Monthly Archives: November 2010

Getting Colds, It’s Not Just the D, it’s the E

Getting Colds, It’s Not Just the D, it’s the E

Competency:  Exercise

Reference:  David Nieman Br Jr of Sports Med, Nov 2010

Want to not get a cold this winter?  I don’t.  What we call colds are probably a whole host of different viruses.  A really bad cold is probably influenza of one kind or another.  Rhinoviruses are the archtypical stuffy nose and cough.  But we call lots of things “a cold”.  Now, imagine taking 1002 Wisconsin citizens (ages 18-85) and tracking them precisely for symptoms of some sort of upper respiratory illness for 12 weeks in the winter of 2008.  Instead of swabbing and culturing viruses, Niemann and his team put their research effort into measuring activity, aerobic exercise, diet and weight.  (I liked this study.  It’s on us folks here in chilly Wisconsin where it’s 23 degrees this morning)

And what they found is quite unique.  Those folks who described themselves as “Fit”, and by that they had to exercise in some fashion 4-5 days a week, had only 4.4-4.9 days of “colds” per person.  Those who exercised between 1 and 4 days a week had 4.9 to 5.5 days of “colds”.  Finally, those who fondly stayed on the couch and only got up one day a week or less had 8.2 to 8.6 “cold” days.

Do you see the pattern?  Folks didn’t just have fewer colds.  They also had shorter colds.  That means exercise does something for their immune system and how it reacts to and clears the infecting virus.   Their summary data concluded that couch potatoes had about twice the likelihood of catching a cold, and when they got one, it was about 33% tougher and longer lasting.  The average adult in America has about two to four colds a year.  Kids have six to ten colds as their immune system is ramping up and learning how to fight new viruses.

There is a valuable lesson in here.  This study looks at the 30,000 foot view and describes the big picture.  If you drill down to your immune system, we can also see the effects of exercise there.  Getting out there and getting yourself sweaty turns on your immune cells and shuts down many of your inflammatory markers.  It increases your insulin sensitivity as well.  Insulin and inflammation are ever so delicately intertwined.  There is abundant research showing all the markers of inflammation just getting better with exercise.   It’s not just about weight loss.  It’s about immune function, mental function, reduced heart disease, less cancer….And you can see it with the everyday common cold.

WWW:  What will work for me?  Well, if you are sitting at home with your two beautiful kids, one of whom is coughing on you, you might want to think of a strategy to keep all of you well.  How about building in regular exercise every week.  Take the kids to the skating rink this winter.  Plan on building snow forts with them.  Find a way to use your imagination to make exercise happen every day.  When you walk your dog, try jogging for a hundred yards here and there.  Your dog will love it.  Your immune system will too.   And on Dec 31, you can look back and pat yourself on the back for a year well done.

Fructose Causes Gout in Women

Fructose Causes Gout in Women

Competency:  Sugar

Reference:  JAMA Online.  To be published Nov 27, 2010

Something funny has happened to American women over the last thirty years.  We have seen an epidemic of gout in women.  This article parses that out.  The incidence has gone from 16 cases per thousand to 46.  That’s a tripling .  Goodness.  And what did they find as the cause?   They compared data from the Nurses Health study looking at the consumption of sugared sodas and other sources of fructose.  What they found was that women who drank one serving of sugared soda or less per month were some 74% less likely to get gout that those who drank one serving every day.   But those who drank two servings or more per day had a 240% increased risk of gout.  Same data with orange juice.    Two or more servings per day bump your risk of gout up 240%.  Orange juice, the sacred cow of breakfast!  Causes gout?

What is gout?  It’s a painful arthritis, usually of the big toe.  It hurts a lot.  Folks describe being unable to put a sheet on their throbbing toe.    It will last for a couple of days, then fade away, if you don’t eat any more sugar, which you are likely not to do because you are in so much pain.   We can help it medically by giving anti-inflammatory drugs or drugs that lower your uric acid.  We have also known for quite some time that there is a strong risk association with uric acid elevation, gout and coronary artery disease.

How does that happen?   Here is the skinny.  We now know it down to the molecule.  When you drink fructose, your body can digest it only in your liver.  You absorb and digest glucose everywhere, but not fructose.  Our bodies were not designed to get a big boost of fructose all at once.  The fructose exhausts our liver cells, draining all their ATP, our energy molecule, into ADP, which then breaks down into uric acid.  We do know from other research that a large “Big Gulp” of sugared soda, a supersized dose at a fast food place, will raise your uric acid some 2-3 points in just an hour.  Uric acid in your blood is what causes painful gout in your joints.  Along with that comes fatty liver  because our livers don’t have any energy left over.  Your blood fats go up, your serum uric acid goes up, your liver fats go up.  The LDLs start making deposits in your arteries.  The uric acid starts depositing in your joints, and we call that gout..   There it is.

Now we have the evidence.  Fructose causes gout. Gout is strongly associated with coronary artery disease because it comes along with all the LDLs in your blood.  What is so confounding is that fructose from any source can do it.  It doesn’t just have to be from sugared sodas.  Even orange juice will do it.

WWW. What will work for me?   Does that mean we should avoid fruit?  Well, if you are on a diet of only fruit, your LDLs will go up a bit, but because you have the fiber in whole fruits, the rate of absorption of fructose is much slower.  It’s the juice that concentrates the sugar and a liquid drink delivers the absorbable fructose rapidly to your stomach.   The simple formula for liquid calories is that the calories you drink are  the calories you store.  Now we also know that if those calories come from fructose you might get gout.  Stick with the whole fruit.

Hidden Poison: Fructose in Sugared Sodas

Hidden Poison: Fructose in Sugared Sodas

Reference:  Obesity, October 2010 on line from the Keck School of Medicine

Competency:  Sugar

High Fructose corn syrup is known to be a danger because it is so inflammatory.  It creates inflammation in our bodies.  You think of it as a sweetener and a sugar.  The chemical fructose is actually in the aldehyde family and is not digested like glucose.  It can only be digested in your liver, and in so doing it is changed into LDL fats.   Those LDL fats hang around in your liver and give you fatty liver because you have no way of regulating the speed at which you digest the fructose.  With that comes inflammation through the FOX1 gene.  Fructose is just plain trouble.  Apples contain about 6% fructose and are filled with fiber that slow down its absorption.

So, what’s the big deal? Well, I have been led to believe that high fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose and 45% glucose.  That’s pretty close to the proportion of table sugar, which is exactly 50:50.  Hence, we have confidently been stating that drinking a fully sugared soda is as bad as having so many teaspoons of table sugar, but no worse.  What the article from the journal, Obesity, shows is that we have been sold a subtle bill of goods by the soda industry.  While the common knowledge is that HFCS is 55:45, the industry is actually given a 20% leeway in which the fructose content of soda can range.  In other words, the fructose content of the soda can be as high as 20% off their registered label of HFCS or 55:45.

Guess what the researchers found?   Coke and Pepsi both push the limit of the 20%.  Instead of being 55:45, they run 64:36.  That’s not just high fructose, that’s REALLY high fructose.  The deceit is that fructose is so bad for you.  Instead of getting a drink that is 50% fructose (really awful for you), both Coke and Pepsi are TWO THIRDS fructose (really over the top bad).

What’s their incentive to do this?  Money.  Fructose is cheaper.  Fructose is sweeter,  more stable and it’s easier to transport.  There is no consideration of your well-being when it’s put in the sweetened beverage.

This is food politics at its very worst.  American food giants are cynical in their disregard for your safety and well-being.  This is not accidental.  It is well known to the soda industry what the effects of fructose are.  This is cold calculated money.

Were fructose to be brought to the market today and introduced as a drug on the market, it would have a hard time passing  muster with  any hospital research committee.  If any dietician or nutritional specialist would show its effects to a rational audience, and claim it as a valuable and useful food, it would never be permitted in the market place.  Because it is so ubiquitous, and in so many foods, we stand by quietly and let ourselves be exposed to it in every venue.

WWW:  What will work for me.  Time to rethink.  If you are concerned about your personal health, you must simply stop all sugared sodas.  They aren’t just made with sugar, they are made with two thirds fructose.  Our next series will be on the connection between diabetes and cancer.  When you understand the link between fructose and diabetes, and diabetes and cancer, you will start looking at sugared soda as the way to commit slow death by cancer.  And you thought soda was just empty calories.  Oh my.