Saturday, May 28, 2011

Does Chinese Food Make You Fat?

Sorry, but that's a trick question. It's not the Chinese food per se, but something they put IN the Chinese food that's packing on your poundage. 

The flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG), most often associated with Chinese food and after-dinner headaches, may also be expanding your horizons (for your waistline, anyway), according to a new study.

Researchers found that people who eat more MSG are more likely to be overweight or obese. 

Is that just because you're porking down more Hunan Pork? 
Actually not. The link between high MSG intake and being overweight held even after accounting for the total number of calories people ate.

What did they do in this study? 

In the latest research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, He and his colleagues followed more than 10,000 adults in China for about 5.5 years on average.
The researchers measured MSG intake directly by before-and-after weighing of products, such as bottles of soy sauce, to see how much people ate. They also asked people to estimate their intake over three 24-hour periods.
Men and women who ate the most MSG (a median of 5 grams a day) were about 30 percent more likely to become overweight by the end of the study than those who ate the least amount of the flavoring (less than a half-gram a day), the researchers found. After excluding people who were overweight at the start of the study, the risk rose to 33 percent.

The Caveat
MSG may be ONE element in our expanding horizons, but it's not the only one. In fact, Americans' typical daily intake of MSG is estimated to be only about half a gram, whereas estimates for Japan and Korea put average intakes anywhere between a gram-and-a-half and 10 grams a day.

Maybe it's the combination of this chemical in your diet, that goes into your head and kills brain cells by exciting them to death, plus our gargantuan portions that's doing it. But whatever. MSG is a GREAT thing in exclude from your diet. 

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Really Expensive Pee For Pregnant Women

Actually, these supplements are worse than just being no more than expensive pee. In this case, it makes the problem even worse!!

What Happened
Pregnant women were coached to take high doses of vitamins C and E to lower their risk of developing a pregnancy complication marked by high blood pressure. 

What They Found
After reviewing nine studies including nearly 20,000 women, researchers found that women taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E - much higher doses than in most prenatal multivitamins - were no less likely to develop the potentially deadly pregnancy complication known as preeclampsia.

It's Even Worse Than That
Instead, they saw that women given extra doses of C and E had a higher risk of certain other pregnancy complications.

Last year, a 4-1/2-year study of nearly 5,000 women found those taking very high doses of vitamins C and E were 10 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy than volunteers taking placebo pills.

The Docs are Confused

According to the lead doctor on this study, "It's not clear why taking antioxidants doesn't reduce women's risk". 
Maybe the reason why they are confused is because they assume that vitamins in food are equivalent to vitamins that are abstracted into a gelatin caplet. 
Apparently, it's not.  

Vitamins won't prevent pregnancy complication | Reuters

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who's responsible for nutrition? Nearly half say food makers

Nearly half of people hold food manufacturers and processors responsible, according to a new survey.

Really? You mean the people who make Twinkies are responsible for making sure they are nutritious? You mean the people who pour out 600 calories of sugar in a Venti, Bucket-o-Caramel Macchiato are responsible for making that nutritious?

Dude, I hate to break this to you, but a nutritious Twinkie is an oxymoron. A healthy Caramel Macchiato lives over in the fiction section. 

Do you need a rule? 
How about this one? You buy junk food, you get junk food.  

The people who make food products are not here to make them nutritious. They are here to sell them to you. If it makes you buy more of them, they'll grind up a multi-vitamin and put it in a box of Sugar Smacks or Fruit Loops, but that doesn't make it an important part of a balanced breakfast. 
Food makers must "do no harm", by making sure toxic things aren't in your foods, but even that is not their responsibility, but that of the FDA.  

The survey also showed that concerns about rising fuel and commodity costs are complicating decisions about healthy eating.
The proportion of survey respondents saying they are ‘very concerned’ about healthy eating has dropped to 39 percent, from 45 percent last year – and although most (82 percent) hold themselves responsible for ensuring the nutritional value of their food, others are looking to food manufacturers (48 percent), government agencies (30 percent) and retailers (29 percent) to make sure the foods they eat are nutritious.
Nevertheless, only 44 percent said they incorporate at least one healthy food into their diet.
The FMI survey revealed that consumer confusion about nutrition labeling is a possible barrier to healthy eating. Although just 17 percent said they could use some help in understanding nutrition information labels, less than one-third (29 percent) said they consider themselves ‘very knowledgeable’ about nutritional information and nearly half (49 percent) said they were not expert in this area.
The FMI also found that as a result of relatively few high-profile recalls in 2011 and better technology for quick communication of food product recalls,consumer confidence in food safety is at its highest point in seven years. It found that 88 percent of consumers said they are ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ confident in the safety of the food sold at the supermarket.
The survey also found that men are much more likely to be comfortable with the safety of food imported from Latin America than women, at 76 percent and 58 percent respectively. Meanwhile, 97 percent of consumers said they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ comfortable with the 
safety of food grown in the United States.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Synthetic sweeteners affect satiety: Study

We are told that synthetics, such as these sweeteners, give you sweetness in your food, but nothing else. 

It turns out that, surprise, there is more going on that was first thought. In fact, your very perception of satiety, or fullness. 

Just add this to the list of "unintended consequences" that are typically discovered for synthetic food additives -- long after they've been added to the food supply!!

Different sweeteners may affect the release of satiety Hormones in the gut in different ways, claim researchers writing in Food Chemistry, who suggest their work could lead to development of novel ways to control appetite.

Previous research has shown that there may be differences in gut responses after exposure to different types of equally sweet compounds – some caloric and some calorie-free. This latest study, from researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, looked at the effects on satiety hormone secretion from gut cells after stimulation with different tastants, including sucrose (sugar), sucralose, and erythritol.

They found that the effects of non-caloric sweeteners on the release of satiety hormones were different when compared to sucrose. While both sucralose and sucrose stimulated release of satiety hormones CCK and GLP-1, erythritol did not, even at concentrations of equal sweetness."

Different sweeteners may have different effects on satiety: Study:
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Monday, May 23, 2011

With Obesity, We Have A PR Problem (Personal Responsibility, that is)

From Reuters: 
Scientists have found that a gene linked to diabetes and cholesterol is a "master switch" that controls other genes found in fat in the body, and say it should help in the search for treatments for obesity-related diseases.

From Will:
Common sense has discovered that obesity is self-inflicted, and there is a "master switch" that causes 95% of all obesity. This new master switch is a breakthrough in health and is called, behavior. Will says that this crazy new finding should be helpful in reversing obesity, and the parade of metabolic problems that it produces. 

The bottom line to our Bottom Lines is this: 
When we eat poorly in quality, and quantity, this eating pattern produces health problems. The solution to the problem is NOT to invent a biological workaround by manipulating your genes. How crazy is that?   

I think this line of research is popular because it feeds the idea that we are not responsible for obesity. It's not us ... really. It's something other than the food decisions I have made -- and your genes represent a perfect scapegoat to let us pass the biological buck. 

Not all obesity is self-inflicted. One estimate I read pinned the number at about 5% -- that is, about 5% of the population can attribute their overweight/obesity to causes outside their behavior. Not their fault. For the rest of us? Big broad middle of that bell curve of people of adiposity? We did it to ourselves by eating FAUX foods, and eating too much. 

The solution to a behavioral problem is a behavioral solution.    

Scientists find master switch gene for obesity | Reuters

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

What? Eating less salt DOESNT cut heart risks?

Every time you think you know something in nutrition ... the rug gets pulled out from under you. Eggs, no eggs; margarine, no margarine; nuts, no nuts; and on and on. 

And now, this study insists that higher salt consumption doesn't drive up your blood pressure! Even worse, the people in this study who had higher salt consumption had lower heart disease!!

Get this:

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The chance of getting heart and blood vessel diseases did not differ in the three groups. However, participants with the lowest salt intake had the highest rate of death from heart disease during the follow up (4 percent), and people who ate the most salt had the lowest (less than 1 percent).

What are we supposed to make of this stunning reversal? 
Keep in mind the following principle: "one study does not a conclusion, make". In other words, we really need to see it replicated. 

And that doesn't mean that these data aren't REAL, or valid, but only that the methods they used may make the results spurious. 

For example, they measured salt consumption indirectly ... by urine output. Is that a good way to measure it? I'm not sure. They used Europeans, who typically eat far fewer processed food products than we do. Is their "high" salt consumption coming from their "Hardees Artery-Hardening Biscuits" or from more or less salt in the shaker on their real foods?  

In the end, we will see whether it is salt that causes the problem for us, or whether it is processed food products. Time will tell. 

Eating less salt doesn't cut heart risks: study | Reuters

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