Diabetes Still a Big Problem in NYC

If you read enough health news, it’ll start to seem like obesity and diabetes go hand in hand. This correlation is pretty evident in New York City’s diabetes epidemic. According to the AFP, one in eight adults in NYC has diabetes and all the while, obesity rates continue to climb:
The New York City Health Department found that the number of diabetics in the city of eight million people had doubled in the past 10 years and said the dramatic jump mirrored an increase in obesity…

… "New York City is getting healthier by almost all measures, but the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes are getting worse by the year," Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said, unveiling the new data.
So, what do we do about it? Turn to drugs? After all that seems to be the American way. Well one diabetes rep doesn’t think that’s a good idea. From Pharmaceutical Rep Urges Healthy Diet Over Drugs:
I am personally a pharmaceutical rep and promote a diabetic medicine. It is interesting to me the corelation between diabetes and eating. You would also be amazed at the offices I call on. When I order healthy, vegetarian lunches for offices, they complain that it's not some deep fried chicken choice! And these are the same people who are telling their patients to eat well…

… I want to tell you thank you for all the good work you do. If more people followed [Dr. Fuhrman’s] advice, we would find Americans would be living much healthier, productive lives. Let's face it: diabetes and cancer are expensive! Seeing the typical diabetic will be on about six medicines, if not more!
Perhaps people just need to be better educated on the development of Type 2 diabetes? And then maybe they’ll be more receptive to other ways of treating the disease. In Understanding the Development of Type 2 Diabetes Dr. Fuhrman does just that:
As little as five pounds of excess fat on your frame can inhibit the ability of insulin to carry glucose into your cells. When you have twenty pounds of extra fat, your pancreas may be forced to produce twice as much insulin. With fifty or more pounds of excess fat on your frame, your pancreas may be forced to produce six to ten times more insulin than a person who is lean…

… When you give an adult diabetic who has been suffering from the damaging effects of excess insulin for years more insulin to drive her sugar level down, you create additional problems. Giving the diabetic patient insulin increases appetite, which causes significant weight gain (often more than 20 pounds), which makes the patient more diabetic. Thus, the administration of insulin creates a vicious cycle that cuts years off a person's life.
Okay, since we’re discussing diabetes and New York City, you might want to check out The New York Times coverage of NYC’s diabetes epidemic from last year. Here are Followhealthlife’s posts on the series:

The Standard American Shockwave

Now, if you’re looking for praise of the standard American diet, you’re at the wrong place. Need proof? Here’s a few of my favorite Followhealthlife bashings of the standard American diet. Oh how sad it is. Enjoy:
Well if those didn’t get your dander up, this sure will. According to new research the wonderment (sarcasm) that is the standard American diet has wreaked havoc on what used to be one of the healthiest groups of people in the world, the Okinawans. Diet-Blog’s got the skinny:
This has all changed - and I was shocked to read that Okinawa Island now has the highest rate of obesity in Japan (almost double that of the rest of Japan). Diabetes affects 8.2% of Okinawans compared to 5.7% nationally (via am New York).

After World War II Okinawa was under US administration for 27 years, and during that time a number of large military bases were established. Along with the military came American food - burgers, soda, and french fries.
The Okinawan’s aren’t the only ones ravaged by the introduction of Big Macs and Krispy Chicken. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman tells the sad tale of the Cretans:
In the 1950s people living in the Mediterranean, especially on the island of Crete, were lean and virtually free of heart disease. Yet over 40 percent of their caloric intake come from fat, primarily olive oil. If we look at the diet they consumed back then, we note that Cretans ate mostly fruits, vegetables, beans and some fish. Saturated fat was less than 6 percent of their total fat intake. True, they ate lots of olive oil, but the rest of their diet was exceptionally healthy. They also worked hard in the fields, walking about nine miles a day, often pushing a plow or working other manual farm equipment.

Today the people of Crete are fat, just like us. They're still eating a lot of olive oil, but their consumption of fruits, vegetables, and beans is down. Meat, cheese, and fish are their new staples, and their physical activity level has plummeted. Today, heart disease has skyrocketed and more than half the population of both adults and children in Crete is overweight.1
For more on the Okinawan research, visit The Okinawa Study.
Continue Reading...

More Love for Veggie Calcium

For a long time I thought the only place you could get calcium was milk and since I’m lactose intolerant, well, I thought I was screwed. So I panicked, I used to take calcium supplements the size of horse pills. Sometimes I still have flashbacks that I’m grazing in a meadow, odd.

But now, even though I avoid dairy products like the plague, I’m not worried about my calcium. Why? I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Greens like kale and romaine lettuce, not to mention hearty portions of sesame seeds; both of which Dr. Fuhrman considers great sources of calcium.

In fact, in a previous post he explains that vegetable calcium is absorbed better than animal calcium. From Choose Vegetable Calcium Over Animal Calcium:
Green vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without problems associated with diary. Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you don’t consume a diet heavy in animal products and sodium, sugar, and caffeine.
So if you’re system kicks back dairy like mine, here’s a thought, hit the produce isle with a vengeance! And it seems, this idea if being put to the test. The Los Angeles Times reports nutrition scientists are feeding older women with osteoporosis prunes in hopes that it will yield measurable restoration in their bone mass. Susan Bowerman explains:
Although that study was too brief to measure changes in bone density — something the new study will allow — the women who ate 10 dried plums daily had significantly higher blood levels of two compounds (the hormone IGF-1 and the enzyme BSAP) that are associated with greater rates of bone formation.

What do prunes offer that other dried fruits don't? Various substances, and scientists don't yet know which among them is most important. Prunes contain small amounts of calcium and magnesium — both bone-building minerals — and some natural acids that could improve mineral absorption.

They are a rich source of antioxidant polyphenols, which also could be bone protective. They're also rich in boron, a bone-building mineral that is often lacking in the diet. (Boron prevents excretion of calcium and magnesium, which allows these minerals to be deposited in bone tissue.)
It is kind of funny that prunes, a food already associated with old people, are good for them for a reason outside of, “Prunes, prunes, a wonderful fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel, so eat some prunes at every meal!” And yes, I know that song is really about beans, but it works!

For a couple charts on the calcium content of fruits and vegetables, check out these posts:
And here’s another interesting tidbit about fruits and veggies. Did you know that some vegetables have a more protein per calorie than meat? Oh I’m not making it up! Dr. Fuhrman explains Vegetables Deliver Protein with Micronutrients:
It is interesting to note that peas, green vegetables, and beans have more protein per calorie than meat. But what is not generally considered is that foods that are rich in plant protein are generally the foods that are richest in nutrients and phytochemicals. By eating more of these high-nutrient, low calorie foods we get plenty of protein, and our bodies get flooded with protective micronutrients simultaneously. Animal protein does not contain antioxidants and phtyochemicals, plant protein does. Plus, animal protein is married to saturated fat, the most dangerous type of fat.
As we saw yesterday in Michael Pollan’s article about nutritionism, the stuff that lurks in plants might be the best dietary recommendation of them all. Hey, maybe this Dr. Fuhrman guy is onto something. You think?

McDonald's Ditches Trans Fat from Fries

Okay, I know no one reading this blog eats French fries, or McDonald’s for that matter, but I still think its interesting to point out that even McDonald’s is rallying against trans fat. Now if we can only get them to throw the rest of their menu in the garbage. Dave Carpenter of the Associated Press reports McDonalds has selected a trans-fat-free oil for their fries:
McDonald's Corp. has finally selected a new trans-fat-free oil for cooking its famous french fries after years of testing, the fast-food chain said Monday.

While it has developed a healthier new oil, the company is still not saying when it will be used in all 13,700 U.S. restaurants. It already trails competitors in committing to a zero-trans fat oil.

Spokesman Walt Riker said the oil is currently in more than 1,200 U.S. restaurants after extensive testing, but declined to provide details on timing or locations.
Ah yes, the secret life of “healthy” oil.

NY Times: Michael Pollan on Nutritionism

Hopefully you had the opportunity to read Michael Pollan’s recent article in The New York Times Magazine. In it, he proposes lots of reasons for America’s dietary indiscretions; misinformation, bad science, and the rise of industrialized food, to name a few.

Needless to say, my Fuhrman-senses were tingling. Especially concerning the concept of “nutritionism.” According to Pollan, “The term nutritionism refers to the widely shared but unexamined assumption that the key to understanding food is indeed the nutrient.” Meaning it’s up to scientists to discover the hidden healthful particles (nutrients) in food and then this will help us make informed decisions about which foods appropriately fuel our bodies and give us sustained health. Sounds good, right?

Well, as Pollan explains, historically these types of scientific discoveries—and their good intentions—tend to get mucked up along the way and ultimately become misconstrued. One might even argue bastardized. More from the article:
This is a great boon for manufacturers of processed food, and it helps explain why they have been so happy to get with the nutritionism program. In the years following McGovern’s capitulation and the 1982 National Academy report, the food industry set about re-engineering thousands of popular food products to contain more of the nutrients that science and government had deemed the good ones and less of the bad, and by the late ’80s a golden era of food science was upon us. The Year of Eating Oat Bran — also known as 1988 — served as a kind of coming-out party for the food scientists, who succeeded in getting the material into nearly every processed food sold in America. Oat bran’s moment on the dietary stage didn’t last long, but the pattern had been established, and every few years since then a new oat bran has taken its turn under the marketing lights. (Here comes omega-3!)

By comparison, the typical real food has more trouble competing under the rules of nutritionism, if only because something like a banana or an avocado can’t easily change its nutritional stripes (though rest assured the genetic engineers are hard at work on the problem). So far, at least, you can’t put oat bran in a banana. So depending on the reigning nutritional orthodoxy, the avocado might be either a high-fat food to be avoided (Old Think) or a food high in monounsaturated fat to be embraced (New Think). The fate of each whole food rises and falls with every change in the nutritional weather, while the processed foods are simply reformulated. That’s why when the Atkins mania hit the food industry, bread and pasta were given a quick redesign (dialing back the carbs; boosting the protein), while the poor unreconstructed potatoes and carrots were left out in the cold.

Of course it’s also a lot easier to slap a health claim on a box of sugary cereal than on a potato or carrot, with the perverse result that the most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over, the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming about their newfound whole-grain goodness.
Now if you ask me, Pollan hits the nail right on the head. All this time and money wasted on figuring out which nutrient is going to be today’s fountain of youth. And when one is discovered, food-marketers from across the country just want to know one thing, “How can we use it to make people believe our mass-produced junk food is healthy?” Meanwhile fresh fruits and vegetables are staring us right in the face. Go ahead, let out a little sigh.

If you’re familiar with Michael Pollan’s work you know that he strongly supports a vegetable-based diet for health, disease-prevention, and longevity. So I kind of figured Dr. Fuhrman would agree with him here. And he does for the most part, but, unlike Pollan, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t feel our grandparents were the best eaters. From the article, here are Pollan’s comments:
The sheer novelty and glamour of the Western diet, with its 17,000 new food products introduced every year, and the marketing muscle used to sell these products, has overwhelmed the force of tradition and left us where we now find ourselves: relying on science and journalism and marketing to help us decide questions about what to eat. Nutritionism, which arose to help us better deal with the problems of the Western diet, has largely been co-opted by it, used by the industry to sell more food and to undermine the authority of traditional ways of eating. You would not have read this far into this article if your food culture were intact and healthy; you would simply eat the way your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents taught you to eat. The question is, Are we better off with these new authorities than we were with the traditional authorities they supplanted? The answer by now should be clear.
Personally, despite this little disparity, I still think Michael Pollan is onto something—something good. For me, it all comes down to filtering out bad information. And yes, that takes steely resolve. You have to differentiate junk science from good science, marketing from the truth, and perhaps most important of all, learn to ignore dangerous reactionary claims. Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on Pollan’s piece should help explain where I’m coming from:
I think in the future more and more intelligent people will realize the message is clear. And certainly there will be more and more examples of others parroting a similar message to mine.

Eat less, eat mostly plants, don't eat processed foods. We agree. These are the main points.

I still don't think our grandparents ate too great, so we can do better than ever before with what we know about nutrition today. Too bad there are so many nuts out there confusing this issue, (Atkin's, Weston Price, Zone, Eat For Your Blood Type, Dr. Mercola's Metabolic Typing, Glycemic Index) leading the addicted masses into more and more confusion, so they miss the main points.
Maybe that’s what’s happening? All these fad diets get the press because they fly in the face of conventional thinking. And why not? It’s common knowledge that the standard American diet isn’t working. Don’t believe me? Just look at the obesity rates in this country, or the prevalence of cancer and heart disease. If you read these types of news reports for too long, you’d want to try something radical too!

In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman remarks that he doesn’t feel everyone will embrace his vegetable-based diet, mainly because of the influence of outside factors. After all, why meet the problem head on when you can devour an entire box of “enriched” chocolate breakfast cereal or have some doctor write you another prescription? I felt now was an appropriate time to mention this:
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.

The Ethnic Veggie Market

I shop at a local farmers market every Saturday, and let me tell you, it’s a treat. Sure it’s crowded, there are wood shavings all over the floor, and hardly anyone speaks English, but, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Besides, where else could I get fresh broccoli raab, Chinese eggplants, cactus pears, and quality avocados?

Not to mention, as a full-blooded Italian, I love to overhear older Italian couples bickering about which head of escarole smells fresher. “No stupido! Questo e piu fresco.”

So naturally I think this next report is great. According to Associated Press, America’s ethnic population is having significant influence on farmers. Causing more and more farmers to grow traditionally non-American produce. Janet Frankston Lorin reports:
The explosion of immigrant populations is fueling the growth of ethnic vegetables like cilantro and bok choy, giving farmers new, and potentially more profitable, revenue streams to add to their American staples of corn, sweet peppers and tomatoes. They'll have less competition for this narrow niche, crops that an ethnic population would have consumed in their home country, now growing in small quantities in the U.S.

"Cilantro is widely used almost everywhere today," said John Formisano, whose family has been farming for nearly a century. "When we first started, most people hadn't ever heard of it."

Today, the American public may not recognize Chinese eggplant's long, slender purple shape, or aji dulce — small, colorful sweet peppers — two vegetables commonly used in Asian and Hispanic cooking.
Anyone else adore those eggplants? I buy them every week.

The Mouth Revolution

Attention! The mouths of the world have united. They are no longer willing to sit idly by and consume things like trans fat, GMOs, pesticides, and artificial ingredients—cue Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It—they want real food! Quick, check out this public service announcement from The Mouth Revolution, and viva La Mouth-olutione!

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Nuts

I grew up with a fear of nuts. I can still hear my mother saying, “Don’t eat too many. They’re very fattening.” As a result, I pretty much only ate nuts after Christmas dinner—it’s an Italian thing. So even though I now know better, I still get a little jumpy when I read things like this. Carolyn O'Neil of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution expands on the benefits of consuming nuts:
As we enter this new year with state-of-the-art nutrition in mind, it's important to note that one of the best things you can do is work on ways to add super-nutritious foods — like nuts — to your diet rather than focusing on deprivation. Tossing an ounce of roasted almonds into a salad or coating baked fish in a thin layer of crushed peanuts certainly adds a lot of flavor and a pleasant nutty crunch. But you're also increasing your intake of protein, fiber and various vitamins and minerals, including disease-fighting antioxidants. So there's more than just fat in the nut mix.
I know, its sounds silly to get nervous about a food that’s so good for us, but trust me, I’m over it. It’s just that old beliefs are hard to shake. If for some reason you have the same feelings I did, check out this post, hopefully it’ll quell your worries the same way it did mine. From Nuts and Seeds Are Excellent Foods:
Nuts and seeds are a natural part of the diet of homo-sapiens. They are perfectly adapted to the taste and ability of humans to pick, dry, store, and crack. No wonder study after study shows raw nuts and seeds not only lower cholesterol, but protect against common diseases of aging. I recommend almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, filberts, and walnuts; and sunflower, sesame, flax, and pumpkin seeds. These delicious natural foods are high in nutrients and healthful unsaturated fats.
And be sure the check out the comments. In them Dr. Fuhrman addresses the claims made by some people who insist nuts and seeds should be avoided. Here’s a taste:
Almost all raw nuts and seeds are rich in micronutrients and protective food substances. They are not just a fat source, and they are also rich in plant proteins with favorable effects. We should aim to meet our requirements for both short and long-chain omega-3’s, but it is healthy, not unhealthy, to get most of your fat intake from foods such as almonds and sunflower seeds which are rich in mono and polyunsaturared fats and micronutrient powerhouses, instead of extracted oils and animal products, which do not have comparable micronutrient density. This has already been well documented. It is good to consume a little ground flax seeds and walnuts daily because they are rich in those omega-3 fats that are otherwise low in the American diet that is overly rich in animal products (largely omega-6 and saturated fats).

Organic: May the Farm be with You

Organic food, it’s a smart move according to Dr. Fuhrman. Remember this post, Is Organic Food Safer? In it Dr. Fuhrman explains that eating organic produce is the best way to ensure you limit your exposure to toxic chemicals. Don’t believe me? Here’s more from the post:
Organic food is certainly your best bet, to further limit exposure to toxic chemicals. No one knows for sure how much risk exists from pesticide residue on produce, but here's what we do know: the younger you are, the more your cells are susceptible to damage from toxins. It seems wise to feed our young children organic food whenever possible.
But, what Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t tell us, is that a war is being waged. The organic rebellion versus the dark side of the farm, who will you stand with? Quick jump on board the Millennium Scallion, Princess Lettuce and Chew-Broccoli need your help! Take a look:

The farm is strong with you.

Depression: Getting Tweaked

As someone who struggles with clinical depression, I feel for Head Nurse. In this post she talks about coming to grips with her depression and the drawbacks of mood medication. Read on:
Y'know, the hardest thing to deal with when you're a freshly-diagnosed or freshly-re-medicated depressive is this: You will have to do this for The Rest Of Your Life. Santa ain't gonna put normal brain chemistry into your stocking some Christmas. We are all stuck with the brains we have; some require more tweaking than others, and it's the thought of tweaking at intervals until I'm dead that daunts me.

But tweaking is better than depressed. Depressed is boring as hell; tweaking at least is interesting.

Side effects suck, too. I mean, I'm 40 pounds heavier than when I started this whole shebang; just tapering from 150 to 137.5 mg of Effexor showed me that the antidepressant is mostly to blame. My appetite is gone.
Stories like this make me proud of my decision to combat my depression with healthy diet, exercise, and therapy—no drugs for me. Not a bad idea when you consider Tuesday’s post about antidepressants and bone breaks.

Since depression is a popular topic, here are all of Followhealthlife’s posts on the subject:

Stressed to Eat

A vegetable-based diet is a big part of my life, in fact, for dinner last night I had beets, spaghetti squash, and a mound of broccoli rabe. Not too shabby, right? But, I must admit I do have my dietary hangouts—most take place when I’m stressed. After all, my ultimate vice? Food! Take my sushi folly for example:
I just had sushi for lunch—and now I’m annoyed with myself! Looks like no more fish for me this month, and there goes my day off from the gym this week. Me and my bright ideas, next time I get another bright idea I’ll try keeping this quote from Homer Simpson in mind, “Shut up, Brain, or I'll stab you with a Q-tip!”
When it comes to food, stress can bring out the worst in me. Come on, I know I’m not alone on this one. How many of you have perpetrated a stress-related dietary detour? Be it sushi, chocolate, salty snacks, or—heaven forbid—worse. Well, according to Sally Squires of The Washington Post stress eating is a major problem in this country, and, it has some experts perplexed:
For others, working long hours is the trigger. "I'm a junior in college and often find myself craving salty snacks when I'm stressed and working late into the night," a Lean Plate Club member in Annapolis noted in a recent e-mail…

…"Fight-or-flight is the normal response to stress," notes Tatjana van Strien, professor of psychology at Radboud University in the Netherlands. "All the blood goes to the muscles so that you're ready for action and not for eating…So stress eating is highly unadaptive and highly strange." What's more, when people are under great stress, such as the death of a family member, they tend not to eat.
Now, even though I’m guilty of occasional stress eating and cheating, I still think all this could just be another byproduct of toxic hunger; as described by Dr. Fuhrman. Check out this excerpt from Eat to Live and let me know if you feel the same way:
It is our unhealthy tendency to eat without experiencing true hunger that contributed to our becoming overweight to begin with. In other words, to have become overweight in the first place, appetite, food cravings, and other addictive drives that induce eating have come into play. Poor nutrition induces these cravings (addictive drives), and nutritional excellence helps normalize or remove them.
Dr. Fuhrman explores the stress-hunger-obesity connection further in "Stress Hunger"--The Cause Of Obesity. Here’s some of it:
Most people never experience the healthy sensation of feeling hungry. In fact, most people desire to avoid feeling hungry. I think feeling hunger is good to experience periodically. Hunger is important to aid in our enjoyment of food and get the precise signals from our body to know the amount of calories we need to maintain our lean body mass. When we eat when we are hungry food tastes much better and we are physiologically primed for proper digestion. Hunger, in the true sense of the word, indicates to us that it is time to eat again.

Hungry Girl: Light Foods Heavy Lies

Now here’s something interesting from a few days ago. The “Hungry Girl” Lisa Lillien puts the screws to many “healthy” dining and snack options that comprise the standard American food lexicon. No surprises here, as it turns out a lot of it is still junk:
Arby's Market Fresh Santa Fe Salad
(1 salad without dressing: 500 calories, 23g fat, 1,231mg sodium, 41g carbs, 6g fiber, 5g sugars, 30g protein)

While we're on the subject of salads, don't let the fancy description on this fast food salad fool you. It throws around terms like "fresh" and "all-natural," but it's basically as bad as a burger. In fact, once you add in the nutritionals for the Santa Fe ranch dressing that comes served on the side, the numbers soar to 796 calories and 54 grams of fat! Yikes! That's more fat and calories than practically anything on their menu! If you've got to grab a bite at Arby's, go for their Martha's Vineyard Salad instead. That has just 276 calories and 8 grams of fat. And while none of their dressing options are really guilt-free, their Light Buttermilk Ranch is your best option (1 serving = 112 calories, 6 grams fat) -- and we recommend using just half of the more than 2-oz. serving they give you.
Who would have thought, something at Arby’s is unhealthy? Duh! But then again, we’re a nation who considers light potato chips a wise choice. Yeah, because when I see Ruffles Light Cheddar & Sour Cream Flavored Potato Chips, I think healthy—we’re doomed!

Cholesterol Levels and Heart Attacks

Adapted from the revised version of Dr. Fuhrman's book Cholesterol Protection for Life:

There is irrefutable evidence that high cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Make no doubt about it: lowering your LDL cholesterol below 100 offers powerful protection against heart disease. The evidence is overwhelming today that heart attacks, which kill half of all Americans, are entirely preventable. Heart disease is a condition that is preventable and reversible through aggressive nutritional intervention and cholesterol-lowering.

The latest recommendation from most medical authorities and medical organizations such as the American College of Cardiology is to lower LDL cholesterol level below 100. This is in accordance with what has been observed for years in epidemiology studies. People in countries who ate a more simple plant-based diet did not have heart attacks and those populations are always found to have much lower cholesterol levels than was thought to be acceptable in the past. For instance, the average total cholesterol in rural China was 127 and the average LDL was below 80. Heart attacks in rural China were exceedingly rare. The same thing was observed in multiple interventional and population studies, such as the Harvard Health Study; those with LDL’s below 100 were not observed to have heart attacks. Medical authorities are now finally in agreement that much lower cholesterol levels are needed to be truly protective.

It would be foolish for anyone not to maintain an LDL cholesterol below 100 or total cholesterol below 150 mg/dl. Less than 10% of the adult population in America, however, actually has cholesterol levels that meet these newest recommendations, designed for more significant reduction in cardiac deaths.1

Recent medical trials reinforce the importance of maintaining LDL levels below 100 for significant protection and have led medical authorities to recommend cholesterol-lowering drugs to the vast majority of Americans.

When resorting to medical intervention, rather than dietary modifications, other problems arise, reducing the potential reduction in mortality possible, as these individuals are at risk of serious side effects from the medication. The known side effects for various statins (the most popular and effective medications to lower cholesterol) include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia. Continue Reading...

Antidepressants: Bones at Risk

It’s always a bit unnerving when you read stuff like this, especially since so many people in this country take antidepressants. But according to a new study, many top-selling depression medications might increase the risk of bone breaks in older people. Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press reports:
People aged 50 and older who took antidepressants, including Zoloft, Prozac and other top-sellers, faced double the risk of broken bones during five years of follow-up, compared with those who didn't use the drugs, the study found…

…Research in animals suggests that the pills might have a direct effect on bone cells, decreasing bone strength and size, said Dr. David Goltzman, an endocrinologist at McGill University in Montreal and colleagues said.
Goltzman stresses the serious implications of these findings because millions of people take antidepressants, and, older people are already at risk for osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease—quite the dubious double-whammy.

Now, this reminds me of all the reports from back in December linking acid suppression medication to heightened risk of hip fractures. Here's one from ScienceDaily:
Potent acid suppressive medications such as PPIs have revolutionized the management of acid-related diseases. Millions of individuals have been using these medications on a continuous or long-term basis, according to background information in the article. Some research has shown that PPI therapy may decrease insoluble calcium absorption or bone density in certain patients. These factors could increase the risk for hip fracture, which has a death rate during the first year after the fracture of 20 percent. Among those who survive this period, 1 in 5 require nursing home care and often an emergency department visit, hospitalization, surgery, and rehabilitation, with huge health care costs.
So, in case you’re worried about the potential dangers of acid medication, consider Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on the matter. From September 2005 edition of Healthy Times:
Bone strength is directly proportional to muscle strength, and bone health requires a lifetime commitment to regular exercise and physical activity. Inactivity or bed rest can be disastrous to the bones. Go to the gym, walk, wear a weighted vest, do back exercises, work in the garden, and stay involved with sports or fitness pursuits appropriate to your ability and health. Nutritional excellence is vitally important, and cannot be replaced by supplements. Taking supplements is merely an adjunct to other critical lifestyle factors that reduce risk.
Okay back to the issue involving antidepressants. Is there a safer way to help treat depression, one that doesn’t emphasize the popping of pills? More from Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times, this time the March 2006 edition:
Nutrition and Mood Disorders
With over a million prescriptions for antidepressants being filled each week and annual sales of 11 billion dollars at stake, it is unlikely that a new protocol for depressed people will emerge in America. Money usually dictates direction in the medical/drug/insurance industry. However, the conflict and controversy over the dangers of psychotropic medications used for depression, and the recent cardiac-related deaths from Ritalin prescribed for ADHD, are calling attention to the all-too-cozy relationship between government agencies and the drug industry. The public no longer can trust the validity of drug-related information that comes from even such formerly respected sources as medical journals and universities. These institutions depend increasingly on pharmaceutical dollars (advertising and grant monies), and this has led to numerous instances of inaccurate reports that conceal evidence and promote drug use.
Treating Depression Naturally
It is clear that people are more prone to depression and other diseases when their intake of high nutrient-containing plant food is low. It also has been shown that the response to medication and other therapeutic intervention can be suboptimal when antioxidant nutritional status is inadequate.1 Whenever we measure low levels of vegetable-derived nutrients, we find depression more prevalent. For example, low folate intake and low folate blood levels have been shown to correlate with depression.2 Low folate in the bloodstream is a marker for low fruit and vegetable intake. Deficiencies of folate, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and selenium tend to be more common among depressed than non-depressed persons.3

Natural therapies are surprisingly effective. Recent advances in non-pharmacologic treatments for depression can help people feel better—and even assist them in making total recovery—without dependence on medications. Researchers doing the studies in this field have been surprised to find that natural therapies can have very high success rates, rivaling those of drugs. Of particular interest is the fact that these non-pharmacologic treatments get results faster than drug treatments. Now is the time for all people with depression to give these safe, natural treatments a try. By combining the most promising facets of these approaches, the likelihood of improvement and recovery is greatly enhanced.
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It's a Bird, It's a Plane...

It’s Captain Vegetable! Hailing from his secret garden somewhere in New Jersey, Captain Vegetable teaches little Andy and Eddie the importance of eating crunchy veggies—by the bunch! Behold his awesome power:

Crunch, crunch, crunch!

More Kids Ditching Junk Food

Well, I guess pigs learned how to fly. Because according to the Associated Press more and more students are getting hip to healthy eating, and shunning traditional junk food like fries and hamburgers for carrots and apples. Janet Frankston Lorin has more:
As choices on the lunch line change, many children are accepting them, said Martha Conklin, an associate professor at Penn State University who conducts research about school nutrition programs and school food service.

"If you present these healthy offerings to children, they may turn them down the first time, but you can't give up," she said. "Children will adapt. Choice is important, but they can make those selections from healthy offerings."
Pretty encouraging news, but you know the meat-pie-pushing mamas would have a problem with it.

Get Some Veggie Calcium

From the March 2005 edition of Healthy Times, here is Dr. Fuhrman’s list of the most healthful sources of calcium based on their calorie-to calcium ratios:
Calcium Content Per Calorie
Milligrams (mg)
 Bok choy, cooked
 Turnip greens, cooked  6.9
 Mustard greens, cooked
 Collard greens, cooked
 Romaine lettuce, raw
 Kale, cooked
 Sesame seeds, raw
 Broccoli, cooked
 Tofu, raw firm
 Green beans, cooked
 Soy beans, cooked
 Almond butter, raw  0.4

*Based on U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

For more on veggie-nutrient density, check out these previous posts:

UroStream the Foodie

UroStream shares her thoughts on food, and how Americans differ from Asians and Europeans when it comes to eating:
I'm spoiled in that my husband is an excellent cook and we strive to go to the market daily to pick out fresh organic produce. It's something that the Asians and Europeans are used to doing, but Americans are not. We are used to the convenience of a mega-supermarket and we are so much more "removed" from our food source than other cultures. It is slowly changing, with more farmers markets cropping up because of increasing awareness from consumers demanding fresher produce, but we are far from anything resembling the other countries.

Dr. Fuhrman on YouTube

Okay, so if you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a YouTube kick lately. I give you exhibit A: Do Cows Drink Soy Milk? And, exhibit B: Why I Don't Eat Lamb. Dr. Fuhrman noticed my new found obsession and asked me to search his name on YouTube. Sure enough, he’s on there. Here’s what I turned up:

Nutrient Density is the Key to Good Health

What's the Healthiest Diet?

Burning Calories

Have you ever been exercising or doing some yard work and you say to yourself, “I wonder how many calories I just burned?” That’s a tough one to figure out. Sure, most treadmills have a calorie-counter, but pulling weeds is harder to gauge. So hopefully this chart from the January 2003 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times will help give you a better idea:

Report: Ear Tubes Hit or Miss

Now I had ear tubes, I don’t really know why? I was little at the time and don’t remember much about it. According to my mother I used to get a lot of ear infections and my doctor at the time thought it was the best course of action. And back then it didn’t seem that usual because almost all my classmates were getting them. It was kind of like a first grade rite of passage.

Of course I’m older now and regularly exposed to alternative points of view; most notably Dr. Fuhrman’s. So to say the least, I wish my parents hadn’t fed me milk—especially since I later found out that I’m very lactose intolerant. Maybe if they skipped the milk I might have avoided some of those ear infections that led to my tubing. Disease-Proof Your Child has more on this:
Ear infection, or otitis media is the most common medical problem for children in the United States, and it is the most common reason for prescribing antibiotics for infants and children. Not only do nine out of ten children develop at least one ear infection each year, but almost one-third of these children develop chronic congestion with fluid in the middle ear that can lead to hearing loss and make the child a candidate for myringotomy, or tube placement by a specialist.

Babies who drink from a bottle while lying on their backs may get milk and juice into their eustachian tubes, which increases the occurrence of ear infections. Children who are breast-fed for at least a year have been shown to have much fewer infections than those weaned earlier.1
So as you can imagine, this next report compelled me. According to Reuters a new study found that children who didn’t receive tubes suffered no additional developmental difficulties than children who underwent the tubing procedure. Gene Emery reports:
But a new long-term study challenges that practice, saying it does nothing to help most youngsters with fluid-filled ears develop normally.

In a study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, researchers from several institutions studied hundreds of otherwise-healthy children up to 11 years old in the Pittsburgh area. They tested the benefits of a procedure that once was the second-most common surgery in the United States and found none.

Even when it doesn't cause pain, an ear infection can cause fluid to build in the middle ear, muffling hearing. Because hearing is essential to speech development, doctors and parents worried that persistent middle ear infections could cause developmental problems.
Now, since I’ve grown up to become the kind of person who doesn’t like going to the doctor, popping pills, or undergoing medical procedures, news reports like this make me curious. Was there a better way? Did I really need tubes? Maybe if my parents paid better attention to my nutrition I could have avoided the whole thing. Just makes me wonder, you know what I mean?

For more on tubing and ear infections, check out these previous posts:
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Know Your Winter Squash

Well, its winter. What better time to learn more about winter squash. And Vegan Grandma provides all the background you’ll need. Its worth a read, you certainly won’t be gourd—oops, I mean bored. Take a look:
Squash are the fruits of various members of the gourd family, which fall into two classifications, summer squash (such as zucchini, crooknecked squash, pattypan squash) and winter squash (such as acorn squash, pumpkin, butternut squash, and hubbard squash).

Squash got its name from the Native American, Narragansets, who called summer squash "askatasquash", meaning "to eat raw or green". This name works for summer squash, but winter squash must be cooked.

Winter squash come later in the growing season than do summer squash. Summer squash are more perishable than winter squash because summer squash have a high water content. Unlike summer squash, winter squash can be kept for several months, if kept in a cool dry place.

Osteoarthritis: High Nutrient Supply

From the March 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

High cholesterol levels and other blood markers of heightened cardiovascular risk are a documented risk factor for both knee and generalized osteoarthritis.1 It is not difficult to understand why osteoarthritis is related to meat and cheese consumption, since sufferers of both conditions are more likely to have high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels. These are typical signs of a diet that promotes atherosclerosis, impaired circulation, and subsequent cartilage compromise.2

Populations with lower rates of heart disease, such as the Chinese, correspondingly have lower rates of osteoarthritis in the same age bracket. The elderly in Beijing, China were found to have 80-90 percent less osteoarthritis than elderly Americans.3 Radiographic signs of arthritis in the age range of 60-89 were found in only about one percent in the Chinese portion of the study, and the percentage did not increase with age.

Cardiac risk factors also are risk factors for arthritis, but there is more to the story. Marginal nutrient intake also can interfere with the chondrocytes’ ability to make structurally strong cartilage. Contrary to the view held for many years, in osteoarthritis the cartilage does not passively erode away; in fact, the body works hard to protect itself. In the early years when the joints are stressed by improper nutrition, the body increases the production of cartilage in an attempt to compensate. The production of cartilage matrix has been observed to increase as much as six times the normal amount in the beginning phase of osteoarthritis.

The problem lies in the production of poor quality cartilage. Without optimal nutrition, DNA synthesis goes on, but does not perform singing the best tune. As time goes on and the disease advances, the chondrocytes start to die and collagen synthesis falls.

Mounting research has pointed to the fact that a high intake of carotenoids, particularly lutein and beta-cryptoxanthin, found in colorful vegetables, is necessary for high-quality cartilage.4 Studies also have shown that low levels of boron, selenium, glutathione, and sulfur are related to osteoarthritis incidence and exacerbation.5 The good news is that if osteoarthritis is caught early—before much loss of cartilage and death of chondrocytes—and nutritional excellence is initiated, most of the damage still can be reversible.

Fish oil supplements, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), glucosamine, and chondroitin have been shown to be helpful in retarding the advancement and reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis.6 Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce joint inflammation, and glucosamine and chondroitin can supply nutrients needed for cartilage synthesis. Keep in mind, however, that just as with other diseases, supplements alone are not all that is necessary for optimal results. However helpful supplements may be, without the adoption of a superior diet containing the full concert of healthful phytochemicals and antioxidants that results in low cholesterol, one cannot expect maximum healing and maximum protection against OA. Once excellent nutrition is instituted, the body adequately produces its own cartilage precursors, and supplements have little effect.

Here’s more on osteoarthritis:
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California Cold Hurts Citrus Crops

So, to say the least, the weather has been a little screwy lately. The midwest is being pounded by record snowfall and the northeast is reporting record warming—what the heck? This can’t be good, right? Well in this case, no. According to Olivia Munoz of the Associated Press the icy weather in California is wreaking havoc on citrus crops. And avocados too—NO! Here’s more:
Growers say more than 70 percent of this season's oranges, lemons and tangerines were still on the trees as nighttime temperatures in California's Central Valley dipped into the low 20s and teens beginning Friday. The fruit is threatened whenever the mercury falls below 28 degrees.

"Limited amounts were harvested before the freeze, so it's not like the markets are going to dry up suddenly," said Claire Smith, a spokeswoman for Sunkist Growers Inc., a Los Angeles-based cooperative owned by some 6,000 growers in California and Arizona.

Still, the diminished supply is bound to drive up prices, Smith said. Sunkist may import oranges and other fruit from South Africa and other countries.

Tomato-Broccoli Power!

Like tomatoes? What about broccoli? Ever eat them together? Well if you have, you’re doing your prostate a service. Because according to a new study eating broccoli and tomatoes together is more effective at protecting against prostate cancer than consuming them separately. Don’t believe me? Robert Preidt of HealthDay News explains:
University of Illinois researchers fed a diet containing 10 percent broccoli powder and 10 percent tomato powder to a group of rats that had been implanted with prostate cancer cells. Other groups of rats received either tomato powder or broccoli powder alone; a supplemental dose of lycopene (the red pigment in tomatoes believed to be an anti-cancer agent); or finasteride, a drug prescribed for men with enlarged prostates. Another group of rats was castrated.

After 22 weeks, the researchers found that the combined tomato/broccoli diet was the most effective at prostate tumor reduction. Of the other treatments, castration was the only one that came close to being as effective.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’ll happily choose tomatoes and broccoli over wearing a cone around my head for two weeks. Ouch! Okay, so the power of tomatoes and broccoli shouldn’t surprise you. After all they’re both in Dr. Fuhrman’s Fab Five:
Greens: Make steamed greens with a cashew butter cream sauce. Kids love it. We blend raw cashews and a few dried onion flakes with some soy milk and make a great sauce for chopped kale or broccoli.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a wonderful food in their own class. Whether you consider them a fruit or vegetable, it matters not. Slice them into pita pocket sandwiches. Mash some almond butter with a fork into some tomato sauce to add to the vegetable-tomato-sprout avocado pita pocket. What a great school lunch.
And, let’s not forget Dr. Fuhrman considers tomatoes and broccoli two of the best foods for health and longevity:
Top Seven Foods for Good Health and Longevity
  • Black raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Flax Seeds
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli sprouts
Oh man, all this talk about tomatoes and broccoli has made me hungry. How about you? Check out this Italian-inspired creation from Disease-Proof Your Child, it certainly packs a tomato-broccoli punch:
Vegetable Lasagna

1 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sesame tahini
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 cups diced carrots
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 bunch of broccoli, chopped
1 cup unsalted tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup chopped scallions
1 package whole-wheat lasagna noodles, boiled per package instructions
1 cup shredded soy cheese.

Blend the tofu, lemon juice, tahini, shredded coconut, nutritional yeast, and parsley in a good processor and put aside. Blend all the vegetables with the tomato sauce and the oregano, Italian seasoning, and scallions to make a thick veggie paste. Place a small amount of sauce in the bottom of a large casserole pan. Make layers of cooked lasagna noodles by spreading tofu mixture on top of the noodles, then another layer of noodles, and then the veggie mix. Put the last layer of noodles on top, sprinkle the shredded soy cheese on the top, cover the top of the dish, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serves 4.
And for more on broccoli’s anti-cancer prowess, take a look at this Georgetown University Medical Center press release from last year:
Although the health benefits of eating your vegetables—especially cruciferous ones, such as broccoli—aren’t particularly new, this study is one of the first to provide a molecular explanation as to how eating vegetables could cut a person’s risk of developing cancer, an association that some population studies have found, says the study’s senior author, Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD, professor of oncology, cell biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Why I Don't Eat Lamb

And after seeing this movie trailer, I think I need to seriously consider ruling out wool too. Be prepared, the Black Sheep are coming. Now if bad low-budget horror films from New Zealand make you squeamish, you might want to exercise caution when viewing. Baa!

Now, last time I checked fruits and veggies don’t attack people, unless of course you count the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

The Washington Post on Multivitamins

I’m sure we all know lots of people who pop vitamins like Tic Tacs. Personally, I’m not much of a vitamin guy. Lots of fruits and vegetables suit me just fine. But in case you’ve got questions about vitamins, Sally Squires of The Washington Post provides this investigation:
"If you're taking a multivitamin, there's no reason to stop," notes Paul Coates, director of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. "But if you're not taking a multivitamin, there's also no reason to start taking one, either…"

… And it's just one measure of the many complexities of scientific debate concerning multivitamins and minerals. "Most people assume that the ingredients in multivitamin supplements are safe," the panel concluded in its report. "There is evidence, however, that certain ingredients in multivitamin supplements can produce adverse effects."
I’ve heard this kind of talk before. Check out this report by Reuters back in May:
Many people may assume that because vitamins and minerals are vital for health, that more is better. But some are toxic at high levels, including vitamin A and iron, and others are simply excreted in the urine.

Osteoarthritis: Joint degeneration

From the March 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Currently, the pathogenesis of OA is explained by various contributing factors that adversely affect cartilage cells. In simple terms, the chondrocytes (cells that produce cartilage) become stressed, overworked, injured, and eventually die. This destruction of the chondrocytes makes it impossible for your body to keep up with the production of high-quality collagen needed for normal wear and tear. As the cartilage erodes, the joint becomes inflamed, and lytic (caustic) enzymes can further degrade the cartilage matrix. As cartilage wears away on the ends of the bones and cushioning is lost, the intensity of pain may increase. Pain may become quite severe if the cartilage has completely deteriorated.

Surprisingly, physical inactivity can be more harmful to the joints than overuse. Joint activity signals for the delivery of nutrients to the joints. A lack of exercise or varied movement can weaken the muscles that support the joints, and an underused joint may become stiff, painful, dysfunctional, and prone to injury and osteoarthritis.

Joints, because of their somewhat unusual blood supply, are extremely sensitive to negative nutritional influences compared with other parts of the body. When we abuse our body with poor nutrition, we not only raise our blood pres sure and increase our risk of heart attack and stroke, but we also damage our joints. In fact, OA and degenerative bone disease of the spine could be early warning signs of heart disease in years to come.

The reason why joints have an increased susceptibility to damage from dietary folly is because of their indirect blood supply. Instead of direct oxygenation and nourishment from being bathed in blood (such as with muscles and organs), cartilage is nourished from the fluid in the joint capsule. Oxygen comes from tiny capillaries that surround the joint capsule and diffuses across the joint capsule membrane and into the joint fluid. With normal microcirculation and good nutrition, plenty of oxygen and nutrients bathe the cartilaginous surface of the joints.

This intricate and fragile system can be vulnerable to nutritional stresses. The nourishment to the cartilaginous surface of the joint can be curtailed even by the smallest impediment to normal blood flow. When atherosclerosis is present, the delivery system can be easily disrupted by as simple a thing as eating a high-fat meal. Even the earlier stages of atherosclerosis can impede oxygen delivery to the joint, revealing itself in joint problems that occur decades before the heart problem is diagnosed.

When you eat a piece of high-fat food—such as cheese pizza, bacon, or steak—the saturated fats thicken the blood and make the red blood cells sticky. This clumping together of red blood cells makes them too large to enter the small capillaries that surround and nourish the joint capsules. Atherosclerotic deposits thicken the walls and narrow the vascular bed, further impeding delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the joint area where most cartilage and bone remodeling takes place. Defective remodeling then occurs, with gradual destruction of the joint.

Here’s more on osteoarthritis:

The New York Times on DHA

Personally, when I think Dr. Fuhrman, I think DHA. You’ve heard of it right? Docosahexaenoic acid. A very important nutrient according to Dr. Fuhrman, but one that most people’s diets are extremely deficient in—not good when you consider the consequences. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid. About half of the brain and eyes are made up of fat, much of which is DHA, which is an essential nutrient for optimal brain and eye function.1 Children’s diets today are notoriously low in the beneficial omega-3 fats found in foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, soybeans, leafy greens, and certain fish.

Deficiency in DHA fatty acids has been linked to:
  • Impulsiveness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Dyslexia
  • Depression
  • Reduced intelligence
  • Sleep problems
  • Temper tantrums
  • Alcoholism
  • Schizophrenia
  • Manic depression2
So given our nation’s DHA-ignorance, I was elated to read this article in The Sunday New York Times. Gary Rivlin conducts an investigation on DHA and how one bioscience corporation wants to put it in many of our foods:
Martek Biosciences, which is based here, between Baltimore and Washington, says it has made that most magical of food discoveries: an essential nutrient that can be added invisibly to the diet without any appreciable impact on taste or eating habits.

Martek has had considerable success adding an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, to infant formula. And, on paper at least, DHA also sounds like the perfect supplement for Americans, who seem to grow more obsessed with healthy eating the more poorly they eat.

If food makers would only sprinkle some DHA into everything from the milk people put in their coffee each morning to the chocolate bars they snack on at night, Martek’s scientists say, consumers would end up with healthier hearts, sharper minds and better vision.

But the country’s big food companies have not exactly embraced DHA the way that Martek executives figured they would — or should. For several years, the company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars increasing its production capacity in anticipation of a deluge of orders that have yet to materialize.
Now, remember how I told you that Dr. Fuhrman and DHA are practically synonymous? Check out what he had to say about Martek:
Martek is the company that supplies the DHA in my DHA Purity. What makes our DHA product unique is that we are the only company that packages the product in glass and keep it refrigerated. When it is made, we have it shipped to us in refrigerated trucks, right from the day of manufacture, assuring no rancidity. Other DHA supplements we have tested have had a surprisingly high rancidity stores and they taste foul if you cut open the capsule. Once these oils are packed, shipped, stored, in distribution centers and then distributed to health food stores it is no longer fresh.
For more on DHA, take a gander at these previous posts:
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Dietary Iron: Eat Your Pots

Looking for a quick and easy way to increase your iron intake? Well look no further. Just eat your cast-iron cooking pots. Sound crazy? Well, as it turns out it’s not totally without merit. Here’s how I heard about it.

A friend of mine told they were watching a television program on health and the host explained that cooking with iron cookware is a great way to give your food an iron boost. Evidently the iron leaches out of the pots and into whatever you’re cooking.

Okay, this sounds logical, but is it really a good idea? My hunch is there’s got to a better way to get sufficient iron. Unless of course your name is Michel Lotito, a French entertainer who actually consumed an entire Cessna 150—I’d hate to see the plumbing in his house.

So rather than continuing to speculate, I decided to run this by Dr. Fuhrman. Yup, you guessed it. You won’t find cast-iron pots with a cashew cream sauce turning up in his next book. Here’s what he had to say:
It is true that cast iron pots can leach their iron into the food. Many people are not aware that green vegetables are rich in iron and are a complete source of all essential amino acids, too. I would rather get my iron from greens, seeds and beans and not pots. Keep in mind, too much iron is heart disease promoting. It is not health favorable to be exposed to too much iron. For example, the extra highly absorbable type of iron in red meat (heme iron) could be an additional reason why red meat is heart disease promoting.
Alright then, what about those veggie sources of iron? Check out the Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables. You’ll see that kale, broccoli, and spinach pack quite the punch when it comes to iron:
100-Calorie Portions
  • Broccoli 3.5 mg
  • Sirloin Steak .7 mg
  • Romaine Lettuce 7.7 mg
  • Kale 5.8 mg
And as for the potential dangers of iron, in the member center Dr. Fuhrman points out that too much iron can actually be toxic:
Certain minerals are toxic and if consumed daily with even as little as 5 to 10 times the recommended daily allowances (which is found in some supplements) can have detrimental effects. These minerals with a narrow therapeutic range are primarily chromium, selenium and iron.

Osteoarthritis: Understanding and Preventing our Nation's Primary Crippler

From the March 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a nearly universal degenerative condition, affecting both men and women as they age. OA is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 28 million adults in the United States.

In OA, the cartilage cushion in the joints breaks down, which eventually can cause the bones to rub together. Pain, stiffness, and sometimes the formation of bone growths, called spurs, result. OA can affect any joint, but it is most common in the hands, feet, spine, and in large, weight bearing joints such as the hips and knees. OA of the hip and knee represents the leading cause of pain and disability in adults in the U.S. OA is often referred to as the “primary crippler” of adults, and the percentage of the population with these symptoms has been increasing in recent years.1

OA also is called degenerative joint disease (DJD) or ordinary arthritis. It differs from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as it does not involve an immune system-mediated attack on the joints as is the case with RA.

Despite its prevalence and the fact that it worsens with age, OA is not the inevitable consequence of aging. Recent scientific advances have enabled us to better understand the contributory factors that promote arthritis, dispelling the myth that joint degeneration is merely an age-related phenomenon.

Here’s more on osteoarthritis:

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Can Flaxseed Oil Cause Prostate Cancer?

From the November 2006 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

There is no need for flaxseed oil when whole ground flaxseed provides more benefits and no risk. It seems that everyone you ask about flaxseed oil and prostate cancer gives a different answer. And to be fair, this is a complex subject that I will just briefly address here.

Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed oil may contribute to increased prostate cancer risk. Fortunately, there is no need to consume flaxseed oil. The best way to get omega-3 fatty acids is to consume whole flaxseed. Plus, when you consume whole flaxseed, not only do you get the best plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, you also get the richest source of dietary lignans. Lignans are converted by bacteria in the intestinal tract to horomone-like compounds called phytoestrogens that have protective effects against hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. In fact, consuming ground flaxseed has been shown to have beneficial properties for prevention and treatment of both breast and prostate cancer.

When you consume the whole seeds, not the oil, the results show significantly reduced growth rate of cancer cells, and increased death rate of cancer cells. Another way to safely and effectively contribute to your omega-3 intake is to eat a few walnuts and lots of leafy green vegetables. When you get your essential fats from whole natural foods, you get powerful disease-fighting nutrients in the process that are not found in oils.

When it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, my recommendation is to consume about one tablespoon of ground flaxseed per day, and forgo the oil. I also recommend a small amount of DHA from a vegan source (about 200 mg per day) to assure nutritional adequacy (but not as your only source of omega-3s).

Not everyone requires DHA, but taking a small dose (not 3000 mg as some have recommended) will assure almost everyone gets an adequate amount, without the negative health risks (including suppression of immune function and risk of hemorrhagic stroke) associated with too much fish or fish oil.

NPR: Why is Chinatown's Produce so Cheap?

Have you ever noticed how inexpensive the local farmer’s market can be? Heck, I drive twenty-five minutes out of my way to go to one. In my opinion large superstores lack variety and quality—I’ve seen avocados at the supermarket that you could drive nails with!

NPR’s Lisa Chow takes a look at why local markets are so cheap in this report on New York City’s Chinatown: Chinatown Vendors Ripe for Bargains.

Do Androids Lift Electric Weights?

Now in this ever-wonderous age of technology we live in, I’ve noticed something. Gyms are being invaded by cyborgs! I see it everyday. At my gym everyone and I do mean everyone, comes wired with some sort of battery powered device. Be it a mp3 player, cellphone, or one of those blackberry thingies—sometimes all three!

And, in the odd chance that someone is not toting a gadget they are usually utterly transfixed by at least one of the dozen television screens. That in most cases are actually mounted to the treadmills. Personally I don’t mix entertainment and exercise. For me, music and TV are just background noise. I like to focus on what I’m doing, I don’t know, something about holding heavy weights above my head makes me want to pay attention, call me crazy.

Well according to this article by the Associated Press my attitude might be a good thing. It seems some experts believe all these gadgets can distract us from listening to our bodies. As the report points out this can be potentially hazardous. Michael Hill has more:
But are those distractions good or bad for exercisers? Researchers say it cuts both ways. Yes, a dose of video or audio can inspire better workouts. But distractions can also hurt performance. In a way, music can add some static to the mind-body connection…

… In a 2005 study, British researchers put 18 undergraduates on stationary bicycles to pedal either to silence or to "popular electronic dance music" on headphones. Participants worked about 13 percent harder to the up-tempo music compared to silence. One of the researchers, Sam Carr, suggested in an e-mail interview that music competes with an exercisers' awareness of how hard they're breathing, or how much their legs ache.
Okay, I admit it, the Rocky theme song makes me workout a little harder. But how many of you have been running and all of a sudden that Eye of the Tiger song comes on? Then you crank the treadmill up real high only to bring it down real low before the song is over, while exaggerating some kind of ache. Guilty!

Trans Fat: The Great Debate

Trans fat has become quite the hot topic. Not all that surprising really. We’re a desperately fat nation, so of course we’re scrambling for a quick fix! Why not ban trans fat? Why not? Good question. And for me it’s not one with an easy answer.

Sure, it does make sense to ban a reportedly harmful substance, but what about choice? Shouldn’t you have the freedom to consume trans fat if you really want to? Do we need government intervention here? This is why, believe it or not, I’m both for and against the ban on trans fat. And no, I’m not normally a fence-sitter. It’s just this one has me stumped.

Now some people have stronger convictions than me. As you’ll see, not everyone sits on the perch of indecision. Here are some reader opinions from the numerous Followhealthlife posts on trans fat. And in case your like me, maybe they’ll help you decide:
NYC: Trans Fat is Toast
Louise: You're torn? I can't believe it! The Harvard School of Public Health and Wageningen University has found that removing trans fats from the industrial food supply could prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks and cardiac deaths each year in the U.S. The public depends on the government protecting them from harmful consumer products, especially food and drugs. Maybe you're in favor of legalizing drugs as well?

It's better for society if laws conform to benefit the human organism.

New York Times On Banning Trans Fat
Jackie Danicki: Look, the way you get people to take responsibility for their health is not to revoke the degree to which they must take responsibility for their health. It is sad that so many people choose to eat themselves to death - which they could do without trans-fats, as it happens - but the ugly truth is that it is their choice to make.

My choices are what led me to being very overweight, and my choices have brought me down by more than 100 pounds. No amount of interfering from the government would have made a difference. How many people do you know who are obese because of trans-fats alone? Or is it more realistic to say that people become obese because they don't have active lifestyles, they have sedentary existences, and they overeat in huge quantities? It is the latter, of course. Unless you plan to start forcing people to exercise by law, under threat of jail and fines, it makes no sense to start using jail and fines to dictate what food people can eat.

Leave Trans Fat Alone?
Helena: I think trans fat should go, obviously, but I am not sure a ban will accomplish major health benefits. I think the dangers of trans fat are grossly overrated. Sure, the stuff is evil, but trans fat free French fries are still evil. I cringe every time I see those "heart healthy" fries advertised around here and I am not even sure that soybean oil fried fries are that much healthier than trans fatty fries. In the end, I really do not think it matters much.

Howard Stern On Trans-Fat
Diana: It has to be BANNED because otherwise most restaurants will continue to have trans-fats in much of what they serve, and they won't be forced to eliminate it. That leaves very few options for people that would like the CHOICE of eating healthy when out.

They don't NEED to use it! Food does not taste better with trans-fats!
Clearly there is no shortage of opinions on trans fat. Obviously it’s a big deal. Heck, according to The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles is planning to study other cities’ bans on trans fat. Maybe another ban is the horizon. Read on:
Public health officials will be asked to review the issue with the restaurant industry and community health organizations, and to study whether the county can regulate trans fats at restaurants countywide or just in unincorporated areas.

Jot Condie, president of the 22,000-member California Restaurant Association, said he's open to suggestions but believes banning something widely used in homes "has more cons than pros."
Sound off on this one. We could always use more viewpoints for the pile.

Do Cows Drink Soy Milk?

How do you feel about soy foods? Stuff like soymilk, tofu, and soy-burgers? Personally, I agree with Dr. Fuhrman, “Soy products can be tasty additions to a plant-based diet.” But, he points out that biodiversity is key. Humans should eat a variety of plant foods and not just a soy-based diet. That’s why I limit my soy consumption to soymilk and the occasional slab of tofu.

Okay, so we know how humans should approach soy, but what about animals? More specifically, cows. Do cow’s drink soymilk? Oh I’m not crazy. According to these new ads by Silk Soymilk, cows drink soy. They also walk upright. Wear pants. And talk! Take a look:

For more information on soy, check out these previous posts:
And sorry I don’t have any more info on these talking cows. Better call the MythBusters.

UPDATE: CowsforSilk has all you need know about the soymilk drinking cows. Moo!

The Brave UroStream

So you think you had a tough day? Well my friend, you don’t know the definition of a bad day. Check out this harrowing tale from UroStream. In my opinion, both her and her patient had a rough go of it:
I also did something a "ridiculous" in clinic yesterday, when I accompanied my patient into the toilet to watch her urinate with a pen light. She was complaining of a "strange stream", and I felt the only way to assess the situation thoroughly was to observe the act. Ahhh, the things we have to do... enough to put a smile on my tired face.

Healthy Cooking Tips: Hit and Miss

Do you watch cooking shows? I do, mainly because I have a crush on Rachael Ray, but that’s beside the point. Now, have you ever heard the host call something healthy, when in fact, it’s just the opposite. It usually sounds a lot like this, “The great thing about these smoky chicken cheese fritters is not only do they great taste, they’re good for you!” Yeah—not so much.

But given the amount of nutritional misinformation out there, this isn’t all that surprising. Heck, before I learned about Dr. Fuhrman even I thought a bag of pretzels was a “healthy” snack—needless to say I’ve come around. But sadly, many people in the culinary industry are still hit or miss when it comes to healthy recipe recommendations.

Take Brandy Rushing of CookingLight for example. She offers up 20 Tips to Make any Dish Healthier. As you’ll see, you’ve got to take the good with the bad here. First some good:
Study the recipe. Closely examine the original to see where changes can be made. "You can't just wing it, no matter how familiar you are with the recipe," says Test Kitchens Professional Kathryn Conrad. "Look at each ingredient to see where you can take away, add, or substitute…"

…Puree vegetables to add body. For example, mash some of the beans in a chili or the potatoes in a chowder.
And now some bad:
Reduce portion sizes. When plating, start with a smaller amount and see if that satisfies you…

… Opt for leaner meats, such as center-cut or loin meats and skinless, white-meat poultry. "For example, a slice of center-cut bacon has slightly less sodium and fat than regular cured bacon," Assistant Food Editor Kathy Kitchens Downie, R.D. says. In some cases, pork can be a leaner option than chicken.
Yeah, you won’t exactly find Dr. Fuhrman lending his support to the portion-control theory any time soon. More on this from Eat to Live:
It is meaningless to compare foods by weight or portion size. Let me provide and example why this is the case. Take one teaspoon of melted butter, which gets 100 percent of its calories from fat. If I take that teaspoon of butter and mix it in a glass of hot water, I can now say that it is 98 percent-fat-free, by weight. One hundred percent of its calories are still from fat. It didn’t matter how much water or weight was added, did it?
And he doesn’t think chicken is all its cracked up to be either. A little more from Eat to Live:
Red met is not the only problem. The consumption of chicken and fish is also linked to colon cancer. A large recent study examined the eating habits of 32,000 adults for six years and then watched the incidence of cancer for these subjects over the next six years. Those who avoided red meat but at white meat regularly had a more than 300 percent increase in colon cancer incidence.1 The same study showed that eating beans, peas, or lentils, at least twice a week was associated with a 50 percent lower risk than never eating these foods.
Okay, I don’t need to talk about bacon, do I? So if you’re looking for healthy recipes, that are truly good for you, check out Followhealthlife’s recipe archive. You’ll find things like these:
Portobella Mushrooms and Beans
1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic gloves, chopped
2 large portobella mushroom caps, sliced thin
1/3 cup red wine (or vegetable broth)
1 large tomato, diced, or 8 halved cherry tomatoes
1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans, juice reserved
Heat oil and spread to cover the bottom of a skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and the red wine or broth. Cook for 5 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and garbanzo beans, plus half the juice from the can. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Tomato Barley Stew
1 cup celery juice
1 medium onion
2 carrots, diced
1 zucchini
1 baked or boiled potato (no skin)
¼ cup unrefined barley
6 tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
8 oz. white mushrooms, chopped
Heat 1 cup of water and the juice on a low flame. Add the onion, carrots, zucchini and potato. Let simmer about 1 hour and then blend in blender or Vita-Mix. Return pureed mix back to the pot and add the barley, tomatoes, dried tomatoes and mushrooms and simmer for another 45 minutes.
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Nutritional Wisdom: "Why Eat to Live - the Basics"

Dr. Fuhrman’s radio show Nutritional Wisdom airs live Wednesdays at 11am EST with an encore presentation Thursdays at 3pm EST on VoiceAmerica. Here’s a peek at this week’s episode:

There is a formula to health and longevity. Join Dr. Fuhrman as he explains how to “Eat to Live” for a healthy, long life. Stop dieting and “Eat to Live”. You can add 25 quality years to your life.

Check out the Nutritional Wisdom category for previous episodes.

Eating for Prostate Health

From the July 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman’s Healthy Times:

My approach to prostate cancer is dramatically different from the conventional medical approach. It is built on a foundation of preventive nutrition and self-responsibility. Armed with modern science, I have designed a diet that makes it possible for you to virtually cancer-proof yourself by making intelligent choices in your kitchen.

Nutritional excellence, started as early in life as possible, is the only way we will win the war against cancer. As billions of dollars are being wasted on what is called “cancer research,”which would more accurately be called “drug research,” we continue to lose the battle to save lives. The emphasis must be shifted to nutritional education, now.

I advise all men to prevent the occurrence of prostate cancer—and to prevent existing low-grade prostate cancer from becoming aggressive—by adopting my program for nutritional excellence (check out Dr. Fuhrman's Diet Advice for Prostate Health).

If a hard prostate nodule is found during a digital rectal exam (DRE), I recommend that the patient get one year of hormonal treatment for prostate cancer. A hard nodule has a 90 percent chance of being prostate cancer, and there is also an increased likelihood of it being a later stage (higher Gleason score), riskier grade of prostate cancer.

For men who have eaten the Standard American Diet (SAD) for most of their lives, I recommend PSA testing twice yearly after the age of 60 to determine PSA velocity (the rate of increase of PSA over time). If your PSA is increasing at a rate of 2 ng/ml per year (shown to be a sensitive indicator of prostate cancer)1 then short-term hormonal therapy for prostate cancer can be pursued.

If you already have prostate cancer—and a Gleason score of 7 or higher or a palpable nodule identified by DRE—nutritional treatment alone does not offer enough of a guarantee of success. In these cases, a customized hormonal approach makes the most sense and has been shown to be very effective.2 Seek out a doctor well versed and experienced with triple hormonal blockade, who has the willingness and capability to customize a medical regimen for each individual patient. Triple hormonal blockade consists of a LH (luteinizing hormone) agonist, an anti-androgen, and finasteride. This treatment is usually performed for about a year and long-term suppression of cancer growth has been evident in scientific studies.

Quite a few enlightened physicians and urologists agree with the treatment options I describe in this newsletter. They no longer recommend local treatments (such as radiation and prostate surgery) directed at destroying the prostate. Instead, they have become experts in hormonal blockade. However, my approach goes farther than this because I add a nutritional protocol to prevent and treat cancer, which includes most of my general dietary recommendations for excellent health in general.
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Positively False Confidence in PSA Tests

From the July 2005 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

The use of the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test has become widespread in the U.S. Based on results of the test, physicians establish detailed treatment recommendations—which typically involve surgery, radiation, and other invasive techniques—in an attempt to decrease the likelihood of a premature death from prostate cancer.

Prior to the widespread use of the PSA test, prostate cancer was detected only via digital rectal exam (DRE). Digital does not, in this case, refer to modern computer technology; rather it refers to a doctor’s finger, a digit. Unfortunately, once a lump in the prostate is detected via DRE, the prostate cancer is already at a later stage, and any potential benefits of early intervention are reduced. Currently, clinical practice guidelines recommend the use of both DRE and PSA in men over 50 years of age.

Incredible as it may seem, the PSA test does not accurately detect cancer. If you are over 60 years old, the chance of having a prostate biopsy positive for cancer is high, and the likelihood you have prostate cancer is the same whether or not you have an elevated PSA. More and more studies in recent years have demonstrated that prostate cancer is found at the same high rate in those with lower, so-called “normal” PSAs as those with elevated PSAs.1 An interesting study from Stanford University in California showed that the ability of PSA to detect cancer from 1998 to 2003 was only 2 percent. The elevations in PSA (between 2 and 10) were related to benign enlargement of the prostate, not cancer.

Remember, the pharmaceutical/medical industry is big business. Too often, treatments are promoted from a financially-biased perspective, leading to overly invasive and aggressive care without documented benefits.

If you want to have your prostate biopsied, radiated, and cut out, go ahead, but you do not need a PSA blood test first to decide. The PSA test is just an excuse to give men a prostate biopsy.

If you are a male over 60 who has eaten the Standard American Diet (SAD) your entire life, you should assume you have prostate cancer. If you are convinced (and if you are, it won’t be because of anything in the scientific literature) that you will enhance and prolong your life by undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, you might as well get the treatment without even bothering with a PSA test first. If standard treatment actually enhanced the quality of life and extended it, it would make sense to get the treatment before age 50, when your prostate cancer would surely be confined to the prostate. I am not seriously suggesting either of these approaches. But they make more sense than the present standard, especially since populations who get regular PSA tests, compared to populations who do not, show no reduction in prostate cancer-related deaths.2

My recommendations revolve around protecting ourselves from cancer with nutritional excellence, staying as far away from doctors as possible, and enjoying life without medical interference, testing, fear, and futile treatments. However, I recommend nutritional excellence for everybody of both sexes and of all ages, for overall disease protection and for the maintenance of youthful vigor, wellness, and mental acuity as we age. Nutritional excellence is not just for cancer or heart disease prevention or treatment. Continue Reading...

Health Points: Tuesday

According to the report of the study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, overweight rates increased through adolescence from 7 to 10 percent in the Caucasian girls and from 17 to 24 percent in African American girls. Girls were 1.6 times more likely to become overweight between 9 and 12 years of age than in later adolescence.
She said she’d skip the wine but would take the cheese. Then she grabbed a handful of cheese cubes off the food platter and stuffed them into her mouth. After she swallowed, she looked at me, smiled, and said she wanted to die if she couldn't eat what she wanted. I called the doctor and my patient was treated for a sharp rise in her blood pressure.
The problem was the letter Karlind discovered, tucked inside her report card, saying that she had a body mass index in the 80th percentile. The first grader did not know what “index” or “percentile” meant, or that children scoring in the 5th through 85th percentiles are considered normal, while those scoring higher are at risk of being or already overweight.
My best advice is to keep the food that you want on hand and keep the types you don't out of the house. Start your children with healthy eating habits as soon as possible. Read labels and make informed choices.
The effects of the green-tea drinks go beyond those of caffeine-laden zero-calorie sodas, the manufacturers of Celsius and Enviga say. An antioxidant found in green tea — epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG — significantly increases metabolism, they say, which boosts the body's ability to burn fat.
Soft drink consumption:
  • All Americans: 6.4% of total caloric intake.
  • Teenage boys: 10%
  • Teenage girls: 9%
  • Will an online fitness tracker help people get people exercising? The American Heart Association sure hopes so. More from Jamie Stengle of the Associated Press:
The group hopes its new free Start! program will inspire Americans to follow through on those resolutions to get in shape. With its online fitness and nutrition tracker, participants can enter what they eat each day and how much exercise they get, then get a summary of calories in and calories out.
  • Ever heard of the Swine Flu? Sounds like something you order at a bar. Aetiology enlightens us:
The main swine viruses circulating are of serotypes H1N1, H3N2, and H1N2. (The news report doesn't identify the serotype this person was infected with). Some of these viruses are combinations of human, swine, and avian influenza viruses, and swine have previously been implicated in the generation of pandemic influenza viruses due to their ability to serve as a "mixing vessel" for avian and human-type influenza viruses. And since they're so closely related to humans (well, much more closely related than, say, birds, anyway), there is concern that a swine virus (or an avian virus that becomes adapted to mammals by infecting a pig) could enter the human population and wreak havoc. So, in a nutshell, that's one reason why we're so interested in swine influenza, even though "bird flu" has recently been so dominant in the news. And though this news report shows a fairly simple scenario so far, it raises a lot of unanswered questions.

Are the Inuit Healthy?

The Inuit, know anything about them? Personally, I don’t know much, just that they’re Eskimos. So, ever the good student, I decided to do a little Wikipedia search. Sure enough I turned up some interesting information. Here’s the introduction:

Inuit (Inuktitut syllabics, singular Inuk) is a general term for a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic coasts of Siberia, Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec, Labrador, and Greenland. Until fairly recent times, there has been a remarkable homogeneity in the culture throughout this area, which traditionally relied on fish, sea mammals, and land animals for food, heat, light, clothing, tools, and shelter. Their language, sometimes incorrectly called Inuktitut, is grouped under Inuit language or Eskimo-Aleut languages.

Okay, if animal foods are an integral part of Inuit society, then I’ve got a question. How is their health? What’s the answer? Well, that depends on who you ask. For example, this report was emailed to me by a reader. According to Margaret Munro of The Vancouver Sun a new study links the Inuit’s game rich diet to “remarkable” protection against heart disease and cancer. Take a look:

While accelerating environmental and social meltdown is putting huge stress on Arctic communities, the study of almost 1,000 Inuit in northern Quebec shows the diet rich in game continues to offer remarkable protection, says lead researcher Dr. Eric Dewailly of Laval University.

"The study shows that they still have huge benefit and protection," says Dewailly. He and his colleagues presented the results of the on-going study here yesterday at the annual scientific meeting of ArcticNet, a northern research consortium.

Now this report is troubling, because if you remember from a previous post the Inuit, and other primitive people, aren’t exactly tipping the life-expectancy scale. More on that from Do Primitive Peoples Really Live Longer:

Inuit Greenlanders, who historically have had limited access to fruits and vegetables, have the worst longevity statistics in North America. Research from the past and present shows that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the overall Canadian population.1…

…We now know that greatly increasing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and raw nuts and seeds (and greatly decreasing the consumption of animal products) offers profound increased longevity potential, due in large part to broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients that a vegetable-based diet contains. By taking advantage of the year-round availability of high-quality plant foods, we have a unique opportunity to live both healthier and longer than ever before in human history.

So what’s the deal with this report? Or more specifically, is the study flawed? I don’t know, but here’s what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about it:

The research did not show that the Inuits live a long time or are healthy. The statements in the article made conclusions not supported by the research. The research merely was tracking the declining health of the Inuits since the spread of processed junk food among younger people. We can’t look to this group as an example of long-lived healthy people.

Now for all my fellow nerds out there, Dr. Fuhrman also recommended checking out John Robbins’s book Healthy at 100. In it he lists the world’s healthiest people, and surprise-surprise the Inuit didn’t make the cut. From the online table of contents, here is the list:

1. Abkhasia: Ancients of the Caucasus
Where people are healthier at ninety than most of us are at middle age

2. Vilcabamba: The Valley of Eternal Youth
Where heart disease and dementia do not exist

3. Hunza: A People Who Dance in Their Nineties
Where cancer, diabetes, and asthma are unknown

4. The Centenarians of Okinawa
Where more people live to 100 than anywhere else in the world
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More Veggie E. Coli Fallout

Given the severity of the recent E. coli outbreak, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s still in the news. I’m sure people still want to know what’s being done to ensure something like it never happens again. Or why it happened in the first the first. Denise Grady of The New York Times investigates the aftermath of E. coli:
Last August, the F.D.A. announced a “lettuce safety initiative” in response to recurring E. coli outbreaks. It began with last fall’s lettuce harvest and included visits by inspectors to farms and cooling and packing facilities. But the spinach and Taco Bell outbreaks happened anyway…

… Scientists think most contamination lies on the surface of crops, but studies have shown that it is possible for bacteria to be taken up through root systems and actually wind up inside the plants, where no amount of washing could get rid of it. In any case, E. coli 0157:H7 tends to be sticky and is difficult or impossible to wash off, even when it’s only on the surface of produce.

American Healthcare Making Us Sick?

If you’ve been following Followhealthlife’s mini-series The Mammogram Debate, you’ve probably noticed that modern healthcare sometimes isn’t all its cracked up to be. In fact, it often appears as if there are other motivations at work, and not just a patient’s best interests. This is a rather controversial topic and, Dr. Fuhrman would agree, not readily covered by mainstream media.

So, to say the least, I was surprised to encounter this essay in Tuesday’s New York Times. H. Gilbert Welch, Lisa Schwartz, and Steven Woloshin contend that American medicine more often than not simply facilitates a precarious epidemic of diagnoses and not simply the pursuit of successful treatment. I’ll let them explain:
This epidemic is a threat to your health. It has two distinct sources. One is the medicalization of everyday life. Most of us experience physical or emotional sensations we don’t like, and in the past, this was considered a part of life. Increasingly, however, such sensations are considered symptoms of disease. Everyday experiences like insomnia, sadness, twitchy legs and impaired sex drive now become diagnoses: sleep disorder, depression, restless leg syndrome and sexual dysfunction.

Perhaps most worrisome is the medicalization of childhood. If children cough after exercising, they have asthma; if they have trouble reading, they are dyslexic; if they are unhappy, they are depressed; and if they alternate between unhappiness and liveliness, they have bipolar disorder. While these diagnoses may benefit the few with severe symptoms, one has to wonder about the effect on the many whose symptoms are mild, intermittent or transient.
Now, I’m a layman, this type of issue is a little over my head. So I asked Dr. Fuhrman for his thoughts, and here they are:
Our modern medical care delivery system is a big money making machine and has very effectively increased the need for medical services and drugs, but it does very little to foster better health in the population. From cholesterol lowering drugs, antihypertensive medication and diabetic medications to chemotherapy, Americans get disease care, not health care. Except in some unusual cases such as childhood cancers, medical care for chronic disease (which is usually drug care) is not the best way to prevent disease, reverse disease and prolong our life. Modern science has given much evidence (largely ignored) that lifestyle modification and nutritional excellence is much more effective than drug care. Nevertheless, the economic system funds and drives the population to respect and believe in our drug-centered medical delivery system and gives an economic disincentive to pursue lifestyle medicine as a field of research, study and practice.

If many doctors had the chance to observe what happens when nutritional excellence, exercise, light therapy and structural balance is taught as the foundation of health care they would see headaches, asthma, adult diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease resolve easily without the need for high tech surgical interventions and drugs. Lifestyle medicine is very rewarding work because we see people get well and they are able discontinue their drugs. How many asthmatics have most doctors seen recover? Lupus patients? Arthritis patients? Are they mostly increasing medications for their patients or decreasing them? Medical students, residents and other physicians have rotated and observed these routine occurrences, in my office and the body of research is slowly growing, but most doctors are skeptical and disinterested, or they will claim insufficient research. The bottom line is that the best health care is the right type of self-care, it is delivered in people's homes and kitchens and we really need less medical care and intervention, not more of it.

Food Face-Off

What does 200 calories of food look like? Actually, that’s kind of a trick question because it depends on the food. According to Dr. Fuhrman small amounts of some foods like meat and diary are more calorie-dense than larger amounts of fruits and vegetables. Check out the chart in Foods That Make You Thin for more

Of course, if you prefer pictures, take a look at what’s going on over at WiseGeek. You’ll see that the portion size of 200 calories worth of celery, baby carrots, or broccoli, dwarf what you get from 200 calories of canola oil, uncooked pasta, or cheddar cheese. Gee, I wonder, which foods help you lose weight? Now that’s not a trick question!
WiseGeek: What Does 200 Calories Look Like?

Childhood Allergies and Soy-Nut Butter

Now we’ve all seen those packaged “soy-nut” snacks. Did you ever stop and wonder, “What the heck is a soy-nut!” I mean I thought soy was a bean, right? Well not long ago Dr. Fuhrman discussed the origins of this pseudo-nut in the member center. He also provided tips for how to handle childhood allergies to real nuts, and I’m not talking about the members—kidding! Take a look:
My son (3 years old) has severe allergies: dairy, nuts, chickpeas, and lentils. I often feel like his diet is too heavily grain based, and it's a challenge to feed him a balanced diet. His weight has been at 30 pounds for about eight months, and I get a lot of slack from our pediatrician about his "limited" diet, due our choice not to eat animal products. Are nut allergies likely to be life-long? My son has "soy-nut butter" a lot on sandwiches, but it seems like a fairly processed product to me. Are there any alternatives for those with nut allergies? And is allergy testing really reliable? Food trials seems scary to me, as sometimes the reactions are bad (swollen lips, face, and full body hives). No fun!

Dr. Fuhrman:
Soy-nut butter is junk food. There is no such thing as a soy-nut anyway. That is like saying string-bean-nut butter. Soy-nut butter, you burn the food so it has no food value and is full of cancer-causing acrylamides, then you mix it with oil to make it into a unhealthier version of an unhealthy food.

No kid is allergic to every nut and seed. A positive blood test or a skin test is not a definitive test for food allergy. When you do a food trial you start with such a tiny speck of the food, so if he has a reaction it is mild, and then you increase the amount very slowly. Do this with the knowledge of your doctor and that the right medications are available (Epipen Jr. and Benydryl).

In the meantime, while you work out which nuts he can eat, use seeds and avocado. If he does not like avocado then you mash some avocado into everything he eats and feed him an avocado rich diet; smoothies with avocado, soups with avocado, dressings and dips with avocado and mashed banana with avocado. Use the seeds like that too. You may need to talk to me further to make sure he is getting everything he needs in his restrictive diet. Obviously, your primary goal should be to raise a healthy child, allowing him to reach his potential, so we have to make sure he is getting enough of these healthy higher fat foods or it will be necessary to add some animal products into his diet.

Thursday Health Points: What's in the Papers?

The idea of preventing Alzheimer's and other forms of mental decline is immensely attractive -- and there is some early evidence that this may be possible. Recent research, including an article published two weeks ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that boosting mental skills with simple exercises can help slow the rate of decline as people age.
Dr. Lleras-Muney and others point to one plausible explanation — as a group, less educated people are less able to plan for the future and to delay gratification. If true, that may, for example, explain the differences in smoking rates between more educated people and less educated ones.

Smokers are at least twice as likely to die at any age as people who never smoked, says Samuel Preston, a demographer at the University of Pennsylvania. And not only are poorly educated people more likely to smoke but, he says, “everybody knows that smoking can be deadly,” and that includes the poorly educated.
In January 2006, a group of residents concerned about the town's health started a free program called "Get Lost in Jackson." Over the next year, participants checked in at monthly weigh-ins; attended classes on fitness, nutrition and health; and began exercising.
“In 19th Century China, being heavy was a sign of great wealth and success, both for men and for women. So this is really a change in the sense that . . . China has been a very poor country, and people are just very, very thin. Now, of course, China is doing very well, and many people have a very reasonable lifestyle and are not suffering at all, but it's not just something the eye is accustomed to seeing and the cultural norm is just that smaller is better.”
The legislation is part of a handful of sweeping bills that Kennedy and others will seek to pass as Democrats begin running Congress. Republicans like Tom DeLay , the former House majority leader who helped to thwart tobacco regulation, are no longer in office.
Low dietary calcium and vitamin D: Milk and other dairy products can provide a major source of bone-building calcium to most diets. Leafy green vegetables and soybeans are also high in calcium.
While some pundits rank radical feminism among the top threats to American manhood, James Rutz says we should shift some blame to tofu.

That's because tofu is made of soy. And soy consumption, writes the Megashift Ministries founder and religion columnist for conservative news site WorldNetDaily.com, "commonly leads to decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality."
Red tomatoes contain lycopene, which not only is good for your heart but also fights cancer and could boost prostate-gland health too.

Blue and purple fruits such as blackberries, black currants and plums promote urinary-tract health and memory function and could thwart the development of cancer. Cranberries have been shown to increase HDL, or good cholesterol, and they act as powerful antioxidants
Losing weight because you want to look good is an extrinsic motivation and one that usually won't take you very far. "Aesthetics can't drive it hard enough, like wanting to fit into your skinny jeans," Dixie Douville, a certified fitness trainer and co-founder of Active Weigh Health and Weight Loss Coaching in Flanders said. "The biggest reason it doesn't work is, a lot of people are unreasonable with the goals they set."

The Problem with Acrylamides

Food, it keeps our human machines running. Without it, we’d be dead. But if food is so precious, how come so many edibles are loaded with dangerous compounds? Need examples? Consider mercury contamination of fish, or what about PCBs found in animal fat, trans fat ring a bell, and let’s not forget pesticides on produce. In fact, you only have to look at the recent E. coli outbreak to realize that in many cases food is our worst enemy. Did I mention the obesity epidemic too?

So this next report shouldn’t surprise you. It’s about acrylamides. Know what they are? No? Well you’re not alone, according to Libby Quaid of the Associated Press not many people do. They also don’t know just how dangerous these compounds reportedly are and that they can be found in many of the foods we feed to our children. More from the article:
Acrylamide turns up in all kinds of tasty foods, including french fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals, cookies and crackers. But it's difficult for consumers to figure out how much acrylamide is in a particular meal or snack…

… Acrylamide also forms in plenty of other starches, like the toasted oats in Cheerios, the flour in hard pretzels or even the sweet potatoes in Gerber Tender Harvest organic baby food.

But compared with other worrisome chemicals in food, such as mercury in fish or benzene in soda, relatively little is known about how acrylamide forms, how it affects people or what to do about it. High levels of acrylamide in food were first reported by Swedish researchers in 2002.
Hopefully your attention is thoroughly piqued. Now, for more on acylamides check out this section of Onlyourhealth Your Child. According to Dr. Fuhrman acylamides have been linked to both breast and uterine cancer. Read on:
Not only do processed foods and fast foods often contain dangerous trans fats and other additives, but they also can have high levels of acrylamides. When processed foods are baked and fried at high temperatures, these cancer-causing chemical compounds are produced. Many processed foods, such as chips, french fries, and sugar-coated breakfast cereals, are rich in acrylamides. Acrylamides also form in foods you bake until brown or fry at home; they do not form in foods that are steamed or boiled.

There was worldwide alarm in the scientific community in 2002 after researchers announced that many of the foods children eat contain high levels of these potent cancer-causing compounds. Acrylamides cause genetic mutations, leading to a wide variety of cancer in lab animals, including breast and uterine cancer. It has not been definitively shown that acylamides are a major factor in the development of human cancers, but most cancer experts working in this field presume that it does.1 This offers another reason to avoid consumption of overly heated and processed foods.
Okay. I don’t know about you, but hearing that something “might” cause cancer is enough to make me seriously limit my exposure to it. If not avoid it altogether. In Onlyourhealth Your Child Dr. Fuhrman offers some advice for avoiding acylamides when cooking at home. Time to get out your steamers:
Steaming vegetables and making soups is called water-based cooking. Water-based cooking is the preferred way to cook because you can avoid cancer-causing acrylamides that are created when foods are browned by baking or frying.

Never eat browned or overly cooked food. Burnt food forms harmful compounds. If by accident something is overcooked and browned, discard it. Avoid fried food and food sautéed in oil. Experiment with low heat cooking to prevent nutritional damage to the food and the formation of dangerous heat-generated compounds.
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Feed Your Family Right

Want your kids to eat healthier? Is hubby downing too many nachos and not enough veggies? Wife hooked on bonbons and chocolate? Need a solution? Well according to Dr. Fuhrman, healthy eating should be for the whole family. That way everyone eats better. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
Parents are entrusted with the responsibility of securing the selection of healthy foods for the family and preparing the food in a way that makes it desirable. Children are responsible for deciding how much they eat. If they are in an environmental of healthful foods they will have no problem regulating variety and timing. They can choose what they eat, when they eat, and if they will eat. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Don’t offer a treat because the child was good or ate well. Offer healthy treats as part of the normal well-balanced diet.

No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children. Don’t argue about what your children should and shouldn’t be eating; discuss this in private. As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not perfect either. For example, if the parents decide that an unhealthy food or a restaurant meal is acceptable for the children once per week, then that goes for the adults, too. Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.
Lead by example sure seems like a good idea. Especially when you consider what might happen if you slack off on family nutrition. For starters, according to HealthDay News filling baby’s sippy cup with sugary drinks is a one way street to cavity town:
"Sippy cups were created to help children transition from a bottle to drinking from a regular cup, but they're too often used for convenience because they reduce spills. When kids sip sugared beverages for extended periods, they are exposed to a higher risk of (tooth) decay," Dr. Philip H. Hunke, AAPD president, said in a prepared statement.

Between 1988-1994 and 1999-2002, there was a 15.2 percent increase in cavities among kids aged 2 to 5 in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If pricey cavities aren’t enough to get your family on the healthy eating bandwagon, what about this report claiming adults living with children consume more fat. More from the AFP:
The University of Iowa and University of Michigan health system study found that adults living with children ate an extra 4.9 grams of fat daily, including 1.7 grams of saturated fat. Adults living with children also were found to be more likely to eat high-fat foods and snacks.

"Adults with children in the home ate more of those snacks and other foods that we considered convenience foods," said Helena Laroche, a researcher at the University of Iowa.
I don’t know about you, but establishing a healthy family diet seems like the way to go.

Health Points: Tuesday

This year, farmers planted about three-quarters of a million acres of low-linolenic soybeans, about a third to a half of what is needed to meet the demand, said Steven W. Poole, a spokesman for Qualisoy, an association that researches and promotes soybeans with enhanced traits.
Ultimately, Mr. Poole anticipates that as many as five million acres of low-linolenic soybeans could be planted in the United States as more partially hydrogenated oils are replaced.
I've always liked fresh corn and peas. Each brightly colored, with a crisp sweetness, and both best when cooked very gently. Sit those kernels on a plate, they make a nice visual statement as well. Slopped between loops of intestine, stuck above the liver, soiling the hidden spaces around the pancreas and duodenum, filling the pelvis, some of the sensual pleasure of what may have been a nice meal gets lost, and dealing with it puts me off the feed for a while. Doesn't smell all that great, either. If it's embarrassing to get a drop of soup on your tie, imagine how it'd feel to see your omentum harboring a whole salad. Hanging down from the transverse colon like a wet apron, it can hide lots of cranberries in its crannies; getting them loose requires individual plucking, and can take a while. The upside is that a person with a perforated ulcer is generally in a lot of pain, and sewing up the hole, cleaning out the food, and copiously irrigating away the acids means s/he is likely to wake up with a smile. I can put up with a little personal unpleasantness when it produces results like that.
One 45-year-old professional writer -- who asked not to be named in order to speak more candidly -- described how she lost nearly 100 pounds over three years after doing some heavy soul-searching. "I had to think, 'Why do I do things that aren't so healthy?' and think about what motivates me, not only to be healthy but also what motivates one to not be healthy. What was I getting out of that?"

It is when people fail to develop healthy coping mechanisms that they fall back on bad habits such as smoking, according to John Banzhaf, George Washington University law professor and executive director of the District-based anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health. "And then a cigarette is no longer enough, so you go to alcohol. And on and on."
At times like this, you need beauty. Doesn't matter if it's a sunset or Body Worlds or a good bottle of wine; you need beauty.

And getting next to it can be enough. Getting to hear fetal heart tones coming from the belly of a woman who's had successful emergency surgery can be enough. Seeing one person walk that you never thought would is enough. Having a patient who's well enough to eat the food his family brought in for Eid ul-Adha is enough.
New guidelines from the industry are due in April on how to prevent contamination throughout the food chain, from before greens are planted until they reach the dinner table.

Members of Congress are asking federal agencies to report on what went wrong and how to fix the problem. Some lawmakers want to replace the patchwork system of federal food regulation with a single agency in charge of what people eat.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that one in three children born in the U.S. five years ago is expected to become diabetic in their lifetime. The number of diabetics has grown by 80% in the past decade.
As 2007 dawns, there are no wildly popular weight loss fads sweeping the country on the scale of Atkins or South Beach a few years ago, or, to a lesser extent, the Sonoma and Shangri-la diets of last year.
Bah! You're hardly meat. But you are quite popular, and people aspire to taste like you. You're probably quite skinny and free of vices. Except letting people eat your eggs.