Science Catch-up. Weight Gain From Inhaling Polluted Air?

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by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

Welcome to our Thursday’s Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy. Get our email updates every other Thursday here (it’s free).

Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!

Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:

1. Weight gain from inhaling polluted air?

2. Organic milk has more Omega 3

3. Your dietary antioxidant capacity reduces all-cause mortality

4. Molecular alarm clock in your brain?

5. ‘Shocking’ sugar levels in chai latte

6. Lack of microbiotic diversity in obesity and insulin resistance


Weight gain from inhaling polluted air?

News link

I believe that understanding toxicology is as important as understanding nutrition science, and here’s an example.

This new study, conducted by Duke University and Chinese researchers, indicates that inhaling polluted air could raise the risks of:

  • gaining weight,
  • high cholesterol, and
  • insulin resistance (which can lead to type 2 diabetes).

This is consistent with other studies showing that air pollution induces:

  • oxidative stress,
  • inflammation in the organs and circulatory system, and
  • altered fat tissue.

Air pollution is a huge health concern globally. Avoid travelling through highly-polluted areas as much as you can, or wear an air mask – health trumps vanity in here!

Note: There are several detrimental metabolic processes triggered by toxicants which can lead to fat gain. You’re invited to learn this science in our Detox Specialist course. Toxicology and detoxification are the two long-established fields of scientific research you’ll gain expertise on (DIFFERENT FROM the made-up fallacies circulating the internet these days).


Organic milk has more Omega 3

News link

Scientists at Newcastle University analysed cow’s milk data from all over the world, and they found that the “fat” in organic milk has more Omega 3 compared to conventional milk.

I was very interested in finding out exactly how much more Omega 3.

The media reported percentages (%), and not actual Omega 3 amounts. So off I went to read the full study to find out.

According to the study, half a litre of organic full-fat milk (or equivalent fat amounts in organic dairy products) has 39mg of very-long-chain Omega 3s (DHA/EPA), compared to 25mg in conventional milk.

To put things in perspective, it’s advised that you consume a minimum of 250mg of very-long-chain Omega 3s (DHA/EPA) per day.

Very-long-chain Omega 3s tend to be quite precious, given that consuming them directly saves your body from converting ALA (their short-chain precursor) into DHA/EPA. In truth, it’s DHA/EPA that confer the direct health benefits we often read about Omega 3.

Oily fish species (like salmon or fresh tuna) are good sources of DHA/EPA. Other sources include egg yolks and DHA/EPA supplements (from seaweed or microalgae if you’re vegan).


Your dietary antioxidant capacity reduces all-cause mortality

Study link

More good news for those of us who love plant-based foods! In this case, related to your antioxidant capacity.

Observational data indicates that a high intake of antioxidants (mainly phytochemicals and vitamins from plant foods) reduces your mortality risk, from all causes, including cancer and heart disease.

Surprisingly, this protective effect seems to be stronger in current smokers. Well, I’m not saying that smoking is good, but if you do have a smoker in the family, it’s worth letting them know.

We teach how to evaluate someone’s antioxidant capacity in our Nutritional Therapist course.


Molecular alarm clock in your brain?

News link

Ever woke up right before your alarm clock rang? Yup, this is because your brain has its own! Scientists found a new molecular alarm clock in the brain. It’s a neurochemical called neuromedin U, or Nmu. This protein can tell your brain to wake up, particularly in the morning.


‘Shocking’ sugar levels in chai latte

News link

If you thought that chai latte was your healthiest option at the café, think again!

And this is before you further sweeten it:


Lack of microbiotic diversity in obesity and insulin resistance

Study link

Here’s more evidence linking a lack of microbiotic diversity in your gut with chronic intestinal inflammation, obesity, metabolic problems, and insulin resistance.

To make things worse, intestinal inflammation makes your gut barrier “leaky”, which means that waste products and bacterial toxins can escape into your bloodstream, worsening inflammation in your entire body and exacerbating metabolic disorders.

Ensuring a proper microbiotic diversity and strengthening your gut barrier are key in preventing these problems.


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What has inspired you this week? What are your thoughts on some of these topics? Leave a comment and let us know!

Alex Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for students. She is a Harvard-trained scientific researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups every other Thursday.
Connect with Alex via email.

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  • Ginette Powell

    Reply Reply February 25, 2016

    I had a client just this week that was drinking a costa coffee chia latte each day. She was shocked when we discussed the sugar content. How are these establishments able to get away with this?

    • Alex

      Reply Reply February 25, 2016

      Ginette – well done for spotting that! Small changes can make a huge difference :-)

  • Cadi

    Reply Reply February 29, 2016

    I am a fan of a Chai Latte – I make my own blend with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and black tea. I’ve had some of my clients/friends sending me pics of them drinking a chai latte from Costa/Starbucks/blend from Asda thinking they are being healthy. Its really disheartening that big companies turn something good in to something so unhealthy

    • Alex

      Reply Reply March 2, 2016

      Hi Cadi – your own blend sounds delicious! And yes, not many people know that commercial Chai Latte has so much sugar in it… so let’s spread the word!

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