Archive for July, 2013

Craving Soda?

Make your own natural sparkling “juice”!

Try this alternative:

Mix sparkling water with a some frozen fruit and a dash of juice! Its homemade so you know what’s going in it, low sugar, and all natural.

Diet Sodas….Benign or Malignant?

I recently came read an article on NPR about whether or not diet sodas really deserve all the positive hype (and popularity) they get. Diet sodas are diet because they contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. There are two opposing views:

One, championed by the American Beverage Association that diet sodas are harmless and actually harmless. They commented on the article:

“Low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the food supply today. They are safe and an effective tool in weight loss and weight management, according to decades of scientific research and regulatory agencies around the globe.”

Hmm…Well a study with overweight teenagers at Boston Children’s Hospital also seems to support its claim so…(then again, there are always discrepancies between what was done in the study and what claims people are trying to pull out of it)

The opposing viewpoint claims this:

One theory is that diet soda may throw off the metabolism by blunting the body’s responses to sugar.

You see, from the moment sugar touches our lips, our bodies start to release hormones to begin processing the sugar. It’s part of a feedback loop that helps the body predict what’s coming.

But if we develop a habit of consuming artificial sugar, our bodies may get confused. And it might not respond the same when we consume real sugar. “We may no longer release the hormones” needed to process sugar — or at least, not as much of them as before, Swithers told me during an interview.

And researchers think this change in hormone levels could contribute to increases in how much we eat, says Swithers, “as well as to bigger spikes in our blood sugar, which may be related to things like diabetes.”

However, researchers still need more info on what exactly happens when people consume artificial sweeteners. This opposing viewpoint is also supported by the San Antonio Heart Study and the multi ethnic study.

Regardless of which viewpoint is correct, the truth is that the trend of consuming diet sodas is increasing. A verdict must be made, and soon.

I, personally, am an avid supporter of camp 2. AND, I think there is an even more compelling argument for me no matter which viewpoint is proved correct. The article explains:

Well, since being overweight is a major contributor to the development of type 2 diabetes, it’s possible that some diet-soda drinkers suffer from a mindset problem: They justify eating lots of high-calorie foods because their drinks are calorie-free.

It’s the “hey, I’ll go ahead and have those fries and a cheeseburger, since I’m having a Diet Coke” mentality.

It’s highly plausible. I know I suffer from that mindset whenever I eat a really healthy salad dinner, and then reward myself with an indulgent desert afterwards.

Problem: Organ Shortages

The number of people awaiting organ transplants has been growing steeply since the 1990’s. In fact, in 2011 of over 100 people awaiting organ transplants, only 30 were performed. A recent Economist article briefs on the challenge of organ rationing, especially in terms of how grey the judgement is when it comes to deciding who gets the organ. Moreover, with the number of baby boomers with kidney failures increasing (60%), another question had popped up: should organ donations favor the young?

The top organ that people need by far are kidneys; in 2013 there have been 4,061 kidney transplants performed, compared with the second contender, the liver, with only 1,542 performed. What’s more is that diabetes has been proven to be closely linked with kidney failure and end stage renal disease. This is frightening because people are getting diabetes more than ever today.

Which makes this soda project (however small and impact it might seem to make) a necessity and super important.

Solving the sugar consumption/metabolic disease problem is a long term goal though. The short term reality is that we are still short of kidneys. And, only 35% of people living on dialysis live more than 5 years. To solve the short term problem, there has been a lot of research in the area artificial kidneys. A UCSF article details recent progress on a hopeful design:

http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/10/12810/artificial-kidney-project-ucsf-receives-3-million-new-funding

According to the article, the US spends about $29 billion per year, 6% of its total medical budget, treating kidney failures. 400,000 people are currently on dialysis. The UCSF just got a $3 million dollar endowment for research. If the US could spend a little more on research so we could get this technology sooner, it would save so much more in the long run.