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  1. [Admin Note: I made this new thread as a collector for posts about the recently discovered and previously discussed apparent link between diet, micronutrients choline and carnitine, TMAO production by gut microbes that feed on these micronutrients, and elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. Four posts down is the new post (by me) on the topic. The first four posts come from a different thread. --Dean] In his post about supplements for vegetarians, Michael Rae said: For now, prudence seems to require that vegetarians err on the side of a generous and definitely supplemented intake of choline, ensuring that dietary (to the extent that it can be known) plus supplemental choline is meaningfully higher than the AI of 550 mg for men and 425 mg/day for women. Functional status is still tricky, but one obvious set of markers is the same panel used to establish signs of deficiency in Zeisel’s depletion-repletion study:iv a fivefold or more increase above normal of the muscle-damage enzyme creatine phosphokinase (CPK), or a one-and-a-half or more times normal reading of the liver enzymes aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), or lactate dehydrogenase (LD). Fatty liver, unfortunately, requires a harder-to-access MRI of fat deposits in the organ, to which your doctor is unlikely to consent. The below papers may be a reason dietary choline can be bad for us. NATURE | RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS CARDIOVASCULAR BIOLOGY Gut microbes raise heart-attack risk Nature 531, 278 (17 March 2016) doi:10.1038/531278b Published online 16 March 2016 http://sci-hub.io/10.1038/531278b Subject terms: Microbiology Cardiovascular biology Gut microbes produce a chemical that enhances clotting in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and his colleagues treated human platelets, which form blood clots, with a compound called TMAO. This is made in the body from a waste product of gut microbes, and has been linked to heart disease. The team found that TMAO made the platelets form artery-blocking clots faster. The researchers increased blood TMAO levels in mice by feeding them a diet that was rich in choline, a TMAO precursor, and found that the animals formed clots faster than did those with lower TMAO levels. This effect was not seen in animals that lacked gut microbes or that were treated with antibiotics. When intestinal microbes from mice that produced high levels of TMAO were transplanted into mice with no gut microbes, the recipients' clotting risk increased. The results reveal a link between diet, gut microbes and heart-disease risk, the authors say. Gut Microbial Metabolite TMAO Enhances Platelet Hyperreactivity and Thrombosis Risk. Zhu W, Gregory JC, Org E, Buffa JA, Gupta N, Wang Z, Li L, Fu X, Wu Y, Mehrabian M, Sartor RB, McIntyre TM, Silverstein RL, Tang WH, DiDonato JA, Brown JM, Lusis AJ, Hazen SL. Cell. 2016 Mar 9. pii: S0092-8674(16)30113-1. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.02.011. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 26972052 http://sci-hub.io/10.1016/j.cell.2016.02.011 Abstract Normal platelet function is critical to blood hemostasis and maintenance of a closed circulatory system. Heightened platelet reactivity, however, is associated with cardiometabolic diseases and enhanced potential for thrombotic events. We now show gut microbes, through generation of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), directly contribute to platelet hyperreactivity and enhanced thrombosis potential. Plasma TMAO levels in subjects (n > 4,000) independently predicted incident (3 years) thrombosis (heart attack, stroke) risk. Direct exposure of platelets to TMAO enhanced sub-maximal stimulus-dependent platelet activation from multiple agonists through augmented Ca2+ release from intracellular stores. Animal model studies employing dietary choline or TMAO, germ-free mice, and microbial transplantation collectively confirm a role for gut microbiota and TMAO in modulating platelet hyperresponsiveness and thrombosis potential and identify microbial taxa associated with plasma TMAO and thrombosis potential. Collectively, the present results reveal a previously unrecognized mechanistic link between specific dietary nutrients, gut microbes, platelet function, and thrombosis risk.
  2. All, Dr. Greger has an interesting video out today on "Paleo-Poop", discussing the evidence from fossilized human feces that our ancestors ate a very high fiber diet, > 100g of fiber per day vs. < 20g for most people today eating a standard American diet. This wasn't particularly new news to me, or to anyone reading this I suspect. But what I found most interesting about the video was at 2:30, where he discusses what was the likely source of all that fiber. In particular, whether ancestral humans were folivores (foliage / vegetable eaters), frugivores (fruit eaters) or faunivores (meat eaters). Its pretty clear from lots of evidence that we're not primarily meat eaters, and it has only been relatively recently in our evolutionary heritage that meat and other animal products became a large part of our diet. So we can knock faunivores out of the running - at least when considering deep evolutionary time. What was most interesting was the distinction between the other two categories - folivores vs. frugivores. The evidence he shows in the video is from [1], and it is a plot of organism body size (x-axis) vs. density of gut mucosa (y-axis). Apparently the three categories (folivores, frugivores and faunivores) fall into distinct clusters. Here is the graph, with the range at which humans fall as the intersection of the horizontal and vertical lines with the label "Homo Sapiens": As you can see, humans of today fall squarely in the cluster of frugivores, which the authors interpret to indicate that our distant ancestors were primarily fruit eaters. Obviously we're omnivorous now, and have been for quite a while, especially since we expanded out of Africa into environments where fruit isn't readily available in large quantities or year-round, and since we develop cooking and other processing techniques to make meat (as well as other parts of plants) more digestible, and more palatable! But being a fruit-lover myself, I thought it interesting to know that at least our distant ancestors appear to have been heavy fruit eaters like orangutan (who apparently also love durian!), rather than folivores like gorillas. --Dean --------- [1] Claude Marcel Hladik, Patrick Pasquet. The human adaptations to meat eating: a reappraisal. Human Evolution, Springer Verlag, 2002, 17, pp.199-206. Free full text Abstract In this paper we discuss the hypothesis, proposed by some authors, that man is a habitual meat-eater. Gut measurements of primate species do not support the contention that human digestive tract is specialized for meat-eating, especially when taking into account allometric factors and their variations between folivores, frugivores and meat-eaters. The dietary status of the human species is that of an unspecialized frugivore, having a flexible diet that includes seeds and meat (omnivorous diet). Throughout the various time periods, our human ancestors could have mostly consumed either vegetable, or large amounts of animal matter (with fat and/or carbohydrate as a supplement), depending on the availability and nutrient content of food resources. Some formerly adaptive traits (e. g. the “thrifty genotype”) could have resulted from selective pressure during transitory variations of feeding behavior linked to environmental constraints existing in the past. Key Words: meat eating, hominids, gut allometry, thrifty genotype
  3. This is perhaps the best video I've seen on why we should eat meat.
  4. Dean Pomerleau

    What the World Eats

    All, is a fascinating infographic called What the World Eats on the National Geographic website based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN depicting what people around the world eat today, and how it has changed over the last 50 years. Its really fun (but sad) to see the growth in the US of percent calories coming from added sugar and fat, and the total calories consumed over the years. Its even more shocking that even on a per gram basis, American's eat more dairy and eggs than the do fruits and vegetables. Here is a snapshot from the infographic of US data. On the website, you can click on each slice of the pie chart to see the types and percentages of foods that go into each slice. --Dean
  5. I just watched the documentary Cowspiracy, now available on Netflix. It's a great film about how animal agriculture on land and fishing/farming in our oceans are the #1 cause of nearly all forms of environmental degradation, including greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, deforestation, water depletion, topsoil erosion & species extinction. Up to 51% of greenhouse gas emissions are a direct or indirect result of animal agriculture, for example, by some credible analyses. The filmmakers interview quite a number of experts who recognize how big a problem these practices are, including the recognition that "sustainable fishing and aquaculture" are a joke (sorry Saul). Nearly all the species of fish in our ocean are seriously depleted, and the bycatch on even those fish species considered "sustainable" is 5-to-1, meaning for every pound of wild fish that are caught, there are 5 pounds of other fish species that are destroyed in the process. But the most shocking thing is how the major environmental advocacy groups (Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Oceana, etc.) refuse to focus on or even acknowledge that raising and harvesting animals / animal products for human consumption are the major problem when it comes to environmental devastation. Going into the film, I figured the reason these organization are ignoring the "cow in the room" would be that they were being paid off by the big agribusinesses who benefit from their silence. But the filmmakers suggest it is something else, namely they are afraid to alienate their constituents and major source of funding, average environmentally-concerned citizens. These constituents are concerned enough about the environment to turn the faucet off when brushing their teeth, and give $20 to the Sierra Club in order to feel good about helping the environment. But the environmental organizations figure that asking these supporters to consider doing something that could have a real impact, changing their eating habits to reduce or eliminate animal products, will strike a nerve - the cognitive dissonance would be too great and they'll lose members & contributions. So instead they focus on relatively minor contributors to our environmental problems. Pretty sad if you ask me... I highly recommend the movie to anyone concerned about the future of the planet. --Dean
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