The Uncertainty Of Nutrient Absorption


IMG_2935From Bix, the Fanatic Cook…

It is just about impossible to anticipate how much, say, calcium we will absorb from a meal or a pill. It depends upon a number of variables which themselves can be difficult to measure, including but not limited to: our calcium status, how much calcium is in the meal or pill, what the calcium is bound to, how acidic the internal environment is, what our vitamin D status is, how much of the calcium binding protein is in place, how much of and what type of fiber is present, the presence of other divalent cations like zinc or magnesium, the condition of the intestinal brush border.

The amount of calcium (or any nutrient, I’m using calcium as an example) consumed and the amount absorbed is not a linear relationship. That is, eating 100 mg of calcium does not mean 100 mg gets absorbed. One thing that is known – the more calcium we eat, the less we absorb; and the less we eat, the more we absorb.


Compounding the uncertainty, nutrient content varies within food – the same type of food. In this study:

Calcium and Magnesium Concentration of Inbred and Hybrid Broccoli Heads, Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 2000

Farnham et al. found significant variability among broccoli varieties for calcium and magnesium. Broccoli purchased at random across the US varied by as much as 2-fold for these elements.

Here’s a study that shows almost a three-fold difference in calcium content among several varieties of kale and collards. It also shows significant year-to-year variability for the same variety:

Variability In Elemental Accumulations Among Leafy Brassica Oleracea Cultivars And Selections, Journal of Plant Nutrition, 2005

And yet, data bases and nutrient tables give calcium content in a cup of cooked kale to 2 decimal places!

Source: The Uncertainty Of Nutrient Absorption | Fanatic Cook

Is Sodium Restriction to 2,300 mg/day Really Necessary?

I’m still not convinced that severe sodium restriction is necessary or even possible for most people

U.S public health authorities recommend maximum daily sodium consumption of 2.3 grams a day, in order to prevent cardiovascular disease. But a 2018 multi-country study published in Lancet supports a much different and higher maximum sodium intake level:

Sodium intake was associated with cardiovascular disease and strokes only in communities where mean intake was greater than 5 g/day. A strategy of sodium reduction in these communities and countries but not in others might be appropriate.

The researchers also found, “All major cardiovascular outcomes decreased with increasing potassium intake in all countries.”

Click for a list of potassium-rich foods from a .gov website.

You’ll find several cold-water fatty fish there.

My Advanced Mediterranean Diet recommends the fish but you’ll find no sodium restriction advice.

Source: Urinary sodium excretion, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and mortality: a community-level prospective epidemiological cohort study – The Lancet

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one

Are Drugs the Solution to Your Unhealthy Lifestyle?

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, diabetic diet

“This is much easier than exercising and losing 30 pounds!”

Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, has a heretical short article at BMJ. I recommend you read the whole thing. It starts thusly:

More than half of adults aged over 45 will be labelled as hypertensive if new US guidelines are adopted, concludes a study in The BMJ this week (doi:10.1136/bmj.k2357). This equates to 70 million people in the US and 267 million people in China being eligible for antihypertensive drugs, a marked increase on already high rates of drug treatment for high blood pressure. Furthermore, the study calculates that 7.5 million people in the US and 55 million in China would be advised to start drug treatment, while 14 million in the US and 30 million in China would be advised to receive more intensive treatment. The evidence from trials indicates some benefit from drugs in terms of reduced risk of stroke and heart disease, but is mass medication really what we want?

Hypertension is just one of the many heads of the lifestyle disease hydra. Another is type 2 diabetes. Once thought to be irreversible and progressive, it is now known to be potentially reversible through weight loss. This is the cautious conclusion of the review by Nita Forouhi and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.k2234), part of our series on the science and politics of nutrition ( Whether by calorie or carbohydrate restriction, weight loss has been shown to improve glycaemic control, blood pressure, and lipid profile and is the key to treatment and prevention of type 2 diabetes, they say.

She goes on to talk about fatty liver disease (NASH) and offers an alternative, of sorts, to pills. Good luck with that.

We’re supposed to eat more fruit, right?

Someone needs to figure out how to put healthy lifestyle in a pill.

Source: Pills are not the answer to unhealthy lifestyles | The BMJ

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one



Effects of Greek orthodox christian church fasting on serum lipids and obesity

Dead whole fish aren’t very appealing to many folks

Not mentioned often in scientific articles is the potential contribution of fasting to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.  What sort of fasting?

“Orthodox Christian holy books recommend a total of 180–200 days of fasting per year. The faithful are advised to avoid olive oil, meat, fish, milk and dairy products every Wednesday and Friday throughout the year. Additionally, there are three principal fasting periods per year: i) a total of 40 days preceding Christmas (meat, dairy products and eggs are not allowed, while fish and olive oil are allowed except on Wednesdays and Fridays), ii) a period of 48 days preceding Easter (Lent). During Lent fish is allowed only two days whereas meat, dairy products and eggs are not allowed. Olive oil consumption is allowed only at weekends, iii) a total of 15 days in August (the Assumption) when the same dietary rules apply as for Lent with the exception of fish consumption which is allowed only on August 6th. Seafood such as shrimps, squid, cuttlefish, octopus, lobsters, crabs as well as snails are allowed on all fasting days throughout the year. The Greek Orthodox fasting practices can therefore be characterized as requiring a periodic vegetarian diet including fish and seafood.”

Source: Effects of Greek orthodox christian church fasting on serum lipids and obesity

A practical guide to the Mediterranean diet – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing

From the Harvard Health blog:

“The Mediterranean diet has received much attention as a healthy way to eat, and with good reason. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers, depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental and physical function. In January, US News and World Report named it the “best diet overall” for the second year running.”

Source: A practical guide to the Mediterranean diet – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean Diet

Two diet books in one

Strengthen Your Core Without Injuring Your Back 

A position you’ll see in the Five Tibetan Rituals for prevention and treatment of back pain

Fanatic Cook posted some (potentially) myth-busting videos featuring Dr Stuart McGill that may challenge your preconceptions about core exercises.

He [Dr McGill] says that a flexible back or a strong back are not protective of back injury. In fact, they are associated with more injury. The muscles of the back are meant to stabilize, to prevent movement. This is true for abdominal muscles and others of the core or torso. However, since back and stomach muscles are in constant use, they need to be maintained to provide endurance.

Now I don’t feel so bad about not being able to touch my toes by bending over at the waist. I regained the ability to do that eight years ago by following the Core Performance program. But that regimen took about five hours a week—more than I wanted to invest long-term

Source: How To Strengthen Abdominals Without Injuring The Back | Fanatic Cook

Disappointing Weight Regain as of July 14, 2018

I love peanut M&Ms

In just five and a half weeks since finishing Nuttin’ But Salads, my weight is up nine pounds, to 171. I failed even to keep eating one large salad daily.

BP is up significantly and I’ll probably be restarting amlodipine. Max of 153/109, more commonly 144/94.

Why? Candy, pastries, pie, cake, bread, alcohol.

Magnesium supplement fell by the wayside. Still drinking hibiscus tea when working.