FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


1 Comment

Where is the Sugar?

 

This is a bowl of white sugar.

This is a bowl of white sugar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following article is a very comprehensive and informative review of the sugar content of our diets.   Bottom line:  It is recommended that we consume no more than 13 teaspoons of sugar a day.  It would help a lot if the much needed revised nutrition fact labels would  include added sugars.  For now, the labels have grams of sugar  as total sugars in one serving.  Divide that number by four to determine how many teaspoons of sugar that product contains.

Most of the studies on sugars and health  has concentrated on diabetes and obesity.   Check out this previous post on the seldom mentioned effects of carbohydrates  on cancer risk.  These studies for obvious reasons are cell or animal studies, but it is nevertheless interesting.

CLICK HERE.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Leave a comment

Food Addict?

Position of the nucleus accumbens and Ventral ...

Position of the nucleus accumbens and Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The idea that food (at least some types) are addictive has been debated  for quite a while and up to now mostly rejected by both nutrition and addiction researchers.  Based on some recent research however, it is being discussed more seriously that food and drug addictions have much in common in how they affect parts of the brain associated with pleasure and self control.

What’s the evidence?  Studies from Princeton and the U. of Florida found that when rats were allowed to binge on sugar and then the sugar was taken away, they showed opiate-like withdrawal symptoms including teeth chattering, forepaw tremors and the shakes.

There is a paradigm called the conditioned place preference.  Rats are given a choice between two rooms and the rats become familiar with both of them.  For example, inside one room, the rat is given injections of morphine or cocaine and in the other room, he/she is given a placebo of injected saline. Guess which room the rats hung out in most of the time – of course, the drug room – they had learned to prefer the effects of this room compared to the other (boring) room. This phenomenon continued even after the injections were discontinued.

In a study based on this paradigm at Connecticut College last year, rats were trained with Oreos in one room and in the other boring rice cakes.  They spent just as much time in the Oreo room as they had spent in the cocaine or morphine room in previous studies.  After that experiment they examined the nucleus accumbens (a part of the brain’s pleasure center).  They measured the expression of a protein located there (c-Fos) that  tells us when that brain center has been turned on or not in response to a behavior.  They found  a greater number of neurons that were activated in the nucleus accumbens in rats given the Oreos compared to animals conditioned to cocaine or morphine.  This raised the question – do foods high in fats and/or sugar affect the brain in the same way as addictive drugs?

In a study published in Nature Neuroscience (2010), rats that spent 40 days eating bacon, sausage, cheesecakes and frosting became addicted by continuing to eat despite given electric shocks.  Rats who were not addicted did not.

So much for the rats. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at how food intake is associated with dopamine-containing pleasure centers in the brain. Dr. David Ludwig from Boston Children’s Hospital  and colleagues measured blood glucose levels and hunger and used MRI brain scans to look at brain activity during a four-hour period after a meal.  This time span helps to influence eating behavior at the next meal.

Two identical milkshakes in calories, taste and sweetness were  given to 12 overweight or obese men.  One of the milkshakes contained a high-glycemic carbohydrate causing a rapid rise in blood glucose; the other contained a low-glycemic carbohydrate that takes longer to digest, thus a slower-acting blood glucose response.

When the volunteers consumed the high-glycemic shake, they experienced an initial surge in blood glucose levels that was followed by a sharp decline four hours later. The subjects also became extremely hungry.  Brain scans showed activation of the nucleus accumbens  which is also triggered by addictive drugs and even behaviors like gambling.  These results may help to explain why some people overeat (however, all obese people do not exhibit this behavior) and provides a biological reason rather than just blame it on a lack of willpower.

Dr. Ludwig said: “Beyond reward and craving, this part of the brain is also linked with substance abuse and dependence, which raises the question as to whether certain foods might be addictive.  These findings suggest that limiting high-glycemic foods such as white bread and potatoes could help obese people reduce cravings and control the urge to overeat”.

Dr. William Davis, writing in “Wheat Belly (a provocative book) has also proposed the theory that wheat is addictive. But remember, diet books often make bold statements to help them sell.  He makes many claims that often are not supported by proper references, in my opinion.

From his  book:  “ It has been known for a century that opiates, when administered to lab animals and humans increase appetite.  It was discovered about 30 years ago that the gliadin protein of wheat is, in effect, an opiate, as it yields digestive breakdown products that bind to the opiate receptors of the brain.”
For a critical review of this book:

CLICK HERE.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Leave a comment

Some Good News?

Juice

Juice (Photo credit: hepp)

At Last – people appear to be getting the messages about healthier food choices.  Still many  of our food choices continue to consist of  sugary carbohydrates – fruit juice,  soft drinks, snacks and even yogurt (many contain a lot of sugar) and some cold cereals.  But it does appear to be a slight improvement.  I would like to know what kinds of vegetables are being consumed.

A lot of the choices are based on cost and convenience and a lot of these foods are often processed, however.    But it’s trend in the right direction.

CLICK HERE.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Leave a comment

SUGARLAND?

A spoon containing breakfast cereal flakes, pa...

A spoon containing breakfast cereal flakes, part of a strawberry, and milk is held in midair against a blue background. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FYI:  I’m sure you all have noticed the cereal section in the supermarket – so many choices, so little time.   We really should rename this aisle – SUGARLAND!!!

CLICK HERE.

The television breakfast cereal ads appear to be dominated by HONEY NUT CHEERIOS.™  It seems like there is a commercial about every hour or so.  Upon checking,  there are 9 grams of sugar in a 3/4 cup serving.  The original Cheerios only contain 1 gram.

But shame on the cereal companies!!!  For an eye-opening review of cereals marketed to children:

CLICK HERE.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Leave a comment

More Sugar Blues?

Softdrinks in supermarket

Softdrinks in supermarket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SUGAR FACTS:

  • On average, Americans eat about 22 teaspoons of sugars daily (355 kcal).
  • Most of the sugar we eat comes from added sugars during processing from soft drinks, cakes, cookies, fruit punch and dairy desserts.
  • Between 1970 and 2000, consumption of caloric soft drinks increased 70% and has resulted in an intake of 34 teaspoons (549 kcal) of added sugar daily in children 14-18 years old.
  • The “supersizing” trend is contributing to this problem.  For example, in the 1950’s a typical soft drink serving was a 6.5 oz. bottle.  Today, a 20 oz. bottle is a typical serving.  This change alone contributes 170 extra calories of sugar to the diet.
  • Drinking 1 bottle per day for a year amounts to 62,050 extra calories and an estimated 17-18 pound weight gain.
  • High intakes of sugar (especially fructose) have been associated with increased blood triglyceride levels, increased LDL-cholesterol  levels and decreased HDL-cholesterol, conditions associated with cardiovascular disease risk.

CLICK HERE.

Enhanced by Zemanta


2 Comments

Sugar Shock?

Yogurt

Yogurt (Photo credit: jess2284)

Sugar can be hidden in a lot of processed food products that make health claims.  Yogurt is one of them.

When I see the yogurt aisle in the supermarket, I am amazed at all the different types available now.  This slideshow gives us some guidance on the various types to choose.  Here’s where label reading is a necessity.  Some people think that yogurt is healthy and most are, but notice the grams of sugar (some can be quite high) and the grams of protein (which often differ considerably).

This is a start on some different choices if you want to choose yogurt as a dairy alternative protein source.

CLICK HERE.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Leave a comment

Sugar Facts

mom, i need more high fructose corn syrup!

mom, i need more high fructose corn syrup! (Photo credit: tbone_sandwich)

FYI:  In 1900, the average American consumed 5 lbs of sugar per year; now it’s 150 lbs/year with 61 pounds from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The facts speak for themselves.

CLICK HERE.

Enhanced by Zemanta


2 Comments

Sugar Blues

Public relations of high-fructose corn syrup

Public relations of high-fructose corn syrup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Could sugar be a villain in our diabesity epidemic?    In the past few decades, dietary fat has taken the sole blame – but now views are shifting toward sugar as a major contributor.

Now new research from UC Davis suggests that sugar in the form of sugary drinks contribute not only to obesity but also to heart disease risk.  After eating a sugar-free diet for several weeks, volunteers drank three concoctions a day of a sugary drink containing high fructose corn syrup (55% fructose, 45% sucrose) for two weeks.  They agreed to be monitored in the hospital with their food carefully measured, their bodies subjected to scans and blood tests.   This protocol added 500 calories of added sugar a day  to their diets or about 25% of all calories.

About 1 in 4 Americans gets at least 200 calories a day from sugary drinks.  Many children are getting 300 calories a day or more from sugar-containing drinks.  Sodas are not the only culprit – an 8 oz. glass of fruit punch or apple juice has nearly 130 calories.  The same amount of chocolate milk contains more than 200 calories.

The results were somewhat surprising – within the two weeks, their blood chemistry changed for the worse – in other words, the volunteers had elevated levels of LDL cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.

In addition, two large epidemiological studies with both men and women have found that  Sugar-sweetened drinks were linked with adverse changes in levels of HDL, triglycerides and C-reactive protein.   C-reactive protein is  marker for inflammation.

Not surprisingly, the American Beverage Association (ABA), a trade organization, has disputed these studies.

CLICK HERE for how the sugar industry promoted its product through deceptive ads beginning in the 1930s.  Follow the obesity timeline on the historical role of changes in our food supply that may  have contributed to our current health problems.

Enhanced by Zemanta


1 Comment

No to Corn Sugar!

Sugar

Sugar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s about time that the FDA denied the Corn Refiner’s request to rename high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar.

CLICK HERE.

The combined total of naturally occurring sugars and added sugars appears on the food labels in the line reading “sugars”.  On a label’s ingredients list, the term sugar means sucrose.  Added sugars and syrups are added to a food for any purpose to add sweetness or bulk or in browning (baked goods).

Look for other names on ingredient labels  like corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, galactose, glucose invert sugar,  lactose, maltose, sucrose, molasses, levulose (an older name for fructose), and concentrated fruit juice sweetener.

It is also helpful to remember there are added sugars in common processed foods:

1/2 cup canned corn = 3 tsp. sugar

12 oz. cola = 8 tsp. sugar

1 tablespoon ketchup = 1 tsp. sugar

1 tablespoon creamer = 2 tsp. sugar

8 oz. sweetened yogurt = 7 tsp. sugar

2 oz. chocolate = 8 tsp. sugar

The American Heart Association has specific guidelines for added sugar — no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That’s about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men.

Most Americans get more than 22 teaspoons — or 355 calories — of added sugar a day, which far exceeds USDA guidelines and American Heart Association recommendations.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Leave a comment

Sugar Sense?

oatmeal with strawberries, sugar-free chocolat...

oatmeal with strawberries, sugar-free chocolate syrup, & sugar-free chocolate chips (Photo credit: Newbirth35)

This article by David L.  Katz, MD is a great take and sensible approach on our obsession with demonizing common foods (in this case, sugar) and blaming them for disease rates.   I am not a fan of sugar and never had a “sweet” tooth, so it’s easy for me keep away from it.  Besides, a lower carbohydrate diet treats me well in terms of keeping triglycerides low, LDL cholesterol at bay, and increasing HDL cholesterol. I also think that excess sugar is not doing any of us very much good.  But, enough is enough – low fat, low saturated fat, no fat, no HFCS, less sodium, no cholesterol, sugar-free, fat-free, gluten-free, trans-free, no soy, no wheat?   Where will it end and what will be left to eat?

Although, some studies have reported some metabolic differences with fructose, it still is found in fruits and fruits are a healthy carbohydrate that gives us many vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.   Let’s not get carried away.

CLICK HERE.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 270 other followers