Exercise vs. Breast Cancer Risk

Exercise never seems like a bad thing, and, unless your workout involves being chased by a pack of rabid dogs, you can always use some. Here’s more good news. According to a new study exercising for five or more hours a week can cut women’s breast cancer risk in half. Emily Brown, Bloomberg of The Boston Globe reports:
Strenuous or moderate exercise from the teens to about age 50 reduces the risk of some types of breast cancer by as much as 55 percent, according to a study published in yesterday's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Previous studies asked women about current exercise habits and not activities over time.

"It's long-term activity that matters," Leslie Bernstein, one of the study's authors, said in an interview. "This may explain why asking women what they currently does not adequately capture physical activity relevant to breast cancer risk. It is really activity during reproductive years and into the early 50s in our study, which predicts breast cancer risk."

Beans and Obesity Prevention

Beans are pretty amazing. Sure they taste great and are loaded with lots fiber and protein, but did you know they do a nice job of stifling hunger as well? Don’t take my word for it. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in Eat to Live:
Legumes are among the world's most perfect foods. They stabilize blood sugar, blunt your desire for sweets, and prevent mid-afternoon cravings. Even a small portion can help you feel full. I encourage you to eat at least one full cup daily. They can be flavored and spiced in interesting ways, and you can eat an unlimited quantity of them. Eat some beans with every lunch. Among your choices are chickpeas, black-eyed peas, black beans, cowpeas, green peas, lima beans, pinto beans, lentils, red kidney beans, soybeans, cannelloni beans, pigeon peas, and white beans.
Not bad for a food that is forever linked to stinky punch-lines. In fact, it is well know in the medical community that beans can help people maintain healthy body weight, and, even lose weight. Check out this news break from The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine about beans and weight-loss:
A presentation at the recent Experimental Biology Conference revealed that people who include beans in their diets have healthier diets overall, lower body weights, and reduced risk of obesity. Researchers used data from the National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey (1999-2002) to study the associations between bean consumption, nutrient intake, and certain health parameters among children and adults.
Pretty cool, right? Personally I eat a lot of beans—which partially explains why I’m single—I love cooking navy beans with collard greens or escarole. Now, new research helps confirm this good PR for beans. According to HealthDay News rats stayed fitter on a diet of black soya beans. Krisha McCoy reports:
New research in rats suggests that black soya beans may be a wonder food of sorts, helping to prevent obesity, lower cholesterol levels and possibly even reduce risks for diabetes…

…After two weeks, the rats getting 10 percent of their energy from black soya gained half as much weight as those in the control group, and their total blood cholesterol and LDL (so-called "bad") cholesterol fell by 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Dr. Fuhrman likes beans so much that he lists them as one of his top five favorite foods, and, in Eat to Live he points out that beans have also been linked to cancer-prevention. Take a look:
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…

..Beans, in general, not just soy, have additional anti-cancer benefits against reproductive cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.2
So next time you hear someone call beans a magical fruit, just smile and nod.
Continue Reading...

Fight Diabetes with Phytochemicals

I can’t imagine how it must feel to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Sitting their while some lab coat explains your new regiment of blood-testing and insulin injections. One of my biggest fears is chronic illness—I have a fear of commitment—how can a person just accept being sick?

Unfortunately I think we’re a culture that considers disease as a natural part of aging. Heck, certain members of my own family treat their prescribed medications as a badge of honor. And that’s exactly the kind of attitude that gets under Dr. Fuhrman’s skin. He insists you don’t have to go out like that. From Eat to Live:
The diseases that afflict, and eventually kill, almost all Americans can be avoided. You can live a high-quality, disease-free life and remain physically active and healthy. You can die peacefully and uneventfully at an old age, as nature intended.
So then, what about Type 2 Diabetes, you’ve got it, now what? Fight! And fight like the devil. Don’t fall into modern healthcare’s symbiotic relationship between you, the disease, and medication. Dr. Fuhrman will tell you, you don’t have to settle for diabetes. According to him you’ve got options. Consider this from Understanding the Development of Type 2 Diabetes:
How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies? How can they lower their lipids and blood pressure, lose weight, and avoid taking dangerous drugs, such as insulin and sulfonylureas? They need to adopt a diet based on nutritional excellence.

Fortunately, the best diet for good health and longevity is also the best diet for diabetics. It is a diet with a high nutrient per calorie ratio, as carefully described in my book, Eat to Live. When you eat a diet consisting predominantly of nature's perfect foods—green vegetables, beans, eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, raw nuts and seeds, and limited amounts of fresh fruit, it becomes relatively easy to eat as much as you want and still lose your excess weight. In my experience, those who follow my nutritional recommendations find that their diabetes disappears astonishingly fast, even before most of their excess weight melts away.
I don’t know about you, but given the choice between fresh veggies and an insulin injection, salad wins everyday of the week. And the idea seems to be catching on. The Diabetes Blog is all over research linking increased consumption of vegetables with protective health benefits:
Colorado State University researchers found that, despite eating one less serving daily, people who consumed a wider array of vegetables experienced more health benefits than those who chose from a smaller assortment. The source behind these benefits come from phytochemicals, compounds that guard cells against free radical damage. By eating a wider assortment of vegetables, people had a better chance of consuming a greater amount of protective phytochemicals.
For more on Dr. Fuhrman’s approach towards treating diabetes with vegetable-based nutritional excellence, here are some previous posts:

Binge Eating is the Diagnosis

Earlier this month Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times reported on a new survey pointing to binge eating as an actual diagnosis. Here’s a little of the article:
The first nationally representative study of eating disorders in the United States, a nationwide survey of more than 2,900 men and women, was published by Harvard researchers in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry. It found prevalence in the general population of 0.6 percent for anorexia, 1 percent for bulimia and 2.8 percent for binge-eating disorder…

… 'It confirms that anorexia nervosa and bulimia are uncommon but serious illnesses, especially among women,'' Dr. B. Timothy Walsh, director of the eating disorders research unit of the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center said. ''It also finds that many more individuals, especially those with significant obesity, are troubled by binge eating, and underscores the need to better understand this problem.''
I was curious to get Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on this, so I asked him. You’ll see that he isn’t all that impressed:
My thoughts are that the diagnosis of the disease (naming it) is not the cause of it and eating nutrition-less foods play a role in triggering overeating and other addictive behaviors. If the American diet relied more on natural, high fiber, plant foods, food addictions would dramatically be reduced.

Childhood Eating: The Pack Mentality

Have you ever watched the Discovery Channel and seen those nature shows with hungry hyenas frenzying over a fallen gazelle? That’s exactly what this next report reminded me of, except, it involves children and not blood thirsty predators of the Serengeti. Although some of you might be able to relate to that comparison. According to new research when young children are part of a large group they eat more. Eric Nagourney of The New York Times explains:
The researchers, who report their findings online in The Archives of Disease in Childhood, say it has often been observed in animals and adults that consumption goes up as the number eating increases. People will even keep eating past the point when their appetite has been satisfied…

…The tools of the study were simple: hungry children, a snack area and that mainstay of childhood, graham crackers. The researchers looked at how children ate when they were in groups of three or nine. They found that in the larger groups, the children ate 30 percent more.
Here’s what troubled me about this study. The researchers used graham crackers—in other words—junk food. Now, if you’re familiar with Dr. Fuhrman’s concept of toxic hunger, you know that sugary refined flour treats like graham crackers contribute to it. Now before I continue, here’s a refresher on toxic hunger. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
A few hours after eating, feeling weak, headachy, tired, mentally dull, and stomach cramping or discomfort is not true hunger! These symptoms of stomach cramping and fluttering, headaches and fatigue that begin when digestion is completed I call “toxic hunger” because these symptoms only occur in those who have been eating a toxic diet. These are withdrawal symptoms from an unhealthful diet, and this discomfort is mistakenly interpreted as the need to eat more frequently and take in more calories. Continual eating stops the discomfort, just like frequent coffee drinking stops the headaches from caffeine withdrawal.
So this brings me to this question. By feeding participants graham crackers, wouldn’t that by default increase their risk of overeating? After all, graham crackers are nothing more than standard American snack food. It seems to me that it would have made more sense to conduct this study using natural or “real” food. That way you avoid the risk of toxic hunger, which obviously would taint the results.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “What would have been a good food to use?” How about green vegetables? According to Dr. Fuhrman green veggies do a great job of filling you up, provide lots of essential nutrients, and don’t contain a lot of calories. Check out Foods That Make You Thin for more that:
Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing is the one pound-one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked--keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses.
But you know what? I’m sure a lot of people succumb to social influence and kids are probably no different. Take me for example, I come from an Italian family and if you don’t eat—or in most cases overeat—there’s automatically something from with you. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the findings of this study were the same, even if they ditched the graham crackers in favor of something healthier. Although, what do you think about this? If children are raised around good food and people who don’t overeat, might they be able to resist the social feeding frenzy? I’ll leave that one to speculation.

Caffeine, Risk, and Babies

For a long time I was a coffee guy. Three cups a day in fact. Coffee so black I used to stir it with a dipstick. Needless to say, I don’t partake in the java anymore. Why? Well according to Dr. Fuhrman coffee and caffeine can contribute to major health problems, like cardiac arrhythmias and heart disease. There’s more on that in Eat to Live:
Caffeine addicts are at higher risk of cardiac arrhythmias that could precipitate sudden death.1 Coffee raises blood pressure and raises cholesterol and homocysteine, two risk factors for heart disease.2
Also, Dr. Fuhrman insists that caffeine consumption can interfere with your body’s ability to overcome toxic hunger and leave you further out of touch with true hunger. Back to Eat to Live:
Eating more food suppresses caffeine-withdrawals headaches and other withdrawal symptoms. When you are finally finished digesting the meal, the body more effectively cleans house; at this time people experience a drive to eat more to suppress caffeine-withdrawal symptoms. You are prodded to eat again, eating more food than you would if you were not a caffeine addict.
Now, not only does Dr. Fuhrman recommend avoiding caffeine as an adult, but he considers it especially verboten for pregnant mothers. He talks about that in Disease-Proof Your Child:
Caffeine has been a controversial topic for decades. Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.3 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible. The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.
Personally, I agree with him. There are plenty of other things to drink. You don’t HAVE to drink coffee or caffeine. Just because as a culture we associate mornings with caffeine, doesn’t mean you need to follow the rest of lemmings off the cliff. But apparently for some, this isn’t satisfactory.

Dutch researchers claim that reducing caffeine consumption during pregnancy from three cups of coffee a day to one has no effect on the baby’s birth weight. Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times reports:
The researchers recruited 1,207 pregnant women at 20 weeks’ gestation or less who reported drinking at least three cups of caffeinated coffee a day. About half of the women were randomly assigned to drink caffeinated coffee, while the other half were instructed to drink decaf for the duration of their pregnancies, with no other changes in their usual consumption of tea or caffeinated soft drinks.

After adjusting for prepregnancy weight, smoking status and other variables, the average birth weight of babies in the decaf group was a statistically insignificant one-half ounce higher than that of babies in the coffee-drinking group.
Again, if something as trivial as your beverage preference has even the slightest risk of harming your unborn child, why not put the kibosh on it? Uh duh!

For more on coffee and health, check out these previous posts:
Continue Reading...

Salt Wars: The Phantom Menace

Salt, when you hear the word, what thoughts come to mind? “Too much salt is bad for me.” Or, “That reminds me, I’ve got to check my bid on Ebay for that Elvis salt & pepper shaker set that I simply must have.” Heck, maybe you even have one of these lines, “My grand daddy lived to the ripe ole’ age of ninety-six and he put salt on everything from pasta to pickled pigs feet.”

That pretty much sums up salt’s MO. Lot’s of people who think it’s bad and limit their exposure to it, and then there are others who dump it on everything. As for Dr. Fuhrman, he’s no fan of salt. In fact, he considers it to be one of the seven worst foods for health and longevity. Here’s all seven:
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
Now not everyone shares Dr. Fuhrman’s disdain for salt. Rather, some “diet experts” basically endorse consumption of salty food. Take Dr. Atkins for example, he’d like people to use salted pork rinds as a substitute for dinner rolls and toast—and for making pie crusts! No, I'm not joking. Check it out over at AtkinsExposed.org:
Atkins rivals the creativity of the raw-food chefs of today in his uses for pork rinds. Pork rinds are chunks of pigs’ skin that are deep-fried, salted and artificially flavored. He recommends people use them to dip caviar. Or, perhaps for those who can't afford caviar, one can use fried pork rinds as a "substitute for toast, dinner rolls...You can use them as a pie crust... or even matzo ball soup (see our recipe on p. 190)."[144] Matzo balls made out of pork rinds?--now that is a diet revolution!
You’ve got to wonder about recommendations like this, especially since according to Dr. Fuhrman salt consumption has been linked to the development of stomach cancer and hypertension. Consider this excerpt from Eat to Live:
Any excess salt added to food, outside of what is contained in natural foods, is likely to increase your risk of developing disease. Salt consumption is linked to both stomach cancer and hypertension.1 For optimal health, I recommend that no salt at all be added to any food. The famous DASH study clearly indicates that Americans consume five to ten times as much as they need and that high sodium levels over the years has a predictable effect on raising blood pressure.2 Just because you don’t have high blood pressure now doesn’t mean that you won’t. In fact, you probably will have high blood pressure if you keep eating lots of salt over the years.
So, what happens when dangerous diet information is put out there? The masses eat it up. For example, from Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb here’s Jimmy Moore’s take on salt:
Unless you are salt-sensitive (and it just so happens that I am!), there is no reason why you should watch your salt intake. An overwhelming majority have no reason to cut down on their salt intake. NONE! The fact that a minority of the population has sensitivity to salt should not make this a universal recommendation.
Luckily for Jimmy, he’s “salt-sensitive.” So he is limiting his exposure to it, but saying that the majority of people have no reason to avoid salt, well, that seems a little misguided because in addition to the hypertension and stomach cancer risk, Dr. Fuhrman associates salt intake with osteoporosis and heart attacks. More from Eat to Live:
Salt also pulls out calcium and other trace minerals in the urine when the excess is excreted, which is a contributory cause of osteoporosis.3 If that is not enough, high sodium intake is predictive of increased death from heart attacks. In a large prospective trial, recently published in the respected medical journal The Lancet, there was a frighteningly high correlation between sodium intake and all cause mortality in overweight men.4 The researchers concluded, “High sodium intake predicted mortality and risk of coronary heart disease, independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure. These results provide direct evidence of the harmful effects of high salt intake in the adult population.”
Now these dangers are clear, but arguably the biggest problem with salt is it shows up where you least expect it to. Sure, you can crack down on your habit of burying every meal in it, but, that’s only half the battle. Sally Kuzemchak of Prevention magazine explains that the main problem with salt is that it’s everywhere:
It's crammed into cheese slices and canned vegetables and sprinkled into cinnamon-raisin bagels and sandwich bread. You can consume a day's worth of the mineral with an order of mu shu pork with rice from your local Chinese restaurant, according to an analysis by the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest, in Washington, DC. As much as 80% of the sodium we get every day comes from these processed and prepared foods—not the salt shaker.
Sally also points to additional research highlighting the dangers of high-sodium diets:
There's also evidence to suggest that high-sodium diets may up the risk of gastric cancer. And in a small study from Colorado State University, a high-salt diet (more than 5,000 mg per day) worsened lung function in people with exercise-induced asthma, which occurs in as many as 90% of asthmatics. A low-salt diet improved it.
Information like this really makes you wonder how Dr. Atkins could endorse eating salty snacks like pork rinds. Now, the concern over people’s salt exposure is growing. Back in September Melanie Warner of The New York Times reported that the American Medical Association wants the government and the food industry to limit the amount of salt that can be used in food production. More from the report:
Specifically, the medical association, which had never before called for regulation of a food ingredient, asked the F.D.A. to revoke salt’s long-time status as a substance that is “generally recognized as safe,” a classification that warrants little oversight. Instead, the F.D.A. should regulate salt as a food additive, the medical group said.

If the recommendation were adopted, packaged-food companies would have to adhere to limits on allowable sodium levels for various categories of food, and speed up the search for an alternative to salt as a preservative and flavor enhancer.
What I take away from all this is more evidence of people’s emotional attachment to food, in this case salt; when you talk with Dr. Fuhrman he often refers to this phenomenon. Sometimes people are so blinded by their emotional crush on certain foods that they can’t face facts. The evidence shows that salt is bad for us, but, I guess some people just can’t stand the thought of a lonely pepper shaker.
Continue Reading...

Food Dudes to the Rescue

Can’t get your kids to eat their veggies? Well have you tried dragging them through a lettuce patch with their mouths open? Just kidding, don’t do that, dirt stains are hard to get out. Seriously now, according to Dr. Fuhrman the key to getting your kids to eat right, is to lead by example. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
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.
Clearly most parents don’t heed this advice. Otherwise why else would new research cite obesity as the most important health issue facing children in the United States? In fact, 98% of the people surveyed believe that responsibility for childhood obesity lies with the parents. More on this from HealthDay News:
The survey showed that responsibility for helping to address the obesity issue in the United States lies to some or a great extent with parents (98 percent), individuals (96 percent), schools (87 percent), health care providers (84 percent), the food industry (81 percent), and government (67 percent).
Okay, so let’s assume the worst case scenario. Your kids are obese and you haven’t exactly been the best role model for healthy eating. What should you do? Have your kids drag you through a lettuce patch with your mouth open? No. Instead take control now, consider Dr. Fuhrman’s tips in How to Help Your Overweight Child. Here are a couple good ones:
5. Make dietary goals that the entire family understands and can agree to adopt. Lay out an eating plan for dinners and school lunches that promotes long-term health.

6. Praise your child for issues not related to weight loss or gain. Make other issues as important, such as school work, ethics, care for others, attitude towards learning, and development skills.
Of course if all else fails—and you don’t live near a lettuce patch—just call THE FOOD DUDES! Who are The Food Dudes you ask? Just a group of mild-mannered preteen superheroes on a mission to promote healthy eating amongst youngsters. Maria Cheng of the Associated Press tells their tale:
The Food Dudes series uses peer pressure, peer modeling and a reward system to get kids to shun unhealthy foods. Prizes like small toys, pencils and pens are an enticement. And the superheroes are slightly older than their viewers, making them believable role models. Each character gets super powers from one of four healthy foods — broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and raspberries.

In Ireland's pilot program, which began in 2005, children aged 2 to 11, doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten and in some cases boosted consumption of such foods by 10 to 14 times, the organizers say.

In one primary school, the fruit consumption of 5- and 6-year-olds more than doubled. The kids were originally eating 28 percent of the fruit given them; six months later they were eating nearly 60 percent. Vegetable consumption jumped from 8 percent to 32 percent.
Sounds like a good idea to me. Growing up my generation had Captain Planet and now lots of my friends are environmentally conscious. Hence me actually taking the time to find this quote, "Let our powers combine! Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet! GO PLANET! "

Now for the many of us that can’t get our hands on those Food Dudes videotapes, have a listen to Dr. Fuhrman’s podcast on getting children to eat better.

Diet-Blog: Are We Too Obsessed With Processed Food?

Okay readers. Let’s hear it, “Yes!” Just watch television for a few minutes and you’re bound to be bombarded with numerous ads for sugary breakfast cereals, reduced fat mini-cupcakes, or low-carb crackers. The industrial revolution never ended, it just shifted focus. Diet-Blog ponders our obsession with processed junk food:
Go to any grocery store, and you'll see rows and rows of shelves filled with processed food. Many boast various health claims – less sugar, more fiber, low fat, heart healthy – you get the picture…

… In my opinion, it's time to get back to basics and consume foods that will nourish our bodies. Then we might actually see a decline in obesity rates and our next generation might not die before their parents.
Now Dr. Fuhrman also has a gripe with refined foods, centering on their lack of important dietary fiber and nutrients. He elaborates on this in Eat to Live:
The reality is that healthy, nutritious foods are also very rich in fiber and that those foods associated with disease risk are generally fiber-deficient. Meat and dairy products do not contain any fiber, and foods made from refined grains (such as white bread, white rice, and pasta) have had their fiber removed. Clearly, we must substantially reduce our consumption of these fiber-deficient foods if we expect to lose weight and live a long, healthy life.

Fiber intake from food is a good marker of disease risk. The amount of fiber consumed may better predict weight gain, insulin levels, and other cardiovascular risk factors than does the amount of total fat consumed, according to recent studies reported in the October 27, 1999, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.1 Again, data show that removing the fiber from food is extremely dangerous.
For more on America’s obsession with industrialized food check out these recent posts:
Continue Reading...

An Antibiotic Dilemma

Here’s a question for you, how many times in your life have you been prescribed antibiotics? Now, I’m not a betting man, but I’d put the farm on “a lot.” Personally, when I was a kid I remember getting antibiotics for everything, especially recurrent ear infections, which according to Dr. Fuhrman isn’t exactly the wisest course of action. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
Studies also point to the fact that most ear infections early in life are viral, not bacterial.1 The vast majority of ear infections resolve nicely on their own, whether bacterial or viral, without an antibiotic. It is a common practice in this country to treat all ear infections with an antibiotic. Whether bacterial or not, our children get a routine prescription for an antibiotic at every minor illness. This cycle often is repeated many times, which may beget other medical problems in adulthood.
“The vast majority of ear infections resolve nicely on their own.” Sounds a little weird, right? I mean, try telling a member of our heavily medicated society that an EAR INFECTION can go away by itself—they’d probably have to pop a Prozac before they could even consider it! But hold on a minute, there’s proof in the pudding. Check out this study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, it seems something know as the "wait-and-see prescription" does a good job treating Acute Otitis Media, otherwise known as middle ear infections:
Results: Overall, 283 patients were randomized either to the WASP [wait-and-see prescription] group (n = 138) or the SP group (n = 145). Substantially more parents in the WASP group did not fill the antibiotic prescription (62% vs 13%; P<.001). There was no statistically significant difference between the groups in the frequency of subsequent fever, otalgia, or unscheduled visits for medical care. Within the WASP group, both fever (relative risk [RR], 2.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.75 - 4.99; P<.001) and otalgia (RR, 1.62; 95% CI, 1.26 - 2.03; P<.001) were associated with filling the prescription.

Conclusion: The WASP approach substantially reduced unnecessary use of antibiotics in children with AOM [Acute Otitis Media] seen in an emergency department and may be an alternative to routine use of antimicrobials for treatment of such children.
So then, if we don’t need antibiotics for every ailment that ails us, why are we getting them? Well that’s a tough one to answer. I know I can’t, but if I had to guess, I’m sure there’s a whole stewpot full of reasons why. Dr. Fuhrman talks about this in January 2004 edition of Healthy Times:
Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors. The more widely these newer (and often ten times more expensive) antibiotics are used, the greater the chances that the bacteria will develop resistance…

…Many patients don't think a doctor is doing his job if he doesn't prescribe antibiotics or other medication. If he doesn't prescribe the medication they want, some patients actually will look for another doctor who will…

…Most doctors perpetuate this problem because they give in to the pressure to prescribe antibiotics. They like to appear that they are offering an important and necessary service by writing prescriptions.
Okay, so it’s very clear that our love affair with antibiotics is far and wide, but how dangerous is it? What are the repercussions of having a society so saturated in antibiotics? For starters, according to Dr. Fuhrman our “good bacteria” is at stake. More from Disease-Proof Your Child:
Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, digestive disturbances, yeast overgrowth, bone marrow suppression, seizures, kidney damage, colitis, and life-threatening allergic reactions. The unnecessary over prescription of antibiotics during past decades has been blamed for the recent emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of deadly bacteria. Besides these potential risks, in every single person who takes an antibiotic, the drug kills a broad assortment of helpful bacteria that live in the digestive tract and aid digestion. It kills the “bad” bacteria, such as those that can complicate and infection, but it also kills these helpful “good” bacteria lining your digestive tract that have properties that protect from future illness.
And in Antibiotics for Colds, Bronchitis, and Sinusitis Dr. Fuhrman explains excessive antibiotics also put us at risk for certain health problems later in life:
Whether bacterial or not, our children get a routine prescription for an antibiotic at every minor illness. This cycle often is repeated many times, which may beget other medical problems in adulthood. This use of antibiotics early in life is likely a contributor to the increasing incidence of allergies and asthma and other problems later in life. Medical studies have linked a significant increased incidence of asthma, hay fever, and eczema to those who received multiple antibiotic prescriptions early in childhood, especially in the first year of life.2
Is that it? I’m afraid not. Take a look at this video report from ABC News. It seems that the habit of prescribing all these antibiotics is leading to more and more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Here's a quote from the report:
A new study offers the most conclusive proof yet that overuse of antibiotics is contributing to the resistance problem. Researchers took healthy volunteers and gave them one of two different kinds of antibiotics. After just one course of treatment, the volunteers showed increase in bacteria in their mouth that were resistant to the specific drugs they’d been treated with. In some cases drug resistant bacteria stayed in the mouth for more than half a year. This means that every time we take antibiotics we are potentially adding to the resistance problem and weakening the drug’s overall effectiveness.
Now, all this brings up a very good question, when is it okay to use antibiotics? Okay, back to Antibiotics for Colds, Bronchitis, and Sinusitis:
Antibiotics are the appropriate treatment for severe bacterial infections. These infections include cellulitis, Lyme disease, pneumonia, joint infections, cat bites, meningitis, and bronchitis in a long-term smoker. Bronchitis in a non-smoker is just a bad cold. Almost every viral syndrome involves the bronchial tree and sinuses. The presence of yellow, brown, or green mucus does not indicate the need for an antibiotic. Likewise, sinusitis is not an appropriate diagnosis for the routine use of an antibiotic. Antibiotics should be reserved for the more serious sinus infections that show evidence of persistent symptoms lasting more than a week, such as continual fever and headache that accompanies facial pain and facial tenderness.
The important thing to remember is if you’re following Dr. Fuhrman’s recommendation of a nutrient-dense biologically-diverse vegetable-based diet, you’re already doing an exceptional job of helping your body ward off many of the common maladies that pack doctor’s offices every day, and apparently, help fuel our antibiotic addiction. For more on this, check out Six Steps to Protect Your Family from Avian Flu:
If you are deficient in virtually any known vitamin and mineral, research has shown these host defense functions can be negatively affected.
It has also been demonstrated that when diets are low in consumption of green and yellow vegetables, (rich in carotenoids) viral illnesses take a more serious form.

Multiple micronutrients including lutein, lycopene, folic acid, bioflavoinoids, riboflavin, zinc, selenium, and many others have immunomodulating functions. That means they influence the susceptibility of a host to infectious diseases and the course and outcome of such diseases. These micronutrients also possess antioxidant functions that not only up-regulate immune function of the host, but also alter the genome of the microbes that can result in more prolonged and serious infection, particularly in viruses. Viruses are able to assume a more virulent form and new more severe infections are more likely to emerge when nutritional deficiencies are present in the host. A healthy immune system adequately armed with a symphonic assortment of plant-derived phytochemicals inhibits DNA variation in the virus that could allow it to better evade host defenses.
Works for me, I haven't had a cold in well over a year, and I used to get them all the time. How's it working for you?
Continue Reading...

The Problem with Secondhand Smoke

According to new research 20 percent of women and 8 percent of men with lung cancer have never smoked. So how did they get sick? Secondhand smoke that’s how, The Cancer Blog is on it:
It's not yet clear why women are more likely to develop the disease. Perhaps they are more susceptible to all forms of smoking -- whether direct or secondhand -- or maybe because more men smoke than women, women are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke.

While smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, there are other factors to blame for disease incidence. Radon, asbestos, chromium, and arsenic are all associated with lung cancer.

Eat like a Primate

Personally, I’m of the belief that humans came from monkeys. In college I took a class called Human Origins which made it pretty evident that modern man evolved from hulking ape-like vegetation-chewing primates. Not the fierce predators some would have you believe.

In fact, when we weren’t busy hanging around in trees munching on copious amounts of leaves and fruits. We were totally preoccupied with not becoming a well-equipped predator’s lunch. In my opinion, it was that constant stress of being hunted that helped us develop higher brains.

But who am I say this? I’m just a writer who happened to take a few electives outside my degree requirements. So how do I know what earlier human beings were eating? And for that matter, how do I know what modern man should be eating now? Well, let’s take a look at a couple recent reports and see if we can figure that out.

Back in November The New York Times examined the diet of the Paranthropus, one of our very early ancestors. And according to research the Paranthropus were rather Fuhrman-friendly, regularly munching on green vegetation, fruits, and nuts. Reporter Henry Fountain explained:
The researchers used a laser to ablate small layers of enamel from the fossilized teeth of a 1.8-million-year-old P. robustus specimen. By analyzing the concentrations of carbon isotopes in the enamel they were able to determine whether P. robustus was eating grasses or the fruits and leaves of trees and bushes. Grasses use a different photosynthetic pathway than trees and bushes and have a higher concentration of carbon-13, which gets incorporated in animal tissue when the foods are eaten.
This makes a lot of sense to me. Back in my Human Origins class I remember the professor passing around skulls of early hominins. The skull structures were very robust, with flat-looking molars, and room for huge chewing muscles. To be honest, they looked a lot like gorilla skulls, and not at all like predator skulls. For anyone who’s ever had to give a cat or a dog pill, you know what I mean, especially when you look at their teeth.

My opinions on human evolution are a big part of the reason why I think Dr. Fuhrman is right on target with his dietary recommendations. If eating hearty amounts of fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts worked for our ancestors, who are we to muck up millions of years of evolution with lots meat, processed foods, and artificial sweeteners? So this begs the question, how would modern people fair eating a diet that closely resembles that of our primate cousins?

Now, I’ve got to thank Stephen for sending this to me—great catch man! A group of people in the United Kingdom volunteered to eat as monkeys do; lots of raw veggies, fruits, nuts, and small portions of oily fish and honey. The experiment was designed to uncover the health benefits of bringing our diet back to basics. So how’d they do? Claire Heald of BBC News reports:
Overall, the cholesterol levels dropped 23%, an amount usually achieved only through anti-cholesterol drugs statins.

The group's average blood pressure fell from a level of 140/83 - almost hypertensive - to 122/76. Though it was not intended to be a weight loss diet, they dropped 4.4kg (9.7lbs), on average.

The regime provided an education for all, and a permanent change for some.

"The main lesson that they took away was to eat more fruit and veg," says Ms Garton. They also cut salt intake from a group average of 12g a day, to 1g (against a guideline maximum of 6g) and reduced saturated fat - which makes cholesterol - from 13% to 5% of calories (recommended, 11%).
Not only did the volunteers reap these rewards, but they also reported never going hungry and in many cases not being able to finish their daily ration; check out Foods That Make You Thin more on this. Additionally, once they finished withdrawing from things like caffeine, the volunteers enjoyed good energy levels and improved mood. And, on a funny note, the volunteers joked about their newfound gassiness as their bodies adjusted to their healthy diet. Now for more on that, take a look at this post, adeptly named Adjusting to a Healthy Diet:
Don’t forget that when you change your diet to one that is so much lower in salt and higher in nutrients your blood pressure will drop significantly and you will begin a detoxification process that can be compared to stopping additive drugs. You may actually feel worse, not better for a week or two.

During this temporary adjustment period that usually lasts less than a week, and rarely more than two weeks, you might feel fatigue, headaches, gassy, or other mild symptoms as your body withdraws from your prior toxic eating habits. For example, stopping dangerous but stimulating foods, including caffeine, causes temporary fatigue and headaches.
Studies like this make it abundantly clear, even to somebody like me with only a limited understanding of anthropology, that as far as diet goes, humans appear to be better off keeping it simple. Low-carb cookies, low-fat potato chips, grilled chicken, diet-cola, orange drink, salted pork, and free-range beef only seem to complicate things.

Yes, Obesity Bad

I have a question for you, are you surprised by obesity news? I’m not. If you haven’t figured it out by now being overweight is bad for you. Still not convinced? Well, check out this Reuters report claiming that obesity poses a larger diabetes risk than inactivity. David Douglas explains:
Researchers monitored 68,907 women taking part in the Nurses' Health Study, a large ongoing study that is evaluating women's health over time. The women in the current trial had no history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at study entry. During 16 years of follow-up, there were 4,030 incident cases of type 2 diabetes.

After allowing for age, smoking, and other diabetes-associated factors, the risk of type 2 diabetes increased progressively with increasing body mass index (BMI - the ratio of height to weight often used to determine if someone is overweight or too thin). The risk also increased with waist circumference, and decreased with physical activity levels.

Pomegranates, Atherosclerosis, and Diabetics

The pomegranate is a bad mama jama and I mean that in the cool Shaft way. According to Dr. Fuhrman pomegranate juice can help lower blood pressure and reduce in atherosclerotic plaque buildup? Not to mention, it’s a powerful anti-oxidant and has strong anti-cancer effects. He discusses pomegranates at length in Pomegranate Power. Have a taste:
Recent medical research completed in 2004 studied heart patients with severe carotid artery blockages. They were given an ounce of pomegranate juice for a year, and not only did their blood pressure lower by over 20 percent, but there was a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque…1

…Pomegranates’ potent antioxidant compounds have also been shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.2 Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.
Here’s some more good PR for pomegranates. Apparently a new study has revealed pomegranate juice also reduces the risk of arthrosclerosis in diabetics. The Diabetes Blog is on it:
The results of this study suggest that the antioxidants found in pomegranate juice may be beneficial in reducing these heart-related risks associated with diabetes. The sugars in pomegranate juice are attached to unique antioxidants, which actually make these sugars protective against atherosclerosis. Researchers examined the effects of drinking a concentrated pomegranate juice that is the equivalent to about a 6-ounce glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice for three months in 10 healthy adults and 10 adults with type 2 diabetes (who were not dependent on insulin therapy).
Perhaps the only knock against pomegranates is they can be hard to find. Take my farmers market for example, unfortunately they only have them a fraction of the year—argh! Anyone else have difficulty tracking down fresh pomegranates?

If you’d like to know more about pomegranates, check out these previous posts. They deal with pomegranates and prostate health. Take a look:
And for all of the foodies out there, give these pomegranate inspired recipes a try:
Continue Reading...