Food News for Early June

In (roughly) weekly installments I will scan the news for important and interesting food, health, nutrition, and food politics stories and compile them here. Below are my picks for top news in the past week: images

  • The idea that "low-fat" equates with a healthy food product is one of the biggest health myths out there, yet many people still believe it according to a new study in the journal Appetite. The study also found that calorie labeling had little effect on consumer perceptions of health. This confirms my take on the ineffectiveness of labeling calories in fast food restaurants, which I discussed on Huff Post Live a couple of weeks back.
  • An article in The Atlantic links gastrointestinal disorders with autism. This is something many alternative health practitioners have been saying for years and it appears to be gaining mainstream recognition. I wrote about diet and ADHD in 2011 when researcher Lidy Pelsser completed a dietary study that found that in children with ADHD, fully 64 percent had symptoms that were caused by food. “It’s a hypersensitivity reaction to food,” Pessler said.
  • A new study from Brown University using MRI imaging of babies brains found that breast-fed babies have significantly enhanced brain development compared to babies fed formula or a combination of breast milk and formula:

The research found that by age 2, babies who had been breastfed exclusively for at least three months had enhanced development in key parts of the brain compared to children who were fed formula exclusively or who were fed a combination of formula and breast milk. The extra growth was most pronounced in parts of the brain associated with language, emotional function, and cognition, the research showed.

  • This interesting piece explores the many issues with modern wheat from the perspective of a woman with gluten intolerance (but not celiac disease). She was desperate to be able to eat bread and ended up at Tartine bakery in San Francisco (the same bakery that Michael Pollan praises in Cooked) where the bread is made by traditional fermentation methods rather than utilizing yeast, which is used for most commercial breads sold in the U.S. Fermentation breaks down the gluten in wheat and therefore makes it easier to digest. One of the most startling quotes from the piece is when one of the research scientists says, "Every person could have a gluten sensitivity at any point of time in their life. Every time you eat a really high enriched flour or all-purpose flour generated products at high levels, you’re taking a chance." Meaning that when we eat these products in excess we run the risk of damaging our intestines and becoming unable to digest gluten.