So I have taken note of the fact that my last article got 2x as many recommendations (4!) as anything I've written before. Which gives me hope that it's not totally conceited of me to think that some of you may be interested in the sort of research I do. But, I have a pretty limited stockpile of things I can discuss in detail right off the top of my head, so I'm meting it out carefully. Plus, while this little report may not showcase my finest writing, that pondering mouse is surely my best clip art-ing to date.
Jennifer Couzin-Frankel wrote a really nice news article in Science this week which I will just briefly summarize here for those without institutional access to the far side of the paywall. But you should really read hers, it's much better.
Essentially, two new studies have suggested that a high carbohydrate/low protein diet may be beneficial for your health. In case you've been keeping score at home, that's the opposite of the standard Atkins-diet thinking that has become pretty popular. Pasta lovers rejoice! Both study authors also suggested that the increased life expectancy stemming from calorie restricted diets may in fact just be a result of lower protein consumption. So don't start that wheatgrass-juice-cleanse-fast just yet.
It gets more interesting. The first study, which was done using mice — small creatures widely regarded as being not-human — found that the low-protein mice tended to be slimmer than their carb-heavy counterparts, just as Mr. Atkins would suggest. However, the chubbier mice had lower blood pressure, better glucose tolerance, healthier cholesterol and a resultant higher life expectancy. This lends some credence to the "fat & fit" theory that may or may not be mythical.
The second study, done using humans, confirmed a similar result, BUT only if you're sub-65. Once you're getting the seniors' discount, it may be worth spending it on a few extra steaks. The researchers proposed that this was due to poor protein absorption by older bodies.
In conclusion, everyone is still mostly very confused at the relationship between diet and health. But at least now you've got something to cite when your friend orders his cheeseburger with a lettuce leaf for a bun.
See "Diet Studies Challenge Thinking on Proteins Versus Carbs" in Science for the full rundown.
(image from Yelp)