Tuesday, September 26, 2006


It's the perfect excuse for any child - some of us are born with a dislike of vegetables. Studies have shown that having a taste for bitter greens is in our genes. Those who baulk at the very thought of broccoli are born with taste buds which are highly sensitive to sharp tastes, while those who love the vegetable find it hard to register the bitterness.

The U.S. scientists said an aversion to vegetables may be the body's way of keeping us healthy. It is known that the chemicals behind the bitter taste stop iodine from working properly in the body. But iodine, found in seafood and some vegetables and processed by the thyroid gland, is crucial for growth and mental and sexual development. People living in areas where iodine levels are low may have evolved a dislike of foods that prevented them from making use of what little iodine there was.

The researchers from the Monell Chemical Sciences Centre in Philadelphia asked volunteers to rate a range of vegetables for bitterness. Each participant was then tested for variations of the genes which govern sensitivity to the bitter taste. There are two versions of the gene, one sensitive and one insensitive. Everyone has two of the genes, and those with a pair of the sensitive type found broccoli horribly bitter and cabbage and Brussels sprouts not much better. Those with two insensitive ones enjoyed eating the veg while volunteers with one of each type of gene fell somewhere in between.

The same genes are responsible for developing our taste, or otherwise, for watercress, turnip and horseradish. The experts believe, however, that it is possible for sensitive people to develop a taste for such vegetables as they grow older.


Fast food gets a tick

Not all fast food is bad for you. In fact some of the most common types of frozen and canned vegetables, such as peas and tomatoes, are packed with as many vitamins and minerals as fresh varieties. Nutritionist Susie Burrell said working parents were often stressed about providing healthy meals for their children but they should not feel guilty about stocking the freezer with frozen vegetables. "Freezing vegetables is done by snap-freezing, which means they retain all of their original nutritional value," said Ms Burrell, nutrition writer for The Courier-Mail's new cooking liftout Simply Food. "For busy people who struggle to get to the supermarket, they are a great option because it allows them to always have a back-up supply for quick, convenient and healthy meal options."

Brisbane mother Belinda Pearse, 24, said frozen and canned vegetables were a convenient and nutritious way to feed her 13-month-old daughter Elizabeth, and husband James, 39. "Fresh vegetables tend to go off quickly. It's easier to throw in a handful of pre-prepared veges than spend all evening cutting and peeling," she said.


Liver cure: "British scientists have discovered a drug that could cure liver disease, even in alcoholics who continue drinking. The medicine, found by a team of doctors and scientists at Newcastle University, could become a potential alternative to liver transplants. Until now cirrhosis of the liver, caused by alcohol, obesity or the hepatitis C virus, was considered incurable in all but the rarest of cases. The only option for patients in the final stages of liver disease was to wait for a liver transplant. However, because of organ shortages many die while on the waiting list. Clinical trials of the drug Sulphasalazine are expected to begin in Britain next year. If these prove successful, the drug could be used to treat heavy drinkers, whose plight was recently illustrated by George Best, the former Manchester United footballer who died from liver disease last year. Sulphasalazine, which already has a licence to treat arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, acts by preventing scarring from developing on the liver."

Weightlifting sends you blind: "Weightlifting causes a temporary increase in pressure within the eyes, and may be a risk factor for the eye disease glaucoma. In a new study in the Archives of Ophthalmology this week, researchers examined 30 men aged 18 to 40 without glaucoma. Participants performed two rounds of a bench press exercise, with four repetitions each time. In the first round, pressure was measured in the right eye and the weightlifters held their breath during the last repetition. In the second round, pressure was measured in the left eye and participants breathed normally throughout. During the first round, when the breath was held, pressure inside the eye increased in 90 per cent of the participants, by an average of 4.3mm of mercury. In the second round, eye pressure increased in 62 per cent of participants by an average of 2.2mm of mercury. The authors note that a type of glaucoma (normal-tension glaucoma) is more common in people who have frequent changes in eye pressure and can lead to blindness."

HRT sends you deaf: "Hormone replacement therapy could do more than simply ease the symptoms of menopause. New research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that women taking the most common form of HRT - the hormones estrogen and progesterone - have accelerated hearing loss compared to women on estrogen alone or those not taking any hormones. On average, women who took progesterone had the hearing of women five to 10 years older. Scientists assessed the hearing of 124 healthy women aged 60 to 86, half of whom had been on HRT for between five and 35 years. They were divided into three groups - 30 women taking estrogen alone, 32 women taking both estrogen and progesterone and 62 women who had never been on HRT. Women whose HRT included progesterone had hearing that was 10 to 30 per cent worse than the other groups. They not only had problems in the inner ear, but also in the parts of the brain used for hearing."


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.


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