Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Adding Salt to Food Linked to Higher CVD Risk

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This seems like a dead simple idea: don’t add salt to your food and don’t eat salty food (highly processed food, cheese, bread, chips, restaurant food, fast food, pizzas, and so on). The first week, food will taste a little flat, but that can be overcome with (for example) squeezing a lemon over the food, Greek style, or using one of the salt-free herb-and-spice blends sold in the spice section of the supermarket. After a week, the food’s taste will bounce back as your taste buds become acclimated.

Still, what would cardiologists do if people simply followed good practices in diet and exercise? So to benefit the profession, most continue with the Standard American Diet (that’s what they call it “standard”) and avoid effort in all areas.

Sue Hughes writes in Medscape:

A lower frequency of adding salt to food is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly heart failure and ischemic heart disease, a new study has found.

The study analyzed the association of adding salt to food and incident cardiovascular disease risk in 176,570 adults participating in the UK Biobank database.

Results showed that a lower frequency of adding salt to foods was significantly associated with lower risk of total cardiovascular events after adjustment for covariates and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. 

Compared with the group who always added salt to food, those who usually added salt had a 19% reduction in risk of cardiovascular events; those who sometimes added salt had a 21% reduction; and those who rarely or never added salt had a 23% reduction.  

 

Participants who combined a DASH-style diet with the lowest frequency of adding salt had the lowest cardiovascular risk.

 

“Our results indicate an additive role of lower salt preference and a healthier diet in cardiovascular disease prevention,” the researchers, led by Hao Ma, MD, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, conclude.

“Adding salt to foods (usually at the table) is a common behavior in the diet of some Western countries and is modifiable through health education,” they note. “Our findings also indicate that behavioral interventions to reduce adding salt to foods may improve cardiovascular health, even in those with a DASH-style diet.”

The study is published in the December 6 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiologyavailable online on November 28.

The authors explain that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

1 December 2022 at 10:22 am

Fermented foods and fibre may lower stress levels – new study

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John Cryan, Vice President for Research & Innovation, University College Cork, writes in The Conversation:

When it comes to dealing with stress, we’re often told the best things we can do are exercise, make time for our favourite activities or try meditation or mindfulness.

But the kinds of foods we eat may also be an effective way of dealing with stress, according to research published by me and other members of APC Microbiome Ireland. Our latest study has shown that eating more fermented foods and fibre daily for just four weeks had a significant effect on lowering perceived stress levels.

Over the last decade, a growing body of research has shown that diet can have a huge impact on our mental health. In fact, a healthy diet may even reduce the risk of many common mental illnesses.

The mechanisms underpinning the effect of diet on mental health are still not fully understood. But one explanation for this link could be via the relationship between our brain and our microbiome (the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut). Known as the gut-brain axis, this allows the brain and gut to be in constant communication with each other, allowing essential body functions such as digestion and appetite to happen. It also means that the emotional and cognitive centres in our brain are closely connected to our gut.

While previous research has shown stress and behaviour are also linked to our microbiome, it has been unclear until now whether changing diet (and therefore our microbiome) could have a distinct effect on stress levels.

This is what our study set out to do. To test this, we recruited 45 healthy people with relatively low-fibre diets, aged 18–59 years. More than half were women. The participants were split into two groups and randomly assigned a diet to follow for the four-week duration of the study. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2022 at 10:22 am

Highly Processed Foods ‘as Addictive’ as Tobacco

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Highly processed foods are detrimental to health, as has been demonstrated — but they are also highly addictive, which means they are lucrative: repeat customers are guaranteed. So it comes down to whether the economic structure of the society responds to health or to money. In the US, certainly, the driving motive of any company is purely profit, so for a corporation the choice is simple.

Becky McCall writes in Medscape:

Highly processed foods meet the same criteria as tobacco for addiction, and labeling them as such might benefit public health, according to a new US study that proposes a set of criteria to assess the addictive potential of some foods.

The research suggests that healthcare professionals are taking steps towards framing food addiction as a clinical entity in its own right; it currently lacks validated treatment protocols and recognition as a clinical diagnosis.

Meanwhile, other data, reported by researchers last week at the Diabetes Professional Care (DPC) 2022 conference in London, UK, also add support to the clinical recognition of food addiction.

Clinical psychologist Jen Unwin, PhD, from Southport, UK, showed that a 3-month online program of low carbohydrate diet together with psychoeducational support significantly reduced food addiction symptoms among a varied group of individuals, not all of whom were overweight or had obesity.

Unwin said her new data represent the first widescale clinical audit of its kind, other than a prior report of three patients with food addiction who were successfully treated with a ketogenic diet.

“Food addiction explains so much of what we see in clinical practice, where intelligent people understand what we tell them about the physiology associated with a low-carb diet, and they follow it for a while, but then they relapse,” said Unwin, explaining the difficulties faced by around 20% of her patients who are considered to have food addiction.

Meanwhile, the authors of the US study, led by Ashley N. Gearhardt, PhD, a psychologist from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, write that the ability of highly processed foods (HPFs) “to rapidly . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

30 November 2022 at 6:27 am

We’re told to ‘eat a rainbow’ of fruit and vegetables. Here’s what each colour does in our body

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Evangeline Mantzioris, Program Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Accredited Practising Dietitian, University of South Australia, has a useful article in The Conversation on what specific beneficial substances are found in vegetables and fruits according to color.

I’ll note that the lycopene in tomatoes is bioavailable only after the tomatoes are cooked (and thus canned tomatoes and tomato sauce and puree are good sources of lycopene). Red watermelon is an excellent source, and the lycopene in watermelons is available without cooking. 

Her article reminded me of a post I wrote some years back, after reading David Heber’s book on eating by color. That post includes a downloadable PDF checklist if you want to keep track.

Mantzioris’s article begins:

Nutritionists will tell you to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. This isn’t just because it looks nice on the plate. Each colour signifies different nutrients our body needs.

The nutrients found in plant foods are broadly referred to as phytonutrients. There are at least 5,000 known phytonutrients, and probably many more.

So what does each colour do for our body and our overall health?

Red

Red fruits and vegetables are coloured by a type of phytonutrient called “carotenoids” (including ones named lycopene, flavones and quercetin – but the names aren’t as important as what they do). These carotenoids are found in . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 11:02 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Even mild Covid is linked to brain damage, scans show

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Wear N95 masks when in public indoor spaces. If not, Benjamin Ryan of NBC News explains what can happen:

During at least the first few months following a coronavirus infection, even mild cases of Covid-19 are associated with subtle tissue damage and accelerated losses in brain regions tied to the sense of smell, as well as a small loss in the brain’s overall volume, a new British study finds. Having mild Covid is also associated with a cognitive function deficit.

These are the striking findings of the new study led by University of Oxford investigators, one that leading Covid researchers consider particularly important because it is the first study of the disease’s potential impact on the brain that is based on brain scans taken both before and after participants contracted the coronavirus.

“This study design overcomes some of the major limitations of most brain-related studies of Covid-19 to date, which rely on analysis and interpretation at a single time point in people who had Covid-19,” said Dr. Serena S. Spudich, a neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research.

The research, which was published Monday in Nature, also stands out because  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 4:12 pm

Why it’s smart to wear a mask

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Full disclosure: I wear an N95 mask whenever I am in a public indoor space (e.g., grocery shopping). 

Chart showing how long it takes to get infected with covid when you and someone infected are using different mitigation levels. Example: if 1 of two persons is infected, if either one is wearing an N95 mask, the uninfected person is safe for 2.5 hours. If both are wearing N95 masks, the uninfected person is safe for 25 hours.

Written by Leisureguy

27 November 2022 at 11:03 am

Frontline Work When Everyone Is Angry

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Christin Porath is professor of management at Georgetown University, a consultant who helps leading organizations create thriving workplaces, the author of Mastering Community: The Surprising Ways Coming Together Moves Us from Surviving to Thriving and Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, and a coauthor of The Cost of Bad BehaviorShe has  an interesting article in Harvard Business Review:

Editor’s note: This article mentions threats of violence and sexual assault.

In October 2020 Dr. Adrienne Boissy, then the chief patient experience officer at Cleveland Clinic, had a big problem, and it wasn’t just Covid-19. Caregivers at the hospital, already stretched thin by the pandemic, were coming to her with alarming reports of abusive behavior from patients and visitors: mean comments, screaming tirades, even racist insults. “It’s never been so bad!” she told me.

I’ve studied incivility — defined as rudeness, disrespect, or insensitive behavior — in workplaces for more than 20 years, polling hundreds of thousands of people worldwide about their experiences. But after that conversation with Dr. Boissy, who is now the chief medical officer at Qualtrics and a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic, I wondered whether incivility is getting worse over time, particularly for frontline workers, who labor in person and often interact directly with customers and patients. These workers’ industries include health care, protective services (think police officers), retail, food production and processing, maintenance, agriculture, transportation (including airlines), hospitality, and education.

My research has found that reports of incivility are indeed on the rise — as evidenced not just by viral videos of airline passengers refusing to wear masks or café patrons hurling racial epithets but also by my recent survey that asked more than 2,000 people around the world how they have experienced rudeness lately. Even amid a global health crisis in which frontline workers were heralded as essential and heroic, these employees still became punching bags on whom weary, stressed-out, often irrational customers (and sometimes fellow employees) took out their anxieties and frustrations.

This kind of incivility leads to negative outcomes not only for the workers who experience it directly but also those who witness it — all of which harms businesses and society. In this article, we’ll explore those consequences and discuss how leaders can help to improve things.

Note that incivility takes many forms, from ignoring people to intentionally undermining them to mocking, teasing, and belittling them. For this article, it does not refer to physical aggression or violence, although incivility can spiral into aggressive behaviors.

Where We Are

Identifying and studying incivility can be difficult, because . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article the author lists various causes (e.g., stress), but I found this one particularly interesting:

Lack of self-awareness.

One of the biggest takeaways from my decades of research is that incivility usually arises from ignorance — not malice. People lack self-awareness. According to research by Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist and a collaborator of mine, a whopping 95% of people think they’re self-aware but only 10%–15% actually are. That means 80%–85% of people misunderstand how they’re perceived and how they affect others. We may have good intentions and work hard to be patient and tolerant, but our tones, nonverbal signals, or actions may come across differently to the people we interact with and those who witness the interactions.

Written by Leisureguy

26 November 2022 at 12:22 pm

Per country: Health spending vs. longevity

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Conrad Hackett posts on Mastodon:

Here’s a scatterplot of health spending per capita (x axis) and life expectancy (y axis) in OECD countries. The lines represent averages.

One country sits alone in the bottom right quadrant due to its much higher health spending and below-average life expectancy.

Source: oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/ae3016

Scatterplot showing averages by country of health spending vs. longevity. The trend is strongly that greater spending means greater longevity, with the US as outlier: great spending, low longevity.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2022 at 5:06 pm

A Parasite Massively Improves A Wolf’s Chances Of Leading The Pack

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Rachell Funnel writes in IFLScience:

There’s a parasite at work among packs of grey wolves in America’s Yellowstone National Park, and bizarrely, the animals it infects have a far greater chance of leading their pack compared to wolves who have swerved infection. The culprit? Toxoplasma gondii – the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis, a disease we can pick up from infected feces and undercooked meat.

T. gondii is a strange parasite, having been associated with risk-taking behaviors in human hosts as well as animals. Research has linked infection with the parasite to certain political views, and even suggested it can make you more attractive to others. Now, a study has found it could have unexpected benefits for wolves with big ambition, too.

The research looked at grey wolves (Canis lupus) living in Yellowstone, Wyoming, to see if or how infection with T. gondii influences wolf behavior. Armed with 26-years-worth of data and blood samples from 229 wolves, they were able to look for correlations between geography, behavior, and infection status.

Yellowstone is also home to cougars (Puma concolor) who are known to carry the parasite, and sure enough, wolves living in close proximity to pumas were more likely to be infected. Curiously, the analyses also showed that infection with the T. gondii parasite made the wolves much bolder. . .

Continue reading.

T. gondii also commonly infects housecats, and mice can get the parasite, which changes their behavior to be more foolhardy, thus making them easier prey for the cats.  More info here.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2022 at 11:53 am

The Spoon Theory to explain the experience of illness

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Christine Miserandino has a good analogy and explanation of what it’s like to suffer a chronic illness:

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2022 at 9:56 am

Express gratitude – not because you will benefit from it, but others might

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Jennifer Cheavens, Associate Professor of Psychology, The Ohio State University, and David Cregg, Doctoral Candidate in Clinical Psychology, The Ohio State University, write in The Conversation:

The world is currently in the midst of a pandemic where the most useful thing many of us can do is stay at home and keep away from othersSchoolsrestaurantsoffice buildings and movie theaters are closed. Many people are feeling disoriented, disconnected and scared.

At this time of soaring infection ratesshortages of medical supplies and economic downturns, there are also examples of people looking for ways to express their gratitude to those on the front lines of fighting the epidemic. In many European countries, for example, people are expressing gratitude for the work of the medical staff by clapping from their balconies. Recently, this same practice has migrated to New York City.

As psychology researchers, we have been working to study the connection between gratitude and well-being.

Gratitude and well-being connection

In 2013, psychologists Robert Emmons and Robin Stern explained gratitude as both appreciating the good things in life and recognizing that they come from someone else.

There is a strong correlation between gratitude and well-being. Researchers have found that individuals who report feeling and expressing gratitude more report a greater level of positive emotions such as happiness, optimism and joy.

At the same time, they have a lower level of negative emotions such as anger, distress, depression and shame. They also report a higher level of life satisfaction.

Furthermore, grateful individuals report a greater sense of purpose in life, more forgiveness and better quality of relationships, and they even seem to sleep better.

In short, grateful individuals seem to have more of the ingredients needed to thrive and flourish.

There are several plausible explanations for the apparent connection between gratitude and well-being. It may be that gratitude serves as a positive lens through which to view the world.

For example, grateful individuals may be inclined to see the good in people and situations, which may result in a more compassionate and less critical view of others and themselves.

Grateful individuals may also be naturally prone to forming mutually supportive relationships. When someone expresses gratitude, the recipient is more likely to connect with that person and to invest in that relationship in the future.

Gratitude exercises have weak effects

However, there is one important caveat to this research. It shows that gratitude is correlated with well-being, but it does not prove that expressing gratitude actually improves well-being.

Psychologists have conducted a number of experiments to see if giving thanks leads to greater well-being. For example, . . .

Continue reading.

And also in The Conversation, Richard Gunderman, Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University, writes:

As a physician, I have helped to care for many patients and families whose lives have been turned upside down by serious illnesses and injuries. In the throes of such catastrophes, it can be difficult to find cause for anything but lament. Yet Thanksgiving presents us with an opportunity to develop one of the healthiest, most life-affirming and convivial of all habits – that of counting and rejoicing in our blessings.

Gratitude’s benefits

Research shows that grateful people tend to be healthy and happy. They exhibit lower levels of stress and depression, cope better with adversity and sleep better. They tend to be happier and more satisfied with life. Even their partners tend to be more content with their relationships.

Perhaps when we are more focused on the good things we enjoy in life, we have more to live for and tend to take better care of ourselves and each other.

When researchers asked people to reflect on the past week and write about things that either irritated them or about which they felt grateful, those tasked with recalling good things were more optimistic, felt better about their lives and actually visited their physicians less.

It is no surprise that receiving thanks makes people happier, but so does expressing gratitude. An experiment that asked participants to write and deliver thank-you notes found large increases in reported levels of happiness, a benefit that lasted for an entire month.

Philosophical roots

One of the greatest minds in Western history, the Greek philosopher Aristotle, argued that we become what we habitually do. By changing our habits, we can become more thankful human beings.

If we spend our days ruminating on all that has gone poorly and how dark the prospects for the future appear, we can think ourselves into misery and resentment.

But we can also mold ourselves into the kind of people who seek out, recognize and celebrate all that we have to be grateful for.

This is not to say that anyone should become a Pollyanna, ceaselessly reciting the mantra from Voltaire’s “Candide,” “All is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.” There are injustices to be righted and wounds to be healed, and ignoring them would represent a lapse of moral responsibility.

But reasons to make the world a better place should never blind us to the many good things it already affords. How can we

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 November 2022 at 6:54 pm

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) and Cognitive Decline

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Written by Leisureguy

23 November 2022 at 5:37 pm

A Soil Fungus That Causes Lung Infections Is Spreading Across the U.S.

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I don’t have a garden, but if I did, after reading this article I would definitely wear a face mask when cultivating the soil.

Written by Leisureguy

22 November 2022 at 5:47 pm

Risk of contracting Covid through inhalation vs. touching a contaminated surface

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The risk for Covid infection is 1000 times greater after exposure to airborne virus particles than contact with a contaminated surface. Here’s the study.

Yet stores offer hand sanitizer while customers and staff go unmasked.

It makes you wonder, eh? (And it makes me stay out of stores when I can and always wear a mask when I’m indoors in a public space.)

Written by Leisureguy

19 November 2022 at 2:33 pm

Medical School Culinary Medicine Programs Grow Despite Limited Funding

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About time, one must say. Kelly Ragan writes in Medscape:

Farshad Fani Marvasti, MD, MPH, is part of a growing movement to fundamentally shift medical education to include training on how to cook healthy meals.

The way he sees it, the stakes couldn’t be higher. He believes doctors need to see food as medicine to be able to stem the tide of chronic disease.

About 6 in 10 adults in the United States live with chronic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, costing $4.1 trillion in annual healthcare costs. Adult obesity rates are rising, as are obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroketype 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

To turn the tide, Marvasti created a culinary medicine program in 2020 in collaboration with the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and local chefs.

Marvasti, who is board certified in family medicine, graduated from the University of Arizona, Phoenix, where he serves as the director of the medical school’s Culinary Medicine Program.

The program offers an elective course for third- and fourth-year medical students, which introduces the evidence-based field of culinary medicine. Marvasti’s goal is for the course to teach students how to use this science and the joy of cooking to improve long-term health outcomes for their patients.

As part of Marvasti’s program, students learn cooking fundamentals through chef demonstrations and hands-on practice — to teach students how food can be used to prevent and treat many chronic diseases.

One of the dishes students learn to make includes a quinoa salad made with cucumber, onion, bell peppers, corn, cherry tomatoes, beans, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Another recipe includes a healthier take on dessert: Dark chocolate mousse made with three large, ripe avocados, dark chocolate powder, three tablespoons of agave or maple syrup, coconut cream, nondairy milk, salt, and vanilla. Marvasti and his team are set to build out the existing program to develop additional resources for medically underserved and rural communities in Arizona, according to a statement from the university. These plans will be funded by a $750,000 grant from Novo Nordisk.

“We’re going to develop an open education curriculum to share, so . . .

Continue reading. There’s quite a bit more.

Written by Leisureguy

19 November 2022 at 12:55 pm

Highly processed foods can be considered addictive substances based on established scientific criteria

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Ashley N. Gearhardt and Alexandra G. DiFeliceantonio have an interesting study at Wiley Online Library:

Abstract

Background

There is growing evidence that an addictive-eating phenotype may exist. There is significant debate regarding whether highly processed foods (HPFs; foods with refined carbohydrates and/or added fats) are addictive. The lack of scientifically grounded criteria to evaluate the addictive nature of HPFs has hindered the resolution of this debate.

Analysis

The most recent scientific debate regarding a substance’s addictive potential centered around tobacco. In 1988, the Surgeon General issued a report identifying tobacco products as addictive based on three primary scientific criteria: their ability to (1) cause highly controlled or compulsive use, (2) cause psychoactive (i.e. mood-altering) effects via their effect on the brain and (3) reinforce behavior. Scientific advances have now identified the ability of tobacco products to (4) trigger strong urges or craving as another important indicator of addictive potential. Here, we propose that these four criteria provide scientifically valid benchmarks that can be used to evaluate the addictiveness of HPFs. Then, we review the evidence regarding whether HPFs meet each criterion. Finally, we consider the implications of labeling HPFs as addictive.

Conclusion

Highly processed foods (HPFs) can meet the criteria to be labeled as addictive substances using the standards set for tobacco products. The addictive potential of HPFs may be a key factor contributing to the high public health costs associated with a food environment dominated by cheap, accessible and heavily marketed HPFs.

INTRODUCTION

There is evidence that an eating phenotype exists that reflects the hallmarks of addiction (e.g. loss of control over intake, intense cravings, inability to cut down and continued use despite negative consequences) [1]. Based on meta-analyses, approximately 14% of adults and 12% of children exhibit this addictive-like eating phenotype, commonly called food addiction [23]. Although some have questioned the utility of applying an addiction framework to food intake [47], food addiction is associated with mechanisms implicated in other addictive disorders (e.g. impulsivity, reward dysfunction and emotion dysregulation), as well as a lower quality of life and a poorer response to weight-loss treatments [189]. Controversy exists surrounding the role of the food in triggering this addictive-like eating phenotype. Some propose that it is the act of eating regardless of the type of food consumed that is addicting [10], or that while the type of food is important, it is impossible to classify food as addictive due to the complex nature of foods and the lack of a single addictive agent/compound [45]. Food is necessary for survival and a key evolutionary pressure that has shaped reward and motivation systems across species [1112]. Addictive drugs that deliver high doses of reinforcing substances through rapid delivery systems tap into these systems, potently activate them and can lead to maladaptive patterns of behavior [13]. Highly processed foods (HPFs) are evolutionarily novel products made possible through modern food technology that provide refined and rapidly delivered primary reinforcers, specifically calories in the form of refined carbohydrates and added fats [11416]. The debate that remains concerns whether a refined and optimized delivery system of calories can produce comparative effects to a refined and optimized delivery system of addictive drugs.

The ability to resolve the debate about whether certain foods are addictive is hindered by a lack of identified scientifically based criteria with which to evaluate the addictiveness of certain foods. In contrast, there is a general consensus around the criteria for identifying whether someone is exhibiting an addictive phenotype [17], which has allowed for clearer criteria to guide the investigation into whether certain individuals exhibit addictive-like eating [23]. There is no comparable standard for evaluating if a substance is addictive, which contributes to the conflicting explanations for why certain foods are (or are not) addictive [18].

To allow for progress on this debate, we propose a set of scientifically based criteria for the evaluation of whether certain foods are addictive. Specifically,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 November 2022 at 12:35 pm

How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

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Mass protests against the domination of cars were one factor that led to the superb cycling infrastructure of today’s Netherlands.

From Project for Public Spaces:

Given the reputation of the Netherlands as a cyclists’ paradise, you might think that its extensive cycling infrastructure came down from heaven itself, or was perhaps created by the wave of a magic wand. Not so. It was the result of a lot of hard work, including massive street protests and very deliberate political decision-making.

The video below offers vital historical perspective on the way the Netherlands ended up turning away from the autocentric development that arose with postwar prosperity, and chose to go down the cycle path. It lists several key factors, including public outrage over the amount of space given to automobiles; huge protests over traffic deaths, especially those of children, which were referred to by protesters as “child murder”; and governmental response to the oil crisis of the 1970s, which prompted efforts to reduce oil dependence without diminishing quality of life.

The Netherlands is often perceived as an exceptional nation in terms of its transportation policies and infrastructure. And yet there is nothing inherently exceptional about the country’s situation. As the narrator says at the end of the film, “The Netherlands’ problems were and are not unique. Their solutions shouldn’t be that either.”

You can read more on the blog A View from the Cycle Path.

And find out more about what we can learn from the Netherlands in these recent PPS posts:

“What Can We Learn about Road Safety from the Dutch?”

“Where the Sidewalk Doesn’t End: What Shared Space Has to Share”

“Exiting the ‘Forgiving Highway’ for the ‘Self-Explaining Road'”

Continue reading to see comments on the post.

Written by Leisureguy

19 November 2022 at 3:00 am

Kalettes in a salad

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Salad makings including yellow and orange sweet peppers, scallions baby bok choy, cooked purple potato, raw beet, red cabbage, and kalettess

Pictured above are the raw materials of the salad. Clockwise, starting at lower left corner:

• Several kalettes (what the store called them: infant kale)
• 2 sweet-tooth peppers: 1 yellow, 1 orange
• 1 yellow bell pepper
• 6 thick scallions
• beaker for the dressing (see below)
• red cabbage (I used just one thick slice, shredded)
• Stokes Purple® potato (cooked, from the fridge)
* 3 baby bok choy of a size the store calls “mue” — Infant bok choy
• 2 yellow cayenne peppers
• 1 red beet, raw (which I grated)

Also in the salad but not shown:

• 1/3 cup navy beans from the fridge
• 1/3 cup unpolished little millet from the fridge
• 2 tablespoons roasted unsalted pumpkin seed 

The dressing was made by loading the immersion blender beaker with:

• 1 lemon, peeled
• 2 cloves Russian red garlic, sliced to make blending easier
• 1″ very fresh ginger root, ditto
• about 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
• about 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 teaspoons Dijon honey-balsamic mustard
• dash of tamari
• dash of Frank’s RedHot Xtra Hot sauce
• about 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
• about 1.5 tablespoons chipotle aioli

I cooked the baby bok choy mue: sliced it in half, placed flat-side down in a nonstick skillet sprayed with olive oil, added a little water, covered, and cooked on medium heat for about 5 minutes. 

I like to refrigerate grains, beans, and potatoes after I cook them before I eat or use them in a dish I’m cooking. Refrigerating after cooking makes the starch resistant and not so quickly digested.

Purple potatoes are particularly nutritious.

NY Times quiz I recently blogged said that kale and beets are best eaten raw. Okay.

Kale: 

As with other cruciferous vegetables — like cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage — kale is loaded with compounds called glucosinolates. When you chop or chew kale, an enzyme is released that converts glucosinolates to new compounds called isothiocyanates, which can trigger anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer pathways in the body, Dr. Ho said. Heat from cooking, however, destroys those enzymes, preventing that reaction and making isothiocyanates less available.

Kale also supplies plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants, which are similarly degraded by cooking. One 2018 study also found that various cooking methods like boiling, steaming, microwaving and pressure cooking reduced levels of potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and copper.

There are a couple of workarounds to the enzyme-destruction problem. One is to cut up the cruciferous vegetable and let it rest for 45 minutes to let the enzyme complete its job before cooking the vegetable. Once the reaction is complete, the beneficial compounds are heat-stable.

The other workaround is to go ahead and cook the vegetable, and then at the table add some uncooked cruciferous thing that still has the enzyme active — for example, a little dry mustard powder; or possibly some shredded raw cabbage (as in slaw). Those will provide the still-active enzyme needed for the reaction. 

Beets:

Beets are rich in dietary nitrates, Dr. Michels said, nitrogen-based compounds that have been linked to a range of health benefits, including lower blood pressure. Beets also contain betalains — pigment compounds that give beets their signature deep hue and that have antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and liver protective properties — as well as flavonoids.

But you won’t get as many of these benefits if the beets are overcooked, Dr. Michels said — especially if they are boiled. Studies suggest that boiling can reduce the levels of vitamin C, folateflavonoids and betalains.

I ended up with a lot of salad — enough more another meal or two. So the leftover will got into glass storage containers.

Written by Leisureguy

18 November 2022 at 4:09 pm

Measles outbreak jumps to 7 Ohio daycares, 1 school—all with unvaccinated kids

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An article by Beth Mole in Ars Technica about children paying the price of their parents’ stubborn ignorance. The article begins:

A measles outbreak in Ohio has swiftly expanded, spreading to seven childcare facilities and one school, all with unvaccinated children, according to local health officials. The outbreak highlights the risk of the highly contagious but vaccine-preventable disease mushrooming amid slipping vaccination rates. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Later in the article:

Measles, a virus that spreads via coughing, talking, or simply being in the same room with someone, will infect an estimated 90 percent of unvaccinated people who are exposed. Once infected, symptoms generally show up seven to 14 days later, starting with a high fever that can spike above 104° F, cough, runny nose, and watery eyes. A few days after that, a telltale rash develops.

In the decade before a measles vaccine became available, the CDC estimates that the virus infected 3 to 4 million people in the US each year, killing 400 to 500, hospitalizing 48,000, and causing encephalitis (swelling of the brain) in 1,000.

Measles was declared eliminated from the US in 2000, meaning that—thanks to vaccination—it no longer spreads continuously in the country. But it has not been eradicated worldwide and thus is still brought into the country from time to time by travelers, posing a constant threat of outbreaks in any areas with low vaccination rates. If measles is brought in and continues to spread for more than 12 months, the US will lose its measles elimination status, which it nearly lost in 2019.

A highly effective and safe vaccine against measles has been around for decades. Measles is a bad disease to get — not only does it have its own dangers, it does long-term damage to the immune system, a danger unmentioned in the article.

Written by Leisureguy

17 November 2022 at 10:15 am

Clever Coffee dripper

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A Clever Coffee dripper with coffee brewing inside and lid on top

I mentioned the Clever Coffee dripper in my post yesterday on the many health benefits of coffee — though it’s important to note that those benefits are negated if dairy milk or cream is added to the coffee. If you want that sort of coffee and also its health benefits, then use oat milk or oat creamer instead of dairy. 

I used a link in that post, but I later found a better link that offers more explanation. (I’ve updated the original post.)

Written by Leisureguy

17 November 2022 at 8:04 am

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