Sugar is Addictive and Fuels Disease

How toxic is sugar?

A CHEAP ADDITIVE IN EVERYTHING

SUGAR IS ADDICTIVE AND FUELS DISEASE

Sugar and fructose feed the pleasure center of the brain. We feel good when we eat some sugar. Is a little bit okay? Sure. But how many people stop at just a little bit?

A huge proportion of processed foods contain sugar and its substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup. We consume far more sugar now than we ever have, and it’s taking a toll on our health.

This report from 60 Minutes talks about the consequences of our society’s addiction to sugar, and how the researchers are responding to their own findings.

How much protein is ‘right’ for you?

If there’s one claim that’s almost certain to boost sales of a food these days, it’s to say the item is high in protein.

Consumers cannot seem to get enough protein – they often turn to it because they’ve shunned carbohydrates, and also associate it with increased muscle mass. While many nutritionists say eating extra is usually harmless – if it’s part of a balanced diet and doesn’t all come from animal sources – and small increases can indeed help with weight control by increasing satiety, others are not convinced, citing the lack of long-term research on high-protein diets.

They’re especially uncertain about how the body reacts to or uses processed protein isolates and powders, which have skyrocketed in popularity.

A growing body of evidence suggests that some segments of the population should be cautious about hopping on the high-protein bandwagon, infants and young children in particular. Some studies have linked high protein intake in early childhood to a risk of obesity later in life. Researchers are still trying to understand what accounts for that link.

Pregnant women, meanwhile, are commonly advised to boost protein intake. But in a recent study of a group of women who consumed relatively high amounts of protein, children born to the mothers who consumed the most during pregnancy were shorter at birth and through mid-childhood than children of mothers who consumed the least protein.

Karen Switkowski, lead author of the study, said that “while it’s important for women to eat enough protein to support the growth of their baby, they might want to be cautious about going far beyond the recommended amounts.” (She said there’s not enough data yet, though, to set specific pregnancy-related recommended levels, adding, “I think that more research needs to be conducted in this area in different populations before translating the findings into any guidelines.”)

Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, extends that caution to people of all ages, citing protein’s role in cell multiplication. He explains that protein – especially from animal sources, and in particular from dairy – boosts a growth-promoting hormone that makes cells multiply faster, which is vital early in life but not necessarily later on in life.

“Overly rapid cell multiplication is one of the underlying factors for cancer,” Willett said. “It seems pretty clear that we don’t want to have our cell-growth accelerator to the floor from the day we’re born until the day we die.”

Some studies on later-life protein consumption, meanwhile, have raised an important concern.

One preliminary study, which evaluated the self-reported diets of more than 100,000 women between ages 50 to 79, appeared to find a significantly higher rate of heart failure among those who ate a lot of animal protein than among those who ate less of it.

Older adults are often told to seek out extra protein, largely to help them maintain muscle mass, which deteriorates as one ages. Willett said that’s not bad advice, but not to go overboard. “Having some hormonal boost from protein sources may not be a bad thing. It may be good – although the most important way to maintain muscle mass is resistance training,” he said.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN SHOULD WE BE EATING?

Most nutrition experts are reluctant to cite a single number because individual needs are so variable, but Willett offers some guidance – along with a few qualifications.

“I think a range for total protein between about 12 to 20 percent of calories is okay; pushing higher, especially with protein supplements, is certainly not necessary and has potential long-term hazards,” he said.

“I am particularly concerned about adding protein supplements, such as whey protein, which has a strong effect on cell multiplication,” he said, then added some practical advice: If protein is taking the place of foods high in sugar or refined starch – white bread, for example – it will benefit the body. But if it’s replacing foods rich in whole grains and healthy fats, it won’t.

John Swartzberg, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, said certain groups definitely should ignore the increase-your-protein message.

It has long been known that too much protein is harmful for people with chronic kidney disease. (Kidneys are responsible for eliminating the products of protein metabolism, and those products accumulate in the blood when kidneys don’t function well.) But it can also exacerbate damage to kidneys that someone may not yet know are already impaired, before clear evidence of poor kidney function is apparent.

Swartzberg said some studies show that about 1 in 9 Americans have impaired kidney function, many of them unaware of it. For such people, following the high-protein trend will accelerate a decline in kidney health. “It’s an asymptomatic problem until it’s mid-stage kidney disease,” he said. People who want to assess their kidney status, he advises, can request a blood test for creatinine for initial screening.

Even for those with healthy kidneys, Swartzberg urges caution about excess protein. While some nutrition experts say there’s no evidence suggesting eating even twice the recommended daily allowance for protein, Swartzburg says there isn’t enough long-term data to conclude that such a high number is either good for you or safe. He suggests an amount somewhere between 100 and 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance, which is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight; that translates to between about 54 grams and 82 grams of protein for an adult who weighs 150 pounds. “I certainly would not eat excessive protein. I would never take any protein supplements. And I wouldn’t advise my children to, either,” he says.

Preventive cardiologist Stephen Devries, the executive director of the nonprofit Gaples Institute for Integrative Cardiology in Deerfield, Illinois, recommends avoiding or only eating only minimal amounts of animal protein; he is also cautious about what he calls “artificially enhanced protein,” such as protein powders, even ones derived from plants. He recommends getting your protein instead from beans, lentils, nuts and tofu. “These are terrific sources of protein, and they’re the ones we should concentrate on, rather than the artificial sources, whether they come from animals or plants.”

Some people think the benefits of extra protein give them a free pass to simply eat more – but protein calories are still calories.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said, “If you eat a lot of extra protein, you’re either breaking it down for energy or you’re turning it into sugar and into fat – one or the other.”

Her general advice is for people to stop obsessing over protein. “It is most definitely not a nutrient of concern. Most people get twice as much as they need without thinking about it,” she said. “My nutrition pet peeve is calling foods ‘protein,’ as in ‘Would you like some protein with that salad?’ If the salad has beans or grains or cheese, it already has protein.”

 – The Washington Post

Anthocyanins have hit headlines

Antioxidants called anthocyanins have hit headlines and are linked to a range of health benefits. We reveal what they are and which foods contain them.

At BBC Good Food we believe eating a balanced and varied diet, including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, is best for health. But what’s so special about purple foods in particular?

Many purple foods contain anthocyanins

All brightly coloured fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants – compounds which play a key role in protecting our bodies – but many naturally purple-coloured foods contain a certain antioxidant called anthocyanin. These are beneficial plant pigments which give fruit and veg their deep red, purple or blue hues.

While studies are ongoing, it’s too early to say conclusively whether anthocyanins deserve the recent media headlines that label purple foods as ‘superfoods’. Previous research has linked anthocyanins to a wide variety of health claims, including increased longevity, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and dementia.

Which foods contain anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins are found in high concentrations in blackcurrants, blackberries and blueberries, as well as in aubergine (in the skin), red cabbage, cranberries and cherries.

Blueberries


Blueberries are also high in vitamin C, which helps protect cells and aids the absorption of iron, and contain soluble fibre, which is beneficial to the digestive system. Read more about the health benefits of blueberries.

A study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that a supplement containing dried blueberry powder improved brain power in children aged 7 to 10.

Research from Tufts University suggests that consuming a blueberry supplement may be effective in improving or delaying short-term memory loss in rats.

However, the NHS points out that the existing studies into how blueberries might prevent cancer or improve memory have so far relied on small sample groups or animals, and it is not yet clear whether these findings will translate to larger groups of the human population. Read more from the NHS about the nutritional benefits of blueberries.

Pomegranate


Pomegranate is a good source of fibre, and also provides vitamins A, C and E, iron, and other antioxidants such as tannins.

One study found that pomegranate helped to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis in mice through decreased inflammation and oxidative stress.

Another study found that consuming 50ml of pomegranate juice per day reduced damage to arteries and cut cholesterol build-up in people with narrowed arteries.

A further study found that a daily glass of pomegranate juice improved blood flow to the heart, resulting in a lower risk of heart attack. However, the NHS points out that as it was a very limited trial these positive results could have been down to chance.

Purple sweet potato


Purple sweet potatoes have recently been in the media spotlight. They are commonly eaten on the Japanese island of Okinawa, which is home to an exceptionally healthy elderly population – with a large number over the age of 100, and rates of dementia reported to be up to 50% lower than in the West. Some scientists think that the large quantities of purple sweet potato in their diet plays a key role in keeping their bodies and brains healthy well into old age. However, to date, there are not many studies into the health benefits of the purple sweet potato, and it’s impossible to say that the Okinawan’s longevity is down to this one food alone.

So should we be eating more purple foods?

There’s no doubt that naturally purple-coloured fruit and vegetables are an excellent addition to a varied diet, but it’s also important to remember that balance is key and include a rainbow of different colours of fruits and vegetables for optimum health benefits.

Registered Nutritional Therapist, Kerry Torrens

Gluten – The real deal

OPINION: I think we’ve all experienced this: Sitting at a restaurant with a group of friends, everyone orders, meals arrive, but there’s a problem. One of your friends has innocently ordered the chicken, only to find it’s not gluten-free when landing in front of them. To the embarrassment of the table the meal gets returned.

So, what’s the deal with gluten and why all the fuss?

Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, barley and rye and testing shows that up to 70 per cent of people have an immune reaction to it. One study showed that gluten increased inflammation in everybody that ate it. When I say ‘inflammation’ think aches and pains. For many people reducing gluten in their diet and going gluten- free helps hugely to reduce this.

An example of this is my neighbour, a salt of the earth hunting/ fishing/ welding machine in his forties – the trouble is he’s worn out his knees and needs to take daily medication for pain control. Three months later on a gluten-free diet, gone are the pies and beers associated with his lifestyle – and gone is his knee pain. Another side effect of the new diet? He’s lost 17kg and is feeling years younger.

In fact, being gluten-free is now becoming so commonplace that some might say the end of the croissant nigh.

I hear you saying: “Hang on Ben, the croissant is sacrilege, haven’t we been eating wheat and gluten containing grains for years? How come it’s only become a problem in the last couple of decades?”

 


Nutritionist Ben Warren.