Around the Web

WWW on sandIt’s been a while since my last around the web post, so lots of stuff to cover in today’s edition. I publish these articles on a semi-regular basis, as I don’t like posting until I have a good mix of what I consider high quality articles, videos, etc. to share. While I realise that these posts can be a bit “dry” for the average reader, I like to do them as they give me a place to gather my thoughts and ideas about the things I’ve been reading and watching lately. If you’ve seen any interesting studies, blog posts, articles, or videos you would like me to comment on, then don’t hesitate to post a link in the comment section below the post.

First, some of my own writing:

  • My article on the paleo diet titled the ‘The Unexpected Flaw of the Paleo Diet Philosophy‘ was translated into spanish and published at So, if there are any spanish readers out there, check it out.
  • Jonathan Goodman, the man behind the Personal trainer Development Center, recently invited me to contribute to ThePTDC blog. This provided a great opportunity for me to write an article I’ve had on my to do list for a long time. Jonathan is a humble and knowledgeable guy who’s dedicated to improving the perception of the fitness industry, and I highly recommend that you check out his PTDC facebook page if you want to stay updated on the latest in the personal trainer community.


Europe Installs Raw Milk Vending Machines While U.S. Rules Unpasteurized Dairy Illegal

As the U.S. government continues to issue warnings regarding raw dairy products, several European countries have done just the opposite by expanding access through unpasteurized milk vending machines. Read more…

My comment: Haven’t seen these vending machines where I live (and probably won’t), but the laws regarding raw milk in Europe are definitely less strict than in many states in the U.S. Not sure how well this system works though, as raw milk doesn’t stay fresh for a long time. I’m hoping for vending machines where you can buy fermented kefir and yogurt from grass-fed, raw milk. Wouldn’t that be great!

Humans may benefit from new insights into polar bear’s adaptation to high-fat diet

The polar bear diverged from the brown bear, or grizzly, as recently as several hundred thousand years ago, according to a genome comparison by American, Chinese and Danish researchers. They pinpointed genes that underwent extreme selection over time, specifically genes that deal with fat metabolism and apparently allowed the bear to adapt to a diet unusually high in fat. These genes could provide clues to help humans deal with health problems caused by high-fat diets. Read more…

My comment: Have we forgotten that we are just one of the many thousand species of animals on the planet? When it comes to human health, it often seems like it. When we’re discussing diet, nutrition, and lifestyle the focus is generally on our own species, and we often forget that we’re just part of a bigger ecosystem.  Just like we can learn a lot from studying contemporary humans who live as hunter-gatherers, insights into the life of wild animals, which live in a habitat that closely resembles the environment their species have evolved in for millions of years, can give us a lot of knowledge about health and disease.

The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

“Saturated fat does not cause heart disease”—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter. Read more…

“EATING foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood,” according to the American Heart Association (AHA). “High levels of blood cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.” So goes the warning from the AHA, the supposed authority on the subject. Governments and doctors wag their fingers to this tune the world over. Gobble too much bacon and butter and you may well die young. But what if that were wrong? Nina Teicholz, an American journalist, makes just that argument in her compelling new book, “The Big Fat Surprise”. Read more…

My comment: The idea that saturated fat is bad for you has long been ingrained in most people’s belief system. However, as those who’ve been following the nutritional research for some time know, the vilification of saturated fat is largely unfounded. Lately, several major newspapers and comprehensive studies have helped “debunk” the diet-heart hypothesis, and more and more people seem to understand that high-quality red meats, grass-fed organic eggs, and other animal source foods aren’t bad for you.

However, although we’re definitely moving in the right direction, I don’t think we should oversimplify things by saying that a diet high in saturated fat is the optimal way to go. As I discussed in my article on saturated fat, there are some potential adverse effects associated with eating this type of diet. Also, from an evolutionary perspective, butter, bacon, coconut oil, and several other dense sources of fat are definitely a relatively new introduction in the human diet. Doesn’t mean that these foods are bad for you, but as I highlight in my article; foods with a very high saturated fat density have a high calorie density and low satiety index. Also, a high intake of these foods could induce a state of chronic low-grade inflammation.

Human genetics

I like your genes: People more likely to choose a spouse with similar DNA

Individuals are more genetically similar to their spouses than they are to randomly selected individuals from the same population, according to a new study. Scientists already knew that people tend to marry others who have similar characteristics, including religion, age, race, income, body type and education, among others. Scientists now show that people also are more likely to pick mates who have similar DNA. Read more…

My comment: These findings are really interesting. Looking forward to more research on this.

Obesity gene linked to hormonal changes that favor energy surplus

“We found that elderly carrying an obesity-susceptible variant of the FTO gene had plasma ghrelin levels that were approximately 9 percent higher than in non-carriers. In contrast, serum levels of the satiety enhancing hormone leptin were roughly 11 percent lower,” says Christian Benedict, researcher at Uppsala University. Read more…

My comment: I’ve previously written a lot about leptin and the essential role this hormone plays in regulating long-term fat storage.  Leptin is in many ways the key hormone involved in overweight and obesity, as it controls the fat mass set point (more like a range). I don’t think the full text from this study has been published yet, so I don’t know if the conclusions at hold true, but if they do, these are certainly very interesting results.


Building a Bigger Action Hero

A mere six-pack doesn’t cut it in Hollywood anymore. Today’s male stars need 5 percent body fat, massive pecs, and the much-coveted inguinal crease – regardless of what it takes to get there. Read more…

My comment: This is a great article about how movie stars train and prepare before filming. Also posted on my facebook page.

Are Exercise Cool-Downs Necessary?

For a long time, the theory was that cooling down by continuing to exercise at a lower intensity would help the legs flush out lactate” and avoid soreness the next day, said Ross Tucker, a South African physiologist and a founder of the website The Science of Sport. “That’s still dogma among many coaches and athletes.”

But it is a myth. “We now know that lactate isn’t responsible for muscle damage or soreness,” Dr. Tucker said, and cooling down does not rid muscles of it anyway. Read more…

My comment: If we study indigenous human activity patterns and look at physical activity through the lens of evolution, it’s clear that exercise cool-downs are a novel behaviour. Also, according to Dr. Ross Tucker, the scientific evidence shows little benefit from cooling down as most of us do it. Bottom line, exercise cool-down is not a priority for the average trainee.

How Far Fitness Has Fallen

You’re pathetic. Really. According to the latest research, human fitness has decreased so dramatically in recent years that even the strongest of us would consider ancient men to be, well, monsters. Read more…

My comment: This was also posted on my facebook page. While some of the statements in the article, such as this one: “Even our most highly trained athletes pale in comparison to these ancestors of ours”, don’t really hold up that well, it’s no doubt that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were a lot fitter than we are today. This fact has led some researchers to propose that we should simulate indigenous human activity patterns in order to optimize gene expression, and Organic Fitness has been used as a term in the scientific literature to describe physical activity that is consistent with our hunter-gatherer heritage. I like to use the term in a somewhat different and broader sense (after all, fitness involves many other aspects of human life than physical activity).


This Is How A Single Drop Of Seawater Looks Magnified 25 Times

David Liittschwager, an accomplished award-winning photographer who has created numerous marine wildlife photos for National Geographic, has created an image showing the microfauna that exists inside a single drop of seawater! Read more…

My comment: Something to think about the next time you swallow sea water.

Health Bridge – The Microbiome – A Microscopic World Within Us

My comment: After watching this video, Tom Malterre has definitely become a favorite of mine. His explanation of microbes, health, and nutrition is just excellent.  Well worth a listen.

Circadian Disorganization Alters Intestinal Microbiota

While it is yet to be established if some of the adverse effects associated with circadian disorganization in humans (e.g., shift workers, travelers moving across time zones, and in individuals with social jet lag) are mediated by dysbiosis, the current study demonstrates that circadian disorganization can impact the intestinal microbiota which may have implications for inflammatory diseases. Read more…

My comment: Most of the early studies on the gut microbiome and lifestyle focused on the effects of diet and pharmaceutical use, but we’re now learning that pretty much everything we do affects the balance of critters that live in and on our bodies. Recent reports suggest that sleeping patterns, maillard reaction products, and physical activity patterns impact the gut microbiota, which adds to the growing pile of evidence showing that the western diet and lifestyle contribute to dysbiosis.

Rural microbes could boost city dwellers’ health, study finds

The greater prevalence of asthma, allergies and other chronic inflammatory disorders among people of lower socioeconomic status might be due in part to their reduced exposure to the microbes that thrive in rural environments, according to a new scientific paper. Read more…

My comment: This is something I’ve talked a lot about on the blog. Humans have evolved in close contact with the vast microbial ecosystems found in nature, and it’s only recently, from an evolutionary point of view, that we’ve disconnected ourselves from these ecosystems by moving into clean homes and adopting modern hygienic practises. This disconnect has resulted in a loss of  microbial old friends that used to be a part of the ancestral human microbiome.

The Case Against Antibacterial Soap

It’s been ingrained in us since childhood. Don’t want to get sick? Wash your hands with antibacterial soap. But the same compound we entrust to fend off the sniffles could actually be harming us—and creating an army of superbugs in the process. It’s time to ban antibacterial soap. Read more…

My comment: It’s well established that broad-spectrum antibiotics perturb the microbial ecosystems that live in our bodies, but hand sanitizers, “mouth washes”, and other products with antimicrobial properties have gotten much less attention. How do hand sanitizers impact the skin microbiome? We don’t really know for sure at this point, but these recent reports indicate that they definitely don’t have a positive effect.

Money Microbiome

Analyzing the genetic material on 80 $1 bills sampled from a Manhattan bank, researchers from New York University (NYU) have discovered a diverse array of microbes, most of which are relatively harmless to humans, but a few that may leave you washing your hands after every cash transaction. It total, they found more than 3,000 bacterial types, including some drug-resistant species, and known microbes accounted for just 20 percent of the non-human DNA the researchers isolated; the rest belongs to as-yet unidentified species. Read more…

My comment: We live in a microbial world. As we’re now learning more about the effects of antibiotics (humans, livestock, etc.), herbicides/pesticides, oil spills, pollution, etc. I’m thinking more and more about the unintended effects human activities have on the invisible microbial ecosystems around us. How do the microbiomes in our environment impact us?

Can chemicals produced by gut microbiota affect children with autism?

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have significantly different concentrations of certain bacterial-produced chemicals, called metabolites, in their feces compared to children without ASD. This research provides further evidence that bacteria in the gut may be linked to autism. Read more…

My comment: By now it’s well established that gut microbes impact mood and brain function through the microbiome-gut-brain axis. Given the evidence that is coming out, it’s definitely time to start including the gut microbiota in the treatment of mental disorders.

Other topics

Your Brain Is Smaller Than a Caveman’s

It’s a little-known fact outside paleontology, but over the past 20,000 years—a span that has produced Plato, Shakespeare, Einstein, Mozart, and every piece of human technology not made from a chipped rock—the human brain has gotten smaller. The average male brain 20,000 years ago, during the late Stone Age, was 1,500 cubic centimeters. Now it’s 1,350. In other words, we’ve lost roughly a tennis ball of brain volume. Read more…

My comment: The general belief is that modern humans are smarter than our primitive, “simple-minded” stone age ancestors, but does it really hold up? I’m not so sure.

Other interesting articles


  1. It’s a pleasure for us to show your contents translated to spanish. Regards 😀

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