Be Social, Save Memory

New research claims that maintaining good relationships with family and friends may prevent age-related memory loss. Reuters reports:
"Our results suggest that increasing social integration may be an important component of efforts to protect older Americans from memory decline," Dr. Lisa F. Berkman from the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston and colleagues conclude in a report in the American Journal of Public Health.

They looked at the impact of social integration on changes in memory over 6 years in 16,638 Americans aged 50 and older enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study. Memory was gauged by immediate and delayed recall of a 10-word list, and social integration was assessed by marital status, volunteer activity, frequency of contact with children, parents, and neighbors.

The average memory score declined from 11.0 in 1998 to 10.0 in 2004, the investigators found.
Healthy social ties are important, Dr. Fuhrman explains in An Emotionally Satisfying Environment is Vital. Here’s a bit:
Humans are complicated creatures, and our minds have powerful effects on healing and wellness. A positive purpose, loving relationships, self-respect, and the power to control our destiny have beneficial effects on our physiological—and ultimately physical—well-being. Few people have the perfect life without any negative stressors, but it makes a difference if you deal with those stressors with hope and action, rather than resignation and passivity.
So, I guess having more ex-girlfriends than fingers and toes wouldn’t be considered cultivating loving relationships. No worries, I’ll just wait for the memory loss to kick in.

Presidential Health Wars: McCain Robust, Obama Excellent

Doctors are describing Senator John McCain’s health as “robust.” The New York Times reports:

Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has kidney stones and takes medication to reduce his cholesterol but otherwise has a strong heart and is in good shape, the doctors said.


“At the present time, Senator McCain enjoys excellent health and displays extraordinary energy,” Mr. McCain’s primary care physician, Dr. John D. Eckstein, told reporters in a conference call arranged by Mr. McCain’s campaign. “While it is impossible to predict any person’s future health, today I can find no medical reason or problems that would preclude Senator McCain from fulfilling all the duties and obligations of president of the United States.”

In addition, Dr. Eckstein said, “We continue to find no evidence of metastasis or recurrence of the invasive melanoma as we approach the eighth anniversary of that operation.”

He concluded that the prognosis for Mr. McCain was “very good” because “the time of greatest risk for recurrence of invasive melanoma is within the first few years after the surgery.”
Others are calling Senator Barack Obama’s health “excellent.” More from The New York Times:


It is the first time Mr. Obama, 46, has publicly released information on his medical history or current health condition. The brief statement summarized the senator’s health for the last 21 years and was signed by Dr. David L. Scheiner , who has been Mr. Obama’s primary care physician for more than two decades.


Mr. Obama’s “family history is pertinent,” according to the doctor, who noted that the senator’s mother died from ovarian cancer and his grandfather died of prostate cancer. Mr. Obama’s smoking history – off and on for at least two decades – also was noted.

“His own history included intermittent cigarette smoking,” Dr. Scheiner wrote in a six-paragraph letter. “He has quit this practice on several occasions and is currently using Nicorette gum with success.”

Dr. Schiener, who is on staff at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Rush University Medical Center, said he last examined Mr. Obama on Jan. 15, 2007 – one day before Mr. Obama created a presidential exploratory committee. He has been Mr. Obama’s doctor since March 23, 1987.
So, what’s better, excellent or robust?

Prostate Cancer vs. FruHis...

According to a new study FruHis, found in dehydrated tomatoes, may have secret powers against prostate cancer. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News explains:
But the study only looked at animals and, the authors warned, FruHis is not ready for the doctor's office or medicine cabinet just yet.

"This study was conducted in a rat model, and you cannot possibly draw any conclusions for people," said study author Valeri Mossine, a research assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Missouri. "That's something we need to do next. But before you enter a study with humans, you have to prove that something works with animals. If it works, then you go on."

Several studies have pointed to a prostate cancer-fighting quality in tomatoes, but the exact mechanisms have been elusive.

In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration laid out evidence or rather, a lack of it, behind a previous statement the agency had issued that tomato consumption is not linked to any reduction in risk of prostate tumors (or ovarian, stomach or pancreatic malignancies).

The November 2005 statement issued by the FDA contended that, "there is no credible evidence to support qualified health claims for lycopene, as a food ingredient, component or food, or as a dietary supplement, and reduced risk of any of the cancers in the petition."
Tomatoes kick butt! Then again, all veggies rock! For more news on vegetables, check out Followhealthlife’s healthy food category.

Depression: Pregnancy and Omega-3's

A new study found treating depressed pregnant women with omega-3 fatty acids helped reduce symptoms. Michelle Rizzo of Reuters reports:
"Perinatal depression is common, and treatment remains challenging," Dr. Kuan-Pin Su, of China Medical University Hospital, Taiwan, and colleagues explain in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

When a pregnant woman needs to be treated for major depression, "the possible risks and benefits of antidepressant medication are considered to have significant impacts on both mother and baby," Su commented to Reuters Health. "Many women and their health care providers prefer the use of non-medication treatments," Su added.

"Depression has been reported to be associated with the abnormality of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)," the team notes in their article. They propose that the requirements of the growing baby lead to "a profound decrease of omega-3 PUFAs in the mother during pregnancy," and this might "precipitate the occurrence of depression."

To see if omega-3 supplements would help, the researchers assigned 36 pregnant women with depression to take 3.4 grams of omega-3 PUFAs or an inactive placebo daily for eight weeks.
Omegas are wonderful nutrients. Not only can they help with mood disorders, but they’re great for your ticker too. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Compared to the American population, those eating this way in the Mediterranean region exhibit a lower risk of heart disease and common cancers. Heart attack rates are 25 percent lower, and the rate of obesity is about half of America’s. The climate and fertile soil allow for many high nutrient plants to grow, which makes most of the dishes rich in phytochemicals. That, in turn, accounts for the diet’s protective effects. Nuts, particularly walnuts, are commonly used in the diet and they are a good source of omega-3 fats and other heart protective nutrients. The use of fish instead of meat also decreases saturated fat consumption and increases these beneficial fats. For these reasons, it is understandable why the Mediterranean diet is considered healthier than the SAD, but it is not without drawbacks. Studying its beneficial health outcomes—along with those of diets in other areas of the world such as Japan, rural China, Fiji, and Tibet— allows us to use the Mediterranean diet’s culinary principals to make a diet deliciously varied and even more disease protective, while avoiding its problems.
Seeds are another awesome source of healthy fats. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Over the last few years, the health benefits of seeds also have become more apparent. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed, hempseeds, chia seeds, or other seeds can supply those hard-to find omega-3 fats that protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.1 Seeds are also rich in lignans, a type of fiber associated with a reduced risk of both breast cancer and prostate cancer. In addition, seeds are a good source of iron, zinc, calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and folate. The plant goes to great effort in producing and protecting its seed, filling each genetic package with high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential oils, and enzymes.
For more on depression and how to treat it without medication, check out: Treating Depression Naturally.
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Food: Tempe, Isn't that a Town in Arizona?

Yes, it is, but tempe is also the latest food craze. Apparently a lot of vegetarians are giving this fermented whole-grain a look. More from Chalmers:
"Tempe is designed for vegetarians, but also for people who want to eat less meat for environmental reasons, for example," says Charlotte Eklund-Jonsson at the Department of Food Science.

"We also had the environment in mind when we chose to base it on barley and oats, which are suitable to cultivate in Sweden and therefore do not require long transports."

Tempe is produced through fermentation with the aid of the micro fungus Rhizopus oligosporus. Tempe fermentation originates from Indonesia, but soybeans are used as the raw material there.

In her work, Charlotte Eklund-Jonsson developed methods to preserve the high fiber content of the cereal grains and at the same time to enhance their content of easily accessible iron. Normally these two considerations work against each other.

The findings show that the uptake of iron doubled after a meal of barley tempe compared with unfermented barley. In other studies both oat and barley tempe moreover produced low blood sugar responses and insulin responses, which is typical of whole-grain products.
Honestly, I don’t know squat about tempe. Now, while I do some research, here are some other sources of tempe’s nutrients. From Dr. Fuhrman:
Many people are not aware that green vegetables are rich in iron and are a complete source of all essential amino acids, too. I would rather get my iron from greens, seeds and beans…


…cantaloupes are another vitamin powerhouse. With only 56 calories a cup, one gets a huge amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene as well as folate, potassium, fiber, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6…

…Raw nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients. They contain lignans, bioflavonoids, minerals, and other antioxidants that protect the fragile freshness of the fats therein; they also contain plant proteins and plant sterols that naturally lower cholesterol. And because nuts and seeds supply certain fibers, phytochemicals, phytosterols, and bioactive nutrients not found in other foods (such as polyphenols and arginine), they have other beneficial effects that prevent blood vessel inflammation.
Since tempe is a grain, I’d do what I do with all my grains—limit them. Take a look:


Have you ever tried tempe?

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!

Pregnancy, Babies, and Fish

If you’re pregnant Dr. Fuhrman suggests avoiding seafood. Why? Mercury contamination. Here, I’ll let him explain:
Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.1 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.2 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous.
And a new study reveals the catch-22 that is seafood. It seems fish can help babies’ cognitive function, but mercury can hurt it. Reuters reports:
"Recommendations for fish consumption during pregnancy should take into account the nutritional benefits of fish as well as the potential harms from mercury exposure," Dr. Emily Oken of Harvard Medical School in Boston and her colleagues write in the May 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Advisories on mercury contamination of certain types of large, long-lived fish -- including tuna and swordfish -- have raised concerns about seafood consumption during pregnancy, Oken and her team note. On the other hand, fish are also the chief dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, substances key to early brain development, they add.

To better understand the risks and benefits of fish consumption, Oken and her team surveyed 341 mothers about their intake of fish during the second trimester of pregnancy, and then had their children complete a battery of tests of cognitive function at 3 years of age.

On average, women reported eating 1.5 servings of fish each week while they were pregnant. The amount of mercury the women had in their red blood cells was directly related to the amount of fish they ate. Children's test scores rose with the amount of fish their mothers had consumed, but those whose mothers had more mercury in their bodies performed less well on the tests.
I think this is one of those better to be safe, than sorry situations—skip the fish.
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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?

Dopey About Heart Attacks...

According to a new study most people don’t know the symptoms of a heart attack. Reuters reports:
Symptoms can include nausea and pain in the jaw, chest or left arm. But the research team said shorter hospital stays and a move to outpatient treatment have decreased the amount of patient education on the subject.

Kathleen Dracup and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing said they looked at 3,522 patients in the United States, Australia and New Zealand who had previously suffered a heart attack or had undergone a procedure, such as angioplasty, for heart disease.

They found that 44 percent of them scored poorly on a true-false test measuring how savvy they were about symptoms.
Here’s an idea. Try not to have one in the first place. Remember, only you can prevent heart attacks.

Wii Fit vs. Obesity

I have to admit, Wii has got me intrigued—I’m not going to buy it—but it is interesting and some people believe Wii Fit could help solve our obesity woes? Anna Boyd of eFluxMedia reports:
For only $89.99, the package includes the Wii Fit software disc and the hefty balance board, which measures the user’s body mass index before setting players on diverse workout routines. This board senses the user’s weight as he steps on it and uses the information to control and synchronize the onscreen games and exercises designed to improve your balance, posture and fitness. And the more you play, the more progress you make and the more games you can unlock.

What could be better for your health than Wii Fit? If you’re the lazy kind of person who doesn’t often go out and exercise with other people, then this is the perfect way to lose weight. The game gives you the chance to look and feel better by exercising in your own bedroom, with other users encouraging you to reach your goals.

It seems like Nintendo has planned it all well, as the game will be more likely to have more women among its players than men. Women seem to be more attentive to their obesity problem and are more willing to lose weight and look and feel better. Wii Fit fits them perfectly as time appears to be one of countless enemies in their effort to lose weight.

In a society where time plays an essential factor and they have to balance a family life with a career, going to fitness clubs and keeping fit is not a top priority for them. Now, the problem is solved, as their bedroom could become the perfect place to keep in shape and healthy. Moreover, they could do that involving their families, which could have significant outcomes in solving problems resulting from obesity.
As a Yoga devotee, I’m not sure Wii Fit can deliver the intangibles of the practice; such as inner peace and developing a sense of community. What do you think?

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.

Back Pain and Vitamin D

Not getting enough vitamin D can be a pain, in the back, for older women. Reuters reports on this new research:
"Given that low vitamin D status is fairly prevalent in older adults and that there are significant functional consequences to untreated chronic pain, these findings argue strongly for querying adults about their pain and potentially screening older women with significant back pain for vitamin D deficiency," Dr. Gregory E. Hicks of the University of Delaware in Newark and his colleagues write.

Among older people, vitamin D deficiency has been tied to a number of health problems, including an increased risk of bone fracture, Hicks and colleagues note in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Lack of the vitamin could also, theoretically, contribute to musculoskeletal pain, they add, although research on vitamin D deficiency and pain syndromes has yielded mixed results.

To investigate the relationship, Hicks and his colleagues looked at blood levels of vitamin D in 958 people 65 and older. Fifty-eight percent of the women in the study, and 27 percent of the men, had at least some moderate pain in at least one region of the body.

For men, there was no relationship between vitamin D levels and pain. Women with vitamin D deficiency, on the other hand, were nearly twice as likely to have back pain that was moderate or worse, but vitamin D status wasn't related to pain in other parts of the body.
No doubt, vitamin D is very important and here’s a great way to get it: A Sunny Cancer-Fighter.

Paint May Harm Male Fertility!

Guys pay attention. A study in BMJ journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine claims that men exposed to glycol ethers—found in some paint—are at risk for poor semen quality. More from The Universities of Sheffield and Manchester:
The findings are a result of a major collaborative UK study to determine the occupational risks of male infertility through chemical exposure in the workplace. The study, undertaken in 14 fertility clinics in 11 cities across the UK, examined the working lives of 2,118 men.

The researchers however did conclude that, apart from glycol ether, there are currently few workplace chemical threats to male fertility.

In additional to chemical exposure, the study looked at other non-chemical factors in the men´s lifestyle. The researchers discovered that men who had undergone previous surgery to the testicles or who undertook manual work were more likely to have low motile sperm counts, whereas men who drank alcohol regularly or wore boxer shorts were more likely to have better semen quality.

Dr. Andy Povey, senior lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Manchester, said: "We know that certain glycol ethers can affect male fertility and the use of these has reduced over the past two decades. However our results suggest that they are still a workplace hazard and that further work is needed to reduce such exposure."
For more news on toxins, check out Followhealthlife’s toxins category.

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.

Vaccines...Safe?

Alice Park of Time digs deeply into the issue of vaccine safety. Here’s a bit:
More than any other issue, the question of autism has fueled the battle over vaccines. Since the 1980s, the number of vaccinations children receive has doubled, and in that same time, autism diagnoses have soared threefold. In 1998, British gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield of London's Royal Free Hospital published a paper in the journal the Lancet in which he reported on a dozen young patients who were suffering from both autism-like developmental disorders and intestinal symptoms that included inflammation, pain and bloating. Eight of the kids began exhibiting signs of autism days after receiving the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella. While Wakefield and his co-authors were careful not to suggest that these cases proved a connection between vaccines and autism, they did imply, provocatively, that exposure to the measles virus could be a contributing factor to the children's autism. Wakefield later went on to speculate that virus from the vaccine led to inflammation in the gut that affected the brain development of the children…

…There is also little evidence to support the claim made by antivaccine activists that the battery of shots kids receive can damage the immune system rather than strengthen it. Experts stress that it's not the number of inoculations that matters but the number of immune-stimulating antigens - or proteins - in them. Thanks to a better understanding of which viral or bacterial proteins are best at activating the immune system, that number has plummeted. The original smallpox injection alone packed 200 different immune-alerting antigens in a single shot. Today there are only 150 antigens in all 15 or so shots babies get before they are 6 months old. "The notion that too many vaccines can overwhelm the immune system is just not based on good science," says Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia…

… Whether tests like these, combined with detailed family histories, will make a difference in the rates of developmental disorders like autism isn't yet clear. But such a strategy could reveal new avenues of research and lead to safer inoculations overall. Parents concerned about vaccine safety would then have stronger answers to their questions about how their child might be affected by the shots. Vaccines may be a medical marvel, but they are only one salvo in our fight against disease-causing bugs. It's worth remembering that viruses and bacteria have had millions of years to perfect their host-finding skills; our abilities to rebuff them are only two centuries old. And in that journey, both parents and public-health officials want the same thing - to protect future generations from harm.
For more on vaccinations, check out last month’s feature post: Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours.

Lower Cholesterol, Lower Prostate Cancer-Risk

Here’s more prostate cancer news. A new study has determined that men who lower their cholesterol cut their risk of prostate cancer. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports:
"Prostate cancer is controlled by the male hormone testosterone. The main molecule that forms testosterone is cholesterol," said Dr. Murugesan Manoharan, an associate professor of urology at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, who was not involved in the study. "So it is known that prostate cancer is related to testosterone, and testosterone is related to cholesterol."

The study's inference is that by lowering cholesterol, you also lower PSA, which in turn may reduce the risk of prostate cancer, Manoharan said. "Obviously this is a very small study and does not confirm anything, but it is a very good start that could lead to something more at a later point," he said.

The results of the study were expected to be presented Wednesday at the American Urological Association annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

For the study, researchers collected data on 1,214 men taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. The researchers found that PSA levels were lower after starting the statins, and the drop in PSA was proportional to the drop in cholesterol.
Too bad the study used statins to lower cholesterol—stupid. Instead, try this: Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally.

Nanotechnology: Cancer-risk

Nanotechnology makes me think of the Borg, but it can be just as scary. New research has determined that carbon nanotubes used in bike parts and bumpers act like asbestos if inhaled. Alan Zarembo of The Los Angeles Times reports:
Researchers found that mice injected with nanotubes quickly developed the same biological damage associated with early exposure to asbestos fibers, a known carcinogen.

The study showed "the potential to cause harm if these things get into the air and into the lungs," said coauthor Andrew Maynard, a physicist at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

Maynard said the nanotubes posed the greatest danger to workers who could inhale the dust-like particles during manufacturing. In finished products, the nanotubes are embedded in other material and thus pose less risk to consumers.

Sean Murdock, head of the NanoBusiness Alliance, an industry trade group based in Skokie, Ill., said precautions were now in place in many factories, usually requiring workers to wear respirators. Nanotubes are largely made in closed chemical reactors, he added.

"The good news is that we're understanding the potential hazards before we have large-scale use of these products and not four decades later," he said.
Nanoparticles are also used in sunscreens and cosmetics, but nanoparticles are something of an unknown. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Although nanotechnology may be the next scientific revolution, experts feel we should proceed with caution when exploiting the unpredictable properties that material exhibit at the nanoscale.


The size of nanoparticles is the concern; being 70 times smaller than a red blood cell and close to a DNA molecule in diameter potentially could allow them to penetrate the skin and possibly even elude the immune system to reach the brain.
Sounds like more research needs to be done before we hand nanotechnology the key to the city, and our bodies.

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.

Prostate Cancer, Radiation, Cancer-Risk

External beam radiation—used in the treatment of prostate cancer—may actually increase men’s chances of developing other cancers. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News is on it:
"We saw an increased risk for lung, bladder and rectal cancer among patients treated with external beam radiation for prostate cancer," lead researcher Dr. Naeem Bhojani, from the University of Montreal's Department of Urology, said during a Monday teleconference at the American Urological Association annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.

"However, in absolute terms, the absolute risk associated with the development of secondary malignancies in patients exposed to external beam radiation therapy is quite small," Bhojani said.

Among the treatments for prostate cancer are surgical removal of the prostate, called radical prostatectomy; implanted radioactive seeds that deliver radiation specifically to the prostate gland; and external beam radiation, which is a non-surgical procedure that delivers radiation to the prostate from outside the body.

Bhojani said external beam radiation is probably a better treatment choice for older patients rather than younger patients with longer life expectancies, who may be at risk for developing these secondary cancers.
Remarkably this is not the first time we’ve seen something like this. Mammograms can also heighten cancer-risk. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Mammography can be the cause of a woman’s breast cancer. When calculating its supposed benefits, we need to include in the equation the percentage of women whose breast cancer was promoted by the radiation exposure from the mammograms themselves. The younger you are when the mammograms are performed, the greater the risk of radiation-induced cancer.1,2
Before choosing any form of cancer-treatment, it’s probably a good idea to explore all your options. Consider this. From Dr. Fuhrman:
Quite a few enlightened physicians and urologists agree with the treatment options I describe in this newsletter. They no longer recommend local treatments (such as radiation and prostate surgery) directed at destroying the prostate. Instead, they have become experts in hormonal blockade. However, my approach goes farther than this because I add a nutritional protocol to prevent and treat cancer, which includes most of my general dietary recommendations for excellent health in general.
For other cancer news, check out Followhealthlife’s cancer category.
Continue Reading...

Is It Okay to Cook Veggies?

The New York Times is looking for the best way to cook vegetables. More from Tara Parker-Pope:

Surprisingly, raw and plain vegetables are not always best. In The British Journal of Nutrition next month, researchers will report a study involving 198 Germans who strictly adhered to a raw food diet, meaning that 95 percent of their total food intake came from raw food. They had normal levels of vitamin A and relatively high levels of beta carotene.

But they fell short when it came to lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes and other red-pigmented vegetables that is one of the most potent antioxidants. Nearly 80 percent of them had plasma lycopene levels below average.

“There is a misperception that raw foods are always going to be better,” says Steven K. Clinton, a nutrition researcher and professor of internal medicine in the medical oncology division at Ohio State University. “For fruits and vegetables, a lot of times a little bit of cooking and a little bit of processing actually can be helpful.”

The amount and type of nutrients that eventually end up in the vegetables are affected by a number of factors before they reach the plate, including where and how they were grown, processed and stored before being bought. Then, it’s up to you. No single cooking or preparation method is best. Water-soluble nutrients like vitamins C and B and a group of nutrients called polyphenolics are often lost in processing. For instance, studies show that after six months, frozen cherries have lost as much as 50 percent of anthocyanins, the healthful compounds found in the pigment of red and blue fruits and vegetables. Fresh spinach loses 64 percent of its vitamin C after cooking. Canned peas and carrots lose 85 percent to 95 percent of their vitamin C, according to data compiled by the University of California, Davis.

Fat-soluble compounds like vitamins A, D, E and K and the antioxidant compounds called carotenoids are less likely to leach out in water. Cooking also breaks down the thick cell walls of plants, releasing the contents for the body to use. That is why processed tomato products have higher lycopene content than fresh tomatoes.

Now, Dr. Fuhrman is sensitive about this subject. We’ve got a whole post on it. Here’s a bit from The Cold Truth About Raw Food Diets:

Cooking can be beneficial.
In many cases, cooking destroys some of the harmful anti-nutrients that bind minerals in the gut and interfere with the utilization of nutrients. Destruction of these anti-nutrients increases absorption. Steaming vegetables and making vegetable soups breaks down cellulose and alters the plants’ cell structures so that fewer of your own enzymes are needed to digest the food, not more. The point is that this “cooked food is dead food” enzyme argument does not hold water. On the other hand, the roasting of nuts and the baking of cereals does reduce availability and absorbability of protein.


Low-temperature cooking.
When food is steamed or made into a soup, the temperature is fixed at 100 degrees Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit—the temperature of boiling water. This moisture-based cooking prevents food from browning and forming toxic compounds. Acrylamides, the most generally recognized of the heat-created toxins, are not formed with boiling or steaming. They are formed only with dry cooking. Most essential nutrients in vegetables are more absorbable after being cooked in a soup, not less absorbable. Recent studies confirm that the body absorbs much more of the beneficial anti-cancer compounds (carotenoids and phytochemicals—especially lutein and lycopene) from cooked vegetables compared with raw. The Institute of Food Research in Norwich reported their recent findings in New Scientist magazine: about 3 to 4 percent of the carotenoids were absorbed from raw carrots compared with about 15 to 20 percent from cooked and mashed carrots. The team also found that we absorb these critical anti-cancer nutrients more effectively from vegetables than we do from supplements.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that the beneficial antioxidant activity of cooked tomatoes is significantly higher than from uncooked tomatoes. Scientists speculate that the increase in absorption of antioxidants after cooking may be attributed to the destruction of the cell matrix (connective bands) to which the valuable compounds are bound.

Good, because if I go a few days without steamed broccoli, I get the shakes—GIVE ME MY BROCCOLI!

Flu Bugs, Gaining Resistance

New studies have determined that strains of the flu virus are evolving to resist the effects of antiviral drugs. Maggie Fox of Reuters is on it:
The resistance also varies by strain, with a quarter of H1N1 flu viruses resistant in Europe and about 11 percent of H1N1 in the United States, but far fewer cases of H3N2 and influenza B viruses.

Their findings show that flu viruses -- already known to mutate speedily -- may be even more unpredictable than anyone thought.

Experts fear drugs may become quickly useless to fight an unusually severe flu season or the emergence of a new strain of flu that may cause a pandemic. They have been stressing the need to develop new flu drugs and also quicker and better ways to make vaccines.

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been collecting samples of the annual flu viruses to check them against the four available flu drugs: amantadine and rimantadine, and the newer drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.
Who’s to blame? No doubt unhealthy populations don’t help the problem, but pharmaceutical companies are guilty too. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Drug companies are a big part of this problem. They promote the use of their products through widespread advertising and the practice of giving free samples of the more potent, broad-spectrum antibiotics to doctors. The more widely these newer (and often ten times more expensive) antibiotics are used, the greater the chances that the bacteria will develop resistance.
Besides, drugs like Tamiflu aren’t the super drugs people perceive them to be. More from Fuhrman:
A drawback to Tamiflu and the others is that it takes time to diagnose the flu and by the time one gets to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis, you have passed the window in which the medications are effective. Hundreds of thousands of doses of Tamiflu will be prescribed and in more than 90 percent of instances, it will be used after the period when it has any potential to help. People will be increasing their risk of medication-caused side effect, without any potential benefit.
Personally, I think increasingly unhealthy populations do a lot to fuel the severity of major flu epidemics. Dr. Fuhrman again:
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.
For more flu news, check out Followhealthlife’s Cold & Flu category.

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:

Toxins: Flame Retardants and Garden Hoses

Some experts believe PBDE’s—found in flame retardant furniture and other products—are harmful to human health. CBS News reports:

"I am concerned about developing children, concerned about exposure before you are born," said Linda Birnbaum, a senior toxicologist at the EPA. She is concerned because PBDEs cause the kind of health effects in young animals that are warning signs for infant humans.


"They can affect the developing brain and they can affect the developing reproductive system," she said. "There is very limited evidence whether or not they can cause cancer."

"This is concentrating in human beings, just like PCBs," said Maine state toxicologist Deborah Rice, a former EPA scientist.

She once studied PCBs, toxic chemicals banned in the 1970s. She now compares them to the chemical Deca, the one PBDE still produced in America.
And The Center for Environmental Health claims the garden hoses—in the nozzle and hose—may contain lead. More from Julie’s Health Club:

Judy Gajewski, 65, was shocked after she read the packaging of her new garden hose nozzle: "Wash hands after use" it instructed, due to the possibility that it might leach lead.


Gajewski promptly returned the nozzle to the hardware store. With seven grandchildren who love to drink from hoses and play in the water spray in the summer, Gajewski didn't want to take any chances.

Unfortunately, lead in garden hoses is not a new problem.

In 2004, a lawsuit brought by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) that charged hoses containing lead were a potential hazard was settled in California.

"Lead leaching into hose water can come from the vinyl (PVC) material used to make hose or from brass nozzles on hoses, according to CEH. "In producing PVC, lead is often added as a stabilizer. In sunshine, lead in hose water is a particular concern, as heat can cause hoses to leach even higher levels of lead.
So you can’t even use the hose to put out the fire! Good grief.

Ticker Troubles...

New research has determined that erectile dysfunction is a huge warning sign for heart trouble in men with type-2 diabetes. More from the UPI:
Peter Chun-Yip Tong of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, in Hong Kong says diabetes, erectile dysfunction and heart disease share an ominous link: damage to the blood vessels by high blood sugar levels.

The same process that hinders the extra blood flow needed to maintain an erection can have even more serious consequences in the heart, the researchers say.

"The development of erectile dysfunction should alert both patients and healthcare providers to the future risk of coronary heart disease," Tong says in a statement. "Other risk factors such as poor blood glucose control, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking and obesity should be reviewed and addressed aggressively."
Also, sleep apnea has been found to increase the risk of heart problems when flying. Anna Boyd of eFluxMedia reports:
Lead author Leigh Seccombe, MSc, of Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney and colleagues investigated the physiological response of 22 patients with severe OSA and without lung disease, to a simulation of an aircraft cabin and compared the results to that of 10 healthy subjects.


More exactly, the researchers looked at the participants’ ventilatory response and at the amount of oxygen circulating in their bloodstream during the simulation.

The study found that people with OSA had lower levels of oxygen in their blood before and during the simulated flight. Also, these people experienced higher heart rates, physiological stress and demand for oxygen than healthy people.

"Patients with OSA, without lung disease, are more likely to develop significant hypoxemia [low blood oxygen] and have increased oxygen demands during flight,” the study concluded.
You don’t need me to tell you, but you’ve got to keep your heart in tiptop shape. Here, I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman remind you:
What good is living longer if we can’t enjoy emotional and physical wellness and a full life? Applied to its fullest potential, high-nutrient eating can be the most effective therapy to reverse diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It is the powerful medicine to get you well and keep you well in later life. Achieving good health through healthful living is your most important investment and it will pay you back with tremendous interest in your later years.
I wonder if my heart gets happy when I pound a bag of baby spinach.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Food!

Diet Blog introduces the newest super food sensation, chia seeds. Yes, the stuff you smear on a Chia Pet. More from Crabby McSlacker:
According to an article about Chia seeds in the San Jose Mercury News, these formerly obscure seeds are getting quite a bit more popular, especially after being endorsed by "Dr. Oz" from the Oprah Winfrey show. Online orders are suddenly booming and health food chains are starting to carry them too.

They come from a plant relative of the mint called salvia hispanica, and the Aztecs used to eat them. Apparently the seeds were known for increasing endurance--useful whether you're an Aztec warrior or a mother with three kids…

…So with some trepidation I swallowed a spoonful of them and...

They kind of taste like nothing.

On the plus side, this makes them easy to sprinkle into other foods. You can make them into muffins or even drink them. On the other hand, they're not a snack you'd look forward to like some other healthy fats--say peanut butter or avocados.
I’ve never considered eating my Chia Pet, have you?

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!

Stress and Pregnancy, Asthma and Allergies--Linked

New research contends that stressed out expectant mothers increase their baby’s likelihood of developing asthma or allergies later in life. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News explains:
Babies born to mothers experiencing high levels of stress had more IgE in their blood at birth than did babies born to less-stressed moms. IgE is an antibody involved in allergic and asthmatic reactions.

"Moms who had elevated levels of stress had children who seemed to be more reactive to allergens, even when exposed to low levels of allergens," said study co-author Dr. Rosalind Wright, an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Wright's colleague, and another author of the study, Junenette Peters, said that stress may make women more susceptible to allergens because it "may make the cells more permeable" so that even low levels of exposure trigger a reaction. And, women whose immune systems are altered by stress may, in turn, pass down that trait to their infants.

Peters, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, was to present the findings Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference, in Toronto.

The study, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, included 315 expectant mothers and their infants. All of the mothers lived in an urban environment.
Stressed and pregnant! How do you ladies do it? You all need to relax. Hey, maybe this will help. Check it out:


Keep breathing...

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
Artichokes
Radishes
Broccoli
Red chicory
Leeks
7 Stellar Seasonings
Sage
Rosemary
Marjoram
Thyme
Tarragon
Cumin
Fresh ginger
Garlic
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.

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?

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...

Music Soothes the Savage Blood Pressure

New research has determined that listening to certain types of music— classical, Celtic, or Indian—actually helps improve blood pressure. More from WebMD:
The patients were assigned to listen to the CD for 30 minutes per day for a month and to breathe slowly while listening to the music, taking twice as long to exhale as to inhale. At the end of the month, the patients wore the blood pressure monitor again.

The patients' blood pressure improved during the study. When the experiment ended, their average systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) had dropped three points, and their average diastolic blood pressure (the second number in a blood pressure reading) had dropped four points.

For comparison, 20 other patients didn't listen to music or practice slow breathing. Their blood pressure didn't change during the study.

It's not clear what mattered more, the music or the slow breathing. "The antihypertensive effects [have] to be considered as the result of the combination of music and breathing exercises," Professor Pietro A. Modesti, MD, PhD, of Italy's University of Florence notes.
I’ve been a music buff all my life. My apartment is stacked with CDs and speaking of Indian music. I love this little ditty—hope you enjoy it too:



Lately when the Yankees are losing I’ll put that on to keep me from throwing the television out the window.

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!

Obesity and Psychiatric Disorders

The risk of psychiatric disorders is being linked with obesity. Amy Norton of Reuters reports:
Obesity is a well known risk factor for certain physical health problems, but a new study suggests that heavy adults also have higher rates of psychiatric disorders.

Using data from a national health survey of more than 40,000 Americans, researchers found that obese adults were up to twice as likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions as normal-weight adults.

In addition, even moderately overweight people had elevated rates of anxiety disorders, the study found.

Whether excess pounds somehow lead to mental health problems is not clear, according to the researchers. But the findings do indicate that a range of psychiatric disorders are more common among overweight people.

They also suggest that briefly screening obese patients for such conditions could be useful, lead researcher Dr. Nancy M. Petry told Reuters Health.
For more obesity news, check out Followhealthlife’s obesity category.

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...

America Hopped Up on Prescription Drugs

A new report claims more than half of Americans are taking some sort of prescription medication; mostly for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. More from the Associated Press:
Experts say the data reflect not just worsening public health but better medicines for chronic conditions and more aggressive treatment by doctors. For example, more people are now taking blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medicines because they need them, said Dr. Daniel W. Jones, president of the American Heart Association.

In addition, there is the pharmaceutical industry's relentless advertising. With those factors unlikely to change, doctors say the proportion of Americans on chronic medications can only grow.

"Unless we do things to change the way we're managing health in this country ... things will get worse instead of getting better," predicted Jones, a heart specialist and dean of the University of Mississippi's medical school.

Americans buy much more medicine per person than any other country. But it was unclear how their prescriptions compare to those of insured people elsewhere. Comparable data were not available for Europe, for instance.
Americans love magic pills. Kind of agrees with yesterday’s post, Have a Healthy Heart!

Exercise Helps Ward Off Breast Cancer

According to new research girls who start exercising at a young age protect themselves against breast cancer later in life. The Associated Press is on it:
Middle-aged women have long been advised to get active to lower their risk of breast cancer after menopause.

What's new: That starting so young pays off, too.

"This really points to the benefit of sustained physical activity from adolescence through the adult years, to get the maximum benefit," said Dr. Graham Colditz of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the study's lead author.

Researchers tracked nearly 65,000 nurses ages 24 to 42 who enrolled in a major health study. They answered detailed questionnaires about their physical activity dating back to age 12. Within six years of enrolling, 550 were found to have breast cancer before menopause. A quarter of all breast cancer is diagnosed at these younger ages, when it is typically more aggressive.
Maybe if you’re a mother or father of a young girl the two of you could get out and exercise together!

Chemicals, Pregnancy, Obesity...

A new study claims exposure to certain chemicals—like Bisphenol A (BPA) and perfluorooctanoic acid—while pregnant, increases a baby’s chance of becoming obese. Michael Kahn of Reuters reports:
"We are talking about an exposure at very low levels for a finite time during development," said Jerry Heindel of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"The fact that it is such a sensitive period, it may be altering the tissue and making people more susceptible to obesity."

The World Health Organization estimates some 400 million people are obese, a problem that raises the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease…

…One of the chemicals is called Bisphenol A, found in polycarbonate plastics. Past research has suggested it leaches from plastic food and drink containers.

A team at Tufts University in the United States showed that female mice whose mothers were exposed to this chemical early in pregnancy gained more weight in adulthood even though they ate the same amount of food and were as active as other mice.

A similar effect occurred with perfluorooctanoic acid -- a greaseproofing agent used in products such as microwave popcorn bags. These animals were unusually small at birth then became overweight later in life.
This kind of news is all too common. Just look at the potential risks for being exposed to polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs). Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The EPA explained that these compounds persist in the environment and build up in the bodies of farm animals that eat contaminated feed or grass. While many of these toxic chemical compounds are resistant to degradation in the natural environment, they dissolve readily in oil and thus accumulate in the fatty tissues of fish, birds, and mammals. Humans are exposed predominately by eating contaminated animal products. Every time an animal is exposed to a tiny bit of these toxic chemicals, it remains in the animal's body for life, only released when the animal is eaten by humans, through fatty animal products such as meat, cheese, and full-fat milk.1 Animal products tested to be exceptionally high in these harmful compounds are catfish, lobster, mollusks, cheese, butter, and ice cream.2


Unborn children and breast feeding infants are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of these chemicals. These chemicals are linked to a broad range of diseases, including behavioral disorders, thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis, and cancer.3 Since these chemicals are stored in the fatty tissues of animals and in our fat stores too (because we are animals as well), a woman has to begin eating more carefully before she gets pregnant to prevent harmful exposure to the developing fetus.
Scary, thank goodness men can’t get pregnant—EEK! 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.

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 AllergyKids.com—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...

Doctors Missing Blood Pressure...

According to a new study both doctors and patients are dropping the ball when it comes to blood pressure. Kevin McKeever of HealthDay News explains:
"Doctors should be screening more routinely during all office visits," study co-author Dr. Randall Stafford, an associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said in a prepared statement. "Dual medication treatment should be seen as standard therapy, and intensive lifestyle changes should be encouraged."

The study analyzed data from a federal 2003-04 survey of services performed in offices of private U.S. physicians. It noted such details as whether the blood pressure cuff was brought out, whether appropriate medications were prescribed, and whether treatment achieved its goal.

High blood pressure affects more than 65 million people in the United States and is one of the most important and preventable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, strokes and kidney disease. High blood pressure, often called "the silent killer," can damage one's body for years before actual symptoms develop.

This lack of symptoms may be a major reason for poor quality of care, researchers said.

"This is a problem that spans much of preventive medicine," Stafford said. "The treatment itself doesn't make patients feel better. If somebody has asthma, they know that if they stop taking medication, they're going to start wheezing. With blood pressure medicines, patients don't feel any different."
And here are a few more posts about blood pressure. Take a look:

Breast-Feeding May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

New research suggests that breast-fed infants may have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Reuters reports:
"However, we did not observe this reduction when we looked specifically among first-born women," said Nichols, of the University of Wisconsin, in Madison.

A woman's age at childbirth helps predict the levels of environmental contaminants in her breast milk, and studies have suggested a possible link between increased breast cancer risk and the accumulation of these contaminants, Nichols and colleagues note in the medical journal Epidemiology…

...However, in analyses restricted to breast-fed women, those with 3 or more older siblings had a lesser risk for breast cancer than first born women, the researchers found. But breast-fed women showed no altered breast cancer risk according to their mothers' age at childbirth.

Among women who were not breast-fed, reduced adult breast cancer risk was linked with their mothers' older age at childbirth, but the investigators identified no association between breast cancer risk and birth order in this group.
For more breast-feeding news, check out Followhealthlife’s healthy parenting category.

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?

Working Out, Bring the Intensity!

I’m an exercise junky and when I go, I go hard! And That’s Fit reminds us that when you exercise, it’s all about intensity, intensity, intensity! Take a look:
Statistics show that 90-95 percent of overweight people who lose weight will regain it all (and in some cases, even more) within five years.

So, what's a person to do to stay slim? Work out harder, say researchers from Brown University. This may seem like a no-brainer at first, but what their study found was that duration during exercise does not matter as much as intensity when it comes to maintaining weight loss over time.

The good news is that you won't have to spend as long in the gym; the data shows that around 25 minutes per day is perfect. The bad news is that you won't be spending long, leisurely walks while reading a book on the treadmill anymore, because you're going to have to kick your workout into high gear.
I agree. At my gym I see so many people reading a book and lazily peddling along on an exercise bike and after months of doing this, they still look out of shape.

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.)

Nitrates Help Ulcers

A new study has determined that fruit and vegetable nitrates offer protection against gastric ulcers. More from EMaxHealth:
"Nitrates in food have long been erroneously linked to an increased risk of cancer," says Joel Petersson of Uppsala University's Department of Medical Cell Biology.

He instead thinks that nitrate-rich vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, radishes and beetroot have a positive affect on the stomach by activating the mucous membranes' own protective mechanisms, thus reducing the risk of problems such as gastric ulcers.

In the body the blood circulation transports nitrates to the salivary glands, where they are concentrated. When we have eaten nitrate-rich food our saliva thus contains large amounts of nitrates, which the bacteria of the oral cavity partially convert into nitrites. When we swallow the nitrites they come into contact with acid gastric juice, and are then converted into the biologically active substance nitric oxide. This results in our developing high levels of nitric oxide in the stomach after eating vegetables.
Spinach, lettuce—cruciferous vegetables rock! Here Dr. Fuhrman explains why, take a look:
Scientific research has shown a strong positive association between the consumption of green vegetables and a reduction of all the leading causes of death in humans.1 Cruciferous vegetables—in particular broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, bok choy, collards, watercress, and arugula, to name a few—are loaded with disease-protecting micronutrients and powerful compounds that promote detoxification.
I’ve got a big grin on my face. I regularly down bags of baby spinach.
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Too Much Sleep, Too Little Sleep...

According to the CDC either lack of sleep or oversleeping is linked to illness. Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press reports:
The research adds weight to a stream of studies that have found obesity and other health problems in those who don't get proper shuteye, said Dr. Ron Kramer, a Colorado physician and a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"The data is all coming together that short sleepers and long sleepers don't do so well," Kramer said.

The study is based on door-to-door surveys of 87,000 U.S. adults from 2004 through 2006 conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

…Results were similar, though a bit less dramatic, for obesity: About 33 percent of those who slept less than six hours were obese, and 26 percent for those who got nine or more. Normal sleepers were the thinnest group, with obesity at 22 percent.

For alcohol use, those who slept the least were the biggest drinkers. However, alcohol use for those who slept seven to eight hours and those who slept nine hours or more was similar.

In another measure, nearly half of those who slept nine hours or more each night were physically inactive in their leisure time, which was worse even than the lightest sleepers and the proper sleepers. Many of those who sleep nine hours or more may have serious health problems that make exercise difficult.
Well, I guess set your alarm, but not TOO early!

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!

Breastfeeding Makes You Smart...

Researchers claim that breastfeeding helps boost IQ. More from BBC News:
The latest study attempted to take this into account by following the progress of children born in hospitals in Belarus, some of which ran breastfeeding promotion schemes to boost rates across all groups.

They found that those who breastfed exclusively for the first three months - with many also continuing to 12 months - scored an average of 5.9 points higher on IQ tests in childhood.

Teachers also rated these children significantly higher academically than control children in both reading and writing, the Archives of General Psychiatry reported.

Lead researcher Professor Michael Kramer said: "Long-term, exclusive breastfeeding appears to improve children's cognitive development."

But he added: "Even though the treatment difference appears causal, it remains unclear whether the observed cognitive benefits of breastfeeding are due to some constituents of breast milk or are related to the physical and social interactions inherent in breastfeeding."
Breastfeeding has been in the news a lot lately. Here’s a quick recap:
Hey, it’s an important topic. Dr. Fuhrman is a big advocate of breastfeeding:
DHA is also a normal component of breast milk, and infants fed breast milk score higher on intellectual and visual measurements than those fed baby formulas lacking DHA. Children who were breast-fed, as a group, have higher IQ scores than those who were formula fed.1 Pregnant women should pay close attention to their DHA status to ensure proper DHA supply for prenatal development. Maternal supplementation with DHA during pregnancy, and lactation has been demonstrated to augment children's IQ.2
I guess I’m suffering DHA withdrawals because I’m feeling a little dopey today.
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Obesity Ups Heart Risks

New research has determined that obesity-related inflammation increases heart failure risk. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
"The biological effects of obesity on the heart are profound. Even if obese people feel otherwise healthy, there are measurable and early chemical signs of damage to their heart, beyond the well-known implications for diabetes and high blood pressure," senior study investigator Dr. Joao Lima, a professor of medicine and radiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute, said in a prepared statement.

There is "now even more reason for (obese people) to lose weight, increase their physical activity and improve their eating habits," Lima said.

He and his colleagues tracked the development of heart failure in an ethnically diverse group of nearly 7,000 people, ages 45 to 84, who enrolled in the MESA study, starting in 2000. Of the 79 participants who've developed congestive heart failure so far, 35 (44 percent) were physically obese (body mass index of 30 or greater).

On average, obese participants were found to have higher blood levels of key immune system proteins involved in inflammation (interleukin 6, C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen) than non-obese participants. A near doubling of average interleukin 6 levels alone was associated with an 84 percent increased risk of heart failure.
So then, what’s a good way to avoid obesity and heart disease? Here’s a hint. It has something to do with diet. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Reducing the consumption of animal foods reduces the consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat. Low intake of cholesterol and saturated fat leads to a leaner body, clean arteries, and reducing risk of developing heart disease and many other diet-related diseases such as stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity.
Of course you should also exercise, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, get plenty of sleep, build strong social bounds, etc, etc…

Elderly, Depression, Vitamin D...

What’s a great way to get vitamin D? The sun! Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Sun exposure is perhaps the most important source of vitamin D because exposure to sunlight provides most humans with their vitamin D requirement. The further you live from the equator, the longer you need to be exposed to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that your body makes after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Vitamin D functions as a hormone because it sends a message to the intestines to increase the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
Now, lack of vitamin D is being linked to depression in the elderly. The AFP reports:
"Underlying causes of vitamin D deficiency such as less sun exposure as a result of decreased outdoor activity, different housing or clothing habits and decreased vitamin intake may be secondary to depression, but depression may also be the consequence of poor vitamin D levels," the study, released Monday, said.

Researchers from Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, studied some 1,282 senior citizens aged between 65 and 95, and found 26 had major depression, while 169 suffered from minor depression.

Vitamin D levels were 14 percent lower in those elderly suffering from some kind of depression, according to the study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

It found that poor vitamin D status also led to an increase in levels of a hormone secreted by the parathyroid. Overactive parathyroid glands are frequently associated with depression.
I’m no doctor, but some extra sun exposure couldn’t hurt—right?

Reduce Asthma, Delay DPT Vaccination...

“DPT vaccine given at the recommended times, doubles the risk of childhood asthma,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. And now, a new study claims delaying DPT may reduce the incidence of childhood asthma. Via Medscape:
The investigators analyzed data from the complete immunization and healthcare records of a cohort of children born in Manitoba in 1995, from birth until age 7 years. Using multivariable logistic regression, they computed the adjusted odds ratio for asthma at age 7 years according to the timing of DPT immunization.

Among 11,531 children who received at least 4 doses of DPT, the risk for asthma was halved in children in whom administration of the first dose of DPT was delayed by more than 2 months. For children with delays in administration of all 3 doses, the likelihood of asthma was 0.39 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.18 - 0.86).

"We found a negative association between delay in administration of the first dose of whole-cell DPT immunization in childhood and the development of asthma; the association was greater with delays in all of the first 3 doses," the study authors write. "The mechanism for this phenomenon requires further research."
For more on vaccinations check out April’s feature post: Mandatory Vaccinations: The Choice Should Be Yours.

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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EPA vs. Nanosilver and Lead

Nanosilver sounds like a superhero to me, but apparently its deadly and the EPA wants to halt its sale. Rick Weiss of The Washington Post reports:
More than 200 products - including odor-resistant socks, baby bottles and clothes-washing machines - are today laced with specks of nanosilver, part of a larger nanotechnology revolution fueled by the fact that substances gain novel chemical properties when they are honed to a few billionths of a meter.

But nanosilver's deadly effects are not specific to harmful bacteria. Studies indicate it can harm aquatic organisms. And with the exception of one narrowly crafted regulatory rule that focuses on washing machines, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has not addressed the potential risks of this new form of pollution, said George Kimbrell, staff attorney with the Washington-based International Center for Technology Assessment, which is spearheading the petition effort.

"EPA must stop avoiding this problem and use its regulatory authority to fulfill its statutory duties," Kimbrell said in a statement, adding in an interview that nanosilver is used in some stuffed animals and children's clothing.

The petition asks the agency to stop the sale of products containing nanosilver and regulate the chemical as a pesticide, which would require toxicity studies and risk assessments to measure environmental and human health impacts.
The EPA is really fired up. They've recently proposed new limits on lead in the air. Matthew L. Wald of The New York Times is on it:
Air, however, is no longer the most common source of major exposure to lead, which can cause I.Q. loss, kidney damage and other serious health problems. In most places, water and lead paint are more troublesome sources.


Lead emissions in the air have dropped by more than 97 percent in the last three decades, because the United States banned lead as an additive in gasoline. That step was taken to allow cars to have catalytic converters, which cut the ingredients of smog, and reduced lead in the air as a side benefit.

Still, high lead concentrations exist in scattered places with iron and steel foundries, copper smelters, mining operations, waste incinerators and concrete plants, according to Lydia Wegman, an expert at the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards. In addition, she said, gasoline with lead is still used in small airplanes.

Depending on the level at which the new standard is set, officials can identify two dozen counties that would be out of compliance. But they cannot be certain how many other counties may fail because the network of monitoring stations has been cut back.
We live in a toxic world; from the air, water, and soil to the food we eat and products we buy. For more, check out Followhealthlife’s Toxins category.

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?

Health: Man Worries

A lot of attention gets paid to women’s health, but guys have plenty of hang-ups too. Some of dudes won’t even go to the doctor. Chris Sparling of That’s Fit tells us why:
A 2007 survey, conducted for the American Academy of Family Physicians, revealed what some guys' reasons are for not seeing a doctor. This is where I'd like to insert some fancy pie chart, but since I can't, I'll stick to bullet points.
  • 36% of men only go to the doctor when they are extremely sick
  • 23% of men say they are healthy and don't need to see a doctor
  • 11% of men say lack of insurance prevents them from seeing a doctor
  • 8% of men say they don't like doctors
  • 7% of men don't go to the doctor because they are afraid of finding out that something is wrong with them
Look guys, if you're not feeling well, go see a doctor. Even if you're feeling fine, and it's simply time you had an annual check-up, go see the damn doctor, will you? If your car is making a strange rattling noise or even driving the slightest bit off, you'd have it looked at, wouldn't you? Afford your body the same respect and care.
And that’s not all. A lot of guys have a warped sense of body image. Mike Howard of Diet Blog explains:
Dr. David Giles surveyed 161 men aged between 18 and 36, and found that those who regularly read the magazines were more likely to be influenced by the imagery within.

A more pressing concern, according to Giles, is the steps a young man might take to look "the part". This may include obsessive exercise and/or the use of anabolic steroids.

He goes on to say: "The message in typical lads' magazines is that you need to develop a muscular physique in order to attract a quality mate. Readers internalize this message, which creates anxieties about their actual bodies and leads to increasingly desperate attempts to modify them."

Professor Naomi Fineberg, a consultant psychiatrist cautions that "we can't say for sure whether these magazines might be causing it, but it's very persuasive that cultural factors are important."
Let this be a lesson to you ladies. Men are just as crazy as you are—commence scowling now.

Weed-Killer and Brain Cancer, Linked

According to a new study people who work around weed-killers have a higher risk of developing brain cancer. More from Reuters:
Researchers found that among more than 1,400 U.S. adults with and without brain cancer, there was no overall link between the disease and on-the-job exposure to pesticides or herbicides -- chemicals used to kill plants, usually weeds.

However, a closer look at the data showed that women who had ever been exposed to herbicides at work had a two-fold higher risk of meningioma than women with no such exposure.

Meningiomas are slow-growing tumors that arise in the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. They are one of the most common forms of brain tumor, and occur most frequently in middle-aged women.

A few studies, but not all, have linked both farming and heavy pesticide exposure to a higher risk of brain cancer.
This is no secret. I first learned about it in Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child. Here’s an excerpt:
Studies of farm workers who work with pesticides suggest a link between pesticide use and brain cancer, Parkinson's disease, multiple myloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cancers of the stomach, prostate, and testes.1
Makes you want to shake the people that manufacture these chemicals.
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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.

Asthma and Obesity Don't Mix

A new study has determined that asthma attacks are worsened by obesity. More from Reuters:
A BMI is the ratio between height and weight, and is used to classify people as underweight, overweight or normal weight.

"The greater dynamic hyperinflation means that obese individuals lose the ability to inhale as deeply or exhale as fully as normal weight individuals," Dr. D. Robin Taylor explains in an American Thoracic Society statement.

Taylor's team at the University of Otago in Dunedin studied the changes in airway expansion and lung volume that occur with acute constriction of the bronchial tubes in a group of 30 adult women with asthma. Ten women each were classified as normal weight, overweight, or obese, and lung volumes were measured.

The degree of bronchial constriction following the airway sensitivity test did not vary by group, the team reports in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. The only significant difference among the subjects was a decrease in vital capacity that significantly corresponded with increasing BMI.
“The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2030 all adults in the United States will be obese,” warns Dr. Fuhrman.

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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Many New Moms Breastfeed

According to a new report 77 percent of new mothers breastfeed. Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press has more:
Experts attributed the rise to education campaigns that emphasize that breast milk is better than formula at protecting babies against disease and childhood obesity. A changing culture that accommodates nursing mothers may also be a factor.

The percentage of black infants who were ever breast-fed rose most dramatically, to 65 percent. Only 36 percent were ever breast-fed in 1993-1994, the new study found.

For whites, the figure rose to 79 percent, from 62 percent. For Mexican-Americans, it increased to 80 percent, from 67 percent.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher celebrated the report's findings, noting that black women have historically had lower breast-feeding rates.

"It was very impressive that when it comes to beginning to breast-feed, African-American women have had the greatest progress," said Satcher, who is now an administrator at Atlanta's Morehouse School of Medicine.
“Even after food is introduced, continued breast-feeding is important and necessary past the first birthday for maximum disease resistance, immune function, and brain development,” explains Dr. Fuhrman.