Diets and Blood Types???

A naturopath called Peter D’Adamo popularized the idea that a any diet based on blood type could help a person achieve good overall health and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases. For example, it is proposed that those people with type O can tolerate certain meats while those with type A should avoid meat in general. Are there any health benefits associated with this type of diet – vegan or otherwise?

However, research on the effects of a blood type diet is scarce, and the studies available have not proven its effectiveness. For example, the authors of a 2014 study concluded that their findings did not support the claims that a blood type diet provides specific benefits.


Good Advice About Liver Cleanses


Detoxification of the body has been claimed for centuries as being necessary for good heath. It all began with snake oil salesmen that traveled the country in covered  wagons with their tonics and elixirs (potions)  that promised cures for just about any ailment and continues until this day.

Most of the claims are now considered pseudoscience. The following article explains it all. Don’t waste your money – we have our own built-in detoxers – the liver and kidneys will do a great job – that is part of their function in the body. Granted a healthy diet full of plant-based foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help the body carry out these functions. But be skeptical of supplements that promise your liver can be magically transformed to its healthy state. This is where the pseudoscience often promises unfounded claims.


Sugar on the Brain: Using the Glycemic Response

In the not-too-distant past it was assumed that a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate is the carbohydrate and it was thought that all types of carbohydrates has the same effect on blood glucose levels and health, so it didn’t matter what type is consumed. As in a case with many untested assumptions this one fell by the wayside. It is now known that some types of simple and complex carbohydrates in foods elevate blood glucose levels more than do others. This is called the glycemic response. Such differences are particularly important to people with disorders such as insulin resistance and type II diabetes.

What affects the glycemic response?

How quickly and how high blood glucose rises after carbohydrate is consumed is called the glycemic response. It is affected by both the amount and type of carbohydrate eaten and the amount of fat and protein in that food or meal. Because carbohydrate must be digested and absorbed to enter the blood, how quickly a food leaves the stomach and how fast it is digested and absorbed in the small intestine all affect how long it takes glucose to get into the blood.

A shortcoming of the glycemic index is that they are determined for individual foods, but we typically eat meals containing mixtures of foods. Knowing the glycemic index of a specific food does not tell us much about what the true glucose levels will be after eating this food as part of a mixed meal. For example, a bowl of white rice has a high glycemic index, but if the rice is part of a meal that contains chicken and broccoli, the rise in blood glucose is much less.

Refined sugars and starches generally cause a greater glycemic response then refined carbohydrates that contain fiber. The presence of fat and protein also slows stomach emptying, and therefore foods high in these macronutrients generally cause the smaller glycemic response than foods containing sugar or starch alone. For example ice cream is high in sugar but also contains fat and sugar, but it also contains fat and some protein, so causes a smaller rise in blood sugar or lower glycemic response than sorbet, which contains sugar but no fat or protein.

Source: Judith E. Brown, Nutrition Now, 7th Edition

Smolin and Grosvenor, Nutrition: Science and Applications, 3rd Edition

The effects of sugar in the body is currently being investigated particularly as to its effects on the brain. Therefore, it becomes important to understand how we handle sugar and what factors determine its effects on the glycemic response in order to more fully understand how it affects our health. The following article presents an interesting relationship of sugar on the brain and begins to elucidate influence in terms of a possible addiction process. This benefits not us, but more the food industry that often uses this alleged addiction to sell more sugary products.

From Marion Nestle, a Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University and author of books about Food Politics, most recently Unsavory Truth.

“It’s too bad for us that the principal sources of salt, sugar, and fat in the American diets are salty snack foods, sugary soft drinks, and fatty fried foods, respectively, all of them ultraprocessed junk foods deliberately formulated to make it hard for us to stop eating them.”

Source: Marion Nestle in Conversation with Kerry Trueman. Let’s Ask Marion: What You Need to Know about the Politics of Food, Nutrition, and Health. University of California Press, Oakland, California, 2020.


Obesity on the Rise?


The obesity news just keeps getting worse. Along with obesity, many people suffer from diabetes type 2 or pre-diabetes. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 95% of all cases in the United States. It occurs when the body cells lose their sensitivity to insulin, a condition called insulin resistance, or when the amount of insulin secreted is reduced.

Type 2 is considered to be a result of genetic and lifestyle factors such as a diet high in refined carbohydrates or when a person follows a sedentary lifestyle. The incidence is higher among some minority groups. Type 2 may also occur as part of a combination of conditions called metabolic syndrome that includes obesity, elevated blood pressure, altered blood lipid levels (HDL LDL triglyerides). These factors increase the chance of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Often, diabetes type 2 can be prevented if caught early in the disease and with the proper lifestyle modifications. There is a great need in the U.S. for this type of intervention. Ask your doctor for any available information on Prevention Programs in your area or medical community, for example, a certified diabetes educator(CDE), registered dietitian (RD) or a certified health coach.

Source: Smolin and Grosvenor. Nutrition: Science and Applications, 3rd Edition.


Is Red Meat Harmful?

The Red Meat Debate: Use Some Common Sense

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For the past decade or so red and processed meats (beef in particular) has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

The red meat debate continues as we wake up  this morning to the news that consumption of red and processed meats are of little risk to our health.

Back in 2015, an article appeared to agree with the current assessment about red and processed meat and in addition tells us how to deal with the disturbing reports about red and processed meat and heart disease and cancer.

So what can we really believe? The following article first appeared in 2015 and seems to me to take a common sense approach to the debate that never ceases.

Bottom Line – Life is a risk. Eat responsibly. As Michael Pollan says: “Eat Food, Not too much, Mostly Plants.”

If you are a true carnivore, we could add “eat meat in moderation.” Meat has been a traditional part of the American diet since our food culture began. On the other hand, we really don’t need meat at every meal as some think. How about trying some plant sources of protein now and then.? Try a Meatless Monday. Might be fun????


Is Sugar Addictive?

Function: The shell of the nucleus accumbens is involved in the cognitive processing of reward, including subjective “liking” reactions to certain pleasurable stimuli, motivational salience, and positive reinforcement.

Hooked on Food: A Battle in the Brain? The Anatomy of  Food Addiction

One large long-term study published in 2017 addition of Scientific Reports found that men who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar per day are 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men who ate 40 grams or less. Some doctors and researchers even classify sugar as an addictive drug because this refined white crystal triggers the pleasure and reward centers in our brain much like a drug does. One area is called the nucleus accumbens and there are others.

We crave sweetness but it is clear that too much sugar leads to suffering. Large scale studies show that excess sugar consumption can significantly raise the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease as well as new information about Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative brain disorders that thrive on chronic inflammation.

Sugar in the form of glucose provides the body with quick energy. But lately, we’ve gone way beyond the Call of Duty. 200 years ago, the average American ate about 2 pounds of sugar per year. Today we each eat about 152 pounds a year according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. This sharp increase in the consumption of sugar is no mystery. Sugar is cheap, plentiful, and it tastes great.

Doctors are trying to curb our out of control sweets habit. The American Heart Association recommends that adult men consume no more than 38 grams or 9 teaspoons of sugar daily, women only 6 teaspoons, and children even less. The latest draft of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines coming out soon recommends even smaller amounts for daily consumption: no more than 30 grams of added sugar a day for an adult male. However, these numbers fall far below what a typical American actually consumes. An average soda is 39 grams and a bowl of cereal is 20 grams and that’s without dumping more spoonfuls of sugar on top of it.

Is Sugar Addictive?

Why are rats dying just to satisfy its desire for chocolate? A study gave rats unlimited access to standard chow as well as to a mini cafeteria full of appetizing high calorie foods: sausage, cheesecake, chocolate. The rats decreased their intake of the healthy but bland items of its typical rat chow diet and switched to eating the cafeteria food almost exclusively. They gained weight. They became obese.

The researcher then warned the rats as they were eating by flashing a light that they would receive a nasty foot shock. Rats eating the bland chow would quickly stop and scramble away, but time and again the obese rats continued to devour the rich food, ignoring the warning that they had been trained to fear. Their hedonic  desire overruled their basic sense of self preservation.

Did they become “hooked on food”? An inability to suppress a behavior, despite the negative consequences, is common in addiction. Scientists are finding similar compulsiveness in certain people. Almost all obese individuals say they want to consume less, yet they consume or continue to overeat even though they know that doing so can have shockingly negative health or social consequences. Studies show that overeating juices up the reward systems in our brain so much so in some people that it overpowers the brain’s ability to tell them to stop eating when they have had an enough. As with alcoholics and drug addicts, the more they eat the more they want. Whether or not overeating is technically an addiction, if it stimulates the same brain circles as drug use in the same way, people also can possibly be “addicted to food.”

  Our brains maintain a healthy body weight by signaling when to eat and when to stop. Hormones regulate feeding circuits that control appetite and satiety, but fatty sugary foods can motivate some people to overeat. The more they have the more they want, a sensation common in drug addiction.

What to Do? Protein to the Rescue

Many peoples’ relationship with sugar typically starts when they wake up in the morning.  Many start the day with a sweet bowl of cereal or a muffin (at 600 calories) for breakfast. But this pattern can set you up to fail, so many nutritionists recommend to focus more on protein. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar which helps keep you out of fight or flight reactions and protein also provides the building blocks for your brain neurotransmitters including serotonin and dopamine. Many nutritionists advise their patients to eat protein such as eggs, cheese, nuts, peas, beans, and or even a protein shake at least an hour after they get up, and with every meal. If you snack before bed, make sure that it has protein too. Even if we strive to avoid sugar, sweet treats have a way of worming their way into our lives especially during the Holidays. If you have trouble saying no to sweets, it is recommended to eat protein proactively to keep temptations in check.