Chocolate linked to migrainesHot fresh bread, aged cheese...

Healthwatch

May 12, 1992|By Universal Press Syndicate

Chocolate linked to migraines

Hot fresh bread, aged cheese, red wine and chocolate may sound like a picnic to you, but for many migraine sufferers it would be a repast from hell. While many migraine patients believe that certain foods can cause their headaches, some doctors greet such claims with skepticism. But a recent London study comes down on the side of the patients and finds that there is a connection between migraine headaches and eating chocolate. The study was conducted by researchers at Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital and the Princess Margaret Migraine Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital. Twenty migraine-clinic patients -- all of whom believed that chocolate could trigger their headaches -- received either a real chocolate bar or a fake one, in which carob powder and vegetable fat replaced cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Both were flavored with peppermint to mask the chocolate and carob tastes, and a taste trial proved that participants would not be able to tell the carob from the chocolate. Of the 12 patients receiving real chocolate, five got migraine attacks within the following day. None of the eight who ate fake chocolate had attacks during that time.

Why some kids hate spinach

As any baby sitter who's been around the block will tell you, one child's ambrosia is another's poison. But what makes some children love cabbage or cheese or spinach while others detest it? And should we respect their preferences? The accumulating evidence says yes. Children who reject particular foods may be responding to an inherited ability to taste certain chemicals. For example, adults who are genetically able to taste the bitter chemical PROP (for 6-n-propylthiouracil) show distinct aversions to certain foods, including sauerkraut, buttermilk, cheese, spinach and kale. Recently, a study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Yale University showed that young children's tastes follow a similar pattern. A group of 5- to 7-year-olds who could taste PROP seemed to like cheese less and milk more than their non-tasting counterparts. In other words, children's seemingly capricious likes and dislikes may be rooted in biology rather than whim.

It was reported earlier that picky young eaters seem to get the right amount of food and nutrition when allowed to choose the size of their own meals. It looks as if the same principle applies to the content. Children who won't eat their broccoli usually compensate by picking up the vitamins and minerals they need elsewhere. Forcing them to eat what they hate may create behavioral problems; at the least, it engenders the kind of resentment that can make mealtimes miserable.

Skip breakfast, sink diet

If you've ever skipped breakfast in the hope of losing weight, you know how hungry you get by noon. Could skipping breakfast on a regular basis ultimately defeat a diet? To find out, a group of Texas researchers studied 209 obese men and women who enrolled in an Optifast low-calorie liquid diet program for three months, followed by six weeks when solid food was reintroduced, and another six weeks on a higher-calorie maintenance plan. The participants also filled out a questionnaire about previous eating habits. People accustomed to eating three meals a day were significantly more likely to complete the diet program than those who had regularly skipped breakfast.

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