Friday, February 21, 2014

Our obsession with BACON could send us to an early grave, doctors warn

The usual epidemiological nonsense

Doctors have warned that our unwavering love of bacon could be sending us to an early grave.  Figures released last week revealed that bacon sales in the U.S. rose by nearly 10 per cent last year to an all time record of $4 billion.  And research by pork supplier supplier Smithfield found that 65 per cent of Americans were behind the idea of making bacon the country's 'national food'.

But medical experts have repeatedly warned of the dangers of eating too much processed meat, as it has been linked to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Worse still, the legendary pairing of bacon and maple syrup is even more damaging, Harvard scientists have warned.

They say when bacon or sausages are combined with sugar, this makes our craving for the meat worse -  a phenomenon known as 'food trifecta'.

This is defined as the irresistible trio of fat, salt, and sugar, Live Science reports.

Previous research has pinpointed the exact chemical reaction that makes bacon so smell so tempting.  Called the Maillard reaction, it occurs between an amino acid and a reducing sugar when heated.

The acid and sugar react to release a huge amount of smells and flavour that make us salivate.

Another theory is that the meat has a special savoury taste called 'umami'. This is the Japanese word for the fifth basic sense of taste, after bitter, salty, sour and sweet - and is the main reason why we like foods such as cheese, bacon and soy sauce.

But experts are increasingly concerned about how much processed meat we are all eating.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that eating processed meat, such as bacon, sausage or processed deli meats, was associated with a 42 per cent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 per cent  higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.

But they did not find any higher risk of heart disease or diabetes among individuals eating unprocessed red meat, such as from beef, pork, or lamb.

Researcher Renata Micha said: 'When we looked at average nutrients in unprocessed red and processed meats eaten in the United States, we found that they contained similar average amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.

'In contrast, processed meats contained, on average, four times more sodium (salt) and 50 per cent more nitrate preservatives.'

This suggests that differences in salt and preservatives, rather than fats, might explain the higher risk of heart disease and diabetes seen with processed meats, but not with unprocessed red meats.'

Salt is known to increase blood pressure, a strong risk factor for heart disease.

In animal experiments, nitrate preservatives can promote hardening of the arteries and reduce glucose tolerance, effects which could increase risk of heart disease and diabetes.

To lower risk of heart attacks and diabetes, people should consider which types of meats they are eating, she said.

'Processed meats - such as bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs and processed deli meats - may be the most important to avoid. Based on our findings, eating one serving per week or less would be associated with relatively small risk.'


Scientists discover the 'switch' that tells the brain to go sleep

If you are a fruit fly

Scientists think they have discovered the switch in the brain that tells our bodies when to go to sleep.

The discovery, made by neurologists at Oxford University, could pave the way for a treatment to combat sleep disorders such as insomnia.

The scientists think the switch works by regulating neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain.   Described as a ‘homeostat’ which can tell when someone has been awake for too many hours, the mechanism fires when the body is tired.

Professor Gero Miesenböck, whose team conducted the research, said: ‘When you’re tired, these neurons in the brain shout loud and they send you to sleep.’

The researchers demonstrated the theory on fruit flies, removing the switch to create insomniac insects.  They are convinced the same molecular system which forces neurons to fire works in the human brain.

Dr Jeffrey Donlea, who co-authored the study in the journal Neuron, added: ‘There is a similar group of neurons in a region of the human brain.

‘These neurons are also electrically active during sleep and, like the flies’ cells, are the targets of general anaesthetics that puts us to sleep.

‘It’s therefore likely that a molecular mechanism similar to the one we have discovered in flies also operates in humans.’

Researchers are now trying to find out how to activate the sleep switch is so that it can be used to treat insomnia.


1 comment:

Wireless.Phil said...

Bacon, really?
If I eat more than two slices, I get sick to my stomach.

BTW: Did you see the new Bacon Bowl you can make at home (YUCK!)