from the world's big
Cancer researcher says keto is not a fad diet
Anatomy and physiology professor David Harper claims a recent study in The Lancet is flawed.
- The low-carbohydrate group in a recent Lancet study were typically middle-aged, obese, sedentary, diabetic smokers.
- The study was not a randomized, controlled, double-blind experiment.
- Harper has been in ketosis for six years, and says it has profound effects on cancer patients, among other chronic ailments.
Here we go again.
For nearly three years I've written about varying aspects of the ketogenic diet. I was initially a fan, given that switching from a decades-long, carb-heavy vegetarian diet to a paleo-friendly, ketogenic diet eradicated my chronic history with gastrointestinal problems, stopped the hundreds of panic attacks I've suffered in my life cold, and caused me to shed ten pounds in three weeks.
As with many fad diets, I was not alone. Advocates appeared in droves. Yet as the hype progressed, the ketogenic diet started being treated as a panacea for all the world's nutritional problems, making it the perfect time to become suspicious.
As with anything scientific, some were always skeptical. Yet the foundational message of ketosis is sound: we eat too many carbs, especially in the form of processed foodstuffs and sugars. You never need to gorge only on sweet potatoes or intermittent fast to understand this—though, to be fair, perhaps the most beneficial advice of this entire trend is that we eat too much over too many hours of the day. There's something to be said for not eating for stretches of time.
Both high and low percentages of carbohydrate diets were associated with increased mortality, with minimal risk observed at 50–55% carbohydrate intake. Low carbohydrate dietary patterns favouring animal-derived protein and fat sources, from sources such as lamb, beef, pork, and chicken, were associated with higher mortality, whereas those that favoured plant-derived protein and fat intake, from sources such as vegetables, nuts, peanut butter, and whole-grain breads, were associated with lower mortality, suggesting that the source of food notably modifies the association between carbohydrate intake and mortality.
Given that ketogenic diets generally call for 70-80 percent fat intake, with no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day—a 16-oz Caramel Frappuccino comes in at 60 grams, along with 59 grams of sugar—The Lancet's call for half your calories being derived from carbohydrate sources seemed to be the proverbial nail.
Not so fast.
Anatomy and physiology professor David Harper has been on a ketogenic diet for six years. Like me, he experienced immediate weight loss—22 pounds in 12 weeks. (And like me, he was not overweight; the drop occurred in midsection fat.) So Harper, a cancer researcher, looked beyond the results to methods and found the study flawed:
First, The Lancet study did not consider ketogenic diets. Their limits for "low carbohydrate" are between 30 and 40 per cent of total calories, so participants in this group were never in a state of nutritional ketosis. Second, the low-carbohydrate group in the study were typically middle-aged, obese, sedentary, diabetic smokers. No surprise they found a few years shorter life-span. Third, this study is not a randomized, controlled, double-blind experiment—the gold standard of science.
That a study turns out to be not-quite-correct should not surprise. As John Ioannidis wrote in PLOS Medicine in 2005, most research findings turn out to be false. A ketogenic diet has been in use for a century as a treatment for epilepsy; Harper notes that it is being used in treatments for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, and cancer—he's a visiting scientist at the B.C. Cancer Research Centre.
Harper attributes much of this success to the reduction of chronic inflammation in the body produced by excess carbohydrate and sugar intake. Systemic inflammation has a profound effect on cancer and the cardiovascular system. The production of ketone bodies produces health-sustaining effects in the brain and nervous system. Harper doesn't even touch the microbiome in his plea, though the influence of the enteric nervous system on the body's immune system (among others) is now well-documented.
Anecdote is not data, though I've spent a long time contemplating my own health issues. Putting cancer aside (my testicular cancer appears to have been genetic), I can speak to anxiety disorder, which I suffered from for 25 years. During most of that time I was a pescatarian, vegetarian, or vegan. Every meat or dairy product (protein and fat) I removed was calorically replaced by carbohydrates. While I generally ate little processed, packaged foods, I still consumed plenty of bread. During this period I was keeping my body in a constant state of inflammation.
While I no longer attempt ketosis, my carbohydrate levels are greatly reduced, my fat intake increased. Shortly after starting this diet, which I tried for GI issues, I was surprised by the other results: weight loss, sure, but also the complete absence of panic attacks and cessation of chronic canker sores. When your nervous system is not battling the effects of the food you're eating, your body can actually relax.
This is not medical advice. There are too many factors for any diet to be considered the best for anyone. Harper, however, doesn't want the ketogenic diet to even be considered a "diet." As he said:
We've been telling people to eat the wrong diet for 40 years, and we've seen the results.
He notes that he no longer craves sweet foods; instead, he reaches for butter and cream to satiate his appetite. As with anything, our addictions shift as we replace the context. Harper makes a crucial point to keto skeptics: trace our post World War II food consumption patterns and disease and you'll find a disturbing link. In a time when pretty much any food is available during any season, we're fatter and sicker than ever.
For therapeutic reasons, including weight loss, the ketogenic diet might offer real value. The general consumer might not need to go to such extremes—85 percent fat intake is a bit much for most of us. That said, the necessity of a reduction in carbs and sugars is obvious. All the charts and data in the world don't replace basic common sense.
- Keto diet doesn't help females lose weight, study says - Big Think ›
- 5 of the worst keto diet side effects - Big Think ›
- How the ketogenic diet with no exercise outperforms the standard ... ›
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.