Archive for November, 2011

On holiday

HumanaNatura is on holiday for the remainder of November. Regular breaks from our routines are a chance for fun, unplanned experiences, and new perspectives. If you struggle to make time for breaks and healthy non-work time in your life, learn how you can move to a 1000 hour work-year – working six hours a day, four days a week, and forty weeks a year – via Mark Lundegren’s popular article The Real New Economy. Wishing you new health, and see you in December!  HumanaNatura

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Types & typos

HumanaNatura regularly receives questions on whether our recommended nutritional practices should be varied by blood type. The quick answer is no – at least not at this point and perhaps not for the foreseeable future.

The idea of varying our eating patterns by blood type first emerged in the mid-1990s. Though the approach became and remains moderately popular, it has been sharply criticized as lacking a basis in hard science (as being a typo about typing). Importantly, many of its recommendations are significantly at odds with core principles of natural human nutrition and HumanaNatura’s Natural Eating technique in particular.

There is of course little question that blood type has physiological implications, and a new Harvard University analysis that compares blood type with stroke risk underscores this point. In the new analysis, researchers compared longitudinal data from two long-term observational health studies involving roughly 90,000 people. They found that people in the studies with Type O blood had a lower relative incidence of stroke, while people with Type AB blood (and women with Type B blood) had a greater rate of stroke over the course of these still ongoing studies. The new analysis shows correlation only and does not offer insights into what might cause the differences, but the results are consistent with other research showing that Type O blood clots less rapidly than other blood types.

Although the new research does not suggest lifestyle changes based on blood type, it is a good example of the type of research that would be needed to advance claims that nutritional changes based on blood type are warranted. Absent such research, HumanaNatura’s nutritional guidelines apply to all blood types, unless contraindicated by a physician on an individual basis, reflecting our best available science.

Our guidelines advocate a lifelong diet based principally on raw vegetables and fruit, with enough lean animal meats and tree nuts to meet our protein and caloric needs. You can learn more about our nutritional and other lifestyle guidelines via our comprehensive Personal Health Program and see our recommended diet graphically via Natural Food Pyramid.

Photo courtesy of Human Circulatory System.

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Big and beefy

Though there is a natural limit to the amount of red meat we should eat, it is not zero…especially when it comes to lean meats. This satisfying salad meal starts with a big bed of arugula and adds julienne cucumber, diced kiwi, and mixed cherry tomatoes. It includes a sauté of cubed beef and red onion…and is garnished with parsley, marjoram, coriander, and red and black pepper. Yum!

Learn about our guidelines for healthy natural nutrition and how to make delicious salad meals via our popular article Perfect Salad Meals or through the Natural Eating section of HumanaNatura’s comprehensive Personal Health Program.

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Correlation

At HumanaNatura, our goal is to both inspire and inform, so that each of us makes progressively healthier and higher quality choices over time. This strategy is in keeping with the scientific foundations of our natural health system, and with research suggesting that a mix of good facts and feelings best steers us toward improved life and health.

A new study by Harvard University affords a nice informational or teachable moment, one that can help us better understand and make use of the health research we encounter. In the new study, public health researchers found that reported soft drink consumption in teens was closely associated with reported violent behavior. For our discussion, the key words from the study are “associated” and “reported.”

When researchers state an association or correlation like this, they are indicating that two or more things have been observed moving together in a pattern. Correlations can be positive (with things moving in the same direction) or negative (moving in opposite directions) but they cannot be neutral (since no movement means no correlated or concurrent change). Importantly, association or correlation never means that causation or cause and effect has been established (that A causes B, or the reverse). In reporting on the new study, the researchers took pains to highlight that they have not shown causation between soft drinks and teen violence, in either a forward or backward direction.

When studies like this talk about a reported behavior or condition, they mean just that. Participants were asked one or more questions and gave a reply or report. As you might suspect, what we say we do and what we actually do can be substantially at odds with one another, either because we are intentionally withholding or exaggerating information, or because we have a distorted recollection or sense of the information. A much more reliable source of information is observed or measured behavior or data, and even better than this are observations and measurements that are double-blind (where neither the observed person nor observer is privy to key details of the measurement process).

If correlational and reported behavior studies are each less valuable than available alternatives, why have them at all? First, because they are often easier and much less expensive to perform. Second, they can suggest areas for more intensive follow-up research. And in the case of correlational research in particular, while it does not provide causal information, it can lead to insights that are quite useful. In this case, researchers have discovered that quite innocuous information about soda consumption may be a signal for teenagers that are at risk of acting violently, potentially leading to better directed social service interventions.

If you would like to learn more about research techniques to investigate correlation and causation, check out Correlation Does Not Imply Causation.

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More than skinny

A newly released five-year study underscores there is more to health than being skinny, for men and women.

In the new research, scientists at the University of Oklahoma tracked the habits of roughly 4,000 middle to older-aged women. They found that daily consumption of sugary drinks was associated with a four-fold increase in blood fats know as triglycerides, important markers for cardiovascular disease. Importantly, the researchers observed that this association held for women who were not overweight, suggesting that an absence of visible weight-gain from these drinks does not signal an absence of underlying health impairment.

Though news reports have focused on the finding related to skinny women, we would note the study also found that sugary drink consumption was highly and expectedly correlated with increased waist fat and fasting glucose levels overall – indicators of increased cardiovascular and diabetes risks, respectively. The new study contrasts nicely with other research showing atherosclerosis (blood vessel plaques) among skinny people on unnatural diets that reduce carbohydrates but allow high dietary fat intake. In both cases, the lesson is clear: skinny does not always mean healthy.

Learn about the new study at Sugary Drinks Hurt Skinny Women and explore delicious health-promoting natural alternatives to junk foods of all kinds via the Natural Eating section of HumanaNatura’s four-part Personal Health Program.

Photo courtesy of Skinny Jeans.

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Warm ‘n cool

Yummy sliced pork and red onion saute with a bed of arugula, mixed cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, and dried cranberries…garnished with sliced almonds, coriander, and red and black pepper.

Learn about our guidelines for healthy natural nutrition and how to make delicious salad meals via our popular article Perfect Salad Meals or through the Natural Eating section of HumanaNatura’s comprehensive Personal Health Program.

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Seeds of life

Have you considered exactly how life began on earth? Core evolutionary principles explain the way non-living organic and pre-organic compounds can naturally combine and become selected for growth. But there is an ongoing question regarding the degree to which the seeding of our earth with organic compounds from space contributed to life’s inception here.

Early evolutionary scientists often considered the earth in isolation and presumed that organic compounds primarily evolved on earth from inorganic ones, via chance encounters of these simpler molecules (a process known as abiogenesis). But more recent research has suggested that our universe may more actively provide planets with advanced organic compounds, via supernovae and the gradual formation of complex molecules in interstellar dust clouds. A newly published analysis by the University of Hong Kong supports this changing view.

In the new analysis, researchers examined infrared studies of interstellar dust and found evidence of more complex organic materials than was previously appreciated. The analysis used a novel technique that compared newer dust clouds with older ones, which indicated considerable organic compound formation in these clouds over time. This research suggests significant development of organic compounds in space – or that our universe naturally and widely contains and provides the seeds of life.

You can learn more about the new study at Organic Dust and trace the development of natural life and health on earth via the Our Past section of HumanaNatura’s science-based Personal Health Program.

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