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.

Fatty Facts

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Onlyourhealth Your Child:

  • Saturated fat has the most powerful causative relationship with heart disease and cancer.
  • Besides sugar, butter and cheese contribute the most calories to children’s diets in America.
  • The food with the highest saturated fat content in the American diet is butter and cheese.

Cheese consumption has tripled in American in the last thirty years, and cheese is included as part of almost every meal. It’s melted on burgers and chicken breasts, sprinkled on salads melted over bread and pasta. It’s not surprising that cheese gives us more (artery-clogging) saturated fat than any other food.

Heart disease begins in our youth and is not easy to reverse. No one should eat more than five grams of saturated fat a day. Over this level, disease rates climb.

All food derived from animals contain cholesterol and tend to be high in the thick, heavy fats called saturated fats. Most plant foods are very low in saturated fat, except for some tropical plant oils like palm and coconut oil that are naturally saturated.

Reducing the consumption of animal foods reduces the consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat. Low intake of cholesterol and saturated fat leads to a leaner body, clean arteries, and reducing risk of developing heart disease and many other diet-related diseases such as stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

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...

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.

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.

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.
Continue Reading...

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.

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.

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

Energy Beer?

Maybe filing this under most ridiculous item of the week is appropriate. Energy beer brewed with ginseng, herbs, and fruit juices, and loaded with more caffeine than a cup of coffee. According to this ABC News report energy beer is one of the fastest growing brands in the market.

You'd be hard pressed to find this beverage on the Eat to Live menu. Check out these previous posts for Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on honey, caffeine, and alcohol.

Imported Tuna Has More Mercury

According to the Associated Press imported tuna has levels of mercury higher than the US federal limit. Libby Quaid reports:
Defenders of Wildlife found the highest levels of mercury in tuna from Ecuador and Mexico — countries known for setting nets where they see dolphins to catch large tuna swimming below.

"They tend to catch larger, more mature fish, which tend to have higher levels, being at the top of the food chain," said Bob Irvin, the group's senior vice president for conservation.

The group is a longtime advocate of dolphin-safe tuna.

The group had a laboratory test 164 cans of tuna labeled as being from Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States. Tests were done by New Age/Landmark laboratory, a Benton Harbor, Mich., company that has been used by the federal government.
The group’s analysis revealed some daunting results:
Average mercury content of U.S. tuna was generally lower than imported tuna.

Tuna from Asia had the lowest average levels of mercury.

Tuna from Latin America had the highest mercury levels, with some exceeding the government limit of 1.0 parts per million.

The lab found higher levels of mercury even in light tuna, which the Food and Drug Administration considers to be low in mercury.
For more information on mercury contamination check out this previous post: Fishing for the Truth

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.

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.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: It's Still Junk

Like the air we breathe High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is seemingly all around us. According to the Melanie Warner of The New York Times even unlikely foods like yogurt and salad dressing contain “the Devil’s Candy.” Most people contend HFCS has helped spawn the current obesity epidemic, but others don’t see such a connection.

Take Dr. Walter Willet for example:

"There's no substantial evidence to support the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is somehow responsible for obesity," said Dr. Walter Willett, the chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health and a prominent proponent of healthy diets. "If there was no high-fructose corn syrup, I don't think we would see a change in anything important. I think there's this overreaction."

Dr. Willett says that he is not defending high-fructose corn syrup as a healthy ingredient, but that he simply thinks that the product is no worse than the refined white sugar it replaces, since both offer easily consumed calories with no nutrients in them. High fructose corn syrup's possible link to obesity is the only specific health problem that the ingredient's critics have cited to date — and experts say they believe that this link is tenuous, at best.

Dr. Fuhrman spends very little time differentiating HFCS from traditional refined white sugar, explaining that both are dangerous and should be avoided; each one contributes to disease. Consider this excerpt from Eat to Live:

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

But for skeptics of the overall association between HFCS and obesity, check out this section from a previous post: Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Onlyourhealth Your Child.

Obesity rates have risen in tandem with soda consumption, and in the last twenty years the consumption of soft drinks by teenagers had doubled.2 Twelve to nineteen-year-old boys consume thirty-four teaspoons of sugar a day in their diet, and about half of that comes from soft drinks. Children start drinking soft drinks at a very young age, and advertisements and promotions by the soft drink manufacturers are aggressively marketed to the young.

Source: Data from the National Soft Drink Association, Beverage World, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (

Soft drinks and processed foods are full of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is not only fattening, but this inexpensive and ultra-concentrated sugar has no resemblance to real food made by nature. It is another experiment thrust upon our unsuspecting children with unknown dangerous consequences. Besides sugar, corn syrup, and chemicals, these drinks often contain caffeine, an addictive stimulant. Children crave more and more as they get older. By adolescence most children have become soft-drink addicts. It is no surprise that six out of the seven most popular soft drinks contain caffeine. Contrast this high level of sugary “liquid candy” with the meager intake of fresh produce by children and teenagers, and it is no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic beyond all expectations.

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