What makes snacks so pleasing that you can’t stop at one?

Food companies know exact formulas to make products hyperpalatable, but they won’t tell anyone. Someone at the University of Kansas finally did an analysis and we now have specific metrics on what makes processed foods so addictive.

49% of products marketed as low/no sugar, fat, sodium were found to be hyperpalatable, by the way.

There are basically three combinations of primary ingredients to make foods hyperpalatable:

  • Fat + sodium (e.g. hotdogs, bacon)
  • Fat + simple sugars (e.g. cake, ice cream, brownies)
  • Carbohydrates + sodium (e.g. crackers, pretzels, popcorn)

🌐 University of Kansas story on Science Daily
Data-driven definition of unhealthy yet pervasive ‘hyper-palatable’ foods

Death of the (kilo)calorie

Don’t count calories. Pay attention to nutritional biochemistry and your health as a whole. Your body absorbs sugar from a can of soda several times more readily than from a loaf of bread. The moment you lose sleep, your body prepares itself for hard times ahead and works to build more energy stores in the form of fat.

Adding to the importance of nutritional content over simple caloric intake: consuming too many foods high in fat and sugar disrupts your body’s ability to regulate hunger and satiety, causing overeating. And when you eat—such as when what should be normal resting hours—changes how readily excess calories are stored as fat.

Easy access to sugar wreaks havoc to your microbiota. Case in point: hypervirulent strains of Clostridium difficile that thrive on trehalose have been on the rise since the early 2000s, especially in hospitals, when the food industry started adding trehalose to a wide variety of products. (Ironically, it was used as a common ingredient in the food products sold to hospitals because it doesn't cause blood glucose levels to spike as severely as other sugars do.)

What you eat is what the microorganisms colonising your gut, skin, and lungs eat, too. This is your immune system—your skin is the first line of defence against infection, followed by your lungs, and then your gut. Overprevalence of this or that species of bacteria or fungus can turn healthy biota into destructive ones. E.g. sufferers of COPD have an overprevalence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria and Aspergillus moulds in the respiratory systems, the pathogens that responsible for a majority of their attacks—and subsequent hospitalisations, and deaths.

🌐 Article in 1843 Magazine
Death of the Calorie

🌐 University of Virginia story on Science Daily
Study finds dopamine, biological clock link to snacking, overeating and obesity

🌐 Lecture by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology
Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Red meat is A-OK

Yes, you can eat red meat. Limiting or abstaining from red meat consumption alone has very little positive outcomes on health. (Steak and protein-rich foods aren’t what’s giving five-year-olds type 2 diabetes, you know.)

🌐 McMaster University story on Science Daily
“Contrary to previous advice, five new systematic reviews suggest that most people can continue to eat red and processed meat as they do now.”
No need to cut down red and processed meat for health reasons, controversial findings suggest

🌐 Original study in the Annals of Internal Medicine
“For our review of randomized trials on harms and benefits (12 unique trials enrolling 54 000 participants), we found low- to very low-certainty evidence that diets lower in unprocessed red meat may have little or no effect on the risk for major cardiometabolic outcomes and cancer mortality and incidence.”
Unprocessed Red Meat and Processed Meat Consumption: Dietary Guideline Recommendations From the Nutritional Recommendations (NutriRECS) Consortium

🌐 JAMA story: The orchestrated attempt to prevent this data from being published at all
Annals Editor-in-Chief Christine Laine, MD, MPH, saw her inbox flooded with roughly 2000 emails in a half hour… Demands to retract the Annals papers before they were published suggest that the journal’s embargo policy had been violated. …Among True Health Initiative’s for-profit partners are Wholesome Goodness, which sells “better-for-you foods” such as chips, breakfast cereals, and granola bars “developed with guidance from renowned nutrition expert Dr David Katz”; and Quorn, which sells meatless products made of mycoprotein, or fermented fungus made into dough.”
Backlash over meat dietary recommendations raises questions about corporate ties to nutrition scientists - PDF of article