Something New Under the Sun:
Adapting to Change in the 21st Century


AnthroHealth News

May 2002

Volume 1, Issue 5


Greetings!! May is a good month to think about the health of the women in your lives whether they are your grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters, partners, or yourselves. Are you supportive of their efforts to get or remain healthy? What other things can you do to ensure their health and well-being?


News Updates: This month’s issues concern cholesterol, myopia, and bone mineral density. All three issues are related to diet and exercise, which may be a surprise where myopia is concerned.


Eating Frequency and Cholesterol Levels: High total cholesterol levels and a high ratio of LDL (bad) cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol are associated with heart disease. Therefore, it is wise to find ways to lower cholesterol levels. It appears that one of the easiest, and counter-intuitive, ways is to eat more frequently throughout the day. Research done in Britain found that those subjects who ate six or more meals and snacks each day had lower cholesterol levels than those who ate only one to two meals or snacks each day. This relationship held even though those who ate more frequently also had a higher intake of calories and fats than did those who ate less frequently. It was also not related to an overall healthier lifestyle among the frequent eaters. The researchers concluded that the infrequent eaters may have gorged at their meals which elevated their insulin levels leading through a series of steps to increased cholesterol production in the liver. As they conclude in their article, “We need to consider not just what we eat but how often we eat.” Titan SM, Bingham S, Welch A, Luben R, Oakes S, Day N, Khaw KT. Frequency of eating and concentrations of serum cholesterol in the Norfolk population of the European prospective investigation into cancer (EPIC-Norfolk): cross sectional study. BMJ 2001; 323: 1286-1288.

Eggs and Cholesterol Levels: Eggs are being rehabilitated. Because they are high in cholesterol compared to some other foods, eggs, particularly egg yolks, have been regarded as culprits in the high cholesterol levels in modern populations. However, eggs, particularly the yolks, are chock full of important nutrients needed to maintain our health. These include protein, vitamin B-12, folate, some vitamin D, other vitamins and minerals, lutein, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids necessary for brain growth and intellectual development. Furthermore, research has shown that those who ate four or more eggs per week actually had lower levels of cholesterol than those who ate one or fewer eggs per week. This was probably because they substituted eggs for other foods high in saturated fats. Song WO, Kerver JM. Nutritional contribution of eggs to American diets. J Am Coll Nutr 2000; 19: 556S-562S.

Comment: Prior to the development of agriculture, our ancestors were foragers who spent the day gathering or hunting the foods they ate that day. While they returned with some foodstuffs to the campsite to share with others, they also ate as they gathered. Our ancestors ate small amounts fairly continuously throughout the day. Ethnographic and archaeological data have shown that eggs and shellfish (also high in cholesterol) played important roles in the diets of our ancestors and were probably key in the development of our brains and intelligence. Broadhurst CL, Wang Y, Crawford MA, Cunnane SC, Parkington JE, Schmidt WF. Brain-specific lipids from marine, lacustrine, or terrestrial food resources: potential impact on early African Homo sapiens. Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol 2002 Apr;131(4):653-73

Lowering cholesterol the AnthroHealth way: Walk 2 – 3 miles each day. Eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day instead of a few large meals. Substitute two eggs per day for dairy or baked goods high in saturated fats. You will obtain better nutrition and lower your cholesterol levels.


Myopia and Diet: Myopia or short-sightedness has increased dramatically throughout the world in the last 50 to 100 years. The usual culprit is considered to be an increase in formal education associated with long hours reading. While that certainly plays a role, researchers have now suggested another factor in the upsurge in myopia among children: a Western style diet high in refined and processed foods. Refined foods have a high glycemic index causing an elevation in serum insulin levels. The result can be chronic hyperinsulinaemia. In children, this condition affects the growth of the eyeball causing it to lengthen thereby making it more difficult for the lens to focus. Diet as a factor in myopia is supported by those populations (e.g. Vanuatuans) whose children attend school for eight hours each school day, but who have maintained a traditional, non-Western diet. It is further supported by the fact that those who are obese and/or develop type 2 diabetes are also more likely to develop myopia than are slim, non-diabetic individuals. Cordain L, Eaton SB, Brand Miller J, Lindeberg S, Jensen C. An evolutionary analysis of the aetiology and pathogenesis of juvenile-onset myopia. Acta Ophthalmol Scand 2002; 80:125-135.

Preventing Myopia the AnthroHealth way: Eliminate high glycemic foods from the diet. These include, among others, all refined grain products (baked goods, cereals, white rice, etc.) and white potatoes. Make sure children engage in activities involving seeing at a distance in addition to activities involving close viewing such as reading, and TV and computer viewing. Playing outside in the sunlight also provides needed vitamin D.


Fruits and Vegetables and Bone Mineral Density: Research has shown that in order to prevent bone loss, such as seen in osteoporosis, the diet must tip the scales towards an alkaline or base-forming diet (high in magnesium and potassium) and away from an acid-forming diet. An acid-forming diet accelerates bone mineral loss as the body attempts to neutralize the acid by using the minerals from bones. The best alkaline or base-forming diet is one high in fruits and vegetables. However, the same research also showed that protein intake, although acid-forming, needs to be considered since those with a low protein intake had more bone mineral loss than did those with a high protein intake, perhaps because quality sources of protein also have good levels of magnesium and potassium. As with everything, a balance needs to be achieved. In this case, a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables with a moderate intake of protein achieved the best results in terms of bone mineral density. Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Kiel DP. The acid-base hypothesis: diet and bone in the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Eur J Nutr 2001 Oct;40(5):231-7.

Bone Mineral Density the AnthroHealth way: Eat 8–10 servings of richly-colored fruits and vegetables each day. Eat high-quality protein at each meal such as found in eggs, fish, and lean meat. Walk 2–3 miles each day: You get exposure to UVB radiation which elevates vitamin D levels. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise.


AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: In brief: eat breakfast every day. You have probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is true. As discussed earlier in the newsletter, we are healthier when we eat small amounts throughout the day rather than a few large meals. Since our bodies are revving up for the day’s activities when we awaken, it is important that we provide our bodies with quality nutrition at the beginning of our day. Breakfast should include a source of protein and fruits and vegetables. A breakfast of refined grains (e.g. toast, cereal, bagel, etc.) is actually counter-productive since those items have a high glycemic index. A better breakfast would be a two egg spinach and salsa omelet, ˝ grapefruit, ˝ cup of blueberries, and a cup of tea. This breakfast is chock full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, and high-quality protein. Such a breakfast will give you the nutrition and energy you need to make a great start on each new day.


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Copyright © 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.