Sunday, May 16, 2010

How Sweet It Isn't

I'm always fascinated when science and traditional Chinese medicine overlap, so I was particularly interested in some recent scientific studies coming out of The Scripps Research Institute about "addiction" to junk food. (Full disclosure, I work as a writer and editor at Scripps Research).

In our book, "Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen," we note that traditional Chinese medicine advises people to consume a variety of flavors—sweet, sour, bitter, pungant, and salty—in balance with one another to maintain health. According to this tradition, too much of any one of these flavors will impact the body in a negative way.

In one Scripps Research study, a team reveals what happens when rats are fed nothing but sweet food. In essence, the animals became "addicted" to the flavor. When presented with regular chow, they refused to eat (although the same chow was perfectly acceptable to rats never exposed to the sweets). The animals also showed signs of stress and anxiety when their sweet foods were discontinued. If the sweet foods were re-introduced, the rats binged like yo-yo dieters. (For more information, see "Team Shows Switching Between Sugary and Regular-Tasting Diet Can Activate Brain's Stress System and Lead to 'Withdrawal' Symptoms").

How sweet it is to have a balanced diet.

No comments:

Post a Comment