Pesticide Levels in Children's Diets

Randy Dotinga of the HealthDay News reports a recent Emory University study shows that eating organic produce may be a surefire way to limit children's exposure to pesticides. Researcher Chensheng Lu helps explain:

Researchers found that pesticide levels in children's bodies dropped to zero after just a few days of eating organic produce and grains. "After they switch back to a conventional diet, the levels go up," researcher Chensheng Lu, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at Emory University.

But Lu acknowledged that organic food is often more expensive than conventional food, and he added that the health risks of the pesticides in question aren't entirely clear.

Check out these previous posts for information on the health risks associated with childhood exposure to pesticides: Is Organic Food Safer? and Early Exposure to Pesticide: Revisited.

"Toxic Hunger" Can Kill

Losing your ability to sense true hunger sets the foundation for obesity. By feeding kids so much calorie-rich food so frequently we have trained our children to disconnect eating from hunger. After enough time goes by continually consuming more calories than they need, they will feel discomfort when they do not have food constantly in their stomach. They must keep their digestive tract going all the time, because they become an overweight adult, they are true food addicts.

Symptoms of Toxic Hunger
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Abdominal and esophageal spasm
  • Fluttering and cramping
  • A few hours after eating, feeling weak, headachy, tired, mentally dull, and stomach cramping or discomfort is not true hunger! These symptoms of stomach cramping and fluttering, headaches and fatigue that begin when digestion is completed I call "toxic hunger" because these symptoms only occur in those who have been eating a toxic diet. These withdrawal symptoms from an unhealthful diet, and this discomfort is mistakenly interpreted as the need to eat more frequently and take in more calories. Continual eating stops the discomfort, just like frequent coffee drinking stops the headaches from caffeine withdrawal. Your body can't withdraw from (detoxify and repair) your toxic dietary habits and digest a meal simultaneously. By eating, this detox process is stopped. When we consume a toxic, disease-promoting diet, our body reacts in an attempt to remove or deal with the damage this unhealthful diet could cause. This concept is called withdrawal. The body attempts to detoxify from a harmful, low-nutrient diet and we feel symptoms of toxic hunger. We build up more waste products in our cells when we eat unhealthfully, and when the body is not busy digesting, it can attempt to withdraw from or initiate repair mechanisms that result in these uncomfortable symptoms. The disease-building diet most Americans eat drives these symptoms, and these symptoms promote overeating.

    Healthy Candy Bars?

    A few days ago Elliott Minor of The Associated Press reported that chocolate makers plan to roll out healthy candy bars. As we have discussed before, Mars Inc. plans to launch "CocaVia" a new product line made with a dark chocolate. The vitamin enriched, plant sterol injected snack food exploits dark chocolate's high in flavanol content. An antioxidant found in cocoa beans believed to thin the blood. Some medical professionals have mixed reactions:

    Rachael Brandeis, a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association in Atlanta, said dark chocolate is a good source of flavanols, but so are other foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

    "Dark chocolate can fit into a healthy diet," she said. The fat in chocolate is a type that does not raise cholesterol levels, but it can add unwanted pounds if a person overindulges, she said.

    These processed and sweetened chocolate products are rich in hype and excess calories. Dr. Fuhrman's fruit and vegetable based diet style will provide you with many of aforementioned disease-preventing nutrients. If you absolutely can't live without a chocolate fix consider this message from Dr. Fuhrman in the discussion forum of

    You do not have to stay off chocolate, you can purchase raw cacao buds and make smoothies and sauces and healthy puddings with that chocolate flavor. All the beneficial compounds, antioxidants and flavonoids in the raw cacao make it a valuable food, even with minimal exposure to toxic components such as caffeine. I have no problem with you powdering some cacao in the VitaMix and making some chocolate style treats occasionally. Spinach, kale, banana, cacao powder, macadamia nuts and dates make a great, healthy chocolate pudding.
    A lot of people have wondered how you can tell which kind of cacao is recommended. Dr. Fuhrman and his staff have tested a lot of them, looking for excellent nutrition and flavor. The best they have foudn is now available in powdered form and is one of Dr. Fuhrman's newest products.

    The Keystone State Acts to Reduce Mercury Emissions

    Amy Worden of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania will soon announce a plan demanding a further reduction in mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants over the next decade. This move will make Pennsylvania the fifth state to enact guidelines stricter than those imposed by the federal government. The hope is to cutback emissions by 10%:

    The Pennsylvania proposal would require the state's 36 coal-fired plants to reduce emissions by 80 percent in four years and 90 percent by 2015. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a 70 percent cap on emissions by 2018, although full compliance is not expected until years later.
    Mercury emissions pollute water supplies, leading to increased levels of mercury in aquatic animals like fish. Consuming contaminated fish can pose catastrophic health risks for humans beings, especially young children and fetuses, as we have discussed in detail on Followhealthlife. In the following posts Dr. Fuhrman shares his opinions on the topic: Fishing For The Truth, Toxic Chemicals in Seafood, Is Organic Food Safer, and Dr. Fuhrman Discusses DHA for Children.

    How Sweet It Is--That's The Problem

    Last month spotlighted news stories addressing childhood obesity. A growing problem that has inspired many of potential remedies; from video games in schools to banning whole-milk in the lunchroom. Last week Stephanie Dunnewind of The Seattle Times reported another solution might be turning a watchful eye to the classroom Cs:

    With rising concern over childhood obesity, more educators and parents are tackling the classroom Cs: cupcakes, cookies and candy. Served for birthdays and class parties, some worry kids now expect the high-fat and sugar sweets as part of every celebration.

    Proponents suggest subbing fruit, low-fat snacks or veggies and dip but some parents balk at serving carrots for special days. Other schools skip food entirely, focusing on games and activities for class parties or asking for a donated book in the birthday child's name.

    Limiting children's intake of sugary foods is a step in the right direction. In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains the importance of avoiding processed foods, like sweets, in order to maintain healthy bodyweight:

    It is not merely dental cavities that should concern us about sugar. If we allow ourselves and our children to utilize sugar, white-flour products, and oil to supply the majority of calories, as most American families do, we shall be condemning ourselves to a lifetime of sickness, medical problems, and premature death.

    Refined sugars include table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose), honey, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, corn sweeteners, and fruit juice concentrates. Even the bottled and boxed fruit juices that many children drink are poor food; with no significant nutrient density, they lead to obesity and disease.1

    If you want to lose weight, the most important foods to avoid are processed foods: condiments, candy, snacks, and baked goods.

    In Onlyourhealth Your Child, Dr. Fuhrman has lots of healthy kid-friendly recipes. Here are five treats he recommends instead of cakes and sweets:
    1. Date Nut Pop-Ems--A mix of dates, ground nuts, cinnamon, and carob powder. (You can make your own, or purchase them.)
    2. Soaked dried fruit--Dried apricots, apples, or mangoes soaked overnight in soy milk.
    3. Frozen banana whip--Frozen bananas, sliced and pureed in a blender or food processor with a little soy milk or skim milk
    4. Baked apples--Cored apples filled with a mix of apple sauce, cinnamon, and raisins and then baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
    5. Fruit smoothies--A blended mixture of fresh fruit, banana, dried fruit, and soy milk, milk, or fruit juice. Unsweetened canned pineapple, with the juice mixed banana and frozen strawberries, is a kid favorite. Experiment.

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    Research: Yes, Diet Has a Huge Role In Health

    Last week The New York Times printed an article featuring a study claiming that a low-fat diet does little to prevent cancer and heart disease. Dr. Fuhrman responded with ten reasons to keep eating healthy food despite the headlines.

    Today New York Times reporter Gina Kolata continues to further the notion that what you eat might not shape your medical fate:

    It's one of the great principles � no, more than principles, canons � of American culture to suggest that what you eat affects your health.

    It's this idea that you control your own destiny and that it's never too late to reinvent yourself. Vice gets punished and virtue gets rewarded. If you eat or drink or inhale the wrong things you get sick. If not, you get healthy. Says James Morone, a professor of political science at Brown University.

    Her article cites the rise and fall of numerous fad diets. Dr. David Altshuler, an endocrinologist and geneticist at Massachusetts General Hospital is quoted urging caution when making dietary suggestions:
    We should limit strong advice to where randomized trials have proven a benefit of lifestyle modification.
    Of course, fad diets have never been the answer. And health care professionals should be exceedingly careful in what they recommend--because a lot of common assumptions about food are not supported by science. (T. Colin Campbell's revolutionary research showing the dangers of too much animal protein was born out of his conviction that getting more animal protein to the malnourished of the developing world was the key to good health--instead he found that reducing animal protein in his own diet was the biggest lesson.)

    But if you look at the science, there is not a serious case to be made that diet is not tied to health. Just as there are studies showing smoking is not good for you, so are there studies showing certain foods are not good for you, while others can play a huge role in combating chronic disease.

    Dr. Fuhrman's dietary recommendations are based on many thousands of studies. Click "continue reading" to see references and summaries to 19 of them that, together, should go a long way to convincing anyone that yes, it does matter what you eat.

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    The Sugar Conspiracy

    If you're someone who tries to avoid eating a lot of refined sugar, you know how it lurks here, there, and everywhere. Sometimes it seems like everyone just wants you to eat cakes, cookies, and pudding all the time.

    Today BoingBoing has news of a shop in Japan that's taking the game to a new level, disguising sugary desserts as fast food:

    A shop in Tokyo hopes to overcome the unmasculine stigma attached to consuming sweets in public by cleverly disguising its wares as fast-food burgers and fries. The hope is that men will be willing to be seen eating elaborate cakes if they resemble savory snacks instead.

    The Mamido burger, for instance, which sells for �390 ($3.25 at �120 to the dollar), is a highlight of the menu. The "bun" is actually a sponge cake, the "patty" inside is chocolate cream, and the "pickles" are kiwis. The deep-fried fish burger, meanwhile, priced at �440 ($3.70), features a banana shaped like a fish fillet in sponge cake. It is topped with "tartar sauce," which is actually fresh cream. And the gratin burger, also at �440, is a sandwich with a cream cheese and fruit filling.

    It's popular too... look at them lining up in the photo at the bottom of this page.

    McDonalds Corrects Labels: Food Still Not Healthy

    The Chicago Tribune claims that the cost of eating McDonalds is higher than once thought. John Schmeltzer reports:

    Correcting a labeling error, the hamburger giant acknowledged Wednesday that the trans fat content in an order of its large fries is one-third higher than previously stated, containing 8 grams of the heart-endangering fat instead of the 6 grams listed on brochures and McDonald's Web site.
    Trans fatty acids are the result of food producers adding hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats, thereby turning these oils into harder, more saturated fats. These hardened fats have extended shelf life and are commonly used to fry potatoes in fast food restaurants.

    McDonalds' researchers are reportedly trying to find healthier alternatives that won't compromise taste. In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman recommends avoiding the situation entirely:

    In a press release in 1990, McDonald's announced, "McDonald's French fries to be cooked in cholesterol-free 100 percent vegetable oil." The switch was to partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Now all the fast food giants--McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, and Hardee's, as well as almost every brand of French fries in the freezer case of your supermarket--are just as bad for you heart as if they were fried in pig fat.

    Trans fats do not exist in nature. They are laboratory-designed and have adverse health consequences. They interfere with the body's production of beneficial fatty acids and promote heart disease.1 As trans fatty acids offer no benefits and only clear adverse metabolic consequences, when you see the words partially hydrogenated on the side of the box, consider it poisonous and throw it in the trash.

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    Study: Spanish Obesity Linked to Fast Food

    Reuters reports that a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points to the increased popularity of fast food and soft drinks as culprits in Spanish obesity:

    Investigators explored the effects of soft drinks and other fast foods on more than 7,000 middle-aged and well-educated Spanish men and women...

    High consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has been associated with weight gain and obesity in the United States.

    This trend may also be affecting populations with different eating patterns who increasingly are adopting typical U.S. dietary patterns.

    In discussing the diabetes epidemic in New York City last month, The New York Times examined similar trends in this country.

    The Chicago Tribune on Milk

    The mounting skepticism about milk consumption and its effects on human health is going mainstream. A recent article in the Chicago Tribune is all over the topic:

    Milk, the sacred cow of the American diet, is under attack and not just by animal-rights activists. Though federal dietary guidelines and most mainstream nutrition experts recommend that people age 9 or older drink three glasses of milk a day, researchers are examining the role of dairy in everything from rising osteoporosis rates, Type 1 diabetes and heart disease to breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.

    Last March, the journal Pediatrics published a review article concluding that there is "scant evidence" that consuming more milk and dairy products will promote child and adolescent bone health. Some leading practitioners of integrative medicine, including best-selling author Dr. Andrew Weil, suggest eliminating dairy products from the diet to help treat irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, eczema and ear infections. The late Dr. Benjamin Spock reversed his support of cow's milk for children in 1998 in his last edition of his world-famous book "Baby and Child Care."

    Here at Followhealthlife, we have talked about negatives of drinking milk and how some public schools are actually banning whole milk due to its high fat content. Dr. Fuhrman cites allergies, anal fissures, ear infections, and various cancers much later in life as a few potential dangers of dairy consumption.

    The Tribune article encourages people not to see milk as the only viable source of calcium, and it's no secret that green vegetables are loaded with calcium (even the National Dairy Council will tell you so).

    The calcium from some vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy and kale is absorbed as well as or better than calcium from milk and milk products, according to the National Dairy Council's Calcium Counseling Resource. But the report also says that to get the same amount of calcium absorbed from 1 cup of milk, one would have to eat nearly 2 1/2 cups of broccoli or 8 cups of spinach.
    Of course, people are drawn to milk out of habit, because it is a quick compact source of calcium, and because it seems easier to get children to consume milk than vegetables.

    But consider the total nutritional picture. Green vegetables are dense with so many kinds of nutrition beyond just calcium.

    Also, if you want some pointers about how to get your kids to eat calcium-rich fruits and vegetables, you really should listen to Dr. Fuhrman's free podcast on the topic.

    Finally, in his book Onlyourhealth Your Child, Dr. Fuhrman explains that if you insist on cow's milk nonetheless, do yourself a favor and choose skim.

    New York Nixes Full-Fat Milk in Schools

    The New York Times reports that school districts in the Bronx and Manhattan won't be going the "whole" way with milk any more. New York education officials decided to eliminate whole milk as part of a larger movement to curb childhood obesity. Martin Oestreicher, executive director of school support services explains that this initiative is all about children's livelihoods:

    "We got rid of white bread; you'll never see any white bread in our schools�it's all about whole-wheat bread, frankfurter buns, hamburger buns. We reformulated a lot of items. It all goes in the context of trying to cut down the obesity index in our kids."

    The article mentions that New York City is not the first major district to stop serving whole milk. Los Angeles initiated the same ban in 2000. States such as Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut have enacted or are considering similar decisions to bar or limited the serving of whole milk in public schools.

    Federal guidelines still suggest three full servings of milk per day, but school officials feel their decision will help control the fat and calorie intake of children. Dr. Fuhrman has his own concerns about childhood consumption of milk. In Onlyourhealth Your Child he explains that mother's milk is the best choice for natural childhood development for kids until the age of two. After that it's better to get healthy fat and calcium from other sources:

    The antibodies derived from mother's milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune systems disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child's immune system is still underdeveloped until age two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother's antibodies access to the blood stream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother's immunoglobulins to supplement their own system. Nature designed it that way.

    Breast-feeding for two years might be considered a prolonged time by today's standards, but this practice offers significant protection against childhood diseases, including allergies and asthma. One recent study showed that breast-feeding for less than 9 months was found to be a risk factor for asthma and after that period of time, the longer a child was breast-fed, the lower the risk of asthma.1 Avoiding cow's milk proteins, even those found in infant formulas, has also been shown to reduce asthma occurrence.2

    After weaning from the breast, the same qualities that make a healthy adult diet, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, makes the best diet for children. The bottom line is to have your children develop a taste for other wholesome drinks besides cow's milk. Try soy milk or almond milk, or a mix of soy and almond. Many options are available fortified with vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium. If using dairy products or milk, stick to the fat-free variety. The fat in our children's diet should mostly come from avocadoes, nuts, and seeds, not cows.

    Incidentally The New York Times article mentions that switching to soy milk would have jeopardized federal school food reimbursements.

    For more of Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on children's consumption of milk read this post entitled Cow's Milk and Kids Aren't Made for Each Other.

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    A Table of High-Nutrient Foods

    Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection For Life has a table of foods with the highest nutrient-densities. One aspect of the diet he recommends (and explains at more length in his books) is to eat primarily the natural foods in the table that contain high nutrient levels, while eating less of everything else that is not on the list.

    Some Nutrient-Rich Foods
    Green Vegetableskale, swiss chard, broccoli, artichokes, string beans, asparagus, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and peas
    Yellow/Orange Vegetablescarrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, and corn
    Beans/Legumeschick peas, red kidney beans, lentils, and adzuki beans
    Fresh Fruitsblueberries, strawberries, kiwis, apples, oranges, grapes, pears, pineapple, and bananas
    Non-Starchy Vegetableseggplant, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, and onions
    Raw Nuts and Seedsfilberts, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, cashews, pecans and flax seed