MSN Health: Bad Foods for Cholesterol

“Saturated fat is the element of the modern diet that shows the most powerful association with high cholesterol and premature death from heart attacks,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. And, MSN offers up 5 Foods That Feed Cholesterol:

Whole-milk Dairy Products: Saturated fat, which clogs arteries and increases LDL levels, is the No. 1 cholesterol-boosting culprit.

Processed Meats: Bacon, sausage, liverwurst and the like are also wonderful sources of artery-clogging saturated fat.

Fast-Food Fries: The main source of trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils, and that’s exactly what most fast-food restaurants are still using to cook their fries.

Tropical Oils: Palm kernel and coconut oils are two of the fattiest of oils—100 percent of the bad-for-you saturated variety.

Baked Goods: All baked goods—even those that are homemade—are high in saturated fats, thanks to the butter and shortening.
No doubt, these are terrible foods. Here’s a montage of Dr. Fuhrman railing against them. Take a look:
Milk/Dairy Fat
Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases.

Bacon/Animal Fat
Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

Fried Food
Never eat browned or overly cooked food. Burnt food forms harmful compounds. If by accident something is overcooked and browned, discard it. Avoid fried food and food sautéed in oil.

Cooking Oil
While hydrogenation does not make the fat completely saturated, it creates trans fatty acids, which act like saturated fats. Evidence is accumulating to implicate the harmful nature of these man-made fats in both cancer and heart disease.

Baked Goods
Baked goods, cold breakfast cereals, pretzels, and other snack foods, we are getting heart-disease-promoting trans fats and a high dose of acrylamides. Acrylamides are toxic, cancer-promoting compounds produced when foods are baked or fried at high temperatures.
Yeah, I think MSN is right on target with this list—don’t you agree?
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Food Scoring Guide: More Healthful Eating Habits

No one wants to have a heart attack, suffer a debilitating stroke, or develop cancer. But lots of people die from these conditions every day…UNNECESSARILY.

Nutritional science has a made a dramatic advances in recent years. The overwhelming accumulation of scientific knowledge points to a dramatic conclusion—THE MAJORITY OF DISEASE PLAGUING AMERICANS ARE PREVENTABLE. Using the information gleaned from scientific studies, it is now possible to formulate a few simple diet and lifestyle principles that can save you years of suffering and premature death. You have an unprecedented opportunity in human history to live healthier and longer than ever before.

But living healthier and longer comes at a price.

How much would it be worth to you to guarantee that you would never have a heart attack or a stroke? What would it be worth to you to see your children and grandchildren grow healthfully and happily? What would you be willing to pay for the assurance that you would not leave your spouse or your children all alone?

Fortunately, the expenditure is infinitely affordable—little more than the effort needed to establish new, more healthful eating habits.

Food Scoring Guide: Misconceptions about Protein

The most common question people are asked when they switch to a nutrient-rich diet is, “Where do you get your protein/” In a diet that is chock-full of vegetables and fruits, and short on animal products, it might seem like a reasonable question. But it isn’t.

It is an old myth that a diet needs to contain lots of animal products to provide enough protein and be nutritionally sound. Adding to the confusion are diet books and magazine articles that promulgate another myth—that eating more protein is weight-loss favorable and eating carbohydrates is weight-loss unfavorable. Another common misconception is the notion that you need to maintain a fixed ratio (percentage) of fat, carbohydrate, and protein. There also are plenty of self-appointed experts ready to tell you that the ideal diet should be based on your heritage, skin tone, eye color, blood type, or the spelling of your mother’s maiden name. Some recommend high-protein, others low-protein; some recommend very low-fat diets; others recommend much higher levels of fat. But regulating the macronutrient content of a diet is not the critical factor you should be concerned with, and here’s why.

If you are overweight, you consumed more calories than you have utilized. Micromanaging the percent of fat, protein, or carbohydrate isn’t going to change the amount of calories very much. You need to consume fewer calories. Therefore, almost all overweight individuals need to consume less of all the macronutrients—less protein, less fat, and less carbohydrate. These are the source of all calories. Don’t worry about not consuming enough of these. Unless you are anorexic, it is very rare to find an American who is deficient in fat, protein, or carbohydrates.

There is protein in all foods, ESPECIALLY VEGETABLES, not just in animal products. The fact is, protein deficiency is not a concern for anyone in the developed world. It is almost impossible to consume too little protein, no matter what you eat unless your diet is significantly deficient in overall calories. If it is, you’ll deficient in other nutrients as well.

It is a big mistake to put emphasis on trying to get enough of something (protein) you are undoubtedly getting too much of it in the first place. Hundreds of studies show that as protein consumption goes up, so does the incidence of chronic diseases. Is protein bad for us? No, incidence of chronic diseases goes up when you increase the consumption of carbohydrates and fat, too.1 Most Americans simply don’t need to increase eating any macronutrients. Increasing the consumption of protein (or fat or carbohydrates) is good if you need more calories because you are anorexic or are chronically malnourished, like a starving person in a troubled area of the world. But it is bad if you are already getting too much. If any of these nutrients exceed our basic requirements, the excess is harmful. Americans already get too much protein, and it iss hurting us.2

The problem is that people in modern societies like the United States eat diets that are deficient in micronutrients.
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Health Points: Friday

Imaging technology shows that people who practice meditation that focuses on kindness and compassion actually undergo changes in areas of the brain that make them more in tune to what others are feeling.

"Potentially one can train oneself to behave in a way which is more benevolent and altruistic," said study co-author Antoine Lutz, an associate scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

How far this idea can be extrapolated remains in question, though.
FDA said it is reviewing reports of mood changes, suicidal behavior and suicide in patients who have taken the drug, which was Merck's best-selling product last year.

In the past year Merck has updated the drug's labeling four times to include information on tremors, anxiousness, depression and suicidal behavior reported in some patients.
The runner’s-high hypothesis proposed that there were real biochemical effects of exercise on the brain. Chemicals were released that could change an athlete’s mood, and those chemicals were endorphins, the brain’s naturally occurring opiates. Running was not the only way to get the feeling; it could also occur with most intense or endurance exercise.

The problem with the hypothesis was that it was not feasible to do a spinal tap before and after someone exercised to look for a flood of endorphins in the brain. Researchers could detect endorphins in people’s blood after a run, but those endorphins were part of the body’s stress response and could not travel from the blood to the brain. They were not responsible for elevating one’s mood. So for more than 30 years, the runner’s high remained an unproved hypothesis.

But now medical technology has caught up with exercise lore. Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.
People who have big bellies in their 40s are much more likely to get Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in their 70s, according to new research that links the middle-age spread to fading minds for the first time.

The study of more than 6,000 people found the more fat they had in their guts in their early- to mid-40s, the greater their chances of becoming forgetful or confused or showing other signs of senility as they aged. Those who had the most impressive midsections faced more than twice the risk of the leanest.
Dr. Carol Byrd-Bredbenner of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues found that many college students engaged in eating behaviors that could make them sick, like eating raw homemade cookie dough or runny eggs.

While people are becoming increasingly aware of food safety issues, Byrd-Bredbenner and her team note, surveys still show a substantial proportion run the risk of food poisoning by eating raw eggs, undercooked hamburger and other foods that may harbor harmful bacteria.
The disclosure of hidden tobacco money behind a big study suggesting that lung scans might help save smokers from cancer has shocked the research community and raised fresh concern about industry influence in important science.

Two medical journals that published studies by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers in 2006 are looking into tobacco cash and other financial ties that weren't revealed. The studies reported benefits from lung scans, which the Cornell team has long touted.
The IARC has labeled these occupations as "probably carcinogenic to humans," a classification the agency reserves for those exposures backed by fairly strong evidence. In 1993, the IARC found that hairdressers and barbers were probably exposed to cancer-causing substances, but at that time, evidence of an increased cancer risk in this population was "inadequate." This week's report, published in the Lancet Oncology, is based on a review of epidemiological studies published since that time.

Some of the products used by hairdressers and barbers--such as dyes, pigments, rubber chemicals, and curing agents—have been found to cause tumors in rats in laboratory studies or have been known to cause bladder cancer in humans. In some studies, increased risk has been associated with permanent dyes and use of darker-colored hair dyes.

Musical Fast Food

This burger is too upbeat to be singing about fast food. Enjoy:

Thanks to Followhealthlife reader Mike for sending this over!

Rodents Love Junk Food

This does not speak well for our population. Apparently, mice love high-calorie sugary foods. Mind you, these mice lack the ability to taste. Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News reports:
Fattening foods taste good, but a new study suggests you might also like them because you subconsciously realize they're full of calories.

Scientists report that mice without a sense of taste still developed a preference for sugar water compared to ordinary water. The finding suggests the mice had a way of sensing that the sugar water had calories -- energy for their bodies -- and the other water didn't.

Humans, of course, could be different.

Still, it indicates that "taste isn't the only reason we like high-calorie foods," said study author Ivan E. de Araujo. "Even in the complete absence of taste, it's possible to develop a preference for high-calorie foods."

De Araujo, an assistant fellow at The John B. Pierce Laboratory at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and his colleagues at Duke University reported their findings in the March 27 issue of Neuron. De Araujo was at Duke when the research was conducted.
“Humans, of course, could be different.” That’s an interesting line. Not sure I agree. Consider this video from Dr. Fuhrman’s friend Jeff Novick, MS, RD. Take a look:

Notice how food producers added sugar and salt to make “fat-free” food more appealing. Maybe we are mice—blind mice—because despite the facts, most Americans continue to eat bad food. From Dr. Fuhrman:
Many of the animal products consumed, such as cheese and red meat, are exceptionally high in saturated fat. High saturated fat intake increases the risk of certain cancers and promotes high cholesterol, leading to heart disease. To add insult to injury, many of the processed foods we eat are high in trans fat, a man-made fat that is linked to cancer and heart disease…

…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.
Millions of people just gorging themselves on garbage—aren’t lemmings a rodent?

You Wear What You Eat...

Girls always say, “Oh, that stuff always goes straight to my hips.” Well ladies, this food not only goes to your hips, but also your shoulders, legs, and tummy. Take a look:

(via joykampia)

I’m no fashion connoisseur, and, I doubt anyone here is eating burgers and ice cream, but these are fashion nightmares—right?

Food Scoring Guide: Plant Protein and Micronutrients

Eating more plant protein is the key to increasing our micronutrient intake. It is interesting to note that foods such as peas, green vegetables, and beans have lots of protein—even more protein per calorie than meat. But what is generally considered is that foods that are rich in plant protein are generally the foods that are richest in nutrients and phytochemicals. By eating more of these high-nutrient, low-calorie foods, we get plenty of protein, and our bodies get flooded with protective micronutrients simultaneously. Animal protein does not contain antioxidants and phytochemical; plant protein does. Plus, animal protein is married to saturated fat. Excesses of saturated fat are not favorable to good health.

No complicated formulas or protein supplements are needed for you to get sufficient protein for growth, even if you are a serious athlete. Exercise drives an increased hunger, and as you consume more calories to meet the demands of exercise, you will naturally get the extra protein you need.

Food Scoring Guide: Smart Choices

Since the foods with the higher nutrient scores are low in calories and do not contain saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, or added salt, you need not give these unhealthful foods factors much thought once your start choosing foods that have the highest nutrient density. For example, all natural foods contain less than half a mg of sodium per calorie.

It is only when you include prepared foods, processed foods, and restaurant foods in your diet that excess sodium becomes an issue (because of the risk of high blood pressure and strokes). When eating foods from lower-nutrient categories, the sodium levels need to be considered.

Try to avoid foods with more salt than calories. Foods that contain more sodium (in milligrams) than the number of calories cannot be considered healthful. As the sodium number gets higher and higher, the food becomes more dangerous to include in your diet. Ideally, your total daily intake of sodium should be under 1000 mg.

Manly Food: I Say Tomato, They Say Beef

“Man food” really agitates me. This concept that the American male only qualifies as such if he craves beef, barbeque, and beer, is asinine. Yet, it’s true. A recent survey determined that men prefer meat and women want veggies. The Associated Press reports:
The study of eating habits of American adults -- called the most extensive of its kind -- was a telephone survey of 14,000 Americans. It confirmed conventional wisdom that most men eat more meat than women, and women eat more fruits and vegetables.

But there were a few surprising exceptions: Men were much more likely to eat asparagus, brussels sprouts, peas and peanuts. They also were bigger consumers of frozen pizzas, frozen hamburgers and frozen Mexican dinners.

Women are more likely than men to eat eggs, yogurt and fresh hamburgers.

Men also showed a little more of an appetite for runny eggs and undercooked hamburgers -- two foods that health experts say carry a higher chance of contamination that can make you sick.

Women were more likely than men to eat only one risky food, raw alfalfa sprouts, which in the past 15 years have been linked to outbreaks of food poisoning.
Now, I’ve talked about this before, but look at me. I lift weights, watch sports, love action movies, play fantasy sports, and, I regularly forget “important” anniversary dates, but, here’s what I ate yesterday. Check it out:
Chocolate pudding made with bananas, flaxseed, sesame seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, coco-powder, avocado, spinach, Romaine lettuce, dates, and unsweetened almond milk. Plus my morning shot of pomegranate juice.

Carrots sticks and one head of Romaine lettuce with mashed avocado spiced with onion and garlic powder, and, a cactus pear.

Sautéed cabbage, peas, and sliced garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil and seasoned with dill and rosemary. Also, one nectarine later in the evening.
And, a couple hours after dinner I was the only guy sitting in my Yoga class—surrounded by a room full of hot chicks—now, does this make me any less of a man? No! But yes, if you think DISEASE is manly. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
A recent study showed that after following almost 200,000 Americans for seven years, those who regularly consumed red meat had a double the occurrence of pancreatic cancer1…

…Researchers from the American Cancer Society followed 79,236 individuals over ten years and found that those ate meat more than three times per week were much more likely to gain weight as the years went by than those who tended to avoid meat2…

…If you eat the typical American diet, you will likely die of typical American diseases. In the typical American diet 40% of calories come from animal foods such as dairy, meat, eggs, and chicken, and 50% of calories come from processed foods such as pasta, bread, soda, oils, sugar, puffed cereals, pretzels, and other adulterated products. Cancer and heart disease is the consequence.
So, this idea that you’re only a man if you like steak, grease, and heart disease is ridiculous. Now, I’m a peace monger, but, if any one calls me a Yoga-doing, meat-avoiding, tree-hugging wuss, I’ll gladly feed them a Grade A knuckle sandwich.
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Food Scoring Guide: Your Commitment to Health

Educating yourself with the latest scientific findings and eating a diet of delicious, high-nutrient food allows you to protect yourself and your family from the health tragedies you see all around you—and not just the big tragedies like heart disease. Allergies, joint pain, fatigue, headaches, mental clarity, and digestive problems all can dramatically resolve though nutritional excellence.

Those who truly desire to protect themselves can do so, without expensive and risky prescription drugs. Proper self-care is more effective and overwhelmingly less expensive than conventional care.

It is not an exaggeration to say that you are in a fight for your life. Don’t let food manufacturers and fast food establishments take your health away. Fight back against junk food and food addiction.

Good information is the most powerful artillery you have to save your life and the lives of loved ones. Be a fighter. Learn and encourage others. Working together, we can change the nutritional landscape of America, save lives, and save our economy that is slowly being destroyed by out-of-control healthcare costs. Join the growing army of Americans who are choosing nutritional excellence, and reclaim your right to a long life of health and happiness.

Shopping Tips from Michael Pollan

Julie’s Health Club passes along some great food shopping tips from Michael Pollan. Take a look:
Rather than a rating system, what we need is common sense. And Pollan, thankfully, has provided some logical rules of thumb to help you find the kind of food you should eat: real food that doesn't lie to your body.
  1. DON'T EAT ANYTHING YOUR GREAT-GRANDMOTHER WOULDN'T RECOGNIZE AS FOOD. No Go-Gurt Portable Yogurt tubes. (She wouldn't be able to identify high-fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, kosher gelatin, carrageenan, tricalcium phosphate, natural and artificial flavors, etc.) No "protein waters," "nondairy creamers" or foods that never grow stale.
  2. AVOID FOOD PRODUCTS CONTAINING INGREDIENTS THAT ARE A) UNFAMILIAR, B) UNPRONOUNCABLE, C) MORE THAN FIVE IN NUMBER, OR THAT INCLUDE D) HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Pollan's example: Sara Lee's Soft & Smooth Whole Grain White Bread, which fails every test proposed by this rule. "If not for the indulgence of the Food and Drug Administration, (it) could not even be labeled "bread," he wrote.
  3. AVOID PRODUCTS THAT MAKE HEALTH CLAIMS. If a food has a health claim, it probably has a package and that means it's very likely processed. Moreover, the FDA's "qualified" health claims" are all but meaningless.
  4. SHOP THE PERIPHERIES OF THE SUPERMARKET AND STAY OUT OF THE MIDDLE. "Processed foods products dominate the center aisles of the store while the cases of ostensibly fresh food--dairy, produce, meat and fish--line the walls," Pollan wrote. Be careful though, because high-fructose corn syrup lurks in the dairy case.
  5. GET OUT OF THE SUPERMARKET WHENEVER POSSIBLE. "You won't find any high-fructose corn syrup at the farmer's market. Also look into CSA (community supported agriculture), in which you can subscribe to a farm and receive a box of produce.)"
Hey, you know I’m loving the one about community supported agriculture—come on spring!

Alzheimer's: The Five Million Mark

Preventing age-related mental decline is actually pretty easy. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Japanese studies have found the same relationships: individuals with low consumption of vegetables and high consumption of meat were found to be the ones most likely to develop Alzheimer’s.1
Apparently we didn’t get the memo. According to a new report more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's. Reuters reports:
An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and it could steal the minds of one out of eight baby boomers, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association.

The report found there were 411,000 new cases of Alzheimer's in 2000, a number expected to grow to 454,000 new cases a year by 2010. By 2050, 959,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease every year, the report predicts…

…That includes 16 percent of women and 11 percent of men in that age group.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

It starts out with mild memory loss and confusion but escalates into complete memory loss and an inability to care for oneself. There is no cure and the handful of drugs that can treat Alzheimer's only slow its progression for a short time.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman makes it perfectly clear. Eating well is our primary defense against Alzheimer's and dementia. Check it out:
Just as in the case of heart disease, the world’s leading researchers on the subject consider diets high in animal fat to be the major factor in the causation of Alzheimer’s. Oxidative stress to our brain tissue from the combination of a diet rich in saturated fat and low in the antioxidants and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables lays the groundwork for brain damage later in life. Deficiencies of DHA (a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid) which often are found in Alzheimer’s patients, also have been shown to promote dementia.2 Inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in flax and hemp seeds, walnuts, leafy greens, and certain fish also are implicated in the etiology of Alzheimer’s.
Makes me feel great about the walnuts and leafy greens I had with breakfast!
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Bad Diet, Good Diet: Sugar vs. Vegan

According to a new study eating a diet rich in sugar and sweets has been linked to asthma in kids. Charlene Laino of WebMD Medical News is on it:
Sugar might do more than just plump up our children, it could also help give them asthma, animal research suggests.

Asthma now affects nearly 9% of children and teens, a figure that has doubled since the 1980s, according to a study published last year.

Poor eating habits, including frequent consumption of candy and other sugary foods, are among factors blamed for the increase of asthma in children and teens, says Sonja Kierstein, PhD, of the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Kierstein and colleagues hypothesized that a sugar-rich diet may prime the immune system of the airways to allergic inflammation. The inflammation, in turn, can cause a narrowing of the airways and mucus production, resulting in asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

Kierstein, who performed the study while at the University of Pennsylvania, presented the findings here at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Okay, better news. Research has determined that a plant food rich vegan diet may help ease rheumatoid arthritis. Reuters reports:
A gluten-free vegan diet full of nuts, sunflower seeds, fruit and vegetables appears to offer protection against heart attacks and strokes for people with rheumatoid arthritis, Swedish researchers said on Tuesday.

The diet appeared to lower cholesterol and also affect the immune system, easing some symptoms associated with the painful joint condition, they said.

The study suggested diet could play an important role for people with rheumatoid arthritis who are often more prone to heart attacks, strokes and clogged arteries, said a team from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

"These findings are compatible with previous results of vegetarian/vegan dietary regimens in non-rheumatoid arthritis subjects which have shown lower blood pressure, lower body mass index and lower incidence of cardiovascular disease," the researchers wrote in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.
Don’t eat sugar, and, eat lots and lots of fruits and vegetables—sounds like a fantastic idea!

Bad Foods, Bad!

Well passes on a list of The Worst Foods in America. More from Tara Parker-Pope:
The book, “Eat This, Not That!” by Men’s Health editor-in-chief David Zinczenko, has become one of the hottest selling nutrition guides in book stores.
  • Worst Fast Food Meal: McDonald’s Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips with creamy ranch sauce. Chicken sounds healthy, but not at 830 calories.
  • Worst Drink: Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo’d Power Smoothie. With 166 grams of sugar, you could have had eight servings of Ben & Jerry’s.
  • Worst Supermarket Meal: Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie. One pie packs 64 grams of fat.
  • Worst “Healthy” Burger: Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger. With 1,145 calories, not a very healthy choice.
  • Worst Airport Snack: Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll. Packed with 813 hot gooey calories and 5 grams of trans fats.
  • Worst Kids’ Meal: Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni ‘n Cheese. With 62 fat grams, it’s the equivalent of 1.5 full boxes of Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese.
  • Worst Salad: On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef. A salad with 102 grams of fat and 2,410 mg of sodium.
  • Worst Dessert: Chili’s Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream. At 1,600 calories, it’s like eating the caloric equivalent of three Big Macs.
Who eats this garbage—YUCK!

Food Scoring Guide: Multifaceted Needs

Keep in mind that nutrient density scoring is not the only factor that determines good health, and you should eat some of your diet from lower-nutrient categories. For example, if you only ate foods with the very highest nutrient density score, your diet could be too low in calories or too low in fat.

The percentage of fat intake can vary from 15-40% on a healthful diet, depending on the percentage of higher-fat fare such as avocados and raw nuts and seeds eaten as a percentage of total calories. Eating more of these higher-calorie, higher-fat foods is necessary for an active, thin person, athlete, or growing child. If an avid (or professional) athlete ate only the very highest-nutrient foods, she would become too full from all the food volume and fiber, and so satiated from the micronutrient fulfillment, that it could keep her from meeting her caloric (macronutrient) needs. She could become too thin. This, of course gives you a hint at the secret to permanent weight control. “Dieting” is not needed to maintain a healthful weight. You only need to eat more high-nutrient food and less low-nutrient food. The most healthful way to lose weight is to increase the overall nutrient density of your diet. The more high-nutrient foods you eat, the thinner you get.

Think You Know Your Organics...

Here’s a great find by Diet Blog. Jim Foster passes along the origins of many of your favorite organic food brands. Via Good Magazine:

Better yet, check out Dr. Philip H. Howard’s Organic Industry in motion. The results will shock you. See for yourself:

Now, earlier today my buddy Tara Parker-Pope from Well called Dr. Howard. From her post, When Big Business Eats Organic, here’s a bit:
“These relationships aren’t very apparent,'’ said Philip H. Howard, assistant professor in the department of community agriculture, recreation and resource studies at Michigan State University and the creator of the graphic. “If you look at a product, a lot of times this ownership is not at all noted, even on the Web sites at times.'’

Obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a big company buying an organic brand. But Dr. Howard notes that many consumers seek out organic foods, in part, because they don’t want to buy foods from multinational food companies.

“Often organic consumers are interested in supporting smaller scale farms and food processors,'’ Dr. Howard said. “In the marketing of a lot of these organic brands the firms try to evoke that image of a small pastoral farm.'’
Could this simply be junk food producers trying to CASH in on the organic food trend, or, a sincere effort? You decide.

Great Shots from TreeHugger!

TreeHugger’s rocking some awesome veggie-friendly pictures, like this one about gardening. Take a look:

Roger Doiron, the director of Kitchen Gardeners International, has a great suggestion: "We give tax breaks to people to encourage them to put hybrid cars in their garages and solar panels on their roofs, so why not a tax break to encourage environmentally friendly and healthy food production?" He likened his plan to deducting the square footage of a home office: the bigger your garden, the better the tax break.
Supermarket owners know, customers are freaked out by meat recalls—the solution? Print out a sign. Check it out:

We already know that meat has a huge carbon footprint, but the United States Olympic Committee is making it worse by shipping 25,000 pounds of Tyson Foods meat to Beijing for the athletes to eat, suggesting that Chinese standards applied to meat are lower than in the USA. A caterer describes Chinese chicken: “We had it tested and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes. They all would have tested positive.”

I love these things. If I didn’t live in a rinky-dinky apartment, I’d get one. Introducing the AeroGarden:

Though gardening season is just about upon us, if you don't have a plot or a green thumb, and prefer the idea of growing with air in your kitchen to getting dirt under your fingernails, then perhaps the AeroGarden is for you; you may recall we covered it when it first became available a few years back. But how do you substitute your own seeds? Which model grows the best tomatoes? Can anyone recommend the upgrade package?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So, by my calculation, we’ve got 3,000 words—right?

Food Scoring Guide: Low-Nutrient Foods

Just as eating large amounts of micronutrient-rich natural plant foods is of great benefit to your health, eating large amounts of micronutrient-deficient animal foods and processed foods leaves you very susceptible to disease. That is why the standard American diet (SAD) results in diseases Americans get.

Neither animal products nor processed foods contain antioxidants, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, folate, vitamin C, or those thousand of phytochemicals that are essential for cellular normalcy. Many of the animal products consumed, such as cheese and red meat, are exceptionally high in saturated fat. High saturated fat intake increases the risk of certain cancers and promotes high cholesterol, leading to heart disease. To add insult to injury, many of the processed foods we eat are high in trans fat, a man-made fat that is linked to cancer and heart disease.

Food Scoring Guide: Permanently Maintaining Healthy Weight

Temporary weight-loss techniques (what we all call “dieting”) serve no purpose. There is no health benefit to losing weight and then putting it back on again soon afterwards. Health benefits only occur when the weight loss is maintained FOREVER. That means that the only dietary change that can work is one that you stick with permanently. If the change you make to your diet is permanent, you are not on a diet; you merely have changed your eating habits.

Eating more high-nutrient food is the only way to lose weight permanently, and eating more nutrients leads to permanent improvements in your health. Knowing these important facts and PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE is your key to health and longevity. Fortunately, eating more high-nutrient foods helps control food cravings and overeating behaviors, making it easier to reach your ideal weight. This knowledge can guide you for the rest of your life. It is not a fad, and it will never go out of style. High-nutrient eating is the way of the future, but you can enjoy it now. It can be your fountain of youth.

No Trans-Fat: Friendly's Friendlier?

Believe it or not, but its been almost two years since I reviewed Friendly’s for Eating to Live on the Outside and I’ve worked hard to block it from my memory—it’s bad, real bad—here are some lowlights. Proceed with caution:
One minute you’re at home checking out Followhealthlife (shameless plug) and the next you’re at a restaurant with friends—-totally dumbfounded by the menu! It may be Friendly's, bit it's not looking very Fuhrman-friendly! You’re scared. Your initial reaction is, “Oh man! I gotta get out of here. I can already feel myself getting fatter.” Don’t worry, you're not alone. We'll stare down this menu together. Although feel free to curl up into the fetal position if you need to…

…Okay, time to flex my powers of guess-timation. This week I’ll being taking a look at the ironically named Friendly’s menu. After a few minutes of perusing the menu sweat actually began to bead up on my forehead. This restaurant is a tough sell for an Eat to Liver—-just lots of good-old fried goo smothered with cheesy American goodness! But surprisingly, you do have some options…

…Another dish that is certainly worth a try is the Vegetable Fajita Quesadillas. You Eat to Livers know what I mean, you see the word vegetable on a menu and your eyes snap to attention. Now, it's not perfect, but you can work with it. The flour tortillas are a problem, but an acceptable concession if you skip the Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese. Then you’re left with baby portabella mushrooms, sautéed onions, and red peppers and green peppers—-I’m a sucker for portabella. Yes, I realize cheese is high on Dr. Fuhrman's list of evil foods.
Eek! Not good, and, I actually go on to recommend ordering a chicken dish. This was WAY before my healthy lifestyle. Now, onto current events, its being reported that Friendly’s is going trans-fat free. More from The Boston Globe:
Friendly Ice Cream Corp., once an iconic New England venue for family restaurant meals heavy on burgers and sundaes, could become the latest restaurant chain to switch over to using trans fat-free oil.

Friendly's, a Wilbraham-based chain of about 500 restaurants, said it expects the change-over to be completed by the fall.

Trans fat has been linked to heart disease in humans and to diabetes in experiments with animals.

Although Friendly's said it has been working on the initiative for over a year, the chain came under fire yesterday from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group that crusades on behalf of such issues as nutrition.
Well, nixing the trans-fat is great, but, what about the cheese, bacon, mayonnaise, ice cream, and other garbage? It’s a start, but I hardly think this move is going to skyrocket Friendly’s out of the Eating to Live on the Outside reject list. Sorry Friendly’s, try again.

School Food: Making the Grade?

Given the ever-expanding girth of our nation’s obesity epidemic, there’s been a tremendous push to shape up school cafeteria food. Just get a load of these previous reports:
Keeping Junk-Food Out School...Problems
“The nutrition standards would allow only plain bottled water and eight-ounce servings of fruit juice or plain or flavored low-fat milk with up to 170 calories to be sold in elementary and middle schools. High school students could also buy diet soda or, in places like school gyms, sports drinks. Other drinks with as many as 66 calories per eight ounces could be sold in high schools, but that threshold would drop to 25 calories per eight-ounce serving in five years.”

School Kids Will Eat Well
“While serving better meals does entail higher labor costs, the study found, that's offset by lower costs for more nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables compared with processed foods. However, many districts need to upgrade their kitchens and train their staff to prepare these foods, the researchers said.”

Salad Bar Schools
“According to San Francisco Unified School District, parents and students have been pushing for more fresh food to be available in school lunches, so a pilot program was initiated in three schools last year. The pilot schools performed so well that 15 new schools will have salad bars available this year. Another 10 campuses are expected to open their own salad bars by the end of the school year.”

Schools vs. Childhood Obesity
“Fast food, television, soft drinks and a sedentary lifestyle are seen as the main culprits of childhood obesity, and schools -- in the absence of action on the part of families -- are beginning to take a stand.”

Free Fruit Fridays
“Australia has its own problems with rising obesity and diabetes, and this fiber-loaded funding is more than just good stuff on Fridays. Premier John Brumby stated the Victorian plan is more comprehensive than a UK free fruit program that resulted in limited impact, per a published study last month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.”

School Kids Win Better Veggies
"A little boy said, `Anything, anything, I'll even eat broccoli,"' said Connie Duits, the lunch lady. "So that one touched my heart." The children were careful to offer praise as they expressed their concerns.”

Shaping Up School Food
"’The alarming increase in childhood obesity rates has galvanized parents and schools across the nation to find ways to improve children's diets and health, and we hope our report will assist that effort,’ said Virginia A. Stallings, chair of the committee that prepared the report.”

Soda Expelled From Schools

“The deal follows a wave of regulation by school districts and state legislatures to cut back on student consumption of soda amid reports of rising childhood obesity rates. Soda has been a particular target of those fighting obesity because of its caloric content and popularity among children.”
So keeping all this in mind, Emily Sweeney of The Boston Globe takes a look at local schools and sees how they’re ratcheting up their menus. Here’s a bit:
Lunch starts early at Weston High. Every day at 10:15 a.m., the first wave of students swarm into the school's sun-filled cafeteria for their half-hour lunch period. All of the food is cooked in the kitchen, staffed by seven women wearing dark crimson, collared shirts and black aprons. There is a full soup and salad bar, a broad assortment of Celestial Seasonings tea (cinnamon apple, cranberry apple, mint medley, orange and spice, lemon), and a deli where sandwiches are made to order on a variety of breads (multigrain, oat bran, honey oatmeal, and marble rye, to name a few)…

… Students pay $3 for a complete meal. The lunch menu changes every day, and can include a variety of dishes, such as quiche, Asian rice bowls, Normandy vegetables, Parker House rolls, and Cosmic Potatoes (baked potatoes cut into star and moon shapes). On Feb. 29, the featured dessert was "Leap Year cake" - a square piece of fluffy white cake topped with vanilla frosting - and the entree was baked salmon, wild rice, and warm spinach cooked in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Well, I’m not exactly seeing drastic improvement here—tea, salt, and deli sandwiches—maybe another school is better. What about this one:
Today, students can choose from five lunches every day. They offer prepackaged Smuckers Uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Bagel pizza. Salisbury steak and brown rice. Turkey nuggets. French fries. Fresh tossed salads.

The school's cafeteria staff tries to provide students with home-style cooking. Hall and her team make the salad dressing from scratch, by combining oil, vinegar, sugar, oregano, and garlic. They slice pita bread into triangles, brush them with oil, sprinkle them with oregano and garlic, and bake them in the oven until they are crispy. They prepare other dishes, such as Dominican rice, that often reflect the diverse student body. Sixty percent of East Boston High's enrollment is Hispanic.
Yeah, I’m failing to see the goodness here—pizza bagels, Salisbury steak, and French fries—okay, one last school. Here:
The cafeteria at Foxborough High school is staffed by six women, all of whom live in town. The head cook and manager is Nancy Siracusa, a 25-year cafeteria veteran who takes her job seriously, prides herself on the cleanliness of the school kitchen, and doesn't mince her words. "School lunch gets a bad rap," she said, recalling the time she watched a "Dateline" exposé on NBC in which former host Stone Phillips visited school lunchrooms…

…Siracusa and her team cook and serve 600 lunches a day. The meals are served on foam plates and cost $2. They have "Taco Tuesdays" and "Pasta Wednesdays." When the Globe visited March 3, the featured entree consisted of chicken nuggets with dipping sauce, rice pilaf, fresh celery stalks, carrot sticks, broccoli, fresh fruit, and milk. In addition, the staff prepares eight to 10 different hot sandwiches every day including chicken, spicy chicken, hamburgers, and cheeseburgers. They also make miniature, personal pan pizzas.
What the heck! Sure, the carrots, celery, and broccoli are good, but cheeseburgers, personal pan pizzas, and chicken nuggets. Sorry New England schools, you got more work to do!

Mixed News on Caffeine and Pregnancy

“Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. He’s especially concerned about caffeine. Take a look:
Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.1 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible.
In fact, back in January a study confirmed the link between caffeine and miscarriage. Here’s some of the AFP report:
US researchers said Monday they have conclusive proof to show that women who drink a lot of caffeine on a daily basis in the early months of pregnancy have an elevated risk of miscarriage, settling a longstanding debate over the issue.

To be absolutely safe, expectant mothers should avoid caffeinated beverages of any kind during the first five months of pregnancy, the researchers said in a paper published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Again, “It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun,” Dr. Fuhrman insists. But, the research continues to be mixed. Nancy Tones of offers up two conflicting caffeine-pregnancy studies. Check them out:
In the last few months, two studies about the relationship between caffeine and miscarriages have come out. Which should you believe? We've ground it all down to size and asked the experts for some answers:

Study one Cool it on the caffeine
Gulping down 200 milligrams or more of caffeine per day (two or more cups of coffee or five 12-ounce cans of soda) doubled the risk of miscarriage (compared with women who cut out caffeine) in a study of over 1,000 women by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

Study two Some caffeine is safe
When women drank less than two cups of coffee a day, their babies fared just fine, according to a study of 2,407 women in the journal Epidemiology. Though higher caffeine intake wasn't studied, moderate amounts didn't seem to be associated with miscarriages.
And this report by Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times casts more confusion over the link between caffeine and pregnancy dangers. Here’s an excerpt:
One of the more unnerving studies was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. It looked at more than 1,000 pregnant Swedish women and found that those who drank the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent increased risk of miscarriage, while those who had the equivalent of at least five cups had more than double the risk.

But a majority of studies have suggested that any risk might apply only to high levels of caffeine intake. One study carried out by the National Institutes of Health in 1999 looked closely at the blood levels of caffeine in tens of thousands of pregnant women and found that those who consumed the equivalent of more than five cups of coffee a day did have an increased risk, while those who drank one or two cups did not. Other studies have had similar findings.
Clearly, there’s some doubt here. So in the end, maybe its just best to take Dr. Fuhrman’s advice, “The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.” I think we can all agree with that.
Continue Reading...

Food Scoring Guide: Key to Superior Health and Your Ideal Weight

When you eat to maximize micronutrients in relation to calories, your body functions will normalize; chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol melt away; and you maintain your youthful vigor into old age. Heart disease and cancer would fade away and become exceedingly rare if people adopted a lifestyle of nutritional excellence. But in the here and now, what is exciting to so many people is that when your diet is high enough in micronutrients, excess weight drops off at a relatively fast rate. It’s like you had your stomach stapled. You simply don’t crave to overeat anymore. In fact, it becomes too difficult to overeat when you eat your fill of high-micronutrient food.

The mistake of focusing on the “importance” of protein in the diet is one of the major reasons Americans have been led down the path to dietary suicide. For too long, we have equated protein with good nutrition and have thought that animal—products in spite of the fact that they are deficient or devoid of most micronutrients—are highly favorable foods simply because they are rich in complete proteins. This miscalculation has cost us dearly. By favoring a dairy- and meat-heavy diet, instead of one rich in fruits, vegetables, and beans, we have brought forth an epidemic of heart attacks and cancers.

Health Points: Friday

The Food and Drug Administration listed poor sanitation and other deficiencies in 47% of 199 inspections from January 2001 to February 2007, according to a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. None of the cases was referred to the FDA's enforcement arm for further action.

E. coli bacteria in bagged spinach from California killed three people and sickened at least 205 in 2006. The spinach may have been tainted when feral pigs roamed through cattle feces at a nearby ranch and crossed into the spinach fields, investigators from the FDA and California said last year.
The best that Dr. Julie Gilchrist, a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and one of the study’s authors, can offer is a few guidelines and observations about why studies have yet to answer the stretching questions.

If your goal is to prevent injury, Dr. Gilchrist said, stretching does not seem to be enough. Warming up, though, can help. If you start out by moving through a range of motions that you’ll use during activity, you are less likely to be injured.

In fact, Dr. Gilchrist said, in her review of published papers, every one of the handful of studies that concluded that stretching prevented injuries included warm-ups with the stretches.
The legislation is aimed at curbing the fallout from Americans' unhealthy eating habits, seen in rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The hope is that the labels will help people make healthier choices when they're eating out.

But dozens of studies have produced mixed results on whether nutrition labeling improves consumers' eating habits. It can't hurt to make the information available, nutritionists say, however, the truth is, if people want a Big Mac for lunch, knowing that it has 540 calories and 29 grams of fat probably isn't going to stop them.
Scientists said they, too, are concerned about the findings of the water testing commissioned by the Associated Press, but several said that there is no need for people to stop drinking tap water.

The contaminants present are "in the parts-per-billion level and essentially at homeopathic doses," said Phyllis Gardner, a Stanford University physician and pharmacologist. "It can't possibly have an effect."

The fact that the substances are in tap water at all concerns Gardner and others. "I wish they weren't there," said Mary Vore, a professor of toxicology at the University of Kentucky. "But I will keep drinking the water."
New rules announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will tighten air quality standards set a decade ago, reflecting a growing amount of research indicating that smog poses greater health risks than previously thought.

The air in Chicago, which met federal smog standards for the first time last year, will fail again under the new limit.

Under the regulations outlined by top EPA officials, the allowable level of smog in the air will be 75 parts per billion, down from the current standard of 85 parts per billion but higher than 60 parts per billion recommended by pediatricians and environmental groups to protect children and the elderly.
A recent study of the PACE (People with Arthritis Can Exercise) program by researchers at the University of North Carolina showed significant improvements in reducing pain and fatigue among those who completed the eight-week course, with benefits persisting for up to six months after completion of the course.

"I liked it because it's not just an exercise program," said Laurie Maietta, who taught the PACE course last fall at Panther Physical Therapy in Hampton. "You have the exercise program, an educational program, and a relaxation component as well."

Arthritis sufferers tend to be less fit than seniors who don't suffer from this condition. Which is too bad, said Dr. Moira Davenport, director of sports and emergency medicine for Allegheny General Hospital, because "exercise can definitely help people suffering from arthritis. It strengthens the muscle around the affected joints, and takes away some of the pressure and pain."
The study, by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, found that men and women who were severely obese were 45 percent more likely than normal-weight adults to develop pancreatic cancer over five years…

…Pancreatic cancer is difficult to catch early, and 95 percent of patients die within five years of being diagnosed. Because of this dismal prognosis, researchers consider it particularly important to pinpoint the modifiable risk factors for the disease.
In many ways, pediatricians do know more than parents. When your doctor says your newborn needs to ride in a rear-facing car seat, don't argue. When he says your 2-month-old with a 105-degree fever needs to get to the doctor's office -- and fast -- you'd better listen.

But there are far more areas that are gray and have no science, or not very good science, to back them up, says our panel of pediatric experts. They say that sometimes, this means your pediatrician is giving you his or her opinion, not medical fact.

"There are several ways to approach many issues in pediatrics. There isn't one clear-cut way," says Dr. Robert Needlman, co-author of the latest edition of "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care." "Pediatricians really should make a distinction between what's based on research and what's based on our own particular beliefs."
The U.S. federal standards for acceptable levels of pharmaceutical residue in bottled water are the same as those for tap water -- there aren't any.

The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the $12 billion bottled water industry in the United States, sets limits for chemicals, bacteria and radiation, but doesn't address pharmaceuticals.

Some water that's bottled comes from pristine, often underground rural sources; other brands have a source no more remote than local tap water. Either way, bottlers insist their products are safe and say they generally clean the water with advanced treatments, though not explicitly for pharmaceuticals.
Tests on mice show that diacetyl, a component of artificial butter flavoring, can cause a condition known as lymphocytic bronchiolitis, said the team at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

The condition can lead to obliterative bronchiolitis -- or "popcorn lung" -- a rare and debilitating disease seen in workers at microwave popcorn packaging plants and at least one consumer.

At least two microwave popcorn makers -- ConAgra Foods Inc and Weaver Popcorn Co Inc -- have said recently they would stop using diacetyl.

Fear of Carbs: A Myth Debunked...Again!

Yeah, Followhealthlife is no fan of the low-carb fad. Most people know it’s just a big money-making scam. Now, fear of carbs is one of the nutrition myths Maggie Vink of That’sFit decided to debunk. Take a look:

Eating carbohydrates causes weight gain. MYTH! The anti-carb crusade has really gotten out of control. Calories make you gain weight. Carbs are actually your body's preferred choice of fuel. The trick is to choose healthful complex carbs such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Simple, refined carbs like candy offer little to no nutrition and are just empty calories.

Quite frankly, it’s unnatural to avoid carbs. “Our bodies need carbohydrates more than any other substance. Our muscle cells and brains are designed to run on carbohydrates,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Here’s more:

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. 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.

The real culprits are refined carbohydrates and animal products—i.e. meat, fat, and dairy—are not saviors. Of course, you’re really goofing up if you find yourself consuming both of these. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it:

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.

And yes, I feel like a bully picking on the low-carb nonsense—but it’s just so darn easy!

Junk Food, Rotting Teeth

It seems middle schoolers have got some nasty teeth and soft drinks and sweet juices are to blame. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
"This study is important, because it confirms our suspicions of the high prevalence of dental erosion in this country and, more importantly, brings awareness to dental practitioners and patients of its prevalence, causes, prevention and treatment," study co-author Bennett T. Amaechi, an associate professor of community dentistry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said in a prepared statement.

Amaechi led the San Antonio portion of the study, which also included researchers at Indiana University and the University of California, San Francisco. They looked at 900 middle school students (aged 10 to 14), and found that about 30 percent of them had the condition.

Dental erosion is caused by acids found in many common products, including soft drinks, sports drinks, some fruit juices and herbal teas.
I can still hear my mom saying, “I’m not buying you juices boxes! That’s junk.”

The Recalled Beef was Safe?

You got to love corporate blah-blah-blah. Steve Mendell, president of Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing—responsible for the nation’s largest beef recall—says his company’s beef was actually SAFE! The Associated Press reports:
The head of the Southern California slaughterhouse at the center of the largest beef recall in U.S. history said Wednesday no unsafe beef was processed at his plant but that his company is ruined despite no evidence of contamination.

Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. President Steve Mendell defended himself strongly in testimony being presented to a congressional panel. It was his first public comment since undercover video of apparent abuses of crippled cattle at his plant led to its shutdown and last month's recall of 143 million pounds of beef.

Mendell contended that the cows shown unable to walk in the Humane Society of the United States video were designated to be euthanized. He said they were not being sent to slaughter in violation of federal rules barring most "downer" cows from the food supply because they carry a higher risk of infection.
I don’t know about you, but between mad cow disease, mistreatment of farm animals, and rapid hormone and chemical use, I wouldn’t trust a single greasy word from some fat cat meat exec—would you? I hope not.

Drug Sales Slow

I’m not a big fan of handing Big Pharma your paycheck. So this made me smile. In 2007 U.S. drugs sales grew at their slowest rate since 1961. Reuters reports:
Total U.S. prescription drug sales reached $286.5 billion last year with slowing growth blamed on factors including patent expirations of lucrative medicines that opened the door to cheaper generic versions.

Other reasons cited by IMS in its annual U.S. Pharmaceutical Market Performance Review were fewer new product approvals, safety concerns, and the leveling of year-over-year growth from the Medicare Part D program.

The 3.8 percent growth rate compares to 8 percent growth seen in 2006.

"The moderating growth trend that began in 2001 resumed last year following the one-time impact on market growth in 2006 from the implementation of Medicare Part D," Murray Aitken, IMS's senior vice president for healthcare insight, said in a statement.
All I can say is—tough noogies!

Pregnancy and Alcohol: Just One Drink...

Back in November the American Cancer Society published a report with suggestions to help people decrease their cancer risk. Here’s an excerpt:
The report, called Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, urges people to stay at a healthy weight, which means having a body mass index (or BMI, a ratio of weight to height) between 18.5 and 24.9. And it recommends regular physical activity as a way to control weight…

…The report also makes recommendations for eating more healthfully to reduce cancer risk. It says people should eat mostly foods from plants, limit red meat and alcohol, and avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, and lunchmeat.
And as Dr. Fuhrman points out, alcohol isn’t exactly health-promoting. Its basically drink at your own risk. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks for men. Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other potential problems.1 For example, alcohol consumption leads to mild withdrawal sensations the next day that are commonly mistaken for hunger, which leads people to eat more than is genuinely necessary, resulting in weight gain.
Okay, as far as pregnancy is concerned, Dr. Fuhrman considers alcohol “really risky for you and your unborn children.” Here’s his list of no-no’s:
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats
Now, this new research sends a confusing message. A Swedish Study says its okay for moms to have a few swigs while breastfeeding. More from the AFP:
"There is no medical reason to abstain completely from alcohol while breastfeeding," Annica Sohlstroem, head of the agency's nutrition department, said in a statement.

"The amount of alcohol that the child can ingest through the breastmilk is small if you drink one or two glasses of wine" per week, she said.

The new advice is an about-face for the agency, which has for the past decade or so advised women to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding, and is based on current medical research.
I think pairing alcohol with pregnancy and breastfeeding is just a bad idea. In fact, past research determined that alcohol may alter a child’s mind. From HealthDay News:
In their study, researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) examined 22 children and adolescents (ages 8 to 18 years) -- 13 with and 9 without histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure. The participants were part of a larger study at the Center for Behavioral Teratology, SDSU...

"...We found two regions within the prefrontal cortex where the youth with alcohol-exposure histories had increased brain activation and one area in the subcortex (called the caudate nucleus) where the alcohol-exposed youth had decreased brain activation," study co-author Susanna L. Fryer, a graduate student in the SDSU/University of California, San Diego, joint doctoral program in clinical psychology, said in a prepared statement.
I won’t be faced with this decision, but, I hope my wife would totally abstain from alcohol while she was pregnant and breastfeeding—I’d easily give it up right along side her!
Continue Reading...

Dairy Dumb for Weight-Loss

Do you remember when dairy consumption was dumped for weight-loss? Kim Severson of The New York Times reported:
The assertion that there is a link between weight loss and dairy consumption has long been contested by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine [PCRM], an advocacy and research group that promotes a diet free of animal products.

The group petitioned the F.T.C. in 2005 to argue that the advertisements were misleading. In a May 3 letter to the group, Lydia Parnes, director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said Agriculture Department representatives and milk producers and processors had agreed to change the advertisements and related marketing materials “until further research provides stronger, more conclusive evidence of an association between dairy consumption and weight loss.”

As of Thursday, the National Dairy Council still had a section of its Web site devoted to the weight-loss claim. But the site, along with some of the advertisements, will be changed, said Greg Miller, who is executive vice president of the council and has a doctorate in nutrition.
According to Dr. Fuhrman dairy, is NOT good for weight-loss and not exactly health-promoting either. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Fifty years of heavy advertising by an economically powerful industry has shaped the public's perception, illustrating the power of one-sided advertising, but the reality and true health effects is a different story. Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases.
But some people still insist that cow juice is a good idea. Check it out from Chris Sparling of That’sFit:
Unless you've taken a dietary (or even ideological) stance against dairy, you'd do well to include it into your diet every day. Worried that it may get in the way of your efforts at weight loss? No need to fear, say researchers from Harvard Medical School. No need at all, in fact.

Researchers found that people who consumed three servings of dairy per day (providing them with around 1,200mg of calcium) were 60 percent less likely to be overweight. This is because calcium-rich foods actually burn many calories during their digestion.
More junk science in action, in fact the study is from 2005; Study backs dairy weight loss claims. How current? More Dr. Fuhrman on dairy:
Using weight instead of calories in nutrient-analysis tables has evolved into a ploy to hide how nutritionally unsound many foods are. The role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was originally to promote the products of the animal agriculture industry.1 Over fifty years ago, the USDA began promoting the so-called four basic food groups, with meat and dairy products in the number one and two spots on the list. Financed by the meat and dairy industry and backed by nutritional scientists on the payroll of the meat and dairy industry, this promotion ignored science.2
I think milk and dairy products are just another food that Americans are chronically addicted too—WAKE UP—and get over it. Continue Reading...

All American Food Fight

Lots of junk food, slaughtering each other—take a look:

Okay, maybe the veggie sushi isn’t all THAT bad.

Obesity, What Obesity?

“If the current trend continues by the year 2030 all adults in the United States will be obese,” warns Dr. Fuhrman. Pretty scary, Dr. Fuhrman goes onto explain WHY this might happen. Take a look:
Americans have been among the first people worldwide to have the luxury of bombarding themselves with nutrient-deficient, high-calorie food, often called empty-calorie. By “empty-calorie,” I mean food that is deficient in nutrients and fiber. More Americans than ever before are eating these rich, high-calorie foods while remaining inactive—a dangerous combination.
Now, you don’t have to be a doctor to notice that Americans make poor dietary decisions. Heck, even comedian George Carlin would agree—Americans love bad food! Here’s one of his classic rants. Enjoy:
Americans love to eat. They are fatally attracted to the slow death of fast food: hotdogs, corndogs, triple-bacon cheeseburgers, deep-fried butter dipped pork fat and Cheez-Whiz, mayonnaise soaked barbecued mozzarella patty melts—Americans will eat anything, anything!
Dr. Fuhrman and George Carlin are onto something. Junk food is ruining our national health. Take soda for example, Americans are drinking more of it, and, paying the fatty consequence. From the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

The empty calories of soft drinks are likely contributing to health problems, particularly overweight and obesity. Those conditions have become far more prevalent during the period in which soft drink consumption has soared. Several scientific studies have provided experimental evidence that soft drinks are directly related to weight gain. That weight gain, in turn, is a prime risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which, for the first time, is becoming a problem for teens as well as adults. As people get older, excess weight also contributes to heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.
So, when you consider all this—and all the other obesity news—how can anyone downplay obesity? Well, Dr. Vincent Marks of the University of Surrey believes, “The obesity epidemic has absolutely been exaggerated.” The Associated Press reports:
Marks is among a minority of skeptics who doubt the severity of the obesity problem. They claim that the data about the dangers of obesity are mixed and there is little proof that being fat causes problems including high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

Such views contradict nearly everything doctors have been saying for years…

…But obesity contrarians say that there's no data proving why being fat — in itself — would be dangerous. "There's no good causal connection," said Eric Oliver, author of Fat Politics and a political science professor at the University of Chicago.

Blaming obesity for diabetes and heart attacks, Oliver says, is like blaming lung cancer on bad breath rather than on smoking. Excess weight may actually be a red herring, Oliver says, since other factors like exercise, diet or genetic predispositions towards diseases are harder to measure than weight.
Oliver and Marks are insane! The American diet primes us for an obesity crisis (and related health problems). Dr. Fuhrman explains, “The standard diet is so nutrient-poor that it leads to a tremendous drive to over eat calories.” Which leads to weight-gain, which leads to obesity—right?

Dairy Warning

This is great news! Dairy products may be getting health warning labels to remind people about the dangers of saturated fat. EMaxHealth reports:
Health officials worldwide are actively fighting against rising rates of obesity. A lot is already done and new plans are being developed. However, obesity rates still keep increasing.

British Food Standards Agency has offered a new plan to tackle obesity: food with high levels of saturated fats will wear health warning like cigarettes do. FSA has already practiced shocking ways to attract public attention on unhealthy food. TV shows were displaying fat contained in food, and public was really impressed. Warning are expected to have the same affect on public and make them think twice before eating a sandwich with cheese or a toast with butter.

However, FSA will still need to discuss the health warning plan with health officials and food manufacturers before implementing it. They need to find the best way of reminding people of rising obesity rates and importance of healthy diet.
Besides, cow’s milk isn’t for people anyway. “Milk is designed by nature for the rapidly growing cow,” explains Dr. Fuhrman, “About half its calories are supplied from fat.” And all that saturated fat is bad news. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Saturated fat raises your LDL-cholesterol level more than anything else in the diet. Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol is the main reason for the high number of heart attacks seen in North America and other countries…

…Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases…

…Saturated fats are found mainly in meat, fowl, eggs, and dairy. The foods with the most saturated fat are butter, cream, and cheese.
Honestly, now that I eat a vegetable-based diet, just thinking of dairy foods—i.e. milk, butter, and cream—makes me nauseas. Bleh!

Nutrition: Beef, Very Wimpy

Julie Upton, RD has grown leery of beef. She’s not eating it anymore, and, she recently discovered that as far as nutrients are concerned, beef doesn’t measure up—even when compared to burger alternatives. From Poked & Prodded:
The chart below shows that an 80% lean ground chuck broiled burger doesn’t measure up to eight popular meat-free patties (made from soy and/or veggies): The vegetarian options are a calorie and fat bargain and offer a good dose of fiber. Their only significant downfall: sodium. There’s less protein too, but most people who eat a balanced diet get plenty.

Red meat is a nutritional lightweight—with more cons than pros. Now, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t recommend eating too many meat alternatives, but he’s all for eating lots and lots greens and in terms of nutrition, green veggies trounce beef. Check it out:

It really makes me mental when people insist red meat is an amazing source of nutrients. Sure, its got nutrients, but it’s far from the Holy Grail, more like a Dixie cup.

Health Points: Wednesday

"Using technology to modify television viewing eliminates parental vigilance needed to enforce family rules and reduces the disciplinary action needed if a child exceeds his or her sedentary behavior limits," the authors concluded. "Perhaps most important, the device puts the choice of when to watch television in the child's control, as opposed to a rule such as 'no television time until homework is completed.'"

Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine Prevention Research Center, said the study, "shows the upside to this ominous mix -- reducing screen time can help prevent childhood obesity by several mechanisms. Less screen time may be even more important to dietary pattern than to physical activity pattern. But by either means, the ends here are encouraging and highlight the importance of this strategy."
Investigations comparing caffeine with water or placebo seldom found a statistical difference in urine volume, the author wrote. “In the 10 studies reviewed, consumption of a caffeinated beverage resulted in 0 to 84 percent retention of the initial volume ingested, whereas consumption of water resulted in 0 to 81 percent retention.”

Another study, in the same journal in 2005, involved scientists following 59 active adults over 11 days while controlling their caffeine intake. They were given caffeine in capsule form on some days and on other days were given a placebo. Researchers found no significant differences in levels of excreted electrolytes or urine volume.
They're not the first; several other states have similar laws on the books, including Arkansas, which was the first in 2003.

Children will be weighed twice a year, in private. Their BMI will be tracked but kept confidential. "Sally, step into the office, step up on the scale, that's about as invasive as it gets," said Senator Joseph Carter, who sponsored the bill. "The presence of childhood obesity is staggering," he added.

Not everyone is a fan of the idea, however. Senator Preston Smith wants to keep the government out of the weight loss business and worries that pressure from schools will do more harm than good. "Come on, pick it up fat kid, we're not going to get money if you don't!" he said, mimicking what he thought school officials would say.
  • Seat Belt Pillow: There are new and cool ways to go incorporate green and recycled materials into your house. These pillows are made of end-of-the line seat belt webbing otherwise destined for the landfill. A little expensive at $114, but very innovative.
  • Recycled glass bowls and vase from Pier 1: You can take the green theme to other parts of your home. And one great way to do this is to decorate green. Pier 1 has a new line of hand-painted glass bowls and vases that are made from 100 percent recycled glass. They are beautiful and eco-conscious.
  • Cork Bowls: This bowl is made 100 percent recycled cork (reclaimed waste material from the bottle-stopper industry). Cork is also a great choice for flooring, and made of tree bark, which is an eco-responsible alternative to petroleum-based vinyl flooring and slow-growing hardwoods such as oak.
The researchers cautioned that further studies were needed to consider factors such as diet, exercise, cholesterol levels and smoking habits that affect the risk of heart disease.

The study focused on more than 65,000 workers employed between 1946 and 2002 at four sites operated by British Nuclear Fuels plc and its predecessors. The team analyzed non-cancer death rates and cumulative radiation exposure using the workers' personal dosimeter badges.

Comparing the some 42,000 workers exposed to relatively high levels of radiation to office workers and other employees pointed to an increased heart disease risk, the researchers said.
Drinking alcohol, even moderate amounts, may boost blood pressure more than previously thought, British researchers said on Tuesday.

People with a genetic mutation that makes it difficult to consume alcohol had significantly lower blood pressure than regular or heavy drinkers, the researchers found.

People without the mutation who had about 3 drinks per day had "strikingly" higher blood pressure than people with the genetic change who tended to drink only small amounts or nothing at all.
The study involved 2,216 adolescents in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota whose eating patterns, weight and other lifestyle issues were tracked for five years. They were just under 15 years old when they entered the study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics.

The more regularly the teens ate breakfast, the lower their body mass index was, according to the study. BMI is a measure of body weight relative to height. Those who always skipped breakfast on average weighed about 5 pounds more than their peers who ate the meal every day.
Their study involved 77,721 people in Washington state ages 50 to 76, tracking their use over the prior decade of supplemental multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate to see if this would offer protection from lung cancer.

None of the vitamins looked at in the study was tied to a reduced risk of lung cancer. In fact, people who took high doses of vitamin E, especially smokers, had a small but statistically significant elevated risk, the researchers said.
Originating in the Mediterranean and then spreading to the United States and Europe, rosemary was used for centuries to treat nervous system ailments, says Discovery Health. Healthwise, it's used today in aromatherapy to enhance senses and boost memory and it just happens to contain those magical antioxidants -- carnosol is its strongest -- which help prevent cancer and high cholesterol. It also helps stimulate the immune system, increase circulation, and improves digestion, according to The World's Healthiest Foods site. It contains anti-inflammatory compounds, increases blood flow to the head and brain, and improve concentration. Whew. That's some pretty good stuff.
  • There is an ideal range of flexibility in each joint. People who are too flexible may be just as susceptible to injury as those who are too tight as they often lack adequate stability.
  • Relative flexibility is a key factor: Often when we are tight in one joint, the adjacent joint is too flexible. The key is to try and stabilize what is too loose and release what is too tight.
  • Asymmetry of flexibility is a more likely cause of injury than tightness (i.e. if one hamstring muscle is far tighter than the other).