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Category: Nutrition (page 1 of 4)

Superfoods are a marketing ploy

Regardless of who issues them, guidelines for health promotion and disease prevention universally recommend diets that are largely plant-based, meaning those that include plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts. The U.S. dietary guidelines also recommend foods in the “protein” category. Grains, beans, and nuts are good sources of protein, but the guidelines use “protein” to mean low-fat dairy, lean meats, and fish. Recommended eating patterns include all these foods, relatively unprocessed, but with minimal addition of salt and sugars. Such patterns provide nutrients and energy in proportions that meet physiological needs but also minimize the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. One more definition: “Patterns” refer to diets as a whole, not to single foods. No one food makes a diet healthful. The healthiest diets include a wide variety of foods in each of the recommended categories in amounts that balance calories.

In their largely unprocessed forms, foods from the earth, trees, or animals are healthful by definition. So why, you might ask, would the producers of foods such as cranberries, pears, avocados, or walnuts fund research aimed at proving that these particular foods—rather than fruits, vegetables, or nuts in general—have special health benefits? Marketing, of course. Every food producer wants to expand sales. Health claims sell.

More at The Atlantic

What’s for dinner? Lunch? Breakfast? The answer is fast food for many Americans

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third (37%) of adults in the U.S. will eat fast food on any given day. And it’s killing them.

What’s more, the higher their income, the more likely they were to consume fast food.

The percentage of adults who ate fast food rose with increasing income. About 32 percent of people who earn less than 130 percent of the federal poverty line — $32,630 a year for a family of four — ate fast food daily.

But 42 percent of people above 350 percent of the poverty line — $112,950 a year or more for that size family — were daily consumers.

More from the NY Times

 

New evidence suggests artificial sweeteners may be harmful to your health

A new study suggests that regular use of artificial sweeteners may impair blood-sugar control. The latest findings suggest consuming even less than half the amount approved by health authorities is not safe.

For the study, participants who don’t normally use the sweeteners were assigned to use 45 per-cent of the Health Canada acceptable daily intake (ADI). After only 14 days, these participants experienced an 18 per-cent reduction in insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for type-2 diabetes.

Sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, cyclamate and saccharin are zero-calorie sweeteners approved in Canada.

Cyclamate (brand names Sucaryl, Sugar Twin, Sweet’N Low) and saccharin are not allowed to be added to foods; they’re sold only as tabletop sweeteners.

Acesulfame potassium, aspartame and sucralose are allowed to be added to all sorts of foods including yogurt, baked goods, pancake syrup, ketchup, chewing gum, fruit juice and soft drinks. Sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Equal) are also available as tabletop sweeteners.

Health Canada considers these five artificial sweeteners safe when consumed in amounts up to the acceptable daily intake (ADI). The ADI is the maximum amount thought safe to consume each day over a lifetime.

Read more

Artificial sweeteners in foods and drinks have a toxic effect on digestive gut microbes

According to a study published in the journal Molecules, researchers found that six common artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration and 10 sport supplements that contained them were found to be toxic to the digestive gut microbes of mice.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore tested the toxicity of aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k. They observed that when exposed to only 1 milligram per milliliter of the artificial sweeteners, the bacteria found in the digestive system became toxic.

“This is further evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners adversely affects gut microbial activity which can cause a wide range of health issues,” Ariel Kushmaro, a professor in BGU’s department of biotechnology engineering, said in a press release.

More: CNBC

World Health Organization states alcohol is responsible for one in 20 deaths worldwide

Alcohol is linked to more than 200 health conditions, including liver cirrhosis and some cancers.

Alcohol kills three million people worldwide each year — more than AIDS, violence and road accidents combined, the World Health Organization said Friday, adding that men are particularly at risk.

The UN health agency’s latest report on alcohol and health pointed out that alcohol causes more than one in 20 deaths globally each year, including drink driving, alcohol-induced violence and abuse and a multitude of diseases and disorders.

Men account for more than three quarters of alcohol-related deaths, the nearly 500-page report found.

More at AFP via Yahoo

Anti-inflammatory diet linked to reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer

In the study of 68,273 Swedish men and women aged 45 to 83 years who were followed for 16 years, participants who most closely followed an anti-inflammatory diet had an 18% lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 20% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, and a 13% lower risk of cancer mortality, when compared with those who followed the diet to a lesser degree. Smokers who followed the diet experienced even greater benefits when compared with smokers who did not follow the diet.

Anti-inflammatory foods consist of fruits and vegetables, tea, coffee, whole grain bread, breakfast cereal, low-fat cheese, olive oil and canola oil, nuts, chocolate, and moderate amounts of red wine and beer. Pro-inflammatory foods include unprocessed and processed red meat, organ meats, chips, and soft-drink beverages.

Read more at ScienceDaily.com

Canada’s ban on trans fats in food goes into effect

It’s now illegal for manufacturers to add trans fats to any food made or imported into the Canada. Trans fats are known to increase “bad” cholesterol, in turn raising the risk of heart disease.

Canada’s ban on the main source of artificial trans fats came into effect Monday, making it illegal for manufacturers to use the additive in any food made or imported into the country, as well as in any meals prepared in restaurants.

The ban takes aim at partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, which are the main source of industrially produced trans fats in all foods sold in Canada. The new regulation applies only to PHOs, not naturally occurring trans fats, which can be found in some animal-based foods such as milk, cheese, beef and lamb.

Trans fats have been used for the last century to add taste and texture to food as a replacement for butter. They also extend the shelf life of many foods, including commercial baked goods like cookies, pastries, donuts and muffins, snack foods and fried foods.

Read more in the Globe and Mail, CBC

Everything you ever wanted to know about artificial sweeteners, but were afraid to ask

A new study has reopened the debate on artificial sweeteners, and some are saying it might actually cause obesity, not prevent it.

Sugars activate our reward circuits—they give us a hit of feel-good neurochemicals that prompt us to continue craving them. The more sugar you eat, the more you want it.

Since artificial sweeteners don’t satisfy your brain the way real sugar does, though, you don’t sate the craving. You’ll keep hankering after sweet foods and will probably end up eating more calories overall. That adds up to more pounds than you would’ve gained just by eating that cupcake in the first place.

Read more at Popular Science

Health data shows Canadians are failing their children

It’s not surprising to read that one in four children in Canada are overweight or obese, and only one in three school-age children meet minimum physical activity guidelines.

But other published findings about the health and well being of our children in Canada might be surprising.

Children First Canada and the O’Brien Institute for Public Health have just published a new report examining the mental and physical health of the 7.9 million young people under the age of 19. “Many Canadians think this is one of the best countries in the world to raise a child, but the statistics prove otherwise,” says Sara Austin, founder and lead director of Children First Canada.

She notes that Canada ranks a middling 25th out of 41 countries in UNICEF ranking of well-being of children and youth.

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England looking to ban sales of energy drinks to children due to links with childhood obesity and poor classroom behavior

Many supermarkets and other major retailers in Britain already decline to sell energy drinks to children. But they remain readily available from smaller stores and vending machines, and some brands are sold for as little as a pound, about $1.30.

The government said that one 250-milliliter can of energy drink often contained around 80 milligrams of caffeine — the equivalent of a cup of coffee or nearly three cans of cola — and up to 60 percent more sugar on average than regular soft drinks. It said excessive consumption among children had been linked to headaches, sleep problems, stomach aches and hyperactivity.

The plan would ban the sale to children of energy drinks that contain more than 150 milligrams of caffeine per liter.

More at the NY Times (paywall), BBC

UK Government Statement

 

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