Yet again it seems that mass media is not accurately portraying scientific research. This time the research is by Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. The headlines are claiming that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) damages memory or “makes you stupid“. Unfortunately, the study was not done with a control group on a regular diet, just rats eating HFCS and other rats eating HFCS with omega-3 fatty acids, so it is difficult to draw any solid conclusions from the research.
When trying to navigate a maze learned six weeks earlier, the rats that had only been eating HFCS “were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier,” according to researcher Gomez-Pinilla. This could imply that:
Health food isn’t the first thing you think about when planning to visit an amusement park, although you may plan on doing plenty of walking and maybe some major muscle contractions as you grip to safety harnesses. My vocal cords got quite the workout in the last two days. I practically never raise my voice, so screaming through a few roller coasters was quite a change of pace. It is possible to not eat junk food like turkey legs, cotton candy, and soda, even at an amusement park. Here are my top tips for sticking (close) to your diet at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
Mythos restaurant: Mythos, located in Universal Studios Islands of Adventure’s Lost Continent, was voted #1 restaurant in an amusement park in the world 2003-2008. The menu is marked with gluten-free and vegetarian options to make ordering easy. The flavor makes me believe that the selections were made on site with more fresh ingredients. (We also ate at the Three Broomsticks in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While it seemed like they were trying to make decent meals, like shepherd’s pie, it seems more processed and likely had been frozen at some point.) In addition, Mythos provided a very soothing atmosphere which both felt removed from the amusement park and provided views of rides across the lake.
A couple of weeks ago Medpage Today published an article titled Fructose May Not Be Culprit in Weight Gain which seems to contradict the Princeton research that found considerable more weight gain from ingesting high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Even when caloric intake was the same, rats gained more weight when eating HFCS than table sugar. Diets in Review has consistently spoken out against high fructose corn syrup as an unhealthy genetically modified food. Fructose and HFCS are not exactly the same as Tanvir Hussain, physician and adjunct professor of bioethics at Pepperdine University School of Law, points out, “[the study] did not include high fructose corn syrup in their analysis, but only simple fructose. Thus it would be difficult to make conclusions about high fructose corn syrup and weight gain based on this particular study. Nonetheless, the results do call into question the hypothesis that fructose disproportionately contributes to weight gain over other carbohydrates.”
Those are exactly the questions that have been posed to me – does this mean that HFCS is not bad for you?
Ann A. Rosenstein clearly explains the difference between sugar and HFCS, saying, “HFCS is an industrial food product and far from “natural” or a naturally occurring substance. It is extracted from corn stalks through a process so secret that Archer Daniels Midland and Carghill would not allow the investigative journalist Michael Pollan to observe it for his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS.”
Renowned Princeton physiological psychologist and researcher Bart Hoebel has died at the age of 76. He was a leader in research on eating behaviors and the addictive qualities of food. He seems to have been a professor that invested in his students, and we hope that some of them will continue his research in his absence.
Below are just some highlights of what Dr. Hoebel’s research has taught us.
Sugar is addictive and affects brain functions the same way as cocaine and heroin.
High-fructose corn syrup leads to more weight gain than ingesting the same amount of calories via traditional sugar. It also causes abnormal increases in body fat, particularly in the belly, and triglycerides.
I am finally back in a neighborhood where I am likely to receive trick or treaters. I’m pretty excited about the sparkly skull decorating my front door to announce we are a trick-or-treater-friendly household, but I am stumped on what treats to provide.
High fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil do not cross my threshold which eliminates a lot of the popular candies. It would be pretty hypocritical of me to provide those to other people’s children if I wouldn’t provide them to my own. Those great big bags of candy would be easy, but I do not want to support the continued use of chemicals in our food products. (more…)