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A Giant Artificial Gut

What do you do when you’re one of the world’s biggest food companies and you’re looking to explore what happens after your products get chewed and swallowed? Apparently you build a large refrigerator-sized, million dollar model of a human gut, complete with valves, injection ports for enzymes, and a transparent window for visibility, of course.

Nestle, in their quest to create foods that trick your body into feeling even more satisfied after eating than you otherwise would be, has a research and development center that holds this artificial gut, tucked next to the mountains in Lausanne, Switzerland. Here they’re busy studying and trying to commercialize gastrointestinal phenomenon such as the “ileal break,” a peptidal feedback mechanism that both slows transit through the GI system and reduces food intake by triggering feelings of satiation. They hope to release products based on this science within five years.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Tracking the movement of food in a person’s gastrointestinal tract isn’t easy. So at a “digestion lab”—part of Nestle’s sprawling research and development center here—scientists use a million-dollar model of the human gut.

The machine is about the size of a large refrigerator. It has several compartments linked by valves, and it is carefully calibrated to the body’s temperature. The entire setup is controlled by a computer. The front is glass, allowing observers to watch as food travels through the system.

On a recent day, the “stomach” section at the top slowly squeezed and churned a salt solution, just like the real thing. The liquefied result then wended its way down the other tubes, representing other sections of the digestive tract. At each stage, tiny valves released the appropriate salt, bile and enzymes, which helped to digest the food.

The question still stands: What comes out the other end?

The Wall Street Journal article: Hungry? Your Stomach Really Does Have a Mind of Its Own…

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Still The “Incredible, Edible” Egg

Enriched chicken feed may have resulted in eggs having less cholesterol and more Vitamin D than previously measured, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

A large egg today has about 185 milligrams of cholesterol, down 14 percent from 215 milligrams in 2002, according to new research from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, reports USA Today. Also, an egg today has 41 international units (IUs) of Vitamin D, up 64 percent from 25 IUs measured in 2002. (That’s still only about 7 percent of the 600 IUs recommended per day.)

The agency regularly does nutrient checks on popular foods, this time analyzing eggs taken from store shelves in 12 locations around the country. The American Egg Board said in a press release that hen feed is made up mostly of corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals. Nutrition researchers at Iowa State University are also looking into reasons why cholesterol in eggs is decreasing.

The government’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” recommend that most people eat less than 300 milligrams of total dietary cholesterol a day, and people at a high risk of cardiovascular disease should eat less than 200 milligrams a day. The average American man consumes about 337 milligrams of cholesterol a day and the average woman consumes 217 milligrams, reports the Los Angeles Times.

One egg a day fits within the average, healthy American’s diet, reports WebMD, citing research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by the American Egg Board — owners of the slogan “the incredible, edible egg.”

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

A Food-Culture Change Is Upon Us

As a pediatric endocrinologist, I am on the frontline of the childhood obesity epidemic. In fact, I am now seeing 100-pound two year olds and 150-pound three-year-old kids in my clinic and I am concerned. The obesity epidemic is perpetuated by a processed food-culture that lacks healthier local whole foods. 
 
Diets dominated by processed foods (refined carbohydrates with high fat- and/or high-sugar content and artificial ingredients) over whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) spur more obesity and diabetes, and have even been shown to negatively change gene expression of the offspring during pregnancy. All-processed ingredients reflect the balance of desirable factors in the modern way of life such as shelf life (long), taste (sweet), texture (fat) convenience (high), and price (low) — all profitable, all less nutritious, and all with a mass-marketed, generic, “cultureless” appeal that reduces emphasis on local cultures and flavors.

The recent rise of social networking is testament to the fact that people are hungry to connect and yearn to be culturally inspired. Culture (art, food, music) deeply connects people and transcends time, politics, and poverty because it is the language of being human — and something that never changes. Medical research as well as the positive embracing of First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign demonstrates an open mind to the idea of a healthier culture and readiness for change. In fact, many of the families that I meet in my clinic are interested in considering whole-food choices, but lack knowledge and guidance.

Food-culture change offers the best hope for transforming obesity and what Americans eat. Oprah’s recent vegan-whole-food-challenge show on February 1st is a step in the right direction and will help to propel the emerging whole-foods movement. Columbus, Ohio is emerging as a center for local whole-foods activism and food-culture change. Just in 2010, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission released the Central Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan — the first plan of its kind in the nation — and received an $885 million US. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant to create an urban foodscape in one of Columbus’ most blighted neighborhoods. Read more »

Getting Kids To Eat Low-Sugar Cereals

fiberonecancer0 300x264 Getting Kids to Eat Low Sugar CerealsJust about everybody agrees that kids should eat breakfast every day. Breakfast improves their overall nutrition and their performance in school, among other things. But how helpful can breakfast really be if it consists of cereal deluged in sugar?

“Not very” is the answer.

Thankfully, a new study by Jennifer Harris and colleagues at Yale suggests that kids are perfectly willing to consume low-sugar cereals instead, particularly if they can add a pinch of table sugar or fresh fruit to the mix.

To evaluate kids’ willingness to eat low-sugar cereals, Harris’ team randomized 91 kids between the ages of five and 12 to two groups. Kids in the first group were offered low-sugar cereals like Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Rice Krispies, which contain one to four grams of sugar per serving. Kids in the other group chose between Cocoa Pebbles, Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops, which contain about 12 grams of sugar per serving.

Kids in both groups were also offered orange juice, 1 percent milk, pre-cut sections of bananas and strawberries, and sugar packets. The kids served themselves and then completed a questionnaire about their breakfast. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

Taking Chocolate To Heart

darkchocolate Chocolate: The Newest Heart Healthy FoodIt’s beginning to look like chocolate, especially dark chocolate, really and truly is a heart healthy snack, though only if it’s consumed in small quantities.

A delectable taste of this news came last spring, in the form of a study by German scientists which appeared in the European Heart Journal. It was a retrospective study of nearly 20,000 people, and it showed that folks in the highest quartile for chocolate consumption (meaning they consumed 7.5 grams of chocolate per day — the equivalent of 2 to 3 small squares of a Hershey bar), had lower blood pressure, a 27 percent lower risk of heart attack, and a 48 percent lower risk of stroke than those in the lowest quartile (about 1.7 grams per day).

Now, a new study in the journal Cardiovascular Pharmacology has lent credence to those findings by suggesting a mechanism through which chocolate reduces blood pressure. In the study, Ingrid Persson and colleagues at Linkoping University showed that dark chocolate inhibits the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). This enzyme helps regulate fluids and salt metabolism in the body. It is the target of many well-known antihypertensive drugs including captopril, lisinopril and enalopril. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

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