Supermarkets, Super-Wasters...

Many people believe supermarkets should do more to reduce the billions of dollars of waste they produce each year. The Economist reports:
WALK into almost any big supermarket in America and you will find a cornucopia of food. The mountains of fresh produce on display are a testament to shoppers' desire for choice and freshness—and retailers' desire to relieve them of their dollars. But behind the mouth-watering offerings lies a distasteful reality: billions of dollars' worth of food is dumped each year because of retailers' inefficiency.

It is difficult to gauge quite how much waste—known as “shrink” in the industry's jargon—there is. Oliver Wyman, a consulting firm, puts the figure at 8-10% of total “perishable” goods in America. The Food Marketing Institute, an industry body, says such sales totaled $196 billion in 2006. That means food worth nearly $20 billion was dumped by retailers. In a report published on May 14th, the United Nations estimated that retailers and consumers in America throw away food worth $48 billion each year, and called upon governments everywhere to halve food wastage by 2025.

With food prices soaring and consumers tightening their belts, supermarkets' margins are under pressure. On May 13th Wal-Mart, America's biggest retailer, said its first-quarter sales rose by 10%, to $94 billion, but only after it slashed grocery prices by up to 30%. Its boss gave warning of harsher times ahead. Many retailers will need to cut costs, and tackling shrink seems a good way to do so.
It’s hard to disagree with this.

Eat For Health: Commonly Held Nutritional Beliefs and The Truths Behind Them

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

Frequent small meals aid weight control.
  • FALSE: Frequent eating has been shown to lead to more calories consumed at the end of the week. In addition, in scientific studies, reduced meal frequency increases the lifespan of both rodents and monkeys, even when the calories consumed each week were the same in the group fed more frequently and the group fed less frequently.1 The body needs time between meals to finish digesting, because when digestion has ended the body can more effectively detoxify and promote cellular repair. To maximize health, it is not favorable to be constantly eating and digesting food.
Being overweight is due to poor genetics.
  • FALSE: Genetics do play a role in obesity, and people whose parents are obese have a ten-fold increased risk of being obese. However, there are many people with obese parents who are slender and healthy. It is the combination of food choices, inactivity and genetics that determines obesity.2 Excellent nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will overwhelm genetics and allow even those with a genetic hindrance to achieve a healthy weight.
Milk builds and strengthens bones.
  • FALSE: Medical studies confirm that drinking cow’s milk does not lead to stronger bones. In a comprehensive review of all studies of dairy intake and bone strength in 2000, researchers concluded, “the body of scientific evidence appears inadequate to support a recommendation for daily intake of dairy foods to promote bone health in the general US population.”3 Having strong bones is about much more than just calcium. We require vigorous exercise, adequate Vitamin D, and a diet rich in many micronutrients.
Heart disease and dementia are the consequence of aging.
  • FALSE: Interestingly, heart disease as a major cause of disability and death is a recent phenomenon in human history. Heart disease has identifiable causes, and populations whose lifestyle practices do not create these causes do not have heart disease. Cultures around the world eating a healthy, vegetable-rich diet have no recorded heart disease, including hundreds of thousands of rural Chinese.4 The same diets that are high in animal fats and low in vitamins, minerals, fruits, and green vegetables, also have been shown to be related to the incidence of dementia.5
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Thursday: Health Points

"I never would have thought that we would be seeing these effects into the later 20s," said study co-author Kim Dietrich, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. "I'm actually quite astounded and quite worried about this. Although lead levels have been going down in this country, a large proportion of the population now in their 20s and 30s had blood levels in this neurotoxic range."

Childhood lead exposure has been linked with anti-social behavior, lower IQ, attention deficits, hyperactivity and weak executive control functions, all of which are risk factors for future delinquent behavior (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, in particular, is a risk factor for adult criminal behavior). Studies have also related sales of leaded gasoline or high atmospheric lead levels with criminal behavior.
Peak Corn: Blame Earl Butz. Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford's Secretary of Agriculture brought in the Farm Bill that dramatically increased the amount of corn produced in America. He encouraged farmers to "get big or get out," and to plant crops like corn "from fence row to fence row." Further billions in subsidies to farmers encouraged production, and soon America was awash in cheap grain, and with it cheap meat.

Peak Dirt: Really, Peak Dirt- the world is losing soil 10 to 20 times faster than it is replenishing it. Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe tells us that dirt is complicated stuff, made from sand or silt, then years of plants adding nutrition, bugs and worms adding their excrement, dying and rotting.
California Water Service Company reports high levels of mercury in water making it useless for drinking. Every attempts of purifying the water, such as boiling it, are useless, because the pollution level is high.

Mercury is much more dangerous when drinking than when breathing. However, boiling the water leads to mercury release into the air, so the pollution and health risk still exists.

California Water Service Company is now notifying residents about health concerns. Sheriff's Office itself is investigating the case to find out the reasons of why mercury level is so high.
Get enough sleep: Most of us know that money can't buy happiness, but who knew that a good night's sleep just might? That's a key finding of that University of Michigan study. "Making $60,000 more in annual income has less of an effect on your daily happiness than getting one extra hour of sleep a night," says study author Norbert Schwarz, Ph.D., a professor of psychology.

Take the long view: Having a sense of perspective will also improve your attitude. "It gives you more patience, and it certainly awakens you to the preciousness of the moment, which is fleeting," says M.J. Ryan, author of The Happiness Makeover. She remembers the times when her daughter wanted to sit on her lap and watch a video. "Yes, I had other things to do. But I said to myself, 'How long will this last?' I'm grateful for that time with her."
The germ, resistant to some antibiotics, has become a regular menace in hospitals and nursing homes. The study found it played a role in nearly 300,000 hospitalizations in 2005, more than double the number in 2000.

The infection, Clostridium difficile, is found in the colon and can cause diarrhea and a more serious intestinal condition known as colitis. It is spread by spores in feces. But the spores are difficult to kill with most conventional household cleaners or antibacterial soap.

C-diff, as it's known, has grown resistant to certain antibiotics that work against other colon bacteria. The result: When patients take those antibiotics, competing bacteria die off and C-diff explodes.
Dr. Monique M. B. Breteler told Reuters Health that her group had previously found that men, but not women, with a silent heart attack are more likely to have a stroke than men who had a recognized heart attack or those who had not had any heart attack.

To examine whether this might also be the case for dementia and so-called cerebral small vessel disease, Breteler of Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and her colleagues examined data for more than 6300 participants in a population-based study.

At the start of the study, from 1990 to 1993, the subjects were classified as having a recognized heart attack, not having a heart attack, or having had an unrecognized heart attack based on EKG tracings. They were followed for the occurrence of dementia, of which there were 613 cases by 2005.
The Food and Drug Administration gained new powers in March to require distribution limits or other restrictions on the sale of new medicines.

"That's taking a considerable amount of time more for every application. That will go away in time," Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an interview with Reuters.

At present, the process is adding days or weeks to reviews of drugs that need the additional safety measures, she said.

Woodcock has worked at the FDA for more than two decades. In March, she returned to a previous post running the agency's drugs division after taking other leadership responsibilities.
Social psychologists have already shown that thoughts about death can spur buying behaviour. For example, in the months following 9/11 shops in the US noted a spike in purchases of luxury products, canned goods and sweets.

To better understand the link between thoughts of mortality and the urge to consume, Naomi Mandel at Arizona State University, Tempe, and Dirk Smeesters at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, asked 746 students to write essays on one of two topics: their death or a visit to the dentist. Each participant also completed a questionnaire designed to evaluate their level of self-esteem.

They found that subjects with low self-esteem who wrote about death ate more cookies, when given the opportunity, and bought more items from a hypothetical shopping list compared to those who wrote about the dentist. In people with high self-esteem, thoughts of death had little effect.

Childhood Obesity, Leveling Off...

It seems school lunch reforms may be paying off. Childhood obesity rates appear to be leveling off. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News reports:
However, experts caution there's still much to be done to improve the health of American children because the number of youngsters who are overweight today is still triple what it was in the 1960s and 1970s.

"The rates are still very high. But this study suggests there may be some cause for optimism as the rate appears fairly level over eight years," said study author Cynthia Ogden, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics, whose findings are published in the May 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Others agreed with Ogden's assessment.

"After 25 years of extraordinarily bad news about childhood obesity, there is a glimmer of hope. But it's much too soon to know whether rates have truly leveled off," said the author of an accompanying editorial in the same issue of the journal, Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital Boston.

"Even if they have leveled off, the prevalence is at such high levels that unless we do something, unless we redouble our efforts, this generation is in store for a shorter and less healthful life than their parents," Ludwig said.
Although, researchers warn that the rates are still high, so, we’ve got more work to do—let’s get those numbers down!

Energy Drinks and Teenagers Don't Mix

Caffeine is not your friend. Sure, it might give you that “pick up” in the morning, but it’s not doing your health any favors. Dr. Fuhrman’s colleague Jeff Novick, MS, RD explains:
“After drinking a cup of coffee, blood pressure can rise up to 5 or even 10 millimeters of mercury,” said Dr. Charalambos Vlachopoulos from the Cardiology Department of the Henry Dunant Hospital in Athens, Greece. Increases of this magnitude can increase a person’s risk of suffering from a stroke or a heart attack.

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

In a Finnish study reported in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Dr. Maarku Heliovaara of the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and colleagues found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee each day had twice the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, compared with people who drank less coffee.
Now, new research has determined that teenagers who drink energy drinks—which are LOADED with caffeine—are more likely to engage in “risky” behavior. Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times reports:
In March, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior. The study’s author, Kathleen Miller, an addiction researcher at the University of Buffalo, says it suggests that high consumption of energy drinks is associated with “toxic jock” behavior, a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.

The finding doesn’t mean the drinks cause bad behavior. But the data suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks may be a red flag for parents that their children are more likely to take risks with their health and safety.

“It appears the kids who are heavily into drinking energy drinks are more likely to be the ones who are inclined toward taking risks,” Dr. Miller says. The American Beverage Association says its members don’t market energy drinks to teenagers. “The intended audience is adults,” says Craig Stevens, a spokesman for the group. He says the marketing is meant for “people who can actually afford the two or three bucks to buy the products.”
Makes sense to me. Isn’t gambling with your health one of the biggest risks you can take?

Buy a Watermelon, Get the Scorpion Free!

Imagine rummaging through the bin for a good watermelon and—WHAM—you get stung by a scorpion! More from the Associated Press:
A 12-year-old girl picking up a seedless watermelon from a bin was stung Sunday by a tan, inch-long scorpion that had apparently stowed away in a shipment from Mexico.

Megan Templeton, of Barboursville, was taken to the hospital as a precaution but later released. Her father, William Templeton, said the pain was a little worse than a bee sting.

He initially didn't believe his daughter when she said she had been stung by a scorpion, but then he saw the critter scurry underneath a box. It was captured by Wal-Mart employees.
I sympathize with the scorpion. If someone tries to grab my watermelon—WHAM—I’d sting them too.

8 Good Foods and Lots of Bad Food

Let’s start with the good stuff. Men’sHealth offers up 8 foods that’ll help keep your stomach flat. Here they are:
  1. Spinach: It may be green and leafy, but spinach is no nutritional wallflower. This noted muscle-builder is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis.
  2. Yogurt: Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of reinforcements for the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body.
  3. Tomatoes: There are two things you need to know about tomatoes: Red are the best, because they’re packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene, and processed tomatoes are just as potent as fresh ones, because it’s easier for the body to absorb the lycopene.
  4. Carrots: Most red, yellow, or orange vegetables and fruits are spiked with carotenoids — fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers
  5. Blueberries: Host to more antioxidants than any other North American fruit, blueberries help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes (hence the nickname “brain berry”).
  6. Black Beans: All beans are good for your heart, but none can boost your brain power like black beans.
  7. Walnuts: Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine, and packing half as much muscle-building protein as chicken.
  8. Oats: The original wunderkind of health food, oats garnered the FDA’s first seal of approval. They are packed with soluble fiber, which lowers the risk of heart disease.
Yuck, yogurt! Now, onto the bad stuff. Fitness magazine’s 2008 Healthy Food Awards have been announced and somehow stuff like this made the cut:

This junk makes a "healthy foods" list! Where are the fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, and seeds? Come on, at least give me one darn blueberry!

America's Top 5 Veggies

My top five vegetables are baby spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, acorn squash, and cabbage. None of these made America’s top five. This sad list via Jacki Donaldson of That’s Fit:
My top five veggies are broccoli, peas, corn, squash, and spinach salad leaves. These aren't the five eaten by the majority of Americans, though. The overall top five in this country, according to Canyon Ranch's Connection magazine, are:
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • French fries
  • Potatoes
  • Potato chips
  • Canned tomato
I mean come on. How can you even consider French Fries and potato chips a vegetable! I weep for our nation.

Bulking Up on Heart Disease

New research claims that athletes who “bulk up” increase their chances of developing heart disease. Joene Hendry of Reuters reports:
"Our work demonstrates a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome, an established cardiovascular risk factor, among retired National Football League (NFL) linemen," said Dr. Marc A. Miller, of Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York. Football linemen are position players commonly of large body size.

A clustering of heart disease and diabetes risk factors including high blood pressure, low levels of 'good' cholesterol, high levels of blood lipids (fats), and elevated blood sugar and body weight make up the metabolic syndrome.

When Miller and colleagues compared metabolic syndrome rates among 510 retired NFL players, they found that nearly 60 percent of linemen had metabolic syndrome, compared with 30 percent of those playing other positions.

Moreover, greater than 85 percent of the linemen were obese, as opposed to half of the non-linemen, the researchers report in The American Journal of Cardiology.
We’ve seen this before:
Personally, I think all professional sports should discourage this kind of training. Clearly, bigger is NOT better.

About Food and Diabetes

Some health experts examine food issues surrounding type-2 diabetes. More from Peter Jaret of The New York Times:
Experts have yet to come up with anything close to a surefire approach to help people shed pounds. And dietary recommendations to prevent or slow diabetes have often been contradictory and confusing. Nearly 30 years after the American Diabetes Association recommended a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet to control diabetes, overturning the high-fat, low-carbohydrate approach of earlier decades, controversy still swirls around the amount and types of carbohydrates to eat.

Much of the debate focuses on the glycemic index, a measure of how carbohydrate-rich foods affect blood sugar, and whether these effects play a significant role in the progression of Type 2 diabetes. Foods high on the glycemic index, like sugared beverages, cake and white rice, are known to send blood sugar levels up sharply after a meal. Foods low on the index, like broccoli, lettuce, brown rice and whole grains, on the other hand, take longer to digest and hence keep blood sugar levels on a more even keel.

The American Diabetes Association has decided that patients should not be counseled to take the glycemic index into account when choosing foods. “Although it is clear that carbohydrates do have differing glycemic responses,” its policy statement declares, “the data reveal no clear trend in outcome benefits.”

That’s a mistake, says Dr. David Ludwig, an endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
I think these “experts” should give Dr. Fuhrman a call or at least snoop around Followhealthlife’s diabetes category—don’t you think?

7 Billion Hot Dogs...

According to the “National Hot Dog & Sausage Council” 7 billion hot dogs will be consumed between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Via That’sFit:
This means that roughly 818 hot dogs will be eaten every second during the summer. That's a lot, considering the average annual consumption is 20 billion.

I'm not a big fan of the hot dog, myself. For one, I'm never really sure from what the things are made. Second, I don't love all the fat that comes packed into each modest serving.
Not good. Hot dogs are hardly a super food. In fact, they’re among the worst foods you could eat. Here’s Dr. Fuhrman’s list:
Worst Seven Foods for Health and Longevity
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
And they’re doubly bad for kids. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
The Five Most Dangerous Things to Feed Your Child
  • 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.
Perhaps the really scary thing here, is there’s actually a National Hot Dog & Sausage Council—EEK!

Talking About Food Safety

A new study has concluded that federal agencies must share information in order to properly ensure food safety. Christopher Doering of Reuters reports:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that 76 million people in the United States get sick every year with some sort of foodborne illness and that 5,000 die.

The 148-page report said the current system is impaired because thousands of local health departments, university researchers, corporations and other institutions often collect data for their own use, with no mandate to share information.

To improve the food safety network, researchers said, incentives for government and private organizations to collaborate must replace the obstacles to sharing information.

"We're missing opportunities to prevent illness," said Michael Taylor, a professor of health policy at George Washington University, who co-authored the report.

"We are missing opportunities to make food safer. We don't have the best information about what the problems are and what the solutions can be," he said in a phone interview.

The report noted that individual government agencies have a sense of ownership that can deter data sharing while the food industry has competitive, liability and other reasons.
Wow, that’s a startling revelation. Government should cooperate with itself—shocking!

Diabetes: Eat and Live Well...

According to a new study drinking less alcohol, eating more veggies, and exercising can hold off diabetes. Michael Kahn of Reuters reports:
Diet and exercise reduced the incidence of diabetes by about 43 percent over 20 years among 577 high-risk Chinese adults, the researchers reported in the journal Lancet.

At the end of the 20 years, 80 percent of those who changed what they ate and exercised more had diabetes, compared with 93 percent who made no changes, said Guangwei Li of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing and Ping Zhang at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings came as part of a series of studies addressing new research about diabetes, which affects 246 million adults worldwide, and accounts for 6 percent of all global deaths.

"The challenge is to translate research findings into substantial clinical improvements for patients. Although prospects are hopeful, they are not assured," the Lancet wrote in a commentary.
Sometimes the answers are SO obvious, but still overlooked—sigh.

"Diet" Menus, Full of It!

This doesn’t surprise me one bit. A news investigation has determined that menu restaurant diet menus aren’t as “diet” as they claim to be. More from ABC News:
Chicken fajitas from On the Border Mexican Grill's "border smart" menu are listed as containing 570 calories and nine grams of fat.

The serving tested weighed in at 654 calories and 26.5 grams of fat. And the dish came with a free "sample" of queso dip, salsa and chips that would add an additional 2,067 calories and 117 grams of fat.

The skinny chicken at the Macaroni Grill is supposed to be 500 calories and six grams of fat.

Not bad at all, but if you eat the huge piece of bread they include, you get twice the calories and eight times the fat.

These three restaurants are owned by Brinker International. In a statement, they apologized to their customers and said they "strive to ensure nutritional information & is accurate."

At Applebee's, reporters ordered seven meals low in fat and calories from the "weight watchers" menu.

The calorie difference was slight, but the fat was over what was stated on the menu on every item tested, doubling and even tripling the fat count in three of the meals.

Applebee's responded that their menu is 94 percent compliant and that they will continue to regularly test these "weight watchers " items and, if required, take action.
We’ve seen similar tomfoolery before. Remember this post: The Truth Behind 99% Fat-Free.

Trans-Fat-Free Fries...Still Bad!

Hooray-hooray! McDonald’s will start cooking its fries in trans-fat-free oil—like it matters, yuck! Dave Carpenter of the Associated Press reports:
McDonald's french fries are now trans-fat-free in all its restaurants in the United States and Canada, the fast-food restaurant chain said Thursday.

McDonald's has lagged other restaurant operators in switching over to a zero-trans-fat cooking oil out of worries it would compromise the taste of its trademark fries. It has been under increasing pressure from consumer advocates and some public officials to make the change.

The new oil is canola-based and includes corn and soy oils.

CEO Jim Skinner told shareholders at the annual meeting at its headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., that the new oil has been in use in U.S. restaurants for a few months now for french fries, hash browns, chicken, filet of fish and biscuits.

He said McDonald's is on schedule to convert to the new oil by year's end for its remaining baked items, pies and cookies.
Yeah, like this does ANYTING to seriously impact the unhealthiness of French fries, they’re still full of fat and hello—acrylamides! More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Frying and overcooking leads to the highest levels of acrylamide, the highest of which are found in fried chips, such as potato chips and French fries. Acrylamide is one of the most potent cancer-causing agents. It is found in highest amounts in carbohydrates cooked at high temperatures. European governments permit 10 parts per million (ppb) of acrylamide in packaged foods, but U.S. standards are more lax.
Although, if you have a squeaky door hinge, try rubbing those fries on it—it’ll fix it in a jiff!

Eat For Health: A Nutritarian is Different Than a Vegetarian

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

In living the Eat For Health plan, you will become a nutritarian and learn to include more nutrient rich foods in your diet. A vegetarian or vegan diet that is plant-based also contains a portfolio of natural substances that have various health advantages, including protection against cancer. I am taking the liberty here to use the words vegan and vegetarian interchangeably, but a vegan diet is one that contains no foods of animal product origin whereas a vegetarian diet may contain some dairy. The advantages of a vegetarian (or vegan) diet are mostly because vegetarians are more likely to consume more vegetables, beans, fruit, nuts, and seeds compared to those eating more conventionally, not simply because they are refraining from meat products. Vegans who live on processed cereals, white flour products, rice, white potato, and processed soy products should not be expected to significantly extend their lifespan because their diet cannot be considered nutrient-rich.

Being a nutritarian differs from being a typical vegetarian because the focus on high-nutrient vegetation improves health dramatically, and one can reduce the level of animal products to a safe level without having to exclude them completely. Without considering nutrient density, a vegetarian diet could be just as bad as one that includes a lot of animal products. A vegan diet is an option for excellent health as long as care is taken to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods. Making animal products the disease-causation villain while filling up on low-nutrient plant foods or processed soy foods will not suffice to achieve health excellence. The reduction in consumption of animal products is only one important feature of this eating-style, not the focal point. Even though you could consider yourself a nutritarian and vegan, the critical issue for disease reduction is not whether one is a strict vegan or not; the issue is the nutrients per calorie of a given diet.

People advocating a meat-based diet may be able to critique a grain and flour-heavy vegan diet as having metabolic deficiencies, but not a diet that is low in animal products and based on nutrient-dense plant foods. This program contains the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, gleaned from the reduction of animal products, without the risks from all those lower-nutrient, higher-glycemic foods such as sugar, French fries and processed grains.

In addition, you do not have to exclude all animal products from your diet to follow this plan and to receive profound benefits to the health of your blood vessels and the rest of your body. You just have to reduce them to safe levels. Humans are primates, and all other primates eat a diet of predominantly natural vegetation. When the great apes eat animal products, it is a very small percentage of their total caloric intake. Likewise, modern medical studies confirm that in order for humans to maximize their potential for a long, disease-free life, they have to keep animal products to a relatively small percentage as well. Animal products are low in micronutrients, contain almost no antioxidants and phytochemicals, and are rich in calories. Thus, they should be limited for health excellence. We want to thrive in our later years, not just survive long enough to reproduce and then deteriorate.

The main point here that I want to emphasize, as always, is the benefit of nutritional excellence. In the Standard American Diet, less than five percent of the total caloric intake comes from nutrient-rich foods. This dangerously low intake of unrefined plant foods guarantees a weakened immunity to disease, leading to frequent illnesses, and a shorter lifespan. When you eat a truly health-supporting diet, you can expect not only a drop in blood pressure and cholesterol and a reversal of heart disease, but your headaches, constipation, indigestion, and bad breath should all resolve. To achieve this means eating less animal products, processed foods, sugar, and flour, and eating more high-nutrient plant foods and exercising. This lifestyle shift is the key to disease protection in general.

Wednesday: Health Points

A report released this week by the Stockholm International Water Institute says that as much as 50 percent of the calories grown globally don't make it to the table. Given that crop production uses about 1,800 trillion gallons (1,700 cubic miles) of water a year, almost 40 percent of which comes from irrigation rather than rainwater, that loss represents a lot of water.

In the United States, up to 30 percent of food is tossed out each year, the report says, worth about $48.8 billion and equivalent to flushing 10 trillion gallons of water down the drain.

"There's a very low awareness about the size of these figures," said report lead author Jan Lundqvist. "I think most people don't realize that the loss and the wastage is at that level."
They were navigating the streets of the nation's capital, on the way to get their hair done. Nakia Sanford was driving, while Washington Mystics teammate Taj McWilliams-Franklin sat in the passenger's seat talking and playing with her iPod.

"I look up, and there's this restaurant," McWilliams-Franklin said. "Soul Vegetarian?"

Sanford pulled over on the spot. The hair would have to wait.

"We hopped out, went in there, it was awesome," McWilliams-Franklin said. "We had soy mac and cheese, whole wheat pasta, soy cheese, soy milk, and it was fabulous."

The chance pit stop at the Soul Vegetarian Cafe was a rare moment in American professional sports: Two players from the same team indulging their dietary preferences by sharing a vegan meal.
If you are vegetarian or vegan you're probably used to meat-eaters asking you "How do you get your protein?". If you're sick and tired of rattling off a list of veg foods, then you need "How I Get My Protein: A List of Meat-Free Protein Sources"!

This adorable pocket-sized book measures 3 x 1 7/8 inches and contains a short list of meat-free protein sources, the amount of protein per serving, and % daily value.

Also included is information on how much protein the average person needs each day, and a list of resources on vegetarian and vegan nutrition.
A study recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that teens in towns with complete smoking bans were 40 percent less likely to become established smokers compared with their peers in areas with weak restrictions.

The study followed 3,834 Massachusetts youths, ages 12 to 17, for up to four years. I

In towns where smoking wasn't restricted or was only partially restricted, 9.6 percent and 9.8 percent of the youths, respectively, became established smokers over the study period.

But in towns where smoking was banned in restaurants, 7.9 percent became smokers.
According to a recent study, one third of American parents have no clue what to expect after they're no longer expecting. This is bad news for babies because parents with unrealistically high expectations can become frustrated, and those with low ones may inadvertently hinder on-track development or delay treatment for correctable condition.

In the study, parents of 10,000 babies were assessed using both a written test and videotape of the parents attempting to teach their young children a new task. The findings showed 31% of the parents surveyed had low-level knowledge of infant development.

One of the researchers, Heather Paradis feels doctors need to step up to help correct the situation. "This is a wake-up call for pediatricians," Paradis said. "At office visits, we have a prime opportunity to intervene and help realign parents' expectations for their infants, and in turn, promote healthy physical, social, and emotional development for these children.
In a study of more than 5,500 men and women ages 30 to 79, researchers found that three-quarters of women and two-thirds of men reported at least one urinary tract symptoms -- such as frequent trips to the bathroom overnight, difficulty emptying the bladder and urinary incontinence.

Obese adults were more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to have multiple, more severe symptoms. Smoking, lack of exercise and heavy drinking were also linked to more serious urinary problems.

The researchers, led by Dr. John B. McKinlay of the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, report the findings in the medical journal BJU International.
Now there's a new risk factor -- researchers are saying that cell phone usage during pregnancy can cause hyperactivity and emotional or behavioral issues in children.

Over 13,000 mothers in Denmark were surveyed -- some didn't use a cell phone at all, others used one sporadically, and a third group used their cells often during pregnancy. Their results indicate that using a cell phone as little as two to three times a day during pregnancy can cause health issues -- hyperactivity, conduct issues, emotional issues, or difficult with relationships -- for the children.
BAD: Most cereals made for kids contain more calories, sugar and salt and less fiber and protein than other cereals. Most kids' cereals don't meet national school nutrition standards.

Good: Eat according to the colors of the rainbow. The more colors to your food -- such as the reds, oranges, yellows, greens and even blues of fruits and vegetables -- the more important nutrients you'll get.

Email: Graduation's in Four Weeks!

Followhealthlife’s inbox is a busy place. New emails come in every second. Most are for cheap pharmaceuticals and male enhancement pills, but amidst all the SPAM, there’s plenty of good stuff. Like this email from Elysse. Here’s her dilemma:
I have been (trying) to follow the Eat to Live program for nearly 8 months now. I am 19 years old and a senior at UCLA and I have lost a total of 20 lbs following the ETL program. However, in the past month I have hit some bumpy spots that are making me gain weight and making me lose sight of the benefits of the program.

I eat well for 2-3 days and then I will have an off day where I overeat (more like a binge!) on terrible foods. I am 5' 9 and weighed 132 lbs a month ago and now weigh about 139 lbs. Any advice for avoiding these crashes? I have graduation in 4 weeks and I would love to regain control and get back to my previous weight. Any advice is appreciated!
Now, like I told Elysse, I’m just a dopey blogger. So, the first thing I did was ask Dr. Fuhrman. Here’s what he had to say:
Trying to be healthy in an unhealthy world is not always easy, but has to be a lifetime effort and the longer you do it and the more days you link together healthy eating, the less you miss the unhealthy stuff and the easier it gets.

And remember, that temporary weight loss is meaningless. It is the quality behaviors that you can maintain for a lifetime that are most important.
Dr. Fuhrman suggested that Elysse join the Member Center at and this is not a sales-pitch, but is the best place for one-on-one support and Q&A with Dr. Fuhrman. Followhealthlife is just an information source, peppered with my stupidity.

But, I’ve been doing Followhealthlife for a while now, and, I’m a walking, talking, squawking success story. So, with Dr. Fuhrman’s blessing, here are my thoughts Elysse.

Now, I don’t know if four weeks is enough time—I never attached any timeframe to my weight-loss/lifestyle change—so I can’t help you there, but as for the “crashes” here’s what I did. Think long term. Sure, having beer and pizza tastes good now, but how will it effect your life long term?

When I crave my crutch-foods—like chocolate and grainy breads—I talk it out. It sounds something like this, “Okay Gerry, why do you want these foods?” Usually it’s because I’m a little depressed or angry. Or the opposite, I’m really happy or excited.

Then I say to myself, “Is there anything else you can do to fill this need?” That solution takes many forms; listening to music, going to the gym, doing Yoga, or, making something to eat that I like just as much and is totally Fuhrman-friendly; usually its my chocolate pudding.

And I never keep any of my crutch-foods in the house, so I have to go out and buy them. That can be a major a deterrent, but let’s say I fail. I break down and buy something naughty. What do I do? Do I beat myself up? I’d be lying to you if I said no, but after I eat it I take a second to remind myself of why I don’t eat chocolate and bread on a regular basis.

I start thinking about living longer and healthier and that charges me up. Then weeks go by before I falter again. And in the end I realize that my episodes of cheating or “crashing” become more spread out and few and far-between.

So Elysse, what I’d say to you is this. Don’t get caught up on the occasional crash. Keep your eye on the prize, stay active, continue to eat healthy and learn more about healthy eating. As your knowledge and commitment grows, you’ll stop crashing, and before you know it you’ll be fit, trim, and healthy—and keep reading Followhealthlife too!

I hope this helps, but if you need more encouragement. I’m sure your fellow Followhealthlife readers would be more than happy to chime in—wink-wink, hint-hint. Oh, and if any you want to email Followhealthlife its Until then, peace!

Yak Fat, Good?

A new study claims “natural trans-fats” may be good for us. I know. It sounds insane! Susan Bowerman of The Los Angeles Times reports:
It's not clear what this finding means for humans. First, the study was done in rats -- the researchers say they're planning some human clinical trials with vaccenic acid supplementation. Second, because the study diets were supplemented with vaccenic acid, the amounts the rats ate relative to their body weight was more than we would naturally eat in our usual diet.

The study is in line with other reports that natural trans fats have different effects on the body than the industrially created ones.

Most of the trans fats we eat -- by far -- come from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, produced from liquid oils by industrial processing to create a firmer fat. Others occur naturally in milk products, formed in the rumen (or first stomach) of ruminant animals such as cows, goats, sheep and yaks when they're fed a grass-rich diet.

Several studies of large populations have looked at the link between trans fatty acid intake and risk of developing atherosclerosis, and all have shown that the risk goes up only with the intake of "industrial" trans fatty acids, not the natural ones. Several clinical trials -- in which people were fed special diets for weeks or months -- have shown that manufactured trans fats raise LDL cholesterol levels to the same degree as saturated fats, and also lead to lower levels of the good, or HDL, cholesterol. It's been estimated that it takes only about 12 grams of manmade trans fats to see this effect.
Okay, you should remember that trans-fat is NOT healthy. Its crap used to extend junk foods self life. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Hydrogenation is a process of adding hydrogen molecules to unsaturated fats which makes plant oils that are liquid at room temperature, solidify. An example is margarine. These fats are also called trans fats. The hardening of the fat extends its shelf life so that the oil can by used over and over again to fry potatoes in a fast food restaurant or be added to processed foods, such as crackers and cookies. While hydrogenation does not make the fat completely saturated, it creates trans-fatty acids, which act like saturated fats. These fats raise cholesterol and increasing evidence is accumulating demonstrating the harmful nature of these man-made fats and their relation to both cancer and heart disease. Avoid all foods whose ingredients contain partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils.
Now, I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this yak study and here’s what he had to say. Take a look:
The information does not translate into any recommendation/benefits for humans, so I think this is generally worthless information. I am just thrilled that now I know that Yak milk cheese is better for rats than cow's milk cheese.
You won’t find me yak farming on the slopes of Tibet anytime soon.

Chinese Kids Keep Getting Fatter...

The Western diet is taking a heavy toll on China. According to a new study childhood obesity is ballooning in China and the Western diet isn’t helping. The AFP reports:
Almost one in five children under seven is overweight and more than seven percent are obese, according to a study of the Chinese National Task Force on Childhood Obesity, presented at the sidelines of the annual meeting of the World Health Organisation.

"These numbers are higher than in European countries, while the gross domestic product in China is much lower," said Ding Zongyi, who led the study.

"Only the United States have higher rates," he added.

The Chinese experts looked at 80,000 children from 11 major cities, and found an increase of 156 percent in the numbers of obese children between 1996 and 2006.

Meanwhile, the number of overweight children grew 52 percent.

Obesity is defined as 20 percent above the normal weight versus height ratio, while overweight is 10 percent above.

"This rate of increase has gone out of control," Ding told AFP, underlining that the obesity rate has exceeded economic growth.
As we saw yesterday, the Western diet is quite the hammer: Global Diseases: Western Lifestyle to Blame.

Global Diseases: Western Lifestyle to Blame...

The World Health Organization lists heart disease and stroke among world’s top killers. Reuters reports:
Chronic conditions such as heart disease and stroke, often associated with a Western lifestyle, have become the chief causes of death globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The shift from infectious diseases including tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria -- traditionally the biggest killers -- to noncommunicable diseases is set to continue to 2030, the U.N. agency said in a report.

"In more and more countries, the chief causes of deaths are noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease and stroke," Ties Boerma, director of the WHO department of health statistics and informatics, said in a statement.

The annual report, World Health Statistics 2008, is based on data collected from the WHO's 193 member states.
Yup, Western lifestyle isn’t exactly doing the world any favors. Just check out these reports:

Japan, Butter-Less...

There’s a serious butter shortage in Japan. Bruce Wallace of The Los Angeles Times reports:
The rich yellow stuff has all but vanished from grocery stores across Japan, with the world's second-biggest economy, where fine foods are prized and aisles otherwise groan with abundance. Some stores have tried to ration the few bricks that occasionally arrive by limiting customers to a pack or two, but in most places merchants have been reduced to posting signs apologizing for having none.

Nor does anyone know when butter will be back. Japanese milk production has dropped over the last two years, leaving less available to be churned into butter.

Even bakeries that buy in bulk are finding it hard to get enough, which crimps their ability to turn out the croissants, cakes and quiches that have shouldered their way into the Japanese diet…

… But though popularity has declined for milk as a beverage, its use in the production of cheese is expected to jump 15% this year, and demand for the less profitable butter holds steady. The result, the Japanese dairy association explains, is that there is not much milk left to make butter.

"We have plenty of milk; just no butter," dairy deliveryman Kazunari Shimakura says as he unloads cartons of milk outside Levain. Shimakura had never seen a shortage in his 20 years of delivering supplies. When he parks his truck these days, people come up to ask whether he can sell them a pack or two of butter on the side.

Last month, the government stepped in to urge the country's four largest dairy product companies to churn out more butter. And the agriculture board is moving up its scheduled purchases of butter imported from Australia and elsewhere by six months in an attempt to get some back on the shelves. Japan imports about 10% of its butter, but usually does not go to international markets until fall.
This is good news! Japan is being spared from a really terrible food. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Food also has the potential to harm, and these are effective foods for those attempting to die younger. One of my daughters calls this list the Seven Foods of Death.
Worst Seven Foods for Health and Longevity
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Potato Chips and French Fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Salt
  • Sausage, hot dogs
  • Pickled, smoked or barbequed meat
Foods high in saturated fat and trans fat are consistently associated with high cancer rates. Cheese and butter typically contain over ten times as much saturated fat as fish and white meat chicken and turkey.

Salt has been consistently linked to stomach cancer and stroke, even in populations that eat diets low in saturated fat.

Add the carcinogenic potential from heated and overcooked oils (usually trans containing) delivered in doughnuts and fries with the powerful cancer inducing properties of carbohydrates cooked at high heat (acrylamide formation) and you have a great cancer potion.

Needless to say, I advise people to avoid the foods on my “worst list” entirely.
Sadly, I know people that eat all of these foods in one day—sometimes in one sitting!

Sugar in the Baby Formula?

Organic baby food sounds like a good idea, but The New York Times reveals one potential flaw of some organic baby formulas, sugar cane juice. Julia Moskin reports:
Parents may be buying it because they believe that organic is healthier, but babies may have a reason of their own for preferring Similac Organic: it is significantly sweeter than other formulas. It is the only major brand of organic formula that is sweetened with cane sugar, or sucrose, which is much sweeter than sugars used in other formulas.

No health problems in babies have been associated with Similac Organic. But to pediatricians, there are risks in giving babies cane sugar: Sucrose can harm tooth enamel faster than other sugars; once babies get used to its sweeter taste, they might resist less sweet formulas or solid foods; and some studies suggest that they might overeat, leading to rapid weight gain in the first year, which is often a statistical predictor of childhood obesity.

Asked about these concerns, Carolyn Valek, a spokeswoman for Abbott Nutrition, the division of Abbott Laboratories that makes Similac Organic, said that sucrose had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and was considered “safe and well established.” Ms. Valek said that Similac Organic had no more sweetener than other formulas and that prolonged contact with any kind of sugar could cause tooth decay.

In Europe, where sudden increases in childhood obesity are a pressing public health issue, sucrose-sweetened formulas will be banned by the end of 2009, except when ordered by a doctor for babies with severe allergies. The 27 countries of the European Union adopted the new rules according to the recommendations of the group’s Scientific Committee on Food, which found that sucrose provided no particular nutritional advantages, could, in rare cases, bring about a fatal metabolic disorder, and might lead to overfeeding.
I used to drink a lot of Silk Soymilk, until I found out it’s sweetened with cane juice. So now I only drink it occasionally and when I do, I drink Light Silk. Here’s my fridge:

And honestly, unsweetened almond milk tastes just as good!

Holy Portion Size!

No doubt, part of the reason Americans have bloated to obesity is the growing size of portions. Check this out via Divine Caroline:

Those are just a few that shocked me. Be sure to read the entire article: Portion Size, Then and Now.

Monday: Health Points

Smaller studies have linked tooth loss to different cancers, but this is the largest study to date, and the first conducted within an Asian population, the researchers say. It's also the first study to show a link to lung cancer.

Of course while widespread inflammation could explain the link between tooth loss and cancer risk, the reseachers say that tooth loss in the cancer patients may simply reflect unhealthy behaviors that contribute to cancer risk. Furthermore, people who have lost teeth may not be able to eat a healthy diet, and diet is also a factor in cancer development.
Kevin Kopjak doesn't care much about carbs, fat, sodium or high-fructose corn syrup.

He generally reads only two things on a nutrition label: the portion size and the calories. He says the strategy has helped him to lose and keep off 100 pounds.

"Counting calories seems to work for me," says Kopjak, 29, of San Francisco, who initially did Atkins and several other diets before switching to counting calories. "But it's a lot of discipline. When I first started, I had an Excel log where I literally wrote everything I ate down."
Many cities and towns across the country, including Los Angeles, already recycle wastewater for industrial uses and landscaping.

But the idea of using recycled wastewater, after intense filtering and chemical treatment, to replenish aquifers and reservoirs has gotten more notice lately because of technological advances that, industry leaders say, can make the water purer than tap water. San Diego and South Florida are also considering or planning to test the idea, and Orange County, Calif., opened a $481 million plant in January, without much community resistance, that is believed to be the world’s largest such facility.

None of the proposals or recycling projects already under way send the treated water directly into taps; most often the water is injected into the ground and gradually filters down into aquifers.
Omega 3 fatty acids bound to phospholipids deserves to be further considered as a credible natural alternative and may have beneficial effect on impulsivity in ADHD patients, recent in vivo French study reveals. While several studies have reported beneficial effects of omega-3 in hyperactivity, French researchers have hypothesized that Vectomega could have specific positive effects on impulse control.

These research findings have led to the initiation of two multi-center studies currently underway in France and Germany utilizing Vectomega on hyperactive children. Vectomega, a natural whole food Omega 3 fatty acid bound to phospholipids and peptides, is the end result of a French governmental research project.
5 Superstar Veggies
Red chicory
7 Stellar Seasonings
Fresh ginger
Mothers of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were twice as likely to have reported using pet shampoos containing a class of insecticide called pyrethrins as those of healthy children, according to survey results presented Thursday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in London. The risk was greatest if the shampoo was used during the second trimester of pregnancy.

Meanwhile, another study suggests that exposure to organophosphate insecticides double the risk of developmental disorders, including autism. Organophosphates have previously been linked to Gulf War syndrome.

While many chemicals have previously been blamed for triggering autism, there have been very few rigorous studies designed to investigate the link.
I would be hard-pressed to find a food substance that attracts as much controversy as milk. Whether or not it is beneficial to overall health, whether or not it helps weight loss, whether we should buy raw or pasteurized, low fat vs. full fat - the list goes on and on. Hence, I hope to make an attempt to navigate through the speculation, possibilities and try to come up with some ideas on how to think about this issue.

Who to Believe?
On one side, we have groups like the PCRM and PETA (read: Milk is evil). On the other end of the spectrum is the Dairy Association (read: milk is essential for optimal health). In addition to health debates, there are political, ethical and environmental factors to consider. Like most other issues, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Let's try and find that middle.
Women deficient in the "sunshine vitamin" when they were diagnosed with breast cancer were 94 percent more likely to have their cancer spread and were 73 percent more likely to die than women with adequate vitamin D levels, the researchers said.

More than three-quarters of women with breast cancer had a vitamin D deficiency, the researchers reported to an upcoming meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

"The women with the lowest vitamin D levels had the highest risk of death from breast cancer," Dr. Richard Schilsky, of the University of Chicago and president-elect of ASCO, told Reuters in an interview.

Meat Recalled...Again!

Due to possible E. coli contamination, a Chicago-based company is recalling beef products shipped to eleven states. The Associated Press reports:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Saturday that no illnesses have reported from the meat, produced by JSM Meat Holdings Co. The agency was uncertain how much meat is being recalled.

The meat being recalled is used in ground beef products. Included are 30-pound and 60-pound boxes and 47-gallon barrels of "MORREALE MEAT" beef products. The products have the number "EST. 6872" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The products have 15 different labels including, "Boneless Chucks," "Boneless Clods," "Flat Rounds," "Gooseneck Rounds" and "Knuckle."

A message left for a company spokesman after business hours wasn't immediately returned.
There’s been a lot of meat recalls lately. Like these three:
Maybe it’s a sign that food producers are starting to clean up their act—maybe.

Global Warming Linked to Obesity?

Okay, we know that obesity contributes to health problems, but could obese people’s over-consumption be contributing to global warming too. New research claims it does. Michael Kahn of Reuters reports:
Obese and overweight people require more fuel to transport them and the food they eat, and the problem will worsen as the population literally swells in size, a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine says.

This adds to food shortages and higher energy prices, the school's researchers Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts wrote in the journal Lancet on Friday.

"We are all becoming heavier and it is a global responsibility," Edwards said in a telephone interview. "Obesity is a key part of the big picture."

At least 400 million adults worldwide are obese. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects by 2015, 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.

In their model, the researchers pegged 40 percent of the global population as obese with a body mass index of near 30. Many nations are fast approaching or have surpassed this level, Edwards said.

BMI is a calculation of height to weight, and the normal range is usually considered to be 18 to 25, with more than 25 considered overweight and above 30 obese.
Makes sense to me. Now, this is a crude comparison, but bigger cars take more gas to get around, so why wouldn’t large people consume more too. Seems like a matter of physics—any thoughts?

Milk for Weight-Loss...

I don’t think so! Dr. Amy Joy Lanou, an assistant professor in the department of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina, wants people to know that milk for weight-loss ads are nothing but hype. Reuters reports:
Recent claims that low-fat dairy products or calcium can help people lose weight are untrue, according to a review of the published scientific literature, which shows that neither dairy products in general nor calcium intake promote weight loss.

"Don't believe the hype," Dr. Amy Joy Lanou told Reuters Health. "The ads that promote milk as helping to achieve a healthy weight are misleading; the science does not support these ads…"

…Lanou said she was not at all surprised by the findings because milk is designed for growth. "Milk is a food that is designed for helping small mammals grow into rather large ones in a relatively short period of time," she explained. "It is counterintuitive to think that a food that has lots of calories, fats, and protein would be helpful for weight loss."

She suggests switching to water. "We drink way too many of our daily allotted calories in milk, milkshakes, lattes, sodas and other sweetened beverages. Water is healthy and naturally calorie-free," Lanou said. "Choosing water instead of milk means you can enjoy more nutrient-dense foods such as fruits vegetables, grains, and legumes and stay within your energy needs."
Kudos to Dr. Lanou! Her sentiments sound a lot like Dr. Fuhrman’s. He talks about milk in Milk Is For The Rapidly Growing Cow. Here’s a bit:
Milk, which is designed by nature for the rapidly growing cow, has about half its calories supplied from fat. The fatty component is concentrated more to make cheese and butter. Milk and cheese are the foods Americans encourage their children to eat, believing them to be healthy foods. Fifty years of heavy advertising by an economically powerful industry has shaped the public's perception, illustrating the power of one-sided advertising, but the reality and true health effects on our children is a different story. Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases. If we expect our children to resist many common illnesses, they simply must consume less milk, cheese, and butter. Dairy foods should be consumed in limited quantity or not at all.
Milk for health has never sat well with me. Milk gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Too Much Hooch Bad for Your Ticker

A new study has determined that heavy drinkers have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries, and more rigid heart muscles. Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters reports:
They defined heavy drinking as more than 21 drinks a week for men and more than 14 per week for women.

"We definitely see quite a deleterious effect," said Dr. Azra Mahmud of St. James Hospital in Dublin, who presented her findings at a meeting of the American Society of Hypertension in New Orleans.

"The most worrisome aspect is in women. It has a direct toxic effect," Mahmud said in a telephone interview. "Basically, women are not able to cope with high alcohol consumption. It is going directly to the heart and damaging it."

Once a heart becomes enlarged -- a sign it has been overtaxed -- it is difficult to reverse. Mahmud said prior studies have suggested that people with enlarged hearts are five to six times more likely to have heart attacks.

Moderate drinking has been shown in many studies to have heart benefits. But heavy drinking counteracts these benefits and can cause serious harm, she said.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman wouldn’t certainly encourage you not to drink heavily or moderately for that matter. He explains:
Recent studies show that even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to significantly increased incidence of atrial fibrillation,1 a condition that can lead to stroke, and to higher rates of breast cancer.2,3

Alcohol is not actually heart-healthy. It simply has anti-clotting effects, much like aspirin.

Researchers have found that even moderate consumption of alcohol—including wine—interferes with blood clotting and, thereby, reduces heart attacks in high-risk populations—people who eat the typical, disease-promoting American diet.

Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks for men. Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist4 and other potential problems. 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.
If you’re eating for health, drinking is defenitly a drink at your own risk situation. I know that’s how I look at it. My personal rules for drinking can be found in this post: Beer Muscles Explained. Continue Reading...

Eat Good Early, Eat Good Later

New research lends support to the notion that learning to eat healthfully when you’re young, leads to a healthier adulthood. EMaxHealth is on it:
Children between 2 and 5 years old experience developmental changes that affect their eating habits, and by anticipating and appropriately reacting to these changes, families can help turn their preschoolers into healthy eaters for life.

According to Monica Montes, a Los Angeles-area registered dietitian and co-founder of N.E.W. Health Consultants, Inc, eating habits form as early as age 3, making the preschool years an important developmental window. At the same time, parents may face difficult changes in their children's food preferences.

"Feeding obstacles often start as children reach 2 years old and continue for several years," said Montes. "Children may eat less, demand foods they see on television, refuse foods or beverages they once enjoyed and start using utensils or sippy cups."
Dr. Fuhrman’s been screaming about this for years!

Heart Health: Aspirin a Miracle?

“With very few exceptions, nobody is predestined to have a heart attack. Heart disease is easily preventable, but not by taking aspirin,” explains Dr. Fuhrman, but a new study links taking aspirin with lower blood pressure. Ed Edelson of HealthDay News reports:
The new report is the first study to show the drug's benefit -- although only when taken at night -- with prehypertension, defined as blood pressure just below the 140/90 level. Prehypertension is a known warning sign of future risk of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular problems.

Why aspirin should do its good work for blood pressure at night but not in the daytime is not clear, Hermida said. Research indicates that it can slow the production of hormones and other substances in the body that cause clotting, many of which are produced while the body is at rest.

The three-month study included 244 adults diagnosed with prehypertension. A third of them were advised to follow general rules of hygiene and diet designed to reduce blood pressure, another third were told to take a 100-milligram aspirin tablet every night at bedtime, and the final third were told to take the same aspirin dose on awakening.

Researchers monitored blood pressure levels at 20-minute intervals from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and at 30-minute intervals at night before the trial began and three months later.

Systolic blood pressure (the higher number in the 140/90 reading) dropped 5.4 points and diastolic pressure by 3.4 points for those taking aspirin before bedtime. No drop in blood pressure was found in those taking morning aspirin or following the general guidelines.
Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t agree with all the mumbo-jumbo surrounding aspirin and heart health. He talks about it here:
Five studies to date have examined the effects of daily or every-other-day aspirin use for primary prevention for periods of four to seven years.1 Most participants were men older than 50 years. Meta-analysis of the pooled data from all of the studies show that aspirin therapy reduced risk for coronary events by 28 percent, but with no decrease in mortality. In other words, aspirin use did not result in longer life. There was no reduction of death due to heart attack or stroke.

Based on this unimpressive data, and in spite of pooled data that shows for most adults, aspirin therapy causes more harm than good,2 most Americans take it for granted that taking an aspirin every day will prevent heart disease.

Advice on aspirin for prevention against heart attacks and stroke must be based on each individual’s cardiac risk. For those at very high risk, with known risk factors such as the conventional, high-saturated fat, low-nutrient diet, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and overweight, the benefits of aspirin may outweigh the risk. But for those of us who eat healthfully, exercise and don’t smoke, taking aspirin will increase our risk of cerebral hemorrhage and other bleeding complications.

For healthy people, the risks outweigh the benefits. That is why, in contrast to typical physician recommendations aimed at reducing risk, I recommend that people eliminate their risk factors. Daily aspirin consumption is for those satisfied with mediocrity and willing to gamble with their lives.
I know a few people that take aspirin daily and all of them are overweight, out of shape, and take aspirin as a result of previous heart trouble. Seems like an ineffective easy way out to me.
Continue Reading...

Have a Healthy Heart!

How do you keep your heart healthy? Well, for a long time Americans have turned to drugs. Has it worked? Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times investigates:
While doctors still advise patients to diet, exercise and stop smoking, the medical community has adopted an almost singular focus on cholesterol-lowering drugs as the fastest and best way to battle heart disease. Americans spend $18 billion a year on cholesterol-reducing drugs, making them the nation’s biggest-selling class of drugs.

Clearly, drug treatments have played a role in the health of American hearts. Since 1950, age-adjusted death rates from cardiovascular disease have dropped 60 percent, a statistic praised by government health officials.

Average blood pressure and cholesterol levels are dropping, partly because of drug treatments. But drugs don’t get all the credit. A sharp drop in smoking has had a huge impact on heart health. And major changes in diet have also played a role. Surveys of the food supply suggest that consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol has decreased since the early 1900s. Medical care has also improved.

But an important lesson from the last 50 years is that when it comes to improving heart health, it is important to look beyond the medicine cabinet.

Just a few small changes — eating more fish, vegetables, nuts and fiber — can have a major impact on your risk for heart problems. For some people, drinking moderate amounts of wine may offer additional benefits. Even a 55-year-old man who is about 20 pounds overweight and does not exercise regularly will have a heart-disease risk far below average if he regularly consumes fish, nuts, fiber and vegetables and drinks moderate amounts of wine.
Okay, it makes sense that drugs would make an impact, but, are they really the best option? Dr. Fuhrman has his doubts. He points out some the drawbacks of drugs:
When resorting to medical intervention, rather than dietary modifications, other problems arise, reducing the potential reduction in mortality possible, as these individuals are at risk of serious side effects from the medication. The known side effects for various statins (the most popular and effective medications to lower cholesterol) include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia.
So, what’s the answer? America’s got it half right. You do need to change your diet, but for OPTIMAL health you’ve got to make a profound change—not just a few small changes. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
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

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

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 population.3

The average cholesterol level in rural China, as documented in the massive China Cornell Project, was 127 mg/dl. Heart attacks were rare, and both cancer and heart disease rates plummeted as cholesterol levels fell, which reflected very low animal product consumption. The lowest occurrence of heart disease and cancer occurred in the group that consumed plant-based diets with less than two servings of animal products per week.
I think most people approach health and nutrition too cavalierly. You need to be vigilant. It’s a fulltime job. You can’t go half-assed—know what I mean?
Continue Reading...

Wednesday: Health Points

Harvard researcher Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, and colleagues in Italy studied 870 people diagnosed with DVT from 1995 to 2005. They compared their particulate air pollution exposure in the year before their diagnosis to that of 1,210 matched people without DVT.

They found that DVT risk goes up 70% for every 10 microgram-per-cubic-meterrise in particulate air pollution above 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air (the lowest pollution level measured in the study).

The U.S. EPA standard for particulate air pollution is 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air. However, it's likely that fine and very fine particles cause most of the health risks linked to particulate air pollution.
The simple truth, experts say, is that pounds must also be shed to keep cardiovascular trouble away.

"There is a debate out there about whether this generation is going to live as long as their parents, and the truth is they probably won't," said study author Dr. Gregory L. Burke, director of the division of public health sciences at Wake Forest University School of medicine in Winston-Salem, NC.

"My ultimate worry is that we've seen a 50-year decline in cardiovascular disease mortality, but if you begin to look at recent trends, it's beginning to plateau," he added. "And my fear is that because of the increase in obesity we're going to begin to see a reversal of that trend where heart disease rates begin to go up."
On Saturday, a tornado with the second-strongest rating killed six people, destroyed a 20-block area, and blew dust off mountains of mining waste, or chat piles.

"You can look at the chat piles and see that a lot of the material has blown off," said John Sparkman, head of the Picher housing authority. "We went up on a chat pile an hour and a half after the tornado hit, and you could see dust blowing fine material all over the place from that vantage point."

Long-term exposure to lead dust poses a health risk, particularly to young children.
The two conditions appear to increase one's risk for retinal vein occlusion, a condition that leads to vision loss. It results from one or more veins carrying blood from the eye to the heart becoming blocked and causing bleeding or fluid build-up, according to background information in the report published in the May issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

The Irish study found that people with high blood pressure had more than 3.5 times the risk of developing retinal vein occlusion than those without it. People with high cholesterol levels had an approximately 2.5-fold higher risk of retinal vein occlusion.

The findings come from an analysis of 21 previously published studies involving 2,916 people with retinal vein occlusion and 28,646 people without the condition. It found that 63.6 percent of patients with retinal vein occlusion also had hypertension, compared with 36.2 percent of people without the eye condition. High cholesterol levels were more than twice as likely to be found in those with retinal vein occlusion as those without (35.1 percent vs. 16.7 percent).
Fairbank Farms is issuing a voluntary recall of selected ground beef products produced at its Ashville, N.Y., facility and sold through Price Chopper, Shaw's, BJ's, and Wilson Farms retail outlets and C&S Wholesale distributor.

The affected product may contain small pieces of hard plastic. All recalled products have either a "sell-by" date of 05/13/08, 05/15/08, or a "Julian date 124" on the package's label.
New research shows "alarming levels" of obesity in most ethnic groups in the United States, principal investigator Dr. Gregory L. Burke, of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina told Reuters Health. The study also confirms the potentially deadly toll obesity exacts on the heart and blood vessels.

"The obesity epidemic has the potential to reduce further gains in U.S. life expectancy, largely through an effect on cardiovascular disease mortality (death)," Burke and colleagues warn in the latest issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Among 6,814 middle-age or older adults participating in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, or "MESA" study, researchers found that more than two thirds of white, African American and Hispanic participants were overweight and one third to one half were obese.
The question is loaded and points to a really interesting diagnosis: What IS the biggest environmental problem on the planet? The answer is subjective, of course. If you are talking about global warming then coal plants are the biggest problem on the planet. If you are talking about natural resource preservation then deforestation is the biggest problem. Insert water for life sustainability and disease, or plastics for waste. To be sure, cigarettes are no one’s friend: Neither health nor the environment. In fact, in terms of litter, they are the biggest source of it: More than two billion pounds of cigarette butts are discarded worldwide – more than two pounds for every person in China. I use that country as an example because as I traveled from Beijing southward along the Silk Route, people still smoked a lot – everywhere. In Southeast Asia too people light up.

Smokers’ waste is rather easy to calculate. Figure out how many cigarettes are smoked and you’ll find out how many butts are tossed. You can’t recycle ‘em. One thing I’d like to know is the emission factor, or pollution due to smoking.
The experiments were conducted with the brain cells of rats and they show that contact with this ingredient called methylisothiazoline, or MIT, causes neurological damage.

Which products contain this chemical compound MIT? Head and Shoulders, Suave, Clairol and Pantene Hair Conditioner all contain this ingredient. Researchers are concerned that exposure to this chemical by pregnant women could put their fetus at risk for abnormal brain development. In other people, exposure could also be a factor in the development of Alzheimer's disease and other nervous system disorders.

The chemical causes these effects by preventing communication between neurons. Essentially, it slows the networking of neurons, and since the nervous system and brain function on a system of neural networks, the slowing of this network will suppress and impair the normal function of the brain and nervous system.

Cramming Plant Compounds into Butter, What Would Hippocrates Say?

Dairy products are far from health-promoting. Dairy is a major source of dioxins and DLCs and dairy is a major source of saturated fat. More from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health:
Whole-milk, butter, and cheese are the foods that contribute the most saturated fat to the American diet. Any person seeking excellent health should restrict these foods in his or her diet. Skim-milk and other non-fat dairy products can be used as part of the small amount of allowable animal products consumed weekly. They are not foods that should be consumed liberally, and they should not be seen as health foods because they are not high in micronutrients and phytochemicals.
Now, in an attempt to make dairy “healthy”, food manufacturers are adding plant compounds—like sterols and stanols—to butter and other junk foods. Melina B. Jampolis, MD talks about it in The San Francisco Chronicle:

Plant sterols-stanols are naturally occurring plant molecules that resemble cholesterol. They compete with the cholesterol in your diet for absorption into your body. When consumed in large enough quantities, they can block the intestinal absorption of some of the cholesterol that you eat, thereby helping to lower blood cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, they are not naturally present in plants in large enough quantities to have a significant effect, so food scientists found a way to incorporate them in much higher doses in foods ranging from butter spreads such as Benecol® and Promise® to tortilla chips (Corazones®) to chocolate bars (Cocoa Via®). Research shows that when these substances are consumed at the recommended doses of 1-2 grams per day, both total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL) drop by as much as 6 percent. So if your cholesterol tends to run a little high, you might consider adding plant sterols-stanols to your diet in addition to limiting your saturated fat consumption and eating plenty of fiber…

…If you have serious medical problems or are pregnant, consult with your physician before eating foods that contain high levels of probiotics. If you are healthy, you may want to save your money until we have a better understanding of the role of probiotics in optimal health.

While I'm sure that functional foods are not what Hippocrates had in mind when he stated "Let food be thy medicine," I think he would be somewhat pleased with their potential health benefits.
Dr. Jampolis is clearly nuts. I doubt Hippocrates would be thrilled about any food produced in a factory. Health-promoting compounds come STANDARD in natural plant foods. Here’s a list from Dr. Fuhrman:
  • Allium compounds
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenolic acids
  • Alllyl sulfides
  • Glucosinolates
  • Phytoesterols
  • Anthocyanins
  • Indoles
  • Polyacetylenes
  • Caffeic acid
  • Isoflavones
  • Polyphenols
  • Catechins
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Protease inhibitors
  • Coumarins
  • Lignans
  • Saponins
  • Dithiolthiones
  • Liminoids
  • Sulphorophane
  • Ellagic Acid
  • Pectins
  • Sterols
  • Ferulic acid
  • Perillyl alcohol
  • Terpenes
When I see all these commercials for magic yogurt and omega butter I can’t help but think, why bother? Just eat lots of fruits and veggies and be done with it! Now, that’s something Hippocrates would get behind—agreed?

Food, What's in It?

Genetically modified foods are everywhere, but you’d never know it. CBS investigates why GMOs aren’t listed on food labels. Take a look:
Robyn O'Brien teaches her kids to keep a close eye on the labels of the foods they eat.

"In terms of labeling," she says, "they're not always comprehensive and thorough."

What concerns parents like O'Brien is not what's listed, but what is not. Particularly foods made with genetically modified organisms - or GMOs.

"My concern as a mother is, are these kids part of a human trial that I didn't know that I had signed them up for," O'Brien says…

…The FDA and bio-tech giants like Monsanto say there's no evidence that GMOs are anything but safe, but food safety advocates ask: how would we know, if the food is not labeled?

"Labeling is the only way that health professionals are going to be able to trace if there is a problem," says Andy Kimbrell from the Center for Food Safety. "For example, if you're a mother and you're giving your child soy formula and that child has a toxic or allergic reaction, the only way you'll know if that's a genetically-engineered soy formula is if it's labeled."

The FDA does not require "disclosure of genetic engineering techniques...on the label," calling GMOs the "substantial equivalent" of conventional crops.

Baloney, says Kimbrell.
Hey, it’s Robyn, our buddy from—hi Robyn! Anyway, be sure to watch the video too. Check it out:

This stuff creeps me out and if you read about companies like Monsanto, there’s plenty of reason to be nervous. From Vanity Fair:
Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “Gestapo” and “Mafia” to describe their tactics.
When corporations behave that defensively you’ve got to wonder what they’re hiding.

Prostate Cancer: Diet and Exercise

Researchers seem to think diet and exercise has something to do with prostate cancer. The Los Angeles Times reports:
Age, genetics and hormones are the usual causal suspects in benign prostatic hyperplasia, but now some data suggest that the condition is a consequence of our Western lifestyle. In a 2006 study of 422 men published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Dr. J. Kellogg Parsons, a urologist at UC San Diego, found that men who were obese had an increased risk of prostate enlargement, with severely obese men at 3.5 times higher risk.

In another paper published this year in European Urology, Parsons pooled data from 11 studies involving about 43,000 men and found that those who engaged in regular physical activity had about a 25% lowered risk of enlarged prostates.

It's emerging evidence, Parsons says, "that the same risk factors that are contributing to cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes likely are contributing in some way to [benign prostatic hyperplasia]."
Kind of a no-brainer here, but in case you need to read more. Check out Dr. Fuhrman talking about prostate cancer and exercise:
Prostate cancer is now the single most common cancer among men in the United States. With the spread of our meat- and dairy-centered diet, it is on the rise in almost every country in the world. A meta-analysis of the best independent studies indicated that milk-drinking men seem to have a 70 percent greater chance of developing cancer of the prostate.1 This evidence exists in spite of the multiple studies that show that Vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk of prostate cancer. Since milk is fortified with Vitamin D, using it must have a significant negative effect that overwhelms the benefits from the added vitamin…

…Exercise should be a part of your daily routine like brushing your teeth and taking a shower. If you have a busy work schedule and commute, get in fifteen minutes of exercise every day before your morning shower. For example, if you routinely shower every morning, work up a sweat with some abdominal crunches, back extensions, toe raises, walk up and down the stairs in your home, mock jump rope, and then take your shower. Keep in mind; it is important to exercise your lower back frequently. Get in the habit of exercising the same time every day. Make the days where you do not exercise the exception, not the rule.
I’m not a betting man, but I bet a lot of America’s health woes could be solved by improved diet and exercise habits—what do you think?
Continue Reading...

Mad Cow, No Worries?

The Bush administration is backing a federal appeal to stop meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease. The Associated Press reports:
The government seeks to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to conduct more comprehensive testing to satisfy demand from overseas customers in Japan and elsewhere.

Less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows are currently tested for the disease under Agriculture Department guidelines. The agency argues that more widespread testing does not guarantee food safety and could result in a false positive that scares consumers.

"They want to create false assurances," Justice Department attorney Eric Flesig-Greene told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

But Creekstone attorney Russell Frye contended the Agriculture Department's regulations covering the treatment of domestic animals contain no prohibition against an individual company testing for mad cow disease, since the test is conducted only after a cow is slaughtered. He said the agency has no authority to prevent companies from using the test to reassure customers.

"This is the government telling the consumers, `You're not entitled to this information,"' Frye said.
Maybe they’re eating too much meat at the Whitehouse and its rotting their brains. How else can you explain this? More from Dr. Fuhrman:
When it is consumed in significant volume, animal protein, not only animal fat, is earning a reputation as a toxic nutrient to humans. More books are touting the benefits of high-protein diets for weight-loss and are getting much publicity. Many Americans desire to protect their addiction to a high-fat, nutrient-inadequate animal foods. These consumers form a huge market for such topsy-turvy scientific sounding quackery.
Quackery indeed!

Meat and Dairy Whacking the Environment

It seems that eating foods like vegetables and fish leaves a much smaller carbon footprint than meat and dairy products. More from Rachel Ehrenberg of ScienceNews:
For the average U.S. consumer, getting the equivalent of one-seventh of a week’s calories from chicken, fish or vegetables instead of red meat or dairy will do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than buying all local, all the time, the researchers say. Crunching the numbers revealed that delivery to the consumer accounts for only 1 percent of red meat–associated emissions. But the production path to red meat and dairy products is clouded with nitrous oxide and methane emissions, mainly from fertilizer use, manure management and animal digestion.

“Methane and nitrous oxide production are huge in agriculture,” says the study’s first author Christopher Weber of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. These greenhouses gases are often left out of similar analyses, which have tended to focus solely on carbon or energy use. “That misses a huge part of the picture,” Weber says.

Weber, who conducted the study with colleague, H. Scott Matthews, notes that they aren’t trying to downplay the benefits of buying local. “I shop locally,” he says. “But there’s been so much emphasis on food miles. We felt it was important to look at the whole life cycle.”

Using data from the U.S. departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Transportation and other sources, Weber and Matthews modeled the total greenhouse gas emissions generated in making and moving all sorts of foods from cereals to fish to cheese. The work, to appear in the May 15 Environmental Science & Technology, paints a broad brush, cautions Weber. Because the model uses Commerce Department data, the food categories are defined by Commerce Department food sectors. So while cheese and milk are considered separately, fruits and vegetables are put in the same category.
You don’t have to be a “hippie” or a “tree hugger” to be mindful of how your lifestyle impacts the planet. I’m happy I don’t eat meat or dairy.

Eat For Health: The Detriments of Dairy

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

Dairy is the food category that contributes the most saturated fat to the American diet. The consumption of cheese has skyrocketed in recent history, and, today, cheese and butter contribute the major load of artery-clogging saturated fat to our diet. As you can see from the saturated fat chart, compared with the same size piece of fowl or fish, cheese could have ten times as much saturated fat.

If there was one food category I could wipe out of the American diet with a magic wand in order to save as many lives from heart attack and cancer as possible, that food category would most likely be the high-fat dairy foods: cheese and butter. The menu plans and recipes in this book do not contain cheese or butter. Animal products that can be included in small amounts are fish, white meat turkey and chicken, non-fat milk, skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and some eggs, but cheese and butter should be considered special occasion foods only and rarely consumed. Even low-fat versions of cheese are still rich in saturated fat. Part-skim ricotta cheese has over 50 percent of calories from fat, and the majority of that fat is saturated. If you like to include dairy products as part of your limited amount of animal products, only consume non-fat or low-fat dairy.

Research: Flavonoids Good, Acrylamides Bad

A new study claims that flavonoids—found in fruits and vegetables—may help treat Alzheimer's disease. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports:

In experiments with mice, two flavonoids called luteolin and diosmin reduced levels of beta-amyloid, which forms the harmful plaques that build up in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease.

"Our lab has been investigating beta-amyloid, which is associated with Alzheimer's, and how we can reduce it using natural compounds," said lead researcher Kavon Rezai-Zadeh, from the Rashid Laboratory for Developmental Neurobiology at Silver Child Development Center at the University of South Florida.

The research team would like to use the two flavonoids to see if they can reduce amyloid plaque in humans, since they believe flavonoids would be safe and have few side effects compared with drugs that are being developed to reduce amyloid plaque.

Rezai-Zadeh also thinks that flavonoids, which have strong antioxidant properties, might guard against Alzheimer's. "A lot of these compounds can be derived from the diet, and they may have preventive effects against Alzheimer's disease," he said. "Increasing the flavonoids in your diet may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's."
Now, acrylamides—commonly found in processed junk foods—are being linked to an increased risk of kidney cancer. Kathleen Doheny HealthDay News is on it:

Studies of the chemical have been ongoing since 1994, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the chemical as a probable human carcinogen. Experts thought the main exposure was environmental, through cigarette smoke and, to a lesser extent, cosmetics.

But in 2002, Swedish scientists reported the presence of the chemical in carbohydrate-rich foods produced at high temperatures, including French fries and potato chips.

Studies of the chemical's link to various cancers have yielded mixed results.

The Dutch research team took data from the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer, which includes more than 120,000 men and women, aged 55 to 69. They followed them for more than 13 years, looking at all the cases of kidney, bladder and prostate cancers. They took a random sample of 5,000 people to look at their dietary habits.

The average intake of acrylamide from the diet was 21.8 micrograms -- a little less than what is included in a 2.5-ounce serving of French fries. Those who took in the most -- averaging 40.8 micrograms a day -- had a 59 percent higher risk of kidney cancer (but not the other cancers) than those consuming the least.
Here’s a plan. Eat lots and lots of fruits and veggies, and, ditch the trans-fat laden, overly processed, salty and sugary junk food—good idea?

Spinach Makes You Strong!

I’m a big guy, but with the exception of some fish a few times a month, I don’t eat any meat. So, where do I get my protein—VEGGIES! Here, I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain:
The biggest animals--elephants, gorillas, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and giraffes--all eat predominantly green vegetation. How did they get the protein to get so big? Obviously, greens pack a powerful protein punch, in fact, all protein on the planet was formed from the effect of sunlight on green plants. The cow didn't eat another cow to form the protein in its muscles, which we call steak. The protein wasn't formed out of thin air--the cow ate grass. Not that protein is such a big deal or some special nutrient to be held in high esteem. I am making this point because most people think animal products are necessary for a diet to include adequate protein. I am merely illustrating how easy it is to consume more than enough protein while at the same time avoiding risky, cancer-promoting substances such as saturated fat. Consuming more plant protein is also the key to achieving safe and successful weight loss.
Gorillas and elephants, I’m happy to be in the company of giants. Now, new research supports the idea that green veggies—like spinach—build muscle. From NewScientist:

SOME may scoff at the notion that spinach - despite containing nutrients - builds muscles, but Popeye may have been on to something. A steroid found in leafy greens ramps up protein synthesis in muscles.

A team led by Ilya Raskin of Rutgers University in New Jersey extracted phytoecdysteroids from spinach. When they placed the liquid extract on samples of cultured human muscle, it sped up growth by 20 per cent. Rats were also slightly stronger after a month of injections of the extract.
I like to think of myself as living proof that you DON’T need animal protein to be big and strong. For more, check out: Complementary Protein Myth Won't Go Away!

Cow's Milk and Diabetes

A new Finnish study claims consuming dairy products early on correlates with diabetes risk. NewScientist is on it:
One explanation is that beta-lactoglobulin, a protein in cow's, but not human, milk prompts babies to make antibodies that also attack glycodelin, a protein vital for training the immune system. The mistuned immune system then mistakenly destroys insulin-producing pancreatic cells, leading to type 1 diabetes.

“The mistuned immune system mistakenly destroys insulin-producing cells”

Now Marcia Goldfarb of the company Anatek-EP in Portland, Maine, has found that five children with type 1 diabetes, who were fed cow's-milk formula, all have antibodies to beta-lactoglobulin.
Not that surprising. Cow’s milk is not exactly good for you, especially for kids. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The leading cause of digestive intolerance leading to stomach complaints is dairy products. Many kids have subtle allergies to cow's milk that perpetuate their nasal congestion, leading to ear infections.

Milk, which is designed by nature for the rapidly growing cow, has about half its calories supplied from fat. The fatty component is concentrated more to make cheese and butter. Milk and cheese are the foods Americans encourage their children to eat, believing them to be healthy foods. Fifty years of heavy advertising by an economically powerful industry has shaped the public's perception, illustrating the power of one-sided advertising, but the reality and true health effects on our children is a different story. Besides the link between high-saturated-fat foods (dairy fat) and cancer, there is a body of scientific literature linking the consumption of cow's milk to many other diseases. If we expect our children to resist many common illnesses, they simply must consume less milk, cheese, and butter. Dairy foods should be consumed in limited quantity or not at all.

Cow's milk contains the calcium people need, but other foods are rich in calcium, too, including vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Today we do not need to rely on cows for our calcium. We can eat greens directly for calcium, the place where cows get it to begin with, and orange juice and soy milks are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, too. It is easy to meet our nutrient needs for these substances without the risks of cow's milk.
Yucky, milk makes me nauseas.

Earth News: Carbon, Bees, and Urban Farmers...

One of the major contributors to climate change is carbon dioxide (CO2). My colleague at Earth Policy Institute, Frances Moore, has been tracking CO2 emissions and recently released an Eco-Economy Indicator on CO2 emissions.

Check out the Earth Policy Institute data.

She writes that despite the unambiguous evidence that carbon dioxide is warming the planet, the growth in emissions is accelerating. "Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels stood at a record 8.38 gigatons of carbon (GtC) in 2006, 20 percent above the level in 2000. Emissions grew 3.1 percent a year between 2000 and 2006, more than twice the rate of growth during the 1990s. Carbon dioxide emissions have been growing steadily for 200 years, since fossil-fuel burning began on a large scale at the start of the Industrial Revolution."
Bees do so much more than supply honey and beeswax.

Bee pollination of crops, something that most farmers heavily rely on, is responsible for as much as 30% of the U.S. food supply. Where bees are not available, they are called in, with apiarists (bee keepers) travelling around the country to provide the services of their hives.

Unless the cause and cure for Colony Collapse Disorder is found soon, many fruits and vegetables may disappear entirely from US produce. The flow on effects are mind-boggling. It's not just fruits and vegetables affected, but also stock feed and grains.
This urban agriculture movement has grown even more vigorously elsewhere. Hundreds of farmers are at work in Detroit, Milwaukee, Oakland and other areas that, like East New York, have low-income residents, high rates of obesity and diabetes, limited sources of fresh produce and available, undeveloped land.

Local officials and nonprofit groups have been providing land, training and financial encouragement. But the impetus, in almost every case, has come from the farmers, who often till when their day jobs are done, overcoming peculiarly urban obstacles.

The Wilkses’ return to farming began in 1990 when their daughter planted a watermelon in their backyard. Before long, Mrs. Wilks, an administrator in the city’s Department of Education, was digging in the yard after work. Once their ambition outgrew their yard, she and Mr. Wilks, a city surveyor, along with other gardening neighbors, received permission to use a vacant lot across from a garment factory at the end of their block.

Health Points: Friday

York company voluntarily recalled more than 286,000 pounds of its products.

Officials said certain products labeled Gourmet Boutique, Jan's and Archer Farms may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, although there were no reports of illness before the recall.

Listeria can cause a potentially fatal disease that it is rarely contracted by healthy people, the Monterey County Health Department reported. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and nausea. Rare but serious symptoms can occur in those with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women make up about a third of listeriosis cases, health officials said.
Arthritis strikes more than half of the 20.6 million American adults who have diabetes, and the painful joint condition may be a barrier to exercise among these patients, a new government report shows.

Being physically active helps people manage both diseases better by controlling blood sugar levels and reducing joint pain, according to the report in the May 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The prevalence of arthritis is astoundingly high in people with diabetes," said Dr. John H. Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "Over half the people with diabetes have arthritis."
Nudging reluctant seniors to take physical fitness classes represents just one strategy to reduce the risk of falling. It's also vital to evaluate their vision and the medications they're taking. Aged pupils, for example, don't dilate as well in darkness or constrict as well in brightness.

One study showed that falls decreased 34 percent among seniors who had the milky opaqueness of a cataract removed from their eyes. Some specialists also point to bifocals and trifocals, which can blur vision, as potentially contributing to falls.

It's also common for lighting to be so inadequate that navigation of hallways and rooms can be treacherous, said Dr. Gary Chu, vice president for community collaborations at the New England Eye Institute.
"I've asked all the presidential candidates whether America should be smoke-free," he told a Senate committee hearing on how to tackle cancer.

"The consensus is that it's better left to the cities and states," he said, agreeing that state- or community-level bans were "the way to go."

"Second-hand smoking is something I'm very passionate about," he told the committee.
Young children who live in neighborhoods with lots of trees have lower rates of asthma than children who reside in areas with fewer trees, a new study finds. Researchers looked at asthma rates among children age 4 to 5 in New York City. Asthma rates decreased by almost one-quarter for every standard deviation increase in tree density, equivalent to 343 trees per square kilometer, the study found. The researchers said that trees may help reduce asthma rates by encouraging children to play outdoors more or by improving air quality.
Male postpartum depression may have more negative effects on some aspects of a child's development than its female counterpart, says James F. Paulson, PhD, of the Center for Pediatric Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.

Paulson and colleagues reviewed data on more than 5,000 two-parent families with children aged 9 months.

They found that one in 10 new dads met standard criteria for moderate to severe postpartum depression.

That's a "striking increase" from the 3% to 5% of men in the general population that have depression, Paulson tells WebMD.
In the current study, researchers found that professional firefighters had higher-than-expected rates of colon cancer and brain cancer. There was also evidence, albeit weaker, that they had elevated risks of bladder and kidney cancers, as well as Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Dr. Letitia Davis with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues report the findings in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Firefighters are exposed to many potentially cancer-causing chemicals released from burning materials. At the scene of the fire, toxic substances such as benzene, lead, uranium and asbestos can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
A drug from a new class of weight-loss treatments disrupted wiring needed for brain development in young mice, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday, raising concerns about using such medications in children.

Mark Bear and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the effects of a chemical that suppresses appetite by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, the same brain mechanisms that make people hungry when they smoke marijuana.

"I think that the cautionary note is that these mechanisms play an important role in ... brain development," said Bear, whose study appears in the journal Neuron.
Even a benign lesion on a mammogram makes women and doctors nervous, and doctors sometimes recommend a biopsy anyway. But new data show that waiting six months for a follow-up mammogram is a safe option.

Researchers tracked more than 45,000 women who were given six-month follow-up mammograms after an initial scan found lesions that were “probably” benign. In most cases, they were. Only about one in 100 women were eventually diagnosed with cancer six to 12 months later, according to the study, which appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
It is well known that high blood sugar levels indicative of the diabetes that occurs during pregnancy present risks for expectant mothers and their infants. The current study is believed to be the first to show that higher blood sugar levels -- not high enough to be considered diabetes -- also convey these increased risks.

In a study of nearly 24,000 pregnant women who had their blood sugar levels tested between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, researchers found that the higher the mother's blood sugar level, the greater the chances that she would require Caesarean delivery and deliver an abnormally large baby.

News from The Cancer Project

Dr. Fuhrman forwarded this to me. Here are some great studies from The Cancer Project’s spring update. Take a look:
Meat Consumption Increases Breast Cancer Risk
The more meat a woman eats, the greater her risk of breast cancer, according to a new study of postmenopausal Danish women. The study looked at 378 women who developed breast cancer and matched them to control subjects who did not develop breast cancer. A higher intake of meat—including poultry and fish, as well as red meat and processed meat—was associated with a significantly higher breast cancer incidence rate. Every 25 gram increase in consumption of total meat, red meat, and processed meat led to a 9, 15, and 23 percent increase in risk of breast cancer, respectively. However, the degree of risk may depend on genetics. Certain genes activate the carcinogens (heterocyclic amines) found in cooked meat. The study showed that women with genes that rapidly activate these carcinogens are at particular risk of breast cancer if they eat meat. (Egeberg R, Olsen A, Autrup H, et al. Meat consumption, N-acetyl transferase 1 and 2 polymorphism and risk of breast cancer in Danish postmenopausal women. Eur J Canc Prev. 2008;17:39-47.)
More Studies Link Milk to Prostate Cancer
Men who consume low-fat and nonfat milk face an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to two new studies in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

One study included 82,483 men in the Multiethnic Cohort Study, 4,404 of whom developed prostate cancer over an average follow-up of eight years. Researchers found no association between prostate cancer risk and calcium and vitamin D intake, whether in the form of food or supplements. However, the study did find a positive association between consuming 1 cup or more per day of low-fat or nonfat milk and developing prostate cancer.

The other study included 293,888 participants in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-AARP Diet and Health Study. Consuming two or more daily servings of skim milk was associated with an increased risk of advanced prostate cancer.

Several previous studies—including two large Harvard studies—have shown that milk-drinking men have a significantly higher risk of prostate cancer. Researchers offer two possible reasons for the association: Milk drinking increases blood levels of insulin-like growth factor, which is associated with cancer risk. It also decreases activation of vitamin D precursors. Vitamin D helps protect the prostate against cancer. (Park S, Murphy SP, Wilkens LR, et al. Calcium, vitamin D, and dairy product intake and prostate cancer risk: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2007;166:1259-1269. Park Y, Mitrou PN, Kipnis V, et al. Calcium, dairy foods, and risk of incident and fatal prostate cancer: the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2007;166:1270-1279.)
Does Childhood Dairy Intake Increase Later Cancer Risk?
Children who consume a high-dairy diet—equivalent to nearly 2 cups of milk per day—have almost three times the risk of developing colorectal cancer in adulthood compared with children who consume less than half a cup of milk per day, according to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. These findings held true after researchers adjusted for differences in meat, fruit, and vegetable intake, as well as socioeconomic status. (Van der Pols JC, Bain C, Gunnell D, Smith GD, Frobisher C, Martin RM. Childhood dairy intake and adult cancer risk: 65-y follow-up of the Boyd Orr cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86:1722-1729.)

Eat For Health: The Dangers of Omission

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

Our society has evolved to a level of economic sophistication that allows us to eat ourselves to death. A diet centered on milk, cheese, pasta, bread, fried foods, and sugar-filled snacks and drinks, lays the groundwork for obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune illnesses. It is not solely that these foods are harmful; it is also what we are not eating that is causing the problem. What we are not eating is enough nutrient-rich foods.

As this chart shows, when you calculate all the calories consumed from the Standard American Diet, you find that the calories coming from phytochemical-rich foods, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, and seeds, is less than ten percent of the total caloric intake. This dangerously low intake of unrefined plant foods is what guarantees weakened immunity to disease, frequent illnesses, and a shorter lifespan. We will never win the war on cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and other degenerative illnesses unless we address this deficiency. Though the American diet has spread all over the world, bringing with it heart disease, cancer, and obesity, studies still show that in the populations that eat more fruits and vegetables, the incidences of death from these diseases is dramatically lowered.1

Most health authorities today are in agreement that we should add more servings of healthy fruits and vegetables to our diet. I disagree. Thinking about our diet in this fashion doesn’t adequately address the problem. Instead of thinking of adding those protective fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts to our disease-causing diet, these foods must be the main focus of the diet itself. This is what makes my eating-style different. Once we understand that concept, then we can add a few servings of foods that are not in this category to the diet each week, and use animal products and grains as condiments or small additions to this naturally, nutrient-rich diet.
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Avocado, Strong Like Bull!

The New York Times Bitten blog wants to know how to buy an avocado? More from Mark Bittman:
The other day I was talking to Nick Fox, the deputy editor of the Dining section, about avocados. (We have a lovely little avocado soup on the Minimalist schedule for a few weeks down the road.) And I said, “The odd thing is, whenever I buy semi-ripe or ripe avocados, they’re awful — banged up and overripe, and often mealy.” His response, which jived with my experience but I have never been quite savvy enough to verbalize, was simply “You should buy them rock hard.”
Awesome! I buy four avocados a week; one semi-soft and the others I could use as weapons. Now, here’s a great avocado recipe:

Avocado Currant Pudding

2 avocados
1 medium banana
4 cups (about 4 ounces) organic baby spinach
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1/2 cup date sugar
1/2 cup currants or raisins
1 tablespoon unsweetened, shredded coconut, for garnish

Blend all ingredients, except currants and coconut, in a Vita-Mix or other powerful blender until smooth and creamy. Pour into bowl and stir in currants. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir and sprinkle with coconut. Serves 3.

And, avocados are a great substitute for butter. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Butter is loaded with a dangerous amount of saturated fat, but stick margarines have hydrogenated oils that contain trans fats that raise LDL, the bad cholesterol. Adjusting the type of fat consumed, researchers found that butter caused the highest cholesterol level and that varying amounts of margarines and oils had various harmful effects.1 The best answer is to use nothing, or buy whole-grain bread that tastes good without adding a greasy topping. If you love the flavor of butter, try Butter Buds or sparingly use a spread that contains no hydrogenated oil, such as Spectrum Essential Omega Spread, instead. Lots of my patients like no-salt tomato sauce on bread, or tomato-salsa blend, avocado, or stewed mushrooms. Of course, the best way to get out of the habit of eating those greasy toppings is not to eat bread at all.
Need I remind you that I elected myself President of the Avocado Fan Club.
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Flu Pandemic...Run and Hide!

The World Health Organization says, “We can't delude ourselves. The threat of a pandemic influenza has not diminished.” Quick, head for the hills! More from the Associated Press:
Keiji Fukuda, coordinator for the World Health Organization's Global Influenza Program, spoke to a meeting of around 150 health experts from governments, WHO and other agencies to update WHO's pandemic influenza preparedness plan.

Scientists fear that the H5N1 strain of bird flu virus — which began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003 — could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans, potentially sparking a pandemic that kills millions. So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds.

Fukuda said more than 150 countries had some kind of national preparedness plans but some of them were merely a piece of paper acknowledging the risk.

He said it was crucial that all levels of society were involved in the preparations and that everyone knows where to go for information.

"If somebody is sick in the family for example and it's difficult to get to hospital, they need to know what sort of advice might be available," Fukuda told The Associated Press.
Now, I’m not worried about the flu. I had the flu last year and my nutrient-dense diet kicked its butt in a few days. Me quoting me:
A couple hours later it was pretty obvious, I had the flu. Sure, I was mad that I was sick, but I was more upset that my year-plus streak of not getting ill had come to an end. Nevertheless, I battened down the hatches and prepared to fight this virus head on. After all, I’m an Eat to Liver. My body is equipped and ready to smack the stuffing out of an intruder like the flu, right?

Absolutely! Tuesday and Wednesday I got the brunt of the virus; fever, chills, cough, the sweats, headache, and that horrible malaise. What did I do? Not much. I planted my well-bundled butt on the couch, turned on The Price is Right, drank lots of water, and ate bunch of water-rich fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, and pineapple. In fact, at times my symptoms were so mild that I actually made a trip to the supermarket to buy more fruit. Not to mention, I didn’t miss a beat on Followhealthlife—thank you very much. So what happened next?

Thursday morning I woke up feeling a lot better! The only symptom still hanging around is a slight a cough and few sniffles, but nothing serious.
In truth, the flu isn’t really that scary. According to Dr. Fuhrman if you’re body is fortified by a healthy diet, you’ll survive. From Dr. Fuhrman:
Unfortunately the majority of Americans eat a diet style that weakens their normal resistance to simple viral infections. In spite of advances in science that reveal the critical importance of thousands of protective micronutrients in the natural plant kingdom, much of the modern world consumes a diet rich in processed grains, oils, sweets and animal products. In the United States, for example, less than five percent of total calories consumed come from fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. These are the foods that are richest in micronutrients.

Those of us who eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) have a very low nutrient (per calorie) intake. This chronic malnourished condition is the true life-threatening epidemic in the modern world, resulting in a medical care crisis and untold tragedies. And this ubiquitous malnourishment may also eventually enable the Avian influenza viruses to spread more easily and develop into virulent forms. With the ubiquitous consumption of fake foods such as white bread, pasta, oil and sugar, nutritional incompetence is the norm.

The flu is a simple viral illness which a healthy body has scores of adequate defenses against. No flu, including the bird flu, is any match for a well-nourished immune system.
So, bird flu, monkey flu, elephant flu, beetle flu, kangaroo flu, dog flu, zebra flu, and hippopotamus flu—BRING IT ON!

NYC's Calorie War, Restaurants Cited

You knew this was going to be a rough transition. Fast food joints like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s have been issued warnings for their calorie-less menus. The New York Times reports:
Five restaurants had been cited, the health department said. They were Dunkin’ Donuts at 445 Park Avenue South, at East 30th Street; McDonald’s at 1560 Broadway, at West 46th Street; Popeye’s, at 321 West 125th Street, between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and St. Nicholas Avenue; Sbarro at 22 West 34th Street, next to the Empire State Building; and TGI Friday’s at 677 Lexington Avenue, at East 56th Street.

But the citations were little more than warnings. They carried no fines, because a federal judge had said the city could not impose fines until mid-July.

And failing to post calorie counts will not affect whether a restaurant passes or fails its regular food safety inspection, even after the fines begin. The calorie-count violation is separate from the things inspectors always look for: whether food is cooked or stored at the right temperature, whether the ice maker is clean, whether workers are wearing hats or hair nets, for example.

Still, the form that inspectors issued to the restaurants that did not have calorie counts posted sounded serious. It said the health department “expects that the conditions will be addressed promptly.” The form cautioned that “any recurrence of these conditions could result in further action being taken.”
For more on NYC's calories-on-menus law, check out: New York Calorie-Count--NOW

America, We Got a FAT Problem!

Maybe this is why we’re fat. Diet Blog found it:

Also, you’re not likely to find diet salvation in a strip-mall anyway.

Living to 100

Do you want to live forever? I do. I plan on sticking around for as long as possible and Dan Buettner of The Huffington Post has compiled a list of nine healthy habits that’ll help get you to 100. Take a look:
For the the last five years, I've been taking teams of scientists to five pockets around the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives. We call these places the Blue Zones. We found a Bronze-age mountain culture in Sardinia, Italy, that has 20 times as many 100-year-olds as the U.S. does, proportionally. In Okinawa, Japan, we found people with the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world. In the Blue Zones (Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, Calif.; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica), people live 10 years longer, experience a sixth the rate of cardiovascular disease and a fifth the rate of major cancers.
  1. Move naturally: Be active without thinking about it. Identify activities you enjoy and make them a part of your day. Cut calories by 20 percent.
  2. Cut calories by 20 percent: Practice "Hara hachi bi," the Okinawan reminder to stop eating once their stomachs are 80 percent full.
  3. Plant-based diet: No, you don't need to become a vegetarian, but do bump up your intake of fruits and veggies.
  4. Drink red wine: In moderation.
  5. Plan de Vida: Determine your life purpose. Why do you get up in the morning?
  6. Down shift: Take time to relieve stress. You may have to literally schedule it into your day, but relaxation is key.
  7. Belong/participate in a spiritual community.
  8. Put loved ones first/make family a priority.
  9. Pick the right tribe: The people surrounding you influence your health more than almost any other factor.
These are fantastic suggestions. Be active, eat plants, and relax—perfect! You won’t get much argument out of Dr. Fuhrman:
Increasing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and raw nuts and seeds (and greatly decreasing the consumption of animal products) offers profound increased longevity potential, due in large part to broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients that a vegetable-based diet contains…

… Centenarian studies in Europe illustrate that those individuals living into their hundreds were likely to have consumed a plant-based diet consisting of fewer than 2000 calories per day. Multiple studies have confirmed that the thinnest people live the longest…

… As we condition our muscles and gain strength, our bones thicken and strengthen along with the muscle. Without regular exercise along the way, your bone structure can deteriorate as you get older. Some people survive with weak bones, but their quality of life suffers when they are immobilized by arthritis and osteoporosis…

…A safe and satisfying work environment, a happy marriage, a satisfying social and/or family life, and activities you enjoy are all related to positive health outcomes. Emotional wellness starts right here your finger tips end. As you respect and appreciate the value in the world around you and develop interests in other people and in such things as art, music, entertainment, sports, nature, and physical activity, you can respect yourself more for your ability and desire to appreciate the value of things not yourself.
Okinawans are fascinating people. These avid plant-eaters live a long-long time. In fact, they made John Robbins’s list of longest-lived people in his book Healthy at 100. Check it out:
  1. Abkhasia: Ancients of the Caucasus, where people are healthier at ninety than most of us are at middle age.
  2. Vilcabamba: The Valley of Eternal Youth, where heart disease and dementia do not exist.
  3. Hunza: A People Who Dance in Their Nineties, where cancer, diabetes, and asthma are unknown.
  4. The Centenarians of Okinawa: Where more people live to 100 than anywhere else in the world.
Now, for the flipside, primitive people like Inuit Greenlanders and Kenyan Maasai have short life expectancies—why? Too much meat in their diets. More from Dr. Fuhrman:

Inuit Greenlanders, who historically have had limited access to fruits and vegetables, have the worst longevity statistics in North America. Research from the past and present shows that they die on the average about 10 years younger and have a higher rate of cancer than the overall Canadian population.1

Similar statistics are available for the high meat-consuming Maasai in Kenya. They eat a diet high in wild hunted meats and have the worst life expectancy in the modern world. Life expectancy is 45 years for women and 42 years for men. African researchers report that, historically, Maasai rarely lived beyond age 60. Adult mortality figures on the Kenyan Maasai show that they have a 50% chance of dying before the age of 59.2
I guess the same can be said about us; between all the fast food, beef jerky, potato chips, cheese pizza, and no exercise, Americans start dying at middle-age. We’d learn a lot from our foreign neighbors.
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Seafood, Lots of Issues

Bill Lambrecht of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a look at all the problems with seafood coming from China to the United States. Here’s a bit:
In March, inspectors checking Chinese seafood arriving at U.S. ports made some unsettling discoveries: fish infected with salmonella in Seattle and Baltimore, and shrimp with banned veterinary drugs in Florida.

Meanwhile, a shipment intercepted in Los Angeles on March 19 labeled "channel catfish" wasn't catfish at all, although records don't say what it was.

"A lot of those products coming in from overseas, you have no clue as to what is in them," said Paul Hitchens, an aquaculture specialist in Southern Illinois, where cut-rate Chinese catfish are threatening the livelihood of fish farmers…

… Seafood is considered one of the riskiest imports, and those from China have risen steadily. When the FDA does turn away shipments, usually it is because they contain veterinary drugs, among them nitrofurans, a family of antibiotics banned by the FDA because tests showed they cause cancer in animals.

More than 100 of the shipments were rejected for being filthy, decomposed or otherwise unfit for consumption, according to the records…

…FDA officials are requesting new authority, including the ability to license private companies to assist with inspections. But the Bush administration has signaled opposition to key provisions that would require regular inspections in foreign lands and limit ports where food can arrive to docks with FDA labs.
Now, here’s something you probably didn’t realize. Did you know ocean fish are getting smaller and smaller? This video is funny, but informative too:

For your fish and health questions, check out Fishing for the Truth for a round up.

NYC: Supermarkets Packing Up Shop

More and more supermarkets are leaving New York City, making it hard for many people to find healthy fresh food in their neighborhoods. David Gonzalez of The New York Times reports:
The dearth of nearby supermarkets is most severe in minority and poor neighborhoods already beset by obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

According to the food workers union, only 550 decently sized supermarkets — each occupying at least 10,000 square feet — remain in the city…

… In some cases, the old storefronts have been converted to drug stores that stand to make money coming and going — first selling processed foods and sodas, then selling medicines for illnesses that could have been prevented by a better diet.

The supermarket closings — not confined to poor neighborhoods — result from rising rents and slim profit margins, among other causes. They have forced residents to take buses or cabs to the closest supermarkets in some areas. Those with cars can drive, but the price of gasoline is making some think twice about that option. In many places, residents said the lack of competition has led to rising prices in the remaining stores…

…The lack of easily available fresh food has prompted city and state officials to convene several task forces to address the public health implications.

The recent study conducted by the Department of City Planning estimated that as many as three million New Yorkers live in what are considered high-need neighborhoods — communities characterized by not enough supermarkets and too many health problems.
This is a major reason why certain neighborhoods in New York have staggering rates of obesity and diabetes. More from this New York Times miniseries:
As someone who eats primarily fruits and vegetables, and, wants to live in New York, I’m concerned. I need a steady stream of fresh produce.

No More Peanut Allergies...

Could genetically modified plants mean the end of peanut allergies? Stephen Daniells of Food Navigator explains:
"An example would be to introduce anti-sense RNA copies of the allergen gene into the peanut plant to suppress allergen gene expression," stated Dr. Burks. "Post-translational gene silencing by mRNA degradation is another approach being investigated."

"The difficulty with this and similar approaches is that several peanut proteins are involved in IgE binding.

"The process of altering enough of the peanut allergens to make a modified peanut that is less likely to cause an allergic reaction would probably render the new peanut no longer a peanut," he added.

Despite offering a potentially life-saving solution for millions around the world, acceptance of GM peanuts is not guaranteed. The GM tag continues to be one of the biggest challenges for consumer acceptance, particularly in Europe and most notably in the UK.
I don’t know, high-tech plants can be pretty scary. Remember these, Food: Truth and Untruth in Advertising?

Eat For Health: Food Addiction Starts the Fat Cycle

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

When a heavy coffee drinker stops drinking coffee, he feels ill, experiencing headaches and weakness, and even feels nervous and shaky. Fortunately, these symptoms resolve slowly over four to six days. Discomfort after stopping an addictive substance is called withdrawal, and it is significant because it represents detoxification, or a biochemical healing that is accomplished after the substance is withdrawn. It is nearly impossible to cleanse the body of a harmful substance without experiencing the discomfort of withdrawal. Humans have a tendency to want to avoid discomfort, so they continue the toxic habits to avoid the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. When we discontinue consuming healthy substances, such as broccoli or spinach, we do not experience discomfort. We feel nothing. Only unhealthful, toxic substances are addicting, and, therefore, these are the only substances that cause discomfort when you stop consuming them. Their addictive potential is proportional to their toxicity.

Uncomfortable sensations are very often the signals that repair is under way and the removal of toxins is occurring. Though it may be difficult to adjust to this way of thinking, feeling ill temporarily can be seen as a sign that you are getting well. That cup of coffee may make you feel better temporarily, but any stimulating substance that makes you feel better quickly, or gives you immediate energy, is hurtful, not healthful. Any substance that has that immediate effect is toxic and called a stimulant. Healthy foods do not induce stimulation. When you meet your needs for nutrients and sleep, your body will naturally feel well and fully energized, without the need for stimulation.

The heavy coffee drinker typically feels the worst upon waking up in the morning or when delaying or skipping a meal. The same is true for the many of us who are addicted to toxic foods. The body goes through withdrawal, or detoxification, most strongly when it is not busy digesting food. Eating stops withdrawal because detoxification cannot take place efficiently while food is being consumed and digested. A heavy meal will stop the discomfort, or a cup of coffee will alleviate the symptoms, but the cycle of withdrawal will begin again the minute the caffeine level drops or digestion is finished and the glucose level in the blood starts to go down.

The more you search for fast, temporary relief with a candy bar, a can of soda, or a bag of chips, the more you inhibit the healing, detoxification process. Then, your body becomes more toxic because you gave it more low-nutrient calories. Calories consumed without the accompanying nutrients that aid in their assimilation and metabolism lead to a build-up of toxic substances in the cells that promote cellular aging and disease. Eating low-nutrient calories increases dangerous free-radical activity within the cells and allows for the build-up of cellular waste. These low nutrient calories also increase other toxic materials in the body, such as Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). AGEs affect nearly every type of cell and molecule in the body, and are major factors in aging and age-related chronic diseases. Their production is markedly accelerated in diabetics, and they are believed to play a causative role in the vascular complications of the disease.

AGEs are the result of a chain of chemical reactions and may be formed external to the body by overcooking foods or inside the body though cellular metabolism. They form at a constant but slow rate in the normal body and accumulate with time, but their formation can be accelerated by your eating habits. Dry cooking methods such as baking, roasting, and broiling cause sugars to combine with proteins to form AGEs, while water-based cooking, such as steaming and boiling, does not. AGEs are highest in burnt and browned foods, such as brown-bread crust, cookies, and brown-basted meats, but these compounds also can build up in cells from the consumption of low-nutrient calories, especially calories from sweets. So, eating both overcooked foods and low-nutrient foods leads to the build-up of AGEs and ages us faster.

When you eat a diet that is based on toxic and addictive foods—such as salt, fried foods, snack foods, and sugary drinks—you not only build up free radicals and AGEs in your cells, but you also set the stage for ill feelings when you are not digesting food. Unhealthy food allows your body to create waste byproducts that must be removed by the liver and other organs. Only when digestion ends can the body fully take advantage of the opportunity to circulate and attempt to remove toxins. If the body is constantly digesting, it can’t go through this detoxification process effectively.

When detoxification begins, people often feel queasiness or malaise. Eating something restarts digestion and shuts down the detoxification process, making the bad feelings go away. The worse the nutritional quality of your diet, the worse you will feel if you try to stop eating food for a few hours. You will only feel normal while your digestive tract is busy.

More Meat Recalled...

Gourmet Boutique, LLC has voluntarily recalled 286,000 pounds of meat and poultry that may be contaminated with bacteria. Reuters reports:
The meat may be contaminated with Listeria monocyotogenes bacteria, which can cause a rare but potentially fatal disease known as listeriosis, the USDA said. Infants, the elderly, people with HIV and patients undergoing chemotherapy are among those at risk for the disease.

Listeriosis also can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

The USDA said it had received no reports of illnesses linked to the products that were being recalled.
This is nothing compared to the 143 million pounds of meat recalled Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company back in Febraury.

Beer Muscles Explained...

Without alcohol I would have been a very lonely nerd in college and now a new study explains why you feel so fearless after a few rounds. From the NewScientist:
Jodi Gilman and her colleagues at the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Maryland, used MRI to observe the brain activity of 12 healthy "social drinkers" both when sober and after they had been given alcohol intravenously and their blood alcohol levels had reached nearly 0.8 grams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood - the legal limit for driving in the UK and the US. In both conditions they were shown pictures of either frightened or neutral faces.

The researchers found that booze completely changed the way the brain reacted to the images. Without alcohol, the amygdala - which is involved in processing emotional reactions - lit up in response to the frightened faces, but with alcohol, it was less active, reacting equally to neutral and fearful faces. This may help explain why drunkenness makes people both more outgoing and more aggressive: it impairs the amygdala's ability to detect threats.
Alcohol is a touchy subject when you’re eating for health; especially if you’re a single twenty-something like me. Here are my rules for drinking:
  1. No drinking during the work-week.
  2. Never drink beer.
  3. No mixed drinks with juice.
  4. Never get sloppy drink.
  5. Order drinks with ice.
  6. Drink slow.
  7. Only go out for drinks one night per week.
  8. Keep it simple.
I either drink cabernet sauvignon or gin martinis on the rocks and to be honest, I almost never have more than two or three. Here are Dr. Fuhrman’s thoughts on boozing:
One glass of wine per day is likely insignificant, but I advise against higher levels of alcohol consumption. Avoid alcohol and eat healthfully if possible, but if that one drink a day will make you stay with this plan much more successfully, then have it.
Now, I’ve witnessed it first hand, Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t drink. So, if you ever feel self conscious about not touching a drop—DON’T—you’re in good company.

Food Safety Slammed, FDA to the Rescue?

A new report points out serious problems with U.S. food safety. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News is on it:
Gaps in the food safety system include out-of-date laws, poor use of resources, and inconsistencies among agencies protecting food safety, according to the report Fixing Food Safety: Protecting America's Food From Farm-to-Fork, released Wednesday by Trust for America's Health.

"One in four Americans are sickened by food-borne illness each year, that's 76 million people," Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health said during a morning teleconference Wednesday. "That number is far too high, and major gaps in our nation's food safety system are to blame."

"The major problem with the current food safety system is that no one person is in charge," Levi said. "Instead, there are total of 15 federal agencies that play a role in administering some 30 laws related to food safety."

The whole system needs to change from one that responds to threats as they happen to a more preventive system that tackles challenges before they arise, Levi said. At the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food safety is on the back burner, he added.
Perhaps the FDA is feeling the heat because the agency is looking to add 1,300 people to its staff. Reuters reports:
The hiring effort, first reported by Reuters, comes as the agency is under growing pressure from Congress to improve operations and existing staff is stretched thin.

The new hires will add to the current FDA work force of more than 10,000 employees who regulate food, drugs and other products that account for a quarter of U.S. consumer spending.

Some 770 of the jobs are new posts funded mainly by higher industry fees authorized last year in a broad FDA law meant to bolster drug safety oversight and other areas.
I’m not sure, is the FDA somehow being proactive, or, EXTREMELY reactionary. I’m leaning towards the latter.

Fat is Good for You!

But wait! There’s a catch. You’ve got to eat the right kinds of fat. Take monounsaturated fats for example, they’ve been found to increase the body’s ability to absorb the anti-cancer compounds in raw vegetables. From The Journal of Nutrition:
Dietary lipids are hypothesized to be an important factor for carotenoid bioavailability. However, most carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables are low in lipids. The objective of this study was to assess whether the addition of avocado fruit as a lipid source enhances carotenoid absorption in humans…The addition of avocado to salsa enhanced lycopene and ß-carotene absorption (P < 0.003), resulting in 4.4 and 2.6 times the mean AUC after intake of avocado-free salsa, respectively…In conclusion, adding avocado fruit can significantly enhance carotenoid absorption from salad and salsa, which is attributed primarily to the lipids present in avocado.
Lisa Ryckman of the Rocky Mountain News lists some other food sources of monounsaturated fats and points out their health benefits too. Take a look:

Fat is also one of the nutrients every body needs. It's critical to absorbing fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and it's the source of fatty acids essential to proper body function.

Most nutrition plans recommend limiting fat calories to less than 30 percent of total daily intake, and saturated fat to less than 10 percent. For a typical 2,000-calorie day, that means about 65 grams of total fat.

While pretty much all fat used to be considered the dieter's nemesis, that's no longer the case. We now know that some fats - particularly the monounsaturated fat found in avocados, olives and nuts - can actually help raise the HDL or "good" cholesterol, which lowers the risk of heart disease.
Now, it’s important to note the dangers of saturated fats. “Thousands of scientific research studies demonstrate that saturated fat promotes both heart disease and cancer,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. From Seminars in Vascular Medicine:
In observational epidemiologic studies, lower blood cholesterol is associated with a reduced risk from coronary heart disease (CHD) throughout the normal range of cholesterol values observed in most Western populations…Dietary saturated fat is the chief determinant of total and LDL cholesterol levels. Replacing 60% of the intake of saturated fat by other fats and reducing the intake of dietary cholesterol could reduce blood total cholesterol levels by about 0.8 mmol/l (that is by 10 to 15%), with four fifths of this reduction being in LDL cholesterol.
And this study in Cancer Research:
Diet can influence cancer in animals by affecting the initiation or subsequent preneoplastic stage of tumorigenesis, but it has less effect on tumor growth. Caloric restriction has a general inhibitory influence on tumorigenesis. Dietary fat, on the other hand, tends to promote tumorigenesis, but only certain types of tumors, such as mammary tumors, are affected. Both caloric restriction and dietary fat appear to act primarily during the preneoplastic state, and their effects on hormone-dependent tumors may be mediated through changes in the hormonal environment. Variations in other dietary factors, such as protein, vitamins, or minerals, above the levels required for normal maintenance seem to have little influence on the genesis or growth of tumors.
Unfortunately, fat is not as simple as monounsaturated fats versus saturated fats, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s Glossary of Cholesterol for more. Here’s a snippet:
Fat is one of the three macronutrients (along with protein and carbohydrate) that supply calories to the body. Fats provide 9 calories per gram, more than twice the number provided by carbohydrates or protein.

Fats provide the "essential" fatty acids, which are not made by the body and must be obtained from food. Fatty acids provide the raw materials that help control blood pressure, blood clotting, inflammation and other important body functions.

Fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Healthy skin and hair are maintained by fat. Fat helps in the absorption and transport through the bloodstream of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats perform vital and valuable role in the body.
But in the end, just be sure to get your nutrients from good foods. “I consider the ideal diet to be one that contains at least 90 percent of calories from the healthiest foods; vegetables, fruits, beans, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, and whole grains,” explains Dr. Fuhrman.
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