Weekly Newsletter

How different types of protein impact our health

Discover all the ways protein affects heart health and fatigue. Plus, what sustainable protein sources might be in our future.
A Latino toddler rides on the shoulders of their father while their mother looks up and laughs. They walk on a broad mountain road, smiling.

Apologies if you opened this resource article expecting hot takes on protein bars + nutrition drinks. Sure, we’ve clocked some delicious + high-quality protein tips into The Checkup. But today, we’re gonna nerd out about other proteins. Namely, ones that zap (or provide) energy in weird + wonderful ways.

The types and functions of proteins include antibodies, contractile proteins, enzymes, hormonal proteins, structural proteins, storage proteins and transport proteins. Each plays a different part in keeping our immune system and vital organs healthy.

Read on for the latest science on how proteins affect heart health + fatigue. Plus, is mealworm protein the sustainable food source of the future? But first, let’s jump into…

The Checkup

Bugger it!

A young white woman with black hair wearing red lipstick eats from a Chinese food container on their couch with their legs crossed, while a brown cat lays nearby.

You heard it here first. Mealworms may be the sustainable protein source of the future.

A new study shows that they provide benefits to a high-fat diet. The easily-digestible protein may slow weight gain, increase metabolism, reduce inflammation + improve the immune response. Some results suggest it helps balance good and bad cholesterol levels, too.

Researchers credit the mealworms’ fibrous exoskeleton for these improvements—but that hasn’t been confirmed. And this study was done on mice, not humans. So don’t expect FDA-approved mealworm flour soon.

Looking to keep your cholesterol level without eating bugs?

Learn how Dr. B treats high cholesterol online.

Extreme (protein) fatigue

Young white woman with brown hair wearing a gray t-shirt lays on the floor next to a large black dog and covers her eyes with her hand.

New research suggests that high levels of WASF3 protein may contribute to extreme fatigue + brain fog in those with ME/CFS and long Covid.

WASF3 helps cells move. So researchers hypothesized that excess WASF3 might interfere with mitochondrial function (energy production). Mice with elevated WASF3 levels showed this mitochondrial energy defect + only ran on (tiny!) treadmills half the time as non-affected mice.

The research team then found that all 14 human participants diagnosed with ME/CFS had high WASF3 levels + low mitochondrial protein complex levels. This is but one piece of a fatiguing puzzle. But further studies may (eventually) provide energy boosting treatments.

Learn more at Science.

Tell it to my heart!

A senior couple with brown/tan skin wearing jeans and summer shirts holds hands while walking on the beach, smiling at each other.

Cardiac troponin (cTn) is a protein found in the blood around our heart. Physicians only test our cTn levels if they suspect we’re mid-heart attack. But new studies suggest that elevated cTn may help predict cardiac events before they happen.

In one study, participants with high cTn had a 76% higher chance of dying from cardiovascular-related illnesses. The overload doesn’t cause death. But it can point clinicians to blocked arteries or damaged valves. It may signify health issues like autoimmune diseases, dehydration and blood clots, too.

Meanwhile, a new study shows that 10% of non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients are later diagnosed with high blood pressure. Dr. B can help!

Learn how Dr. B treats hypertension online!

Healthcare 411

Taking a pain killer can make emergency contraception more effective (Time). Taking the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) Piroxicam with Levonorgestrel (the drug in Plan B One-Step) prevents pregnancy by 94.7%. That's 30% more than Levonorgestrel alone. NSAIDs suppress the prostaglandins that trigger ovulation. So this study may encourage further exploration of their secondary use.

WHO monitoring highly mutated new strain of Covid-19... (US News). Variant BA.2.86 has only caused a few cases across three continents. But it has dozens of genetic changes in parts of the virus that may help it escape vaccine + infection immunity. Unless it proves to have the spreading speed of XBB, it should remain a low threat. If it picks up steam, we may face a new pandemic direction. Are you at high risk for severe infection from Covid-19? Dr. B can help you get antiviral medication ASAP.

A guide to fall vaccine options (YLE). Everyone over 6 months can get a flu vaccine—experts recommend doing so in October. A new Covid vaccine targeting XBB.1.5 is coming this fall. Those at high risk should get it ASAP. Others can time the jab before a big infection wave. New RSV vaccines are available for those over 60 + others at high risk. Scroll the summary for details on kids, pregnant people + more.

Sign up for the free Dr. B newsletter for a weekly report on the latest in healthcare + research-based advice for staying healthy and mentally well.