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Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?

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Author Topic: Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?  (Read 5875 times)

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August

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Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?
« on: September 06, 2011, 02:29:03 PM »

What Stephan Guyenet is saying is similar to the theory behind SLD, but what if it isn't similar enough?

The event that started this all off, the novel fruit flavored soda in Paris, is easily explainable by flavor/calorie association, but not by a food/reward theory- at least not from what I've heard so far.  Soda is hyperpalatable. I don't think Stephan has addressed flavor novelty and it's effects.

Now, the recommendation based on the food/reward idea is that blandness is the way to go, which would seriously interfere with the other big thing everybody was talking about at Ancestral Health- gut health.  Most fermentable foods are strongly flavored.  The flavor/calorie association can handle this because, it seems to me, reliability of the signal takes precedence over relative strength of the flavor.   

Which also makes sense with regard to another subsection of the population: starch eaters.  Yes, there are actually people who are addicted to starch and eat the stuff straight, out of a box.  Starch is bland, but again, the flavor/calorie association can explain reality here- the flavor may be bland, but the signal is very reliable.  A food/reward person professing blandness as a key strategy to losing weight just can't account for these people.


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Brenda324

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Re: Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2011, 04:36:22 AM »

I've only just begun to read Stephan's posts. I listened to a podcast interview he did for Chris Kesser. I too noticed that he doesn't address flavor novelty.

On second thought, maybe he does. I think that soda is only hyperpalatable after you've had it multiple times. Stephan uses an example of cilantro, stating that it doesn't taste very good at first, and that it only comes to taste good when combined with other flavor-enhancing foods, then the cilantro becomes highly palatable. He also discusses how beer tastes bad until we learn to associate it with something desirable - a buzz - then the taste of beer becomes highly palatable.

Isn't it really the same concept? Like Seth's example of someone drinking coke for the first time. The taste of the coke flavor is not very good, but because it is combined with sugar, it becomes highly palatable (like the cilantro does). But if someone were to have the coke flavor alone, it would likely ever turn into a palatable food, just as cilantro, by itself, wouldn't either.
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NTB

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Re: Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2011, 02:12:23 AM »

This is a very interesting subject, August.  Stephan Guyenet is not the first to make this claim.  David Kessler laid out a very similar argument in "The End of Overeating".

I just wrote an article about it on my blog, "Does tasty food make us fat?"  Guyenet seems to alternate between two contradictory concepts of "food reward". In the first version, food reward is something inherent in certain foods with high fat, sugar or salt.  In his second version, "reward" is a conditioned feature of food, essentially the same as Seth's flavor/calorie association.  But he can't have it both ways -- foods are either inherently rewarding, or their degree of reward can be altered and conditioned.  I think the evidence is pretty strong that what is reward varies a lot between cultures, between individuals, and even during the life of any one individual.

So the theory has the causality backwards.  We don't get fat because food is too tasty or palatable.  Rather, normal palatability turns into irresistible cravings as a result of the metabolic dysfunctions of obesity, principally leptin resistance and insulin resistance.  This has been shown most elegantly by Robert Lustig's work.

Todd

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August

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Re: Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2011, 11:07:47 AM »

I think the cilantro example only seems coherent on the surface- sure, it seems to explain why we develop a liking for a spice, but it doesn't explain why the spice ended up in our food in the first place.  Someone actually went out and ate cilantro by itself, found it to be worthwhile to eat for some reason, and then people started putting it into food.  So, the physiological benefit to eating cilantro must be relatively high compared to whatever initial flavor/calorie association would have been there.  Why eat something with almost no caloric load?  There must be some nutrition in there, and many herbs and spices have been found to have beneficial effects- it makes more sense that various peoples discovered and valued these plants for their beneficial effects and only started putting it into food later.  This is similar to what was done with salt.
 
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bleeding

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Re: Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2011, 03:16:16 PM »

 
Someone actually went out and ate cilantro by itself, found it to be worthwhile to eat for some reason, and then people started putting it into food. 

IMHO if it doesn't kill or sicken quickly, people will eat it. 

Food preferences come to the surface when groups (religions, tribes, clans) seek to use food as a tool to include the in group and exclude out-group(s).     If the members of my religion are disgusted with some food it's more likely they won't stray. 
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August

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Re: Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 11:33:56 AM »

This is from the first hit on google when searching for 'cilantro health benefits':
Health benefits of cilantro (coriander)
         Cilantro herb contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber which help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" while increasing HDL or "good cholesterol" levels.
      The leaves and seeds contain many essential volatile oils such as borneol, linalool, cineole, cymene, terpineol, dipentene, phellandrene, pinene and terpinolene.
      The leaves and stem tips are also rich in numerous anti-oxidant polyphenolic flavonoids such as quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin and epigenin.
       The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase.
       It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Cilantro leaves provides 30% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.
       It provides 6748 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g, about 225% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin-A, an important fat soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant, is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) helps body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
       Cilantro is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K; provides about 258% of DRI. Vitamin-K has potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
      The coriander seeds oil have found application in many traditional medicines as analgesic, aphrodisiac, anti-spasmodic, deodorant, digestive, carminative, fungicidal, lipolytic (weight loss), stimulant and stomachic.

Just imagine! Cilantro leaves provides only 39 cal/100 g, but their phyto-nutrients profile is no less than any high calorie food source; be it nuts, pulses or cereals or meat group.

This humble backyard herb provides (% of RDA/100g)-
15% of folates,
11% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
45% of vitamin C,
225% of vitamin A,
258% of vitamin K,
22% of iron and
18% of manganese.
(Note: RDA-Recommended daily allowance)

Similar high praise can be found for cinnamon, ginger, and just about any other herb or spice that can be found in the herb or spice aisle at the supermarket.  Certainly, food preferences can be used to emphasize in-group/out-group divides, but the simplest hypothesis for their presence in our diets at all is that they were found (probably accidentally) to have benefits.  You have to know they exist and at least won't kill you before you start using them for all these downstream reasons, like making other foods hyper-palatable or flaunting tribal differences.
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August

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Re: Flavor/calorie association fits reality better than food/reward?
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2011, 01:23:23 PM »

I thought of another example.  My sister eats about five foods.  One of them is chicken breast- I can't remember all of them, but I do remember thinking it was all rather bland.
I can explain her body composition with ease using Seth's theory, but it would be struggle explaining it with Stephan's.  She does eat processed, neolithic foods, so I suppose academic supporters of blandness could insist she wouldn't be in such a state using paleolithic 'safe' starches.

I'm interested in learning the bio-chem necessary to keep up with this stuff, especially with regard to the whole food/reward vs low-carb debate, but I also keep noticing these real world examples in which one doesn't even need to bring up low-carb in order to take the starch out of blandness.
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