High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has been the whipping boy of nutritionists and advocates for several years now. Many ills that afflict us and the globe (global warming?) were attributed to this gooey liquid. So let’s examine the evidence dispassionately, and maybe we can add some light to the heated controversy.
What is fructose?
Fructose is a sugar, a monosaccharide, just like the more familiar glucose. In fact, in most cases they are found together, either as a mixture or as the disaccharide sucrose (table suger), which is made up of equal proportions of glucose and fructose.
According to a report issued by the National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research, 30% to 40% of people in the United States have insomnia within any given year, defined by the National Institutes of Health as ‘‘an experience of inadequate or poor quality sleep’’.
The Rabbis of the Talmud decreed that having sex on Friday is a Mitzvah (a must do)! But I have a sneaking suspicion they didn’t have athletic performance in mind. On the other hand, for many years, football coaches, Olympic athletes, and even Muhammad Ali, have advocated sexual abstinence the night before an athletic event. Marty Liquori, one the world’s number one-ranked 5,000-meter runner believes that Sex makes you happy, and happy people don’t run a 3:47 mile. Marv Levy, head coach of the Buffalo Bills, insisted that the team be separated from their wives before their appearance in four Super Bowls; a policy that apparently was not successful (four losses out of four Super Bowls).
In this season of hateful rhetoric and screams of “class warfare”, one cannot be blamed for perceiving people on the lower socioeconomic rungs as unprincipled, predatory, entitlements-moochers, and welfare cheats. President Reagan rode into office on the back of the “welfare queen” who, it turned out later, was invented out of whole cloth. But perceptions persist, and in politics perception trumps fact. Some social theorists even invoke Darwinism to describe the social environment of the lower classes as a Hobbsian, dog-eat-dog world. Except that in Darwin’s world dogs don’t eat dogs -they actually cooperate, which makes them extraordinarily successful hunters.
Recently, a raft of studies took a close look at the question of lower vs. upper socioeconomic behavioral patterns. And the results are truly amazing, albeit not surprising.
In my marathon-running days (I’ve got 13 under my belt) I used to train as I was told: put in the miles. Going out at five in the morning to run my daily allocation of 10-15 miles, with weekends of 20 miles, put me in great cardiorespiratory shape, and wrecked my body. I was constantly battling aches and pains, achilles tendinitis, and the blahs of overtraining. Despite all this dogged effort I was stuck in a frustrating plateau that I just couldn’t improve on. Until I stumbled oninterval training. It came in the form of a short hill, off the trail of my daily run. Just for fun (weird what runners consider fun) I decided to run up the hill (about 300ft) at maximum speed. I did, and was literally doubled over from breathlessness and exhaustion. But I also had a sense of euphoria, elation at the accomplishment. Well, when you hear euphoria, think endorphins (which are the endogenous morphins) and addiction. I kept coming to that hill and regularly increased the number of those short bursts of maximum effort, about a minute in duration each. I felt high. More important, I had a quantum jump in my next marathon time. So what happened?
More than 300 million people worldwide are considered obese (BMI >30) and more than a billion people are classified as overweight (BMI 25-30). This is a global epidemic that puts to shame such well-known epidemics as the black plague of the 14th century, which wiped out about a third of the European population. So what does this epidemic wipe out? among other things, your memory. Quite surprising, considering that our attention is riveted by the cardiovascular and renal effects of type 2 diabetes.
New research suggests that consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older. The study will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012. MCI is the stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer’s disease.
In a previous post we described the benefit of massage at the crime scene, so to speak, the site of the muscle injury. The mechanical deformation of tissue causes reduction in local inflammation, increases the biogenesis of mitochondria, and accelerates the remodeling of the injured tissue. But could that account for the emotional experience of massage? How could all these local effects cause the sense of relaxation and general well-being? In short: they don’t.