All posts by Isabel Draper

Should We Eat Like Cavemen?


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Image from Everyday Health

Isabel Draper

The Paleo diet claims to help with weight loss and health by returning to the diet that their ancestors consumed thousands of years ago. Grains and processed foods are avoided.  The diet consists mostly of meat and vegetables. The diet also prohibits the consumption of legumes and added sugars. 

 We know that paleolithic people didn’t eat cauliflower rice or coconut clusters. Paleolithic people likely ate lean small animals, including the inner organs (offal) and the bone marrow. They ate what they could kill or could find. The meat available to be eaten today is from fattened cattle. And most of us don’t eat offal or bone marrow. Still, the Paleo diet stresses the benefits of consuming grass-fed beef while not directly addressing the potential drawbacks of consuming large quantities of red meat. 

The idea that paleolithic people ate more meat than vegetables may reflect the fact that animal bones are more easily preserved than plant matter. The exact amount of meat that they ate compared to vegetation is impossible to determine. Humans lack certain teeth that carnivorous animals use to shred meat. Our teeth closely resemble other omnivores or herbivores.

Proponents of the paleo diet have not provided satisfactory evidence that the elimination of potentially nutrient dense foods like legumes, dairy, and grains promotes health. For example, the potato, which was available to some paleolithic people, is generally avoided by followers of the diet due to its high glycemic index. 

Avoiding processed foods and grains may facilitate weight loss and improve overall health, but the claims for other aspects of the diet are speculative. There is no way to know what the paleolithic humans ate thousands of years ago. What we do know is that they ate to survive. If a paleolithic human found a cheeseburger out on the savannah, he might have eaten that and asked for some fries to go with it.

Do Bones Grow Back Stronger?

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Photo from WebMD

Isabel Draper

Some people may say  that a broken bone will grow back stronger. After an inflammatory or “clean up” phase, followed by a reparative phase where first cartilage and then bone bridges the fracture,  the final stage of bone healing is the remodeling stage. A bone generally reaches 80-90% of its original strength in 3 to 6 months, but doesn’t complete remodeling and get to 100% strength for about a year.

During the reparative or second phase of bone healing, a callus forms at the site of the break. This callus is gradually replaced with woven bone. During the remodeling stage, the woven bone will be replaced with lamellar bone. The completion of this final stage may take anywhere from several months to a few years but once it is completed the bone will return to its original structure.  After the bone finishes the remodeling stage, its strength basically returns to what it was before. The bone at the fracture site is not less likely than the rest of the bone to break again and the bone doesn’t grow back stronger.

Is it okay to delay your period with birth control pills?

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Image from Healthline

Isabel Draper

The first oral contraceptive pill was approved by the FDA in 1960. Packs of pills with equal amounts of estrogen and progesterone (combined birth control pills) have a week of sugar pills.  Taking the placebo pills induces a period. Health authorities and doctors have traditionally advised women that they should take this week of sugar pills and have normal periods for their reproductive and overall health. The thought was that having a period regularly would reassure women that everything was normal as well as imitate the rhythm method (thereby making birth control more acceptable to the pope).

Women that wanted to have fewer periods started skipping these placebo pills and taking  the active pills from the next pack of pills. This practice is a form of menstrual suppression which is the adjustment of the menstrual cycle using hormonal contraceptives. Skipping placebo pills or ‘stacking packs’ is one of several way that women can suppress their periods.  The uterine lining is maintained when periods are skipped and breakthrough bleeding may occur as some of the lining sheds. Other potential side effects of taking the combined pill continuously or ‘stacking packs’ may include nausea or diarrhea. The chances of successfully suppressing one’s period without breakthrough bleeding or other side effects depends on both the method used and the patient.

When attempting to decide between continuous cycle pills, 28-day birth control pills, or another form of birth control for menstrual suppression,  women should consult their physician or nurse practitioner in order to create a birth control plan tailored to their needs.