Are Microplastics A Health Concern?

An article published in Nature by science journalist Max Kozlov describes the results of a recent study that has found a potential link between microplastics and serious health issues like heart attack, stroke, and even death.

Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

  • Microplastics in Arteries:┬áThe study examined over 200 people undergoing surgery. It found that nearly 60% had microplastics, or even smaller nanoplastics, present in a major artery.
  • Increased Health Risks: Worryingly, those with microplastics were 4.5 times more likely to experience the aforementioned health problems over a three-year period compared to those without detectable microplastics.
  • Inflammation Connection: While the study doesn’t definitively prove microplastics cause these issues, it offers some clues. People with more microplastics also had higher levels of inflammatory markers. This suggests microplastics might trigger inflammation, potentially increasing the risk of plaque ruptures that block blood vessels.
  • Microplastics Everywhere:┬áThe widespread presence of plastics is a concern. From food packaging to clothes and car tires, tiny plastic fragments shed from these materials contaminate our environment and can be inhaled or ingested.

It’s important to note that this is the first study of its kind to find a link, and further research is needed to confirm a cause-and-effect relationship. However, these findings raise serious concerns about the potential health risks of microplastics.

Sweeteners Increase Cardiovascular Risk

Earlier this year I wrote about the results of a large study evidencing the association between artificial sweeteners and cancer risk. Debras et al. used the same cohort (Nutrient-Sante) of over 100,000 participants. But this time, they looked at the association between artificial sweeteners and cardiovascular disease risk. The study was published in The British Medical Journal last month.

The results show that “artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose) were associated with increased risk of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and coronary heart diseases“.

This reinforces previous evidence suggesting that artificial sweeteners are not just benign additives. They may actually have a detrimental impact on health.

Paleo Diet May Be Bad For Cardiovascular Health

Research published earlier this month in the European Journal of Nutrition questions the health benefits of the Paleolithic diet. The Paleo diet claims to mimic the diet of our ancestors. It’s high in meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds but avoids dairy, legumes and grains.

Genoni et al. studied a group of about 100 people over a year. Half the group followed a Paleo diet and the rest followed a diet typical of national recommendations. The authors found that there was a significant difference in the gut bacteria between groups, with an increased presence of Hungatella in the paleo group. Hungatella produces trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a gut-derived metabolite associated with cardiovascular disease. Consequently the levels of TMAO were higher in the Paleo group and this was inversely associated with whole grain intake.

The authors conclude that “although the Paleo diet is promoted for improved gut health, results indicate long-term adherence is associated with different gut microbiota and increased TMAO. A variety of fiber components, including whole grain sources may be required to maintain gut and cardiovascular health.”

Prolonged Sitting Affects Glucose Metabolism

New research published in the journal Diabetes Care has concluded that after meals, regular short bouts of light or moderate walking lower glucose and insulin levels. The subjects were asked to walk around for 2 mins every 20 mins. The effects of these short bouts of walking assist glucose metabolism and may reduce cardiovascular risk.

This adds to the mounting evidence regarding the health risks associated with prolonged sitting.