Headaches and Migraines: Knock Them Out

Headaches are just awful. They can ruin your day before it even gets started. One of the pluses of Eating to Live is you hardly ever get a headache. At least I don’t. How about you? And here’s a good reason to stay headache-free. Apparently migraines are being linked to brain damage. Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:
People with migraines also may be suffering from some brain damage as brain cells swell and become starved of oxygen -- a finding that may help explain why migraine sufferers have a higher risk of stroke, researchers reported on Sunday.

Similar brain damage can occur with concussions and after strokes, the researchers said in this week's issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience.

They said their findings suggest that migraine sufferers should not simply get pain relief but should take drugs that prevent the migraine, which is often preceded by "aura" -- a series of visual disturbances that can include flashes of light or black spots.
Now, for years I thought headaches were just one of those things. Don’t know what causes them, just got to deal with them. Not so, according to Dr. Fuhrman. He’ll tell you, nutrition excellence knocks headaches and migraines right out of the box. From Eat to Live:
Recurrent headaches are not much different. They are almost always the result of nutritional folly and, like other reasons that keep doctors' offices busy, are completely avoidable.

The relationship between food triggers and migraines has been the subject of much debate, with varying results from medical researchers. Headache specialists such as Seymour Diamond, director of the Diamond Headache Clinic of Columbus Hospital, report that about 30 percent of patients can identify food triggers.1

My experience in treating migraine and severe-headache patients with a more comprehensive nutritional approach has shown that 90 to 95 percent of patients are able to remain headache-free after the first three-month period. These patients avoid common migraine triggers, but also in the healing phase they adhere to a strict natural-food vegan diet of primarily fruits and vegetables rich in natural starches like potatoes and brown rice. These patients must avoid all packaged and processed foods, which are notorious for containing hidden food additives, even though they are not disclosed on the labels. They also avoid all added salt.
I don’t know about you, but, I’d rather eat lots wholesome natural food instead of popping handfuls of high-dose ibuprofens any day of the week. Now, Dr. Fuhrman has had a lot of success treating headache and migraine suffers with nutritional excellence. Here are couple stories:
Still want to know more? Back in January Dr. Fuhrman discussed banishing your headaches on his radio show Nutritional Wisdom. Here’s the show summary:
You can travel to one headache specialist after another and try a hundred different remedies. But if you want to understand why you get headaches and how to beat them forever listen in to this fascinating show! Dr. Fuhrman explains how eating a high-nutrient diet can alleviate headaches, which are usually associated with other health-related problems.
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One Dollar Dining

You’re hungry. You’ve got one dollar. What do you buy? Fruit? What about some veggies? Or, do you buy a bunch of junk food? Well, as Michael Pollan of The New York Times reports, if you’re down on your luck with not much money to spend, you’re likely to buy the junk. Here’s why:
Adam Drewnowski [University of Washington obesity researcher] gave himself a hypothetical dollar to spend, using it to purchase as many calories as he possibly could. He discovered that he could buy the most calories per dollar in the middle aisles of the supermarket, among the towering canyons of processed food and soft drink. (In the typical American supermarket, the fresh foods — dairy, meat, fish and produce — line the perimeter walls, while the imperishable packaged goods dominate the center.) Drewnowski found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice.

As a rule, processed foods are more “energy dense” than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them “junk.” Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly — and get fat.
This is a sad commentary on the state of our society.

Sleep is Good

Hey, we all love sleep. Its like money, you can never get enough. Hey, we all love sleep. Its like money, you can never get enough—wait, did I just repeat myself? I forgot I said that. Maybe I need more sleep. According to a new study, getting enough shut-eye sharpens your memory. Juhie Bhatia of HealthDay News reports:
In the study, the researchers focused on sleep's impact on "declarative" memories, which are related to specific facts, episodes and events.

"We sought to explore whether sleep has any impact on memory consolidation, specifically the type of memory for facts and events and time," Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, an associate neurologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston said. "We know that sleep helps boost memory for procedural tests, such as learning a new piano sequence, but we're not sure, even though it's been debated for 100 years, whether sleep impacts declarative memory."

The study involved 48 people between the ages of 18 and 30. These participants had normal, healthy sleep routines and were not taking any medications. They were all taught 20 pairs of words and asked to recall them 12 hours later. However, the participants were divided evenly into four groups with different circumstances for testing: sleep before testing, wake before testing, sleep before testing with interference, or wake before testing with interference.
Dr. Fuhrman thinks getting your Z’s is a pretty good idea too. In fact, he believes that getting sufficient rest is an important part of achieving health and longevity. He talks about it here:
Adequate sleep is a necessary component of good health. Our modern society stays up late into the night and wakes in the morning to an alarm clock—long before sleep requirements have been fulfilled. To make matters worse, most Americans partake in stimulating substances—such as caffeine and sugar—to remain artificially alert during the day.

During sleep, your body removes the buildup of waste in the brain. Sufficient sleep is necessary for the normal function of your nervous and endocrine systems. Most civilizations in human history recognized the value of mid-afternoon naps. The desire for a rest, short sleep, or “siesta” after lunch should not be seen as an abnormal need, but rather a normal one. People who “cover up” their lack of sleep by using drugs (such as caffeine) as food and/or food (such as highly processed, sugary foods) as drugs sometimes claim (even boast) that they can get by with very little sleep. As you begin to live more healthfully, you may quickly recognize that you need more sleep than you previously thought.

Docs and Drug Companies

Have you seen your doctor’s office lately? You have? Let me bet, it’s filled with erectile dysfunction pens, blood pressure magnets, and cholesterol-lowering post-it notes. It seems that lots of doctors are in deep with drug companies. And this next report confirms it. According to Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News a new study shows that ties between doctors and drug companies are clear:
But the relationships vary depending on the kind of medical practice and specialty, the patient mix and the professional activities of the physician, according to the study, published in the April 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Over the past two decades, physician-industry relationships have attracted increasing scrutiny. One review found that, on average, physicians meet with industry representatives four times a month, and medical residents accept six gifts annually from industry representatives.

Earlier this year, a group of influential doctors and academic leaders, including the senior author of the new study, called for a ban on all pharmaceutical gifts to doctors at academic medical centers, among other actions.

The outcry has been such that certain professional and industrial organizations, such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America (PhRMA), have adopted new guidelines.

For this study, the authors surveyed 1,162 physicians in six specialties in late 2003 and early 2004 to find out what they received from the drug industry, how often they met with industry representatives and what factors were associated with the frequency and type of physician-industry relationships.

Meat: Grill, Fry, or Broil it?

It seems neither. A new study claims that grilled, fried, or broiled meat contain toxins called "advanced glycation end products" (AGEs). And, Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports that AGEs can lead to a myriad of serious health problems, like diabetes and vascular disease. Here’s more:
Grilled, fried or broiled animal products such as meats and cheeses contain a class of toxins called "advanced glycation end products" (AGEs), which have been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, diabetes, vascular and kidney disease, and Alzheimer's disease, say a team from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City…

…"AGEs are quite deceptive, since they also give our food desirable tastes and smells," senior author Dr. Helen Vlassara, professor of medicine and geriatrics, and director of the Division of Experimental Diabetes and Aging at Mount Sinai, said in a prepared statement.

"So, consuming high amounts of grilled, broiled or fried food means consuming significant amounts of AGEs, and AGEs in excess are toxic. People should be given information about AGE intake and be advised to consider their intake in the same way they would think about their trans fats and salt intake. They should be warned about their AGE levels the way they are about their cholesterol levels or cigarette smoking," Vlassara said.
Dr. Fuhrman makes it pretty clear. Too much meat and other animal products can contribute to serious health problems, namely cancer and cardiovascular disease. Here are couple posts that highlight this connection:
Okay, back to cooking foods. Does it really matter how we prepare our food? Be it animal or vegetable-based. Well for starters, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t thinking frying is a good idea. He explains why in Disease-Proof Your Child:
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. 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.
Now, recently I asked Dr. Fuhrman if acrylamides show up in other foods, like cooked meats, specifically barbecued meat. No surprise here, his answer was yes. Actually, he pointed out that acrylamides form in all foods. Check out this study from the Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition, it sheds some light on the development of acrylamides:
The exact chemical mechanism(s) for acrylamide formation in heated foods is unknown. Several plausible mechanistic routes may be suggested, involving reactions of carbohydrates, proteins/amino acids, lipids and probably also other food components as precursors. With the data and knowledge available today it is not possible to point out any specific routes, or to exclude any possibilities. It is likely that a multitude of reaction mechanisms is involved. Acrolein is one strong precursor candidate, the origin of which could be lipids, carbohydrates or proteins/amino acids. Acrylamide is a reactive molecule and it can readily react with various other components in the food. The actual acrylamide level in a specific food product, therefore, probably reflects the balance between ease of formation and potential for further reactions in that food matrix. There are indications in support of that the Maillard reaction being an important reaction route for acrylamide formation, but lipid degradation pathways to the formation of acrolein should also be considered.
At this point it kind of seems like a basic math equation. If too many animal products are bad and eating overly cooked food is also bad, then putting the two of them together has got to be really bad, right? Well, it sure seems that way. In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman considers barbequed meat (and cheese) one of the worst foods you can eat for health and longevity. From the book:
Worst Seven Foods for Health and Longevity
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat

Foods high in saturated fat and trans fat are consistently associated with high cancer rates. Cheese and butter typically contain over ten times as much saturated fat as fish and white meat chicken and turkey.

Add the carcinogenic potential from heated and overcooked oils (usually trans containing) delivered in doughnuts and fries with the powerful cancer inducing properties of carbohydrates cooked at high heat (acrylamide formation) and you have a great cancer potion.
So, will people heed these warnings and cut back on the amount of animal products they eat and be careful not to dangerously cook their food? My guess, probably not, especially with this kind of rhetoric kicking around the blogosphere. Like LivinLaVidaLowCarb’s ringing endorsement of frying meat in butter—sadly, I’m not kidding. Proceed with caution:
I agree with the advice to shun the fried foods specifically because of the breading. But if you want to fry up your meat in a pan full of butter, then knock yourself out. It’s a healthy way to enjoy that succulent protein-loaded food.

While it’s nice to bake, broil, and especially grill meats, don’t fall for the illusion that cooking these ways is any healthier than cooking meat in fat. Avoid the trans fats, of course, but you shouldn’t worry about saturated fats as long as you are livin’ la vida low-carb.
Take a moment to note that butter is also on Dr. Fuhrman’s list of the seven worst foods. Okay, it gets worse. Check out this quote from Carbohydrate Addict, apparently this Atkins dieter thinks grilled-cheese is fabulous—sigh. Here it is:
I think one of the reasons Atkins was so perfect for me was because I was on low fat/low cholesterol for sooooo many years. All of the forbidden foods suddenly became okay to eat without guilt and my cholesterol is finally FABULOUS. I'm still on a high when I eat them! Egg salad, bacon, chicken wings, mac and cheese, grilled cheese.... YUM!
Yum? For bacon and egg salad? Whoa! What a world we live in. Reading rants like this makes me think about the opposite. What does eating a lot of fruits and vegetables do for us? Well, when you’re talking health and disease-prevention, Dr. Fuhrman explains they’re the best! From Fruits and Veggies vs. Diabetes and Colon Cancer:
While fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of nutrients, the consumption of vegetables is more helpful in reducing cancer because they contain much higher amounts of cancer-protective compounds-- especially green vegetables. Among these green vegetables, the cruciferous family has demonstrated the most dramatic protection against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, collards, arugala, watercress, and cabbage) contain a symphony of phytonutrients with potent anti-cancer effects. Isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are perhaps the best studied, have been shown to provide protection against environmental carcinogen exposure by inducing detoxification pathways, thereby neutralizing potential carcinogens.

These vegetables also contain indole-3- carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity. Important recent studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables and the compounds they contain can do the following:
  • Halt the growth of breast cancer cells1
  • Dramatically reduce the risk of colon cancer2
  • Prevent the replication of prostate cancer cells and induce death of cancerous cells3
  • Inhibit the progression of lung cancer4
And here’s more, from Is Heart Disease Totally Preventable? Take a look:
The Eat to Live vegetable, fruit, nut, and bean-based diet has been shown to be the most effective cholesterol-lowering dietary approach in medical history. This newsworthy data with the potential to save millions of lives has been ignored by the mass media. With this dietary approach, most patients drop their total cholesterol below 150 and LDL below 100, without the need for medications.

During the two years that the Eat to Live vegetable, fruit, nut, and bean-based diet has been under research study by the University of Southern California, patients have shown an average weight loss of forty-nine pounds, the most sustained weight loss ever recorded in a medical study in history.

In areas of the world where people eat a diet of unrefined plant foods, people have total cholesterol levels below 150, and there is zero incidence of heart disease in the population.5
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Breastfeeding and Obesity

A popular headline kicking around the news today is the claim that breastfeeding won’t prevent children from becoming fat. Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press reports:
While breast-feeding has many benefits, it won't prevent a child from becoming fat as an adult, says a new study that challenges dogma from U.S. health officials.

The research is the largest study to date on breast-feeding and its effect on adult obesity.

"I'm the first to say breast-feeding is good. But I don't think it's the solution to reducing childhood or adult obesity," said the study's lead author, Karin Michels of Harvard Medical School.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promotes breast-feeding as a way to reduce children's excess weight, and the guidelines for federal chronic disease prevention grants to states call for breast-feeding promotion. Some health officials say 15 to 20 percent of obesity could be prevented through breast-feeding.
Now, this one kind of stumped me. I didn’t know how to react, so, I asked the man. Here’s what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about the research—the word blunt, comes to mind. Take a look:
So what? Why would we expect early life breast feeding to make us immune to eating the American junk food diet? You are what you eat and everything that goes into your mouth makes a difference. Nature is not that forgiving. You develop diseases down the road from the poor food choices you made at an earlier time.

Working Fat

Sure, obesity takes a huge toll on your body, but, what are its larger implications? Here’s one. According to the Associated Press overweight workers cost their bosses more in injury claims than their slimmer colleagues. Carla K. Johnson has more:
Obesity experts said they hope the study will convince employers to invest in programs to help fight obesity. One employment attorney warned companies that treating fat workers differently could lead to discrimination complaints.

Duke University researchers also found that the fattest workers had 13 times more lost workdays due to work-related injuries, and their medical claims for those injuries were seven times higher than their fit co-workers.

Overweight workers were more likely to have claims involving injuries to the back, wrist, arm, neck, shoulder, hip, knee and foot than other employees.

The Salad Debacle

Salads, arguably the staple meal of Eat to Live, but, that depends. What kind of salads are we talking about? If we’re talking about salads like Dr. Fuhrman’s Indian Mango Salad or his Pecan Maple Salad, then we’re good. But, if we’re talking about many of the standard American restaurant concocted salads, well, those are no friend of an Eat to Liver.

And what is a standard American salad? Let me paint you a picture. Take some phytonutrient-rich lettuce and maybe some tomato and onions. Then, bombard them with cheese, grilled chicken, croutons, bacon, crispy noodles, more cheese, lunch meat, and finally, drown it in as much oil or cream based dressing that you can get your hands on. And what are you left? A meal formally known as healthy.

Need some real world examples? Thankfully the Eating to Live on the Outside series has become a virtual library of unsavory food selections. So, here’s a couple of all-star—insert sarcasm here—standard American salads:
Lonestar Steakhouse
Like usual my eyes gravitate towards the salad section of the menu; it’s like the Alamo, a safe haven in the middle of hostile territory. The Cobb Salad has some promise, but I’m making a couple alterations—goodbye cheese and adios bacon! Now, I can deal with the chicken and egg, I only eat meat once a week anyway, so I don’t really mind this concession. Overall my favorite thing about this dish is the avocado. I have bit of an avocado fetish.

Carrabba's Italian Grill
No surprise here, but the next dishes I’d consider ordering are salads. First you’ve got your basic house salad, which is usually a safe option (provided you limit or omit the oily dressing), but I’m also intrigued by the Insalata Fiorucci and the Insalata Carrabba. Are they perfect? Oh no, there’s some nit-picking to do. Sure, between the both of them you’ve got field greens, artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, black olives, carrots, celery, and red onions. But there’s also plenty of stuff to make an Eat to Liver head for the hills; a hazelnut goat cheese medallion, and mozzarella and romano cheese, not to mention the vinaigrette. For me the solution is pretty clear, I’m cutting out the cheese, I can go either way with the chicken (of course some of you might prefer to ditch it), and I’d use just a teeny tiny bit of vinaigrette. See with a few alternations you’ve got a decent meal, take a moment and ponder all the phytonutrients.
If you consider all this, this next article shouldn’t really shock you. The Los Angeles Times reports that lots people can’t pick the healthy meals on restaurant menus, even though many of them boast "wholesome" options—the problem? Part of it seems to be those pesky standard American salads. Mary Engel explains:
The four-question quiz — which focused on food served at Denny's, Chili's, McDonald's and Romano's Macaroni Grill — was commissioned by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a nonprofit group based in Davis, and conducted by Field Research Corp. The findings were the same, regardless of education or income levels.

Even the center's executive director, Harold Goldstein, flunked the test, despite holding a doctorate in public health.

"More and more fast-food restaurants are claiming that they are providing healthy choices, and commonly the choice will have a word like 'salad' in it," Goldstein said. "But you could be blindfolded throwing a dart at the menu board, and you've got a better chance at making the healthy choice."

The findings do not bode well for a state in the middle of an obesity epidemic, said Alecia Sanchez, a Sacramento-based spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society. More than half of California adults are overweight or obese and at risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. One in three cancer deaths is related to poor diet, inactivity or obesity, Sanchez said.

Goldstein's center is using the survey results to lobby for a bill, introduced by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) that would require chain restaurants in California to include nutritional information on their menus, much as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires nutritional labeling for food sold in grocery stores.
This whole situation makes me think of the heavyset woman who walks into McDonalds, orders a Big Mac, large fries, apple pie, and then a Diet Coke.

Healthy Bad Habits?

Okay, I’m sure you knew this already, but, the world has gone mad. Yesterday we learned that the ganja may actually halt lung cancer, and today, it seems fruity cocktails might be good for us. No, I’m not kidding. Reuters reports:
Adding ethanol — the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits — boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the researchers found…

…Dr. Korakot Chanjirakul and colleagues at Kasetsart University in Thailand and scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture stumbled upon their finding unexpectedly.

They were exploring ways to help keep strawberries fresh during storage. Treating the berries with alcohol increased in antioxidant capacity and free radical scavenging activity, they found.
So next time you see some dude passed out on the beach in a puddle of strawberry daiquiri, you’ll know he’s a health guy. Oh, if you’re interested, here’s what Dr. Fuhrman has to say about consuming alcohol. From Eat to Live:
Moderate drinking had been associated with a lower incidence of coronary heart disease in more than forty prospective studies. This only applies to moderate drinking—defined as one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less for men. More than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other potential problems.1 Alcohol consumption also leads to mild withdrawal sensations the next day that are commonly mistaken for hunger. One glass of wine per day is likely insignificant, but I advise against higher levels of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol’s anti-clotting properties grant some protective effect against heart attacks, but this protective effect is valuable only in a person or population consuming a heart-disease-promoting diet. It is much wiser to avoid the detrimental effects of alcohol completely and protect yourself from heart disease with nutritional excellence. For example, even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to higher rates of breast cancer and to occurrence of atrial fibrillation.2 Avoid alcohol and eat healthfully if possible, but if that one drink a day will make you stay with this plan much more successfully, then have it.
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Puff Puff Pass on the Cancer

In odd news, new research has found that marijuana can halt lung cancer growth by half. Yeah, I’m confused too. The Cancer Blog has more:
Researchers at Harvard University tested marijuana's main ingredient, delta-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, in both lab and mouse studies and say their experiments are the first to show THC inhibits the growth of cancer.

Researchers are not certain why THC inhibits tumor growth, but it could be that the substance activates molecules that arrest the cell cycle. THC may also interfere with angiogenesis and vascularization, which promotes cancer growth.
So does this mean all the people at Phish concerts are pinnacles of health?

Breastfeeding Protects Against Breast Cancer

Dr. Fuhrman is a big advocate of breastfeeding. He believes it is an essential human function. It’s also a pretty popular topic here on Followhealthlife. Here are a couple good posts on breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding makes headlines at least a couple times a month. Like this for example. ParentDish relays new research claiming that breastfeeding may prevent breast cancer. Take a look:
[Breastfeeding] helps reduce the breast cancer risk for women who wait until after 25 to have children, as previous research has found that these women are more prone to the disease. In fact, after analyzing data on a number of women aged 55 and older, doctors found that breastfeeding help ward off breast cancer regardless of what age the women started giving birth.

Seeing as the average age for starting a family is 25, and current trends indicate the majority of women are waiting until they're older to have kids, this information seems particularly relevant.
Dr. Fuhrman would agree. In Disease-Proof Your Child he echoes similar sentiments. Check it out:
Nursing helps protect against breast cancer. During lactation, the secretion of estrogens in a woman’s body falls to virtually nil, and continuing to breast-feed for a prolonged period has a significant effect on resetting her estrogen to a lower level thereafter.1 Maximum protection is achieved after breast-feeding for approximately two years, which corresponds with the baby’s immunologic development, maximizing protection against disease for the baby as well. So breast-feeding plays a role in protecting both the baby the mother from developing cancer.

The American Cancer Society reports that reports that approximately 200,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the United Stats in 2002 and about 40,000 breast cancer deaths occurred.2 Despite extensive research and the establishment of breast cancer screening programs, these statistics have changed little in the past four decades. We must attack this disease at its roots and stop so much unnecessary suffering and death.
I’m not sure you can say it any better than that.
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The Glycemic Index?

Personally, I don’t know much about the Glycemic Index—just seems like another gimmick to me. But Diet-Blog wants to know, is the Glycemic Index overrated? Here’s some of the post:
Tufts University have just completed the first phase of a study comparing low-glycemic-load and high-glycemic-load diets.

The results show no significant difference after one year of weight loss.

The research used 34 overweight men and women. Calorie intake was restricted by 30%.

The Low GL diet consisted of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, 30% fat.
The High GL diet consisted of 60% carbohydrate, 20% protein, 20% fat.
Like I said, the Glycemic Index isn’t really my bag, and, it doesn’t impress Dr. Fuhrman all that much either. Check out some of his thoughts on it:
There are reasons why high glycemic foods may be harmful but just explaining they are high glycemic is not one of them. It is true that a high glycemic response is one of the many features that is present in unhealthy processed foods, but that response is not a significant reason that explains the problem with those foods. There is no reason the glucose and insulin curve must stay blunted for good health. In diabetes research the glycemic index (GI) of carbohydrates has long been recognized as a favorable aid for diabetics to control blood sugar. The same is now often the case in lipid research as it has been demonstrated that high glycemic diets, rich in white flour, refined sweets and processed foods are unfavorable to both glucose levels and lipid parameters. The glycemic index of these foods is not the main reason they are dangerous foods, the main reason is because they are missing nutritional value.
The rest of Dr. Fuhrman’s opinions on the Glycemic Index are in Processed Carbohydrates, Dr. Atkins, and the Fallacy of Merely Measuring Food on the Glycemic Index.

Anti-Cancer: Broccoli and Soy

The Cancer Blog passes on a report exploring the anti-cancer effects of broccoli and soy. Check it out:
The researchers are convinced that there is a biological mechanism behind the protective effect. It is explained in the article that a compound resulting from the digestion of cruciferous vegetables, and genistein, an isofavone in soy, reduce the two proteins needed for breast and ovarian cancer to spread…

… The study found that when cancer cells were treated with high levels of compounds found in broccoli and soy, the drawing mechanism to the organs was reduced by 80 percent compared to untreated cells.
Dr. Fuhrman has been talking about the anti-cancer properties of cruciferous vegetables for a long time. Here’s a post about it. From "A Symphony of Phytonutrients" from Cruciferous Vegetables:
Important recent studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables and the compounds they contain can do the following:
  • Halt the growth of breast cancer cells1
  • Dramatically reduce the risk of colon cancer2
  • Prevent the replication of prostate cancer cells and induce death of cancerous cells3
  • Inhibit the progression of lung cancer4
What makes these studies even more fascinating is the discovery of the gene/diet interaction, which has shown that high intake of greens and cruciferous vegetables provides the food factors necessary to interact with--and prevent--genetic defects from creating disease. This gene/diet interaction activates a battery of many genes, initiating DNA repair and other protection mechanisms.
Makes me feel good about my baby spinach addiction.
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Trans Fat Out, Saturated Fat In

The hammer is certainly falling on trans fat. In fact, a few months ago it seemed like every week another restaurant or food producer was giving it the heave-ho. Just take a look at this list:
So then, booting trans fat from the food supply must be a good thing, right? Well, there might be a problem with that too. The Associated Press reports banning trans fat might mean a resurgence of an old enemy, saturated fat. Lauran Neergaard explains:
Trans fat has become the new fall guy for bad nutrition. Chain restaurants are struggling to get it off the menu after New York City and Philadelphia required restaurants to phase it out by next year. Bills to restrict or ban trans fat in restaurants or school cafeterias have been introduced in at least 20 states.

At grocery stores, the government began forcing food labels to disclose the amount of trans fat in packaged foods last year, and the race was on to see which manufacturers could eliminate it first.

The irony: Americans eat about five times more saturated fat than trans fat. And while gram-for-gram, trans fat is considered somewhat more harmful than its cousin, too much of either greatly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other ailments.
Now, the low-carb loonies of the world might not see this as a problem, but, those of us who live in reality know that saturated fat poses serious long-term health problems. Don’t take my word for it. Dr. Fuhrman talks about the dangers of saturated fat in Disease-Proof Your Child:
When we study people who died young of coronary artery disease, we find that the highest risk of an earlier death occurs in those who were above average weight in childhood.1 Findings from the famous Bogalusa Heart Study show that a high saturated fat intake early in life is strongly predictive of later heart disease burden and the higher blood pressure in childhood and adolescence is powerfully predictive of cardiovascular death in adulthood.2

A low-fiber, high-saturated-fat diet with lots of animal products, dairy fat, white flour, and sugar creates a heart attack-prone person with high cholesterol levels. The anti-cancer lifestyle, a healthy diet style for the entire family, started early in life, will have the added benefit of making it easier for children to become heart attack-proof. A diet high in plant fiber shows a protective effect against developing high cholesterol, obesity, and elevated insulin levels. Eating more of the natural high-fiber plant food in childhood has a powerful protective effect on preventing later-life heart problems, even for those a strong family history of heart disease.3 For those whose family genetically predisposes them to heart disease, early-life dietary excellence can make the difference between a long life free of heart disease and a heart attack in one’s forties or fifties.
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Ear Infections: Maybe it's Fat Ears

Why do kids get ear infections? Well, I’m no doctor. So I can’t say for sure, but, according to Dr. Fuhrman improper nutrition is a major contributing factor. A reason that most likely goes overlooked, because after all, it’s easier just to write a prescription for antibiotics.

In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman shares the story of one little girl who kicked her persistent ear infections not with antibiotics, but with nutritional excellence. Take a look:
When Stephanie Rogers, a typical seven-year-old girl, became my patient, her parents handed me a printout from the local pharmacy documenting the filling of 67 rounds of antibiotics at the cost of $1,643.80 by the ripe age of seven. Once the pediatric group started prescribing the antibiotics for minor complaints of fever and cough, it escalated to ear infections, sinus infections, and finally visits to the ear specialist by the age of four. She received 15 separate prescriptions of antibiotics when she was five years old. The first year she was my patient, the entire family changed its diet style. Stephanie went along for the ride and did fine. I did use an antibiotic once for her that next winter, when she had a persistent high fever and a red painful eardrum; however, that was the last time an antibiotic prescription was necessary. Luckily, Stephanie has been free of antibiotics ever since.
And here’s a little more proof that nutrition has something to do with ear infections. New research claims there is a link between body fat and a certain type of ear infections, meaning overweight children might be at a heightened risk of ear infections. Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News is on it:
Scientists in South Korea have uncovered a possible connection between body fat in children and a certain kind of ear infection, but several specialists in the United States are expressing doubts about the research.

If the link does exist, however, it could provide doctors with yet another indication of how extra fat is bad for kids just as it is for adults. "We have to pay close attention to decrease childhood obesity," said study co-author Dr. Seung Geun Yeo, a researcher at Kyung Hee University in Seoul.

Ear infections in children remain very common, affecting as many as eight or nine of every 10 kids. Doctors blame the middle ear, which often cannot fully drain fluid as it is developing.
It sure seems like so many things come back to nutrition. And yet, we don’t pay it enough attention. It’s a shame that we evolved these big brains, because so many of us don’t use them. Here are a few more posts about ear infections:

HealthDay News: Veggies Good, Cured Meats Bad

Here are a couple of great reports from HealthDay News. First up, Jeffrey Perkel explains that cured meats have been linked to the development of lung cancer:
Using data compiled as part of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the study authors found a statistical association between people who ate 14 or more servings monthly of cured meats and the incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This held true even after the researchers factored in such variables as age, smoking, and the amount of fruits and vegetables in the subjects' diets.

"People who eat 14 or more servings of cured meat per month have about an 80 percent increased odds of COPD versus people who don't eat cured meat at all," Dr. Rui Jiang, an associate research scientist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City said.

And, the more cured meats a person eats a month, on average, the higher the risk of COPD, the study said.
Not exactly new news for Followhealthlife, in a previous post Dr. Fuhrman calls pickled, smoked, and barbecued meats one of the worst foods you can eat for health and longevity:

Worst Seven Foods for Health and Longevity

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
Now, in related news, Serena Gordon of HealthDay News reports that fruits and vegetables help fight off cancer. Read on:
A trio of new studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research on Sunday found that vegetables and fruits help lower your chances of getting head and neck, breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers.

One of the studies even found that just one additional serving of vegetables or fruits could help lower the risk of head and neck cancer. Still, the more fruits and vegetables you can consume, the better.

"Those who ate six servings of fruit and vegetables per 1,000 calories had a 29 percent decreased risk relative to those who had 1.5 servings," said Neal Freedman, a Cancer Prevention Fellow in the division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute and author of one of the studies.
Again, this is not exactly earth-shattering research for Followhealthlife. In this next post Dr. Fuhrman explains that cancer is a disease resulting from fruit and vegetable deficiency. Here’s more:
Vegetables and fruits protect against all types of cancers if consumed in large enough quantities. Hundreds of scientific studies document this. The most prevalent cancers in our country are mostly plant-food-deficiency disease.
In the end, it’s still cool when the media echoes what Dr. Fuhrman has been saying for years.

Dieting, No Good?

Did you know Dr. Fuhrman thinks most “diets” are a bunch of malarkey? No, I’m serious. He thinks a major problem in this country is the mudslide of gimmicky diets looking to con our unsuspecting and desperately-seeking-thin society. He talks about this in Eat to Live:
Americans have been bombarded with a battery of gimmicky diets that promise to combat obesity. Almost all diets are ineffective. They don’t work, because no matter how much weight you lose when you are on a diet, you put it right back on when you go off. Measuring portions and trying to eat fewer calories, typically called “dieting,” almost never results in permanent weight loss and actually worsens the problem over time. Such “dieting” temporarily slows down your metabolic rate, so often more weight comes back than you lost. You wind up heavier than you were before you started dieting.
Okay, this makes sense to me. It’s all about sustainability—not just the short term! That’s why Dr. Fuhrman’s approach to nutrition and maintaining a healthy body weight is not just a diet, but rather, a lifestyle change. More from Eat to Live:
The Eat to Live diet does not require any deprivation. In fact, you do not have to give up any foods completely. However, as you consume larger and larger portions of health-supporting, high-nutrient foods, your appetite for low-nutrient foods decreases and you gradually lose your addiction to them. You will be able to make a complete commitment to this diet for the rest of your life.
And it seems this kind of thinking is catching on. Maybe dieting really isn’t the answer. ParentDish relays new research claiming dieting doesn’t work. Check it out:
Here's the news you may have been waiting for -- dieting isn't good for you. I know I'm going to print a copy of this article for my doctor. Scientists at the University of California have completed the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of the available data ever and found this simple, and perhaps obvious, fact: dieting doesn't work.

In fact, they found that dieters actually end up heavier than when they started, more often than not. More than two-thirds put the weight right back on, raising the danger of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. "You can initially lose 5 to 10 per cent of your weight on any number of diets," notes researcher Dr. Traci Mann. "But after this honeymoon period, the weight comes back. We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority."
But sadly, as long as people are obsessed about their weight, they’ll be plenty of gimmicky garbage diets out there. After all, there’s a lot of money in junk. And if you’re curious, take a look at Followhealthlife’s Diet Myths category. In it you’ll find Dr. Fuhrman taking many fad diets to task, like Atkins and weighing your portions.

Fatness: It's in Our Genes

Next time you’re looking a little bloated, the problem might be your jeans. No, not those jeans, your gene-genes. According to the Associated Press researchers have found another gene responsible for obesity:
Unlike other genes thought to be involved with appetite or calorie burning, scientists have no idea yet what FTO is supposed to do.

But research published in Friday's edition of the journal Science shows strong evidence of a link. Using blood samples provided by more than 38,000 people, scientists found that those who had one copy of the gene variation had a 30 percent increased risk of obesity, and carriers of two copies had almost a 70 percent increased risk.
I wonder, is this more rhetoric for the blame it on your genetics argument?

Clamping Down on Asthma

We live in an age of disease. It seems like everyone is popping a pill nowadays. And kids are taking the brunt of it. From ADHD and to ADD—surely, something is wrong with your child! But all these new-fangled conditions are overshadowing traditional maladies like asthma. Just like a Hollywood agent, “Sorry baby, you ain’t hip anymore.”

Maybe that’s why new federal guidelines are coming out this summer urging doctors to pay closer attention to children with asthma. Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press has more:
Federal guidelines due this summer are expected to urge doctors to more closely monitor whether treatment is truly controlling everyday symptoms and improving patients' quality of life — and to adjust therapy until it does.

Already, a campaign is under way to teach patients to recognize they need better help, and to tell them how to convey that to a doctor. If the doctor's happy that you've had no flare-ups but doesn't know you had to quit playing soccer to do it, you're not achieving good control.

Too often, physicians don't realize how severe symptoms are, says Dr. Jill Halterman, a pediatric asthma specialist at the University of Rochester. With children, their own parents may underestimate symptoms.

It's more complicated than denial: When wheezing while running or waking up at night coughing has been routine for years, people may not know to complain.

"It may be part of what they view as normal," says Halterman, who is studying the control gap. "We're hoping we can change that so the goal can really be for the child to have no symptoms and no limitations on activities."
Now, I’m sure every kid with chronic asthma wants to live without symptoms and have no limitations, but what if they could go one step further? What if they could knock their asthma out of the box? Impossible? Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman. In Disease-Proof Your Child he explains that nutritional excellence is a sure-fire way to shake asthma at its foundation:
Eating protein-rich and fat-rich foods of animal origin—meat, cheese, fried food, and saturated fat—is associated with a higher prevalence of both allergies and asthma.1 Eating in fast food restaurants and eating a lower intake of vegetables and other fiber-rich foods has been implicated by numerous studies. The same studies also show that the children in the lowest third of vitamin E intake were found to have three times the incidence of asthma compared to those children in the highest third of vitamin E intake.2 Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in greens, raw nuts, and seeds; it is not found in animal products. The consumption of white bread, butter, and margarine has also been noted to be strongly associated with asthmatic symptoms.3

The same pattern emerges. What is needed to battle the development of asthma allergies is the same adequate intake of omega-3 fat as well as diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Eating high antioxidant- and phytochemical-containing foods is related to lower occurrence of childhood allergies and asthma.4 Nutritional excellence can normalize an excessive inflammatory response. The inflammatory cascade release chemicals that attract white blood cells and fluid into the area, which results in the tightness and swelling that create the symptoms of asthma. When nutrient intake is low, the lung tissues become overly sensitive to irritating stimuli.
In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman talks about a young asthma sufferer who achieved great results with nutritional excellence. From Asthma Can Often Be Controlled With Proper Nutrition:
Jonathan was an excellent student and was keenly interested in learning how what he ate affected his health and his breathing problem. At the initial visit to my office, Jonathan was instructed on using a spacer with an inhaler and was taken off his three times a day nebulizer treatments. I told him his recovery hinged on the amount of green vegetables he was capable of eating. He was more than cooperative. This eight-year-old said to me, "I will eat dirt if you can fix my breathing." So I said, "How about if I give you great-tasting real food to fix your asthma. You can be a lot better within a year." Jonathan is now in fourth grade. It took about eight months until he no longer required any medication. He is now the picture of health and uses no inhalers or other asthma medications.
Also, according to Dr. Fuhrman breastfeeding is an important part of stopping the development of asthma in children. Here’s a couple of posts talking about that:
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Eating Together is Better

Growing up we never watched television and ate dinner at the same time. Now that I live alone I still don’t. And it’s a good thing. Because according to a new study, you eat better when you’re not watching the tube. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports:
For this study, more than 1,300 parents or guardians of children participating in New York's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children were surveyed on how many days a week the family ate dinner together, the number of days each week the TV was turned on during dinner, and how often fruits and vegetables were served.

More fruits and vegetables were served on the nights families ate dinner as a unit. Servings of fruits and vegetables decreased each night the TV was turned on during the meal. Neither eating together nor having the television on seemed to have any relationship with servings of milk.

Fruits and vegetables are important components of any healthful diet and have been associated with decreased cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

Diet: Phone, the Answer

New research has determined an encouraging phone call can be the key to weight-loss. “Hello. Health and fitness calling, may I speak to tubby please?” Reuters reports:
In a review of 26 studies on telephone health counseling, Australian researchers found that most showed the tactic to be successful. In more than three-quarters of the studies, phone advice from nurses or other counselors helped men and women improve their eating and exercise habits.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are good news for people who can't or won't join a formal group activity, according to the study authors.

"It shows that support for physical activity and dietary change can come from a variety of mechanisms," lead author Dr. Elizabeth Eakin, a researcher at the University of Queensland, said in a statement. "This is great news for people who don't want to join a more structured group program or who don't have access."

Diet Soda a Farce?

Fast Weight Loss relays a story claiming diet soda is just as dangerous for us as regular sugary soda. Take a look:
Study finds that the drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks can stimulate the appetite, triggering cravings for sweet foods. And this can make you put on extra weight. The study says that you can lose weight if you avoid these soft drinks and drink water instead.

And despite having no sugar, diet drinks are not safe for teeth because they contain phosphoric acid or citric acid, which cause tooth enamel to erode. "It's different from decay, but can be just as bad for your teeth," the report warns.
As we saw in last month’s post Splenda: Big Business Protecting its Interests, Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of fake sugar. Take Stevia for example:
Many health gurus recommend substituting Stevia in place of artificial sweeteners. Stevia is natural and its use is permitted in Japan and other countries. Despite its widespread use, there is a surprising lack of human clinical trials evaluating its safety. Unlike with saccharin, no evidence has been reported that stevioside and its metabolites are carcinogenic. However, animal reports of nephrotoxicity do exist, which suggest that Stevia is likely safer than the other sweeteners, but not entirely without risk.1 The extent of risk is unknown at this time.
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Cancer Risk: Animal Fat & Protein

Here’s a great report from late last month, but, nothing we haven’t seen before. According to Reuters animal protein and fat raise endometrial cancer risk. Read on:
Women who received the most calories from animal protein had twice the risk of the disease compared to those who took in the fewest calories from animal sources, Dr. Wang-Hong Xu of Fu Dan University School of Public Health in Shanghai and colleagues found.

High levels of calories from animal fat boosted the risk by 50 percent. However, the women who ate the most protein from plant sources cut their endometrial cancer risk by 30 percent.

The results suggest that it's the source of fat or protein, not the macronutrients themselves, that is related to endometrial cancer risk, Xu and his team conclude.
For more on the meat-disease connection, check out these previous posts:

Wait, Americans aren't Healthy?

Okay, you might have to sit down before you read this next report. Because apparently, most Americans don’t eat right, or, exercise enough. WOW THAT’S SHOCKING NEWS! So what do the experts think? We need to eat more fruits and vegetables and get more exercise. HOW INSIGHTFUL! WE’RE SAVED! Will Dunham of Reuters is on it:
"These results underscore the need to promote diets high in fruits and vegetables and regular physical activity among all populations in the United States and among racial and ethnic minority communities in particular," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said in a report.

The CDC tracked the percentage of Americans who eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and engage in moderately intense exercise for at least 30 minutes five days per week or vigorous exercise for at least 20 minutes three days per week as recommended by the government.

Malaysians Facing a Fat Crisis

Back in October of last year the AFP reported that Malaysian officials were worried about the number of diseases the Western lifestyle would bring to their country. Well, it seems their worries might just become a reality. The AFP is now reporting that Malaysians will face an epidemic of obesity-related disease in ten years:
Malaysia will likely face an "epidemic" of weight-related illnesses in the next ten years if the country's rising obesity rates are not checked, health minister Chua Soi Lek warned Thursday.

Chua said medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and knee problems had increased in tandem with rising obesity levels.

"It has reached a worrying level and if there is no concerted effort by government agencies as well as the public, we will face a non-communicable diseases epidemic in 10 to 15 years," the minister told reporters.
At this rate we soon won’t have any healthy populations to compare ourselves too!

Obesity, Eating, and Pregnancy

I don’t think you need to be a doctor or nutrition to expert to rightfully assume that a pregnant mother’s health and eating habits can have a direct effect on the child developing inside her. But, don’t take my word for it—I’m just a blogger—here’s what Dr. Fuhrman has to say. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
The time to begin paying attention to a child’s health is long before birth. Even the mother’s diet twelve months before conception can influence the child’s future health. It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun. Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby.
So, with that being said, check out this report by Malcolm Ritter of the Associated Press. New research has determined that weight-gain during pregnancy may negatively impact babies once they’re born. Read on:
Women in the study who gained the recommended amount of weight ran four times the risk of having a child who was overweight at age 3, compared to women who gained less than the advised amount.

The outcome was about the same for women who gained more than the advisable amount.

So what's a pregnant woman to do? Clearly, she shouldn't gain more weight than recommended, said the study's lead author, Dr. Emily Oken of Harvard Medical School.

But beyond that, it's too early to say whether women should try to gain less than the standards call for or shoot for the low end of the recommended range, Oken said. At least the latter course is probably safe, she said.
Some other experts urged that pregnant women not try to gain less weight than recommended.

In any case, Oken said, it's too soon to call for a revision of the standard guidelines.
Do you really need to wait for the guidelines to change before you take action in your own life?

More Japanese Kids Overweight

Global obesity sure seems like an unstoppable runaway train, and here’s more proof. Reuters reports that the number of fat kids in Japan is rising:
A team of researchers has found that up to 20 percent of primary and junior high school children who were classified as overweight, and as many as 3 percent of children of the same age in general, may have the same condition. "There's a worldwide trend toward more weight problems in children, and Japan is no exception, as it has taken up habits more like the West," said Takehiko Ohzeki, professor and chairman of Pediatrics at central Japan's Hamamatsu University, who headed the research.

"Diet has really changed. Also, children now tend to sit around and watch TV and play computer games all day."

The research, which took two years and which Ohzeki said may have involved up to "several thousand" participants, suggested setting standards for metabolic syndrome in children as one part of a general program to tackle the issue.

A large waistline, high blood pressure, raised insulin levels, excess body weight and abnormal cholesterol levels are all symptoms of the syndrome.