Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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A Case for High Carbohydrates?

What can we learn about diets from the Japanese? They have low rates of major chronic disease and have a high life expectancy. They eat a diet high in carbs and still have a low incidence of obesity. How do they do it?  Again, it may be the kinds of carbs (there are some healthy carbs) they eat, get more exercise and follow a low fat diet.

The Traditional Japanese Diet:

  • The diet is one of the lowest in fat – traditionally the Japanese get  26% of their calories as fat – about 8% lower than the U.S.
  • Fish is favorite protein source.
  • Soy foods are abundant.
  • They focus on presentation enhancing the  enjoyment of food.
  • They eat little processed food. They eat real food.
  • They eat about 65% of their calories from carbohydrate – mainly rice.

Bottom Line:

Japan: High carbs, more exercise, low fat

U.S.: High carbs, less exercise, high fat. Think of the popularity of ice cream or a candy bar. Sugar plus fat wins out every time. Much of our highly processed foods are loaded with both.


For more on Asian diets, CLICK HERE.


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Heart Health?


Not much new here, but the article summarizes the latest information on diet and lifestyle factors to combat heart disease. The goals are idealistic but achievable – but it takes some work. As far as diet is concerned, the DASH diet offers the best advice.


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A New Epigenetic Study

Epigenetic mechanisms

Epigenetic mechanisms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Epigenetics is the study of how our environment affects the expression of our genes.  They can be turned off and on depending on our lifestyles, including dietary factors.  Check a previous post HERE for more epigenetics. Interesting!

This new study further supports the role of diet with its accompanying nutrients in the expression of our genetic makeup. Very interesting in a field that is in its infancy.



Why are our Children Fat?


A recent study examined whether our current problem with with overweight and obese children is a result of genetics or lifestyle.  Researchers at the U. of Michigan  surveyed 1000 obese six-graders.  The study was published in the American Heart Journal.

Here is what they found:

  • 58% of obese children had watched two hours of TV the day before compared with 41% of non-obese children.
  • 45% of obese kids always ate school lunch compared to only 34% of nonobese students.
  • Fewer obese kids exercised regularly, took P.E. classes or participated in sports.

Overall, all the students, both obese and non-obese had unhealthy habits.

  • More than 30% of them had consumed regular soda the day before the survey.
  • Less than one-half reported eating two servings of fruits and vegetables within the past 24 hours.
  • One third of them said they exercised for 30 minutes for 5 days in the previous week.

Bottom Line:  The results suggest that although genetics in some cases is a factor, it appears that lifestyle factors play a significant role in most.  It also could be a combination of the interaction between the two.  In future posts, emphasis will be on the school lunch aspect of this study.  How do our school lunches compare with those found in other countries?