How Bad is Fructose? David Despain Interviews Dr. John Sievenpiper

In my article "Is Sugar Fattening?", I discussed a recent review paper on fructose, by Dr. John Sievenpiper and colleagues (1).  It was the most recent of several review papers to conclude that fructose is probably not inherently fattening in humans, but that it can be fattening if it's consumed to excess, due to the added calories.  Dr. Sievenpiper and colleagues have also written other papers addressing the metabolic effects of fructose, which appear to be fairly minor unless it's consumed to excess (2, 3, 4, 5).  The senior author on these studies is Dr. David Jenkins at McMaster University.  David Despain, a science and health writer who publishes a nice blog called Evolving Health, recently interviewed Dr. Sievenpiper about his work.

It's an interesting interview and very timely, due to the recent attention paid to fructose in the popular media. This has mostly been driven by a couple of high-profile individuals-- an issue they discuss in the interview.  The interview, recent papers, and sessions at scientific conferences are part of an effort by researchers to push back against some of the less well founded claims that have received widespread attention lately.

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Sneaky Causes of Overeating

The meals we know and love need an overhaul, according to the latest dietary guidelines. Fast foods, the "empty" calories in desserts, sweet drinks, and more have helped to fatten the nation -- making two-thirds of adults overweight or obese. Yet, the solution is within reach: Know the worst offenders, substitute better foods, and use a few portion-control tricks -- pictured in the slides to come.

Secrets of Healthy Eating and Portion Control

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

Recently, Chris Kresser published a series on dietary salt (sodium chloride) and health (1).  One of the issues he covered is the effect of salt on blood pressure.  Most studies have shown a relatively weak relationship between salt intake and blood pressure.  My position overall is that we're currently eating a lot more salt than at almost any point in our evolutionary history as a species, so I tend to favor a moderately low salt intake.  However, there may be more important factors than salt when it comes to blood pressure, at least in the short term. 

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Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part III

In previous posts, I reviewed some of the evidence suggesting that human evolution has accelerated rapidly since the development of agriculture (and to some degree, before it).  Europeans (and other lineages with a long history of agriculture)  carry known genetic adaptations to the Neolithic diet, and there are probably many adaptations that have not yet been identified.  In my final post in this series, I'll argue that although we've adapted, the adaptation is probably not complete, and we're left in a sort of genetic limbo between the Paleolithic and Neolithic state. 

Recent Genetic Adaptations are Often Crude

It may at first seem strange, but many genes responsible for common genetic disorders show evidence of positive selection.  In other words, the genes that cause these disorders were favored by evolution at some point because they presumably provided a survival advantage.  For example, the sickle cell anemia gene protects against malaria, but if you inherit two copies of it, you end up with a serious and life-threatening disorder (1).  The cystic fibrosis gene may have been selected to protect against one or more infectious diseases, but again if you get two copies of it, quality of life and lifespan are greatly curtailed (2, 3).  Familial Mediterranean fever is a very common disorder in Mediterranean populations, involving painful inflammatory attacks of the digestive tract, and sometimes a deadly condition called amyloidosis.  It shows evidence of positive selection and probably protected against intestinal disease due to the heightened inflammatory state it confers to the digestive tract (4, 5).  Celiac disease, a severe autoimmune reaction to gluten found in some grains, may be a by-product of selection for protection against bacterial infection (6).  Phenylketonuria also shows evidence of positive selection (7), and the list goes on.  It's clear that a lot of our recent evolution was in response to new disease pressures, likely from increased population density, sendentism, and contact with domestic animals.

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Avengers Workout: How to Get Superhero Fit

How did the actors in "The Avengers" get their superhero 
physiques? 3 celebrity trainers dish their secrets.

The Avengers are superheroes, but the actors who play them are not. So how did they achieve their amazing onscreen physiques? Through intense workouts, not special effects.

All the best in Health and Fitness
~ Sue

Beyond Ötzi: European Evolutionary History and its Relevance to Diet. Part II

In previous posts, I described how Otzi was (at least in large part) a genetic descendant of Middle Eastern agriculturalists, rather than being purely descended from local hunter-gatherers who adopted agriculture in situ.  I also reviewed evidence showing that modern Europeans are a genetic mixture of local European hunter-gatherers, incoming agricultural populations from the Middle East, neanderthals, and perhaps other groups.  In this post, I'll describe the evidence for rapid human evolution since the end of the Paleolithic period, and research indicating that some of these changes are adaptations to the Neolithic (agricultural/horticultural/pastoral) diet.

Humans have Evolved Significantly Since the End of the Paleolithic

Evolution by natural selection leaves a distinct signature in the genome, and geneticists can detect this signature tens of thousands of years after the fact by comparing many genomes to one another.  A landmark paper published in 2007 by Dr. John Hawks and colleagues showed that humans have been undergoing "extraordinarily rapid recent genetic evolution" over the last 40,000 years (1).  Furthermore:
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Media Appearances

Last October, I participated in a panel discussion organized by the Harvard Food Law Society in Boston.  The panel included Drs. Walter Willett, David Ludwig, Robert Lustig, and myself, with Corby Kummer as moderator.  Dr. Willett is the chair of the Harvard Department of Nutrition; Dr. Ludwig is a professor of nutrition and pediatrics at Harvard; Dr. Lustig is a professor of clinical pediatrics at UCSF; and Kummer is a food writer and senior editor for The Atlantic
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Dr. Oz. – “Drink Yourself Skinny”

They teach you how to eat less and lose weight quickly and permanently – and the right shake can boost your metabolism by 25%. 

Who doesn't need that?

The fact is, when you’re trying to lose body fat, you can’t skip breakfast – but you may be too busy to think about calories and to make healthy choices.
That’s why drinking a protein shake first thing in the morning is a simple, foolproof weight-loss method. When you drink the right protein shake, you give your body the nutrients it needs and you can also:

Boost your metabolic rate by 25%. Save calories by avoiding fatty foods -  
(if you drink a shake for breakfast, you can save an average of 400 calories per day).

Keep your blood sugar levels balanced, allowing your body to burn stored fat as fuel.

Increase your energy levels, which enable you to increase your activity and automatically burn more calories.

Why do meal replacements or protein shakes for breakfast work? 

Simply put, weight loss occurs when your metabolism gets moving and you put out more calories than you take in. 

If you were to replace your 750-calorie bagel and orange juice meal with a 155-calorie protein shake, you’d save 595 calories per day. And you’d see the results on your bathroom scale in no time.

We can’t be perfect all the time, so we need calorie safe havens that keep us anchored while we learn how to eat correctly. 

Protein shakes that contain nutrients offer those safe havens. Most people love them because they don’t have to think about food, plan meals or buy expensive products. 

You can even make them yourself. 

To start, try one of my favourite recipes: a Mocha Madness Shake that tastes amazing.

Mocha Madness Shake

300mls of cold water /skim milk (water 0 calories – skim milk 67calories)
1 scoop of Appetizer Chocolate Shake (111 calories)
1 tsp of granulated instant coffee. (4 calories)
5 ice cubes

Blend and enjoy!

Drink yourself skinny!
~ Sue

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