How to Beat Back Cravings When Just Seeing Sweets Makes You Lust for Them

Do you get “weak in the willpower” when office donuts arrive? Ever scarfed down that last slice or two of your favorite cake, or a homemade brownie, or that leftover Halloween candy that your colleagues keep bringing in to work after you’ve checked your hunger level and told self, “nope, not hungry at all?” Then, I’m going to assume that you are well aware that sweat treats, when insight, can lead to severe sugar cravings. Foods that are bathed primarily in fat, sugar, flavors, and additives are known as hyper-palatable, and these foods release dopamine, a neurotransmitter released when neurons are triggered. Dopamine is the driving factor to your consumption of that sweet treat staring at you.

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“A lot of people don’t make the connection that there’s something physiological happening when they see hyper-palatable foods,” says Eliza Kingsford, a psychotherapist. “This is not a signal that your body is hungry or needs nutrients; instead, it is a response to dopamine.” It is possible; however, to control cravings. Walking past the cookie jar or the ice cream isle can be bearable with a few tips and tricks.

Step 1: Keep moving

Cut ties with those yummy desserts. Instead of watching your favorite Food Network show, put in a non-food movie. See caramel and chocolate while surfing the net? Click on the link to pay bills in your favorites bar. The candy jar at work? Don’t walk past it and if you have to, phone a friend.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as out of sight, out of mind,” says Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet. “Distancing yourself can lessen the craving.”

Step 2: Distract yourself

You made it out alive after passing the cookie jar and not giving in, but you still have a sweet tooth craving, so what do you do? You set the mind on anything besides sugar, suggests Gans. Phone a friend, study something (there is always new research to be learned), brush your teeth. “You want to do anything besides sitting there and thinking about the food,” says Gans.

Step 3: Get mindful

It is inevitable that situations and events will arise where you can’t turn or run away from food, like a mad person; this is when mindfulness comes in handy. Take a breath, slow down, and get in touch with how the craving feels. Is the desire really what you want? The choice is yours. Image result for How to Beat Back Cravings When Just Seeing Sweets Makes You Lust for Them

Step 4: Relish every bite

Unfortunately, this step doesn’t work for everyone. If you’re like me and have ever devoured an entire pint or more of cookie dough ice cream or any ice cream or any sweet bite, then you are likely in the “unfortunate” category. However, if you have the willpower to stop after that small bite, I truly admire you, and you are exempt from the “unfortunate” class! For the rest of us, try to keep your attention on the mouthfeel and sweetness. If you want to make it more pleasurable, shout from the rooftops, “I love how the frosting and whipped cream melts on my tongue, and that cake is so moist!”

Step 5: Set realistic guidelines

Ok, you know you’re heading into a temptation zone, like Halloween; however, surrendering yourself to the candy jar or the Halloween stash brought in by the youngens probably won’t work. So, make a few rules, such as one small piece daily and don’t veer from that rule.

Step 6: Make a negative association

Are you triggered by fluffy pancakes or melting ice cream sandwich ads on TV? Consider the reality behind those commercials, says Kingsford: “There are billions of dollars poured into the marketing industry to elicit food cravings,” she says. “But what you see in those images is sprayed-on lacquer, crazy chemicals to make foods melt a certain way, dyes and markers, and weird lighting. Would you eat that? No, that’s disgusting.”

Step 7: Reflect on how you will feel if you give in

Ask yourself,  “Do I really want this sugar bomb?” If yes, then ask, “Will I feel shame and guilt if I eat it?” If you are still stuck, go back to question 1 “Do I really, really want this sweet goody?” After you have made it this far into the thought process, your mind is ready to move to the next subject and say “toodles” to that dessert.

The finale: Keep a healthier version of a favorite treat on hand.

If your mouth waters every time your co-worker opens a bag of M&Ms, try packing your own clean treat, so you don’t feel deprived, such as a granola bar, yogurt, fruit. And if it’s baked goods you crave, bring a homemade version of the “clean” treat sweetened with maple syrup instead of refined sugar.

You can do! Have faith and believe in yourself and know one set back is not a lifetime of regret. You are human so live life and enjoy it! You never know when the next challenge will hit.

Nutritional Nugget

Take grains on the go! Popcorn, whole-grain rice cakes, and crackers are convenient, on-the-go snacks. Be sure to make at least half your grains whole.

WODal Nugget

Invigorate: To give strength and/or energy to something or someone

Inspirational Nugget

And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, "This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!" And each day, it's up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, "No. This is what's important." - Iain Thomas, I Wrote This For You

“Pleasant and unpleasant situations are both part of our lives that is inevitable.”

~ Me

 

Should you be drinking kombucha?

Soft drink sales are falling, but kombucha sales are rising! Homebrewers have been producing this favored fermented drink for thousands of years, and increasingly we see kombucha on the drink menus at restaurants, on tap in cafes and health food stores, and in supermarkets. So what is it? Is it good for us? Is all kombucha created equal????

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What is kombucha, exactly?

Traditionally, it is a drink produced by fermenting sweet tea, resulting in a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (S.C.O.B.Y.). During the process, sugar is converted from yeast and produces alcohol. The bacteria then convert the alcohol to organic acids, such as acetic acid, and the lightly effervescent, mildly sour, refreshing drink, kombucha, is created. You often find it bottled in flavors like ginger, passionfruit, lemon, and raspberry. Kombucha is touted, not only for its low sugar content but also for its health benefits, such as stimulating the immune system, preventing cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

And with Coca-Cola buying into the kombucha craze, it’s only going to increase in mainstream popularity.

Is it good for me?

With all the hype, it’s understandable to wonder if kombucha is something you should be drinking on a regular basis. There are many reported beneficial effects of kombucha, and some brands even suggest you should drink a bottle each day to reap the benefits.

Kombucha certainly has a lot going on:

  • It contains live cultures of bacteria and yeast, which can act as probiotics, and studies have concluded that these live microorganisms may benefit their host by protecting against diseases, improving digestion, and enhancing immune function.
    The organic acids produced during the fermentation process have been shown to slow the growth of pathogenic bacteria, such as Staph aureus, Salmonella, and E. coli.
  • Because Kombucha is made from tea, it contains polyphenols (naturally occurring plant chemicals) known as catechins, which have antioxidant properties and can protect or act against some cancers, tumors, and unwanted genetic changes.

Kombucha is a potential source for a range of bioactive components, and these components can significantly differ based on the quantity and types of sugar and tea used, the microorganisms presents, and fermenting temperature and time.
Whether these bioactive components make it into the gut in sufficient numbers to have a beneficial impact is up for debate and varies based on an individuals gut flora. According to senior research scientist Dr. Michael Conlon, who specializes in diet and gut health, “The health potential of probiotics more generally can vary depending on the number and type of microbes, what you consume them with, and the composition of your gut microflora. It’s likely the number of microbes in kombucha would be much lower than what you might see in a commercial probiotic product.” He added that “fermentation generates certain types of acid and other bioactive compounds that can be beneficial, but whether they get through to the large bowel so that a benefit can be gained is unknown.”

Research regarding the claimed benefits has mostly been studied on animals. Conlon continues with “there’s a lack of scientific evidence from human clinical trials to support the claims, and more research is needed.” Image result for should you be drinking kombucha

But, what about the sugar?

Throughout the fermentation process, most of the sugar is consumed by the yeast, and any residual left is based on fermenting time. As per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a product can only be labeled “low sugar” if it contains 25% less sugar that it’s original brand or no more than 0.5g to be labeled “sugar-free.” The sugar content per an 8 oz bottle of most unflavored kombucha products is roughly 2-6g. Those that favor more on the sweeter side are still a better choice; when compared to the standard soft drink, Coca-Cola (39g sugar per 12oz), Orange Juice (9g per 3.5oz), Gatorade (6g per 3.5 oz), Lipton Mango Ice Tea (11g per 8.5oz), Glaceau Vitamin Water (32g per 20oz). Sugary drinks provide excess calories, and excess calories may lead to obesity, weight gain, some types of cancer, type-2-diabetes, and heart disease, to name a few. Therefore, the increased availability of lower sugar alternatives, like kombucha, can make a real difference, and for someone with a coke-a-day habit that adds up to a whopping 12,700g.

Does it contain alcohol?

Some alcohol remains in kombucha after the fermentation process, but it’s usually in trace amounts, and because it is sold as a soft drink it needs to comply with state-based alcohol legislation and labeled with its alcohol content (less than 0.5% alcohol by volume in the United States). However, controlling the fermentation to achieve a product with just enough acidity and sweetness, and ensuring the alcohol content meets state-based regulations is a balancing act, one that’s particularly tricky when producing on a large scale. There have been occurrences where the alcohol content went a little wild, and products were recalled. In 2010, the grocery chain, Whole Foods Market, (now owned by Amazon), recalled all kombucha products on its shelves including multimillion-dollar brand leader GT’s Kombucha, when samples tested were found to be more alcoholic than labeled.

When kombucha is not getting recalled, its minimal alcohol content can be a significant drawcard. The non-alcoholic options may be limited in pubs and bars, you may not like soft drinks and get tired of drinking juice and sparkling water, so Kombucha may be a good alternative. Although it is low in alcohol, its tart, lightly acidic flavor profile and palate-cleansing properties make it a drink that readily complements food, much like wine. Who knows, maybe you can reduce your alcohol consumption by pairing kombucha with your favorite foods instead of that glass of wine (but, let me know how that works out if you do make the swap).

Should I drink it?

Kombucha may be touted as ‘an immortal health elixir, a ‘living superfood’ that’s ‘rich in antioxidants and acids, and has the potential for containing beneficial health properties. But there is no guarantee that these features directly translate into actual health benefits or that drinking it will ‘make you feel great.’ A claim that ‘it harmonizes your body, mind and spirit’ is puffery. However, if you like the taste, you’re looking for an exciting alternative to alcohol or sugary soft drinks, or you don’t mind the price tag (roughly $5-10 per 16oz bottle in the supermarket), kombucha may be the drink for you.

Is all kombucha created equal?

Currently, there is no standard definition for kombucha, so products sold can vary widely. Compared to traditional recipes, kombucha sold in supermarkets, etc. have little similarities. Producers have gone into “overdrive” in production because of high demand. To make sure you “get what you pay for,” check drink labels and educate yourself:

  • Ingredients? If you see live cultures floating at the top, that is a good indicator the drink is made from a S.C.O.B.Y. but take caution with ingredients like “kombucha extract.”
  • Reefer? Refrigeration prevents further fermentation, which can affect the taste and produce more alcohol, so if the kombucha you buy does not require refrigeration, it may have been pasteurized. While this can help control the alcohol content and extend shelf life, the drink will likely have fewer active microorganisms as a result. Always refrigerate the fermented beverage before consumption, unless it has been pasteurized. However, although yeast has been filtered and the alcohol content is stabilized, at warmer temperatures, any remaining yeast, and other microbes can still grow and be active, posing a health risk.
  • ETOH content? Research the company to see how often they sample their product’s alcohol contents. Some companies may check the content of each batch or less frequently, such as once a year.
  • Added sweeteners? One of the main ingredients needed to make kombucha is sugar, but this is mostly used up during fermentation. Some products may contain non-nutritive sweeteners erythritol and stevia that make the kombucha taste sweeter without adding calories, which may or may not appeal depending on your stance on added sweeteners.
  • Outrageous health claims? Therapeutic claims are not permitted on foods, and if a company wants to state on the label that its kombucha has a specific health effect, the claim has to be one of those pre-approved under the FDA. The product, also, must meet certain conditions, and if you see a claim that “seems to good to be true,” it probably is.

Is Kombucha safe?

According to U.S. federal laws and regulations, kombucha is considered a traditional food. In other words, it does not require pre-approval, and there are no specific quality controls or manufacturing practices for it (as long as the alcohol content is not above 0.5% or continues to ferment after bottling), other than the general requirement under the FDA that it be safe and suitable. In 1995 the possibility of toxic effects and acidosis when consumed in large quantities became a public concern after two incidents in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); however, both parties had severe pre-existing conditions that made them susceptible to acidosis. The investigations concluded that kombucha is not harmful when consumed in small quantities (roughly 4 ounces daily) unless of course, you have pre-existing conditions. In 2010, some commercial producers were forced to recall unpasteurized versions from grocery store shelves when the alcohol content exceeded 0.5%.

Yes, kombucha poses a higher risk when not prepared correctly but most forms of this fermented food represent a relatively low threat. The popularity and commercialization of the brewed drinks are increasing and with growth and the “popular vote,” comes work in promoting best manufacturing practices.

Nutritional Nugget

How do you like your apples? Sweet, crisp apples can be paired with almost anything! Dip into peanut butter for a quick snack or toss in a salad for that perfectly sweet crunch.

WODal Nugget

Melisma: A group of notes sung to one syllable of text

Inspirational Nugget

God's plan is always the best. Sometimes the process is painful and hard. But don't forget that when God is silent, He is doing something good for you.

 

Pain is an inevitable part of human life, as is pleasure. The difference with pain; however, is – we have to grow up to the fact, mature to the fact, and relax to the fact that there will be pain in our lives, but there should also be a good balance of pleasure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight loss after bariatric surgery can improve heart health

In overweight and obese people, fat often gets deposited into the midsection of the body. Large amounts of this belly fat can lead to unhealthy changes in a heart’s function and size. However, according to new findings presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 2017, a bariatric surgical procedure, and the weight loss that follows it, actually may allow the heart to return to its natural shape and function.

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When a person lifts weights, pushing against resistance, their muscles eventually get bigger. The same is true for the heart muscle. When a person is overweight, the heart has to generate more force to pump even more blood throughout the body. This extra workload causes the heart muscle to grow bigger, but contrary to what some people think, a bigger heart muscle does not mean a stronger heart. In fact, the larger the heart, the less efficacious it is in fulfilling its functions.

“We know that obesity is the most prevalent disease in the United States. And that the cardiovascular system is significantly affected by this disease process,” said lead study author Raul J. Rosenthal, MD, FACS, chairman, Department of General Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida. “But we wanted to know to what degree the shape of the heart changes in someone who is obese, what the heart looks like in someone after having bariatric surgery and losing weight, and how that change in geometry affects heart functionality.” For this study, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic reviewed data on 51 obese men and women who underwent bariatric surgery between 2010 and 2015. The analysis included factors such as body mass index (BMI) and coexisting health problems. The average age of the patients was 61 years, and the average BMI was 40; approximately 100 pounds overweight.

To better understand the impact of a bariatric operation and weight loss on heart health, the researchers compared preoperative and postoperative echocardiography readings. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart that measures not only its size and geometry but also its function. An echocardiogram measures how much blood is in the heart, how much blood goes out of the heart, and how much blood remains in the heart. One year after bariatric surgery, the researchers found significant improvements in patients’ heart health. Nearly half of the patients had hearts that had gone back to their natural shape or geometry. They also found that there was a significant improvement in the size of the ventricles: On average these chambers of the heart decreased in size by 15.7 percent (left ventricle mass: 229 grams before surgery; 193 grams after surgery. Left ventricular wall diameter: 60.1 mm before surgery; 53.7 mm after surgery.)Related image

Larger chambers lose some of their pumping power. This loss means that more blood stays in the heart, and ultimately increases a person’s risk of heart failure. “When the size of the chambers gets bigger, and the walls of the heart get thicker, the blood flow to the heart is not as good, the functionality of the heart is not as good, and the heart itself doesn’t get enough blood,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “The whole body suffers because there is less blood going to your feet and to your toes and to your brain.” This study is the beginning of a series of studies that will be conducted by these researchers over the next few years. They will perform follow up studies to find out what the window is in which losing weight allows the heart to go back to its normal geometry.

“We don’t know if being obese for 20 years and having changes in your heart geometry is different from being obese for 10 years,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “The question is: Will the heart always come back to normal? It could be if you wait too long, the changes in your heart are irreversible.”

Adapted by: American College of Surgeons. “Weight loss after bariatric surgery can improve heart health: Significant improvements in heart shape and function can happen one year after an operation for weight loss.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171024232822.htm>

Nutritional Nugget

Take a walk instead! Replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. Ask a friend or colleague to join you.

WOD Nugget

Relume: Relight or rekindle (a light, flame, etc.)

Inspirational Nugget

I smile because I have survived everything the world has thrown at me. I smile because when I was knocked down I got back up.

“Ego could be defined as whatever covers up basic goodness. From an experiential point of view, what is ego covering up? It’s covering up our experience of just being here, just fully being where we are so that we can relate with the immediacy of our experience. Egolessness is a state of mind that has complete confidence in the sacredness of the world. It is unconditional well-being, an unconditional joy that includes all the different qualities of our experience.”

~Pema ChÖdrÖn

 

 

Genetics may put a person at risk of high triglycerides, but adopting a healthy diet can help

Triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood, are essential for good health. However, having high triglycerides might increase a person’s risk of heart disease, and could be a sign of metabolic syndrome, a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and too much fat accumulation at the waist. People with metabolic syndrome have increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

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A new study from nutrition researchers at the University of Illinois shows that some individuals with variations of a “gene of interest” may be at an even higher risk of developing high triglycerides. Specifically, researchers looked at genetics and risk in a group of young Mexican adults. Despite genetic predisposition, the study shows that maintaining healthy body weight or changing diet can help reverse the risk. Katie Robinson, a former doctoral student in the U of I Division of Nutritional Sciences and fellow of the I-TOPP program, explains that the study is a collaboration between the University of Illinois and the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi in Mexico (UASLP), also known as UP AMIGOS. “Obesity is a growing problem in the U.S. and Mexico. In the U.S., obesity affects over a third of our population. We’re concerned because obesity is associated with other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high triglycerides,” Robinson explains. Compared to Caucasian groups, Hispanics in the U.S. have higher rates of type 2 diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. Of all Hispanic subgroups, those of Mexican heritage have one of the highest risks for obesity and associated diseases.”

The UP AMIGOS project addresses genetic and environmental factors associated with obesity and related conditions among younger adults in Mexico. “A lot of existing data are from Caucasian cohorts, which means we needed to replicate and better understand those findings in groups with different ethnicities. That’s the main goal of the UP AMIGOS project. “It was a great opportunity that we were able to look at this rich data set from young Mexican adults because we know that this population has a greater likelihood of developing not only obesity but also high triglycerides and diabetes,” Robinson adds. For the current study, Robinson was interested in a protein made in the liver called fetuin-A (FetA). “It’s an interesting marker connecting inflammation with obesity and its associated diseases,” she says. “FetA is a protein that is released from adipose tissue and also the liver. We know FetA is integral to insulin sensitivity, and that’s where most of the research has been done to look at its function.

“We also know that FetA is elevated in obesity and diabetes. Therefore, we were interested in looking at the genetic implication. If there are alterations or single nucleotide polymorphisms within the gene that codes for FetA, does that change somebody’s risk for obesity or the associated diseases?” To answer that, the researchers looked at bloodwork from 641 young Mexican adults to analyze biomarkers and genotypes. They also checked body mass index (BMI), took measurements of fasting glucose levels, and had the participants report on their dietary habits. From the genotyping, they were explicitly looking for occurrences of two mutations of the gene, AHSG, a gene that influences the protein FetA. They were interested in the association of those gene mutations with dietary intake, weight, and also biological markers of health.

The AHSG polymorphisms were found to be associated with triglycerides. Robinson explains the most critical finding is that one of these polymorphisms, or mutations, was associated with higher circulating triglycerides, but that correlation was very dependent on BMI and dietary intake, the relationship was exaggerated in individuals who were overweight. “So with an elevated BMI, we saw greater disorder within those carrying the risk genotype. But if these individuals who had the high-risk AHSG genotype had a lower BMI, their triglycerides were lower. It suggests that even if you carry the high-risk genotype, you don’t have a greater risk of high triglycerides if you can maintain a normal BMI or a lower BMI, which I think is a positive finding when we look at genetics.”

Robinson says diet also played a role in higher triglycerides. “Higher carbohydrate intake, specifically sugar or sucrose intake, was associated with elevated triglycerides. This association was mainly in one genotype group. The thought was perhaps these individuals are more sensitive to certain diets than the other genotype groups.” Regardless of genotype, elevated BMI was associated with higher triglycerides. Due to the relationship between FetA and diabetes, the researchers also wanted to see if there was an association with AHSG mutations and glucose, but surprisingly, they did not find any.

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While the study looked at relatively healthy young adults in a Mexican population, results were different than what has been observed in previous research from Caucasian groups. Robinson explains that they might have seen different results if they had looked at older Mexican adults with poorer health. Some good news from the study’s findings is that maintaining a healthy body weight often can overcome the effects of gene related metabolic disease and type 2 diabetes. “We know that genes aren’t everything,” Robinson says. “There are a lot of things we can do, behaviorally, to change our individual risk. It’s a silver lining in our research. We can’t modify our genetics, but we can modify our epigenomes and some behaviors. You can still have positive health outcomes.”

The results are also significant for the future of developing personalized nutrition as interventions for disease, Robinson says. “In practical terms, it would be ideal to start by understanding someone’s basic biology, which may influence how they’re metabolizing and utilizing the nutrients they are eating. It would be great to bring people in, find out where their biology is at, and then tailor a diet for them, but we need a lot more research before we get to that point.” Margarita Teran-Garcia, assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences and the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at U of I adds, “In order to advance the full potential of precision medical and nutritional sciences, there is a need to invest and create new sustained resources, financial and technological, to build the evidence base needed to guide clinical practice and strategic planning in public health.”

Adapted from:  Katie N. Robinson, Itzel Vazquez-Vidal, Courtney Marques, Flavia Cristina Drumond Andrade, Celia Aradillas-Garcia, Margarita Teran-Garcia. Circulating Triglycerides and the Association of Triglycerides with Dietary Intake Are Altered by Alpha-2-Heremans-Schmid Glycoprotein PolymorphismsJournal of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, 2017; 75 DOI: 10.1159/00047

Nutrition Nugget

Model healthy habits! Adults who choose low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt show kids that dairy is an important part of a healthy eating style. When kids model this behavior, their growing bones will thank you.

WOD Nugget

Bitts: A pair of posts on the deck of a ship for fastening mooring lines or cables.

Inspiration Nugget

Sometimes all it takes is one small prayer to change someone's life.

 “When you come from the view that you’re fundamentally good rather than fundamentally flawed, as you see yourself speak or act out, as you see yourself repress, you will have a growing understanding that you’re not a bad person who needs to shape up but a good person with temporary, malleable habits that are causing you a lot of suffering. And then, in that spirit, you can become very familiar with these temporary but strongly embedded habits. We all carry around trunk loads of old habits, but very fortunately for us, they’re removable.”

~Pema ChÖdrÖn

 

 

Sugary drink sales plummeted after price increase, study says

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From Colombia to South Africa, France to India, governments around the globe are exploring whether taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) might curb obesity rates. Do these fines actually work to prevent people from choosing sweet drinks? Adding a small fee to the price tag of SSB’s at one UK restaurant chain most likely contributed to a decline in their sales, according to a study (published Oct. 2017) in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Jamie’s Italian, a chain created by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, launched its own health campaign in September 2015. Along with adding 10 pence (about 13 cents) per drink to SSB, the chain offered new lower-sugar beverages and redesigned its menus.

After the fee was introduced, the chain observed an 11% decline in the number of sugar-sweetened beverages sold per customer during the first 12 weeks, according to the researchers. Over a six-month period, after the levy was charged, the number of sugary drinks had declined by 9.3% per customer. “Sugar taxes are currently prevalent policies to curb obesity rates and improve population diet,” said Steven Cummins, senior author of the study and a professor of population health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “There’s actually very little evidence that they work in practice. There’s only a couple of studies that assess the impact of these kinds of (taxes) in real life on real customers.” Cummins and his colleagues analyzed Jamie’s Italian health campaign to add to this knowledge base.

‘Fat man of Europe’

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, including non-diet sodas, flavored juices, and some sports drinks, is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cavities. In the UK, sugar-sweetened drinks may account for half of the excess calories consumed per day by children (two-thirds by U.S. children) while one in four British adults (one in three U.S.) are obese, according to a 2013 report from the United Nations.  The same report also found that obesity rates among adults have more than tripled in the past three decades. In 2015, the National Health Service made public its worries that the UK has become the “fat man of Europe.” Shortly after that, Jamie’s Italian decided, according to its website, to “raise awareness of how much sugar is present in certain soft drinks and make people think about their sugar intake, particularly that of their children” by adding 10 pence to the price tag.
Any profits raised by the fee were to be donated to The Children’s Health Fund in support of programs aimed at improving children’s health and food education, the campaign made clear. Cummins said he and his colleagues “had no control over the design or delivery” of Jamie’s Italian health intervention. Independently, the restaurant chain created and implemented the fee, made changes to its menu to explain the new price, introduced fruit spritzers (fruit juice mixed with water) and created promotional materials. “Jamie Oliver also broadcasted an hourlong documentary just a few days before the levy was introduced,” Cummins added. “So there was quite a lot of media coverage.”
The price increase can be seen as a complex “intervention” including a financial element in combination with non-fiscal components, the researchers said. Analyzing sales data from before and after the intervention, Cummins and his colleagues calculated the average number of sugar-sweetened beverage sales per customer in 37 Jamie’s Italian restaurants. In the 12 months prior, a total of 2,058,581 non-alcoholic beverages were sold in the restaurants, and 38% (775,230) of them were sugar-sweetened drinks. Adding a 10-pence fee to SSB was associated with significant declines (11.04%) in sales per customer, with the highest reductions in restaurants with higher SSB sales per customer (18.77%), the results indicated.
It could be that customers switched to water or other kinds of beverages, potentially fruit juices, or the adults might even choose alcoholic drinks, Cummins said. “We don’t exactly know what they’re substituting for; my guess is primarily water.”A longer follow-up period is required to assess whether the effects will be sustained, the researchers noted. “It’s a straightforward intervention, actually, and there’s no reason why other commercial restaurant chains cannot implement this kind of intervention,” Cummins said. “It wouldn’t require major changes or costs.”
That said, his experience of working with Jamie’s Italian suggested no harm regarding negative financial consequences. “There may be some financial impact, and we don’t know what it might be, but it’s likely not large,” Cummins said. “It may be that other types of chains that sell different types of food might have a larger impact economically” — but this is “fairly unlikely.”

Small changes

“A lot is going on here in this study,” said Jayson L. Lusk, a professor and head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, who did not participate in the research or the analysis. “It’s hard to conclude that the price change in sugar-sweetened beverages is the main cause of the changes being observed,” Lusk said, noting that bottled water and diet cola consumption fell at about the same rate as the increased-price sugary beverages after the intervention began. Meanwhile, the beverages introduced after the price increase introduce a “confound” into the experiment: an element that disrupts and adds confusion to the results. Overall, previous research on this topic suggests that such taxes will probably have small effects on consumption of taxed beverages and that people will merely substitute other high-calorie, non-taxed drinks and foods, Lusk said.
So, can sugar-sweetened beverage taxes lower SSB consumption? “Yes, by a small amount,” he said. “But that’s different than saying sugar-sweetened beverage taxes reduce caloric intake. “There’s also literature showing these taxes tend to be regressive, affecting lower-income households more than higher-income households,” Lusk said. Jason M. Fletcher, a professor of public affairs and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said some of the results from the new study suggest a “general weakness in the analysis.” Fletcher did not participate in the new study.
After the intervention, there was a reduction in sales of all types of beverages compared with before the intervention, Fletcher noted, and the authors did not adequately estimate the effects of the 10-pence levy for each beverage in their analysis. “In our own work, we find support for substitution effects in the U.S., where higher taxes on soda lead to two effects: (1) less consumption of soda and (2) more consumption of other high-calorie drinks,” Fletcher said. “Combining these effects can lead to no increase in health.” Americans consume more than 40 gallons of sugary drinks per capita each year, on average.
“Sugar taxes in England have not been proposed, but there is in legislation to be implemented next year as a proposal from Her Majesty’s Treasury on implementing a sugar tax of 20% on producers and manufacturers of sugar-sweetened beverages — so not to the consumer but to the producers themselves,” Cummins said. Some of the major manufacturers have announced that they are going to reformulate their products to avoid the tax. “So in one sense, the policy has already had an effect regarding persuading companies to reformulate their products to avoid the extra costs that will be levied upon them,” Cummins said. “Within the whole of the food system, there are a variety of different types of responses,” he said, adding that he hopes to study these responses. “We’re interested in capturing these kinds of systemwide effects.”
Nutrition Nugget
Eat Your Chocolate! Yes, you read that right! Having a small amount of dark chocolate – 70-85% cocoa – is rich in fiber, iron, and magnesium, among other minerals. Plus, it’s a great source of antioxidants which reduces free radicals in your body.
Word of the Nugget
 Analects: A collection of short literary or philosophical extracts.
Inspiration Nugget
People have to pretend you're a bad person so they don't feel guilty about the things they did to you.

GP referral to Weight Watchers avoided type 2 diabetes in third of patients (UK)

More than a third of patients at risk of developing type 2 diabetes who reside in the UK avoided developing the condition after they were referred by their family doctor (GP) to a diabetes prevention program delivered by the commercial weight management provider, Weight Watchers, finds research published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

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The initiative also helped more than half of those referred either to reduce their risk of developing diabetes or to get their blood sugar levels back to normal. The number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the UK has increased from 1.4 to 2.9 million since 1996. An even more substantial increase can be seen in the United States (U.S.) with a rise from 7.6 to 23.4 million. A new diagnosis is made every 2 minutes, and by 2025, an estimated 5 million people in the UK and 53 million in the U.S. will have the condition. Horrifying statistics! Risk of developing type 2 diabetes is strongly influenced by lifestyle factors but can be significantly reduced by weight loss, achieved by eating less and exercising more.

The UK’s national health and social care guidance organization, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) says that certain commercial weight management providers, such as Weight Watchers, can help obese people shed pounds. A U.S. study showed that participation in a commercial weight management program succeeded in reversing progression to type 2 diabetes. However, the effectiveness of this approach in UK primary care has not been thoroughly evaluated. Therefore, the researchers identified 166 patients from 14 general practice surgeries at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes: Those with impaired glucose regulation known as pre-diabetes or non-diabetic hyperglycemia and with a body mass index (BMI) above 30 kg/m2.

These patients were then invited to contact Weight Watchers to book a place on their diabetes prevention program, which included a 90-minute induction session followed by 48 weekly group meetings. From among the 166 primary care referrals, 149 patients were eligible. Some 117 attended the induction, and 115 started the weekly sessions, representing a take-up rate of 70%, which is high for a lifestyle intervention, according to the researchers. The program focused on improving diet quality, reducing portion size, increasing physical activity levels, as well as boosting confidence in the ability to change and a commitment to the process.

Blood tests were repeated at 6 and 12 months to check risk factors, and any changes in weight were recorded by trained Weight Watcher staff. Analysis of the results showed that the initiative led to an average fall in HbA1c (a measure of average blood glucose levels over several weeks) of 2.84 mmol/mol after 12 months to levels regarded as standard. Blood glucose levels also returned to normal in more than a third (38%) of the patients and only 3% developed type 2 diabetes after 12 months. The average weight loss amounted to 10 kg (22lb) at the 12 month time point (a reduction in BMI of 3.2kg/m2).

The researchers acknowledge that not all patients at high risk go on to develop type 2 diabetes, added to which the referral numbers were low, based on the funding available, with few black or minority ethnic participants, men, or those on low incomes. Nevertheless, they conclude that the initiative has the potential to have considerable impact. “A UK primary care referral route partnered with this commercial weight management provider can deliver an effective diabetes prevention programme,” they write. “The lifestyle changes and weight loss achieved in the intervention translated into considerable reductions in diabetes risk, with an immediate and significant public health impact.”

Adapted from: Carolyn Piper, Agnes Marossy, Zoe Griffiths, Amanda Adegboye. Evaluation of a type 2 diabetes prevention program using a commercial weight management provider for non-diabetic hyperglycemic patients referred by primary care in the UKBMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 2017; 5 (1): e000418 DOI: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2017-000418

*If you are looking to knock $30.00 off of your next wine purchase, check out Bright Cellars! You can also find the link posted on the right side of the blog. Happy sippen! 

Daily Nutrition Nugget

Add Protein To Your Breakfast! A protein-packed breakfast will reduce hunger later in the day. This doesn’t mean load up on three kinds of breakfast meats, instead add a hard-boiled egg or some Greek yogurt to your first meal of the day. Try a cup of plain Greek yogurt with some sliced almonds, mixed berries, honey and chia seeds mixed together.

Daily Inspiration Nugget 

People change for two main reasons: either their minds have been opened, or their hearts have been broken.

 

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

B6-dependent protein, potentially opening avenues for new antibiotics and drugs to battle diseases such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, and diabetes.

Image result for Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

Specifically, the team used neutron crystallography to study the location of hydrogen atoms in aspartate aminotransferase, or AAT, an enzyme vital to the metabolism of certain amino acids. “We visualized the first neutron structure of a vitamin B6 enzyme that belongs to a large protein family with hundreds of members that exist in nature,” said Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL) Andrey Kovalevsky, a senior co-author of the study, which was published in Nature Communications. Vitamin B6-dependent proteins are part of a diverse group of enzymes that conduct over a hundred different chemical reactions in cells. The enzymes are of interest to biomedical, as well as bioenergy, researchers because of their role in metabolizing amino acids and other cell nutrients.

“These enzymes are unique in that each one performs a specific chemical reaction with exquisite accuracy while suppressing other viable chemical transformations,” Kovalevsky said. “How they accomplish this is not well understood, but it is of great significance for drug design.” The team’s previous research predicted that hydrogen atoms move in and around the enzyme’s active site, where the chemical reaction takes place, indicating that the hydrogen atoms’ positioning controls the reaction type. Knowing the precise location of hydrogen atoms can explain why the behavior of these enzymes is so specific, but hydrogen is hard to detect with standard methods such as X-ray crystallography.

To directly determine the positions of hydrogen atoms within AAT, the ORNL-led team turned to neutron diffraction techniques. The researchers exposed fine protein crystals to neutrons using the IMAGINE beamline at ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor and the LADI-III beamline at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France. Surprisingly, the team observed a reaction within one AAT protein biomolecule while another AAT biomolecule was unchanged, providing a before-and-after perspective of the enzyme-catalyzed chemical reaction. “The data revealed that in one of the enzyme’s biomolecular structures the covalent bonds reorganized after a chemical reaction occurred in the active site and, in another, the reaction had not taken place,” Kovalevsky said. “Essentially, we were able to obtain two structures in one crystal, which has never been done before for any protein using neutrons.”

With this knowledge, the team will run molecular simulations to determine the hydrogen atoms’ specific behavior when interacting with the enzyme. The results could be useful in guiding the future design of novel medicines against multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “This study highlights how neutrons are an unrivaled probe for identifying the location of hydrogen atoms in biological systems, providing us with an unprecedented level of structural detail for this important enzyme,” LADI-III beamline scientist Matthew Blakeley said.

Adapted from: Steven Dajnowicz, Ryne C. Johnston, Jerry M. Parks, Matthew P. Blakeley, David A. Keen, Kevin L. Weiss, Oksana Gerlits, Andrey Kovalevsky, Timothy C. Mueser. Direct visualization of critical hydrogen atoms in a pyridoxal 5′-phosphate enzymeNature Communications, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01060-y

Nutrition Daily Nugget

Eat the rainbow! A fun and tasty way to make sure your family is eating a good variety of fruits and vegetables is to eat as many different colors as you can each day.

Daily Inspiration Nugget

Why do we close our eyes when we pray, cry, kiss, dream? Because the most beautiful things in life are not seen but felt only by the heart.