Research: The Sweet-Tooth-Fruit Connection

A new study claims people who crave sugary treats like cookies and cake are more likely to eat fruit than salty snack foods. Since fruit is nutrient dense, some experts believe these findings may redeem the eating habits of the typical “sugar-eating machine”. The Associated Press reports:
A group led by Cornell University marketing professor Brian Wansink looked at the eating habits of thousands of people and concluded the craving for something sweet spans both candy and fruit. The study published in the journal Appetite found people who eat candy, cakes and other sweet snacks eat more fruit than people who prefer salty snacks like nuts and chips.

"I think it shows there is some hope for the typical dieter," he said. "... Maybe you're not just a sugar-eating machine — that there are some redeeming traits to your diet."
Wansink thinks this research can help ease kids into eating more fruit:
Wansink said parents and public health officials could use this information to encourage the phase-in of more fruits among kids and other people with a sweet tooth.

"I think it's something that can be done a little bit at a time at the dinner table," he said.
However, not everyone is sweet on the study’s findings. Dr. Beverly Tepper, a professor of food science at Rutgers University has doubts:
She said it was difficult to interpret the results since the study was vague in defining terms like "fruit lovers" or what specific salty and sweet snacks were considered. She questioned how meaningful the statistical difference was that researchers used to conclude there was a higher connection between eating sweets and fruits compared to salty snacks and fruits.

"I think it's an interesting idea," she said. "But I don't think this is the ideal approach to get at the question."
Dr. Fuhrman says  the best way to get children to eat healthy foods, like fruit, is limit their exposure to junk food and let them gravitate towards good food on their own (of course parents need to eat healthy too!). This excerpt from Onlyourhealth Your Child explains further:
Control your children’s environment, limit their exposure to junk food, teach them about nutrition, and then as they get older allow them to make their own choices in the real world, outside the home. You may be surprised at how wise they are. As they have become older, my children are in more and more situations where poor food choices are present, and they choose to limit their consumption of unhealthy food. They are extremely sensible, but not perfect. It makes common sense to them to take proper care of their bodies, as they learned that eating right was a gift that parents give their children when they are loved, to protect their future. The ongoing sharing of information about life, ethics, art, education, and nutrition can be interwoven into the education they receive in the home in an entertaining, caring, and loving manner.

An important point to emphasize is that you should not purchase and bring into the home foods that you do not want your children to be eating. For example, if you buy ice cream and eat it, it makes no sense and is counterproductive to restrict your children from eating it. One sensible alternative is to have ice cream only outside the home, at a party or special occasion when the whole family has it together. Children understand that the reason it is consumed rarely is because it is not a safe food to consume more frequently. When eaten on a special occasion together there is no guilt or hidden “cheating” involved. In place of ice cream in the home, healthy desserts and ice cream made predominantly with fresh and frozen fruits can be eaten and enjoyed as high-fat, artificially sweetened, or sugary ice cream.

Medical Journal Conflict?

It seems the findings of some medical journals are more suspect than you might think. Take a look at this recent editorial in The New York Times:
Leading medical journals seem to be having a difficult time disentangling themselves from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. If they cannot stop printing articles by scientists with close ties to these businesses, they should at least force the authors to disclose their conflicts of interest publicly so that doctors and patients are forewarned that the interpretations may be biased.

Energy Drink or Sugar Rush?

New research shows so-called “energy” drinks are no better at counteracting sleepiness than a brief sugar rush. HealthDay News reporter Steven Reinberg explains:

People who think sugary drinks are a pick-me-up may be in for a letdown: New research finds sweetened beverages actually boost sleepiness.

"People wishing to alleviate sleepiness through the consumption of a high-sugar, low-caffeine content energy drink -- erroneously believing the 'sugar rush' to be effective -- should avoid drinks that have little or no caffeine," said study co-author Clare Anderson, from the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. "It is caffeine that is particularly effective for alleviating sleepiness, not sugar," she added.

Anderson and her colleague Jim Horne found that, one hour after drinking a high-sugar, low-caffeine drink, people had slower reaction times and experienced more lapses in concentration than if they had consumed a caffeine- and sugar-free beverage.

Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center explains there are healthier ways to stay energized:

"To improve a feeling of having energy, start by getting plenty of rest, fluids, and fuel your body with quality nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources," Sandon said. "A balanced diet, including carbohydrate, fat, and protein, will keep you feeling satisfied longer."

Research Suggest a Diabetes-Alzheimer's Link

Denise Grady of The New York Times reports new studies suggest diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to Grady this is a daunting prospect:
The connection raises an ominous prospect: that increases in diabetes, a major concern in the United States and worldwide, may worsen the rising toll from Alzheimer’s. The findings also add dementia to the cloud of threats that already hang over people with diabetes, including heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, blindness and amputations.
Grady explains there are a number of ways diabetes detrimentally affects brain function:
Not everyone with diabetes gets Alzheimer’s, and not all Alzheimer’s patients are diabetic. But in the past decade, several large studies have found that compared with healthy people of the same age and sex, those with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The reason is not known, but researchers initially suspected that cardiovascular problems caused by diabetes might contribute to dementia by blocking blood flow to the brain or causing strokes.

More recently, though, scientists have begun to think that the diseases are connected in other ways as well. In both, destructive deposits of amyloid, a type of protein, build up: in the brain in Alzheimer’s, in the pancreas in Type 2 diabetes.

People with Type 2 often have a condition called insulin resistance, in which their cells cannot properly use insulin, the hormone needed to help glucose leave the blood and enter cells that need it. To compensate, the pancreas makes extra insulin, which can reach high levels in the blood. Too much insulin may lead to inflammation, which can contribute to damage in the brain.

In addition, abnormalities in glucose metabolism and insulin levels in the brain itself may be harmful. Some research has found that too much insulin in the brain can contribute to amyloid buildup. Researchers have even suggested that Alzheimer’s disease may actually be “Type 3 diabetes,” a form of the disease affecting the nervous system.
Dr. Rachel A. Whitmer of the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California believes this link does not bode well for our future:
“With the whole diabetes epidemic we’re seeing much more Type 2, so are we going to see even more Alzheimer’s than we thought we would see? If we continue in this direction, it’s a little bit frightening.”

Obesity Ups Kidney Failure Risk

HealthDay reports higher rates of obesity in the United States leave Americans with chronic kidney disease (CKD) twice as likely to develop end-stage kidney disease. Robert Preidt explains:
The researchers compared 65,000 Norwegians and 20,000 Americans in an attempt to gain a better understanding of why the incidence of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), as well as permanent loss of kidney function requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation, is so much higher in the United States than in Norway.

The study authors noted that overall prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) is similar in both countries -- 11 percent in the United States and 10.4 percent in Norway. However, once a person develops CKD, the risk of progression to ESRD was found to be 2.5 times higher among American patients.
Being obese doesn’t help matters:
American and Norwegian ESRD patients are similar in many ways, including age and level of remaining kidney function when they begin dialysis, the study noted. However, the American patients in this study had much higher rates of obesity and diabetes, which are two major and closely related risk factors for kidney disease.

"Obesity and physical inactivity lead to high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, which are now the most important causes of ESRD," study leader Dr. Stein Hallan, of St. Olav University Hospital in Trondheim, said in a prepared statement.

Health Points: Monday

Tobacco accounts for one in five cancer deaths, or 1.4 million deaths worldwide each year, according to two new reference guides that chart global tobacco use and cancer. Lung cancer remains the major cancer among the 10.9 million new cases of cancer diagnosed each year, according to the Cancer Atlas.
A poll of more than 10,000 students in 23 countries showed more than half knew heredity was a risk factor. But less than five percent realized that eating and drinking too much alcohol and not getting enough exercise also had an impact.
I am a hypocrite. There are many well designed studies that proof that MSG is safe. If you just look at the science salt is much more dangerous, but there are hardly any scary websites about that. I still do not use it myself though. I do not explicitly avoid it, but products with MSG often are very processed or have ingredients I do not eat (animal products, lots of fat etc.). I wonder if I should give MSG a chance. I have not yet been able to find a way to make relatively inexpensive tasty low-sodium vegan soups and MSG may be the answer.
*It can create anxiety, stress, loneliness and increased likelihood for depression.

*It can cause problems with friendships and relationships.

*It can seriously impair academic and job performance.

*It can lead to underachievement and increased vulnerability to many self destructive behaviors.

*Worst of all, these negative consequences themselves reinforce the negative self-image and can take a person into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem.
We in the United States take our health care for granted, but did you know that doctors take health care for granted, too? Many doctors spend more than a little of our time berating ourselves because we see patients in the clinic who have chronic diseases for which there is no cure and for which all we can do is attempt therapies which, if we are fortunate, provide only partial relief of symptoms. We feel like fakes, sometimes: able to cure some things, but most of what we see back is what we have been unable to cure, and these cases come back to us in the clinic and hospital over and over precisely because we are impotent to cure.