LIMIT YOUR SUGAR

Could a stick-like device help you win the battle against your sweet tooth?

Could a Slissie (£29.99; slissie.co.uk) be your ally in reducing sugar cravings? The small mascara-like device delivers a burst of calorie-free flavour when you suck on it, which the manufacturer claims triggers smell receptors in the nose and conveys satiety messages to the appetite control centre of the brain. Cartridges for the device come in dessert-style chocolate and mint flavours and you can choose the one that most closely replicates the foods you particularly crave. My feeling is that it’s an interesting product, but I need more convincing.

There’s certainly growing research that smells may trigger satisfaction and help with weight loss, but the Slissie product itself hasn’t been used in this research. It wouldn’t harm to try it though, if your sweet tooth is hard to shift. Another potential fix for a pesky sweet craving is chewing some sugar-free gum – research shows it can work for some people, so why not keep some to hand?

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DON’T FEAR SPEARS

‘I’ve always loved asparagus and often talk about its health benefits – it’s very high in vitamin C and folic acid – so I did a double take when I saw the headlines suggesting that this super green could worsen cancer. So here’s a quick reality check, and it’s good news for asparagus fans. What the research (in an edition of the journal Nature), actually found was that, in mice, an enzyme called asparagine synthetase (found in asparagus and other foods) seems to strongly influence whether a breast cancer tumour spreads to other parts of the body or not.

Asparagine synthetaste produces the amino acid asparagine in the body, so a logical follow up to this discovery was for scientists to manipulate levels of asparagine in the diet to see what would happen. When they gave the mice low dietary levels of the amino acid, there was a reduced breast cancer spread. While this is interesting, the mice in the study already had cancer so the results may not be relevant to development of the disease. Nor is eating a diet low in asparagine realistic as it’s is everywhere. Asparagus isn’t even the richest source – it’s found in much higher amounts in protein-rich foods. While the research opens up lines of investigation into drugs that lower blood levels of asparagine, it doesn’t mean you should stop enjoying nutritious asparagus.’

Is it possible to eat too much protein?

A If you’re healthy, it’s unlikely that eating more protein than your body actually needs will be harmful. It used to be thought that high-protein diets were damaging to kidneys but, as long as your kidneys are functioning well, they’re very good at expelling the extra nitrogen that comes with eating lots of this nutrient. The other concern – that too much protein can hurt your bones – stems from the fact that excess protein intake causes you to pee more calcium out. However, diversifying your intake with plenty of plant protein (for example from soya, pulses and nuts, as it’s harder to get more than you need of this type of protein) and making sure you include calciumcontaining foods in your diet should mean you avoid any bone issues.

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