Later On

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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

FEMA Contract Called for 30 Million Meals for Puerto Ricans. 50,000 Were Delivered.

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That’s less than 2/10 of 1%. Patricia Mazzei and Agustin Armendariz report in the NY Times:

The mission for the Federal Emergency Management Agency was clear: Hurricane Maria had torn through Puerto Rico, and hungry people needed food. Thirty million meals needed to be delivered as soon as possible.

For this huge task, FEMA tapped Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past. FEMA awarded her $156 million for the job, and Ms. Brown, who is the sole owner and employee of her company, Tribute Contracting LLC, set out to find some help.

Ms. Brown, who is adept at navigating the federal contracting system, hired a wedding caterer in Atlanta with a staff of 11 to freeze-dry wild mushrooms and rice, chicken and rice, and vegetable soup. She found a nonprofit in Texas that had shipped food aid overseas and domestically, including to a Houston food bank after Hurricane Harvey.

By the time 18.5 million meals were due, Tribute had delivered only 50,000. And FEMA inspectors discovered a problem: The food had been packaged separately from the pouches used to heat them. FEMA’s solicitation required “self-heating meals.”

“Do not ship another meal. Your contract is terminated,” Carolyn Ward, the FEMA contracting officer who handled Tribute’s agreement, wrote to Ms. Brown in an email dated Oct. 19 that Ms. Brown provided to The New York Times. “This is a logistical nightmare.”

Four months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, a picture is emerging of the contracts awarded in the earliest days of the crisis. And examples like the Tribute contract are causing lawmakers to raise questions about FEMA’s handling of the disaster and whether the agency was adequately prepared to respond.

On Tuesday, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee, which has been investigating the contract, asked Representative Trey Gowdy, the committee chairman, to subpoena FEMA for all documents relating to the agreement. Lawmakers fear the agency is not lining up potential contractors in advance of natural disasters, leading it to scramble to award multimillion-dollar agreements in the middle of a crisis.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a bipartisan congressional investigation found that a failure to secure advance contracts led to chaos and potential for waste and fraud. Democrats asserted that FEMA was similarly inept preparing for this storm.

“It appears that the Trump Administration’s response to the hurricanes in Puerto Rico in 2017 suffered from the same flaws as the Bush Administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005,” wrote Representatives Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Stacey E. Plaskett, the nonvoting delegate from the United States Virgin Islands.

In November, The Associated Press found that after Hurricane Maria, FEMA awarded more than $30 million in contracts for emergency tarps and plastic sheeting to a company that never delivered the needed supplies. . .

Continue reading.

I think some prison time is justified for the contractor and also for the contracting officer in FEMA. This degree of failure is so great—and the consequences for Puerto Ricans so severe—that it is clearly criminal.

Read the whole thing. Later in the report:

After Tribute’s failure to provide the meals became clear, FEMA formally terminated the contract for cause, citing Tribute’s late delivery of approved meals. Ms. Brown is disputing the termination. On Dec. 22, she filed an appeal, arguing that the real reason FEMA canceled her contract was because the meals were packed separately from the heating pouches, not because of their late delivery. Ms. Brown claims the agency did not specify that the meals and heaters had to be together.

She is seeking a settlement of at least $70 million. Her subcontractors, Cooking With A Star LLC, and Breedlove Foods Inc., have threatened to sue her for breach of contract, Ms. Brown said. Kendra Robinson, the caterer who runs Cooking With A Star, said she has about 75,000 meals her company prepared for FEMA sitting in an Atlanta warehouse.

You have to admit that Ms. Brown has plenty of chutzpah.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 February 2018 at 10:13 am

Progress report on weight loss

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I’ve mentioned that, beginning 26 December, I tried a new approach to losing my excess weight: I continued my low-carb diet (in which I avoid carbohydrates that are too easily and quickly digested, leading to insulin surges—see Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It, by Gary Taubes). That means I exclude rice, white potatoes, products made from refined flour and/or sugar (bread, pasta, bagels, cake, ice cream, cookies, and so on). That in itself put my Type 2 diabetes in remission, but after losing about 20 pounds I lost no more—until I started using the Weight Watchers Freestyle program. That program greatly simplifies tracking your diet (many foods are zero points and thus are not counted) and nudges you toward more healthful choices.

The combination of low-carb and WW Freestyle has been quite effective in terms of weight loss while still supporting filling and satisfying meals. We eat more fish, for example, and more boneless skinless chicken breast (which I poach), and less sausage and pork and beef. I do have an occasional cocktail, but since a Manhattan is 10 points and I get only 26 points a day (plus a weekly reserve of 42 points to accommodate an occasional splurge), the occasions are less frequent. I don’t like to touch the weekly reserve, though I have used it a few times.

I use the program on-line, so no meetings. Here are the results to date:

As you can see, there are ups and downs, but the linear trendline shows the clear direction. My weight (in pounds) is shown on the Y-axis, and the numbers at the bottom are counting the days, so I am 6 weeks 1 day into the program.

The early bumps reflect a learning curve: what foods and dishes work best. But I think there will always be ups and downs.

One change in my eating pattern: each morning I now drink a glass of water into which I’ve stirred 1/4 cup chia seed (benefits) and 1 teaspoon inulin (a type of fiber that supports benign gut microbes). This week I’m also taking Floristor, a yeast-based probiotic that is immune to antibiotics (which can wipe out bacteria in the gut, including benign bacteria). See “How probiotics and prebiotics team up in your gut” in the Washington Post. I suspect that the increase in fiber (including the fact that we are now eating more greens) has helped significantly. (I recently blogged a NY Times article that explains how fiber helps: “Fiber Is Good for You. Now Scientists May Know Why.”

It’s good to feel in control of my weight, and so far it has been surprisingly easy to lose the excess.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 February 2018 at 9:36 am

Fiber Is Good for You. Now Scientists May Know Why.

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Carl Zimmer reports in the NY Times:

A diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of developing diabetesheart disease and arthritis. Indeed, the evidence for fiber’s benefits extends beyond any particular ailment: Eating more fiber seems to lower people’s mortality rate, whatever the cause.

That’s why experts are always saying how good dietary fiber is for us. But while the benefits are clear, it’s not so clear why fiber is so great. “It’s an easy question to ask and a hard one to really answer,” said Fredrik Bäckhed, a biologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

He and other scientists are running experiments that are yielding some important new clues about fiber’s role in human health. Their research indicates that fiber doesn’t deliver many of its benefits directly to our bodies.

Instead, the fiber we eat feeds billions of bacteria in our guts. Keeping them happy means our intestines and immune systems remain in good working order.

In order to digest food, we need to bathe it in enzymes that break down its molecules. Those molecular fragments then pass through the gut wall and are absorbed in our intestines.

But our bodies make a limited range of enzymes, so that we cannot break down many of the tough compounds in plants. The term “dietary fiber” refers to those indigestible molecules.

But they are indigestible only to us. The gut is coated with a layer of mucus, atop which sits a carpet of hundreds of species of bacteria, part of the human microbiome. Some of these microbes carry the enzymes needed to break down various kinds of dietary fiber.

The ability of these bacteria to survive on fiber we can’t digest ourselves has led many experts to wonder if the microbes are somehow involved in the benefits of the fruits-and-vegetables diet. Two detailed studies published recently in the journal Cell Host and Microbe provide compelling evidence that the answer is yes.

In one experiment, Andrew T. Gewirtz of Georgia State University and his colleagues put mice on a low-fiber, high-fat diet. By examining fragments of bacterial DNA in the animals’ feces, the scientists were able to estimate the size of the gut bacterial population in each mouse.

On a low-fiber diet, they found, the population crashed, shrinking tenfold.

Dr. Bäckhed and his colleagues carried out a similar experiment, surveying the microbiome in mice as they were switched from fiber-rich food to a low-fiber diet. “It’s basically what you’d get at McDonald’s,” said Dr. Bäckhed said. “A lot of lard, a lot of sugar, and twenty percent protein.”

The scientists focused on the diversity of species that make up the mouse’s gut microbiome. Shifting the animals to a low-fiber diet had a dramatic effect, they found: Many common species became rare, and rare species became common.

Along with changes to the microbiome, both teams also observed rapid changes to the mice themselves. Their intestines got smaller, and its mucus layer thinner. As a result, bacteria wound up much closer to the intestinal wall, and that encroachment triggered an immune reaction.

After a few days on the low-fiber diet, mouse intestines developed chronic inflammation. After a few weeks, Dr. Gewirtz’s team observed that the mice began to change in other ways, putting on fat, for example, and developing higher blood sugar levels.

Dr. Bäckhed and his colleagues also fed another group of rodents the high-fat menu, along with a modest dose of a type of fiber called inulin. The mucus layer in their guts was healthier than in mice that didn’t get fiber, the scientists found, and intestinal bacteria were kept at a safer distance from their intestinal wall.

Dr. Gewirtz and his colleagues gave inulin to their mice as well, but at a much higher dose. The improvements were even more dramatic: Despite a high-fat diet, the mice had healthy populations of bacteria in their guts, their intestines were closer to normal, and they put on less weight.

Dr. Bäckhed and his colleagues ran one more interesting experiment: They spiked water given to mice on a high-fat diet with a species of fiber-feeding bacteria. The addition changed the mice for the better: Even on a high-fat diet, they produced more mucus in their guts, creating a healthy barrier to keep bacteria from the intestinal walls.

One way that fiber benefits health is by giving us, indirectly, another source of food, Dr. Gewirtz said. Once bacteria are done harvesting the energy in dietary fiber, they cast off the fragments as waste. That waste — in the form of short-chain fatty acids — is absorbed by intestinal cells, which use it as fuel.

But the gut’s microbes do more than just make energy. They also send messages.

Intestinal cells rely on chemical signals from the bacteria to work properly, Dr. Gewirtz said. The cells respond to the signals by multiplying and making a healthy supply of mucus. They also release bacteria-killing molecules.

By generating these responses, gut bacteria help maintain a peaceful coexistence with the immune system. They rest atop the gut’s mucus layer at a safe distance from the intestinal wall. Any bacteria that wind up too close get wiped out by antimicrobial poisons.

While some species of gut bacteria feed directly on dietary fiber, they probably support other species that feed on their waste. A number of species in this ecosystem — all of it built on fiber — may be talking to our guts.

Going on a low-fiber diet disturbs this peaceful relationship, the new studies suggest. The species that depend on dietary fiber starve, as do the other species that depend on them. Some species may switch to feeding on the host’s own mucus.

With less fuel, intestinal cells grow more slowly. And without a steady stream of chemical signals from bacteria, the cells slow their production of mucus and bacteria-killing poisons.

As a result, bacteria edge closer to the intestinal wall, and the immune system kicks into high gear.

“The gut is always precariously balanced between trying to contain these organisms and not to overreact,” said Eric C. Martens, a microbiologist at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the new studies. “It could be a tipping point between health and disease.” . . .

Continue reading.

See also “How probiotics and prebiotics team up in your gut.” After reading that, we are eating more onion and asparagus…

Written by LeisureGuy

5 February 2018 at 11:26 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Tricks to improve a soup recipe

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Carrie Havrenek offers some good tips on seven ways to improve a soup recipe. In particular, roasting the vegetables before adding to the soup is a definite winner, something I just recently learned and put to good effect in this recipe.

I occasionally use homemade stock, but I also make frequent use of Penzey’s soup bases, which are excellent.

I knew about using Parmesan rinds to amp up the umami (and note that Whole Foods sells Parmesan rinds: I now always have some in the refrigerator). Other umami-boosting tricks are to add 3-4 anchovy fillets when the sauté vegetables for the soup (and buy those that come in a jar rather than those in a tin), or a good dash of soy sauce or tamari or Worcestershire sauce or fish sauce (the latter two being made from anchovies). Mushrooms and tomatoes also bring umami flavor, as do sea vegetables.

If you want to thicken the soup, adding 1/4 cup chia seed will do the job and also add protein, fiber, omega-3 oils, iron, etc.—chia seed has many benefits. If you are restricting carbohydrates (and I still am), note that 1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) of chia seed has only 2g of net carbohydrates (total carbohydrates (13.1g) minutes dietary fiber (11.1g)).

My soups now often include chicken breast (0 WW points) as the meat choice. When I get chicken breasts, I immediately poach them (using the method in the second link above), so when I use them in soup or chili, I don’t include them until the end, just heating them up in the dish to avoid overcooking them.

As noted in the article, vinegar (or, really, any acid, such as lemon juice) will brighten the flavor. I generally use lemon juice or brown rice vinegar or sherry vinegar, but any will do. Two tablespoons in a pot of soup is plenty, but try one tablespoon and then taste.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 February 2018 at 10:35 am

Posted in Food, Recipes

The Extinction of the Early Bird

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Fascinating article that examines the interplay of the restaurant business and changing demographics. Jaya Saxena writes in Eater:

The east coast of South Florida feels like purgatory. There’s Miami, and there are beaches, but drive for 20 minutes outside of either, and it’s just vast plains of boxy, beige retirement villages, distinguishable only by their names, which all sound like euphemisms for a place you go when you die — Valencia Isles, Windward Palms, Mangrove Bay — and the relative elaborateness of their welcome fountains. The sky is a flat blue, and the temperature ranges from a chilled 62 degrees indoors to a muggy 85 degrees outside. Entire strip malls have been colonized by medical centers, generically advertising “Eye Care” or “Dermatology,” and every home purchase comes with a subscription to Nostalgic America magazine. “If Florida is the Great American Escape, it is also less enticing: the Great American Dumping Ground,” wrote Gloria Jahoda in Florida: A History in 1984. “It is where Mom and Pop go to die.”

My husband and I ventured into this limbo a couple of years ago to visit his grandparents, Seymour and Isabel Lubchansky. Their retirement community, Majestic Isles, in Boynton Beach — located about two hours north of Miami, it’s one of a cluster of towns that might sound as familiar to a Northeasterner with Jewish grandparents as a Florida lifer — was built in 1996, and it’s open to anyone 55 and up. The Lubchanskys’ covered patio, complete with a glass table and four scratchily upholstered chairs, looked out on manicured crabgrass and a man-made pond, where an occasional visit from a snowy egret or a roseate spoonbill would remind you that the Everglades were only 25 miles away. Majestic Isles has a clubhouse where you can play cards, a theater where retirees put on plays, and a shuffleboard court that is only used by visiting grandchildren, and only ironically.

Struck by a vision of faded tropical button-ups, card games, and steam trays full of baby carrots, we decided to go full-old person for the weekend: We’d play shuffleboard, take a slow walk around the block, find an early bird special, and be in bed by 7:30. I was especially charmed by the idea of living the early bird life. An emblem of South Florida’s retiree culture, the early bird is the dietary aspect of the lifestyle one expects to buy into down there — a slice of comforting, if boring, heaven — a time and place where doing the same thing every day is a sign that you’ve got it made. More than an affordable meal, it’s a fully packaged experience that brings elderly people together to gossip over poached sole and to complain about something being too salty before everyone returns to their identical homes in their identical developments.

The first stop on our early bird tour was Mamma Mia, an Italian restaurant in a strip mall whose large portions — perfect for cutting up and storing in the fridge for three days — made its special especially popular, according to Isabel. But at 4:30 p.m., there were no elderly in sight, just teens and young families ordering enormous platters of chicken Parmesan or personal pizzas to go. The hostess assured me that the early bird is always slow.

The next day, we ventured to Scully’s Restaurant, a place that seemed more in line with the “traditional” idea of the early bird — steaks and chops with a vegetable side. At 5 p.m., just three tables were occupied. “You know, I’m surprised with our early dinner menu, that we don’t get more customers,” owner Kevin Scully told me at his bar. “I’m surprised with what we offer before 5:30 that the place isn’t packed.” (This past October, Scully retired and closed the restaurant; in its place will be Driftwood, which is the kind of the place that has “hand-crafted” custom menu holders and $12 riffs on classic cocktails.)

A day later, we drove to a diner that multiple local guides said had the best deal in town, and warned to arrive early to fight for a seat. The parking lot was straight-up empty. Where were all of the old people? What of the need for an $8.99 chicken breast with a pair of watery, steamed-vegetable sides? What happened to the early bird special?

The short answer, I learned, is that the retirees who heralded the early bird are going away, and that their replacements, while burdened by the overall decline of the middle class, have different expectations about what retired life should look like — mostly, they do not want to be reminded in any way that they’re old now, especially if they can afford that luxury. Millennials might be killing chains, but boomers are driving the early bird to extinction.

The phrase “early bird” does come from the proverb about catching the worm, which dates to 1636, but the first appearance of “early bird special” isn’t until 1904, when it shows up in a department store ad hawking a deal on “men’s summer underwear” from 8 a.m. to noon. It pops up on menus sometime in the 1920s, according to Andrew P. Haley, an associate professor of American cultural history at the University of Southern Mississippi, due to a combination of the democratization of restaurants and prohibition. “More people are dining out, the middle class is dining out on a regular basis, they have a broader audience,” Haley told me. “But you have a problem with Prohibition. It hurts the existing restaurant model of fine dining as being the end all of dining.” Without alcohol to offer, restaurants had to find ways to target new audiences, and a family deal at non-peak hours filled seats.

The economic disruptions in the 1930s and 1940s kept these deals popular, and by the 1950s, it was common enough to find an “early bird special” at restaurants of all stripes. In a 1952 ad for San Francisco’s Goman’s Gay 90’s, a vaudeville nightclub that was probably not a hotspot for bluehairs, the early bird was advertised as a “dinner that includes a cocktail, fried chicken, hot biscuits, honey, shoestring potatoes, coffee, and after dinner drink — all for a couple of bucks,” Haley said. “The early bird idea means you have to come before 7:30.”

Another Prohibition-era innovation to get people in the door was targeting specific demographics. In 1921, for instance, the Waldorf-Astoria introduced one of the first children’s menus to reel in families, since liquor was no longer available. Throughout the Depression and into the postwar era, diners became particularly adept at pinpointing groups of people, and eventually they zeroed in on the old. “Diners were very sophisticated in thinking about filling the restaurant through the entire day,” Haley said. “They still appealed to working-class men in the morning and at lunch, they just targeted families at dinner time. And they targeted the elderly as well as any segment that could fill in the afternoon hours.”

Social Security benefits, which arrived with the New Deal expansion of the welfare state, ushered in a new category of personhood — the retiree, who could live independently, if frugally. In the 1950s, lured by the sun and low state taxes, retirees began flocking to South Florida, which had been practically terraformed for them in the preceding decades by real estate developers who tamed the fetid swamps and snarls of trees into a paradise of wide roads, accessible beaches, and endless fields of tract housing. “I can live comfortably, have a whale of a good time, and save money on an income of about $40 per week,” one retiree wrote in a 1956 pamphlet, The Truth About Florida.

As restaurants in Florida adapted to the growing population of the elderly, demographic targeting intersected with the promise of comfort and the value of the early bird special. “In 1972 with inflation on the rise, Social Security benefits are indexed to the consumer index, and that results in an elderly population that is much better cared for in the U.S.,” Haley said. “So you have a richer elderly population that’s now worth investing some resources into. The early bird special, which had made sense because it kept restaurants full at times they were not necessarily full, kind of takes off then.”

As the 20th century progressed, the greatest generation aged into a valuable consumer group. In 1980, 26.3 percent of Americans over 60 who moved chose Florida as their new home; in 1985, there was a joke about the early bird on Golden Girls, cementing the relationship between Florida, the elderly, and the early bird in pop culture. “It is popular with those on a budget, senior citizens, and especially in resort areas like Florida,” the 1994 Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink said of the early bird. By 1995, Nation’s Restaurant News reported that “senior citizens represent in reality an imposing discretionary spending bloc for food service operators,” and that restaurateurs were adding amenities to make their restaurants more appealing to seniors.

For a moment, economic necessity even brought the gospel of the early bird to the young. In 2010, the New York Times reported that the early bird was booming in Florida, as the recession enticed younger diners to partake in off-hours eating. But as the economy recovered, they abandoned it, just like their parents and grandparents.

It’s impossible to talk about retirement trends in America without talking about the Villages, the 115,000-person retirement community in central Florida that is the country’s fastest growing metro areaBuzzfeed described it as “a notorious boomtown for boomers who want to spend their golden years with access to 11 a.m. happy hours, thousands of activities, and no-strings-attached sex, all lorded over by one elusive billionaire.” It’s the epitome of what modern retirement can be for the wealthy and white (of which the Villages is 98 percent) — wild, carefree, and not dictated by Social Security checks. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 January 2018 at 9:55 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

Sugar and cognitive decline: The sugar-Alzheimer connection

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A low-carb, high-fat diet is looking better and better. Olga Khazan writes in the Atlantic:

In recent years, Alzheimer’s disease has occasionally been referred to as “type 3” diabetes, though that moniker doesn’t make much sense. After all, though they share a problem with insulin, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease caused by diet. Instead of another type of diabetes, it’s increasingly looking like Alzheimer’s is another potential side effect of a sugary, Western-style diet.

In some cases, the path from sugar to Alzheimer’s leads through type 2 diabetes, but as a new study and others show, that’s not always the case.

longitudinal study, published Thursday in the journal Diabetologia, followed 5,189 people over 10 years and found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar—whether or not their blood-sugar level technically made them diabetic. In other words, the higher the blood sugar, the faster the cognitive decline.

“Dementia is one of the most prevalent psychiatric conditions strongly associated with poor quality of later life,” said the lead author, Wuxiang Xie at Imperial College London, via email. “Currently, dementia is not curable, which makes it very important to study risk factors.”

Melissa Schilling, a professor at New York University, performed her own reviewof studies connecting diabetes to Alzheimer’s in 2016. She sought to reconcile two confusing trends. People who have type 2 diabetes are about twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s, and people who have diabetes and are treated with insulin are also more likely to get Alzheimer’s, suggesting elevated insulin plays a role in Alzheimer’s. In fact, many studies have found that elevated insulin, or “hyperinsulinemia,” significantly increases your risk of Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, people with type 1 diabetes, who don’t make insulin at all, are also thought to have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. How could these both be true?

Schilling posits this happens because of the insulin-degrading enzyme, a product of insulin that breaks down both insulin and amyloid proteins in the brain—the same proteins that clump up and lead to Alzheimer’s disease. People who don’t have enough insulin, like those whose bodies’ ability to produce insulin has been tapped out by diabetes, aren’t going to make enough of this enzyme to break up those brain clumps. Meanwhile, in people who use insulin to treat their diabetes and end up with a surplus of insulin, most of this enzyme gets used up breaking that insulin down, leaving not enough enzyme to address those amyloid brain clumps.

According to Schilling, this can happen even in people who don’t have diabetes yet—who are in a state known as “prediabetes.” It simply means your blood sugar is higher than normal, and it’s something that affects roughly 86 million Americans.

Schilling is not primarily a medical researcher; she’s just interested in the topic. But Rosebud Roberts, a professor of epidemiology and neurology at the Mayo Clinic, agreed with her interpretation.

In a 2012 study, Roberts broke nearly 1,000 people down into four groups based on how much of their diet came from carbohydrates. The group that ate the most carbs had an 80 percent higher chance of developing mild cognitive impairment—a pit stop on the way to dementia—than those who ate the smallest amount of carbs. People with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, can dress and feed themselves, but they have trouble with more complex tasks. Intervening in MCI can help prevent dementia.

Rebecca Gottesman, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, cautions that the findings on carbs aren’t as well-established as those on diabetes. “It’s hard to be sure at this stage, what an ‘ideal’ diet would look like,” she said. “There’s a suggestion that a Mediterranean diet, for example, may be good for brain health.”

But she says there are several theories out there to explain the connection between high blood sugar and dementia. Diabetes can also weaken the blood vessels, which increases the likelihood that you’ll have ministrokes in the brain, causing various forms of dementia. A high intake of simple sugars can make cells, including those in the brain, insulin resistant, which could cause the brain cells to die. Meanwhile, eating too much in general can cause obesity. The extra fat in obese people releases cytokines, or inflammatory proteins that can also contribute to cognitive deterioration, Roberts said. In one study by Gottesman, obesity doubled a person’s risk of having elevated amyloid proteins in their brains later in life.

Roberts said that people with type 1 diabetes are mainly only at risk if their insulin is so poorly controlled that they have hypoglycemic episodes. But even people who don’t have any kind of diabetes should watch their sugar intake, she said.

“Just because you don’t have type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean you can eat whatever carbs you want,” she said. “Especially if you’re not active.” What we eat, she added, is “a big factor in maintaining control of our destiny.” Roberts said this new study by Xie is interesting because it also shows an association between prediabetes and cognitive decline. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 January 2018 at 3:15 pm

Why you’re still hungry: 6 obstacles to healthy eating

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Carrie Dennett has a very interesting column in the Washington Post. Do read the whole thing; I’ll quote just one section:

Your gut microbiota isn’t diverse enough

Your gut, and the microbes that dwell in it, act as a “mini brain,” influencing, among other things, mood, appetite and food cravings. The tens of trillions of bacteria and other microbes in our gut produce a number of compounds, including some that are identical or similar to appetite hormones. About 20 minutes after a meal, certain bacteria in your gut send signals that you’ve had enough to eat by stimulating the release of a hormone that has been linked to feelings of satiety. But if you don’t have a very diverse microbiota — the microbe population living in our intestines — other species can become dominant, and what they need to survive and thrive may be different from what your body needs.

When you and a dominant group of microbes aren’t on the same page, they will try to manipulate your eating behavior for their benefit. They may cause cravings for their preferred foods, or for foods that suppress their competitors. They may simply increase your hunger levels until you eventually eat what they want you to eat. Either way, this creates a vicious cycle. For example, if you eat a lot of sugary foods, “sugar-loving” microbes will thrive, whereas microbes that don’t do so well on sugar may weaken or die. Because the sugar-loving microbes are well-nourished, they’ll gain even more influence, increasing sugar cravings.

Support a diverse microbiota by eating foods rich in fiber and probiotic bacteria, being physically active, handling stress and getting adequate sleep. This reduces the chance that any single species will have the numbers to gain an upper hand, and may help reduce food cravings and unusual hunger.

To which I’ll add:

  • The gut microbiome flourishes in a gut having sufficient fiber. 45g a day is not too much. (The average is around 19g/day, which is insufficient.)
  • If you are taking antibiotics, use a yeast-based probiotic (unaffected by antibiotics) rather than a bacteria-based probiotic (vulnerable to antibiotics).
    Florastore Daily Probiotic Supplement is a yeast-based probiotic.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 January 2018 at 7:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

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