Cancer is awful and destroys far too many lives, but what if we can help people survive by augmenting their medicine with better diets? New research is revealing that a diverse diet could help people essentially starve cancer. To be very clear: a diet change will not defeat cancer. The key takeaway here is that some medication can be more effective if matched with a diet that promotes healthy cells in your body which also stymies the development of cancer cells. We still have a long way to go when it comes to fighting cancer, but new developments every year help us on this healthy journey.
Seventy percent of T cells — the body’s most potent cancer-fighting immune cell — live along the gastrointestinal tract, making them highly sensitive to what you eat and what medicines you take. Over the last five years, scientists have started to understand how the gut microbiome influences T cells and the immune system, and how that can affect health and disease.
The general consensus seems to be that more diversity in gut bacteria is better, and, many of the studies looking at what the gut of a cancer treatment responder looks like differ in terms of which types of bacteria are present, driving home that no single strain is overly important. The one consistent finding is that people with more diversity in their gut bacteria seem to have better responses to immunotherapy.
Here’s some good news for lazy people (really for everyone): you don’t need to shower everyday and you don’t even need to use soap. After years of propaganda from the “skin care” industry people are starting to stop following the instruction of lather, wash, repeat. The benefits of not showering include using less water and letting your skin take care of itself. Not using soap can save water and it also consumes fewer resources since you’re not using detergents. Obviously, if you get really dirty then you’re going to want to use soap on those areas.
There’s nothing wrong with just rinsing,” says Sandy Skotnicki, a Toronto-based dermatologist and the author of the 2018 book Beyond Soap. “I’ve talked to people who haven’t used any kind of detergent in years and they’re perfectly fine.” She says that, since 1950, we have gone from bathing once a week to every day. “Has that changed our skin microbiome? I think the answer is yes. And has that caused a rise in inflammatory skin diseases? I think the answer is yes, but we don’t know.”
For Whitlock, a former chemical engineer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, not washing has been a serious science experiment, the success of which has led him to become a trailblazer in a skincare revolution in soap-free, microbiome-friendly and probiotic products. His inspiration came from researching why horses roll in dirt. His conclusion? To top up their ammonia-metabilising bacteria, making the skin less susceptible to infection.
Healthy eating can be a challenge when millions of dollars are spent everyday trying to convince us to eat junk food. It turns out that telling the truth to teens may help them eat healthier. Informing teens about the financing and exploitation that goes into big food gets them to think critically about the marketing and rebel against it. Plus, starting healthy eating practice in the teenage years sets them up for a lifetime of health.
In the study, “A Values-Alignment Intervention Protects Adolescents from the Effects of Food Marketing,” published today in Nature Human Behaviour, Chicago Booth’s Christopher J. Bryan, University of Texas at Austin’s David S. Yeager, and Booth PhD candidate Cintia P. Hinojosa find that reframing how students view food-marketing campaigns can spur adolescents, particularly boys, to make healthier daily dietary choices for an extended period of time. The method works in part by tapping into teens’ natural desire to rebel against authority.
Among the two biggest findings in the experiment: The intervention produced an enduring change in both boys’ and girls’ immediate, gut-level, emotional reactions to junk food marketing messages. And teenage boys, a notoriously difficult group to convince when it comes to giving up junk food, started making healthier food and drink choices in their school cafeteria. “One of the most exciting things is that we got kids to have a more negative immediate gut reaction to junk food and junk food marketing, and a more positive immediate gut reaction to healthy foods,” said Bryan.
Breathing is naturally good for you and you’re hopefully doing it right now. Interestingly there are different levels of breathing with different effects on our health. Most of us who site around all day at computers are likely breathing too shallowly and not getting complete breaths. Those of you who’ve been to yoga might know the importance of deep breathing. That is taking long, deep, breaths using the diaphragm for a serious amount of time. Early research is examining what positive effects this type of deep breathing can have on our health.
Q: What made you examine this technique through a cellular biology lens? A: In 2005, I noticed while I was practicing pranayama, I was producing so much saliva that I was almost drooling. I wondered why and what the overall impact of that was. This led me and my team to study whether increased saliva production was a common response to the practice, and we found that it was. Q: Most people wouldn’t think much of getting spitty when they focus on breathing and relaxing. But your 2016 study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed this bump in salivation seems to matter. Why?
A: Saliva has numerous antibodies and proteins that do everything from suppressing tumors to regenerating the liver. For example, it contains immunoglobulin, which are antibodies that bind to germs, as well as DMBT1, a tumor suppressor that blocks the conversion of normal cells to cancer cells.
Want to eat healthier but lacking motivation? Start being more active and you’ll find that picking healthier foods will get easier. A least that’s what participants found in a recent study, and there’s no reason to expect different results for you. Researchers took people who had a sedentary lifestyle and just asked them to workout a little. Without instructions the participants started to eat healthier just because they were more active.
“The process of becoming physically active can influence dietary behavior,” said Molly Bray, corresponding author of the paper and chair of the Nutritional Sciences department at UT Austin and a pediatrics faculty member at Dell Medical School. “One of the reasons that we need to promote exercise is for the healthy habits it can create in other areas. That combination is very powerful.”
“Many people in the study didn’t know they had this active, healthy person inside them,” Bray said. “Some of them thought their size was inevitable. For many of these young people, they are choosing what to eat and when to exercise for the first time in their lives.”