Sugar Shortens Your Life

Sugar Shortens Your Life

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you will know I am President of the ‘I Hate Sugar Club‘ but, given we’re in the midst of the silly season of socialising, I thought this article on the hazards of sugar was timely. What am I talking about? Well, the American Journal of Public Health recently published an article (16-10-14) that revealed an association between drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks and the presence of shorter telomeres. Now, don’t worry if you’re thinking ‘telo-what?!’ – allow me to explain. Telomeres are caps at the ends of chromosomes that naturally shorten with each cell cycle. Increased telomere shortening has been associated with oxidative damage, inflammation and chronic diseases, including diabetes. Basically the shorter the telomeres, the shorter the life of the cell… and ultimately you. This study included 5,309 men and women between 20-65 years of age enrolled in the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the researchers: Analysed the participants 24-hour dietary questionnaire responses for sugar-sweetened soft drink, diet soft drink, noncarbonated sugar-sweetened beverage and fruit juice intake Measured white blood cell telomere length (at UCSF lab of study coauthor and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD) Researchers found that increased sugar-sweetened soft drink intake was associated with a reduction in telomere length.   “It is critical to understand both dietary factors that may shorten telomeres, as well as dietary factors that may lengthen telomeres,” noted lead author Cindy Leung, of the UCSF Center for Health and Community. “Here it appeared that the only beverage consumption that had a measurable negative association with telomere length was consumption of...
Berries Delay Brain Ageing

Berries Delay Brain Ageing

An article published online on April 26, 2012 in the Annals of Neurology reports a protective effect for diets containing high amounts of blueberries and strawberries against cognitive decline in older women. Berries are high in compounds known as flavonoids, which may help reduce the negative impact of inflammation and stress on cognitive function. “As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing this group becomes increasingly important,” commented lead researcher Elizabeth Devore of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline.” Dr Devore and her associates evaluated data from women who were between the ages of 30 and 55 upon enrollment in the Nurses’ Health Study in 1976. Dietary questionnaires completed every four years since 1980 were analyzed for the frequency of berry intake as well as the intake of 31 individual flavonoids representing six major flavonoid subclasses commonly found in US diets. Cognitive function was tested every two years in 16,010 participants who were over the age of 70 between 1995 and 2001. Consuming a relatively high amount of blueberries or strawberries was associated with a slower decline in cognitive function test scores over the follow-up period compared to women whose intake was lower, resulting in a delay in cognitive aging of up to 2.5 years. Greater intake of the anthocyanidin class of flavonoids and total flavonoids was also associated with a reduced rate of decline. “Substantial biologic evidence supports our finding that berry and flavonoid intake may be related to cognition,” the authors write. “Berry-derived anthocyanidins are uniquely and specifically capable...