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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fat Sack 

We are, if you believe the hype, in the midst of a great and terrifying obesity epidemic. Hell, even if you don't believe the hype, a trip to your local shopping mall (especially if you live in the South or Midwest) will provide all the evidence you need. The question then is: why is it happening, and what can we do about it?

Understanding the why can lead to the what-to-do. On top of my list, besides our increasingly-sedentary society, is fructose sweeteners. In the US especially (due to ridiculous sugar tariffs designed to guarantee votes from Cubans in Florida), almost any food you buy is laced with high fructose corn syrup.

Besides being a source of boundless empty calories, new research further confirms that this crap is actively bad for you: compared to glucose-sweetened drinks, volunteers drinking fructose-sweetened ones had increased LDL ('bad') cholesterol, triglycerides, and other measures of atherosclerosis risk. This is why I read labels and avoid the stuff.

What else makes people fat? Stress! Georgetown researchers confirmed that chronically stressed mice got fatter, and put the fat in more unhealthy places (around the abdomen) than did non-stressed mice, and that Neuropeptide Y appears to be a major culprit in this pathway. Blocking NPY made fat cells shrink and excess fat 'melt' away. Ignoring the likely side-effects, where's my anti-NPY?!!

So, if you wanna lose weight: stop eating fructose-sweetened food, be less stressed, and, oh yeah, GET SOME EXERCISE!!!!

On a tangentially-related note, it turns out that those 'probiotic' yogurt thingeys, containing Lactobacillus casei, L bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus, really do reduce your risk of getting diarrhea after antibiotic treatment. Cool!

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