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Comparing high and low fat vegan diets for health effects

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With all the news on Paleo vegan diets, and Paleo low-carb diets, almost a decade ago there was a study showing high-carb, vegan diets led to major weight loss. You also may wish to check out a recently published book, Paleo Vegan, by Ellen Jaffe Jones (Author), Alan Roettinger (Author).

A few years ago, numerous Paleo cookbooks were published that emphasized fats, meats, and fish with some high-fiber vegetables. Those books emphasized eating meats and other animal proteins. Now, athlete, coach, and vegan advocate Ellen Jaffe Jones joins forces with chef extraordinaire and culinary genius Alan Roettinger to present a surprising yet delectable blend of plant-based vegan cuisine and popular vegan paleo diets.

Ellen examines both vegan and paleo dietary approaches, culling myth from reality, says the book's summary on Amazon.com. Laying bare the essentials, she proposes a simple, straightforward way of eating based on natural, whole, unprocessed foods that both diet styles endorse.

Macronutrients compared

Nutritional charts let you compare at a glance the value of vital macronutrients, such as protein and calcium, which play an important role in paleo diets, so you can easily select healthful, power-packed, plant-based alternatives to help you survive the rigors of civilized life. Just a simple hunt and gathering at your local grocery store, farmers market, or back-yard garden is all you'll need to evolve your diet from primitive to superhuman. This author highly recommends the book. The recipes are tasty, nutritious, and well, paleo and vegan with no meats mentioned.

In the book you can read how the authors work these basic principles and guidelines to let you enjoy your taste buds ablaze by dishing up variety in the creations and exotic flavor combinations using a bounty of fresh, whole foods such as nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables, wild-crafted greens and mushrooms, and healthy fats (as well as the occasional cheat of beans or grain-like seeds). Dishes like Oyster Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy Curry, Dandelion Salad with Beets, Roasted Pumpkin Dip, and Tuscan Kale with Chili, Garlic, and Black Olives highlight the culinary delights that await in Paleo Vegan. After reading the summary on Amazon.com, this author quickly purchased the book, and the recipes are excellent.

When it comes to vegan diets, some are high-fat, emphasizing a 43% fat diet that includes nuts, seeds, avocados as fats, and vegan saturated fat such as coconut oil and some are low fat, about 10% ground flaxseeds

A Paleo vegan diet might include lots of fats from seeds, nuts, and ois. But a low-fat vegan diet might cut the fats down to close to 10 percent of the diet or some variation of it, emphasizing no oils, seeds, or nuts, except for a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseeds permitted, since some fats are necessary for your brain and other organs. Some of the low-fat vegan diets would include the Dr. Esselstyn diet. See, Comparing the Eco-Atkins low-carb vegan to Esselstyn's low fat diet. You also may wish to view the YouTube video, "No Oil -- Not Even Olive Oil!" of Caldwell Esselstyn Jr MD of Cleveland Clinic who has shown heart disease can be reversed 100% of the time, using a plant-based diet. This is an example of a low-fat vegan diet.

Speaking of low-fat vegan diets, noteworthy is a 2005 study that showed how high-carb, vegan diets led to major weight loss for those trying to manage their weight. You may wish to check out the September 9, 2005 news release, "New study shows high-carb, vegan diet causes major weight loss." And also take a look at the website for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Back in 2005, that new study showed how high-carb, vegan diet causes major weight loss. The vegan diet turned out to be very effective--with no limits on portion size.

In a 2005 study, the adoption of a low-fat, vegan diet was associated with significant weight loss in overweight postmenopausal women, despite the absence of prescribed limits on portion size or energy intake

A low-fat, plant-based diet is more effective at helping women lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity than an omnivorous diet, shows a new study, "The effects of a low-fat, plant-based dietary intervention on body weight, metabolism, and insulin sensitivity," appearing in the September 2005 issue of The American Journal of Medicine. Authors are Neal D. Barnard, MD, Anthony R. Scialli, MD, Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, MD, RD, Amy J. Lanou, PhD, and Jolie Glass, MS.

The study, involving 59 overweight, postmenopausal women, was conducted by Neal D. Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), together with colleagues at Georgetown University Hospital and George Washington University. Half of the study participants followed a vegan diet; the other half followed a control diet based on National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines.

"The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry," says Dr. Barnard, the lead author, according to the September 9, 2005 news release, New study shows high-carb, vegan diet causes major weight loss. "As they began to experience the positive effects, weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity, the women in the intervention group became even more motivated to follow the plant-based eating plan."

Scientific studies show that obesity and overweight are far less prevalent in populations following a plant-based diet

In a recent study of more than 55,000 Swedish women, Tufts University researcher P. Kirstin Newby and her colleagues found that 40 percent of meat-eaters were overweight or obese while only 25 to 29 percent of vegetarians and vegans were. Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other life-threatening diseases. A new study appearing in September's Journal of Urology shows that a low-fat, primarily vegan diet may slow the progression of prostate cancer.

The simplicity of a vegan diet appeals to people who are busy with work and family, and many familiar recipes are easy to adapt. At least four studies published in peer-reviewed journals show that patients give the low-fat vegetarian diet a high rating in terms of acceptability, and that the transition only takes about three weeks or less.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, especially good nutrition. PCRM also conducts clinical research studies, opposes unethical human experimentation, and promotes alternatives to animal research.

Researchers at Brown University have developed a new biochip sensor that that can selectively measure glucose concentrations in a complex fluid like saliva

In another study by different researchers, this 2014 study shows how someone might use saliva to test his or her glucose levels, but the research is continuing for the present. The new research is described in the cover article, "A 'plasmonic cuvette': Dye chemistry coupled to plasmonic interferometry for glucose sensing," appearing in the June 2014 issue of the journal Nanophotonics. After all, if you can test DNA and total genomes from a bit of saliva, why not also be able to test your blood glucose levels from your saliva without having to draw a blood sample in a test tube or stick your finger to get a drop of blood?

Their approach combines dye chemistry with plasmonic interferometry. A dependable glucose monitoring system that uses saliva rather than blood would be a significant improvement in managing diabetes. The advance is an important step toward a device that would enable people with diabetes to test their glucose levels without drawing blood.

The new chip makes use of a series of specific chemical reactions combined with plasmonic interferometry, a means of detecting chemical signature of compounds using light. The device is sensitive enough to detect differences in glucose concentrations that amount to just a few thousand molecules in the sampled volume.

“We have demonstrated the sensitivity needed to measure glucose concentrations typical in saliva, which are typically 100 times lower than in blood,” said Domenico Pacifici, according to the June 3, 2014 news release, "Progress on detecting glucose levels in saliva." Pacifici is an assistant professor of engineering at Brown, who led the research. “Now we are able to do this with extremely high specificity, which means that we can differentiate glucose from the background components of saliva.” For more information, see the website of Pacifici Research Group - Nanophotonics, the research group of Professor Domenico Pacifici.

The biochip is made from a one-inch-square piece of quartz coated with a thin layer of silver

Etched in the silver are thousands of nanoscale interferometers — tiny slits with a groove on each side. The grooves measure 200 nanometers wide, and the slit is 100 nanometers wide — about 1,000 times thinner than a human hair. When light is shined on the chip, the grooves cause a wave of free electrons in the silver — a surface plasmon polariton — to propagate toward the slit. Those waves interfere with light that passes through the slit. Sensitive detectors then measure the patterns of interference generated by the grooves and slits.

When a liquid is deposited on the chip, the light and the surface plasmon waves propagate through that liquid before they interfere with each other. That alters the interference patterns picked up by the detectors, depending on the chemical makeup of the liquid. By adjusting the distance between the grooves and the center slit, the interferometers can be calibrated to detect the signature of specific compounds or molecules, with high sensitivity in extremely small sample volumes.

Saliva is a complex solution

In a paper published in 2012, the Brown team showed that interferometers on a biochip could be used to detect glucose in water. However, selectively detecting glucose in a complex solution like human saliva was another matter.

“Saliva is about 99 percent water, but it’s the 1 percent that’s not water that presents problems,” Pacifici said. “There are enzymes, salts, and other components that may affect the response of the sensor. With this paper we solved the problem of specificity of our sensing scheme.”

Dealing with the 1 percent

The researchers knew that a plasmonic interferometer can detect glucose molecules in water. Detection of glucose in a complex fluid is more challenging. Controlling the distance between grooves and using dye chemistry on glucose molecules allows researchers to measure glucose levels despite the 1 percent of saliva that is not water.

They did that by using dye chemistry to create a trackable marker for glucose. The researchers added microfluidic channels to the chip to introduce two enzymes that react with glucose in a very specific way. The first enzyme, glucose oxidase, reacts with glucose to form a molecule of hydrogen peroxide.

Solving the problem of how the components in saliva are sensed

This molecule then reacts with the second enzyme, horseradish peroxidase, to generate a molecule called resorufin, which can absorb and emit red light, thus coloring the solution. The researchers could then tune the interferometers to look for the red resorufin molecules.

“The reaction happens in a one-to-one fashion: A molecule of glucose generates one molecule of resorufin,” Pacifici said, according to the news release. “So we can count the number of resorufin molecules in the solution, and infer the number of glucose molecules that were originally present in solution.”

The team tested its combination of dye chemistry and plasmonic interferometry by looking for glucose in artificial saliva, a mixture of water, salts and enzymes that resembles the real human saliva

The researchers found that they could detect resorufin in real time with great accuracy and specificity. They were able to detect changes in glucose concentration of 0.1 micromoles per liter — 10 times the sensitivity that can be achieved by interferometers alone.

The next step in the work, Pacifici says, is to start testing the method in real human saliva. Ultimately, the researchers hope they can develop a small, self-contained device that could give diabetics a noninvasive way to monitor their glucose levels.

There are other potential applications as well

“We are now calibrating this device for insulin,” Pacifici said, according to the news release. “But in principle we could properly modify this ‘plasmonic cuvette’ sensor for detection of any molecule of interest.”

It could be used to detect toxins in air or water or used in the lab to monitor chemical reactions as they occur at the sensor surface in real time, Pacifici said, according to the news release. The work is part of a collaboration between Pacifici’s group at Brown and the lab of his colleague Tayhas Palmore, professor of engineering. Graduate students Vince S. Siu, Jing Feng, and Patrick W. Flanigan are coauthors on the paper.

The work was supported by National Science Foundation (CBET-1159255, DMR-1203186 and HRD-0548311) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF Grant 17-2013-483). For further information see, Nanophotonics. Volume 3, Issue 3, Pages 125–140, ISSN (Online), May 2014. The print edition is dated June 2014.

By the way, on another note, you may wish to check out this site on "Scientists get a little too honest." It doesn't apply to any studies mentioned here, but it is a reality check on how some labs get through the day.

Please check out my Facebook Group: Nutrition and Health Research News with links to my Examiner.com articles.

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