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THE DIET DETECTIVE, A COLUMN BY CHARLES STUART PLATKIN

Tips on cutting sugar and snacks from the Diet Detective

Saturday, August 24, 2013 - 8:08 am

Here is Diet Detective news you should use.

Walking to work fights disease

Walking could be better than an apple a day. Researchers at Imperial College London and University College London reviewed data from more than 20,000 people living in the U.K. The researchers found that those who walked to work were about 40 percent less likely to have diabetes and 17 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those who drove.

Stopping sugar consumption might reduce cancer

A new fruit fly study conducted by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City found that blocking dietary sugar and its activity in tumor cells in the obese or those with diabetes might reduce cancer risk and progression. Your best bet? Cut the added sugar. See: www.dietdetective.com.

Not that you needed confirmation…

Did you ever feel as if you were just addicted to certain foods? Well, there's a good chance that it's true. According to research from Boston Children's Hospital appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, substance abuse and eating high-glycemic foods might trigger the same brain mechanism tied to addiction.

Researchers had 12 overweight men consume milkshake meals, the only difference being that one group consumed rapidly digested (high-glycemic index) carbohydrates and the other group consumed slowly digested (low-glycemic index) carbohydrates.

The researchers then measured “blood glucose levels and hunger, while also using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to observe brain activity during the crucial four-hour period after a meal, which influences eating behavior at the next meal.”

The results? “After participants consumed the high-glycemic index milkshake, they experienced an initial surge in blood sugar levels, followed by a sharp crash four hours later. This decrease in blood glucose was associated with excessive hunger and intense activation of the nucleus accumbens, a critical brain region involved in addictive behaviors.”

The authors of the study suggest that limiting high-glycemic index carbohydrates like white bread and potatoes could reduce overall urges.

Poor moms-to-be, the pleasure of eating anything you want is over

The notion of being pregnant used to conjure up images of eating nearly anything you wanted with impunity. Well, put that pickle down and move away from the ice-cream container. Once again, research is showing that if you gain weight early in your pregnancy it could mean having a fatter baby. According to Margie Davenport, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta, Canada, moms-to-be who gain too much weight early in their pregnancies are nearly three times as likely to give birth to bigger, fatter babies. Keep in mind, “Infants who are larger at birth tend to become larger children, and that creates a risk for developing into obese and overweight children and adults.”

Choose a goal range, not a single goal for weight-loss

According to a study appearing in the Journal of Consumer Research, choosing a goal that has a low and high range, such as 2 to 4 pounds, versus choosing a single number, such as 3 pounds, has an impact on diet retention. The study showed that those consumers with high-low range goals continued their diet programs even though there was no difference in actual average weight loss across the two groups.

Good news if you're old and you like hot chocolate

If you're in your 70s I have some good news: According to research reported in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, drinking two cups of hot chocolate each day may help keep your brain healthy if you have impaired blood flow. “The participants drank two cups of hot cocoa per day for 30 days and did not consume any other chocolate during the study. They were given tests of memory and thinking skills. They also had ultrasound tests to measure the amount of blood flow to the brain during the tests. Of the 60 participants, 18 had impaired blood flow at the start of the study. Those people had an 8.3 percent improvement in blood flow to the working areas of the brain by the end of the study, while there was no improvement for those who started out with regular blood flow. The people with impaired blood flow also improved their times on a test of working memory, with scores dropping from 167 seconds at the beginning of the study to 116 seconds at the end. There was no change in times for people with regular blood flow.”

The researchers explained that those with impaired blood flow were also more likely to have tiny areas of brain damage.

Smartphones can reduce fitness levels

Hmm, we've all heard that you can use fabulous smartphone applications to improve your fitness aptitude, but never that smartphones can decrease fitness. Well, that's what researchers Jacob Barkley and Andrew Lepp, faculty members in the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University in Ohio, say. They found that high smartphone use was linked to poor fitness in college students. Try using fitness applications for good, not bad. See: www.dietdetective.com/ weekly-column/diet- detective-iphone-apps- you-can-use-your-health.

Don't be a diet hero — toss the unhealthy food

What's a “Diet Hero”? Someone who thinks sheer willpower alone is enough to conquer those sweet and savory snack attacks. A study on self-control by researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Dusseldorf published in the journal Neuron compared “the effectiveness of willpower versus voluntarily restricting access to temptations, called 'precommitment'… and the mechanisms in the brain that play a role in precommitment.”

They found that “the most effective way to beat temptations is to avoid facing them in the first place."

Additionally, the researchers found that precommitment activates the frontopolar cortex, the brain region that is involved in thinking about the future. And when the frontopolar cortex is engaged during precommitment, “It increases its communication with a region that plays an important role in willpower, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.”

Best advice: Toss out the unhealthy food from your house and don't rely on willpower alone.

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com.