Chile Pepper Power?

For some reason people are so intrigued with Chile peppers. Check out this report by the Associated Press. Scientists are trying to harness the power of the pepper. Here’s a bit:
Doctors are dripping the chemical that gives chili peppers their fire directly into open wounds during knee replacement and a few other highly painful operations.

Don't try this at home: These experiments use an ultra-purified version of capsaicin to avoid infection -- and the volunteers are under anesthesia so they don't scream at the initial burn.

How could something searing possibly soothe? Bite a hot pepper, and after the burn your tongue goes numb.

The hope is that bathing surgically exposed nerves in a high enough dose will numb them for weeks, so that patients suffer less pain and require fewer narcotic painkillers as they heal.
We’ve seen this before. Remember this Chile pepper investigation? Refresh your memory and most importantly keep in mind this quote from Dr. Fuhrman:
“…hot spices should be used sparingly and should not be considered health foods.”

Booming China, Booming Disease

Here’s some not-so good news from China. First from the AFP, the Western influence on Chinese diet is causing a spike in breast cancer cases. More from the report:
Increasing numbers of Chinese urban women are suffering from breast cancer due to unhealthy diets and a spike in work stress in the rapidly modernising country, state media said Tuesday.

Breast cancer is up 31 percent in the financial hub of Shanghai over the past decade, and 23 percent in the capital, Beijing, according to data from the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention cited by the China Daily.

"Unhealthy lifestyles are mostly to blame for the growing numbers," the paper quoted Qiao Youlin, a cancer researcher at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, as saying.
And now, it seems increased pollution is causing a lot more birth defects in China. Here’s another report from the AFP. Check it out:
The rate of defects appeared to increase near the country's countless coal mines, which produce the bulk of China's energy but are also responsible for serious air and water pollution, the China Daily newspaper said, quoting government officials.

Birth defects nationwide have increased from 104.9 per 10,000 births in 2001 to 145.5 last year, it said, citing a report by the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

They affect about one million of the 20 million babies born every year, with about 300,000 babies suffering from "visible deformities."
My hope is China learns from the mistakes of other heavily industrialized nations…like us!

Wednesday: Halloween Points

Okay ghouls and goblins, the macabre is upon us. So here are some Halloween inspired health points. Read them, if you dare:
Many say the evidence contradicts such stories. "There is no scientific basis to the idea that sugar and/or candy has any major effect on children's behavior, particularly if they eat OK," says Dian Dooley, professor of human nutrition, food and animal sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Others think sugar has plenty of skeletons in its closet. "The bottom line is that the ingestion of too much high-glycemic carbohydrate causes a rapid rise and then fall of blood sugar," says Dr. David Ludwig, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital Boston. "This triggers a series of metabolic and hormonal changes that can affect appetite and behavior for hours to come."
If your trick-or-treaters forgo candy for inedible treats, here's what they'll save in calories (same for you parents if you dip into your kids' candy bowls):

20 pieces of candy corn ... 100 calories

2 Brachs caramels ... 80 calories

2 Hershey's kisses ... 50 calories
"M&Ms are 5.01 calories per gram whereas the Smarties are 4.166 calories per gram," he said. "So the Smarties seem to be a better choice.

BUT only slightly. Here is where packaging is important. On the Nestle website (Canada), they show 1 box as only 12 grams, or 50 calories. That's not too bad. Whereas the M&Ms show a serving size of 1.69 ounces or 47.9 grams."
Yet as we all know, you can, and should, eat only so much of the sweet stuff. Besides, knowing what you're going to get is boring. So why not shake it up this year and toss something a little different in your trick-or-treaters' treat sacks?

There is a wonderful array of inedible treats available in local stores and on the Internet. Many cost about the same price as candy and are nearly as much fun. Moreover, they're calorie-free.

At Target, for example, a 25-pack of mini Play-Doh cans is on sale for $3.99. That's just 16 cents each, or about the same cost as a treat-sized bag of Doritos or an individual box of Junior Mints. An eight-pack of those trendy gel pens -- which can write on dark paper -- costs a mere buck.
  • Well, giving out candy might not be doing kids any favors, but, highly doubt passing out pork is any better. Get a load of this article in The Los Angeles Times:
With Halloween just around the corner, I thought you [might] be interested in the fact that October is national pork month," writes Victor Domine of Bender Hammerling Group, which handles public relations for French's mustard and french fried onions. Maybe this is what those kids who wear braces get to eat -- or is Domine suggesting that folks pig out Wednesday night? It's a policy we cannot in good conscience endorse.

Halloween, it seems, is not just about pork. It's also about dairy. "We thought maybe a light and fun story that revolves around scary skeletons, building bones and calcium and vitamin D-fortified snack foods would be of interest to you," writes Kevin Hughes of Peacock Communications on behalf of Precious Cheese. Well, we guess this might go down better with the kids than the healthful celery-sticks-dipped-in-peanut-butter treat suggested by UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Personally, I’ll be giving out little boxes of raisins—sorry kids!

Boxed Rice Blues

Convenience food is tempting. Think about it, after a hard-day’s work, the gym, chasing after kids, the rush-hour commute, or whatever else consumes your time. It’s tempting to succumb to the quick-and-easy allure of convenience foods. Instead, consider this quote from Dr. Fuhrman:
Food manufacturers remove the most valuable part of the food and then add bleach, preservatives, salt, sugar, and food coloring to make breads, breakfast cereals, and other convenience foods. Yet many Americans consider such food healthy merely because it is low in fat.
And the Standard American Diet is chock full of convenience foods; canned pasta, fast food, dried macaroni and cheese, and—relevant to this post—boxed rice dishes. Karen Collins, R.D. of MSNBC agrees they’re convenient, but at a cost. Here’s an excerpt:
Boxed rice may be convenient, but these products offer little more than refined grains and lots of excess sodium. Eating a one-cup portion of rice prepared according to package directions (including the prepackaged seasonings and added margarine) can provide up to 1350 milligrams of sodium. Compare that to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommended limit of 2300 mg per day and you’re well on your way to sodium overload.

Sodium recommendations are designed to prevent or control high blood pressure and reduce risk of stomach cancer. While the guidelines are set for the general public, people who are more sensitive to the blood pressure-raising effects of sodium — namely black men and women, older adults and those already diagnosed with hypertension — are encouraged to limit sodium even further, to 1500 mg per day or less.
I used to eat a lot of this junk—packets of flavored rice and pilaf mixes—but no more! Why? Well, first let’s consider all that sodium Karen Collins brings up. Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of salt. This quote should give you his lowdown on sodium. Take a look:
High salt intake, and resultant high blood pressure later in life, does not merely increase the risk and incidence of stroke. It also can lead to kidney failure, congestive heart failure, and heart attack. Salt consumption is linked to both stomach cancer and hypertension.1 For optimal health, I recommend that no salt at all be added to any food.
And those refined grains are no better! Even if manufacturers claim they are “enriched.” Dr. Fuhrman explains all this much better than I can—time for another quote! Check it out:
White pasta, white rice and white bread are just like sugar; because their fiber has been removed, these nutrient deficient foods are absorbed too rapidly. This, in turn, will raise glucose, triglyceride, and insulin levels in your blood. Refined grains are undesirable and will sabotage your weight-loss and cholesterol-lowering efforts.
Makes me wonder how in the HECK I used to eat that stuff. My typical dinner used to be a rice-packet with a can of tuna fish thrown into the pot. I know—CRAZY! It’s hard to believe I would eat something like that, especially now that I’ve…to be continued. Continue Reading...

Hide the Veggies?

I like a good practical joke, but, I’m pretty sure if someone messed with my food they’d wake up with a knot on their forehead. Now, in the spirit of Halloween, this article from The New York Times is all about tricking kids into eating healthy food. More from the Well blog:
Cookbooks that teach parents how to hide veggies in food have hit the best-seller lists. But is tricking your kids into eating vegetables really a good idea?

“Deceptively Delicious,” by celebrity wife Jessica Seinfeld, and “The Sneaky Chef,” by Missy Chase Lapine, both offer similar advice about secretly slipping veggies into meals. Both books suggest that parents purée healthy foods like spinach, cauliflower and sweet potatoes and hide them in kid foods like macaroni and cheese or brownies…

….Susan Roberts, director of the energy metabolism laboratory at Tufts University, says parents should aim to improve the quality of the food they serve their kids — making lasagne with vegetables and wholewheat pasta, for instance. But parents shouldn’t give up on serving plain and simple vegetables, even if they have already added pureed cauliflower to the mac and cheese.

“The point of burying veggies in foods, in my view, is not to cram in veggies secretly, but to make recipes healthier so that there isn’t such a huge metabolic difference between indulgent treats and vegetables,'’ said Dr. Roberts.
Honestly, this approach means well, but come on! Is this reliable? I’d say it’s a ridiculous waste of time. Instead, teach kids the joy of eating healthfully. Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child is all about this sort of thing. Here’s a snippet:
Parents are entrusted with the responsibility of securing the selection of healthy foods for the family and preparing the food in a way that makes it desirable. Children are responsible for deciding how much they eat. If they are in an environmental of healthful foods they will have no problem regulating variety and timing. They can choose what they eat, when they eat, and if they will eat. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Don’t offer a treat because the child was good or ate well. Offer healthy treats as part of the normal well-balanced diet.

No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children. Don’t argue about what your children should and shouldn’t be eating; discuss this in private. As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not perfect either. For example, if the parents decide that an unhealthy food or a restaurant meal is acceptable for the children once per week, then that goes for the adults, too. Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.
Actually, Robin Quivers from The Howard Stern show touched on this a couple weeks ago and she also thought it was a total waste or time. And Robin would know! She recently took charge of her life and adopted a health-promoting vegetable-based diet. Congratulations Robin!

Spray on Pancakes?

I’m usually proud to be an American—but now isn’t one of those times! ParentDish acquaints us with Batter Blaster, pancakes in a can. You have to see it, to believe it:
I guess if you don't mind missing out on all the learning and just want to get to the cooking part, Batter Blaster is the way to go. It's ready-made pancake batter in a spray can -- think Easy Cheese. Now, lest you worry that this is full of chemicals and preservatives, please note that Batter Blaster is an organic product.

Well, at least its better than Baseball’s Worst Burger—right?

Stop Hiding, Go Veggie

Now, Dr. Fuhrman’s approach to diet is not necessarily vegan or vegetarian. Heck, just look at me. I’m an Eat to Liver and I eat fish and I know others who eat eggs and chicken. However there are certainly some advantages to going veggie. From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:
The China Project confirmed that there were virtually no heart attacks in populations that consume a lifelong vegetarian diet and almost no heart attacks in populations consuming a diet that is rich in natural plant foods and receives less than 10 percent of its calories from animal foods.

My observation of the worldwide data is supported by studies of American vegetarians and nonvegetarians.1 These studies show that the major risk factors associated with heart disease — smoking, physical inactivity, and animal-product consumption — are avoidable. Every heart attack death is even more of a tragedy because it likely could have been prevented.
Pretty cool—right? Well, the coolness train isn’t about to pull out of the station anytime soon. Get a load of this from AlterNet, “15 Reasons to Stop Hiding from Vegetarianism.” Personally, I could never go total vegetarian—I love sushi too much! But check it out anyway:
1. You'll ward off disease. Vegetarian diets are more healthful than the average American diet, particularly in preventing, treating or reversing heart disease and reducing the risk of cancer. A low-fat vegetarian diet is the single most effective way to stop the progression of coronary artery disease or prevent it entirely. Cardiovascular disease kills 1 million Americans annually and is the leading cause of death in the United States. But the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease is lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, says Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss. A vegetarian diet is inherently healthful because vegetarians consume no animal fat and less cholesterol and instead consume more fiber and more antioxidant-rich produce -- another great reason to listen to Mom and eat your veggies!

2. You'll keep your weight down. The standard American diet -- high in saturated fats and processed foods and low in plant-based foods and complex carbohydrates -- is making us fat and killing us slowly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a division of the CDC, the National Center for Health Statistics, 64 percent of adults and 15 percent of children aged 6 to 19 are overweight and are at risk of weight-related ailments including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A study conducted from 1986 to 1992 by Dean Ornish, MD, president and director of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, found that overweight people who followed a low-fat, vegetarian diet lost an average of 24 pounds in the first year and kept off that weight 5 years later. They lost the weight without counting calories or carbs and without measuring portions or feeling hungry.
And yes, it’s always cool to find Dr. Fuhrman quoted somewhere.

(via SoulVeggie)
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Eating and Headaches

When I was a kid I used to get a lot of headaches—not sure why—but ever since I upgraded my diet I NEVER get them anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had one. I wonder why? Here’s Dr. Fuhrman on the subject:
The major cause of both tension headaches and migraines is the retention of toxins or tissue irritants within the central nervous system. These chemical irritants may cause an oversensitivity of nerve tissue to other stimuli. It has also been shown that tissue waste, such as nitric oxide and other irritating chemicals, can be released from both the nerves and blood vessels in the central nervous systems.1 These recent findings illustrate the biochemical players associated with detoxification in the central nervous systems. Withdrawal from toxins either taken orally or self-produced within the body is a form of detoxification. This merely means the body is actively engaged in an effort to lower the levels of waste retained in our cells. Sometimes this release of waste from cells can be painful; nevertheless, it has a positive benefit to the body. Our cells and the tissue they comprise must continually strive to maintain their purity to prevent early cellular degeneration and premature cell death.

The relationship between food triggers and migraines has been the subject of much debate, with varying results from medical researchers. Headache specialists such as Seymour Diamond, director of the Diamond Headache Clinic of Columbus Hospital, report that about 30 percent of patients can identify food triggers.2

My experience in treating migraine and severe-headache patients with a more comprehensive nutritional approach has shown that 90 to 95 percent of patients are able to remain headache-free after the first three-month period. These patients avoid common migraine triggers, but also in the healing phase they adhere to a strict natural-food vegan diet of primarily fruits and vegetables rich in natural starches like potatoes and brown rice. These patients must avoid all packaged and processed foods, which are notorious for containing hidden food additives, even though they are not disclosed on the labels. They also avoid all added salt.
Hungry for more headache info? Check out this post from The New York Times blog Domestic Disturbances. Here’s Judith Warner with The Migraine Diet:
All this because I had a migraine. In fact, I was on day six of a migraine that would, by day seven, have me dissolving into tears in between the taped segments of my radio show. (Think Holly Hunter. Think “Broadcast News.” The show went on, seamlessly.)

I was suffering like this because I was Taking Control of my life. I’d recently read “Heal Your Headache,” by the Johns Hopkins University neurologist David Buchholz. And now I was following his “1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain.”

In Dr. Buchholz’s view, chronic migraine sufferers like me — I average around seven to twelve headaches a month — are, very often, victims of their own past treatment successes. Triptans, the new-ish class of drugs that bind to serotonin receptors and can work wonders when taken early in migraine attacks, cause rebound headaches, he says, if you take them more than two days a month. So do over-the-counter painkillers and stronger stuff like codeine and oxycodone.

Step 1 in his plan, then, involves removing such “quick fix” drugs from your life. Step 2 is about recognizing your migraine “triggers” and removing the ones – like certain foods, alcohol and caffeine – that you can do something about. (As opposed to the ones – like changes in barometric pressure, work deadlines and mothers-in-law — that you can’t do anything about.) Step 3 is daily preventive medicine – but the idea, in Buchholz’s book, is that if you do well enough at Steps 1 and 2, you might not have to go to Step 3.
I’m not sure whether or not Dr. Fuhrman would agree with everything Dr. Buchholz’s is talking about, but, its good to see some attention being paid to diet as a cause of chronic headaches and migraines—don’t you think?
Continue Reading...


Bad day for beef and toys! First, a Florida firm recalls beef over E. coli fear. Reuters is on it:
A Florida company recalled 8,200 pounds of frozen ground beef because the meat may be contaminated with the debilitating E.coli bacteria, the government's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Thursday.

The FSIS, an office under the U.S. Agriculture Department, said Blue Ribbon Meats of Hialeah, Florida, voluntarily recalled the 10-pound and 20-pound boxes of seasoned beef patties and meatloaf patties.

It was the fifth recall caused by suspected E.coli this month and follows the recall at Topps Meat Co of 21.7 million pounds of beef linked to 30 cases of E.coli-related illnesses, the fifth largest beef or poultry recall in U.S. history.
And, the U.S. has recalled more Chinese-made products for lead in paint. Reuters again:
The recall of roughly 665,000 items announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) includes about 38,000 Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boats from Mattel Inc's Fisher-Price division.

The boats were sold at retail stores nationwide from June through October, and the CPSC said surface paint contains excessive levels of lead.

Also recalled were about 142,000 Halloween pails sold at Family Dollar Stores Inc from August through October. The CPSC said green paint on the pails contains amounts of lead that violate U.S. standards for lead paint.
When will it be safe to go into the supermarket and toy store again?

The NYC Calorie War Continues

Back in September we learned that a judge stopped the effort to get calorie-content on fast food restaurant menus in NYC. The AFP reported:
"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."
Never say die. According to the Associated Press city health officials are gearing up to give it another try. David B. Caruso reports:
City health officials announced Wednesday that they hope to revive their stalled plan to force fast-food chains to add calorie counts to the big menu boards that hang above their counters.

The city's original effort to put calories on menus was struck down by a judge in September, but Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said the regulation has been reworked and is ready for a second try.

"People deserve to have more information when they are ordering food," he said.
Honestly, while it’s a noble effort, will it really make a difference?

Chocolate Craving Conundrum

Diet Blog takes a look at research examining cravings, specifically those of the chocolate variety. Here’s a taste:
The participants were asked to "either suppress all thoughts about chocolate, or talk about how much they liked it." After this they were told to choose between two brands of chocolates.
Women who had tried to suppress their cravings ate on average eight chocolates, while those who had talked freely about it ate five.

Men did not show the same effect, with the group told to talk about the snack eating more.

So women who were trying desperately hard not to think about chocolate ended up consuming almost twice as much!
I get this. Even I have the occasional chocolate desire. What do I do? I just keep in mind this section of Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live. Check it out:
Can’t I eat chocolate, ice cream, or other junk food ever again?

You can eat anything you desire, on occasion, but just don’t make a habit of it. Try to be very strict the first three months in order to document how much weight you can expect to lose when you eat sensibly. We are all tempted by these treats. It is easier to resist if you get them out of your house completely. All cheats should be done outside of your home. If possible, associate with friends who will support you in recovering your health — or may join you in trying to be healthy.

Once you regain your health and feel great, you are less likely to crave these foods or be so tempted. Then, when you do deviate from a healthful diet, it is likely you will feel poorly, have a persistent dry mouth, and not sleep well. If you go off your diet and eat junk food on occasion, mark it on your calendar and consider it a special occasion that you won’t repeat too often.

Nobody is perfect; however, do not let your weight yo-yo. You must adhere to the plan strictly enough so that you never put back on whatever weight you do take off.
If this isn’t encouraging enough, you can lose your mind and take a Chocolate-Packed Vacation—eek!

Taking on Energy Drinks

According to EMaxHealth, health experts are preparing for war against energy drinks. Here’s a bit:
Youth gave law enforcement officers and teachers energy drinks, some with alcohol some without, to see if they can tell the difference between an energy drink containing alcohol and one without. "These drinks taste very similar to each other. Most adults we have found can't tell which have alcohol in them," said Mary Kate Foster, chair of the San Diego County Youth Council. "On top of that, the alcohol industry labeling practices make it too hard to tell the difference between drinks that contain alcohol and those that don't. It's not surprising some parents are accidentally purchasing these items for their kids."

Alcoholic energy drinks are prepackaged beverages that contain not only alcohol but also caffeine and other stimulants. Caffeine, a stimulant, masks the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Alcohol is associated with alcohol-related traffic accidents, violence, sexual assault, and suicide. "Alcopops and other products like alcohol-laced energy drinks have special appeal to young people. We know that teenagers and young adults are the core consumer group for these products," says Judy Walsh-Jackson of The California Coalition on Alcopops and Youth. According to a recent report published by The Marin Institute thirty-one percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and thirty-four percent of 18- to 24-year-olds report regular consumption of energy drinks. "Alcohol problems among youth constitute a public health and safety crisis of major proportions. Alcohol in energy drinks creates a dangerous mix," concluded Ms. Walsh-Jackson.

Urban Camo, Junk Food Style!

Oh those zany Japanese are at it again! Next time you’re in Tokyo and you think you’re being followed, just dash behind a corner and unfurl your vending machine camouflage. Oddly, Martin Fackler of The New York Times reports:
Deftly, Ms. Tsukioka, a 29-year-old experimental fashion designer, lifted a flap on her skirt to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road, she showed how a woman walking alone could elude pursuers — by disguising herself as a vending machine.

The wearer hides behind the sheet, printed with an actual-size photo of a vending machine. Ms. Tsukioka’s clothing is still in development, but she already has several versions, including one that unfolds from a kimono and a deluxe model with four sides for more complete camouflaging.

Pretty amazing—right? Now, I sent this link to a friend and here’s the brief dialogue that followed. Take a look:
My friend: I can’t imagine that actually working.

Me: Maybe only if the person chasing you is blind, or, eats like me.

My friend: I would love to see someone in action with that outfit.

Me: Well, Halloween is right around the corner.
Be sure to check out the NYT Slideshow for action shots of this torrential brainstorm—egad!

(via the amazing Diet Blog)

Salty Salted Salt

Diet Blog takes a look at all the hubbub surrounding salt. Here’s a pinch of it:
Since the late 1970's, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has been asking the FDA to limit the amount of salt in processed food. In 2005, they filed yet another petition, asking the agency to revoke the designation of salt as "generally recognized as safe." Other changes the group requested: to set ceilings on the amount of sodium permitted in processed foods; to require a health warning on packaged salt; and to reduce the Daily Value for sodium…

… CSPI also has an informational pamphlet available, cheerfully titled "Salt: The Forgotten Killer," which points out the huge health problems we have in this country due to our excessive sodium consumption. (Too much salt leads to hypertension, which in turn leads to heart attacks and strokes). And it's not just CSPI, a reliably feisty advocacy group--the American Heart Association also agrees we are eating too much and really need to cut down.

On the other hand, The Salt Institute has compiled a list of studies they believe show otherwise. (Who is The Salt Institute? Well, they're a nonprofit association of salt producers. It's up to you whether you decide to take their advice with... well, a grain of salt).
Well, you certainly won’t find Dr. Fuhrman jumping on the salt bandwagon. Check this out:
Excess salt, outside of what is contained in natural foods, is likely to increase your risk of developing disease. Salt consumption is linked to both stomach cancer and hypertension.1 For optimal health, I recommend that no salt at all be added to any food. The famous DASH study clearly indicates that Americans consume five to ten times as much as they need and that high sodium levels over the years has a predictable effect on raising blood pressure.2
Not to mention that he considers salt one of the worst foods you can eat. Look:
Worst Seven Foods for Health and Longevity
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
But according to Dr. Fuhrman our salt craving has been around a long time. Another quote:
Salt addiction has developed throughout civilization in the last 5000 years, creating a worldwide epidemic of high blood pressure and resultant strokes. Besides fatigue, cravings, and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, salt use gradually deadens your taste.3 The more salt you consume, the more you lose the ability to appreciate the subtle flavors of natural food. As salt deadens taste, it makes you want more and more salt to get back some of the missing flavor.
Truthfully, when you kick salt, food does taste a whole lot better.
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Bad Beef...We Were Warned

Leading up to the recent beef patty recall, there apparently was a lot of warning signs that something just wasn’t right. Christopher Drew and Andrew Martin of The New York Times investigate:
As output rose, federal regulators said in interviews, Topps Meat factory was neglecting critical safeguards meant to protect consumers. Three big batches of hamburger contaminated with a potentially deadly germ emerged from the plant, making at least 40 people sick and prompting the second-largest beef recall in history.

Topps is now out of business, but the case points up broader problems in the nation’s system for protecting consumers from food-borne illness…

…Additionally, Topps, like many other beef processors, had bought an increasing amount of meat from overseas. Some types of meat from foreign countries — where E. coli has not been prevalent — are not required to be tested for contamination. But the Agriculture Department said the Topps case had prompted it to consider requiring such checks.

In response to the problems, the Agriculture Department directed its inspectors on Oct. 12 to conduct a nationwide survey of what meat plants are doing to fight E. coli., and it plans to send special assessment teams into any plants that seem to be lagging to urge them to adopt more stringent measures.
In my opinion, this is just another example of profit over social responsibility.

Starbuckets of Caffeine

Let’s see. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in close to two years, maybe more. Why you ask? Well, Dr. Fuhrman considers caffeine one of those nasty foods and a major contributor to disease. Time for a couple quotes:
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 disease2...

…Caffeine has been a controversial topic for decades. Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.3 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible. The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.
Now, this summer the top-notch Diet Blog showed us The 10 Most Caffeinated Diet Drinks, but get ready for this. Get a load of the SERIOUS caffeine load in many of Starbucks’ java concoctions. From Diet Blog:

Egad! So glad I don’t drink coffee anymore!
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Something Fishy Here...

A couple of weeks ago a report came out urging pregnant women to eat fish—I know, crazy—but anyway, here’s a refresher. From the Reuters report:
Women who want to become pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding should eat at least 12 ounces of fatty fish such as tuna every week to help themselves and their babies, experts will recommend later on Thursday.

Fish including mackerel, sardines, light tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- components of fat known to help brain development. Walnuts, flaxseed oil and leafy green vegetables also contain the compounds.

Women need the nutrients to prevent postpartum depression and babies need them for brain and motor skill development, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition says.

The coalition, which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says "90 percent of women are consuming less than the recommended amount of fish."

But these fish can also carry high levels of mercury, which is a brain and nerve toxin.
So why is it crazy for pregnant women to eat fish? Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in his book Disease-Proof Your Child. This is a solid quote, here's it again:
Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.1 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.2 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous. Researchers are also concerned about other toxins concentrated in fish that can cause brain damage way before the cancers caused by chemical-carrying fish appear.
Now, soon after the report came out I began to read some strange things. Like maybe there was another motive here, or maybe, all this was designed to serve a higher master. So naturally I jumped out of my boots when Dr. Fuhrman sent this over. Marian Burros of The New York Times offers up “Industry Money Fans Debate on Fish.” Here’s a bit:
The coalition based its advice on a finding by the Maternal Nutrition Group, made up of physicians, dietitians and nutritionists. It relied on recent research, including a study in the British medical journal Lancet, showing that the benefits for babies of omega-3 fatty acids and other substances in fish outweighed the risks of mercury. Another study showed that fears about mercury had kept some women from eating any fish.

But in an 1,800-word response to its critics, the coalition acknowledged that a member of the Maternal Nutrition Group, Dr. James McGregor, a visiting professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, had gotten the National Fisheries Institute to provide $1,000 honoraria to each of the group’s 14 members, with an extra $500 each to the group’s four executive committee members.

The National Fisheries Institute also gave the coalition $60,000 for its education campaign. The coalition’s leadership said that the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller “facilitated this group sharing its findings” with the coalition and is working to promote the recommendations.

Burson-Marsteller which represents the fisheries institute, had worked for the U.S. Tuna Foundation before it joined with the institute.
Honestly, it’s not all that shocking. America has a chronic problem with lobbyists, in all facets of society. This controversy reminds me a lot of yesterday’s post Medicine, Man, and Big Pharma.
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South Beach: Vending Junk

Fads love them or hate them—they sell—Beanie Babies, Pokemon, The Atkins Diet, and Slap Bracelets all huge money makers, and in my humble opinion, giant wastes of time. You can certainly add The South Beach Diet to that list too, and, the new South Beach vending machines. Yup, it’s sad but true. Diet Blog is on it:
Kraft Foods is rolling out a vending machine stocked with South Beach Diet branded food.

Apparently the machines are already in service in Florida. The machines are only stocked with foods that are compliant with the Arthur Agatston's South Beach Diet.

This includes: Planters nuts, Breakstone's low-fat cottage cheese, Crystal Light drinks, Jell-O sugar-free gelatin snacks, Nabisco Wheat Thins and the new South Beach Diet lunch wraps.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Truth be told, I don’t know that much about The South Beach Diet—I’m not into bandwagons—but Dr. Fuhrman considers South Beach to be just another ineffective approach to a healthy diet. Why? He points out a major reason in this post debunking the dietary misinformation of Joseph Mercola, D.O. Check it out:
I am not arguing that a vegan diet is healthier or will lead to a longer life compared to someone who eats a small amount of animal products, such as a little fish or eggs in their diet. But I am arguing that as the amount of animal products increases in a diet-style forcing natural plant foods off the plate to become a smaller percentage of total caloric intake, the modern diseases that kill over 80 percent of Americans (heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes) will occur in greater and greater likelihood in every genetic type. My review of over 60,000 articles in the scientific literature supports the conclusion that animal products if consumed should be held to a maximum of ten percent of total caloric intake, reduced from 40 percent in America today and certainly significantly reduced from 60 percent on the Zone and South Beach diets and 80 percent of total caloric intake on the Atkins type diets, and somewhere in between these level on Dr. Mercola's high protein type diet. Dr. Mercola's recommendation are somewhat similar to the Weston Price Foundation, another group that advocates a diet rich in meats based on distorted science and old scientific views that have been disproven by the preponderance of the evidence.
I’ve said it before, I’m a layman not an expert, but from my experience managing this blog I have learned one important overriding fact: the more animal products you eat, the shorter your life and the higher your risk of disease. Again, this isn’t my opinion. I picked it up from Dr. Fuhrman and the graphs in these two posts clearly illustrate this relationship. Take a look:
The trouble is fads sell…truth doesn’t.

Chocolate Good?

How do you feel about milk? Well, if you grew up in the US you probably think it’s a wholesome part of the good ole’ American meal. But, the truth is, milk really isn’t fit for human consumption. Dr. Fuhrman tells us why in his book Disease-Proof Your Child:
Milk, which is designed by nature for the rapidly growing cow, has about half its calories supplied from fat. The fatty component is concentrated more to make cheese and butter. Milk and cheese are the foods Americans encourage their children to eat, believing them to be healthy foods. Fifty years of heavy advertising by an economically powerful industry has shaped the public's perception, illustrating the power of one-sided advertising, but the reality and true health effects on our children is a different story. Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases. If we expect our children to resist many common illnesses, they simply must consume less milk, cheese, and butter. Dairy foods should be consumed in limited quantity or not at all.
Granted, Dr. Fuhrman’s my boss, but truth be told. I’ve never found anything appetizing about milk, and, I still think it’s gross when people drink a big frothy glass of milk with dinner—yuck! Speaking of gross, get a load of Mutant Milk:

But evidently some “experts” think not just milk, but chocolate milk is a “good-for-you” treat. Yeah, I know, I hit the ceiling too. EMaxHealth has more:
Chocolate milk is a healthy treat in disguise. This Official Drink of Halloween has the chocolaty taste that witches, ghosts and superheroes adore, but behind its tasty chocolaty costume, chocolate milk is packed with calcium and other essential nutrients that growing kids need at Halloween or any time of year.

"Lowfat chocolate milk is one of those rare treats that kids love and moms can feel good about," said registered dietitian and mother-of-two Liz Weiss, co-author of The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers. "It's a nutrient-packed form of chocolate that always seems to satisfy. Plus, chocolate milk is such a better alternative than sugar-filled sodas and fruit drinks that contain little or no nutrients."

In fact, chocolate milk may be one answer to help curb the excessive consumption of nutrient-void soft drinks, which some experts say is a major contributor to childhood obesity in this country. Studies have shown that kids who drink flavored milk tend to drink fewer sweetened soft drinks and fruit drinks, which are the No. 1 source of calories and added sugars in a child's diet.
Despite this blather, Dr. Fuhrman makes it very clear. Milk and dairy consumption can set you up for a whole host of diseases. Take Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and ovarian cancer for example. Take a look:
Parkinson’s disease
Recent studies have shown that men who consume more dairy products and who are big milk drinkers have a higher occurrence of Parkinson’s disease.

Honglei Chen, M.D., of Harvard University reported his findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition (December 2004) and presented a few other studies, one of which was the Parkinson’s Disease Honolulu Study, that showed the same association. The interesting finding was that it was not the fat in milk and dairy that were implicated. Usually, the high saturated fat content of dairy is blamed for its disease risk. But in this case, according to Chen, fat was “out of the picture.” Calcium and added vitamin D also were unrelated. That means something else in dairy is the culprit. The relationship between Parkinson’s and milk consumption has been suspected for decades1 and was first reported by researchers a few years ago. Chen’s and other recent prospective studies have confirmed the earlier, less definitive findings.

Heart disease
A related recent finding is that deaths from heart disease also are strongly associated with milk drinking in adulthood. Of particular interest is that (as is the case with Parkinson’s) the association is with the non-fat portion of milk. Non-fat and skim milk consumption shows the same association as that of whole milk. Researchers found that heart disease death is strongly associated with circulating antibodies against milk. These antibodies are found to bind to human lymphocytes and platelets, thus increasing the likelihood of clot formation. The researchers also concluded that the non-fat aspects of milk have atherogenic effects (plaque-building) both biochemical and immunological, and the simultaneous attack from all these directions explains why milk was found to have such a strong effect on death rate.2

Ovarian cancer
A recent study of 61,000 women found that those who consumed more than 2 glasses of milk per day had twice the risk of serous ovarian cancer than women who consumed fewer than two glasses. The risk of those who drank two glasses a day was double that of women who rarely drank milk.3 Lactose in milk seemed to be the primary culprit. Again this larger study confirms earlier studies with the same findings.
Heck, who needs dairy! According to Dr. Fuhrman vegetables pack all the calcium you’ll ever need. Here’s more from his book Eat to Live:
Green vegetables, beans, tofu, sesame seeds, and even oranges contain lots of usable calcium, without problems associated with diary. Keep in mind that you retain the calcium better and just do not need as much when you don’t consume a diet heavy in animal products and sodium, sugar, and caffeine…

…Many green vegetables have calcium-absorption rates of over 50 percent, compared with about 32 percent for milk.4 Additionally since animal protein induces calcium excretion in the urine, the calcium retention from vegetables is higher. All green vegetables are high in calcium.
So instead of serving your kids chocolate milk, give this nutrient-dense chocolate smoothie a try. Enjoy:
Chocolate Smoothie
5 ounces organic baby spinach
2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup soy milk
1 medium banana
3 medjool dates or 6 deglet noor dates
2 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrman's Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
Blend all ingredients in a Vita-Mix or other powerful blender until smooth and creamy. Serves 2.
See, you don’t need milk to have a good time!
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Flaxseed Oil and Fish Oil

Astrid Pujari, M.D. of The Seattle Times insists flaxseed oil and fish oil can help people live longer. Here’s why:
Eating fish at least two times a week seems to decrease the risk of heart disease for people who have never had a heart problem. The research is mostly from population studies, though, which are not considered the gold standard in medicine when it comes to "proving" something.

On the other hand, the data on fish oil is strong for people who have established heart disease. One large study from Italy found that people who took fish oil after a heart attack were less likely to die. Flaxseed oil has not been studied as well as fish oil for heart disease. But it does seem to do things that may benefit the heart based on some small studies. For example, it seems to help increase the elasticity of blood vessels, lower inflammation and make the blood less prone to clotting.

In addition, there have been large population studies that suggest that eating high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid — which is found in flaxseed oil — lowers the risk of heart disease. For instance, one study found that high ALA intake over about six years lowered the risk of a heart attack by as much as 59 percent.
Dr. Fuhrman’s not thrilled about either oil. Take a look:
Flaxseed oil
There is no need to consume flaxseed oil. The best way to get omega-3 fatty acids is to consume whole flaxseed. Plus, when you consume whole flaxseed, not only do you get the best plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, you also get the richest source of dietary lignans. Lignans are converted by bacteria in the intestinal tract to horomone-like compounds called phytoestrogens that have protective effects against hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. In fact, consuming ground flaxseed has been shown to have beneficial properties for prevention and treatment of both breast and prostate cancer.

Fish oil
Several studies have indicated that both fish and fish oil supplements are prone to contamination with toxic materials. For example fish and fish oils have been shown to contain large concentrations of dioxins and PCBs because the dumping of toxic waste and raw sewage into our oceans has taken a toll. Lipid peroxide contamination occurring with aging of the oil further complicates the supposed health benefits of fish oil consumption. Fish and fish oils also contains mercury. Data from the Center for Disease Control indicates that one in 12 women of childbearing age in the United States has unsafe mercury levels, and their threshold for safety is high. The major contributor to body mercury load is fish and fish oils, not dental fillings. Multiple studies have illustrated most of the body's mercury load is from the consumption of fish.

Health Points: Tuesday

J&B Meats Corp. is recalling 173,554 pounds (78.7 tonnes) of frozen ground beef products sold under "Topps" and "Sam's Choice" labels due to possible E. coli contamination, the U.S. government said this weekend.

The Coal Valley, Illinois-based company produced the patties in June and distributed them to retail stores nationwide, the U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, said in a statement.
Scientists reported progress yesterday toward one of medicine’s long-sought goals: the development of a blood test that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, and even do so years before truly debilitating memory loss.

A team of scientists, based mainly at Stanford University, developed a test that was about 90 percent accurate in distinguishing the blood of people with Alzheimer’s from the blood of those without the disease. The test was about 80 percent accurate in predicting which patients with mild memory loss would go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease two to six years later.
A diverse group of low-income women participated in the study, Dr. Alyson B. Moadel of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, noted in an interview with Reuters Health. "Our patients really enjoyed the yoga classes, it was very well received by them," she said. "It really fit in with their own cultural interests."

There is mounting evidence that yoga can improve quality of life in both healthy and chronically ill people, Moadel and her team point out in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, while quality of life may be particularly affected for cancer survivors who belong to ethnic minorities and other underserved minority populations.
The ban on phthalate makes California the first U.S. state to impose severe limits on a chemical that is widely used in baby bottles, soft baby books, teething rings, plastic bath ducks and other toys, said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, the bill's author.

"I think parents will be comforted that when they buy one of these chewy products it will be safe," Ma told The Associated Press on Sunday after the bill was signed into law.
New suspected cases of foot and mouth disease in sheep have been reported in Britain, the environment ministry said on Monday, in another county from the confirmed cases in this year's outbreak.

A three-kilometre (1.8-mile) temporary control zone has been imposed around premises close to the town of Rye, near the southern English coast, after sheep showed possible symptoms of the disease. Tests were being carried out.
Good news for us early birds who grit their teeth to get through the afternoon because our evolutionary bio-rhythms are at their lowest ebb.

Research by Liverpool’s John Moores University has shown that the mere thought of an afternoon siesta can help reduce the risk of a heart attack. The length of the nap is irrelevant as it is in the minutes just before we drop off when the beneficial changes to our body take place.
President Hu Jintao said Monday China would step up efforts to improve food safety and prevent the spread of animal diseases, in a speech opening the Communist Party's five-yearly Congress.

"We will intensify efforts to prevent animal and plant epidemic diseases and improve the quality and safety of agricultural products," Hu said.

Later in the speech, he said: "We must ensure food and drug safety."
A turning point came in 2002, scientists conclude Monday in the annual "Report to the Nation" on cancer. Between 2002 and 2004, death rates dropped by an average of 2.1 percent a year.

That may not sound like much, but between 1993 and 2001, deaths rates dropped on average 1.1 percent a year.

The big change was a two-pronged gain against colorectal cancer.

The New York Times: Diet and Fat

John Tierney of The New York Times examines the debate surrounding dietary fat. Here’s a bit:

Gary Taubes demonstrates in his new book meticulously debunking diet myths, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” (Knopf, 2007). The notion that fatty foods shorten your life began as a hypothesis based on dubious assumptions and data; when scientists tried to confirm it they failed repeatedly…

…In the case of fatty foods, that confident voice belonged to Ancel Keys, a prominent diet researcher a half-century ago (the K-rations in World War II were said to be named after him). He became convinced in the 1950s that Americans were suffering from a new epidemic of heart disease because they were eating more fat than their ancestors.

There were two glaring problems with this theory, as Mr. Taubes, a correspondent for Science magazine, explains in his book. First, it wasn’t clear that traditional diets were especially lean. Nineteenth-century Americans consumed huge amounts of meat; the percentage of fat in the diet of ancient hunter-gatherers, according to the best estimate today, was as high or higher than the ratio in the modern Western diet…

…To bolster his theory, Dr. Keys in 1953 compared diets and heart disease rates in the United States, Japan and four other countries. Sure enough, more fat correlated with more disease (America topped the list). But critics at the time noted that if Dr. Keys had analyzed all 22 countries for which data were available, he would not have found a correlation. (And, as Mr. Taubes notes, no one would have puzzled over the so-called French Paradox of foie-gras connoisseurs with healthy hearts.)

Yeah, this made me say, “What the—?” So, here’s what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about it:

Amazing how stupid people are. Gary Taubes is a known Atkins' devotee and nutritionally naïve and led by the Atkins' crowd. Now he has his own book. All I can say is that this makes me look like a genius comparatively when I am only stating the obvious. All I can say is:

Health = Nutrition / Calories

Not sure what this means? Well, Dr. Fuhrman explains it in his book Eat to Live. Take a look:

Your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your intake of calories. Health = Nutrition / Calories, or simply 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.

Oh! And for more on the Atkins foolishness, be sure to read these previous postings. Enjoy:

And don’t forget about our friends over at!

Fat and Ovarian Cancer

If you read this blog often enough, you’ll soon realize that consuming too much animal products, too often is hardly health-promoting—but don’t take my word for it! I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain. Here’s a quote:
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…

…In rural China where the diets are nearly vegetarian, the average cholesterol levels are low and you see lower cancer rates, not higher. Those with the lowest cholesterol in the China study actually had the lowest cancer rates as well. Obviously, there is a difference between one who has a low cholesterol because his dietary style earns it, and one whose cholesterol seems unjustifiably low on a modern heart-disease-promoting diet that almost everyone in the west eats…

…Worldwide, there is a linear relationship between higher-fat animal products, saturated fat intake, and breast cancer.2 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.3
Now, if you’re still a non-believer in the power of fruits and vegetables, check out this report in HealthDay News. According to a new study plant fiber and less fat helps prevent ovarian cancer—who would have thought? Read on:
On average, the women had managed to add one serving of fruits or vegetables to their daily diet by end of the six-year follow-up. They had also reduced their daily fat consumption by about 8 percent.

The findings support "the idea that lifestyle changes can be made with intensive help," said Dr. Robert Morgan, section head of medical gynecologic oncology, City of Hope Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif. He was not involved in the study.

Morgan noted that many of his patients ask him about ways they can reduce their cancer risk through diet and exercise. But he said he's found that "it's difficult to change habits, especially if they are longstanding."

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cancer killer of women. Some 20,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with the disease every year, and about 15,000 women will die from it during the same time frame.
Seems like a pretty sweet deal to me. Fruits and veggies taste great, and, they’re great for you! Kind of win-win—know what I mean?
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Poultry Pot Pie Problems

More reason to avoid prepackaged processed foods. Reuters reports that people should avoid eating pot pies linked to cases of salmonella. Here’s more:
The USDA's public health alert applied to Banquet brand turkey and chicken pot pies and store-brand not-ready-to-eat pot pies with "P-9" printed on the side of the package, said USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

FSIS said it was investigating a Missouri establishment that voluntarily ceased operations on Tuesday "due to reported illnesses linked to their products." FSIS said it conferred over the weekend with public health officials, who said their work suggested a meat product was a potential source of contamination. FSIS sent investigators to the plant on Monday.

Consumers should not eat the turkey and chicken pot pies covered by the alert, said FSIS, until it determines the source, products and potential production dates of contamination and proper cooking instructions.

Lard Bucket!

Check out this photo of a big ole’ bucket of lard. Not Rural Vegan, the actual bucket—sorry dude. Take a look:

The ingredients are even ickier! Look:

When I used to work at a grocery store I hated stocking this stuff—bleh!

(via SoulVeggie)

Eating Low-Nutrient Foods

The accepted wisdom is that the “average” woman should consume fewer than 1,500 calories daily, and a man fewer than 2,300 calories. To hold to the 90 percent rule, women should not consume more than 150 calories per day of low-nutrient food, or about 1,000 calories weekly. Men should not consume more than 200 calories of low-nutrient food daily, or about 1,500 calories weekly.
100 Calories of Low-Nutrient Foods Equals
  • 2.5 teaspoons of olive oil
  • Half a bagel
  • Half a cup of pasta
  • One small cookie
  • 2 ounces of broiled chicken or turkey breast
  • 3 ounces of fish
  • 1.5 ounces of red meat
  • One thin slice of cheese
  • One cup of 1 percent or skim milk
For those who have a lot of weight to lose, eat less than 100 calories per day of low-nutrient foods.

Chewing the Omega Fat

Finding quality sources of omega fat is an interesting pursuit—with lots of conflicting messages. Now, the media tends to beat the fish and oils drum. Take this article by Astrid Pujari, M.D. of The Seattle Times for example. Here’s a bit:
Flaxseed oil has a basic type of omega 3 fat known as alpha-linolenic acid. Your body can use it to make two different types of omega 3 fats known as EPA and DHA.

Now let's say you want a shortcut. Instead of your body making the fats yourself, you go to the store and buy them ready-made. That is what buying fish oil is like…

…So to be sure they are getting enough EPA and DHA, many people just choose to eat cold-water fish or take fish oil. Examples of cold-water fish include salmon, sardines, herring, kipper and mackerel. Shellfish such as oysters, shrimp and scallops contain lesser amounts.

Flaxseed oil also has health benefits that may be different — or even complementary — from those of fish oil. That makes sense because it has a different type of omega 3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid.
Okay, if there’s one thing I learned about this topic is that it’s more complicated than it seems. You’ve got to be really careful about which sources of omega fat you choose. First let’s look at flaxseed oil. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
I do not recommend the use of flaxseed oil or flaxseed oil supplements. Flaxseed oil is pure fat and virtually devoid of all or most of the nutrients (except for vitamin E) found in ground flaxseed. Also, flaxseed oil is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and there is evidence that extracted PUFA oils may suppress the immune system, and possibly increase the growth rate of certain cancers and/or tumors. If you want the benefit of flaxseed, eat the ground seeds and avoid the oil.
That was rather blunt—scratch that idea! Alright, moving on. Now what about fish oil? Not to spoil the surprise, but, Dr. Fuhrman has more than a few choices words for most fish oils; quite the fishy predicament. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
One problem with fish oils is that much of the fat has already turned rancid. If you have ever cut open a capsule and tasted it, you will find it can taste like gasoline. Many people complain of burping, indigestion and of fish breath. I have also observed that rancidity of this fish fat places a stress on the liver. Patients of mine with abnormal liver function noted on their blood tests when consuming fish oil have had these tests return to normal when the fish oils were stopped.
Fish oil no. Flaxseed oil no. What’s left? Surely consuming whole fish has got to be a good idea. After all, just last week a health coalition recommended women eat fish while pregnant. Time for Dr. Fuhrman to chime in again, take a look:
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that interfere with blood clotting much the same way aspirin does. Once you have significant atherosclerosis, it is helpful to take such anti-clotting agents, especially if you continue a dangerous diet. These fish derived-fats also have some effect on protecting the arterial walls from damage from other fats.

However, the best way to prevent a heart attack or stroke is to follow a high-nutrient diet with little or no animal products, thereby ensuring that such blockages don't develop in the first place. Then eating fish won't matter. In fact, the reason fish-derived fats, EPA and DHA, are not considered essential fats is that almost all people have enzymes to convert the plant-derived omega-3 fat rapidly into EPA and DHA.1

Fish is a double-edged sword, especially because fish has been shown to increase heart attack risk if polluted with mercury.2 It seems that the cardioprotective effects of eating a little fish is lost when you eat lots of fish, most likely because lots of fish exposes you to high mercury levels, which can promote lipid peroxidation.3 Lipid peroxidation plays a major role in the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Rather daunting on all fronts. So then, if fish, fish oil, and flaxseed oil all have problems, what are good sources of health omega fats, DHA, and EPA? Rather than beat around the bush, here’s more from Dr. Fuhrman:
Flax Seeds are rich in lignans and omega-3 fatty acids, and scientific studies have confirmed that flax seeds have a positive influence on everything from cholesterol levels and constipation to cancer and heart disease. Keep in mind that the scientifically documented benefits from flax seeds come from raw, ground flax seed, not flax seed oil.

If you were looking for a substitute for eating fish in that article, it was okay to mention flaxseeds as a source of short chain omega-3, but since they only convert about 2.5 percent into DHA, they do not supply what fish do (EPA and DHA) long-chain omega 3. My DHA Purity is a better option to supply what fish could, not flax. My DHA Purity is refrigerated because these oils can go rancid easily and we take extra care to preserve its cleanliness and freshness.

Also, there are other brands of non-fish DHA, but they are not refrigerated the whole time from manufacturing, shipping and storage like ours are. And when I tested the competitive brands in independent analysis they had very high rancidity scores.

You can buy a clean fish oil, a few of the best brands are purified and tested not to have the contamination and mercury that fish does, but that is still a limited resource (over-fishing) not a renewable resource like our DHA made from micro-algae grown under clean indoor conditions.
Clearly, eating healthfully requires some careful thinking and decision making—who would have thought!
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Dark Meat or White Meat?

That is the question Diet Blog is pondering. Check out what they’ve turned up:
Dark Meats
Dark meats simply have more myoglobin proteins, the magic stuff that ships oxygen to the muscle cells.

Dark meats must use myoglobins as they transfer oxygen more efficiently to the muscles than glycogen. Muscles used more frequently, get to be dark. This is why non-flying poultry drumsticks are dark meat, while breast meat is white.

When dark meat is cooked it turns the myoglobins to metmyoglobins, which is brown/gray. Metmyoglobins are very high in iron (albeit there is not that much in dark meat in the first place).

White Meat
White meat gets the 'juice' through glycogen. Glycogen is a polysaccharide of glucose, an animal starch. Animal starch is stored primarily in the liver and broken down into glucose when needed by the white muscle.

Nutritional Comparison
Dark meats tend to contain more zinc, riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamins B6 and B12, amino acids, iron than white meat. Dark beef meat contains about 11 times more zinc than tuna, and about 3 times as much iron than raw spinach. Chicken dark meat contain vitamins A, K, B6, B12, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, minerals as selenium, phosphorus and zinc.

Even the fats in most of the dark meats have healthy parts. They contain Omega-3, and Omega-6 fatty acids, and other ‘healthy’ fats.

It is the saturated fat content which lowers the true quality of dark meat.
Dr. Fuhrman pretty much just lumps white meat and dark meat together. Here’s why:
Chicken has about the same amount of cholesterol as beef, and the production of those potent cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are even more concentrated in grilled chicken than in beef.1 Another recent study from New Zealand that investigated heterocyclic amines in meat, fish, and chicken found the greatest contributor of HCAs to cancer risk was chicken.2 Likewise, studies indicated that chicken is almost as dangerous as red meat for the heart. Regarding cholesterol, there is no advantage to eating lean white instead of lean red meat.3
Personally, the only differentiation I do is between meat and fish. What about you?
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This right here should be the mascot for the standard American diet. Its over at A Hamburger Today, take a look:


Listen. I don’t care what McDonalds is trying to hock—I don’t want any of it! But in case you’re interested, Diet-Blog is all over McSalads. Check it out:

If only McDonald's were consistent in their messages; parents are less than impressed with their happy meal advertising.
Well, it does beat McStyle.

Fish: Good for Pregnancy?

I always thought women shouldn’t eat fish when they’re pregnant. Why? Well, remember this little list? From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child:
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter (because of an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite found in cat feces)
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats
Did you see it? “Fish!” Right there on the list. Makes me wonder what the heck this report is all about. According to Reuters, a coalition recommends women eat fish while pregnant. Here’s a bit:
Women who want to become pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding should eat at least 12 ounces of fatty fish such as tuna every week to help themselves and their babies, experts will recommend later on Thursday.

Fish including mackerel, sardines, light tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- components of fat known to help brain development. Walnuts, flaxseed oil and leafy green vegetables also contain the compounds.

Women need the nutrients to prevent postpartum depression and babies need them for brain and motor skill development, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition says.

The coalition, which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says "90 percent of women are consuming less than the recommended amount of fish."

But these fish can also carry high levels of mercury, which is a brain and nerve toxin.
Eat tuna! Have they gone loony? Dr. Fuhrman is very mercury-phobic—especially for pregnant mothers! And tuna is hardly a safe fish. More from Disease-Proof Your Child:
Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.1 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.2 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous. Researchers are also concerned about other toxins concentrated in fish that can cause brain damage way before the cancers caused by chemical-carrying fish appear.

Fish with Highest and Lowest Mercury Levels

  • tilefish
  • swordfish
  • mackerel
  • shark
  • white snapper
  • tuna
  • salmon
  • flounder
  • sole
  • tilapia
  • trout
I have one final question. Who writes these reports? Bozo the Clown!
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Brit Kids Shun Healthy Meals

This is discouraging. Apparently British school children have stopped eating school lunch since healthier meals were instituted back in 2006. Kim Murphy of The Los Angeles Times has more:
The Pied Piper, it turns out, he was not. In the wake of an Oliver-inspired national program to provide more nutritious food, students have gravitated away from the cafeteria in a majority of the schools surveyed, according to a government report released Wednesday.

The findings back up earlier reports that more than 400,000 children had stopped eating school lunches since the program debuted in September 2006.

Recalcitrant food service workers and angry "meat pie mums" are chortling with I-told-you-sos. But school officials blamed the exodus on poor marketing, minimal menu choices and a lack of consultation with pupils and parents. They signaled their determination to win reluctant junk food fans over to the merits of salad bars and baked chicken.

The call for more nutritious school lunches has been a mantra across much of the developed world, but Britain made the effort mandatory last year. State schools are required to serve meals heavy in fruits, vegetables and oily fish. Candy, potato chips and popcorn are forbidden. Old standards such as chicken nuggets and processed burgers are served no more than twice a month.
I wonder. Could the meat-pie pushing mamas have something to do with this?

Diet Blog on Stevia

Diet Blog wants to know, is Stevia safe? Here’s some of the investigation:
Here's how stevia landed in the news recently. The FDA sent a warning letter to Hain Celestial Group Inc. chastising them for using stevia as a food additive in some of their Zinger teas. Though it is permitted as as food "supplement," the FDA considers Stevia an "unsafe food additive." (Apparently unsafe substances are allowed as food supplements but not as additives. Does this seem screwy to anyone else?)

In its letter, the FDA pointed out that there was insufficient data to conclude that stevia is safe. Even more alarming, they said that literature reports have raised concerns about stevia's effects on blood sugar, as well as possible adverse impacts it might have on reproductive, cardiovascular, and renal systems.

Many of us hadn't ever heard there were health concerns with stevia. Doesn't Whole Foods carry it? Isn't it supposed to be healthy and natural and perfectly good for you? (Some of us do complain that it tastes nasty. But to be fair, others swear it tastes just like sugar).
Now Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts about Stevia, check it out:
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.
You decide.
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Red Wine and Diabetes

New research claims a chemical in red wine may help fight diabetes. Get drunk to fight type-2? Sounds too good to be true. Ed Edelson of HealthDay News is on it:
Chinese researchers have outlined the molecular chain of activity that makes resveratrol, a chemical found in the skin of red grapes and in red wine, a promising candidate for treatment of diabetes and other conditions.

The study focused on how resveratrol improved the sensitivity of mice to insulin, an effect that could lead to new treatments for type 2 diabetes, in which human cells lose their sensitivity to insulin.

And U.S. experts said the chemical's effect on a number of different tissues could eventually lead to such dreamed-of medications as an effective diet pill.

The study, by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai, showed that resveratrol activates an enzyme called SIRT1. This enzyme, in turn, suppresses the activity of a molecule called PTP1B, which ordinarily works to decrease insulin activity. SIRT1 levels were reduced in the animals' insulin-resistant cells. Increasing SIRT1 activity with resveratrol improved insulin sensitivity by acting on PTP1B.
Alcohol and health is a touchy subject. Check out this study Dr. Fuhrman brings up in a previous Healthy Times newsletter. Here:
A few years ago the University of California’s Berkeley Wellness Letter reported on new research about the so-called heart-healthy “benefits” of alcohol consumption. Previous studies had led to a recommendation that moderate consumption of red wine—but not other alcoholic beverages—helped reduce the risk of heart attack. What did the new research reveal?

If we were to rely on the Berkeley Wellness Letter for this information, the latest news would be that moderate consumption of any alcoholic beverage—red or white wine, even beer and spirits—can be heart-healthy. Unfortunately, their latest news is still woefully out-of-date. More recent studies show that even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to significantly increased incidence of atrial fibrillation,1 a condition that can lead to stroke, and to higher rates of breast cancer.2,3
Not-so happy hour.
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Salmon Spread Recall

Wow! A week of recalls, first beef—yuck—and now salmon spread. Why you ask? Oh just a little Listeria contamination. The Associated Press has more:
Jensen's says 936 tubs of its Seattle Style Wild Smoked Salmon Spread Lemon Dill and Onion are being recalled because of the possibility they are contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes — an organism that can cause serious infections in the young, the elderly and those with weak immune systems.

The spread in question is coded "Sell by 10/20/07." It was distributed in retail stores in Western Washington and sold in 7-ounce plastic tubs.
Like fish doesn’t have enough problems? According to Dr. Fuhrman fish is a real catch-22. From Eat to Live, here’re a couple reasons why. Take a look:
Fish is a double-edged sword, especially because fish has been shown to increase heart attack risk if polluted with mercury.1 It seems that the cardioprotective effects of eating a little fish is lost when you eat lots of fish, most likely because lots of fish exposes you to high mercury levels, which can promote lipid peroxidation.2 Lipid peroxidation plays a major role in the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Kind of puts a damper on my sushi fascination—darn it!
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Fast Food News is all over this fashion travesty. Check it out:

What’s funny is, McDonald’s keeps you from fitting into your jeans—poetic justice?

No Sugar, Sweet Life

New research claims kicking your sugar addiction could help you live a more healthful life. Reuters reports:
They found that restricting glucose -- a simple sugar found in foods such as sweets that is a primary source of energy for the body -- set off a process that extended the life span of some worms by up to 25 percent.

The key was boosting the level of "free radicals" -- unstable molecules that can damage the body and which people often try to get rid of by consuming food or drinks rich in anti-oxidants such as vitamin E, they said in a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Restricting glucose first spurred the worms to generate more free radicals, but then they quickly built up long-lasting defenses against them, said Michael Ristow, an endocrinologist at the University of Jena and the German Institute of Human Nutrition, who led the study.

Meat Recall Expanded

Last’s week’s meat recall has been expanded—so happy I don’t eat beef! Slashfood is on it:
We told you last week that the Topps Meat Company had announced a recall of over 331,000 pounds of ground beef and patties that may contain E. coli. Did that seem like a lot to you? Topps has now expanded that recall to 21.7 million pounds. There's a possibility that total could increase later today.

I didn't think that there were that many pounds of meat in the U.S.

Chew Gum, Lose Weight?

A few years ago I asked a heavy-set friend of mine why he chewed so much gum. His response, “Dude, it totally helps you lose weight.” After I bashed him on the head, I walked away in disbelief. But apparently there’s actually research on gum-chewing and weight-loss. More from Diet Blog:
There are a few shortcomings of such research:
  • The numbers were small - just 40 women and 20 men - of which only 9 were overweight or obese.
  • The results were also skewed by those called "restrained eaters". Those who were good at denying themselves food tended to be the ones who ate less after chewing the gum.
  • This is no double-blind research. Either you were chewing the gum or you weren't. Who is to say how the gum-chewers consciously or subconsciously changed their eating habits?
  • The research was "supported" by an Educational Award from the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.
Chew tubby! Chew till the pounds melt away—sigh!