Nutrition and Lifestyle

It's probably the biggest issue in the nutrition world — no, not the Fat vs. Carbs dispute — but how to motivate people to make healthy food choices. You know that old saying — "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? Well, that certainly seems to apply to many people when it comes to choosing what foods to buy. Rather than opting for relatively low calorie items that are nutrient rich (read fruits and vegetables), as most nutrition experts recommend, many of us go for the sweet- and fat-laden instead. With obesity rampant among us, what would be an effective means of encouraging other options? A group of scientists from the University of Minnesota, New York University and the University of California, Davis devised a trial to test whether incentives,...

The good news is that Americans have realized what public health experts have been sayng for years — obesity is a huge problem leading to a myriad of negative health outcomes. The not-so-great news is that many aren't realistic about their own body weight. according to a recent survey by NORC (pronounced N-O-R-C), at the University of Chicago, in collaboration with the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

The survey included about 1,500 adults over the age of 18. They were queried in person, by phone, and on the internet, and the sample was weighted to represent the national distribution of ethnic groups, ages and genders. Participants gave their weight and height, and investigators...

For some, an all-natural lifestyle means eating foods that are as unprocessed as possible, and if you can grow it yourself or collect it from the wild yourself, your natural creds go way up. But there can be a problem with that — as we've reiterated many times, natural doesn't necessarily mean safe — and we're not talking about pesticides here.

A news report recently listed 87 cases of poisoning ascribed to eating mushrooms gathered in the wild in France. Two French agencies, the Agency for Food Environmental and Occupational Food and Safety and the...

If not for the pies, I wouldn't be caught dead in a Whole Foods. Yet this past weekend, the need for pie overwhelmed the necessity of a conscience, so I found myself inside the wretched place. OK, this is only partly true (1)

Perhaps, in a feeble attempt to offset the lack of even a modicum of conscience, I deluded myself into thinking that by making a (very) small contribution to the world of science outreach, it would somehow offset the appalling lack of integrity that I exhibited, and continues to plague me long after the pie (blueberry) is gone. 

That was some damn fine pie. It's too bad the same cannot be said for some of the other products that people were wasting their money on there. For example...

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Marketers have latched onto the Millennial generation (those aged 18-34) as though they were the source of all goodness. Well, we'd like to advise that the Baby Boomers (aged 52-70) are still around, are as numerous as Millennials, and have pockets too. Of course, there are differences in the choices members of these demographic cohorts make, and what characteristics, especially related to food, are important to them — as described by a recent online survey of about 1000 Americans between 18 and 80 years old by the International Food Information Council (IFIC).

As one might expect, the Boomers are more likely to be interested in certain possible...

Cranberries (or their juice), those staples of Thanksgiving feasts, have been garnering attention for years as possible treatments for urinary tract infections (UTIs). There have been studies supporting such uses, and we have written that perhaps this "old wives' tale" merits more respect. But a new, randomized, controlled study of the efficacy of cranberry in treating UTIs in elderly women has kind of pulled the rug out from under this particular idea.

Cranberries contain compounds known as proanthocyanidins, which have been shown to inhibit the ability of E. coli bacteria to attach to cells in the...

By James Brown, Aston University

Our ability to live a long life is influenced by a combination of our genes and our environment. In studies that involve identical twins, scientists have estimated that no more than 30% of this influence comes from our genes, meaning that the largest group of factors that control how long a person lives is their environment.

Of the many possible environmental factors, few have been as thoroughly studied or debated as our diet. Calorie restriction, for example, is one area that is being investigated. So far, studies...

Kid loving her veggies

It might be the one problem that all parents have in common, but whose solution is maddeningly hard to implement: Getting children to move beyond their howls of protest to adopt a behavior that's both good for them and their overall development. 

These traditional battleground behaviors include (but surely are not limited to) doing household chores, reading for "enjoyment" and the ol' favorite that has stood the test of time ... eating fruits and vegetables. 

Flummoxed parents have lost countless hours of sleep searching for solutions. And while some will stand firm, say all the right things to their kids and strive to be principled and convincing, there's another group which believes providing incentives -- critics would call it bribery -- is an effective way to go....

A recent article, published in the journal Toxicological and Environmental Chemistry reported that when people eat the non-nutritive sweetener sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in Splenda®) some of it is absorbed into the blood and then excreted by the kidneys in urine. Such a report is ripe for the scare-mongers, especially since the report found that the level of sucralose in the blood is higher in children than in adults. But is this something to be worried about? Unlikely.

Sucralose is a derivative of the common sugar sucrose which has been modified by replacement of 3 hydroxyl (OH) groups with of 3 chlorine atoms (the green balls in the illustration above). It has been described as anywhere from 300 to 1,000 times sweeter than sucrose (the range likely reflects...

Gluten Free

Makers of gluten-free food are well aware of two main consumer groups that buy their products: (1) Those who have to for medical reasons, and (2) those who want to because they think they're making a healthy choice by doing so. 

While there is limited sales-growth potential for the Group 1, the economic upside for Group 2 is limitless. That's largely because if consumers' misconceptions are not corrected, more and more of them without gluten sensitivities will continue to believe that avoiding gluten is somehow better, and smarter and healthier.

That misguided reasoning, however, ignores scientific evidence as well as common sense, while it, ironically, promotes consumption of less healthy, reconfigured and processed foods.

"The things that make...