Monday, June 11, 2012

on my mind monday 6.11.12

news | photo: mconnors
It's never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in the world of food, nutrition, and holistic living.  Read what's on my mind.

Bloomberg's soda ban: Mayor Bloomberg in NYC has decided that one way to fight obesity is to institute a ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces.  There are admittedly a number of problems with the legislation, such as the fact that people can still get endless refills, however the concept is sound.  Drink less sugar and your weight most likely will decrease.  The beverage industry in an effort to push back against this legislation is now claiming that science says that soda is not a contributor to obesity.  I'm not exactly sure where they are getting their facts from.  The first hit I find when doing an abstract search on "soda + obesity" brings up a study from 2001 which examined 548 ethnically diverse schoolchildren aged 11-17 and studied them for 19 months.  The study specifically found, "Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks is associated with obesity in children."  Whether or not you agree with the idea of a ban, a tax, or self-regulation when it comes to consumption of sugary drinks there is no doubt that increased consumption does contribute to obesity.

HFCS will not be called corn sugar:  After a hue and cry from consumers and an overall decrease in the purchase of products which contain HFCS the Corn Refiners Association made a bid to try to change the name to corn sugar.  It was widely believed that this was in an effort to hide the negative health effects of the product by having it classified under a more innocuous name.  The FDA has decided not to allow the change, noting that there is a distinct difference between the concept of sugar and HFCS.

BPA-free products may still contain Bisphenols - In another case of staying one step ahead of consumer knowledge, it appears that bisphenols may not have disappeared to the extent claimed by manufacturers.  In an excellent article brought to my attention by Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Toxic Free: How to Protect Your Health and Home From The Chemicals That Are Making You Sick, we learn that there are a wide number of bisphenols, each with a different alphabetic key, Bisphenol A, Bisphenol AB, Bisphenol C, Bisphenol D, and more.  Because of the hue and cry about BPA manufacturers appear to have possibly simply switched to another Bisphenol product, most specifically Bisphenol S.  Like BPA, BPS appears to be an obesogenic product and carcinogenic and should therefore be avoided. Quite simply, plastics and food (including plastic linings in cans) just don't mix well with healthful eating.

Ch-ch-ch-chia - nope, not to be used as pets, that is slathered on clay forms so that it grows to look like hair or fur, but as an edible seed. Chia is gaining ground in the health food forums.  A nutrition powerhouse, one ounce of chia seeds provides 4 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, plus very healthy doses of magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.  These tiny seeds also provide a great vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Chia seeds swell tremendously when placed into liquid, many people add them to smoothies for a quick energy burst.  Other use them for chia pudding (note-instead of the agave nectar called for in this link use honey or maple syrup).  They're easily found in many full service grocery stores or they can be purchased online.  While not inexpensive, they pack a healthy nutrition punch and are worth paying extra for.

Sleep is a major issue in our lives.  Lack of sleep is a growing problem.  Most people don't realize how much we need darkness for sleep and how our world is becoming more and more polluted with light from electric sources.  This movie, The City Dark: a search for night on a planet that never sleeps, looks at darkness, the stars, and why this relationship is, should be, so important to us.

One important reason to get enough sleep?  Turns out that junk food is more appealing when you're sleepy.  The areas of your brain that process are impacted, negatively, when you are sleep deprived.  Something to think about when you're tempted to skip a few hours of sleep.

What I'm Reading:

Food Bites: The Science of The Foods We Eat - While I do spend a rather large part of my reading time reading books that relate to food, cooking, nutrition, and holistic health, I do this because I truly enjoy it.  Some of them are weightier than others.  Some, like this one, are cute, lighthearted looks at food.  This is a series of columns written by the author Richard W. Hartel.  Based in science but explaining such puzzling issues as why chocolate forms a bloom, these easy to read short chapters are fun and informative.

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Sam said...

Not only are our towns & cities not dark enough, they are not quiet enough for a truly restful sleep. Think back to a camping trip or B&B you went to, didn't you sleep better then?

Sarah Smith said...

Hey Mira, why do you say to.use honey or maple syrup? Is there something bad about consuming agave nectar?

Mira Dessy said...

Hi Sarah,

I'm not a big fan of using agave nectar because it is very high in fructose which is hard on the liver. Agave nectar actually has more fructose than HFCS.