Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Study finds alcohol doesn't kill off brain cells

NEW research, to be revealed at a conference of some of the world's top neuroscientists in Cairns today, has found alcohol does not kill off brain cells as always thought. For years imbibers have been told a big night on the drink wipes out entire sections of human brain cell function with much the same destructive equivalent as a napalm bombing strike.

According to Queensland Brain Institute director Professor Perry Bartlett, this is not true. There is no evidence drinking alcohol leads directly to the death of brain cells, he said. "Some of the best studies, done in Italy, show a bottle of wine a night can reduce the risk of dementia in old age," Professor Bartlett said.

In moderation, alcohol has positive benefits for blood vessel health and stroke prevention. And, as an added bonus, new brain cells are generated every day of our lives. Research by Professor Bartlett and his team has found we all have an inbuilt repair kit replenishing the more than 100 billion cells - or neurons - in our brain.


British kids refuse to oblige the food Fascists

When Jamie Oliver revolutionised school meals he was lauded by teachers, health-conscious parents and politicians keen for some reflected glory. His campaign has, however, proved less popular with the children. There has been a 20 per cent fall in the uptake of secondary school meals since Jamie's School Dinners was screened two years ago, according to official figures. Numbers have reportedly fallen to about four in ten pupils - thought to be the lowest level since provision became mandatory in 1944. Older pupils in particular are rejecting the organic and healthy meals in favour of packed lunches or takeaways.

The latest figures are from a survey by the Local Authorities Catering Association. The full results will be presented at a conference on Friday. A spokeswoman for LACA said: "There's definitely a drop in secondary school meal numbers. It's not because of Jamie Oliver but because of changes in Government regulations on school foods since 2006. There has been a withdrawal and banning of some foods, such as fizzy drinks.

"From September, all school food will be affected by new regulations. Homemade biscuits and cakes will no longer be available as snacks, instead there will be bread-based products. At the moment it's early days and children are reacting. We've got to have a realistic approach to this. I think the numbers will rise in the long term."



Sheer Puritanism. Not mentioned below is that lifespans have grown considerably since the 1940s

SIXTY years after the end of war-time food rationing, a leading nutritionist is calling for the return of the ration books. A 1940s diet could control the epidemic of obesity afflicting Australia and much of the developed world, says nutritionist Rosemary Stanton.

Apart from reducing the amount and variety of fatty foods available, rationing would reintroduce older values such as sharing and cutting down on waste. "During war time if you noticed the apples in the bowl were getting a bit wrinkly, you stewed them," Dr Stanton said. "Today you just chuck them out."

Rationing in war-time Australia was less severe than much of the rest of the world, and the only foods to which it applied were tea, sugar, butter and meat. Meat was rationed to the equivalent of 900g a week, butter to 450g a fortnight; sugar to 900g a fortnight and tea to 450g every five weeks. "Austerity meals" were served in Australian restaurants and hotels, limiting expenditure to five shillings (about $15 at today's values) for dinner, four shillings for lunch and three shillings for breakfast.

"There was very little incidence of heart disease or diabetes during the war years, and obesity was almost unknown," Dr Stanton said. People grew their own fruit and vegetables, and swapped foods with their neighbours, both of which should be encouraged today, she said. "We were restrained in the amount of fatty foods we could buy, whereas today there are no limits. This leads to waste and the massive amount of food we throw away.

Her latest book, Healthy Eating for Australian Families, includes a recipe for chocolate cake Dr Stanton discovered in an old World War II recipe book.



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.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.


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