Consuming Peanuts in Infancy Can Help Prevent Peanut Allergies

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Food allergies are commonly misunderstood, so please bear with me while I first explain what food allergies are and are not. Various foods can cause all sorts of unpleasant effects. Most of these are not allergies. Allergies are only reactions caused by a specific antibody (called IgE) that results in hives, trouble breathing, or a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. So, if yogurt gives you diarrhea, that’s not an allergy. It might be lactose intolerance. If coffee gives you palpi...
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Thank You Very Much

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Tomorrow I expect to sit with my extended family at my sister’s house and consume copious quantities of yummy food. After that, my and her kids will destroy her house in cute ways that will delight the grandparents. Good times. That in itself is a reason for gratitude. Given the fact that most humans who have ever lived spent every winter nearly starving to death, the abundance of food and material comfort at our disposal is nothing short of miraculous. And the fact that we’re all healthy...
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Eating Breakfast Neither Helps nor Hinders Weight Loss

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It’s nearly impossible for us not to believe that what we eat has a profound effect on our health. But what we know about the link between food and health is much less than what we believe. A study published this week provides a perfect example. An overweight person trying to lose weight is likely to hear advice about the importance of eating breakfast. We have some reasons to guess that skipping breakfast might hamper weight loss efforts. Skipping breakfast should increase hunger which m...
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What We Don’t Know About Eating Fat

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Most humans have spent most of human history nearly starving to death. So it’s no surprise that we spend a lot of time thinking about food. And it’s no surprise that food has acquired cultural, social, and religious significance in almost every society. Because food is so important, and because it’s nearly impossible for us not to ascribe powerful effects to anything important to us, every society imbues special health properties to various foods. From believing that some foods are aphrod...
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Even More Studies You Should Ignore

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Back when I was a medical student (in the Cretaceous Period) we were taught that someone once did a study comparing folic acid levels in the blood of cancer patients compared to the blood of healthy patients. The cancer patients had, on average, significantly lower folic acid levels. And the ones with the largest, fastest growing tumors tended to have the lowest folic acid levels. “Aha,” they thought. “Something about folic acid deficiency predisposes them to cancer. We should give folic aci...
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Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Berry and Pomegranate Mix

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Hepatitis A is an illness which affects the liver and is caused by a virus. (You’ll be shocked to learn it's called the hepatitis A virus.) It is usually transmitted through food and water contaminated by human feces, even in microscopic amounts. In the US outbreaks have frequently been linked to food workers who have hepatitis A and contaminate food with their hands. The disease typically causes fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), and dark urine. Patients typ...
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Little Evidence that Low-Salt Diet Prevents Heart Disease

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We know that people with high cholesterol have a higher risk for strokes and heart attacks than people with low cholesterol. So if a medicine lowers cholesterol it should also lower the frequency of strokes and heart attacks too. Right? Not necessarily. Estrogen lowers cholesterol and doesn't lower stroke or heart attack risk. We also know that people with high blood pressure have a higher risk for strokes and heart attacks. Does that mean that a food that elevates blood pressure increases str...
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