Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Start with vinaigrette; finish with fruit

If you want to control your blood sugar level (and possibly even lose weight), vinegar is your friend. And if you want to avoid cancer-causing damage by meat, red wine (or fruit in general) will neutralize some of the nasties before it even gets into your bloodstream. So start your meal with a vinaigrette salad; have some wine with your meat and fruit for dessert.

Here are the two articles supporting the above.

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A Spoonful of Vinegar Helps the Sugar Go Down

on Tuesday, February 08 @ 14:57:23 CST

2 tablespoons of vinegar before a meal even as part of a vinaigrette salad dressing—will dramatically reduce the spike in blood concentrations of insulin and glucose that come after a meal.

A Spoonful of Vinegar Helps the Sugar Go Down
Carol Johnston is a professor of nutrition at Arizona State University’s East campus. When she started developing menus to help prevent and control diabetes, she began with a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet worked amazingly well, but it involved major changes from the way people usually eat. Johnston feared they would give up and start downing Twinkies in no time. She wondered if there was an alternative.

Johnston struck gold while reading through some older studies on diabetes. Actually, she struck vinegar.

Her studies indicate that 2 tablespoons of vinegar before a meal—perhaps, as part of a vinaigrette salad dressing—will dramatically reduce the spike in blood concentrations of insulin and glucose that come after a meal. In people with type 2 diabetes, these spikes can be excessive and can foster complications, including heart disease

In Johnston’s initial study, about one-third of the 29 volunteers had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, another third had signs that they could become diabetic, and the rest were healthy. The scientists gave each participant the vinegar dose or a placebo to drink immediately before they ate a high-carbohydrate breakfast consisting of orange juice, a bagel, and butter. A week later, each volunteer came back for the opposite premeal treatment and then the same breakfast. After both meals, the researchers sampled blood from the participants.

Although all three groups in the study had better blood readings after meals begun with vinegar cocktails, the people with signs of future diabetes—prediabetic symptoms—reaped the biggest gains. For instance, vinegar cut their blood-glucose rise in the first hour after a meal by about half, compared with readings after a placebo premeal drink.
In contrast, blood-glucose concentrations were only about 25 percent better after people with diabetes drank vinegar. In addition, people with prediabetic symptoms ended up with lower blood glucose than even healthy volunteers, after both groups drank vinegar.

In these tests, vinegar had an effect on volunteers’ blood comparable to what might be expected from antidiabetes drugs, such as metformin, the researchers reported January in Diabetes Care. A follow-up study has now turned up an added—and totally unexpected—benefit from vinegar: moderate weight loss.

Both findings should come as welcome news during this season when sweet and caloric treats taunt diabetics, who face true health risks from indulging in too many carbs.

Johnston was looking for possible diet modifications that would make meals less risky for people with diabetes. While reviewing research published earlier by others, she ran across reports from about 2 decades ago that suggesting that vinegar limits glucose and insulin spikes in a person’s blood after a meal.

A few research groups had conducted limited follow-up trials. For instance, Johnston points to a 2001 paper in which researchers at Lund University in Sweden evaluated pickles—cucumbers preserved in vinegar—as a dietary supplement to lower the blood-sugar rise in healthy people after a meal. The Swedish team, led by Elin M. Östman, reported that pickles dramatically blunted the blood-sugar spike after a high-carb breakfast. Fresh cukes didn’t.

“I became really intrigued,” Johnston says, because adding vinegar to the diet would be simple “and wouldn’t require counting how many carbs you ate.” At first, she attempted to replicate findings by others, focusing specifically on people with diabetes or prediabetic symptoms.

When these individuals showed clear benefits from vinegar after a single meal, Johnston’ group initiated a trial to evaluate longer-term effects. It also explored vinegar’ effect on cholesterol concentrations in blood. The Arizona State scientists had hypothesized that by preventing digestion of carbs in the stomach, vinegar might cause carbohydrate molecules to instead ferment in the colon, a process that signals the liver to synthesize less cholesterol.

So, in one trial, Johnston had half of the volunteers take a 2-tablespoon dose of vinegar prior to each of two meals daily for 4 weeks. The others were told to avoid vinegar. All were weighed before and after the trial.

As it turns out, cholesterol values didn’t change in either group. To Johnston’ surprise, however, “here was actually about a 2-pound weight loss, on average, over the 4 weeks in the vinegar group.” In fact, unlike the control group, none in the vinegar cohort gained any weight, and a few people lost up to 4 pounds. Average weight remained constant in the group not drinking vinegar.

Johnston would now like to repeat the trial in a larger group of individuals to confirm the finding, but that study is currently on hold.

Why? To no one’s astonishment, the study volunteers didn’t like drinking vinegar straight—even flavored, apple-cider vinegar. Indeed, Johnston says, “I would prefer eating pickled foods or getting . . . vinegar in a salad dressing.”

Now, the scientists are developing a less objectionable, encapsulated form of vinegar and testing its efficacy. Although there are commercially available vinegar dietary supplements, Johnston notes that they “don’t appear to contain acetic acid,” and based on studies by others, she suspects that’s the antidiabetic ingredient in the vinegar.
Diabetes Care Jan, 2005

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Wine and health

Of sommeliers and stomachs

Jul 3rd 2008
From The Economist print edition

Red wine exercises its benefits before it enters the bloodstream

FINE food sings on the palate, but pairing it with the right wine creates a chorus. Among those in the know, the plum, chocolate and spice flavours of Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Pinot Noirs and Sangioveses best accentuate the rich flavours of red meats. Now, however, a group of researchers led by Joseph Kanner of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has discovered that pairing red wines like these with red meat appears to be more than just a matter of taste. If the two mix in the stomach, compounds in the wine thwart the formation of harmful chemicals that are released when meat is digested.

The idea that red wine is actually good for your health is irresistible to the average tippler. But it appears to be true. In particular, red wines are rich in polyphenols, a group of powerful antioxidants that are thought to protect against cancer and heart disease by destroying molecules that would otherwise damage cells. How the polyphenols in wine exercise their beneficial effects, though, has been mysterious. That is because they do not seem to travel in any quantity from the stomach into the bloodstream.

The answer, Dr Kanner has found, lies in the stomach itself. The digestion of high-fat foods such as red meat releases oxidising toxins. One in particular, called malondialdehyde, is implicated in arteriosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and a host of other serious diseases. Dr Kanner suspected that the key to wine’s protective effect is when, precisely, it is consumed. He hypothesised that if the polyphenols arrive in the stomach at the moment when the fats are releasing malondialdehyde and its kin, then this might stop these toxic materials from getting any farther into the body.

To test this idea, he and his colleagues fed a group of rats one of two meals—either red meat from a turkey (a foodstuff shown by previous research to raise malondialdehyde levels in humans) or such meat mixed with red-wine concentrate. An hour and a half after the rats had eaten, they were killed. Dr Kanner then removed their stomachs and analysed the contents. As he reports in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the wine concentrate did indeed reduce the formation of malondialdehyde. It also cut the level of hydroperoxides, another group of oxidising agents that cause cell damage.

Based on these results, Dr Kanner and his colleagues argue that looking for antioxidants from wine in the bloodstream was a mistake; they do not need to be there to be useful. Their research also suggests that the habit of eating fruit at the end of a meal is a healthy one. Many fruits, too, are rich in polyphenols (wine is, after all, just fermented fruit juice). By treating them as dessert, these fruits arrive in the stomach at the point when meat-digestion is poised to do its worst—nipping the problem in the bud, as it were.

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July 24, 2008 - Posted by | diet, health, nutrition | , , ,

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