there's also a Traditional and a Jalapeno Cilantro), the Ancient Grains tortilla (thicker than a whole wheat tortilla, very flavorful), and the frozen grain blends (shown) which I'm currently hooked on. They're real time-savers. He has 4 blends:

Ancient Grains: Organic Quinoa, Organic Farro, Organic Red Lentils, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Black Barley.
Wild Rice: Organic Wild Rice, Organic Black Barley, Organic Brown Rice, Organic Scallions, Organic Celery.
Fiesta: Organic Brown Rice, Organic Black Beans, Organic Sweet Corn, Organic Red Bell Peppers, Organic Poblano Peppers.
Morning: Organic Wheat Berries, Organic Farro, Organic Black Barley, Organic Golden Raisins.

All of his foods (according to Whole Foods, the only distributor right now) have:
  • Zero animal products
  • No added oils...ever!
  • 100% whole grains
  • Minimal added sugar, if at all
  • Less than 25% total calories from fat
  • Less than 1:1 ratio of milligrams of sodium to calories (Exception: Condiments)

He also has some frozen burgers I want to try. From his site:
Using only whole food ingredients, these plant burgers are not held together by funky binders. Instead, sweet potatoes, rolled oats, brown rice, or quinoa work together to create a tasty & satiating plant burger. The kind that you will want to sink your teeth into! Crumble into soup, salad, casseroles or onto pizza and pasta dishes! What the heck, enjoy one for breakfast -just because you can! Your buns will never be the same!

Curried Lentil: Gold and brown lentils unite with sweet potatoes, carrots, brown rice, and yellow curry.
Poblano Black Bean: Black beans, brown rice, and tomatoes team up with oats, roasted poblano peppers, and spices to deliver a savory Southwest flavor.
Thai Basil Edamame: “East” meets West when edamame, Thai basil, and ginger combine with sweet potatoes, quinoa, radishes, and brown rice. This burger delivers a fabulous fusion of flavor!
Tuscan Kale White Bean: Tuscan kale, white beans, and brown rice pair with roasted peppers, basil, and roasted garlic to deliver this Mediterranean masterpiece.

I know I sound like an advertisement but for me these foods are a great find. They're a bit pricy but there are some great ideas here for making your own.

Small Amounts of Dietary Cholesterol Cause Arterial Lesions

The topic of eggs came up recently. It reminded me of this older study from the American Heart Association:

Intimal Thickening in Normocholesterolemic Rhesus Monkeys Fed Low Supplements of Dietary Cholesterol, Circulation Research, 1974

Rhesus monkeys were fed a high-fat diet containing either 0, 43, or 129 micrograms/kcal of cholesterol a day for 18 months. There was a cholesterol-free control group:

  • Control: No cholesterol
  • Group 1: about 25.8 milligrams cholesterol (~86mg chol for a human eating 2000 kcal, about half a small egg)
  • Group 2: about 77.4 milligrams cholesterol (~258 chol for a human, about 1 jumbo egg)
  • Group 3: about 232.2 milligrams cholesterol (~774 chol for a human, about 3 extra large eggs)

After 18 months, addition of dietary cholesterol increased plasma cholesterol in all groups; increases were evident within the first 2 weeks:

  • Group 1: Baseline cholesterol:115 mg/dl, After 18 months: 130mg/dl
  • Group 2: Baseline cholesterol:117 mg/dl, After 18 months: 168mg/dl
  • Group 3: Baseline cholesterol:115 mg/dl, After 18 months: 392mg/dl

Since Group 3's total cholesterol rose so high, they were excluded from further analysis.

Additional findings:
"A decrease in HDL and an increase in LDL cholesterol occurred after cholesterol feeding."

"Clearly elevated lesions [on the aorta] were positively identified only in the [cholesterol-fed] monkeys."

"The [cholesterol-fed] monkeys had more intimal thickening expressed as cross-sectional area than did the control group. ... The involved areas contained significant fibrous and lipid elements. Foam cells were seen to a variable and sometimes prominent degree."

"The monkeys fed the higher amount of dietary cholesterol showed an increase in hepatic [liver] cholesterol."

"The fact that lipid absorbed from the gut enters the arterial wall is well established." (They discussed this.)
This first photo, Figure 5, was from the group receiving the human equivalent of 86mg cholesterol, or what you get in about a half of a small egg. I was surprised there was this much narrowing in just 18 months:

This point was notable:
"The regimen for group 1 was originally designed to demonstrate a null point of the effect of dietary cholesterol on the arterial intima. However, such a point was not found; no threshold for dietary cholesterol was established with respect to a putatively adverse effect on arteries."
They thought that Group 1 monkeys, who received the smallest amount of dietary cholesterol (equivalent to about 86mg cholesterol/day for humans), would not experience adverse effects. They did.

What's an occasional egg? From Spence's earlier paper:
"The effects of dietary cholesterol on serum cholesterol are, in part, dependent on the diet and the characteristics of the individual consuming the cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol has a much greater effect on people consuming a low-cholesterol diet, with a threshold effect as shown by Connor et al. In their 1961 study, Connor et al also showed that egg yolk, containing 240 mg of cholesterol, had a greater hyperlipidemic effect than pure crystalline cholesterol dissolved in oil. In people consuming a low-cholesterol diet, egg yolk intake increased fasting serum cholesterol level by 40 mg/dL."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Artificial Sweeteners Cause High Blood Glucose In Mice And Humans

A recent article in The Economist said "consuming [artificial sweeteners] might - ironically, and in defiance of common sense - be associated with obesity."

Saccharin Solution? Sugar Substitutes May Mess With Gut Bacteria - Causing Obesity In The Process, The Economist, 20 September 2014
A paper just published in Nature1 ... provides a big dollop of evidence in support of an emerging idea that artificial sweeteners are not directly bad for people (humans cannot even digest most of them). Rather, they may be bad for the zillions of microbes that live in people’s guts - and this, in turn, may be bad for their human hosts.

Three groups of rodents were given water containing aspartame, sucralose or saccharin, three common commercial sugar substitutes. Three control groups were given plain water or water laced with glucose or sucrose—sugars from which the body can extract energy.

After a week, Dr Elinav and Dr Segal gave their animals a hefty dose of glucose and measured how well they processed it (inability to do so properly is a risk factor for obesity, and is characteristic of diabetes). The mice drinking the artificial sweeteners had higher levels of glucose in their blood than did their confrères who had been sipping water or ordinary sugar.

To check whether the sweeteners were affecting the murine microbiome, the researchers dosed their mice with broad-spectrum antibiotics. Sure enough, killing off the gut bacteria reversed the metabolic changes. To make doubly sure, they transplanted faeces from mice that had been drinking artificial sweeteners into others that had been raised in sterile conditions, and which, therefore, had no gut bacteria of their own. Once the transplanted bacteria had colonised their new hosts, these too began showing signs of glucose intolerance

Gene sequencing confirmed that mice fed artificial sweeteners had a notably different set of bacteria living in their guts from those fed on the natural kind. Intriguingly, the microbiomes of the sweetener-fed mice looked a lot like those found, by other studies, in obese individuals.
Here's the study's press release, and an excerpt about the team's pilot study on humans:
Sugar Substitutes Linked To Obesity, Nature, 17 September 2014
So his team recruited seven lean and healthy volunteers, who did not normally use artificial sweeteners, for a small prospective study. The recruits consumed the maximum acceptable daily dose of artificial sweeteners for a week. Four became glucose intolerant, and their gut microbiomes shifted towards a balance already known to be associated with susceptibility to metabolic diseases.
Why only 4 out of the 7? Back to The Economist:
Unlike those of mice - animals which are enthusiastic eaters of each others’ faeces, and which thereby regularly swap gut bacteria - the microbiomes of humans differ from one individual to the next, says Dr Elinav. It is a lot to hang on one small experiment, but if the unpleasant effects of artificial sweeteners affect only some people, that could explain why the large epidemiological studies have failed to find that they consistently make people fat.
So, eating sugar resulted in lower blood glucose than eating artificial sweeteners - in mice and in some humans. Do the new soda taxes apply to non-caloric sweeteners too?

Another thought ... if something as benign, or thought to be as benign as an artificial sweetener can markedly affect glucose tolerance, what are other chemicals doing?

1 Artificial Sweeteners Induce Glucose Intolerance By Altering The Gut Microbiota, Nature, 17 September 2014

Pumpkin Oatmeal With Corn Grits

I just made this for breakfast. It was so good I had to immortalize it in a photo:

Maybe it doesn't look at good as it tasted. To be honest, I'm more into taste and technique than presentation. In fact, I took the photo while it was still in the pot because I knew that was the last place it would be before my mouth. Oh well.

Here's what it was. It cooks up fast:

3 tablespoons dry oatmeal, quick-cooking
3 tablespoons dry corn grits
1 to 2 cups water
2 big dollops precooked winter squash (e.g. pumpkin, kabocha, buttercup, butternut)
Dash cinnamon
Tiny pinches of nutmeg, clove, ginger
Salt to taste
Maple syrup to taste

Boil the oats and grits together on high with about 1.5 cups water. I don't measure, I err on too much and just boil the rest away. When the cereal starts to thicken, lower heat and stir until it reaches desired consistency. (If it sticks, remove from heat for a few seconds, stir, and return to heat.) Stir in the pumpkin or squash (I used buttercup squash puree that I made over the weekend), spices, salt, and maple syrup while still warm.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Who Uses Twitter?

Are social networking sites like Twitter good crowdsourcing tools? Maybe for the crowd that uses them.

The source for this is Ipsos MORI, a market research firm in the UK and Ireland. I don't know what the letters after Male and Female stand for. My hunch is that it has something to do with socioeconomic status.

I saw this on Twitter.