Acrylamides Not So Bad?

We all know acrylamides are bad news, but just in case you need a refresher course. Check this out from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child:
Acrylamide turns up in all kinds of tasty foods, including french fries, potato chips, breakfast cereals, cookies and crackers. But it's difficult for consumers to figure out how much acrylamide is in a particular meal or snack…

…Not only do processed foods and fast foods often contain dangerous trans fats and other additives, but they also can have high levels of acrylamides. When processed foods are baked and fried at high temperatures, these cancer-causing chemical compounds are produced. Many processed foods, such as chips, french fries, and sugar-coated breakfast cereals, are rich in acrylamides. Acrylamides also form in foods you bake until brown or fry at home; they do not form in foods that are steamed or boiled…

… Never eat browned or overly cooked food. Burnt food forms harmful compounds. If by accident something is overcooked and browned, discard it. Avoid fried food and food sautéed in oil. Experiment with low heat cooking to prevent nutritional damage to the food and the formation of dangerous heat-generated compounds.
So when you consider this, it makes a headline like this one seem pretty outrageous; Studies Dispute Acrylamide-Cancer Link. WebMD reports:
New research involving 100,000 women found no evidence of a link between consumption of acrylamide, a chemical found in french fries and other foods, and breast cancer…

…Acrylamide is produced naturally when foods including starchy foods are exposed to high heat during cooking. The chemical is commonly found in processed potato products such as french fries, breads, and cereals. It is also present in coffee and cigarette smoke. In the U.S., 30% of calories consumed contain acrylamide, according to the researchers…

…But while acrylamide is known to promote cancer at very high doses in rats and mice, none of the human studies reported to date have shown dietary levels of the chemical to be cancer causing, epidemiologist Lorelei Mucci, ScD tells WebMD.
Whenever I’m confronted with research that makes me say, “What the—.” I run it by Dr. Fuhrman. And here’s what he had to say:
My thoughts are that junk food does cause cancer, but these studies will always show nothing because once you smoke 10 cigs a day, your risk does not increase significantly more if you smoke 40. But the main reason is that breast cancer is a disease caused by what we ate in our childhood.
On that note, here’s some info on breast cancer from Disease-Proof Your Child:
Worldwide, there is a linear relationship between higher-fat animal products, saturated fat intake, and breast cancer.1 However, there are areas of the world even today where populations eat predominantly unrefined plant foods in childhood and breast cancer is simply unheard of. Rates of breast cancer deaths (in the 50-to-70 age range) range widely from 3.4 per 100,000 in Gambia to 10 per 100,000 in rural China, 20 per 100,000 in India, 90 per 100,000 in the United States, and 120 per 100,000 in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.2
For more on acrylamides, see Acrylamides are Bad News.
Continue Reading...

Friday: Health Points

The recalled spinach was distributed throughout the 48 states and Canada and sold in both retail and food service packages.

It covers 8,118 cases of spinach, although the company said more than 90 percent of that was on hold and would not be released.

While only a single sample from one of three packing lines tested positive for salmonella, the company said it moved to recall all the spinach packed that same day as a precaution.
In comparing soy-eating Japanese women with American women who eat very little soy, researchers find lower rates of breast cancer in the Japanese women. But in a test tube, soy's plant estrogens can speed cancer cell growth. Maybe soy behaves differently in the body than it does in a tube. Or maybe soy has both negative and positive effects on breast cancer. Perhaps it's not soy at all. It could be that the populations eating soy are benefiting from not eating something else, like meat -- the saturated fat found in red meat has been linked to higher cancer rates. Replacing steak with something else may be the protective key.
Taking samples from the respiratory tracts of 24 smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers, Canadian researchers from the British Columbia Cancer Agency anaylsed gene activity using a powerful technique called "serial analysis of gene expression" (SAGE).

What they found is not encouraging for ex-puffers who thought they had escaped the dangers of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the world.

While certain undesirable genes changes triggered by tobacco were reversed, some DNA repair genes were permanently damaged by smoking, and others that have the potential to help combat lung cancer development remained switched off.
  • Community education classes tend to follow the school year. Try something new with a friend.
  • Brisk air and crunchy leaves invigorate the senses on a fall hike.
  • Work fitness into your kid's routine by walking while you wait for them at practice.
  • Enjoy your favorite fall TV shows -- on a treadmill or exercise bike!
Perhaps it was naive of me to assume that soy yogurt would be, you know, non-dairy. But I guess you can’t trust a company who makes the bulk of their money from selling milk. Needless to say, there’s no way I’ll be buying any of their products going forward and they’ll definitely be receiving a call at 1-800-PRO-COWS (happy milk!) tomorrow. Might I encourage you to do the same to register your displeasure? And spread the word?

This is either a new thing or something they just decided to start divulging, as I definitely don’t recall seeing this on the label before.
"The risk of skin cancer is marginally increased among people with rheumatoid arthritis," said lead researcher Dr. Frederick Wolfe, a clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. "But it's nothing that anybody should be worried about," he added.

For the study, Wolfe and his colleagues collected data on 13,001 patients with rheumatoid arthritis included in the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases and the U.S. National Cancer Institute SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End-Results). The researchers found a total of 623 cases of skin cancer and 537 cases of other cancers.

They also found that anti-TNF-alpha medications were associated with a slight increased risk of skin cancer. But, they did not find any increased risk for other cancers, according to the report in the September issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.
I've often joked that maybe KFC have some very large extractor fans rigged in such a way as to maximize that distinctive KFC smell.

KFC have realized this, and have been trialling a new form of advertising that uses the "smell factor".

KFC has targeted corporate offices, and has managed to place a $2.99 plate meal on "the actual mail carts that pass the offices of hungry workers."
“This is a slice of heaven,” said Ryan Howell, 31, as he cradled his Combo Plate, which, for the record, consists of one battered Snickers bar, two battered Oreos and a battered Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup — all deep-fried in oil that is trans-fat free, thank goodness.

“This was an issue we wanted to tackle,” said Cindy Hoye, executive director of the fair, which spent the winter months testing various oils and, despite the fears of some concessionaires about possible changes to taste or costs or tradition, concluded that trans-fat-free oils created what Ms. Hoye called a better product.

National fair officials say Indiana and at least one other fair, the Western Washington, have led the way on a health issue that is only now creating a buzz in the fair industry. During a national convention of fair officials in Las Vegas this November, Indiana representatives are to offer a workshop, “Going Trans-Fat Free,” which, the convention program promises, will answer the question “What is all the craze about?”

High Fructose and Diabetes

Surprise-surprise, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may increase diabetes risk. The Diabetes Blog is on it:
Not surprisingly, the food industry has always defended HFCS against claims that it is harmful. But here's the latest contradiction of that claim: a recent study found that HFCS is "astonishingly" high in reactive carbonyls, which are thought to contribute to the development of diabetes. The study was led by Dr. Chi-tang Ho, head of Rutgers University's Department of Food Science, and colleagues. They concluded that one can of HFCS-sweetened soda contains five times the reactive carbonyls that are normally found in the blood of a person with diabetes.

A news release by the American Chemical Society, announcing Dr. Ho's findings, notes that previous studies have already linked HFCS to cell and tissue damage. They suggest that HFCS consumption may raise the risk of diabetes, not to mention obesity. Say's Dr. Ho: "People consume too much high-fructose corn syrup in this country. It's in way too many food and drink products and there's growing evidence that it's bad for you."
You’re not going to find any love for HFCS here. Dr. Fuhrman considers it unnatural and should be avoided. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
HFCS is not only fattening, but this inexpensive and ultra-concentrated sugar has no resemblance to real food made by nature. It is another experiment thrust upon our unsuspecting children with unknown dangerous consequences. Besides sugar, corn syrup, and chemicals, these drinks often contain caffeine, an addictive stimulant. Children crave more and more as they get older. By adolescence most children have become soft-drink addicts. It is no surprise that six out of the seven most popular soft drinks contain caffeine. Contrast this high level of sugary “liquid candy” with the meager intake of fresh produce by children and teenagers, and it is no surprise that we have an obesity epidemic beyond all expectations.

Don't Eat Dog Food

Okay daredevils, pay attention. There’s been an outbreak of 66 salmonella infections in humans across 18 states—the culprit? Dog food. So don’t go accepting cash for stupid stunts anytime soon. More from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Yesterday the CDC announced it is continuing to collaborate with health officials in Pennsylvania and the other states and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the infections involving the strain of Salmonella Schwarzengrund. One case linked to the outbreak was reported in Allegheny County in June 2006.

Mars Petcare, based in Franklin, Tenn., voluntarily recalled its Red Flannel Large Breed Formula in 50-pound bags and Krasdale Gravy dry dog food in 5-pound bags Aug. 21. Its Everson plant is closed for inspection and cleaning, the company said in a news release Monday.

Dunkin' Donuts Kills Trans Fat

Well, I guess America doesn’t run on trans fat because according to Reuters Dunkin’ Donuts plans to banish trans fat from all its menu offerings. Take a look:
Restaurant company Dunkin' Brands Inc. said on Monday that all menu offerings in its Dunkin' Donuts restaurants will have zero grams of artery clogging trans fat by October 15 this year.

The company also said all ice cream products at its Baskin-Robbins chain will have zero grams trans fat by January 1, 2008.
And what’s so bad about trans fat—or should I say—hydrogenated fat. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in his book Eat to Live:
Hydrogenation is a process of adding hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats, thereby turning these oils, which are liquid at room temperature, into harder, more saturated fats such as margarine. Hardening the fat extends its shelf life so the oil can be used over and over again to fry potatoes in a fast-food restaurant or be added to such processed food as crackers and cookies. While hydrogenation does not make the fat completely saturated, it creates trans fatty acids, which act like saturated fats. Evidence is accumulating to implicate the harmful nature of these man-made fats in both cancer and heart disease. Avoid all foods whose ingredients contain partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils…

…Trans fats do not exist in nature. They are laboratory-designed and have adverse health consequences. They interfere with the body’s production of beneficial fatty acids and promote heart disease.1 As trans fatty acids offer no benefits and only clear adverse metabolic consequences, when you see the words partially hydrogenated on the side of a box, consider it poisonous and throw it in the trash.
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Childhood Obesity: Steelers and Eagles Team Up

Between dog-fighting, gambling referees, and drug allegations, professional sports have been getting a lot of bad press. Here’s some good news. Nate Guidry of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Steelers and Eagles are teaming up to tackle childhood obesity. Read on:
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles announced yesterday that they are teaming up with the state of Pennsylvania to fight childhood obesity in middle schools statewide.

The partnership -- called "What Moves U?" -- is designed to motivate students to become more physically active…

… Participating schools can compete to earn prizes, including tickets to NFL games, autographed merchandise and player visits to their schools.

Dr. Calvin B. Johnson, state health secretary, said the program and other initiatives are "long-term investments that will be paid back when our children grow up to be healthy adults."
Sure beats 162 Beef Sticks!

Acrylamides are Bad News

For a while there was worldwide alarm in the scientific community after researchers announced that many of the foods we eat contain a potent cancer-causing compound called acrylamide. Acrylamide causes genetic mutation, leading to a wide range of cancers in lab animals, including breast cancer and uterine cancer.

Acrylamide forms in foods that are fried, baked, roasted, grilled, or barbequed, but not in those that are steamed, or boiled. The safest way to cook foods is steaming.

Frying and overcooking leads to the highest levels of acrylamide, the highest of which are found in fried chips, such as potato chips and French fries. Acrylamide is one of the most potent cancer-causing agents. It is found in highest amounts in carbohydrates cooked at high temperatures. European governments permit 10 parts per million (ppb) of acrylamide in packaged foods, but U.S. standards are more lax. For example, Kellogg’s Rice Crispies contain 110 ppb and Pringles original crisps contain 1,480 ppb. Sugar-coated breakfast cereals have even higher levels than Rice Crispies.

Much has been said and written about whether authorities should attribute thousands or millions of deaths to acrylamide consumption. However, this argument is almost irrelevant because toxic agents, nutritional excesses, and nutritional deficiencies act in concert to establish a cellular environment favorable for cancer development. Acylamide is not the only toxic substance we come in contact with. So, when we add it to all the others, the combination becomes a serious problem contributing to our nation’s dismal cancer statistics.

For years I have been advising my patients to avoid highly processed breakfast cereals, refined foods, and oils. Hopefully, science will catch up with this simple, common-sense recommendation.

Don't Swallow Your Gum?

Here’s a fun story. What happens when you swallow your chewing gum? Does it sit undigested in your stomach for years and years? Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times reports:
This is, for the most part, an old wives’ tale. Swallowed chewing gum typically passes through the digestive tract without harm and is eliminated at the same rate as other foods.

But rare complications can occur. The medical literature contains several case reports of people, mostly small children, who developed intestinal obstructions because they had a habit of swallowing their gum. A 1998 study in the journal Pediatrics, for example, described three children who came to a clinic with intestinal pain, constipation and other symptoms, and were found to have small masses of chewing gum in their guts. One was a 4-year-old boy who “always swallowed his gum after chewing five to seven pieces each day.” Another was a 4-year-old girl.
I still think it’s a good way to keep your kids from swallowing their gum, although, you might not want to burst their bubble about the whole Santa Claus thing just yet.

Aspirin a Day?

We’ve all heard the “take an aspirin daily” edict. Supposedly this is some sort of home remedy for preventing a heart attack. But here’s a question. If you’re living and eating healthfully, is this really necessary? Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in The Popular One-Aspirin-Per-Day Myth:
I am aware that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that individuals at high risk of heart attacks take aspirin as a preventative. But even if I agreed with their theory that taking aspirin was an effective way to prevent premature death from heart disease, I wouldn’t recommend it to as many people as they do. According to the Task Force, those at high risk include: men over forty years of age, postmenopausal women, and younger individuals who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or who smoke. That is quite a broad definition of high risk. It includes almost everybody I know, except my wife and children…

…Five studies to date have examined the effects of daily or every-other-day aspirin use for primary prevention for periods of four to seven years.1 Most participants were men older than 50 years. Meta-analysis of the pooled data from all of the studies show that aspirin therapy reduced risk for coronary events by 28 percent, but with no decrease in mortality. In other words, aspirin use did not result in longer life. There was no reduction of death due to heart attack or stroke. Further, there was evidence of an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke and a two- to four-fold increase in gastrointestinal complications, including ulcers and bleeding…

… For healthy people, the risks outweigh the benefits. That is why, in contrast to typical physician recommendations aimed at reducing risk, I recommend that people eliminate their risk factors. Daily aspirin consumption is for those satisfied with mediocrity and willing to gamble with their lives.
Makes you wonder how 43 million Americans would be willing to pop an aspirin a day. No, I’m not making that figure up. According to Reuters most of the 43 million take aspirin because they really-really believe it’ll stave off a heart attack:
An estimated 43 million U.S. adults take an aspirin every day or almost every day, according to a U.S. government survey, a figure that accounts for a fifth of the adult population.

Most are taking the pills for their health -- such as to prevent heart attacks or strokes -- the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found…

… More than half of the estimated 26 million U.S. adults who were told by a doctor that they had heart disease said they took an aspirin regularly, the survey found. And 48.5 percent aged 65 and older said they took aspirin regularly.
Lulling 43 million people into a regiment of aspirin is very big-brother-like if you ask me. Now, if you’re like Dr. Fuhrman and don’t want to settle for this health mediocrity, take charge and Defeat Heart Disease Now! Continue Reading...

Monday: Health Points

A recent study indicates pediatric type 2 diabetes is still relatively infrequent, experts are concerned about the trend and the impact the condition, particularly its complications, might have on affected children and families.

"It does exist and it's increasing," noted endocrinologist Dr. Silva Arslanian, director of the Weight Management and Wellness Center at Children's Hospital. "It's increasing because more and more children are becoming obese."
I just yesterday came across research (from a 2007 Ohio State study) involving a certain variety of orange tomato called a Tangerine Tomato. Evidently, people are able to better absorb the antioxidant lycopene from this particular type of tomato than from the more typical red tomatoes.

If you have trouble finding Tangerine Tomatoes at your grocery store, try other kinds of orange tomatoes or gold heirloom varieties. But, whatever kind, color, brand, or type of tomato you choose, always be sure to cook your tomatoes in order to receive the greatest absorption of lycopene.
While obesity has long been suspected of hampering a woman's ability to conceive, the University of Adelaide research is said to be the first to find a direct scientific link.

Researcher Cadence Minge said experiments on female mice showed that fat has an impact on the egg before it is even fertilised.
The teacher announced daily snacks must be healthy. Juice boxes were not allowed. A water bottle was fine, but the drinking fountain even better. Geez, I was starting to really like this school. Fruit and vegetables were strongly suggested, but no cookies, mile-high frosted cupcakes or sugary fruit snacks. I nearly stood up and clapped, but I didn't want to freak out a roomful of mommy strangers. After reading Allie's recent post on water, I will definitely pack a water bottle…

…Think fruits and vegetables. Don't throw those sugary graham crackers in your shopping cart. Stay away from the processed carbohydrates. This is your chance to develop healthier habits for a lifetime. Hey, you might not even need to be the fall guy -- hopefully it's "school policy."
''Children could actually blame their mothers for this,'' said Jane Wardle, director of the Health Behavior Unit at University College London, one of the authors of the study in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Wardle and colleagues asked the parents of 5,390 pairs of identical and non-identical twins to complete a questionnaire on their children's' willingness to try new foods.

Identical twins, who share all genes, were much more likely to respond the same way to new foods than non-identical twins, who like other siblings only share about half their genes. Researchers concluded that genetics played a greater role in determining eating preferences than environment, since the twins lived in the same household.
  • Now, I’m not sure if this is a joke or not, but Diet-Blog is all over something called “The Diet Fork.” Judge for yourself:
The following features will (apparently) lead to weight loss...
  • Shorter and dulled teeth inhibiting user from grasping larger pieces of food at any one time.
  • Smaller triangular shaped surface area allowing dieter to hold less food than many other forks.
  • Uncomfortable grip compelling user to put fork down between bites, slowing the user's eating speed.

Kobe Beef or Kobe Vegetables

Kobe Bryant is probably one of the most popular athletes in professional sports. His image is a powerful one. In the past he used to use it to hock fast food, but, it seems his diet has hit an upswing—veggies! Michael Lee of The Washington Post reports:
Bryant has instead placed all of his energy into representing his country, and said he probably pushed his body hardest in preparation for this event. He lost about 19 pounds before the minicamp in July, and has stayed away from pepperoni pizza and fast food so long that he said he "can't remember the last time" he had some. His diet has mostly been limited to fish and vegetables.

"You start knocking on 30, the reality sets in a little bit. Your metabolism isn't what it used to be," said Bryant, who turns 29 on Thursday. "It's a part of trying to figure out how do you stay in tip-top condition or stay ready to play. If that means not eating fast food all the time, that's what you've got to do."
Well, it’s a start! Guys like Tank Johnson, Bernard Berrian, and Richard Hamilton should take a page out of Kobe’s book. These guys are eating diets lacking in nutrients and high in junk. Not exactly the blue print to health. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
If you have been living in a cave for the last five years and haven't heard, a diet is considered healthy only if it gets the majority of its calories from natural plant foods, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, avocado, raw nuts, seeds and other nutrient-rich foods. When one bases their diet from a combination of animal products and processed foods a deficiency of plant-derived phytochemicals leads you down the road to cancer later in life.

Friday: Health Points

Unscrupulous vendors in Thailand have been selling meat of the deadly puffer fish disguised as salmon, causing the deaths of more than 15 people over the past three years, a doctor said Thursday.

Although banned since 2002, puffer fish continues to be sold in large quantities at local markets and restaurants, said Narin Hiransuthikul of Bangkok's Chulalonkorn University Hospital.
A group of Clemson chemists have found a new mechanism for antioxidant activity according to a recent presentation at the 234th American Chemical Society national meeting. According to the researchers, antioxidant bind naturally to iron and copper in the body, preventing the formation of reactive compounds that can damage DNA.
A new study shows that even low levels of weekly exercise - below currently recommended levels -- has major health benefits. In the study, 30 minutes of brisk walking three days per week was enough to drive down blood pressure and improve overall fitness in a group of healthy sedentary adults.

For optimum health, adults are currently recommended to engage in 30 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise on at least five days of the week. But few people achieve this level of weekly activity, often citing lack of time as the reason.
But buying produce directly from local farms is only one aspect of this emerging trend. Another is the large number of farmers markets cropping up around the region, and so popular that Governor Deval Patrick has proclaimed this week Farmers Market Week because, he said, they are "essential to the vitality of Massachusetts farms." The US Department of Agriculture had named Aug. 6 to 11 National Farmers Market Week, noting that such markets have increased by 18 percent across the country since 2004.
  • The obesity epidemic, what’s your take on it? Not sure? Well Freakonomics Blog has compiled a whole bunch of different opinions on it. Check it out:
Similarly, the idea that obesity is itself a disease or causes disease is based largely on correlations in large epidemiological studies, not on any clear causal link between excess weight and disease. With the exception of a few minor conditions (like osteoarthritis), we don’t have any good evidence that adiposity causes any physical harm. By the same statistical criteria used to call obesity a disease, one could also claim that being male, being overly tall, or even being black is a disease (i.e., all correlate with early mortality and morbidity). The fact that we choose to demonize fatness rather than these other traits illustrates how concerns about obesity are rooted far more in political and cultural standards than scientific ones.
Little is known about how chemicals in clothing can affect people. But concern over pesticides and chemicals in fabric has sparked consumer interest in organic baby clothes that can be purchased everywhere from small boutiques to Target.

Formaldehyde is used to give clothes a "permanent press" look. Exposure to it in concentrations of 20 parts per million (ppm) can cause eye, skin and nasal irritations, respiratory problems, asthma and cancer.

Crackdown on Energy Drinks

Personally, I adamantly avoid energy drinks. In fact, I just gave my brother a tongue lashing about them yesterday. Dr. Fuhrman makes it very clear caffeine doesn’t do our bodies any favors. He talks about it in his book Eat to Live:
Halting stimulating behavior such as overeating unmasks the fatigue that was always there. The power reserve in a battery is proportional to its use. The less we use it, the more life it has and the stronger it remains. Likewise, when there is continual stress on your body from stimulating foods and caffeine, it gives the false sensation that we have energy, when actually we are using up our nerve energy faster. This ages us. The fatigue is hidden by the stimulating (aging-inducing) effects of sugar, caffeine, and toxic protein load. Now that you are eating in a health-supporting manner, you may be in better touch with the sleep your body needs, and sleep better as a result.
Looks like Dr. Fuhrman isn’t the only one bashing caffeine. According to this Reuters report states want the federal government to crack down on energy drinks. Take a look:
The attorneys general of 28 states, Washington D.C., and Guam asked the federal government on Tuesday to crack down on the makers of energy drinks with alcohol and caffeine, arguing their advertisements don't warn of health and safety risks.

"Combining alcohol with caffeine hardly seems healthy - and that false claim is what we seek to halt," said Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

The group targeted Miller Brewing Co, Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc and Charge Beverages, saying each runs ad campaigns that might include potentially misleading health-related claims.

In a letter to John Manfreda, the administrator of the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the state officials said the beverage makers are wooing young people with "outlandish" and "outrageous" health-related claims.

Anheuser-Busch says its Bud Extra allows drinkers to "Say hello to an endless night of fun" and "Stay around for every twist of the ride."
Alcohol and caffeine? Another stroke of marketing genius—unreal. Oh, in case you learn better with pictures, here’s a video report on this story from ABC News. Enjoy:

Zero Trans Fat or Not?

When you eat mostly fruits and vegetables, you don’t worry about trans fat. Last time I checked kale doesn’t come with partially hydrogenated oils, but some trans fat-free foods do! Stephanie Nano of the Associated Press reports that  zero trans fat doesn't always mean zero:
Federal regulations allow food labels to say there's zero grams of trans fat as long as there's less than half a gram per serving. And many packages contain more than what's considered one serving.

"The problem is that often people eat a lot more than one serving," said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of Harvard School of Public Health. "In fact, many people eat two to three servings at a time."

Those small amounts of trans fat can add up, said Michael Jacobson of the consumer advocacy Center for Science in the Public Interest. To find out if there might be some trans fat, he said shoppers can check the list of ingredients to see if partially hydrogenated oil - the primary source of trans fat - is included.

"When it says zero grams, that means something different from no trans fat," said Jacobson. His group has urged the government to bar food producers from using any partially hydrogenated oils at all.
You’ve got to love loopholes—ridiculous. This article reminds me a lot of Jamba Juice’s idea of non-dairy.

When Salad Bites Back

This’ll make you think twice the next time you’re about to munch on a plate of steamed veggies. Check out  FrameBox:

(thanks TrueHoop)

Game over man. Game over!

Dumb Science: Isolated Vitamins NOT Magic Pills

If you spend most of your time reading health news, you’ll soon realize that for every good piece of science, there’s a broad confederacy of junk science. Take this one for example. A new study has determined that taking vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene supplements won’t prevent heart disease in high-risk women. Carolyn Colwell of HealthDay News reports:
"Antioxidants are clearly not the magic bullet for heart disease prevention," said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, the study's principal investigator and chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston. "We didn't see an overall benefit or risk for these vitamins and cardiovascular disease."

The study shows that vitamins C, E and beta-carotene supplements are no substitute for conventional cardiovascular medications with proven results, added Dr. Nanette K. Wenger, an associate professor in the division of cardiology at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Women patients, in particular, seem to "love their antioxidants, and sometimes, for some reason, stop life-saving medications and start taking them," added Wenger, chairwoman of the data safety and monitoring board for the study.

The findings also mean "we have to redouble the efforts on conventional prevention" such as healthy diet, exercise, weight control and avoiding tobacco, Manson said. "One problem is that occasionally, if there is an expectation of benefit from popping a pill, people are less vigilant about controlling established risk factors and much more difficult lifestyle modifications," she added.
Okay, I’m not a doctor, I have no medical background, and honestly, I’m not that bright, but even I know that adding vitamins to a rotten diet isn’t actually going to help improve your health. To quote some farmer, “Y’all can put a pig in a dress, but, it’s still a pig.” When I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this study, he pretty much had the same reaction:
People that still think that individual vitamins like C and E and beta carotene are an answer to improvements in health, should put away their typewriters and white out, and take a ride in their Edsels. But, there is lots of worthless research being done out there.
On a side note, and maybe it’s because I’m too young, but I had to Google Edsels. Okay, back to the junk science at hand. In his work Dr. Fuhrman makes it crystal clear that vitamins and pills alone aren’t the way to superior nutrition. The basis of our health and longevity can be found in the fruits, vegetables, seeds, and legumes around us—eat them! More from Eat to Live:
When you eat mostly natural plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and beans, you get large amounts of various types of fiber. These foods are rich in complex carbohydrates and both insoluble and water-soluble fibers. The fibers slow down glucose absorption and control the rate of digestion. Plant fibers have complex physiological effects in the digestive tract that offer a variety of benefits, such as lowering cholesterol.1
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg!
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Cow's Milk an Invader?

TryVeg offers up a short article on why humans shouldn’t drink cow’s milk. Check it out:
Our bodies treat cows' milk as an invader, and including milk and other dairy products in our diets is linked to many health problems.

Milk is touted for building strong bones, yet some research shows otherwise. Harvard School of Public Health's Nutrition chairman Walter Willet, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., writes: "Interestingly, many long-term studies have now examined milk consumption in relation to risk of fractures. With remarkable consistency, these studies do not show reduction in fractures with high dairy product consumption. The hype about milk is basically an effective marketing campaign by the American Dairy industry."

(via My Life as a Vegan)

Monday: Health Points

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, a government advisory body, has drawn up healthy eating guidelines for both government and privately run schools to follow, said Sandhya Bajaj, a commission member.

"The number of overweight children in schools is growing," Bajaj said in a telephone interview. She said that the commission was getting complaints from parents who said that their children were buying unhealthy food from school cafeterias.
Chronic kidney disease patients who are also obese are much more likely than normal-weight patients to have a condition called hyperparathyroidism, which raises their risk of heart problems and death, U.S. researchers say.

Hyperparathyroidism involves elevated levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Normally, parathyroid hormone plays an important role in maintaining normal bone structure. Elevated levels of the hormone can lead to bone abnormalities and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Decreased kidney function is the main cause of hyperparathyroidism in chronic kidney disease patients.
Research shows that watermelons stored at room temperatures have much higher levels of antioxidants (beta-carotene and lycopene) than those kept chilled in the fridge. Warm watermelons are even better than fresh-picked melons.

One caution: once cut, watermelons must refrigerated. So try to enjoy your watermelons as soon as you slice and dice them. Then keep your leftovers cool.
This phenomenon is known as "assortative mating" - when men and women tend to select partners according to nonrandom attributes such as height, religion, age and smoking habits.

Researchers have suggested that assortative mating by obesity could increase the already high prevalence of obesity by helping to pass on genes promoting excess weight to the next generation.
A new study highlighted the summer weight-gain phenomenon among young children. Researchers in the Midwest looked at the body mass index, which relates height to weight, of 5,380 students. They followed them for two years, from kindergarten through first grade, and found the average index grew more than twice as quickly over the summer than during the school year.

Children of the working poor may be especially at risk because they are left indoors while their parents are at jobs. While at home, kids eat and drink what they want, says Dr. Jennifer Bass, a pediatrician who chairs a national pediatricians special-interest group on obesity. Bass estimates as many as 30 percent of her patients are overweight.
The report, issued on Thursday, also urged changes in public and private insurance policies to encourage doctors to spend more time counseling patients on how to stay healthy by eating right, exercising and avoiding tobacco.

Federal, state, and local policies have actually made healthful foods more expensive and less available, have limited physical education in schools and created an environment that discourages physical activity, the report said.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Milk?

From the people that brought us Bionic Burgers. Beware of Mutant Milk:

Waking Up to the Effects of Caffeine

Written by Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jeff Novick, M.S., R. D. for the December 2002 edition of Healthy Times:

Believe it or not, according to a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, the amount of caffeine in just one cup of coffee could be enough to harden a person’s arteries for several hours afterward. Hardened arteries put extra pressure on the heart and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

“After drinking a cup of coffee, blood pressure can rise up to 5 or even 10 millimeters of mercury,” said Dr. Charalambos Vlachopoulos from the Cardiology Department of the Henry Dunant Hospital in Athens, Greece. Increases of this magnitude can increase a person’s risk of suffering from a stroke or a heart attack.

Elsewhere, Dr. M. O’Rourke and colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia, presented data at the 22nd Congress of the European Society of Cardiology linking caffeine consumption with alterations in the aorta, the main artery supplying blood to the body. Their study showed that caffeine led to a loss of aortic elasticity and raised blood pressure. The elasticity of the aorta is linked to heart function and coronary blood flow.

In a Finnish study reported in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Dr. Maarku Heliovaara of the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and colleagues found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee each day had twice the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, compared with people who drank less coffee. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s defenses attack its own tissues, resulting in a chronic destruction and deformity of the joints. Smoking, high cholesterol, being overweight, and certain dietary factors also have been linked with a higher risk of the disease.

Too much caffeine also has been shown to raise women’s risk for incontinence. According to a report in the July 2000 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who drink more than four cups of brewed coffee a day—or consume a lot of caffeine from other sources, such as tea, cola, or cocoa—may be more than twice as likely to suffer incontinence from a weakened bladder muscle as women who consume less caffeine.

A study reported in the February 2002 issue of Diabetes Care, found that moderate consumption of caffeine reduced insulin sensitivity by 15 percent. The researchers also found that caffeine increased catecholamines, plasma-free fatty acids, and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The moderate consumption of caffeine caused a fivefold increase in epinephrine. Epinephrine increases the production of glucose in the liver and interferes with the ability of muscle and fat cells to use glucose.

Found in coffee, tea, and soft drinks, caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. In the Western world, 8 out of 10 adults consume caffeine in some form.

Do yourself a favor—wake up to the negative effects of caffeine and avoid it.

Sterols: Plant Nutrients, Heart Helpers

More good news for vegetable-based diets. Prevention Magazine reports that plant sterols help to protect your heart. Julie Upton has more:
Sterols and stanols are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and oils. Adding 2g of either to your daily diet can help lower your total cholesterol by about 10% — often within 2 weeks, according to numerous studies published in both American and European medical journals. That may not sound like a substantial reduction, but it could translate to a 20% lower risk of heart disease — which is the number one killer in the United States, says Joseph Keenan, MD, a professor of family medicine and a joint professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota.

Our primer will help you better understand how these unique compounds work, how they can protect your health, and the easiest way to incorporate them into your diet…

…Plant sterols and stanols act very much like cholesterol itself: Soft and waxy, they serve as building blocks for hormones, vitamins, and cell walls. These structural similarities give them their cholesterol-lowering capabilities. As sterols travel through the digestive tract, they compete with cholesterol, so some of the sterols are absorbed into the bloodstream instead of artery-clogging cholesterol. The bonus: Studies show that sterols and stanols don't affect artery-protecting HDL cholesterol.
Clearly not new information, but its still great to hear this echoed. So, are you looking for a good source of sterols? Dr. Fuhrman thinks eating nuts and seeds are a smart move. From the March 2007 edition of Healthy Times:
Raw nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients. They contain lignans, bioflavonoids, minerals, and other antioxidants that protect the fragile freshness of the fats therein; they also contain plant proteins and plant sterols that naturally lower cholesterol. And because nuts and seeds supply certain fibers, phytochemicals, phytosterols, and bioactive nutrients not found in other foods (such as polyphenols and arginine), they have other beneficial effects that prevent blood vessel inflammation.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected and novel findings in nutritional epidemiology in the past five years has been that nut consumption offers such strong protection against heart disease. Several clinical studies have observed beneficial effects of diets high in nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts) on blood lipids.1 A review of 23 intervention trials using nuts and seeds demonstrated convincingly that eating nuts daily decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.2 Not only do nuts and seeds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, they can help normalize a dangerous type of LDL molecule (the small, dense LDL particles that damage the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels).3
But remember, oils aren’t the best source of sterols. Dr. Fuhrman would rather you get them from the whole food and not oil. From Cholesterol Protection for Life:
Do not use oil: Instead, use nuts and avocado to flavor dressings and sauces. Oil is a high calorie food, with the vast majority of nutrients lost. In comparison, the use of raw nuts and seeds such as flax, walnuts, and sunflower seeds have shown remarkable protective effects for both heart disease and cancer. When you consume your fat in nature's protective package, (nuts and seeds) in place of extracted oils, you get the lignins and flavonoids and other valuable nutrients that support excellent health.

For example, flax seed oil is also oil and just like other oils it contains 120 calories per tablespoon. Ground flax seeds contain lignans, flavonoids beneficial fibers, sterols and a host of other beneficial substances and only has 30 calories per tablespoon. Eat the food not the extracted oil. Excessive amounts of oil are not favorable. Even too much of the benefical oil in flax is linked to higher rates of prostate cancer.4
Continue Reading...

Convenience Junk Foods

Processed foods might be the crème de la crème of junk foods—real villains. Judith Groch of MedPage Today explains convenience foods save little time and—as we know—lack nutrients:
Commercial foods, as the term is used in this study, are either purchased as ready-to-eat (hot dogs) or prepared by the home cook according to package directions (macaroni and cheese). These foods are more or less synonymous with so-called "convenience foods."

Of the 64 weeknight dinners, 70% were home-cooked, although not necessarily from the beginning. Most of these evening meals included moderate amounts of packaged commercial or convenience foods.

These included stir-fry mixes, potstickers, chicken dishes and barbecued ribs, as well as canned or frozen vegetables, specialty breads (ready-to-eat, parbaked, or from a mix), canned soup, commercial pasta sauce, bagged salads, and hot dogs.

Fewer than 15% of the families ate dinners consisting mainly of takeout or fast foods, and only 5% combined takeout food with food prepared at home, the researchers noted. Only about 10% were completely home-cooked.

Home-cooked meals with a moderate assist from commercial foods required an average of 34 minutes "hands-on time" and 52 minutes "total time" to prepare.

History of Sweet Tea

I’m not a tea drinker, so I’m certainly not a sweet tea drinker, but if you’ve ever been down south you know how popular it is. Sweet Tea’s on almost every menu ya’ll! Ever wonder how the southern fascination with ice tea got started? Jeffrey Klineman of Slate tells the tale:
Sugar worship might account for much of sweet tea's popularity, but I think its appeal lies in the ice. Southerners seem to have a particular fascination with ice. This may stem, most obviously, from the fact that the Southern climate is often steamier than a Rat Pack schvitz. In an early essay about Southern cuisine published by the American Philosophical Society called Hog Meat and Cornpone: Food Habits in the Ante-Bellum South, Sam Hilliard wrote that a container of cool—not even cold—water, pulled from a nearby spring, was a delicacy at the table. Tea was mostly a drink for the upper class, and early on, it was the rich who had access to the ice that came down on ships or in wagons, at least until icehouses were built in cities (Southern farmers had to wait for the arrival of the Model T). If ice was a luxury, then putting out a pitcher of ice-cold tea must have been quite a bit of hospitality. One historian, Joe Gray Taylor, wrote in Eating, Drinking, and Visiting in the South: An Informal History that the rural electrification—and, consequently, refrigeration—wrought by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s was "probably more appreciated for the ice cubes it provided … than for any of its other services."

Offering up a glass of sweet tea on a hot day in the South is as welcoming a gesture as passing the doobie at a Phish show. It's so ingrained in the Southern DNA—Marion Cabell Tyree included the recipe in a cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia as early as 1879—that people now post videos online of their infants sampling the stuff. It's a frequent menu item for the condemned, as well as a centerpiece at church suppers. As an April Fools' Day prank in 2003, Georgia State Rep. John Noel introduced a bill that would have made it a misdemeanor for a restaurant owner not to include sweet tea on the menu. Most Southerners can easily tell the difference between fresh sweet tea and the stuff from concentrate—and unless their sugar jones is too strong that day, chances are they'll send the latter back.
Sugar worship—I don’t like the sound of that!

Chinese Seafood Worries

Justin Pritchard and Adam Goldman of the Associated Press report that a bunch of potentially hazardous Chinese seafood made its way to American dinner tables, without ever being screened. Read on:
The frozen shrimp, catfish and eel arrived at U.S. ports under an "import alert," which meant the FDA was supposed to hold every shipment until it had passed a laboratory test.

But that was not what happened, according to an AP check of shipments since last fall. One of every four shipments the AP reviewed got through without being stopped and tested. The seafood, valued at $2.5 million, was equal to the amount 66,000 Americans eat in a year.

FDA officials stuck the pond-raised seafood on their watch list because of worries it contained suspected carcinogens or antibiotics not approved for seafood.
Not what you want to hear. Especially when you consider all the dangers surrounding certain types of seafood.

Wait, Diet Foods are Junk?

Yeah. I know, hard to believe. New research has determined that low-calorie diet foods and drinks can actually contribute to obesity in children. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
The study found that animals learn to associate the taste of food with the amount of caloric energy it provides. The researchers speculate that children who eat low-calorie versions of foods that normally have a high calorie content may develop distorted connections between taste and calorie content, resulting in overeating as the children grow up.

"The use of diet food and drinks from an early age into adulthood may induce overeating and gradual weight gain through the taste conditioning process that we have described," lead author and sociologist Dr. David Pierce, of the University of Alberta, said in a prepared statement.

In a series of experiments published Aug. 8 in the journal Obesity, the researchers found that young rats started to overeat when they received low-calorie food and drink. Adolescent rats did not overeat when given low-calorie items.
You mean the standard American definition of low-calorie and all the misinformation it entails doesn’t work? No way! That was heavy sarcasm folks. Skip the low-cal junk food and try making your kids healthy snacks like these. From Followhealthlife’s recipe category:
Pita Apple Bake
2 apples, chopped
¼ cup raisins (optional)
2 tbsp. water or apple juice
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 whole-wheat pita, split and separated
Heat the apples, raisins (if desired), and water or juice over a low flame for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and mix in flaxseed and cinnamon. Cut pita in half and fill with apple mixture. Toast in the toaster oven on high for 3 minutes. Try it with other fruits, like pears or peaches, too.

Blueberry and Flax Yogurt
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup regular soy milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
3 medjool or 6 Deglet Noor dates
Blend until smooth. Chill and serve. Great for school lunches too.

Fuhrman Fudgsicles
2 ripe bananas
1 cup cashew nuts
2 tablespoons carob powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Blend ingredients together in blender or food processor. Spoon out into ice pop tray and freeze. Rinse outside of popsicle outside of popsicle tray with hot water to pull the pops out of the tray easily.

Bad News Bionic Burgers

What makes people eat McDonald’s? Why is garbage food so tempting? Maybe McDonald’s uses enchanted wrappers, because according to new research food in a McDonald’s wrapper tastes better—even veggies! The Associated Press reports:
Anything made by McDonald's tastes better, preschoolers said in a study that powerfully demonstrates how advertising can trick the taste buds of young children.

Even carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the kids when they were wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches.

The study had youngsters sample identical McDonald's foods in name-brand and unmarked wrappers. The unmarked foods always lost the taste test.

"You see a McDonald's label and kids start salivating," said Diane Levin, a childhood development specialist who campaigns against advertising to kids. She had no role in the research.

Levin said it was "the first study I know of that has shown so simply and clearly what's going on with (marketing to) young children."
Anyone else befuddled? I am. I think I may need to hit myself in the head with a frying pan to comprehend this one—WHACK-WHACK! Okay, all better. Here’s something even more amazing. McDonald’s hamburgers are immortals. Get a load of this video:

This picture is worth a thousand words:

Can’t believe what you’re seeing? Try the frying pan thing, or, check out The Burger Museum for more—Egad!

Barry Groves and Low-Carb: Junk Interview, Junk Science

LivinLaVidaLowCarb interviews Weston Price lackey and low-carb lemming Dr. Barry Groves. If you like nonsense and misinformation, here’s a snippet:

3. This sounds like a trick question, but I'm curious to know what you think based on your studies and experiences. What's wrong with a low-calorie diet? Why do you believe the low-fat, low-calorie, portion-controlled diets have literally monopolized dietary recommendations for what is considered "healthy" for so many decades?
No, it’s a good question. Low-calorie, low-fat diets have monopolized weight loss diets for the simple reason that the hypothesis that cutting down on energy intake or burning up more by exercising is plausible. But as Mark Twain once said, "For every problem there is a solution, neat plausible and wrong!" What is wrong with it is that it doesn't take into account how our bodies work. Starvation, which is what low-calorie dieting is, is unsustainable. It is bound to fail.
4. As a highly-respected and reliable source for information related to diet and nutrition, you've written many extensive columns and traveled all over the world talking about what you have discovered in your own empirical study of the scientific data about this subject. Do you see any meaningful progress happening anywhere that gives you hope that a major paradigm shift is about to happen? What's it going to take to wake up government and health leaders around the world to the low-carb answer to obesity and disease?
When Robert Atkins’ second book was published in 1999, it took the dieting world by storm. Studies, some funded by Atkins, showed that low-carb dieting worked, and conventional nutritionists were looking at litigation from people whose health had been compromised by their "healthy" advice. Unfortunately, this sparked a massive backlash by the diet dictocrats and, backed by governments and the all-powerful "health industry," they seem to be winning the debate. At this point, I think it will take a strong population-led revolt to make a meaningful difference.

Honestly, at this point I hope no health-conscious person even remotely entertains the low-carb lies. Now, back to Barry Groves. Dr. Fuhrman has addressed his drivel in the past. Here’s an excerpt from The Misinformation of Barry Groves and Weston Price:

Dangerous Advice
I realize the web allows a forum for people with potentially dangerous advice, but I think most intelligent people can see through his straw arguments, so I welcome the opportunity to comment again to his skewed nutritional viewpoints and unsubstantiated claims. Each time Barry Groves reports on a medical study he gave a different conclusion to the data than the researchers do, and the studies are usually some poorly done old study. It is typical stuff for the Atkins crowd and the Weston Price Foundation to find one research paper they can claim makes their argument legitimate, but even when they hand pick one study, they typically don't report the research accurately.

Fortunately we have a comprehensive body of knowledge today with over 15,000 articles written since the 1950's documenting the link between a diet high in saturated fat and low in fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetable and beans and the increase risk of cancer and heart disease. Thousands of research scientists don't agree with Barry Groves' meat-centered diet recommendations and the platform of the Weston Price Foundation.

For more on the problems with low-carb, check out these previous posts:

Refrigerator Raider

Here’s a great post from Diet-Blog. Are you or is someone you love a refrigerator raider? Check this out, and you decide:
Are you a refrigerator raider? Do you raid your fridge numerous times throughout the days, and even more times in the evening and night?

Do you open your fridge, hoping, and half-expecting that new things have appeared from the last time you opened your fridge, just 15 minutes ago?

If you are one of these compulsive refrigerator checkers, you might just want to ask yourself what in the heck you are doing.
I’m not proud to admit it, but I’m guilty of raiding the fridge. Granted, I’m only fetching things like grapes, berries, and baby carrots, but still! I’ve got to stop!

Chocolate-Packed Vacation

Parents looking to feed their kids healthfully might want strike Hershey Park from their list of vacation destinations. Why? The oodles and oodles of free chocolate bars! Freakonomics Blog talks about a certain chocolaty perk offered at the Hershey Lodge:
My 5-year-old daughter, Anya, had heard from a schoolmate that Hershey Lodge gave away free Hershey bars — big ones — whenever you wanted and as many as you wanted. My wife and I were pretty sure that this was 5-year-old wishful gossip — but, lo and behold, we were handed four candy bars when we checked in, and when Anya went back to the registration desk five minutes later and asked for another couple of candy bars, they obliged.
It gets weirder, check out what they sell in snack shop:
The strangest part was that the shop was selling Hershey bars, stacked up next to the cash registers. Granted, these were not the same standard bars available for free a few steps away — one was an “antioxidant” bar, the other a “whole bean” coffee-flavored bar — but still, I wondered how they could get away with selling something in one location that was free of charge a very short distance away.

The clerk was a nice teenage kid, so I asked him about it. “Yeah, nobody ever buys them,” he said, laughing. “Well, sometimes kids do because they don’t know about the free ones at the desk. Their parents never tell them.”

(via TrueHoop)
Wow! Wheeling and dealing free candy to kiddies, and, covering their tracks by selling “health” food—sounds like a sweet game of bait and switch to me! Now, admittedly I am a chocolate-freak. So how do I beat the craving? Chocolate Pop’ems for starters and this handy piece of advice from Dr. Fuhrman:
You do not have to stay off chocolate, you can purchase raw cacao buds and make smoothies and sauces and healthy puddings with that chocolate flavor. All the beneficial compounds, antioxidants and flavonoids in the raw cacao make it a valuable food, even with minimal exposure to toxic components such as caffeine. I have no problem with you powdering some cacao in the VitaMix and making some chocolate style treats occasionally. Spinach, kale, banana, cacao powder, macadamia nuts and dates make a great, healthy chocolate pudding.

Icky-Sticky Soda

I admit, when I was younger I used to drink a lot of soda. But now—I don’t touch the stuff! I don’t know, something about sugar water just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. Here's more reasons to avoid soda. Water for Life USA Blog breaks down soda one drop at a time. Take a look:
pH of Soda = pH of Vinegar
For one, soda, no matter who makes it, is the most acidic beverage you can buy, with a pH of about 2.5, about the same as vinegar. Why does that matter? Acid oxidizes whatever it comes in contact with. If you put soda or vinegar on metal, it will rust it quickly. Check out this table of acid levels of your favorite sodas.

Drink Soda, Leach Calcium
If you drink soda, which also contains high levels of phosphorous, you will leach calcium from your bones. Dr. Michael Murray from the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine concluded, “It appears that increased soft drink consumption is a major factor that contributes to osteoporosis.” Furthermore, Dr. Elson Haas, author of The Detox Diet states, “Tooth loss, periodontal disease, and gingivitis can be problems, especially with a high phosphorus intake, particularly from soft drinks.”

Soda Will Dissolve your Tooth Enamel
Weak bones is just the beginning. According to Dr. James Howenstein. author of A Physician’s Guide to Natural Health Products That Work, the high sugar content of soda is awful. He states, “”In an interesting experiment the sugar from one soft drink was able to damage the white blood cells’ ability to ingest and kill bacteria for seven hours.” Dr. Marion Nestle from his book Food Politics states, “Sugar and acid in soft drinks so easily dissolve tooth enamel.”
(via ParentDish)

It's Like Totally a Gym!

I didn’t realize it until I read this article, but gyms aren’t really setup for teenagers. Take my gym for example. It’s got lots of classes and amenities for adults, childcare, and seniors programs, but not much for teeny-boppers. What a great business opportunity. Make gyms “cool” for teenagers. Nora Isaacs of The New York Times reports:
Conceived for teenagers, Overtime Fitness has a rock-climbing tower, a lounge area with a flat-screen television and a study room with Internet access and books like “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” where teenagers can get academic tutoring and attend seminars on health, stress management and relationships.

Harried parents head to the gym with a purpose: to get in a solid block of cardio, then get out. Quick.

Teenagers think differently. They want a place to chill after school with pals, where they can go online, watch reruns of “The Munsters” and maybe even break a sweat. After a snack.

“Sometimes in the middle of our workout, we head down to the 7-Eleven to buy a hot dog,” said Suliman, a sophomore at Los Altos High School.

Until recently, health clubs passed over the hard-to-please teenage set and even had policies to keep them out. After all, what club manager wants to herd cats? But in the last year, smaller gyms have started wooing the MySpace generation. Most of the effort so far involves adding a teenagers-only lounge and Internet access, and creating centers with workout equipment, foosball tables and juice bars.
Heck, some of that stuff sounds cool to me, well, not everything. That mid-workout hotdog’s got to go. Gag!

Lots of Caffeine

Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of caffeine. So I doubt you’ll find him sipping on any of these. Diet-Blog lists The 10 Most Caffeinated Diet Drinks. Here’s the top two:

Nutrition Facts on Beer?

Well, it might seem strange, but, it’s probably a good idea. According to the Associated Press the United States is looking to require detailed nutrition labels on packaged alcohol. Lauren Sheppard reports:
According to the proposed rule being published Tuesday for public comment, labels on all alcoholic beverages , from beer cans to wine bottles , would include a statement of the drink's percentage of alcohol by volume.

The labels would also include a "serving facts" panel, which would list the number of calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein for a standard serving size.

Companies could also choose to disclose the amount of pure alcohol, or ethyl alcohol, per serving.

Currently, labels on all liquor and on wine with more than 14 percent alcohol by volume must disclose at least the alcohol content, but that information is not required on beer labels, except in some states. However, if a brewer wants its beer to be labeled as a "light" beer, the label must show its caloric content and the percent of alcohol per volume.

Guy Smith, executive vice president at Diageo PLC, which sells brands including Smirnoff, Jose Cuervo and Guinness, called the proposal "a giant and very positive step in the right direction" for the alcohol industry.
For Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on alcohol, check out Alcohol and Your Health.

Drug Sleepy Kids?

The world of prescription drugs just got darker. Apparently kids that have trouble sleeping are being prescribed medication, even though no sleeping pill has been approved for use in children—unreal! Alan Mozes of HealthDay News reports:
"The concern with sleep medications is that we don't know how much to use and how long to use these drugs for children," explained study co-author Milap C. Nahata. "This is because many drugs used for pediatric care in general -- including sleep medications -- have been well-studied and approved by the FDA but have not been studied for effectiveness and safety among children."

Nahata is a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine and a division chair at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy in Columbus. His team's study is being published in the Aug. 1 issue of Sleep.

The new findings complement a 2004 National Sleep Foundation poll that revealed that sleep difficulties are extremely widespread among the young.

That survey found that 60 percent of American boys and girls under the age of 11 experience some kind of trouble getting shut-eye at least a few nights a week, while nearly three-quarters of parents indicated that they would like to alter something about their child's sleep behavior.

Nahata and his colleagues noted that, in the United States, about 75 percent of all prescription drugs are not labeled for pediatric use, and not a single insomnia drug is indicated for use among young patients.

The U.S. Department of Meat, Milk, and Cheese

Adapted from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:

Using weight instead of calories in nutrient-analysis tables has evolved into a ploy to hide how nutritionally unsound many foods are. The role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was originally to promote the products of the animal agriculture industry.1 Over fifty years ago, the USDA began promoting the so-called four basic food groups, with meat and dairy products in the number one and two spots on the list. Financed by the meat and dairy industry and backed by nutritional scientists on the payroll of the meat and dairy industry, this promotion ignored science.2

This program could be more accurately labeled “the four food myths.” It was taught in every classroom in America, with posters advocating a diet loaded with animal protein, fat, and cholesterol. The results of this fraudulent program were dramatic—in more ways than one. Americans began eating more and more animal foods. The campaign sparked the beginning of the fastest-growing cancer epidemic in history and heart attack rates soared to previously unheard of levels!

For years and years the USDA resisted lowering cholesterol and dietary fat recommendations in spite of the irrefutable evidence that Americans were committing suicide with food. Heavy political pressure, lobbyists, and money blocked the path to change.3

Promoting nutrient analysis of foods by weight instead of by calorie became a great way to keep excess calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat in the diet—a terrific strategy to create a nation with an epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Some foreign enemy out to destroy America could not have devised a more effective and insidious plot. How ironic that this was the program designed by our own government, promoted with our own tax dollars, and justified on the ground that it served the public interest.

With all the scientific data available today, including massive investigational studies on human health and diet, you would think that people would know which foods are best to eat and why—but most people are still confused about diet and nutrition. Continue Reading...

School Kids Win Better Veggies

When I was in school, I remember wondering if that slop ice-cream scooped onto my plate still had a pulse—yeah, scary. Let’s face it, for many of us, school food is still a painful memory, but what if we didn’t something about? That’s exactly what a group of students at William V. Wright Elementary School in Las Vegas did. They took on the lunch ladies—and won! CNN reports:
"A little boy said, `Anything, anything, I'll even eat broccoli,"' said Connie Duits, the lunch lady. "So that one touched my heart."

The children were careful to offer praise as they expressed their concerns.

"Dear Mrs. Duits, The food is so yummy and yummy. But there are one problem. It is the green beans," wrote Zhong Lei.

"We love the rest but we hate the green beans," wrote Viviann Palacios.

The Las Vegas students undertook the exercise in mini-democracy after the class read a book called "Frindle," in which a boy contemplates organizing a boycott of the cafeteria.

"I asked the kids, 'Is that a respectful way of doing it?"' Christopulos said. "And they said, 'Oh, not at all."'

As a result of the students' campaign, the food service department of the Clark County School District sent staff to the school to see what alternatives they preferred.

With a handful of reporters watching, two dozen students sat down Monday to a veritable salad bar of cooked, frozen and canned vegetables, from baby corn to cherry tomatoes, and filled out a survey.

Because of cost restrictions, the children's only real choices were between canned and frozen green beans, corn, cooked or raw carrots and cooked or cold peas.

Corn and carrots were popular; cooked peas, not so much.
Very encouraging if you ask me! Hey, I just realized, this is basically the opposite of those zany Meat Pie Pushing Mamas.