Nutrition and Lifestyle

Exercise — organized or not — is crucial for optimum health. And one way to encourage exercise becoming part of life is to start early and have youngsters participate in a sport (hopefully) of their choosing. In addition to the potential for improved physical health and possibly delaying or preventing some chronic diseases, participation in organized sports can improve self-esteem and help develop social skills.

The question arises, What are the nutritional needs of young athletes as opposed to their more sedentary comrades? Do they need more protein? Fewer carbohydrates? What about vitamins? Actually, says Dr. Christine Rosenbloom in a new article in the journal Nutrition Today, we don't...

Too many raisins will kill you, too.

Busybodies in the American public, never content to leave other people alone, always seem to need a common enemy to rally against. For years, it was McDonald's. Then it was Monsanto and Big Pharma. Now, it's Big Soda.

At first glance, a war on soda might appear to make sense. There is no nutritional benefit to soda. Given the large and growing segment of the U.S. populace that is obese or contracting type 2 diabetes, perhaps a Pigovian tax on soda (with the aim of reducing soda consumption) makes sense. After all, the science on sugar is pretty clear: Too much of it in your diet can lead to health problems.

But a closer look at food science reveals that a tax on sugary drinks (such as soda, sports drinks, and tea), a policy being...

Time for a chemistry lesson.

For people who enjoy beer and football (be it the American or European variety), autumn is perhaps the best time of the year. The hot summer has ended, the football season is beginning, and the leaves are turning brilliant shades of amber -- not unlike the cold brewsky on tap. And for many, the climactic event of these annual rituals is the beer-swilling festival called Oktoberfest. 

Beer, one of the world's favorite beverages, is chemically complex. Many different molecules are responsible for the wide variety of tastes and colors associated with beer. Of these, perhaps some of the least studied are the molecules that are produced as a result of the Maillard reaction. This reaction, famous in kitchens all over the world, is responsible for the "browning" of meats and bread that...

Last week, a New York Times article detailed the story of a literature review in JAMA which claimed that Big Sugar in the 1960s and onward was a lot like Big Tobacco. And it hinted that scholars who denied that sugar was some special cause of obesity and stated fat might be more of an issue were manipulating the science. Even Professor Fred Stare, the founder of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard and a co-founder of the American Council on Science and Health, must have been on the take from Big Sugar.

Wow, one paper in the 1960s ...

One of the potentially most valuable products of genetic engineering — public health-wise — was Golden Rice. This is rice which has genes added to it which allow the plant to make beta-carotene in its grain. What makes this rice so valuable is that Beta-carotene is the precursor to vitamin A — and vitamin A is lacking in the diets of millions around the world. An insufficient supply of vitamin A, especially in children, can lead to blindness and death, as well as increased susceptibility to and death from diseases such as measles.

A new report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition assesses the possible impact of...

For various reasons, fruits and vegetables grown out-of-season don't taste as good as ones grown in-season. Food aficionados are known especially to turn their nose up at greenhouse tomatoes. 

A team of researchers led by Michael Dzakovich from Purdue University wanted to determine if it was possible to enhance the flavor of these tomatoes. Because of less sunlight and the UV-blocking properties of glass, they hypothesized that tomatoes grown out-of-season in greenhouses did not receive adequate ultraviolet light. UV light (specifically UV-B radiation), which stresses plants, triggers metabolic reactions that may alter the flavor and nutritional value of fruit.

To test their hypothesis, the authors grew tomatoes in a greenhouse with or without UV light supplementation. (...

Organic Consumers Association, the notable militant trade rep group famous for creating anti-science Deniers For Hire like U.S. Right To Know and funding many others, has now laid its cards on the table, saying it wants every competitor of their clients gone.

The pro-science side always knew that but it is still odd to see it spelled out. Writing at the progressive political website Truth-Out, Martha Rosenberg, a former advertising copywriter and current freelance blogger and supporter of OCA, and Ronnie Cummins, their national director, put it in plain language; they are no longer interested in just being anti-biology or anti-...

A recent paper took brain scans and noted changes in response to beer flavor, namely increased activity in the right ventral striatum, which has been linked in other functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) papers to behavior and reward. The authors used 28 male beer drinkers from a previous positron emission tomography (PET) scan imaging paper (49 men then) linking beer to dopamine release, and those men underwent fMRI scans during beer and Gatorade tastings.

Beer caused the scans in the ventral striatum to light up more, which the authors believe signaled a desire for more beer, while Gatorade didn't increase beer desire at all.

No women were included in either small study, and...

OK, so we already know that if you get emails from WebMD (also known as WebBM) on two consecutive days, and there is nothing related to fecal matter in the headline, it's nothing short of miraculous. Someone over there has apparently not gotten through Freud's anal stage of psychosexual development, because it's "Howdy Doodie Time" all the time.  

Perhaps these guys need more fiber in their diets since something seems to be cramping their style (sorry) lately. As a result, they recently plopped (sorry again) something completely different into their daily email—fast food scares.

They really should have stuck to what they know best...

People with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which the complex protein gluten stimulates the production of antibodies that damage the small intestine, must avoid gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley, and rye) and their products. It is a real life-long lifestyle change because the intestinal damage can be severe, resulting in malabsorption of many nutrients and growth retardation in children. (1)

For those people, the gluten-free fad has been a real boon. What was once a mail-order existence with few choices is now common on grocery store shelves, a $5 billion industry with lots of options. But there is a trade-off. Replacing that sticky protein means, among other things, extra sugar, extra fat, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose and xanthan gum, hardly a health benefit...