OSU Research: Mediterranean Diet as a Pain Reliever?

OSU researchers have been looking at the well-established link between obesity and chronic pain. The link between the two, researchers found, could well be inflammation and the study points to the anti-inflammatory benefits of foods like fish, nuts and beans. Lead researcher, Charles Emery, professor of psychology at OSU, thinks a Mediterranean diet could be a key to preventing or reducing inflammatory pain in obese patients.

After developing their research model – which would determine whether components of an anti-inflammatory diet high in veggies, fruits, healthy fats and whole grains might play a key role in whether weight might lead to pain – researchers found a clear pattern existed. Eating a such a diet reduced body pain regardless of body weight.

The study also upheld previous research showing that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to experience pain. It included 98 men and women 20 to 78 years old and appears this month in the journal Pain.

While changes in diet to produce medical results should always be discussed with one’s primary care physician, this research could be a great way for some chronic pain sufferers to begin a path towards healing. The Mediterranean diet has already proven itself on the battlefield of heart health and weight loss, and now may earn a gold star rating in the realm of pain management.

OSU Researchers Get to Bottom of Long Held Belief About Food Cost and Health

Consumers believe healthy food must be more expensive than cheap eats and that higher-priced food is healthier – even when there is no supporting evidence, according to new research.

The results mean not only that marketers can charge more for products that are touted as healthy, but that consumers may not believe that a product is healthy if it doesn’t cost more, researchers say. For example, people in one study thought eye health was a more important issue for them when they were told about an expensive but unfamiliar food ingredient that would protect their vision. If the same ingredient was relatively cheap, people didn’t think the issue it treated – eye health – was as important.

The results appear online in the Journal of Consumer Research.

The study was conducted to examine the lay theory that we have to pay more to eat healthfully. Lay theories are the common-sense explanations people use to understand the world around them, whether they are true or not. Messages consistent with the “healthy = expensive” lay-theory are all around us. One example is the “Whole Paycheck” nickname people have given to Whole Foods, which touts itself as “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store.”

There are certainly categories of food where healthy is more expensive, such as some organic and gluten-free products, researchers stated. But it is not necessarily true all the time. The researchers conducted five related studies, all with different participants. The results all point to the lay-theory of “healthy = expensive” is not only something consumers believe, but act on.

While these results may be concerning for consumers there is a remedy. Consumers need to become scientists themselves, collecting data and making comparisons before drawing conclusions. It makes shopping easier to believe the overarching lay-theory that expensive food must be healthy because it’s expensive. While this kind of circular thinking is a logical fallacy, it quickly puts consumers at ease with their choices. Getting past easy comfort and making informed choices is the best way around this particularly false folk theory.

How Elite Endurance Athletes Burn Fat: A Study

Jeff Volek, professor of Human Sciences at the Ohio State University, is lead researcher on a project measuring the diets and fat-burning ability of endurance athletes. In summary, their research found that endurance athletes who eat very few carbohydrates burned more than twice as much fat as high-carb athletes during maximum exertion and prolonged exercise in a new study – the highest fat-burning rates under these conditions ever seen by researchers.

The study, the first to profile elite athletes habitually eating very low-carbohydrate diets, involved 20 ultra-endurance runners age 21-45 who were top competitors in running events of 50 kilometers (31 miles) or more.

The 10 low-carb athletes ate a diet consisting of 10 percent carbs, 19 percent protein and 70 percent fat. Ten high-carb athletes got more than half their calories from carbs, with a ratio of 59 percent carbs, 14 percent protein and 25 percent fat.

In all other respects, the athletes were similar: elite status, age, performance, training history and maximum oxygen capacity.

Volek has been studying the effects of low-carb eating – and ketogenic diets specifically – for years, particularly in the context of obesity and diabetes. But he has always been interested in how such a diet might augment physical performance and recovery. Ketogenic diets are those that reduce carbohydrates enough to allow the body to access its fat stores as the primary source of fuel. Lowering carbs and increasing fat intake leads to the conversion of fat into ketones, molecules that can be used by cells throughout the body, especially the brain, as an alternative to glucose.
The research is published online in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental.