In today’s Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer is a story on Weight Watchers‘ shift within the past year to the Points Plus system, which WW said was intended to steer people toward more healthy food choices. One change under the new plan: encourage people to eat more fresh fruits by giving them zero points. The guts of the reporting is from the New York Times; I added the local comments.
It was a weekend-long conversation that I found both fascinating and frustrating.
The four of us — Alan, Lois, Grace and I — were backpacking Easter weekend on top of Virginia, in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. If there’s an activity that lends itself to long, extended conversations, it’s backpacking. You wake together, you have breakfast together, you hike all day together, you have dinner together, you crawl into your respective tents and listen to one another snore together. It is the ultimate in togetherness. While I was aware of Alan’s interest/obsession with nutrition (including a two-year stint as a fruitarian and his days as a carrot juice magnet) and gathered that his girlfriend, Lois, a nurse, was likewise inclined (she was), Grace was a wildcard. Until she pulled from her backpack a 25-pound bag of fresh food. (Note to non-backpackers: That’s a lot of weight; most backpackers rely largely on dehydrated foods that way a fifth as much.) Though nearly half Alan’s age, Grace was up for discussing his every nutritional nuance, from dehydrating watermelons to waiting 30 minutes to brush your teeth after sucking a lemon because you could brush away your citric-acid-softened enamel.
The conversation during our three days together backpacking the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area this past Easter weekend always seemed to come back to nutrition. Grace, Lois and Alan had carted in enough fresh produce to start a farmer’s market at our Rhododendron Gap campsite. Conservatively, I’d guess they had 45 pounds of food between them. I was relying heavily on prepackaged, come-to-life-with-boiling-water dehydrated food, from instant oatmeal in the morning to cook-in-bag meals at night. Foodwise, I couldn’t have been carrying 5 pounds, if that.
Overhauling one’s diet can be overwhelming, what with every little nutritional nuance to keep tabs on. This week, instead of trying to ride herd over every aspect of your eating, focus on one: added sugars.
A study presented at the American Heart Association‘s recent Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions underscores what shouldn’t be surprising: added sugars contribute to weight gain. Data accumulated as part of the 27-year-long Minnesota Heart Survey, a surveillance study of adults ages 25 to 74 living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, showed a relationship between added sugars and body mass index. Seven surveys of the adults, ages 25 to 74, participating in the Minnesota Heart Survey were taken over its course, beginning in 1980. Here are the key findings:
The latest from the research world as it applies to our world …
Chocolate: the new super fruit
You’d expect scientific news about chocolate coming out of the Hershey Center for Heath & Nutrition to be favorable toward the brown elixir. And you wouldn’t be disappointed.
Chocolate, which recently has been embraced as the ultimate recovery drink by recovering athletes, has been deemed by the Hershey center as a rich source of antioxidants, those naturally occurring elements that helps us fight disease. Further, chocolate contains more polyphenols and flavanols than fruit juice. The testing found this property for antioxidants in dark chocolate and cocoa. (Hot chocolate was also tested, but proved not as rich in antioxidants because of the processing involved.