It’s frightening that over one-third of American adults are obese. But even more frightening are the statistics showing that an increasing number of children suffer from obesity. While several societal factors are at play, the USDA Dietary Guidelines on dairy may not be helping, as a 2012 literature review has uncovered a biological link between dairy consumption in children and childhood obesity.
Strong evidence suggests leucine, found in cows’ milk and dairy-based infant formulas, is contributing to the American obesity epidemic. Popular with bodybuilders, leucine is known for its muscle-building properties. While stimulating the production of muscle mass, leucine also increases insulin resistance, laying a foundation for developing metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Other effects include suppression of leptin, the hormone that indicates to your brain that the stomach is full after a meal, and fat formation—both of which can lead to noticeable weight gain.
“Scientific Review Finds Biological Link Between Dairy Consumption and Obesity,” T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, nutritionstudies.org, Dec. 23, 2019.
Could catching your z’s lower your risk of the feared Alzheimer’s—a degeneration of the brain causing loss of memory? A recent study from Boston University suggests just that. Brain waves generated during deep sleep trigger a cleaning system that protects the brain against Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases.
How does this cleaning system work? Once we enter deep sleep, also known as non-rapid eye movement sleep, slow waves of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) begin sweeping through the brain. Researchers observed that each wave seemed to be triggered by an electrical wave in the neurons, similar to the cycling of a slow washing machine. This process is responsible for “washing” our brains, clearing away toxins and other wastes. Interestingly, Alzheimer’s patients have fewer of these slow waves, which might explain the Alzheimer’s–sleep connection.
While a number of factors are responsible for causing Alzheimer’s, lack of sleep is very likely one of them. Let’s not underestimate the power of a good night’s rest!
“How Deep Sleep May Help the Brain Clear Alzheimer's Toxins,” NPR, npr.org, Oct. 31, 2019.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and other unrest sweeping across the globe, many of us may be reaching for comfort food, especially sweet foods like cookies and ice cream. After all, what harm could a little sugar cause? A lot, research is showing.
Besides increasing anxiety and hastening an early death, refined sugar is known to suppress the immune system—certainly not something we want when facing the current pandemic. While the impact of sugar on immunity is not yet fully understood, it is thought to cause inflammation in the body and diminish the ability of immune cells to attack bacteria. The effects can begin as soon as 30 minutes following consumption of sugar—and last up to five hours. So how much sugar does it take? Between 75 to 100 grams—the equivalent of only two 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola.
Many factors contribute to a strong immune system, including getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. But cutting out or decreasing sugar consumption is one more way to help your body. And, besides, a healthy diet improves so many aspects of mental and physical health. Why not give it a try?
“Eating Sugar Can Weaken Your Immune System. Here’s What to Know,” HuffPost, huffpost.com, March 23, 2020.