1. Why reducing salt consumption in the US is difficult

    • Henry R. Black, MD: I agree. The other nutritional concern that is very important to me as a hypertension specialist is the question of salt and sodium intake. We have had some interesting Medscape discussion about this. My opinion is that 2300 mg of sodium daily is the appropriate level, and that a 1500-mg sodium limit is very difficult to do. In the United Kingdom, with Graham MacGregor,[3] they have gradually reduced the salt in processed foods and it is already beginning to have an impact on the number of strokes and heart attacks in those communities. We ought to follow their lead on that.
    • Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH: I agree, but the food industry absolutely opposes it. In England, the food industry gradually reduced salt voluntarily, but <b>WE DON'T DO VOLUNTARY IN THE UNITED STATES</b> because nobody wants to go first. The food industry has said that they cannot sell products with lower salt. This is another environmental issue. It is very difficult for people to consume a low-salt diet in the United States if they eat out or buy processed foods. To consume a truly low-salt diet, you have to do all of your own cooking and control your food intake very carefully. Most people don't do that. Everybody in America eats out at least sometime during the week, and the food is loaded with salt. The reason that it is loaded with salt is that the people who are preparing the food eat a lot of salt, and it takes a lot of salt to make the food taste good to them. When people go on lower-salt diets, food starts tasting very salty to them.
    • Dr. Black: Research done by Dr. Henkin back in the 1970s showed that if you gradually reduce the amount of salt or sodium in the diet, that within 30 days foods that you used to think were fine taste too salty. That's part of the reason it has worked in the United Kingdom. The amount of sodium in processed food has been gradually, and not drastically, reduced. It is certainly beginning to be reflected in their data on strokes and heart attacks. I wish we could do the same here.
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  2. Insulin resistance is how the cell says “stop sending me more energy— I have too much already!” It is a deliberate response to mitigate the negative effects of cellular energy excess.
  3. We prefer the devil we know, even when it’s infinitely more bloodthirsty than the one we don’t.
  4. The small size and short duration of weight loss trials often account for their lack of definitive evidence of the effectiveness of dietary interventions on CVD risk. By contrast sound observational data, population-level interventions and “natural experiments” in whole populations have demonstrated a reduction in population risk with adoption of recommended, balanced dietary strategies to lower cardiovascular risk. For example, over the past three decades, levels of population cardiovascular risk factors have declined in Finland, with the greatest change being dietary behaviour (reduction in total and saturated fat and increased vegetables and fruit intake). These declines explain most of the observed decline in CHD mortality in the Finnish middle-aged population over this period [54]. Mortality due to coronary heart disease was reduced in Poland over a ten year period by partly replacing dietary saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats while maintaining a low intake of trans fatty acids [55]. A large prospective cohort study in 30 to 49 year old Swedish women (n = 43396; average follow-up 15.7 years) reported significantly increased incidence of cardiovascular disease overall (n = 1270) with a one tenth decrease in carbohydrate intake or increase in protein intake, or a two unit increase in the low carbohydrate-high protein score [9].
  5. ted:


    There’s always something happening at MoMA. Don’t miss a thing

    [Illustration by Robert Hanson.]

    Absolutely love the details in this gif.

    For more MoMA-tastic brilliance, watch curator Paola Antonelli’s TED Talk, Why I brought PacMan to MoMA »


  6. It’s time for us to reject these unfair attacks on Ancel Keys. We can agree to disagree on what the best diet is. But we should all have the decency to refrain from lying about someone who devoted his life to helping us all live healthier and longer lives.
  7. The reason we don’t have a magic bullet is that obesity is a difficult problem. Preventing and treating obesity means fighting the natural tendency of the human body and mind in the context of our current culture. You can tell people to eat less sugar, white flour, added fats, and processed foods in general, but only a minority of people will actually alter their behavior significantly as a result. This is because people don’t eat junk food for its health benefits— they eat it because they like it, it’s cheap, and it’s readily available (obesity isn’t caused by eating junk food in all individuals, but it is a major cause on a population level). Obesity is much more challenging than a simple infectious agent or nutritional deficiency that can be readily treated.
  8. "Fat storage hormone" is a misnomer for insulin. The most accurate description would be the "fuel selection hormone" due to its role in switching between fat and carbohydrate metabolism in response to what’s consumed.
  9. vasta:

    The aroma of rain. A propos. (via)

    Aha! The secret revealed!
  10. samsungdesign:

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  11. Blooms on Flickr.

  12. Because give [rats] human junk foods and out the window goes their interest in any boring diet pellets and nom nom nom (some more than others) and obese they get. Due to their physiological reaction to the unique foods in combination, and not the components thereof. There is nothing, not even the disapproving look from a momma rat, to stop them and they just keep on eating.
  13. [Gary] Taubes is easily exposed and debunked. That he’s still even in this game and hasn’t returned to something he presumably knows a little more about, is a testimony to the power of… persona… And more than anything else, the incredible draw to the messenger who is telling people what they want to hear.


    But if Taubes has his way, and the doctors and scientists actually DO listen to him, the lives of many stand to be impacted through…treatments based on truly flawed science. Where medicine goes wrong today, it will not be righted by the likes of Gary Taubes.