Nutrition and Lifestyle

Another one bites the dust. 

At some point perhaps dietary supplement fans are going to wonder why they spent so much money on a bunch of stuff which ended up being useless once properly evaluated in human trials. Probably just about the time that Niagara Falls changes direction. Which would make it a whole lot easier for the fish to swim upstream.

Note the clever segue into fish (1), which was not irrelevant because an article in the latest JAMA has a message for all of you who took the bait (2) and went hook, line, and sinker (3) for fish oil because it was supposed to protect your heart - it doesn't.

The article. "Another Nail in the Coffin for Fish Oil Supplements" summarizes the results of a...

 

If you ask a chemist "What element with a one-letter symbol should really have a five-letter symbol instead?" many would say sulfur.

 

Its atomic symbol is S, but one could argue that "tink" should be tacked on to the "S" because many sulfur-containing chemicals are all kinds of nasty. Take a sniff at these...

 

  1. Methanethiol (aka methyl mercaptan) -1 of the 3 chemicals that give farts their lovely essence
  2. Hydrogen sulfide and dimethyl sulfide - The other 2
  3. Isoamyl mercaptan - One of the components expelled from a skunk's anal gland. 

...

Food waste occurs everywhere along the food chain from farm to table, and some estimates suggest that a quarter of the planet could be fed a substantial diet just from food waste. A recent paper sought to characterize food waste at the consumer level concerning both diet and its environmental costs. They created their estimates using a variety of datasets covering what we eat, its composition and nutritional value and what we waste at the consumer level. [1] Waste was defined as both the inedible portions of food, like a carrot peel and the amount left on the plate.

Environmental costs were based on the US Foodprint Model that uses food requirements and subsequently models the land and...

Alcohol is bad again. Sometimes, epidemiologists tell us it's good, but today, they're telling us it's bad. What else is bad? The study that arrived at that conclusion.

Published in The Lancet -- a journal that has shown a worrisome trend in sensationalizing unremarkable research -- a new paper concludes (and advertises prominently in its abstract) that consuming an additional 100 grams of alcohol per week (roughly an additional one drink per day) increases a person's risk of stroke, coronary disease, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease, and fatal aortic aneurysm.

The media, as usual, put the results into proper context, discussing the...

The Environmental Working Group has once again released their Dirty Dozen list — the fruits and veggies they say are covered in pesticides. One minor detail: organic produce contains pesticides, too, but that doesn't quite fit their narrative.

All of us diet soda aficionados have had this experience at least once, right? Sitting in a restaurant with a group of people and ordering a Diet Coke only to be rewarded with a look of disgust or derisive comment from one or more "healthy eaters." It's always the same -  "that's just a bunch of chemicals!" (with appropriate vitriol). You'd think I ordered a plate of sauteed yak scrotum. 

Well, I'm perfectly happy with my bottle of chemicals, since, as I have written numerous times (1), aspartame is one of the least toxic substances on earth. It's so safe that its lethal dose can't really be measured, but it is at least 50-times less toxic in rats than, let's say, caffeine.

LD50 (MPK)a...

In our latest #KuriousKiddos segment, Elliot and Sullivan want to know whether or not the legend of swallowing gum is true.. Will you become part Wrigley if you swallow the rubbery goodness?

"Attn:" is an activist website that produces extremely popular videos, some of which feature the esteemed scientist (all actors consider themselves scientists) Zooey Deschanel. And like most activist websites, truth comes in a distant second place to eyeballs.

One video making the rounds on Facebook is titled, "Processed Food in America vs. Europe." The video pushes the old trope that Europeans eat food hand-picked from the Garden of the Gods, while Americans eat slop filled with dangerous chemicals. So far, it's received 62 million views.

The lies come early and often. Let's break them down:

"Processed food contains chemicals that are illegal in Europe."...

It is Easter, and all of our thoughts turn to candy as we spend $2.1 billion, roughly $28 per person. In keeping with our mandate to promote science and health, I thought I would share the typical numbers found in the lay press in a more ‘scientific’ format.

Introduction

While our minds “know” that candy is not especially nutritious, we nonetheless use our wallets to purchase plenty of it for Easter. A meta-analysis of various online sources was used to quantify this behavior.

Methods

From a survey data of a sampling of individuals queried on their confectionary purchases, we can provide the following information. (Please note that calories were taken from a meta-analysis of food labels [1] and these values were used to...

As every educated foodie knows, one of the world's best superfoods is quinoa. The only problem is that there's no such thing as a superfood, and there's nothing particularly unique about quinoa.

"Superfoods" are supposedly extremely healthy foods, and everyone from Dr. Oz to "Crazy Joe" Mercola has written articles about which ones you should be eating. That's a gigantic red flag. If snake oil salesmen are trying to make money by telling you which vegetables are especially magical, then the odds are that they are pushing hype rather than science.

Take blueberries, for example, which are considered by many to be a "superfood." Without a doubt,...