Archive | January 2016

Why “What is the best way to lose weight?” is such a bad question.

16 - 1Every time you see numbers on obesity, you see the Body Mass Index is being used as metric to show that obesity is getting a bigger and bigger problem. The Body Mass Index is basically a body length corrected measure of body weight. When diets go head to head, “losing weight” is used as measure of success.  When making a choice between a Paleo diet, a Keto diet, a vegan diet,  a Mediterranean diet, etc, etc, people will often ask the question: “What diet is best to lose weight”, and many a proponent of whatever diet he/she is trying to sell, will go out of his/her way to show how successful the diet is at helping you lose weight. High number for body weight and BMI have become synonymous to obesity and with all obesity related illnesses.  As such, the concept of “loosing weight” has become synonymous with the idea of improving health and a way for obese people to stop being obese.   In this article I will show how not only BMI and body weight are poor measures for obesity, but also that the focus on loosing weight is actually a major contributor to the obesity problem.  A contributor that is creating a situation where people are discouraged from continuing the most effective obesity measures. A contributor also that is creating an increasing number of low-BMI obese people, creating a situation where the true size of the obesity epidemic is being obscured from sight.

A linguistic problem?

Obesity is a term that describes a person having unhealthy levels of body fat. That is, as a term, and as a medical problem, obesity is about body fat. Looking at actual health problems in fact and their correlation to body fat levels, it may even be fair to sat that as a medical problem, obesity is about high levels of visceral body fat. Visceral fat is the part of our body fat that resides within the abdominal cavity around our internal organs. Having massive love handles may not be aesthetically pleasing, from a health perspective there are to my knowledge no convincing studies showing the existence of  independent risk factors from subcutaneous fat.

So let’s recapitulate. We have medical issues that are strongly correlated with visceral fat levels. We have visceral fat levels that are correlated relatively strongly with total body fat levels, and we have total body fat levels that are relatively poorly correlated with total body fat levels.

bmiIf we assume the lack of evidence of independent correlations excludes the possibility of causality, than a likely correlative diagram like the one on the right is probably pretty much accurate. We have a possibly causal link between visceral fat levels and a wide range of medical issues. It is also still possible that both the medical issues and visceral fat levels simply have a common cause, but if there is a causal link between obesity and health issues, this is where we will find it.

Next, there is a strong correlation between visceral fat levels and total body fat levels. This correlation obviously flows two ways.

Finally there is a correlation between total body fat and body weight. Fat has weight, so more fat mass obviously means more body weight, yet much of a person’s body weight is made up by other things than fat. As BMI is a measure of body weight, we get the diagram here on the right. So why do we measure obesity with BMI? And more importantly, why do we refer to obese people as being overweight, while weight is so indirectly and weakly linked to the actual obesity related medical problems?  And worse, why do we urge obese people to make changes primarily to their BMI by means of “loosing weight” ?  Given that what we care about appears to be percentage driven, does it even make sense to lose weight if we don’t differentiate between the components tat make up our weight. In fact, we could possibly improve body fat and visceral fat levels by increasing our weight in the right way.

Obesity is not a weight problem, it is a visceral fat problem at best. Visceral fat as percentage of total body weight if we trust the data. We should stop using weight and BMI as measure of obesity. We should stop referring to obese people as being “overweight” and we should most pressingly stop referring to personal attempts at reducing obesity as “loosing weight”.

A sad story

A friend of mine, just about a year ago decided to try and make a change is his life. He had been fighting obesity for many years, but after we spoke about my approach, he decided as a new-years resolution to give a low-carb high caloric diet combined with  a rigid strength training program a try. Four and a half months into the program his visceral fat levels were down by a whopping 6%, his total body fat level by 8%. Seriously, I dream of having such amazing progress myself, I had never seen anyone react that well to a strength first approach. His progress wasn’t just in these numbers, it was really starting to show. Than disaster struck. After having visited his GP first and a dietician second, my friend stopped going to the gym. A few months later I ran into him again and asked him why I never saw him any more in the gym. What happened was that his GP had tried to convince him his BMI was getting to high (apparently the added muscle mass had tipped his BMI just above an alarming level), and had send him to a dietician.  That dietician had consequentially convinced him that body composition machines at the gym were inaccurate, that his daily caloric intake was  more than 1000 calories to high, and that switching to a low caloric low fat diet in order to get his BMI back to a healthy level would be the only sane thing to do. I tried to tell him that while I am just a lowly engineer and no health profesional, the mirror didn’t lie to him, I seemed to be getting trough to him for a moment, but than after some thought he just said to me: “Sure, your diet and workout did make me look and feel better, but I rather lose weight and avoid the health problems with being overweight”. I couldn’t think of anything to say at that moment. Unable to even comprehend the reasoning and the level of disconnect. We are collectively so obsessed with body weight that even dropping a full 6% from visceral fat levels in just four and a half months, looking much better in the mirror and most importantly feeling better isn’t sufficient to convince us that  our BMI going up half a point in the process may not actually be a problem. Not just that, health professionals are clinging to these numbers as if they are the one and only variable that has any meaning.

The dangers of loosing weight

If we look at loosing weight, the most common way to do it is to go on a diet that leaves you with a caloric deficit. Something that to the human body would be close to indistinguishable from famine. If we look at the data from the China Study II, a data set created almost 30 years after the great Chinese famine, we see some shocking correlations in the data set. The correlation between people who suffered from the Chinese famine and  all cause mortality for the 70-79 age group is very much presents and has an order of magnitude that should definitely be taken seriously. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions, but even if artificial famine may bring down visceral fat levels to safe levels, what new dangers is it creating in our bodies?

An other issue with loosing weight lies in the loss of muscle mass and the impact on your metabolic rate. The numbers differ depending on who you ask, but a kg of muscle mass will burn the energy equivalent of about a teaspoon of sugar a day just sitting still. On the wrong diet, especially  the pseudo-famine diets that promise to make you lose weight in record time, loosing 20 kg of body weight could easily set you back 6 or 7 kg of lean muscle mass. That is 6 or 7 teaspoons of sugar worth of energy per day.  Now guess what happens when you end your diet and start eating the same you ate before your diet. While before you started dieting your body may have been in something of an energy equilibrium, if you now consume the same, you will now end up with an energy surplus of about 100 calories. A 100 calories surplus may not sound as much, but it adds up to about 4kg of new fat a year. And that is on top of the surplus you already had that made you end up in a situation where you wanted to lose those 20kg in the first place. So if it took you 5 years to gain those 20kg in the first place, this time two and a half years will end up doing the trick. Realizing that 3 kg of muscle mass will burn the energy equivalent of 2kg of fat mass every year should make you think twice about allowing yourself to lose substantial amounts of muscle mass. If anything you should try to gain muscle mass.

Hidden obesity

Now repeat the cycle a few time, as many people end up doing. The fourth time you lost that 20kg, your lean body mass is  bound to be so low that even with a BMI of 21 your body fat percentage is off the scale. In the BMI based statistics however, you won’t show up as obese, next year you might, but this year you are on the bottom of your roller-coaster ride. You will be part of the hidden part of the obesity epidemic. But not just people who repeatedly starve themselves are hidden obese. Many people who don’t work out and eat junk food all the time don’t have any “weight” problem and may even look skinny but have such high levels of body fat that they should be considered obese. So none of the aesthetic issues with obesity but all of the health risks.

Fat mass and muscle mass

The best way to visualize the disconnect between BMI and obesity is using a simple graph. Lets take a highly simplified body composition consisting of muscle mass or non-fat mass and fat mass. We take the muscle mass or non-fat mass of a person as X-axis, and use the Y-axis for body fat mass. Now you can describe a person’s body composition with a simple vector that points from the origin of the graph to the point with the persons fat and non-fat mass. We can also, for any given age/gender draw a straight line depicting the ideal body fat percentage for our person. Now for obesity. You can say that obesity is quantified by φ , then angle between our persons body composition vector and the ideal body fat line.

As for the BMI, how does BMI fit into all of this. Well imagine we use the same graph to show whe body composition of a thousand random and mostly sedimentary people of the same body length. Than from those people we look at those with an ideal body fat percentage and take the average body weight of that subgroup to scale our whole graph with.

Now we end up with a graph where BMI is defined relative to the magnitude of the vector on our scaled graph while obesity is defined relative to the angle of the vector. For anyone with even an elementary understanding of  mathematics, using |V| as stand in for φ should be complete and utter madness. Apparently however for many nutritional and health professionals there is nothing wrong with doing so.

Body compositionbody-fat-types

If we truly want to fight obesity, the whole “weight loss” mantra should be considered harmful. Instead of focusing on weight loss and on BMI, a healthy non obese person combines healthy body fat levels with decent muscle mass and bodily strength. In fact, you can fight obesity and be gaining weight. By gaining muscle mass, your resting metabolism will go up, not by much but still a significant teaspoon of sugar a day that will add up over time and will help to keep off any body fat you end up loosing in the process. Picking a proper diet will help shift your bodies fat deposit shift from visceral to subcutaneous, all adding to a better body composition. Refined grains, fructose and trans fats for example are linked to higher partitions of bodily fat being stored as visceral fat. Until we realize that obesity is about percentages, about the location of our bodily fat and hardly about weight or BMI, and until we stop looking at weight loss as a cure for obesity, there is no way we can even begin to address the issue. No “this diet will help you lose weight” is even relevant to reducing obesity in the end. You can have a BMI of 21 and be obese, or you can have a BMI of 38 and not be obese, and while BMI can be a useful tool for looking at whole populations, for individuals who need a metric to track progress with, BMI should be considered harmful. If you are obese, you are overfat, not overweight. Your weight is completely irrelevant to the condition of obesity at least as far as medical risk factors are concerned. So don’t ask “What is the best way to lose weight?”, weight is irrelevant, instead ask “What is the best way to improve bodily composition?”. Once you understand that asking the wrong question will give you the wrong answers, you can start making the mental switch that allows us to actually address the obesity problem. Lose visceral fat, gain muscle mass and get stronger. If in the process you lose weight, fine. If in the process you actually gain weight: even better.

This entry was posted on 31st January 2016.

What doesn’t kill me ….

trackThose of you who have been following my blog only since my move to engineer.diet may be under the impression that my only focus is on data engineering and that my upcoming book will have the same focus. In fact the only reason I am doing data engineering at all is to try and set safe boundaries for what is the core of my approach to diet and workout: control theory.

Basically my approach to diet and workout builds on two ideas:

  1. Use a control-feedback loop to achieve the best achievable values for solid health control variables.
  2. Achieve 1 in a way that avoids potentially dangerous input variable levels.

Recently I’ve been putting quite a lot of focus on #2. That is, I’ve been looking into input variables and input variable levels that might, according to all cause mortality figures end up doing more harm than good. In doing so we have identified that low-carb theory, while not being infallible in perfect in explaining our data engineering findings is pretty close to the mark, especially where older age groups are concerned. We also identified the importance of age and gender dependent risk factors. Basically the whole #2 part of my work is concerned with what might kill you. More specifically, with what might kill you despite of #1 markers showing great progress. In this post however I want to revisit #1, that is , I want to focus on whatever doesn’t kill you and helps in achieving a better health.

Markers and controls

Nutritional and medical science for a great part are about markers. For example blood serum markers are used when screening for diseases like cancer. The use of multiple independent markers that correlate with a condition is extremely useful for diagnosis. The condition itself may not be easily checked for, the markers, up to a point can stand in for the condition we are looking for. Risk factors have markers to, and while for diseases like cancer its obvious that trying to use a marker as a way to cure the disease by turning it into a control is futile, when talking about risk factors this may not always be the case. In control feedback theory, a control is an output that is used in a feedback loop to control input variables. The problem with this is that not all risk markers are good risk markers and not all good risk markers end up being suitable as control. Remember that markers are often found based on correlations and correlations may or may not have a causal connection of a useful size in the direction required for an effective control.

 

Health and exercise

We shall be looking at two markers for general health to be used in a control feedback loop. The first one is one that is often overlooked as provider of useful controls: exercise. It is well established that physical exercise contributes to a better health.  Conversely however controls based on exercise that correlate the most with physical health conflict with markers commonly used for an other health related variable.

Obesity

Obesity is a major health issue and a risk factor with respect to many diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. As such, no control feedback loop should be without an obesity geared component. But to do that we need to look at finding a proper control yet. Commonly used markers related to obesity have proven very  poor controls that have led to people prematurely abandoning a healthy exercise regime and that have pushed people towards the destructive dieting regimes that in potential do more harm than good while making people suffer in hunger, loosing weight, but not actually doing much for the overall bodily health. So before we pick our control we shall look at the alternatives first.

Correlation_between_BMI_and_Percent_Body_Fat_for_Men_in_NCHS'_NHANES_1994_DataWeight and BMI as control for obesity.

What is the unhealthy part of obesity? Is it the weight? Well that is what most of the world seems to want to convince us of. Looking at recent research however, it turns out that there are two components to weight related risk and only one has to do with obesity:

  1. Bodily fat
  2. Steroids usage

If we ignore the steroids usage end look at bodily fat, there absolutely is a correlation. But looking at the correlation it is clear that it leaves quite a bit to be desired for weight and BMI to be used as stand in for bodily fat levels. If we add to this that exercise on a healthy diet leads to muscle growth, we must come to the conclusion that while BMI is already a bad marker, it’s even a worse control.

Better controls for obesity.

When looking at the data of obesity related markers and obesity related risks, there are three distinct markers that are more suitable as control than body weight and BMI.

  1. Total body fat percentage (TBFP)
  2. Visceral fat levels (VFP)
  3. Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR)

Visceral fat levels are actually the correlated the strongest with obesity related health issues, but TBFP and WHR are closely tied for second, both leaving BMI far behind in usability as control. We shall be working on all three of these markers in different ways, using one directly as basis for control in our control feedback loop. As we already established our nutritional plan should probably be pretty close to a low-carb diet, and carbohydrate intake has been found to be the main driving force behind a visceral dominance of fat distribution, we consider that one covered by static dietary choices.  By picking strength sports, including the essential squatting exercise we cover the hip aspect of the WHR. So that leaves us with the TBFP for use in a control for our feedback loop.

An alternative Body Fat Index.

Depending on age and gender there is a recommended healthy range for your TBFP. Using a simple formula we can calculate a body fat index usable as part of a multi dimensional control. We first define three variables:

  • AGE : Your age in years
  • GENDER : 0 if you are a female; 1 if you are a male
  • TBFP : Your total body fat percentage as measured by a body composition measurement scale as found in most gyms today.
  • LBFP: Lower Body Fate Percentage. This is the lowest we should allow our body fat to go without risking underfat levels.

Now the first thing we need to do is calculate our LBFP based on our age and gender:

LBFP=20.5 14.5 x GENDER + AGE x (1+GENDER) / 20

Now, amusing that our LBFP is lower than our TBFP, we can calculate our Body Fat Index using the following simple formula:

BFI = (TBFP – LBFP) / 5

This will yield a useful gender, weight and age independent index that indicates how close you are to being the leanest you achievable. But remember, this is just one half of the picture, you don’t want to be just lean, you want to be healthy, and not being obese is just one half of the equation.

A weight relative Body Strength Index.

Next to not being obese, a healthy body is relatively muscular and strong. If you are under eating, your strength going down significantly is a first sign you are not on the right track to a healthier you, but might be messing up your body by a multitude of factors that might leave you thin but unhealthy. So how do we avoid this? We add a second index to the menu, the Body Strength Index. As with the BFI we want the index to be gender and age independent. To do this we look at your relative strength , relative to your body weight. You can be a 40 kg woman and have a better BSI than a 120 kg guy, basically. So lets look at our variables:

  • WEIGHT: Your total body weight.
  • SQUAT: The average top of your last four squatting sessions.
  • BENCH: The average top of your last four benching sessions.
  • LIFT: The average top of your last four dead lifting sessions.
  • GENDER: Again 0 if you are a female and 1 if you are a male.

Given that you are not in it to win the Olympics, and given that you are working at two connected variables at once that will keep you from reaching extreme strength levels, we set our strongest achievable strength level to a number of times your body weight. A number that is considered quite strong for your particular gender. At that level your BSI should be zero.For a man, we set our ultimate strength goal to 6 times your total body weight. If you are a woman, 4.5 times your total body weight would already be quite impressive.

So here is the Body Strength Index formula:

BSI = 6.75 +2.25 x GENDER – 1.5 x (SQUAT + BENCH + LIFT) / WEIGHT

If the BSI yields a negative number, that means you are pretty damn strong. Use zero for your BSI in that case.

Combining the two: Generic Body Health Index; an alternative to the BMI.

So now we have two indices to replace the old BMI as control, but how do we combine them and how do we plot a path to self improvement? Well to combine them we simply use a single complex number to express our Body Health Index with:

BHI = BFI + i BSI

gbhi1

If you wish to play around a bit with your stats to see where you are at, I’ve put the above is a little Google Docs spreadsheet here.(Please don’t vandalize the sheet and mess it up for others)

Now the key to plotting the ideal path to a healthier you lies in finding a balance between improving the size of the vector and in improving the balance between the two components of the vector. One way we can do this is by drawing a circle fragment with the following properties:

  1. It passes through our BHI
  2. It passes through zero at an angle of exactly 45°

We can now draw an arrow defining the initial target direction for our control-feedback loop that follows the direction of the circle at our current BHI. That arrow is our ideal path for now. The difference in heading between the arrow and our actual progress after our next 12 workout sessions will be our error that we shall try to steer on with our inputs. Making this process into a critically dampened control-feedback loop leading you to a balanced BHI as close to zero as humanly possible is the ultimate goal of my approach. One variable at a time. Some variables will lead you astray for a period but in the end you should have a diet and workout plan that is perfectly tailored for your body.

This, more even than the data-engineering part is what should be considered the core of my engineers approach to diet and workout.  I hope all of this is making at least some sense. My (projected to be a free e-book) book will include info on how to build and tune a control feedback loop around these ideas.

This entry was posted on 8th January 2016.

10 nutritional candidate new years resolutions.

Its the time of new years resolutions. Resolutions that are notoriously hard to stick to, especially when they are diet and workout related. In this post I want to offer some potential new years resolutions with a light note that should not be that hard to stick with. Resolutions though that at first may seem like a real bad idea until you realize the truth that underlies them. So here we go:

1: Have a piece of chocolate instead of an apple.

Sounds good, right? But before you go stuff yourself with large amounts random chocolate, that isn’t what I meant. If you have been following dietary guidelines, chances are you are consuming multiple servings of fruit a day without hiving to much thought about what fruits you are eating. Apples and grapes are two popular fruits that have a relatively low micro nutrient to sugar ratio when compared to for example berries. Cut down your fruit intake by one serving and make the other serving(s) count by picking the most nutrient rich fruits you can find. Instead of that apple or those grapes that you are cutting, consume a single square of dark chocolate. This should be chocolate with a purity of at least 90%, not the crap that is mostly sugar. There are valuable micro nutrients in dark chocolate that you can’t get anywhere else.

2: Quit drinking ‘healthy’ fruit-juices and smoothies

While fruit can be healthy if you don’t overdo it,  a single glass of orange juice contains the sugar of more oranges than you should consume ll day. Next to that, without the fibrous containers supplied by many fruits that help with a delayed release, that sugar will hit your system like a flash, resulting is a massive hormonal imbalance that can set of an avalanche of cravings that will have you wanting to eat everything in sight. If you want to consume fruit, consume fruit and don’t juice it. If you want to consume juice, use a variety of veggies instead. Less sugar, more micro nutrients.

3: Stop eating ‘heart-healthy’ full-grain  foods.

Basically, there is no such thing. full-grain is just a marketing name for unhealthy highly processed and quickly absorbed carbohydrates. Processed carbohydrates are almost as bad for your health as sugar. They offer inferior proteins and relatively low fibre counts. Replace all grain products with legumes. You get all of the promises from hearth-healthy full-grain that full-grain does not deliver on.

4: Eat foods that are high in calories.

Many food bloggers today seem to be advocating foods that are low in caloric count without looking at micro nutrients. Not all micro nutrients can be consumed in unlimited numbers without risk to your health. Next to that, the data from epidemiological studies shows  no link between life expectancy and caloric intake, yet it does show a clear correlation between eating more grams of food and for example not reaching the ripe old age of 80. As such, there are clear signs that consuming energy dense foods is actually good for you. Note that choosing high caloric foods doesn’t imply consuming more calories. You just eat smaller portions. It is healthier to eat 200 calories worth of nuts than 200 calories worth of pickles. The pickles option will give you a substantially bigger portion, but the pickles will have you consuming a whopping 14.5 grams of sodium against half a m-gram for the almonds.

5: Eat saturated and animal fats instead of vegetable oils

Saturated and animal fats have had a bad rep for decades, but as it turns out, that bad rep is largely undeserved. Sure, many sources of animal and saturated fat are linked to negative health effects, but for the most part, these negative health effects can be traced back to other factors such as adding salt to butter, the processing of meat using industrial processes and chemicals, or the use of antibiotics and the feeding of grain and soy to animals that are supposed to eat grass. Saturated fat may not be as healthy as mono-saturated fats, they are a hell of a lot healthier than vegetable oils and margarine. Vegetable oil and margarine are often produced from GMO crops, are produced using processes originating from the petrochemical industry that result in what is referred to as trans-fats. Nasty little molecules that even in minute percentages should be considered as toxins. Apart from that, many vegetable oils have high levels of omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 isn’t bad when part of a balanced diet that also contains comparable amounts of omega-3. If however the omega-6 levels end up one or two orders of magnitude higher than omega-3 levels, as will often be the case when using substantial amounts of vegetable oils, these omega-6 fatty acids become highly inflammatory. Something that is linked to a multitude of health issues including heart disease. Yes that is right. After years of being tolled swapping saturated fats for polysats to prevent hert disease, with veggie oils it turns out these healthy polysats actually have the reverse effect. So if the choice is between saturated fat in the form of coconut oil, fatty unprocessed meat from grass-fed cattle or unsalted butter, or for vegetable oil that is either high in omega-6, is made from GMO crop or contains trans-fats, saturated and animal fats are actually the healthy option.

6: Stop eating/drinking low-fat dairy

If you are not eating dairy at all, good for you. There are multiple reasons why dairy products may be a bad dietary choice. Lactose is a sugar basically and not a very nice sugar at that. Dairy at its core however can be healthy. There are multiple valuable micro-nutrients in dairy that can contribute to your health. When however you think choosing a low-fat option is healthy, think again. There are two reasons why you should probably be picking the full-fat variants of your favourite dairy products. The first reason is macro-nutrient balance. We all know by now sugars are bad for you, and if you are consuming the lactose but not the fat, the percentage of calories from sugar in your diet will go up. That is a bad thing. The second reason to opt for full-fat dairy products is related to vitamins. The vitamins in dairy for the largest part are so called fat-solvable vitamins. Take away the fat, you take away the vitamins. End result, more sugar, less vitamins, worse macro-nutrients balance. Opt for full-at dairy but watch the portion size again. High-density foods, remember. Same calories; lower volume.

7: Throw away your scale

This is probably the best new years resolution you can go for. A healthy diet is one thing, a healthy lifestyle is just as important and a healthy lifestyle includes hitting the gym at least every other day. After decades of getting indoctrinated on the idea that our BMI is a useful measure of obesity and thus a useful control for progress, the trip to the gym can become disappointing pretty quick. Problem is, with a healthy lifestyle comes a healthy body composition. That means less fat and more muscle mass. Muscle mass is relatively heavy when compared to fat mass, so the desired ‘improvement’ to your BMI might not happen as fast as you thought it would. In fact, you may actually gain a little. Basically the idea of BMI and the very existence of your scale will undermine your motivation to continue what may actually be great progress. Throw away your scale and use a measuring tape to trace your progress. Measure your waist/hip ratio instead. If that number goes down, even if your weight is going up, you are making great progress. That scale is probably your worst enemy. It is lying to you about your progress, trying to make you quit. Throw it out.

8: Raise your cholesterol levels

For years we have been tolled that serum-cholesterol levels are a health risk. After that it turned out only LDL levels were relevant. Still later we find out that LDL particle size is actually the thing that matters for as far as cholesterol matters. Loads of people, including MD’s haven’t gotten the news yet on the latest one. Anyone struggling with cholesterol levels, read up on diatary changes that can help you raise your HDL levels and LDL particle-size and after making the proper dietary changes, try to convince your MD you want a particle-size test. If the results come out OK, than your LDL levels are hardly relevant, and if your MD wants you to take cholesterol lowering drugs despite of your particle size test results, or if your MD tries to tell you particle size tests aren’t relevant than seriously you need to find a different MD. Cholesterol lowering drugs aren’t harmless, they are linked to many severe side effects. You truly don’t want to be taking these drugs without a real need for them. Unfortunately however they are probably the most oversubscribed   drug at this moment and the drug with the highest rate of misdiagnosed side-effects (many Statin side effects such as muscle pains and loss of memory are routinely ascribed to ageing). As said, the only cholesterol metric that counts is LDL particle size and for a great part getting the particle size up can be achieved with diet and harmless supplements. Get those numbers up and get yourself away from Statins and other cholesterol lowering disciplines.

9: Eat more meat

You know dietary guidelines telling you to eat less meat, especially less red meat? Well guess what, if we look at epidemiological data that includes all-cause mortality and if we than calculate the probability of living to be 80 years old, turns out eating more meat and other sources of animal fat and protein is actually correlated with a higher probability. It isn’t all that simple though. for young people there is a significant correlation between red meat and mortality rates. For seniors however this correlation is negative in a dramatic way. Problem: due to the epidemiological nature of the data it is impossible to conclude if old people dying due to eating red meat is the result of a lifetime of meat eating or is the result of continuing to eat large amounts of meat at an old age.  There is definitely more study required to figure out what exactly is going on, but the idea that consuming less meat will reduce life expectancy is contradicted by the data. So sorry to my vegan friends out there, you are doing an amazing thing from an ethical and ecological standpoint, but is may result in a lower life expectancy. When we are at the ethical side of things though, an other angle taht requires more research is the consumption of insects. If replacing meat, dairy, fish and eggs with insects could yield the same life expectancy results as meat and other commonly used sources of animal protein and fat, than an ecological footprint approaching that of our vegan friends could be achieved without reducing our life expectancy.

10: Eat less fresh foods

Well, fresh foods are important of-cause, but next to fresh food, you should consider looking into foods that are , well, not that fresh. That is: you may want to look into the health effects of so called fermented foods. The data on fermented foods, while limited is quite interesting. Enough so to warrant adding at least some fermented food sources to your diet.

 

Well that was it. Ten hopefully thought provoking nutritional candidates for a new years resolution. Hope you give aech of these candidates serious considerations for the new year. Have a great and healthy 2016 everyone.

This entry was posted on 6th January 2016.