The Fattening Secret of Fructose
August 2011

A Factor in Nationwide Obesity and Diabetes Epidemic

FructoseSodaReading labels reveals that many foods and beverages—even so-called healthy ones—contain fructose, often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, as a sweetener. Health experts have long suspected that fructose is a factor in the nationwide obesity and diabetes epidemic, and new research from the Oregon Health & Science University supports the connection.

Researchers gave nine normal-weight study participants separate infusions of fructose and glucose (simple sugars) and then used magnetic resonance imaging to observe brain reactions. Glucose activated areas of the brain associated with regulating food intake and satiety—its “reward circuitry”—while fructose inhibited brain response in those areas.

The study concludes that this important difference may explain why fructose consumption, which deactivates the brain’s normal satiation response, appears to increase obesity and diabetes.

Stand Up Paddling
July 2011

No Surf Required

PaddleboadingWhile some frustrated commuters are inching along on rush hour highways, hoping to afterward work off stress at overcrowded gyms, others are stopping off at the nearest lake, river or bay for a workout that many call therapeutic. Promoted by Olympic athletes, moms and septuagenarians alike as an effective total body workout and mental release, stand up paddling, or SUP, is the fastest-growing sport across the nation, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

Stand up paddling was first developed by improvisational Hawaiian “beach boys,” that would stand on surfboards and use outrigger paddles to navigate alongside tourists learning how to surf. However, the sport can be enjoyed with or without waves or wind on virtually any body of water because the paddler, rather than Mother Nature, provides propulsion. It’s luring enthusiasts of other water sports as well; surfers, kiteboarders and windsurfers appreciate new opportunities to get on the water more often, while canoeists and kayakers enjoy the alternative of standing.

Stay Cool
July 2011

Here’s How to Pay Less for AC

ThermostatRecord summer heat waves are already occurring more often and will be even hotter and more frequent over the next 30 years, according to a study by Stanford University scientists that have run climate simulations of temperatures across the United States. The study comes on the heels of a NASA report that concluded that 2000 through 2009 was the warmest post-industrial decade on record.

The hotter it gets, the more people run their conventional electric air conditioners (AC), releasing even more global-warming gas emissions from power plants into the atmosphere. Cooling accounts for nearly half the energy used by the average home during the summer, reports the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. More than two-thirds of U.S. households have air conditioners, which set us back more than $10 billion each year in electricity bills, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Locavore Update
July 2011

How to Measure a Food’s Eco-Friendliness

Local_ProduceSales of locally grown foods are expected to reach $7 billion this year, up from $4 billion in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One driver is the well-publicized average 1,500 miles it took for 28 fruits and vegetables to reach the upper Midwest by truck in a 2001-2003 study by Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

“The average distance we calculated was often cited incorrectly as the average distance food traveled in the United States,” explains Rich Pirog, who led the research. “Local food really isn’t about mileage or distance. It’s about the relationships that are built in the food chain. It’s about farmers and local communities getting a higher percentage of the food dollar.”

Local food sourcing builds community, poses a smaller risk for food-borne contaminants and tastes better, especially when it’s organic. It doesn’t require the refrigeration needed for long-distance hauling and often comes without wasteful packaging.

A Carnegie Mellon University study further calculated that transportation now accounts for 11 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions of fruits and vegetables and only 1 percent of red meat’s emissions, while how the food is produced contributes 83 percent; so it’s good to be familiar with local providers. The researchers also reported that switching from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs or a vegetable-based diet one day a week yields at least the equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of buying all locally sourced food.

Primary source: emagazine.com

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