Veganism: Unfair Treatment

ParentDish relays a story about a mom that may lose custody of her kids—why? Because she’s vegan. Read on:
Gail Nelson-Folkerson's estranged husband Jeff has filed a court application seeking primary custody of their five children (quintuplets, no less), citing control issues and the fact that she will not allow the kids to eat meat, eggs or dairy.

Obviously, the Father sees Veganism as unhealthy for his kids, though vegans would disagree arduously, noting that animal-free diets teach animal compassion and respect for other life while avoiding hormones infused in animal products and also avoiding junk like hamburgers and gravy.
I’m no lawyer, but, I can’t imagine any judge taking this seriously. What do you think?

Get Some Antioxidants

Antioxidants, where do they come from? Diana Kohnle of HealthDay News has a quick list of sources. Take a peek:
  • Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and juices; berries and other fruits; dark green vegetables; red and yellow peppers.
  • Vitamin E, found in vegetable oils, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.
  • Selenium, found in whole grains, most vegetables, chicken, eggs, and most dairy products.
  • Beta carotene, found in colorful fruits and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, red and yellow peppers, apricots, cantaloupes and mangoes.
Dr. Fuhrman would take issue with vegetable oil. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman doesn't consider oil to be all that healthy, even the long-heralded olive oil. He talks about it in Cholesterol Protection for Life:
I know you were told that olive oil is health food. It is not. Keep in mind, oil is processed food, it is not a natural whole food. Oils, even if they are monounsaturated, should not be health food because they are low in nutrients and contain 120 calories per tablespoon, promoting weight gain.

Sure, olive oil and almond oil are improvements over animal fats and margarine, but they still are a contributor to our overweight modern world. Overweight Americans consume and average of three tablespoons of oil in their daily diet, adding and extra 360 calories to their food each day. You need to reach a thinner, ideal weight to achieve maximum protection against heart disease and to reverse heart disease. Use oil, even olive oil sparingly or not at all; certainly, do not have more than one teaspoon per day.

Fast Food Nutrition Facts

I’m not sure if this would deter people, but the American Medical Association wants fast food restaurants to display the nutrition facts of their food. Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters reports:
The influential physicians' group said the information should be easy to understand and include calorie, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium content.

"One of the key things to address in the obesity epidemic is that people know what they're eating," AMA President Dr. Ronald Davis told reporters at a news briefing.

"We would like voluntary action now, but we will also be calling for policies ... at the local, state and national levels to require chains to do this," Davis said.

He noted the privately held Subway fast-food chain already lists grams of fat on its menu board.

"We would like to see other restaurant chains doing that voluntarily. We also would like to see other detailed information on their menus, where there is more room -- information like calories, grams of fat, grams of sodium and so on," Davis said.

Fat is the Chief Enemy of the Diabetic

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Fasting and Eating for Health:

Fat in the diet of the diabetic not only accelerates the disease process but also interferes with the uptake of glucose by the cells, thus further raising the blood glucose level.

Experiments described in the medical literature have tested the effects of high-fat diets on insulin intolerance. In one study, healthy young medical students were fed a very high fat diet containing egg yolks, heavy cream, and butter, and within two days all of the students had blood sugar levels high enough to be labeled diabetic.1 Complex carbohydrates have been shown to have the opposite effect.2

Fat in the food we eat prevents the proper utilization of insulin and more insulin is needed to process the glucose when fats are included in the meal. Additionally, the fat on one’s body makes the cells resistant to insulin, and the pancreas must produce more insulin to compensate. This is due not only to the additional insulin demanded by the extra body mass of fat cells, but also to the fact that the fat in and around normal tissue, like muscle and internal organs, interferes with insulin uptake into these tissues. The major contributors to fat in the American diet are animal source foods such as meat, fowl, fish, and dairy products, as well as cooking or salad oils.
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Alli the Brunt of Jokes

The new weight-loss drug Alli comes with a nasty side effect and the comedians are having fun with it. Karl Stark of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
Alli (pronounced al-EYE) went on sale for the first time about a week ago — a stronger prescription form, Xenical, has been available since 1999 — and its promotional material alone makes for strong medicine: The drug, which helps people lose small amounts of weight, can cause oily discharges, uncontrolled bowel movements, and gas if you eat too much fat.

Its marketing effort makes an impression by telling users to wear dark pants and carry extra clothes in case they soil themselves.

"Well, that sounds attractive, doesn't it?" Jay Leno cracked Monday on "The Tonight Show." "You lost a couple of pounds, and you're on a date with that special girl. 'Excuse me while I change my pants.' "

NBC's Conan O'Brien also spoke up to pooh-pooh Alli, suggesting that "the drug comes in three forms: pills, capsules and chimichangas."

Even the serious Boston-based Prescription Access Litigation Project, which often sues drug companies, got gleeful. It gave the drug's maker, GlaxoSmithKline its "With Allies Like This, Who Needs Enemas?" Award for Irresponsibly Selling a Formerly Prescription-Only Weight Loss Drug Over-the-Counter.

FDA Not Worried About Aspartame

At least it seems that way. Because despite a recent report linking aspartame with cancer, the FDA doesn’t think there’s any reason to review its safety—man, that FDA sure is progressive. More from Reuters:
Morando Soffritti of the Ramazzini Foundation in Bologna, Italy, and colleagues tested aspartame in rats, which they allowed to live until they died naturally.

Their study of more than 4,000 rats showed a lifetime of eating high doses of the sweetener raised the likelihood of several types of cancer.

"On the basis of the present findings, we believe that a review of the current regulations governing the use of aspartame cannot be delayed," Soffritti's team wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectivesexternal, which is published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"This review is particularly urgent with regard to aspartame-containing beverages, heavily consumed by children."

FDA spokesman Michael Herndon said the agency had not yet reviewed the study.

"However, the conclusions from this second European Ramazzini Foundation are not consistent with those from the large number of studies on aspartame that have been evaluated by FDA, including five previously conducted negative chronic carcinogenicity studies," Herndon said in an e-mail.

"Therefore, at this time, FDA finds no reason to alter its previous conclusion that aspartame is safe as a general purpose sweetener in food."
Personally, I avoid artificial sweeteners like the plague. They’re fake, chemically created junk—why chance it? Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t trust them either. In Eat to Live he calls a spade a spade, take a look:
Sweeteners cause brain tumors and seizures in animals, a legitimate health concern exists, despite the FDA’s declaration that aspartame is safe. In the past twenty years, brain tumor rates have risen in several industrialized countries, including the United States. Aspartame was introduced to the American market several years prior to the shaper increase in brain tumor incidence.1 This suggests to me that the potential danger of aspartame should more carefully studied.
Dr. Fuhrman goes on to explain that aspartame plays into our dangerous food addictions—not good—and here’s why, back to Eat to Live:
Clearly this is a controversial subject because much of the research documenting the so-called safety of aspartame was financed by the aspartame industry, and a huge amount of political and monetary pressure led to eventual FDA approval. My opinion is that the possible dangers of aspartame are still unknown. Utilizing such artificial products is gambling with your health. Aspartame also exposes us to a methyl ester that may have toxic effects. I recommend playing it safe and sticking to natural foods. Getting rid of your addictions to unsafe substances is valuable in achieving long-term success.
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NYC's Trans-Fat Phase Out

So, how is the ban on trans-fat going? Well, according to the Associated Press, it’s going swimmingly. In fact, most eateries have changed oil days before New York City’s July 1st deadline. David B. Caruso reports:
The trans fat overhaul is viewed as a major victory by health advocates. Trans fats, found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, clog arteries and contribute to heart disease. But they are also cheaper and have a longer shelf life, so industry at first stubbornly resisted dumping them.

That began to change last winter.

Cooking oil companies had already ramped up production of trans-fat alternatives. Restaurant supply companies began stocking kitchens with replacement products.

Big fast food chains that relied heavily on the old oils, from Burger King to Carl's Jr. to Kentucky Fried Chicken, announced they would eliminate the stuff from their fryers nationwide.

Even McDonald's, which had anguished over the potential impact on its french fries, said its phase-in of the new oils in thousands of restaurants has gone unnoticed by customers.
Although this is only half the battle, because as the report points out, some restaurants are still resisting the mandate requiring them to post calorie-content on their menus—eh, you can’t them all.

Kids and Migraine Headaches

This ABC News report attempts to explain why kids get migraines, and, I think it does a good job, but, I wish they talked more about food triggers and less about medication treatment options. What do you think? Take a look:

Now, Dr. Fuhrman treats migraine suffers by focusing on their diet. He talks about it in Eat to Live. Here’s an excerpt:
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.
Oh, and be sure to check out today’s post Retained Toxins are the Major Cause of Headaches.

Retained Toxins are the Major Cause of Headaches

From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Fasting and Eating for Health:

The standard theory that tension headaches are caused by widening of the blood vessels and migraines are caused by constriction of the blood vessels has been disproven in recent investigations.1 The evidence now illustrates that similarities between migraine and other types of headaches rather than the differences. The major cause of both tension headaches and migraines is the retention of toxins or tissue irritants within the central nervous system. These chemical irritants may cause an oversensitivity of nerve tissue to other stimuli.

It has also been shown that tissue waste, such as nitric oxide and other irritating chemicals, can be released from both the nerves and blood vessels in the central nervous systems.2 These recent findings illustrate the biochemical players associated with detoxification in the central nervous systems. Withdrawal from toxins either taken orally or self-produced within the body is a form of detoxification. This merely means the body is actively engaged in an effort to lower the levels of waste retained in our cells. Sometimes this release of waste from cells can be painful; nevertheless, it has a positive benefit to the body. Our cells and the tissue they comprise must continually strive to maintain their purity to prevent early cellular degeneration and premature cell death.
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Yeah, Sugary Drinks Bad

And it seems especially bad for little kids. New research has determined that drinking too much sugar-sweetened beverages at a young age makes kids twice as likely to be overweight later. Juhie Bhatia of HealthDay News is on it:
Canadian researchers found that 2- to 4-year-olds who regularly drank sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks and fruit drinks between meals were more than twice as likely to be overweight at age 4 1/2, compared to kids who didn't drink these beverages.

"There have not been a lot of studies like this in preschool children, we see more in adolescents," said study author Lise Dubois, a Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Population Health and an associate professor in the department of epidemiology and community medicine at the University of Ottawa. "These children are not old enough to buy their own beverages, so, in this case, the products are in the house, and the parents are giving these drinks to their children."

The study was published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
Makes sense to me, just check out the graph in yesterday’s post High-Fructose...Still Rotten.

Omega-3s Good for Baby

Earlier in the month we learned that Omega-3s help with blood pressure, and today, Reuters reports Omega-3s boost baby’s brainpower. More from reporter Amy Norton:
Researchers found that 9-month-olds whose mothers had eaten DHA-fortified bars during pregnancy performed better on a test of problem-solving abilities than infants whose mothers had not added DHA to their diets.

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is one of the major omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, sardines and tuna. Because of the fat's vital role in brain development, experts recommend that pregnant women get 300 milligrams (mg) of DHA each day.
However, research shows that few U.S. women meet this goal.

The new findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that women who do get adequate DHA may aid their infants' cognitive abilities.

Organic, Organic, Organic

ParentDish ponders, is organic really worth it? Let’s see if it is:
I like my apples with some holes, my peppers to be irregular, my blueberries to not be the size of car-tires, please. I am also cognizant of my footprint of the earth, much more so now that I've had Nolan. I feel like buying organic is a lighter tread on the earth. I have no idea why I feel that, though, especially since I heard on the radio the other day that organic food might actually put more strain on the earth because it has to travel such a distance to get to most local markets. I'm not sure whether it's true, but it certainly made me think.
For Dr. Fuhrman talking about organic, give this post a whirl: Is Organic Food Safer?

Junky Diets = Unhealthy Kids

Amie Hamlin is the Executive Director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, and, she’s steamed over the resistance to the idea of feeding kids healthfully. Here’s a recent Op-Ed piece she wrote for the Buffalo News. Look:
Contrary to food industry public relations, there are good and bad foods. Whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense plant foods contribute to good health. Schools should be setting a good example by focusing on these foods. Children go to school to learn. When schools offer foods that are inconsistent with what is being taught about nutrition, what message are we giving them?

Children will not starve in a healthy school food environment. They eat junk food because adults make it available and give them money to buy it. Schools are undermining the efforts of parents who feed their children healthfully at home. And for kids whose parents are not setting a good example at home, it’s even more important that schools offer only healthy choices.
Be sure to check out Amie’s website:

The Los Angeles Times Investigates Caffeine

Reporter Emily Sohn takes a long look at the highs and lows of caffeine consumption:
"As soon as you say coffee, people think caffeine; as soon as you say caffeine, people think coffee," says Terry Graham, a metabolic physiologist at the University of Guelph in Canada, a longtime caffeine researcher who recently organized an international symposium on caffeine and health. Scientists have isolated antioxidants, polyphenols, and micronutrients from coffee and tea, but there have been no long-term studies of how each ingredient, including caffeine, affects the body on its own or within a beverage.

"There are health benefits of coffee that have nothing to do with caffeine," Graham says. In fact, he adds: "There are no health benefits I've ever seen documented for caffeine."

High-Fructose...Still Rotten

Soft drinks are hardly part of a healthy diet. Why? That darn high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)! According to Dr. Fuhrman, HFCS is one of the major reasons obesity has been on the rise in this country. From Onlyourhealth Your Child:
Obesity rates have risen in tandem with soda consumption in the United States, and in the last twenty years the consumption of soft drinks by teenagers had doubled.1 Twelve to nineteen-year-old boys consume thirty-four teaspoons of sugar a day in their diet, and about half of that comes from soft drinks. Children start drinking soft drinks at a very young age, and advertisements and promotions by the soft drink manufacturers are aggressively marketed to the young.

Source: Data from the National Soft Drink Association, Beverage World, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (
And here’s more reason to avoid HFCS. E.J. Mundell of HealthDay News reports on new research linking fructose to poor artery health. Read on:
The type of sugar in a sugary drink may impact how healthy -- or unhealthy -- it is for arteries, a new study suggests.

Fructose-sweetened drinks are more likely to provoke the development of fatty artery deposits in overweight adults than glucose-sweetened beverages, researchers say.

Kimber Stanhope, of the University of California at Davis, and colleagues compared the results of drinking fructose-sweetened beverages versus glucose for 10 weeks in overweight and obese adults.

Participants ate a balanced diet with 30 percent fat and 55 percent complex carbohydrates. Thirteen of the participants also consumed glucose-sweetened drinks, while 10 drank fructose-sweetened drinks.

The researchers found that 9 weeks later, 24-hour post-meal triglyceride (blood fat) levels went up after 2 weeks of fructose-sweetened drink but went down in those who consumed glucose-sweetened drinks.

Those who drank fructose-sweetened drinks also had a boost in fasting blood concentrations of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and other measures. Those levels were unaltered in those consuming glucose-sweetened drinks, however.

Trans-Fat in Diet Food

More proof that “diet food” is pretty much just over-glorified junk. Apparently some Weight Watchers foods in Australia contain hydrogenated oils. Diet-Blog is on it:
Weight Watchers Australia has come under criticism for using hydrogenated vegetable oils in its branded dessert foods. Please note that this applies to mousse and custard products only in Australia and New Zealand.

This issue of "diet" food is an interesting one. The Weight Watchers plan (which is arguably one of the most respected weight loss programs) does not require any "special" foods.

So why the need for branded foods?

Weight Watchers relies on the "Points" system - whereby certain nutritional components of a food are aggregated into a single value: the number of points. Ready-made branded foods have the points value listed on the box - so presumably this makes shopping slightly easier.

Pesticides in the Baby Food

Baby food is gross. Walk down the baby food isle of your local supermarket, just a wall of pureed mush, a mosaic of browns and faded pastels—yum! Hardly, and now it seems some jars of baby food might have an added ingredient…pesticide. ParentDish relays the info:
I'm surprised that Generation X made it out of childhood. Our parents strapped us into adult seatbelts, or careened down the highway with us in their laps. We were just as likely to be formula fed as breastfed, and our canned baby food contained salt, sugar, artificial preservatives and even lead and pesticides. Awesome.

The truth is, parenting in the late seventies and early eighties seemed a lot more freewheeling than it is today. Today's babies are carefully strapped into cars with latch systems and five-point harnasses. Moms hear repeated whispers of "breast is breast, breast is best" from the time of conception to two years post-partum. And almost all baby food today is made without preservatives, as naturally as possible. Even though we fluked our way through our childhood, let it be said that Gen X's babies are very harnessed and educated and well-fed.

High-Calorie + Low-Nutrient = Chubby

Reuters reports that consuming foods that are low in nutrients, but high calories is a one way street to fat town. Charnicia Huggins has more:
Foods that fill you up without packing a ton of calories can help in the battle of the bulge, results of a new study suggest.

In the study, obese women who reduced the "energy density" of their diet by cutting their intake of fats and adding more fruits and vegetables lost more weight over a 12-month period, and felt less hungry, than did those who simply reduced their fat intake.

"Incorporating low calorie-dense foods into the diet is an effective strategy for lowering calories and reducing hunger when you're trying to lose weight," study co-author Dr. Julia A. Ello-Martin, of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, told Reuters Health.

"This is an approach that allows you to focus on the foods that you should be eating" rather than focusing on restricting calories, she added.
For more on this concept, check out this previous post:

Mediterranean Diet and Colon Cancer

According to Robert Preidt of Healthday News a new study is being conducted to see whether or not the Mediterranean way of eating can prevent colon cancer. Read on:
Along with its emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, olive oil and nuts, the Mediterranean diet limits high fat meats and processed foods. The Healthy People 2010 diet -- from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with moderate fat intake and limits on saturated fat.

"Overall eating patterns appear to be more important for cancer prevention than intakes of specific nutrients or food groups. We hope this study will give us an indication of the benefits that a person's diet can have on health, especially in terms of reducing the risk of colon cancer," Zora Djuric, research professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and principal investigator on the Healthy Eating for Colon Cancer Prevention study, said in a prepared statement.
For Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on the Mediterranean Diet, check out this previous post:

Can Vegetarian be Junky?

Personally, I’m not a vegetarian, but I do restrict my intake of animal products. For example, I don’t eat meat; no chicken, no beef, no turkey, no nothing, but, I do eat fish. So, does this mean I’m healthier than your standard American?

Well, according to Dr. Fuhrman the evidence is in my favor. In Cholesterol Protection for Life he points to the health advantages of a vegetarian or near-vegetarian diet like mine. From the book:
We do not know for sure. The preponderance of evidence suggests that either a near-vegetarian diet or a vegetarian diet is the best, especially for patients with heart disease. In the massive China-Oxford-Cornell Project, reduction in heart disease and cancer rates continued to be observed as participants reduced their animal-food consumption all the way down to 1.7 small servings per week. Under this level, there is not enough data available.

Some smaller studies suggest that a small amount of fish added to a vegetarian diet adds benefit, which is the result of the documented benefits from the increased DHA-fat from fish. This benefit can be achieved and heart reversal maximized on a strict vegetarian diet by including flaxseeds and nuts that contain omega-3 such as walnuts and the addition of a DHA supplement. Whether you are a strict vegetarian or not, your diet still must be plant-predominant to achieve protection against both heart disease and cancer.
But here’s the problem, most vegetarians still eat junky diets. Sure, they’re not eating a lot of meat, but many gorge themselves on imitation meat, processed soy foods, salt, sugar, and refined grains—yeah, not exactly Fuhrman-friendly. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman discusses the soy issue:
This brings to mind my basic theme of nutritional biodiversity--eat a variety of plant foods, and do not eat a soy-based diet.

Most of the processed soy products can be tasty additions to a plant-based diet, but they are generally high in salt and are not nutrient-dense foods, so use them sparingly. In conclusion, the soybean is a superior food, containing the difficult-to-find omega-3 fats. Beans in general are superior foods that fight against cancer and heart disease, which is why you will benefit from using a variety of beans in your diet.
I know quite a few vegetarians who basically live off soy; soy chicken, soy nuts, soy bacon, soy sausage, soy cheese, etc, etc. So much processed food, so little natural wholesome plant matter. A dangerous combination because as Diet-Blog uncovers, many of these soy-based meat alternatives are hardly health food, and, they certainly shouldn’t be the cornerstone of a so-called health diet:
Here is a list of a few other restaurants that offer some vegetarian choices you might want to be aware of:
  • Burger King Veggie Burger w/Cheese - 470 calories and 20 grams of fat. (A whopper junior has 410 calories & 24 grams of fat)
  • Chilis Bar and Grill - Baked Potato bowl of Soup - 440 calories and 33 grams of fat.
  • Uno’s Chicago Grill - Roasted Toasted Veggie Panini - 590 calories and 26 grams of fat.
  • Ninety-Nine Restaurant Veggie Burger - 910 calories and 41 grams of fat.
And last but not least:
  • Ruby Tuesday Veggie Burger- a whopping 943 calories and 52 grams of fat!
Now, I don’t think Dr. Fuhrman or Diet-Blog are being anti-soy—I’m certainly not, I drink soymilk and eat tofu—but, the important point to remember and Dr. Fuhrman would agree, there is no replacing a hearty amount of unaltered fruits and veggies.

Fortified Food Farce

Which would you prefer, a kick in the head or a punch in the nose? Yes, this is a very dumb question, but, it’s not all that different from this one posed by The New York Times. Reporter C. Claiborne Ray wants to know if eating fortified food is better than taking vitamins. Take a look:
“In some circumstances a pill might be preferable to an enriched food to make sure a person is getting enough of a specific nutrient,” Dr. Sheldon S. Hendler, co-editor of The Physicians’ Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements said, “for example, for those on restricted diets, including calorie-restricted diets, for those with food allergies and sensitivities (like lactose intolerance) and for the elderly, who may not be able to eat enough of a particular food.” But eating a fortified food rather than taking a pill gives the added advantage of the food’s overall nutritional value, including valuable plant nutrients called phytonutrients, some of which may not even have been identified yet, as well as calories, fiber and water.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t buy the hype of fortified foods. If you’re eating plenty of wholesome nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, seeds, and legumes—you don’t need the fortified food! So, here’s what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about Ray’s question:
Of course this article misses the whole point emphasized in modern nutritional research. That is when you attempt to meet you micronutrient requirements with supplements or fortified products you miss those thousands of phytonutrients that accompany produce that is naturally nutrient rich. So every fortified food you eat is increasing your risk of cancer by decreasing your dietary intake of a food that could have supplied those calories in a more nutrient complete package. Fortified foods = processed foods. Processed foods = obesity and cancer epidemic.
Plants are loaded with tons of health-promoting compounds. Take fruit for example, very strong medicine. From Eat to Live:
Researchers have discovered substances in fruit that have unique effects on preventing aging and deterioration of the brain.1 Some fruits, especially blueberries, are rich in anthocyanins and other compounds having anti-aging effects.2 Studies continue to provide evidence that more than any other food, fruit consumption is associated with lowered mortality from all cancers combined.2 Eating fruit is viable to your health, well-being, and long life.
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The Scarlet Cheese Sandwich

Apparently elementary schools in California are having a tough time with delinquent school lunch debts. So, if the parents won’t pay, the kids will. Instead of a customary school lunch, children with debt get a meesly cheese sandwich. Richard Marosi of The Los Angles Times reports:
They told students with deadbeat parents that they had only one lunch choice: a cheese sandwich.

The sandwich, served on whole wheat bread, came with a clear message: Tell your parents to pay up — or no more pizza and burgers for you.

Cheese sandwiches and other "alternate meals" have been added to menus in school districts across the country as they try to take a bite out of parents' lunch debts…

…Most schools across the country have introduced alternate meals, said Erik Peterson, a spokesman for the School Nutrition Assn., an Alexandria, Va.-based organization for school nutrition professionals.

Orange County's Capistrano Unified School District serves crackers with peanut butter or cheese. The Los Angeles Unified School District gives children half a sandwich and a piece of fruit. Peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches are a common alternate meal, but not a very effective one.

"It seemed to be one of the children's very favorite meals, so that wasn't productive," said Beth Taylor, nutrition director for the Johnston County School District in North Carolina, where such sandwiches were tried. Taylor said switching to vegetable and fruit trays changed everything. Among last week's menu items for students with lunch balances: crunchy cole slaw, fried squash and steamed cabbage. "The outstanding debt has been reduced to nothing," she said.
Now, I don’t think anyone should welsh on a debt, but—at the risk sounding mellow dramatic—should any child suffer for sins of the father? No, the answer is no, always no. Especially when you consider the punishment, cheese slapped in between sliced wheat bread—yuck! I present exhibit A:

We all know how Dr. Fuhrman feels about cheese, not only is it one of the worst foods you can eat for health and longevity, but as he explains it is loaded with milk hormones that are very detrimental to human health. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
Cheese consumption during childhood is a major concern because it takes ten pounds of milk to make one pound of cheese. Besides the bovine growth hormone given to cows, their milk contains estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, prolactin, and other natural cow hormones. Cheese not only is richer in saturated fat, but is a more concentrated source of these hormones. These milk hormones can exert effects on humans.1 The more you drink or eat dairy, the more hormones you get, and cheese consumption magnifies the negative aspects of cow’s milk.
And wheat bread, granted, whole-wheat bread is a step up from white bread, albeit a small one. But look at that picture, does that really look like a rustic whole-grain type wheat bread to you? Looks like white bread with a bad tan to me. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains this type of whole wheat bread is bad news:
Whole wheat that is finely ground is absorbed into the bloodstream fairly rapidly and should not be considered as wholesome as more coarsely ground and grittier whole grains. The rapid rise of glucose triggers fat storage hormones.
Here’s what amazes me about all this, in spite of all the school food reforms going around now, schools are willing to throw all that away, punish the child and compromise their health for a couple of bucks. Tell you what Chula Vista, next time you want to serve garbage to some innocent kid give me a call and I’ll pick up the lousy tab.
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Kellogg's Nixing Ads to Kids

Maybe we’ve finally realized that sugary cereals aren’t exactly the nutritious way for kids to start the morning because Kellogg’s has begun phasing out ads aimed at kids. Andrew Martin of The New York Times reports:
Kellogg also announced that it would stop using licensed characters or branded toys to promote foods unless the products meet the nutrition guidelines.

The voluntary changes, which will be put in place over the next year and a half, will apply to about half of the products that Kellogg currently markets to children worldwide, including Froot Loops and Apple Jacks cereals and Pop-Tarts.

Frosted Flakes, for example and Rice Krispies with Real Strawberries will still make the nutritional cut, though regular Rice Krispies will not (too much salt).

The president and chief executive of Kellogg, David Mackay, said that the products that did not meet the guidelines would either be reformulated so that they did, or no longer be advertised to children.

“It is a big change,” Mr. Mackay said. “Where we can make the changes without negatively impacting the taste of the product, we will.”

If the product cannot be reformulated, Mr. Mackey said, the company will either market it to an older audience or stop advertising it.
Alright, it’s a noble endeavor, but, they shouldn’t been selling that junk to kids in the first place.

Vacuum-Packed Bacteria

Well, this is officially gross. Charles Q. Choi of LiveScience reports that vacuum-packed foods are a breeding ground for icky bacteria. Proceed with caution:
Vacuum-packed foods are deprived of oxygen to keep them fresh and boost their shelf life, but the same strategy is a boon for Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium responsible for a kind of food poisoning that kills 25 percent of the people it infects.

Unlike many other food-borne germs, Listeria can grow even in the cold temperatures of refrigerators. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that the microbe has been linked with foods such as raw milk; ice cream; soft-ripened cheeses such as feta, Brie and Camembert; hot dogs; raw and deli meats; raw vegetables; raw and cooked poultry; and raw and smoked fish.

In experiments with guinea pigs, Technical University of Denmark researchers found oxygen-deprived Listeria gets mean—up to 100 times more invasive than when grown with ample supplies of oxygen, findings which are detailed June 14 in the online journal BMC Microbiology.

Pasta is Not Health Food!

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Fasting and Eating for Health:

The standard American diet is centered around animal foods and processed wheat products, neither of which are ideal foods. Even worse, the typical modern eater consumes a tremendous amount of extracted vegetable oil. Many Americans add high-fat dressings or sauces to almost everything they consume that is not a high-fat food to start with. Yet those familiar with the scientific research on fats, including extracting plant fats such as olive oil and soy oil, know that fats increase our risk of cancer.1 Vegetable fats are processed foods that interfere with the normal of our immune system2,3 and that contribute to obesity and chronic disease.

When individuals change from an animal-food-based diet to a vegetarian diet, but then eat mostly processed foods such as low-fat pizza, tofu dogs and other health food store concoctions, refined cereals and grains, pasta, and bread as the primary source of their calories, the diet is still inadequate.

Grains, when consumed in their refined state, are comparatively poor sources of vitamins, especially antioxidants. They are also nearly devoid of essential fatty acids. The opposite can be said of green vegetables. Green vegetables and especially the leafy greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, as well as thousands of other important nutrients that research scientists are beginning to identify as being essential for optimal health. These plant-based substances, called phytochemicals, support our immune system and protect us from cancer.
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Trans-Fat, Its Lurks

Sure, trans-fat is being banned left and right, but, it’s not completely out of our system just yet. The Center for Science in the Public Interest points out that trans-fat still lurks in many familiar places. Read on:
Several Pepperidge Farm (part of the Campbell Soup company) products contain unsafe levels of trans fat, including a Chili and Cornbread with Beans One Dish Meal (4 grams of trans fat per serving), puff pastry sheets and shells (4 and 5 grams, respectively), and a Creamy Alfredo Chicken and Broccoli pot pie (11 grams) that has more trans fat than someone should consume in five days. Though Wal-Mart, America’s biggest supermarket chain, recently announced that its in-store delis would switch to trans-fat-free frying oil, several Wal-Mart Bakery products still have artificial trans fat, such as Glazed Mini Donuts (2.5 grams) and Apple Fritters and Honey Buns (6 grams each).

Other products that have alarming levels of trans fat include Drake’s Fruit Pies (8 g) and several Tastykake products, including Glazed Honey Buns (8 g), Glazed Donut Holes (5 g), and Mini Donuts (4 g). Partially hydrogenated oil is still used in many brands of microwave popcorn including some of Giant’s and Safeway’s house-brand versions and some varieties of Pop Secret (part of General Mills), Jolly Time, and Pop Weaver. Many stick margarines have 2.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

“Everyone is so used to seeing “0g Trans Fat” claims on food labels that it’s tempting to think the problem is solved,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “While labeling has been a great success, it clearly hasn’t been enough to get every company on board for every product.”
To be honest, all this banning of trans-fat has turned me into quite the trans-fat watchdog. I avoid it like the plague. But one thing I’ve noticed is that trans-fat tends to pop up most often in foods that an Eat to Liver would never even consider eating, like snack cakes and crackers—no big loss!

(Via That’s Fit)

Are You an Emotional Eater?

Diet-Blog passes along 8 Indicators of Emotional Eating. Here’s a few that may feel familiar:
2. You crave specific foods - generally not carrot sticks or steamed broccoli.
Cravings for specific, usually unhealthy foods is a sign of emotional eating. Often people like the rush they get from satisfying their cravings. That rush is fulfilling emotional hunger.

3. Your hunger feels urgent.
You need a particular food right away and you're willing to walk out of your way, or get in your car late at night, or raid your kid's Halloween candy to get it. Physical hunger, unless you haven't eaten for a very long time, is usually pretty patient. It will wait for food. Emotional hunger demands to be satisfied immediately.

4. Your hunger is often paired with an upsetting emotion.
If you backtrack a few hours or a few days you'll usually find an upsetting event and feeling that triggered the urge. Hunger that's connected to an upsetting emotion or situation is definitely emotional hunger. Physical hunger is not typically triggered by emotions.
Now this just smacks of toxic hunger and according to Dr. Fuhrman toxic hunger comes with the territory when you’re a food addict. He talks about it in Eat to Live:
Losing your ability to sense true hunger sets the foundation for obesity. By feeding kids so much calorie-rich food so frequently we have trained our children to disconnect eating from hunger. After enough time goes by continually consuming more calories than they need, they will feel discomfort when they do not have food constantly in their stomach. They must keep their digestive tract going all the time, because they become an overweight adult, they are true food addicts.

Symptoms of Toxic Hunger
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Abdominal and esophageal spasm
  • Fluttering and cramping
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.

Cartoons on Food

ParentDish is annoyed about all the commercialism in the supermarket—quite frankly—I think its annoying too, but apparently if you have small children it’s doubly bad. I don’t have kids, but I feel her pain:
I'm taking my kids to the grocery with me this morning, which is mostly fine because they are old enough to help load the cart and to make some decisions about what they will get for snacks. At the same time, though, taking two kids to the grocery is an exercise in insanity because they are so won over by the packaging that it's hard to get them to focus on the actual food. Henry--who wouldn't eat a fruit roll up if it were the only food left in the world--once sobbed in the snack aisle because I wouldn't buy him Scooby Doo fruit roll ups. Sheesh.
Although, I think sticking pictures of Disney characters on fresh fruits and vegetables is a good idea, even if the food at Disney World is less than desirable—hey, it’s still a start!

Obviously Unhealthy Findings

Did you know that eating a lot of junk food is bad? No? Well then my simple friend, you’ll just love these revolutionary discoveries. Rosie Mestel of The Los Angeles Times explains that too much food will make you fat. Wait, there's more:
"Families whose meals frequently consist of fast food are more likely to have unhealthy eating habits." That's from the University of Minnesota.

"As they grow older, teenagers are spending more time in front of the computer and television and less time participating in physical activities" — another from the University of Minnesota. (Is there something about Minnesota?)

"Parents of children with sleep problems are more likely to have sleep-related problems themselves." This one, while certainly in the Minnesota spirit, is from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center and Brown Medical School.
I weep for our society, I really do.

Brown Sugar Good?

Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times investigates the claim that brown sugar is better for us than plain-old white sugar. Guess what? Its not! Here’s more:
So the two varieties of sugar are similar nutritionally. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, brown sugar contains about 17 kilocalories per teaspoon, compared with 16 kilocalories per teaspoon for white sugar.

Because of its molasses content, brown sugar does contain certain minerals, most notably calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium (white sugar contains none of these). But since these minerals are present in only minuscule amounts, there is no real health benefit to using brown sugar. The real differences between the two are taste and the effects on baked goods.
Dr. Fuhrman isn’t fooled by it either. In Eat to Live he lumps brown sugar with other junk foods. From the book:
Refined sugars include table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose), honey, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, corn sweeteners, and fruit juice concentrates. Even the bottled and boxed fruit juices that many children drink are poor food; with no significant nutrient density, they lead to obesity and disease.1
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The Five Second Rule

Kindergarteners and dare-devils can rejoice. Apparently a couple of college students have determined that food dropped on the floor is safe to eat beyond the much heralded five second rule. Check out this ABC News clip, Eat Food Off the Floor?

Personally, I go to New York City all the time and I won’t even pick up money off the ground, let alone food—not unless it’s been decontaminated and sanitized first!

Our Bodies Know How Much to Eat

What’s wrong with the way most Americans eat? Everything! We eat junk, we crave junk, we get sick, and then, we die. Here Dr. Fuhrman talks to Dr. Memhet Oz about the problems with the standard American diet. From Dr. Oz’s show "Second Opinion” on the Discovery Channel:

Miracle Expanding Jelly Pills

Here’s more proof that humans might not be the most intelligent creatures on earth. Are you desperate to lose weight? Why bother doing the logical thing—eating right and exercising. Instead, take some magic pills. Magic jelly pills that expand in our stomachs that is. Nicole Martinelli of Wired explains:

Italian scientists are testing a new diet pill that turns into a clear, gelatinous blob the size of a tennis ball that may help shrink waistlines by giving dieters a sense of satiety.

The pill, currently undergoing clinical trials at Rome's Policlinico Gemelli hospital, would be downed with two glasses of water at the first sign of a stomach rumble.

"The effect is like eating a nice plate of pasta," said Luigi Ambrosio, lead researcher on the project at the National Research Council's Institute for Composite and Biomedical Materials in Naples. "If you sit down for a meal with a stomach that already feels full, you'll end up eating less."

The unnamed pill is made from a cellulose compound of hydrogel, a material that's powdery when dry but plumps up to a cousin of Jell-O when wet. The gel can soak up to 1,000 times its weight. A gram in capsule form quickly balloons from the size of a spit wad to a ball that holds nearly a liter of liquid.

Now, if just hearing about it isn’t gross enough, check out this photo. Prepared to gag:

I can literally see Dr. Fuhrman rolling his eyes in disgust. But permit me to be serious for a second. This just highlights how blindly obsessed people are with losing weight. I’m sure there’ll be a line of people waiting to give these jelly pills a whirl, which is sad because as Dr. Fuhrman explains magic pills just aren’t the answer. From Eat to Live:

Don't be conned by diet pills, magic in a bottle, or fat absorbers. Anything really effective is not safe, and those that are safe are not effective. To deal with the real problem, you must make real changes.

Now, when you get serious and switch to a nutrient-dense health-promoting diet, then you’ll really start to see results. More from Eat to Live:

My observations over the years have convinced me that eating healthfully makes you drop unwanted pounds efficiently. It’s as if the body wants to get rid of unhealthy tissue quickly. I have seen this happen time and time again. Eating the exact same diet, many patients drop weight quickly and easily and then automatically stop losing when they reach an ideal weight. Time and time again, I have see individuals who were not overweight nonetheless lose weigh after the switch. In a few months, however, they gravitated back to their former weight as their health improved. It is as if the body wanted to exchange unhealthy issue for healthy tissue.

(Via Diet-Blog)

A Bowl Full of Cherries

The Cardio Blog relays some research linking consumption of sour cherries to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. Take a look:
For me, freshly-picked cherries are synonymous with summer. Eating those sweet morsels of goodness on a hot summer's day is about as perfect as it gets. If you love cherries as much as me, there's good news -- They're great for you, especially your heart. There's a downside to this news though -- Sour cherries are better for you than those of the sweet variety. Tart cherries are associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, more so than sweet cherries like Bing cherries. The reason that tart cherries are more beneficial than sweet ones if that tart cherries have more antioxidants, and we all know antioxidants are great for whatever ails you.
I like the sound of that! Feast your eyes on my big bowl of cherries. And yes, they are sour—they don’t like having their picture taken:

The only bad thing here—other than my creepy web cam picture—would be that cherries are on the higher end of pesticide contamination risk. From Reduce Your Pesticide Exposure By 90%:

Aloha Spam!

Okay, this confirms it. I’d heard that Spam was very popular in Hawaii, and apparently, the rumors are true. Evidently McDonalds has been selling Spam creations over there for years and now, Burger King looks to get in on the action. Jaymes Song of the Associated Press reports:
Hoping to cash in on Hawaii's love affair with the pinkish meat product, Burger King Corp. last month began offering Spam for breakfast — going head-to-head with rival McDonald's Corp., which has been featuring Spam in the islands for years.

Burger King is offering the Spam Platter — two slices of Spam nestled between white rice and scrambled eggs. The fast-food giant also offers the Croissanwich or Biscuit Sandwich with Spam.

Denise Yamauchi, Burger King managing director in Hawaii, said sales have been "very good and very promising."
Promising and Spam, I bet you’ve never heard those two words used in the same sentence before. Sounds like trouble in paradise to me.

The EU Clarifies "Organic"

After many months of bickering the European Union has finally hammered down their labeling system for organic food. Jeremy Smith of Reuters talks about:
Farmers who sell produce containing at least 95 percent organic ingredients will use a special EU logo, along with a label to indicate the product's origin. Below that, there will be labeling of the organic ingredients present.

"This is an excellent agreement which will help consumers to recognize organic products throughout the EU more easily and give them assurances of precisely what they are buying," EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said.

The labels can be accompanied by national and private logos, at the discretion of individual EU countries. Mass catering operations are excluded from the new rules although countries can choose to apply national rules if they wish.

Now, EU organic farmers have difficulty selling organic food in different EU countries as there is a patchwork of national and private logos that can be costly and complicated to obtain.

At present, the EU has two labeling categories: a "gold standard" where organic ingredients comprise at least 95 percent of the final product, and "emphasized labeling" where there is at least 70 percent organic material.
Hold on, shouldn’t organic food be 100% organic? How can something be organic, if it’s not totally organic? I’m confused. Okay, let’s ask the USDA for help. Oh wait. They let food be labeled as organic even if it includes non-organic ingredients. Welcome to bizzaro land!

UPDATE: A Chile Pepper Investigation

Susan Bowerman of The Los Angeles Times examines the supposed power of the Chile pepper:
For many of us, the heat of the pepper is what makes it such a palate pleaser. But peppers also have a lot going for them nutritionally — they are good sources of vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid, magnesium and potassium. Peppers and capsaicin also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which might reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and other chronic diseases that occur with age.

Chile-laden meals have been shown to boost energy expenditure in several human trials. In one study, for instance, 10 grams of dried hot pepper added to breakfast increased energy expenditure by 23% immediately after the meal and for more than two hours afterward.
UPDATE: Dr. Fuhrman had some interesting thoughts on this article, check it out:
Healthy foods do not give you sudden energy; you have energy because you eat healthfully, exercise appropriately and get sufficient sleep. The gain of rapid energy from a food is called stimulation and that is an accurate indication that the substance was harmful to your health. Healthful substances do not stimulate, only toxic substances do. It needs to be mentioned as well that too much very hot foods are linked to higher rates of stomach cancer. To conclude, hot spices should be used sparingly and should not be considered health foods.

FDA: Federal Dysfunction Agency

The FDA, some people think they’re the stewards of our good health and too others—myself included—they’re quite the confederacy of dunces. This New York Times article highlights why the FDA is a reality TV train wreck in the making. Gardiner Harris reports:
A series of drug-safety scandals has led many on Capitol Hill to question whether the Food and Drug Administration has failed to strike the right balance between speed and safety. A clear sign of this imbalance, these critics say, is the increasing number of F.D.A. drug-safety officers who say they have been punished or ignored after uncovering dangers of popular medicines.

The latest to suffer this fate is Dr. Rosemary Johann-Liang, 42, who recommended more than a year ago that the diabetes drug Avandia carry the agency’s strongest possible safety warning for its effects on the heart…

… On Wednesday, the F.D.A. commissioner, Andrew C. von Eschenbach, announced that the agency had asked for boxed warnings on Avandia and Actos, more than a year after Dr. Johann-Liang’s recommendation.

At least four other F.D.A. safety reviewers in recent years have been punished or discouraged after uncovering similar drug dangers, according to Congressional investigations.
Welcome to the FDA, drug companies hallowed be thy names.

Again, Our Athletes Just Don't Eat Right

As we found out last week, American professional athletes know next to nothing about nutrition. Tank Johnson can’t get enough beef sticks and summer sausage, Richard Hamilton loves his standard American diet, and Bernard Berrian is hooked on bacon and maple syrup. And apparently, many of the San Antonio Spurs eat poorly too. Claudia Zapata of the Express-New reports:
"Tony pretty much eats the same thing every day before a game," e-mails the future Mrs. Parker, Eva Longoria. Eva prepares Tony's "favorite lemon pasta," which he eats about 1 p.m. before he takes a nap.

So what's in Tony's "favorite lemon pasta?"

"It's very easy," says Eva. "Simmer one cup heavy whipping cream, one cup of beef broth, and let it reduce by a quarter. Then add a half-cup of fresh lemon juice. Boil your pasta of choice and put it in the sauce, letting it soak for 10 minutes to absorb. Et voila!"

Steak is another popular choice among the players and, according to Michael Finley's wife, Rebekah, the veteran All-Star is a real steak-and-potatoes guy on game day. "He always has a steak, a sweet potato and salad," she says.

Last, but never least, Bruce Bowen isn't just the most feared defender in the NBA; he's also pretty handy in the kitchen. Bruce prepares his own pre-game meal, and during a recent phone interview, he says it's always "steak, pasta, and some type of bean — red beans, black beans or green beans."

On the road, Bruce tries to find another combination of carbohydrates and protein, like a hamburger and fries, pasta with chicken or beef, or thin-crust pizza.

Meanwhile, eating five hours before game time gives him the most energy, Bruce says.
Hamburger and fries—WOW—they call that energy food! Have we entered bizzaro world?

Healthy Eating, What If?

What if this country stopped shelling out billions of dollars to invent new drugs to treat disease, and instead, we put some of that money towards educating people how to eat healthier? Vicki Blankenship of The Cancer Blog is in a huff about this very same idea. Check it out:
What if only a part of the millions and millions of dollars poured into research on medicines, was put to use in educating the public on the right choices of foods and nutrition to put into our bodies to keep them healthy and to learn how to relax and quit putting so many demands on ourselves. What if more funding went into organic farming instead of mass, quick produced, with fertilizers and steroids for faster turn around on the products. Personally I have had so many chemicals blasted into my body from chemo and radiation, and medicines for this and medicines for that, I am about to think that all of that is only hurting my body more. Are we brain washed to believe that we have to have a pill for everything…

…But the one thing that I want to emphasize in this blog right now, is to STOP EATING processed and canned foods. It may be quicker to heat up a can of food or something already processed and pre-made for us, but it is not healthier. Eating fresh organic vegetables and home made prepared foods without chemical preservatives and other additives is the way to go to start getting some of those toxins out of our bodies. If you can't find fresh in something, because seasons play a big part in our fresh vegetable selections, purchase frozen. Also purchase dried beans or other dried items and cook them instead of buying canned ones. They are healthier than canned. Eating raw vegetables or slightly steamed vegetables is more healthy because the vitamins and nutrients do not cook out of the food.

Caffeine and Pregnancy

This country loves caffeine. Coffee, energy drinks, chocolate—you name it, we’ll eat it! Come on, have you been in a diner lately? Half the tables are filled with high school kids slurping down cups of Joe—hook them while they’re young! Now, we all know Dr. Fuhrman thinks caffeine consumption is a bad idea, but kicking it can be a real nightmare. Take coffee for example, from Eat to Live:
The body can heal itself when the obstacles to healing or stressors are removed. The reason people can’t ever make complete recoveries is that they are addicted to their bad habits and unhealthful ways of eating and drinking.

Imagine if you were drinking ten cups of coffee daily. You stopped drinking coffee, you would feel ill; you might get headaches, feel weak, even get the shakes. Fortunately, this would resolve slowly over four to six days, and then you would be well.

So, if your were this heavy coffee drinker, when do you think you would feel the worst? Right after eating, upon waking up in the morning, or when delaying or skipping a meal?

You are correct if you answered either upon first waking up or when delaying or skipping a meal. The body goes through withdrawal, or detoxification, most effectively when it is not busy digesting food. A heavy meal will stop the ill feelings, or you’ll feel better if you take another cup of coffee, but the cycle of feeling ill will start all over gain the minute the caffeine level drops or the glucose level in the blood starts to go down.
Okay, but what about caffeine and pregnancy? Well, it’s a tough topic. In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman explains that drinking coffee isn’t a smart move if you’re pregnant, but, even he admits the research isn’t always clear. Check it out:
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.1 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible. The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.
I like that advice—why bother? But in case you’re an information hound, take a gander at this New York Times investigation. Anahad O’Connor examines the evidence for and against caffeine consumption when you’re pregnant. Look:
One of the more unnerving studies was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. It looked at more than 1,000 pregnant Swedish women and found that those who drank the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent increased risk of miscarriage, while those who had the equivalent of at least five cups had more than double the risk.

But a majority of studies have suggested that any risk might apply only to high levels of caffeine intake. One study carried out by the National Institutes of Health in 1999 looked closely at the blood levels of caffeine in tens of thousands of pregnant women and found that those who consumed the equivalent of more than five cups of coffee a day did have an increased risk, while those who drank one or two cups did not. Other studies have had similar findings.
I don’t know about you, but this just seems like more running around a problem and not really doing anything about it. Now, if there’s even the slightest chance something you eat can hurt you or your child, do you really need to have it? Probably not.

For more on this topic, don't forget about this previous post: Caffeine, Risk, and Babies.
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Dropping the Smack Down on Beer

The Diabetes Blog is all fired up about beer and the shady marketing behind it. Take a look:
For people with diabetes, being aware of carbohydrate content in food and drinks is highly important. With regard to beer, it's important to be cognizant not only of its direct effect on blood glucose levels, but also for the added fat it may be adding to your midsection. The classic Beer Belly, if you will. But, what is it about beer that makes it so bad for your belly?

For one, when you drink beer, twenty percent of the alcohol is absorbed from your stomach into your bloodstream; the rest is absorbed by your intestines. From there, the alcohol makes its way through your liver, where it is broken down -- leading to the creation of two waste products: acetate and acetaldehyde. These waste products then signal your body to stop burning fat, while at the same time your body actually starts MAKING fat from another alcohol waste product, known as acetyle CoA. As a result of all this, the more you drink, the less you become able to burn fat -- and, the more fat your body creates from the build-up of acetytle CoA.

Good TV Makes You Fat

Do you overeat? Well my friend, the answer to your problems is here—just watch some really bad TV! Why? Because according to a new study watching good television makes you more prone to overeat. Jennifer Kwan of Reuters reports:
It seems that distracted brains do not notice what the mouth is doing, said Dr. Alan Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.

Hirsch explored the impact of smell, taste and eating behaviors while watching TV by measuring potato chip consumption.

Forty-five volunteers ate as many chips as they wanted during five-minute intervals over three-week periods while they watched monologues by late-night talk show hosts David Letterman and Jay Leno.

They also were given chips to eat when the television was off.

Hirsch found people ate an average of 44 percent more chips while watching Letterman and 42 percent more while viewing Leno, than when they did not watch TV.
I wonder, do the fifty-billion commercials for junk food have something to do with it too?

Soft Drinks and DNA

ParentDish passes on some new search claiming that soft drinks might actually futz with children’s DNA. Check it out:
According to new research, too many soft drinks might actually cause cell damage in children. Peter Piper, a professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at a British university, says that sodium benzoate, a common preservative used in carbonated drinks, causes damage to the DNA in the cells known as the mitochondria.

He explains, "The mitochondria consumes the oxygen to give you energy and if you damage it - as happens in a number of diseased states - then the cell starts to malfunction very seriously. And there is a whole array of diseases that are now being tied to damage to this DNA - Parkinson's and quite a lot of neuro-degenerative diseases, but above all the whole process of aging."

162 Beef Sticks

Here’s a weird paradox. Many of this country’s professional athletes have terrible diets. Take a second, think about it. It doesn’t make much sense. Athletes are role models, heroes, gladiators among men—supermen if you will. And yet, so many of them have garbage diets. For example, Detroit Pistons' shooting-guard Richard Hamilton, here’s his typical day of eating:
Yellow Corn Grits with Cheese
Coffee with Cream and Sugar

Grilled Chicken Breast
Mixed Baby Greens
Italian Dressing
French Bread
Orange Juice

Chicken Lasagna
Italian Bread
Lemon Cake
Let’s see what we got: refined corn, cheese, cream, caffeine, sugar, oil, and high-fructose corn syrup. I’m sure a deeper analysis would reveal even more nutritional follies. And its not just basketball players, football stars are no better. Last fall Chicago Bears wider-receiver Bernard Berrian shared his magic potion with a classroom of youngsters, bacon and syrup. I’m not joking:
Bernard: Hello kids.

Classroom: Hello!

Bernard: Do any of you know what it takes to make it in the NFL?

Redhead freckle-faced ginger-kid: Four-three forty speed?


Bernard: That always helps, but first you have to lay a foundation—make your body strong. Do any of you know how to do that?

Pretentious kid with overly dramatic delivery: Massive amounts of jumping-jacks?

Bernard: No, I’m talking about diet—the food you put in your body. Before ever game in college I used to eat bacon and syrup, and I brought some with me. Come on everybody let’s eat!

And the crowd goes wild.
And now another Chicago Bear shows us that being a professional athlete doesn’t necessarily mean you have the foggiest idea how to eat healthfully. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Bear’s defensive lineman Tank Johnson, who was recently completed serving a 60-day prison sentence, ate the following during his incarceration.
And while the 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman is built like a vending machine, the roster of items he ordered reads like he raided one, too:
  • 162 beef sticks
  • 40 honey bun sweet rolls
  • 35 summer sausage blocks
  • 35 bags of barbecue chips
While he and other inmates were given things like a scoop of grits for breakfast, a bologna sandwich for lunch and a chicken leg for dinner, that's hardly enough for a massive professional athlete.
(Via HashMarks)

Okay, now I’m no fan of bologna and chicken legs, but, beef sticks and summer sausage blocks—what the heck is a sausage block! Whatever it is, it can’t be good. Given Tank’s size and food preferences, his future seems grim. Because according to Dr. Fuhrman, being a massive bulked-up professional athlete isn’t exactly the key to sustained health and longevity:
Bulking up is dangerous to one's longevity and power lifters and football linebackers often eat in a way that radically shortens their lives. If you were a weightlifter, for instance, you might improve your chances of muscle growth with more animal products then I recommend, certainly. But a lot of animal products is not conducive to longevity. But if size is your only goal, go for it.
What's sad is the gold standard for linemen in the NFL is size, size, size.