Blog Posts by Dr. Ayala

  • Study Shows: The More Sugary Drinks You Drink, the More You Eat

    That drinking can make you overeat does sound a bit odd. We have one stomach, after all, and filling it with a caloric drink should reduce the amount we eat -- the drink takes its stomach share and supplies calories, right?

    But that's not the way it is, and accumulating evidence shows that our body has a hard time registering calories from beverages in the tally towards satiety.

    When women were served water, diet soda, regular soda, orange juice, milk or no drink with lunch, those drinking caloric beverages consumed about 100 additional calories for that meal. In another study researchers proved that solid candy is better for your waist than soda: when they gave men and women 450 calories a day of either soda or jellybeans for a month, candy eaters ate less food, compensating for the extra calories, while soda drinkers did not, so they ate more calories than usual. Another study looking at the effects of food form (solid, semi-solid or liquid) on appetite, fed participants

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  • Caffeine, Coffee and Diabetes


    A new study of caffeinated drinks and type 2 diabetes caught my eye. I'm always on the lookout for studies on coffee, because - let's admit it - I love coffee, and like many other coffee aficionados, I fear that someday this adored pleasure will be found a guilty one. And then what shall we do? Decide it's worth the risk? Or convince ourselves we never really cared for this delicious, thought brightening, history-defining drink?

    For coffee lovers most research news has been reassuring. Years of investigation have shown that coffee in moderation poses no threat to healthy adults - those worries about heart disease and cancer risks end up being unwarranted. What's more, the coffee habit has even been shown to confer health benefits, and is associated with protection from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, stoke, gallstones and liver disease.

    Caffeine and diabetes

    The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (online ahead of press), observed a

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  • 13 Lies Dieters Tell Themselves

    Screen Shot 2012-11-17 at 9.49.22 AM

    The worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves. Before the holiday season eating extravaganza is upon us here are a few common diet lies -- and how your better angel would react if he were awake.

    Feel free to add your own in the comment section.

    Olive oil is good for you

    (it is; it also has 120 calories per tablespoon)

    This pack's only 100 calories

    (that's when you eat just 1, not 4)

    It's only 140 calories

    (per serving! There were 3 serving in the pack - all gone!)

    I'll sweat this dessert off

    (speed-walk for an hour, and it won't make a dent)

    It's fat-free

    (yeah, but did you look at the sugar?)

    It's sugar-free

    (did you look at the fat?)

    It says no added sugar

    (just evaporated cane juice and fruit juice concentrate. Who are you kidding?)

    I found this miracle diet

    (there are no miracle diets, silly)

    Chocolate is good for your

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  • Pediatricians Advise on Organic Food


    Do you consult your pediatrician about food? Nutrition evaluation is part of what doctors are supposed to cover in well-child visits, and I'm sure many pediatricians are asked for advice concerning food choices in general, and organic foods in particular.

    To that end, the American Academy of Pediatrics gathered the relevant research comparing organic foods to conventionally produced ones, and prepared a report that's published in the November issue of Pediatrics. There's no new research here; the report analyses existing studies (many of which have been widely reported), weighs the evidence, and concludes with some advice.

    I was glad to see that this report included environmental impacts in its analysis. Not only are environmental issues important in and of themselves, but also we're kidding ourselves if we think that impacts on the environment will not end up affecting our health. There might be a long delay in that effect, but no insult on the environment goes

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  • A Food Label that Isn’t a Dream


    In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times Mark Bittman dreams about an improved front-of-package food label. "Right now, the labels required on food give us loads of information, much of it useful. What they don't do is tell us whether something is really beneficial, in every sense of the word," he writes.

    What Bittman proposes is an upgraded traffic light model (green: great choice, yellow: eat sometimes, red: eat sparingly or never), but his fantasy label takes into consideration not only dietary guidelines, but includes also grades for the way each particular food affects the earth, the farm workers, animals and the air we breathe.

    Bittman's proposed label has a 15-point scoring scale. The score is divided to 3 categories, and a food can score up to 5 points in each (see illustrations and examples here):

    Nutrition: things such as trans-fat, saturated fat, sugar, vitamins and fiber affect this score

    Foodness: assesses whether the food is real, or so

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  • The Unhappy Truth About Sugary Drinks

    Happiness in a bottle, or a disease promoting source of gloom? The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a new animated film, repositioning soda and other sugary drinks as obesity and illness causes, and stating a few (well supported) facts. The film features an original song by Grammy-award-winning singer songwriter Jason Mraz.

    The bears are not that happy, but the video is quite entertaining. What do you think?

    Dr. Ayala

  • Do Lots of Choices Make You Happy or Just Fat?


    When I was a young university student I used to stop by the open-air market for fresh fruit and veggies and take my time selecting what I thought would be the absolute best produce in the pile.

    "You'll never find a husband," one vendor said to me.

    Happy to say he was wrong. I did find love. And I also did feel I selected some of the best apples in town.

    But now, when I stand in front of a supermarket isle with 50 different toothpastes to choose from I often feel I'll never be able to pick the best one, and I have no fun looking through all the options. I know my apples and enjoy handling them, but I'm just looking for ordinary toothpaste, you know, the kind that cleans teeth and tastes like toothpaste.

    How does the enormous choice we have in food affect us?

    Variety is the spice of overeating

    A summary of 39 studies concludes that having many choices makes us eat more, especially when the extra variety is from energy-dense, tempting foods.


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  • Study Debunks Exercise as a Weight-loss Solution


    Physical activity is incredibly important for our health. Exercise improves almost all aspects of physical and mental health, and people who are physically active are also usually thinner.

    But that doesn't necessarily mean that exercise will make you shed extra fat.

    The makers of junk and fast food are sponsors of exercise, from backyard games and pee wee leagues to the World Cup and the Olympic Games, and suggest that in this little imbalance we have between caloric intake and caloric expenditure we shouldn't lay the blame on eating too much but rather on exercising too little.

    And it would have been nice if we could go for a brisk walk and forget about inconvenient eat-less guidance. I, too, would like to believe that. But is it true?

    Exercise as a weight-loss tool

    A new study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looked at 30 randomized controlled trials in which kids were assigned an intervention aimed at promoting exercise. What's special about this

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  • Three New Studies Add to the Case Against Sugary Drinks


    You'd think that some things are beyond dispute, that some issues are so obvious that proof and studies are hardly necessary.

    When two thirds of the population is overweight or obese and much of this population is consuming 250-300 calories a day in sugary drinks -- calories that are nutritionally naked -- it's clear that these sugary drinks should be the first thing to go in order to reduce obesity. It's elementary.

    Cutting sugary drinks is one of the first pieces of nutrition and weight-loss advice one gets from lay people as well as experts because it just makes sense.

    It's obvious, but it's also scientifically proven: studies have been amassing in support of what we already intuitively know.

    Proving the obvious

    Large population studies have clearly linked sugary drink with obesity. Even more worrisome are the studies linking sugary beverages to type 2 diabetes,hypertension and heart disease. And then there are the studies that show thatliquid calories

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  • Who Should Be Living Gluten-free?


    According to a new study about one in 140 people in the US have celiac disease. This is about 1.8 million people who should adopt a gluten-free diet to be healthy.

    About 1.6 million people in the US are on a gluten free diet, so it sounds like these two numbers match nicely.

    But here's the interesting part: this study, which looked for celiac in a nationally representative sample of almost 8000 people, (the researchers measured antibodies used to screen for celiac, and surveyed the medical histories and records of all the subjects to make the diagnosis of celiac disease) found that 29 of the 35 people with celiac had no idea they had the disease.

    On the other hand, of the 55 people in the study who were on a gluten-free diet 49 did not have a clinical history or any laboratory evidence of celiac.

    Gluten-free as a diet fad

    Gluten is probably one of the only food proteins most of us know by name, and now that the name's out and is associated with a bona-fide

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