The New York Times takes a look at what’s in and what’s not in some organic foods—it’s kind of surprising. Take a look:
For many kids, commercial breakfast cereal is the main source of daily vitamins and minerals. Take a look at Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes reduced-sugar cereal. A serving provides 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of seven essential nutrients, including iron, folic acid and other B vitamins. It also provides 10 percent of the recommended intake for vitamins A, C and D.

Now look at its organic equivalent: EnviroKidz Organic Amazon Frosted Flakes. The only ingredients are organic cornmeal, organic evaporated cane juice and sea salt. A serving gives kids only 2 percent of the recommended daily intake for vitamin A and iron, according to the label.

Not every organic cereal is low on vitamins. Several cereals from the Barbara’s Bakery organic line are fortified with extra vitamins. A serving of Barbara’s Bakery Organic Apple Cinnamon O’s, for instance, actually provides higher levels of iron, folic acid and other nutrients than does an equal amount of Kellogg’s Apple Jacks.
For more on organic, check out this video on CNN, and, don’t forget about Dr. Fuhrman on organic. Here’s a taste:
Organic food is certainly your best bet, to further limit exposure to toxic chemicals. No one knows for sure how much risk exists from pesticide residue on produce, but here's what we do know: the younger you are, the more your cells are susceptible to damage from toxins. It seems wise to feed our young children organic food whenever possible.

Friday: Health Points

The FDA is in charge of 80 percent of the U.S. food supply, mostly fruits and vegetables, and has been criticized as being too passive in handling the growing surge of imports into the United States. Total imports, including food, total $2 trillion annually.

"FDA has failed to implement literally hundreds of proposed solutions to specific import problems, which would have enabled the FDA to begin to progressively focus its limited resources where the risks are indeed the greatest," said Benjamin England, a former FDA official who co-founded a consulting firm that helps foreign and U.S. companies meet FDA import rules.
  • Are you a runner? If you are, you might want to consider running with a group. It’s a lot more fun. Gina Kolata of The New York Times explains:
Those who run in packs are part of a select society, or maybe a self-selected society. Anyone can join, but you have to run and you have to go to the designated meeting place at the designated time. You might join a club that sponsors runs each week or you might go to a place like a parking lot behind a school where runners gather on weekend mornings. It’s not hard to find these meeting places; local running groups and running stores know where to go. And when you show up, ready to run, the society opens up to you.

For the most part, these groups are not made up of people who are jogging for their health or because they want to lose weight. They are made up mostly of people who have been running long enough to be able to continue for miles and miles. And they love it. They are running for the sheer joy of it and for company to push them to run longer and faster and to share the inevitable pain that comes with the effort to improve.
People newly diagnosed with coronary artery disease had nearly double the normal incidence of colorectal tumors and cancers, a study by Hong Kong researchers found.

Both the tumors and the heart disease "probably develop through the mechanism of chronic inflammation," said the report by researchers at the University of Hong Kong that's published in the Sept. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Liquid candy" to detractors, sweetened soft drinks are so ubiquitous that they contribute about 10 percent of the calories in the American diet, according to government data.

In fact, said Dr. David Ludwig, a Harvard endocrinologist whose 2001 paper in the Lancet is widely cited by obesity researchers, sweetened drinks are the only specific food that clinical research has directly linked to weight gain.

"Highly concentrated starches and sugars promote overeating, and the granddaddy of them all is sugar-sweetened beverages," said Ludwig, who runs the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children's Hospital in Boston.
  1. Get your food and go - Many work and social functions involve a large table covered with tasty looking morsels. Don't be one of those people who stand next to the table. Get your plate, put your food on it, and leave the table. Period.
  2. Choose a small plate Seems obvious - But a large plate typically means lots of food and all hope of appropriate portion size is abandoned
Health Canada is aware of the growing body of evidence on the role of vitamin D in relation to health. While a number of independent recommendations concerning vitamin D intake have been issued by various organizations, Health Canada believes these recommendations are premature and that a comprehensive review that looks at both benefits and safety needs to be undertaken before the Department can issue a revised recommendation.
Erectile dysfunction is the consistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance. In a study of 4,763 Chinese men aged 35 to 74 years who were free of blood vessel disease and who reported that they had been sexually active within the last 6 months, the researchers found a significant statistical link between the number of cigarettes smoked and the likelihood of erectile dysfunction.

"The association between cigarette smoking and erectile dysfunction was found in earlier studies," said first author Dr. Jiang He of Tulane University School of Public Health, New Orleans. "However, most of those studies were conducted in patients with hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and cardiovascular disease. What distinguishes this study is that it is the first to find this association among healthy men."
  • Reduces risk of injury by strengthening muscles and joints.
  • Increases and restores bone density, helping prevent osteoporosis.
  • Builds lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories than fat.

Thriller Tomatoes

I’ll never look at tomatoes the same way. In fact, I can feel the ones I ate last night revolting inside me. Take a look:


A Look at Organic

Here’s a nice little video from CNN about organic produce. Enjoy:

For Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on organic, give this post a whirl: Is Organic Safer?

Wednesday: Health Points

  • Why are kids fat? This Reuters report has an answer for you—look around! Julie Steenhuysen explains:
"The environment that they live in matters," said Lisa Powell of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who studied restaurant and food store options in the neighborhoods and food-related television advertising aimed at teens.

She said when people cannot get to supermarkets but instead must rely on the convenience stores that proliferate in many poor neighborhoods, families end up eating less healthy food.

Lower-income neighborhoods also tend to have a higher proportion of fast-food restaurants, and black urban neighborhoods have the highest percentage of fast-food restaurants.
The benefits of flu shots for elderly people have been greatly exaggerated, according to researchers at Seattle's Group Health Center for Health Studies and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Even so, the elderly should continue to get vaccinated against influenza because "even a partly effective vaccine would be better than no vaccine at all," researchers wrote in the report, published Monday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Many countries, including the U.S., urge those 65 and over — who account for about 90 percent of flu-related deaths — to get flu shots to ward off flu complications.

That public policy has been based on flimsy — even nonexistent — evidence, these researchers conclude.
I’ve heard arguments about creationism and intelligent design before, but the Creationists really shouldn’t have this guy arguing for them (unless he’s secretly trying to take down Creationism from within–if so, nice work!).
The perks: Here's one big silver lining: According to a study published in a recent issue of the medical journal Neurology, a daily caffeine dose may help keep memory loss at bay in women 65 and older. The older you are, the bigger the benefits.

Anti-cancer drug? Another recent study by Rutgers University reported that the combination of exercise and caffeine in mice increased apoptosis (self-destruction) in precancerous cells that were damaged by the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Cancer deaths will more than double to 17 million people each year in 2030 with poor countries shouldering the heaviest burden from the disease, the head of the United Nation's cancer agency said on Monday.

An ageing population will bump up cancer rates worldwide in the coming years, especially in developing countries where the number of people who smoke and drink is on the rise, said Peter Boyle, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
We all know we're supposed to wash our fruits and vegetables before we cook or eat them, but how do you know how much washing is enough? And should you use soap or is water plenty? The editors over at Cook's Illustrated recently took on this question, washing apples and pears with four different methods. They discovered that using a scrub brush with water was fairly effective, removing 85% of bacteria, but that using a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water was the best. That method removed 98% of the bacteria.
We asked several registered dietitians, who agreed that the health claims for enhanced waters are "iffy" and that food is a far better source of nutrients. Consumers, meanwhile, should watch out for added sweeteners and calories.

"None of the ingredients are harmful," said Kris Clark, director of sports nutrition and assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State University. "The question consumers should ask themselves include: Are the ingredients useful to me? Do I need these ingredients? Or do I just need water?”
A high school student gains superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider.

An electron beam meant to clean up a bioterrorism site transforms a mild-mannered microbe into a life form able to withstand radiation doses hundreds of times stronger than would kill a person.

Altered by the absence of gravity, an everyday bacterium aboard a spacecraft mutates into a highly lethal bug that poses a surprise threat to astronauts.

Okay, Spider-Man is still fiction. But a pair of independent studies has brought the other two scenarios to life.

Prostate Cancer Prevention

This might shock you, but prostate cancer can be prevented—no! You don’t say? It’s true. According to Dr. Fuhrman the right diet is essential to halting the development of prostate cancer. I’ll let him explain:
Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, rich not only in lycopene but in thousands of other protective compounds. Each year, researchers find another carotenoid that has powerful beneficial effects and reduces cancer. Spinach was this year’s recipient of the anti-prostate cancer award, with researchers in Japan finding neoxanthin compounds (a class of carotenoids) that powerfully inhibit prostate cancer. In the past, pink grapefruit, watermelon, cooked tomatoes, pomegranate, cruciferous vegetables, red peppers, berries, figs, and many other foods all have been shown to inhibit the development of prostate cancer.
Heck, even the so-called “experts” think more cases of prostate cancer can be prevented or so claims the results of a new 15 year study. Alan Mozes of HealthDay News has more:
According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), cancer of the prostate is the most common non-skin cancer among American men. Most patients diagnosed with the disease do not ultimately die of it. However, because of its high prevalence, prostate cancer remains the third biggest cancer killer for men in the Western world.

By age 40, one-third of men have already developed small carcinomas of the prostate, the researchers noted. By age 60, that figure rises to 60 percent, and, in North America, one in seven men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

But the disease is also often slow-moving, sometimes taking decades to develop from a single prostate cancer cell to advanced-stage illness.

That fact has led to the hope that doctors could intervene in ways that could halt disease progression at an early stage.
Well, I guess this is encouraging, but, as Dr. Fuhrman explains if you’re currently eating a nutrient-rich vegetable-based diet, you’re already doing a great job helping your body prevent cancer. Here’s Dr. Fuhrman again:
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.
For more on all this, check out these posts:

Two Fast Food Follies

Fast Food News has got a couple interesting peaks into the fast food universe. First, apparently McDonald’s uses soiled towels in their milkshakes. Look carefully:
The customer who snapped the photo of the incident reported it to McDonald's corporate headquarters and received the following e-mail:

"The machine was cleaned that morning. They sanitized the bucket to capture milk and after the repair work was done they put the milk back in the machine. This was an isolated incident."

And, I guess these customers didn’t like the service at their local Taco Bell, because they hurled a 3-foot python through the drive-thru window. Back to Fast Food News:
Pranksters at a Texas Taco Bell had drive-thru employee Bryant Simmons running for the border when they threw a 3-foot long Python at him through the drive-thru window.

Simmons has a fear of snakes and this one hit him smack in the chest. But a spokesman for the Taco Bell in Round Rock, Texas said Simmons was physically unharmed, just really shaken up.
Soiled towels and snakes—oh my!

Heavy Drinking and Endometrial Cancer

It’s hard to make a good case for heavy drinking. It’d probably be a waste of breath, especially after you consider this. New research has determined that heavy drinking ups women’s risk of endometrial cancer. Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times investigates:
Researchers examined a multiethnic group of 41,574 postmenopausal women, following them for an average of eight years and using questionnaires about diet and drinking habits. In that time, the team found 324 cases of endometrial cancer, the type that forms in the tissue that lines the uterus. According to the National Cancer Institute, the United States has 40,000 new cases of endometrial cancer a year and 7,400 deaths.

After controlling for variables including body mass index, age, hormone therapy and whether they had been pregnant, the researchers found that women who had less than two drinks a day had no increased risk of endometrial cancer. But those who had more than two drinks a day had slightly more than twice the risk. It made no difference whether the women drank beer, wine or hard liquor.
For more foods that’ll mess you up, check out Followhealthlife’s hurtful foods category.

Goofing Up Breakfast with Low-Calorie

When you make food choices, what are your criteria? Hopefully you consider a food’s nutrient-content in relation to its calorie-content. Dr. Fuhrman calls this concept, nutrient density. He talks about it in his book Eat to Live. Take a look:
The key to an extraordinary diet is a simple formula: H = N/C.

Health = Nutrients/Calories

Your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your intake of calories. H = N/C is a concept I call the nutrient-density of your diet. Food supplies us with both nutrients and calories (energy). All calories come from only three elements: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Nutrients are derived from non-caloric food factors—including vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytochemicals. These non-caloric nutrients are vitally important for health. Your key to permanent weight loss is to eat predominantly those foods that have a high proportion of nutrients (non-caloric food factors) to calories (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). In physics a key formula is Einstein’s E = mc2. In nutrition the key formula is H = N/C.

Every food can be evaluated using this formula. Once you begin to learn which foods make the grade—by having a high proportion of nutrients to calories—you are on your way to lifelong weight control and improved health.
Now, most people don’t get this concept, even the so-called experts. For example, take diet dunce—oops! I mean “Diet Detective” Charles Stuart Platkin. Here’re his picks for the healthiest fast-food breakfasts. I know, a real oxymoron. Check it out anyway:
English muffin (no butter): 140 calories, 1.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 260 mg sodium, 27g carbs, 2g fiber, 5g protein.

Burger King
Croissan'wich Egg & Cheese: 300 calories, 17g fat, 6g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 740 mg sodium, 26g carbs, 1g fiber, 12g protein.

Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon, Cholesterol-Free Egg, Reduced-Fat White Cheddar Sandwich: 350 calories, 11g fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 820 mg sodium, 41g carbs, 4g fiber, 20g protein.

Ham & Cheese Croissant: 274 calories, 12g fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 842 mg sodium, 22g carbs, 1g fiber, 13g protein.
This is only a sampling of Platkin’s picks, but as usual, Charles’s main criteria for “good food” is calorie content. In his mind, the fewer the calories, the better the food—not always true. Just look at all the bread, sodium, and saturated fat in this junk. This quote from Dr. Fuhrman seems fitting:
The combination of fat and refined carbohydrates has an extremely powerful effect on driving the signals that promote fat accumulation on the body. Refined foods cause a swift and excessive rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin surges to drive the sugar out of the blood and into our cells. Unfortunately, insulin also promotes the storage of fat on the body and encourages your fat cells to swell.
Clearly Platkin’s recommendations are more harebrained than health-conscious, but he’s not alone. IateApie has concocted the list of the top ten low calorie breakfast cereals. Yeah, because refined cereals are loaded with nutrients—sigh. Anyway, here’s the top three:
1. Kashi Mighty Bites
Calories: 120 | Sugar: 5 grams

2. Kashi Organic Promise Strawberry Fields
Calories: 120 | Sugar: 9 grams

3. Lucky Charms
Calories: 120 | Sugar: 13 grams
I think this list and Charles Stuart Platkin’s drivel will only confuse people into believing these processed and fast foods are wise choices. It seems to me that calorie driven diet advice does little to satisfy Dr. Fuhrman’s formula of Health = Nutrients/Calories. More from Eat to Live:
If you attempt to follow the perverted diet that most Americans eat, or even if you follow the precise recommendations of the USDA’s pyramid—six to eleven servings of bread, rice, and pasta (consumed as 98 percent refined grains by Americans) with four to six servings of dairy, meat, poultry, or fish—you would be eating a diet rich in calories but extremely low in nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins. You would be overfed and malnourished, the precise nutritional profile that causes heart disease and cancer.
Personally, I seldom get caught up on calorie-content. Sure, I avoid junk foods like these, but I judge all my food by its nutrient content. Take avocados for example, they might be high in calories, but they pack the nutrients my body craves and needs; avocados’ Wikipedia page.

Sweet Drinks Back in Schools?

ParentDish takes a look at a loophole which is letting sugary drinks back into our schools. Read on:
Last year, when the nation's three largest beverage companies agreed to remove their sugary drinks from school vending machines, they were applauded…

… Originally, they agreed to provide only sports drinks and light juices under 66 calories per eight ounces to high schools. In the amended agreement, the wording was changed to include "other drinks" under 66 calories per eight ounces. This allows enhanced water beverages such as sugar-laden Vitaminwater and Propel to be sold alongside regular water.

Stevia Warning

Ever heard of Stevia? I hadn’t until I read Eat to Live. Here’s what Dr. Fuhrman says about it:
Many health gurus recommend substituting Stevia in place of artificial sweeteners. Stevia is natural and its use is permitted in Japan and other countries. Despite its widespread use, there is a surprising lack of human clinical trials evaluating its safety. Unlike with saccharin, no evidence has been reported that stevioside and its metabolites are carcinogenic. However, animal reports of nephrotoxicity do exist, which suggest that Stevia is likely safer than the other sweeteners, but not entirely without risk.1 The extent of risk is unknown at this time.
In general, Dr. Fuhrman’s not a big fan of artificial sweeteners. More from Eat to Live:
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.
Maybe that’s why the FDA warned food-maker Hain about its overuse of Stevia. Reuters reports:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to Hain dated August 17 calling the herb, a natural sweetener made from a South American herb called stevia, "an unsafe food additive." The agency released the letter on its Web site on Tuesday.

Stevia is being eyed by big beverage makers looking for new low-calorie sweeteners. In May, Coca-Cola Co and Cargill Inc said they would work together to market the new sweetener, despite lack of FDA approval. Stevia has been approved in a dozen other countries including Japan, China and Brazil.

The FDA letter said that although it has received requests to use stevia in food, "data and information necessary to support the safe use have been lacking."
I got to side with the FDA on this one—how about you?
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Unrefined Plant Food Consumption vs. The Killer Diseases

I insist that our low consumption of unrefined plant foods is largely responsible for our dismal mortality statistics. Most of us perish prematurely as a result of our dietary folly.

Populations with low death rates from the major killer diseases—populations that almost never have overweight members—consume more than 75 percent of their calories from unrefined plant substances. This is at least ten times more than what the average American consumes.

Continue Reading...

Thursday: Health Points

Dr. Stern, a specialist in geriatric emergency medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, noted that the elderly took about 40 percent of prescribed drugs, roughly twice what younger adults take, and that they suffered twice as many adverse drug reactions as younger people.

“The average community-dwelling older adult takes 4.5 prescription drugs and 2.1 over-the-counter medications,” Dr. Stern reported. Polypharmacy is responsible for up to 28 percent of hospital admissions and, he added, if it were classified as such, it would be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Curious about back exercises? This article in The Detroit Free Press should give you plenty of ideas. The roman chair—eek—sounds like a torture device! Have a look:
Training your lower back can improve your posture, develop your abdominal muscles and help prevent lower back pain and injury. A great twist on an old favorite is the low-cable back extension. This is a little more challenging than the traditional exercise, but it's a welcome change of pace.

First, position a roman chair or back extension machine inside the cable station. The machine should be squarely facing the weight stack with enough distance between the machine and the weight stack that there is still tension on the cable when you are at the bottom of the exercise.
Weight training works just as well as running on a treadmill or biking to help the most important symptom of type-2 diabetes -- long-term control of blood sugar -- Canadian researchers said on Monday.

Doing both aerobic and resistance training lowered blood sugar levels better than either alone, researchers said -- and both appeared to be safe.

At least 194 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the World Health Organization expects the number to rise to more than 300 million by 2025.
Reading the food labels was "a little bit confusing, but after a while I got used to it," said the fifth-grader from suburban Doral.

"Since I find parents are not doing a bang-up job (teaching nutrition), I think it's important to empower the children with their own information," said Miami registered dietitian Ronni Litz Julien.

The FDA partnered with the Cartoon Network earlier this year to launch a public education campaign encouraging children ages 9 to 13 - or tweens - to read the nutrition facts on food labels.
"Patients are using the Internet to find health-related quality information, and the information is out there," noted lead researcher Dr. Michael J. Leonardi, from the department of surgery at David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles. "But the information is inconsistent and varies from Web site to Web site," he said.

A lot of Web sites try to rank hospitals, Leonardi said. But because there is no standard way of calculating quality differences, Internet sites come up with different results for the same hospitals, he noted.
The tainted bag of Dole’s Hearts Delight salad mix was sold at a store in Canada, officials said. Neither Canadian health officials nor Dole Food Co. have received reports of anyone getting sick from the product.

The voluntary recall, issued Monday, affects all packages of Hearts Delight sold in the United States and Canada with a “best if used by” date of September 19, 2007, and a production code of “A24924A” or “A24924B,” the company said.
Worried that you'll take up running and then quit? No chance. Just follow our simple but surefire training program. It just might be the most exciting time in your entire running career. But you won't necessarily realize it.

First steps...starting out...the beginning of a great adventure. In fact, in lots of ways, it's sort of a declaration of personal independence. A statement that says, "In a world that confronts me with mechanical convenience and idle luxury at virtually every turn, I have decided, nonetheless, to improve my physical fitness."
Of course, at issue is the fact that for doctors coming into close contact with many ill patients, all that extra fabric and buttons and ties and watches are just additional places for bacteria to colonize and hop on over to the next person.

Will it help? Not sure, but I suppose it falls under the "can't hurt" category. The article also notes that a study of doctors' ties a few years' back showed that almost half were contaminated with a minimum of one species of pathogen--so eliminate the dirty tie, maybe they'll pass around fewer germs? Time will tell, I suppose.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said new labeling on the drug will note that ailments, including QT prolongation, a disorder of the heart's electrical system that can lead to a life-threatening condition, have been observed in post-marketing studies.

The drug is also sold generically under the name haloperidol.

Several other drugs for schizophrenia, including a much newer J&J drug including Invega, have warnings about the risk of the serious cardiac effect.

Is this Garlic still Healthy?

More Meat, More Disease

Time for the cattle ranchers to fire up the spin machine, the UN warns that increased meat production will lead to higher disease-risk in humans. More from the Associated Press:
"There is no doubt that the world has to depend upon some of the technologies of intensive animal food production systems," said FAO livestock policy expert Joachim Otte. "But excessive concentration of animals in large-scale industrial production units should be avoided and adequate investments should be made in heightened biosecurity and improved disease monitoring to safeguard public health," he said in a statement.

Globally, pig and poultry production are the fastest-growing sectors, with annual production growth rates up to 4 percent over the past decade. As a result, most chickens and turkeys in industrialized countries are now raised in facilities with 15,000 to 50,000 birds. Meanwhile, industrial pig and poultry production relies on a significant movement of live animals, which raises the risk of transferring diseases.

Besides the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, which has killed 200 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and remains a major global concern, the agency said that the circulation of other influenza viruses in poultry and swine should also be closely monitored internationally. Some flu viruses are now fairly widespread in commercial poultry and to a lesser extent in pigs and could also lead to emergence of a human influenza pandemic, the FAO warned.
This is the kind of information that high-protein diet peddlers like to pretend doesn’t exist. In Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman talks about the meat-disease connection. Take a look:
When it is consumed in significant volume, animal protein, not only animal fat, is earning a reputation as a toxic nutrient to humans. More books are touting the benefits of high-protein diets for weight-loss and are getting much publicity. Many Americans desire to protect their addiction to a high-fat, nutrient-inadequate animal foods. These consumers form a huge market for such topsy-turvy scientific sounding quackery.

Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. For example, subjects who ate meat, including poultry and fish, were found to be twice as likely to develop dementia (loss of intellectual function with aging) than their vegetarian counterparts in a carefully designed study.1 The discrepancy was further widened when past meat consumption was taken into account. The same diet, loaded with animal products, that causes heart disease and cancer also causes most every other disease prevalent in America including kidney stones, renal insufficiency and renal failure, osteoporosis, uterine fibroids, hypertension, appendicitis, diverticulosis, and thrombosis.2
Not a good a day for abattoirs. Well, just add it to the pile of recent bad news. Like yesterday’s news linking meat production to global warming; Less Meat, Cooler Temps?
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LA Times Looks at Coffee

Some people might like their daily cup of java, but as Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jeff Novick explains, its time for people to wake up to the effects of caffeine. Here’s more:
“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.
Now, the to-drink or not-to-drink coffee debates rages on. With this being said, The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the world’s wake up drink. Read on:
Such studies make headlines every day, and often, as the public knows too well, they contradict each other. One week we may hear that pets are good for your health, the next week that they aren't. One month, cellphone use causes brain cancer; the next month, it doesn't.

"It's the cure of the week or the killer of the week, the danger of the week," says Dr. Barry Kramer, associate director for disease prevention at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. It's like treating people to an endless regimen of whiplash, he says.

Take the case of just one item: coffee. Drinking two or three cups per day can triple the risk of pancreatic cancer, according to a 1981 study. Not so, concluded a larger follow-up study published in 2001.

Coffee reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, found a 1998 study. Not so, according to one published later, in 2005.
Dr. Fuhrman is hardly an advocate of coffee-drinking. He claims coffee can help walk you down the road towards cardiovascular disease. Here’re a couple sentences from Eat to Live:
Caffeine addicts are at higher risk of cardiac arrhythmias that could precipitate sudden death.1 Coffee raises blood pressure and raises cholesterol and homocysteine, two risk factors for heart disease.2
Makes you wonder if that morning fix is really worth it.
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The Healthy Impact Garbage Food

This is encouraging. Apparently health conscious people have had an effect on fast food giants and their business. E.J. Mundell of HealthDay News reports:
After a decades-long fast-food binge, the notion of watching what you eat seems to be hitting more Americans -- but certainly not all -- as they approach the counter of their favorite "quick-service" outlet, experts say.

Changing tastes -- along with some regulatory prodding -- means the nation's fast-food industry is also getting the message. Citywide bans on tasty but heart-clogging trans-fat cooking oils, legal moves to mandate calorie counts on menus, and even an effort to outlaw new fast-food franchises in obesity-plagued south Los Angeles have grabbed headlines this year.

One industry representative believes fast-food businesses are responding to consumers' changing tastes and health concerns -- and the obesity epidemic.

"I think that quick-service restaurants have done a great job of offering and highlighting [healthier] items," said Sheila Weiss, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition policy at the National Restaurant Association, which describes itself as the leading business association for the restaurant industry. "A lot of their campaigns recently have focused on the elimination of trans fat oils, on offering more entree salads and better options for side dishes like fruits and low-fat skim milk."
If you’re looking to keep tabs on junk food, check out Followhealthlife’s Hurtful Food category.

Less Meat, Cooler Temps?

A couple weeks ago we learned that global warming might actually threaten heart health. Here’s some of the Associated Press report:
During the European heat wave in 2003, there were an estimated 35,000 deaths above expected levels in the first two weeks of August. In France alone, nearly 15,000 extra people died when temperatures soared. Experts say much of that was due to heart problems in the elderly worsened by the extreme heat.

The hardening of the heart's arteries is like rust developing on a car, said Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University. "Rust develops much more quickly at warm temperatures and so does atherosclerosis," said Tomaselli, who is program chair at the American Heart Association.
And now the Associated Press is reporting that eating less meat could help slow climate change. Maria Cheng explains:
Eating less meat could help slow global warming by reducing the number of livestock and thereby decreasing the amount of methane flatulence from the animals, scientists said on Thursday.

In a special energy and health series of the medical journal The Lancet, experts said people should eat fewer steaks and hamburgers. Reducing global red meat consumption by 10 percent, they said, would cut the gases emitted by cows, sheep and goats that contribute to global warming.

"We are at a significant tipping point," said Geri Brewster, a nutritionist at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York, who was not connected to the study.
"If people knew that they were threatening the environment by eating more meat, they might think twice before ordering a burger," Brewster said.
The answer seems clear to me. Eat less meat for your health and the health of the planet. Kind of win-win—don’t you think? Besides, Cow Farts stink!

McBurger Crime

I wouldn’t eat McDonalds even if you tied me up and tried to force it down my throat—especially after reading this! Fast Food News relays the tale of the overly salty burger and the arrest that followed. Take a look:
Yes, you read that right. A McDonald's employee, Kendra Bull, in Union City, Georgia was arrested after a local cop claimed he became ill from an extra salty Big N' Tasty.

Bull told cops she accidentally put too much salt and pepper on the hamburger, but since managers had been concerned about waste, she "had gone ahead and used the hamburger."
Oh! This is a perfect time to re-mention The Burger Museum. If you haven’t seen it—see it!

Friday: Health Points

The new case was discovered close to a farm south of London where an outbreak was first reported last month.

Restrictions imposed then were only lifted four days ago and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) imposed a new England-wide ban on the movement of cattle, sheep, pigs and other ruminants.

Cattle were ordered slaughtered on the affected farm, near Egham, west of London. Egham is 13 miles (21 kilometres) from the village of Normandy, where foot and mouth disease was confirmed on August 3.
  • I’m sure you’ve heard of dirty money, but what about dirty energy? It’s a big deal. Some 2 billion people’s health may be threatened by it. More from Reuters:
The health of about 2 billion of the world’s poor is being damaged because they lack access to clean energy, like electricity, and face exposure to smoke from open fires, scientists said on Thursday.

Dangerous levels of indoor air pollutants from badly ventilated cooking fires are a common hazard, while lack of electricity deprives many of the benefits of refrigeration.
Congress last month approved an extra $50 billion for the program, but U.S. President George W. Bush threatened a veto, calling it a move toward nationalized health care, which he opposes.

Bush wanted only a $5 billion increase in the plan's $25 billion cost over 5 years. Congress would come up with the extra dollars by hiking cigarette taxes 45 cents per pack and cutting Medicare payments to private health insurers.

New Jersey's program has covered 122,000 children, and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said the new rules would deny coverage to 10,000 kids. In the past 18 months, 100,000 more children have been enrolled in both SHIP and Medicaid, which aids the poor, he added.
It’s one of the mysteries of sleep: Why is it that mild exercise can be invigorating, but strenuous endurance exercise — whether it’s crew practice, long runs as training for a marathon or juggling back-to-back workouts to prepare for a triathlon — makes people groggy?

Elite marathoners know that hunger for sleep all too well.

Deena Kastor, who won the London Marathon last year and set an American record, said she sleeps 10 hours at night and takes a two-hour nap every afternoon. Steven Spence, a marathoner who won a bronze medal at the 1991 world championships in Tokyo, had the same sleep habits when he was training.
  • After last year’s E. coli outbreak you’d assume the government would have tightened regulations—not! The Associated Press reports that safety standards have not be raised:
A review of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act found that federal officials inspect companies growing and processing salad greens an average of once every 3.9 years. Some proposals in Congress would require such inspections at least four times a year.

In California, which grows three-quarters of the nation's greens, processors created a new inspection system but with voluntary guidelines that were unable to keep bagged spinach tainted with salmonella from reaching grocery shelves last month.

Despite widespread calls for spot-testing of processing plants handling leafy greens after last year's E. coli outbreak, California public-health inspectors have not been given the authority to conduct such tests, so no such tests have been done, the review found.
In the pact, China also pledged to step up inspections of its exports and take other steps to ensure that those products meet U.S. standards, said Nancy Nord, acting head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. That will include joint efforts by the two countries to increase understanding of those standards among manufacturers and exporters.

The absence of such an understanding allowed paint suppliers to provide lead paint to companies making toys sold by Mattel Inc. and other companies, said Chuanzhong Wei, vice minister of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. Lead paint has been banned on toys made in the United States since 1978.

"That's why we decided we should intensify the exchanges between importers and exporters in the field of standards," Wei said, speaking through a translator.
People who are just moderately overweight have an increased risk developing heart disease, even if they are otherwise healthy, according to pooled data from published studies.

As study chief Dr. Rik P. Bogers noted in an email to Reuters Health, the data show that "even if overweight and obese persons succeeded in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol to normal levels, they would still have a higher risk of coronary heart disease than their normal-weight peers."

Thus, the worldwide increase in the number of people who are moderately overweight "may drive the incidence of coronary heart disease upward," Bogers and colleagues warn in a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Thursday: Health Points

Burger King Holdings Inc., the world's second largest hamburger chain, said it has set nutritional guidelines to follow when targeting children under 12 in advertising, including limiting ads to Kids Meals that contain no more than 560 calories, less than 30 percent of calories from fat and no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugars.

In that vein, Burger King is building a Kids Meal that will contain the flame-broiled Tenders, organic unsweetened applesauce and low-fat milk, for a total of 305 calories and 8.5 grams of fat. It will be available in restaurants sometime in 2008, the company said.

The fast-food chain is also developing what it calls BK Fresh Apple Fries. The red apples are cut to resemble french fries and are served in the same containers as fries, but they are not fried and are served skinless and cold.
The report, written by Charles Courtemanche for his doctoral dissertation in health economics, found that the 13 percent rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to falling pump prices.

Gasoline hit a low of less than $1.50 per gallon in 2000 before moving back to a record high of $3.22 in May 2007.

Higher gasoline prices can reduce obesity by leading people to walk or cycle instead of drive and eat leaner at home instead of rich food at restaurants.
One study found that Avandia, made by GlaxoSmithKline, doubled the risks of heart failure and raised the risks of heart attack by 42 percent. A second study found that Actos, a similar drug made by Takeda, actually lowered the risks of heart attacks, strokes and death but, like Avandia, also raised risks of heart failure.

Taken together, some of the authors said, the two studies in The Journal of the American Medical Association confirm what doctors and patients using Avandia have already done in great numbers, that is, switch to another drug. Sales of Avandia have plunged.

GlaxoSmithKline said in a written statement that the studies were flawed and “offered no new information on the safety of Avandia.” The company “continues to support Avandia as safe and effective when used appropriately,” the statement said.
Obesity has more than doubled in Australia in the last 20 years and is placing an uncomfortable strain not only on waistlines but on health services, the Australian General Practice Network said.

To combat the spiralling problem, it wants the government to give the overweight a 170 dollar (141 dollar US) subsidy to do something about their expanding physique.

The network, which represents general practitioners, said effective weight-loss programmes were often too expensive, particularly for those with modest incomes.
Amid worries of an obesity epidemic and its related illnesses, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, Los Angeles officials, among others around the country, are proposing to limit new fast-food restaurants -- a tactic that could be called health zoning.

The City Council will be asked this fall to consider an up to two-year moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in South L.A., a part of the city where fast food is at least as much a practicality as a preference.

"The people don't want them, but when they don't have any other options, they may gravitate to what's there," said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who proposed the ordinance in June, and whose district includes portions of South L.A. that would be affected by the plan.
"This is a major public-health problem," said Rebecca Din-Dzietham of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, who led the study, which will be published in the Sept. 25 issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation. "Unless this upward trend in high blood pressure is reversed, we could be facing an explosion of new cardiovascular-disease cases in young adults and adults."

With an adult form of diabetes already being diagnosed more frequently in children and more young people developing high cholesterol, the new finding is another indication that the obesity epidemic is spawning a generation at heightened risk for illnesses that struck their parents and grandparents only later in life, experts said.

"This is very worrisome," said Elizabeth Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. "This is another piece of evidence suggesting that the obesity epidemic will likely turn into a heart-disease epidemic."
A gaping hole exists between conventional medicine and diet. Conventional medicine claims that the cause of Type 2 diabetes is unknown. Medical doctors, as practitioners of conventional medicine, are not trained to explain how it happened. They treat symptoms with medicine. The business of medicine is medicine. The business of diabetes would be devasted if the cure was as simple as diet. The explanation Thomas Smith provides in his empirical studies is fascinating and I encourage anybody with competing or supporting evidence to open the debate.
"Women who have this disorder usually are interested in exercise to improve their appearance, but an instructor who emphasizes physique during a workout may deter such students from coming back," said Brian Focht, assistant professor of health behavior and health promotion at Ohio State, and a co-author of the study.

The study, which was published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, indicated women in the study reported that they enjoyed a step aerobics class more when the instructor focused on how the workout was making them more fit.

Even though most of the women studied took the class primarily because they were concerned about their body image, they enjoyed the class less and were less likely to take another if the instructor emphasized how a particular exercise would tone their legs, slim their waists, or otherwise improve their appearance, the researchers found.
A new study from Yale shows that 75 percent of physicians in training surveyed do not understand the statistics used in medical literature. The study surveyed internal medicine residents at 11 programs across the country.

The residents scored an average of 41% correct on the test and the senior residents scored worse than the junior residents, possibly reflecting a loss of knowledge over time.

No Calorie-Counts in NYC

Chalk one up for the junk-fooders of NYC. A regulation that would require New York fast food restaurants to display how many calories their meals contain has been shot down in flame-broiled flames. More from the AFP:
In a ruling Tuesday in Manhattan District Court, Judge Richard Holwell prevented the city from imposing the new regulations, ruling that federal law already provided for much of what the New York law sought to impose.

"This decision highlights some of the flaws in the New York City Board of Health's regulation," Peter Kilgore, acting head of the National Restaurant Association said in a statement after the ruling.

The rules, which would have applied only to restaurants that already disclosed calorie data, "would have attempted to punish the very restaurants that are already providing accurate and comprehensive nutrition information."
And we wonder why we are fat—and getting fatter! Sigh.

Chewing the Fats

Great news! The experts are out from under their rocks. And it seems they’ve now gotten together to sort out good fats from bad fats. More from Madeline Vann of HealthDay News:
"Of greatest importance is the type of fat one chooses," registered dietitian and co-author Penny Kris-Etherton said in a prepared statement. "The healthiest choices are unsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and omega-3 unsaturated fats found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and shellfish…"

…The Dietary Fatty Acids recommendations guide people to follow a food-based approach for achieving the following fatty acid recommendations:
  • Eat lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat lean protein such as meats, poultry and low-fat dairy products.
  • Eat fish, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon.
  • Use non-hydrogenated margarines and oils.
Yuck dairy—yuck-yuck! For a better didactic on fats, check out this excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Cholesterol Protection For Life. Here:
Some naturally occurring fats are called saturated because all the carbon atoms are single bonds. These fats are solid at room temperature and generally recognized as a significant cause of both heart disease and cancer. Saturated fats are found mainly in meat, fowl, eggs, and dairy. The foods with the most saturated fat are butter, cream, and cheese.

Saturated fat raises your LDL-cholesterol level more than anything else in the diet. Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol is the main reason for the high number of heart attacks seen in North America and other countries.

These fats are a mix of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. Eating unsaturated fats lowers cholesterol when substituted for saturated fats, but excessive amounts may promote cancer and obesity. Examples of unsaturated fats are the fats in nuts and seeds such as flax seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia and pistachio nuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, as well as avocados and olives.
For Dr. Fuhrman’s entire breakdown of fats, give this post a whirl: The Glossary of Cholesterol.

Fat Kids, Fat Commercials

Wait, you mean commercials during kids programs promote junky foods—NO—you don’t say? Eric Nagourney of The New York Times investigates. Take a look:
When researchers looked at what foods were being advertised on programs watched by children and adolescents, they found that most products were larded with sugar, salt and fat.

“The overwhelming majority of food-product advertisements seen on television by American children are of poor nutritional content,” said the study, which is in the current issue of Pediatrics. It was led by Lisa M. Powell of the University of Illinois.

The researchers focused on advertisements seen by two groups, ages 2 to 11 and 12 to 17. To gauge viewership, the study looked at the shows’ popularity ratings.
What a great battle-cry for parents. Teach your kids healthy eating and don’t let them become another fat statistic. For tips, read The Secrets to Getting Your Children to Eat Healthfully.

Saturated Fat: Watch It!

Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of saturated fat. Just ask him. He’ll tell you firsthand. Saturated fat is bad news, and, the respected medical community agrees. From Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally:
There are literally hundreds of respected scientific studies that demonstrate that as animal products increase in a population's diet, cholesterol levels soar and the occurrence of heart disease increases proportionally with the increase in animal product intake.1 Saturated fat is the element of the modern diet that shows the most powerful association in these medical research studies with high cholesterol and premature death from heart attacks.2
Dr. Fuhrman also points out that saturated fats are a major contributor to cancer. He talks about it in Eat to Live, and, he lists the foods most packed with saturated fat. Take a look:
Some naturally occurring fats are called saturated fats because all the carbon are single bonds. These fats are solid at room temperature and are generally recognized as a significant cause of both heart disease and cancer. Saturated fats are found mainly in meat, fowl, eggs, and dairy. Coconut and palm oil are largely saturated and are also not desirable. The foods with the most saturated fat are butter, cream, and cheese.
Now, if all this isn’t daunting enough. New research claims that even a small splurge on saturated fat isn’t good for you—surprise-surprise. Kathleen Doheny of HealthDay News reports:
A recent study by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia found just that reaction after 14 trial participants, all healthy and between the ages of 18 and 40, ate just one piece of high-fat carrot cake and drank a milkshake.

That fat-laden feast compromised the ability of the participants' arteries to expand to increased blood flow, the researchers found. The sudden boost in what's known as saturated fat hampered the effects of so-called "good" cholesterol, the high-density lipoprotein or HDL, from doing its job -- to protect the inner lining of the arteries from inflammatory agents that promote the build-up of fatty plaques. It's this plaque that, over time, clogs blood vessels and causes heart disease.

"Saturated-fat meals might predispose to inflammation of, and plaque buildup in, the vessels," said study leader Dr. David Celermajer, Scandrett professor of cardiology at the Heart Research Institute and the Department of Cardiology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Celermajer's team had the volunteers eat two meals, spaced one month apart. Each meal consisted of a slice of carrot cake and a milkshake. But, in one case the foods were made with saturated fat, and in the other case the meal was made with polyunsaturated safflower oil, a much healthier choice.
Really makes you wonder how so many charlatans work up the gall to hock dangerous high-protein, high-saturated fat diets—shame on them! Dr. Fuhrman elaborates in the Short and Long-Term Dangers of High-Fat Diets:
These high-proteins strongly forbid refined carbohydrates, junk food, and the nutritionally depleted white pasta, white rice, and bread that most Americans consume in large quantities. That is the good part. They also frequently recommend that the dieter consume hundreds of dollars of nutritional supplements each month, Sure, the supplements are better than nothing on such an unbalanced diet, but they do not make it safe…

… High-fat diets are unquestionably associated with obesity, and eating meat actually correlates with weight gain, not weight loss, unless you radically cut carbs from your diet to maintain chronic ketosis.1 Researchers from the American Cancer Society followed 79,236 individuals over ten years and found that those ate meat more than three times per week were much more likely to gain weight as the years went by than those who tended to avoid meat.2 The more vegetables the participants ate, the more resistant they were to weight gain.
I guess as is the case with a lot of dietary woes, emotional attachments to food just keep sucking people in—boohoo, just put the burger down and get on with your life!
Continue Reading...

Fat and Refined Carbohydrates: Married to Your Waist

The body converts food fat into body fat quickly and easily: 100 calories of ingested fat can be converted to 97 calories of body fat by burning a measly 3 calories. Fat is an appetite stimulant: the more you eat, the more you want. If a food could be scientifically engineered to create an obese society, it would have fat, such as butter, mixed with sugar and flour.

The combination of fat and refined carbohydrates has an extremely powerful effect on driving the signals that promote fat accumulation on the body. Refined foods cause a swift and excessive rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin surges to drive the sugar out of the blood and into our cells. Unfortunately, insulin also promotes the storage of fat on the body and encourages your fat cells to swell.

As more fat is packed away on the body, it interferes with insulin uptake into our muscle tissues. Our pancreas then senses that the glucose level in the bloodstream is still too high and pumps out even more insulin. A little extra fat around our midsection results in so much interference with insulin’s effectiveness that two to five times as much insulin may be secreted in an overweight person than in a thin person.

The higher level of insulin in turn promotes more efficient conversion of our caloric intake into body fat, and this vicious cycle continues. People get heavier and heavier as time goes on.

Eating refined carbohydrates—as opposed to complex carbohydrates in their natural state—causes the body’s “set point” for body weight to increase. Your “set point” is the weight the body tries to maintain through the brain’s control of hormonal messengers. When you eat refined fats (oils) or refined carbohydrates such as white flour and sugar, the fat-storing hormones are produced in excess, raising the set point. To further compound the problem, because so much of the vitamin and mineral content of these foods has been lost during processing, you naturally crave more food to make up for the missing nutrients.

Tuesday: Health Points

Four years ago, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to track the number of overweight students in its schools. School officials say it has helped improve the state's childhood obesity rate.

A new report released Monday shows that while obesity is still a problem, the obesity rate in Arkansas's school children isn't rising.

State health officials said last year's mandatory BMI — body mass index — screenings showed that 20.6 percent of tested schoolchildren were overweight, while 17.2 percent were risk for being overweight, about the same figures as the previous year.
  • Here’s a cool veggie slideshow Dr. Fuhrman sent over the other day. Check it out, it’s over at MSN:
More and more consumers -- new mothers are leading the pack -- are expressing concern about potentially toxic chemicals in plastic products. Baby blogs are abuzz with warnings about chemicals in baby bottles and toys. Retailers say that demand for glass baby bottles is higher than it's been in decades and that shoppers are snatching up bottles and training cups made from plastics without bisphenol A. California lawmakers have taken notice: Last week, the state Legislature passed a bill to ban certain phthalates in plastic items meant for children younger than 3.

Recent widely publicized studies have shown that plastics are not only ubiquitous in the environment (marine researchers have shown that plastic debris outweighs zooplankton in remote parts of the Pacific), but are found in the bodies of nearly all Americans too. Scientists have hypothesized that chemicals in certain plastics may be linked to such conditions as asthma and even obesity. But most of the research, and the strongest evidence, points to effects that certain plastics chemicals appear to exert on the reproductive system. Findings are still considered preliminary (existing studies are small and few), but reports are enough to make consumers ask: Are plastics safe?
Researchers studying the enzyme that converts starch to simple sugars like glucose have found that people living in countries with a high-starch diet produce considerably more of the enzyme than people who eat a low-starch diet.

The reason is an evolutionary one. People in high-starch countries have many extra copies of the amylase gene which makes the starch-converting enzyme, a group led by George H. Perry of Arizona State University and Nathaniel J. Dominy of the University of California, Santa Cruz, reported yesterday in the journal Nature Genetics.

The production of the extra copies seems to have been favored by natural selection, according to a genetic test, the authors say. If so, the selective pressure could have occurred when people first started to grow cereals like wheat and barley at the beginning of the Neolithic revolution some 10,000 years ago, or even much earlier.
Jensen's Old Fashioned Smokehouse Inc. is recalling two smoked-salmon spread products because they may be contaminated with bacteria known as Listeria monocytogenes.

The recall includes 480 7-ounce plastic tubs of Jensen's Seattle Style Wild Smoked Salmon Spread Lemon Dill and Onion and 132 7-ounce plastic tubs of PCC brand Smoked Salmon Spread allnatural.

The products were distributed in Western Washington retail stores, the Seattle company said.

The Jensen's wild smoked-salmon spread in question is coded "sell By 10/14/07 and 10/15/07" and the PCC brand Smoked Salmon Spread all-natural is coded "sell By 9/29/07."

The company said no illnesses have been confirmed.
Some researchers have suspected that low levels of vitamin D contribute to the disorder, which is characterized by soaring blood pressure and swelling of the hands and feet, but the new study is the first to examine its role directly.

Pre-eclampsia affects as many as 7 percent of first pregnancies and can progress to eclampsia, which produces seizures and often-fatal complications of the liver, kidneys, lungs, blood and nervous system. Eclampsia causes 15 percent of maternal deaths during pregnancy and as many as 70 percent of such deaths in developing countries.

Epidemiologist Lisa M. Bodnar and her colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health Sciences studied blood samples taken from women and newborns early in pregnancy and just before delivery. They identified 15 women who suffered pre-eclampsia and compared them with 220 who did not.
The Food and Drug Administration opened a two-day meeting to collect comments from food companies, trade groups, watchdog organizations, medical experts and its overseas counterparts on the topic. Any action is likely years away.

Some food manufacturers and retailers already have begun labeling foods with symbols to indicate how nutritious they are. PepsiCo uses the “Smart Spot” symbol on diet Pepsi, baked Lay’s chips and other products. Hannaford Bros., a New England supermarket chain, uses a zero to three-star system to rate more than 25,000 food items it sells. And in Britain, the government has persuaded some food companies to use a “traffic light” symbol. That ranking system relies on green, yellow and red lights to characterize whether a food is low, medium or high in fat, salt and sugar.
Fairbank Farms, a U.S. ground beef producer, said on Wednesday it is voluntarily recalling beef patties sold to Shaw's Supermarkets in New England because of concerns about bacterial contamination.

Fairbank Farms said the patties could have been purchased by consumers in that area on Wednesday between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Food Additives and Hyper Kids

Hyper kids, a nightmare for a lot of parents. But what makes kids so hyper? I wonder. Wait, perhaps the food they eat has something to do with it? No! You don’t say. Researchers claim that food additives might fuel hyperactivity in children. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports:
The findings have already caused the British government's Food Standards Agency, which funded the study, to issue a warning to parents about food additives.

"Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an increasingly common problem, and theories abound to account for that," said Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. "Among them is the notion that food additives induce hyperactivity."

Despite this apparent connection, Katz cautioned that the increasing number of children with ADHD cannot be blamed on food additives alone.

"No one factor is solely responsible for rising rates of ADHD," Katz said. "Along with the hazards of a highly processed food supply, children are getting less and less physical activity as a means of dissipating their native rambunctiousness."
So, where do all these food additives reside? I’ll give you a hint. Not in the wholesome, nutrient-rich food Mother Nature designed. Nope! You’ll only find them in the over-processed nutrient-sparse junk food so many parents cram down their kids’ throats. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
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.
With this being said, the next time you hear someone complaining about how nutty their kid is, you should frisk them for cookies and fruit-snacks—alright you, spread’em!

High Blood Sugar Bad for Leukemia

The Cancer Blog passes on research linking high blood sugar with increased mortality in leukemia patients:
High blood sugar levels increase the rate of in-hospital deaths by almost 40 percent in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), according to a study published in Cancer and led by Dr. Naeem Ali and colleagues at Ohio State. This effect was seen even in patients with mild increases in blood sugar levels.

The risk of developing sepsis was increased among such patients with hyperglycemia, according to the team, however, sepsis alone did not explain the relationship between the high blood sugar and increased mortality risk.
The Diabetes Blog also had an interesting post on blood sugar and cancer a few months ago.

Friday: Health Points

In just under 2 percent of these patients, the mild knee arthritis was accompanied by non-small cell lung cancer. All patients were middle-aged men who had been heavy smokers for most of their lives. Once the cancer tissue was surgically removed, the knee pain cleared up as well.

About 85 percent of all lung cancers are non-small cell lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Unless it is caught early, non-small cell lung cancer is difficult to treat. It spreads to the bones in one in five cases and is well advanced by the time it is diagnosed in half of all cases.
Mmm mmm, this is about as easy a freebie you'll ever see and I encourage you to take advantage of it before 11:59pm on September 29, 2007. But don't wait until the last minute because only one million of these coupons will be distributed and then they are gone…

…Easy peasy and it's FREE FOOD! If you ask for the chicken to be chargrilled without the bun, then they'll give you plenty of greens to wrap it in. And the Diet Coke can be replaced with unsweetened tea if you'd like that better.
After the salmonella strain, Salmonella Schwarzengrund, was detected in two dogs in the homes of two of the ill persons, and in unopened bags of dog food produced by Mars Petcare in the Everson plant in Fayette County, the company voluntarily recalled two brands Aug. 21. The plant was closed last week for inspection and cleaning. Officials from the company could not be reached to update the plant's status.

Further investigation of the outbreak is a collaboration between the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials in the affected states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The break in the case -- tracing human sickness to dog food -- was made by Pennsylvania investigators, led by Dr. Stephen Ostroff, director of the bureau of epidemiology at the state Health Department.
San Francisco's Mayor Newsom, is supporting better nutrition options at schools with a $500,000 grant to the SFUSD Student Nutrition Services (SNS). What will be done with the money? SNS is planning to install salad bars at 25 SF schools this year, including three schools with Urban Sprouts gardens: June Jordan School for Equity, Excelsior Middle School and Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.
Researchers for the first time used the National Cancer Data Base, a tumor registry maintained by the American College of Surgeons, to explore these issues, using more than 170,000 cases diagnosed in 1998. Ten percent were in black women.

The study focused on the 95,500 women whose cancers were invasive rather than still confined to a milk duct. About 39 percent of such tumors in black women were estrogen receptor-negative, or ER-negative, compared with 22 percent of those in white women.

Estrogen helps tumors grow. Drugs that block this hormone, like tamoxifen and a newer class of medications called aromatase inhibitors, work against these cancers.
This characterization of the 1918 pandemic virus (serotype H1N1) as "swine flu" came back to haunt us in 1976, when H1N1 caused the death of a solider at Fort Dix, New Jersey and triggered a mass vaccination campaign here in the U.S. (with its subsequent fallout). Since then, sporadic human cases of swine influenza have been reported, either clincally (such as this one in Iowa earlier this year, or subclinically, as described in this research. Now in Ohio, they're looking to see whether swine flu has again jumped into humans. More after the jump.
After analyzing a year’s worth of sales data, Hannaford found that customers tended to buy leaner cuts of meat. Sales of ground beef with stars on their labels increased 7 percent, and sales of chicken that had a star rating rose 5 percent. Sales of ground beef labeled with no stars dropped by 5 percent, while sales of chicken that had a zero-star rating declined 3 percent.

Similarly, sales of whole milk, which received no stars, declined by 4 percent, while sales of fat-free milk (three stars) increased 1 percent.

Sales of fruits and vegetables, however, remained about the same as they did before the ratings were introduced. All fresh produce received stars.
The frequency of hot flashes among the women decreased 50 percent over six weeks. Flaxseed contains lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. Lignans have weak estrogen characteristics. Dr. Pruthi cautions that this was a pilot study and further study in a large, randomized placebo-controlled study may not turn out such results.
  • Not sure what to say about this one, but, get a load—a big load—of China’s newest pop-stars. Brace yourself. Maureen Fan of The Washington Post reports:
On stage, however, the four members of a singing group known as Qian Jin Zu He are strong and confident, belting out their signature rap song, "So What If I'm Fat," passing out photographs of themselves and signing autographs.

The lead singer, 26-year-old Xiao Yang, is 375 pounds; the others in the group are between about 200 and 300 pounds. Together, they tour the country, performing at nightclubs, paint factories, garment industry conventions and shopping malls.

Their success has been modest, but given the powerful discrimination against the obese in China, Xiao said her discovery by a talent agent has been "like a tree branch saving me in the water."

Shaping Up School Cafeterias

Sometimes I wonder, how did America get so fat? And then, I just walk through the typical supermarket; up and down the isles, lots of junk and convenience foods. In Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman explains this—coupled with lack of exercise—is what’s making us fat. Take a look:
Nationally recognized food surveys, such as the National Food Consumption Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Survey, indicate that Americans consume somewhere between 34 and 37 percent of their calories from fat.1 Americans are still eating a very high fat diet. The reason for the rise in obesity in America is no mystery: we eat a high-calorie, high-fat diet. We are eating more meals outside the home, relying more heavily on convenience foods, and consuming larger food portions. Consistent with trends in weight, caloric intake rose 15 percent between 1970 and 1994.2 The data actually shows increased consumption of junk food, fat, and calories in recent years.3

Weight has increased in America simply because total calorie consumption has risen and activity or exercise has fallen. Our diets are more nutrient-deficient than ever.
And as we know, this stuff has infiltrated our schools; vending machines, tatter tots, and ice cream. But lately, there’s been a concerted to straighten up our school cafeterias. So, how’s it going? Andrew Martin of The New York Times investigates the state of school food:
Food and beverage companies have scrambled to offer healthier alternatives in school cafeterias and vending machines, and some of the changes have been met with a shrug by students. The whole-wheat chocolate-chip cookies? “Surprisingly, the kids have kind of embraced them,” said Laura Jacobo, director of food services at Woodlake Union schools in California.

But some parents say that by cracking down on cupcakes in the classroom to celebrate birthdays and Halloween, school officials have crossed a line.

On top of the practical question of how PTAs and drill teams can raise the money that will no longer be earned with bake sales, there is a matter closer to the heart, where the cupcake holds strong as a symbol of childhood innocence and parental love.

“I remember growing up and a birthday party was a big deal when you got to bring a treat,” said Amy Joswick, who has two children in elementary school in Old Bridge, N.J., where cupcakes are not allowed at birthday parties. “I don’t agree with it because as a whole, parents should be monitoring what they are eating. It should start at home.”

Parents in Texas lobbied to get a “Safe Cupcake Amendment” added to the state’s nutrition policy. The measure, which passed, ensures that parents may bring frosted treats to schools for celebrations.
Here’s a question. Why do birthdays have to be associated with sweet treats and other junk food? I don’t know, I’m not a parent. Maybe if kids were learning good eating habits at home, they wouldn’t be tempted by the junk at school. Check out these tips from Disease-Proof Your Child:
1. Keep only healthy food in the house. Every person in the household should have the same food choices available.

2. Offer and feed a wholesome diversity of natural foods, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit, while giving each child as much latitude as possible to eat what they prefer.

3. Don't attempt to manage your children's caloric intake. They can do that on their own.

4. If you, as parents, do not demonstrate proper respect for your own bodies by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and engaging in other healthful lifestyle practices, don't expect your children to do any better than you, now or in the future.

5. Educate your children about their nutritional needs and the importance of eating healthfully. Start this when they are young and continue to reinforce their learning, as they will be exposed to more toxic food choices as they get older and spend more time out of their home.
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Popcorn Lung Disease?

Here’s a weird one. Parent Dish is all over a warning that microwave buttered popcorn heightens the risk of lung disease. Check it out:
A pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center thinks exposure to the fumes from microwave butter popcorn might be the cause of lung disease in one of her patients. She sent a letter to several federal agencies expressing her concerns. "We cannot be sure that this patient's exposure to butter flavored microwave popcorn from daily heavy preparation has caused his lung disease," said Dr. Cecile Rose. "However, we have no other plausible explanation."

Apparently the patient, a unidentified man, consumed "several bags of extra butter flavored microwave popcorn" every day for several years. The ailing patient's condition improved when he stopped making the popcorn.

This may sound far-fetched, but it's not. So-called "popcorn lung" is a real disease that has resulted in lawsuits by workers in food factories who were exposed to diacetyl, a chemical used to create that buttery flavor.

A-Fib and Moderate Drinking

As a twenty-something with a social life, I can tell you firsthand, it’s very hard to completely avoid alcohol. As Fuhrman-unfriendly as it is, I do imbibe from time to time—now here’s the bad part. According to Dr. Fuhrman even moderate drinking can lead to problems. From Eat to Live:
It is much wiser to avoid the detrimental effects of alcohol completely and protect yourself from heart disease with nutritional excellence. For example, even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to higher rates of breast cancer and to occurrence of atrial fibrillation.1
And Dr. Fuhrman isn’t the only one talking about this. Recently he sent me this article—no, not as part of some intervention—talking about alcohol and the link between atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation. Bruce Jancin of Family Practice News reports on some interesting new research. Take a look:
The study involved 195 consecutive patients with AF or atrial flutter, two-thirds of whom were aged 60 years or younger, and 186 controls, three-quarters of whom had supraventricular tachycardia, while the rest were healthy. One in five of the participants was a regular drinker. Four-fifths of them fell within the 1–2 drinks per day category generally classified as moderate drinking, which is often recommended as cardioprotective.

After adjustment for potential confounders including age, gender, race, coronary artery disease, hypertension, and heart failure in a multivariate regression analysis, individuals aged 60 or younger with AF or atrial flutter who drank alcohol daily were 4.5 times more likely to have AF or atrial flutter compared with arrhythmia-free controls, and 2.5 times more likely to have AF or flutter compared with patients with supraventricular tachycardia.
Well, to my credit. The overriding reason why I keep my drinking to a minimum is because my long-term health is more important to me than a “good” time. Actually, I’d love to hear how all of you handle a healthy lifestyle and drinking. Please, do tell.
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Obese, Yet Iron-Deficient

There’s actually a chapter in Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live entitled “Overfed, Yet Malnourished.” This is an often overlooked symptom of our gluttonous society, but, a very real and very dangerous phenomenon. Now Dr. Fuhrman explains it much better than I can:
Medical investigations clearly show the dangers of consuming the quantity of processed foods that we do. And because these refined grains lack the fiber and nutrient density to turn down our appetite, they also cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and significantly increased cancer risk1…

…If you want to lose weight, the most important foods to avoid are processed foods: condiments, candy, snacks, and baked goods; fat-free has nothing to do with it. Almost all weight-loss authorities agree on this — you must cut out the refined carbohydrates, including bagels, pasta, and bread. As far as the human body is concerned, low-fiber carbohydrates such as pasta are almost as damaging as white sugar. Pasta is not health food — it is hurt food…

…Empty calories are empty calories. Cookies, jams, and other processed foods (even those from the health-food store) sweetened with “fruit juice” sound healthier but are just as bad as white sugar products. When fruit juice is concentrated and used as a sweetener, the healthy nutritional components are stripped away — what’s left is plain sugar. To your body, there is not much difference between refined sugar, fruit juice sweeteners, honey, fruit juice concentrate, or any other concentrated sweetener. Our sweet tooth has been put there by nature to have us enjoy and consume real fruit, not some imitation. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and other fresh fruit and vegetable juices are relatively healthy foods that contain the majority of the original vitamins and minerals. But the sweet fruit juices and even carrot juice should still be used only moderately, as they still contain a high concentration of sugar calories and no fiber.
So, when you consider that so many Americans gorge on low-nutrient high-calorie foods, you won’t find this next report all that surprising. According to new research obese children actually suffer from iron deficiency. Reuters reports:
It was the first time an association had been found between obesity and iron deficiency in children as young as 1, the researchers said, and they said junk food may be to blame.

"The reasons for the strong association in this age group are unclear and need to be elucidated," Dr. Jane Brotanek of the University of Texas and other researchers cautioned in their study, published in the journal Pediatrics.

"Dietary practices may play an important role since diets high in calories but poor in micronutrients may lead to both iron deficiency and overweight" children, they added.
When you start eating a nutrient-dense diet, you start evaluating foods differently. Personally, I don’t get too hung up on calorie content anymore. Rather, I pay close attention to the calorie-to-nutrients ratio—makes you really think twice about eating sweets!
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Wednesday: Health Points

China will clamp down on foods tainted with illegal and excessive chemicals as it seeks to quell domestic and foreign alarm about toxins in meat, seafood and vegetables, the country's top agriculture official said…

…Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai said consumers had no reason to fear eating most of the nation's farm produce, while the nation's quality inspection agency announced comprehensive food export tagging in a bid to reassure customers.
A study of nearly 1,700 children in rural Missouri found that those who usually ate homegrown fruits and veggies had one full serving more a day than those who didn't and were more likely to prefer the types of produce that they grew at home.

You don't need to live in the country to garden with kids. If you'd like to test out your green thumb with your youngsters, you can try container gardening (here's a tip: hollowed out oranges or grapefruit make excellent bio-degradable containers), planting in a window box, or even digging a small plot like we did. The joy is in the digging, the planting, the getting dirty, and the time spent together, as well as fresh veggies all summer long.
One child in five will be obese in the Netherlands by 2015, according to a study carried out by the Nicis research institute in the country's major cities, the Dutch news agency ANP reported Tuesday.

Fewer than 10 percent of children in primary school manage to average half an hour exercise a day. Among teenagers, it is fewer than 30 percent.

As a result, by 2015 one Dutch child in five will be too heavy, Nicis found.
The study tracked the eating habits of more than two thousand people over a ten year period. Wow. The researchers also reported that those whose diets contained fiber from mainly cereal or fruit sources did not fare so well - they had a higher risk for type 2 diabetes than those getting lots of fiber from veggie sources. The reason could be that foods high in vegetable fiber produce smaller fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels than would cereal or fruits. Lead researcher, Alan Barclay, says legumes are the best fiber source of all.
One study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrated this in 2003. The study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that eating protein-rich foods — like milk — decreased the ability of tryptophan to enter the brain.

The trick, the study showed, is to eat foods high in carbohydrates, which stimulate the release of insulin. Insulin, in turn, makes it easier for tryptophan to enter the brain.

But surveys have found that many people swear by milk as a sleep aid, and that may have something to do with psychology.
The interaction of vitamins and minerals in the body (synergy) can have a strong impact on the effectiveness of many of them, but this seems like an odd one to me. Nevertheless, lipid and ascorbic acid interaction was studied in terms of possible cancer contributions to the upper stomach area (which is sensitive to cancerous issues and tumor development).
A Consumer Reports magazine poll released July 25 of 3,048 parents who have children ages 5 to 17 found that 91% say childhood obesity is a problem in the USA. But of the parents of children whose body mass index (BMI) categorizes them as overweight, half say their kids weigh what they should.

Only 36% of the parents with heavy children say their physician has suggested their child lose weight; the other 64% say the doctor didn't mention it.

Many parents simply don't realize their children are overweight, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in private practice in Chicago and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "The doctor never told them. Other kids in the class look like their child, and their kid seems pretty healthy," she says.
What can you do to lower your salt intake? You can eat fewer processed foods and become a savvy label reader. You can make more of your foods at home and use spices instead of salts to flavor food. When eating out, ask for unsalted foods and empty your salt shaker at home. You can even consider making your own bread, since bread and cereal products account for a large portion of our daily intake. Shoot for 1,500 to 2,400 mg of salt a day, which seems like a lot but is much lower than the 4,000 to 6,000 mg the average American eats today.

Unhealthy Salads

Trust me, they do exist. Feast your eyes—and not your taste buds—on these junk salads over at Yahoo Health. Posted by Christine McKinney, MS, RD, CDE:
Not all salads are made the same, it takes some work by the consumer to figure out which restaurant salads are healthy choices. Let's compare the fat and calories in a few salads made by popular food outlets.
  • Taco Bell's Fiesta Salad® — 840 calories and 45 grams of fat
  • Macaroni Grill's Chicken Caesar Salad® — 920 calories and 69 grams of fat
  • Panera's Bistro Steak Salad® — 630 calories and 58 grams of fat
  • Applebee's Grilled Steak Caesar Salad® — 1,190 calories and 75 grams of fat
Compare the salads above to the infamous McDonald's Big Mac®, which has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat.
Unfortunately this kind of dietary treachery is rampant—especially when it comes to salad dressing! Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in Cholesterol Protection for Life:
I know you were told that olive oil is health food. It is not. Keep in mind, oil is processed food, it is not a natural whole food. Oils, even if they are monounsaturated, should not be health food because they are low in nutrients and contain 120 calories per tablespoon, promoting weight gain.

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

As an alternative to oil, you can make great tasting salad dressings from raw nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, pecans, cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pistachios and avocados.