Category Archives: Uncategorized

In Weight Control, Fake Sugars Sabotage Us

Saccharin, aspartame and sucralose were supposed to help us lose weight. All sweetness and no calories. The chemicals may play tricks on our palates but not on our metabolisms. Weight gain and glucose intolerance may follow.

Read the excellent article on International Probiotics Association website about how microbes may be involved.

Explanations are many: Increased absorption, increased appetite and changes in insulin response. But researchers at Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot in Israel, suggest differences in the microbiome. They demonstrated how non-caloric artificial sweeteners may induce glucose intolerance in mice and certain humans by changing the gut microbiome.

Read more here.


Does Fructose Make Us Lazy?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), once hailed for its low cost and long shelf life, is under fire for its link to obesity and metabolic disease.
The debate gets murky however because fructose (half of HFCS) is the very same molecule in fruit. Yet no one is blaming a high fruit consumption for our global obesity epidemic.
Rather the problem stems from two areas:
!–More fructose in the food supply as HFCS replaced 50% of all the table sugar since 1970. HFCS poured into soft drinks, sport drinks, pastries and countless processed foods like pizza and catsup.
2–Metabolic changes:
—Fructose may not satisfy appetite. Key appetite hormones including insulin, leptin and ghrelin respond differently than they do to glucose.
—Fructose may signal the appetite centers in the brain in a different way than glucose does.
—Fructose may change resting energy expenditure, causing weight gain.
Also, a new study found less activity when mice were fed 18% of energy intake—comparable to the average human diet today.
After 77 days of supplementation, the animals fed fructose showed a significant reduction in physical activity compared to the glucose-fed controls. Body weight, liver mass and fat mass were also higher.

Catarina Rendeiro and colleagues from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Illinois reported their findings in a paper titled Fructose decreases physical activity and increases body fat without affecting hippocampal neurogenesis and learning relative to an isocaloric glucose diet published April 2015.

This disturbing news warrants further study. And at the very least, we should be working to oust HFCS from our menus.

Pollution Messes with Metabolism

Air pollution is not good for lungs. Just ask anyone in Beijing where surgical masks are a fashion accessory.

How bad is air pollution? The World Bank reported in 2010 that 16 of the world’s top 20 most polluted cities are in China. Linfen City in Shanxi Province, China, which is known for its coal industry, was the world’s most polluted.

Developed countries are polluted too.

Despite decades of cleanup measures, the American Lung Association State of the Air 2012 revealed that nearly half the population of the United States still suffers pollution levels that are often dangerous to breathe. The report found that unhealthy air posed a threat to the lives and health of more than 127 million people—roughly 41 percent of the nation. Even cities like Salt Lake City, Utah, and North Pole, Alaska, which sound pristine, are choking with pollution—the first from automobiles and industry and the latter from burning coal and wood for warmth. At times the air quality readings in North Pole are twice as bad as that of Beijing, according to Kim Murphy writing in the Los Angeles Times in 2013.

Air is judged by ozone and particulate matter. Greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are bad for respiratory systems, according to the EPA. But a new slyer villain has emerged: the small bits, called particulate matter (PM).

According to the World Health Organization, PM affects more people than any other pollutant. PMs are a jumble of solids, liquids, and organic and inorganic matter: mostly sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, carbon, mineral dust, and water. The smaller ones at 2.5 µm are most dangerous because they easily invade the lungs.

And as you may have guessed by the recipe, these PM2.5s, which emerge from burning fuels, are linked to asthma, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. People exposed to pollution don’t live as long. The mortality in cities with high levels of pollution exceeds that observed in relatively cleaner cities by 15 to 20 percent.

The link to obesity is new. How could this happen? The idea is that PM contributes to insulin resistance and adipose inflammation. In one experiment, mice exposed to PM2.5 showed insulin resistance and more visceral fat and inflammation among other defects.

In a new study published in Particle and Fibre Toxicology journal, special mice susceptible to Type 2 diabetes were exposed to either ambient PM2.5 or filtered air for 5 to 8 weeks.


  • O2, Co2, respiratory exchange and thermogenesis were all changed.
  • More insulin resistance
  • More visceral fat
  • More inflammation in spleen and visceral fat
  • Leptin levels increased
  • Gene expression in brown adipose tissue changed.

Air pollution may be adding to our obesity and diabetes numbers. Choking  on this epidemic is not an option.




Book Stores and Beaches Do Mix

Thanks to all who attended my pseudo-TED (Truly Enlightening Discourse) talk in Santa Monica on Saturday at Barnes & Noble on 3rd Street Promenade.I know it wasn’t easy given that the awesome SoCal beach was just two blocks away. There are still a few signed copies of Globesity: 10 Things You Didn’t Know Were Making You Fat available at the store (call 310 260 9110 to reserve or order). Hannah, thanks for the deck work. Frank, thanks for the lovely event set-up.

FYI: TED’s mission statement:

“We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other…”

Community of curious souls. I’d be honored to be part of that.

Best Weight Control Methods

Diets don’t last. But weight management implies a control that can extend over a lifetime.

A recent analysis of 37 studies in Obesity Reviews which included more than 16,000 participants found some practices which may help with your own weight control. The average weight loss over one year was 6 pounds.

Interestingly, the following were related to program effectiveness:

  • Calorie counting
  • Contact with a dietitian
  • Behavior change techniques

Note that supervised exercise and in-person meetings were not instrumental in success.

Sounds basic, but that’s what works.