Americans and Africans swap diets for just two weeks — read about the dramatic results

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 1.10.37 PMThe United States may be one of the most developed nations in the world. We may be among the top nations for many, varied things of significance. But it does appear that when it comes to our diets, there are other nations that come out on top.

Western diets, high in protein and fat but low in fibre, are thought to raise colon cancer risk compared with African diets high in fiber and low in fat and protein.

The new study, published in Nature Communications today, confirms that a high fiber diet can substantially reduce risk, and shows that bacteria living in the gut play an important role in this effect.

Colon cancer is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer worldwide, accounting for over 600,000 deaths per year. Colon cancer rates are much higher in the western world than in Africa or the Far East, yet in the United States, African Americans shoulder the greatest burden of the disease.

To investigate the possible roles of diet and gut bacteria, an international team including scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and Imperial College London carried out a study with a group of 20 African American volunteers and another group of 20 participants from rural South Africa. The two groups swapped diets under tightly controlled conditions for two weeks.

The volunteers had colonoscopy examinations before and after the diet swap. The researchers also measured biological markers that indicate colon cancer risk and studied samples of bacteria taken from the colon.

At the start, when the groups had been eating their normal diets, almost half of the American subjects had polyps — abnormal growths in the bowel lining that may be harmless but can progress to cancer. None of the Africans had these abnormalities.

After two weeks on the African diet, the American group had significantly less inflammation in the colon and reduced biomarkers of cancer risk. In the African group, measurements indicating cancer risk dramatically increased after two weeks on the western diet.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, the team leader from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, said: “We can’t definitively tell from these measurements that the change in their diet would have led to more cancer in the African group or less in the American group, but there is good evidence from other studies that the changes we observed are signs of cancer risk.

“The findings suggest that people can substantially lower their risk of colon cancer by eating more fibre. This is not new in itself but what is really surprising is how quickly and dramatically the risk markers can switch in both groups following diet change. These findings also raise serious concerns that the progressive westernization of African communities may lead to the emergence of colon cancer as a major health issue.”

Professor Stephen O’Keefe at the University of Pittsburgh, who directed the study, said: “Studies on Japanese migrants to Hawaii have shown that it takes one generation of westernization to change their low incidence of colon cancer to the high rates observed in native Hawaiians. Our study suggests that westernization of the diet induces changes in biomarkers of colon cancer risk in the colonic mucosa within two weeks. Perhaps even more importantly, a change in diet from a westernized composition to a ‘traditional African’ high fiber low fat diet reduced these biomarkers of cancer risk within two weeks, indicating that it is likely never too late to change your diet to change your risk of colon cancer.”

The study found that a major reason for the changes in cancer risk was the way in which the bacteria in the gut — known as the microbiome — altered their metabolism to adapt to the new diet. In the American group, the researchers found that the African diet led to an increase in the production of butyrate, a byproduct of fibre metabolism that has important anti-cancer effects.

Dr James Kinross, a colorectal surgeon and a member of the research group at Imperial, said: “The gut microbiome is being increasingly recognized as an important contributor to human health. This research shows that gut bacteria are critically important for mediating the link between diet and colon cancer risk. This means we can look to develop therapies targeting gut bacteria as a way to prevent and treat cancer.”

Just two weeks of eating like an American. That’s it. FoodFacts.com has to wonder what this would look like after a year or two. The U.S. has always been a nation of progress. Unfortunately all of that progress has led to grocery store shelves lined with processed foods and people who are too busy to cook. Food doesn’t come in a box or a can. Food isn’t handed to you over a counter in a container. Balanced diets include fiber and lean proteins. Healthy diets are balanced. Obviously, we have a long way to go here in the U.S.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150428125038.htm

Diet Pepsi now free of aspartame, but don’t get too excited yet …

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 1.11.43 PMIt’s always excited to see food and beverage manufacturers responding positively to consumer sentiment. As we become more educated and aware and make our voices heard through decreased sales, we see manufacturers changing their ingredients in an attempt to get back into our good graces. That’s all positive and rightfully deserves our attention. Pepsi is the latest manufacturer to listen to consumers. FoodFacts.com, however, needs ask a few significant questions. Just how much have they listened? Was it enough?

Spurred by falling sales and consumer safety concerns, PepsiCo North America Beverages announced on Friday that an aspartame-free Diet Pepsi — sweetened with sucralose and ace-K — will hit shelves some time in August. Pepsi executives say the new Diet Pepsi sweetener formulation tastes the same as the old one.

Large lettering on the new Diet Pepsi cans and packaging will shout: “Now Aspartame Free.”
For many consumers — who fear aspartame’s side effects — and for PepsiCo, which has seen Diet Pepsi sales tumble over the past several years, the change can’t come soon enough. Last year, Diet Pepsi volume was down -5.2% and Diet Coke volume was down -6.6% in the U.S., reports Beverage Digest, the industry trade publication.

PepsiCo has spent years trying to develop a new Diet Pepsi sweetener that would placate consumer concerns but still appeal to consumer tastes. The move would seem to put pressure on arch-rival Coke, which also has seen Diet Coke sales slump, to make a similar move.

“To Diet Pepsi consumers, removing aspartame is their No. 1 one concern,” says Seth Kaufman, senior vice president of Pepsi and flavors. “We’re listening to consumers. It’s what they want.”
Pepsi could no longer afford to sit back and simply watch its Diet Pepsi sales keep falling.
“This is an aggressive move by Pepsi. It has the potential of helping Pepsi recruit new and lapsed users for Diet Pepsi,” said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. But the move also has some risk, he says. It could confuse some loyal Diet Pepsi users, though it is the sweetener blend that’s changing, not the flavor formula.”

The change applies to all versions of Diet Pepsi, such as Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi sold in the U.S. Diet Pepsi was introduced in 1964, with saccharin as its sweetener. It was reformulated with aspartame in 1983, and then switched to a blend of aspartame and ace-K in 2013.

While critics of aspartame say they are pleased with the move, one critic says that the new sweetener still has a problem: ace-K.

“Diet Pepsi will still contain acesulfame-potassium (ace-K). Consumers should avoid that sweetener as well,” warns Michael Jacobson, director of Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. “It is poorly tested, but the tests done by the manufacturer in the 1970s suggest that ace-K, too, might pose a cancer risk.”

Pepsi officials strongly deny that. “Decades of studies have shown that the sweeteners we use are safe,” says spokeswoman Elisa Baker.

For that matter, Kaufman insists it is changing consumer preferences — not a safety issue — that led PepsiCo to make the change: “Decades of studies have shown that aspartame is safe. This is not about safety.”

But Jacobson says scientific studies have shown a link between aspartame and cancer. “Three top-quality studies have found that aspartame causes cancer in animals, so the less that people consume the better,” he says.

One medical expert, however, disagrees. “Aspartame’s safety in the quantities the general public consumes has been established as safe many, many times over,” says Rebecca Blake, director of clinical nutrition at New York’s Mount Sinai Beth Israel. “The research does not yet support a greater level of safety among the ‘more natural’ sweeteners.”

For the moment, PepsiCo says it has no plans to replace aspartame in other diet beverages, including Diet Mountain Dew, which also has seen a sales decline.

Jacobson, the consumer advocate, says the best thing is probably to avoid most colas altogether. “My best advice is to refresh yourself with water, seltzer water, or flavored waters.”

While it’s encouraging to see Pepsi respond to consumer sentiment, the company seems to have missed the idea that ace-K is another concern for consumers. In an attempt to make Diet Pepsi “less bad,” they appear to want to pacify customers by the removal of one controversial artificial sweetener while ignoring the other.

Of course, soda is still soda — changing up the sweeteners won’t do much for the remainder of the chemicals in the concoction. While we appreciate the effort of any manufacturer trying to improve their products in response to the voices of their consumers, Diet Pepsi is soda and soda isn’t good for anyone. And ace-K is still a problem. Nice try, though.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/04/24/pepsi-diet-pepsi-pepsico-aspartame-aspartame-free-beverages-soft-drinks/26297755/

The third hottest pepper in the world now in your french fries …. Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy’s

wendys-new-logo (1)Some of us like a little heat in our food sometimes. Tabasco sauce can be fun added to a burger. Jalapenos in a taco or added to a sauce can give food a kick — and also some additional flavor. But how much heat is too much heat?

Wendy’s has introduced Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries. Unless they’ve added almost no real ghost peppers in this dish, odds are very few people will be able to enjoy it, even if they’re big fans of hot food. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show that features ghost peppers, you’ll see chefs boil the peppers, discard them and use just a few tablespoons of the liquid in the dish they’re preparing. Even then, the finished product can be too hot for some to handle. And with good reason.

In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the ghost pepper was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 900.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce; the ghost chili is rated at more than 1 million Scoville heat units (SHUs). Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 SHUs. However, the bhut jolokia was superseded by the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012 ]which was in turn replaced by the “Carolina Reaper” on December 26, 2013.

That makes the ghost pepper the third hottest chili in the world. Imagine a pepper that’s over 900 times as hot as Tabasco sauce. Then imagine including it in a dish for fast food consumers, who may not understand the punch this pepper can pack.

Our suspicion is that there’s little, if any, ghost peppers in these new Wendy’s fries. So let’s investigate a little and see what we can find out.

Small French Fries: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils: canola, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (to maintain natural color). Cooked in Soybean Oil, Vegetable Oil (may contain one or more of the following: canola, corn, cottonseed), Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid (preservative), Dimethylpolysiloxane (anti-foaming agent). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain Wheat, Egg, and Fish (where available). Seasoned with Sea Salt. Cheddar Cheese Sauce Water, Cheddar Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Milk Ingredients, Cream Cheese (pasteurized milk and cream, cheese culture, salt, carob bean gum), Modified Cornstarch, Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Whey, Sodium Phosphate, Cream, Cheese Culture, Milk Fat, Parmesan Cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzyme), Butter, Sodium Phosphate, Salt And Sea Salt, Sodium Alginate, Carob Bean Gum, Mono & Diglycerides, Annatto And Apocarotenal (for color), Lactic Acid. CONTAINS: MILK. Cheddar Cheese, Shredded Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color, Potato Starch and Powdered Cellulose (to prevent caking), Natamycin (natural mold inhibitor). CONTAINS: MILK. Ghost Pepper Sauce Soybean Oil, Sour Cream (cream, modified corn starch, lactic acid, gelatin, guar gum, mono and diglycerides, sodium phosphate, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], acetic acid, citric acid, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors), Buttermilk, Jalapeno Pepper, Egg Yolk, Salt, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Cilantro, Sugar, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Onion (dehydrated), Oleoresin Paprika, Garlic (dehydrated), Acetic Acid, Ghost Pepper, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Oleoresin Rosemary. CONTAINS: EGG, MILK. Diced Jalapenos Jalapenos.

The Ghost Pepper sauce actually contains more jalapeno pepper than ghost pepper — which is the fifth ingredient to last in the list. And that list, just for the ghost pepper sauce, contains 34 ingredients. Without any percentages given for the use of the actual pepper, it’s difficult to understand why the fries carry any sort of ghost pepper moniker. There are natural and artificial flavors used and those must be to mimic the flavor of something (probably peppers.)

The new Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy’s have very little to do with ghost peppers. This is marketing ploy to generate consumer interest for a new product. While we’re sure the fries do have a kick of heat, eating these has little resemblance, if any, to eating any dish prepared with ghost peppers. Foodfacts.com likes trying new and interesting foods. We even enjoy a little heat every now and again. But we also like transparency regarding the foods we choose to consume. Wendy’s isn’t doing that here. We’d probably be saying no to this anyway, just based on the length and content of the ingredient list. But the idea that there’s barely any ghost pepper in a sauce for which the fries are named seals the deal. Not trying this one.

https://www.wendys.com/en-us/nutrition-info

Some things are better left behind … Burger King revives Chicken Fries

Tenant_burgerKing2We never understand why fast food seems bent on destroying perfectly healthy lean protein. With very few exceptions, there really aren’t any healthy chicken options on fast food menus. They generally all have far too many ingredients, many of which are controversial and bleak nutrition facts. It doesn’t make much sense.

Sometimes it’s even worse. Sometimes once a fast food chain has retired an unhealthy chicken option, they bring it back years later telling us consumers were begging them to do so. Someone, somewhere was obviously imploring Burger King to bring back Chicken Fries.
And here they are.

Just in case you missed them the first time around, FoodFacts.com wants to familiarize you with the sad facts behind the fries.

For the record, you get 9 pieces in an order of Chicken Fries. Nutrition facts here do not include any of the dipping sauces you can choose from (BBQ, Honey Mustard, Ranch, Zesty, Buffalo and Sweet & Sour). These are for the fries only:

Calories:                     290
Fat:                              17 grams
Saturated Fat:           3 grams
Sodium:                     780 mg

That’s a lot of fat for nine thin Chicken Fries. It’s also too much salt. How does that happen to chicken, anyway? Take a look:

Ingredients: UNCOOKED CHICKEN BREAST STRIP FRITTERS WITH RIB MEAT: Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Seasoning (Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Flavoring), Modified Potato Starch, Sodium Phosphates: BREADED WITH: Bleached Wheat Flour, Modified Wheat Starch, Rice Flour, Salt, Spices, Dextrose, Paprika, Monosodium Glutamate, Dehydrated Garlic, Dehydrated Onion, Soybean Oil, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavor, Extractives of Paprika. BATTERED WITH: Water, Bleached Wheat Flour, Corn Starch, Modified Wheat Starch, Maltodextrin, Potato Starch, Modified Corn Starch, Methylcellulose, Mono and Diglycerides, Leavening (Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate), PREDUSTED WITH: Bleached Wheat Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Dextrose, Monosodium Glutamate, Salt, Maltodextrin, Corn Starch, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Paprika, Spice, Onion Powder, Extractives of Paprika, Garlic Powder, Turmeric, Natural Flavors. Breading set in Vegetable Oil.
Burger King might consider changing the name of Chicken Fries to MSG Fries. They certainly qualify.

Fast food menu items like Chicken Fries illustrate how processing destroys the benefits of lean protein like chicken. To be honest, we don’t care who was begging Burger King to bring Chicken Fries back. They were best left behind for good.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/chicken-fries

http://www.bk.com/pdfs/nutrition.pdf

Where rocky doesn’t meet the road … new Rocky Road Iced Coffee from Dunkin Donuts

1426141519371Rocky road ice cream. Rich chocolate ice cream laden with nuts and marshmallows. For many, this is a comforting childhood memory. So it’s no surprise that Dunkin Donuts saw an opportunity to capitalize on that memory and introduce their new Rocky Road Iced Coffee.

How did Dunkin manage to get the flavors of nuts and marshmallows into coffee?

FoodFacts.com thought that was a great question, so we did a little investigating.

As far as flavored iced coffees are concerned the new Rocky Road Iced Coffee is similar in nutrition facts. Here are the numbers for a medium with cream (the numbers for whole milk and skim milk aren’t yet available on their website):

Calories:             260
Fat:                      12 grams
Sugar:                 36 grams

Still too much sugar going on, but that’s common for a beverage like this one.

Let’s move onto the ingredient list and see if we can find out how these flavors were incorporated into the new coffee:

Brewed 100% Arabica Coffee; Rocky Road Flavored Swirl Syrup: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Cocoa processed with alkali, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt.

And there you have it. Rocky doesn’t meet the road in the new Dunkin Rocky Road Iced Coffee. It’s all about artificial and natural flavors.

Like many flavored products, Rocky Road Iced coffee isn’t getting its flavor from the actual ingredients that are used to make traditional rocky road ice cream. We like the flavors in our coffee (and our food) to come from what the flavor is supposed to be — in this case nuts and marshmallows. Since they don’t, we won’t be trying it.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/icedbeverages/coffee0/iced_coffee.html?DRP_SWEET=None&DRP_FLAVOR=Rocky+Road+Swirl&DRP_SIZE=Medium&DRP_BLEND=Original&DRP_DAIRY=None

Exercise won’t save you from a bad diet

woman-at-gym-drinking-juiceSince way back in the 1980s, exercise has been much more than a fad and bigger than a trend. It’s a given for most people. It’s how we believe we stay healthy, thin and fit. FoodFacts.com wants to start off saying that exercise IS incredibly important for all of us for a myriad of reasons. But we’re learning more and more that exercise isn’t the only thing you need to incorporate into your routine to be living a healthy lifestyle.

In a fascinating and scorching editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, three authors argue that the myth that exercise is the key to weight loss – and to health – is erroneous and pervasive, and that it must end. The evidence that diet matters more than exercise is now overwhelming, they write, and has got to be heeded: We can exercise to the moon and back but still be fat for all the sugar and carbs we consume. And perhaps even more jarring is that we can be a normal weight and exercise, and still be unhealthy if we’re eating poorly. So, they say, we need a basic reboot of our understanding of health, which has to involve the food industry’s powerful PR “machinery,” since that was part of the problem to begin with.

The major point the team makes – which they say the public doesn’t really understand – is that exercise in and of itself doesn’t really lead to weight loss. It may lead to a number of excellent health effects, but weight loss – if you’re not also restricting calories – isn’t one of them. “Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%,” they write. “However, physical activity does not promote weight loss.”

Plus, in the last 30 years, exercise has stayed about the same, while overweight and obesity have skyrocketed. So something else must be at play – like the type of food we’re eating. That part has gotten steadily worse over the years, as highly-processed sugary foods and sodas have taken over as our go-to choices. “According to the Lancet global burden of disease reports,” they write, “poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined.” This is a disturbing statistic. But it gets worse.

The related and larger issue is that even normal weight people who exercise will, if they eat poorly, have metabolic markers that put them at very high risk of chronic illness and early mortality. “Up to 40% of those with a normal body mass index will harbour metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity, which include hypertension, dyslipidaemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.”

And the crux of the issue is this: We’re continually “fed” the idea that all that’s behind the rise in obesity is lack of exercise, or sedentariness. There have certainly been a lot of studies and popular articles suggesting that sitting is our downfall. Instead of effective messages about diet and health that science actually knows to be true, “members of the public are drowned by an unhelpful message about maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ through calorie counting,” the team writes, “and many still wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise. This false perception is rooted in the Food Industry’s Public Relations machinery, which uses tactics chillingly similar to those of big tobacco.”

What we know to be true is much simpler: “Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger,” the write. “Fat calories induce fullness or satiation.” For every additional 150 calories in sugar (i.e., a can of soda) a person consumes per day, the risk for diabetes rises 11-fold, regardless of how much or little we exercise. The single most effective thing people can do for their weight, they write, is to restrict calories – and even more, restrict carbohydrates.

So if this is all true, and research seems to suggest it is, how will it change? It might take quite a lot of work to shift our psychology around food, especially since advertising is so saturated with the message that carbohydrates are good for us. The celebrity endorsements might need to be tweaked, the authors say, and certainly the way foods are advertised and, perhaps, created, need to be shifted. The public should be repeatedly hit with the message that whole, natural foods, where possible and affordable is the best way to go. If you’re trying to lose weight, reduce your calories (especially sugars) – don’t think exercise alone will cut it. And even if you’re normal weight, you can’t subside solely on junk and stay healthy.

The authors end with this powerful finale: “It is time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s Public Relations machinery. Let us bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You cannot outrun a bad diet.”

Again we see science pointing out the idea that even fit people who exercise regularly who don’t have an issue with keeping their weight in a healthy range can be plagued by the metabolic problems normally associated with obesity. If you’re eating a 2000 calorie a day diet, but those calories are coming from bad food, you can look great but still have a health problem. Those fast food breakfast sandwiches that boast an under 400 calorie count are still fast food. That processed cereal with only 250 calories people are enjoying for breakfast is still processed and contains added sugar. The list can go on. The message is about nutritional quality and where we find it.

Let’s get smarter about our lifestyle. Let’s find nutritionally beneficial foods we like eating and prepare them in our own kitchens where we have control over the sugar, salt and fat we add to the dishes we prepare. And let’s keep right on getting ourselves to the gym and out for a run, understanding that our healthy lifestyle is about everything we do with and for our bodies. It’s not just about the exercise.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/04/24/exercise-wont-save-us-sugar-and-carbs-are-our-bodily-downfall/

More than an hour of TV time can make a kindergartener a couch potato

la-sci-sn-one-hour-tv-watching-overweight-obes-001What do you think of when you hear the term “couch potato?” Most picture a rather slovenly individual spending hours in front of the television, usually accompanied by junk food. The person in that imaginary image is probably overweight, too. Can kids be couch potatoes? How much time in front of the tv would qualify? The American Academy of Pediatrics has set the recommended screen time for children at less than two hours every day. But a new study finds that an hour of television each day can put a kindergartener at risk for being overweight or obese.

Kindergarten children who watched television for more than one hour a day were 52% more likely to be overweight than their schoolmates who watched less TV, researchers said. The kids who spent at least an hour each day in front of the boob tube were also 72% more likely to be obese.

These figures are based on data from 12,650 children from around the country who started kindergarten in the fall of 2011 and were enrolled in a study run by the U.S. Department of Education. Researchers measured the height and weight of each young student (which were used to calculate their body mass index), and parents were asked how much TV time their kids got.

The average amount of time this nationally representative group of kindergartners spent watching TV was 3.3 hours. When the researchers did their statistical analysis to link time spent watching TV with weight, they controlled for factors that might have skewed the results, like gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

The researchers also took into account the number of hours the kids spent using computers, but it turned out that had no correlation with the children’s BMI.

One year after they entered the study, 10,853 of the children had their height and weight measured again, and their parents updated the researchers on their television-viewing habits. The results were once again striking: Compared to the kids who watched less than an hour of TV per day, those who watched an hour or more were 39% more likely to become overweight between kindergarten and first grade. They also were 86% more likely to become obese during that time.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children limit their total screen time — including time in front of the TV — to less than two hours per day. But these results suggest their advice may be overly generous.

“Given the data presented in this study, the AAP may wish to lower its recommended TV viewing allowances,” Dr. Mark DeBoer, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Virginia, said in a statement.

Kids love television. That’s no secret. There are so many great and educational shows today for kindergarten kids. FoodFacts.com knows that there’s plenty of quality viewing available. But the quality of the show has nothing to do with the effects of our kids sitting in front of a TV for hours. We found it interesting that computer habits (computers are still a screen) had no correlation to weight gain and obesity. Kids aren’t eating in front of the computer and they’re certainly not drinking anything near a keyboard. But they are while watching their favorite shows. The good news here is that parents are in control of their kindergarteners viewing habits and CAN make a big difference. Get them outside. Play a board game. Read them a book. Let them help in the kitchen. Let’s help our children view television as one of a variety of choices for how to spend their time … not the preferable one.

http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-sn-one-hour-tv-watching-overweight-obese-20150426-story.html

Sugary beverages can boost your risk of cardiovascular disease in just two weeks

sugarydrinksNew York City wanted to ban them. The federal government wants to tax them. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been under fire for quite a while now. But consumers keep right on drinking them. Soda, flavored iced coffee, flavored iced tea, fruit punch … these, and others, contain tremendous amounts of added sugars. Sugary drinks are a major culprit in the overconsumption of sugar that has contributed so heavily to the obesity crisis.

Beverages sweetened with low, medium and high amounts of high-fructose corn syrup significantly increase risk factors for cardiovascular disease, even when consumed for just two weeks by young, healthy men and women, reports a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The study is the first to demonstrate a direct, dose-dependent relationship between the amount of added sugar consumed in sweetened beverages and increases in specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

The data reinforce evidence from an earlier epidemiological study showing that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease — the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world — increases as the amount of added sugar consumed increases.

The results will be published in the June print edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“These findings clearly indicate that humans are acutely sensitive to the harmful effects of excess dietary sugar over a broad range of consumption levels,” said Kimber Stanhope, the study’s lead author and a research scientist in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

The 85 participants, including men and women ranging in age from 18 to 40 years, were placed in four different groups. During 15 days of the study, they consumed beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup equivalent to 0 percent, 10 percent, 17.5 percent or 25 percent of their total daily calorie requirements.

The 0-percent control group was given a sugar-free beverage sweetened with aspartame, an artificial sweetener.

At the beginning and end of the study, researchers used hourly blood draws to monitor the changes in the levels of lipoproteins, triglycerides and uric acid — all known to be indicators of cardiovascular disease risk.

These risk factors increased as the dose of high-fructose corn syrup increased. Even the participants who consumed the 10-percent dose exhibited increased circulating concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride compared with their concentrations at the beginning of the study.

The researchers also found that most of the increases in lipid/lipoprotein risk factors for cardiovascular disease were greater in men than in women and were independent of body weight gain.

Stanhope noted that the study findings underscore the need to extend the research using carefully controlled dietary intervention studies, aimed at determining what would be prudent levels for added sugar consumption.

We tend to think of the relationship between sugar consumption and health in terms of obesity and weight gain. While that’s certainly an issue, FoodFacts.com wants to point out that this study indicates that the harmful effects of added sugar can, in fact, be independent of weight gain. Too much sugar is bad for your heart, even if you aren’t experiencing challenges with weight. Slowly but surely, science is proving that even the person you know who can “eat and drink whatever they want and not gain weight” isn’t immune to the harmful effects of consuming added sugar. It’s not just about your weight. It’s about your health.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150422142515.htm

A better choice from McDonald’s … the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich

h-mcdonalds-Artisan-Grilled-Chicken-SandwichDid we really just say that?

We’re as surprised as you are. In keeping with FoodFacts.com long-standing philosophy of giving credit where it’s due no matter who, we really felt like we had to post about this sandwich.

Is it perfect? No. But it’s miles ahead of anything else we’ve seen coming from McDonald’s. We’d even go as far as saying that if you’re in a pinch, with no other choices around, you can actually eat this.

The McDonald’s website description of the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich reads “100% grilled chicken breast filet seasoned to perfection with ingredients like salt, garlic and parsley – seared in our kitchens, no preservatives added. Crisp leaf lettuce, fresh tomato, and a vinaigrette dressing. All atop our delectable artisan roll.” After further exploration, here’s what we found:

Nutrition Facts
Calories:                      360
Fat:                               6 grams
Saturated Fat:            1.5 grams
Sodium:                       930 mg

It is higher in sodium than we’d like. Compared to other chicken sandwiches on their menu, however, this sandwich is lower in calories, fat and saturated fat. For fast food, this isn’t a terrible nutritional profile.

Let’s move on to the ingredients:

ARTISAN GRILLED CHICKEN FILET Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast with Rib Meat, Water, Salt, Vegetable Starch, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Honey, Onion Powder, Dried Vinegar, Natural Flavor (Plant Source), Baking Soda. Prepared with Canola Oil/Olive Oil Blend and Herb Seasoning (Sugar, Garlic Powder, Salt, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Parsley, Onion Powder, Dried Honey, Citric Acid, Spice, Dried Vinegar, Natural Flavor [Plant Source]). ARTISAN ROLL Wheat Flour or Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour or Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Malted Barley Flour, Water, Sugar, Yeast, Palm Oil, Wheat Gluten, Dextrose, Salt, Contains 2% or less: Natural Flavors (Plant Source), Corn Flour, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Vegetable Proteins (Pea, Potato, Rice), Sunflower Oil, Turmeric, Paprika, Corn Starch, Wheat Starch, Acetic Acid.
CONTAINS: WHEAT, TOMATO SLICE, LEAF LETTUCE, VINAIGRETTE SAUCE Soybean Oil, Cider Vinegar, Water, Garlic, Chicken Broth, Contains Less Than 2%: Natural Flavor (Plant Source), Salt, Sugar, Honey, Xanthan Gum, Carrot Juice Concentrate.

Like we said, it isn’t perfect. Natural Flavor appears three times on the ingredient list. But that’s the only controversial item here. For McDonald’s that’s a major accomplishment. And while we’re still not running out to our nearest location to pick one up, even FoodFacts.com has to admit that they finally managed to add a menu item that won’t get an F in our Health Score system.

Now if McDonald’s could just address the remainder of the problems on their menu, we’d all be a lot happier with them.

http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/product_nutrition.chickenfish.2196.artisan-grilled-chicken-sandwich.html

Eating junk food for just 5 days can wreak havoc on your metabolism

dv1554016Millions of people who eat an otherwise healthy diet go through short periods of time where they allow themselves the pleasure of eating junk food. Vacations are usually the biggest reason. Traveling by car to a destination for many hours can lead to quick stops for food — fast food, processed food, packaged food. Once reaching a destination, it’s entirely likely that folks will indulge in foods prepared with large amounts of butter and fat. They are on vacation, after all. As soon as they get back to real life, their diets switch back to the healthy foods they normally consume. Can’t hurt, right?

It takes surprisingly few days of a mac-and-cheese-rich diet to do some really bad things to your metabolism. Just five days on a diet full of processed food was enough to alter a body’s healthy response to food, finds a small new study published in the journal Obesity.
Researchers wanted to look at how skeletal muscles adapt when we pound our bodies with fatty processed foods, so they took 12 healthy college-aged men and put them on an eating regimen designed by the researchers, including an initial control diet. Those on the fatty diet ate 55% of their calories came from fat—and about 18% of their total calories came from saturated fat. That’s a lot more saturated fat than most Americans eat, no matter how bad their diet. The control diet was about 30% fat.

“When we were toying around with what diet we were going to use, we looked at things like gift certificates for McDonald’s,” says Matthew W. Hulver, PhD, department head of Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise at Virginia Tech. “But a McDonald’s diet isn’t even saturated enough compared to what we fed the people in our study.”

They settled on a Westernized diet topped with butter, featuring foods like macaroni and cheese, ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise and butter, and fatty microwavable meals. The researchers took muscle biopsies from the men before and after the high-fat feeding. The researchers formulated the fatty diets to be identical in calories to the control.
When researchers looked at specific gene targets, the effects on metabolism were dramatic.

“The normal response to a meal was essentially either blunted or just not there after five days of high-fat feeding,” Hulver says. Before going on a work-week’s worth of a fatty diet, when the men ate a normal meal they saw big increases in oxidative targets four hours after eating. That response was obliterated after the five-day fat infusion. And under normal eating conditions, the biopsied muscle used glucose as an energy source by oxidizing glucose. “That was essentially wiped out after,” he says. “We were surprised how robust the effects were just with five days.”

While their overall insulin sensitivity didn’t change in the short time frame, the findings suggest that longer exposure to a diet of this kind might lead to insulin resistance down the line.
If five days of fat is enough to mess with metabolism, the chronic effects raise interesting questions, Hulver says. “Our question is: does this prime the body? When you go into a period where you are overconsuming calories, would individuals who have a chronic high fat diet be predisposed to weight gain?”

Hulver says he doesn’t know the answer yet, but his lab’s future studies hope to find out.

FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that this study wasn’t about weight gain. It was about the health effects of eating bad food. Health effects that were evident after just five days. Your healthy lifestyle is so important for your body. While we understand that this study doesn’t tell us what happened after these individuals returned to eating their normal diets, it does clearly underscore that junk food is junk for your body and your body responds in kind. The perfect diet may be unattainable, but our continued efforts to consume what’s best is the optimal goal. The optimal outcome is good health and longevity. Let’s strive for that and remember that we are, in fact, feeding our bodies every time we put food in our mouths.

http://time.com/3821475/junk-food-diet-metabolism/