Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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Added Sugar in Processed Food – Why?

This is a bowl of white sugar.

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

As we approach the proposed changes to include “Added Sugars” on the Nutrition Facts panel of processed foods and the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines,  it may be helpful to know why there is so much sugar in processed foods.

Lately, sugar has been implicated more and more in the development of obesity and heart disease as well as the established association with tooth decay.  Recent evidence reported in the  recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology supports this.  The study’s primary author is Frank Hu, M.D., PhD, professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The greatest source of sugar in the American diet is sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods.  I noticed  this morning that 1 cup of Campbell’s Tomato Soup has 12  grams of sugar which is equal to 3 tsp. of sugar.  I opted for a small can of Low Sodium V-8 juice instead.

More specifically, one or two servings a day of sugar has been linked to:

  • as high as a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • a 35 percent greater risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease
  • a 16 percent increased risk of stroke

The following article gives us some sugar rules to live by and explains why food companies add so much sugar to their products.


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More Sugar Blues?

English: Earl R. Dean's 1915 contour Coca-Cola...

English: Earl R. Dean’s 1915 contour Coca-Cola prototype bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coca Cola has recently pulled its funding from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) that represents thousands of registered dietitians.   AND has been criticized for its associations with “Big Food” corporations.  Some of their members have canceled their memberships and formed the Dietitians for Professional Integrity group based on their criticism of this practice and conflicts of interest by AND. Coca Cola will no longer exhibit at the annual Food  Nutrition Conference and Expo, meeting this week in Nashville, TN.  Don’t worry, though, AND still has financial ties with PepsiCo, Inc. and many other large food companies.

Good Riddance to Coca Cola!


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Diet Soda?

Diet Coke

Diet Coke (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An excellent post from Fooducate on the perils of consuming diet sodas.  The  Coca-Cola Web page says that  some of their products contain aspartame and some contain Splenda.  From my diet counseling days, a woman was referred to me by her gastroenterologist.  She complained of stomach pains and digestive discomfort.  She also reported that she consumed about 15 cans of diet soda a day.  I’m not saying that the soda was the cause, but it does give one “food for thought.”  She wanted to sue the diet soda company (Dr. Pepper).  The doctor’s and my advice?  Guess what?  Cut back on your diet soda consumption.  What a greatl idea!!!


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Back To Fat?

English: A display of high fat foods such as c...

English: A display of high fat foods such as cheeses, chocolates, lunch meat, french fries, pastries, doughnuts, etc. Reuse Restrictions: None – This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source and/or author listed above. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It appears that Americans are returning to whole fat foods – meat, butter, cheese, whole milk.  Perhaps that may be due to the recent demonizing of foods high in carbohydrates – primarily refined sugars. The recommendations to restrict either fats or carbohydrates has led to unprecedented confusion on just what we should eat and many consumers are just giving up in utter frustration.  However, the return may not be the best idea until we examine what other choices we may have.  In my opinion, the jury is still out among the “experts” on just how much saturated fat is heart healthy or if carbohydrate restriction can help prevent heart disease.  Recent evidence suggests that carbohydrate restriction does affect some cardiovascular risk factors and may help prevent diabetes type 2.

I cannot help but to return to the lessons learned from the recent books by Dan Beuttner, The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest and The Blue Zone Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.  One cannot ignore what they reveal which mimics the advice from food writer, Michael Pollan who says:  Eat Food, Not too Much, Mostly Plants.  This advice says it simply – Try to practice mindful eating including portion control, eat whole, real foods, and include plant-based foods like beans, legumes, whole grains, leafy vegetables, fruits. (He doesn’t mean french fries).  It becomes obvious the often used mantra of “all things in moderation” can mean that our beloved meats, butter, and full-fat cheeses can be  included using some common sense.

Everyone must decide for themselves what foods they are going to eat. As the Blue Zone books show us, genetics, diet and other lifestyle factors can determine how we will age and  how well  we live out our lives with  either disabilities or good health.  The choice is up to us.

The next two articles illustrate what is really going on with our latest diet dilemma and offer some common sense on how to deal with the  current  American diet debate.



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The Melting Pot of Nutrition

Today there are so many opinions as to what is the best diet, what are superfoods, how should we eat, how can I lose weight and keep it off – it makes your head spin.  The following article by Dr. David Katz discusses this dilemma.  And it is problem – who is right or wrong?  It seems that almost everyone that eats food has their own, often strong, opinions about diet and nutrition and due  to the internet the plethora of information and misinformation is available  to us like never before.



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Fear of Food?

The following article is a witty and healthy reminder that we should keep in mind when reading about the latest food scare.  It is no wonder that we have individuals who are predisposed to take healthy eating to extremes – now a new eating disorder called orthorexia.  Let us be reminded that the most healthy cultures like the French and those longest-living populations found in the book, The Blue Zones embrace foods and the art of eating with pleasure and enjoyment.  Maybe we should all relax a little and try to do the same.


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Food and Diet Myths Busted

Busted in rust

Busted in rust (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good article from Eating Well that breaks up some long-standing nutrition and diet myths.  There is also a lot of good information here and it provides the sources. Enjoy!



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