Monday, October 10, 2011

A couple links to share

Over lunch today (chicken along with butternut squash topped with butter and cinnamon, in case you were wondering), I came across a couple of links that really hit the mark.  The first is a LA Times article on the current science of antioxidants.

Source:  Wikipedia.  Oxidized iron, or better known as rust.
Everyone wants to avoid oxidation, whether it's the browning of apples or one of the mechanisms behind aging.  The latter phenomenon is why everyone hunts down antioxidant rich foods.  Fortunately, it seems that every food has some sort of antioxidant (even butter has vitamin A!), but some foods are particularly high in certain antioxidants (think pomegranates).  So, the theory goes, oxidation is bad, foods have antioxidants, so let's eat a whole lot of selects foods - or squeeze the antioxidants out of them - to ward of oxidation and subsequent aging and disease.  Or maybe it's not so simple.

This article basically sums up my entire opinion of antioxidants.  Yes, we probably need antioxidants.  But we don't know nearly enough about biological oxidation and dietary antioxidants to be able to come up with a miracle diet or formula to prevent disease.  And it appears that our body even uses some oxidation to its advantage, as a previous study has shown that high doses of antioxidants can prevent the insulin sensitizing effect of exercise.  So my rule of thumb for antioxidants, avoid the foods that don't have them, which just so happen to be white flour, white rice, and sugar.  How convenient.

And if you have fifteen minutes, here is an excellent talk by a physician turned epidemiologist.  He discusses the major problems of epidemiology and newspaper headlines, and the serious ethical dilemmas we are encountering with large pharmaceutical trials.  He also mentions the publication bias problem that I mentioned in my meta-analysis post.

1 comment: