A common artificial sweetener might be making you fatter and sicker, a new study says

A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism by a group of Yale researchers found that the consumption of the common artificial sweetener sucralose (which is found in Splenda, Zerocal, Sukrana, SucraPlus and other brands) in combination with carbohydrates can swiftly turn a healthy person into one with high blood sugar. From whole grain English muffins to reduced-sugar ketchup, sucralose is found in thousands of baked goods, condiments, syrups and other consumer packaged goods – almost all of them containing carbs. The finding, which researchers noted has yet to be replicated in other studies, raises new questions about the use of artificial sweeteners and their effects on weight gain and overall health. In the Yale study, researchers took 60 healthy-weight individuals and separated them into three groups: A group that consumed a regular-size beverage containing the equivalent of two packets of sucralose sweetener, a second group that consumed a beverage sweetened with table sugar at the equivalent sweetness, and a third control group that had a beverage with the artificial sweetener as well as a carbohydrate called maltodextrin. The molecules of maltodextrin don’t bind to taste receptors in the mouth and are impossible to detect. While the sensation of the third group’s beverage was identical to the sucralose-only group, only this group exhibited significant adverse health effects. The artificial sweetener by itself seemed to be fine, the researchers discovered, but that changed when combined with a carbohydrate. Seven beverages over two weeks and the previously healthy people in this group became glucose intolerant, a metabolic condition that results in elevated blood glucose levels and puts people at an increased risk for diabetes. The finding follows a study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine last year that found that consumption of two or more glasses of artificially sweetened soft drinks a day increased deaths from circulatory diseases. And a 2008 study by scientists at Purdue University showed that artificial sweeteners alone could result in higher blood pressure, weight gain, and increased risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease in rats. The scientists in that Purdue study fed yogurt sweetened with glucose (a simple sugar with 15 calories/teaspoon, the same as table sugar) to a group of rats. A second group got yogurt sweetened with zero-calorie saccharin. This group consumed more calories, gained more weight, put on more body fat and didn’t make up for it by cutting back later. The researchers developed the “uncoupling hypothesis,” theorizing that disconnecting sweet taste from calories results in an impaired ability to use sweet taste to guide how much to eat and the perception of satiation. Dana Small, divisional director of nutritional psychiatry at Yale, and her colleagues in the Cell Metabolism study wondered something about the methods in Purdue’s experiment. It was that yogurt, high in carbs. “The uncoupling hypothesis made a lot of sense,” Small said by phone. “But we wanted to evaluate it in humans.” The researchers found that artificial sweetener on its own did not affect metabolism, “but when you have it with a carbohydrate it’s mishandled in such a way to have an adaptation in the brain and the sensitivity to sweetness is changed.” Insulin was significantly higher in the combination group. That means they needed to release more insulin to achieve the same blood glucose levels, an indication of decreased insulin sensitivity. That can lead to metabolic dysfunction and weight gain. Frank Hu, professor and chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who has done extensive research on low-calorie sweeteners, says that while this is an interesting study, the findings are somewhat surprising and need to be replicated in future studies.

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Eat your veggies! Healthy lifestyle can give skin ‘golden glow’, study suggests

Becoming fitter, avoiding stress and sleeping longer as part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle all gave skin an improved tone, the study led by University of St Andrews found. Previous studies have linked improvements in skin colour to a good diet, but the latest study examined the relationship between general health and skin tone. Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables increases skin yellowness, thereby making it look healthier and more attractive. The change in skin colour after eating lots of colourful produce is due to the accumulation of plant pigments in the skin, such as orange carotene from carrots and red lycopene from tomatoes. The pigments – called carotenoids – also play an important role as antioxidants, which can help protect against damage from oxidative toxins caused by the likes of pollution, smoking and sugary foods, that can damage DNA and proteins. Researchers found that skin yellowness could be an indicator of a person’s health by demonstrating the body has enough antioxidant reserves and low levels of oxidative stress. Scientists worked with 134 students for the study, measuring fitness from heart rate while walking and running on a treadmill. Lead scientist for the study, Professor David Perrett, from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews, explained: “We assessed body fat levels with an impedance meter much like that available on many bathroom weighing scales. “We measured skin colour with a device that records how a rainbow of colours is reflected from the skin. “We found that both high fitness and low body fat were associated with a higher skin yellowness. “This yellower skin of fit individuals was not due to a better diet or from a suntan from being outdoors more.” The research team also assessed whether a change in health changed skin appearance. They followed 59 students from sports clubs to measure the impact of their training on their skin, and found those who became fitter or lost body fat showed an increase in skin yellowness. Meanwhile, increased psychological stress and lack of sleep was associated with a reduction in skin yellowness. Researchers also used face images to examine how people perceived the impact of a healthier lifestyle on appearance. Prof Perrett said: “For 21 observers we found the change in colour with increased fitness was visible and was judged as looking healthier on 90% of trials. “This means that as people get healthier others should be able to notice the improvement in skin color. He added that skin color changes were apparent within eight weeks of leading a healthier lifestyle. The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Bottom line..  Eat your veggies; preferably fresh veggies; not canned…whenever possible.

Gluten-free foods for children generally unhealthy and packed with sugar, study finds

Gluten-free is the health food rage of the moment, but research shows that most gluten-free snacks for children are generally unhealthful and packed with sugar. In the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of Calgary, Alberta, looked at 374 products marketed to children, evaluated their nutritional content and compared the results with those of gluten-filled counterparts. About 88 percent of the gluten-free products were considered to have “poor nutritional quality” compared with 97 percent of processed foods without a gluten-free claim. The researchers also compared 43 gluten-free food products and their counterparts — such as oatmeal and macaroni and cheese — and found no nutritional superiority: They were of equally poor nutritional quality. “For the parents who have children who aren’t gluten intolerant and are buying them because they think it will be healthier, that’s not the case,” said Charlene Elliott, lead author of the study. “And it shows the challenge for parents who have children with gluten intolerance of getting adequate nutritional intake from the packaged foods that are available.” Published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, the study says that while most of the gluten-free products were low in sodium, total fat and saturated fat, they had less protein and more calories from added sugar. Gluten is a starchy protein found in wheat, barley and rye that acts as a bonding agent and gives bread, pastries and pasta their shape and texture. For people who can’t digest gluten, eating such products can trigger an autoimmune response that upsets the digestive system and prevents key nutrients from being absorbed — otherwise known as celiac disease. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, about 3 million Americans have the disorder, though about 83 percent of cases are undiagnosed. Federal statistics estimate that 1 in 141 Americans have the disease, also with low rates of awareness. Before the packaged food industry started developing gluten-free products, people with celiac disease had to avoid those food staples. “We think gluten-free diets became popular when you didn’t have all these options,” said Marilyn G. Geller, CEO of the Celiac Disease Foundation. “People weren’t eating muffins, cookies and pasta.” But the industry caught on, and now there are gluten-free substitutes for nearly every product on grocery shelves. To make the products more appealing and similar to gluten-filled products, companies had to add more sugar and fat, Ms. Geller said. But this message isn’t being transmitted to the public, who more often believe that a gluten-free label is a healthful nutritional choice.

Interesting…  For more, click on the text above.

Nutritionist claims pizza can be a healthier breakfast than cereal

Looking to start your day off with a nutritious meal? Forget Cheerios. Instead, reach for a slice of pizza, says one dietitian. On Monday, blogger and dietitian Chelsey Amer caused a stir when she told the Daily Meal that a greasy slice of pizza is healthier than a bowl of cereal with milk, the Chicago Tribune reported. “You may be surprised to find out that an average slice of pizza and a bowl of cereal with whole milk contain nearly the same amount of calories,” Amer said. “However, pizza packs a much larger protein punch, which will keep you full and boost satiety throughout the morning.” She acknowledges that pizza isn’t necessarily a health food, but maintains that it’s a more balanced meal than a typical bowl of sugar flakes. But don’t take that as license to turn Papa John’s into a breakfast staple. New York-based dietitian Keri Gans says that cereal can be a perfectly healthy breakfast option — yes, healthier than pizza — as long as you’re smart about it. “Cereal can absolutely be a vehicle for getting important nutrients into your diet to start your day off right,” Gans tells The Post. First things first: Buy a good box. “If you choose the right cereal that’s packed with fiber, it may help lower cholesterol and control blood sugar,” Gans says. This helps keep your appetite in check — and helps fend off midmorning hunger pangs. Check the nutrition panel: If it has 3 grams of sugar or fewer, and at least 6 grams of fiber, you’re in good shape. The second key, Gans says, is being smart about your add-ons. “You could top your cereal with berries, which are rich in vitamins,” she says. Other good options include chopped apples or bananas, nuts, seeds (such as chia) or even a dollop of yogurt. With toppings like these, you work plenty of nutrition into your bowl — far more than you’d find on a dollar slice.

Pizza for breakfast..  ok!  🙂

Only one in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables, CDC study finds

Only a sliver of Americans eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Just 12% of Americans eat the minimum daily fruit recommendation of one and a half to two cups per day, and only 9% consume the minimum daily vegetable recommendation of two to three cups per day, according to the study, published on Thursday. “The study confirms years of data demonstrating that Americans do not eat their veggies,” Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, told the Guardian. “Assuming this result is close to reality, it suggests the need for taking much stronger action to make it easier and cheaper to eat fruits and vegetables.” The study, which broke out groups of Americans by state, class, race and gender, found some subgroups were even less likely to eat enough produce. Men, young adults and people living in poverty all had especially low rates of fruit and vegetable intake. While 15.1% of women eat the recommended amount of fruit each day ,just 9.2% of men do the same. Similarly, 11.4% of wealthy Americans eat enough vegetables, but only 7% of poor people did the same. Because a poor diet is linked to cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes, public health authorities have long endorsed a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Sarah Reinhardt, a nutritionist and food systems analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said there was a growing awareness about the importance of healthy foods. “We have a lot more work to do to make sure they reach every corner of the country,” she said. The CDC’s findings also showed the disparities in fruit and vegetable consumption by state. For example, just 2.2% of South Dakotans between 18 and 30 years old eat the recommended daily serving of vegetables. While people in West Virginia, which often tops lists of the least healthy and poorest US states, were the least likely to get enough vegetables on average – just 5.8% of West Virginians ate the recommended amount. Residents of Alaska were most likely to eat the recommended amount of vegetables, though the percentage is low – only 12% of adults there eat enough. Improving these rates is particularly challenging because just 2% of US farmland is devoted to growing fruits and vegetables, according to UCS. Reinhardt said farmers would need to grow almost twice as much produce just for Americans to get the recommended amount of servings. “The food industry is not exactly working with public health on this, there’s a multimillion-dollar industry working to get people to eat [processed foods],” Reinhardt said. The new research comes from the CDC’s 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which looks at how Americans eat and behave. Researchers called American adults’ landlines and cellphones and asked how often people eat beans, dark greens, orange vegetables, “other” vegetables, whole fruit and fruit juice.

9 surprising health benefits of cheese

It’s easy to lump in cheese with cake, bread, and other waistline offenders. Not so fast, though: Although some dairy products might pack on pounds, many cheeses are actually good for you in moderation, as part of a balanced diet. (Read: This isn’t permission to eat a wedge of cheese for lunch, with a chaser of cheesecake.) Here are a few tasty morsels of information from nutritionist Karen Ansel, R.D.N., coauthor of Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day; her insights will help you indulge in all the right ways. “Cheese may help you stay slim thanks to a substance called butyrate, found in many cheeses,” says Ansel. Gruyère, blue, and Gouda, Parmesan, and cheddar all have high amounts. “Research suggests that it may help boost metabolism. These cheeses also encourage the bacteria in our gut to make even more butyrate, so it’s a double win.” This news is easy to digest: “One study found that the butyrate in cheese can protect against colon cancer by nourishing the cells of your colon,” says Ansel, “and by reducing that inflammation that can damage the colon over time.” “Protein-packed cheese is a smart snack for building muscle,” Ansel says. Protein is made of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle tissue. “For the best protein boost, try ricotta cheese,” says Ansel. “It’s one of the single best sources of whey protein, which is especially advantageous for muscle building. And it tastes a lot better than a gritty protein powder.” A strong case for Parmesan and cheddar: “Since it’s made from milk, cheese is packed with calcium to help keep your bones strong,” Ansel says. “Snacking on just one ounce of Parmesan gives you 336 milligrams of calcium, and the same amount of cheddar offers 216 milligrams.” That’s a good portion of the day’s needs: Most adult men require 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Chew on this: “Eating cheese can keep your teeth healthier thanks to calcium and phosphorus,” Ansel says. “These two minerals fight the lactic acid that’s naturally present in our mouths and prevent it from breaking down tooth enamel.” You need that enamel to chew food without damage to the teeth, as well as to prevent cavities and erosion. Go on, upgrade from hamburger to cheeseburger. Those same butyrate-dense cheeses may help protect against type 2 diabetes. “Although research in this area is just starting to emerge, a study in the journal Diabetes found that mice that ate chow containing added butyrate had insulin levels that were 50 percent lower than mice who ate the regular kind. Experts suspect that butyrate may help human bodies use insulin more effectively too, in its managing of blood-sugar levels.”

Fun!  Think I’ll have some cheese now!  To read the rest of this informative article from Adam Hurly over at GQ, click on the text above.   🙂

Stressed about the holidays? Magnesium-rich foods can help

The holidays are a time for getting together with family and friends to relax, but how many people do you know that actually feel relaxed this time of the year? Not too many! Between holiday parties and shopping, planning gatherings and gifts, everyone knows that this can be the most stressful time of the year. But it doesn’t need to be. There are many ways to bring down your stress level to help your body naturally relax with meditation, deep breathing, eating magnesium-rich foods and getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. Today we’re focusing on the benefits of relaxation by making smart magnesium-rich food choices to keep us stress-free, relaxed and healthy during the craziest time of the year. Many of us don’t realize that the vast array of important jobs magnesium does in our body such as helping us relax, relax our muscles, making and utilizing proteins, sleeping, walking, running, hormone production and much more. Most of all, we need magnesium to covert the foods we eat into energy. When I was going through my decade of chronic illness I was depleted in magnesium, and I never realized that so many other people are unaware that they are also low in magnesium. Now that I am healthy and thriving, I’m sure to eat magnesium-rich foods every day to keep my body feeling amazing. I started to learn about magnesium 30 years ago from my grandmother who raved over it and was sure to eat foods rich in it to help with stress, bodily functions, bowel movements, muscle relaxation and more. Below I’ve listed out a few foods that are great sources of magnesium- be sure to buy these foods in their whole, raw form (not processed, roasted in canola oil, or sold with refined salt, sugar, etc.). Sadly, today’s modern food world has processed and refined many of our food choices, leaving us without the dose of magnesium in our food that our parents had many years ago. When you find yourself stressed, have a cold, or if you are very active, you may find that eating more magnesium-rich foods helps your symptoms and makes you feel better. When I was very low in magnesium, I took Epsom salt baths — since our skin is our biggest organ, this is a great way to get magnesium into your body — and the benefits were amazing after just 30 minutes of soaking in a tub. I’ve also started making my clients homemade recipes that are soaring with magnesium such as hummus with black beans and spinach (both high in magnesium) as well as making homemade nut/seed butters with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and cashews to serve on top of whole grain toast for a magnesium boost. If you’re not a fan of these foods, there are products that contain magnesium such as CALM Magnesium that can be added to your drinks for a dose of magnesium without having to take pills. Of course, check with your doctor before starting any new supplements and products. We need to replenish our supply of magnesium each day; it’s constantly in motion in our cells, tissues and blood. Many people don’t realize we lose magnesium daily by sweating, urinating and as our fingernails and hair grows. Many of my clients have realized they are stressed out this time of the year and are looking for healthy foods to keep them energized and help their bodies to work as efficiently as possible since stress effects everything from headaches, belly aches, bowel movements, insomnia and more. If you want to learn more about magnesium, check out the Natural Magnesium Association. Here are a few foods that are rich in magnesium. You can toss these healthy food choices into salads, soups, whole grain bowls, or just snack on them alone. I often put raw cashews, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds in my bag so that I can snack on them whenever I’m on-the-go and need a little something to eat. It’s amazing how much less stressed you can feel when your magnesium levels are healthy. Magnesium-Rich Food Choices: • Pumpkin seeds • Spinach • Swiss Chard • Black Beans • Sesame Seeds • Quinoa • Cashews Amie Valpone is a celebrity chef based in New York City and editor-in-chief of Specializing in simple, gluten-free recipes, Amie has been featured in numerous magazines and on well-known websites, as well as TV. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

I’m guessing the lesson here is that we all need to up our magnesium intake, sleep 8 hrs a night (like that’s gonna happen), and start snacking on some of these seeds.

5 dieting terms and what they really mean

Reading food labels to make healthy, informed selections can often feel like navigating a landmine. For those looking to eat healthy foods and watching their weight, terms like, “Reduced Fat” or “Light” can be a gold mine. We decipher the top five “dieting” terms here:

Just click on the text above to see those top 5 terms and their definitions..

Back-to-school nutrition tips

As the summer winds down, millions of children are headed back to school. In addition to getting new books and school supplies, preparing your kitchen with nutritious foods is also important to their learning. Research shows eating a healthy diet is key to a child’s development, school performance, and overall health. Here are five nutrition tips to help keep your kids properly fueled without taking a lot of extra time out of your day:

An interesting, and helpful, article for all you parents out there..  To learn these five nutrition tips, click on the text above.

We tried seaweed bacon and- surprisingly- you should too

America loves bacon. But what if there was a way to get that salty, smoky goodness without all the fat, calories and heart-clogging cholesterol? Researchers at Oregon State University say you can with a type of seaweed called dulse that tastes similar to bacon when it’s cooked. Chris Langdon, professor of fisheries at OSU, told that he noticed above average growth in abalone– a large mollusk– that consumed the nutrient rich dulse seaweed. Humans along the coast of Northern Ireland have been eating wild dulse for over 500 years for its nutritional value, but the trick for was to make it palatable for today’s discerning eaters. “Abalone don’t care what the dulse looks like,” Langdon said. “For humans, appearance and consistency are very important.” Dulse is a hearty seaweed with a dark red color, with curly edges similar to a small leaf of Romaine lettuce. Langdon has been able to cultivate a commercial, edible variety that grows quickly. “Most Americans are only used to seeing seaweed used in Japanese food like sushi or seaweed salad but we’re trying to change the perception of how this versatile food can be consumed,” said Jason Ball, chef at the university’s Food Innovation Center, Portland, a group that is is taking Langdon’s dulse putting it into food. Consumed raw, dulse has a mild ocean flavor and subtle crunch without any of the sliminess usually associated with other seaweeds. But when fried, the curly red leaves transform into a crispy, dark green snack, heartier than a traditional piece of seaweed and much more flavorful. “It’s definitely delicious,” said Pat LaFrieda, a gourmet meat purveyor famous for his aged steaks, and award-winning Shake Shack and Minetta Tavern burger blends. After a few more bites, he proclaimed that it “won’t replace bacon but it’s a great substitute.” “It’s definitely something you could put on a burger,” said one of our tasters. “It’s definitely more bacon-y than I would have thought.”

Interesting.. I’m curious to try. Of course I have no plan to cut back on that artery-clogging, heart-stopping bacon! 🙂