Cure for the common cold? Zinc again!

Researchers from the University of Michigan report that most symptoms of colds, especially coughs, disappeared much faster for patients taking zinc. While patients taking a placebo reported symptoms for about eight days, those taking zinc reported symptoms for 4 1/2 days. There were 50 subjects divided into two groups, one taking zinc lozenges and the other a sham pill.

Has your attention been riveted by this study? I hope you're still with me, because recognizing junk science is an important part of our mission. So let's examine this report.

Twice as many patients taking zinc could correctly guess whether they were taking zinc or the dummy lozenge compared with the patients taking the fake lozenge, the investigators reported. This destroys the infrastructure of the study. Those subjects knowing they were taking the real thing were more likely to have a placebo effect, thus exaggerating the effectiveness of the zinc.

In addition, there were only 25 subjects in each group - a paltry sampling for such a variable disease as the common cold.

As for the final kibosh on this sophomoric attempt at science, the foundation that funded this study is affiliated with the company that holds a patent for zinc lozenges (Cold-Eeze). This is another flabby study proving nothing and not worth space in a respected medical journal. Try zinc lozenges for your next cold and decide for yourself.

Sowing your (natural) oats

Want to stop yourself from overeating? Turns out that choosing the right breakfast foods may help you eat less for the rest of the day.

As part of a study, adolescents who ate processed instant oatmeal for breakfast consumed more food later in the day than those who were fed unprocessed oatmeal. Instant oatmeal has a higher glycemic index than unprocessed oatmeal, which means it is digested and absorbed by the body more rapidly, and hunger returns sooner.

It's the same story; processed food is junk food that robs you of nutrients - not to mention the pleasure of eating real, good-tasting food. Oatmeal is an excellent example of where you can see the difference between processed and unprocessed for yourself. Purchase a container of Quaker Oats ("Old Fashioned - 100% natural") and a can of McCann's steel-cut, Irish oatmeal (made in Ireland). Open the lids and compare. They don't even look like the same grain! And the taste difference is remarkable - Quakers is mushy, McCann's is crunchy. Once you go natural, you will never turn back.