Eating to Live on the Outside: Green Tango

I’m not much of a dancer—me on the dance floor looks a lot like a dog floundering on a frozen pond—but nevertheless, Eating to Live on the Outside is about to tango. This week we’re hitting salad emporium, Green Tango.

A place that advertises “fresh chopped salads” has got to be good—right? Yeah, it is. Green Tango is a fine place for the discerning nutritarian to call home. So, enough jibber-jabber! Let’s crack this menu open and see what we got.

Green Tango offers two major options, Salads and Wraps. Let’s check out the salads first. Okay, technically they all “work.” All you’d have to do is drop the occasional egg, bacon, and cheese, but here’s the four that really caught my eye.

I dig The Big Salad, the Tusan Salad, the Fiesta Salad, and the Garden Delight. There’s A LOT of veggies in these. Combine they included iceberg lettuce, hard boiled egg, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, potatoes, chickpeas, feta cheese, arugula, white beans, cremini mushrooms, artichokes, parmesan cheese, corn, black beans, avocado, red onions, grilled shrimp, mesclun greens, broccoli, beets, artichokes, asparagus, and zucchini. Not doubt—this is a MASSIVE amount of phytonutrients—awesome! And once you ditch the egg, cheese, and shrimp it gets even better.

To ensure the health-promoting integrity of these salads, I’d order the dressing on the side. Speaking of the dressing, Green Tango has two options that won’t leave me feeling very guilty; fresh squeezed lemon juice and age balsamic vinegar. I could go for either of these.

If none of the Green Tango favorite salads entice you, why not make your own creation out of these wonderful ingredients? Feast your eyes on these: Romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, arugula, spinach, mesclun greens, almonds, artichokes, asparagus, avocado, beets, black beens, broccoli, carrots, celery, cauliflower, chick peas, cremini mushrooms, crispy noodles, corn, croutons, cucumbers, dried cherries, dried cranberries, green beans, hearts of palm, mandarin oranges, peanuts, peas, peppers, potatoes, radishes, raisins, red onions, and roasted red peppers. How fantastic is this!

Here’s the salad I would create. Okay, I’d start with a spinach base—I love me some spinach—then on top of that I would pile on some avocado, beets, asparagus, and carrots. Now, for my dressing, I think balsamic vinegar would go nicely with the root veggies—don’t you agree?

Okay, if a salad is striking your fancy—which would be hard to believe if you’re a nutritarian—you could go for a wrap. The wraps are basically one of the salads wrapped up in an original tortilla or either an herb garlic, spinach, or sun-dried tomato basil tortilla. Now, I’m not anti-wrap, but when confronted with all these salad options, I’d easily pass on the tortilla, but if I were to order a wrap, I’d probably go with the spinach tortilla—it’s kind of cruciferous!

Now, to wrap things up—pun intended—I should mention that Green Tango also sells soup, but as we all know, prepared soups tend to be very salty—so, not thanks. Oh! And if you’re looking for a side to go with your salad, Green Tango offers fruit—pretty neat!

I feel like I got off easy this week. Green Tango sounds like a great place to grab a meal; very reminiscent of Eating to Live on the Outside favorite Just Salad—but what do you think? Does Green Tango REALLY stack up? You decide. Take a look at Green Tango’s menu and let me know how you’d handle Eating to Live on the Outside. Make a comment or send an email to Until then, eat greatly! Peace.

Weight-Lifting, Good Idea?

Gina Kolata of The New York Times asks the question, “Does Weight Lifting Make a Better Athlete?” Good question, let’s find out. Here’s some of the report:
Researchers who study weight lifting, or resistance training as it often is called, are adamant. It definitely helps, they say. But other experts in the field are not so sure.

Gary R. Hunter, a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is a believer. He cites, for example, a recent study involving middle-distance runners. Three months of resistance training, he said, improved their leg strength and running efficiency, a measure of how much effort it took to run.

And, he said, it is not just runners who become more efficient.

“There is no doubt that an appropriate weight-training program would improve efficiency in pretty much any athlete,” Dr. Hunter said.

William J. Kraemer, a kinesiology professor at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, said lifting weights also can increase endurance and reduce the risk of injury, especially to connective tissue…

…But other researchers, like Patrick O’Connor, an exercise scientist at the University of Georgia, are not convinced.

Dr. O’Connor points out that the weight-lifting studies, as is typical in exercise science, are small. And each seems to examine a different regimen, to measure outcome differently and to study different subjects — trained athletes, sedentary people, recreational athletes. It becomes almost impossible to draw conclusions, he said.

That may be one reason why different athletes end up doing different weight-lifting exercises. Chris Martin, a 31-year-old chemical engineer who has an elite racing license from USA Triathlon, the governing body for the sport, works on his entire body. But for his legs, he does exercises like leg extensions using one leg at a time, to correct any muscle imbalances or weaknesses. Mr. Martin, who lives in Lawrenceville, N.J., said he got the idea from coaches and from his own reading.

“Cycling and running are one-leg-at-a-time activities,” he explained. And one-legged exercises “recruit more muscles that help the hips.”
Actually, my Yoga teacher tells the class not to lift weights and that weight-lifting strains the body and is not harmonious—I’m warming to this opinion—but I haven’t stopped lifting yet.

Flu Shots for All Children?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want all children to get a flu shot. Thomas H. Maugh II of The Los Angeles Times reports:
The recommendation, which is expected to be adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, would call for an estimated 30 million more children to be vaccinated -- although current vaccination rates suggest that less than a quarter of them, about 7 million, would actually receive the shots.

The shots would not be mandatory, but the federal imprimatur would make physicians more likely to offer the vaccine to children.

"This new recommendation will help parents understand that all children can benefit from vaccination," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

In addition, CDC approval would make insurance coverage more likely and the flu vaccine would also be distributed through the government's Vaccines for Children program, which covers about 45% of the nation's youth.

Current recommendations call for vaccination of children between 6 months and 5 years old. The new recommendation raises the age range to 18.
Blah-blah-blah flu shot. I’m tired of hearing about this wonder drug, but in case you’re not, check out these recent flu-oriented posts:
And for more, don’t forget Followhealthlife’s cold and flu category.

Dance of the Cucumber

I was thinking of something witty to say, but, I think the title says it all. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the dance of the cucumber—enjoy:

In my opinion, the tomato doesn’t seem excited enough.

Yeah, Don't Smoke if You're Pregnant...

I could care less about Lindsey Hilton or Paris Lohan, but this picture really irked me. Britney Spears demonstrates her abysmal parenting skills by SMOKING while she was pregnant. Disgusting:

As a man, I realize that I swimming in dangerous waters here, but, I think it is incredibly selfish and offensive to smoke while a new life is forming inside you—opinions?

Crohn's Disease and Cow Juice

“Accumulating evidence has implicated a bacterium that is transmitted via pasteurized cow’s milk in the etiology of Crohn’s disease,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. According to him, dairy and Crohn’s Disease are dangerous bedfellows. Take a look:
It was discovered that a bacteria called Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP) found in dairy products survives the heat of pasteurization and causes inflammatory bowel disease in a variety of animals, including monkeys and chimpanzees.
Certainly a daunting prospect—especially since humans aren’t that genetically far removed from monkeys and chimpanzees—and the research supports the insidious Crohn’s disease-cow’s milk connection. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
In the last few years, this same bacterium has been detected in a large percentage of humans who have Crohn’s disease.1 To quote the most recent of these referenced medical journal articles, “The rate of detection of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in individuals with Crohn’s disease is highly significant and implicates this chronic enteric pathogen in disease causation.”
Now, not everybody is sold on the dangers of Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis. Guest blogger Rachel Kirby drops this post on Aetiology. Here’s a bit:
One of the first I came across and strangest but most relevant to an infectious cause was that the bacteria enters your body through contaminated milk (dairy) or water products. The bacteria are a mycobacterium that is abbreviated MAP (Mycobacterium avium subsp. Paratuberculosis).There seems to be some correlation between culturing MAP in patients with Crohn's. The idea that there is a bacterial cause may come from the idea that there is a similar bovine disease called Johne's disease. It has many of the same symptoms. Because of the similarities with Johne's disease, a mycobacterial cause of Crohn's disease has been sought for many years. It has been disproved that they have any real connection. In one study it suggests that once the bovine strain enters a human host it becomes less virulent. Another reason there is a problem making the correlation of MAP and Crohn's is because MAP is often hard to culture. Why they do they still suggest that there is an infectious agent that causes Crohn's? This could be because they still continue to culture MAP in Crohn's patients but there is not strong enough evidence to fully support the theory. It may be that MAP is present even before the onset of Crohn's.
Perhaps there is a grayish hue surrounding the MAP-Crohn’s disease link, but at the very least, the preponderance of evidence certainly warrants further investigation. Let’s check back with Dr. Fuhrman:
An unexpected finding from all this research on Crohn’s disease was the revelation that patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome may also be affected with MAP from dairy product consumption.2 The problems caused by the MAP bug, transmitted from dairy products, may be a severe public health issue.
Okay, here's what I take away from this disagreement. When you look at the dairy with a wide angle lenses, you’ll see that there are A LOT of reasons to avoid it. Here’s just a handful:
All I can say is—EEK!
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Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, Zone Diet--All Poop Out...

A new study has determined that fad diets like Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and the Zone produced only modest weight-loss with limited sustainability. Ian Ayres of the Freakonomics blog has more:

A randomized control year-long study looked at the impact of four different diets (Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone Diets) on a group of overweight and obese subjects who were looking to lose weight. The diets produced only “modest” average weight loss of about 6.4 lbs (2.3 percent of original body weight) and found no statistically significant difference in weight loss for the four different diets.

People do a pretty good job of losing weight for about half a year, and then their weight tends to drift back toward their pre-diet number. The difficulty of sustaining weight loss can be seen in this figure taken from a 2-year randomized study of the Weight Watchers program:

Now, news like this is rather redundant. Diets programs like Atkins and Weight Watchers are nothing but hype—BIG wastes of time! According to Dr. Fuhrman diets like these are doomed to fail. He explains:

All those second rate diets fail, because without addressing adequate micronutrient density, people crave more food than their body requires for good health.

In spite of the more than $110 million consumers spend every day on diets and “reducing” programs (more than $40 billion per year), Americans are the most obese people in history. To be considered obese, more than one-third of a person’s body must be made up of fat. A whopping 34 percent of all Americans are obese, and the problem is getting worse, not better.

Unfortunately, most weight-loss plans either don’t work or offer only minor, usually temporary, benefits. There are plenty of “rules and counting” diets, diet drugs, high-protein programs, canned shakes, and other fads that might enable you to lose some weight for a period of time. The problem is that you can’t stay on these programs forever.

Here’s my UNEXPERT opinion. Ditch the “diet” and change your lifestyle. Hey, it worked for me—Healthy, with a Vengeance!

Plaque Rupturing Cholesterol

Last October, Dr. Jung San Huang of the Saint Louis University School of Medicine determined that cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis; i.e. artery plaque. Reuters was on it:
Cholesterol is known to promote plaque build-up in blood vessels, which raises the risk of heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems. Now, new research suggests that cholesterol does this by reducing the activity of a chemical called transforming growth factor (TGF-beta).

"The finding that cholesterol causes atherosclerosis (plaques) by attenuating TGF-beta responsiveness in...cells could lead to the development of novel and effective therapies for atherosclerosis," senior investigator Dr. Jung San Huang told Reuters Health.
I know, not exactly new news, but important nonetheless. Now, get this. New research claims that total cholesterol is linked to the risk of plaque rupture. More from Reuters:
In individuals without symptoms who have thickened walls of the carotid arteries, two major arteries located on each side of the neck that provide blood and oxygen to the brain, the total blood levels of cholesterol are strongly associated with the presence a lipid, or fat-based," core within plaque, which have a vulnerability to rupture, researchers report.

"We know that a lipid core, made up of fatty dead tissue deposits, within an atherosclerotic plaque puts the plaque at risk for causing an adverse clinical event, such as a stroke if the plaque is in the carotid artery or a heart attack if the plaque is in the coronary artery," lead investigator Dr. Bruce A. Wasserman told Reuters Health.

To identify factors associated with a lipid core, Wasserman of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, and colleagues examined subjects taking part in a study of atherosclerosis, also referred to as hardening of the arteries. All of the subjects were free of cardiovascular disease and were among participants with the thickest carotid artery walls, as determined by ultrasound.
Okay, here’s a no-brainer—lower cholesterol! Not sure how? Dr. Fuhrman offers up some advice for getting your cholesterol down. Check it out:
A vegetable, fruit, nut, and bean-based diet has been shown to be the most effective cholesterol-lowering dietary approach in medical history. This newsworthy data with the potential to save millions of lives has been ignored by the mass media. With this dietary approach, most patients drop their total cholesterol below 150 and LDL below 100, without the need for medications. In areas of the world where people eat a diet of unrefined plant foods, people have total cholesterol levels below 150, and there is zero incidence of heart disease in the population1…

…The dietary program I recommend for heart-disease reversal utilizes natural cholesterol-lowering therapies instead of drugs, which eliminates the risks of drug side effects. And because my dietary program is richer in fiber and nutrients than the typical vegetarian diet, my patients achieve spectacular reductions in cholesterol, body weight, and blood pressure. Fortunately, this approach also can help those who already have heart disease. They can avoid future heart attacks and reverse and remove atherosclerosis.
And trust me, not only is Dr. Fuhrman’s approach effective—it’s delicious! Oh, and for more on cholesterol, don’t forget about Wednesday’s post Low Cholesterol and Cancer-Risk.
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Careers: Obesity Bad for Business

You hope people are better than this, but, it seems overweight people face heightened scrutiny at the workplace. That’sFit is on it:
Stigmas surrounding obesity plainly exist. People carrying significant weight are commonly labeled lazy, slovenly, and lacking self-discipline, so often whispered with that annoying phrase, "they just let themselves go." I've known and know plenty of overweight people whom absolutely none of those labels apply.

Unfortunately these swirling negative stereotypes can damage careers, says a new study. Researchers examined data from a pool of 25 separate studies looking at weight-based bias in the workplace. They determined bias definitely exists, with a stronger bias for sales positions than managerial ones.
Well, to add levity to this touchy subject—there are certainly some drawbacks to dressing slovenly at work. From a great movie:

“Um yeah…what’s happening?”

Diabetes Risk: Fruits vs. Veggies

Dr. Fuhrman emailed me this the other day. It shows the differences between fruits and vegetables when it comes to diabetes-prevention. From NutraIngredients-USA:
A higher intake of vegetables, rich sources of fibre, antioxidants, and magnesium, may reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by almost 30 per cent, suggests a new study.

On the flip side of the coin, however, an increased consumption of fruit was not associated with any benefits, according to the study with 64,191 middle-aged Chinese women published in the new issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

"Our study adds to the limited and conflicting data of the associations between fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of type-2 diabetes," wrote lead author Raquel Villegas from Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center.

"A higher intake of vegetables, rich in fibre, antioxidants, and magnesium and with a low glycemic index, was associated with a decreased risk of type-2 diabetes."

The authors, including researchers from the Shanghai Cancer Institute and the Diabetes Research and Training Center in Nashville, recruited the women (aged between 40 and 70) and, using a food-frequency questionnaire, report they had average fruit and vegetable intakes of 239.4 and 236.0 grams per day, respectively.
I know from talking with Dr. Fuhrman. That he advises diabetics to eat more veggies than fruit, but, he does encourage blueberries—lots of blueberries!

NYC Gets a Little Greener

New York City has given mobile fruit and vegetable stands the green to roll out all over the city. Reuters reports:
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said underserved New Yorkers would have better access to fresh produce as early as this spring.

"The communities in our city where obesity and diabetes continues to skyrocket are the same communities that lack even the most basic access to fresh fruits and vegetables," Quinn said…

…There are more than 4,000 permits for so-called green carts in New York and the stands are a common sight in wealthy Manhattan.

But low-income New Yorkers are left with little choice but to buy unhealthy "convenience" foods, most of which are packaged and processed, supporters of the bill said.
Very cool, but lest anyone think NYC is devoid of fresh fruits and vegetables. Just check out Union Square:

That reminds me. A new farmers market just opened up by my house—guess where I’m going this weekend?

Low Cholesterol and Cancer-Risk

“Low cholesterol as a result of eating healthfully does NOT place one at higher risk of cancer,” exclaims Dr. Fuhrman in response to a recent Reuters report that low cholesterol has been linked to stomach cancer-risk. From the report:
Some studies have linked low cholesterol levels to higher death rates from cancer in general, Dr. Kouichi Asano, of Kyushu University, Fukuoka, and colleagues explain in the International Journal of Cancer. "With respect to gastric cancer, a limited number of studies suggest this inverse association, while others do not."

The researcher looked into this in a study involving some 2,600 residents of Hisayama, Japan, who were followed for 14 years.

Gastric cancers developed in 97 subjects. After accounting for age and gender, stomach cancer rates rose significantly with descending cholesterol level. For example, among subjects with the highest cholesterol levels, the gastric cancer rate was the equivalent of 2.1 cases per 1000 persons per year; among those with the lowest cholesterol, the rate was 3.9 per 1000 person-years.
I talked to Dr. Fuhrman at length about this study and he thinks it’s a bunch of hooey. He goes on to explains why you shouldn’t worry about low cholesterol and cancer if you’re consuming a superior diet. Take a look:
Low cholesterol levels around the world in healthy populations are linked lower rates of all cancers and that was confirmed in the China-Oxford-Cornell Study. That means if you eat a cardio-protective diet that earns you a low cholesterol level. That is indicative of a lower risk and protection against multiple cancers.

Cancer is a disease with a slow doubling time. It is in the body on the average of 8-12 years prior to diagnosis in the U.S. and 12-18 years prior to diagnosis in areas without modern screening and detection. Having cancer and having cancer even when it is not yet diagnosed lowers cholesterol levels. Having very low cholesterol, on a diet that you would expect to generate a high-cholesterol, is suspicious and it could potentially be a sign of an undiagnosed or early cancer.
Take my cholesterol numbers for example:

I’m not worried about getting cancer from low cholesterol—are you?

No, Not the Avocados!

My friends, it’s a dark day. The avocados are being threatened. Water restrictions in California are slicing into avocado groves—sigh. Deborah Schoch of The Los Angeles Times reports:
Less than two months after a mandatory 30% cutback in agricultural water deliveries, some Southern California growers have begun "stumping" hundreds of healthy, well-nurtured avocado trees, putting them out of production for the next one to three years to leave more water for the rest of their trees.

Their actions represent the downside of a water deal between area farmers and the region's water wholesaler, the Metropolitan Water District. Over the years, thousands of farmers signed up for a program that gave them discounted water in return for their willingness to be first in line for a water cutback.

This winter is payback time.

For the first time since the program started in 1995, farmers must reciprocate for years of discounts. The MWD cut their water deliveries by 30% on Jan. 1 because of the regional shortage caused by last year's record dry weather, an eight-year drought in the Colorado River Basin and a court order protecting the endangered smelt in the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta.
No! Don’t stump my avocados. What an atrocity. How can they do this? Oh no, you can witness the horror in action. Oh I can’t bear to look:

Please. Put the chain saw down! Egad:

Save the avocados! Save them now! With the avocados strained, how will we make all these delicious creations:
Very Veggie Salad
15 ounces or 10 cups mixed greens or baby salad greens
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
left over steamed vegetables (optional)
1/2 15-ounce can lentils, drained, or 1 cups cooked lentils
2 medium carrots, grated
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dressing of choice
Distribute greens, vegetables (except carrots), and lentils on dinner plates. Then distribute grated carrots. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and pour dressing over salads.
Got Greens Smoothie
3 ounces fresh organic baby spinach
2 cups fresh or frozen pineapple cubes
3 kiwis
1/2 avocado
1 banana
Blend all ingredients in a Vita-Mix or other powerful blender until smooth and creamy.
Alright, something has to be done. This looks like a job for—SUPER GERRY!

Our Foods, Less Nutrient-Dense?

A new study claims that many of our foods—fruits and veggies included—are losing their nutrients over time. Julie Deardorff of Julie’s Health Club is on it:
Here are more findings Halweil cited from Thomas' study that used data between 1940 to 1991:
  • "Spinach's potassium content dropped by 53 percent, its phosphorus by 70 percent, its iron by 60 percent and its copper by 96 percent."
  • "Substantial data show that in corn, wheat and soybeans, the higher the yield, the lower the protein and oil content."
  • "The higher tomato yields (in terms of harvest weight), the lower the concentration of vitamin C, levels of lycopene (the key antioxidant that make tomatoes red) and beta-carotene (a vitamin A precursor.)"
This is certainly fascinating stuff—reminds me of Dr. Fuhrman’s commentary on soil depletion in Eat to Live. Here’s an excerpt:
Soil depletion of nutrients is not the problem—our food choices are! Contrary to many of the horror stories you hear, our soil is not depleted of nutrients. California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Florida, and other states still have rich, fertile land that produces most of our fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. America provides some of the most nutrient-rich produce in the world.

Our government publishes nutritional analyses of foods. It takes food from a variety of supermarkets across the country, analyzes it, and publishes the results. Contrary to claims of many health-food and supplement enthusiasts, the produce grown in this country is nutrient-rich and high in trace minerals, especially beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.1 American produced grains, however, do not have the mineral density of vegetables. Grains and animal-feed crops grown in the southeastern states are the most deficient, but even in those states only a small percentage of crops are shown to be deficient in minerals.2

Thankfully, by eating a diet with a wide variety of natural plant foods, from a variety of soils, the threat of nutritional deficiency merely as a result of soil inadequacy is eliminated. Americans are not nutrient-deficient because of our depleted soil, as some nutritional-supplement proponents claim. Americans are nutrient-deficient because they do not eat a sufficient quantity of fresh produce. Over 90 percent of the calories consumed by Americans come from refined foods or animal products. With such a small percentage of our diet consisting of unrefined plant foods, how could we not become nutrient-deficient? Since more than 40 percent of the calories in the American diet are derived from sugar or refined grains, both of which are nutrient-depleted, Americans are severely malnourished. Refined sugars cause us to be malnourished in direct proportion to how much we consume them. They are partially to blame for the high cancer and heart attack rates we see in America.
I got to side with Dr. Fuhrman on this. First, let’s get people eating more healthy plant foods and then we’ll deal with the other stuff—what do you think?
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Health Points: Wednesday

On Monday, Pfizer took the doctor and inventor of the artificial heart off the mound as pitchman for the world's best- selling medication, after his credentials - in medicine and in his own exercise regimen - came under fire.

In the ads, which began their heavy rotation on TV and in print in 2006, Jarvik touts the benefits of Pfizer's cholesterol-lowering drug. As of Monday afternoon, Jarvik's photo still appeared on Pfizer's Web site advertising the drug.

But House Democrats said the ads could be misleading to consumers because Jarvik appeared to be giving medical advice, even though he is not licensed to practice medicine. While Jarvik holds a medical degree, he did not complete the certification requirements to practice medicine.
The study raises ethical questions about when it's acceptable to withhold perhaps futile treatment and let people die, and whether public health issues should ever be considered.

"Advanced dementia is a terminal illness," said study co-author Dr. Susan Mitchell, a senior scientist with the Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Senior Life Institute for Aging Research in Boston. "If we substituted 'end-stage cancer' for 'advanced dementia,' I don't think people would have any problem understanding this."

Many experts, including the Alzheimer's Association, consider Alzheimer's and other dementias to be fatal brain diseases. Patients die of infections such as pneumonia and other complications, but the underlying cause is damage to brain cells.
“Eating a big meal just before going to bed has been found in studies to elevate triglyceride levels in the blood for a period of time,” r. Louis J. Aronne, director of the comprehensive weight control program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said. A higher triglyceride level “has been associated with metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance,” both related to weight gain, he said.

Dr. Aronne suggested a theoretical framework for why late meals may stay with you. “If you ate 500 calories during the day but walked around afterward, your muscles would be competing with your fat cells for the calories and could burn them up as energy for physical activity,” he said. “But if you consume it at bedtime, with no physical activity, the body has no choice but to store the calories away as fat.”
Heart disease in Europe claims over two million lives every year, and cost the European Union 192 million euros (285 million dollars) in 2006, a group of health organizations said Tuesday.

A statistical study by the European Society of Cardiology and the European Heart Network also shows huge differences across Europe in death rates due to coronary artery disease and strokes, the two main types of heart disease.

Several countries in eastern and northern Europe -- notably Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia and Estonia -- have mortality rates five to seven times higher than western European nations, especially France, Portugal and Switzerland, the study showed.
Another systematic review, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2004. It looked at multiple studies and found that stretching “was not significantly associated with a reduction in total injuries,” but also concluded that more research was needed.

For now, many experts say that what may work is a quick warm-up, like low-impact aerobics or walking. It also helps to ease into an activity by starting off slow and then increasing speed, intensity or weight (for lifting).

Research suggests that stretching does not affect soreness or risk of injury during exercise.
Scientists are investigating other causes for the deterioration of brain function, including the deposition of a protein called amyloid in brain tissue. This process is thought to be accelerated by inflammation in the body.

Research shows that the foods we eat probably play a role in decreasing inflammation in the body. Taking this into account, the brain-healthy diet includes:

* Five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This includes apples and onions for their flavonoids, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach for their carotenes, cooked tomatoes for lycopene (another carotene) and blueberries for their antioxidants.
Between August and October 2007 Food Standards Agency (FSA) surveyed 2627 people about if they had five or more portions of fruit and vegetables the day before being questioned. There were 58% positive answers, which shows an increase compared to 2006's 55%. However, the increase is too low to indicate healthy diet improvement.

Besides, the survey shows disparities between different social classes: AB class reported 71% positive answers, DE class reported 45% positive answers. This means, that higher social grades are more successful in diet management that lower ones.

Disparities also occur between men and women: 63% of surveyed women were able to manage five or more portions of fruit and vegetables compared to 54% men.
Dr. Kenneth R. Wilund and colleagues found that the overall gallstone weight was 2.5-fold greater in sedentary mice compared with mice that exercised. The researchers suggest that exercise may provide similar benefit to humans.

"The basic physiology of gallstone formation is pretty similar in humans and mice," Wilund told Reuters Health. Many of the proteins involved in the liver's cholesterol and bile acid metabolism are very similar, he said.

"So it is reasonable to suggest that the changes we believe were responsible for the reduction in gallstone formation in the exercise-trained mice could also occur in response to exercise training in humans," commented Wilund, of the University of Illinois, Urbana.

Flies Fight Over a Pea

Here’s a great animation about some flies fighting over a pea. Enjoy:

Admit it, you were pulling for the little fly the whole time!

Food Scoring Guide: You Are What You Eat!

If you need to lose weight, grasp the concept that being overweight has mostly to do with what you eat, not how much you eat. This is because micronutrient fulfillment (getting your fill of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber) blunts the drive to consume calories. Eating primarily high-nutrient foods is nothing like being on a “diet” (where you try to eat less). First of all, you will be eating hearty portions of (low-calorie) food. But most importantly, high-nutrient foods are so nutritionally satisfying that you simply will have less desire for the high-calorie, low-nutrient foods that put the weight on in the first place.

I hope it is clear that I am not advocating that you eat primarily high-nutrient foods for a period of time to lose weight and then go back to your old eating habits. I am advocating that you eat primarily high-nutrient foods from now on. The common practice of losing weight for a temporary period of time and then gaining it back is of no benefit to your health. Good health is dependent on maintaining a stable lighter weight for the rest of your life. The means you should not diet. What you should do is learn to eat a nutrient-rich diet, which automatically reset your weight to a lower point permanently.

Super-Size that Organ Damage

If you ever see me eating fast-food, odds are I’ve got a gun pointed to my head. A quick burger and fries is a bad idea, and now, a new study has determined that fast food can stress the liver. ABC News reports:
In a new study, 18 slim, healthy Swedish men and women took on a fast food diet, eating meals from popular chains twice a day for four weeks while refraining from exercise.

At the end of the experiment, blood tests showed evidence that the subjects eating fast food had liver damage. They also had gained an average of 16 pounds.

The subjects were eating "an outrageously high amount" of calories, said Keith-Thomas Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Ayoob said the calorie intake was almost double the average daily caloric intake of most Americans, which is about 2,700 calories.

Studies have shown that a diet high in fat and calories — the magic recipe for delicious, greasy fast food — puts people at greater risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which can lead to cardiovascular diseases and heart failure.
How can a boardroom of fast-food executives live with themselves? I guess they just call the tobacco execs for support.

Some Decent Heart-Smart Tips...

Cathy Fitzgerald, a registered dietitian with the University of Michigan Health System, offers up some pretty good tips to stay heart-healthy in the supermarket. Here’s four I really liked:
  • Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats have been shown to benefit the heart. Fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout are good sources of omega fats and are low in saturated fat.
  • Sterols and stanols. Plant sterols and stanols are cholesterol-lowering substances often added to products like margarine and salad dressings. Review the label carefully to make sure a product states it offers the cholesterol-lowering benefits of plant sterols and stanols.
  • Sodium. Look for phrases like "low sodium" or "reduced sodium." This is especially important in processed and canned foods. If a food is labeled as "reduced" in sodium, it has 25 percent less salt than the regular product.
  • Trans fats. Eat trans fats sparingly, as they raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol. Fried foods and processed foods that have a long shelf life are often loaded with them. The term "partially hydrogenated oil" on an ingredient's list indicates the food contains trans fats.
For the rest of the list, check out the report from HealthDay News: How to Be Heart Smart at the Supermarket.

Obesity, Worse than Terrorism

This seems pretty radical to me, but one health professional feels that world governments focus too much on fighting terrorism and not enough on fighting obesity. Lawrence Bartlett of the AFP reports:
Overcoming deadly factors such as poor diet, smoking and a lack of exercise should take top priority in the fight against a growing epidemic of preventable chronic disease, legal and health experts said.

Global terrorism was a real threat but posed far less risk than obesity, diabetes and smoking-related illnesses, prominent US professor of health law Lawrence Gostin said at the Oxford Health Alliance Summit here.

"Ever since September 11, we've been lurching from one crisis to the next, which has really frightened the public," Gostin told AFP later.

"While we've been focusing so much attention on that, we've had this silent epidemic of obesity that's killing millions of people around the world, and we're devoting very little attention to it and a negligible amount of money."
This sounds like rabblerousing to me, but no doubt, obesity is a major problem. What do you think about this?

The Celery Bunch!

They’re the celery bunch and they love to crunch. Check it out:

I need a celery costume—STAT!

Confusion Says: Diet Linked to Breast and Ovarian Cancer

This Reuters report got me excited—diet tied to breast and ovarian cancer risks—but when I started reading it, right away I found problem. Can you spot it? Take a look:
Women who eat diets rich in meat and dairy may have a decreased risk of breast cancer, while those who bulk up on fiber, fruits and vegetables show a lower risk of ovarian cancer.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer, add to questions surrounding the role of diet in women's risk of the cancers…

…Using detailed dietary questionnaires, the researchers identified four common dietary patterns in the study group: an "animal product" pattern, which was heavy in meat and saturated fat, but also zinc, calcium and certain other nutrients; a "vitamins and fiber" pattern, which besides fiber was rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and other nutrients found in fruits and vegetables; an "unsaturated fat" pattern that contained high amounts of vegetable and fish oils, as well as vitamin E; and a "starch-rich" pattern high in simple carbohydrates, vegetable protein and sodium.

Overall, the study found, women who followed a pattern rich in vitamins and fiber had a 23 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer than women who consumed the lowest amounts of those foods and nutrients.

On the other hand, the animal-product pattern was linked to a similar reduction in breast cancer risk.
Meat and dairy decrease cancer-risk—since when! Uh hello, The China Study? Here’s a quote from The China Study. Author T. Colin Campbell, PhD drops the hammer on milk:
What protein consistently and strongly promoted cancer? Casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process. What type of protein did not promote cancer, even at high levels of intake? The safe proteins were from plants, including wheat and soy.
Okay, let’s see what he has to say about animal protein in general. My guess is the cattle ranchers of the world are going to be just a wee bit upset. More from Dr. Campbell:
Indian researchers had studied two groups of rats. In one group, they administered the cancer causing aflatoxin, then fed a diet that was composed of 20% protein, a level near what many of us consume in the West. In the other group, they administered the same amount of aflatoxin, but then fed a diet that was only composed of 5% protein. Incredibly, every single animal that consumed the 20% protein diet had evidence of liver cancer, and every single animal that consumed a 5% protein diet avoided liver cancer.
Make no mistake about it. Animal products are no friend to cancer-prevention. Now, Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. Campbell are friends, so, here’s Dr. Fuhrman’s take on all this:
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.
Trust me, he’s not kidding. Plants are strong medicine! Take green vegetables for example. Leafy green or cruciferous vegetables are potent cancer-fighters. Check it out:
These vegetables also contain indole-3- carbinol (I3C). Indole-3-carbinol has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by decreasing estrogen activity. Important recent studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables and the compounds they contain can do the following:
  • Halt the growth of breast cancer cells2
  • Dramatically reduce the risk of colon cancer3
  • Prevent the replication of prostate cancer cells and induce death of cancerous cells4
  • Inhibit the progression of lung cancer.5
Good stuff and the sooner you start eating lots of veggies—the better! Consider the plight of young women and breast cancer-risk. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Higher consumption of produce and protein-rich plant foods such as beans and nuts is associated with a later menarche, and the higher consumption of protein-rich animal foods—meat and diary—is associated with an earlier menarche and increased occurrence of adult breast cancer.6
The newswires are a virtual ping-pong of what’s good for you and what’s not—drawn your own conclusions—here, this might help. From the European Journal of Cancer Prevention:
The aim of this study was to investigate whether polymorphisms in N-acetyl transferase 1 and 2 modify the association between meat consumption and risk of breast cancer. A nested case-control study was conducted among 24 697 postmenopausal women included in the 'Diet, Cancer and Health' cohort study (1993-2000). Three hundred and seventy-eight breast cancer cases were identified and matched to 378 controls. The incidence rate ratio (95% confidence interval) for breast cancer was 1.09 (1.02-1.17) for total meat, 1.15 (1.01-1.31) for red meat and 1.23 (1.04-1.45) for processed meat per 25 g daily increment in intake. Compared with slow acetylators, the IRR (95% confidence interval) among fast N-acetyl transferase 1 acetylators was 1.43 (1.03-1.99) and 1.13 (0.83-1.54) among intermediate/fast N-acetyl transferase 2 acetylators. Interaction analyses revealed that the positive associations between total meat intake and red meat intake and breast cancer risk were confined to intermediate/fast N-acetyl transferase 2 acetylators (Pinteraction=0.03 and 0.04). Our findings support an association between meat consumption and breast cancer risk and that N-acetyl transferase 2 polymorphism has a modifying effect on the association, indicating that the association is confined to only genetically susceptible women.
Alright, since we’ve already crossed over into nerd territory. Let’s look at one more study. It appeared in the International Journal of Cancer. Here’s the abstract:
Meat intake has been positively associated with risk of digestive tract cancers in several epidemiological studies, while data on the relation of meat intake with cancer risk at most other sites are inconsistent. The overall data set, derived from an integrated series of case-control studies conducted in northern Italy between 1983 and 1996, included the following incident, histologically confirmed neoplasms: oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus (n = 497), stomach (n = 745), colon (n = 828), rectum (n = 498), liver (n = 428), gallbladder (n = 60), pancreas (n = 362), larynx (n = 242), breast (n = 3,412), endometrium (n = 750), ovary (n = 971), prostate (n = 127), bladder (n = 431), kidney (n = 190), thyroid (n = 208), Hodgkin's disease (n = 80), non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (n = 200) and multiple myelomas (n = 120). Controls were 7,990 patients admitted to hospital for acute, non-neoplastic conditions unrelated to long-term modifications in diet. The multivariate odds ratios (ORs) for the highest tertile of red meat intake (7 times/week) compared with the lowest (3 times/week) were 1.6 for stomach, 1.9 for colon, 1.7 for rectal, 1.6 for pancreatic, 1.6 for bladder, 1.2 for breast, 1.5 for endometrial and 1.3 for ovarian cancer. ORs showed no significant heterogeneity across strata of age at diagnosis and sex. No convincing relation with red meat intake emerged for cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus, liver, gallbladder, larynx, kidney, thyroid, prostate, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and multiple myeloma. For none of the neoplasms considered was there a significant inverse relationship with red meat intake. Thus, reducing red meat intake might lower the risk for several common neoplasms.
Ultimately it’s your call, but I think the evidence is clear, eat more veggies and less meat. So, when you read headlines like this, you got to dig deeper and THEN see if you believe it.
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Hard to Digest...

This is neat. MSN Health & Fitness list the ten foods toughest to digest. I thought these three were particularly relevant. Take a look:

Raw Onion
Onions and their cousins like garlic, leeks and shallots are filled with a variety of phytonutrient compounds—some of which seem to offer healthy, heart-protective benefits, and some of which cause stomach distress (or it could be the same compounds that do both). Cooking them seems to deactivate some of the problem-causing compounds. But on the chance that you’re also deactivating some of the good stuff, dietician Mary Ryan, suggests using mix of cooked and raw so that you can reap the benefits without suffering the consequences.

Broccoli and Raw Cabbage
These fiber- and nutrient-rich vegetables are incredibly healthy, but they are also well-known for causing gas buildup in the gut. Fortunately, the solution is simple. “Cooking them—or even just blanching them slightly—will deactivate the sulfur compounds that cause gas,” explains Ryan.

Beans have such a notorious reputation for causing gastric distress that they even spawned their own rhyme (come on, you all know it! “Beans, beans …”). And there is some truth to it. The enzyme needed to break down beans is found only in our stomach bacteria. And if you don’t routinely eat beans, you might not have enough of this enzyme to comfortably digest them. The result, of course, is gas and bloating. Cooking beans in soup can help—the extra fluid will help digest the large amounts of fiber beans contain, and the extra cooking time will start breaking the beans down even before you eat them. By adding beans to your diet gradually, you will help build up the enzyme necessary to digest them without issue.
I like that they don’t discourage people from eating these veggies. Instead, they suggest eating more of them! Now, here’s the other seven courtesy of HealthandMan:
Fried Chicken Nuggets: Battered and deep fried spell trouble for just about any food you throw down your gullet.

Spicy Foods: Can cause heartburn due to esophageal irritation.

Chocolate: Causes your esophageal sphincter to relax allowing stomach acids to creep back up (uh-h-h-h-h, He said Sphincter).

Citrus Juices: Extra acids in the stomach cause irritating stomach aches.

Mashed Potatoes: Can be a nuisance to lactate intolerable persons due to added milk.

Ice Cream: Goes down so good…but there is that whole lactose problem again.

Sugar Free Gum: Another culprit of gas…I never knew. That explains a lot.
You know this list of seven looks a lot like the typical standard American diet to me. No wonder why so many people are grumpy—they’re bloated!

Vitamin Water, Extra Calorie Water

I’m not a sports drink guy, so all this hype surrounding vitamin waters is lost on me. The CBS Early Show explains why these designer waters come with a price. Check it out:
Registered dietician Keri Glassman cautioned Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith Friday that, "You see all these waters out there loaded with vitamins and minerals. The problem is, they're also loaded with lots of sugar. A lot of these bottles of water have about 150 calories. We're over-consuming calories as a nation…

…As for the vitamins in the designer waters, many aren't water-soluble, Glassman points out, meaning the body won't retain them, anyhow. And it's not worth the added calories just to get the ones the body does retain.
Now, since we’re talking about sports drinks. Here’s my latest gripe, the brainlessness that is protein water. These "fitness experts" are rambling about it:

These protein-based magic potions make my eyes roll. Dr. Fuhrman thinks they’re a bunch of mumbo-jumbo too. His thoughts:
The average American consumes about fifty percent more protein than the recommended daily amount. Yet we often see—in addition to misinformed athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and bodybuilders—businessmen and women, homemakers, and those seeking to lose weight turning to protein powders, drinks, and nutritional bars in their quest for even more protein.

It is true that resistance training and endurance workouts can break down muscle protein and increase our need for protein to fuel repair and growth. But the increased need of protein is proportional to the increased need for calories burned with the exercise. As your appetite increases, you increase your caloric intake accordingly, and your protein intake increases proportionally. If you meet those increased caloric demands from heavy exercise with an ordinary assortment of natural plant foods—vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts, which contain more than 50 grams of protein per 1000 calories—you will get the precise amount of extra protein you need.
The worst is watching people finish up a grueling run and then stop to choke down some goopy gritty brownish mixture—YUCK!

How's Your Meat Habit...

We all know Michael Pollan is a leading voice in nutrition news. I’ve blogged about him a bunch of times in the past. Have a look:
Now, Lloyd Alter of TreeHugger is pondering something. He wants to know if Michaels Pollan’s opinions on food have changed your meat eating habits. Take the survey:

I answered vegan or vegetarian, even though I’m neither, but out of those choices that best describes me. Anyway, check out the results, very encouraging:

Hopefully things like the recent beef recall really do factor into people’s decision making—it be quite foreboding if it didn’t.

Strokes High, Flu Bad!

According to new research stroke risk in the United States is higher than that of Europe. Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters reports:
U.S. women are twice as likely to have a stroke as European women, and American men have a 61 percent higher chance compared with European men.

"What we find is, especially in the very poor, Americans have a much higher prevalence of stroke than Europeans," said Mauricio Avendano of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, who presented his findings at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.

He said Americans have more preventable risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
And, it seems Americans are having a really bad flu season this year. This time Maggie Fox of Reuters reports:
Influenza is widespread in 49 states, and this year's epidemic has killed at least 22 children, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Friday.

On Thursday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agreed to completely change next year's flu vaccine mix because all three strains included in the flu shot cocktail have mutated. But companies have a head start on working with two of the three, the CDC's Dr. Nancy Cox said.

FDA advisers agreed with the World Health Organization recommendations made last week on changing the vaccine to match the drifting flu viruses.
These would probably be non-stories if we all ate and lived healthier—I know, I’m quite the daydreamer.

Eating to Live on the Outside: Salsa Rico

Man, am I happy this week is over—what a bear! Anyway, it’s Friday and you know what that means. Time to fire up the machine—vroom-vroom—Eating to Live on the Outside rides again! And this week Salsa Rico is on the hot seat. How will it do? Well there’s only one way to find out.

Time to rock and roll! First up, burritos, and right away we’ve got a concession, flour tortillas—eh, I can deal with it. Believe me, it could be A LOT worse. Now, the burrito I’d go with would be the Calimax; made with ancho chile salsa, melted jack cheese, rice, pinto beans or black beans, fresh pico de gallo, and fresh guacamole. Okay, I’ll ditch the cheese and the rice—and provided the guacamole has no sour cream—it’s a decent option.

Oh! If the tortilla freaks you out. Another option might be the Fajita Burrito Bowl; prepared with flame-roasted peppers, onions, Mexican rice, black beans or pinto beans, ancho chile salsa, jack cheese, and pico de gallo. Nix that cheese and rice and its looking good, and, no tortilla to contend with—sweet!

Next are the Specialties. Yeah, we’ll skip those. Unless of course you think nachos and quesadillas are nutrient-dense—you don’t, right? Let’s just move onto the Salads. I like all three of them. There’s some undesirables in there but combined they include shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, a blend of cheeses, cilantro, a taco shell, black beans or pinto beans, avocado mango salsa, tortilla chips, Romaine lettuce, black olives, cheddar cheese, corn salsa, and a chile lime vinaigrette. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff. Out of all that I’m dropping the sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, taco shell, and black olives. So if you make those alternations and go easy on the dressing, the Taco Salad, the Cabo Salad, and Chili Lime Salad are all good—nice!

Now, let’s check out the Tacos. I see one I like. The Grilled Vegetable Fajita Taco; made with flame-roasted peppers, onions, and obviously taco shells. It’s not the best option, but if you’re not feeling the salad, you might be willing to make the taco shell concession. Personally, the grilled veggies are great, but give me one of those salads any day.

Alright, let’s scope out the Salsas, they all look very veggie friendly. They could be a nice accent to one of dishes we already looked at. Here’s the three I really liked. The Corn Salsa is cool; made with ancho chili pepper, corn, fresh tomatilos, char-grilled plum tomatoes, fresh lime, and orange juices—not too shabby. I also like the Salsa Fresca; prepared with table salsa, plum tomatoes, sweet onions, jalapenos, and cilantro—you got to love cilantro. And finally, the Onion Salsa is simple but very tasty looking; it’s made with jalapenos, Spanish onions, cilantro, and lime juice—again, another winner! These would certainly liven up one of the salads, maybe as a salad dressing?

It’s probably worth mentioning that Salsa Rico has a couple sides you might want to consider making your main dish. The two that work for me are the pinto beans or black beans and the fresh guacamole—again, provided it is sour cream free. I hate when they ruin perfectly good avocado with sour cow juice—YUCK!

So what do you think? Is Salsa Rico workable? I think there’s hope. Sure, there’s some nasty stuff to deal with like rice, cheese, char-grilled (or burned) food), tortillas, and a potentially heavy salt load—ask the wait staff before you order—but overall I’d give Salsa Rico a shot.

Now it’s your turn, time to judge for yourself. Scope out Salsa Rico’s menu and let me know how you handle Eating to Live on the Outside. Make a comment or send an email to Until then, eat the best you can! Peace.

Poverty's Diet Strain

Poverty is more than a fiscal problem. It can also affect health. Canadian researchers have determined that poor households end up eating nutritionally risky diets. Alan Mozes HealthDay News reports:
The new study is the first to show that food insecurity directly translates into poor nutrition. It also suggests that in such homes, adults and teens, rather than very young children, are the most likely to be subsisting on diets low in vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, grains and meat.

"Over the long term, [food insecurity] could be expected to precipitate and complicate diet-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease," cautioned study co-author, Sharon Kirkpatrick, a doctoral candidate in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto…

…The study highlights similar estimates for 2006, suggesting that 12.6 million U.S. households experience food insecurity, while 4.6 million have one or more family members going without food. Recent Canadian research indicates that just over 9 percent of households are food-insecure.

Against such numbers, Kirkpatrick and Tarasuk set out to analyze eating habits, detailed in interviews conducted by Statistics Canada between 2004 and 2005. The survey included 35,000 Canadians between the ages of 1 and 70 drawn from all socioeconomic groups.
The poor—I hate using that term—do take quite the health hit. It comes up in the news all the time. Let’s look at some previous reports. First, from the Associated Press, Why are U.S. Kids Obese. Here’s a bit:
"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.
Next up, Paige Parker of The Oregonian tells us why poor kids are at a high-risk of packing on extra summer vacation pounds. Take a look:
A new study highlighted the summer weight-gain phenomenon among young children. Researchers in the Midwest looked at the body mass index, which relates height to weight, of 5,380 students. They followed them for two years, from kindergarten through first grade, and found the average index grew more than twice as quickly over the summer than during the school year.

Children of the working poor may be especially at risk because they are left indoors while their parents are at jobs. While at home, kids eat and drink what they want, says Dr. Jennifer Bass, a pediatrician who chairs a national pediatricians special-interest group on obesity. Bass estimates as many as 30 percent of her patients are overweight.
Now Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News explains that low-income children face a heighten chance of being obese, even before they are out of diapers. Check it out:
"The message is that we're seeing overweight and obesity at younger ages than we thought possible," said study author Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, a health and society scholar at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "It's a particular problem in lower-income communities, and it's something we need to keep an eye on and prevent as much as possible."

According to Kimbro, there's been little research into weight problems among very young children. But, studies have shown high rates of obesity among older children and teenagers.

In the new study, the researchers examined surveys of parents who had children from 1998 to 2000 in 20 large U.S. cities. The parents lived in urban areas and were poor.
Finally, this report looks out way the poor and immigrants living in New York City are waist-deep in the diabetes epidemic. More from N.R. Kleinfield of The New York Times:
New York, perhaps more than any other big city, harbors all the ingredients for a continued epidemic. It has large numbers of the poor and obese, who are at higher risk. It has a growing population of Latinos, who get the disease in disproportionate numbers, and of Asians, who can develop it at much lower weights than people of other races.

It is a city of immigrants, where newcomers eating American diets for the first time are especially vulnerable. It is also yielding to the same forces that have driven diabetes nationally: an aging population, a food supply spiked with sugars and fats, and a culture that promotes overeating and discourages exercise.
Frightening news, no doubt it compounds when you consider that most low-income families either have limited or no insurance. Makes you wonder how much better the state of American healthcare would be if everyone starting eating a nutrient-dense diet!

Exercise versus that Crick in Your Neck

Sitting in front of a computer all day can be a real pain in the neck—literally. Good thing new research links exercise to relief from chronic neck and shoulder pain. Reuters reports:
The current study included 48 Danish women with chronic trapezius pain, most of whom spent much of their workday in front of a computer. Researchers randomly assigned the women to either perform supervised strengthening exercises or aerobic exercise, or to get general health counseling.

For 10 weeks, women in the strength-training group worked out their neck and shoulder muscles using hand weights, three times per week for 20 minutes. Women in the aerobic-exercise groups worked out on a stationary bike.

After 10 weeks, women who strength-trained showed a 70 percent to 80 percent decrease in their pain ratings from the beginning of the study. In contrast, those who got aerobic exercise often felt better in the couple hours afterward, but there was no long-term pain improvement.
Exercise—the cure for what ails you!

Your House, Its Making You Fat

This is an intriguing concept—I first heard about in a college Anthropology class—could the way our modern neighborhoods are configured be contributing to the increase in national obesity? Allison Arieff of By Design investigates:
First, let’s talk about cars. Stop designing for them. Natural light, floor plans that are conducive to human patterns of use — these sorts of things should be the defining features of homes. Not a garage. There’s almost no viable excuse for failing to create communities with within-walking-distance amenities like playgrounds, cafes and corner markets. Take inspiration from Inspirada: Even Las Vegas, that bastion of architectural absurdity, has opened a New Urbanist community. Though it seems to lack any viable form of public transportation (and includes “Da Vinci Estates” and “Van Gogh Homes”), it has been designed around public parks and community centers, has promised to deliver walkable retail and business centers, and has even planned a central village, called Civitas, meant to promote civic behavior (the definition of which I am not clear, given that it’s in Las Vegas)…

…Contrary to popular belief, the pace and proximity of urban living can actually contribute to more healthful lifestyles, while lower-density communities tend to have a higher incidence of cardiovascular and lung diseases, including asthma in children, as well as cancer, diabetes, obesity, traffic injuries and deaths; these are exacerbated by an increase in air pollution, gridlock and traffic accidents, and by a lack of physical activity. The study recommended that people seek out cities and towns with reliable public transportation systems, bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths, ones that have schools, businesses and stores within walking distance.
I’ve seen this first hand. My parents live in a rural-suburban area. Just going to buy a newspaper is at least a fifteen minute drive and most people in their neighbor stay locked up in there houses. No walking to the park, no local market, no nothing—worrisome.

Growing Root Veggies

This guy very-very quickly shows us how to plant carrots, beets, and radishes. Enjoy:

That reminds me, tomorrow at the farmers market I am totally buying some beets!

Women: Strokes Up

Not good. Apparently strokes have tripled among middle-aged women in the United States. And it appears obesity is to blame. Marilynn Marchione of the Associated Press reports:
Nearly 2 percent of women ages 35 to 54 reported suffering a stroke in the most recent federal health survey, from 1999 to 2004. Only about half a percent did in the previous survey, from 1988 to 1994.

The percentage is small because most strokes occur in older people. But the sudden spike in middle age and the reasons behind it are ominous, doctors said in research presented Wednesday at a medical conference.

It happened even though more women in the recent survey were on medicines to control their cholesterol and blood pressure — steps that lower the risk of stroke.

Women's waistlines are nearly two inches bigger than they were a decade earlier, and that bulge corresponds with the increase in strokes, researchers said.
This news is not to be taken lightly, and, this graphic really drives it home:

Now, improving your diet can help. Here Dr. Fuhrman talks about stroke-preventing monounsaturated fats and essential fats from plants:
There is no longer any question about the importance of fruits and vegetables in our diet. The greater quantity and assortment of fruits and vegetables consumed, the lower the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.1

The best fats are monounsaturated fats and essential fats (omega-3 and omega-6) present in whole, natural plant foods, including avocados, olives, and raw nuts and seeds. Studies continue to show that consumption of raw nuts protect against both heart attack and stroke, without the risks of increasing heart disease and cancer, as is the case with the high consumption of animal-origin fats.2 When the fats you consume are from whole food, rather than oil, you gain nature’s protective package: a balance of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and phytonutrients.
So come on ladies—shape up your diet! We need you. We—I mean men—can’t be trusted to run the world by ourselves. Eat your veggies!
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Is Your Teen Fat?

Parents, would you know if your kid had a weight problem? You might see it, but could you admit? New research contends parents fail to perceive weight-related issues. Reuters reports:
These findings are "important" and "troublesome," the researchers say in their report in the medical journal Diabetes Care, because recognition that a child is overweight is a critical first step to making diet and lifestyle changes to promote weight loss.

Dr. Asheley Cockrell Skinner of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues interviewed 104 adolescents with type 2 diabetes and their parents about perceptions of the adolescents' weight, diet and exercise habits.

To gauge weight perceptions, the teens and their parents were asked if they thought the adolescents were "very overweight, slightly overweight, about right, slightly thin, or very thin?"

While 87 percent of children were overweight by accepted standards, "only 41 percent of parents and 35 percent of adolescents considered the adolescent to be 'very overweight'," the team reports.
I’m not a parent—at least not that I know of—so for a comment, I figured I’d ask the best parent I know, my mom. She raised two boys—and one particularly obnoxious one—she must know something about this. Take a look:
I think most parents know that their child is overweight, but it is hard to acknowledge and deal with it. One worries about putting too much emphasis on weight and body image which may lead to eating disorders and self esteem issues.

There is guilt in taking away the foods you child enjoys and constantly pointing out what is good or not good for them. It is also hard to lead by example as most parents don't follow a healthy diet, therefore, how can we ask our children to do so?

For the most part, parents convince themselves that their child is not really overweight and he/she will outgrow it. It's unfortunate but it is the easiest way out.
Okay, my mom isn’t the only parent out there—although she’d probably the only parent that can tolerate my craziness—so, other parents. What do you think about this report?

Salty Kids...

Most people don’t realize it, but, salt is everywhere—not just the salt shaker. Even foods like canned vegetables are packed with sodium. You’d do well to avoid them, even if you’re already eating a nutrient-dense diet. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
A large body of data illustrates that populations with low salt consumption have lower levels of blood pressure compared to populations with higher salt intake. In Japan and China, salt intakes are often as high as eighteen grams or more per day. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke are the major causes of premature death in these nations. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in the United States, the man salt intake is eight grams per day. This high intake of sodium assures that we have an elderly population with high blood pressure.
The Japanese and Chinese may eat a lot of vegetables, but they’re retarding the benefits with all that salt. And just what are drawbacks of high salt intake? Dr. Fuhrman lists some, 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.
Now, it appears researchers are very concerned about all this salt—especially in regard to kids—a new study hopes to curb childhood obesity by cutting the salt. Jamie Stengle of the Associated Press reports:
Kids who load up on salty meals and snacks get thirsty, and too often they turn to calorie-filled sodas. So maybe cutting back on the salt is a good way to cut the calories. That's the idea coming from a British study published Wednesday in an American Heart Association journal…

… Not only could less salt translate to fewer soft drinks and therefore fewer calories, but a modest reduction in salt has already been shown to lower blood pressure, which increases the risk of later-in-life heart attack and stroke, researchers say…

…The study suggested that cutting in half the amount of salt British children consume - a decrease of about half a teaspoon a day - would lead to an average reduction of about 18 ounces of sugar-sweetened soft drinks per week.
Again, Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of salt. “I recommend that no salt at all be added to any food,” he once said, and, he really wants you to keep it away from your kids. Here are his five most dangerous things to feed your child, have a look:
Butter and cheese: full of saturated fat and fat-delivered chemical pollutants

Potato chips and French fries: rich in trans fat, salt, and carcinogenic acrylamides

Doughnuts and other trans fat-containing sweets:
rich in trans fat, sugar, and other artificial substances

Sausages, hot dogs, and other luncheon meats: contain N-nitroso compounds that are potent carcinogens

Pickled, smoked, or barbequed meats: places you at risk of both stomach cancer and high blood pressure.
What do all these things have in common—other than being disgusting—salt! In fact, I bet if you check the wrapper on those sweets and doughnuts you’ll find an inordinate amount of salt—what do you think?

Food Scoring Guide: How Nutrients Control Your Appetite

Hunger is a complicated thing. It is controlled by a system of messengers—hormones, nerves, and neurotransmitters. When your body’s micronutrient needs are not met, you can be driven to eat more calories than you need for optimal health.

Because of poor diet and health habits, many people experience uncomfortable symptoms a few hours after eating. This leads them to eat too often—and too much—as a way of preventing the discomfort. The symptoms are similar to those drug addicts feel when they are too long with their “fix” Like drug addicts, people with food addictions feel poorly after digestion because their bodies are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Since eating again (akin to taking another “fix”) makes the discomfort go away, these detoxification symptoms are mistaken for hunger. I call these symptoms “toxic hunger.” Toxic hunger goes away when you establish the habit of eating a high-nutrient diet.

Symptoms of Toxic Hunger
  • Shakes
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Stomach fluttering
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Mental confusion
Be forewarned. Eating healthfully may make the symptoms of toxic hunger feel worse temporarily. When you stop drinking coffee or discontinue other harmful habits, you may experience withdrawal or detox symptoms for a week or so. However, in short time these long-standing symptoms will disappear, and you will not be driven to overeat anymore. You quickly will become comfortable eating less, and you will no longer desire the extra calories you used to crave to palliate unpleasant symptoms

Wii Fit

I’m 26 and I grew up and grew out of video games. As a kid I was all about Super Mario, Megaman, and Street Fighter II—I never thought I’d see the day when video games become associated with fitness. Introducing, Wii Fit. Reuters reports:
The Wii Fit, which will debut on May 19, will come with a weight-and-motion sensing device called the Wii Balance Board, the company said in a statement.

Nintendo is also planning to launch a new online service in the U.S. in May called WiiWare that will allow game publishers to distribute new titles over the Internet directly to users, instead of on discs.

Early WiiWare games will come from developers such as Square Enix, famous for the role-playing game franchise "Final Fantasy."
I have to admit, all this talk about the Wii and exercise has perked up my ears. I might have to dust off my subscription to Nintendo Power. I mean, just check out how cool the Wii Fit commercial is. Take a look:

How sweet is that? You can do Yoga on your Wii—awesome!

What "Real Men" Eat

I’m a guy’s guy. I lift weights, I watch football, and, I can quote lines from The God Father, but, I don’t eat what many would call "manly" food. I eat spinach over steak and blueberries over bratwurst. In fact, here’s what I ate yesterday:
Chocolate pudding made with bananas, seeds, nuts, coco-powder, avocado, spinach, lettuce, dates, and unsweetened almond milk. Plus a shot of pomegranate juice!

A small salad; Romaine lettuce, carrots, tomato, red onion, avocado, with some random seed-based dressed I came up with, and a nectarine.

Some water sautéed broccoli rabe and sliced garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil and a bunch of garlic powder. Oh, and I had a banana later in the evening too.
Now, I ate all this and you’ll still find me shouting at the basketball game on TV and playing fantasy football. Speaking of sports, check out how these uber-men of the NBA and MLB are shaping up of their diets. From Sally Squires of The Washington Post:
Washington Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, have hired personal chefs to assist them at the dining table. "Your body is your temple, so you want to keep it as fresh as possible," Butler says. "Eating right gives you an edge on your opponent."

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Ray King has learned that lesson, too. Concerned that extra pounds were throwing him off balance on the mound, he changed his habits during the offseason. Not only did King work out, he also stopped drinking soda and swapped greasy, fast-food burgers for salmon…

...The Pittsburgh Pirates first added rice and beans to their menus when Dominican-born players requested them. The low-calorie, high-protein meals proved so popular that they are now standard fare. That move paved the way for other foods when the team opened Pirate City, its new training facility. Now vegetable kebabs, stir-fries, steamed vegetables and a salad bar with a wide range of greens are popular items, Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
I’m not a Wizards fan, but Gilbert Arenas is the man! Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Tony Gonzalez is pretty cool too. He went vegetable-based and had lots of success: Gonzo Gone Veggie.

Recalled Beef Already Down the Hatch...

Again, whether you eat beef or not, this should give you the creeps. It seems that recalled Californian beef we learned about yesterday, has most likely already been eaten. CNN explains:
Federal officials are trying to track down the 143 million pounds of beef recalled Sunday, but they say that most of it has probably been eaten.

Keith Williams, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman, said investigators have found no cases of illness related to the recalled meat…

…Dick Raymond, the undersecretary of agriculture for food safety said cattle that had passed pre-slaughter inspections but then lost the ability to walk were slaughtered without being re-examined for chronic illness by an inspector, a practice he said violated federal regulations and had been going on for at least two years….

…Raymond said the average age of the cattle involved is 5 to 7 years, meaning most of them were probably born long after a 1997 ban on a type of cattle feed suspected to cause the disease. He said the incidence of the disease in U.S. cattle is "extremely rare."

It's important to keep downed cattle out of the food supply because the animals have weaker immune systems and sometimes wallow in feces, raising the risk of contamination, according to The Associated Press.
I don’t eat beef, but my friends do, my family does. I don’t want them exposed to “sick meat.” This is a food-supply issue—it transcends carnivore, vegan, or vegetarian hang-ups—shame on Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company!

Lick My Ad!

Welch’s Grape Juice has gone insane. They’re actually encouraging people to LICK their new advertisement in People magazine—the stupidity is hurting my brain—Jim Foster of Diet Blog doesn’t like it either. Check it out:
Welch's Grape Juice has somehow been embedded into a full-page advert.

The front of the advertisement shows a huge bottle of the juice, while the back has a strip that peels up and off, with text that reads: "For a TASTY fact, remove & LICK." (via Wall Street Journal.)

Apparently if the sticker has been lifted - then someone else has already run their tongue over the page.

Scented ads are one thing - but saliva on magazines is another thing altogether.
Here's the ad:
Great! Looks like I’m done thumbing through the magazines at the barber shop—eek! In short, ditch the juice. Just eat some darn grapes!

Inner Ear Infections, Antibiotics No Help

Last Friday we learned that ear infections are over-treated. In case you missed it. Here’s a quote from Dr. Fuhrman that helps explain why:
Studies show that the majority of ear infections are of viral etiology. For example, 75 percent of pediatric ear infections were caused by common respiratory viruses in a microbiological survey.1 Generally speaking, the use of antibiotics should be reserved for serious or life-threatening infections, not conditions that the body is well-equipped to resolve on its own.
Now, here’s more reason to hold the antibiotics. New research has determined that antibiotics do little for inner eat infections. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports:
Dutch researchers did a meta-analysis of several previously published studies and found the results don't support the use of antibiotics for the fluid buildup that can accompany inner ear infections.
"Due to the marginal effect and the known negative effects of prescribing antibiotics, such as the development of antibiotic resistance and side effects, we do not recommend prescribing antibiotics to prevent middle ear effusion," said lead researcher Maroeska M. Rovers, from the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care at the University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands.

Ear infections are very common among infants and children. They can lead to fluid buildup in the ear, which is known as otitis media with effusion. This buildup can result in hearing loss, which can affect language development, cognitive development, behavior and quality of life, according to the researchers.
Hey parents, do me a favor. In the comments tell me what you do when your young children get ear infections—I imagine its tough to resist just taking them to the doctor.
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Your Moody Heart

Mood effects a lot of things, work, relationships, and—believe it or not—your health; specifically your ticker. On The CBS Early Show, Dr. Mallika Marshall talks about the mind-body-heart connection. Here’s a snippet:
Marshall says there's "clearly a mind-body connection. The brain collects signals from all over the body and translates them into instructions, telling various organs how to function, including our hearts. For example, if we're cold, if we're hot, if we're dehydrated, if we're frightened -- the brain sends signals to the heart telling it to speed up, slow down, pump harder, etc. And our moods can have a significant effect on our hearts, as well. For example, research out of Harvard has found that recurrent heart attacks may be more closely linked to depression than to other risk factors such as cholesterol, smoking, blood pressure or diabetes."

The moods in question, Marshall points out, are the ones that make us feel rotten, both emotionally and physically. For example, sudden bursts of anger or intense stress cause the brain to increase the production of cortisol and other "fight-or-flight" hormones. Cortisol can affect the lining of blood vessels over time, and make heart attack and stroke more likely. Long-term depression can also affect the heart in several ways. It can trigger the release of substances that can cause inflammation in blood vessels, which may be linked to heart disease. And the actual deficiency of serotonin (the "feel-good" hormone in our brains) that can trigger depression may also make our blood clot more easily, also promoting heart disease.
So, next time you’re at the DMV—angrily weighing the option of homicide—think twice and relax.

Got the Flu Shot, Still the Got Flu

Wait! You mean the vaunted flu shot is not the miracle fix it’s marketed to be—nope. Apparently even people vaccinated with the flu-shot are getting the flu. William Wan and David Brown of The Washington Post report:
The stubborn virus has spread across the country, gripping several areas in the Washington region.

But the estimate doesn't mean people should not get inoculated this season, experts said. A flu shot provides some measure of protection, because even the strains not in the current vaccine are descended from ones that are.

"This season, we are seeing more disease out there, and probably higher rates of hospitalization and death than we have seen in the last couple of years," said Joseph S. Bresee, an epidemiologist in the CDC's influenza division. But compared with rates in the past two decades, he said, "it is not an atypical season."

Still, there are signs that the flu's reach may be extending.

Health officials in 44 states, including Maryland and Virginia, are reporting "widespread" flu activity, the CDC said, up from 31 states reported last week. Cases have also been reported in the District, but not at widespread levels.
Not all that surprising. Last week we learned that our flu-shots are pretty much outmatched. David Brown of The Washington Post was on that too. Here’s a bit:
"Most years, the prediction is very good," said Joseph S. Bresee, an influenza epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "In 16 of the last 19 years, we have had a well-matched vaccine."

But probably not this time…

…The viruses in the vaccine are either dead or, in the case of the nasal-spray flu vaccine developed four years ago, crippled so they cannot cause illness. What they can do is stimulate the body's immune system to mount a defense, sometimes a lifesaving one, should the virus be encountered.
We need to stop blindly beating the flu shot drum. Dr. Fuhrman will tell you. Eat healthfully. Bolster your body’s natural defenses. Besides the flu shot does not come without a price—mercury. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Flu vaccines have benefits and risks too. If you read about the flu vaccine in the information supplied by the manufacturer you will learn it contains formaldehyde and 25 micrograms of thimersol (mercury) per dose, used as a preservative. The injection of even this small amount of mercury repeatedly year after year from multiple vaccines can cause neurotoxicity (brain damage). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public Health Service have issued a joint statement calling for the removal of mercury from vaccines. Chronic low dose mercury exposures may cause subtle neurological abnormalities that rear their head later in life.
Now, the “flu issue” is indeed a big one, and, I’m just a dingy blogger. So, if you want the lowdown on the flu and the flu shot, check out this post by Dr. Fuhrman: Flu and Nutrition. Actually the whole cold and flu category is worth a look.

Prevent Cancer, You Need Nutrients

I asked Dr. Fuhrman for a quote on cancer once and here’s what he said, “Cancer is a fruit and vegetable deficiency disease.” Is he right? Wait! Before you decide, let’s let him drop some more knowledge on us. Check it out:
Not surprisingly, fruits and vegetables are the two foods with the best correlation with longevity in humans. Not whole-wheat bread, not bran, not even a vegetarian diet shows as powerful a correlation as a high level of fresh fruit and raw green salad consumption.1 The National Cancer Institute recently reported on 337 different studies that all showed the same basic information.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman isn’t alone in his thinking—eat your fruits and veggies—because a new study has determined that a lack of vitamins leads to cancer. Its over at EMaxHealth, here’s a peek:
Bruce Ames examined how junk food stuffed with calories causes micronutrient deficiency and leads to diseases. Lack of micronutrients damages DNA and cells, causing weakness to immune system. This leads to numerous diseases, mostly cancer.

"DNA damage increases on deficiency of each of the 15 micronutrients that have been examined in humans, primary human cells in culture or in rodents," said Ames. "These deficiencies are associated with cancer."

Among common lacking vitamins professor mentions Vitamin E, among common minerals magnesium. About 56% of US population lack magnesium, about 93% lack Vitamin E. Micronutrient deficiency commonly occurs among poor, teenagers, elderly and obese people. African Americans generally lack Vitamin D.
Okay. I’ve got to be honest. The length of my attention-span could fit into a thimble—I love bullet points. So, if you’re like me. Dr. Fuhrman serves up four quick reasons to eat lots and lots of fruits and veggies. Take a look:
  1. Vegetables and fruits protect against all types of cancers if consumed in large enough quantities. Hundreds of scientific studies document this. The most prevalent cancers in our country are mostly plant-food-deficiency diseases.
  2. Raw vegetables have the most powerful anti-cancer properties of all foods.
  3. Studies on the cancer-reducing effects of vitamin pills containing various nutrients (such as folate, vitamin C and E) get mixed reviews; sometimes they show a slight benefit, but most show no benefit. Occasionally studies show that taking isolated nutrients is harmful, as was discussed earlier regarding beta-carotene.
  4. Beans, in general, not just soy, have additional anti-cancer benefits against reproductive cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.2
See! Fruits and fruits and veggies are loaded with those ever-necessary vitamins and minerals. Heck, they sure beat popping some random multi-vitamin and then gobbling up the standard American diet. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Though Americans would prefer to take a pill so they could continue eating what they are accustomed to, it won’t give you the protection you are looking for. Consume high levels of fruits, green vegetables, and beans. This is the key to both weight loss and better health.
And here’s the great part—not to sound like a commercial—but eating tons of whole fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and beans is awesome! Once you experience it, there’s no better feeling than eating for your health—yippee!
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These Tomatoes are Garbage!

And proud of it! This is a great video. This dude has grown an enormous tomato plant on garbage. You got to check it out:

Anyone ever try this? If you have, let me know. I’d love to blog about it;

HealthDay News: Irritable Bowel News

Can a healthy diet fix your irritable bowel syndrome? I mean, we already know that it works wonders for things like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, cholesterol, but what about those angry bowels? Take it away Dr. Fuhrman:
I also see a large number of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some feel better within three days of following this diet, although others take a few weeks or longer to adjust to the comparatively large amount of fiber. Both animal products and flour products are triggers for bowel symptoms in many individuals.1
Let me let you in on a little secret. Before I took my health back with a vengeance, I had some serious IBS, but now, I’m as regular as the mail. Not convinced it can work for you? Okay, fine! Dr. Fuhrman, if you will:
British researchers have documented that increased production of methane and other gaseous products representing increased fermentation in the colon from meats, dairy products, and refined grains correlate with bowel complaints. However, there are other mechanism by which a natural-food diet high in nutrients and fiber reestablishes normal gut motility and tone. It can take time to undo a lifetime of wrong eating; most of my patients need three months to see improvement.
Now, since we’re talking about IBS. HealthDay News has a couple interesting articles worth mentioning. The first, new research contends you can manage irritable bowel syndrome with your mind. Karen Pallarito reports:
Recent studies show that using one's own thoughts in a process called cognitive behavioral therapy may help ease symptoms. Likewise, using hypnosis to visualize the pain and imagine it seeping away can be a powerful treatment strategy, too.

"Research indicates that the probability of achieving benefits is excellent with either approach, even for patients who haven't improved from standard medical care," said Olafur S. Palsson, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders…

… Doctors generally advise patients to avoid certain foods that may exacerbate symptoms. Several different medications may be recommended for relieving abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. But these approaches don't always provide adequate relief.

"For some people, medications and dietary changes are the perfect match, but most of our patients -- the great, great majority of patients -- have not responded to medications and dietary changes," said Jeffrey M. Lackner, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, and a behavioral medicine specialist whose research focuses on gastrointestinal disorders, particularly IBS.
Makes you wonder what kind of “dietary changes” they’re referring to. My money is on NOT a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet. Anyway, check out this report linking IBS to allergy disorders and depression. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News is on it:
In this study, researchers looked at 125 adults and found the likelihood of IBS was much higher in patients with allergic eczema (3.85 times) and seasonal allergic rhinitis (2.67) times. They also found that IBS was 2.56 times more likely in people with depression.

"The reported presence of allergic dermatitis was highly correlated to the presence of IBS in our population," the study authors wrote. "In atopic disease, allergic dermatitis is the first step of the 'atopic' march.' In early childhood, AE (allergic eczema) is frequently associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction and food allergy. A clinical history of AE may be a useful marker for patients with gut hypersensitivity and atopic IBS."
I take all of this as living proof that switching to a health-promoting diet—loaded with whole fruits and veggies—is the REAL way to go. What do you think?
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A Very Meaty Recall...

A California meat-packer has announced the largest U.S. beef recall. Reuters reports:
Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co voluntarily recalled all of its beef produced since February 1, 2006. USDA said Hallmark violated rules against the slaughter of "downer cattle" -- that is, animals too ill to walk.

"This is the largest beef recall in the history of the United States, unfortunately," said Agriculture Undersecretary Richard Raymond.

Based in Chino, California, Hallmark/Westland has been closed since early February. Company officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Humane Society of the United States showed videotapes on January 30 showing workers at the plant using several abusive techniques to make animals stand up and pass a pre-slaughter inspection. These included ramming cattle with forklift blades and using a hose to simulate the feeling of drowning.
Whether you eat beef or not, do you really want to eat sick beef?

Obesity and Cancer-Risk, Linked

“Overweight individuals are more likely to die from all causes, including heart disease and cancer,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Wait, it gets worse. Here’s an excerpt from the new Food Scoring Guide:
The ever increasing waistline of America is not merely a cosmetic issue. This March toward national obesity is taking a dramatic toll on our health and economy, and is causing medical and financial tragedies for more and more families. At present, two thirds (67%) of American adults, and nearly one-third (31%) of our children, are overweight or obese. Over the past thirty years, the average weight of an American male has increased 27 pounds (from 164 pounds to 191 pounds). Childhood obesity has tripled over the past twenty years. Because of America’s eating habits, the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) predicts that the current generation of children will be the first in our nation’s history to live shorter lives than their parents.
That’s a daunting a prospect. Now, not to scare the living daylights out of you, but you’d think all the health complications from being obese would keep people from letting themselves go. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Health Complications of Obesity
  • Increased overall mortality
  • Adult onset diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Fatty infiltration of the liver
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Cancer
Getting winded when I bent over to tie my shoes made me get my act together, but it could have been worse—much worse. A new study has determined that obesity does in fact increase cancer-risk. HealthDay News reports:
"This is a profoundly important issue. Obviously, the obesity epidemic is a huge problem itself, and the relationship to cancer is only one of the many adverse health effects of being overweight and obese," said Dr. Michael Thun, head of epidemiological research at the American Cancer Society. "The evidence has been accumulating now for over 10 years. . . This study tries to provide a quantitative measure of how much the relative risk goes up with each increment, basically jumping from one BMI [body-mass index] category to another."

Although extra fat has already been identified by research as a risk factor for several different types of cancer, Thun said, "the problem of obesity is so large and so difficult to solve that there's a very sound reason for ongoing studies of things that have become increasingly well-known, just because it helps the momentum in stimulating approaches that will actually help people maintain a healthy weight."
Whether its cancer-risk, heart disease, diabetes, or whatever, feeling better and looking better, has got to be inspiration enough—right? If not, get a load of this research in the BMJ. From The Million Women Study:
Increasing body mass index is associated with a significant increase in the risk of cancer for 10 out of 17 specific types examined. Among postmenopausal women in the UK, 5% of all cancers (about 6000 annually) are attributable to being overweight or obese. For endometrial cancer and adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus, body mass index represents a major modifiable risk factor; about half of all cases in postmenopausal women are attributable to overweight or obesity.
Honestly, things like cancer scare the crap out of me. So I after I read stuff like this, I grab some lettuce and hit the treadmill. Then afterwards, I grab some carrots and a Yoga mat. And after that, I usually collapse.

Trans-Fat Free, Yeah Right!

A lot of food producers now claim their products are “trans-fat free,” but health experts are still urging consumers to be leery of those nutrition facts. Amy Norton of Reuters explains:
In a sampling of packaged foods at a local Wal-Mart, researchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis found that a majority of margarines and butters, cookies, cakes and snack foods had gone trans fat free.

However, a number of products still had substantial amounts of the fat, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

For example, three of 40 brands of chips, crackers and popcorn contained at least 3 grams of trans fat per serving, according to the products' labels.

So, despite the food industry's move toward cutting trans fat, consumers still need to check labels, according to the researchers, led by graduate student Matthew J. Albers.

Trans fat has become notorious because it not only raises "bad" LDL cholesterol, but also lowers heart-protective HDL cholesterol. The main source of trans fat in the diet is the partially hydrogenated oil used in many commercially prepared baked and fried foods -- including cookies, crackers, chips, breads and french fries.
These shyster tactics are pretty typical, but don’t take my word for it—again, I’m just a dopey blogger—Dr. Fuhrman’s friend Jeff Novick, MS, RD explains. Watch and learn:

Don’t worry there’s not a lot of deceptive labeling going on in the produce isle.

Your Diet is a Failure!

Diet Blog serves up 5 Reasons Why Your Diet Is Failing. Here’s my favorite reason:
What Are You Drinking?
Did you know that calories from beverages make up a massive 22% of the average American diet (see more). I have a friend who eats small meals - thinking he's watching his weight - but then consumes hundreds of calories from beer.

Take time now to examine how many liquid calories you consume.
Think about it. How many chronic dieters do you know who literally go belly up at the bar?

Bay Area Set to Spray Pesticides

The light brown apple moth must die! Apparently so, because officials are set to spray pesticides over urban San Francisco to get rid of it. Jane Kay of The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The little-known proposal to wipe out the light brown apple moth, which if it became established could destroy the region's agricultural industry, has developed increasing opposition among some residents who fear for their health.

Hundreds of people whose homes and yards were sprayed in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties from September to December have filed reports that said the pesticide seems to have caused coughing, wheezing, muscle aches and headaches, among other symptoms. One Monterey family reported that a child had a first-time asthma attack.

State officials say the amount of pesticide applied shouldn't pose severe health risks, but they've also refused to rule out that the spray can affect humans, particularly sensitive people such as children and the elderly.
Gee, that’s comforting.

Healthy Air, Healthy Blood Vessels

A Danish study has determined that using HEPA air filters in the home can improve the blood vessel function of older people. Anne Harding of Reuters reports:
While the couples were all non-smokers, the improvement seen in the study was "in the same ballpark" as would be seen after a person quits smoking, Dr. Steffen Loft of the Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.

There is a wealth of data on how breathing minute particles carried in the air, known as particulate matter, can worsen heart and lung disease and even increase mortality rates, Loft and his team note in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

To better understand how particulate matter in indoor air affects health, the researchers used a battery of tests to assess microvascular function and inflammation in 21 couples 60 to 75 years old after breathing nonfiltered air, and then after breathing filtered air for 48 hours.
Yeah, you try explaining to your grandparents how to work an air filter. Put it to you this way, my grandparents VCR has been flashing 12:00 for over ten years now!

The Genetics of the Gym

Researchers explain why regular exercise can lengthen your life and—oddly enough—it has a lot to do with length, the length of your chromosomes that is. More from Jack Kelly, of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The British researchers studied 2,400 twins. Their research focused on telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes, the structures that carry genes.

When we're young, our telomeres are long. But every time a cell divides, telomeres get shorter. When telomeres get too short, the cell can no longer divide. Cells die. Muscles weaken, skin wrinkles, eyesight and hearing fade.

Prof. Tim Spector and Dr. Lynn Cherkas of Kings College, and Prof. Abraham Aviv of the New Jersey Medical School found the telomeres in those who exercised vigorously were significantly longer than those in their twins who didn't. The difference was still significant even if the twin who exercised smoked or was overweight.

"These data suggest that the act of exercising may actually protect the body against the aging process," said Mr. Spector, who is a professor of genetic epidemiology. The study was published last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Telomeres, interesting—let’s find out more about them. I ran telomeres through Wikipedia. Here’s some of what came up. Take a look:
During cell division, the enzymes that duplicate the chromosome and its DNA can't continue their duplication all the way to the end of the chromosome. If cells divided without telomeres, they would lose the end of their chromosomes, and the necessary information it contains. (In 1972, James Watson named this phenomenon the "end replication problem.") The telomere is a disposable buffer, which is consumed during cell division and is replenished by an enzyme…

…If telomeres become too short, they will potentially unfold from their presumed closed structure. It is thought that the cell detects this uncapping as DNA damage and will enter cellular senescence, growth arrest or apoptosis depending on the cell's genetic background (p53 status). Uncapped telomeres also result in chromosomal fusions. Since this damage cannot be repaired in normal somatic cells, the cell may even go into apoptosis. Many aging-related diseases are linked to shortened telomeres. Organs deteriorate as more and more of their cells die off or enter cellular senescence.
Riveting, so, how long are your telomeres? I figure with the amount I exercise, I should have telomeres from here to Staten Island!


The Onion: Don't Skimp on the...

The ever-clever Onion reports, that those foods that most Americans “don’t skimp on” or only want “just a silver” of, can in fact screw up our health. Take it away Onion:
People who frequently start sentences with the phrase "don't skimp on the" are 40 percent more likely to develop some form of heart disease. "Use of the phrase poses a very serious health risk, especially when the speaker is in close proximity to mayonnaise," said Dr. Keith Logsdon, a leading cardiovascular researcher and chief author of the study. "We have also found data suggesting that the seemingly benign utterance 'just a sliver' could be equally detrimental to heart health, particularly when used three to four times in the span of an hour."
Granted, it might be fake news, but hopefully it’ll make you think twice before you dollop the Daisy:

“Clog your arteries with a dollop, a dollop, a dollop!” Eek!

Eating to Live on the Outside: Justix

I’m hungry. I worked out hard this morning, did an extra Yoga class last night, and now I’ve worked up quite an appetite. Lucky for me it’s Friday, which means its time to test out a new restaurant and—hopefully—grab a nutritious bite to eat.

And, I think we’ve got a chance this week. Justix has potential. It’s not perfect—most restaurants aren’t—but I think it’s got a decent shot at satisfying the discriminating nutritarian. So, grab your knife and fork, tuck a napkin into your collar, and let’s hit it!

Justix is, “Grilled food on a stick.” Well, as far as the “on a stick” part. That’s a little iffy. You’ve got six options; beef, chicken, pork, tofu, portabella mushroom, and salmon. Okay, I’m cool with the tofu, portabella, and salmon. The portabella mushroom is by far my favorite. It’d be my first choice.

As far as the sides go, I’d pair my portabella mushroom sticks with either steamed broccoli, grilled zucchini, steamed carrot sticks, potato wedges, or roasted veggies. I’m leaning towards the steamed broccoli or the roasted veggies, but I’d probably go with the broccoli—I’m on a bit of a steamed broccoli kick lately.

Onto the sauces, there’s three I’d consider ordering. I like Annabelle’s Mint & Orange, Cousin Tony’s Balsamic Glaze, and the Sub-lime Peanut Cilantro. Neither of them strikes me as a massive concession, but just to be safe. I’d order them on the side—what do you think?

Now, Justix isn’t just sticks and sides. They’ve also got some salads and wraps you can work with. Some are bad news; loaded with bacon, beef, blue cheese, and ranch sauce. Clearly, I’ll be avoiding all that stuff. As I’ve pointed out in the past, bacon is my nemesis—growl!

Let’s start with the wraps. I’m digging The Salmon BLT Wrap and The Veggie Wrap—the veggie being the obvious favorite—combined they include grilled farm-raised salmon, bacon, baby lettuce, tomato, ranch sauce, flour tortilla, portabella mushroom, red onion, zucchini, red pepper, goat cheese, and a Balsamic glaze. No question, I’m ditching the bacon and the cheese—yuck! I’m cool with the salmon. I’ll just make sure I don’t eat fish again for a few weeks. So, when all is said and done, the only major concession would be the flour tortilla—I can live it.

Salad time! The Justix Side Salad is cool. It’s made with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion. With dressing on the side, this one looks good. The next salad I could work with is the Southwestern Chicken Salad—relax! I’m nixing the chicken. Post chicken, the Southwestern salad comes with mixed greens, yellow corn, red onion, tortilla strips, and a lime cumin vinaigrette. Yeah, those tortilla strips are history and that vinaigrette is going on the side.

So there you have it, short but sweet. Granted, Justix is not a homerun, but, if you’re a hungry nutritarian looking for a quick bit to eat, you can certainly make it work—don’t you agree? Now, whether you do or don’t, let me know how do you handle Eating to Live on the Outside? Check out Justix’s menu, make a comment, or send an email to Until then, eat healthfully! Peace.

Diet Differences, Love on the Rocks

I’m single and believe it or not, one of my date criteria is diet. If you’re a meat and potatoes kind of girl, it’s not going work. Now, there's more to this, Kate Murphy of The New York Times proves that diet differences can muck up a relationship. Take a look:
Ben Abdalla, 42, a real estate agent in Boca Raton, Fla., said he preferred to date fellow vegetarians because meat eaters smell bad and have low energy.

Lisa Romano, 31, a vegan and school psychologist in Belleville, N.Y., said she recently ended a relationship with a man who enjoyed backyard grilling. He had no problem searing her vegan burgers alongside his beef patties, but she found the practice unenlightened and disturbing.

Her disapproval “would have become an issue later even if it wasn’t in the beginning,” Ms. Romano said. “I need someone who is ethically on the same page.”

While some eaters may elevate morality above hedonism, others are suspicious of anyone who does not give in to the pleasure principle.

June Deadrick, 40, a lobbyist in Houston, said she would have a hard time loving a man who did not share her fondness for multicourse meals including wild game and artisanal cheeses. “And I’m talking cheese from a cow, not that awful soy stuff,” she said.
Okay, here’s a true story. Last spring I met a nice girl. Smart, sweet, cute, sexy—perfect! Now, I later found out she was a total basket case, but here’s another list of reasons why I had to break it off. Brace yourself:
  • Drake’s Coffee Cakes
  • Pizza
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Coca-Cola
  • Lipton Brisk
  • Sara Lee Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Sun Chips
  • Cheese
  • White Bread
And the list goes on. The truth is I can’t be with somebody that eats that junk—I just can’t. Here’s my barometer. If a girl eats mushrooms, chances are she’s my kind of gal. So, if you’re 20-something, love mushrooms, and hate cheese—I’m yours!

Ear Infections, Over-Treated?

“Whether bacterial or not, our children get a routine prescription for an antibiotic at every minor illness,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. And when it comes to ear infections kids are REALLY getting hit with the antibiotic stick. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
In some European countries, antibiotics are used for ear infections only when there is a persistent drainage or persistent pain because these infections resolve on their own more than 85 percent of the time without treatment.1 Studies show that the majority of ear infections are of viral etiology. For example, 75 percent of pediatric ear infections were caused by common respiratory viruses in a microbiological survey.2 Generally speaking, the use of antibiotics should be reserved for serious or life-threatening infections, not conditions that the body is well-equipped to resolve on its own.
Adding fuel to the fire, Laurie Tarkan of The New York Times wants to know, are ear infections too often misdiagnosed and then over-treated? Let’s find out:
One reason why ear infections are so often overdiagnosed is that they can be hard to identify in young children, especially ones in screaming pain. “You’re dealing with a tiny subject, the baby or toddler, where the ear canal is narrow and tends to be occluded with wax, which you must remove to see the eardrum, and doing that can be a harrowing experience,” said Dr. Jack Paradise, professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Doctors then have to interpret what can be subtle differences between an ear inflamed by crying or fever and a true ear infection. “Many if not most practitioners have difficulty in this area,” Dr. Paradise said…

…In 80 to 90 percent of ear infections, the bacterial infection will clear up on its own. Though these bacteria are not typically harmful in and of themselves, clearing up the infection sooner with antibiotics can hasten pain relief. A trade-off is drug side effects like nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea and even rare, life-threatening allergic reactions. “For every case of ear infection that goes away faster, we may cause between three and seven cases of diarrhea,” Dr. Powers said. “We’ve moved the problem from up North to down South.” The use of antibiotics can also increase a child’s susceptibility to new ear infections.
This easy way out of ear infections does carry serious risks. Dr. Fuhrman talks about how antibiotics can actually lead to more—not fewer—ear infections. Have a look:
The vicious cycle of poor nutrition and the overuse of antibiotics works to place a tremendous disease burden on the future health of our children. We bring our young (improperly fed) children to physicians with their first ear infection. At this point the majority of these infections are viral, not bacterial. Nevertheless whether it's viral, bacterial, fungal, or some mixture, a healthy child has no problem recovering from an ear infection without antibiotics. In the United States almost all these children are routinely given antibiotics. Taking the antibiotic kills off the beneficial bacteria and promotes the colonization of more disease-causing strains, and now the next ear infection has a greater chance of being bacterial, not viral. Viral, bacterial, or a mixed infection, it matters not, because at the next visit your kid gets another antibiotic anyway, starting the cycle of infection after infection, antibiotic dependency, and impaired immune function.
I guess the lesson to be learned here is, don’t mortgage the future for the present—quick-fixes are not without their price tag.
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Michael Pollan Now!

Michael Pollan is a big deal. He’s one of the best food science journalists walking the earth and here’s a great interview with him from Democracy Now. Check it out:
MICHAEL POLLAN: Nutritionism is the prevailing ideology in the whole world of food. And it’s not a science. It is an ideology. And like most ideologies, it is a set of assumptions about how the world works that we’re totally unaware of. And nutritionism, there’s a few fundamental tenets to it. One is that food is a collection of nutrients, that basically the sum of—you know, food is the sum of the nutrients it contains. The other is that since the nutrient is the key unit and, as ordinary people, we can’t see or taste or feel nutrients, we need experts to help us design our foods and tell us how to eat.

Another assumption of nutritionism is that you can measure these nutrients and you know what they’re doing, that we know what cholesterol is and what it does in our body or what an antioxidant is. And that’s a dubious proposition.

And the last premise of nutritionism is that the whole point of eating is to advance your physical health and that that’s what we go to the store for, that’s what we’re buying. And that’s also a very dubious idea. If you go around the world, people eat for a great many reasons besides, you know, the medicinal reason. I mean, they eat for pleasure, they eat for community and family and identity and all these things. But we’ve put that aside with this obsession with nutrition.

And I basically think it’s a pernicious ideology. I mean, I don’t think it’s really helping us. If there was a trade-off, if looking at food this way made us so much healthier, great. But in fact, since we’ve been looking at food this way, our health has gotten worse and worse.
Nutritionism is a cool concept. Eat for nutrients. Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian lifestyle is very similar. Remember the equation? No! Okay, here it is again:
Health = Nutrition / Calories
The longer you eat a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet, the more this equation becomes basic instinct—you know? Oh! And Dr. Fuhrman had some interesting comments about Michael Pollan and his work. Have a look:
Many of Michael Pollan’s points are interesting and valid, but some discourage people to look to science as motivation to direct healthier eating styles and lifestyles. It almost seems as if his statements support a false view that what you eat does not matter much, when in fact, we have tremendous control our health destiny via nutritional excellence. As I always say, “Nutrition is the prescription.” And Michael Pollen, I think, would support that high nutrient natural foods, not supplements is the key to good health.
Speaking of high nutrient natural foods, I just had a fantastic mango!

Health Points: Friday

A recent review of scientific research suggests cranberries may offer a natural defense against the development of this dangerous disease. Researchers feel that many of these results are due to the fact that cranberries contain a greater concentration of antioxidants than other commonly consumed fruit and that these nutrients may be working together to offer even greater benefits.

The report conducted at Tufts University, and published in Nutrition Reviews, found that cranberries offered a range of different benefits that work to promote cardiovascular health. These benefits include effects on cholesterol as well as on blood pressure and the development of blood clots, all established risk factors for heart disease.
One in five of all male deaths and one in 20 of all female deaths between the ages of 30 and 69 will be caused by smoking, said the study, conducted by a team of doctors and scientists from India, Canada and Britain and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The results we found surprised us, because smokers in India start later in life and smoke fewer cigarettes or 'bidis' than those in Europe or America, but the risks are as extreme as in the West," said Prabhat Jha of the Center for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto, the lead author of the study.
On average, the students gained 14 pounds, added 2.6 inches to their waistline, and padded their body fat percentage by 3.7% during the study.

Blood samples provided by the students throughout the study show a spike in levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT). ALT levels rose quickly -- typically within a week -- after the students started the fast-food diet.
Tuna is one of those annoying pregnancy foods that might be really, really good or really, really bad for the baby.

Instead of driving yourself crazy (like I did!) trying to guess the proper amount to ingest without putting increasing your mercury level to the point of now return, you can use the handy dandy Tuna Calculator that will give you a suggested weekly serving based on your weight.
PCC Natural Markets is prohibiting suppliers from using cloned animal products in their food. It also wants them to disclose where ingredients are from and what they mean by terms such as "natural flavors."

These moves come months after the Seattle chain eliminated high-fructose corn syrup from its eight stores and began identifying the countries of origin for its meat, seafood, peanuts and fresh and frozen produce.
According to the research, red wine and alcohol consumption were found to have virtually identical impact on health, with one drink of either substance helping to reduce the work rate of the heart.

The findings, which are published in the February edition of the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology, could challenge the perception that polyphenol content of red wine is responsible for cardiovascular benefits.

Red wine has been linked to extended survival rates of mice and prevented the negative effects of high-calorie diets, in other testing, due to the presence of the polyphenol, resveratrol.
"You're in a dark, gloomy place," said Bruce Hollis, a leading vitamin D researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina. "In the winter, you could stand outside naked for five hours and nothing is going to happen."

Increased use of sunscreen has turned a seasonal shortfall into a year-round condition for many people. A recent survey in Britain found 87 percent of adults tested during winter, and more than 60 percent in summer, had subpar vitamin D levels. Doctors in many parts of the world — including California — report a resurgence of childhood rickets, soft bones caused by lack of vitamin D.
Tobacco giants Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco actively collude with cigarette smugglers to gain a foothold in lucrative developing markets, campaigners alleged on Wednesday.

"Transnationals benefit in a number of ways from the illicit trade in tobacco," said Kathyrn Mulvey, director of international policy with the lobby group Corporate Accountability International (CAI).

Food Scoring Guide: Weight Loss and Cholesterol

When you drop body fat, your cholesterol lowers somewhat. But when you reduce animal protein intake and increase vegetable protein intake, your cholesterol lowers dramatically. In fact, when a high-fiber, high-nutrient, vegetable-heavy diet was tested in a scientific investigation, it was found to lower cholesterol even more than most cholesterol-lowering drugs.1 As you eat more vegetables and fewer animal products, the nutrient density of your diet will go up automatically. Vegetables not only contain adequate protein, they have no saturated fat or cholesterol, and they are higher in nutrients per calorie than any other food. You can achieve your ideal weight and slow the aging process with a high phytochemical intake. So eat more vegetables!

The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high-protein foods) are without question. However, they contain an assortment of additional heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol.2 They fight cancer, too. Cancer incidence worldwide has an inverse relation with fruit and vegetable intake.3 If you increase your intake 80%, the risk of getting cancer drops 80%.
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The Human Veggies

Loyal Followhealthlife reader Rowland sent me this great email—I couldn’t help myself—I had to make a post out of it! Enjoy:

A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye and YES science now shows that carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.

A tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart is red and has four chambers. All of the research shows tomatoes are indeed pure heart and blood food.

Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows that grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.

A walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds are on the nut just like the neo-cortex. We now know that walnuts help develop over 3 dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.

Kidney beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.

Celery, Bok Choy, rhubarb and more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet the body pulls it from the bones, making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.

Eggplant, avocadoes and pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female—they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats 1 avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly 9 months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods; modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them.

Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the motility of male sperm and increase the numbers of sperm as well to overcome male sterility.

Sweet potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the Glycemic index of diabetics.

Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries.

Grapefruits, oranges, and other citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.

Onions look like body cells. Today's research shows that onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes.
Well, you are what you eat, which explains why I’ve started sprouting cruciferous vegetables on my back.

UPDATE: Check out what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about this email:
This is email is cute and has been circulating into my e-mail hundreds of times, but not a valid point, as foods do not have a particular health benefit to one organ of the body, that is just silly. Walnuts and all the foods mentioned are good for the entire body (equally), blueberries, though may be advertised as good for the brain is not only good for the brain, etc.

Healthy Eating: Don't Deceive Your Kids

Want your kids to eat healthy? It’s actually pretty simple. Parents, it starts with you. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
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.
Don’t worry. It’s not as rigorous as you might think. You’ve just got to roll with the punches. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not perfect either.
Now, one thing’s for sure, this idea of “sneaking” healthy food into junk food is pretty dumb. Mark Bittman of Bitten doesn’t like it:
I sincerely hope that the moronic idea of hiding food that kids don’t like in foods they do — see “The Sneaky Chef” and “Deceptively Delicious” — is a passing phase. (The funniest thing about these two books is that the public uproar wasn’t over their approach to cooking but over which author had the idea first.) This does a real disservice to kids and — not that this is my bailiwick — is evidence that today’s parents will do anything to avoid a confrontation.
Mark’s not the only one. Well’s Tara Parker-Pope is not impressed by it either. Here’s a snippet from my interview with her:
Let's talk about that Jessica Seinfeld book, “Deceptively Delicious,” it is one of the single worst things to happen to childhood nutrition ever.

This idea that we have to hide vegetables from our kids is so wrong. Our job isn't just to inject nutrients into their little bodies. It’s about teaching them about healthful eating. Why are we so puritanical about vegetables, serving them steamed and flavorless? We make our good food taste really good. We should make our good-for-you food taste really good too.
Again, instead of singling out the kids, the whole family should start eating healthfully. Back to Dr. Fuhrman:
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.
Veggies are great, but a sugary brownie packed with carrots doesn’t sound healthy to me—what do you think?

Pepsi in the Raw?

Soft drinks are bad—I know, duh—between the corn syrup and caffeine, what’s good about them! But what about an all “natural” soda? Times Online introduces Pepsi Raw:
Pepsi Raw, which will initially only be launched in the UK, is the first drink the multi-national cola brand has added to its range in more than ten years.

Pepsi claims the new drink is made from natural ingredients and contains no artificial preservatives, colours, flavourings or sweeteners and that by replacing corn syrup with cane sugar, it has managed to reduce the calorie content of a 300ml bottle from around 120 calories to around 90 calories.

The drink apple extract, plain caramel colouring, coffee leaf, tantaric acid from grapes, gum arabic from acacia trees, cane sugar and sparkling water. It is paler in colour and less fizzy than other cola brands.
Be sure to check out the taste challenge. Here it is:

Lest anyone think cane sugar is an upgrade. Most soymilks and nut milks are sweetened with it. Put it to you this way, if you check the fridge in Dr. Fuhrman’s office, you’ll only find “unsweetened” soymilk. Actually, take a look at this:

That’s my refrigerator right now and as you can see there’s no cane juice in there.

Not-Slim City

Las Vegas should spend less time hitting the slots and more time hitting the gym because Men’s Fitness Magazine has named Las Vegas America’s Fattest City, for the second year in a row. More from That’s Fit:
Basing its decision on at least 24 different factors -- sports participation rates, time spent working out, number of parks, average commute time, television viewing rates, legislative health initiatives -- this list, which shows Texas as a pretty porky state too, is meant to encourage cities to be healthier.

Mayor Goodman calls the magazine's study irresponsible journalism. Rather than taking offense, says editor in chief Roy Johnson, Goodman should use Sin City's placement on the list as motivation.

"Instead of shooting the messenger, go out for a run," Johnson says. "We use a lot of data, and we're very rigorous about this."

Maybe Goodman should shape up his city, like Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett did after placing 15th on last year's list. Cornett issued a city-wide plan to lose a collective one million pounds. This year, his city ranks 8th.
Vegas isn’t all bad, just check out Go Raw Café. Let it ride on green!

A Forrest of Core Fitness

Julie’s Health Club shares the secrets of Forrest Yoga for core fitness. Check it out:

The following move—elbow to knee—is a foundation of the practice:
  1. Lie on your back and clasp your hands behind your head. Bend your legs, lift your feet and position your knees over your hips. Your feet should be off the floor and slightly lower then the knees.
  2. Inhale as you lift your shoulder blades off the floor.
  3. Holding your breath, press your low/mid back into the floor and lift your tailbone.
  4. Exhaling, reach both elbows toward your left thigh and straighten the right leg. (Both shoulder blades and the low back stay off the floor. The tailbone stays up.) Pull your belly in at the end of the exhale.
  5. Inhaling, move the torso back to center and the knees back together. Your head and shoulder blades stay up. Hold your breath.
  6. Repeat the movement on the other side, making sure your low/mid back is still pressed into the floor and your tailbone is still up. Do between five and eight repetitions, emphasizing good form.

Clots and Clots of Heart News

“What we eat during our childhood affects our lifetime cholesterol levels,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Makes sense, after all. You are what you eat! Here’s more from Dr. Fuhrman:
There is considerable evidence that the lipoprotein abnormalities (high LDL and low HDL) that are linked to heart attack deaths in adulthood begin to develop in early childhood and that higher cholesterol levels eventually get “set” by early food habits.1
If you’re building a house and you lay a bad foundation, over time, bad things will happen. Need proof? A new study has uncovered lots of young adults with clogged arteries. Reuters reports:
The researchers said their findings suggest a four-decade-long trend of declines in heart disease may be about to come to a screeching halt.

They studied autopsy reports from younger people in one Minnesota county who died from accidents, suicide and murder and found most had clogged arteries and more than 8 percent had significant disease…

"…The dietary quality has deteriorated over the last 15 years," Dr. Philip Mellen of the Hattiesburg Clinic in Mississippi said in a telephone interview.

"In our study, the youngest age group was the age group with the worse disease," he said. "This age group will have major problems as they continue to age."
Now, the authors of this study cite junk-food as a culprit. Perhaps triglycerides should be added to that list. First, let’s find out what they are and why they are bad. Take it away Dr. Fuhrman:
Triglycerides comprise the largest proportion of fats (lipids) in the diet, in the adipose tissue, and in the blood. Immediately after a fatty meal, triglycerides rise in the bloodstream. We store triglycerides in our fatty tissues and muscle as a source of energy, and gradually release and metabolize it between meals according to the energy needs of the body. Only a small portion of your triglycerides is found in the bloodstream. High blood triglyceride levels are reflective of increased body fat stores. High triglycerides further promote and contribute to atherosclerosis in people with high cholesterol.
And what foods are the major harbingers of triglycerides? The insidious and always bad, white flour and refined grains. Dr. Fuhrman talks about them:
White flour and other refined grains such as sweetened breakfast cereals, soft drinks, other sweets, and even fruit juices are weight-promoting and not only lead to diabetes, but can raise triglycerides and cholesterol levels, increasing heart attack risk.
So, it should be no surprise that new research is linking triglyceride levels to the risk of coronary disease. Ed Edelson of HealthDay News reports:
"Triglycerides traditionally have been viewed as second-class citizens," said Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and lead author of the report in the Feb. 12 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.. "LDL cholesterol has always taken center stage. We know that LDL is intimately involved in bringing cholesterol to scavenger cells, which deposit them to form plaques in the arteries. This study shows that triglycerides in and of themselves are also lipids to blame."

The original study was designed to test the effectiveness of two LDL-lowering statins, Pravachol and Lipitor, in reducing recurring coronary disease after a heart attack. The new study went over the data on the 4,162 participants in the trial, looking at the association between triglyceride levels and the incidence of heart problems and death.

"The patients who had heart attacks came back after 30 days," said Miller. "We measured LDL levels and triglyceride levels and followed them over the next two years, evaluating for the occurrence of new events and death. If a patient had triglyceride levels below 150 [milligrams per deciliter], there was a 27 percent lower risk of having a new event over time. After multiple adjustments, for such things as age, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, the risk reduction was 20 percent."
News like this HAS to inspire people to clean up their diets—right? Not necessarily, because in many cases even a diagnosis of heart disease isn’t enough to prompt a change in diet. Anne Harding of Reuters explains:
A one-year follow-up study of patients with heart disease found that few are meeting recommendations for fruit, vegetable and fiber intake, and they were eating a "disturbing" amount of trans fat, Dr. Yunsheng Ma and colleagues from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester found.

They surveyed 555 people about their eating habits one year after they had been diagnosed with heart disease using coronary angiography. All had suffered some type of cardiac event, such as heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm, or chest pain.

To gauge the quality of their diets, the researchers used the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), which measures several aspects of heart-healthy eating such as fruit and vegetable consumption, amount of trans fat consumed, and ratio of white to red meat eaten.

On average, patients scored 30.8 on the AHEI, out of a possible 80. Just 12.4 percent were eating five or more servings of vegetables a day, while 7.8 percent were eating at least four servings of fruit each day. Fewer than 8 percent met recommendations for cereal fiber consumption.

And while public health guidelines recommend getting less than 0.5 percent of total calories from trans fat, people in the study consumed an average of 3.41 percent of their calories in trans fat form.
Sad, but I think I’ve said it before. You can show people all the research and reports in the world, but until pandemonium hits their doorstep, they won’t do a freaking thing and even then, who knows.
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Plane Exercisers...

I hate to fly! The only exercise I get on a plane is an exercise in panic and fear, but not this guy. Dr. Charles van der Horst turns a plane into his own personal gym. The New York Times tells his story:
To this day, every place I go I find the time to exercise. It’s a wonderful way to see the country and to get that endorphin rush that makes a bad day a little more tolerable. For me, running through dusty fields of Malawi and hearing the Islamic call to prayer is mesmerizing. And I can’t help but smile, when I’m running through a village and these gorgeous little African children start running with me yelling, “azungu,” which can mean stranger, foreigner or white guy — all of which are true.

My colleagues and friends still have a tough time believing I spend a short layover in London doing laps in a pool. Or that I walk through German customs wearing my ratty running shorts. My daughters tell me I should get rid of them. Despite their embarrassment, I won’t. The shorts are too comfortable.

The ultimate eyebrow raiser is on the South African Airways flight back from Johannesburg to the United States. This endless trip is enough to drive anyone crazy. My solution is to go into the restroom halfway through the flight and change into workout clothes. I then do a full hour of calisthenics, crunches, push-ups and lunges in the aisle of the plane. I’ll ask the stewards for a lot of those steamy washcloths, and then retreat to the restroom for a sponge bath. I’ll sleep like a baby for the rest of the flight.
Okay, I’m an exercise nut—yoga, running, weights—but like I said, on a plane, I’m like a cat in water—EEK! Now, get this. Dr. Fuhrman is also a plane exerciser. Get a load of this:
Hey, I do stuff like that too on the planes. Stretching, lunges, one-legged knee bends, toe raises. Except I don’t sponge bath after. It often is a surprise that I am the only one exercising in the back of the plane. I usually get to know the stewardesses in the back galley, while I am exercising and stretching and wind up talking to them about their diets and sometimes I’ll meet someone who will pull out their bag of veggies and fruits to show me they do not eat the junk plane food.
I’d call him crazy, but I’d be risking my job—oh, wait. Oops!

Puberty before the Age of Ten

Hard to believe? No. It’s reality. Sandy Maple of ParentDish shares her feelings on premature puberty in her own family. Take a look:
I know several women, including my daughter Christy, who hit puberty before the age of ten. Breast development is considered the first sign of the onset of puberty, but lord knows it isn't the only one…

…One new study claims that environmental toxins may be to blame. The mycoestrogen zearalenone (ZEA), which has properties similar to estrogen, can be found naturally in the environment but is also structurally similar to anabolic growth agents used in animal breeding…

…Clearly, the true cause of this phenomenon is yet to be discovered and it very well may be a combination of many factors. But as a parent of a young girl, the trend concerns me.
Certainly a dicey topic, but one we’ve talked about before. Here’s a refresher from last month’s post, Girls and Puberty, Sooner and Sooner:
Physicians are seeing more and more girls with precocious sexual development, even before today’s average age of twelve, and medical studies confirm that the trend is real and getting worse…

…Diet powerfully modulates estrogen levels. One recent study illustrated that eight-to-ten-year-olds, closely followed with dietary intervention for seven years, dramatically lowered their estrogen levels compared to a control group with dietary modification1...

…Early puberty is strongly associated with breast cancer, and the occurrence of breast cancer is three times higher in women who started puberty before age twelve2…

…Cohort studies, which follow two groups of children over time, have shown that the higher consumption of produce and protein-rich plant foods such as beans and nuts is associated with a later menarche, and the higher consumption of protein-rich animal foods—meat and diary—is associated with an earlier menarche and increased occurrence of adult breast cancer.3
Now, I scanned this out of Disease-Proof Your Child—and yes, I did a bad job—but, it should help put things into perspective. Check it out:

Hopefully this influences parents like Sandy to ratchet up their kids’ diet.
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Kohlrabi, from Start to Finish

Here’s how kohlrabi is born, grown, and packaged for sale. Take a look:

The music makes it all the more dramatic.

Health Points: Wednesday

Dr. William Hall of the University of Rochester has a theory for how these people could live to that age. In an editorial in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, where the study was published, he writes that it might be thanks to doctors who aggressively treat these older folks' health problems, rather than taking an "ageist" approach that assumes they wouldn't benefit.

For the study, Boston University researchers did phone interviews and health assessments of more than 500 women and 200 men who had reached 100. They found that roughly two-thirds of them had avoided significant age-related ailments.
Braden Eberle, 4, of San Jose, Calif., told his mother that he had swallowed something, a tiny magnet attached to a toy. His mother assumed that it would pass through. The next day, his parents saw him swallow another…

…An X-ray five hours later showed that the object was not moving properly. Dr. Dutta’s laparoscopy found the magnets stuck together, pinching bowel tissue.
Many patients say PT — physical therapy's nickname — really stands for "pain and torture," said James Osborn, who oversees rehabilitation services at Herrin Hospital in Southern Illinois.

Using the game console's unique, motion-sensitive controller, Wii games require body movements similar to traditional therapy exercises. But patients become so engrossed mentally they're almost oblivious to the rigor, Osborn said.
Dr. Partha Basu, the study's lead author and associate professor in Duquesne's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, said laboratory analysis reveals that the antibiotic arsenic compound roxarsone, which promotes the growth of blood vessels in chickens to produce pinker meat, does the same in human cell lines -- a critical first step in many human diseases, including cancer.

"This is a significant finding as it relates to potential human health effects from roxarsone," said Dr. Basu, who worked on the study with scientists from Thermo Fisher Scientific laboratories and the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.
Private citizens can sue to enforce California's food labeling laws, the state Supreme Court said Monday in a ruling that revives a consumer complaint about the chemically induced orange coloring of salmon raised on fish farms.

Consumer lawsuits filed in 2003 and 2004 accused supermarket chains of misleading customers by failing to disclose on labels that the fish, naturally grayish, had been fed chemicals to give their flesh the color of wild salmon. Lower courts combined the cases and dismissed them, saying federal law barred states from allowing private suits over food labeling, but the state's high court unanimously disagreed and reinstated the claims.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania State University are nevertheless studying ways to limit excess fat, for three reasons. Producers don't want to waste feed. Fatter chickens might not lay as many eggs. And studying the genes of the barnyard bird may illuminate pathways that lead to human obesity, says the USDA's Monika Proszkowiec-Weglarz.

Fat content has risen because chickens have been bred to grow faster, and the faster-growing birds seem to eat more than they need, says her colleague Mark Richards.
Some political scientists are beginning to change their minds on what shapes our political views. They're starting to wonder whether some of our political identity is rooted in our DNA.

The theory goes something like this: Choosing a political point of view involves thinking through issues: Will more lax immigration rules put the U.S. at risk? Will tighter gun-control laws help lower the murder rate?
Federal standards that specify the length of auto seat belts date back four decades and only require that seat belts accommodate a 215-pound man. Some manufacturers offer bigger belts or extenders anyway, but other auto companies have concerns about effectiveness and liability.

Vanderbilt University psychologist David Schlundt studied the relationship between seat belt use and weight after noticing that obese people sometimes struggled to fit into the auto restraints.

"They really have a hard time getting that belt buckle over them," Schlundt said. "They have to stretch it out and then over and then some can't see the buckle."
In an analysis of 42 studies, researchers found that current smokers were twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop colon polyps. Former smokers also showed a heightened risk, though it was less than that of current smokers.

What's more, the analysis found, smoking was particularly linked to "high-risk" polyps; while most colon polyps are not dangerous, high-risk ones are relatively more likely to become cancerous.
Will the chicken go cold? It seems that the time it takes for people to scarf down the chicken is not long enough for a cool-down.

Carbs Okay for Weight-Loss

Honestly, I hate using the word “carbs.” It’s a such a fad word, for fad diets, but carbs are in the news and this report caught my eye. One nutritionist claims carbs can actually help promote weight-loss. Check out this video from ABC News:

I don’t know about “resistant carbs.” Sounds like mumbo-jumbo to me, but fiber certainly isn’t and whole foods are loaded with fiber; like beans, bananas, green vegetables, and squash. And as Dr. Fuhrman explains, these foods/carbs do in fact encourage weight-loss:

When you eat high-carbohydrate foods, such as fresh fruits and beans, you eat more food and still keep your caloric intake relatively low. The high fiber content of (unrefined) carbohydrate-rich food is another crucial reason you will feel more satisfied and not crave more food when you make unrefined carbohydrates the main source of calories in your diet.

Don't fear eating foods rich in carbohydrates and don't be afraid of eating fruit because it contains sugar. Even the plant foods that are high in carbohydrate contain sufficient fiber and nutrients and are low enough in calories to be considered nutritious. As long as they are unrefined, they should not be excluded from your diet. In fact, it is impossible to glean all the nutrients needed for optimal health if your diet does no contain lots of carbohydrate-rich food.

Clearly, the taboo against carbohydrates is ill-informed. Refined junk—like white rice, bread, and sugar—are the “carbs” you want to avoid, but wholesome fiber-full foods like fruits and vegetables are the key to a healthy diet. More from Dr. Fuhrman’s Food Scoring Guide:

I urge you to start eating a diet that contains more high-nutrient plant foods today. Eat fewer animal products and fewer processed foods, and replace these calories with more fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and beans. At minimum, I recommend that you cut back on animal-product consumption from servings a day to one serving a day. Better yet, when you use animal products, add them to a dish in small amounts like condiments so that the total amount you consume each week will be even less. Eat vegetarian dinners frequently.

Make this dietary transition an exciting adventure where you learn new great-tasting recipes with high-nutrient plant foods. Design a food plan that uses large quantities of the most powerful anticancer, disease-fighting foods on the planet, make it taste, and then test it to see what kinds of results you get. I can tell you now that the results will astound you!

So, when you hear fad-terms like carbs, zone-diet, and south beach, just ignore them and focus on natural things like fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds—phooey to the hype!

Whole-Wheat or Faux-Wheat Bread?

Here’s a good question, “Are those “whole-wheat” bagels really made from whole grain?” The answer might surprise you—but probably not—Dr. Fuhrman explains:
No. In most cases, it is primarily white flour. It is hard to tell sometimes. Ninety-nine percent of pastas, breads, cookies, pretzels, and other grain products are made from white flour.
It gets worse. That hearty brown color might not be from grain at all. Let’s just say it has a “caramel” complexion. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Sometimes a little whole wheat or caramel color is added and the product is called whole wheat to make you think it is the real thing. It isn’t. Most brown bread is merely white bread with a fake tan.
Unreal! You talk about false advertising. These over-marketed “healthier” breads are nothing more than standard American junk food. Dr. Fuhrman again:
Wheat grown on American soil is not a nutrient-dense food to begin with, but then the 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.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman isn’t the only wary of faux-wheat bread. On The CBS Saturday Early Show, Dr. Mallika Marshall, shares her thoughts on most “wheat” breads:
White bread, she continues, isn't the best choice because that means they took out the good stuff: They just left the starchy part of the grain, then they threw back in a couple B-vitamins and some iron. Also, there's little or no fiber, which you need for good digestive health, and for helping ward off heart disease and some cancers.

Still, Marshall cautions, don't just "go brown" with your bread: Not all brown breads are created equal.

Breads that look brown aren't necessarily good for you. It may simply have caramel coloring. What you want to see on the label is the term "whole wheat" or "whole grain," and you want that to be the first or second ingredient on the list. Other words to look out for are "whole mill," "whole barley," or "whole oats."
I once heard Dr. Fuhrman say, “Don’t eat a bread-based diet.” I think that pretty much sums up what you should do here—don’t you agree?

Weird Science: Fake Sugar, GMO Vegetables

A new study claims artificial sweeteners are linked to weight-gain. Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News reports:
Purdue researchers report that saccharin altered the ability of rats to control their appetites. However, the head of an artificial sweetener trade group scoffed at the findings, saying they don't necessarily translate to humans.

"We found that the rats that were getting artificially sweetened yogurt gained more weight and ate more food," said study author Susan Swithers, an associate professor of psychological sciences at the Ingestive Behavior Research Institute at Purdue University. "The take-home message is that consumption of artificially sweetened products may interfere with an automatic process."

That process, she said, involves the body's ability to detect that it will soon be full. "We often will stop eating before we've been able to absorb all of the calories that come from a meal. One of the reasons we might stop eating is that our experience has taught in the past that, 'After I eat this food, I'll feel this full for this long,' " she explained.

It seems to be a subconscious process based on automatic estimations of how much energy certain foods will provide, she said. For example, a sweet taste might be a sign that "calories are coming, and I should prepare my body for the arrival of those calories." However, when the sweetness is not followed by a lot of calories, the body's digestive system gets confused, and the metabolism rate does not gear up as much the next time sweetness is tasted.
Not that surprising, Dr. Fuhrman will tell, fake sugars are risky propositions. Take aspartame for example:
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.
Now, sticking with the weird science theme, researchers want to genetically amp up the calcium in carrots. From Jeannine Stein of The Los Angeles Times:
"Fruits and vegetables are generally a pretty low source of calcium," says Jay Morris, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine's Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston and lead author of a study published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "But if we can increase calcium in a wide variety of foods, we can have a modest effect in the amount of calcium available to people in their diets."

In the study, 15 men and 15 women ages 21 to 29 ate regular carrots, and carrots that had been genetically modified to allow them to store more calcium. Through urine tests, researchers found that subjects absorbed about 41% more calcium per serving than from the regular carrots.
Well, I guess if the only veggie you’re eating is carrots, you’d like if they were more calcium-rich, but as Dr. Fuhrman points out, plants—in general—are packed with calcium:

Yeah, sometimes science can be a wee-bit unusual.

"Pump You Up" Weight-Loss

As someone who lifts weights and runs, I found this very interesting. Apparently new research has determined that strength training is just as good as endurance training at burning off fat. The NewScientist reports:
Running and other endurance activities build up what's known as "slow" or type I muscle. It is rich in mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of cells, and research has shown that this type of muscle combats weight gain and reduces the incidence of metabolic problems. "Fast" or type II muscle - the kind you build when pumping iron - is mitochondria-poor and was thought to be less effective in reversing weight gain.

Kenneth Walsh at Boston University School of Medicine and his colleagues were curious to know how weight training affects metabolism.
In the spirit of pumping up, check out these posts for some unique exercises:

Congress onto Jarvick-Lipitor Ad Deal

Here’s more on the congressional investigation into Lipitor’s advertising campaign featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik; pioneer of the artificial heart. Stephanie Saul of The New York Times reports:
The demand for records was made in letters mailed Thursday to nine advertising firms thought to be involved in Dr. Jarvik’s advertising campaign for Lipitor, the cholesterol medication that is the world’s top-selling drug.

The letters from Representatives John D. Dingell and Bart Stupak, both Michigan Democrats, said the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its subcommittee on oversight and investigations were investigating “false and misleading statements and the use of celebrity endorsements of prescription medications in direct-to-consumer advertising.”

The committee released a copy of Dr. Jarvik’s contract with Lipitor’s maker, Pfizer, revealing that the company agreed to pay Dr. Jarvik, a pioneer in artificial hearts, a minimum of $1,350,000 over two years for serving as celebrity pitchman for Lipitor.
For background on this whole Jarvick-Lipitor mess, check out Jarvik on the Hot Seat. It kicked up a good comment stream. Take a look:
Paige: "For many people like me, diet and exercise aren't enough."

Me: Same here! The other commercials that REALLY annoy me are the Vytorin TV ads, the ones with the family and food. Makes me insane! Grrrrr!
Speaking of Vytorin, Julie Upton, RD of Poked & Prodded is less than impressed by Vytorin’s hard-to-swallow claims. Here’s a bit:
You’ve probably heard about the study that says that the popular cholesterol-lowering drug, Vytorin, might not slow the progression of heart disease.

You probably also know the drug’s annoying ads that go “Cholesterol. It can come from … barbecued ribs and from your Grandma Barbie.… Cholesterol comes from two sources: food and family….”

Soon, however, you may stop seeing those ads, because Vytorin seems to be no better at preventing the buildup of arterial plaque than first-generation statin medications like Lipitor and Zocor or its less expensive generic, simvastatin. The results are making many nervous statin-takers wonder if their medication is actually reducing their odds of developing coronary artery disease.
I often wonder. Who watches these commercials then runs out and asks their doctor to prescribe them—nuts!

Cancer Patients, Mega-Dosing Vitamins

People take a lot of vitamins. From centrums to ginkgos to St. Johns to multi-vites—Americans LOVE magic pills! But it seems cancer survivors REALLY love vitamins and supplements. Tara Parker-Pope of the Well blog talks about it. Take a look:
Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle reviewed 32 studies conducted between 1999 and 2006. The investigators found that 64 percent to 81 percent of cancer survivors overall reported taking extra vitamins or minerals (excluding multivitamins). In the general population, only 50 percent of American adults reported taking dietary supplements.

The findings, published this month in The Journal of Clinical Oncology and funded by the National Cancer Institute, are worrisome because little is known about how megadoses of vitamins affect cancer. Some lab studies have suggested that antioxidants can improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments. But many more studies raise questions about the use of these supplements. A 1995 report in The Journal of Biological Chemistry showed that cancer cells in a petri dish thrive in the presence of vitamin C.

The American Cancer Society says use of vitamins and supplements during cancer treatments should be avoided. A 2005 report in the medical journal CA cites several studies that show the use of vitamins by cancer patients doesn’t help and may even cause harm.
Now, this got Dr. Petrillo fired up! Dr. Petrillo works with Dr. Fuhrman and she too knows the benefits of a nutrient-dense diet. Here she explains why WHOLE FOODS and NOT extracted ingredients are the key to great health. Check it out:
Well, the point is that people should be getting their micronutrients from whole foods, not from bottles of supplements. Phytochemicals act synergistically in a whole food form to provide even greater benefits than taking one extracted ingredient alone. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Dr. Fuhrman and I see some incredibly ill people come into in this office who are eating garbage all day long, but they bring in a list of 40 nutritional supplements they are taking as though all those pills they swallow each morning are supposed to protect them from disease; they are actually puzzled as to how they have gotten so sick in spite of all the supplements they take.
But sadly, a lot of Americans are indoctrinated to believe they can eat like crap, but as long as they take their once-a-days, they’ll be fine. As Dr. Petrillo explains, this is a risky proposition and one that can have painful consequences. She tells a true story:
A patient I saw a few months ago was actually arguing with me that it was better to just take a vitamin C supplement than to eat an orange! She said, "Why should I eat oranges? I'm taking vitamin C!" As if vitamin C was the only thing an orange had to offer her. In the end, she lady did not follow our nutritional program and ended up on the bypass table a few months later.
Sure, this story may seem dramatic—but ask yourself—is it really that uncommon? I don’t think so and neither is the sense of desperation many cancer patients feel. Here Dr. Petrillo explains why these patients may start super-dosing supplements:
It is understandable that cancer patients are desperate to do anything to save their lives, but there are too many unknowns to taking mega-doses of vitamins and other supplements (a med school professor of mine used to say, "Americans have the most vitamin-rich urine in the world." We eat junk but overdose on vitamins, the excess of which we are just peeing out anyway!). Look at the evidence on high doses of beta-carotene increasing lung cancer risk, the researchers of that study sure weren't expecting those results! Which brings me to science—science is the vehicle by which we prove to ourselves that that which we think to be true, is in fact true. That which we do not believe to be true is truly not true, or sometimes, that which we believe to be true—is NOT! There can be no assumptions, only proof.

And proof takes time (and money). Do you think the vitamin companies want to see clinical trials done that might show that mega-doses of vitamins are dangerous to cancer patients? No way! Bottom line is it all comes down to chemistry (or science), everything you put in your body is causing some kind of chemical reaction with your tissue in some way, whether it is an FDA-approved medication, an over-the-counter medication, a vitamin pill, an "all-natural herbal supplement," nicotine, caffeine, other drugs or some bok choy! (Aside: if you had never heard of bok choy and someone said to you, "Hey man, want some bok choy?" what exactly would you think you were being offered?) Enough is enough, and, more is too much.
This is certainly a complicated issue and I’m sure desperation could cloud the mind of even the most astute cancer patient. So, with that in mind, Dr. Petrillo offers some final words of wisdom:
We may not know when enough is enough when it comes to certain compounds, but do you want to experiment on yourself? Especially if you have cancer? Maybe you do. But bear in mind that cancer patients should focus on boosting their immune system function and overall wellness the best and safest way we know how—whole foods of high-nutrient density. Anything else may be just a gamble.
I admit, I’ll place an occasional bet on a basketball game, but gambling with my health—not my bag. What about you?

Olympic Chinese Food Worries

It seems many U.S. Olympians are concerned over the safety of Chinese food, so, they’re packing a lunch. Ben Shpigel of The New York Times reports:
In the past two years, the U.S.O.C. has tried to figure out how to avoid such dangers at the Olympics. It has made arrangements with sponsors like Kellogg’s and Tyson Foods, which will ship 25,000 pounds of lean protein to China about two months before the opening ceremony, but will hire local vendors and importers to secure other foods and cooking equipment at the Games.

The bulk of that food will be served at the U.S.O.C.’s training center at Beijing Normal University, about 20 minutes from the Olympic Green, where for the first time United States athletes will have access to their own facility providing three meals a day. The dishes served will be compliant with the U.S.O.C.’s overhauled diet plan, placing a greater emphasis on nutrition, which officials hope will boost athletes’ performance.

The diet plan is already in place for the athletes residing at each of the three United States training centers — here and in Chula Vista, Calif., and Lake Placid, N.Y. And the organization is urging all United States athletes to be aware of what they ingest. Under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s drug-testing code, athletes are responsible for whatever is in their bodies, regardless of the source.

Much of the dietary strategy falls to Jacque Hamilton, the executive chef of the U.S.O.C. She has consulted with dietitians and sous chefs over the past year and a half to modify more than 1,500 recipes and prepare to serve about 700 meals a day at the U.S.O.C.’s training center in Beijing. Many countries do not have the resources for a training center in Beijing, but those that do may choose to serve their own food as well.
Just be thankful we’re not sending these athletes’ food to China:

Pacific Islanders Facing Modern Health Problems

Western life and diet isn’t doing Pacific islanders any favors. David Brooks of the AFP is on it:
Pacific islands are in the midst of a crisis of obesity and its associated dangers of diabetes, strokes and heart disease.

A diet which used to be dominated by fish, root crops, green leaves, coconuts and fruit is now heavily reliant on fatty imported meats, rice, and sugar and fat-laden processed snack foods.

Many islanders are now urbanised and drive to the local shop to buy tins of corned beef, spam, cooking oil and rice instead of tending crops and gathering seafood in the lagoon and surrounding ocean.

"What we have in this country is a raging epidemic. We have 6,000 to 8,000 cases of diabetes out of a population of 53,000 people," says Carl Hacker, the Marshall Islands director of economic policy, planning and statistics.
Spam? Oh man, I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Our Outmatched Flu Shots

The Washington Post reports that many flu strains are not covered by this year’s vaccine. More from David Brown:
This winter is likely to be one of the few times that public health experts lose the bet they make each year when they devise the formula for the flu vaccine -- eight months before the virus starts circulating in the fall. Experts must decide on the formulation then because of the time it takes to produce mass quantities of the vaccine.

"Most years, the prediction is very good," said Joseph S. Bresee, an influenza epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "In 16 of the last 19 years, we have had a well-matched vaccine."

But probably not this time…

…The viruses in the vaccine are either dead or, in the case of the nasal-spray flu vaccine developed four years ago, crippled so they cannot cause illness. What they can do is stimulate the body's immune system to mount a defense, sometimes a lifesaving one, should the virus be encountered.

The viruses in each of these lineages are constantly changing through mutation. Inevitably, one appears that is different enough from its ancestors that a person protected against them, through either previous infection or vaccination, is not protected against the new variant.
Well, if you ask me. All this frenzy over flu shots is overkill. Perhaps Colin Hay and the cast of Scrubs would agree. Enjoy:

I love Dr. Cox…but not as much as Dr. Fuhrman of course.

Eating to Live on the Outside: Georgia Brown's

It’s Friday! Thank goodness. I’m pooped! But before my weekend can begin, I got to pay Georgia Brown’s a visit. Georgia Brown’s is a southern-style restaurant located in the heart of Washington DC. Let’s see how it measures up.

Well, it certainly won’t be an Eating to Live on the Outside all-star, but it has SOME Fuhrman-friendly potential. Sure, we’ll have to bob and weave through some of the undesirables—like fried chicken, cheese, and bacon—but there is hope.

Okay, as far as the “inspirations” go, I’m not too confident about any of them. Maybe you can make a case for the Fried Green Tomatoes, but I wouldn’t eat it; especially since they’re topped with cream cheese and mayonnaise—yuck! Let’s scope out the salads instead.

Unfortunately there’s only one I’d consider ordering—and it’s not without its own issues. The Country Kitchen House Salad is prepared with baby greens, dried apricot ginger vinaigrette, goat cheese, Bermuda onions, and grape tomatoes. Clearly, the cheese gets the axe! Now, like I said, the rest of the salads aren’t worth the trouble; loaded with chicken, cheese, and sausage—no thanks!

Now, even though I’m not a vegetarian. Georgia Brown’s two vegetarian options are looking good. The Black Eyed Pea Cakes are a bit of a mystery though. The menu doesn’t explain what they’re made of, so I’d ask the wait staff first; they’re served with Carolina red rice, asparagus, and lemon-cayenne mayonnaise. The asparagus is great, the rice is a concession, but the mayo has got to go! The Vegetarian Sample is okay; it comes with a black eyed pea cake, a fried green tomato, Carolina red rice, and sautéed spinach; not exactly a homerun, but workable. Personally, I’d ditch the fried tomato and yes, the rice would be a concession and so would the oil used to sautéed the spinach. I can deal with it!

If none of these tickle your fancy, give this a whirl. Try making a meal out of the sides because Georgia Brown’s offers some good ones. I’d order the collard greens, red rice, grilled asparagus, seasonal vegetables, and sautéed spinach. Nothing too bad here; the only concessions would be the rice and—again—the oil used to sauté the spinach and other veggies. No worries. It’s cool.

Like I said, Georgia Brown’s is far from perfect, but if all else fails. The side dishes make it workable. Now before I bid Georgia Brown’s farewell, let’s talk about their fish options. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian—because I do eat fish—but I wouldn’t order any of these dishes and here’s why. For starters they’re prepared with things like sausage, duck, cream, and butter, but it’s also because the types of fish available aren’t exactly the most eco-friendly.

The Fried Catfish is the safest fish, but the whole “fried” thing puts the kibosh on that one. Next, unless you know the type of crab, lobster, scallops, or shrimp, it’s at best a crapshoot. So I wouldn’t order any of them. Finally, Chilean sea bass and Atlantic salmon are flat out bad news—I wouldn’t touch these! Do you see why I skipped over the fish now?

Okay, what do you think? Does Georgia Brown’s really have a shot at feeding a discriminating nutritarian? It’s certainly not perfect, but I think it works—just focus on those sides—but hey, its time for me to shut up. Check out Georgia Brown’s menu and let me know how you handle Eating to Live on the Outside. Make a comment or drop me an email at Until next time, eat well! Peace.

Diabetic Confusion: Low-Carb Unhealthy, Veggies Healthy

And that’s the truth! If you’re looking to get healthy, lose weight, and prevent and reverse disease, DON’T even consider “low-carb” or high-protein diets. Here’s why in a nutshell. Dr. Fuhrman explains:

Americans already eat approximately 40 percent of their calories from animal products; we have seen a tragic skyrocketing in cancer and heart-disease rates in the past fifty years as a result of such nutritional extravagance.1 You can lose some weight on the low-carb diet, but you run the risk of losing your health at the same time.

Now, most health experts agree—even Dr. Fuhrman—that eating a lot of carbs is a bad idea, but Dr. Fuhrman’s criticisms focus on the refined and process carbohydrates. Here’s why he thinks this stuff is bad news:

Diets containing refined grains and refined sweets are consistently linked to stomach and colon cancer, and at least twelve breast cancer studies connect low-fiber diets with increased risks.2 Eating a diet that contains a significant quantity of sugar and refined flour does not just cause weight gain, it also leads to an earlier death.

Once you kick the refined junk to the curb, you’re left with the good stuff—the healthy carbs! In fact, these carbohydrates are important brain and muscle fuel. Let’s check back with Dr. Fuhrman:

Our bodies need carbohydrates more than any other substance. Our muscle cells and brains are designed to run on carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods, when consumed in their natural state, are low in calories and high in fiber compared with fatty foods, processed foods, or animal products.

You can find these healthy carbs in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and, as Dr. Fuhrman points out. Plant foods likes these are the benchmark of healthy living. Here Dr. Fuhrman talks about the power of plants:

Increasing your consumption of high-nutrient fruits and vegetables is the key to disease resistance, disease reversal, and a long, healthy life. The potential reduction in disease rates shows no threshold effect in the scientific studies. That means that as high-nutrient vegetables and high-nutrient fruits increase as a major portion of caloric intake, disease rates fall in a dose-dependent manner—the more the diet is comprised of these foods, the better your health will be.3

So, what’s wrong with “low-carb” diets—A LOT—Atkins-like diets dupe people into believing that increased consumption of animal products and decreased consumption of plant foods is healthy—WRONG! Dr. Fuhrman elaborates:

It is an interesting phenomenon to me low-carb dieters search to find small pearls of dissent in the scientific literature to support their views as they ignore thousands of well-performed studies, I wonder why they are so attached to their diets or views that they can’t accept the preponderance of evidence and modify their stance.

And when you exam the facts, you’ll quickly realize the profound link between eating too much animal products and saturated fat and diseases; like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Again, Dr. Fuhrman explains:

Today, the average American consumes 100-120 grams of protein per day, mostly in the form of animal products. This high level of animal product consumption has been linked to not just heart disease and strokes, but to higher rates of cancer, as well4…

…High-protein, carbohydrate-restricted diets also are heart unfriendly. One comprehensive study on the Atkins’ approach showed that after one year on the diet, blood flow to the heart diminished by an average of 40 percent and inflammatory markers that predict heart attacks increased.5 The low levels of plant fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidant nutrients on these unbalanced, low produce diets expose the diabetic patient to additional risks.

Okay, by now we’ve worked up a good information-base—low-carb bad, veggies good—so let’s check out this study appearing in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It suggest that low-carb is better than low-fat for preventing diabetes. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News is on it:

"One study is never enough to change a recommendation, but this study is interesting in that it shows that a low-fat diet is no better than a low-carbohydrate diet in preventing type 2 diabetes," said Thomas Halton, lead author of a study in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "The one diet that did seem to show a protective effect was a vegetable-based, low-carb diet which consisted of higher amounts of vegetable fat and vegetable protein, and lower amounts of carbohydrate."

The findings, Halton added, were a bit surprising in that most doctors and nutritionists recommend a low-fat diet to prevent type 2 diabetes. "This study showed that a low-fat diet didn't really prevent type 2 diabetes in our cohort when compared to a low-carb diet. I was also surprised that total carbohydrate consumption was associated with type 2 diabetes, and that the relative risk for the glycemic load was so high."

Now, despite the dirty term “low-carb” the study is looking surprisingly good, but just to be safe, let’s look at the actual study, pay very close attention to the conclusion. From The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

Background: Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets remain popular; however, the long-term effects of these diets are not known.

Objective: The objective was to examine the association between low-carbohydrate-diet score and risk of type 2 diabetes

Design: We prospectively examined the association between low-carbohydrate-diet score (based on percentage of energy as carbohydrate, fat, and protein) and risk of diabetes among 85 059 women in the Nurses' Health Study.

Conclusion: These data suggest that diets lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat and protein do not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. In fact, diets rich in vegetable sources of fat and protein may modestly reduce the risk of diabetes.

Vegetable fat and vegetable protein—not the high animal fat fallacy perpetuated by Atkins and his ilk. In fact, when you strictly limit all the meat, dairy, and oil in the typical Atkins menu and upgrade the fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, you’re left with a diet naturally free of refined carbohydrates and packed with nature’s best foods! One more quote from Dr. Fuhrman:

Knowing that the right micronutrients in the right proportions are easily available to us in whole, natural foods is wonderful. But we no longer get our foods in natural form from the wild. Most of the food we eat is concocted in factories. These processed foods do not contain the level and diversity of the vitamins and minerals we get in natural foods. For example, the fruits and vegetables that primates eat in the wild are loaded with micronutrients, giving these primates a diet far richer in many essential vitamins and minerals than the diets consumed by any humans in the modern world.

Clearly these primates are eating the right kind of low-fat diet and NOT monkeying with dangerous high-protein diets. For more on this topic, be sure to check out Standard American Low-Fat—JUNK—Diet.

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Jarvik on the Hot Seat

It seems there is mounting concern over Dr. Robert Jarvik—pioneer of the artificial heart—appearing in Lipitor advertisements. Stephanie Saul of The New York Times reports:
A Congressional committee, concerned that the Lipitor ads could be misleading, has said it wants to interview Dr. Jarvik about his role as the drug’s pitchman.

Some of the questions may involve his credentials. Even though Dr. Jarvik holds a medical degree, for example, he is not a cardiologist and is not licensed to practice medicine. So what, critics ask, qualifies him to recommend Lipitor on television — even if, as he says in some of the ads, he takes the drug himself?

And, for that matter, what qualifies him to pose as a rowing enthusiast? As it turns out, Dr. Jarvik, 61, does not actually practice the sport. The ad agency hired a stunt double for the sculling scenes.
These ads have never sat will with me. Honestly, they reek of Dr. Jarvik “selling out.” Know what I mean? Here, decide for yourself:

I don’t know, these ads just leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Tobacco 2100: 1 Billion Dead

Sounds like a science fiction horror movie and in truth, it is a horror. According to the World Health Organization tobacco could kill 1 billion people by 2100. The Associated Press reports:
Governments around the world collect more than $200 billion in tobacco taxes every year but spend less than one fifth of 1 percent of that revenue on tobacco control, it said.

"We hold in our hands the solution to the global tobacco epidemic that threatens the lives of one billion men, women and children during this century," WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in an introduction to the report.

The WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2008 calls on all countries to dramatically increase efforts to prevent young people from beginning to smoke, help smokers quit, and protect nonsmokers from exposure to second hand smoke.
If you smoke, quit, don’t be one of the billion.

Yoga Tsunami

Yippee! Yoga news. New research has determined that Yoga can help survivors of natural disasters. C. Vidyashankar, MD of Reuters reports:
A 1-week yoga program reduced stress and anxiety among survivors of the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean islands of Andaman and Nicobar in December 2004, researchers from India report.

Dr. Shirley Telles and her team from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation in Bangalore conducted a stress management program for the survivors a month after the tsunami occurred. Forty-seven adults, of different cultural backgrounds, were enrolled in an 8-day intensive "Vivekananda yoga" program consisting of loosening exercises, physical postures, regulated breathing and guided relaxation for 1 hour every day.

Self assessment of symptoms and measurements of heart rate and respiratory rate were carried out before and after the program.
Cool! Hey, if you find news about your favorite exercise, write about it, email me, and I just might make you a guest blogger!

Diabetes Study Derailed Due to Deaths

Dr. Fuhrman’s got a question for you, “How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies?” Oh, that’s simple you—wait, lets explore this—what about gastric surgery? It was recently reported to be a good idea. From The New York Times:
Weight-loss surgery works much better than standard medical therapy as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes in obese people, the first study to compare the two approaches has found.

The study, of 60 patients, showed that 73 percent of those who had surgery had complete remissions of diabetes, meaning all signs of the disease went away. By contrast, the remission rate was only 13 percent in those given conventional treatment, which included intensive counseling on diet and exercise for weight loss, and, when needed, diabetes medicines like insulin, metformin and other drugs.

In the study, the surgery worked better because patients who had it lost much more weight than the medically treated group did — 20.7 percent versus 1.7 percent of their body weight, on average. Type 2 diabetes is usually brought on by obesity, and patients can often lessen the severity of the disease, or even get rid of it entirely, by losing about 10 percent of their body weight. Though many people can lose that much weight, few can keep it off without surgery.
Yeah, I don’t know about this. I mean, maybe it’s a good idea, if you consider serious complications a key component of success. Hopefully this chart will help you think twice before you run out and get your tummy sliced open. Take a look:

Okay, in our age of modern medicine, drugs, drugs, and more drugs must be the answer! Yeah, if you don’t mind THE DYING! Recently, a diabetes study had to be halted because aggressively driving blood sugar levels towards normal was found to increase the risk of death in some diabetics. The Washington Post reports:
The startling discovery, announced yesterday, prompted federal health officials to immediately halt one part of the large trial so thousands of the Type 2 diabetes patients in the study could switch to less-intensive treatment.

"As always, our primary concern is to protect the safety of our study volunteers," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which is sponsoring the study.

Although the reason for the increased risk remains a mystery, Nabel and other experts stressed that the benefits of blood sugar control have been well established for diabetics and said patients should not make any changes in their care without consulting their doctors.

But the findings cast doubt on a major hope about diabetes treatment -- that pushing levels below current targets would be beneficial -- and would force experts to rethink how to treat one of the nation's leading health problems.

"It's profoundly disappointing," said Richard Kahn, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association. "This presents a real dilemma to patients and their physicians. How intensive should treatment be? We just don't know."

The findings are the second major blow to widespread assumptions about how to protect against heart disease -- the nation's leading killer. Another recent major study found that driving blood cholesterol levels as low as possible did not necessarily slow the progression of heart disease.
As you can imagine, Dr. Fuhrman was less than surprised by these results. Here’s what he had to say about it. Have a look:
It basically illustrates that giving diabetics more medication to better control their glucose numbers leads to more heart attacks; more medicine equals more heart attacks. Diabetes is a disease arising out of nutritional ignorance, obesity and lack of exercise and activity. The prescription must be nutritional excellence for an excellent outcome. Most diabetics who follow a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet not only reduce their medication use, but they actually get rid of their diabetes and become non-diabetic.
So, back to Dr. Fuhrman’s original question, “How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies?” Well—as we just found out—nutritional excellence is a huge part of it. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
I have achieved marked success with diabetic patients and the success at becoming "non diabetic" or almost "non-diabetic" regularly occurs on the nutritarian program whether the patient follows a strict vegan diet or not. I describe the diet-style as a "vegetable-based" diet because the base of the pyramid is vegetables, not grains. Even though most animal products are excluded, it is not necessary to adopt a completely vegan diet to achieve the goals.

I offer patients the choice of adding two servings a week of low-fat fish, such as tilapia, flounder, sole, and scrod, as well as an egg-white omelet, once or twice each week. A few servings of very low-saturated-fat animal products each week can be interspersed with the vegan meals without diminishing the results achievable from the vegetable-based diet.
And lets not forget an obvious—but often overlooked—component of preventing and fighting diabetes is exercise. Let’s check back in with Dr. Fuhrman:
The most effective prescription for diabetes is exercise. An essential component of my prescription for diabetes is daily exercise; it is more important than daily medication. Two hundred calories a day of formal exercise on an incline treadmill and an elliptical machine are a great goal to shoot for. It is not an official recommendation of anyone except me.
Seriously, it’s a win-win situation for diabetics. You get to eat delicious food, stay active, lose weight, feel good, and, kick your diabetes in the butt. Can’t get much better than that!
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To Pesticide, or Not to Pesticide

Pesticides, scary stuff. According to Dr. Fuhrman, “The EPA reports that the majority of pesticides now in use are probable or possible cancer causers.” Now, Dr. Fuhrman goes on to point out the magnification of this risk in farmer workers. Take a look:
Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple myloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, and testes.1
No doubt, farmer workers around pesticides are at risk and not only for cancer. In fact, this past September a study of nearly 20,000 farmers established a link between pesticides and asthma-risk. Reuters reported:
Pesticide exposure is a "potential risk factor for asthma and respiratory symptoms among farmers," lead author Dr. Jane A. Hoppin, from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, told Reuters Health.

"Because grains and animals are more common exposures in agricultural settings, pesticides may be overlooked," Hoppin warned, adding: "Better education and training of farmers and pesticide handlers may help to reduce asthma risk."

Of the 19,704 farmers included in the study, 127 had self-reported (doctor diagnosed) allergic asthma and 314 had non-allergic asthma.
It gets worse. Pesticide use is being blamed for the “health disaster” afflicting the French Caribbean. This story also broke in September. Here’s some of the AP report:
The French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique face a "health disaster" with soaring cancer and infertility rates because of the massive use of banned pesticides on banana plantations, a top cancer specialist warned Monday.

Martinique and Guadeloupe are currently facing "an extremely serious crisis linked to the massive use of pesticides for a great many years," Professor Dominique Belpomme said in a report obtained by AFP Monday.

On Tuesday Belpomme is to submit his findings to the French National Assembly, highlighting the dangers posed by the long-term use of chlordecone, also known as kepone, on banana crops.
Okay, maybe you understand the dangers, but the impact is always more profound when it hits close to home. Kristine Crane of Poked & Prodded wants to know if Iowa farming made her mother sick. Check it out:
When I was little I would sometimes ride with my parents out to farmland my family owned in the Iowa countryside. I remember the thrill of weaving through rows of corn that stood way taller than me.

What my mother remembers most is pulling up weeds. And when I asked her recently if she thought that anything in particular had caused her breast cancer, she said, “I always wondered if there was something on the weeds.”
Granted, Kristine’s mother wasn’t plowing the fields, but still, it makes you wonder. Now, here’s something that makes me wonder. Why is Africa spraying DDT—a pesticide long-know to be dangerous—in residential homes. You’ve got to see this video:

I understand that a ravaging disease like Malaria needs to be stop, but most industrialized nations know DDT comes with a heavy price. In case you didn’t learn about it in school, here’s more info on DDT via Wikipedia. Look:
Concerns about DDT's environmental effects grew out of direct personal observations, usually involving a marked reduction in bird life, later supplemented by scientific investigation. The first recorded group effort against the chemical involved several citizens, including one or more scientists, in Nassau County, New York. Their unsuccessful struggle to have DDT regulated was reported in the New York Times in 1957, and thereby came to the attention of the popular naturalist-author, Rachel Carson. New Yorker editor William Shawn urged her to write a piece on the subject, which developed into Silent Spring, her famous 1962 bestseller. espite the uproar surrounding Silent Spring, DDT remained in use…

…During the late 1960s, pressure grew within the United States to effect a ban on DDT. In January 1971, the U.S. District Court of Appeals ordered William Ruckelshaus, the EPA's first Administrator, to begin the de-registration procedure for DDT. Initially, after a six-month review process, Ruckelshaus rejected an outright ban, citing studies from the EPA's internal staff stating that DDT was not an imminent danger to human health and wildlife. However, the findings of these staff members were criticized, as they were performed mostly by economic entomologists inherited from the United States Department of Agriculture, whom many environmentalists felt were biased towards agribusiness and tended to minimize concerns about human health and wildlife.
It’s worrisome to see countries reviving the usage of DDT—especially spraying everything in the house with it—because as Dr. Fuhrman explains, DDT finds its way into our food supply and its link to cancer is veru profound. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
It has been shown that women with higher levels of pesticides in their bloodstream have a higher risk of breast cancer.2 However, the pesticide shown in these studies to be connected to cancer was DDT, which is no longer used in food production and was banned by the U.S. government in 1972. The problem is that DDT is still in the environment and finds its way back into our food supply, predominately via shellfish and fish consumption.
As for pesticides, I think America should be leading the push for responsible usage or no usage at all. If nothing else, we should be encouraging our citizens and farmers—and other nations that may be watching—to learn from our mistakes.
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Destined for Fat

New research claims some people are born wired to be obese. Jeffrey Perkel of HealthDay News reports:
The brain circuitry that controls appetite might be wired differently in some people, and that could predispose them to obesity, California researchers suggest.

The study was conducted in rats, not humans, and yet it could ultimately lead to novel obesity treatments, said Philip Smith, director of the Office of Obesity Research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

"It is not just about drugs that modify short-term appetite," he said, "there may be drugs that stimulate development of the appropriate neural pathways. So, it is an exciting, but very early, time in this field."

The study was published in the February issue of Cell Metabolism.
Don’t let your genetics stop you from living healthfully. Here’s a great quote from Dr. Fuhrman. Have a look:
We all have genetic weaknesses, but those weaknesses never get a chance to express themselves until we abuse our body with many, many years of mistreatment. Never forget, 99 percent of your genes are programmed to keep you healthy. The problem is that we never let them do their job.
Hey, my genetics mean I should be an ox-minded hot-tempered Italian guy, but, I’m really as cuddly as a teddy bear—wink-wink.

Comfort Food, Food Addictions

“Some cravings and food behaviors have emotional overtones from childhood or compensate for stress and emotional dysfunction,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. He calls this emotional attachment to food. Now, the CBS Early Show examines the root of all comfort food:
  • Cinnamon buns, fresh from the oven: Their smell transports you to that secure, familiar place. Biggers is big on the Pillsbury ones you can buy from the grocery store. She just loves the way the smell fills her home. She says the smell of cinnamon and sugar takes her back to her childhood.
  • Tuna noodle casserole -- half with bread crumb topping: The texture of comfort foods is at work here, along with satisfying the expectation of having something soft and mushy, with a crunch on top.
  • Mac 'n Cheese: Twenty years ago, we never would have imagined finding this on the menu at a fine restaurant, but comfort sells! Now, some of these recipes feature delicious, high-end cheeses, so it's not the same old cheap cheese you used to find.
  • Meat loaf and mashed potatoes and peas: The best of comfort food is also derived from leftovers. Sissy says this dish is the perfect comfort food: It has the aroma, is easy to make, and is soft and flavorful.
I’m sorry, but as someone who eats a nutrient-dense plant-based diet, none of this junk sounds “comforting” to me. In fact, I’m feeling a little queasy. People that like this stuff are probably food-addicted and according to Dr. Fuhrman, they need help:
Some food-addicted people eat compulsively in spite of their awareness of the consequences. These people need a more intensive program. Similar to a twelve-week drug-rehabilitation program, an intensive food recovery program should include counseling. Food re-education can work even for the most difficult cases.
Alright, let me come clean. I do have a few emotional attachments to food. In the form of avocados, bananas, and carrots—poor me.

No Cancer from Mobile Phones

As someone who just recently became a text-aholic, this is great to hear. A Japanese study has determined that cellphones don’t cause cancer. The AFP reports:
In a study published on Tuesday in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers led by Naohito Yamaguchi compared the history of mobile phone use in 322 brain cancer patients with 683 healthy people living in Tokyo.

"We studied the radiation emitted from various types of mobile phones and placed them into one of four categories relating to radiation strength," said Yamaguchi.

"We then analysed how they would affect different areas of the brain, taking into account the organ's complex structure."

He added: "Using our newly developed and more accurate techniques, we found no association between mobile phone use and cancer, providing more evidence to suggest they don't cause brain cancer."
Sweet! Now I text my BFF and spend even more time ROTFLMAO—LOL! OMG, I’ll TTYL.

Hollywood Farmers Market

Check out this farmers market—gone Hollywood! Enjoy:

Makes me really long for summer.

You've Got Prostate Cancer, Is There No Hope?

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine is a systematic review comparing the effectiveness and harms of treatments for prostate cancer. Check out their motive:
Background: The comparative effectiveness of localized prostate cancer treatments is largely unknown.

Purpose: To compare the effectiveness and harms of treatments for localized prostate cancer.
Now, my new buddy Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times Well blog sums up the study. Here’s an excerpt from No Answers for Men With Prostate Cancer:
But the study, published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine, gives men very little guidance. Prostate cancer is typically a slow-growing cancer, and many men can live with it for years, often dying of another cause. But some men have aggressive prostate cancers, and last year 27,050 men died from the disease. The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer has nearly doubled to 20 percent since the late 1980s, due mostly to expanded use of the prostate-specific antigen, or P.S.A., blood test. But the risk of dying of prostate cancer remains about 3 percent. “Considerable overdetection and overtreatment may exist,'’ said an agency press release.

The agency review is based on analysis of 592 published articles of various treatment strategies. The studies looked at treatments that use rapid freezing and thawing (cryotherapy); minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic or robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy); testicle removal or hormone therapy (androgen deprivation therapy); and high-intensity ultrasound or radiation therapy. The study also evaluated research on “watchful waiting,'’ which means monitoring the cancer and initiating treatment only if it appears the disease is progressing.

No one treatment emerged as the best option for prolonging life. And it was impossible to determine whether one treatment had fewer or less severe side effects.
Kudos to Tara for summing this up! I almost passed out trying to do it myself. Okay prostate cancer suffers, don’t give up hope. Here’s some advice from Dr. Fuhrman. Look:
If you already have prostate cancer—and a Gleason score of 7 or higher or a palpable nodule identified by DRE—nutritional treatment alone does not offer enough of a guarantee of success. In these cases, a customized hormonal approach makes the most sense and has been shown to be very effective.1 Seek out a doctor well versed and experienced with triple hormonal blockade, who has the willingness and capability to customize a medical regimen for each individual patient. Triple hormonal blockade consists of a LH (luteinizing hormone) agonist, an anti-androgen, and finasteride. This treatment is usually performed for about a year and long-term suppression of cancer growth has been evident in scientific studies.

Quite a few enlightened physicians and urologists agree with the treatment options I describe in this newsletter. They no longer recommend local treatments (such as radiation and prostate surgery) directed at destroying the prostate. Instead, they have become experts in hormonal blockade. However, my approach goes farther than this because I add a nutritional protocol to prevent and treat cancer, which includes most of my general dietary recommendations for excellent health in general.
And certainly surgical intervention is risky business. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it Prostate Cancer Facts, here’s a bit:
All of the biopsies, treatments, and surgeries done in the hope of helping men with prostate cancer live longer cause significant side effects, such as incontinence, rectal bleeding, and impotence.

It is reasonable to ask if men actually benefit from such invasive intervention, including the destruction of part of the prostate or its removal. Are the side effects balanced by clear-cut advances in life expectancy?

The side effects of prostate cancer treatment are debilitating and demoralizing, and the percentage of patients who suffer from them is shockingly high.
  • Erectile dysfunction: over 50%
  • Bowel dysfunction: over 10%
  • Urinary dysfunction: over 20%
When it comes to the treatment of the higher-grade forms of prostate cancer, typically distinguished with a high Gleason score, only nutritional excellence and hormonal therapy— which can treat the cancerous cells that have already left the prostate, as well—are worthwhile.

For the majority of men treated for prostate cancer, it appears that their lives would have been much better off if their prostate cancer had never been diagnosed, since it is most likely that the side effects experienced from the treatment are not balanced by an increase in life span.
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Which Muscle is...Your WEAKEST LINK!

Here’s neat post from Diet Blog. Sure, we train our arms, abs, legs, and chest—that’s the obvious stuff—but what about the not-so-obvious? Like your serratus anterior. Mike Howard offers some seldom seem exercise tips. Check it out:

Serratus Anterior
A couple of inches below our armpits lay a bumpy or “serrated” muscle that helps keep the shoulder blades (scapulae) stable and flush against the ribs where it’s supposed to be. A possible sign of a weak serratus anterior is a “winged” shoulder blade (a poking out).

Exercise: Scapular Push-up
Find an elevated surface such as a bench or a chair. Place hands slightly more than shoulder width apart.

Keeping body in line (relatively straight from back of the head to the heels) let your shoulder blades collapse inward and than push them out – WITHOUT moving your elbows.

Repeat 12-20 times.
I’ve got to give these a try. This article reminds me of yesterday’s post: Dudes, Get a Rockin' Butt!

Food Scoring Guide: Diet and Disease

Diets of all description flood the market, but fewer than 3 people out of a 100 are successful at losing weight and keeping it off permanently. The number of overweight and obese individuals is at an all-time high and still climbing. Although many people accept the notion that disease is the result of genetics or luck, the reality is that nutrition, exercise, and environment overwhelmingly overshadow genetic considerations. For example, those living in rural China have less than a 2% heart disease risk, but when these same individuals move to America, their children develop the same rates of heart disease as other Americans.

Obviously, the diseases that afflict today’s Americans are not the result of luck of genetics. They are a recent phenomenon in human history and directly parallel unhealthful changes in dietary patterns. The ten-fold increase in heart attacks in the last 100 years is because we are eating more low-nutrient foods—lots more. You cannot escape from the biological law of cause and effect. Health results from healthful living and eating. Disease and premature death result primarily from unhealthful food choices.

More Funding for the FDA?

Here’s a perplexing nugget from the newswire. President Bush wants to increase funding for FDA food safety. Reuters reports:
The Bush administration on Monday proposed boosting funding to better protect the food supply, including opening an office in China.

In its fiscal 2009 budget, the White House proposed raising expenditures for food programs at the Food and Drug Administration to $543 million from an estimated $510 million in the prior year.

Overall, the White House requested an FDA budget of $2.4 billion for the 2009 fiscal year starting October 1, up only slightly from fiscal 2008.

Food safety has been a growing worry for U.S. consumers with reports of tainted bagged spinach and peanut butter along with a range of scares involving food and toys from China.
Odd, because I thought the FDA doesn't know what they needed to do their jobs. Reuters reported last week:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's failure to discuss clearly its strategy and the money needed to better protect the country's food supply could make it harder for a plan to succeed, a congressional watchdog agency told lawmakers on Tuesday.

Last November, the Bush administration proposed stronger rules to better protect the country's food supply. Some of the proposals require approval from Congress.

The Government Accountability Office said while the food safety inspection plan "proposes several positive first steps," it has failed to explain what resources and how much additional funding it will need to implement it.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be too quick to give these knuckleheads MORE money!

Breakfast, then Lunch, then Dinner...

Romaine with Cashew Butter and Fruit
6 large romaine lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons raw cashew butter
1 cup organic sliced strawberries
2 kiwis, sliced
Spread a thin layer of cashew butter in each romaine leaf. Place berries and kiwi on top. Serves 2.

Sunshine Slaw
4 carrots, grated
1 1/2 apples, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/3 cup low salt mayonnaise or Vegenaise (a vegan alternative)
Toss carrots and apples with lemon juice. Add raisins and almonds. Mix in low salt mayonnaise or Vegenaise. Serves 4.

Mashed Red Potatoes

6 medium red potatoes, peeled if not organic
3 tablespoons unsweetened soy milk
6 ounces fresh organic spinach
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
Cut potatoes into two inch pieces and place in pot. Cover with water & boil, covered, until fork tender. Drain, place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add soy milk and whip with a beater until creamy & smooth. Wilt spinach over low flame. Mix spinach and parsley into potatoes. Serve with White Wine and Onion Gravy or Vegan Gravy. Serves 6.

Protein in the Produce Isle

I found this great quote about vegetable protein over at Jugalbandi—a site powdered by plant protein—take a look:
All of these proteins can be obtained from plant based sources. The body is agnostic to the source, as long as the sufficiency and balance requirements of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are met.
Vegetable protein is the real deal. “Complete protein” is just a myth. Dr. Fuhrman’s buddy Jeff Novick, MS, RD has explained it countless times:
Unfortunately, the “incomplete protein” myth seems unwilling to die. In an October 2001 article in the medical journal Circulation on the hazards of high-protein diets, the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association wrote, “Although plant proteins form a large part of the human diet, most are deficient in one or more essential amino acids and are therefore regarded as incomplete proteins.”1 Oops!

Medical doctor and writer John McDougall wrote to the editor pointing out the mistake. But in a stunning example of avoiding science for convenience, instead of acknowledging their mistake, Barbara Howard, Ph.D., head of the Nutrition Committee, replied on June 25, 2002 to Dr. McDougall’s letter and stated (without a single scientific reference) that the committee was right and “most (plant foods) are deficient in one or more essential amino acids.” Clearly, the committee did not want to be confused by the facts.
Dr. Fuhrman knows there are plenty of protein-building amino acids in vegetables. He talks about it in the new Food Scoring Guide. Here’s a bit:
Amino acids are the building blocks that make proteins. All vegetables and grains contain all eight of the essential amino acids (as well as the twelve other non-essential). While some vegetables have higher or lower proportion of certain amino acids than others, when eaten in amounts to satisfy your caloric needs, a sufficient amount of all essential amino acids is provided. Today’s nutritional science has deemphasized the importance of protein because we now know that it is easy to get enough, and that too much is not good.
Hey, just think. Rhinosauruses and Gorillas, big beefy animals, both, mainly eat plants—a lot of plants!
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The Fascist Approach to Diet

This is certainly a unique take on dieting. Blackmail yourself. “Dear self, if I don’t lose weight, I will donate money to the American Nazi Party or my car to Ku Klux Klan.” You’ve go see it, to believe it. Bill Toland of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more:
Dr. Bear wrote the farcical "Blackmail Diet" more than two decades ago -- if you want to shed those stubborn pounds, sign a legally binding contract mandating a certain weight loss. And if you don't satisfy the contract's requirements, you must fork over, say, $5,000 to the American Nazi Party, which happens to be the precise deal Dr. Bear struck with himself.

Wouldn't ya know it? Those 70 pounds melted right off. (Although one poor reader, having failed to lose the weight, reported that he'd be donating his car to the Ku Klux Klan.)

"We have known this since the earliest times," he said when contacted in his California home. "The bigger the incentive, either positive or negative, the more likely it is to work." Behavioral scientists know it. Prophets in the Bible knew it -- screw up, and you'll go to hell. The penalties don't get much bigger than that.

Dr. Bear's creepy vision has arrived, and not just in the form of "The Biggest Loser," NBC's grotesque of a hit, featuring obese men and women trying to get in shape for a cash prize. Clinical studies and economists are more or less on his side. In recent months, health insurers, city mayors, British politicians and university professors have all come up with their own versions of plans that dangle dollar bills in front of clients and customers, hoping the carrot -- or a stiff penalty -- will be enough incentive to shape up.
I don’t like this one bit. Here’s why. Just look at all the dollars Americans spend on weight-loss, I don’t want either one of these despicable “organizations” getting a single dime. From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live:
In spite of the more than $110 million consumers spend every day on diets and “reducing” programs (more than $40 billion per year), Americans are the most obese people in history. To be considered obese, more than one-third of a person’s body must be made up of fat. A whopping 34 percent of all Americans are obese, and the problem is getting worse, not better.
Here’s an idea, don’t blackmail yourself—love yourself! In my opinion—and mind you, I’m just a smart-aleck—I think this is a disgusting premise.

Dudes, Get a Rockin' Butt!

Wow, I feel uncomfortable with that title—moving on. “The average guy tends to train what he sees—which explains why so many workouts are chest-heavy and arm-emphasizing,” explains Martica Heaner, MA, MEd, on MSN Health & Fitness. Here’s more:
Many men are happy to pummel their biceps into oblivion with an exhausting regimen of an endless variety of curls. The butt? Not so much.

Glutes are not just for looking great in your blue jeans, they are key muscles that affect the stability and strength of your spine and knees. So to perform well in any sport that involves powerful sprints and jumps, and to ensure optimum body alignment during many upper and lower body exercises, well-trained glutes are a must…

HOW TO DO IT: Choose a weight that is heavy enough to challenge your target muscles, but not so heavy that your joints feel strained. Start with dumbbells that are at least five to 15 pounds and gradually work up to heavier weights, depending on the exercise.
Yeah, you do see a lot of dudes bench-pressing and doing curls, but, you hardly ever see some guy toning his core, legs, or in this case, butt. As for me, I work my whole body and maybe that’s why I do yoga, to obtain the elusive “yoga butt.” From Urban Dictionary:
The ultimate external sign of a strong and powerful body. Only after years of practice can a man or woman achieve a yoga butt. It is perfectly proportioned, very tight, high, and sculpted. A yoga butt means you also have yoga arms, yoga abs, yoga legs, etc. It is very sexy and it immediately turns eyes and makes people jealous or inspired.
Hey, fellas, this might be a good goal to work towards. Consider this, one of my best friends is a girl—a hot chick by the way—and here’s what she had to say about a guy having a nice butts. Take a note:
I think all women can appreciate a finely curved, well muscled posterior on a man. Sure, big biceps make us swoon, and who doesn't love some six pack abs? But, there is just something extra sexy about a man who looks as good going as he did coming!
Trust me, you’ll find yourself in front of a mirror today, trying to flatter your own gluteus maximus.

Babies, Baby Products, and Phthalates

A new study has determined that many baby care products may be exposing babies to potentially harmful chemicals called phthalates. Megan Rauscher of Reuters reports:
"At this time, we do not know what the potential long-term health effects might be, but there is a large body of animal studies to suggest developmental and reproductive toxicity (from phthalates) and a few human studies with changes in health outcomes as well," Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana told Reuters Health.

Phthalates are used to make plastics flexible and stabilize fragrances, and are found in a plethora of consumer products including toys, personal care products and medical equipment.

As reported online today in the journal Pediatrics, Sathyanarayana, from the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues measured the levels of nine different phthalate breakdown products in urine from diapers of 163 infants aged 2 to 28 months.

All of the urine samples contained at least one phthalate at measurable levels, they report, and 81 percent of the samples had measurable amounts of seven or more phthalates.
I don’t know all that much about phthalates, so, I ran it through Wikipedia. This caught my eye, scary stuff. Take a look:
In 2007, a cross-sectional study of U.S. males conducted by researchers at Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry concluded that urine concentrations of four phthalate metabolites correlate with waist size and three phthalate metabolites correlate with the cellular resistance to insulin, a precursor to Type II diabetes.
Now, this clearly illustrates that the manufacturers don’t have children’s best interests at heart. So, who’s job is it to protect our kids form stiff like this. Dr. Fuhrman makes it very clear:
We must be careful not to expose our children to chemical cleaners, insecticides, and weed killers on our lawns. Chemicals used in pressure-treated wood used to build lawn furniture, decks, fences, and swings sets have been shown to place children at risk. When children are around, we must be vigilant to maintain a chemical-free environment.
In this case, baby lotions and shampoos are no different.

Almonds the Magnificent!

Almonds are great! I eat some everyday. Like this recipe for example. Have a look:
Almond-Carob Fudge
1/2 cup dates
1/4 cup soy milk
1 cup raw almond butter
1/2 cup raw carob powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chop dates and cover overnight with the soy milk to soften. Mash and mix all ingredients, including the soy milk soak, together and press in glass dish. Chill in refrigerator or freezer before cutting to serve. Serves 4.
That’s Fit forgot about almonds, but, has recently rediscovered them. Check it out:
A handful of almonds can make for a great, healthy snack. Packed with good fats, vitamin E, and calcium, almonds can help protect against a myriad of physical maladies.

In fact, a recent study, conducted at the University of Toronto, led to the discovery that eating about an ounce of almonds per day can lead to a decrease in LDL cholesterol by as much as 20 percent over time. Incredibly, this decrease in LDL is comparable to the reduction caused by some medications.
Hey, Dr. Fuhrman would never forget about nuts and seeds, especially for the heart. He explains:
Perhaps one of the most unexpected and novel findings in nutritional epidemiology in the past five years has been that nut consumption offers such strong protection against heart disease. Several clinical studies have observed beneficial effects of diets high in nuts (including walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and other nuts) on blood lipids.1 A review of 23 intervention trials using nuts and seeds demonstrated convincingly that eating nuts daily decreases total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.2 Not only do nuts and seeds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol, they can help normalize a dangerous type of LDL molecule (the small, dense LDL particles that damage the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels).3
See…its okay to go nuts!
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Chattin' with Tara Parker-Pope

Like I said Friday, I convinced—and by “convinced” I mean begged and groveled—New York Times journalist and blogger Tara Parker-Pope for an interview, and, she said yes! So, without any further ado, here’s the blow-by-blow. Take a look:

About being a health blogger...
Me: Okay Tara, as a blog-nerd, I got to ask. How did Well come to be? I know it’s a very young blog.

Tara: The Times has created a great new health vertical, which offers readers extensive health reference information, special reports and a way to research their health questions. The overall effort to increase the amount of consumer health information the paper provides readers includes Well, a new consumer health blog, which we launched in late September.

Me: Very cool. How did you land the lead-blogger job?

Tara: I was the Wall Street Journal health columnist for the past 8 years. I was looking for way to expand my job beyond print and onto the Web. I had been discussing various ways to do that at the WSJ. Then I got a call from the Times and learned of this opportunity. The Times website is the best news website out there, in my opinion. To have the chance to develop a new health blog, plus write for Science Times—it was my dream job. I loved working for the WSJ, but The Times is just a much better platform for the kind of consumer health journalism I want to pursue.

Me: I agree with you about The Times being the best, hence me swooning over you to get this interview. So, how do you like being a fulltime blogger?

Tara: Well, it's quite busy. In addition to blogging, I also write a weekly column for the paper and am developing other stories as well. But what I love about blogging is that it creates an entirely new relationship with the reader. Readers are smart; they take your story to a place you might never have imagined it would go. I see blog-posts as conversation starters and I'm always amazed and impressed by how much readers have to contribute to the discussion.

Me: So, I bet you find yourself obsessively checking comments all day...and night?

Tara: I do moderate comments at all hours but that's because it's a big job. If I let it go too long, they build up and it's tougher to moderate them. Some days are busier than others, but it's not uncommon to check in and find 30 or 50 comments waiting for me. And readers like to see their comments posted quickly. I try to make that happen as often as possible.

Me: Totally. Keeping up with comments is huge, if you don't people get annoyed. So how do you decide what to blog about it? Spend a lot of time reading newswires and RSS feeds?

Tara: Actually I don't do the newswire or RSS feed route. I get ideas just as I always would for reporting news stories. I read medical journals, talk to doctors, talk to people, read magazines, live my life, etc. It's amazing how many ideas come to you just from talking to people. And of course, the medical journals offer a steady supply of ideas. The challenge is finding things everybody else hasn't already written about.

Health news, health issues—they are everywhere. Dr. Phil blabbing about Britney got me thinking about privacy rules and HIPAA, so I did a post on it. Another example, a woman I know had a stroke which resulted in a post called When Doctors Steal Hope.

That got tons of reader comments and I think resonated with readers because it was about real life. A great blog post is one that is about an issue that people can relate to, something that affects every day life.

I love to read stories about life on the frontiers of medicine, but I don't write them, and that's not what the Well blog is about. It's about the everyday decisions we make that affect our health. I do look for a variety of topics—nutrition, weight, aging, kids. And I look for things that are quirky or interesting. I just did a post called The Midlife Crisis Goes Global.

It's just interesting and oddly reassuring that being bummed out in midlife isn't a uniquely American experience. Everywhere, people in middle age are miserable, apparently.

I do write about medical things—breast cancer, prostate cancer surgery, MRSA—but again, issues that people can relate to on some level.

Me: Wow. Great examples! You just answered my question of what makes good blog-fodder for Well. Okay, next question. What surprises you the most about being a health blogger? What have you encountered that maybe you didn't expect?

Tara: I have been surprised and pleased by the amazing reader interest in health. I had no idea my blog posts would end up generating so many comments. That's very gratifying. I've always believed readers were smart, but I have been impressed by some of the really thoughtful comments the blog has generated.

I think a good blog post with lots of comments can actually be more informative and comprehensive than a traditionally-reported news story. I hadn't expected that. One good example is a post I did on sex after prostate surgery. The reader comments were amazing; the stories readers had to share were so poignant and heartfelt. I never could have provided that kind of information in a straight news story.

I had no idea, after spending 20 years in journalism, how fun, interesting and invigorating this new relationship with readers would be.
Hormone therapy...
Me: Indeed! You tend to get good comments if you provide good blog posts. Okay, that’s all the nerdy blog stuff I had, time to talk health. I see you’ve written a couple of books. So I’m assuming smoking and hormone therapy is an interest of yours. Let’s start with hormones and your book The Hormone Decision. What would you tell a menopausal woman facing the hormone decision?

Tara: I have spent the past five years really taking a close look at the available data on hormones, and that is what my book, The Hormone Decision is about. The bottom line is that there is no single answer for a woman coping with menopause. Hormones are not good. They are not bad. They are just a medical option for women at midlife. And for a woman experiencing extreme symptoms that are hurting her quality of life, I believe the data show that the benefits of hormones in that situation outweigh the risks.

Me: Gotcha. And how has your book and work on this topic been received by the medical community at large?

Tara: Very well actually. My goal has never been to take a position one way or the other but to make sure women were getting accurate information. I've had many doctors and people from women's health groups tell me they appreciate my effort to remove the hype and hysteria from the debate and just give women the facts.

In the end, that's why my whole career as a health journalist has been about—trying to give people accurate information so they can make informed decisions about their health.
Me: I think that is very important. Women need a clear and concise voice of compassion and reason on this issue. Alright, we are half way done. Switching gears a little, your other book, Cigarettes: Anatomy of an Industry from Seed to Smoke, is about smoking. What would you say to a young child when they ask or get curious about smoking?

Tara: I wrote about smoking as a business reporter—I was fascinated by the image of “Big Tobacco” on the ropes with all the state attorneys general suing, plaintiff's lawyers, etc. It wasn't true. Meanwhile, I was looking at earnings reports showing that these companies were pretty much just printing money. So that was the focus of my book—not really health, although the health issues certainly did have an impact on the industry as a whole.

I recently wrote a blog post about kids and smoking. I was watching America's Next Top Model with my daughter and the contestants had done a photo shoot showing the ravages of smoking (In a story for the WSJ, I once railed on America's Next Top Model for showing the models smoking when the show is widely viewed by young girls. They banned smoking among the contestants the next season).

But the photo shoot had a huge impact on my daughter. She had heard me say many times that smoking can kill you, but she was kind of amazed at how ugly it made the girls. There is research to support the notion that you have to target health messages to kids a different way.

Me: For sure, kids aren't just mini-adults.

Kids don't care too much about disease and death, but they care about things they understand—friends, the way they look, the way they smell. I think the best thing parents can do to keep kids from smoking is not smoke themselves. That is huge.

And I think they need to emphasize just what a disgusting habit it is, that it can give you wrinkles, ruin your sports performance on the field, etc.
Being a mom...
Me: Smoking is a hot button issue for me too. Now, since you touched on it, how did becoming a mom change the way you go about your work?

Tara: I think being a parent has changed the way I view health. I think before kids I just thought of it in terms of the basics—weight, getting a physical, etc. Now I view almost every decision I make as one that impacts the health of my family. The foods I eat and whether I exercise is a powerful influence on my child's behavior. Do I sign her up for gymnastics, where there is a lot of standing around, or opt for dance classes, where they move constantly. When I bought a car, I looked for a model with a zillion airbags. A healthy life for me and a healthy life for my child are influenced by 100 different small decisions I make every day.

And the fact that I have a school-aged child does influence the topics I choose to write about. I have a category on my blog called Family Matters--I do a lot of stories on kids, teens and health.

Me: Dr. Fuhrman would applaud you. That’s fantastic! You and the little one should try Yoga.

Tara: You know we haven't done Yoga for a while, but I did organize a yoga class for her preschool. I brought in a yoga teacher for six sessions or so to teach the kids the fun Yoga moves.

Me: Awesome! We should practice together someday.

Tara: Well, I should add that just because I write about health and believe in the power of small decisions, that doesn't mean I'm perfect. I struggle just like everyone else. The hardest thing for me is finding time to exercise. So of course, I blogged about my decision to buy a new elliptical machine.
A problem with health journalism...
Me: Totally, ellipticals are great. In fact, if I had been smart and used one. I wouldn't have a knee brace and heating pad on my knee for the second day straight. Relax folks, I’m all better now. Alright, back to business. What health issue is sticking in your craw lately?

I think it's important that we, as journalists, not act as if the latest study is the best study. There is a tendency to do this in my business and I'm sure I've been guilty of it from time to time.

We saw this with the Women's Health initiative and hormones—this tendency to throw out all the data that came before it. That was a mistake. We need to look at new research in the context of whatever came before it.

A bigger issue probably is the issue of absolute risk versus relative risk. It's so easy to talk about a 20% increase in risk without giving the context. We can't do it every time but whenever possible, it's important to tell readers what a number means to them. So when everybody was writing about a big increase in breast cancer risk due to alcohol consumption after a study came out last fall—I thought it was important to say what that really mean to women.

There was a Kaiser study that reported a 30% increase in breast cancer risk associated with three drinks a day. I made the following point: But before you panic, remember these scary percentages translate into very small risks for the individual woman. A typical 50-year-old woman has a five-year breast cancer risk of about 3 percent. If her risk jumps by 30 percent, her individual risk is still only about 4 percent.

I think we need to try to make the distinction between relative and absolute risk as often as we can. I don't do it every time, often because the data aren't easy to come by, but when a finding has the potential to alarm, then I think we really need to work hard to give readers the context and perspective they need to make sense of it and frankly, absolute risk should be standard in every medical journal abstract. It annoys me to no end that the medical journals don't do this every time.
Me: I feel your passion. Hey, what do you think about the reports linking the raise in allergies to insufficient breastfeeding?

Tara: I don't know enough about the data but there are so many things going on environmentally that I find it tough to believe any one thing can be blamed. I think it’s important not to judge women for the choices they make or men for that matter either. Instead the focus should be on providing information about the benefits of breast milk and making it easy for women to continue to nurse "in the real world.''

It was amazing to me when I was in the hospital with my daughter how often some of the nurses tried to stick a bottle in her mouth. The thing is, the health of our kids is the cumulative result of so many decisions we make. If someone didn't breast feed they aren't to blame for their kids' allergies and just because a woman breastfeeds, doesn't mean she gets to stop worrying about nutrition for her children.

My point is, we are bound to get some things right and do a few things wrong the goal is to just get it right most of the time.
Feeding her family...
Me: Sounds like my dating history. Okay, are you ready for a tough one? How do you keep your family eating healthy?

Tara: It is a struggle. I am so busy. Convenience foods are such a temptation and I confess I often use them. I just try to buy organic, look at labels, pay attention to portion size all the things you're supposed to do but mostly, I don't want to obsess too much.

I think Michael Pollan makes a good point when he notes that this culture of nutritionism has taken much of the pleasure out of eating. Now when I put salmon on my plate in the cafeteria I swear I think to myself "mmm, omega 3s..." There's something really wrong with that.
Jessica Seinfeld's book...
Me: No way! You're talking to a guy that makes vegan brownies with spinach—you're totally normal!

Let's talk about that Jessica Seinfeld book, “Deceptively Delicious”, it is one of the single worst things to happen to childhood nutrition ever.

Me: You are so right! Healthy eating is not about tricking kids.

Tara: This idea that we have to hide vegetables from our kids is so wrong. Our job isn't just to inject nutrients into their little bodies. It’s about teaching them about healthful eating. Why are we so puritanical about vegetables, serving them steamed and flavorless? We make our good food taste really good. We should make our good-for-you food taste really good too.

Me: Awesome. Thanks so much for doing this Tara. I really appreciate it.

Tara: By the way, I read your story. Very inspirational, makes me realize I need to get moving.

Me: Thank you so much. It took a lot for me to publish that story. You never think you're going to be a "success story."

Okay, I won't keep you any longer. Thanks again. Please keep in touch, this was really great. I am honored.

Tara: Thanks. Back to blogging. They are probably wondering what happened to me, and, don't be honored, because it's nice that you were interested. Thanks.

Me: Peace.
So there you have it. Thanks again Tara! I know, that officially makes the 100th time I’ve thank you, but thanks—101! Now, to keep up with all the interviews—yes, there’s more to come—just check out Followhealthlife's interview category. Peace.

Standard American Low-Fat--JUNK--Diet

Kudos to Diet Blog for finding this one. Apparently some researchers think all these low-fat health guidelines we have been force-fed for years are doing more harm than good. Here’s an excerpt from ScienceDaily, take a look:
In 2000, the Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee suggested that the recommendation to lower fat, advised in the 1995 guidelines, had perhaps been ill-advised and might actually have some potential harm. The committee noted concern that "the previous priority given to a 'low-fat intake' may lead people to believe that, as long as fat intake is low, the diet will be entirely healthful. This belief could engender an overconsumption of total calories in the form of carbohydrates, resulting in the adverse metabolic consequences of high-carbohydrate diets," the committee wrote, while also noting that "an increasing prevalence of obesity in the United States has corresponded roughly with an absolute increase in carbohydrate consumption.
Okay, to better understand this quote, let’s talk about these age-old dietary recommendations. Perhaps nothing better illustrates them than the infamous United States food pyramid. Check it out via The University of Pennsylvania Health System:

Yeah, cause eating that way makes sense—tisk-tisk. Now, we all know that people eat too much refined and processed foods, but despite the carbophobia, Americans are still eating way too much fat. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The claim that Americans have dramatically cut their fat intake is incorrect. In fact, 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.
Now, in the Food Scoring Guide Dr. Fuhrman’s describes what the typical American diet is made of—a lot junk! More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Americans have access to a greater abundance of affordable high-nutrient, low-calorie fruits and vegetables than any other people on the face of the earth. But a shocking 93% of the typical American diet consists of low-nutrient, high-calorie processed foods, animal foods, and dairy products, and only 7% of the calories we consume come from healthful fruits and vegetables. Sweet desserts, and soft drinks now comprise 25% of all calories consumed in America.
This chart should paint an even clearer picture for you. Have a look:

Neither of these graphics demonstrate that Americans understand the importance of eating mostly plant-foods. Okay, I’m no fan of idol worship, but here’s an image we can all get behind. It simply screams, “Eat your fruits and veggies!” Don’t you agree? Enjoy:

When you start eating as described in Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid you’ll avoid nasty fat and refined carbohydrates and that’s a good thing! Because as he explains, they are a deadly duo. Here’s why:
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.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my fat cells to swell—EEK!
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Feline Fitness

I love cats—actually, I love all animals, but especially cats—in fact, I adopted a cheetah. Yes, a cheetah! His name is Echo and he lives at the Australia Zoo. Look how handsome:

Now, we’ve all heard that pets can make us feel better, but can a cat be a personal trainer? Well, Libby Sentz’s cat has certainly got her moving. Poked & Prodded has more:
I know that people and their pets are supposed to end up looking alike, but limping alike? I found out last week that she shares my diagnosis—severe osteoarthritis of the hips.

Mine is so bad that I’ll need a hip replacement eventually. But somehow she’s been doing a much better job than I am with managing her symptoms…

…My feline friend is setting such a good example that I’ve been motivated to develop my own take-care-of-myself routine. I’ll call it the Wonder-Kitty Plan.
  1. After hitting snooze in the mornings, I will put my heating pad on my hip. (My cat sleeps there, so this will help her too.)
  2. I will begin my stretches in bed, just like she does.
  3. When she starts hopping around and climbing bookshelves, I will roll right into the tedious strengthening exercises that physical therapists of surgeries past have urged me to stick with.
  4. I will take my supplements with breakfast when she takes hers.
  5. And once a week I will shell out for some form of manual therapy. Or maybe I can bribe my husband to massage the kitty and me together.
Makes sense to me, I used to spend plenty of time exercising with my cat—chasing her butt around the house!

Have a Coke and Some Gout

New research has determined that sugary drinks increase a guy’s risk of gout by as much as 85%. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News is on it:
In this study, published in BMJ Online First, researchers looked at more than 46,000 men, aged 40 and older, with no history of gout. Information on the men's food and beverage intake was collected at the start of the study, and details about their weight, medication use and medical conditions were recorded every two years during the 12-year study.

During that time, 755 of the men were diagnosed with gout. The risk was much higher in men who drank five to six servings of sugar-sweetened soft drinks per week and was 85 percent higher in those who drank two or more of the beverages a day, compared to those who had less than one serving per month.

The increased risk was independent of other gout risk factors such as body-mass index, age, diuretic use, high blood pressure, alcohol intake and dietary habits. Diet soft drinks did not increase gout risk.
Now, just think about all the soda commercials you saw during the Super Bowl last night—scary.

Dr. Cox's Carrot Threat

Yes, I’m a huge Scrubs fan, and yes, Dr. Cox is my favorite doctor—next to Dr. Fuhrman of course—here he threatens “nervous guy” with baby carrots. Enjoy:

Something New on Followhealthlife...

Okay folks, I’m not one to toot my own horn, so let me toot yours—wow, that sounds kind of dirty—thanks everyone! Thank you for your loyal readership. Followhealthlife has been kicking butt lately. In fact, last month was the blog’s busiest month—EVER!

So here’s my gift to you. Say hello to Followhealthlife’s newest series. Joining Eating to Live on the Outside and Operation Banana Hunt, is Followhealthlife Interviews. That’s right. I’ve sharpened my pencils, dusted off my tape recorder, and prepared the truth serum. Time to rock and roll!

I’m all set to go one-on-one with the voices of diet, health, and fitness—both online and off—I’m totally excited about! It’ll give me the opportunity to polish my interviewing skills, while providing all of you with interesting insight into the swirling abyss of health information. It kicks off Monday.

Monday I’ll be presenting my interview with former Wall Street Journal health columnist, author of The Hormone Decision and Cigarettes: Anatomy of an Industry from Seed to Smoke, and current New York Times journalist/blogger Tara Parker-Pope. Don’t know Tara? Shame on you—only kidding—check her out on the Well Blog. Here are some of her recent posts:
Not to gush, but Tara’s an awesome blogger. She mentioned during the interview that she adds a personal touch—a dash of humanity and compassion—to all her blogging and reporting. As someone who pours his heart into this blog each and everyday, I really appreciate her sentiments. Now, for more Tara, check out this video from Charlie Rose:

Tara’s a cool chick. I had a great time chatting with her, I learned a lot. Not only about health, but health journalism too! She and I discussed a myriad of topics; including health-blogging, hormone therapy, breastfeeding, and smoking. No worries, I made sure to pepper the interview with plenty my smart-alecky sense of humor—you know you love it—see you Monday!

(Here's Monday's post: Chattin' with Tara Parker-Pope)

Eating to Live on the Outside: Leaf Cuisine

Sometimes healthy living can be hard work. Imagine walking into Huddle House or Carino's Italian Grill. Eating at these places is like playing Russian-roulette with your health. So what we need is a healthy restaurant. Do we have one on tap this week?

Yes! “Our intention is to create healthful, tasty, and affordable foods, in their natural state, using only organic ingredients, imagination, and conscious care.” That’s the mission of Leaf Cuisine, an organic raw vegan restaurant. Sweet! That’s what I’m talking about. Let’s hit it!

Alright, I’m looking at the menu and I like what I see, so, its time to put my favorite strategy into action. Since all the food looks good—unlike the most of the standard American restaurants I review—I’ll share with you my favorites, and, I encourage you to do the same in the comments.

Let’s start with the appetizers. I like the Raw Slaw a lot; cabbages, carrots, herbs, and a creamy seed cheese dressing. Very cool, I make dressing with nuts and seeds all the time—avocado too! Speaking of avocado, I dig the Guacamole with Flax Seed Crackers; it’s pretty self-explanatory. Now, I really like wakame—seaweed in general—but wakame salads tend to be salty. So, I wouldn’t be too quick to order the Seaweed Salad. Darn it!

The soups don’t excite me too much, onto the wraps and salads. The Garden Delight is great; mixed greens, tomatoes, sprouts, carrot, red cabbage, and house dressing. Pretty basic, but still yummy, provided I go easy on the dressing. The Mediterranean Medley looks tasty; made with sun-dried tomato, walnut croquettes, spinach pesto sauce, greens, tomatoes, and sprouts. Oh! The croquettes are prepared by dehydrating a veggie, nut, seed, and herb pate. Sounds good to me! What do you think? Now, the Veggie Sunburger looks fantastic! It’s another veggie-seed croquette, topped with a tangy tomato sauce, mixed greens, sprouts, and, it’s all wrapped up in a collard green. What a great idea! An awesome way to avoid a bread or tortilla concession—kudos to Leaf on this one!

Okay, I’m briefly skipping over to the breakfast and house specialties. The Apple Spice Oatmeal looks tasty; sprouted oats, apple, banana, almond butter, raisins, and dates. Well, I’m hard-pressed to find anything bad about this. The Kale Salad is also a solid choice; they make it with copped kale, avocado, sprouted wild rice, mung beans, tomatoes, and cayenne. Lots of phyonutrients here, but I’d probably ditch the cayenne, no sense risking my tummy with the hot spice.

Now, jumping back to the smoothies and drinks. The Very Berry is cool; strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, banana, apples, and dates. Sweet! No pun intended. The Chocolate Milkshake looks very tempting; cacao, carob, banana, nut milk, coconut milk, and dates. For a chocolate-fiend like me—awesome! The Green Lean Scene is very Fuhrman-friendly; kale, mango, orange juice, cinnamon, and banana. Love that kale! As for the drinks, the Veggie Combo and the Got Greens are full of great stuff; combined they include carrot, celery, beet, kale, collard greens, parsley, and spinach. I can almost feel the nutrients surging through my body.

As for the desserts, I’d easily devour them all, but my two favorites are the Apple Pie and the Chocolate Brownie. The Apple Pie is made with apples, raisin compote, a date-nut crust, and cashew cream, and, the Chocolate Brownie is put together with raw cacao, chocolate sauce, chopped walnuts, and whipped “cream.” Provided neither of these are packed with sugar, I could order either one guilt free. What about you?

Okay, so there you have it. I think Leaf Cuisine is a slam dunk for a ravenous nutritarian, but, I want to hear from you. Check out Leaf’s menu and let me know how you handle Eating to Live on the Outside. Make a comment or shoot me an email at Until then, eat healthfully! Peace.

Our Teeny-Tiny Green

Congress might be getting greener, but comparatively speaking, the United States comes up short in the race for green-technology. More from Rachel Barron of GreenTechMedia:
Although it was far from his focal point, President Bush did touch on "clean energy" in his last State of the Union address Monday evening.

He called for the pioneering efforts of the cleantech industry to help the country curb its dependence on oil and in turn boost its energy security, pointing to technologies like nuclear power, batteries and renewable fuels…

…”Let us create a new international clean-technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources," he said.

It sound good, but from details on the White House's Web site, it amounts to $2 billion spread out over three years. That's not huge, considering the U.S. government has committed nearly $18 billion to the research, development and adoption of clean technologies during Bush's presidency, according to the same site.
No doubt, $2 billion dollars is a HUGE amount of money, but even still, the U.S. is hardly leading the green charge. Check out this graph from GreenTechMedia:

I don’t know about you, but I think this money is well spent. I only wish it was more.

Weight-Loss Good, Seriously

Well, not exactly earth-shattering news, but new research claims losing weight by either diet or exercise is good for the heart. Reuters is on it:
Researchers found that among 25 healthy but overweight middle-aged adults, moderate weight loss appeared to restore some the heart's youthful elasticity -- making it easier for the heart to relax between contractions and refill with blood.

It did not appear to matter whether the weight loss was achieved through diet changes or exercise, the researchers report in the American Journal of Physiology.

"If individuals want to do something that's good for their heart, then my message to them is lose weight by the method they find most tolerable," Dr. Sandor J. Kovacs, the senior researcher on the study, said in a statement.

"They're virtually guaranteed that it will have a salutary effect on their cardiovascular system," said Kovacs, a professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.
This reminds me of a report that came out this fall. It’s about how exercise can help prevent heart failure. Here’s a refresher from Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News:
According to two studies that were to be presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., that response can dramatically enhance patients' ability to move and work out.

"Both studies point to the beneficial effect of exercise on patients with heart failure," said Dr. Sidney Smith, past president of the American Heart Association and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Science and Medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

"These observations provide some understanding into the mechanisms which [make exercise helpful]," Smith said.

More than 5 million people in the United States have heart failure, a condition that affects the heart's ability to pump blood throughout the body.
And listen, we all know that adhering to a healthful diet is extremely heart-healthy. Take avoiding saturated fat for example. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
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.1
In light of all this, I figured now is a great time to interject this quote from, my hero, Howard Stern. He dropped this on Wednesday’s show. Take a look:
I believe diet is the key for getting rid of a lot of illness.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Thanks Howard!
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Expensively Sick

Julie’s Health Club relays a list of America’s top ten medical costs. Scary stuff, my wallet hurts just looking at it. Check it out:
  1. Heart conditions ($76 billion)
  2. Trauma disorders ($72 billion)
  3. Cancer ($70 billion)
  4. Mental disorders, including depression ($56.0 billion)
  5. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ($54 billion)
  6. High blood pressure ($42 billion)
  7. Type 2 diabetes ($34 billion)
  8. Osteoarthritis and other joint diseases ($34 billion)
  9. Back problems ($32 billion)
  10. Normal childbirth* ($32 billion)
*Normal childbirth means without medical complications or surgical procedures. C-sections are not included in the normal childbirth category.
This list gets even more frightening when you consider the over-arching cost of obesity. Dr. Fuhrman offers up some facts and figures:
The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2230 all adults in the United States will be obese. The National Institutes of Health estimate that obesity is associated with a twofold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year.1
Wows, it certainly pays to be healthy.
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Don't Heat the BPA

If you’re worried about the toxin Bisphenol A (BPA) you might want to avoid plastic water bottles, and, boiling plastic water bottles. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News has more:
Exposing plastic bottles to boiling water can release a potentially harmful chemical 55 times faster than normal, new research suggests.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in the plastics that make up water bottles, baby bottles, and other food and drink packaging. It acts as an environmental estrogen and can disrupt the function of the endocrine system.

In 2007, an expert panel convened by the U.S. Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) concluded that exposure to BPA presents some risk to development and reproduction, although it's unclear at what level that harm begins to occur.

"There isn't a real answer," said study senior author Scott Belcher, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Cincinnati. "There seems to be a current difference of opinion between the scientific research field and the folks doing risk assessment. If you were to sum it up in an easy, relatively conservative way, the scientific data points to some reason for caution at low concentrations. There really isn't much information regarding the effects on human populations directly."
Now, if you’re a parent, and, BPA has got you nervous, check out this BPA-free sippy cup. ParentDish is pretty impressed with the Fluid Toddler Cup. Its neat looking:

To be honest, I want one for myself.