As an avid reader of medical news I face a barrage of headlines both domestic & international everyday.  I feel this is important for many reasons – not just so that I know what’s being said about their medicine but what they’re saying about ours as well! Anyone see the jaw-dropping headline last week: Could Probiotics be bad for your gut?  Yep. 

Now how many of you didn’t make it past the headline? It’s hard isn’t it. 

There’s almost a reflexive shutdown for many of us to dismiss such a proposition as simply ‘ridiculous’, surely on par with our response to an article from a climate skeptic…as we shake our heads with ‘you gotta be joking right?’… but unless we read on, we’ll never know. 

And because these things are making headlines in medical newsfeeds and therefore our colleagues’ circles, we actually need to have read substantially past the headline, in order to engage in the bigger shared patient discussion that will inevitably ensue.  Here’s another one that arrived in my inbox today: Drink more caffeine: advice to kidney disease patients. Ok I imagine this is is perhaps not sending your sympathetic nervous into instant skittishness in quite the same way as the probtioc blasphemy but man, let me tell you,  it reached inside my cranium grabbed my amygdala and shook it! More caffeine for kidney disease..and wait it gets worse…that’s more caffeine from soft drinks (!!!!!) according to this study based on NHANES data of almost 5000 Americans with CKD stages 2-4. But we need to hear this and therefore read on. 

Not because it is necessarily the ‘truth’, not because I need to start advising all my CKD patients to get on the soda, but because if there is probably something, many things for me to learn from this. Otherwise I stay with my biases and the learning takes longer.

And guess what I learned… caffeine, generally speaking from coffee and tea, increases your GFR… and in a good way 🙂  I am also still digging through the rest of the paper considering the its methodological limitations, room for re-interpretation etc etc.  but I try not to set out reading uncomfortable research like this with a, ‘let me show you how you got this wrong attitude’ but rather a, ‘what can I learn from this?’…on my good days LOL. In the same newsfeed there was a lovely article on how a higher intake of vegetables (cruciferous in particular) correlated with reduced risk of falls in the elderly due in part to higher muscle mass (sounds just like me talking acid base balance doesn’t it!!)…now in contrast to the reflexive-head-in-sand-response to research that challenges my ideas, this supports my already formed opinions, makes for a truly pleasant reaffirming light read and…progresses my knowledge…not one millimetre further 😉

Now if you only clicked on the link to the last article…I get it…but you need to get comfortable with reading uncomfortable research.

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