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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Food

In Elemental. More on Medium.

My science-based journey to a plant-based lifestyle

Photo: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

“Heart disease? Oh, c’mon, that’s so old school.” So went my thinking as I rode a conveyor belt into a CT scan in one of those dreary medical-imaging facilities I’d managed to avoid for the entirety of my 51 years. I was fairly certain this was just another test that didn’t really apply to me, one of the many my doctor had tacked on to the growing list of exams we Americans find ourselves subjected to as we move through the decades.


Good Question

Beans, broccoli, and many other plant foods can be major gas triggers

A unidentifiable woman carrying a bag of fruit and vegetables over her shoulder.
A unidentifiable woman carrying a bag of fruit and vegetables over her shoulder.
Photo illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Javier Zayas Photography/Getty Images

In my household, for reasons that are obscure even to me, “fart” is a bad word. At some point, my wife and I must have decided that we didn’t want to hear our kids use the F-word all the time, so we adopted “toot” as a gentler substitute. Beans and other legumes are often on our menu, and things can get pretty tooty around here.


The Nuance

Experts say a range of factors — including how we eat — may explain the rise of IBD and other gut disorders

Illustration by Kieran Blakey for Elemental

Gut health in America is poor and seems to be getting worse. According to a 2020 study led by researchers at the University of North Carolina, roughly one in four U.S. adults regularly experiences diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, or other symptoms of gastrointestinal dysfunction.


Illustrations by Julia Dufosse for Elemental

The rise in food allergies has been weighing on the health system for a couple decades now — with little understanding of where it came from and where it’s headed

During a grocery run long before the Covid-19 pandemic, Michael Pistiner, MD, a second-year pediatric allergy fellow at Children’s Hospital Boston, was standing in a Boston Whole Foods aisle basking in the glow of how darn cute his son Scott was. His three-and-a-half-year-old had just tasted a chocolate bar with walnuts for the first time and said, “That’s delicious!” It was such a big word. A nice moment for father and son.


PANDEMIC WINTER HEALTH HACKS

Fiber is your friend

Illustration: Sophi Gullbrants

My primary care doctor is a keeper. Sharp, gracious, and no-nonsense, she frequently impresses me with how well she’s kept her human shine intact after a long career in clinical medicine. After all, as many docs will readily acknowledge, the grind of patient care and ensuing burnout can suck the gentle goodwill right out of you.


Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Good for your body, good for your stress levels

Perhaps now more than ever, healthy routines are powerful companions. Making batches of soup in the cold weather months is one routine I swear by. Because my winter self is most alert, willing, and creative (thanks in part to the boost from morning light) in the first part of the day, I like to cook then.


There’s a scientific reason to just eat what you want

Illustration: Avalon Nuovo

If history tells us anything, we are on the edge of a new age of extreme dieting, disordered exercising, and systemic size bias. It’s a long-held cultural pattern: Periods of hardship and uncertainty tend to yield extreme diet fads and a general rise in disordered eating. As dietary historian Susan Yager notes, some of our most bizarre and restrictive diet trends emerged in the middle of the Great Depression. A century later, we find ourselves one year into a devastating pandemic, slogging through an economic crisis, and at the start of a winter of uncertainty. We are vulnerable and stressed…


The new year can spur the urge to make changes to your lifestyle. Diet advice tends to be heavily marketed this time of year with claims of benefits to health and self-esteem. But diets are often restrictive and exclusionary, and even if they provide short-term benefits, they tend to be unsustainable in the long term and in some cases can lead to disordered eating. Scientists and nutrition experts recommend looser, more inclusive approaches to eating, such as the pesco-Mediterranean diet, an eating pattern that’s high in plants, nuts, whole grains, extra-virgin olive oil, and fish or seafood. …


Staying healthy in a pandemic means both avoiding infection and shoring up our immune systems

Photo: Bozhin Karaivanov/Unsplash

In medicine, as in other realms of life, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold as a dark chapter of human history. Physicians have now treated scores of patients with every imaginable permutation of this infection. As unrelenting as this virus is, we have seen infectious disease epidemics before, and we know how to mitigate their spread.


New study shows time-restricted eating can cause weight loss, but no more than a healthy diet

Photo: erdikocak/Getty Images

In a blow to the latest dietary darling, a recent study found that people who practiced time-restricted eating (also known as intermittent fasting) didn’t experience any significant weight loss compared to a control group. The paper undermines one of the most popular and seemingly simplest diet and optimization fads of the past decade — eat whatever you want during a specific time window, and you’ll lose weight, achieve mental clarity, and simplify your life.

“It seemed like the ideal intervention,” says Ethan Weiss, MD, lead author of the new study and an associate professor at the University of California, San…

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