Fewer Kids at Risk for Deficient Vitamin D: SmartyPants Comments

sun gives vitamin d

A recent study found that fewer kids are vitamin D deficient than previously thought. In fact, the researchers found that only 10% - as opposed to the 2009 estimate of 70% - of kids had inadequate levels of vitamin D. Whereas we once thought 38.5 million children had low levels of D, only 5.5 million in fact do.

So what has happened in the past 4 years? What, exactly, are we doing right? (more…)

Sugar: A Better Reward Than Artificial Sweeteners?

artificial sweeteners

The war between sugar and artificial sweeteners rages on, and the last battle didn't go well for artificial sweeteners.  A recent study by a team of researchers at The Yale University School of Medicine and published in The Journal of Physiology has found that when given the choice of either real sugar or an artificial sweetener, laboratory mice responded more favorably to the “real thing”.  The study raises an important question about whether artificial sweeteners will keep our appetites satisfied – or if they are likely to create more cravings down the road.

An artificial sweetener - like sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame - is a food additive substituted in place of sugar that replicates the effect of sugar in taste, usually with less food energy (ie, calories).  All artificial sweeteners are synthetic.  Non synthetic (or natural) replacements for sugar -  like agave, xylitol, and sorbitol - are called sugar substitutes.

 The researchers, led by Professor Ivan de Araujo, put hungry mice through a number of tests involving artificial sweeteners vs. real sugars (glucose) and then monitored their responses and the dopamine levels in their brains.  Dopamine, (the “reward signal” in our brain) is a chemical messenger that affects behavior, emotional responses, and our ability to feel pleasure.  Even with artificial sweeteners many times sweeter than sugar, the mice consistently preferred the real thing, suggesting that sweetness alone was not enough to determine their preference.  Could it be that their brains knew that the sweet substitutes were not going to provide the necessary calories their cells craved?That is exactly what the mice's behavior suggests to Dr. Araujo and his team.  Their brains chose real food rather than being tricked by “energy-less” artificial ingredients devoid of calories.   When real sugar is broken down and used as fuel, our reward signals are happy and we feel satisfied.  De Araujo refers to this as the “sugar-to-energy pathway”.   With artificial sweeteners offering low or no calories and thus no energy component, the brain is not getting the message that it is full, and there is then no experience of satiation.   With no satiation, the brain craves more.  This is when the sweet tooth becomes, according to Dr. David Katz, Founding Director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, the ravenous sweet fang.Although these studies were conducted on laboratory mice, the researchers feel confident that the findings can be applied to humans as well.Nature World News recently reported that nearly 30% of the people in the United States currently consume low calorie food or drinks with artificial sweeteners, yet obesity is continually on the rise.  This study helps make sense of this apparent incongruity.  De Aroujo and his team suggest that we may be more likely to “relapse and choose high calorie options with real sugar to make us feel more satisfied in the future”.  While we might enjoy the flavor of a substitute, without the overall feeling of being satisfied we might then look for other options – possibly with high calories to make up for the loss.  “We believe that this discovery is important because it shows how physiological states may impact our choices between sugars and sweeteners.”While this research does not suggest that we add more sugar in our diets, it does make us look at our overall food consumption, our choices, and how our bodies respond to them.  By only consuming low calorie options, we may believe that we are living a healthier lifestyle.  This study suggests there are other factors to consider when deciding what is best for our overall health.   

School Meals: Nutrition May No Longer Be a Choice

healthy schoolsBoth parents and kids face a slew of choices when it comes to all things back to school. Pencils or pens.  Lunch box or paper bags.  Easy classes or challenging ones...But they may no longer have to choose when it comes to nutrition and school meals.  That's right. As a result of the Healthy Hungry Free Kids Act, which was passed in 2010, schools have had to consider what makes up a healthy choice when it comes to nutrition, and they've had to change their menu and vending options. In January 2012 the USDA revised school meals to limit calories and add more fruits, veggies and whole grains. Now, as early as next year, schools must also offer snacks low in fat and salt in vending machines. (more…)

Half of the World’s Food is Wasted

food landfillThe Institution of Mechanical Engineers recently released a report stating that a staggering 30-50% of food in the world just ends up being tossed in the dumps instead of feeding hungry mouths. Thirty percent of the UK's produce is left to rot because the vegetables don't look blue-ribbon worthy. Per capita food waste in the United States has been a steady 50% since 1974.  But don't think that third world countries hang on to every edible morsel either: food wastage in developing parts of Asia and Africa, primarily due to poor harvesting, storage, and handling of produce, is on par with the wastage of North America and Europe.The rate of over a billion tons of wasted food every year makes very little sense, particularly when considering the inflation of commodity prices, worldwide economic disparity, the tools at our disposal to prevent food spoilage, and the dire environmental issues looming over our heads.  While there is little you can do to put any kind of measurable ding in that massive pile of food, there is a tremendous amount you can do right now to reduce your contribution to it.  Here are 10 simple tips to help you and your family with this needless problem. (more…)

Diabetes Spending Spree: Costs Up 41% Since 2007

the rising cost of diabetes treatmentPerhaps the most meaningful health slogan for the next decade is:  "Don't get beat by diabetes." With fast food item sizes more than tripling since the 1950s, our bodies have taken the brunt of the excess everything--the calories, the fat, the sodium and the chemicals that infuse these health robbers. That's right--the average weight of a fast food burger in the 1950's was 3.9 ounces.  Today?  A whooping 12!  Sodas?  They've grown five times their original seven ounces to a staggering 42. The serving size of french fries has nearly tripled as well.  And while the average weight of an average American has not necessarily tripled, it has crept up by about 20%, as has waist size. (more…)

Sugar: Health’s Bane, or Today’s Scapegoat?

 is sugar bad?

"Sugar is indeed toxic".Or so says journalist Mark Bittman in his New York Times editorial last week.  In it, Mr. Bittman interprets for the reader the results of a study recently published in the journal PloS One titled "The Relationship of Sugar to Population-Level Diabetes Prevalence".  "It isn't simply overeating that can make you sick; it's overeating sugar. We finally have the proof we need for a verdict."That verdict, needless, to say, is not a good one.Sugar, in its various forms, has certainly taken a drubbing in the last decade for both its ubiquity and its apparent negative impact on health.   Experts and layman alike have made it's vilification their signature cause, from doctors like Robert Lustig to bestselling authors like Leighton Steward.  Study after study, we are told, proves that sugar does, indeed, destroy health and is the cause of today's most pressing health crises.  And so, as Common Sense and Mark Bittman would tell us, Sugar must be amputated from the Human diet.But is the Truth so clear cut?  Is Sugar - in any of it's forms - the true and singular cause of diabetes in America?  Must sugar be walked to the plank and thrown to the sea? (more…)

SmartyPants Vitamins Adds a Tasty Boost of Nutrition to The Integrative Healthcare Symposium

Integrative Healthcare Symposium 

SmartyPants is bringing its great-tasting, all-in-one gummy multivitamins with essential Omega 3s and Vitamin D to one of America's most prestigious forums for professionals in integrative medicine, Feb. 27 to March 2, 2013, at the Hilton New York."We are delighted to offer a delicious taste of California’s sparkling, good nutrition in the only gummy vitamin that combines the vitamins and minerals your body requires, and what the USDA defends you should have every day," exclaimed Courtney Nichols Gould. Gould is acclaimed Co-CEO and Co-Founder of SmartyPants, makers of SmartyPants for Kids, SmartyPants for GrownUps and SmartyPants for Weight Management All-in-One Multivitamins with Omega 3s and Vitamin D.  (more…)

Healthy Living Reduces Early Death by 50% in Women

healthy lifestyle women

If you're like most people, living the ultimate healthy life is pie in the sky thinking - something for which to strive, but seemingly an impossible feat. You get your exercise regime hammered out, and you're suddenly on your fourth cigarette. You finally get back to yoga, and your third night of take out sneaks its way in to your week. A busy lifestyle makes it hard to put all of the pieces of the healthy puzzle together. How much does each piece cost us?  And  if not assembled correctly, will it cost us our life?Researchers from the Harvard school of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital say that a combination of unhealthy lifestyle factors, especially cigarette smoking, can rob us of precious life. Dr Rob van Dam and his team studied nearly 80,000 women aged 34 to 59 years in 1980, and for a follow-up period of 24 years. During this time frame, the authors tallied nearly 9000 deaths, including close to 2000 from heart disease, and about 4500 from cancer. (more…)

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Weekly Web Round Up

high fructose corn syrup candyHigh Fructose Corn syrup is everywhere these days - on your plate, in your drinks...and in your news.  Read on to learn what the web has been saying about High Fructose Corn Syrup. (more…)

Nutrition and Exercise: Losing Weight and the Web

roundup weight controlAs windows darken with dinner time, and as we don jackets to temper the chill, it's tempting to munch comfort foods, conceal that "winter padding" under bulky sweaters and coats, and rationalize that we'll take care of it come spring.  But fitness experts remind us that weight loss is not only about how we look, but about how we feel, and our health. (more…)
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