Seniors: Get Your Vitamin D!

A couple months ago we learned that Vitamin D plays an important role in physical performance levels of the elderly. Here’s what Eric Nagourney of The New York Times reported:
The researchers, led by Denise K. Houston of Wake Forest University, drew on data from an Italian study in which more than 900 people 65 and older were tested for vitamin D levels and asked to perform several tasks. The researchers looked at how fast they walked, how quickly they could get out of a chair and how well they could balance.

By some estimates, about a quarter of elderly people do not get enough vitamin D. But it is not purely a matter of diet, the researchers said, because much of the body’s vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. Older people may be less likely to be in the sun, said the researchers, who also pointed out that skin produces vitamin D less well as it ages.
And now, Dutch research has determined the same thing. Vitamin D deficiency may be responsible for declining physical performance in seniors. Charnicia Huggins of Reuters reports:
"Physicians and the general public should be made more aware of the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, and more effort should be concentrated on the early detection and treatment of people with suboptimal levels of vitamin D," study co-author Dr. Paul Lips, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and his colleagues write.

Previous research has shown that low vitamin D status is not uncommon among seniors, which may be explained by their decreased exposure to sunshine, reduced dietary consumption of vitamin D, and reduced capacity to naturally synthesize the vitamin. This deficiency is known to result in bone loss and fractures, among other bone and muscle-related problems.
The research may be different, but the message remains the same—vitamin D is important! Especially for older people, I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain why. From Importance of Vitamin D:
Americans age 50 and older are at increased risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. As people age, skin cannot synthesize vitamin D as efficiently, and the kidney is less able to convert vitamin D to its active hormone form. It is estimated that as many as 30-40 percent of older adults with hip fractures are vitamin D insufficient.1 Therefore, older adults especially benefit from supplemental vitamin D.
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Portion Control, Weight-Loss, and Diabetics

New research claims that diabetics can lose weight with portion control. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
Over six months, about half of 122 patients (average age 56) used the portion-control plates and bowls, while the rest of the patients received usual care consisting of dietary assessments and teaching by dietitians.

The patients who used the portion-control plates and bowls lost an average of 1.8 percent of their body weight, compared to an average of 0.1 percent among those who received usual care.

The University of Calgary researchers also found that 16.9 percent of the patients who used the portion-control plates and bowls, which were donated by a U.K. company called The Diet Plate, lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, compared with 4.6 percent of patients who received usual care.
This is all well and good, but, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t think portion control is a great idea. Actually, he finds it kind of futile. Here’s an example why, from Bad News for Portion Control:
It is meaningless to compare foods by weight or portion size. Let me provide an example to explain why this is the case. Take one teaspoon of melted butter, which gets 100 percent of its calories from fat. If I take that teaspoon of butter and mix it in a glass of hot water, I can now say that it is 98 percent fat-free, by weight. One hundred percent of its calories are still from fat. It didn’t matter how much water or weight was added, did it?

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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Get Slim, Get Gila Monster?

Well, the odd certainly gets an audience here on Followhealthlife. Late last year we learned that snail venom might actually work as a pain medication, and now, gila monster spit for weight-loss—no, I’m not joking. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
The Gila monster is a venomous lizard that lives in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

This study of 217 patients found that three years of treatment with the drug exenatide (brand name Byetta) resulted in sustained, progressive weight loss averaging 11 pounds. Many of the patients also showed sustained reductions in blood sugar levels and in blood biomarkers that indicate liver injury.

The findings were to be presented Monday at the annual scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association, in Chicago.

"Overweight and weight gain is an almost universal problem for people with diabetes," lead researcher Dr. John Buse, chief of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement. Buse is also the ADA's president-elect for medicine and science and will become president in September.

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.

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.

Blood Sugar, Birth, and Babies

Dr. Fuhrman makes it pretty clear. A nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet is the key to long-term health. Among other things, you’ll lose weight, prevent disease, and maintain healthy blood sugar. A good thing, because according to this report, high blood sugar is bad news if you’re pregnant. Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press explains:
The research involved more than 23,000 pregnant women in nine countries. It found a surprisingly strong relationship between the blood sugar levels of the women and the rate of big babies and first-time Caesarean sections, said lead investigator Dr. Boyd Metzger of Northwestern University.

The newborns also were more likely to have low blood sugar levels and high insulin levels if their mothers' blood sugar levels were higher. The problems can lead to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure later in life.

Large babies risk shoulder damage and other injuries if delivered vaginally and lead to more C-sections, which also pose health risks to mothers and babies.

Large babies were defined in the study as those bigger than 90 percent of those born in the local population, so large Thai babies would be smaller than large U.S. babies.

TV and Diabetes

Okay, a couple weeks ago we learned that watching entertaining TV can make you fat, and now, it seems TV can lead to poor diabetes control in children. Reuters reports:
The researchers evaluated 538 children and adolescents, average age 13 years, from the eastern part of Norway who had had type 1 diabetes for an average of about 5 years. The time spent watching television and time using a computer was obtained in interviews with the subjects or the parents of very young children.

The average A1C was 8.6%. This measurement is the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin in the blood in relation to the amount of normal hemoglobin, and reflects the degree to which blood glucose levels are controlled over the long term.

The investigators found that as the average number of hours spent in watching television increased, so did the participants' A1C level, their body mass index or BMI, and the total amount of insulin they needed on a daily basis.

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:

ABC News: Breastfeeding a Good Idea

Hey, we all know Dr. Fuhrman thinks breastfeeding is a smart move. One of it's critical function is supplying babies with important antibodies and nutrients. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Disease-Proof Your Child:
The antibodies derived from mother’s milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child’s immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother’s antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother’s immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.
And this video report by ABC News provides even more reasons to breastfeed that baby:

Soy Compound and Bone Building

According to new research a compound in soy called genistein may help improve bone mineral density. Kathleen Doheny of HealthDay News is on it:
After two years, those taking the soy product had better bone mineral density than those taking placebo. "[Even] after one year, there was a clear difference in the women who got the genistein," said Steven Wilson, a biostatistician at National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, and a co-author of the study, published June 19 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The research was funded by the Italian Ministry of Education and the University of Messina, Italy.

Genistein, an isoflavone phytoestrogen, is found abundantly in soybean products. Experts who study it hope it can build bone without the adverse side effects -- such as increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers -- associated with hormone replacement therapy.

In the study, a team led by Dr. Francesco Squadrito of the Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Policlinico, Messina, randomly assigned 389 women who were past menopause (ages 49 to 67) to take either 54 milligrams of genistein daily for 24 months or a placebo pill.
For more on soy and how Dr. Fuhrman feels about soy-based foods, check out these previous posts:
Oh, and if you’re curious to see what a soybean harvest looks like, enjoy this video—it’s even set to music:

Pistachios for Your Ticker

Back in April, HealthDay News reported that pistachios may help take a bite out of cholesterol, and now, The Cardio Blog passes on information linking pistachio consumption to heart health. Here’s more:
Do you have high cholesterol? Apparently pistachios may help, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. This challenges the long-held notion that only a diet low in fat will help combat cholesterol, since pistachios have moderate amounts of fat. True, it's a healthy fat but it's a at nonetheless. If you're concerned about your cholesterol, however, it's recommended that you get between one and two handfuls a day -- no more than that and certainly not in ice cream form.
Not exactly new news to Dr. Fuhrman, he believes that both nuts and seeds are vital parts of the human diet. From Nuts and Seeds Are Excellent Foods:
Nuts and seeds are a natural part of the diet of homo-sapiens. They are perfectly adapted to the taste and ability of humans to pick, dry, store, and crack. No wonder study after study shows raw nuts and seeds not only lower cholesterol, but protect against common diseases of aging. I recommend almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamias, filberts, and walnuts; and sunflower, sesame, flax, and pumpkin seeds. These delicious natural foods are high in nutrients and healthful unsaturated fats.
I got to agree with Dr. Fuhrman on this one. Check out this sampling of nuts and seeds in my house right now:

Yup, there’s raw almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and ground flaxseed in there—yum!

Kick Breast Cancer the Veggie Way

Next time you hear someone say something like this, “Who the hell cares about the veggies anyway? You don't need them and there is absolutely nothing essential about them.” Show them this post fro m The Cancer Blog, Plant-Based Diets Key in breast Cancer Survival? Here's a bit:
A senior nutritionist with The Cancer Project even stated that "Women coping with breast cancer deserve to know that plant-based diets and regular exercise can spell the difference between life and death." If that's not a stark reminder of the importance of a plant-based diet for breast cancer patients, I am not sure what is.
When you talk nutrition with Dr. Fuhrman, one of the first things he brings up is cancer-prevention. He insists that if you want to avoid many of our nation’s chronic maladies? A vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet is the answer. Need proof? Here’s some stuff about veggies and cancer-prevention. From Diet, Chemotherapy, and the Truth: How to Win the War on Cancer:
Cruciferous Vegetables
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 cancer.4
As far as nutrient density goes, green vegetables are heavy-hitters. Check out the Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables.

(Oh, and the insane veggie-hating quote was from this post, Will America Ever Eat Better? Continue Reading...

Behavior is Important Too

Being sick and eating poorly is a bad, but treating the malady and then changing your diet is even worse. At least that seems to be the message of new research claiming that it is more effective to treat illness and change behavior at the same time, not separately. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News explains:
Patients often come to doctors with many behavioral or dietary problems that exacerbate their health woes. Now, a new study finds it may be more effective for physicians to tackle these factors all at once instead of one at a time…

… "Long-term multiple behavior change is difficult in primary care. This study provides strong evidence that addressing multiple behaviors sequentially is not superior to, and may be inferior to, a simultaneous approach," the researchers wrote.

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.

Generations of Chemical Exposure

Exposure to toxins is no laughing matter. In fact, it’s worse than most people realize. Here’s an example. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News talks about the plight of northern Chileans and how they’re still reeling from arsenic exposure generations after the fact. Check it out:
Decades after residents of a region in northern Chile were exposed to high levels of arsenic in their drinking water, they still suffer from high lung and bladder cancer death rates, concludes a study by U.S. and Chilean researchers…

…"The results show that the risks of concentrated arsenic exposure are extraordinarily high, and that they last a very long time, both after initial exposure, and after the exposure ends," principal investigator Allan Smith, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, said in a prepared statement…

…For this study, researchers analyzed data on lung and bladder cancer deaths in this area (Region II) from 1950 to 2000.
They found that those kinds of cancer deaths started to increase in 1968, which was 10 years after the major jump in arsenic levels in drinking water.
Now, I think many of us downplay or overlook the dangers of toxic exposure, but, it’s a big deal to Dr. Fuhrman. So much so, that in Disease-Proof Your Child he issues these words of caution. Take a look:
We must be careful not to expose our children to chemical cleaners, insecticides, and weed killers on our lawns. Chemicals used in pressure-treated wood used to build lawn furniture, decks, fences, and swing sets have also been shown to place children at risk. When young children are around, we must be vigilant to maintain a chemical-free environment.
If not, the results could be catastrophic, consider the Ashland, Massachusetts Cancer Cluster. For generations the citizens of Ashland have endured high cancer rates due to chemical-dumping by a former textile manufacturer. From the Associated Press:
A disturbingly high number of cancer cases outside Boston are linked to a former textile dye-making plant with waste ponds that some children swam in, state health officials concluded Tuesday.

People who grew up in Ashland and swam in contaminated ponds were two to three times more likely to develop cancer than those who had no contact with the water, a seven-year study found.

The cancer rate was nearly four times greater among people with a family history of cancer and who also swam or waded in waste lagoons and contaminated wetlands near the Nyanza Inc. dye plant, the Department of Public Health said.
Now, remarks like this really illustrate the direness of the situation. This is an actual comment to the original post. Look:
My dad grew up in Ashland in the 1950s and lived there in the 60's as well. He remembers playing near Nyanza in what he called "chemical brook" as a kid. He died six years ago of bone cancer. I wonder if it had anything to do with his childhood exposure?
What do you think the answer is?

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!

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%:

Heart Failure: Exercise Can Help

I feel like a broken record, but exercise, we can all agree it’s an essential part of a healthy life—right? Well, in the event that you’re from Mars. Here’s more proof that exercise is important. Reuters reports aerobic exercise reverses signs of heart failure:
In patients with heart failure, aerobic training can help the organ pump better, investigators report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

In contrast, Dr. Mark J. Haykowsky and colleagues observed that strength training, either alone or in combination with aerobic training, appeared to be of no benefit. These opposing findings may underlie the inconsistent results of studies of exercise training in patients with heart failure.

Haykowsky, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and colleagues searched for relevant studies and identified 14 trials that assessed heart performance in 812 stable patients with heart failure. Nine trials evaluated aerobic training, four evaluated combined aerobic and strength training, and one involved strength training alone.

Aerobic training improved heart function significantly, the results showed.
Makes you wonder how people can say they don’t have time to exercise.

More on Fruits and Veggies for Weight-Loss

Late last month Diet-Blog passed on some new research linking fruits and veggies to weight-loss. Now today, Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports on the study. Read on:
"Eating a diet that is low in calorie density allows people to eat satisfying portions of food, and this may decrease feelings of hunger and deprivation while reducing calories," study author Dr. Julia A. Ello-Martin said in a prepared statement.

She and her colleagues compared 71 obese women, ages 22 to 60, who ate either a reduced-fat diet or a reduced-fat diet that also included water-rich foods.

After one year, both groups showed significant weight loss and a decrease in the calorie density of their diets. But the women on the fat-reduced/water-rich diet lost more weight during the first six months of the study -- 19.6 lbs. vs. 14.7 lbs.

The researchers found that the women on the reduced-fat/water-rich diet ate 25 percent more food by weight and felt less hungry than the women on the reduced-fat diet.

Vaccines, Thimerosal, and Autism

Thousands of families are going to court. Why? Because more than 4,800 families insist the chemical thimerosal, found in many childhood vaccinations, caused their children’s autism. The Associated Press reports:
Since 1999, more than 4,800 families have filed claims with the government alleging their children contracted autism as a result of routine vaccinations. Most contend that a preservative called thimerosal is to blame for the impaired social interaction typical of the disorder…

…Monday's case addresses the theory that the cause of autism is the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in combination with other vaccines containing thimerosal. The preservative, about 50 percent mercury by weight, is no longer found in routine childhood vaccines but is used in some flu shots.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t believe in sticking kids with needles just because the government says so. He talks about it in the Member Center. Take a look:
There is no law for individuals to be vaccinated who live in the US. For admission to school there are rules and requirements for your child to attend. I strongly support the rights of individuals to do what they want with their own bodies and those of their children, right or wrong, without pressure or coercion by the authorities…

…Bombarding the young human with so many immunizations early in life could have far-reaching detrimental effects. We already have decent data linking the early use of hepatitis B vaccine with Multiple Sclerosis. Authorities and physicians are also aware that mercury preservatives in vaccines have long-term harmful effects. Therefore, I do not recommend the "cookbook" approach to vaccines and work with parents to reduce the exposure, eliminate some and delay others to reduce the risk.
Dr. Fuhrman also has strong words for the push to make HPV vaccinations mandatory. From Dr. Fuhrman on HPV Vaccinations:
The point here is that in this country we allow legislatures to mandate which medications we must give our children? People are not allowed to have an opinion about drugs and vaccines different from the majority opinion, in spite of the controversies and poorly studied short and long-term risks.

Remember this is not about arguing about the effectiveness or value of vaccines, just whether we should mandate medical care and take another freedom away from Americans. We no longer have the freedom to take or not take medications. Sounds like the Taliban to me.

Diet Stress!

What! Stress? NO! No stress here. WHY DO YOU SAY THAT? That was me. Yeah, I was pretty on-edge when I first started my vegetable-based lifestyle. And apparently I’m not alone. New research concludes that changing your diet can bring about added stress. Dr. Fuhrman pulled this article from Family Practice News, have a look:
Gimme My Ice Cream NOW
A report in a recent issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry finds that changing one's usual diet brings on stress—at least in mice. (Hopefully these weren't the same ones the folks in Bristol almost drowned.) Tracey L. Bale, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and colleagues found that taking the mice off a high-fat or high-carbohydrate diet induced anxiety and stress, as measured by established norms of mouse behavior. “These results strongly support the hypothesis that an elevated emotional state produced after preferred-diet reduction provides sufficient drive to obtain a more preferred food in the face of [adverse] conditions, despite availability of alternative calories in the safer environment,” the dieting authors concluded moments before angrily overturning their lab's 400-pound vending machine to free a snagged bag of Fritos.
Now, hopefully you won’t endure extra stress when you start Eating to Live, but, you could become a real rootin’ tootin’ cowpoke—emphasis on the “tootin’.” This post will better explain the “adjustment period” of a nutrient-dense diet. From Healthy Diet: Premium Gas:
During this temporary adjustment period that usually lasts less than a week, and rarely more than two weeks, you might feel fatigue, headaches, gassy, or other mild symptoms as your body withdraws from your prior toxic eating habits. For example, stopping dangerous but stimulating foods, including caffeine, causes temporary fatigue and headaches.

Watch Out for Cancer Lefties

The Cancer Blog relays some information claiming left-handed women are more likely to develop breast cancer than their right-handed counterparts—really weird. Take a look:
This left-handed conclusion, published in the journal Epidemiology, comes from the study of 12,000 women in the Netherlands whose medical histories were followed for 13 years. Discounting all other factors -- lifestyle, environment, and other disease -- left-handers came up with a risk of breast cancer 1.39 times that of right-handers. For pre-menopausal women, the figure climbed to 2.41.

When considering all sorts of illness, left-handed women had a 70 percent higher chance of contracting any cancer and a 30 percent higher chance of a fatal disease of the circulatory system. It's not just breast cancer -- it's any number of health conditions that may be linked to regular use of the left hand.

Scientific reactions on this topic are mixed.
Okay, so what happens if you’re ambidextrous?

Soy Nuts and Blood Pressure

New research claims eating soy nuts can help lower blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times investigates:
For four weeks, 60 women, average age 53, followed a low-cholesterol diet that provided 30 percent energy from fat, 15 percent from protein and 55 percent from carbohydrates. Then the researchers divided them into two groups for an eight-week test.

The first group followed the same diet without soy. The second ate a half-cup a day of soy nuts while reducing protein intake from other sources. When hypertensive women were on the soy diet, they averaged a 9.9 percent decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number in the reading) and a 6.8 percent decrease in diastolic pressure. Those with normal blood pressure also benefited from the soy diet, reducing systolic and diastolic readings by 5.2 percent and 2.9 percent respectively.
Soy is always an interesting topic of conversation. Here are a few posts about it:

Cancer: Vitamin D Power

According to the Associated Press, a new study has revealed that Vitamin D can cut cancer risk. Timberly Ross and Jeff Donn report:
The new research strengthens some specialists' argument that vitamin D may be a powerful cancer preventative and that most people should get more of it. Experts remain split, though, on how much to take.

"The findings ... are a breakthrough of great medical and public-health importance," said Cedric Garland, a prominent vitamin D researcher at the University of California, San Diego. "No other method to prevent cancer has been identified that has such a powerful impact."

Although the study seemed the most reliable yet, it does have drawbacks. It was designed mainly to monitor how calcium and vitamin D improve bone health, and the number of cancer cases overall was small, showing up in just 50 patients.

"It's a very small study," said Dr. Edward Giovannucci, who researches nutrition and cancer at the Harvard School of Public Health. "I don't think it's the last word."

In either case, the study takes an important step in extending several decades of research that began with observations that cancer rates among similar groups of people were lower in southern latitudes than in northern ones. Scientists reasoned that had to do with more direct sunlight in southern regions.
There’s no doubt, Vitamin D is strong medicine. In a previous post Dr. Fuhrman talks about Vitamin D’s anti-cancer properties. From Vitamin D and Cancer:
Laboratory, animal, and epidemiologic evidence suggests that vitamin D may be protective against cancer. Epidemiologic studies suggest that a higher dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D, and/or sunlight-induced vitamin D synthesis, correlates with lower incidence of cancer, including lymphoma, breast, prostate, and colon cancer.1 In fact, for over 60 years, researchers have observed an inverse association between sun exposure and cancer mortality,2 and those with more sun exposure had fewer cancers. The inverse relationship between higher vitamin D levels in blood and lower cancer risk in humans shows a significantly lower risk among those with the highest vitamin D intake.

In addition to its significant cancer-protective effects, recent studies demonstrate that vitamin D also can inhibit the growth of existing breast and prostate cancer cells. Likewise, it helps inhibit the progression and metastasis of a wide spectrum of cancers, suggesting therapeutic value in the treatment of those who already have cancer.3
Now, Vitamin D might be a good thing, but, you know what they say about too much of a good thing. In this post Dr. Fuhrman discusses the dangers of too much Vitamin D. Check out What are the Health Risks of Too Much Vitamin D:
Vitamin D toxicity can cause nausea, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, confusion, and weight loss. Sun exposure does not result in vitamin D toxicity. Vitamin D toxicity is only a possibility from high intakes of vitamin D from supplements. The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has set the recommended upper intake level to 50g (2,000 IU) for children, adults, and pregnant and lactating women. Vitamin D is one of those vitamins where the right amount is essential—not too much and not too little.
Still curious about Vitamin D? Take a look at these posts:

Cancer: No Shark for You!

Shark cartilage is being used to treat cancer? Who prescribes that, a witch doctor? “Take two eye of newt and a shark fin and call me in da’ mornin’ mon.” But unfortunately for witch doctors and shaman, a new study shows shark cartilage is no help against lung cancer. Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:
Shark cartilage products have been marketed for years as "alternative" products by several firms, and one Canadian company, Aeterna Zentaris Inc., had been developing one such product as a licensed pharmaceutical.

But the large study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, showed definitively that the product did not work, experts told a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago…

… The study fits in with several others that have been published in recent years showing that various shark cartilage products do not help cancer patients live any longer, or help ease their symptoms.

"I would like to hope, I would like to pray, that this would put this sort of therapy out of business," Dr. Nancy Davidson, an oncologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who is about to become president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, said in an interview.
Don’t worry. You won’t find Dr. Fuhrman consulting the stones and bones for magic remedies. He’s doesn’t believe the hype surrounding shark cartilage on bit. From Ineffective Anti-Cancer Remedies: Shark Cartilage:
This is a perfect example of how a good story can sprout a billion dollar industry. After the book Sharks Don't Get Cancer aired on television, showing cancer patients using shark cartilage apparently doing well, millions of cancer sufferers took (expensive) shark cartilage for years, until the first well-designed study followed cancer patients over time and found the shark cartilage had no discernible effect. Since then, manufacturers have stopped claiming that shark cartilage has any beneficial anti-cancer properties.
Why do I hear the Jaws theme song all of a sudden? Ah!

Workout, Eat Lots

Have you ever noticed, you go to the gym, finish up a good workout, and like a shot—BOOM—you’re hungry like a wolf! Happens to me all the time. After I exercise I go home and ravage my fruit and veggie stockpiles. And apparently, this type of behavior isn't all that weird. Diet-Blog’s got a post all about it:
Researchers took 6 men and 6 women through the following steps.
  1. Ate the same breakfast.
  2. Wait for an hour.
  3. One group did 60 minutes of stationary cycling (at 65% max heart rate). The other group did nothing.
  4. Wait for an hour.
  5. Everyone enjoyed an all-you-can-eat buffet.
The Results
The exercising group consumed 913 Calories at the buffet. The non-exercising group ate 762 Calories. However, during exercise, the first group burned 492 Calories compared to 197 Calories.

Secondhand Smoke Really Bad for Kids

Secondhand smoke is no joke, especially for kids. A new study claims even minor exposure can compromise a child’s cardiovascular system. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
Even minor exposure to secondhand smoke can harm the cardiovascular system of children, a new study concludes.

Finnish researchers used high-resolution ultrasound to check brachial artery (located in the arm) function of 402 children, age 11, who were divided into three groups based on their blood levels of cotinine, a biomarker for nicotine.

The three groups included: 229 children with no detectable levels of cotinine; 134 children with low blood levels of cotinine (between 0.2 and 1.6 nanograms per milliliter); and 39 with high blood levels of cotinine (more than 1.7 ng/mL).

The study found that children with the highest cotinine levels had significantly reduced brachial artery endothelial function -- a measure of arterial health. Endothelial dysfunction impairs blood vessels' ability to dilate.

Omega-3s and Blood Pressure

Do you eat flax seed? I do. I blend ground flax seed into salad dressings, I pile it on oatmeal, and it also goes great in smoothies—and why do I do it? Omega-3s! According to Dr. Fuhrman, Omega-3s are a very-very important part of the human diet. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
The brain is mostly made of fat. For the brain cells to maintain their cell membrane fluidity and to properly recognize chemical messengers they must have the right ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats built into their structure. Too little omega-3 fats and too much saturated fat and trans fat could stiffen the fatty acid membranes and interfere with proper cellular communication. Raw nuts and seeds supply children with unpolluted omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a protective package rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals. Though fish is a rich source of omega-3 fat and DHA, fish fats and other animal fats are nutrient-poor and often contaminated with pollution, pesticides, hormones, and drugs. Flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts are examples of great brain food that can maximize human potential. Berries and vegetables are also rich in brain-favorable nutrients. The same foods that provide powerful protective effects against cancer maximize our children’s brain development.
Okay, need more proof that Omega-3s are nutritional heavyweights? Take a gander at this report from HealthDay News. A new study has determined Omega-3 fatty acids may lower blood pressure. Robert Preidt explains:
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- found in certain fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils -- may help lower blood pressure.

That's the conclusion of a study that examined data from 4,680 people in China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States…

…"Foods with omega-3 PFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) had more of an effect in people who were not already taking medication and had not yet developed high blood pressure," study lead author Dr. Hirotsugu Ueshima, professor and chairman of the department of health science at Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, said in a prepared statement.
For more on Omega-3s—and flaxseed—check out these previous posts:

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?

Healthy Lifestyle Strikes Again

Hah! Who would have thought? Healthy diet and exercise can keep cancer away. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News reports:
One study found that individuals with stage III colon cancer who had undergone surgery and chemotherapy had higher odds of relapsing or dying if they followed a predominantly "Western" diet of red meat, fat, refined grains and dessert…

…A second study found that previously sedentary breast cancer survivors who exercised reduced the amount of insulin in their blood. It was unclear, however, what effect this might have on cancer recurrence, but the suggestion is that insulin levels may explain why physical activity has been associated with better outcomes.
Not exactly earth-shattering news here, Dr. Fuhrman has been screaming about the cancer-protective effects of a healthy diet for years. Vegetable-based nutrient-dense nutrition is key. From Eat to Live:
There is still some controversy about which foods cause which cancers and whether certain types of fat are the culprits with certain cancers, but there’s one thing we know for sure; raw vegetables and fresh fruits have powerful anti-cancer agents. Studies have repeatedly shown the correlation between consumption of these foods and a lower incidence of various cancers, including those of the breast, colon, rectum, lung, stomach, prostate, and pancreas.1 This means that your risk of cancer decreases with an increased intake of fruits and vegetables, and the earlier in life you start eating large amounts of these foods, the more protection you get.

Humans are genetically adapted to expect a high intake of natural and unprocessed plant-derived substances. Cancer is a disease of maladaptation. It results primarily from a body’s lacking critical substances found in different types of vegetation, many of which are still undiscovered, that are metabolically necessary for normal protective function. Natural foods unadulterated by man are highly complex—so complex that the exact structure and the majority of compounds they contain are not precisely known. A tomato, for example, contains more than ten thousand different phytochemicals.
Also, here’s a recent study talking about exercise and cancer: More Good News for Exercise.
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The EU, More Than Half Fat

Imagine living in a society where more than half the population is overweight. That’s what the European Union is staring down. Raf Casert of the Associated Press reports:
Diets based on fatty and sweet ingredients combined with lack of physical activity account for six of the seven top factors leading to poor health, said EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

For years the EU Commission has warned governments to act, but the situation is getting worse. "Everybody has to be blamed — including the authorities, including the industry, including the consumers," Kyprianou said.

His biggest worry is the growing girth of children. "If we don't act, today's overweight children will be tomorrow's heart attack victims," he said.

In the 27-nation bloc, the EU says that over 21 million children are overweight. "Even more worrying is that the rate of increase of that number is more than 400,000 children a year."
And EU officials seem to think that food labels are the problem.