Beyond the buzz

Beyond the Buzz.  Is what you’ve heard true…or just new?

With so much information – and misinformation – out there, it’s hard to know what to believe.  Here’s the truth about some of the latest buzz.

Drink chocolate milk after exercise?
“Got milk? Try chocolate.” This classic childhood beverage has taken the spotlight when it comes to recovering from intense exercise. When we talk about recovery from endurance exercise, you’re trying to restore muscle glycogen. Glycogen is a long chain of glucose (blood sugar). The body converts glucose to glycogen in order to store the glucose in muscles and in the liver. The problem, we don’t have much glycogen. So, during an intense, prolonged activity, you can run out of glycogen. This is where chocolate milk comes in. Milk has naturally occurring sugar (lactose) that is half glucose. The protein in milk helps speed up glycogen synthesis in the body, and its electrolytes will help you rehydrate. So why chocolate milk? Low-fat chocolate milk has four times more carbs than protein, and this may be the optimal ratio to rapidly replenish glycogen stores in muscles. You can also restore the glycogen if you eat a meal within an hour. Most people aren’t running marathons or cycling competitively and then doing another intense workout within 24 hours. A recovery beverage therefore isn’t necessary. If you’re taking a brisk walk/jog with the end goal to lose weight, you wouldn’t want the 170 or so calories in a cup of chocolate milk.

Bottom Line: You don’t need chocolate milk (or any food) to recover unless you’re doing prolonged, intense exercise on successive days (or more than one strenuous workout on the same day).

Skipping breakfast makes you fatter?
The idea is that people end up overeating later in the day because they think that if they skipped breakfast then they can eat more at lunch or dinner. Recently researchers tried to debunk this common obesity “myth” and they concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that eating breakfast protects against weight gain.

Bottom Line: There isn’t any evidence that eating – or skipping – breakfast makes you lose or gain weight.

Avoid fast food to dodge asthma?
A recent study in the U.S. News and World Report said that, “Fast food is linked to severe asthma in children.” The study that was conducted reported that kids that ate fast food at least three times a week were more likely to have severe asthma than those that ate fast food less than once a week or never. This type of research can’t say whether fast food caused asthma. While it’s not clear what’s accounting for the increase in asthma worldwide, some researchers are speculating that the rise may be due to an increase in “Westernized” diets.

Bottom Line: There’s no good evidence that eating fast food – or any other food – increases your risk of developing asthma. However, if you do have asthma, losing extra weight may help control your symptoms (less wheezing and shortness of breath, and fewer puffs from an inhaler).

Taking garlic pills protects your heart?
Here are some claims on some popular garlic supplements: “Supports your cardiovascular system”, “Cholesterol’s Natural enemy” – seems like taking a garlic supplement would surely help keep heart disease at bay. Or does it? A recent study randomly assigned a quarter of the participants to eat four grams (1 ½ teaspoons) a day of raw garlic (let’s face it, the raw-garlic eaters knew which group they were in). Another quarter was given a powdered garlic pill, while a quarter got aged garlic pills, and the remaining quarter were told to take a placebo. After six months, LDL cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and triglycerides were no different in the garlic eaters and the garlic-pill takers than in those who took the placebo. Remember the industry wants to sell pills.

Bottom Line: Leave the garlic pills on the shelf. If your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol is above the “optimal” (if it’s 100 or more), cut calories if you need to lose weight, exercise more, and eat a healthy diet.

Eating wheat packs on the pounds?
In the book, Wheat Belly, recently published they make the claims that if you “lose the wheat, you’ll lose the weight, and find your path back to health.” The author claims that if you cut out the carbs, like bread, pasta, bagels, tortillas, pizza crust, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, etc., then you’ll make a dent in your weight. The truth is that there isn’t a good study out there to have been tested to show that wheatless diets are any better for losing weight – or keeping weight off – than other popular weight-loss diets. The truth: you can lose weight on just about any diet that cuts calories. Avoiding wheat isn’t the answer. For those people who have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance they need to avoid wheat. This is just another fad diet that too will run its course.

Bottom Line: Eliminating wheat won’t help you lose weight or keep it off, unless you cut your total calories.

Dairy foods cause ovarian cancer?
In a report out by CBS news in 2004 it stated that, “milk was linked to ovarian cancer.” Dairy foods – low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese – supply calcium and Vitamin D for bones and may protect against colorectal cancer and high blood pressure. How is it then that dairy could be associated with ovarian cancer? Researchers found a “weak” link in women that consumed at least 30 grams of lactose (the naturally occurring sugar in milk) a day. To get 30 grams, you’d need to consume 2 ½ cups of milk, 2 cups of yogurt, 3 cups of ice cream, or 27 pounds of cheddar. So in the studies it shows that lactose raises the risk of ovarian cancer, while dairy does not. The question then arises, “could dairy foods have other nutrients that lower the risk and counteract the lactose? “Could genes play a role?” The American Institute for Cancer Research state that there isn’t enough evidence to reach a conclusion about dairy’s effect on the risk of ovarian cancer. Some other risk factors that we do know: a family history of ovarian cancer, having used hormone therapy, never having been pregnant, or excess weight.

Bottom Line: There’s only weak evidence that large amounts of lactose (equal to the amount in 2 ½ glasses of milk) increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

Nutrition is a science that is always evolving. Sorting out the research and separating food fact from fiction can be difficult. Pay attention to reputable sources of information. And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.