Nutrition and Lifestyle

We all know (or should know) that getting plenty of sleep is important to normal functioning and health. And sleep deprivation has been associated with an increased risk of obesity in both animals and humans — it results in hyperphagia (increased appetite) and weight gain. But what if you can't get the requisite seven or eight hours on a regular basis? Or what if you're a student who simply has to cram all night before an important exam? The good news is that you can catch up. And the better news is that catching up seems to be associated with less risk of overweight and obesity — at least according to a recent...

What's in a name?

When it comes to encouraging diners to eat healthier – by consuming more vegetables – a new study says how they are described is more important than we might have otherwise thought.

In what basically amounts to an exercise that combines psychology, marketing and food salesmanship in equal parts, researchers learned that if you jazz up the names of vegetable dishes more diners will eat them.

Equally interesting was that giving them healthy-sounding descriptions discouraged consumption, because people perceive those dishes to be less enjoyable and less tasty. Additionally, making vegetable dishes sound more fattening – even when they're not – got consumers to eat more of them, and eat them more often.

Food descriptions that...

It’s not really news that Americans’ level of overweight and obesity is one of the highest, if not the highest in the world, but it is news how the rest of the world is ‘trying’ to catch up. That’s just one aspect of a new report by the GBD 2015 Obesity Collaborators just published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The Global Burden of Disease Study is a global observational epidemiological study that aims to quantify global risks to health from major diseases, injuries and risk factors. It’s run under the auspices of WHO and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Using BMI [1] as their metric, the collaborators assessed data from 195 countries — essentially the global population —...

In my cyber pile of articles was this, Reducing US cardiovascular disease burden and disparities through national and targeted dietary policies: A modeling study by Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard et. al, published in PLoS. The study looks at reducing cardiovascular disease using a variety of models of dietary policy. Using numbers that reflect the reduction in disease prevalence associated with various dietary changes, knowing the population at risk and a few other extrapolated estimates, the authors derived the number of lives 'saved' by dietary intervention. And importantly, this scientific information, back up by statistics and figures was offered to policy makers to make America healthy again....

Remember the TV show “Lassie”? That collie managed to save someone’s life nearly every week. Well, supposedly our current canine companions can also contribute to our health and well-being, although not in such a spectacular way. The bottom line is that owning a dog is good for health in so far as the owner actually takes the pooch on a daily walk, thus increasing both their exercise levels. But apparently, that doesn’t always hold true, as some Australian researchers have found. So they investigated the factors that might change the extent to which owning dogs either motivated or encouraged their owners to move — the Lassie effect.

Dr. C. Westgarth from the University of Liverpol, Leahurst, Australia, and colleagues...

People getting federal food assistance from the SNAP program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly called Food Stamps, can use them to purchase a variety of items as specified in the program instructions:

SNAP benefits can only be used for food and for plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy:

  • Any nonfood item, such as pet foods; soaps, paper products, and household supplies; grooming items, toothpaste, and cosmetics

  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco

  • Vitamins and medicines

  • Any food that will be eaten in the store

  • Hot foods

...

For years nutritionists and nutrition researchers have been warning Americans that we're eating too much sodium/salt. And part of that has been the notice that much of the sodium consumed is not from salt we add at the table, or even in cooking, but from the processed foods we purchase. Well, apparently manufacturers of such foods have been listening, since a new study just published in JAMA Internal Medicine says that the amount of sodium in them dropped significantly between 2000 and 2014.

Drs Jennifer M. Poti, Elizabeth K. Dunford, and Barry M. Popkin from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, used data from the 2014 Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panel to track the amount of sodium in packaged...

Most of us have heard of eating disorders such as binging/purging disorder (commonly known as bulimia) and anorexia, both of which involve unhealthy behaviors towards food. The first involves binge-eating massive amounts of food and then getting rid of it, usually by forcing oneself to vomit. The second involves situations in which the victim perceives that she (very often young females) is too fat — in spite of all objective indications to the contrary — and she literally starves herself to lose the phantom fat. But now we have a new food neurosis— "orthorexia," which is characterized by an obsession with food cleanliness — to the point of not trusting that anyone but the victim can properly prepare food that is "clean" enough. Thus far, orthorexia hasn't been included in the latest (...

OK, EWG, I've perused your website and been warned about the produce with the most pesticide residues, as well as your list of the supposedly "cleanest" ones.  And I know that you don't do the testing for pesticide residues yourselves, but rely on the USDA's Pesticide Data Program (PDP) to report the amounts of various residues on produce.

Based on these findings, you recommend that people "eat organic produce" as much as they can to limit their exposure to these chemicals — even though the amounts are so small that the chance they'd do any harm is truly minuscule. But you seem to mention only residues of synthetic pesticides — thus your...

Strenuous activity often leads to muscle soreness, even for highly trained athletes. Finding a way to reduce this unpleasant consequence of physical activity would be a boon to both professional and amateur sports enthusiasts.

Now, a team of Spanish researchers believes it has discovered a cocktail that reduces such discomfort. Their formula is a combination of watermelon and pomegranate juice enriched with citrulline and ellagitannins. The authors chose these ingredients because they are linked to beneficial metabolic effects and performance enhancement.

For example, citrulline, a non-essential amino acid found in watermelon, helps reduce the accumulation of lactic acid, a major cause of muscle fatigue. Citrulline is also converted to nitric oxide, a chemical that...