Nutrition

Provides updates on the psychological aspects of nutrition as of May 1, 2000. Influence of age on women's diets; Link between personality and snack foods; Information on the weight loss supplement 7-Keto.

By PT Staff, published on May 1, 2000 - last reviewed on January 23, 2015

DIETVegging Out

Rare is the 8-year-old child who loves broccoli and brussel
sprouts. Even many adults who understand the benefits of a greens-filled
diet find vegetables a necessary evil. But don't worry--you'll probably
learn to love them in time.

According to Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., director of the nutritional
sciences program at the University of Washington, we develop a taste for
healthful foods like fruits and vegetables as we grow older. Drewnowski
recruited 329 women of varying ages and examined their eating habits,
food preferences and sensitivity to a bitter substance called
6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). He found that women's diets were strongly
influenced by age: The older women were, the more likely they were to
profess a preference for green vegetables, yellow vegetables, salad
vegetables and bitter fruit, and the less likely they were to crave sweet
foods. Older subjects were also less sensitive to the PROP solution,
which likely explains their greater affinity for rabbit food.

There's a good biological reason why our taste preferences change
with age. "I suspect that changes in taste are in service of energy
needs," says Drewnowski. "When you're younger and growing, you need to
maximize energy. You need sugar and fat." As you become older and less
active, however, your energy needs decline, leading you to prefer
low-calorie foods like spinach and grapefruit.

The odds may be against forcing you or your child to love
vegetables. But don't shy away from making them more appealing by adding
a little butter or sugar to them, advises Drewnowski. Not only does it
make them taste better, he says, but many of the crucial fat-soluble
antioxidants they contain are more readily extracted by the body when
eaten with a little grease.

--Camille Chatterjee

PERSONALITY

You Are What You Eat

Forget eyes as the windows to the soul: Snack foods may really hold
the key to a person's character. Alan Hirsch, M.D., a researcher at the
Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago,
administered personality tests to 800 volunteers, then queried them about
their snack preferences. The results, Hirsch believes, suggest that
personality has a profound effect on our sensory interpretations of
different foods. Here's what his study revealed about six popular snack
foods and the people who love them:

o If you prefer potato chips, you're likely a successful high
achiever.

o If you go for tortilla chips, you're probably a
perfectionist.

o Pretzel people tend to be lively, energetic and crave
novelty.

o Cracker lovers tenet to be contemplative, shy and
nonconfrontational. They're also the type most likely to have an Internet
romance.

o Crave cheese curls? You're probably conscientious and
prepared.

o Meat snack lovers tend to be gregarious and social, loyal and
trustworthy. However, they're also prone to rebound relationships.

Unfortunately, the word is still out on chocolate lovers.

--Linda Formichelli

WEIGHT LOSS

A Slim Supplement?

The supplement DHEA was much touted in the early 1990s as a natural
fountain of youth, boosting the immune system, sharpening memory and
provoking weight loss. But rumors of side effects made it a supplement to
avoid. Now, a derivative of the hormone has been shown to assist safely
in weight loss.

Unlike DHEA, 7-Keto does not convert into the sex hormones
testosterone and estrogen, which cause potentially dangerous side
effects. In John Zenk, M.D.'s recent study of the supplement, published
in the Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, he found that subjects
taking 7-Keto as a weight loss aid lost four more pounds on average than
the control group.

Zenk believes that, unlike most weight loss drugs, which act as
stimulants, 7-Keto safely heightens thyroid activity, which increases
metabolism. Of course, no weight loss supplement should be used without
proper nutrition and regular exercise; all subjects in the study used
7-Keto in addition to a healthful diet and physical activity.

--Camille Chatterjee