"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Food and Pills 

It's really important to eat a balanced diet. We all know this, but also get lured by nutrition and diet fads that promise us perfect torsos, eternal youth, and freedom from disease (et cetera), and are forever disappointed. Eating more fish has been a rallying cry for a healthy lifestyle for some time, but now a study suggests that maybe eating too much fish, surprise surprise, may not be good for you. In fact, a large survey-based study suggests that younger people (under 60) who eat fish five times a week could be at higher risk for developing atrial fibrillation than others. Five servings of fish a week is a hell of a lot in the US population, so one has to wonder about other factors that could confound this finding. Also, what are atrial fibrillation rates in places like Japan where everybody eats lots of fish??

It's a cliché - an apple a day keeps the doctor away - but it seems to have some basis in reality. Researchers have found that apple flavenoids act differently from other fruit flavenoids to protect cells, disrupting the lethal effects of tumor necrosis factor in vitro. Interesting, and tasty!

Many people think that they can skip eating all that healthy stuff and just take pills to stay healthy. Not so much. An IOM panel has found no strong evidence for (or against) taking multivitamins, except in a few cases. Needless to say, the supplements industry would like them to have considered more industry-sponsored (and not very rigorous) research in the review.

And what day would be complete without a new reason to love caffeine? A large Canadian study suggests that it may improve breathing in premature babies. Starbucks will be introducing its own brand of formula later this week.

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