Health Points: Friday

  • Personally I don’t put much stake in the Body Mass Index, but in case you’re interested, Abby Ellin of The New York Times reports on its growing popularity:
“Our society is really fixated on numbers, and the problem is when it comes to weight distribution and the risk for heart disease, it’s not just one number — it’s the percentage of body fat, B.M.I. and waist size that matters,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Dieting will be with us for a long time to come, and so will a plethora of popular diets. My hope is that the popular diets today (many of which have useful nutritional advice) will not just be used as a brief attempt at a quick fix - but that the good principles of nutrition will be taken to heart.
A review of nearly 2,000 3-year-old, low-income children and their mothers found that one-third of white and black children were overweight or obese, while a stunning 44 percent of Latino children fell into those categories.
  • Fast Weight Loss offers up some pretty basic diet tips. I’m not sure Dr. Fuhrman would agree with all of them, but here are a few that seem okay:
    5. Give some time to exercise. It is not going to take hours to exercise. What you have to do is give 30 or 40 minute to exercise.

    6. Avoid drinking soda as much as you can and replace that by water.

    7. Avoid breads, cereals and pasta in your food.
  • Next time you’ve got aches and pains you might want to reach for the spice-rack. At least that seems to be the message of this CNN report. More from Amy Paturel:
Turmeric: Because rates of Alzheimer's disease are lower in India, where the population eats a diet containing more turmeric than Western diets, scientists have suggested the spice may be linked to preserving mental function. "The compounds in turmeric have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties -- all thought to be involved in the onset of Alzheimer's disease," says Sally Frautschy, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and neurology at UCLA.
Lots of craziness and hilarity at work these last few nights. Christmas night wasn’t horrible, but it was busier than I expected. At least the holiday kept the violence down… until 0016, when there was a shooting two miles from the hospital and we got two really bad gunshot wounds in as traumas… It was sort of a nice, “well, it’s not Christmas anymore” moment… Not Norman Rockwell, exactly…
Inside a recent issue: an interview with pro volleyball player Kerri Walsh, stories on flag football and kids' cross-country running, and step-by-step photos that demonstrate how to do five morning exercises, such as squats and shoulder rotations. There are also articles on how to pick a healthy lunch at school, study smarter and snack right.
Researchers from George Washington University tested a vegan diet and the ADA-recommended diet to see which worked best in the management of diabetes, kidney function, cholesterol levels and weight loss. Around 100 adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes participated, with half following a low-fat vegan diet and half following the ADA-recommended guidelines. Overweight ADA dieters were also advised to reduce their calorie intake by 500-1,000 calories. According to experts, one small risk associated with a vegan diet is a lack of vitamin B12, so the vegan participants’ meals were supplemented with B12 vitamins.

Leafy Greens and Blood Pressure

Ed Edelson of HealthDay News reports new research links nitrates found in leafy green vegetables to the body’s ability to produce nitric oxide. According to the report, nitric oxide molecules help relax blood vessels. Read on:
"What this study suggests is that the well-known beneficial effects of vegetables on cardiovascular disease may at least partly depend on nitrate," said Dr. Eddie Weitzberg, professor of anesthesiology and intensive care at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and a leader of the study…


… Weitzberg said research on nitrates and high blood pressure will continue at the Karolinska Institute, in part because the researchers aren't sure about the mechanism of the nitrate effect.
While we wait for more research to be conducted, check out these previous posts for more on the powers of cruciferous vegetables:

Can Our Pets Eat to Live?

Man, I don’t think I can answer that. I’m not sure Dr. Fuhrman can either. After all he’s Joel Fuhrman, MD and not Joel Fuhrman, DVM. But it’s still a good question. Especially if you consider reports like these:
And if you think about it for a minute, one of Dr. Fuhrman’s biggest gripes is the amount of refined foods shoveled down American throats. He explains better than I can. From Eat to Live:
These starchy (white flour) foods, removed from nature’s packaging, are no longer real food. The fiber and the majority of minerals have been removed, so such foods are absorbed too rapidly, resulting in sharp glucose surge into the bloodstream. The pancreas is then forced to pump out insulin faster to keep up. Excess body fat also causes us to require more insulin from the pancreas. Over time, it is the excessive demand for insulin placed on the pancreas from both carbohydrates, white flour, sweets, and even fruit juices, because they enter the bloodstream so quickly, can also raise triglycerides, increasing the risk of heart attack in susceptible individuals.
Refined Foods Are Linked To
  • Oral cavity cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Respiratory tract cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Heart disease1
Another major issue on Dr. Fuhrman’s agenda is the presence of harmful substances and toxic chemicals in our food. Heck, we blog about it on Followhealthlife all the time. Here’s a few post of note:
So then, is it inconceivable to assume that the same thing might be happening to the food we feed our four-legged friends? In fact, I bet most of us buy our pet food only few aisles down from our people food. That should give you a hint.


Okay, a couple weeks ago I was at a local radio station and it just so happened that one of the DJs had a pet nutritionist as his guest. Yes I was intrigued, and no I didn’t plan this! Now, as I sat their listening I kept thinking, this sounds very Fuhrman-like. So after the segment I decided to introduce myself.

As it turns out pet nutritionist Diona Beam is a self-proclaimed “Fuhrman-ite.” Pretty cool, right? We chatted briefly about her talk and in the end I asked her to email me some information. Well she did, and it’s very interesting. Not to mention eerily familiar sounding. It definitely makes you think our pets’ diets could use a serious overhaul too. Check out what she sent me and let me know what you think:
Animal Protection Institute: What’s Really in Pet Food
"The amount of grain products used in pet food has risen over the last decade. Once considered filler by the pet food industry, cereal and grain products now replace a considerable proportion of the meat that was used in the first commercial pet foods. The availability of nutrients in these products is dependent upon the digestibility of the grain. The amount and type of carbohydrate in pet food determines the amount of nutrient value the animal actually gets. Dogs and cats can almost completely absorb carbohydrates from some grains, such as white rice. Up to 20% of the nutritional value of other grains can escape digestion. The availability of nutrients for wheat, beans, and oats is poor. The nutrients in potatoes and corn are far less available than those in rice. Some ingredients, such as peanut hulls, are used for filler or fiber, and have no significant nutritional value."


Earth Island Institute: Food not Fit for a Pet
"Lead frequently shows up in pet foods, even those made from livestock meat and bone meal. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study titled "Lead in Animal Foods" found that a nine-pound cat fed commercial pet food ingests more lead than the amount considered potentially toxic for children."

Earth Island Institute: Book Excerpt: Food Pets Die For
"Almost 50 percent of the antibiotics manufactured in the US are dumped into animal feed, according to the 1996 Consumer Alert brochure, "The Dangers of Factory Farming." Pigs, cows, veal calves, turkeys and chickens are continually fed antibiotics (primarily penicillin and tetracycline) in an attempt to eradicate the many ills that befall factory-farmed animals - pneumonia, intestinal disease, stress, rhinitis, e-coli infections and mastitis."

SiriusDog.com: The Dark Side of Rendering Plants
"Because animals are frequently shoved into the pit with flea collars still attached, organophosphate-containing insecticides get into the mix as well. The insecticide Dursban arrives in the form of cattle insecticide patches. Pharmaceuticals leak from antibiotics in livestock, and euthanasia drugs given to pets are also included. Heavy metals accumulate from a variety of sources: pet ID tags, surgical pins and needles."
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Health Points: Wednesday

Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live and Disease-Proof Your Child, claims that salt and processed oil are both bad for us. Salt, he claims, citing dozens of "research studies" done by "scientists," raises blood pressure and can predispose us to stomach cancer. Processed oil, he would have us believe, contains 120 nutrient-barren calories per teaspoon, and when cooked at high temperatures, releases the potent carcinogens known as acrylomides.

Well, Dr. Fuhrman, I've got you now - I use about a tablespoon of salt per day, and about a gallon of oil. And I'm just fine.
Men with the largest sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD) were 42 percent more likely to develop heart disease during follow-up compared to those with the smallest SAD, while a large SAD increased heart disease risk by 44 percent for women, Dr. Carlos Iribarren of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California in Oakland and his team found.
Canadian and international researchers suspect adding a high-dose vitamin D pill to chemotherapy might improve treatment for advanced prostate cancer. So they are recruiting 1,000 men for a two-year clinical trial in order to investigate their suspicions. Currently, there is little to offer patients who no longer respond to standard treatment.
  • If you feel too drowsy to drive, leave it to someone else.
  • Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night in order to maintain good health and optimum performance.
  • If you become drowsy while driving, pull off in a rest area and take a 15-20 minute nap.
  • Consume caffeine, which improves alertness in people who are fatigued.
  • Don't drink alcohol. If you're tired, alcohol can further impair your ability to stay awake and make good decisions. Just one glass of alcohol can affect your level of fatigue while you're driving.
  • Don't drive after midnight, which is a natural period of sleepiness.
The look of total shock on the visitor's face as they shot out of the room was priceless. Picture the movie The Exorcist and amplify it by 100 times. The patient was profusely apologizing to me and I told him that it was okay and not to worry.
"There are plenty of germs out there that people can get as they circulate," said Dave Zazac, a spokesman with the Allegheny County Health Department. "In the general course of holiday greeting and meeting, people are going to get sick."
#4: Modern Ronald McDonald

Does this one really require explanation? The flaming red hair. The pasty white face. The demonically shaped mouth and the pencil thin arched eyebrows. Yikes!

Clowns, clowns, clowns. Clowns are evil. Clowns are bad! Don't believe me? Check out this Wikipedia article on evil clowns.

More creepy evidence: There's no shortage of horrific McDonald's television commercials, but this one 'Ronald's New Hairdo' really bugs me.
It is precisely this lack of data that makes aromatherapy so important to study, said Ohio State University health psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser. She is currently analyzing her results from a government-funded study in which she exposed one group to lavender, "which is supposed to be a relaxant," she said, another to lemon, "which is supposed to be stimulating or uplifting," and the third group to distilled water, which has no smell.

Weight Loss Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk

Now in case you needed even more reason to maintain a healthy bodyweight—listen up guys—according to the Associated Press losing weight lowers a man’s risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Daniel Yee reports:
After tracking the weight of nearly 70,000 men between 1982 and 1992, researchers from the American Cancer Society and the Duke University Prostate Center found that men who lost more than 11 pounds had a lower risk for aggressive prostate cancer than men whose weight remained the same over a decade.


Previous studies have found that obese men have a higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. This study appears to be the first to indicate that recent weight loss can decrease that risk.

Electronic Engineers and Dietary Advice

Do you remember Followhealthlife’s week-long examination of The Atkins Diet? In it Dr. Fuhrman discusses the risks and misinformation associated with high-protein diets. In case you missed it, here are the five posts:

Now, why do I bring this up again? Well as you can imagine it more than miffed many of the low-carb loonies out there. One in particular was Barry Groves, PhD. Who is he? To quote Dr. Fuhrman, Barry Groves is “an electronic engineer and honorary board member of the Weston Price Foundation.” Mr. Groves was so flustered by Dr. Fuhrman’s opinion of high-protein diets that he actually made a few comments, that later spawned a couple of posts. Here they are:

The last post in particular has proved quite popular. Now even though it’s many months old and buried deep in the archives it’s still good for an occasional comment. But most of the comments are nothing more than lemming-like meat mongering or Fuhrman bashing. Like this:

Why does saturated fat increase cholesterol? Why the addition of a few hydrogen atoms suddenly makes fat more likely to be turned into cholesterol? what ISOLATED, OBJECTIVE, REPEATABLE evidence do you have that saturated fat from healthy sources increases cholesterol? im not either for your argument or against it, its just i have searched the internet for PROOF of the health harming effects of saturated fat and found none.


Epidemiological evidence is nothing like enough! groves has plenty of that in his favour and you seem to have a small amount in yours, but neither is any form of proof. You can correlate sesame seeds with cancer but only because there sprinkled upon most burgers.

You should not post YOUR OPINION as though it is scientific fact, many real scientists disagree, so it seems to me either you PROOVE IT or ZIP IT.

So as you can imagine I just approve comments like this and pay them no mind. But that doesn’t mean the occasional negative comment or dissenting opinion is just automatically ignored. Actually, a well supported counterclaim is always welcome here on Followhealthlife. Check out this one from last week:

Most Importantly we should remember that no randomised controlled Clinical Trial has ever shown any reduction at all in Coronary heart Disease mortality or overall mortality from replacing animal fats with polyunsaturated vegetable fats.


In fact, just the opposite persons randomised to polyunsaturated fat had significant increases in Coronary Heart Disease mortality rates.
Are you familiar with the research Dr. Fuhrman?

There are 18 Clinical Dietary Intervention Trials and 26 prospectiuve Trials to date on the saturated fat/Coronary Heart Disease issue.

Here are all 18 Clinical and you can look them up at a Medical University Library to confirm it everyone.

*Sydney Diet Heart Study
*National Diet heart Study
*Los Angeles Veterans Administration Study
*Ball et al
*Minnesota Survey
*Lyon Diet Heart Study
*Women's Health Initiative
*Bierenbaum et al
*DART
*Anti Coronary Club
*STARS
*Medical Research Council
*Hood et al
*Finnish Mental Hospital Stusy
*Medical research Council
*Rose etal
*Oslo Diet Heart Study

Clearly when you look these up you will see the research does not support the anti-cholesterol/anti-saturated fat paradigm.

Okay, now as I’ve said many times before, I’m not the expert. So when Followhealthlife receives a comment like this, I pass it on to the man. And here’s what Dr. Fuhrman say—it’s thorough to say the least:

I am familiar with the research, but there are lots more than that. I have made an effort to review every study on this subject in the last 20 years and through a comprehensive view of all the literature, the message is clear. I realize that there are people out there that deny the link between a diet rich in animal products and heart disease, diet and cancer and diet and any disease. The internet has become a forum for all different type of individuals to express their alternative beliefs, and the occasional disagreeing comments here serve a good purpose because by addressing them it helps the informed health seeker improve their view of the issues and get a better handle of the complexities of human nutrition. It is only that I am so busy working that makes the length of these responses somewhat limited and that to get the whole view it would help to first read Eat to Live and then review the posts here on this subject that have been already posted before reading this one.


I think if this commenter was already familiar with my body of work and not just commenting on one issue in a vacuum he may have already understood my answer here. Also, obviously, this is a complicated subject, but I have addressed the complexities before on this blog and in my recent newsletter addressing the poor science promoted by the Weston Price crowd and those denying that the amount and the type of animal products in one’s diet does matter when it comes to disease risk. More explanation can’t hurt though and we can review the reasons for the inconsistency in the scientific studies.

Eating less animal products and avoiding trans fat and in their place, utilizing more fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts is a goal of those seeking to reduce their risk of both heart disease and cancer. The evidence regarding these guidelines is overwhelming and I have referenced over 1500 scientific references in Eat to Live. What makes my dietary advice somewhat unique is that I insist that increasing the micronutrient density of food is an important component of a good diet and that foods that are naturally rich in vitamins and minerals are also rich in thousands of phytochemicals that are a critical (but largely ignored and unmeasured) link to good health. Since 90 percent of calories consumed in America is either animal products or processed foods, neither which contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, we suffer the medical tragedies as a result of this nutritional folly. It is the total micronutrient and phytochemical density of the diet which is more important in disease-prevention than moderating fat intake. The standard modern diet is disease-promoting and just decreasing or exchanging the type of fat can’t change its pitiful level of protective nutrients. I repeat, micronutrient density and variety overwhelms saturated fat (lowering) as a disease protector. If interested, as it will help you understand this, check out the library on DrFuhrman.com. There you can view a chart of nutrient per calorie density of selected foods.

I also teach that the saturated fat content of the animal products chosen to include in one’s diet does also make a difference when it comes to health science and promoting optimal health; not just for heart disease, but for cancer reduction too. Animal fats are more risky than vegetable fats, but they both promote disease if eaten in excess and the fact that cheese has much more saturated fat than fish and fowl, makes it a more risky food to include in one’s diet in any substantial amount. That does not mean I advocate eating vegetable oils and consider them health foods. I am not a promoter of processed oils as they dilute the nutrient density of our diet and are a high calorie, low nutrient food. Saturated fat does not become good because trans fat and some processed oils are bad. Polyunsaturated oils are processed foods, consumed in a rancid state, with little or no fiber, micronutrients, antioxidants or phytochemicals. In no way do I agree with Walter Willet and other highly esteemed names in the field of nutritional science who think that substituting polyunsaturated oils in place of saturated fats is the answer for optimal health. Oil is too fattening a food to be promoted has health food and I thinks Willet’s message to put olive oil and other polyunsaturated and monounsaturated oil at the base of a nutrition pyramid is ridiculous and most likely reflects his desire to commercially appeal to America’s food preferences. Instead, I recommend most of our fat intake come in the whole food form from flax seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, avocados, sesame seeds and other foods that are not only rich in healthy fats, but also contain antioxidants, lignans, flavonoids and other protective compounds (and I make delicious salad dressings from these whole-food plant fats).

When we consider these complicated issues we must be familiar with hundreds and in some cases thousands of research articles to understand the complexities of human nutrition. One thing that stands out in all this is that it is not one element good or bad that can explain the complicated nutritional component in disease-causation. So I would never encourage the thinking that looking at saturated fat intake alone in a diet and no other critical factors would afford us good health and protection from heart disease and cancer. Comparing one type of low nutrient diet to another does not show much, they are all bad. But I agree with the point made by some of the articles the commenter mentioned; that moderate reductions in saturated fat intake, in an elderly population, while the diet stays relatively low in high-nutrient plant foods is not likely to offer dramatic health benefits. Especially because what we do at a younger age has a more powerful effect to modulate the expression of these later life diseases compared to what we do at a later age. This is especially true with cancer, where we expect to see a 25 to 50 year lag time between cause and effect. So another element that this question and a review of all these studies indicate is that the earlier in life that dietary change is instituted more dramatic protective effects are seen and the later in life, the smaller the benefit, if any. I spend a lot of time discussing this in my book, Disease-Proof Your Child, which explained that dietary factors in childhood are the largest component of adult cancer causation.

More recent studies are accumulating that show eating more high-nutrient plant food is a more powerful intervention to prevent disease, than just reducing saturated fat alone. You can reduce cheese and butter and still be eating a crummy, low nutrient, disease-promoting diet; big deal! But the best protection from disease occurs and the most dramatic amount of disease reversal is accomplished when the diet is both low in saturated fat and high in micronutrients. This is the pattern of the dietary recommendations in Eat to Live and my other works. Eat to Live because it is written for the overweight individual is more restricted in nuts, seeds and avocados (higher fat, higher calorie plant foods) compared to Disease-Proof Your Child, which contains dietary guidelines somewhat higher in the fattier whole foods (healthy fats) geared for a general audience, not for those who are so weight-challenged.

So even though we could point to some older studies that looked at a population with a high animal product intake and then compared it to one that was still high in animal products but somewhat lower in saturated fat and added oils to it, to show an unclear differences in outcome is not surprising. Especially when both studied diets are still rich in processed foods and animal product, and especially when the subjects are older and not followed for enough years to see the differences or when both the size of the study, the amount of dietary change, and the number of years studied make the difference in “relative risk” insignificant. So contrary to the commenter’s assertion most of the studies mentioned show insignificant and inconsistent mortality differences. When you read the whole study, you can usually understand why it found the outcome it did and the better quality studies explain the inconsistencies better. And you have to look at the nutritional quality of the whole diet studied to predict the outcomes not merely one of the many variables that give a diet its disease promoting or health promoting properties.

Let’s look at some of the most recent studies (click “Permalink” or “Continue Reading”) and see what they really say. Oh, and for other readers who want to post references to support their views, like this commenter did, please include the complete reference so others can easily look it up and check the facts.

Of course some people are not interested in science or logic, to them nutrition is based on emotion and what they want to believe and what they want to eat and no matter what I say or the research says won’t change their fixed views.

Don’t forget, click Permalink or Continue Reading to check out those studies Dr. Fuhrman mentioned—there’s a bunch of them!

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Fish Oil for Baby's Hand-Eye Coordination

Most news outlets push fish oil on us with greater fervor than a Central Park Rastafarian. But whenever I hear fish oil or just plain fish, I immediately think of mercury, chemicals, and pollution. Not to mention I conduct a mini risk-benefit analysis in my head before eating things like sushi or steamed salmon. Sure fish and fish oil is loaded with omega-3, but the level of contamination in seafood always gives me pause, and is the reason why I space out my fish consumption. From Fishing for the Truth, here’s a small refresher on the potential dangers of contaminated fish:
Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.1 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.2 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous. Researchers are also concerned about other toxins concentrated in fish that can cause brain damage way before the cancers caused by chemical-carrying fish appear.
Dr. Fuhrman takes fish contamination seriously. So seriously, that he actually includes fish in his list of foods mothers should avoid during pregnancy. Take a look. From a previous post entitled Precautions to Take When Pregnant or Nursing:
The real concerns are not microwave ovens, cell phones, and hair dryers. The things we know to be really risky for you and your unborn children are:
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter (because of an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite found in cat feces)
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats
So with all this being said, a new study that touts the benefits of consuming fish oil during pregnancy is enough to make anyone say, “What the—?” Well it’s true. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports Australian researchers have determined toddlers whose mothers took fish oil supplements during pregnancy developed superior hand-eye coordination. Why? Well those omega-3’s of course:
"Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly referred to as 'fish oil,' are essential nutrients for human health," said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study…


… It will take more research to clarify the optimal dose of omega-3 fatty acids, and the long-term health effects of supplementation during pregnancy, Katz said. "But we know enough already to conclude that fish oil from supplements is generally a good idea, during pregnancy especially. I routinely advise 1 gram, twice daily, of fish oil to my pregnant patients -- and my non-pregnant patients, too."
I don’t think Dr. Fuhrman would agree with Katz’s fish oil recommendation, especially if that particular brand of supplement ran the risk of containing mercury or some other contaminate. So this begs the question, are we stuck with fish? Or are there other sources of omega-3’s that don’t potentially expose mothers or unborn children to harmful chemicals and compounds? Yes. Check out what Dr. Fuhrman recommends in this post, Dr. Fuhrman's Anti-ADHD Plan:
Flax seeds and walnuts are rich sources of beneficial but hard-to-find short-chain omega-3 fats, plus they are rich in lignans, minerals, and vitamins. Until recently, the primary source of DHA dietary supplements was fish oil. However, new products are available that contain DHA from algae, the fish’s original source. Unlike fish oils, the algae-derived DHA, grown in the laboratory, is free of chemical pollutants and toxins that may be present in some fish oil-based brands.
Now I’m no doctor, in fact I’m just a lowly blogger with a Marketing degree, but if I had to pick, I’d go for the contaminate-free option every time. How about you?
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Gut Bugs Again

Back in May the Boston Globe introduced us to an alternative cause for obesity—gut bugs. To be more specific, the trillions of bacteria that live in the human digestive system. And now, a new report in The Washington Post shows that some obesity researchers are excited by the potential of the gut bug study. Not all of them. Others are still pretty skeptical. Rob Stein has more:
"This is very exciting," said Barbara Corkey, an obesity researcher at Boston University. "We don't know why the obesity epidemic is happening. People say it's because of gluttony and sloth. I think there must be something else. It's exciting to see some work being done on alternative explanations…"


"…This is extremely interesting," said Hans-Rudolf Berthoud of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge. "But lifestyle and the environment are still the major factors in the obesity epidemic."
Now, you don’t have to be a genius to know that the human body is inhabited by all sorts of bacteria—you learn that in grammar school! So I’m not wowed by these findings. And I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea to blame your particular type of digestive bacteria for you being overweight. It’s more likely that package of Double-Stuffed Oreos has something to do with it.

And since every news agency in the country picked up this story, I decided to run it by our resident expert. So tells us Dr. Fuhrman, how do you feel about the gut bugs:
This is interesting but nothing new. Antibiotics have been used in farm animals for years to promote rapid weight gain, so they can be slaughtered quicker. We also already know that when people eat a healthy diet, rich in natural plant materials the bacteria in the gut are different from those eating refined sugars and refined flours. So to peg the difference only on being fat or thin is a little bit misleading. It is all in the slant of how they reported the findings. They could have also found that a diet rich in junk food promotes different bacteria than a diet rich in vegetables. If you note, as the participants ate healthier the bacteria quality changed.


I do not believe these findings will translate into any hope for overweight individuals. And it is misleading to give the impression that manipulating the bacteria will cause weight loss or that this is a major finding that will enable us to solve the obesity epidemic. It boils down to this, stop stupid diets of all description and eat healthy.

Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis

You know, there might be something to all this talk about nutrient-rich diets and disease prevention. And I’m not just talking about what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about it. Check out this report. According to the Associated Press vitamin D could be instrumental in the prevention of multiple sclerosis. Lindsey Tanner explains:
An abundance of vitamin D seems to help prevent multiple sclerosis, according to a study in more than 7 million people that offers some of the strongest evidence yet of the power of the "sunshine vitamin" against MS…


"…If confirmed, this finding suggests that many cases of MS could be prevented by increasing vitamin D levels," Dr. Alberto Ascherio, the senior author and an associate professor of nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health said.
Although the study, appearing in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, warns people not to automatically assume that vitamin D deficiency can cause multiple sclerosis. Now, all this spurred my curiosity. What’s the deal with vitamin D? How important is it? And are people getting enough?

Dr. William Finn, a vitamin D expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, doesn’t think so. In Tanner’s article he calls vitamin D deficiency an epidemic in the United States. And he’s not alone, so does Dr. Fuhrman in the September 2005 edition of Healthy Times:
The modern world has an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and most often a multivitamin containing the RDA for D is simply not sufficient to bring blood levels up to the ideal range, especially as we age.
Okay, so if it’s an epidemic, a vitamin D deficiency must be a pretty easy thing to determine—right? Apparently so, check out this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live:
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.
Man we’re a trouble lot; heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and now an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Why’d we bother evolving! But what about the study’s claim, can adequate vitamin D intake actually prevent MS? Back to Healthy Times:
Vitamin D also works in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones to promote bone mineralization. Research also suggests that vitamin D is important to maintain a healthy immune system, regulate cell growth, and prevent cancer. Vitamin D has been shown to protect against the development of autoimmune disease such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. It also has been shown to be helpful in decreasing disease severity for those suffering with autoimmune disease.1
Wow, I guess vitamin D is pretty important. Now given all this, an interesting thing to mention is the danger of vitamin D over-consumption, because according to Dr. Fuhrman it can bring on a whole different set of problems. Here’s a little more from the September 2005 Healthy Times:
Vitamin D toxicity can cause nausea, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, confusion, and weight loss. Sun exposure does not result in vitamin D toxicity. Vitamin D toxicity is only a possibility from high intakes of vitamin D from supplements. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has set the recommended upper intake level to 50g (2,000 IU) for children, adults, and pregnant and lactating women. Vitamin D is one of those vitamins where the right amount is essential—not too much and not too little.
Now you’re probably wondering, what are good sources of vitamin D? In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman points to the sun, but since most people work indoors, he realizes getting enough sun exposure can be difficult. So some other sources include fortified soy milk and orange juice. And if you’re looking for supplements, give Dr. Fuhrman’s Osteo-Sun a try.
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Thursday Health Points: Blogs Only

So please forgive me if I come into the consulting room with a couple of smudges on my lips, a tighter white coat, overpowering chocolate breath, and giddy with sugar and a sense of well-being.
We compared USDA data for the average "large" US farm - defined as a farm with over $250,000 of income. The USDA says there are 151,000 large farms in the US - this makes up 7% of all the farms, but 59% of all farm production. That means a small number of big farms are growing most of our food.
Sometimes men and women alter their physiques and appearance to please others. Sometimes they change it to spite those who've rejected them. If you don't have enough self-respect to like who you are and how you look, do things to build up your own self-esteem until you get to the point where you like who you are or are motivated to become the person you'd like to be.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an intense sweetener used in a vast and diverse array of food products, has been labeled the Devil’s candy and a sinister invention by the American media. A widely publicized book in the US, Fat Land, by the journalist Greg Critser, along with scientific research, proposes that its consumption is to blame for America’s obesity epidemic, while Juan Zapata, a Republican in the Florida House of Representatives, calls HFCS the crack of sweeteners and wants it banned.
The ancient Romans grew and cooked parsnips to make broths and stews. Throughout the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages, parsnips were the main starchy vegetable for ordinary people. Parsnips were easy to grow and provided a good source of starch during the lean winter months. They were also valued for their sugar content. Sweet parsnip dishes like jam and desserts became part of traditional English cookery, and they were used for making beer and wine. Today parsnip wine is still one of the most popular of the country wines in England.
Angelina Jolie recently returned with her adopted son Maddox to his homeland of Cambodia, and while there she fed him a local delicacy: a plate full of crickets, with their guts intact. Angelina told reporters, "I recently took Mad to Cambodia and it was the first trip there where he really understood it. We took him to a restaurant in the middle of the night and he had his first plate of crickets."
Insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels: a cluster of traits typically referred to as Metabolic Syndrome. All are known to be indicators of diabetes and heart disease in adults. What has recently been discovered, however, is that these same traits are also on the rise in adolescents.
I don't understand it. I'm not sure I want to. I just want people to respect the fact that someone having a bigger crisis than them may be in the bed next to them. And I may be needed more over there. I probably won't respond quickly to you if you scream at me to get your pain medicine. I will be busy with the man next door who is passing from this world. His problem supercedes yours. Your pain may last longer - but you'll still be alive at the end of it. He won't.

The Captain Obvious Award: Childhood Obesity Number One

In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman refers to obesity as the most common nutritional problem among children in the United States. The book was printed over a year ago. But yesterday HealthDay News reported that a new survey fingers obesity as the most important health issue facing children in the United States. “Duh,” seems like an understatement to me. Robert Preidt has more of the shocking findings:
The survey showed that responsibility for helping to address the obesity issue in the United States lies to some or a great extent with parents (98 percent), individuals (96 percent), schools (87 percent), health care providers (84 percent), the food industry (81 percent), and government (67 percent).
So while the rest of the country soaks these in, consider this section from Disease-Proof Your Child:
One in three kinds in America are overweight, and the problem is growing. The number of children who are overweight has more than doubled during the past decade. Social forces, from the demise of home cooking to the rise of fast food, as well as dramatic increases in snack food and soda consumption have led to the most overweight population of children in human history.
What’s next? A phone survey advising us to breathe?

Health Points: Tuesday

The better restaurateurs never used trans fat and find it inexplicable that there’s an argument about it. They think it is not in their self-interest to feed people things that are likely to kill them.
Dr Miles Fisher, consultant physician at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: "Santa is the archetypal picture of abdominal obesity." He added: "The image of Santa is of a round, jolly person and it is meant to be one of hilarity, but if you have obesity around your tummy, then it is very bad for you.
The apparent protective effect of alcohol has to do with something that happens in brain cells, the study found. The researchers also assessed more than 500 patients who suffered severe injuries to the torso and found no effect of blood alcohol levels on the death rate.
Yes, just two martinis to send me over the edge into the realm of intractable nausea and vomiting. What I would have given for a little Zofran... I had the displeasure of experiencing my scallops and salmon twice...
As with all studies relating to diet, however, there is always the possibility that the benefit stems from something other than an altered diet -- like increased intake of other foods like fruits and vegetables, weight loss, or better overall health that accompanies the decrease in fat.
A national stress survey the association conducted in January showed one in four people in the United States agrees that "when I am feeling down or facing a problem, I turn to food to help me feel better." The October survey showed that the proportion increases to one in three people during the holidays.
The study included 30 young women who would eat a meal of pasta with tomato sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese, under two different scenarios. In the first scenario, study participants were given a large spoon and told to eat as quickly as possible. In the other scenario, participants ate with a small spoon, which they put down after each bite, and were told to take small bites and chew each bite 15 to 20 times. When eating quickly, the women took in an average of 646 calories in 9 minutes. But when they slowed down, they consumed 579 calories in 29 minutes. The women rated eating slowly as more pleasant.
In general, doctors’ advice is listen to your body. If you are tired or achy, take a rest. Take days off and vary the intensity of your workout. Robert Irwin, a chiropractor in suburban Albany New York, counsels runners to watch out for signs they’re working out too hard, such as a resting heart rate 10 beats a minute over the normal rate.

“You have to have recovery time even if you are healthy,” Irwin said. “Give yourself some time to rest.”

More Smarts Equal More Veggies

Did you see this report from late last week? According to Food Navigator having a higher IQ in childhood means you’re more likely to become a vegetarian when you grow up. Why you ask? Well, the proof is in the pudding—or should I say, the phytonutrients are in the vegetables:
Children with a higher IQ in childhood are more likely to be vegetarian in adult life, researchers report in the British Medical Journal…


… Since the vegetarian diet has been linked to a lower incidence of heart disease, lead researchers Catharine Gale speculated that this could help explain the link between higher IQ in childhood or adolescence and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease as an adult.

Protein, Protein, Protein!

Protein, protein, protein—I’m tired of hearing about how “essential” animal protein is to our bodies! Yeah, man the big giant hunter, distinguishable by our sharp talons, large canine teeth, and pack-mentality. Ask Dr. Fuhrman, he’ll tell you, most people can get all the protein they need from plant sources; check out Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables.

But Americans love their meat! Beef, pork, bacon, chicken, sausage—you name it, we’ll fry it, and slam it in between two pieces of white bread. Yum. Borrowing a catch phrase from Stephen Colbert, “Guess what Nation?” According to Sally Squires of The Washington Post a little extra lean protein in the morning will help satisfy you until lunch, and beyond! Here’s more:
Of all the macronutrients that we eat, "protein blunts your hunger the most and is the most satiating," says Wayne Campbell, who leads a team investigating protein at Purdue University's Campbell Laboratory for Integrative Research in Nutrition, Fitness and Aging…


…It doesn't seem to matter what type of protein is eaten as long as it's lean. So poultry without the skin, fish, vegetable protein such as soybeans, eggs, low-fat or nonfat dairy products are just as good as eating lean cuts of meat. Nor does it take a lot of protein to see the effects. For healthy people, "an extra three ounces per day is well within the acceptable range," says Campbell, whose study was funded by the National Pork Board. (If you have type 2 diabetes or any medical condition that could affect your kidneys, be sure to check with your doctor before boosting protein intake.)
How ironic is it that PURDUE University is leading this investigation, not to mention the study was funded by the National Pork Board—who would have thought there was such a thing? I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this, and he was blunt, to say the least:
It was funded by the pork industry. Of course they found out that giving people an extra piece of Canadian bacon helped!!
Now, I question the merit of these studies just as much as I do studies funded by pharmaceutical companies. It would seem there is a hidden—or not-so hidden—agenda at work. What’s really sad is someone could read a report like this and then start downing bacon seven days a week—I give you the Atkins crowd.

Hungry for more on the protein issue? Read this post by Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jeff Novick: Complementary Protein Myth Won't Go Away!

Health Points: Thursday

“I don’t think people who count calories eat at McDonald’s,” said Michelle Iadarola of Staten Island. Although she rarely eats at McDonald’s, she was about to order a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit (440 calories) because she was in a hurry. The calorie count made no difference.

The law is considered radical both by people who hold food companies partly responsible for the obesity crisis and by those who see the government’s regulation of food deemed unhealthy as an affront to freedom of choice.
This doesn’t mean that the road is not long and rough. I do feel disappointed when I end up caving to myself and eating food that I shouldn’t. Eating for comfort and stress relief is something that I do have to get a grip on, and will. Sometimes I do get feeling down about my progress, especially when I get into these places where I struggle to get the scale moving. Losing weight is tough, and I want to be as honest about my experience as possible. It’s not all good, but I do try to find the positive. I’m sorry if sometimes this doesn’t come through, I will be more vigilant about it in the future.
Dr. Teri Brentnall, an associate professor of gastroenterology at the University of Washington in Seattle, announced the discovery Tuesday during a news briefing in New York, saying the discovery marks one of the biggest advances in pancreatic cancer.

With the gene now in hand, scientists have a marker that can be spotted in blood tests. Brentnall has used such a test in her Seattle studies. By testing for the cancer, she said, doctors can mount an assault on the cancer before it starts.
  • People thought that low-fat snacks were 20-25 percent lower in calories (confusing low-fat with low-calorie - in fact low-fat snacks tend to be about 15% less calories).
  • Normal weight people would eat 30 more calories per session (i.e. when presented with a low-fat snack).
  • Overweight people would eat an average of 90 more calories when presented with a low-fat option.
"We have identified several ingredients that may be associated with the outbreak. These include lettuce, ground beef and cheddar cheese," Dr. Christopher Braden, a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a teleconference late Wednesday. "The most likely food vehicle is lettuce. But we are still looking at other food items."
Obesity cannot go unchecked and it is a threat to the health and welfare of children and adults alike, as obesity is linked to greater increased risks for a number of life-threatening diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But, it is uncomfortable to think that one of the solutions to childhood obesity is a scalpel.
In a study of older women, researchers found that a physically active smoker had a 35 percent lower risk of lung cancer than a sedentary smoker.

Even so, one expert called that reduction trivial because smoking itself is so risky. And Dr. Kathryn Schmitz, the study’s lead author, stressed that exercising does not give women a free pass to smoke.

Heart Health: Folic Acid Supplementation

Now here’s a question you don’t hear everyday: How effective are folic acid supplements for maintaining a healthy heart? Uh, I don’t know. I wonder what the experts are saying. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News reports some health researchers aren’t exactly impressed with folic acid supplementation:
"Consuming a supplement of folic acid is probably not going to mitigate your risk of cardiovascular disease," said the study's lead author, Dr. Lydia Bazzano, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, in New Orleans…


… According to Dr. Stephen Siegel, a cardiologist at New York University Medical Center in New York City: "The whole concept [of folic acid supplementation] began because we know there's an association between homocysteine levels and atherosclerotic disease, and we know that we can safely lower homocysteine with folic acid. But we don't know if there's a cause-and-effect relationship between homocysteine and cardiovascular disease, or simply an association. Many doctors jumped on the bandwagon, however, because folic acid didn't have the potential to do any harm, but it looked like it might help."
Okay, so far we’ve got two thumbs down. Let’s see what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about folic acid supplements for heart health. In Cholesterol Protection For Life it comes up during his analysis of high homocysteine levels:
Consider an abnormal homocysteine that may require treatment above 15, not above 10. Levels between 10 and 15 have not been consistently associated with worse outcomes.1

If one homocysteine is elevated above 15, make sure a blood level of B12, and MMA (methlymalonic acid) and a folate level is drawn.

Mild elevations of homocysteine between 10 and 15 do not appear to place people at higher risk. In most of these cases, the mild elevation is just a marker for a low nutrient diet in general and the correct treatment is the improvement of the entire diet, not just a supplement to lower homocysteine. Folate alone in these cases cannot compare with the value of actually eating a diet rich in folate and gaining all the other essential cardio-protective compounds that are found in natural plant foods. It is similar to taking a cholesterol-lowering drug instead of eating healthfully; a pill cannot take the place of the full symphony of dietary elements that contribute to heart and vascular health.

When the abnormality (elevated homocysteine) is due to B12 deficiency it is wise to take more B12. Whether you are consuming sufficient B12 or not is best ascertained by a normal MMA (methylmalonic acid) because a B12 level in the 200 to 400 range, which is considered in the normal range could still be abnormal. Paradoxically, MMA is actually a better marker for B12 deficiency than B12 itself. If the MMA is elevated a B12 deficiency exists, even if the B12 is in the normal range. When this is the case, extra B12 is the correct treatment for the elevated homocysteine.

If the folate level is excellent (15 – 25) and the B12 level is normal (as documented with a normal MMA) and the homocysteine is still significantly elevated,then the cause of the elevation is most likely a genetic defect in folate conversion. In this case, folate (or folic acid) supplementation may not be totally effective; because the patient is just taking more of the folate that they don’t convert effectively to begin with. They don’t need more folate, rather they need more of the biologically active form of folate that they don’t make well (called methyl tetrahydrofolate or formyl tetrahydrofolate.)

So if the B12 is normal and the folate is normal, and the homocysteine is still significantly elevated, it may make more sense to take a supplement containing additional tetrahydrofolate, and not just pile on huge doses of folate (folic acid) attempting to drive the homocysteine down with overwhelming high doses of folate.

In conclusion, it is wise to target therapy based on known deficiencies and not just blanket patients with high dose supplements that they do not need. Nevertheless, an attempt to uncover the cause of the homocysteine elevation and lower it accordingly may be an important intervention for patients with unique needs.
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Health Points: Tuesday

“Personally, I don’t want the government telling me what I can eat,” Mr. Schwartz said, making it clear that he considered the city’s new rule a blow to his civil liberties. Nevertheless, he said, his cooking skills were up to the task…

…The rules adopted by the city’s Board of Health are to be phased in. Restaurants will have to eliminate margarines and shortenings that contain more than a trace of trans fats by July 1, and to remove all items from their menus that exceed a limit of a half-gram of trans fat per serving by July 1, 2008. Violators will face fines of at least $200.
Ambrosia

2 oranges, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups fresh or canned pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Mix all ingredients well. Refrigerate and let the flavors mingle for at least a day. Serves about 4. Truly nectar of the gods!
  • You won’t find high fructose corn syrup getting any love on this blog. But what you will find it turning up in a lot more foods than you might think. Edward M. Eveld of The Seattle Times explains:
Amanda Welch, a Kansas City hairstylist, expected to find high fructose corn syrup in cookies, ice cream, drinks, etc. The shocker, she said, is how often it shows up in items we don't think of as sweet. But here it was in hot dogs, pickles, ketchup, hummus, yogurt and bread, to name a few.
  • Okay, even though I don’t think I have anything to worry about. This next report still scares. According to the Associated Press height loss is linked to heart disease in men. I’m short, so I’m especially sensitive to shrinking—it’s already hard enough for me to find clothes! Carla K. Johnson has more on this study:
A study of older British men finds that those who shrink in height by about an inch or more over 20 years are more likely to die earlier than other men. Those men also have a greater risk of heart disease…


… Other research has shown similar factors underlie both osteoporosis and heart disease, such as high cholesterol, inflammation and high blood pressure, she said. Inflammation and lipids in the blood may contribute to low bone mineral density, although the exact mechanism is unclear.
Christmas Lima Beans pair beautifully with the traditional mix of sweet chestnuts and Brussels Sprouts. The Brussels sprouts are finely shredded and almost disappear into the dish -- a nice way to get sneaky with those sprouts if your family doesn't take to them whole.
Obese men often experience a sharp decline in testosterone levels while obese girls show much higher levels of the sex hormone than girls of normal weight, according to scientific research released on Monday.
  • I don’t know about you, but outbreaks of disease in our food supply give me the willies—even if it originates in place like Taco Bell. We’ve got to take serious precautions against stuff like this! Dan Majors Pittsburgh Post Gazette points out that I’m not the only to feel this way:
Patricia Buck, 60, of Grove City, Mercer County, who lost a grandson to E. coli in 2001, such steps amount to damage control. It's too little, too late.


"We have the knowledge and technology to change it, to make [food] safer," said Mrs. Buck, who has spent the past five years pushing for stronger food-safety legislation. "Unfortunately, food safety is a very complex issue. The situation we're in today didn't develop overnight, so untangling the situation isn't going to be [like using] a magic wand and everything's going to be fixed."
The study found that those who consumed at least 3 weekly servings of green vegetables could cut their chances of developing the cancer by up to 55%.

High Protein Diets and Cancer

No surprise here. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports high protein diets may increase cancer risk:
"Many people in the United States and Italy are eating 50 percent more protein than what is recommended," Dr. Luigi Fontana, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis said. "If we eat 50 percent more calories than recommended, we become overweight and obese. What happens if you eat 50 percent more protein than required -- we don't know."


He speculated that eating too much protein increases the risk for cancer and also accelerates aging, "but we need more studies to see if my hypothesis is true or false."

One expert also thinks that a high-protein diet increases the risk for certain cancers.

"We recently published a paper that also shows that a high-protein diet is bad for you. It reduces survival; it increases the risk of cancer," said Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos, the Vincent L. Gregory Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology.
For more on the meat-disease connection check out these previous posts:

UK Obesity and Cancer

If you follow the headlines you’ll soon find out that the United States isn’t the only country staring down the barrel of obesity. The United Kingdom has plenty of problems too, and they don’t seem to be getting better. According to Reuters the growing number of obese in England could usher in an increased wave of cancer cases:
Cancer Research UK has calculated that if the rate of obesity rises in line with government predictions, many more cancer cases will follow…


… Professor Tim Key, an expert on diet and cancer at the charity, said the growing number of overweight and obese women will have a higher risk of breast and uterine cancer, which are linked to the increased production of the hormone estrogen in fatty tissue.

Health Points: Tuesday

  • Did you hear about the E. coli outbreak in New Jersey? No? Well I live in Jersey, and I can tell you—it’s all over the news! So if you haven’t heard about it, Chris Newmarker of the Associated Press will fill you in:
Authorities were still trying to determine how and where the victims became infected over the past two weeks. At least 11 of them ate at a Taco Bell restaurant in South Plainfield, and authorities were expected to finish tests on restaurant workers Monday.
I shaped a slice of firm tofu into a tiger's head, then fried it in a bit of oil until it turned golden brown. The tiger stripes are bits of nori seaweed cut with scissors; the face is more nori cut out with a "happy face" paper punch. The tiger sits on a bed of rice, and up above you can see a plastic squirting fish filled with soy sauce.
Outdoor clothing company L.L. Bean, Inc. shuts down its manufacturing line three times a day for mandatory five-minute stretches, designed to prevent the most common injuries the workers suffer…

…After L.L. Bean increased the price for burgers and lowered the price for salads in its cafeteria fruit and salad bar purchases doubled while French fry and burger sales fell by half.
  • Honestly, I thought a Kiwano was the type of robe people in Japan wear. Not so. FatFree Vegan Kitchen shares her take on this freakish looking fruit:
When you cut open a kiwano, you find that it's attractive even on the inside, a bright green color with lots of nicely formed seeds. But when you try to remove the "fruit" from the shell you discover that it's just a gelatinous mass and that those seeds are too tough to eat. Taste it and you find that it tastes decidedly "green"--not bad, really, but not good either. And the one I bought wasn't sweet at all.
  • Do we have any readers from Minnesota? If so, take a bow because according to the Associated Press your state is the healthiest in the country. You’ve topped United Health Foundation rankings for the fourth straight year—congratulations! Frederic J. Frommer has more:
Minnesota, which has held the top spot in 11 of the 17 years of the survey, was cited for, among other things, its low rate of uninsured (8.4 percent), low percentage of children in poverty (10 percent), and low infant mortality rate (5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births).
  • Something that really amazes me is fast food restaurants in hospitals. I don’t know. It just doesn’t put the vibe out there that Americans are serious about health. “Hey guys! Since my triple-bypass was a success, let’s celebrate with a cheeseburger and fries!” According Robert Preidt of HealthDay News some health researchers share this concern:
"At a time when obesity has become the most common, critical medical condition of childhood and consumption of fast food is widely considered to be a major contributor to this epidemic, the location of such restaurants in pediatric health care facilities promotes dietary choices that are contrary to the desired messages and established recommendations of our profession," lead researcher and pediatrician Dr. Hannah Sahud, of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, said in a prepared statement.
  • Ever wonder what doctors would be if they weren’t doctors? Well UroStream has decided that if she wasn’t taking care of people, she’d be a restaurant critic. Sounds like a good premise for a sitcom. Urologist by day, restaurant connoisseur by night—I just hope she washes her hands. Here’s her story:
But I've thought this over, and I've finally reached my dream alternative career choice: restaurant critic. I mean, I love food, I have an adventuresome yet discriminating palate, I like to write, and I eat out a lot. If I could get paid to do this, it would indeed be my ideal job.
Early results suggest some compounds in mangoes work by activating or inhibiting groups of receptors known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, or PPARs. PPARs play a role in cellular metabolism. The findings of this study could present positive nutritional health benefits for diabetes and high cholesterol. Furthermore, preliminary findings also suggest that mango skin, often a component of mango juice, is particularly rich in these compounds.

Obesity Can Cost You

You don’t need to be a master of observation to recognize this country’s obsession with weight; obesity is constantly in the news, diet pills and supplements are everywhere, and fad diets, like Atkins and South Beach, run amuck. But maybe all our concern is justified, because according to Dr. Fuhrman the number one health problem in the United States is obesity.

In Eat to Live he points out that if this current trend continues by the year 2030 all adults in the United States will be obese. Well isn’t that a depressing glimpse into the future. Now, consider this recent article in The New York Times and you’ll see it could be a whole lot worse—for each and every one of us.

Reporter Damon Darlin takes a look at the individual cost of being heavy—and he’s not referring to the toll it can take on your health—Darlin is talking about the actual price tag for being overweight or obese. And the cost is a lot more than just a few bags of cookies. Take a look:
Heavy people do not spend more than normal-size people on food, but their life insurance premiums are two to four times as large. They can expect higher medical expenses, and they tend to make less money and accumulate less wealth in their shortened lifetimes. They can have a harder time being hired, and then a harder time winning plum assignments and promotions…


…Complications from obesity, particularly diabetes, which afflicts 21 million Americans, push up the bill: $44,000 for a heart attack, $40,200 for a stroke or $37,000 for end-state kidney disease, estimates Judith A. O’Brien, the director of cost research at the Caro Research Institute, a health costs consulting firm. Amputating just a toe, a not uncommon consequence of untreated diabetes, averages $15,000, she estimates.
You don’t usually get this kind of perspective in the obesity discussion. Usually the overall cost obesity inflicts on the society gets all the press. So I was surprised to read how being overweight can directly effect a person’s ability to accumulate wealth. Now here’s the scary part. Couple Dr. Fuhrman’s prediction with Darlin’s investigation; does this mean by 2030 all Americans will be fat and broke?