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So we’ve had a flood of interesting research reports recently that have been floating around in the news and social media so we thought we’d give them a comprehensive review in this newsletter and our personal take on them. Particularly as there seems to be some confusion around many of them as the media loves throwing sensational headlines around without doing an ounce of investigative journalism into the quality of the supporting reports. Let’s start off with everyone’s favourite Fortune 500 company.

Monsanto ordered to pay $289 million in world’s first Roundup cancer trial

Article Summary

Monsanto was one of the world’s largest agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporations before it was recently acquired by Bayer. They produce the world’s most popular herbicide, Roundup, which contains a compound called glyphosate. Earlier this month, a jury found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged Roundup caused his cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages. Monsanto is facing another 8,000 similar trials in the US. Jurors witnessed internal company documents “proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer.”

Allegedly Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer

The Levitise View

Monsanto are as guilty as a puppy sitting next to a pile of poo! Glyphosate is already banned or restricted to some degree in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Switzerland. All commercial vegetables are covered in toxins and these are now systemic (i.e. in the nervous system of the plant and can’t be washed off) in most consumer produce. In our view, it’s best to be on the safe side and stick to organic produce only to reduce your toxic exposure from rodenticides, insecticides, chemical fertilisers, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides.


Not just a fad: the surprising, gut-wrenching truth about gluten

Gluten found in a lot of commercial breads, cakes, etc.. causes weight gain

Article Summary

This was a very in-depth report published in the UK’s Guardian2. Almost 1 in 10 people in the UK have gluten sensitivity with symptoms like diarrhoea, wind, constipation, stomach pain, cramping, bloating and fatigue that are alleviated when they cut out gluten. Gluten sensitivity seems to be a more modern phenomenon since the massive industrialisation of wheat which has increased the percentage of gluten in the wheat to make it lighter and fluffier. There are a lot more chemical pesticides and fertilisers on wheat these days. In addition there are a further 27 potential allergens in modern wheat that compound the health problems. The cheaper breads even have added gluten to make them even more fluffy.

The Levitise View

Great article backed up by a lot of scientific research that we totally agree with. We find that when people remove commercial wheat from their diet then a lot of their symptoms go away and they start losing weight and getting healthier. People tend to do a lot better with traditionally prepared sourdough breads using heritage (pre-industrialisation) breeds of wheat that have far less gluten and other allergens in them. Woodlands Sourdough Bakery is the undisputed champion in Singapore for this! So if you can’t give up your bread – get the best quality that you can get your hands on and don’t forget to put a huge knob of organic grass fed butter on it!


Coconut oil added to The American Heart Association’s unhealthy list

Article Summary

The AHA reviewed a bunch of studies to review their stance on saturated fat. They concluded that saturated fat was still “bad” and that we should reduce our saturated fat intake to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They issued a presidential advisory recommendation that saturated fats should be replaced with polyunsaturated oils such as canola oil, soybean oil and corn oil. Coconut oil was added to the “avoid” list.

Coconut oil is the little black dress of wellbeing – everyone should have some! [EDITOR: even the guys?)

The Levitise View

(1) First there have been 17 meta-analysis conducted in recent years that found no clear evidence for a link between saturated fat and heart disease. The AHA picked only 4 of these studies to draw their ‘new’ conclusions. They cherry-picked the ones that supported their narrative.

(2) Secondly these studies were published in 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1979 – they’re really old! If coconut oil is so bad why did the AHA wait for 50 years before telling us that? Have they only just discovered these studies? Were they hiding down the back of their sofas’ for 50 years?

(3) Thirdly they are all observational studies which means they asked a bunch of questions like:

“Do you smoke”, “yes”

“Do you eat lots of red meat”, “yes”

“Do you exercise”, “no”

“Do you regularly consume desserts, cakes and sweets”, “yes”

So obviously it’s the saturated fat in the red meat that is the problem there, not the fact that people who answered the questions are just unhealthy! Observational studies are not clinical and notoriously low in quality and accuracy due to the complete lack of control in the subjects.

(4) Fourth, the United Soybean Board and the US Canola Association also serve on the AHA’s Industry Nutrition Advisory Panel – concerned about the increase in coconut oil eating into their market share much?

(5) Fifth, the changes in cholesterol levels that were so called “statistically significant” were between 0.6 to 2.1 mg/dL in the non-saturated fat groups eating vs the saturated fat eating groups. Considering the average person’s total cholesterol is around 200 that’s less that a 1% difference. I gave up sugar and wheat and increased my saturated fat intake and my cholesterol dropped by 50% – now that’s significant! 1% is a rounding error.

(6) And sixth, here are a bunch of studies that the AHA obviously didn’t read:

(7) And last, but not least here’s a great headline from the past, Man says he survived at sea for two weeks by eating coconuts. A tsunami survivor drifted on the Indian Ocean for two weeks, living on coconuts that he prised open with his teeth while floating on pieces of wood, a broken boat and, finally, a fishing raft. I would have liked to see him do that on a big mac and fries!

Thanks for reading and thanks to Chris Kresser for providing the framework for this excellent counter argument

And finally …

Glute max activation makes your brain grow

Article Summary

Ground-breaking research shows that neurological health depends as much on signals sent by the body’s large, leg muscles to the brain as it does on directives from the brain to the muscles. The study supports the notion that people who are unable to do load-bearing exercises, such as patients who are bed-ridden, or even astronauts on extended travel, not only lose muscle mass, but their body chemistry is altered at the cellular level and that their nervous system and brain health is adversely impacted4.

Levitise View

Leg exercise is critical to brain and nervous system health. Considering that squats and deadlifts are the 2 biggest bang-for-your buck lower body exercises that you can do, you now have another reason to add these essential exercises to your repertoire.

That’s all for now until next time.

To your health, happiness and longevity.

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Levitise is a Holistic Health and Fitness Center based in the CBD. We specialise in helping busy executives reclaim their health and fitness and finally rediscover what it’s like to feel energised, confident and young again. The two services that we provide are Holistic Lifestyle Coaching and Personal Training. 

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