In recent years, one of the most popular diet interventions has been fasting, in a variety of different forms. These have included intermittent fasting diets in which you’re supposed to fast for a few days per week, such as the 5:2 diet, or a few days per month. They’ve also included various forms of time restricted eating, such as the 16:8 diet, where you’re supposed to get all your calories within an eight hour window each day, and the more extreme warrior diet, in which you’re supposed to get all your calories in a four hour window. But there is still little clarity on how effective these modifications are in terms of weight loss. And up to this point, pretty much all the evidence in support of fasting comes from animal studies, which are notoriously unreliable.
“Only a minority of people in Sweden have antibodies, so they can’t have herd immunity!”
That is the most common argument I’ve been hearing for why Sweden can’t have achieved herd immunity. This is in spite of the fact that the rates of hospitalizations and deaths have dropped continuously since the peak in April, and are now stable at basement levels.
Considering how much misinformation is currently floating around in the area of health and medicine, I thought it might be useful to write an article about how to read and understand scientific studies, so that you can feel comfortable looking at first hand data yourselves and making your own minds up.
At the beginning of August I wrote an article about my experiences working as an emergency physician in Stockholm, Sweden during the covid pandemic. For those who are unaware, Sweden never went in to full lockdown. Instead, the country imposed a partial lockdown that was almost entirely voluntary. People with office jobs were recommended to work from home, and people in general were recommended to avoid public transport unless necessary. Those who were over 70 years old, or who had serious underlying conditions, were recommended to limit social contacts.
In an earlier article we debunked the claim that exercise will help you lose weight. What about whether exercise will help you live longer? Now, don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not anti-exercise. There are lots of studies showing that exercise has many and varied health benefits, from improving muscle strength and balance, to decreasing the risk of fractures and delaying the onset of dementia. But will it help you live longer? And if it does, how much exercise should you be getting to maximize longevity? Are the famous ”10,000 steps a day” and ”half an hour a day” recommendations enough or should you be doing more than that?
Traditional diet advice over the last fifty years, still espoused by most health authorities around the world, holds that if you want to lose weight, you need to cut down your fat intake. In the last few decades, a number of alternative diets have sprung up claiming that you should instead be cutting down your carbohydrate intake. These include the LCHF, Atkins, paleo, and more recently the ketogenic diets. But what do the randomized controlled trials say? Should you cut down on fat or carbs if you want to lose weight?