Tuesday, March 6, 2018

6 Older Studies That Got No Love but Should Have

Inline_Studies“Back in my day, science came harder. We may not have had your fancy longitudinal data analyzing software, your iterated pool of available data upon which to build, or your worldwide network of instantaneous communication and information transmission, but we rolled up our sleeves and got to work just the same. And man did we do some science and discover some things. Boy, you don’t even know the half of it.”

When I turn my sights back to older research, I realize that a lot of this stuff we “discover” in health and nutrition has already been found, or at least hinted at. Today, I’m going to explore some of my favorite research from years past that, if posted to Science Daily or linked on Twitter today, would get a huge response.

Carnivory and Aging

It’s 2018, and very low-carb eating is on the rise. From Bitcoin carnivores to the success of the Keto Reset to the zero-carb movement, there’s a growing acknowledgement that eating as little glucose as possible may stave off some of the aging-related maladies that plague us. But it’s not exactly new. Back in 2006—okay, not that long ago, but longer you think at first glance (12 years!)—researchers were exploring the role a carnivorous diet could play in anti-aging.

Bacon and Colon Cancer

In 1998, scientists set out to induce colon cancer in rats using different sources of protein and fat. Since “everyone knows” red meat causes colon cancer, they wanted confirmation. There were ten groups of rats with different fat and protein sources and amounts. One diet was based on casein and lard. Another was casein and olive oil. Another was beef. Another was chicken with skin. And the last was a diet based on bacon. For each diet, one group got 14% fat/23% protein and the other got 28% fat/40% protein. They tracked ACF multiplicity—the formation and spread of aberrant crypts, the structures that presage the beginning of colon cancer.

All of the rats experienced about the same degree of increase in ACF multiplicity—except for the bacon-fed rats. The rats on the 30% bacon diet had 12% lower ACF multiplicity. The rats on the 60% bacon diet had 20% lower ACF multiplicity. The bacon was protective against colon cancer, and it was dose-dependent protection.

Flummoxed, the authors hypothesize that the nitrate-induced hyperhydration—the bacon-fed rats drank more water than the others—was able to counter the carcinogenic effects of all that bacon. Sure.

This is a rat study and far from definitive, but I almost never see anyone cite it. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

Magnesium and Heart Disease

A doctor tells his patient that he has heart disease. Gives him a list of prescriptions to fill, tells him to cut out the fat and lower the salt, recommends he “exercise regularly.” Standard stuff. Why isn’t “take magnesium” on that list of best practices? Why isn’t getting a blood magnesium test standard alongside a blood lipids test? A 1981 paper found convincing evidence that low serum magnesium had the strongest correlation with heart disease. A 2013 review had the same conclusion.

Mildred Seelig studied this for decades, exploring the mechanistic underpinnings of magnesium deficiency and heart disease, the role of magnesium in congestive heart failure, the utility of magnesium infusion in acute myocardial infarction, She and her results received little acknowledgement by the medical community.

As recently as 2004, Seelig was showing that magnesium accomplishes many of the same effects as statins without the negative side effects. We really should have listened to her.

Sugar and Heart Disease

In the late 60s and early 70s, as most nutrition researchers focused their ire on saturated fat and cholesterol using spotty data, John Yudkin was exploring the role of dietary sugar in heart disease. He actually showed back in 1969 that sugar consumption made blood “stickier”—increased platelet adhesion, an indication of arterial injury—and insulin skyrocket in certain people, and these people were at a greater risk of heart disease. He highlighted the strong connection between elevated insulin and atheroma (the degeneration of arterial walls).

If only we’d adopted his paradigm then.

Cheese, Meat, and Colon Cancer

“No, because I make sure to eat lots of meat and cheese, especially together in the same meal.” Say that next time anyone asks if you’re worried about getting colon cancer on your “caveman diet.” They’ll laugh, but it’s true. Researchers have known this for decades.

Don’t believe me? In order for animals to develop colon cancer from eating red meat, researchers must deprive them of calcium. Calcium, particularly in the form of cheese and in the context of a meat-rich diet, protects against colon cancer.

One study even cooked the hell out of Swiss cheese to modify the casein in the cheese, supposedly turning it carcinogenic. But when the rats ate the cooked cheese, their ACF multiplicity dropped.

Low Cholesterol and Mortality

Recent research has established connections between high cholesterol and longevity (0r low cholesterol and mortality). PD Mangan just wrote a great blog post detailing the results of some of this research, but this “problem” of low cholesterol and high all-cause mortality goes back decades.

And it is a problem for the lipid hypothesis. What do you do when you “just know” that lowering cholesterol is healthy, but the data doesn’t want to cooperate? When Japanese-American men with the lowest cholesterol have the highest mortality? You blame “unadjusted analyses.” Raw data showing an increase in total mortality from lipid lowering must be massaged!

Science progresses by building upon the scaffolds previous generations have erected—on older research. And those older studies are often just as powerful, groundbreaking, and illuminating as the newer studies. You just have to look.

I’m interested in hearing from you. Hop on Pubmed, filter out any results published in the last twenty or so years, and report what you find. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised and the breadth and depth of research.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care and share your favorite pieces of older research!


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Primal Starter: 10 Nutritional Actions To Enhance Insulin Sensitivity

Honey, Stay-in-Bread Pudding

Made with whole grain bread, vanilla Greek yogurt, low-fat milk, honey, vanilla protein powder, and cinnamon, this breakfast is just as satisfying as it is delicious. I use Sundays to meal prep lots of veggies and meats, but also breakfast. It’s so easy to mix up a few batches and store in the refrigerator. Just grab and go for a fuss-free morning!

Honey, Stay-in-Bread Pudding

Serves 1


1 large slice whole grain bread

1/4 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt

1/4 cup low-fat milk1/2 T honey + 1/2 T for drizzling on top

2 T unsweetened vanilla protein powder

1/4 tsp. cinnamon


Cut bread into 16 small squares and then add to a Mason jar or container with a lid. In a small food processor or blender, combine Greek yogurt, milk, honey, protein powder, and cinnamon. Pour over bread, allowing it to fully soak in. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, drizzle remaining honey on top, grab a spoon, and dig in!

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My Favorite Frozen Veggies & What To Do With Them

Hi, guys!

I’m excited to share with you a short video (and blog post) about some of my favorite frozen vegetables and some recipes for how I use them in quick and easy meals. As I mentioned recently, I’m learning more and more about how important it is to include lots of veggies in our diets. It’s really fascinating how they can affect gut health, which benefits nearly every aspect of our health. I mean, we all know that eating veggies is good for you, but here’s another reason! 🙂 I hope this video is helpful to you and inspires some new kitchen creations using frozen veggies!

All Things Cauliflower

Cauliflower is definitely a hot ingredient in the past year or two, so it’s no surprise this frozen food is at the top of my list. Thanks to its popularity, companies are making all sorts of versatile products to make it easy to enjoy, which I am really thankful for because if you’ve ever made homemade cauliflower rice or attempted a cauliflower pizza crust, you know what a giant pain in the butt it can be – what a mess! And, hey, I’m all about short cuts when it comes to cooking. I love the frozen riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. They’re super easy to mix into stir fry dishes, burrito bowls, and a few of my favorite recipes listed below. I’ve even heard riced cauliflower is great added to a smoothie, but I haven’t personally try it. (Have you? If so, let me know what it’s all about.) I also keep frozen mashed cauliflower on hand to add on top of a lightened-up Shepherd’s Pie or as a quick and easy side dish, which is so good with a little minced garlic, melted ghee/butter, and salt + pepper. Lastly, pre-made cauliflower pizza crusts are a serious game changer! Making it from scratch is way more effort than it’s worth in my opinion. This frozen meal starter is a go-to family favorite for our family – even Quinn will eat it! I tried the one from Trader Joe’s over the weekend and it was just okay – a little mushy, but I don’t think I fully followed the directions – but the ones from CAULIPOWER are amazing. They’re a little hard to find at grocery stores, but you can always buy them online.

Parmesan Cauliflower Hash Browns

Cowboy Caviar Cauliflower Bowl

Cheesy Cauliflower Rice Stuffed Peppers

Frozen Spinach

Getting in greens is always a priority for me, but I seriously cannot keep enough fresh bagged spinach around to last for the week. It cooks down to nothing and one bag is often gone in a single dinner. Since finding organic frozen spinach, I make sure to always have it stashed away for my late-in-the-week meals or the “wing in” ones on Saturday before we’ve gone grocery shopping. Frozen spinach is great in smoothies, breakfast casseroles, one-pan dinners (my fav) or even as a simple side dish (just saute with butter/ghee/oil and your favorite seasoning). Plus, you never have to worry about wasting spinach and watching your money wilt away.

Sweet Potato, Spinach & Feta Egg Bake

Game Day Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Cheesy Couscous With Chicken & Spinach

3-Ingredient Sweet Potato Hash

Spiralized Vegetables

I might be on the side of obsessed with all of the spiralized veggies that are popping up in grocery stories. Even better is that stores such as Trader Joe’s are now making freezer-friendly options, which are the best to pull out in a pinch. Not to mention it means I don’t have to make a mess attempting to spiralize a carrot! I personally love Trader Joe’s spiralized zucchini and carrot noodles, and they often make an appearance in my meals. While a carrot is still a carrot, there is something fun about the spiralized shape that makes me want to eat even more veggies. They’re always a good option for a healthier noodle recipe and go great with a hearty sauce or simple side dish. I love mixing zucchini spirals with Laughing Cow cheese and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan for a super cheesy, but calorie-friendly dish!

Carrot Chicken Ramen Noodles

Everyday Sweet Potato Hash

Zoodle Shrimp Scampi

Bagged Onions and Peppers

If there is one task I’m just not a big fan of, it’s chopping onions (and peppers). I mean, I doubt anyone loves chopping something that makes you cry, but it’s definitely a step I don’t mind skipping. I adore the Trader Joe’s fire roasted mixed onions and bell peppers. They makes life so much easier, and they’re really affordable. In fact, I often find colorful bell peppers on the pricey side, so the frozen option is a great budget-friendly opinion for us. We use these mixes for family favorite fajitas, soup bases, casseroles, and easy crockpot recipes. They’re a must-grab the next time you hit the grocery store! Quick tip: For finely chopped peppers and onion, just toss the frozen stuff in your food processor or blender for a few seconds – works great for this Hashbrown Breakfast Bake!

The Easiest Chicken Fajitas

Crockpot Chicken Masala

One-Pan BBQ Chicken

Frozen Broccoli

Broccoli is one of those vegetables that can be tossed into just about any dish and add some heartiness while still being a nutritious addition. Its high fiber content is always really filling and it’s ability to hold up to different cooking methods makes it very versatile. It doesn’t get mushy as easily, and I’ve even found that the frozen variety holds up quite well to simply roasting (unlike other frozen veggies I’ve tried). Frozen broccoli is great in everything from an omelet, soup, casserole, lunch bowl, stir-fry, or as a simple roasted side dish. Plus, it’s easy to jazz up with a little cheese, sauce, dressing, or your favorite seasoning blend, like Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. Have I mentioned that one a few times now? 🙂 If you haven’t tried it yet, I would definitely give it a go!

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli With Spinach

Tortilla Crusted Feta & Broccoli Quiche

Easy Buffalo Chicken, Broccoli & Kale Bowl

There are absolutely a ton of other great freezer vegetables out there, so make sure to stock up on your family’s favorite so you always have a quick fix on hand.

Question of the Day

What are some of your favorite frozen veggies and ways to use them?


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How To Create A Wedding Budget In YNAB

This post is sponsored by YNAB.

You guys have heard about my love for You Need a Budget (YNAB). I first learned about the budgeting program in March 2016 and have been using it ever since. I cannot imagine life without it! So, naturally when it was time to budget for our wedding last fall, I figured out a way to make a separate wedding budget within my subscription.

One great thing about the YNAB software is that you can make as many budgets as you want. So, creating a budget for our wedding was simply a few clicks away from our household budget, which we could keep in its own bubble. You can use YNAB for any budget you can dream up, whether party planning, an addition on your house, or a big vacation. You can track literally anything that might have expenses beyond your normal household spending.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, you can sign up for a free 34-day trial before paying the monthly fee (less than $10 a month) to continue using the service. I promise, you will save enough from mindfully tracking your spending that it will be worth it 10x over!


Creating a project-based budget in YNAB is very simple. You can have the whole thing set up in less than 10 minutes.

Start by creating a new budget and giving your project a name!

When it was time to start wedding planning, I searched around for both timelines and budgets. What was frustrating about both of these was that many of the line items did not apply to me because we had an all-in-one venue. For example, we didn’t need any transportation from the ceremony to the reception since they were in the same location. We also didn’t have table rentals or need a separate caterer or cake baker. (Actually, I can’t recommend having an all-in-one ceremony-reception-caterer-accommodation venue enough! It made the whole process so simple and easy, and the Clifton Inn was a dream to work with.)

All this to say that I found most of the sample budgets way too complicated! So, I decided to make my own where I could control the categories myself.

I made several big categories and then created line items within them as needed. Note that on an Apple keyboard, you can bring up the emoji keyboard by hitting Control + Command + Space Bar at the same time. I have emojis all over my household budget too!

What I loved about my own categories is that I could distinguish between the initial deposits and the balances due. This was SO HELPFUL in tracking when everything had to be paid!

Once your categories are all set, you make your initial deposit.

If you get any gifts from your parents or family to help pay for the wedding, you can enter them here too. You want the pretend account to have your total wedding budget. Categorize everything as “To Be Budgeted” here, and make sure these are INFLOW (aka deposits) and not OUTFLOW leaving your account.

Since this project-based budget was never connected to my bank, everything has to be manually entered, but this gives you the most control. Additionally, since there weren’t a ton of transactions, it was no big deal to enter them by hand and then cross-check with my statements when the charges came through or checks were deposited. Just check the green C when a transaction clears.

Once you have your budget amounts entered, you will see that you have your total wedding budget ready to give every dollar a job. In my example, where $15,000 comes from the bride and groom and $1,000 from each set of parents, we have a $17,000 total budget ready to be divided up.

At this point, you simply go down through your categories and assign dollars! You might want to have a line item called “Stuff I Forgot To Budget For” because we all know unexpected expenses arise, like an extra guest or alterations! As you budget categories, your “To Be Budgeted” shrinks down.

You can write notes on the sidebar for even more details if you wish.

Your To Be Budgeted will be at $0 and all categories will have plenty of green for spending. You would also be ready to book vendors and put down deposits.

As you pay for things, simply enter the transactions in your pretend bank register. You can even do this on the app while you’re out and about. You can also check your budget during a vendor meeting. The YNAB app is awesome! Add some notes to the memo line if you need to remember a check number or detail.

As the transactions come in, the money available in each category shrinks.

And because we all know nothing ever turns out exactly as planned, it’s so easy to roll with the punches too! If you overspend on your dress, you can move funds around very easily. (This is something that would be much harder to do in a spreadsheet!)

Ta-da! The $50 from alterations and shoes covered the overage on the dress. 🙂

So, there you have it friends: an easy project-based budget in YNAB!

Thanks to YNAB for sponsoring this post!

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Clean Eating Walnut Crusted Cod Recipe

Episode 384 – Lily Nichols RDN – Real Food for Pregnancy