Today’s Headlines: Food Memories, Salt Linked with Autoimmune Disease, and More

Food Memories May Help Dieters Lose Weight: Researchers say that having an “attentive memory for what is eaten could help people eat least at their next meals.”  In an analysis of 24 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers found that although “distractions can lead to increased eating, that distraction is even more influential on later eating.” In contrast, the study team noted that “enhancing memory of food consumed reduced later intake” and they pointed out that if “the last meal was remembered as filling and satisfying, it inhibits future intake.” (LA Times)

Salt Consumption Linked to Autoimmune Disease: According to three papers published in Nature, higher salt consumption may be linked to a higher risk of autoimmune disease. In one of the studies, researchers fed rats high-salt diets. They found that those rats had more severe versions of an animal version of multiple sclerosis,  an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. In another study, researchers found an enzyme that, when exposed to salt, “causes a regular immune cell to transform into a pathogenic one, spewing out inflammatory proteins that have been linked to autoimmune illnesses.” (Boston Globe)

While Calorie Intake Falls, Obesity Rate Still Rises: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition assessed nine health surveys and found that while obesity rates are climbing, “American adults’ calorie intake has been declining for almost a decade, with adults’ average daily energy intake falling by 74 calories between 2003 and 2010.” Experts, including the former CDC director of Nutrition Physical Activity and Obesity, think this trend suggests that the increasing obesity rate may be due to increasing physical inactivity or decreasing awareness of unhealthy foods with empty calories. (Reuters)