Tag: research

Is This The New Health Food???

ATTENTION! Researchers in Japan proved that if you wanna be healthy, you should eat tonnes of carbs. At least that’s what Huffington Post, Elite Daily (one is copy paste from the other btw) and a few other media are trying to convince you based on the article title alone. But does this even make sense? After all, according to American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, increasing consumption of carbohydrates among US population is leading to increase of type 2 diabetes.

So what exactly does the research say? Captain Diet Myth Buster is here to the rescue!

Its is quite interesting that if we look simply look at the US National Institute of Health, it actually refers to the Japanese study as evidence of low carb diet effectiveness on health, particularly on reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. NOT a high carb diet. So how come the very same research could be considered both as a High Carb and Low Carb at the same time by different people? Yes, you are reading it correctly. Same research, some people say its high carb while some others say its low carb.

1. What is the actual quantity recommended in the study?

Well, first of all, if you look at the Japanese Dietary guideline below:

spinning top

It does seems to show that you must eat a whole lot of carbs, i.e. 5 – 7 serving of grains compared to 5 – 6 servings of vegetables. However, if you actually spent the time reading the actual research (not from huffpo or elitedaily), you will find that the Japanese definition of 1 serving of grains (carbs) is abut 40 gr while 1 serving of vegetable is 70 grams. I.e. the amount of recommended grain consumption is gram per gram lower than that for vegetables, and not that high compared to what high carb advocates, coca-cola and pepsi would want you to believe.

2. What are the activity levels on the research subjects?


As I have previously emphasized on the importance of exercise for health and for weight loss, you cannot separate the diet from the activity of the research subject. In this case, even the FAO and Australian Sports Commission states that athletes active in endurance and High Intensity training need to consume more carbohydrates than normal population. And if you read more of the research subject and buried at the end of the Huffpo piece, you will find that the test subject as a population walks and are physically more active than the general population. Hence it does not translate to the current generation of desk jockeys that are only highly trained on the finger motor control skills.

3. What I would recommend

Yes, the same old tirade, hit the gym folks! But as Gray Cook once said, move well, then move a lot. Get a good PT or Physio that will teach you to move properly, use the hip hinge more and spare your knees on your movement patterns. As for diet goes, forget about the fad diets and eat more of what your great grandma would recognize as wholesome food. Having said that, I do put my dad on my own special mix of nutrition and he can still do a 7 K jog 3x a week even though he is past 74 now.

Why it is safe for you to eat that bacon anyway

So in October 2015, WHO decided to classify processed meat as a Group 1 carcinogen. It share the same classification as asbestos and smoking. The basis of this justification is the research done by Global Burden of Disease Project that placed an estimated 34,000 death globally due to diets high in processed meat on an annual basis. Understandably, this leads to a flurry of both sensationalist and respected media  such as the guardian, Canadian Cancer SocietyAmerican Cancer Society, and BBC all to publish articles about the evils of processed meat. And it leads to the Big Asian Guy’s lovely Significant Other to understandably started getting worried about his bacon consumption. Hence me writing this article to both ease her mind and make sure you, my dear readers will also be properly armed to ease your SO’s mind.

Mind you, according to WHO, processed meat are:

“Processed meat refers to meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation. Most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood.

Examples of processed meat include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausages, corned beef, and biltong or beef jerky as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.”

So if you think it doesn’t concern you since you hate bacon but love beef jerkey or heck, even smoked salmon, then you are wrong, this does concern you and the food you love.

First and foremost, the basis of this classification is their research finding that shows sufficient evidence that processed meat causes colorectal cancer. Nasty disease I agree. There is no sufficient evidence linking it to any other form of cancer. An association with stomach cancer, yes, but no conclusive evidence. And this is after combing through 800 studies on cancer in humans, and 400 epidemiology studies on processed meat, the study is done by 22 experts from 10 countries. If there is a conclusive evidence linking processed meat with any other cancer, they would have found it.

Second of all, although 34,000 deaths might sound a lot, these numbers contrast with about 1 million cancer deaths per year globally due to tobacco smoking which is also placed within the same category. And I would argue that there are way more people eating processed meat than there are people smoking.

Third, the ABSOLUTE risk factor increase from consuming processed meat DAILY compared to going all paleo vegan here is 18%. I am not making this up. All 3 facts can be found on the first link I gave on top of this article.

Now after we consider these three facts, lets step back a little bit and do a little bit of research on what IS the baseline risk of getting a colorectal cancer anyway, as in based on the current diet of different cultures GLOBALLY. According to research published on Clinical Colorectal Journal in 2009, the highest population-at-risk for colorectal cancer are the people in United States, Australia and New Zealand, and Western Europe which is 40 out of every 100,000 people (0.04% mind you) whereas in Africa and some parts of Asia, its down to 5 out of every 100,000 people (0,005%). WITH EXISTING DIET. Suppose you abandon your existing diet and go all monk, the ABSOLUTE decrease in risk is (0.04% times 18%) ….0.0072% if you are on the HIGHER population bracket. Mind you, according to US National Weather Service, your odds of getting struck by lightning over your LIFETIME (approximately 80 years) is 0.0083%. The decrease in risk by changing your lifestyle is less than the chance of you getting hit by a lightning. And based on our dear NSC friend’s data in 2002, the chances of death while being a car passenger 1 out of 17,625. Are you going to stop riding a car?

So do you think its worth changing your diet? Bring on the bacon darling!

Persistent low back pain and associated myths

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, between 75% to 85% of the population are experiencing lower back pain. According to University of Maryland, it is the leading cause of disability among male under the age of 45. So if you are one of those people that are experiencing them at the moment, of having recurring episodic pain, understand that you are not alone.

So what happened if you have tried all, and nothing works. What does it mean when the leading “experts” claimed that its all in your head? Does it mean that you are going mad? What happens if you are sure if its real? Recent studies indicate that orthotics, acupuncture, even specialized beds has been inconclusive. In fact, according to Dr. Stuart McGill, Professor of Kinesiology at University of Waterloo, most back surgery does not give long term success for patients based on his 30 years experience. Does that mean that you are doomed to live with this pain for the rest of your life?

The main problem with low back pain is that people seems to think every one has the same problem and should be treated the same. But sorry folks, low back pain is not the same with diabetes. It’s more similar to cancer. Based on Dr. McGill’s research, there’s more than 6 different pain triggers for low back pain, all of them are associated with different conditions, and all each have unique solution. There is a time and place for back surgery, and most of the time you don’t need it. Of course, since a doctor’s time is precious, it will save the doctor a lot of time to give a general prescription to all low back pain (i.e. pain killer) and some common therapy exercise (i.e. yoga, pilates or swimming) before simply giving them a nuclear option (i.e. surgery) when it doesn’t work WITHOUT even trying to find the real trigger of your pain. Sounds familiar with you?

So what should you do? Finding a good back expert that is really passionate about helping people would be one. If you are lucky. Another option would be to simply read Back Mechanics by Dr. Stuart McGill, learn how to identify your own pain triggers and how to address them yourself. Hey, its definitely cheaper than a a visit to the chiropractor.

Oh, and the myths? Well, here are some of them based on the book:

  1. Myth: Stretching will help cure my backpain. Truth: Stretching will induce the stretch reflex in your muscles, giving temporary relief on the area. But if your pain is say due to disk bulge (what I used to have), then it actually put further stress on the affected disk. the relief itself only last 20 – 40 minutes.
  2. Myth: Pilates and or yoga will help cure my back. Truth: Some of the exercises in Pilates are actually bad for your lower back. Bad yoga teachers will get you bed bound for months by encouraging bad posture.
  3. Myth: My surgeon will cut my pain away.. Truth: In most cases, surgery will cause irreversible damage making you worse off than you were in the long run
  4. Myth: They say its all in my head. Truth: They need to get sent back to school, most of the time there is a cause and effect relationship between your pain and a physical phenomenon in your back.
  5. Myth: This pain killer the doctor prescribed will take care of the pain. Truth: unless the underlying cause is being addressed, you will ended up being dependent on the pain killer, most likely with ever increasing dosage.
  6. Myth: This work hardening exercise will make me less sensitized to the pain. Truth: You will be more sensitive to the pain just like a sore thumb will not become less sensitive by continually hitting it with a hammer.


  1. American Association of Neurological Surgeons, December 2011
  2. University of Maryland, January 2012
  3. Painscience.com, July 2013
  4. Rosner A. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2014
  5. Clin J Pain. 2013 Feb;29(2):172-85. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31824909f9. Acupuncture for low back pain
  6. Stuart McGill research, http://www.ahs.uwaterloo.ca/~mcgill/
  7. Stuart McGill, Back Mechanics: Step by step McGill method to fix back pain

Myths about Fat and Health Articles

If you read my previous article about juicing, you might have guessed that I’m not a big fan of Paleo diet. And that is correct. But recently it seems to be popular to bash Paleo diet such that even international business times and the telegraph all published an article about how bad Paleo diet is based on a single study which I personally believe doesn’t really answer a lot of question.  Well, unfortunately your writer here is a science based contrarian and this article will instead be dedicated on giving some reason why I still love my bacon and butter:

1. What the research actually said


First of all, the “latest research” done in Australia (don’t you just love the land from down under that came up with the multifidus story) only involved mice, not humans. Second of all, the mice in the study was force fed 81% fat diet while the control group were only fed 10% fat. Mind you that even if you ate a diet consisting 100% from sausage mcmuffin, you would only be eating 39% fat, less than 1/2 of the rat study and rats don’t normally eat so much fat anyway. So this is definitely something very unnatural. Least we forget that there has been numerous study on Paleo diet on diabetic people, paleo diet on people with certain heart disease, and Paleo diet on healthy individuals. All which gave positive result by the way.

The point I want to take is, never take a conclusion based on a single research, and always have a trusted source (which apparently is hard to find) to translate this research for you. Even the human trials have very limited sample size in very limited setting, hence depending on your genetic make up, Paleo diet might or might not be good for you. In fact, based on a research done in Israel last year, depending on your gene, tomatoes might spike your blood sugar level more than pasta.

2. Why You shouldn’t jump head first into Paleo instead


Wait, so if this latest trend of paleo bashing is not correct, does that mean its ok to go all paleo?

Well, not so fast. As the latest research from University of Chicago has proven, our ancestors actually do eat carbs, including all the way back from 10,000 years ago! And these starches are important for the growth of our brain!

An underlying premise of the Paleo diet is that our human genome has stopped evolving over the past 10,000 years and we are most optimized to function with the diet at the time. These “researchers” then observe the Maasai tribe in Africa and other nomadic tribes around the world before concluding that if you want to be healthy (even if your ancestors are rice eating asian), you should eat like the Massai.

Except that humans do still evolve even to recent times. One study on Eurasians from 6500 to 300 BC with Caucasian farmers has shown multiple genetic mutation for better adaptation to the Caucasian shift to agricultural society. Another study has shown how even our saliva has evolved. Yet another showed another evolution to improve our immune system. Mind you these are just a few of the studies over the past decade that simply debunked the Paleo underlying premise.

3. What I would recommend


As recent article on national geographic based on Professor Stephen Le’s research elegantly put it, you should eat what your ancestor’s ate 500 years ago. Or as the popular saying goes, don’t eat something your grandma would not recognize as “food”.

So, if you have moved to a different country with different climate, have a mixed racial background, or want to be bigger/taller from the previous generation, does that mean you are stuck? Well, I for one always believe that you should experiment, mix and match, and see which works for you. My mentor is 100% British background and he was diagnosed with celiac disease a decade before the gluten free craze, so he eats rice instead. Use caution, see which works for you, and have a trusted expert help you translate the latest craze. I for one love alcohol but having alcohol will quickly bury my 6pack and eating a tonne of rice would not affect my body fat composition. Most of the established science regarding sports medicine diet are correct and well, both Hafthor Bjornsson and Brian Shaw, No. 1 and 2 strongman champion ate a balance source of carbs, fat, protein and fiber.