Study: Probiotics Don’t Do Shit for Healthy Adults’ Shit

A new study suggests that if you’re a healthy adult without any underlying conditions mucking up your digestion, you might want to think twice before spending your hard-earned dollars on probiotics.

Source: Study: Probiotics Don’t Do Shit for Healthy Adults’ Shit

There are lots of personal anecdotes about probiotics helping someone through digestion related issues.  If it works for you, that’s all that really matters.

You Can Train Your Body Into Thinking It’s Had Medicine

The results were part of a well-known and seemingly mundane phenomenon that has been driving a quiet revolution in immunology. Its proponents hope that by cutting drug doses, it will not only minimise harmful side-effects but also slash billions from healthcare costs, transforming treatment for conditions such as autoimmune disorders and cancer. The secret? Teaching your body how to respond to a particular medicine, so that in future it can trigger the same change on its own.

Source: You can train your body into thinking it’s had medicine

This is at least a second cup kind of article, so I’ll be back because I’m curious if the effect is transferable.

Clinically, placebos been at least 50% as effective as real drugs.  But this is more than just a mere placebo effect. It’s a true form of conditioning the body’s response.  It creates a trigger based on sensations and memory whether the patient knows what they are taking is the real medicine or not. Placebos mimic medicine from the beginning and works more effectively if the patient is fooled into thinking it works. No deception is required here.

About That Ultra-Endurance Event You’ve Been Meaning To Do

If you’re serious about fitness, you know the importance of training your muscles and your brain. Without the right prep, you won’t have the physical or mental endurance to finish, whether it’s a five-k or an Ironman. But it turns out that it may be just as important to train your gut—or suffer inflammatory consequences.

Source: Extreme Exercise Can Poison the Blood

I’d heard similar things about endurance events, like Ironman.  That the exertion can deplete the body such that these competitors are trimming years off their life.

One competitor told me about how they went swimming with friends after an event. The person decided they couldn’t participate because it was too soon after an event.  They were conscious of how little body fat/etc they had to draw on if they wanted to participate.

A $25 Blood Test Could Detect Every Virus That’s Ever Infected You

You’ll probably remember the last time you had the flu, but what about that time you had measles – or was it chicken pox? Your blood knows: it keeps a record of every virus you’ve ever been infected with. A tiny drop of the stuff can now be tested to reveal a person’s viral history.

The test, called VirScan, reveals that adults around the world tend to have been infected by an average of 10 viruses over their lifetime. It could also be used to identify links between viral infections and mysterious diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Source: Cheap blood test reveals every virus you’ve ever been exposed to

The article goes on to largely dismiss the use of the test, as the immune response takes time to build up the antibodies necessary to register an indication of infection.  And points out that we have established symptoms…

How Viruses Hide Inside Your Eyeballs, Even When You’re No Longer Sick

Last week brought the horrifying news that the Ebola virus can live in the eyeballs of survivors, even after it’s been eliminated from the rest of the body. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, though. Viruses have always hidden in parts of our bodies you’d never expect. In fact, we’re all walking virus reservoirs.

Source: How Viruses Hide Inside Your Eyeballs, Even When You’re No Longer Sick

There are also shingles vaccines you can get when you’re older, so please get those, folks. Shingles can be really bad — it can even give you temporary blindness.

I had a co-worker come down with shingles – I’d never heard of it before that, but my boss had.  My boss was certain the co-worker would not come back and they were ultimately correct.

Compassion: Changing the World and Ourselves

…what if recognising our shared humanity was more than just a sentimental ideal? What if consciously practising kindness could change the wiring of your brain and make you live longer?

This is neuroscience’s latest frontier – a growing body of research that shows compassion could be the key to improved health, happiness and longevity.

Brain imaging reveals that exercising compassion stimulates the same pleasure centres associated with the drive for food, water and sex.

Other studies show it can be protective against disease and increase lifespan.

Source: Changing the world and ourselves through compassion

Interesting read, but light on the science.

And you have nice hair!

Sorry, but I don’t believe altruism exists.  Doing something compassionate to be seen as such is in fact selfish.  And I’ve seen compassion make people rather myopic, sneering at what they’d label as socialism – social programs to support the aftermath of their political views.

Study: Large Red Meat Consumption Triggers Immune Response, Leading to Cancer

It should be made clear that the research appears reputable. The research does not rely upon statistical analysis that can be potentially biased. It’s about the presence or absence of genetic mutations in different species, making the results extremely robust.  However, in this study the high Neu5Gc diet was 0.25 mg of Neu5Gc per gram of food. For comparison their estimated range of Neu5Gc content in beef is 0.023-0.231 mg per gram.  Effectively the mice were fed ~1,000 times more Neu5Gc in their food than what is found in a steak.  And the mice could only eat this pellet, whereas humans don’t only eat steak.

Red meat has been linked to cancer for decades, with research suggesting that eating large amounts of pork, beef or lamb raises the risk of deadly tumours. But for the first time scientists think they know what is causing the effect. The body, it seems, views red meat as a foreign invader and sparks a toxic immune response.

Source: Red meat triggers toxic immune reaction which causes cancer, scientists find

Red meat contains Neu5Gc. Pork has more Neu5Gc than beef, and dairy has it too. Fish contains trace amounts, and poultry has none.  Cooking didn’t have a significant effect on the Neu5Gc content – cooking reduced water weight, and therefore increased the µg/g value.  Here’s the chart from the paper:

Neu5Gc Content and Percentage of Various Food Groups

Neu5Gc Content and Percentage of Various Food Groups

When our ancestors evolutionary diverged from chimpanzees, we developed a mutation in an enzyme known as CMAH. CMAH catalyzes the addition of a hydroxyl group to sialic acid (NeuNAc) to produce Neu5Gc (NeuNAc w/ added -OH). One of the things that makes you uniquely human compared to almost all other mammals are the patterns of carbohydrates that cover the surface of your cells.  What makes you uniquely human is the striking lack of Neu5Gc on your cells compared to almost all other mammals.

Mutation of the CMAH enzymatic pathway may have promoted developmental brain complexity. This supports the view that human ancestors ate a primarily vegan diet.  With little rare meat consumption to result in accelerated aging, the effects of this reduced fitness was outweighed by increased brain complexity that may have provided a survival advantage for mutants.

Glycoscience is a new branch of science that will help us get closer to understanding the human body in the finest details. If this research is confirmed to be true, it will have great implications on how to make consumption of red meat safe (genetic modification?) and could shed more light on how the body prevents cancer from spreading out of control (not everyone dies from cancer).