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There’s No Single Diet That’s Best for Everyone, Study Finds
It seems like every day a new diet is declared the healthiest — paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, to name a few — while government agencies regularly release their own recommended dietary guidelines. But there may not be an ideal one-size-fits-all diet, according to a new study.
Researchers instructed 1,100 adults from the U.S. and the UK — including 240 pairs of identical twins — to eat the same set meals for two weeks and kept track of their fat, insulin and sugar levels. The meals included breakfast muffins, glucose drinks and sandwiches. The researchers also measured the participants' gut microbiome and recorded sleep and exercise habits.
The researchers, primarily from King's College London and Massachusetts General Hospital, found that none of the participants reacted to the diet in the same way, even if they were twins with almost the same DNA. One person's blood sugar increasing in response to a particular food did not mean their fellow participants would do the same. A participant could even have different reactions after eating the same food at different times of the day, Business Insider reported.
"Our recommendations, medically and public-health wise, have just been assuming that if people follow the standard plan, they'll lose weight," co-lead researcher Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, told Time. "Really, that thinking has now been exposed as completely flawed."
In addition to the pre-selected meals, the participants were given glucose monitors that embedded in their skin, other sensors that took blood samples, and wristbands that monitored their activity and sleep levels.
Using data these devices collected, the researchers concluded that broad dietary guidelines were not the best indicators for how someone might react to a particular food. Instead, more accurate predictions could be made based on each participant's prior readings, Business Insider reported.
"We should be personalizing diets and not just trying to squeeze everyone into the same shoe size," Spector said. "For most people, we can make basic recommendations about how they respond to carbs in general, or fatty foods."
The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but Spector presented some of the results at the American Society for Nutrition conference earlier this week. The research was funded by ZOE, a company Spector founded with the intent to provide at-home nutrition tests and personalized diets to consumers. ZOE aims to use the test results to create an app that contains personalized databases of food reactions to help people fine-tune their own diets.
Jennie Brand-Miller, a professor of human nutrition at the University of Sydney, who was not involved with the study, told the New York Times that the "one-size-fits-all nutrition guideline is antiquated," as they use data from questionnaires and people are typically bad at recalling what they ate over the last year.
Still, researchers are yet to find definitive evidence that personalized recommendations are indeed better at improving someone's health than broader diets, the New York Times reported. To this end, Spector and his team are already recruiting participants for a larger version of the original study.
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.
Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.