Intermittent fasting diet — study shows that it might work, maybe

scrabble pieces on a plate

I’m a huge skeptic of diets, but I just read an article that seemed to indicate that the intermittent fasting diet can actually help lose weight. Now, the diet is not magical, it doesn’t make calories suddenly disappear, but it seems to work by a mechanism that causes a calorie deficit.

Now weight loss is a simple equation — calories burned must be greater than calories consumed. Humans are, in effect, a closed system — we don’t create calories from sunlight like plants, and we don’t absorb calories from the air. And we burn calories by doing anything from typing a long blog article to hiking up a mountain. There are no magical ways to change this calculation, despite the claims of many health nuts.

We are going to take a look at what is an intermittent fasting diet and this new research paper. Maybe some of you have tried it and it worked (or failed), then tell me in the comments that I’m either right or wrong.

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Non-polio enterovirus linked to respiratory disease, not vaccines

non-polio enterovirus

With the appearance of a polio outbreak recently, I wanted to clear up some misinformation (from anti-vaxxers) regarding non-polio enterovirus linked to an outbreak of children’s respiratory disease. There is no relationship between the polio outbreak and the outbreak of non-polio enterovirus, and there is certainly no relationship between either and vaccines.

For this article, I’ll focus on the non-polio enterovirus. There is a lot to this situation, so stay tuned for some science.

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Does walking reduce risk of dementia? Study seems to say yes

dementia walking

People are afraid of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease since we really don’t understand the diseases very well. But there’s some good news — a recent paper stated that walking could reduce the risk of dementia — could it be that simple?

As this feathered dinosaur is getting on in years, I worry about declining executive function. So far, I’m doing well. And I walk between 10 to 20 thousand steps every day for the past decade, so this type of science is personally interesting.

Like I always do, I’m going to present the key findings of the peer-reviewed paper, then tell you what I think about the article. So let’s get to it.

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Does black tea increase lifespan? I hope so, but time for science

black tea

I was researching nonsense claims about foods when I came across a few articles that claimed that black tea could help you lead a long life. As I am a devoted drinker of black tea (only in the iced form, I’m not British, Australian, or Indian), I was intrigued. Was this some nonsense pushed by woo quacks, or was it based on robust science?

Now, I am especially skeptical about any nutritional study that attempts to link some food to any health benefit, and most of the recent articles were mostly on quack websites that support just about anything a scientist or my loyal readers would scoff at.

As you know, I’m going to get to the bottom of this story. Is there science? Or is it just typical junk science?

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Mucoid plaques and colon detoxification junk science (UPDATED)

mucoid plaques

The internet is filled with all kinds of nonsense, but one of the more annoying is the issue of mucoid plaques and how they can ruin your life. Colon detoxification or, sometimes, colon cleansing to remove mucoid plaques is one of those strange alternative medicine ideas that hang around without one single bit of evidence supporting it.

Of course, it is time to take a look at this and debunk this junk science. Spoiler alert — it doesn’t do anything except take money from your pocket, like most pseudoscientific scams on the internet.

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Acetaminophen during pregnancy linked to autism? Maybe.

acetaminophen pregnancy autism

I’ve been asked several times about the veracity of the claims that taking acetaminophen during pregnancy was linked to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. I do get tired of all the claims about what causes autism, especially when it comes to vaccines.

However, in this case, there seems to be some quality evidence that consuming analgesics, like acetaminophen, may be linked to an increased risk of autism.

Let’s look at some of the best data which may support this claim.

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Omega-3 supplements have little effect on cardiovascular disease and mortality

omega-3 supplements

This article about omega-3 supplements is a companion piece to my recent article about fatty fish and cardiovascular disease. There is little evidence that two servings of fatty fish, which are filled with omega-3, have any effect on the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

I have been skeptical of supplements for a long period of time. Supplements are generally of low quality, they don’t prevent or cure cancer, they don’t prevent colds, they can’t boost the immune system, and they don’t prevent heart disease. Now there is a powerful review of omega-3 supplements that shows that it has little effect on cardiovascular disease.

Unless one has a chronic disease or is chronically malnourished, there are precious few instances where supplements are necessary. A couple of cases where supplements may be critical include prenatal folic acid supplements to prevent neurological defects in the developing fetus, vitamin C to prevent scurvy, and vitamin D supplements for individuals who do not produce enough endogenous vitamin D. In each of these cases, however, supplements are necessary to counteract a micronutrient deficiency that results from a chronic deficiency in the diet.

The benefits of omega-3 supplements have always been intriguing to me because it is one supplement that I thought might be useful for improving cardiovascular health based on some clinical evidence. But as I reviewed before, the evidence seemed awfully weak. With this new study, there may be no evidence whatsoever supporting the use of omega-3 supplements, at least for cardiovascular disease.

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Two servings of fatty fish every week — does it help your heart?

fatty fish

Nearly 30 years ago, I attended an American Heart Association meeting and sat in on a presentation about fatty fish in the diet. The presenter claimed that two servings of fatty fish helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and other issues.

This presentation occurred way before I made a presence on the internet debunking nutritional claims. I thought that the researchers behind the study were smarter than me, so who am I to dismiss their claims? Plus, I enjoy fatty fish with my sushi, salmon, and lox with my bagels. I mean, I was already practicing the diet, so my cardiovascular system must be working well.

The study was eventually published, and it became gospel in the cardiology world. Everyone who had anything to do with cardiology — physicians, researchers, cardiovascular device manufacturers — jumped on board with their two servings of fatty fish.

Then I grew up to be a cranky, snarky skeptic. And I wondered if this recommendation was actually supported by science. And that’s when the foundation of this belief that I held crumbled very quickly.

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Vitamin C does not prevent or treat cancer — let’s end this myth

vitamin c cancer

One of the frequently made claims from the alternative medicine world is that vitamin C prevents cancer. Or cures cancer. But is there any real science behind vitamin C and cancer?

Of course, there are over hundreds of different cancers, each with a different etiology, pathophysiology, and prognosis, so it’s rather difficult to believe that vitamin C has that much effect on any of those cancers. But the claims, and their adherents, persist despite the lack of robust evidence supporting these claims.

Frankly, there are just a handful of ways to prevent cancer. One of those ways, eating a balanced diet, implies consuming appropriate amounts of nutrients, like vitamin C, I suppose. But does it mean that taking a handful of vitamin C tablets has some beneficial effect on cancer prevention or treatment? Well, let’s take a look.

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Aluminum antiperspirants and breast cancer? Probably no link

aluminum antiperspirants

Lately, I keep seeing commercials that push aluminum-free deodorants and antiperspirants, and I was wondering if I missed some important health issue that is causing some sort of epidemic across the world. Now, those who debunk anti-vaccine tropes know all about the mythical dangers of aluminum.

You can assume when I hear claims about aluminum in deodorants that I’m going to squint my skeptical eyes and see if there is anything to it.

Many of the claims centers on breast cancer, although some people make claims about autoimmune diseases or kidney diseases are linked to the aluminum in deodorants. I’m going to stick with breast cancer for this article because that’s the focus of many of the claims. And it’s a deep rabbit hole that I had to climb into.

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