Leafy Greens Could Enhance Sports Endurance

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Recent study has found that nitrate supplementation combined with sprint interval training in low oxygen conditions could enhance sport performance.

Nitrate supplements have ignited a new conversation about nitrate-rich foods like spinach, arugula, and other vegetables, as being important for muscle endurance during exercising. A previous study has suggested that beetroot juice, an abundant dietary source of nitrate, increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles during exercise by 38%. In a recent sports performance study, it was found that athletes who took nitrate supplementation before undergoing endurance training experienced improved muscle performance.

These tests were done on stationary bicycles, and the participants were placed in a low oxygen (hypoxic) environment. Biopsies of muscle tissue were taken and the results showed a growth in muscle fibers. This would suggest that nitrate is a key nutrient for the muscles during exercise.

In Belgium at the University of Leuven, researchers recruited 30 healthy men from university students. All participants were selected for being physically active, but were not engaged in any physical training program. The participants were divided into three groups and took either a placebo, or nitrate pills three hours prior to exercising. Then, over a five-week period, participants undertook an intense exercise program on stationary bikes. Each trial would last for 30 minutes, three times per week. The groups were categorized as seen below:

  • Group one took placebos and exercised in normal oxygen conditions
  • Group two took placebos and exercised under low oxygen conditions
  • Group three took nitrate supplements and exercised under low oxygen conditions

The researchers took muscle biopsies to measure certain fibers in the muscle tissue, specifically the ones thought to be associated with increasing endurance. In the final analysis, the group of athletes who took nitrate supplements before exercising in a low oxygen environment had a measured increase in these muscle fibers. This suggests that ingesting nitrate-rich foods or supplements combined with endurance type exercise regimes will grow those muscles needed for high-performance sports.

According to co-author Professor Peter Hespel, this may be the first study that shows changes inside muscle fibers after nitrate supplementation with exercise. The study was first considered after examining athletes who train at high elevations under conditions of low oxygen to improve their performance. Under these conditions, intense workouts put extra demands on the muscles as they quickly undergo oxidative stress due to the low oxygen.

It was believed that muscle fibers would respond to nitrate intake and boost overall performance. As the study discovered, nitrate supplements did increase muscle performance under extreme conditions, but it remains to be seen if this success can be implemented under normal oxygen conditions. Hespel also cautioned that long-term nitrate supplementation with exercise is not yet recommended, until a safe dosage of nitrate has clearly been demonstrated.

This experiment demonstrated nitrate supplementation and vigorous training under hypoxic conditions proportionally increased muscle fiber associated with endurance. Today, athletes are pushing themselves to their physical limits. Future research in dietary supplements could give them a competitive edge. However, Professor Hespel suspects further investigation into nitrate-rich foods could be a safe alternative for athletes wanting to improve their performance.

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/leafy-greens-could-enhance-sports-endurance/

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Older men with higher testosterone levels lose less muscle mass as they age

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A recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) found that higher levels of testosterone were associated with reduced loss of lean muscle mass in older men, especially in those who were losing weight. In these men, higher testosterone levels were also associated with less loss of lower body strength.

Loss of muscle mass and strength contribute to frailty and are associated with falls, mobility limitations and fractures. Men lose more muscle mass and strength than women as they age, suggesting that sex steroids, and testosterone in particular, may contribute to body composition and physical function changes. This study sought to better understand the relationship between testosterone levels and healthy aging in older men and found that higher testosterone levels may help older men preserve muscle mass and delay frailty as they age.

“Our study finds that men, aged 65 years and older, with higher testosterone levels lost less muscle mass, especially in their arms and legs, than men this age who had lower testosterone levels,” said Erin LeBlanc, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, OR and lead author of the study. “Men who had higher testosterone levels before they lost weight also lost less leg function and could stand up more easily from a chair than men who had lower testosterone levels before they lost weight.”

In this study, researchers used data from 1,183 men aged 65 years or older and tested the hypothesis that higher baseline measures of sex steroids are associated with lesser declines in lean mass and maintenance of physical performance over an average follow-up of 4.5 years. Body composition was measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans and physical performance was measured through a series of exercises that assessed grip strength, lower extremity power, walking speed and the ability to rise from a chair without the use of arms.

“The amount of testosterone men have in their bodies may contribute to how much muscle and strength they lose as they get older,” said LeBlanc. “Our study adds evidence to the growing body of literature that suggest higher levels of endogenous testosterone may be favorably associated with some key components of healthy aging in men.”

Other researchers working on the study include: Patty Wang, Christine Lee, Lynn Marshall and Eric Orwoll of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland; Elizabeth Barrett-Connor and Gail Laughlin of the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, CA; Jane Cauley of the University of Pittsburgh in PA; and Andrew Hoffman of Stanford University in CA.

The article, “Higher testosterone levels are associated with less loss of lean body mass in older men,” appears in the December 2011 issue of JCEM.

Article Source: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/older-men-with-higher-testosterone-levels-lose-less-muscle-mass-as-they-age/elder-care/

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Vitamin D3 supplementation helps women build muscle, avoid falls even after menopause

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The benefits of vitamin D supplementation for postmenopausal women have been widely debated. But a new study from Sao Paulo, Brazil, now documents that vitamin D supplementation can significantly increase muscle strength and reduce the loss of body muscle mass in women as late as 12+ years after menopause. The study results will be presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which begins September 30 in Las Vegas.

Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in postmenopausal women worldwide, creating muscle weakness and a greater tendency for falling. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted over a nine-month period. Muscle mass was estimated by total-body DXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), as well as by handgrip strength and through a chair-rising test.

At the end of the trial, the women receiving the supplements demonstrated a significant increase (+25.3%) in muscle strength, while those receiving the placebo actually lost an average of 6.8% of muscle mass. Women not receiving Vitamin D supplements were also nearly two times as likely to fall.

“We concluded that the supplementation of Vitamin D alone provided significant protection against the occurrence of sarcopenia, which is a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle, says Dr. L.M. Cangussu, one of the lead authors of the study from the Botucatu Medical School at Sao Paulo State University.

“While this study is unlikely to decide the debate over Vitamin D, it provides further evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplements by postmenopausal women in an effort to reduce frailty and an increased risk of falling,” says NAMS Executive Director Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD, DSc(Med).

Article Source: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/vitamin-d3-supplementation-helps-women-build-muscle-avoid-falls-even-after-menopause/menopause/

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Hormone That Reverses Cell Aging in Humans Identified

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The human body has hidden secrets scientists are just now discovering. Scientists have known that the human body can heal itself naturally, and now they realize that it can ultimately regenerate dying cells. During a clinical trial, the discovery of a new hormone found in males has shown some promising results in countering the effects of aging. The discovery does not promise a prolonged life-span, but rather a way to help people lead healthier lifestyles.

In later experiments, researchers from the United States and Brazil used a synthetic male hormone, known as a danazol steroid, to arouse the production levels of telomerase, a well- known enzyme. Telomerase is best known for keeping cells young by preventing DNA telomerase cells from shrinking. The process stops the generation of telomerase, and attaches itself to the end of the body’s chromosome.

One of the biggest challenges associated with aging is the rapid decrease of telomerase DNA protection. Every time a cell in the body splits or multiplies, the telomeres increase in length. Eventually, the cell will fail to reproduce itself any longer, and die or naturally age. When telomerase is present, it keeps the telomeres in place, and even aids in the process of cell division.

Finding Can Combat the Negative Impact of Telomerase Degeneration

In past studies, evidence presented shows how aging cells can be stopped by increasing telomerase, which is produced naturally by human cells, and is continually multiplying. This process is similar to blood-forming cells. A lack of telomerase can increase the risk of cancer and have a negative impact on the internal organs. Most recent studies show that prescription steroids are responsible for generating telomerase on demand, confirming what scientists had previously witnessed in the laboratory.

Armed with this relatively new knowledge, new medical treatments can be produced for serious diseases like aplastic anemia, which causes premature aging of the bone marrow stem cells. In the study danazol was distributed over a two-year period, to 27 patients with aplastic anemia, which was caused by the mutation of telomerase genes. The discovery can also produce treatment for scarred lungs, and pulmonary fibrosis.

Over a two-year period, a person will lose from 100 to 120 telomere base pairs (DNA building blocks) each year. However, people with telomerase deficiencies could lose from 200 to 600 base pairs over the same course of time. When participants were given the new treatment, the length of telomere cells stopped shrinking, and increased by an average of 386 base pairs. Hemoglobin mass increased, which meant patients no longer needed to rely on blood transfusions.

New Discovery Opens the Door for Future Research

While scientists are optimistic at the possible new treatments and medical breakthroughs, every success comes with a price. The use of sex hormones has notable side effects, such as digestive system problems, fatigue, and mood swings.

Knowing how to overcome one of life’s biological barriers, such as aging, is a valuable and major accomplishment for future research projects. As of now, the elixir to the fountain of youth, or staying young forever is out of reach. At this moment, the possibilities of new medical miracles in science are looking more promising than ever.

Article Source: http://www.worldhealth.net/news/new-hormone-can-regenerate-aging-cells-found-human/

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How Larry the Cable Guy May Be Giving You Alzheimer’s

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If we were to follow Larry the Cable Guy’s advice, almost everyone would be taking an acid-blocking drug. Somehow, we are being convinced that getting rid of stomach acid is a good thing. This is the very same stomach acid that activates digestive enzymes and allows us to absorb Vitamin B12. The acid produced in the stomach sets the right level of pH for the entirety of the digestive system, home to over 100 trillion organisms.

So you might expect that suddenly and dramatically reducing stomach acid production by taking one of theses proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs might be associated with health consequences…and you would be right.

Researchers publishing in the highly respected medical journal JAMA Neurology reported their results after following more than 75,000 adults for 5-6 years. They were interested in determining whether those taking PPIs on a regular basis had an increased risk for developing dementia.

The results of this extremely comprehensive study were telling. The authors reported that regular users of these drugs experienced 44% increase risk of developing dementia, an illness for which there is no effective medical treatment. As the authors stated:

Thus, the avoidance of PPI medication may contribute to the prevention of dementia.

These medications are among the most common prescriptions written, and many are now sold over the counter. These are the heavily-advertised products like Prevacid, Prilosec, Dexilant, Zegerid, AciPhex, Protonix, and Nexium that we all see promoted on the evening news and in magazines.

The ads sure make it sound like we should all jump on board and get rid of our sinister stomach acid. With a spokesperson like Larry the Cable Guy, the message is even more compelling.

But hey, Larry. Why don’t you tell people about how the very drug you are peddling may lead to dementia? Maybe you just don’t understand this information. If that’s the case, probably time to rethink your medications.

Written By: Dr. David Perlmutter

– See more at: http://www.drperlmutter.com/larry-cable-guy-may-giving-alzheimers/#sthash.vTPyiMNX.dpuf

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The HCG Diet: Yet another ineffective quick fix diet plan and supplement

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I contribute biweekly to Science-Based Medicine and could easily devote every post to writing about weight loss supplements, and never run out of topics. As soon as one quick fix falls out of favour, another inevitably replaces it. Some wax and wane in popularity. And pharmacies don’t help the situation. I cringe every time I walk down the aisle where weight loss products and kits are located. Detox? Hoodia? The “fat blaster”?  Here are pharmacists, well educated and perfectly positioned to provide good advice to consumers, but standing behind a wall of boxes with ridiculous weight loss promises.  Yet pharmacists tell me that these products are not only sought out by customers, but they actually sell well. It’s a lost opportunity to provide good advice, and consumers pay the price.

Perhaps because consumers associate these products with pharmacies, I get regular questions about weight loss programs. I end up developing some degree of familiarity with many of them, if only to be able to credibly redirect away from some of the more harmful plans and approaches. It’s that philosophy that I used recently when I was asked about how to best to manage a “plateau” on the HCG diet. I’d never dispensed human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) before, but knew of its use for the treatment of infertility, where it promotes egg release. But weight loss? I couldn’t think of a mechanism for how HCG could promote weight loss. So I did some digging, and found a long, rich vein of pseudoscience that dates back decades.

HCG is a hormone secreted by the placenta during pregnancy.  Its use as a weight loss adjunct has roots that date back to the 1950s, when Italian physican ATW Simeons announced [PDF] case studies of weight loss in patients given HCG injection and placed on very low calorie diets — about 500 kcal/day. Simeons’ data failed to be replicated in later studies, and interest seemed to deservedly fade. The diet leapt back into consciousness when telemarketer and convicted felon Kevin Trudeau started promoting the diet again in 2007, claiming the TRUTH had been suppressed by the American Medical Association and the FDA. Since then, HCG (also called the Simeons method) has been on a bit of tear, and it’s currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity.

The Evidence

With HCG, we’re not facing a situation of unproven efficacy. Rather, there’s good evidence to demonstrate that it does not have any meaningful effect.  Multiple studies and meta-analyses have evaluated the HCG diet and found no evidence that HCG injections offer any incremental benefit. The studies date go way back to the 1970s [PDF], and their conclusions are consistent and persuasive: The weight loss effect on the HCG diet is due to the dramatic calorie reduction, and the HCG has no measurable effect on weight loss. Not surprisingly, there are no medical associations that I could find that endorse the use of HCG for weight loss. The American Society of Bariatric Physicians warns,

Numerous clinical trials have shown HCG to be ineffectual in producing weight loss. HCG injections can induce a slight increase in muscle mass in androgen-deficient males. The diet used in the Simeons method provides a lower protein intake than is advisable in view of current knowledge and practice. There are few medical literature reports favorable to the Simeons method; the overwhelming majority of medical reports are critical of it. Physicians employing either the HCG or the diet recommended by Simeons may expose themselves to criticism from other physicians, from insurers, or from government bodies.

So does the HCG Diet Work?

Any weight loss from the HCG diet is actually due to the dramatic calorie restriction required as part of the diet plans — in some cases, as low as 500 calories per day. This near-starvation diet is dramatically below appropriate levels for weight loss or maintenance, and escalates the risk of malnutrition if prolonged. Even if it wasn’t immediately harmful, a 500kcal diet is simply unsustainable. Weight maintenance is the real challenge with obesity.

HCG injections are not innocuous. It may be teratogenic (cause birth defects) in pregnant women. Reported side effects include headache, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, ovarian overstimulation, ascites, and edema.

Regulatory status

The FDA has long maintained that HCG is ineffective for weight loss and in the 1970’s mandated this warning with all HCG diet advertisements:

HCG has not been demonstrated to be effective adjunctive therapy in the treatment of obesity. There is no substantial evidence that it increases weight loss beyond that resulting from caloric restriction, that it causes a more attractive or “normal” distribution of fat, or that it decreases the hunger and discomfort associated with calorie-restricted diets.

What’s appeared over the past several years have been  non-prescription (i.e., over-the-counter) HCG products, including “homeopathic” HCG which if you follow the absurd principles of homeopathy, should cause weight gain, not loss. Moreover, HCG is a protein that would be digested if consumed orally. But scientific cogency isn’t a necessary component of a good sales pitch, and you’ll see homeopathic versions sold widely. The FDA noted this and took action this past December, when it began to pull all unapproved HCG products completely off the market.  This has put the supplement industry into the positon of creating “HCG-free” versions of their products become infused with “radionics” where the HCG “energy” is transferred to vitamins or amino acids. The FDA emphasizes in its warnings that all non-prescription versions of HCG are fraudulent and ineffective, as non-prescription HCG does not exist.  Even “homeopathic” HCG is prohibited:

“Deceptive advertising about weight loss products is one of the most prevalent types of fraud,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Any advertiser who makes health claims about a product is required by federal law to back them up with competent and reliable scientific evidence, so consumers have the accurate information they need to make good decisions.”

The FDA even notes that the infamous Quack Miranda warning is insufficient warning to consumers, when it comes to HCG:

We recognize that a number of pages on your website contain a disclaimer stating that the products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. However, notwithstanding this disclaimer, the claims made on your website for “HCG Fusion 30” and “HCG Fusion 43” clearly demonstrate that these products are drugs as defined by section 201(g)(1) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)], because they are intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.

The Alternative Universe

The lack of evidence for HCG, and the explicit FDA warnings haven’t stopped a thriving business model among those that promote alternatives to science-based medicine. In the United States, for example, a naturopath has formed the “HCG Diet Council” and is collecting anecdotes from providers and users as part of their “standardized research program” of both HCG and homeopathic HCG. “Does the FDA Want to Keep America Fat?” the council asks. In Canada,  naturopaths at the Northern Centre for Integrative Medicine thumb their nose at the evidence, and Health Canada’s warning:

HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin) is authorized in Canada only for treatment of women with infertility, and only in an injectable form. There is no scientific evidence that the use of HCG either by mouth (as drops under the tongue, as advertised on the Internet) or as a self-administered injection, could promote weight loss.

NCIM honors the intent of Health Canada’s statement, which is protective in nature. Health Canada’s statement does not address the more substantive issue, which is the significant risk of not taking action to reduce your weight and risking future illness. The NCIM HCG Rx+ weight loss intervention cannot make any guarantees, it nevertheless provides a time-tested approach to weight loss that is physician supervised and individually monitored for safety and effectiveness.

And NCIM doesn’t honour the intent of the statement at all. It notes that the prescription it provides for HCG injections may be covered by private drug insurance.

And a post on HCG can’t neglect it’s biggest television promoter after Kevin Trudeau: Dr. Oz, who having recommended against the HCG diet, turned around and subsequently promoted it on his show, prompting obesity specialist Dr. Yoni Freedhoff to ask “Dr. Oz — so corrupted by fame he even sells himself out?“

Conclusion

There’s no persuasive evidence that HCG injections has any meaningful effects on weight loss. And “homeopathic” HCG is quite literally, nothing. If the HCG diet shows one thing at all, it’s the tenacity of an idea once it’s been planted. Despite warnings by researchers, health professionals, and regulators since at least 1976 about the lack of evidence for HCG as a weight loss adjunct, it continues to attract attention and new users, now promoted by naturopaths and television personalities that are indifferent to the evidence. It’s gratifying to see a regulator (the FDA in this case) take off the gloves with supplement vendors and other purveyors of HCG pseudoscience. When it comes to weight loss there are no quick fixes.

Written By: Scott Gavura

Article Source: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-hcg-diet-yet-another-ineffective-quick-fix-diet-plan-and-supplement/

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How the sugar industry has distorted health science for more than 50 years

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The sugar industry has a long history of shaping nutrition policy in the United States, working to mask the potential risks of consuming too much of the sweet stuff.

It wasn’t until this year, for instance, that the US Dietary Guidelines finally recommended people keep their consumption of added sugars below 10 percent of their total calorie intake — decades after health advocates began pressing for the measure. The sugar lobby had fended off this recommendation all the while.

New research, published today in JAMA Internal Medicine, shows that Big Sugar  may have done more than just advocate for favorable policies. Going back more than 50 years, the industry has been distorting scientific research by dictating what questions get asked about sugar, particularly questions around sugar’s role in promoting heart disease.

The paper focuses on a debate that first popped up in the 1950s, when the rate of heart disease started to shoot up in the United States. Scientists began searching for answers, and zeroed in on dietary saturated fat as the leading contributor. (The energy we get from food comes in three kinds of nutrients: fats, carbohydrates, and protein.)

This may not have been an accident. Through an examination of archival documents, the JAMA paper shows how a sugar trade association helped boost the hypothesis that eating too much saturated fat was the major cause of the nation’s heart problems, while creating doubt about the evidence showing that sugar could be a culprit too. Sugar increases triglycerides in the blood, which may also help harden the arteries and thicken artery walls — driving up the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.

Today, scientific consensus related to the role specific macronutrients play in the diet has shifted. Researchers have come around to the view that a person’s overall eating habits probably matter more for health than the particular percentages of carbs, fats, and proteins taken in. But they also generally agree that some kinds of fats are less damaging to health than others. (In particular, unsaturated fats appear to be better for one’s cardiovascular disease risk than saturated and trans fats.) And that too much sugar can be just as bad as too much fat for the heart.

The new JAMA paper reveals why the public may know less about the sugar-heart link than it ought to.

How the sugar industry played down the role of sugar in heart disease

Beginning in the 1950s, notes the JAMA paper, led by Cristin Kearns of UC San Francisco, a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation was concerned about evidence showing that a low-fat diet high in sugar might raise cholesterol levels in the blood.

If sugar turned out to be a major driver of heart issues, the group surmised, that could be devastating for sugar producers.

 JAMA Internal Medicine
The close epidemiological links between sugar and saturated fat “consumption” and mortality in 14 countries.

So the Sugar Research Foundation aligned itself with leading Harvard nutrition professors, and paid them the equivalent of $48,900 (in 2016 dollars) for a two-part research review, later published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that would discredit the link between sugar and heart disease.

“[The review] concluded there was ‘no doubt’ that the only dietary intervention required to prevent coronary heart disease was to reduce dietary cholesterol and substitute polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat in the American diet,” the study authors wrote. In other words, the sugar-sponsored researchers emphasized the role saturated fat played in heart troubles, and de-emphasized the risks dietary sugar carry.

This 50-year-old incident is not ancient history

The researchers dug up this old sugar case because it still reverberates today — in both how we view sugar’s impact on the body and how science is done.

“This 50-year-old incident may seem like ancient history,” writes Marion Nestle, a New York University food policy professor, in an accompanying editorial, “but it is quite relevant, not least because it answers some questions germane to our current era. Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor? Yes, it is, and the practice continues.” Nestle has been documenting the instances where companies fund nutrition studies that overwhelmingly return favorable results to the industry sponsors.

sugar

“Our research emphasizes that industry-funded science needs to be heavily scrutinized, and not taken at face value,” said Kearns, the lead author on the JAMA paper. “There are so many ways a study can be manipulated — from the questions that are asked, from how the information is analyzed, even to how the conclusions are described in the paper.”

In this case, the sugar industry involvement in science influenced not only the scientific enterprise but also public-health policy, and potentially, the health of millions of people. Kearns points out that the most recent World Health Organization sugar guidelines focus on reducing consumption because of sugar’s role in obesity and tooth decay — not the heart risk.

“I think [the WHO] should have also looked at the relationship between sugar and heart disease,” Kearns said. “And by having all the attention shifted off of sugar related to heart disease, we have avoided asking those specific questions.”

The Sugar Association — the trade group from which the Sugar Research Foundation in the JAMA paper evolved — continues to push back on the sugar-heart link. Most recently,the group called the American Heart Association’s recommendation that kids eat no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day “baffling,” arguing that it was not based on science and that added sugars can have a healthy place in children’s diets.

Written By: Julia Belluz

Article Source: http://www.vox.com/2016/9/12/12864442/jama-sugar-industry-distort-science

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