Processed Carbohydrates, Dr. Atkins, and the Fallacy of Merely Measuring Food on the Glycemic Index

In Atkins for Life Dr. Atkins addresses the dangers of processed carbohydrates:
When you eat a highly refined carbohydrate food like a sugary cereal, it is quickly converted to glucose so it rushes into your bloodstream almost at once. The result is a glucose spike, followed by a glucose drop—it's called unstable blood sugar. Eat an unprocessed carbohydrate food that is lower in sugar and contains a lot of fiber, like berries, and what happens? The amount of glucose from the food enters your bloodstream slowly and steadily. No glucose spike, and no sudden glucose drop—your energy stays on an even keel. That's because the sugar in the berries is in the form of fructose, which must be converted to glucose in your liver. That takes some time, and the process is slowed down even more by the fiber in the berries. And when your glucose levels stay constant, there is no need to send in the heavy artillery in the form of additional insulin to deal with transporting excess glucose to your cells.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman does agrees that processed carbohydrates are detrimental to human health, but he takes issue with the Atkins rationale. He explains:
Atkins’ explanation of the quick rise and fall of glucose is not the reason that accounts for the problem with refined foods. There are reasons why high glycemic foods may be harmful but just explaining they are high glycemic is not one of them. It is true that a high glycemic response is one of the many features that is present in unhealthy processed foods, but that response is not a significant reason that explains the problem with those foods. There is no reason the glucose and insulin curve must stay blunted for good health. In diabetes research the glycemic index (GI) of carbohydrates has long been recognized as a favorable aid for diabetics to control blood sugar. The same is now often the case in lipid research as it has been demonstrated that high glycemic diets, rich in white flour, refined sweets and processed foods are unfavorable to both glucose levels and lipid parameters. The glycemic index of these foods is not the main reason they are dangerous foods, the main reason is because they are missing nutritional value.

Authors and writers who advocate a high protein (meat-based) diet, hang their hat on the low glycemic index of animal products to explain the advantages of a diet rich in animal products and lower in vegetation. This view oversimplifies the multi-factorial nuances of human nutrition and this results in a distorted understanding of nutritional science. Ranking food on the glycemic index alone ignores many other factors that may make that food favorable or unfavorable. Because a carrot has a higher glycemic index than a slice of bacon does not make the bacon a better food for a diabetic or heart patient. There are other more important nutritional considerations besides the glycemic index, including the toxicity, micronutient density, and fiber in the food. .

A good example of such nutritional nonsense is when Barry Sears (of the Zone diet), warns against the consumption of lima beans, papayas, and carrots because of their glycemic index and Atkin’s excludes or limits those carbohydrate containing fruits and vegetables with proven powerful anti-cancer benefits. The studies that have looked at the negative effects of a higher glycemic diet are always diets with low-nutrient, low fiber, processed grains, and sweets whose negative aspects are not limited to their glycemic response. Processed foods are also low in fiber, phytonutrients, and anti-oxidants and rich in those toxic acrlyamides; they are disease-promoting foods and one of their features is that they also have a high glycemic index.

When a diet is rich in high nutrient containing, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits the disease-protective qualities of these foods and the weight-loss benefits overwhelm any insignificant drawback from the high glycemic index of the carrot. Recently, systematic review was performed of published human intervention studies comparing the effects of high- and low-GI foods or diets on appetite, food intake, energy expenditure and body weight; in a total of 31 short-term studies. The conclusion was that there is no evidence that low-GI foods are superior to high-GI foods in regard to long-term body weight control. More carefully performed research done recently compared the exact same caloric diets one with a lower and one with a higher glycemic index and demonstrated that lowering the glycemic load and glycemic index of weight reduction diets does not provide any added benefit to energy restriction in promoting weight loss in obese subjects.

The bottom line, is H = N/C. A diet-style rich in phytonutrients and low in animal protein will resolve your cravings, and hypoglycemic signals. Almost all authors make some worthwhile points, but when the application of their recommendations allows people to die prematurely of heart disease or cancer, I do not condone positioning them as a nutritional authority. Atkin’s has a history of dangerous and fraudulent statements that has injured the health and likely shortened the lives of thousands of people.

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Its Not Just About An Apple A Day

Karen Collins, R.D. of MSNBC takes a look at what happens when people add more fruits and vegetables to their diet. Collins examines the results of a new study linking overall diet to how well nutrients from fruits and veggies are absorbed:
Researchers at the University of Michigan recently decided to see how results of boosting vegetable and fruit consumption might vary depending on level of fat consumption. About 100 women were followed for a year. Some made no changes at all in their eating. Others increased vegetables and fruits from less than four servings a day to about 11, but kept dietary fat at their usual level of more than 30 percent of calories. A third group kept their usual low intake of vegetables and fruits, but reduced dietary fat to an average of about 16 percent of calories (quite low). A fourth group both decreased fat consumption and increased vegetables and fruits.
It seems the quality of a person’s diet directly affects how much they benefit from eating more plant matter:
Eating more produce raised consumption of nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene substantially. More importantly, blood levels of vitamin C, beta-carotene and another carotenoid, alpha-carotene, also rose. These increases were not prevented by reduced dietary fat.

Drop in some forms of Vitamin E
The study does suggest another possible problem with low-fat diets. Alpha-tocopherol is the form of vitamin E most widely studied for its possible antioxidant benefits. It is found in most vitamin supplements and fortified foods, and was not affected by reducing dietary fat. But consumption of gamma-tocopherol, a form that seems to be anti-inflammatory and may even stimulate self-destruction of cancer cells, dropped by more than 50 percent on the low-fat diets.

To get health benefits from low-fat diets, make sure that saturated fat is the type of fat you cut back.
Collins gives some advice for people looking to add more fruit and vegetables to their diet:
A general reminder is to make sure you are not eating too many calories if you are adding these foods to your diet. Increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables you eat can promote weight control, but only if they replace higher fat foods like ice cream, meat and chips — to help you consume fewer calories. But if fruits and vegetables are simply added to what you already eat, total calories won’t significantly drop and weight loss should not be expected.
I pulled this article because it illustrates another major flaw in American dietary knowledge. We look at fruits and vegetables as magic pills, meaning lots of Americans eat horrible food seven days a week, then expect an occasional apple to keep the doctor away. Maximum health benefit comes from eating healthy nutrient-rich foods every day! And not viewing them as bandaids for otherwise poor diets.

This may be why Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t envision everyone embracing his Eat to Live plan:
The social and economic forces that are pulling our population toward obesity and disease will not be defeated by one book preaching about achieving superior health with nutritional excellence. The “good life” will continue to bring most Americans to a premature grave. This plan is not for everyone. I don not expect the majority of individuals to live this healthfully. However, they should at least make that decision by being aware of the facts rather than having their food choices shaped by inaccurate information or the food manufacturers. Some people will choose to smoke cigarettes, eat unhealthfully, or pursue other reckless habits.

Health Points: Monday

A synthetic version of a protein found in scorpion venom has passed its first test in a treatment for one of the deadliest forms of cancer and is headed toward trials against other tumors.

The protein, designated TM-601, not only carried radioactive iodine directly to the brain tumor called glioma, but also appeared to have anticancer activity of its own, said Dr. Adam N. Mamelak, a neurosurgeon at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's neurosurgical institute in Los Angeles.
Some argue that the phyto-estrogens in soy are affecting fertility. These plant compounds mimic the female hormone estrogen. Other arguments claim that the phyto-estrogens can be linked to increased cancer.

Proponents of soy claim that it is a health food and can assist in reducing cholesterol and in preventing some types of cancer.

Soy is among the most heavily processed foods around - the Guardian report claims as much as 60% of all processed foods in Britain contain soy in some form.
How many M&MS are enough? It depends on how big the candy scoop is. At least that's a key factor, says a study that offers new evidence that people take cues from their surroundings in deciding how much to eat.

It explains why, for example, people who used to be satisfied by a 12-ounce can of soda may now feel that a 20-ounce bottle is just right.

It's "unit bias," the tendency to think that a single unit of food — a bottle, a can, a plateful, or some more subtle measure — is the right amount to eat or drink, researchers propose.
The ride was good. It was challenging physically and mentally. Took and unconventional route that brought me to a good oasis at 1 hour. I was ready to refill my water at the convenience store. Had a slight headache and figured I was probably a bit dehydrated to start with. Bought a--get this--64 oz cup of ice water from the soda fountain for 25 cents. Yes, they sell 64 oz Styrofoam beverage cups now.

I sat in the shade of the store canopy and doused myself with the leftover water from my second bottle. Then, feeling like Baby Huey, I took the 64 oz cup in both hands and relished the ice water. I filled up my two hot plastic bottles with the ice water and got back on the bike. The 30 minute cruise home felt good. What a difference 10 minutes in the shade, the head and torso cooled with water internally and externally.

Pediatric Grand Rounds: Volume 1, Edition 8

The new Pediatric Grand Rounds is now up on Flea. Included in the mix is Followhealthlife's post Food for Growing Brains.

Health Points: Friday

Just when you think that you've got it down, under control, and you know what's up... it throws you for a loop. The other day, I went to work with large ketones in my urine. I could not get my blood sugar down under 175 (which was my lowest BG that day) and I took more insulin than I ever have since going on the pump. What was causing this mess?

Not the pump. It had been fine for the past two days. There were no air bubbles I could see. Maybe all the carbs? It's my birthday week and I have not been setting the standard for a diabetic diet in any way. Cake, gelato, cookies, beans and rice- lots of beans and rice. Maybe its catching up? No, because I eat that stuff all the time and have had no problems. Maybe not in those quantities, but I certainly do take the right amount of insulin for it.

Could it have been that the insulin went bad? It has been hot. It was the day before I changed my site. I took a whole lot of insulin for the food I ate, and even more to compensate for that when my BG went through the roof. I bet that was the case. After I changed my site, my blood sugar went down to normal levels. Imagine that!
Heart attacks often go unrecognized, although experts disagree on just how often. One recent study suggested that 43 percent of attacks -- more than four in 10 -- may go undetected when they occur, and more often in women than men. While other experts say that estimate is too high, they concede that unrecognized attacks are a problem.

On one point all agree: Both women and men need to know the warning signs of a heart attack and to seek immediate help if they suspect one. The worst that can happen if you're wrong? You'll be sent home from the emergency room, secure in the knowledge it was a false alarm.
These bars contain no oil and no sugar; they get their sweetness from dried fruit. They are also chock full of walnuts, which contain lots of those fabulous omega-3 fatty acids. These bars are wheat and soy-free -- great for those with allergy concerns.
The government is too strapped to handle congressional legislation that would strip state-ordered warnings from food labels, a former Food and Drug Administration official said Thursday.

The food industry wants Congress to prevent states from adding food warnings that go beyond federal law, affecting laws about milk safety in Massachusetts, Michigan and Nebraska and warnings about allergy-causing sulfites in Connecticut, Michigan and Virginia.

States would be allowed to petition the FDA to keep the warnings. But the agency is plagued by backlogs and staffing shortages, said William Hubbard, a former associate commissioner who retired last year.

Addicted To Butter

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

I know you do not recommend butter or margarine, so what do we put on bread, vegetables, or corn?

Butter is loaded with a dangerous amount of saturated fat, but stick margarines have hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats that raise LDL, the bad cholesterol. Adjusting the type of fat consumed, researchers found that butter caused the highest cholesterol level and that varying amounts of margarines and oils had various harmful effects.1 The best answer is to use nothing, or buy whole-grain bread that tastes good without adding a greasy topping. If you love the flavor of butter, try Butter Buds or sparingly use a spread that contains no hydrogenated oil, such as Spectrum Essential Omega Spread, instead. Lots of my patients like no-salt tomato sauce on bread, or tomato-salsa blend, avocado, or stewed mushrooms. Of course, the best way to get out of the habit of eating those greasy toppings is not to eat bread at all. Continue Reading...

Treating Diabetes: Scientists Warming To Plant-Based Diet

Dr. Fuhrman advocates a plant-based diet because it is the most optimal diet-style for diabetes reversal, weight-loss, and the prevention of heart disease. Sally Squires of The Washington Post explains many scientists are beginning to acknowledge its superior advantages as well:
People with Type 2 diabetes are advised to limit carbohydrates because of worries that too many carbs could overtax the body's dwindling insulin production and lessen its ability to process glucose.

Now some scientists are asking if a very-low-fat diet rich in healthy carbohydrates—whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables—might be another option.
This prompted scientists to conduct a study comparing the standard dietary advice from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the vegetable-based diet-style of Dr. Dean Ornish:
The four-month trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, studied 99 people with Type 2 diabetes. Half were asked to follow the standard dietary advice from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The other half were asked to adhere to a very strict, low-fat vegan diet devoid of meat, fish, eggs, dairy or any other animal products.

Both groups improved blood sugar control and LDL cholesterol levels. Both lost weight, but the vegan group shed an average of 15 pounds, compared with six for the ADA group. As in the Ornish study, the vegan group showed no harmful changes in either HDL or triglyceride levels.
The results of the study demonstrate the overall efficiency and effectiveness of a “vegan” or a plant-based diet. Additionally 20 percent of participants following the vegetable-based diet for a year were able to cut or eliminate their insulin and other glucose-lowering medication.

Squires concludes her report with these three recommendations for those trying to overcome diabetes through diet:
Eat more plant-based foods. The more variety, the better. Groups that recommend eating more beans, vegetables (without added fat), fruit (sans added sugar) and whole grains include the American Heart Association, the National Cancer Institute, the Institute of Medicine, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Easy on the fat. Gram for gram, fat contains more than twice the calories of protein or carbs. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Whatever fat you eat, make it healthy. Skip saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol found in whole milk dairy products, fatty meat and poultry with the skin. Reach instead for fish, healthy oil such as canola or olive oil, healthy margarine, nuts, avocados and seeds.

Get plenty of exercise.
The Diabetes Prevention Program—a large federally funded study of people who were just a step shy of developing diabetes—found that brisk daily exercise (yes, walking is fine) played an important part in preventing diabetes. The study found 30 minutes daily was required, but that can be broken into 10-minute increments.

Children and Obesity-Related Diabetes

According to The Seattle Times a new study claims children with Type 2 diabetes are at a much higher risk of kidney failure and death at middle age. Lindsey Tanner reports:
The research also lends support to warnings that diabetes and other obesity-related ills are on the verge of shortening the average life span in the United States.

The study involved Pima Indians in Arizona, who have disproportionately high rates of diabetes and obesity. They may be "the tip of the iceberg, letting us know what's in the future for the rest of America if we don't do something about the childhood obesity epidemic," said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children's Hospital Boston. He was not involved in the research.
The results of the study are grim:
It involved a group of Indians whom National Institutes of Health researchers have been tracking since 1965. Of the 1,865 participants with type 2 diabetes, 96 developed it in childhood. The average age of youth-onset diabetes was about 17 years, although the disease was diagnosed in children as young as 3 ½.

During at least 15 years of follow-up, 16 percent of those with childhood-onset type 2 diabetes developed end-stage kidney failure or died from diabetic kidney disease by age 55. That compared with 8 percent of those who developed diabetes after age 20.

The researchers calculated that the incidence of end-stage kidney failure and death by age 55 was nearly five times higher in people who developed type 2 diabetes before age 20 than in those who developed diabetes in adulthood.
Remember children don’t have to suffer this fate, Dr. Fuhrman’s vegetable-based diet-style and approach to nutrition is instrumental in protecting against or reversing diseases like Type 2 diabetes. Take a look at this post for more: Don’t Settle For Diabetes
The best diet for good health and longevity is also the best diet for diabetics. It is a diet with a high nutrient per calorie ratio, as carefully described in my book, Eat to Live. When you eat a diet consisting predominantly of nature’s perfect foods—-green vegetables, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, raw nuts and seeds, and limited amounts of fresh fruit, it becomes relatively easy to eat as much as you want and still lose your excess weight. In my experience, those who follow my nutritional recommendations find that their diabetes disappears astonishingly fast, even before most of their excess weight melts away.

Research: The Sweet-Tooth-Fruit Connection

A new study claims people who crave sugary treats like cookies and cake are more likely to eat fruit than salty snack foods. Since fruit is nutrient dense, some experts believe these findings may redeem the eating habits of the typical “sugar-eating machine”. The Associated Press reports:
A group led by Cornell University marketing professor Brian Wansink looked at the eating habits of thousands of people and concluded the craving for something sweet spans both candy and fruit. The study published in the journal Appetite found people who eat candy, cakes and other sweet snacks eat more fruit than people who prefer salty snacks like nuts and chips.

"I think it shows there is some hope for the typical dieter," he said. "... Maybe you're not just a sugar-eating machine — that there are some redeeming traits to your diet."
Wansink thinks this research can help ease kids into eating more fruit:
Wansink said parents and public health officials could use this information to encourage the phase-in of more fruits among kids and other people with a sweet tooth.

"I think it's something that can be done a little bit at a time at the dinner table," he said.
However, not everyone is sweet on the study’s findings. Dr. Beverly Tepper, a professor of food science at Rutgers University has doubts:
She said it was difficult to interpret the results since the study was vague in defining terms like "fruit lovers" or what specific salty and sweet snacks were considered. She questioned how meaningful the statistical difference was that researchers used to conclude there was a higher connection between eating sweets and fruits compared to salty snacks and fruits.

"I think it's an interesting idea," she said. "But I don't think this is the ideal approach to get at the question."
Dr. Fuhrman says  the best way to get children to eat healthy foods, like fruit, is limit their exposure to junk food and let them gravitate towards good food on their own (of course parents need to eat healthy too!). This excerpt from Onlyourhealth Your Child explains further:
Control your children’s environment, limit their exposure to junk food, teach them about nutrition, and then as they get older allow them to make their own choices in the real world, outside the home. You may be surprised at how wise they are. As they have become older, my children are in more and more situations where poor food choices are present, and they choose to limit their consumption of unhealthy food. They are extremely sensible, but not perfect. It makes common sense to them to take proper care of their bodies, as they learned that eating right was a gift that parents give their children when they are loved, to protect their future. The ongoing sharing of information about life, ethics, art, education, and nutrition can be interwoven into the education they receive in the home in an entertaining, caring, and loving manner.

An important point to emphasize is that you should not purchase and bring into the home foods that you do not want your children to be eating. For example, if you buy ice cream and eat it, it makes no sense and is counterproductive to restrict your children from eating it. One sensible alternative is to have ice cream only outside the home, at a party or special occasion when the whole family has it together. Children understand that the reason it is consumed rarely is because it is not a safe food to consume more frequently. When eaten on a special occasion together there is no guilt or hidden “cheating” involved. In place of ice cream in the home, healthy desserts and ice cream made predominantly with fresh and frozen fruits can be eaten and enjoyed as high-fat, artificially sweetened, or sugary ice cream.

Health Points: Wednesday

In order to keep heat-sensitive sperm safe, the testes are a few degrees cooler than the rest of the body. When testicular cancer cells spread to the rest of the body, warmer temperatures may cause a weakening of protein scaffolding within the nucleus of the cells, said a team of Johns Hopkins researchers reporting in the July 26 Journal of the American Medical Association.

This increase in heat makes the DNA in the cancer cell's nucleus more vulnerable to radiation and chemotherapy, they said.

The Baltimore experts reviewed more than 30 years of research on testicular cancer. They suggested that heat also may prove effective against other kinds of cancer.
1. Patient goes to their doctor for something seemingly minor, then is told to go to the ED. Example: a mother takes her seven year old son to the doc for a cut, expecting the pediatrician can stitch it up, but is sent to the ED. Next time she'll head straight for the ED.

2. Patient lacks a good relationship with PCP despite having insurance and doesn't feel comfortable making contact for the first time on an emergent issue. Example: healthy woman who's recently finished having kids has a PCP selected for HMO registration purposes but hasn't seen the doc in years and the issue isn't appropriate for her OB/Gyn. Off to the ED she goes.
To assess the effect of obesity on the quality of imaging exams, the researchers reviewed all radiology records from tests performed at Massachusetts General Hospital between 1989 and 2003. Specifically, they were looking at incomplete exams due to patient size.

"We looked at people who were able to fit on the imaging equipment and get the scan," Dr. Raul N. Uppot, lead author of the study, and an assistant radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in radiology at Harvard Medical School said. "When radiologists read the film, they had trouble interpreting the film because the quality of the image was not very good because of [the patient's] size."
I have to say, I really admire the creativity of this McDonald's billboard in Chicago. The ad agency and an engineer did a great deal of research to find the perfect location create the effect. The aluminum set of McDonald’s arches (which are 4 x 3.5 feet) casts a shadow on a different breakfast item each hour until noon when it casts an undistorted shadow on a sandwich, signaling lunchtime. It will be removed in August when the sun's position changes.
1. Get to know your local fruitier
Antioxidants, which are abundant in fruit and vegetables, neutralise cancer-causing free radicals. Lycopene, a potent antioxidant, is found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, pink grapefruit, blood oranges and other foods. Beta-carotene is found in many orange foods, including rockmelon, apricot and mango. But the banana is the superstar - a Swedish study of 61,000 women found those who ate bananas four to six times a week had half the risk of kidney cancer.

2. Choke the smokes
Smoking is the obvious cancer causer. It's related to a massive one-third of all cancers and 80 per cent of all lung cancers. But it's not just your lungs that are in danger. "Everything that the smoke passes as it weaves its way down to your lungs - your mouth, larynx and oesophagus - is at risk," says Anita Tang, chair of the Tobacco Issues Committee at The Cancer Council. Then there's the fact that smoking also greatly boosts your risk of stomach, cervical, kidney, breast, liver and prostate cancers. But there is some good news in the doom: if you give up the fags today, within 15 years your lung cancer risk will drop to almost pre-smoking lows. Top tip: Make a pact with a child - seeing the disappointment on their face if you light up again may be enough to make you stop forever.

Food for Growing Brains

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

The brain is mostly made of fat. For the brain cells to maintain their cell membrane fluidity and to properly recognize chemical messengers they must have the right ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats built into their structure. Too little omega-3 fats and too much saturated fat and trans fat could stiffen the fatty acid membranes and interfere with proper cellular communication.1 Raw nuts and seeds supply children with unpolluted omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a protective package rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals. Though fish is a rich source of omega-3 fat and DHA, fish fats and other animal fats are nutrient-poor and often contaminated with pollution, pesticides, hormones, and drugs. Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are examples of great brain food that can maximize human potential. Berries and vegetables are also rich in brain-favorable nutrients. The same foods that provide powerful protective effects against cancer maximize our children’s brain development.

When our children don’t consume the right mix of brain boosting nutrients, they have a reduced ability to learn and a lower IQ, and later in life they can develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, the right mixture of brain-supporting foods will afford our children the ability to reach their maximum potential in life, not just for health, but for emotional stability, happiness, and success in their chosen careers.

NY Times On Negative Calorie Diets

Most people probably haven’t heard of “negative calorie” diets, the claim that certain foods (like celery and lettuce) contain so few calories that you expend more energy chewing and digesting them than they actually provide. Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times contends this claim is based on inexact science:
Topping the list of “negative calorie” foods are vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers and celery. Celery, for example, contains 8 to 10 calories a stalk and is 95 percent water.

Chewing most foods typically only burns about five calories an hour, but the act of digesting may require slightly more. That is particularly the case with celery because it is mostly cellulose, a type of fiber that humans do not have the enzymes necessary to properly break down and use.

Cathy Nonas, director of obesity and diabetes programs at North General Hospital in Harlem, said that while no hard studies exist, it is possible that snacking on celery might cause a very slight calorie deficit. But the difference would be so minuscule that at the end of the day it would have no real impact unless the celery was replacing other fattening or high calorie foods. The other problem is that celery is not only low in calories, but also low in vitamins and minerals.
Check out the video that accompanies the report: Are Negative Calories for Real?

Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 44

Plant Fiber: Crucial For Healthy Body Weight

According to Reuters a new study connects consumption of fruit and fiber with healthy body weights, and linking foods higher in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to obesity. Researcher Dr. Jaimie N. Davis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles explains:
Davis' group found marked differences in the dietary habits of the two groups. The overweight and obese subjects consumed more total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and less carbohydrate, specifically dietary fiber and complex carbohydrate, than normal weight subjects.

The differences in diet composition "may have played a vital role in promoting or preventing obesity," they write.
The research shows lower body fat percents are a result of increased dietary fiber consumption:
Normal-weight adults consumed an average of 33 percent more dietary fiber and 43 percent more complex carbohydrates daily than their overweight and obese counterparts. Dietary fiber and complex carbohydrate intake were inversely related to body weight and "most strongly" to percent body fat.

Compared with normal-weight subjects, overweight and obese subjects consumed about one less fruit serving daily, which may partly explain their lower fiber and carbohydrate intake.
For readers of Followhealthlife this information is nothing new, according to Dr. Fuhrman certain foods (especially leafy greens) actually make you thin. Consider this excerpt from a previous post:
Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing is the one pound-one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked—keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses.
Now, the research team does acknowledge the social allure of popular high-protein, low carbohydrate diets, but offers this warning about them:
"The public is still attracted to popular weight-loss strategies that emphasize decreasing carbohydrate and increasing fat and protein," the study team notes in their report.

"Although there is evidence that high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets produce substantial weight loss in the short-term, to date there are no long-term studies that examine the effects of these regimens."
For information on the dangers of high-fat diets check out this previous post: Short and Long-Term Dangers of High-Fat Diets
High-fat diets are unquestionably associated with obesity, and eating meat actually correlates with weight gain, not weight loss, unless you radically cut carbs from your diet to maintain chronic ketosis.1 Researchers from the American Cancer Society followed 79,236 individuals over ten years and found that those ate meat more than three times per week were much more likely to gain weight as the years went by than those who tended to avoid meat.2 The more vegetables the participants ate, the more resistant they were to weight gain.
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Health Points: Monday

Smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by 50 percent, and obesity nearly doubles the risk, new research suggests. Researchers tracked the diet and health of more than 22,000 male health professionals from all 50 states from 1986 through 2000.

At the start of the study, after controlling for other factors, they found that men with good or very good erectile function had a lower prevalence of smoking, a lower body mass index, and less hypertension, heart disease and diabetes than those who reported fair, poor or very poor function.

Among men who started with good or very good function, those who expended energy equivalent to running 1.5 hours a week reduced their risk of future erectile dysfunction by 30 percent compared with the group that exercised least.
Pfizer is having a good year thanks to cholesterol lowering drugs. At the same time, insurance companies are experimenting with the "pay for performance" model. One of those experiments involves rewarding doctors for keeping their patients' cholesterol levels below defined guidelines. Cholesterol is an easy benchmark to measure and to collect, but the guidelines themselves are not without controversy. Rumor has it that some doctors with a large populations of cholesterol-targeted patients, such as cardiologists, are receiving bonuses in the 5-figure range. At least one news account appears to confirm this.

That's a hefty incentive to get those cholesterol numbers down as low as possible. How do you suppose they achieve the goals? By educating and encouraging lifestyle modification - i.e. diet and exercise? Not likely.
Even the natural sugar alcohol called Xylitol is now being made from corn sources. You may need to bring a small magnifier to read these ingredients and then look out for the hidden sources of sugar.

Sugar is a major enemy to the health of young people and those already losing limbs, eyesight and suffering immune problems. Those schools removing their vending machines are finding fewer discipline problems, more focused students and their parents are not filling prescriptions for Ritalin. Over active children do not need mega doses of processed sugar—they are usually very active without any chemical additives.
Weight-loss experts have long said calorie control and physical activity are both necessary for weight control.

Yet of participants in a government study who say they are working on their weight, only 23% are monitoring their calorie intake and doing an average of 60 minutes of physical activity a day on most days, the amount some experts say is needed to prevent weight gain.
While the doctor was supervising, she commented to the patient "She often talks to herself." I hadn't realized that I was talking myself through the steps. Partly, I was doing it to let the patient know what I was about to do for each step.

I don't know about you ladies, but I like to know what's coming along.. It's just polite that way.

I told the doctor that I do talk to myself and the crazy part is that sometimes I actually listen! She knows that I LOVE to talk so she gives me all of her talkative patients so that she can focus on the harder ones.

Energy Drink or Sugar Rush?

New research shows so-called “energy” drinks are no better at counteracting sleepiness than a brief sugar rush. HealthDay News reporter Steven Reinberg explains:

People who think sugary drinks are a pick-me-up may be in for a letdown: New research finds sweetened beverages actually boost sleepiness.

"People wishing to alleviate sleepiness through the consumption of a high-sugar, low-caffeine content energy drink -- erroneously believing the 'sugar rush' to be effective -- should avoid drinks that have little or no caffeine," said study co-author Clare Anderson, from the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. "It is caffeine that is particularly effective for alleviating sleepiness, not sugar," she added.

Anderson and her colleague Jim Horne found that, one hour after drinking a high-sugar, low-caffeine drink, people had slower reaction times and experienced more lapses in concentration than if they had consumed a caffeine- and sugar-free beverage.

Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center explains there are healthier ways to stay energized:

"To improve a feeling of having energy, start by getting plenty of rest, fluids, and fuel your body with quality nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources," Sandon said. "A balanced diet, including carbohydrate, fat, and protein, will keep you feeling satisfied longer."

Health Points: Friday

Surgery to replace damaged knees and hips with artificial joints has become so common among active baby boomers that it almost seems like a badge of honor. But evidence is growing that it's not only skiers and joggers fueling the explosion of operations, but obese Americans.

Some hospitals estimate that half to two-thirds of their patients having joint-replacement surgery are overweight or obese, and these patients are posing added challenges for medical teams.
I don't know what the current statistics are, but those dealing with a chronic condition such as diabetes are more likely to experience clinical depression. It's something like two to four times more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than the average population.

I would venture to guess that this would be true for nearly any chronic condition.

But maybe diabetes is a bit different in this respect - it is said that we are in control of how things turn out. If we do "good" and follow the "rules", we shouldn't have many problems. On the other hand, if we do "bad", disregard the "rules", we are destined to live a life full of "self imposed" complications. We all know it's not quite that simple, but that is often how the medical community makes it seem.
In the first comprehensive review of food marketing to children on the Web, the research found 85% of leading brands that target kids in TV ads also have games and other material on the Internet. The sites promote snacks, cereal, fast food, sugary drinks and candy.

More than 500 "advergames" such as Hershey's Syrup Squirt, LifeSavers Boardwalk Bowling and M&Ms Trivia Game were offered on 77 websites.

Many sites have special features. has a jingle contest for songs about Oreo cookies; McDonald's has pages for kids to color;, which promotes the Quaker Oats cereal, offers screensavers.

Putting The Recommended Daily Allowances Into Perspective

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

The RDAs are levels set by our government for various nutrients considered to be desirable for good health. But are they correct? Are these levels appropriate, and will even higher levels of certain nutrients benefit us? Difficult questions to answer, but first we must consider how the RDAs were derived.

The RDAs were first developed when the government began questioning the nutritional value of military rations distributed to our soldiers during World War II. Later, our government’s Food and Nutrition Board looked at what foods they expected most people to eat. By analyzing the average diet, the came up with a suggested minimum and then added an upward adjustment to theoretically ensure optimal health.

The RDAs are biased in favor of the conventional level of intake. They are not based on how people should eat to maintain optimal health; rather, they characterize the conventional diet: high in animal products; lots of dairy products and fat; and low in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients, such as vitamin C, that are rich in plant foods. The RDAs reflect a diet that caused all the problems in the first place.

So we see a tendency to keep RDAs for plant-based nutrients low while keeping animal-based nutrients high. Take for example the most ridiculous recommendation from the RDA—vitamin C. Any diet utilizing an abundance of unrefined natural plant foods offers a significant quantity of C. The diets I recommend, and consume myself, contain between 500 and 1,500 mg of vitamin C each day, just from food. If you consumed a diet only half as good as I recommend, you would still consume between 250 and 750 mg of vitamin C each day. The RDA of 60 is merely reflective of the inadequacy of the American diet and how impossible it would be to get enough vitamin C if you ate a diet so low in natural plant foods.

You can take 1,000 mg of vitamin C in the form of a pill to make up for how deadly deficient your diet is, but then you be missing all the other plant-derived antioxidants and phytochemicals that come in the same package as the vitamin C. The government must hold the RDA ridiculously low because it would be inconsistent with the other absurd dietary suggestions and makes it impossible to achieve such levels without supplementation.

Most the dietary recommendations from our government have been discarded and updated over time. Such recommendations, such as the Basic Four Food Group Guide, have always been at least ten years behind current science and strongly influenced by the food manufacturers. The current RDAs should meet the same fate; they are based on outmoded nutritional opinions that do not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Last, and most important, is that thousands of phytonutrients lack RDAs. There are subtle nuances and nutritive interactions that create disease resistance from the synergy of diverse substances in natural food. Like a symphony orchestra whose members play in perfect harmony, the performance of our body depends on the harmonious interaction of nutrients, both the known and unknown. By supplying a rich assortment of natural foods, we best maximize the function of the human masterpiece.

Remember the two main messages of this chapter. First, when food is refined and the macronutrients are removed from nature’s natural packaging, they assume disease-causing properties. And second, green vegetables ran away with the title and legumes and fresh fruit took home a distant silver and bronze in the nutrient-density Olympics.

Chicago Trying To Shut Out Trans Fat

Monica Davey of The New York Times reports Chicago is looking to be the first major city to outright ban cooking oils containing trans fat. Alderman Edward M. Burke leads the push:
Edward M. Burke, who has served on the Chicago City Council since 1969, when cooking oil was just cooking oil, is pressing his colleagues to make it illegal for restaurants to use oils that contain trans fats, which have been tied to a string of health problems, including clogged arteries and heart attacks.

If approved, nutrition experts say, the ban will be the first in a major city, following the lead of towns like Tiburon, Calif., just north of San Francisco, where restaurant owners have voluntarily given up the oils.
The move is a reaction to Men’s Fitness magazine proclaiming Chicago the fattest city in the nation. Burke also points to increased occurrences of diseases linked to trans fat:
Mr. Burke, pointing to increases in obesity, diabetes and heart disease, is unapologetic. He does not profess that better oils would suddenly make Chicago skinny but says that they would at least begin to alleviate some of the related coronary concerns.

“If it were just about adults, I would say, ‘O.K., we should butt out,’ ” Mr. Burke said in an interview. “But youngsters are assuming diets that are unhealthy.”
Burke’s mission is not without merit. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman stresses avoiding trans fat, even going as far as to call it poisonous.
Trans fat is larger threat to health than most people know because not only can it be found in obvious foods like French fries and fried dough, according to Dr. Fuhrman it lurks in less suspicious foods as well:

Trans fats are found in ubiquitously in processed food: crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen foods, and snacks. Most of these enticing desserts, fried foods, and convenience foods are deadly, heart-attack-causing foods, even if they contain no animal products and no cholesterol, because of the trans fats they contain. Even Orville Redenbacher’s natural microwaveable popcorn contains artery-clogging trans fats.

Health Points: Wednesday

The Greenmarket system operates under the auspices of the council, which essentially adopted it when it was born 30 years ago. The name is a registered service mark, and the Greenmarkets operate on an annual budget of about $1.5 million. (More information on Greenmarkets is at

Ten new markets in one season is a record for the organization, which now has 45 in the five boroughs. The rock star is the market at Union Square on Saturdays, when more than 70 vendors show up. Some new markets are displaying star potential, like the one on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side and the one on East 82nd Street, where the line for fruit at the Samascott Orchards stand was more than 20 people long for over an hour on opening day, July 8.

But others appear to be duds. When the Greenmarket at 43rd Street in Clinton opened on July 1, its four vendors attracted a crowd so small that Gabrielle Langholtz, the usually enthusiastic spokeswoman for the Greenmarkets, described it as depressing.

Priscilla O’Carrol was excited when she showed up at the new market on East 92nd Street on July 9, but was surprised at its tiny size. “I used to live near Union Square, so I was expecting a lot more,” she said after a tour of its three vendors.
Bats represent a huge portion of mammal species: approximately 20% of the 4,600 mammalian species are bats, which range in size from a 130 mm wingspan up to 2 m and are found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. Within these species, at least 66 different species of viruses have been isolated from bats or detected within their tissues, and there is serological evidence for many others. Rabies is by far the most important, as far as human health goes. However, even though 55,000 human deaths occur from rabies every year, only a small portion are from viruses associated with bats. Viruses that have been isolated include influenza virus, Nipah and Hendra viruses, SARS coronavirus, Chikungunya virus, Japanese and St. Louis encephalitis viruses, Hantaan virus (a relative of the Sin Nombre hantavirus), and Rift Valley fever virus, among others. Despite this incredible diversity of human-pathogenic viruses that have been associated with bats, there are giant gaps in our knowledge of both bat ecology and immunology, further discussed below.
There are currently more than 150 such clinics nationwide. None are in Southern California, but thousands of new clinics are planned nationwide in the next year or two, according to a report to be released today by the California Healthcare Foundation, an independent Oakland-based research institute that advocates for affordable healthcare. Los Angeles could have its first retail clinic this year.

Retail clinics are small, typically no bigger than a sandwich shop. They are open seven days a week and treat minor, non- urgent illnesses including strep throat and ear infections. Appointments are not necessary and most visits last 15 minutes for treatments that cost $40 to $70, which are clearly posted on menu-style boards on the wall.
If you have a problem with alcohol, you can keep your house alcohol-free and avoid pubs and bars. When it comes to food cravings you have to face the issue many times a day because - unlike alcohol - we cannot live without food.

This week I spent some time in a large city. Like any populous urban center everywhere you look there are food vendors. Go out to the large malls in the satellite suburbs and you find cavernous food courts with every kind of food imaginable.

Less Chew for Big Leaguers

The basic premise of Dr. Fuhrman's work is to learn from the best available research about how you can optimize your health to prevent and reverse disease.

One of the most basic, important, and obvious examples of using research to make smart health decisions is avoiding tobacco. There is increasing evidence that this important step is taking place--even on the baseball diamond.

A new study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reveals less Major League Baseball players are chewing tobacco; resulting in decreased occurrence of potentially cancerous mouth lesions. Jeannine Stein of The Los Angeles Times reports:
A recent study of Pittsburgh Pirate players, both in major and minor leagues, found that smokeless tobacco use went from 41% of players in 1991 to 25% in 2000. Much of the downward trend can be credited to the 1993 ban on chewing tobacco in the minor leagues, says Dr. Keith Sinusas, the study's lead author and associate director of the family medicine residency at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Conn. "As players progress to the major leagues, they're less likely to be using," he says, adding that education programs helped as well.

Researchers noted a parallel decrease in cases of oral leukoplakia, whitish lesions that form on the inside of the mouth that can become cancerous. Those numbers dropped from 22.6% to 9.4%, and Sinusas has good news for those who quit: "Within a few months of stopping use," he says, "most of the lesions go away."

Fat Pets Fat Owners?

Jane E. Brody of The New York Times reports we aren’t alone in the obesity epidemic, our pets are sharing the burden too:
“Studies in Western Europe and the United States have indicated that more than 24 percent of dogs and about 25 percent of domestic cats are obese,” the veterinarians, Jon J. Ramsey and Kevork Hagopian, noted. The findings were published this month in The Journal of Nutrition.
Surprisingly, research shows fat owners don’t necessarily mean fat pets:
While many (though clearly not all) French women may be slim, their dogs often are not. A team from Maisons-Alfort, France, found that among a “healthy population” of 616 dogs that attended a vaccination clinic, 38.8 percent were overweight, including 5 percent that were obese.
A potentially serious problem seems to be how people miscategorize their pet’s weight similarly to that of their children:
Just as mothers have been shown to underestimate excess weight and obesity in their children, researchers have found that pet owners are notoriously poor at assessing their pets’ weight problems. “My dog isn’t fat; he just has a lot of fur” is an all-too-common response when owners are accused of overfeeding their pets.
The article explains that overweight pets have health consequences that rival those of humans.

For more on the subject check out this previous post: Aussie Pets Plump Too

Healthy Eating, Diet and Fitness Blog Carnival #3

Health Points: Monday

Someone I know violated HIPAA. And his boss found out. And now things might get ugly for him. His life may change, dramatically, tomorrow when he has to meet with his boss, and his boss' boss, to discuss the matter. For now, he feels bad, which I guess is good for everybody involved.

The computers have eyes. The rumor mill every now and then recycles the old one about how the administrators are watching how much time the nurses spend playing games on the various computers around the hospital, then compare the data to the census reports from the nurses' units. Apparently, long ago, some nurses were fired for this. "You had 5 patients and played solitaire from 2:12 until 2:18 a.m. You're fired!"
What bugs me about high fructose corn syrup is that it’s added to products that don’t need it, like maki rolls.

It’s also in Heinz Ketchup, Miracle Whip, Claussen Pickles, Contadina Tomato Paste, Pepperidge Farm’s line of 100 percent whole grain breads, Breakstones Cottage Cheese & Toppings (peach and pineapple), Stove Top Stuffing, and Campbell’s vegetable soup, according to the rapidly growing list started by Kate Hopkins and posted on the Accidental Hedonist. (Warning: The list may contain inaccuracies. Check ingredients yourself to be certain.
Burger King is enticing kids to order this “produce-free” behemoth through a series of TV ads featuring a crew of miniature construction workers that “diligently stacks meat, cheese, bacon and BK Stacker Sauce.”

If that’s not enough, “2.5″ collectible figurines of some of the most memorable characters from the BK Stackers television ads can be purchased online…Fans can purchase a set of three figurines, including Vin the Foreman, the Kid and the Cheese Welder.”

For parents who promote organic living and healthy eating, this is yet another example of how fast-food companies and advertising agencies pander to kids without any regard for their health. It’s irresponsible at a time when childhood obesity is epidemic.

CNN: Exercise Tips As You Age

Following up on Wednesday’s report claiming even small amounts of physical activity help seniors live longer are these exercise tips from CNN. The video contends exercise is essential for maintaining flexibility and bone strength as you age, but warns people to be mindful of their changing bodies and to adjust activities accordingly.

Symptoms--Our Defensive Response Against Illness

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

Symptoms are the body’s natural response to deal with the causes of disease, lessening their damage. Symptoms attempt to eliminate the cause of an illness, but are often mistaken for the illness itself. For example, when we get food poisoning, diarrhea is a beneficial response to wash away the offending microbes. Attempting to halt diarrhea with medication is potentially harmful, as it may allow dangerous bacteria to proliferate and gain entry into the bloodstream. In acute illness, such as colds and flu, the symptoms such as fever, mucous production, and cough are the body’s defenses to get rid of the virus. A fever promotes interferon production in the brain, which then further activates white blood cells to fight the virus. Coughing aids in expelling mucous, carrying away dead cells and preventing them from settling within the lungs.

Suppressing the fever and cough with medication can lead to a prolonged illness. In fact, cough suppressants and over-the-counter cold medicines expose children and adults to further side effects without significant effectiveness. We were taught in medical that cough suppressants do not work well, which is good, because if the cough was really suppressed, the mucous would settle deep into the lung and cause pneumonia. The most common cough suppressants contain dextromethorphan and codeine. A head-to-head comparison between placebo and these cough remedies showed that the placebo worked just as well. All children improved significantly by day three, and there was no difference among the three treatment groups in any symptom parameter.1

Self-medicating symptoms with over-the-counter medications may not be wise, but it can be more of a health risk to go to a doctor who, in response to patient demand, will provide an antibiotic. Antibiotics are useless against common viral illnesses. They are designed to treat the much more uncommon bacterial illnesses. Of course, antibiotics have legitimate uses, but would only encompass less than 10 percent of all antibiotics utilized in this country today.

When ill with a typical viral syndrome, it is best to rest, drink water, avoid cooked food, and only consume high-water-content fruits and vegetables if hungry. Avoid physicians, medications, and remedies. See a doctor only if the illness is unusual or unusually severe or prolonged. It would be a better idea to give antibiotics inappropriately to those who are well and not burden the sick people suffering with viruses with such potentially dangerous drugs.

For more information on antibiotics read this previous post: Prescribed Antibiotics and You
Continue Reading...

More Reason To Say Active

Published in the July 12 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association is a new study claiming even minuscule amounts of exercise, like running errands, helps seniors live longer. Ed Edelson of HealthDay reports:
His team's six-year study of 302 people between 70 and 82 years of age found that any sort of energy expenditure through physical activity was associated with a lower risk of death.

That finding, published in the July 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, is not entirely surprising. Organizations such as the American Heart Association have long said that some physical activity is better than none. What was unusual about this study was the exquisitely detailed measurements used to determine levels of physical activity, Manini said.

In the study, the researchers had volunteers drink water containing two harmless isotopes, oxygen-18 and hydrogen-2. Oxygen-18 is eliminated from the body in water, while hydrogen-2 is eliminated not only in water but also in carbon dioxide, which is produced during energy expenditure. So, by measuring levels of water and carbon dioxide leaving the body, the researchers were able to get accurate readings of daily energy expenditure.

"The technique has been around for use in humans for 20 years," Manini said. "It is kind of expensive for a large-scale study, and also requires special expertise."

Following the participants for six years, the researchers found that death rates went down as daily energy expenditure went up. In fact, seniors in the highest third of daily energy expenditure had a 69 percent lower risk of dying than those in the lowest third.

The Secret to Extreme Longevity

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

There is one food that scientific research has shown has a strong positive association with increased longevity in humans. So which food do you think that is?

The answer is raw, leafy greens, normally referred to as salad.1 Leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spinach are the most nutrient-dense of all foods.

Most vegetables contain more nutrients per calorie than any other food and are rich in all necessary amino acids. For example, romaine lettuce, which gets 18 percent of its calories from fat and almost 50 percent of its calories from protein, is a rich powerhouse with hundreds of cancer-fighting phytochemicals that protect us from a variety of threatening illnesses. Being healthy and owning a disease-resistant body is not luck; it is earned.

In a review of 206 human-populations studies, raw vegetable consumption showed the strongest protective effect against cancer of any beneficial food.2 However, less than one in a hundred Americans consumes enough calories from vegetation to ensure this defense.

I tell my patients to put a big sign on their refrigerator that says THE SALAD IS THE MAIN DISH.

The word salad here means any vegetable eaten raw or uncooked e.g., a bowl of cold pasta in olive oil with a token vegetable is not a salad. I encourage my patients to eat two huge salads a day, with the goal of consuming an entire head of romaine or other green lettuce daily. I suggest that you go and make the sign and tape it to your fridge now—and then come back. If you plan on doing it later, you may forget. If you learn but one practical habit from this book, let it be this one. Continue Reading...

Health Points: Wednesday

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle gave 23 people enough alcohol to reach a blood alcohol level of 0.04% (half the legal limit in many states and about 2 1/2 beers for a 180-pound man). A second group of 23 people drank no alcohol.

The researchers then showed members of both groups a 25-second video clip in which two teams passed a ball back and forth — and asked them to count the number of times one team passed the ball. During the clip, a person in a gorilla suit walks through the crowd, thumps its chest and walks off.
Researchers found that 46% in the control group saw the gorilla, but only 18% in the alcohol group did so.
1) Cell phones: I cannot describe how irking it is to enter the examining room and find the patient talking on the cell phone. Ask yourself, is this phone call more important than your bladder infection or kidney stone? If the answer is no, then please have the courtesy to put the phone away and silence the ringer.

Even ruder is when I am talking to the patient and the cell phone rings, and (s)he actually ANSWERS the damn thing in the middle of the consultation. I wait for the (usually inane) conversation to end while silently fuming inside.
Authoritarian parents, they wrote, “have high demands for self-control but low levels of sensitivity.” Compared with authoritative parents, they are more dictatorial. They are strict disciplinarians, often insensitive to the child’s needs and give little emotional support. Previous studies have linked authoritarian methods with lower grades in school and later behavior problems.

Only slightly less harmful in terms of children’s risk of being overweight are parents who are overly permissive, a style characterized by “low expectations for self-control and discipline in the setting of high sensitivity and warmth.” Their children often fail to learn limits. They may be more self-confident but often have little self-control, resulting in higher levels of drug use and school misconduct, previous studies have shown.
Make all your sides vegan. This is easy if you're a member of the CSA and have a large batch of fresh veggies and herbs. There are plenty of vegan recipes on the web site (vegetarian recipes are marked as such, but you'll have to look more closely for explicitly vegan recipes) and most public libraries have a vast collection of vegan cookbooks that you can borrow. If you have enough tasty vegan sides, they can mix and match those to fill up their plate. But please don't leave them with just salad and carrot sticks.

Ask the vegan if they want to bring a dish. Many times, vegans will bring their own dishes to functions in order to not trouble the host while ensuring that they have something to eat. But if it's a potluck, let the vegan know you're looking forward to seeing what they bring and trying something new.

Grand Rounds: Volume 2, Edition 42

NY Times On Portion Sizes

In today’s New York Times reporter Jane E. Brody takes a look at the United States’ obesity woes. Focusing her attention on America’s portion sizes:
I'll start with what seems to be a mantra for most Americans: bigger is better. Bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger portions. About 30 years ago the restaurant industry tried to introduce Americans to a French dining style called cuisine minceur, small, elegant portions served on large, usually white plates (but priced as if the plates were heaped with food).

It was doomed from the get-go. Americans want more for their money, and more is what they got. Portions big enough to feed a horse.

It's not just McDonald's. Nearly every dish and beverage Americans now consume is supersized compared with what they used to eat (and, I might add, at a time when more energy was spent just getting through the demands of the day).

An average serving of pasta is now 480 percent greater than the one-cup recommended serving size, Lisa Young and Marion Nestle, nutritionists at New York University, reported in 2002 in The American Journal of Public Health. Some cookies, they found, are 700 percent larger.

A New York bagel, now sold nationwide, weighs five or six ounces. That is five or six bread portions, supplying about 500 calories, not counting cream cheese or butter. The muffin tins from my childhood produce muffins one-third the size of those at Starbucks.

Restaurants like fast-food and takeout establishments, as well as family-style businesses, pile on food with no regard for recommended portions.
To make matters worse research indicates portion size acts independently with another characteristic of meals, energy density:
The more energy-dense a food is — that is, the more calories per ounce or gram — the more calories people tend to consume.

In previous studies, Dr. Rolls found that, all other factors being equal, people eat about the same weight of food each day.

If those foods are in the moderate range of energy density like meat, cheese, pizza and French fries or at the high end of energy density like crackers, nuts and cookies, people consume more calories than they do if their meals contain lots of low-energy-density foods, like soup, green salad, nonstarchy vegetables and fruit.

Health Points: Monday

Tobacco accounts for one in five cancer deaths, or 1.4 million deaths worldwide each year, according to two new reference guides that chart global tobacco use and cancer. Lung cancer remains the major cancer among the 10.9 million new cases of cancer diagnosed each year, according to the Cancer Atlas.
A poll of more than 10,000 students in 23 countries showed more than half knew heredity was a risk factor. But less than five percent realized that eating and drinking too much alcohol and not getting enough exercise also had an impact.
I am a hypocrite. There are many well designed studies that proof that MSG is safe. If you just look at the science salt is much more dangerous, but there are hardly any scary websites about that. I still do not use it myself though. I do not explicitly avoid it, but products with MSG often are very processed or have ingredients I do not eat (animal products, lots of fat etc.). I wonder if I should give MSG a chance. I have not yet been able to find a way to make relatively inexpensive tasty low-sodium vegan soups and MSG may be the answer.
*It can create anxiety, stress, loneliness and increased likelihood for depression.

*It can cause problems with friendships and relationships.

*It can seriously impair academic and job performance.

*It can lead to underachievement and increased vulnerability to many self destructive behaviors.

*Worst of all, these negative consequences themselves reinforce the negative self-image and can take a person into a downward spiral of lower and lower self-esteem.
We in the United States take our health care for granted, but did you know that doctors take health care for granted, too? Many doctors spend more than a little of our time berating ourselves because we see patients in the clinic who have chronic diseases for which there is no cure and for which all we can do is attempt therapies which, if we are fortunate, provide only partial relief of symptoms. We feel like fakes, sometimes: able to cure some things, but most of what we see back is what we have been unable to cure, and these cases come back to us in the clinic and hospital over and over precisely because we are impotent to cure.

Eating to Age Rapidly and Die Prematurely

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Cholesterol Protection For Life:

Certain foods lead to superior health and other foods lead to ill health. It is impossible to earn excellent health while consuming disease-causing foods. One cannot escape from the biological laws of cause and effect. It is impossible to eat the American diet without the eventual development of a serious disease. Autopsy studies on adult Americans who die in car accidents show over 95% have atherosclerotic heart disease. The only reason why more than 50% do not die of heart attacks and strokes is that cancer or some other illness gets them first.

Heart disease and strokes kill over half of all Americans.

If you eat the typical American diet, you will likely die of typical American diseases. In the typical American diet 40% of calories come from animal foods such as dairy, meat, eggs, and chicken, and 50% of calories come from processed foods such as pasta, bread, soda, oils, sugar, puffed cereals, pretzels, and other adulterated products. Cancer and heart disease is the consequence.

Americans consume only about 7% of their calories from unrefined plant foods defined as fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and whole grains. These unrefined plant foods are rich in fiber and anti-cancer nutrients, yet Americans eat very little of these nourishing foods.

Refined grain products, such as white bread, pasta, bagels, white rice, most breakfast cereals, and other denatured and processed grains are almost as nutrient-deficient as sugar. The nutritional value of these “foods” falls very low on the scale compared to healthful foods.

In a six-year study of 65,000 women, the women with diets high in refined carbohydrates from white bread, white rice, and pasta had two-and-a-half times the incidence of Type II diabetes, compared with those who ate high-fiber foods, such as vegetables, beans/legumes, whole grains, and fresh fruit.

Diabetes is not a lightweight problem; it is the fourth leading cause of death by disease in America, and the number of people developing diabetes is soaring. White flour, other refined grains such as sweetened breakfast cereals, soft drinks, other sweets, and even fruit juices are weight promoting and not only lead to diabetes, but can raise triglycerides and cholesterol levels, increasing heart-attack risk.

Every time you eat processed foods you not only exclude the important known nutrients from your diet, but also hundreds of other undiscovered phytonutrients that are essential for normal, human function. For instance, it is the outer portion of the wheat kernel (the part that is removed when white flour is made) that contains trace minerals, phytoestrogens, lignins, phytic acid, indoles, phenolic compounds and other phytochemicals, as well as all of the vitamin E. It is the diversity of micronutrients, both known and unknown, that are necessary to ward off cancer.

Additionally, when we eat baked goods, cold breakfast cereals, pretzels, and other snack foods, we are getting heart-disease-promoting trans fats and a high dose of acrylamides. Acrylamides are toxic, cancer-promoting compounds produced when foods are baked or fried at high temperatures. Chips, pretzels, cold breakfast cereals, roasted soy nuts, browned foods, crusted foods, and fried foods contain high levels of these toxic compounds that are formed when carbohydrates are exposed to high dry heat. These harmful compounds are not formed when foods are water cooked, when you steam vegetables or make soups for example.

Refined or processed foods also include salad oil. All oils are 120 calories per tablespoon and nutrient-poor. Oils leave behind the fiber and most of the nutrients that were in the original food. When eating these oils we consume more “empty” or nutrient poor calories, reducing the nutrient density of our dietary intake. Refined oils, such as olive oil, are removed from nature’s protective packaging, rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They may be a big improvement over butter and margarine (containing saturated and trans fats) but they still promote weight gain and therefore are not heart disease favorable.

Purslane Anyone?--UPDATED

Maybe you call it suberi-hiyu, verdolaga, or gelang pasir. Either way this tangy green plant is quite the global sensation. New York Times reporter Marlena Spieler explains:
From Provence to Greece, Turkey to Kuala Lumpur, Mexico to Galilee, purslane is gathered in the wild and sold at local farmers' markets under many names.

In Mexico and California, verdolaga is eaten with pork and tomatillos; at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, Steve Sando, owner of Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food in Napa, tucks a few whole stems into his big fat carnitas and tomatillo tamal. Farmers in Provence sell pourpier in wild mesclun. In Greece, little old ladies forage from field to field hunting glistrida, and in Turkey semizotu is mixed with garlicky yogurt and chopped into fetching salads with ripe tomatoes. In Galilee I was told that "regelah" was delicious in salads — regelah being Hebrew for foot, since purslane is a plant typically found right at your feet. A Russian émigré shared a recipe for portulak in zesty potato salad.

On a trip to Malaysia I found gelang pasir eaten raw, dipped into spicy fish-chili paste, or cut up into nasi ulam, a turmeric-tinted rice salad. Purslane makes Lebanon's classic tabbouleh and fattoush even zippier. In Sri Lanka it's stir-fried with chilies and fish, while suberi-hiyu is pickled in Japanese villages, to eat in the winter, alongside rice.
Not only is purslane a culinary dynamo, but it packs a nutrient-rich wallop too:
In addition to tastiness, there is another reason to eat purslane. Research has shown it to be high in many vitamins and antioxidants. In some of the first medical research on purslane, Dr. Artemis P. Simopoulos wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1986 that it has remarkably high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 essential fatty acid) for something that's not a fish. Since then, purslane has been found to have high amounts of melatonin and other beneficial nutrients.
Do we have any purslane eaters out there? If so let us know where you buy it, leave a comment or email us at

UPDATE: We recently got tipped off to Johnny's Selected Seeds, if you've got a green thumb you can order purslane seeds here: Red and Golden Purslane

Diet vs. Autoimmune Diseases

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Working with patients with autoimmune diseases such as connective tissue diseases, myositis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus is very rewarding. These patients had been convinced they could never get well and are usually eternally grateful to be healthy again and not require medication.

An aggressive nutritional approach to autoimmune illnesses should always be tried first when the disease is in its infancy. Logically, the more advanced the disease is, and the more damage that has been done by the disease, the less likely the patient will respond. My experience with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis is that some patients are more dietary-sensitive than others and that some patients have very high levels of inflammation that are difficult to curtail with natural therapy. Nevertheless, the majority benefit—and since the conventional drugs used to treat these types of illnesses are so toxic and have so many risky side effects, the dietary method should be tried first. Modern drugs often contribute to the disability and misery of patients with an autoimmune illness and increase cancer risk. Studies show that the long-term outcome is poor after twenty years of taking such medication.1 A recent study in the British Journal of Rheumatology showed the major drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis, such as azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, and methotrexate, increase ethe likelihood that the person will die of cancer.2 

Patients who use drugs that suppress the immune system forgo some protection that the immune system offers against infection and cancer. These individuals need a superior diet, even if they can’t stop all medication.

So many of the patients I see, especially the ones who have made recoveries, are angry at their former physicians who did not even suggest nutrition before starting them on medication. These individuals are usually so “sick of being sick,” they will do anything to get well. They don’t find the diet restrictive and show enthusiasm and determination to recover their health. It is terrifically exciting to see such patients make recoveries and eliminate the need for medication.

Continue Reading...

Is Eat to Live a Low Calorie Diet?

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Yes. Excess calories don’t just make you overweight—they shorten your life. This diet style enables people to feel satiated with 1,000-2,000 calories per day, whereas before it took 1,600-3,000. The simple trick is to receive lots of nutrient bang for each caloric buck.

Of course, those who are considerably active or involved with exercise or sports need more calories, but that’s okay—they will have a bigger appetite and need more food to satisfy their hunger. They will get more protein and other nutrients needed for exercise by consuming more food, not a different diet.

Some people can lose weight merely by switching their calories to a healthier plant-based cuisine while maintaining approximately the same caloric consumption. The Chinese consume more calories than do Americans, yet are about 25 times thinner than Americans. This is because the modern American diet receives about 37 percent of its calories from fat, with lots of sugar and refined carbohydrates. The combination of high fat and high sugar is a metabolic disaster that causes weight gain, independent of the number of calories.

Other people are not able to lose weight as easily. They need the entire package: the metabolic benefit of the natural plant foods, along with the satiety that results from both the greater bulk of my “unlimited” foods and the consequent nutrient fulfillment. These patients need even fewer calories. The good news is that they can be satisfied with fewer calories permanently. The Eat to Live diet has both these benefits, making it a powerful weight-normalization plan as well as the healthiest possible diet.

The menus, recipes, and strategies for eating explained in this book also make it possible to achieve the current dietary guidelines of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for those desiring to lose weight. According to these guidelines, women should choose a diet with fewer than 1,200 calories a day and men, one with fewer than 1,600.1

A computer analysis of many different diets has shown that the Eat to Live diet is the only way to meet the National Institutes of Health guidelines for calories while at the same time supplying adequate nutrients and fiber content. Even the dietary menus for 1,200-calorie and 1,600-calorie diets published in the National Institutes of Health’s recent guide for physicians do not meet the recommended daily allowances (RDA), because the traditional American food choices are too low in nutrients. The NIH diets are too low in important nutrients such as chromium, vitamin K, folate, and magnesium, whereas the Eat to Live diet plans and suggested menus more than meet all RDAs within the NIH’s caloric limits. Continue Reading...

Cookies And Pie Oh My!

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

Carob-Avocado Cream Pie
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup crushed raw macadamia nuts
2 date-coconut rolls or 4 medjool dates
Mash coconut, macadamia, and dates together and keep kneading until well mixed. Press the mixture into a glass pie pan.
Creamy Filling:
2 tablespoons raw carob powder
12 raw cashews
1 avocado
3 medjool or 8 regular-size dates
Blend the carob, cashews, avocado, and dates together in a Vita-Mix or food processor until creamy and smooth. Spoon filling over crust and chill by freezing for one hour before serving. Serves 4.

Banana Nut Cookies
¼ cup pitted dates
¼ cup regular soy milk
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans
1 cup grated coconut
4 ripe bananas
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cover dates in soy milk and soak overnight. Place the nuts and coconut in a food processor with the metal S blade and grind to a coarse meal. Add the bananas, dates (with the soaking soy milk), and cinnamon and mix to form the dough. Take the thick mixture out of the food processor and spoon onto a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at a low heat (250 degrees) for 30 minutes. Yields 25 cookies.

Health Points: Wednesday

For the study, five boys and five girls, ages 7 and 8, took part in sessions in which they were asked to carry blocks across a room and stack them no more than two high for more than 10 minutes. At one session, the blocks were simply hollow cardboard. At the other, the blocks had small steel blocks glued inside that brought their weight to three pounds.

As the researchers encouraged the children to keep moving the blocks, equipment measured their heart and breathing rates.

In addition to helping healthy children keep a bit fitter, the researchers said, weighted toys may also be useful for children with disabilities in which muscle weakness is a problem.
The study of more than 9,000 adults found that mood and anxiety disorders including depression were about 25 percent more common in the obese people studied than in the non-obese. Substance abuse was an exception — obese people were about 25 percent less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol than slimmer participants.

The results appear in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, being released Monday. The lead author was Dr. Gregory Simon, a researcher with Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, a large nonprofit health plan in the Pacific Northwest.

The results "suggest that the cultural stereotype of the jolly fat person is more a figment of our imagination than a reality," said Dr. Wayne Fenton of the National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the study.
3. Where do you get your calcium? From my fruits and veggies! The whole dairy thing is a big myth--a very profitable one for the US dairy industry. Countries that consume the most dairy have the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world. There are millions of people who've come and gone on this earth without drinking a glass of cow's milk and their bone density has been just fine. Calcium can be obtained just fine with a dairy-free diet. Other variables such as Vit D, Vit K and weight-bearing exercise also impact bone density. A plant-based diet and a good exercise program will keep your bones strong.

4. Where do you get your protein? Again, from all of the foods in my diet. Animal protein is way overrated. And the more animal protein you include in your diet, the higher the incidence of immune-related disease (diabetes, MS) and cancer. My dad has MS; my grandma has diabetes and has had cancer. I stick to plant protein and keep it to about .8 g/kg. Does it look like I need more protein?????

Change The Way Kids Eat At Home

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

The major cause of this recent phenomenon of obesity is the availability and consumption of high-caloric, low-nutrient foods and the decreased consumption of high-nutrient foods. When families finally realize that the consumption of vegetables, beans, and fruits is the essential foundation of an adequate diet, we will rarely see an obese child. It is literally impossible to become obese when consuming a diet that predominates in healthful, natural food.

Our children need to be more physically active and exercise with sports and games, but with “fake food” so readily available, exercise alone will no solve the problem.

We cannot rely on the food manufacturer, our government, the media, or even health authorities to protect or warn us against the dangerous foods we feed our children. Regardless of the political, economic, and social causes for the unhealthy meals served in our school cafeterias, parents bringing doughnuts to our children’s schoolrooms, soda machines in our school cafeterias, and fast food franchises in our hospital lobbies, it is still our primary responsibility as parents to nurture, protect, and teach our children how to live, eat, and act sensibly in a world of dangerous opportunities. We all must accept the fact that health is created and experienced as a result of the healthful behaviors and environment we create for our selves and our loved ones. We must take personal responsibility by educating ourselves and teaching our children to care for themselves.

Changing the way your child eats at home is the first place to lay the groundwork for a more healthful life. Children can readily pick up the bad habits that surround them, but you have the opportunity to teach them healthier eating habits that will last a lifetime and give them a longer, health life to boot.

How can you get your children to eat healthy food? Listen to this for starters.

Healthy Eating, Diet and Fitness Blog Carnival #2

Restricting Animal Products: Vitamin Worries

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Could restricting my intake of animal products or eating a strict vegetarian diet cause me to develop vitamin deficiencies?

A strict vegetarian diet is deficient in meeting the vitamin B12 needs of some individuals. If you choose to follow a complete vegetarian (vegan) diet, it is imperative that you consume a multivitamin or other source of B12, such as fortified soymilk. My vegetarian menu plans and dietary suggestions are otherwise rich in calcium and contain sufficient iron from green vegetables and beans. They contain adequate protein and are extremely nutrient-dense.

Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin, is another common deficiency I find when I check the blood levels of my patients. Most of us work indoors and avoid the sun or wear sunscreen, which lowers our vitamin D exposure. Some of us don’t absorb it as well and just require more. So, given all the data that is available today and my personal experience with patients, I advise more people to consume an appropriate multi. 

My observations suggest that vegetarians would be foolish not to play it safe, either by taking a B12 supplement or a multi or by consuming foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. Another option for those who loathe taking vitamins is to have their blood checked periodically. Checking your B12 level alone is not sufficient. Methylmalonic acid (MM) must be checked to accurately gauge if the level of B12 in your body is enough for you.

More On Pomegranates and Your Prostate

We’ve talked about the power of pomegranates in the past, but it seems this fruit’s legend continues to grow. According to Reuters reporter Lisa Richwine a new study funded by juice maker Pom Wonderful found men who drank the beverage had a longer time until doubling of their blood levels of PSA occurred:
In the study, the time until PSA doubling after treatment extended to 54 months on average when the men started drinking eight ounces of pomegranate juice a day. Before drinking the juice, PSA doubled in an average of 15 months.

"That's a very big difference. ... It's an indicator of how quickly the cancer is growing," said Dr. Allan Pantuck, a urologist at UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center and the study's lead author.

Each of the 50 men who took part had radiation, surgery or other treatment for prostate cancer before enrolling in the study. No major side effects were reported from drinking the juice.

"It's too early to tell people with prostate cancer they should drink pomegranate juice" because the evidence is preliminary, Pantuck said in an interview.

A larger study is under way to try to confirm the findings, with results expected in two years, he said.

Carnival of the Green #34

Check out this week's Carnival of the Green on Headway Youth. Followhealthlife's post Fish: Pollution Risks joins the festivities.

Pediatric Grand Rounds: Volume 1, Edition 6