by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.
Welcome to our Thursday’s Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy™. Get our updates every other Thursday via email here (it’s free).
Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!
Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:
Healthy = less filling?
The takeaway from this is that “healthy food” labels may make you overeat that product. Because we assume health-labelled foods are “less filling”, we tend to overconsume them. Examples are “all natural ingredients”, or “organic”, or “gluten-free” labels. Do you resonate with this?
Empty plates, larger waists?
This cross-sectional study indicates that those who habitually clear their plates when eating are at a greater risk of becoming overweight. If you clear a plate full of vegs, I am fine with that :-)
A cocoa drink a day to keep wrinkles away?
Cocoa is known to be rich in flavonols, a type of phytochemical known to have many health benefits. Scientists looked the anti-wrinkle and anti-photo-ageing effects of drinking a low-fat, low-sugar hot chocolate prepared with 200ml of hot water and 4 grams of pure cocoa powder (to yield 320mg of cocoa flavonols). This was consumed every day for 24 weeks. They found that this improved both facial wrinkles and skin elasticity.
Antioxidants good for reproductive health
If you’re a woman and you’re trying to conceive, good levels of antioxidants in your blood (including vitamins A, C, and E) may help support and even improve your reproductive health. Evidence is growing that the balance between free radicals and antioxidants plays a vital role in female fertility.
Gourmet crickets, or mealworms à la française?
Edible insects may not be on your menu, but in the sports nutrition arena they are highly sought for being an excellent source of lean protein. If your palate rejects the texture of insect legs and antennas, there’s a solution: most insect products hide the insect texture by converting them into flour, or cricket-flour bars and cricket-flour crackers. And it seems that chefs are getting more creative at making the whole thing (intact insects) more appetising too. Here in the UK insect-eating (entomophagy) hasn’t been normalised, and although I’m not much of an adventurous eater, I’d like to try the healthier ones (not fried). How about you?
Exercise after fructose ingestion suppresses fructose storage
Fructose metabolism is different when you exercise. Researchers found that exercising immediately after consuming fructose increased its use for energy, without storing it as fat in the body. This confirms other research, particularly seen in athletes. Muscle-fuel timing is key in here, which we teach in our Advanced Sports and Exercise Nutritional Advisor course.
Post-meal blood sugar levels promote heart attack complications
This is the first study to show that the level of sugar in your blood can directly affect the contraction of blood vessels, with potentially dangerous effects on your heart and blood pressure, highlighting the potential risks of regularly consuming rich, sugary foods.
New alcohol guidelines
Previous government guidance set out daily drinking limits of 3 to 4 units for men, and 2 to 3 for women. But now the recommendation changed, and it’s the same for men and women. To keep health risks to a minimum, people should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. This is because the evidence now suggests men’s and women’s risks from drinking a given amount of alcohol are about the same.
So, what’s a unit? Here’s a useful visual aid from Cancer Research UK:
Cutting sugar in soft drinks by 40% could prevent 300,000 cases of diabetes
Reducing the amount of sugar in sugary drinks by 40% over 5 years could prevent 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in the UK over the next 2 decades.
Parents urged to get free sugar app to check products
According to official figures, young children are eating 3 times more than the sugar limit, and those aged 4 to 10 years old are consuming 22kg of added sugar a year… close to their own body weight! The “sugar smart app”, from Public Health England, works by scanning barcodes and revealing total sugar in cubes or grams. It’s free and you can download it here. Even if you don’t live in the UK, I think it’s worth checking this out for facts and tips!
4 in 10 obese by 2035
The proportion of people who will be obese is set to continue increasing. By 2035, almost 4 in 10 adults will be obese. Here in the UK alone, it’s estimated that obesity could lead to ~700,000 extra cases of cancer in the next 20 years.
But why is obesity linked to cancer? There are numerous hypotheses, some of them include:
- Excess body fat can lead to a surplus production of certain hormones which may alter normal cell growth
- Being overweight can lead to tissues becoming inflamed, which in turn increases the risk of them becoming cancerous
- Fat may interfere with the action of proteins designed to prevent abnormal cell proliferation
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What has inspired you this week? What are your thoughts on some of these topics? Leave a comment and let us know!