Lab Notes #7: On Fiber, Opioids and Being Really, Really Dead

If “Plastics” was sound advice for Benjamin Bratton, the protagonist of The Graduate played by Dustin Hoffman (1967), you can flip that advice on its head today. “Fiber” is key, and most Americans getting half of the recommended 25g / day. Now, I indicated that last week that I’d stick to good news this week, and I’ll deliver: white bread has been losing market share for years, and branded bread–typically the healthier stuff–has done well, in spite of the carb scare and glutenphobia. Find your fiber in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and reap key benefits, according to a recent study published in The Lancet.  “This study showed a sizeable reduction in health risks from getting at least 25 grams of fiber,” said Michael Roizen, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic–including a 15-30% decrease in the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. As you probably didn’t know: refrigerating your pasta or sweet potatoes before cooking make them behave more like fiber once cooked and in your belly. (I certainly didn’t.)

The opioid epidemic continues to take a serious toll across the US, but there’s good news out there, and some of the glitter may indeed be gold. For the newborn victims of the opioid epidemic, a new treatment nicknamed “hugs not drugs” shows promise. Research practitioners in Colorado found that treating infants with opioid dependence via the “eat, sleep, console” method decreased the use of postnatal opiates from 83% to 20%. The research is young, and the long-term effects are still to be discovered. Still, it’s good to have even the slightest bit of good news coming out of this epidemic.

And, from the Black Mirror space of healthcare, a research team at Yale figured out a way to reanimate select brain functions of a dead pig. In this study, which appears in the most recent issue of Nature, researchers concluded, “[the] large mammalian brain possesses an underappreciated capacity for restoration of microcirculation and molecular and cellular activity after a prolonged post-mortem interval.”

Put another way: should Pulp Fiction’s Butch Coolidge–played by Bruce Willis–come across a recently deceased pig named Zed, we may need to update another iconic line from American cinema. Cheers!