Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sugars found in tequila may protect against obesity, diabetes -

Sugars found in tequila may protect against obesity, diabetes - 

Tequila shots may do more than lighten the mood at a party; the drink may be beneficial for your health as well.

According to researchers from Mexico, natural sugars derived from the agave plant, called agavins, greatly protected a group of mice against diet-induced obesity and type 2 diabetes, MedPage Today reported.  

In a new study presented at the American Chemical Society (ACS) annual meeting in Dallas, mice were distributed into seven groups.  One group received a diet of plain water, while the other groups received water supplemented with either aspartame, glucose, fructose, sucrose, agave syrup or agavins.

The mice that consumed agavins showed a reduction in food intake and weight and a decrease in blood glucose levels.  These findings were similar to the control group that received standard water.

Because agavins act as dietary fibers and do not raise blood sugar, the researchers believe the ingredient could be used as an alternative sweetening agent.

"We believe agavins have a great potential as a light sweetener," Mercedes G. L√≥pez, of the Centro de Incetagcioan y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico wrote in the ACS abstract. "They are sugars, highly soluble, with a low glycemic index and a neutral taste…This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people."

The alcoholic beverage tequila is made from the blue agave plant, primarily around the Mexican city of Tequila.  However, Lopez noted that agavins are not widely available and not as sweet as regular sugars.


Study: Playing Tetris reduces food, nicotine cravings -

Study: Playing Tetris reduces food, nicotine cravings - 

Playing a game of Tetris can reduce the strength of food and nicotine cravings, according to a new study.

"Craving is a common problem for people trying to quit junk food, smoking or other drugs," coauthor Jackie Andrade said in an email.

"It is unpleasant and makes people feel that they have to wait until the right moment to quit," said Andrade, from Plymouth University in the UK.

Researchers had used visual games to interrupt cravings before, but only when they had induced those cravings first, she said. For this study, people's cravings happened - or did not happen - naturally.

"Naturally occurring cravings might be harder to disrupt because they are triggered by internal states like hunger," Andrade said. "We chose Tetris because we wanted a task that would be interesting, demanding and highly visual."

She and her team had 119 college-aged, primarily female, students describe what, if anything, they were craving, and how badly. Then they instructed the students to play Tetris for three minutes.

For half of the students, selected at random, the game worked fine. For the other half, only a load screen and error message displayed and they could not play.

Then all of the students filled out the craving questionnaire again.

Two thirds of them reported craving something at the beginning of the test: 58 wanted food or a drink, 10 wanted caffeine and 12 wanted nicotine. The remaining 39 didn't crave anything initially.

Cravings got weaker over time for everyone. But they weakened faster and to a greater extent among participants who played Tetris, the authors wrote in the journal Appetite.

For instance, one tool they used measured craving strength on a scale from 1 to 100. Among people who reported initially craving something, the strength of those cravings fell from 59 to 45 for Tetris players, on average, and from 58 to 55 in the comparison group.

Researchers think this works because concentrating on the various Tetris shapes distracts the brain from picturing food, or whatever else a person wants.

"When we want something really badly, it is hard to think about anything else - and the experience is a very sensory one," said David Kavanagh, from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. "It engages our imagination."

"That can be a real torture," he said. "But it also gives us a hint about how we can deal with cravings: if we can do something that engages the same brain functions, we can blunt the craving, and make it easier to resist the temptation."

Kavanagh was not involved in the new study but has done similar research.

Any visual or multisensory activity might have the same effect as Tetris, Andrade said. She found in an earlier study that making shapes out of plastic led to a similar outcome.

But the researchers did not measure how long the reduction in cravings lasted, and it might not be very long, she said.

However, people trying to lose weight could try incorporating Tetris into their lives, Andrade said.

Lotte van Dillen, from the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition at Leiden University in the Netherlands, agreed.

"I think it is important that people are motivated to play the game for it to be an effective tool to fight cravings," van Dillen, who was not involved in the research, told Reuters Health. "And as a positive side effect you may actually become a very skillful player."

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