The Keto Diet Is the Worst Diet for Both Your Body and the Earth, Researchers Say

Andrea Michelson wrote . . . . . . . . .

The keto diet, a low-carb and high-fat eating plan despised by nutritionists, is not only bad for your body, according to recent research findings — it’s also bad for the environment.

Researchers at Tulane University ranked six popular ways of eating, including the keto diet, according to their average nutritional value and environmental impact. Their findings, published March 1 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed a correlation between healthy eating and low carbon emissions.

While the study didn’t touch on every diet trend, the researchers considered the daily diets of more than 16,000 adults surveyed between 2005 and 2010. Then, they split the individual data into six diet groups: keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, and omnivore.

They found that the average keto eater generates almost 3 kg of carbon dioxide for every 1,000 calories consumed — that’s four times the carbon footprint of a similarly-sized vegan plate.

“Climate change is arguably one of the most pressing problems of our time, and a lot of people are interested in moving to a plant-based diet,” senior author Diego Rose, nutrition program director at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said in a press release. “Based on our results, that would reduce your footprint and be generally healthy.”

Plant-based eating has a smaller carbon footprint

Food systems account for more than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a UN-backed study published in 2021.

Going keto requires dieters to consume about 70% of their calories from fat and almost no carbohydrates, so many followers of the diet opt for animal products with high amounts of fat and protein.

Beef production is a major driver of carbon emissions, so the researchers weren’t surprised that the keto diet had the largest carbon footprint of the diets studied.

The keto diet was followed by paleo, a regimen based on what humans were thought to eat before farming. The diet cuts out grains and legumes in favor of lean meats; fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds also make an appearance on the paleo plate. The ancient eating plan was associated with 2.6 kg of carbon dioxide per 1,000 calories consumed.

On the other end of the spectrum, the vegan diet was associated with the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Other diets low on emissions were the vegetarian and pescetarian diets.

How to eat healthier for your body and the environment

Most of the people surveyed were described as omnivores, meaning they eat some combination of plants and animals. The omnivore category was ultimately ranked as a middle-ground option for nutrition and sustainability. But not all omnivore diets are created equal.

Omnivores who followed a Mediterranean diet — which calls for a colorful mix of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein — were ranked higher on nutritional quality and had smaller carbon footprints compared to others in the group. The same was true for the DASH diet, a heart-healthy plan that limits red meat consumption

Pescetarians, who eat fish but not red or white meat, scored highest on the Healthy Eating Index, a measurement that scores the overall nutritional value of a daily diet. However, the environmental impact of cutting out meat and fish entirely cannot be underestimated, according to the study.

While personal diet choices don’t impact the environment on an individual level, a mass shift to meatless eating would be good for the planet. The authors concluded that if just a third of the study’s omnivores began following a vegetarian diet, it would be equivalent to eliminating 340 million passenger vehicle miles on an average day.

Source: Insider






Train Wheels Send Unhealthy, ‘Ultrafine’ Metals Into Subway Air

Alan Mozes wrote . . . . . . . . .

Air pollution is plaguing the world’s oldest subway system, a new study warns, with high levels of tiny metal particles found in dust samples throughout the London Underground.

Whether these particles actually pose a risk to human health remains an open question, British researchers acknowledge. But experts say it’s happening in subway systems elsewhere, including the United States.

The London Underground, especially, is poorly ventilated, the authors of the new report noted. And the bits of a form of iron oxide in question are often incredibly small, far smaller than a single red blood cell.

So the threat, the study team cautioned, is that easily inhaled metallic particles can readily enter into the bloodstream of the network’s 5 million daily passengers. Prior research has linked that kind of exposure to a higher risk for serious issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and bacterial infections.

“Our study looks at nanoparticles of iron oxide — particles between 5 nm [nanometers] and 500 nm in size — which are generated by the braking system,” explained study lead author Hassan Sheikh, a risk researcher with the Centre for Risk Studies at the University of Cambridge, in the United Kingdom.

The particulates are byproducts of the routine workings of train brake blocks, collector shoes and motor brushes. They may also be released by the friction caused by the interaction between the metallic wheels of the system’s cars and steel rails.

The end result: Maghemite, a common magnetic mineral that, once formed, is likely repeatedly kicked around the subway environment by rumbling trains, Sheikh said.

It’s the mineral’s magnetic feature that is at the heart of the new analysis, which builds on a number of standard air filter studies that had already demonstrated that general air pollution levels inside the Underground arehigher than safe limits established by the World Health Organization.

Those earlier efforts also attributed the Underground’s particulate matter problem to the routine interaction between wheels, tracks and brakes.

But the latest investigation goes a step further, turning to magnetic “fingerprinting” — alongside highly sophisticated microscopes and 3D imaging — to give a much more detailed analysis of 39 Underground dust samples collected in both 2019 and 2021.

Samples were gathered in platforms, ticket halls and cabins manned by train operators throughout the city’s major lines.

In the end, the research team determined that maghemite particles are found “in abundance” throughout the Underground.

Sheikh pointed out that his team’s method appears to be far better than past attempts at painting an accurate picture of the problem. For example, he noted that tiny individual particles sometimes “masquerade as larger particles, because they naturally clump together.”

Traditional pollution analyses, he noted, typically pick up on such clusters, which can be as big as 100 to 2,000 nm in diameter. But they usually fail to catch the tiny — and riskier — particles, which were found to be about 10 nm in diameter, though sometimes as small as 5 nm.

And the concerns raised are not confined to London’s metro, experts warn.

For example, a 2021 study funded by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that cites poor air quality — and tiny inhalable particulate matter, specifically — as a looming concern throughout U.S. public transit systems that every day serve tens of millions of commuters all across the Northeast.

That concern is seconded by Dr. Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate Health and the Global Environment, in Boston.

“Yes, prior studies have found high levels of air pollution in subways,” said Bernstein, “including in New York.”

Still, commuters should not abandon mass transit, he stressed.

“The subways of major cities dramatically reduce road traffic — and associated air pollution — and often have shorter commute times than road-based equivalents,” noted Bernstein. “This research and others point to a need to address the air quality in subways, which is entirely feasible.”

Sheikh agreed.

“At this stage, there is conflicting evidence for whether this specific type of pollution is more or less harmful than the exhaust and non-exhaust-dominated traffic pollution experienced in outdoor environments,” he stressed, adding that more research is needed.

“[But] imagine dragging a simple hand magnet through a pile of iron filings,” Sheikh suggested. “The iron filings are strongly attracted to the magnet and provide an efficient way to collect them. The dominance of magnetic particles in the particulate matter air pollution means that magnetic traps or filters could be used to prevent the particles being emitted in the first place, or to more efficiently clean up dust that has accumulated over time.”

In the meantime, he added, “for commuters, wearing a mask would potentially restrict direct exposure to particles in the Underground.”

Sheikh and his colleagues published their findings online Dec. 15 in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source: HealthDay





Workplace Fumes, Dust Could Raise Odds for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

The air where you work could be increasing your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a new study suggests.

Breathing in the fumes from commercial vapors, gases and solvents — and even common dusts found in the workplace — appears to increase chances of the chronic autoimmune joint disorder, researchers reported in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Exposure to any of these workplace pollutants is associated with a 25% increased risk of developing a form of rheumatoid arthritis that is made worse by the presence of anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA), researchers found.

That risk increased to 40% when looking at men specifically, results showed.

People with ACPA-positive rheumatoid arthritis have a worse prognosis and tend to experience higher rates of damage caused by wear and tear on their joints, researchers said.

For this study, researchers examined data on more than 4,000 people drawn from a Swedish study of rheumatoid arthritis. The people all were newly diagnosed with RA between 1996 and 2017.

The team combed through personal job histories to estimate each person’s exposure to 32 airborne workplace agents.

Analysis showed that exposure to fumes and dust was associated with an increased risk of RA. Further, that exposure also appeared to boost the risk from other factors like smoking or genetics.

In all, 17 of 32 agents — including asbestos, quartz, diesel fumes, gasoline fumes, carbon monoxide and fungicides — were strongly associated with an increased risk of developing ACPA-positive RA, researchers said.

Only a few agents — quartz dust (silica), asbestos and detergents — were strongly associated with ACPA-negative RA.

The risk increased with the number of agents and duration of a person’s exposure, with the strongest links seen for exposures lasting between eight and 15 years.

Men appear to have a higher risk than women, because they tended to have been exposed to more agents for longer periods.

People exposed to a workplace agent who also smoked and had a high genetic risk for RA tended to have an extremely high risk of ACPA-positive RA, ranging from 16 to 68 times higher than people not exposed to all three risk factors.

The risk of developing ACPA-positive RA in those who were “triple exposed” was 45 times higher for gasoline engine exhaust fumes; 28 times higher for diesel exhaust; 68 times higher for insecticides; and 32 times higher for quartz dust.

“Our study emphasizes the importance of occupational respiratory protections, particularly for individuals who are genetically predisposed to RA,” the researchers said in a journal news release.

Bowen Tang, a doctoral candidate at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, led the study.

In an accompanying editorial, Boston rheumatologist Dr. Jeffrey Sparks noted that the study points the way to interesting clues about how RA develops.

“Each occupational inhalable agent had a unique profile of the way it interacted with RA risk genes and with smoking,” wrote Sparks, who works at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “These unique interactions suggest that if the relationship between inhalable agents and RA is indeed causal, they may do so via distinct pathways.”

Source: HealthDay





Milk vs Soy Milk: 7 Reasons Why Soy Milk Is Better Than Dairy

Kate Fowler wrote . . . . . . . . .

Wondering whether it’s worth ditching cow’s milk and swapping for soy milk? Find out why you should go dairy-free as we reveal why soy milk comes out into top in the milk vs soy milk battle.

There are many preconceptions about the true health benefits of soya milk, and so we wanted to break down the facts about this plant-based milk and compare it with animal-derived dairy milk.

Soya milk is not a dairy food item and it does not deliver the effects that dairy milk can have on the body. However, it is a great alternative for those who can not or do not wish to consume dairy milk.

In fact, it has been shown that one to two servings of soya milk per day can give you the same nutrients as dairy milk, and is considered a safe amount to consume.

It can seem like the surge of plant-based milk is a recent trend, but soya milk in particular has a rich and detailed history and was first recorded in the 17th century. If you’re interested in learning more, read our article on the history of plant milk.

If you’re still undecided about giving soya milk a try, read on to discover the perks of ditching dairy and choosing soya instead.

1. Nutrition

Cows’ milk and soy milk contain almost identical amounts of complete protein – around 3.5g per 100g.

But soya milk contains a lot less saturated fat than cows’ milk and no cholesterol at all.

It also contains some fibre, which dairy doesn’t, and which we need for healthy digestion.

When fortified, which most brands are, soya milk contains B12, calcium and iodine, making it a very useful source of these nutrients. It’s vital that vegans ensure their diet is supplement with B12, so soya milk is a great and easy source of vegan B12.

It’s true that cows’ milk contains more vitamin A2, zinc and folate, but these are among the easiest nutrients to get from plants, so there is no need to rely on cows’ milk for them.

2. Antibiotics

On British dairy factory farms, there are 32 cases of mastitis per 100 cows every year, a figure celebrated by the farming press as “an improvement”.

Mastitis is an infection in cows’ udders, caused by their living conditions and treatment.

It’s not the only bacterial infection prevalent on dairy farms, but all over the planet. In fact, it is one of the leading reasons for the use of antibiotics in milk-producing cows.

It is legal to sell milk containing antibiotic residues, it just cannot exceed a maximum level. Consuming products such as this can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

Whereas soya milk contains no antibiotics at all.

3. Lactose Intolerance & Allergies

Most of the world’s adult population cannot digest lactose4, the sugars found in milk.

In Black communities, lactose intolerance is around 70 per cent, and in Asian communities, it is almost 100 per cent.

People who consume dairy may suffer bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhoea, but they may have no idea that it is the lactose that is causing these unpleasant symptoms.

There is no lactose in plants, so switching to soya milk – or any other plant milk – can alleviate the problem almost immediately.

However, it is also important to be aware that some people can have a soya allergy, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.

4. Cancer

There have long been question marks over the role of dairy in cancer, and the evidence keeps mounting.

One study, for example, found that those with the highest intake of whole milk and lactose increased their risk for ovarian cancer, compared with those who consumed the least.

Another study revealed that drinking just one glass of dairy milk a day could increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

And a 2015 meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high intakes of dairy products also increase the risk for prostate cancer.

Despite rumours that persist in online forums, evidence shows that soya does not cause cancer.The myth began some years ago when scientists conjectured that, because soya contains phytoestrogens, they would act in the same way as oestrogen, and this was concerning because most breast cancers are sensitive to oestrogen.

The headline writers went into overdrive before the facts were known. Once the research had actually been conducted, scientists found that, far from causing cancer, soya can be cancer protective, not just for breast cancer, but also for prostate cancer.

One study discovered that women who have just one cup of soya milk per day have 30 per cent less risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who have little or no soya.

Another study found that consumption of soya is associated with a 20-30 per cent reduced risk of prostate cancer.

5. Climate-Changing Emissions

Oxford University researchers analysed the climate impact of many different foods, including dairy milk and soya milk.

Largely because of the methane produced by cows, but also because of the amount of land needed, cows’ milk was found to be the far worse option, creating more than three times the emissions of soya.

Researcher Joseph Poore said that even the most sustainable dairy is worse for the planet than the least sustainable soya milk.

6. Land Use and Deforestation

Poore also examined the amount of land needed to produce 100g of protein from many different foods.

He found that dairy milk required more than 27 square metres of land, whereas soya beans required just over two square metres.

It is this disproportionate amount of land that is needed to produce animal products that drive deforestation and has such a devastating impact on wild animal populations and biodiversity.

We know that soya is implicated in deforestation, but in fact, forests tend to be razed by beef farmers, with the soya farmers only moving in later, once the cows have eaten all the vegetation.

It doesn’t make soya entirely innocent, but since just seven per cent of soya goes into human foods like tofu and soya milk, it’s not plant-based eaters who are the biggest soya consumers.

That title goes to meat-eaters, because the vast majority of soya goes into farmed animal feed, predominantly for factory-farmed chickens and pigs, but also for fish and milk-producing cows.

The UK Environment Act has even officially recognised that animal agriculture is a main cause of deforestation.

7. Water Usage

A study of the global milk supply found that 628 litres of water are needed to make just one litre of cows’ milk.

For soya milk, the figure is 28 litres, more than 22 times less. This is important because fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce and this problem will only worsen as climate breakdown progresses.

Already, two-thirds of the global population live under water scarcity, so producing dairy (and meat) is a reckless waste.

Thankfully, every kind of plant milk, including soya, analysed uses a lot less water than dairy.

Research from The Humane Society has even shown that switching to plant-based milk could save more than 300 baths of water per year.

Source: Vegan Food & Living





Healthy Dining Is Healthy for the Planet, Too

Cara Murez wrote . . . . . . . . .

Plant-based diets can be better for the environment, but they’re not all created equally, new research shows.

The best type of plant-based diet for health and environmental benefits are those higher in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils and tea/coffee.

Meanwhile plant-based diets high in fruit juices, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, potatoes and sweets/desserts are associated with an increased risk of chronic disease and are less environmentally friendly, according to the study authors.

“The differences between plant-based diets was surprising, because they’re often portrayed as universally healthy and good for the environment, but it’s more nuanced than that,” said corresponding author Aviva Musicus. She is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s department of nutrition, in Boston.

“To be clear, we’re not asserting that less healthy plant-based diets are worse for the environment than animal-based diets. However, our findings show that plant-based diets can have different health and environmental impacts,” Musicus said in a school news release.

While previous research had documented that different types of plant-based diets have various health effects, little work had been done to determine the different environmental impacts, which can include greenhouse gas emissions, use of high-quality cropland, nitrogen from fertilizer, and irrigation water.

For the study, the researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study II to analyze the food intake of more than 65,000 people. The team analyzed the participants’ diets both for associations with health outcomes, such as heart disease, and for environmental impacts.

The diets were scored based on whether they were higher in unhealthy refined grains, for example, or healthier whole grains.

The research team found that participants who consumed healthy plant-based diets had lower heart disease risk. Those diets were also related to lower greenhouse gas emissions and use of cropland, irrigation water and nitrogenous fertilizer compared to the unhealthy plant-based diets and to animal-based diets.

These findings also reinforced earlier studies showing that diets higher in animal-based foods, especially red and processed meat, have greater adverse environmental impacts than plant-based diets, the study authors noted.

“Because human health ultimately depends upon planetary health, future U.S. dietary guidelines should include nuanced consideration of environmental sustainability and recognize that not all plant-based diets confer the same health and environmental benefits,” according to study co-author Daniel Wang, an assistant professor in Harvard’s department of nutrition.

The findings were published online in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Source: HealthDay