Does cranberry juice really treat a UTI? Let’s check the science

cranberry juice UTI

It’s that time of year when Americans have cranberries and turkey, which made me wonder if the belief that cranberry juice could treat a UTI (urinary tract infection). Now, I love cranberry sauce — yes, I love the stuff that comes out of the can, and I will die on that hill, though I’m not a fan of the juice version. But I’ve had girlfriends who swear by cranberry juice for treating a bout of UTI.

I kept hearing about this magical curative power of cranberry juice for decades. So much so, that I began to wonder if it was just one of the myths that are repeated so often that we think they are a fact. Or is it supported by real science? You know, like the old adage that sugar causes your children to be hyper, which proved to not be supported by any science.

Well, your cranky old dinosaur wanted to find out whether it was a myth or science, so I jumped into cranberry bog with both feet.

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Thanksgiving turkey and sleep — tryptophan isn’t the reason

Thanksgiving dinner

As your favorite feathered dinosaur has been struck with COVID-19, he hasn’t been up to writing new content, so I’m bringing back my turkey and tryptophan myth busting article. Just in time for Thanksgiving, which I won’t be celebrating because I’m sheltering in place.

The old Thanksgiving turkey and tryptophan causing sleep myth appears every year on the fourth Thursday in November when the United States celebrates a holiday called Thanksgiving. You’ll hear about it over and over and over.

Basically, after eating mountains of food, including turkey, one of the guests at the table (fully vaccinated, of course) will pontificate about how eating turkey, which they claim is high in tryptophan, makes everyone want to sleep after the meal. 

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Red No. 3 food coloring — does it really increase risk of cancer?

Red No. 3

Red No. 3 is a food coloring used in some foods, many of which will be familiar to you. As the name implies, it’s a red dye that makes candies and foods look better. It’s really not been in the news for decades, but then someone sent me an article about it, which piqued my interest.

Predictably, the chemophobia crowd, like the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who thinks any chemical is a lousy chemical while ignoring the fact that every living thing on this planet is made up of billions of chemicals, is pushing the narrative that Red No. 3 causes cancer. You know what happens next, I go looking for any published evidence of whether the food coloring is linked to anything, including cancer.

Anyway, let’s take a look at Red No. 3 and find out what it does or does not do to humans.

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Low-carb diet helps reduce HbA1c in prediabetes — new research

low-carb diet prediabetes

In my ongoing series of articles on diets, I ran across some good research about low-carb (low-carbohydrate) diets and prediabetes. A new study published in a peer-reviewed journal indicates that the diet reduces blood glucose levels in prediabetics. More than that, it might be a valid treatment strategy to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Like I do with other primary research like this, I’ll present what they published and then give my take on the quality of the study.

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Compare honey to high fructose corn syrup — not much difference

high fructose corn syrup honey

I am a person that keeps saying “sugar is sugar,” but there are so many people who think honey is somehow “healthier” than high fructose corn syrup which we use in many foods. The fact is, from a chemical standpoint, there are very minor differences between honey and other sources of sugar.

One of the reasons for this belief is that honey is “natural” while high fructose corn syrup is an evil chemical. The appeal to nature is a logical fallacy that states that “natural” is good or better than the alternatives.

Let’s take a look at sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and honey. There’s a bit of science involved, but I’ll try to keep it easy to read.

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Does sugar cause hyperactive children? Science says nope

sugar children hyperactivity

I’m sure you have all heard the oft-repeated myth that giving your children sugar (or sugary treats) will cause them to become hyperactive. When I had kids, I believed that this was true.

But then I grew into the old feathered dinosaur, and I became much more skeptical of claims that seem to be widely accepted including sugar and hyperactivity in children. When I first thought of writing this article, I relied upon my education in glucose metabolism and insulin, and I started to realize that healthy humans, including children, have very complex and effective methods of controlling blood sugar. And hyperactivity is not one of those methods.

Lucky for me, there appears to be some solid science out there that does debunk this claim, as I did with sugar being as addictive as cocaine (it isn’t). And as I usually do, I’m going to review the scientific research in the area.

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The eight glasses of water a day myth — you will survive without it

eight glasses water

I’m sure you have all read or seen it — drink eight glasses (about two liters) of water a day to stay healthy and hydrated. I see people carrying their Nalgene bottles of water constantly drinking and, of course, heading to the bathroom to eliminate some of that water.

This is one of those myths that keep getting repeated so that you might think was actually true, like walking those 10,000 steps every day.

As the old feathered dinosaur is meant to do, let’s take down this myth.

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Does high fructose corn syrup cause type 2 diabetes?

high fructose corn syrup diabetes

The internet claims that high fructose corn syrup causes diabetes and a bunch of other maladies. Usually, based on some weak evidence, the usual suspects have tried to link high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to Type 2 diabetes.

Like many of these medical myths, there is, at its core, some tiny bit of evidence that is generally misinterpreted or misused that might support their claim. But let’s take a close look at Type 2 diabetes, HFCS, and the evidence that either supports or refutes the hypothesis that drinking HFCS is any more responsible for the disease than other sugars.

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Intermittent fasting diet — study shows that it might work, maybe

scrabble pieces on a plate

I’m a huge skeptic of diets, but I just read an article that seemed to indicate that the intermittent fasting diet can actually help lose weight. Now, the diet is not magical, it doesn’t make calories suddenly disappear, but it seems to work by a mechanism that causes a calorie deficit.

Now weight loss is a simple equation — calories burned must be greater than calories consumed. Humans are, in effect, a closed system — we don’t create calories from sunlight like plants, and we don’t absorb calories from the air. And we burn calories by doing anything from typing a long blog article to hiking up a mountain. There are no magical ways to change this calculation, despite the claims of many health nuts.

We are going to take a look at what is an intermittent fasting diet and this new research paper. Maybe some of you have tried it and it worked (or failed), then tell me in the comments that I’m either right or wrong.

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Does black tea increase lifespan? I hope so, but time for science

black tea

I was researching nonsense claims about foods when I came across a few articles that claimed that black tea could help you lead a long life. As I am a devoted drinker of black tea (only in the iced form, I’m not British, Australian, or Indian), I was intrigued. Was this some nonsense pushed by woo quacks, or was it based on robust science?

Now, I am especially skeptical about any nutritional study that attempts to link some food to any health benefit, and most of the recent articles were mostly on quack websites that support just about anything a scientist or my loyal readers would scoff at.

As you know, I’m going to get to the bottom of this story. Is there science? Or is it just typical junk science?

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