Scientists are discovering that our food preferences are much more than a matter of taste, and that taste itself is more complicated than we thought. Psychology also plays a role. An expert discusses what determines preferences, such as why some people like jalapeno peppers & black coffee, and some don’t.
Dr. Rachel Herz, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University, and author, Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationship With Food
Folate, or vitamin b-9, is an essential nutrient, especially for pregnant women. Folic acid is often added to bread, flour, cereal, and pasta to help eliminate deficiencies. Now new research shows supplementation is more important than we thought, because once somebody is short on folate, the damage can’t be fixed. The study in the journal PNAS shows that folate deficiency triggers errors in chromosomes that are passed on as the cell divides. Once those changes occur, they’re permanent.
If you’ve ever fibbed to your doctor, you’re not alone. In fact, a study in the journal JAMA Network Open finds that between 60 and 80 percent of people are less than forthcoming to their doctors about things that could affect their health. People apparently want to avoid being judged or lectured by doctors… or sometimes, they’re simply too embarrassed to tell the truth.
Various forms of dementia are increasing… and now scientists have found that a single specific mutation in one gene can cause one of them. “Frontotemporal dementia” accounts for about 20 percent of all early-onset forms of the disease…. which can affect people as young as their 40’s. A study in the journal Translational Psychiatry has tracked down a single mutation as the cause… and researchers say the finding could be important for both treatment and in research on Alzheimer’s disease.
And finally… a new study shows that forcing kids to apologize usually backfires. The study in the journal Merrill-Palmer Quarterly finds that children who receive an insincere apology dislike the apologizing kid even more than they did before. Transgressors feel worse, too… and don’t learn to have empathy for their victim.
During the holidays, leftovers from gatherings and parties may threaten to take over the refrigerator. An expert discusses consumer-friendly how-to’s, including how to read labels, that can lengthen food life and help avoid food waste.
Karen Bakies, registered dietitian and Vice President of Nutrition Affairs, American Dairy Association Mideast
Acute myeloid leukemia, or AML is one of the deadliest cancers, with a five-year survival rate of about 25 percent… and even when a patient has a lasting remission, the disease almost always relapses. But a new study in the journal Nature Communications finds that the disease appears to be the fault of a single gene, which they’ve located. Researchers say the gene rewires the body’s entire set of blood-forming cells and tissues. They hope the breakthrough could eventually lead to a gene-targeted therapy and improve survival rates.
Scientists have discovered some of the reasons why people with obesity have a higher risk of asthma. A study in the Journal of Physiology—Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology shows that inflammation in airways is greater in people with obesity. Those with obesity are also more likely to over-respond to allergens in airway muscles…causing the airways to narrow. Researchers say the discoveries may improve asthma treatment.
Teachers often contribute to a diagnosis of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder in children… but a new study concludes they may be mistaking immaturity for ADHD. The study in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry shows that it’s most often the youngest kids in a classroom who are diagnosed with ADHD. Experts also say that in children who are diagnosed… it appears that some parts of the brain mature up to three years later than in kids who are not labeled.
And finally… one good way to get the vitamins you need in the future may be to chew some gum. A study in the Journal of Functional Foods shows that gum loaded with vitamins delivers enough of them to significantly raise levels in the blood. Both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins were effectively delivered in gum… and researchers say most people think it’s a pleasant way to get nutrition.
Researchers have discovered a variety of components in foods that are essential to health but are low in quantity in most diets. One of these is a set of compounds called polyamines. Researchers explain what they are, how they work, and how people can replace those that are needed in the diet.
Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are making crops grow bigger & faster. However, researchers have found that these crops contain significantly lower levels of protein, iron, zinc, and other important nutrients, potentially endangering nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. Experts explain the effect will get worse as CO2 levels continue to rise, and what might be done to combat the problem.
Dr. Sam Myers, Principal Research Scientist and Director, Planetary Health Alliance, Harvard University
Dr. Kristie Ebi, Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Univ. of Washington
If medical experts aren’t sure which foods are healthy, how do we decide what to eat? Dr. Charles Katzenberg, a cardiologist at the Sarver Heart Center, says he has discussions about heart healthy food every day with his patients. There is not a national consensus on heart healthy food. This means that different people will give different answers, and no one seems to know what to do. Most cardiologists agree that a good diet will help a person. While the same cardiologists admit to having minimal or no training at all on nutrition in medical school or at their residencies.
Dr. Stephen Devries of the Gaples Institute says while some nutritional knowledge is common sense, other information needs to be taught. If medical professionals aren’t properly trained, they won’t be able to suggest effective interventions. Why is nutrition not taught to a cardiologist? According to Dr. Katzenberg, nutrition isn’t taught to cardiologists, because their training programs prioritize other information.. Both experts agree that the issue starts with the system not putting enough emphasis on preventative measures. The key to solving this problem is for medical professionals to work together with other specialists, like nutritionists, who might have relevant training that would benefit the patient.
Dr. Charles Katzenberg, University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center
Dr. Stephen Devries, Executive Director, Gaples Institute for Integrative Cardiology