Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lactose Intolerance: Marketing Hype or Ligitimate Disorder?

True lactose intolerance results from a deficiency of lactase, the intestinal enzyme that splits lactose (milk sugar) into glucose and galactose, to be absorbed into the blood. Undigested lactose attracts water in the intestine, causing the bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Bacteria in the large intestine metabolize the sugars into irritating acids and gases, increasing the discomfort. The severity varies among individuals.
It is a rare case that a person is born with such a deficiency and pretty limited to certain ethnic groups. More often, lactose intolerance is the result of damaged intestinal lining, either through radiation therapy, malnutrition, diarrhea, toxins (including food poisoning), antibiotics, or by the naturally diminishing lactase activity that comes with the aging process. In many cases, it is a temporary condition.
Many people believe they are lactose intolerant when they are not, thanks to vigorous advertising campaigns that promote products for lactose intolerance. Lactose is found in many foods besides dairy products, so if you are truly lactose intolerant, you would also have the same symptoms from eating certain breads, cereals, salad dressings, cake mixes, or anything containing whey protein and casein.
Yet, even some people with true lactose intolerance are able to consume dairy products. The bacteria in the large intestine can digest lactose in small, regular doses. The metabolic capacity for lactose can develop as the micro flora adapt to digesting it. A few simple tricks can alleviate the discomfort:
  • Consume lactose (dairy) with other foods to slow down the transit of the sugar through the intestines, giving it more time to break down.
  • Eat dairy foods regularly so that the intestinal micro flora remain adapted to digesting lactose.
  • Limit lactose products to no more than 8 oz. at a time.
  • Yogurt has about 10 G. of lactose per cup, but the bacteria help digest it. A serving of hard cheese has less than one gram, while cottage cheese and ice cream contains 4-5 G. Fermented cheeses are usually better tolerated.
  • Lactase enzyme preparations can be added to dairy products, and fermented milk (contains acidophilus) are helpful, especially for temporary symptoms resulting from an illness. Acidophilus is a digestive bacteria that breaks down milk sugar, and is used in the fermenting process of dairy products, as in yogurt and cheese.
Total elimination of dairy products from the diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies that are difficult to obtain from alternate sources. Milk is a major source of calcium, riboflavin (vit. B2), vit. D, and proteins most easily absorbed by muscle tissue.
~Normal and Clinical Nutrition, 6th ed. Whitney, Cataldo, Rolfes

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Aspartame Myths Debunked

The American Dietetic Association has challenged three current internet rumors concerning Aspartame. According to it's Evidence Analysis Library, the sweetener does not cause "rebound hunger." Much evidence shows that it has no effect on appetite or food intake. Therefore, it would not lead to weight gain. When used in the reduced calorie diet, it increases weight loss, due to it's lack of calories. There have been no ill effects on health overall as a sweetener, as various myths have reported. Some claims that explain the chemistry behind the catabolic phases of Aspartame are incorrect. The ADA has concluded that in the 40 plus years the product has been on the market, "Aspartame consumption is not associated with adverse effects in the general population."
Aspartame is one of the most studied of all food additives. It is a simple compound made of components common to many foods: the amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid, with a methyl group. The combination creates a product with 200 times the sweetness of table sugar (sucrose & fructose). When digested, enzymes break apart the 3 components. The amino acids are used as proteins, just as any other food proteins. The methyl group converts to methanol, and oxidizes into carbon dioxide. Simple tomato juice yeilds 6 times the amount of methanol as a diet soda.
People with the inherited disease phenylketonuria, or PKU, are unable to metabolize and dispose of phenylalanine. The accumulation of phenylalanine and it's by-products is toxic, therefore a specialized low protein diet is the treatment, and aspartame must be avoided. For this reason, all newborns in the U.S. are screened for the disease.
Aside from the special case of PKU, aspartame is safe.

~American Dietetic Association

~Tuft's University

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Edamame, Close Up

Edamame, or young shelled soybeans, can be eaten fresh. They provide instant texture, protein, and a nutty flavor. It's history can be traced back to ancient 13th century Japan, but now can be found in your supermarket's freezer section. Just thaw, and they are ready to add to salads, stir-fries, soups, and grains. One cup of edamame supplies 17 g. of protein, 8 g. fiber, and an abundance of calcium, folate, vit. K, and iron. One cup also contains 189 calories and 8g. unsaturated fat.
As with all beans and lentils, they are excellent for the diabetic diet since they digest slowly, which provides a gentle rise in blood sugar. Diabetics who eat a substantial amount of legumes require less insulin to control their blood sugar.