Interesting items from my inbox …
What’s wrong with bread
A reader sent me a note that read:
I took these pictures outside of an old bread factory in Memphis. Can’t seem to recall my Italian grandmother every reaching for soybean oil and corn syrup when she made bread.
Take a look.
Now stir in the fact that today’s wheat is the mutant stuff developed in labs in the 1970s, and you’ve got yourself a nice little horror show.
Let them eat bark
You and I don’t eat grass and twigs because we can’t digest cellulose. Instead, we eat the animals that can digest cellulose. Looks like that could change:
A team of Virginia Tech researchers has succeeded in transforming cellulose into starch, a process that has the potential to provide a previously untapped nutrient source from plants not traditionally though of as food crops.
Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, led a team of researchers in the project that could help feed a growing global population that is estimated to swell to 9 billion by 2050. Starch is one of the most important components of the human diet and provides 20-40 percent of our daily caloric intake.
Cellulose is the supporting material in plant cell walls and is the most common carbohydrate on earth. This new development opens the door to the potential that food could be created from any plant, reducing the need for crops to be grown on valuable land that requires fertilizers, pesticides, and large amounts of water. The type of starch that Zhang’s team produced is amylose, a linear resistant starch that is not broken down in the digestion process and acts as a good source of dietary fiber.
I must be missing something here. If this breakthrough process produces a resistant starch that isn’t broken down during digestion, how is it going to feed a global population? Seems to me this “good source of dietary fiber” would do more to solve global constipation than global hunger.
This discovery holds promise on many fronts beyond food systems.
“Besides serving as a food source, the starch can be used in the manufacture of edible, clear films for biodegradable food packaging,” Zhang said. “It can even serve as a high-density hydrogen storage carrier that could solve problems related to hydrogen storage and distribution.”
So you can eat your indigestible fiber, then eat the package it came in and get more indigestible fiber. Then you can head to the bathroom and catch up on your reading. If this stuff is all fiber, you may want to take a copy of War and Peace with you.
Nitrates lower blood pressure?
Remember when you stopped drinking beetroot juice because you were worried about the nitrates? Turns out that wasn’t such a good idea:
A cup of beetroot juice a day may help reduce your blood pressure, according to a small study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
People with high blood pressure who drank about 8 ounces of beetroot juice experienced a decrease in blood pressure of about 10 mm Hg. But the preliminary findings don’t yet suggest that supplementing your diet with beetroot juice benefits your health, researchers said.
Dangit, I was really hoping for an excuse to drink beetroot juice.
“Our hope is that increasing one’s intake of vegetables with a high dietary nitrate content, such as green leafy vegetables or beetroot, might be a lifestyle approach that one could easily employ to improve cardiovascular health,” said Amrita Ahluwalia, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor of vascular pharmacology at The Barts and The London Medical School in London.
Okay, so I do have an excuse to drink beetroot juice … ?
The beetroot juice contained about 0.2g of dietary nitrate, levels one might find in a large bowl of lettuce or perhaps two beetroots. In the body the nitrate is converted to a chemical called nitrite and then to nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide is a gas that widens blood vessels and aids blood flow.
Compared with the placebo group, participants drinking beetroot juice had reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure — even after nitrite circulating in the blood had returned to their previous levels prior to drinking beetroot. The effect was most pronounced three to six hours after drinking the juice but still present even 24 hours later.
In the United States, more than 77 million adults have diagnosed high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart diseases and stroke. Eating vegetables rich in dietary nitrate and other critical nutrients may be an accessible and inexpensive way to manage blood pressure, Ahluwalia said.
Uh, wait a minute … if I want to get more nitrates into my diet, couldn’t I just eat more bacon? Don’t the anti-meat hysterics warn us to avoid bacon because of the nitrates?
To de-confuse myself, I looked up an article by Chris Kesser on nitrates and nitrites. Here’s part of what he wrote:
In fact, the study that originally connected nitrates with cancer risk and caused the scare in the first place has since been discredited after being subjected to a peer review. There have been major reviews of the scientific literature that found no link between nitrates or nitrites and human cancers, or even evidence to suggest that they may be carcinogenic. Further, recent research suggests that nitrates and nitrites may not only be harmless, they may be beneficial, especially for immunity and heart health.
It may surprise you to learn that the vast majority of nitrate/nitrite exposure comes not from food, but from endogenous sources within the body. In fact, nitrites are produced by your own body in greater amounts than can be obtained from food, and salivary nitrite accounts for 70-90% of our total nitrite exposure. In other words, your spit contains far more nitrites than anything you could ever eat.
When it comes to food, vegetables are the primary source of nitrites. On average, about 93% of nitrites we get from food come from vegetables. It may shock you to learn that one serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce, and four servings of celery or beets all have more nitrite than 467 hot dogs. And your own saliva has more nitrites than all of them! So before you eliminate cured meats from your diet, you might want to address your celery intake. And try not to swallow so frequently.
All humor aside, there’s no reason to fear nitrites in your food, or saliva. Recent evidence suggests that nitrites are beneficial for immune and cardiovascular function; they are being studied as a potential treatment for hypertension, heart attacks, sickle cell and circulatory disorders.
Well then, as much I was hoping for a reason to drink beetroot juice, I’ll probably just eat more bacon.
How bariatric surgery “cures” diabetes
Remember when a widely-reported study touted bariatric surgery as a cure for diabetes? If so, you probably remember what I wrote about it: it’s not the surgery that does the trick; it’s the diet the surgery forces people to adopt. A new study says the same thing:
Patients with type 2 diabetes who consume a diet identical to the strict regimen followed after bariatric surgery are just as likely to see a reduction in blood glucose levels as those who undergo surgery, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.
“For years, the question has been whether it is the bariatric surgery or a change in diet that causes the diabetes to improve so rapidly after surgery,” said Dr. Ildiko Lingvay, assistant professor of internal medicine and first author of the study published online in Diabetes Care. “We found that the reduction of patients’ caloric intake following bariatric surgery is what leads to the major improvements in diabetes, not the surgery itself.”
The study followed 10 patients in a controlled, inpatient setting during two distinct periods. Initially they were treated only with the standard diet given to patients after bariatric surgery, while researchers measured effects on blood glucose levels. Several months later, the patients underwent the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass bariatric surgery and followed the same diet while the UT Southwestern research team again examined blood glucose levels. Patients received less than 2,000 calories total during each of these 10-day periods, which is the customary diet after gastric bypass surgery.
Fasting blood glucose levels dropped 21 percent on average during the diet-only phase, and 12 percent after combining the diet with surgery. Patients’ overall blood glucose levels after a standard meal decreased by 15 percent in the diet-only phase and 18 percent after combining diet with surgery. The scientists said the results demonstrate that the extremely restrictive diet imposed after bariatric surgery is responsible for the rapid diabetes remission, which occurs within days of the procedure normally.
In other words, it’s the diet, stupid.
“Unfortunately, such a restrictive diet is nearly impossible to adhere to long-term in the absence of bariatric surgery,” Dr. Lingvay said. “We found that the success of bariatric surgery is mediated through its ability to control food intake, which in turn has a beneficial effect on diabetes.”
Yes, a diet designed to fill an itty-bitty pouch of a stomach is difficult to follow … but a diet of meat, eggs, seafood, green vegetables, cream and butter isn’t, and that will also lower your glucose levels. Plus if you eat bacon, you get those heart-healthy nitrates.
Diet and acne
Let’s put this in the as if we didn’t know file. Diet does (surprise) affect acne:
It’s been a subject of debate for decades, but it seems diet really does have an impact on a person’s complexion.
A landmark overview of research carried out over the past 50 years has found that eating foods with a high glycaemic index (GI) and drinking milk not only aggravated acne but in some cases triggered it, too.
Frankly, I can’t believe this has been a subject of debate. Why the heck would diet – which affects hormones – not have an impact on acne?
Acne is caused by a combination of the skin producing too much sebum and a build-up of dead skin cells which clogs the pores and leads to a localised infection or spot.
Eating high GI foods – foods that are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly – is thought to have a direct effect on the severity of acne because of the hormonal fluctuations that are triggered.
High GI foods cause a spike in hormone levels including insulin which is thought to instigate sebum production.
So we’re looking at the effects of excess insulin — again. High GI foods trigger insulin, and so does milk protein, which is why some people on low-carb diets find they lose more weight if they reduce or eliminate their intake of dairy foods.
In my late 30s, I used to wonder why the heck I’d still get zits on my face and neck, long after the age where I could blame teenage hormones. When I stopped eating grains and other refined carbohydrates, that problem went away … along with several others.
Why I left California
Okay, there are a LOT of reasons I left California, but a legislature that proposes laws like this one is certainly of them:
The State of California has one of the worst proposals of any legislature in the country this year with a new bill that would force every restaurant and food service business in the state to commission an expensive “risk assessment” test for every menu item.
Such a test could cost thousands of dollars for every food item sold. This outrageous and cost prohibitive testing would certainly cause all but the biggest chain restaurants to go out of business almost instantly.
In another exercise in nanny-statism, California’s State Senate Democrats want this “risk assessment” conducted to determine whether food being sold “contributes significantly to a significant public health epidemic.”
The bill, Senate Bill 747, is an addition to the current health and safety codes and is currently set for a hearing on April 17. It was written and introduced by Sen. Mark DeSauliner (D, Concord).
The introduction of the bill clearly says that the law would require the food service companies to pay the state for the testing in order to fill state coffers. It notes that without the assessment, the state would have the right to shut an offending restaurant down.
As California politics watchdog Stephen Frank points out, “Pass this and hundreds of thousands of Californians are out of work on Day One–and tens of thousands of Californians have lost their investments and businesses.” The big chains could afford the cost of these tests, but small restaurants would just have to close their doors before the state’s inspectors do it for them.
Well, sure, businesses would close and people would lose jobs, but here’s the upside for the California politicians: once the unemployed people end up on welfare, they’re more likely to vote for the big-government mental midgets who propose laws like this in first place.
This will be my last post until I return from the low-carb cruise. I need to spend the next week working on my pre-cruise roast, since I don’t like using notes when I speak. I’ll check comments until next week, when The Older Brother will take over the Fat Head chair.
For any of you coming aboard the cruise, PLEASE introduce yourself. After one of the cruises, someone in a discussion group expressed her disappointment that she didn’t get to chat with the speakers. Trust me, the speakers are happy to talk to you. It’s one of the reasons we come aboard. But you can’t wait for us to seek you out, not with hundreds of people in the group. Come up and say hello. We won’t bite … unless you’re wearing a bacon shirt. And even then, it’s only because we want those heart-healthy nitrates.