Nutrition News: Bubbles to Quench, Cranberry Effects Questioned, Benefits of Slow Eating

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Slow … down

If family dinner with your kids sometimes feels like a race to the clean-plate finish line, nutrition educator Casey Seidenberg knows how you feel. Writing in The Washington Post, Seidenberg suggests explaining to your kids, as she has to her sons, the digestive ramifications of all that rushing: “shoveling our food creates all kinds of issues, such as indigestion, constipation, inflammation and malabsorption of nutrients, which can then contribute to larger health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and heart disease.”

So it makes a lot of health sense to eat meals a bit slower, rather than wolfing them down. Take a moment to “cherish” the way your meal smells and tastes, she advises; then chew the heck out of it. “In this fast and furious world, any time to slow down together sounds awfully nice,” she says. Hard to argue.

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Cran it or cran’t it?

That cranberry juice you drink to treat or prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI)? Quite possibly useless. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have published a study, in JAMA, that compared the effects of a capsule containing the equivalent – in potent components – of a 20-ounce serving of cranberry juice to a placebo. The women participating in the study were divided into two groups and followed over a year, receiving regular testing for the presence of UTI-related bacteria.

“My findings point in the direction that cranberry products, when studied scientifically, are not able to show real benefit for UTI,” Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta, the Yale associate professor who led the study, told Time. On the other hand, if you’re really committed to drinking your cranberry juice, Juthani-Mehta says she doesn’t “see much down side, even if I don’t think the scientific evidence is convincing.”

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Tiny bubbles

You’re thirsty. Should you reach for a glass of water that is lukewarm or cold? Flat or bubbly? Cold, carbonated water may be the winner when it comes to quenching your thirst, according to a new study published in the journal Plos One. To see how cooling and carbonation affected the perception of thirst, which is somewhat different from actual hydration, researchers fed toast with jelly to study participants who hadn’t eaten or drunk anything for 12 hours. They then had them assess their thirst and offered them their fill of one of several experimental beverages.

People offered cold, carbonated beverages drank less than did those given room-temperature, noncarbonated beverages, but believed they had drunk more and satisfied their thirst. “These observations could explain the ubiquity of cold, carbonated beverages” – mineral water, seltzer, soda, beer – “throughout the world, and are consistent with the idea that these beverages quench thirst more efficiently and are, therefore, more rewarding to thirsty people,” the researchers concluded.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.