Today I found a good reason to keep eating one of my favourite types of food: paaaaaasta! A December 15th Science Daily article (http://tinyurl.com/8s45zy) reports on a recent Tufts University study showing that when dieters eliminate carbohydrates from their meals, they performed more poorly on memory-based tasks than when they reduce calories, but maintain carbohydrates. When carbohydrates were reintroduced, cognition skills returned to normal.
Pasta has taken more than a few knocks in recent years: it’s fattening, it’s bad for you blablabla…instead of pasta, we are told to eat low carb foods and more protein blablabla. Okay, I confess that I went so far as to buy Dr. Atkins’ book a few years ago…but went…no farther. I simply cannot give up pasta. I don’t eat it as often as I used to, but it is definitely my favourite dish on the planet. You know the question: “if you were shipwrecked on a desert island and could have only one kind of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Oh well, I would not hesitate to answer: pasta pasta pasta!
Besides, I don’t think it’s good to exclude entire categories of food from our diet…unless those categories happen to be soft drinks, sugar-ridden candy or other things that are reaaaaaally bad for us, especially for us cancer folks.
Let’s get back to the article, though. And I quote: The popular low-carb, no-carb diets have the strongest potential for negative impact on thinking and cognition. Now, I don’t know about you, but I like to remember stuff. And I also like to think. I don’t want to do anything to impair these two wonderful brain functions…
Let’s read on: While the brain uses glucose as its primary fuel, it has no way of storing it. Rather, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which is carried to the brain through the blood stream and used immediately by nerve cells for energy. (More details can be found in the article.)
Study results: Low-carb dieters showed a gradual decrease on the memory-related tasks compared with the low-calorie dieters. Reaction time for those on the low-carb diet was slower and their visuospatial memory was not as good as those on the low-calorie diet. The only positive outcome for the low-carb folks was their capacity for enhanced attention in the short-term.
So hey, go ahead and have a bowl of pasta. Broccoli and garlic pasta is one of my favourites… I favour simple sauces, preferably vegetable-based, over cream-based and overly rich sauces…
Not all the news is good, though, especially for those of us who, sigh, enjoy different forms of glucose, whether it be pasta or sweets (luckily, most of my Xmas cookies get put inside holiday bags, tied with pretty ribbons and given to friends and colleagues as presents, so temptation is removed…except for the occasional broken or imperfect cookie, which never goes to waste…).
Yesterday, and here, without further ado, we get to the bad news, I read a December 20th Science Daily article (http://tinyurl.com/9lsqln) on a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine study discussing neurons (=nerve cells) and cancer cells. Even though these are two completely different types of cells, they share the same goal, which is to avoid apoptosis (=death). How do they manage to do that?
Answer: by gobbling up sugar. We have looked at the cancer-sugar link in previous posts (I have a Page on it)…this report simply gives us more scientific proof that there is a definite connection. I quote, Both neurons and cancer cells do have something in common: relying extensively on the metabolism of glucose, a simple sugar. They achieve this via a series of chemical reactions, a process that is beyond my point here (but you can read about it in the article).
So sugar-guzzling is one of the survival mechanisms of neurons and cancer cells. If we eliminate glucose entirely, the study implies, we end up harming not only our cancer cells (good) but also our neurons (bad). And vice versa, of course. Damned if you do…etc.
But hey, there is a pale silver lining in this particular cloud. I came across another recently-published scientific study demonstrating that during the Xmas festivities this process is temporarily suspended. Indeed, apparently and incredibly, the complete opposite occurs: cancer cells that get even a tiny whiff of glucose deriving from Xmas cookies or Italian panettone/pandoro spontaneously explode. But this peculiar phenomenon takes place only during the Xmas holidays, so we must hurry to take advantage of it…