Weight loss study (VIII)

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If you research issues related to weight loss as I do, then sooner or later you will encounter papers fighting each other as I did in yesterday’s Weight Loss Research (VII). We want answers, so who better authority than medical scientists, and what more serious content than papers in professional medical journals? However, once you go that far, you will suffer as much as I did. Because the opinions of these medical scientists are not uniform, the content of medical journals is not guaranteed to be “correct” because the editorial board allows some findings to be published, but perhaps the conclusions do not support the findings; and some analyses to be published, but perhaps the methods and samples themselves have imperceptible flaws. To put it simply, others are there to debate and enlighten each other, and we go there just to get the right answer. So, what about the disagreements of others?

Please go back to Chapter 1, “Weight Reduction Research (I)”, where I talked about the topic of the heart. Now, again, the power of the heart needs to be applied. If our heart is in the right place, if our heart is calm, if we agree that seeking true knowledge is paramount, then we can avoid one of the biggest pitfalls: finding those words we like to hear, finding those papers that support where our heart’s desires point. Just like yesterday’s cholesterol issue, one can find many papers for cholesterol and many more papers against it. If you think it’s more important to satisfy your love of fried eggs and red meat, then you can easily find a bunch of papers to support your idea. And if you’re a committed vegetarian, again, you can find a bunch of papers to support an all-vegetarian diet.

But if you believe that the search for truth is paramount, then there are times when you will struggle to choose the side that you rationally determine to be right, even if it feels very painful.

For example, from a rational point of view, I like Framingham, the American town mentioned in “Weight Loss Research (VII)”, and I especially like the analysis of the structural changes of LDL under different HDL. Why do you like it? Because the continuous testing performed here over three generations and 72 years is a very long time period and a city of people. Whereas many papers, no matter how fresh the viewpoint, tend to look at a small group of people over a very short time period and draw conclusions. It goes without saying, then, which paper is the more informative for a behavior like weight loss that may be sustained for decades. In addition, another reason I like it is that it reveals the relationship between values rather than a simple conclusion, yes or no, which also gives a lot of confidence, because knowing the relative relationship means touching on deeper laws.

Even so, it is still possible to ask the challenge of this research project: Is Framingham a town of white people, and do the results of its analysis hold true for other races? Framingham is a middle class town, do the stress levels and habits of the residents have any effect on the results and can they be extrapolated to other social classes in other countries? The list of questions could go on and on.

And the heavyweight article supporting the cholesterol side was published in the world-renowned medical journal The Lancet in August 2017. The paper conducted a large-scale collection of dietary and health data on 135,000 people in 18 countries on five continents and concluded that those with the highest dietary fat intake had a 23% lower mortality rate than those with the lowest, and those with the highest carbohydrate intake had a 28% higher mortality rate than those with the lowest. Thus, it was right to eat more meat and bad to eat more rice and flour instead, and the paper supported diets such as low-carb diets and ketogenic diets.

But it was then also challenged by opponents who argued that the study classified vegetables, fruits, legumes, coarse grains and fine grains all indiscriminately in the carbohydrate category, completely ignoring the different effects of different categories of carbohydrates on health. Moreover, those who live heavily on carbohydrates in 18 countries are likely to be in extreme poverty because high carbohydrate, low oil, and high salt are the foods of the poor. Then, because the poor have a high likelihood of malnutrition and a low likelihood of access to medical and health relief, their shorter life span cannot be proven to be a carbohydrate problem. Likewise, people in countries that can afford to eat big fish and meat may be in a higher social class with better health care, and their living longer may not come from the addition of food. When analyzed this way, the objections seem to have merit.

Now, do you understand my pain? Where is the standard answer? Where is the right answer? Sixteen years of schooling made us do standardized papers with standard answers to every question. Now, when really facing the world, it is just a question of weight reduction, what is the standard answer? Why doesn’t anyone give a correct answer so that everyone can memorize it?

Because it is up to each of us to seek the answer, and this is the way one is responsible for oneself.

In the face of papers with opposing viewpoints, papers recommended by editors-in-chief in various forms, peer-reviewed papers, papers with high citation indices, and historical feuds between the titanic figures of various schools of thought, and the waxing and waning and resurgence of schools of thought, I think I cannot look at papers as if they were martial arts movies. What you need to look at is their views, the corresponding research tools, the focus of their research. There will be common parts in this, and that proves that these common parts are of high importance. For example, blood glucose, for example, blood lipids, for example, blood pressure, if everyone chooses these as important parameters for their research, that means they are also important for me.

Based on different points of view, medical scientists come to different conclusions and give different recommendations. So, if I were to go after the different points, I might find a huge list from which I would get nothing of value except arguments. However, if I were to look for similarities, seek intersections, and circle the elements that all forces affirm with red circles, then I have a high probability of capturing the core of the problem. Below, I would like to share a little bit of my intersection finding results.

  1. Whichever school of thought, whichever viewpoint, there is no opposition to the movement. All firmly claim that exercise has a positive contribution to weight loss, health, and metabolic syndrome reversal. The dispute is over what type of exercise, aerobic, heavy training or high intensity intermittent exercise? So, exercise is undoubtedly an important element

  2. Whichever school of thought or viewpoint, unless one is a fraud, there is no opposition to eating large amounts of fresh leafy vegetables every day. They all encourage increased dietary fiber, enhanced gastrointestinal motility, and the intake of essential potassium from vegetables for the body. The controversy is in the ratio of fat, carbohydrates and protein, who is high and who is low, and should one of them be reduced to the limit state? So, fresh vegetables are also important elements.

  3. no matter which school of thought, which view, there is no opposition to adequate sleep. All believe that adequate sleep is good for the body to repair itself, to secrete growth hormone, and to relieve stress. The controversy about sleep exists only in how many hours of sleep is considered sufficient sleep and how to sleep is considered quality sleep. Therefore, sleep is also an important element.

  4. no matter which school of thought, which point of view, there will be no will not mention the liver. All the discussions will talk about the important position of the liver in the body’s energy cycle, material circulation, is basically the chemical plant in the human body. All parties naturally oppose drinking, staying up all night, fatty liver, and increasing the burden on the liver, hoping to improve liver function and reduce the burden on other organs in the body. Therefore, the protection of the liver is also an important element

  5. no matter which school, which view, there is no not opposed to sugar. On the issue of carbohydrates and nutritional balance, the views of all parties are not unanimous, some see carbohydrates as a poison, others see it as a body must. But on the issue of sugar opinions are unanimous, do not drink sugary drinks, do not drink concentrated high fructose drinks, do not eat too much sugar, the supply of sugar is already too high, the body can not load at all. So, giving up sugar is also an important element.

In addition, everyone is also against high blood sugar and high blood pressure, all against high stress and high salt.

Now, I put all the above points together to see if they can form a self-consistent cyclic system: First, you have to exercise. After exercise, you feel fatigue and hunger, your blood sugar and blood pressure drop, so you eat. The ratios of the foods you eat vary, but no matter which one you listen to, you have to eat a lot of fresh vegetables. Lots of vegetables bring potassium, vitamins and fiber, while not being good for red hot sauce, meaning your salt intake will go down and your blood pressure will go down further. Because exercise brings fatigue, your sleep will at least turn better in the short term, no more late nights, and your liver is protected. As your liver gets better, the pressure on your pancreas is reduced, your body becomes better at controlling blood sugar, and weight loss efficiency is improved. Eventually you give up sugar, your body no longer has a high blood sugar rush at all times, and you also reduce your energy intake by a considerable amount, making your exercise more efficient at burning fat. As fat is burned and salt intake is reduced, the body eliminates some of the water, allowing you to see significant weight loss. You are then motivated to continue exercising, become more confident in the whole approach, and the cycle continues.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem, the whole system works. It’s just a matter of leaving some fill-in-the-blank questions for you to try, to feel, to determine what fill-in-the-blank options are more appropriate for your body. This includes what kind of exercise, what kind of dietary structure, what kind of eating style, and, specifically, what indicators of your body do you want to keep an eye on? Is it subcutaneous fat, body weight, fat ratio, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood lipids, insulin or body shape? Wait until you’re sure the cycle can be effectively continued, then go back and research the paper to see what methods there are to enhance effectiveness, what risks to watch out for, and what flaws to fill. At this point, the more noise you see from all sides, the better it will be for you.

Ordinary citizens like me are not educated in medicine, physiology, biochemistry, or nutrition. It’s a fool’s errand to try to discuss what is right and what is wrong through in-depth analysis of professional papers. But I can still do three things: first, do not engage in self-deception, find a bunch of papers that support your own preferences, use conspiracy theories to denounce the other side, and turn science into religion; second, find a little core element, barely structure a system that can be implemented, and then make adjustments in the implementation, trying to form a positive cycle.

Finally, don’t go for drama in real life. To the media published as long as …… Just ….. Be vigilant to all articles published by the media that “subvert”, “break”, “redefine” and other “new discoveries in health”. “Be very vigilant. How many years does a Copernicus come along, how many years does a Steve Jobs come along? Why am I so lucky that every once in a while a hero emerges in the medical field who has new knowledge to pick apart the old world? Just to turn my perceptions upside down?

De-dramatize, even if the dramatization is very moving and you desire dramatic results. Otherwise, read more papers, just in vain to increase their own distress.

(to be continued)

Title photo by Annie Spratt

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