Salmonella, Tomatoes Really to Blame?

Federal investigators are looking into other sources of the salmonella-tomato outbreak. CNN reports:
"Produce investigations are very difficult, because a lot of times, vegetables are eaten all together," said Dr. Patricia Griffin, chief of the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. That makes it hard to trace back any one item to a source of contamination, she added. "We continue to keep an open mind about the possible source of this outbreak, as does FDA."

Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration, agreed. "There is a strong epidemiological association with tomatoes," but the agency is also "looking into other ingredients," he said.

The scare has prompted grocery chains nationwide to pull tomatoes from their shelves and some restaurants to stop offering them as ingredients.
Good thing, because the number of victims might surpass 800 and bad tomatoes are still being sold.

Loaded with Trans-Fat...

That’sFit passes along a list of the trans-fattiest foods. Take a look:
  • Cake mixes
  • Cereal and energy bars
  • Chips and crackers
  • Dried soups
  • Fast food
  • Frozen entrées
  • Margarine
  • Nondairy creamers and whipped topping
  • Packaged cookies and candy
  • Packaged doughnuts, pies, and cakes
Good news for me. I don’t eat any of this junk! Do you? I hope not.

Oprah Ends Vegan Stint

After only eating veggies from her garden for three weeks, Oprah Winfrey says, “I will forever be a more cautious and conscious eater.” Access Hollywood reports:
The media mogul just concluded a 21-day vegan cleansing process based on Kathy Freston’s book, “Quantum Wellness,” which counsels the avoidance of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten or animal products.

Changing her usual diet proved to be an educational process for Winfrey, who took to her blog to share her experience.

“Tomorrow is another day. That’s my mantra for now,” she wrote on her last day, when she ate a large baked potato and green salad for dinner.

Minus some olive oil, Oprah noted all of the ingredients were grown in her garden.

“I was raised by a grandmother who grew and harvested everything,” she wrote.
I’ve been cautious about Oprah’s diet change. Before I get too excited about it, I want to see if she stays healthy.

Omega-3: Really Good for Girls...

According to new research omega-3 fatty acids are twice as important for girls than boys. More from the NewScientist:
Parents of daughters, listen up. Eating enough omega-3 fatty acids is twice as important for boosting the brainpower of girls than it is for boys.

Several studies have upheld the link between intelligence and higher consumption of omega-3 fats, especially those found in fatty fishes such as salmon. William Lassek at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and Steve Gaulin at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wondered whether this effect might be even stronger in girls because women not only use omega-3 fats to build their brains, they also store them on their hips and thighs in preparation for nurturing the brains of their future babies. "The lower body fat is like a bank into which deposits are made during childhood and only withdrawn during pregnancy and nursing," says Lassek.
For more info on omega-3’s, check out Followhealthlife’s healthy foods category.

Candy Linked to Recession?

Slashfood relays a claim that the increase in the sale of candy is sign of the recession. Take a look:
Why am I spending more money on candy when I am economizing on just about everything else?
It's psychological. Consumer Analysts at the Nielsen Co. explain that the candy business is "recession-proof." Besides having the feel-good factor, candy is easily accessible and cheap. Since people are reducing their shopping trips further from home to save gas, they are ending up at drug stores where there's lots of candy. Chocolate bars are probably one of the cheapest foods that seems to fulfill your appetite and simultaneously put a smile on your face. In fact, during the Great Depression, nickel chocolate bars practically served as meals.
I don’t know about candy, but I’m buying a lot of marked down produce. on Good Morning America

Followhealthlife's buddy Robyn O’Brien, founder of, was recently featured on Good Morning America. Take a look:

And from the GMA report:
“I had made scrambled eggs and put them in front of all four kids and decided to put them in front of the baby," the 36-year-old said. "I put them on her highchair and she didn't want them, fussed and pushed them away. And I didn't think anything of it."

But 9-month-old Tory's aversion to the breakfast staple had little to do with taste, as O'Brien soon found out.

"I put her down for a nap. A few minutes later and there was some mother instinct in me because I went in to check on her for some reason, which I rarely do, and her face was swollen shut," O'Brien said.

A life-threatening reaction to eggs caused grotesque swelling of the infant's face and instantly shook O'Brien to her core. She said her daughter's severe response prompted her to take a closer look at what she was feeding all of her children and to educate herself on food allergies.
No doubt, Robyn’s a Followhealthlife celebrity. Check out these posts:
Rock on Robyn, rock on!

Tainted Tomatoes, 700 Victims

Wow, I thought 500 people was a big deal, but according to a new report, the salmonella tomatoes have sickened more than 700 people. From NewsInferno:
According to the CDC, 707 cases of Salmonella St. Paul have been reported in the US between mid-April and June 13, 2008. Texas has had been the hardest hit state, with 293 illnesses reported. Other states affected by the outbreak include Arkansas (7 persons), Arizona (36), California (10), Colorado (5), Connecticut (4), Florida (1), Georgia (15), Idaho (3), Illinois (63), Indiana (11), Kansas (11), Kentucky (1), Maryland (25), Massachusetts (17), Michigan (4), Missouri (12), New Hampshire (1), Nevada (4), New Jersey (4), New Mexico (80), New York (18), North Carolina (5), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (17), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (6), Rhode Island (3), Tennessee (6), Utah (2), Virginia (22), Vermont (1), Washington (5), Wisconsin (6), and the District of Columbia (1).

At least 76 people have been hospitalized, and the CDC says that Salmonella may have also contributed to the death of a Texas cancer patient.

Salmonella is a potentially deadly type of food poisoning, symptoms of which include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days. In very severe cases, Salmonella can lead to kidney failure and other complications. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that causes severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. Reiter’s Syndrome can plague its victims for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis.
I’m getting tired of talking about it, but 700 people! Scary.

Metabolic Syndrome Seen in Obese Children

New research has concluded that most obese kids between the ages of 12 and 14 have metabolic syndrome; a major predictor of type-2 diabetes and heart disease. WebMD is on it:
"If a kid is age 8 with metabolic syndrome, it will take 10 years or less for that child to become a type 2 diabetic or develop heart disease," Sarah E. Messiah, PhD, MPH tells WebMD. "So as these kids enter adulthood, they could be faced with an entire life of chronic disease."

Obese kids aren't dropping dead in their teens, but by then, many have serious heart problems, says John K. Stevens Jr., MD, a cardiologist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's Sibley Heart Center.

Stevens sees more and more teens with dangerously high blood pressure that is reshaping their hearts. He sees teens with dangerously high levels of blood fats. He sees teens with plaque streaking the walls of their arteries. And he sees teens far down the road toward type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease.

"I am very fearful that in the next 10 to 20 years we will have an explosion of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease as these very young, very obese kids become 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds," Stevens tells WebMD.

The problem isn't a heart disease epidemic. It's a child obesity epidemic, Stevens says - and Messiah's numbers lead to the same conclusion.
And these statistics are even more frightening. Back to the report:
  • About 17% of boys and girls ages 8 to 11 and 12 to 14 are overweight or obese.
  • Between 6.5% and 9.5% of overweight 8- to 11-year-olds have metabolic syndrome, depending on how the data are adjusted to account for sex, age, and ethnicity.
  • Between 26.3% and 52.4% of overweight 12- to 14-year olds have metabolic syndrome.
Its almost as if we’re raising generation after generation of chronically ill people—sad.

Diabetes Flying High in the United States

“As the number of people with type-two (adult onset) diabetes continues to soar, it is openly recognized that the growing waistline of the modern world is the main cause of this epidemic; however, most physicians, dieticians, and even the American Diabetes Association have virtually given up on weight reduction as the primary treatment for diabetics,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. I think he’s onto something, because a new report announces that U.S. diabetes rates have skyrocketed. The Associated Press is on it:
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data from 2007, said the number represents an increase of about 3 million over two years. The CDC estimates another 57 million people have blood sugar abnormalities called pre-diabetes, which puts people at increased risk for the disease.

The percentage of people unaware that they have diabetes fell from 30 percent to 25 percent, according to the study.

Dr. Ann Albright, director of the CDC Division of Diabetes Translation, said the report has "both good news and bad news."

"It is concerning to know that we have more people developing diabetes, and these data are a reminder of the importance of increasing awareness of this condition, especially among people who are at high risk," Albright said in a statement.

"On the other hand, it is good to see that more people are aware that they have diabetes."
It’s disheartening, especially when you consider that there’s an easier way. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
It is well accepted that if it were possible for people to stick with weight reduction and high nutrient eating, that route would be the most successful. Patients with diabetes who successfully lose weight from undergoing gastric bypass surgery typically see their diabetes melt away.1 Dietary programs that have been successful at effecting weight loss have been dramatically effective for diabetics too, enabling patients to discontinue medications.2 Preventing and reversing diabetes is not all about weight loss.
What sounds harder? Convincing people to stick themselves with needles for the rest of their life, or, eat better and feel great.
Continue Reading...

Bad Beef in Michigan and Ohio...

Health officials in Michigan and Ohio are blaming beef from Kroger Food Stores for a recent E. coli outbreak. More from eMaxhealth:
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, about 70000 cases of E. coli O157:H7 infections occur in US. Some of infected people are being hospitalized, but some of them may recover easily. The O157:H7 strain of E. coli bacteria is the most dangerous one and it can cause symptoms like 'stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting'. Usually, it takes about 15 days to recover, but sometimes the bacteria can lead to serious health complications.

E. coli bacteria cases in Michigan and Ohio are now being investigated actively and are found linked to the same source - ground beef from Kroger Food Stores. Michigan reported 15 people who caught the bacteria, and more than half of them reported to have consumed ground beef from these stores. 10 of these people were hospitalized. In Ohio there were 17 confirmed cases and according to CDC investigation, these cases are also linked to ground beef.
Evidently we should just get used to this sort of thing because every few weeks there’s another problem with food—ridiculous!

America Hates Good Food

AOL Food compiled a list of American’s 20 Most Hated Foods and surprise-surprise they’re some of the healthiest foods on the planet. These really ticked me off:

#20: Blueberries

#14: Peas

#8: Brussels Sprouts

#7: Beets

#4: Mushrooms

At least liver and mayonnaise made the list too. Makes you wonder what the heck the average person is eating—scary!

School's Out, Eat Cheese Fries...

Summer’s here, kids are off to camp, and nutrition’s out the window. Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times Well blog shares her story:
It was at summer camp a few years ago that she first experienced the culinary joy of cheese fries, which can pack 800 or more calories in a serving. Her camp is typical of those around the country: days packed with archery, swimming and adventure climbing; menus packed with soft drinks, burgers, chicken nuggets and, once a week, cheese fries.

Camp food is just one of the summertime nutrition challenges for parents these days. While childhood health advocates often blame schools for poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity, the problem often gets worse in the summer. Last year, The American Journal of Public Health published a provocative study showing that schools may be taking too much of the blame for the childhood obesity epidemic.

Data from kindergarteners and first graders found that body mass index increased two to three times as fast in summer as during the regular school year. Minority children were especially vulnerable, as were children who were already overweight.

Notably, even children who were too thin and needed to gain weight appeared to have better eating habits during the school year. They actually gained more weight while in school and less in the summer.
Wow, that’s some menu! Not exactly health-promoting. Just check out these posts:
What kind of camp is this, Camp Whatcha-Gonna-Die-From? My goodness!

Hormone Helps the Brain Resist Tasty Treats

We’ve all got foods we’re powerless to resist. At times, I’ve single-handily made peanut M&M’s an endangered species. Maybe I’m low on leptin. Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells that regulates the body’s appetite.

A new study has determined that low levels of leptin—commonly found in people who have lost weight—makes it harder to resist “tempting” foods.

"When you lose weight you've created about the perfect storm for regaining weight," said Michael Rosenbaum of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, whose research appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, “Areas of your brain involved in telling you not to eat seem to be less active. You are more responsive to food and you are less in control of it.”

Almost sounds like you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t! Alright, in case you’re in a panic about leptin now, fear not! Previous research determined that getting plenty of sleep is a great way to increase leptin production and reduce weight gain.

Good. So all I need now is a bag of peanut M&M’s and a pillow. Kidding.

All-Natural Diet Sweeteners, Claims and Controversy...

TreeHugger takes a look at all the hoopla surrounding diet sweeteners and their “all-natural” claims. Take a look:
Stevia is banned in Europe. The USA has not approved stevia as a food additive. Is it a conspiracy of the artificial sweetener industry to suppress an all-natural competitor? Or is there insufficient evidence of the safety of Stevia for human consumption in the face of findings of carcinogenic effects, reduction of fertility and mutagenic effects of the chemicals created when Stevia is digested?

Rumors of conspiracy were prompted by an anonymous challenge to opening the US market to stevia, which under the rules of the FDA could have been been given Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status as an existing product with a history of human consumption. Without FDA approval or GRAS status, Zevia and stevia must be marketed under the less-regulated category of "dietary supplement".

While the food agencies tend to focus on risks, there may be benefits too. Preliminary study results suggest that stevia may have positive effects beyond weight control, including vasodilation (an effect that can be therapeutic for high blood pressure) and improved regulation of blood glucose levels (possibly beneficial in relation to diabetes).
A few years ago, when Dr. Fuhrman wrote Eat to Live, he mentioned Stevia. Here’s what he said:
Many health gurus recommend substituting Stevia in place of artificial sweeteners. Stevia is natural and its use is permitted in Japan and other countries. Despite its widespread use, there is a surprising lack of human clinical trials evaluating its safety. Unlike with saccharin, no evidence has been reported that stevioside and its metabolites are carcinogenic. However, animal reports of nephrotoxicity do exist, which suggest that Stevia is likely safer than the other sweeteners, but not entirely without risk.1 The extent of risk is unknown at this time.
The claim “all-natural” makes me nervous. People right away assume it’s safe. Aren’t snake venom, poison ivy, and salmonella, also all-natural! Continue Reading...

Tainted Tomatoes, Over 500 Sick...

According to a new report the number of people sickened by salmonella contaminated tomatoes has reached 552 victims. HealthDay News reports:
The victim count in the tainted tomato outbreak leaped to 552 Friday even as U.S health officials announced that the salmonella contaminant did indeed come from farms in Florida and Mexico.

The huge increase in victims since the nationwide outbreak began on April 10 appeared largely a result of the state of Texas now reporting 265 illnesses, according to the latest count by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 53 people have been hospitalized, Ian Williams, chief of the CDC's OutbreakNet Team, told reporters at a mid-afternoon teleconference.

"The FDA is sending teams to Florida and Mexico this weekend to begin inspection of these farms," Dr. David Acheson, associate commissioner for food protection at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, added. "We are also working with the state of Texas to identify the cluster of illness there."

The increase in people sickened by the singular strain of salmonella saintpaul was not unexpected. Last week, the count was below 200; two days ago, it jumped to more than 380. At least 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, have now reported cases.

On Thursday, health officials had warned that the end was not yet in sight.
For more on the tomato debacle, check out Tomato Points...

Eat For Health: The Four Dimensions of Hunger

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

Though we generically call the feeling that you want or need to eat “hunger,” hunger actually has four different dimensions. Many diets fail because they only focus on one of these components calories. Eat For Health, based on the ideas developed in Eat To Live, is the only eating-style that takes into account all four. Understanding and resolving the drive to overeat must consider and satisfy these dimensions.
  1. VOLUME: You must consume an adequate amount of food, and fiber from that food, to physically feel satiated.
  2. NUTRIENTS: You must consume enough nutrients in your food for your body to meet its biological need to thrive. Even if you have adequate volume, if it’s from low-nutrient food, your body will have a nutrient deficit, and you will feel you require more food.
  3. CALORIES: You will be driven to overeat on calories unless the other dimensions of hunger are addressed. The only way to not over-consume calories is to ensure you have enough volume and nutrients so your body can feel satiated.
  4. ADDICTIONS: You must break yourself of your addictions to food, which often manifest themselves in ill feelings and cravings. If you don’t, your body will not be able to regulate its caloric needs appropriately.
As you can see, each of these dimensions addresses your body’s need for food, but none of them exists independently. If one dimension is not tended to, the others will be thrown off. Portion-control diets attempt to limit calories without regard to nutrients or volume. Hunger is never fully satisfied and the undernourished dieter ends up giving in to the overwhelming compulsion to eat more

McDonald's Dumb-Dumb Diet

Some dude lost a bunch of weight eating mostly McDonald’s. Wait, it’s not what you think. The Associated Press reports:
A Virginia man lost about 80 pounds in six months by eating nearly every meal at McDonald's.

Not Big Macs, french fries and chocolate shakes. Mostly salads, wraps and apple dippers without the caramel sauce.

Chris Coleson tipped the scales at 278 pounds in December. The 5-foot-8 Coleson now weighs 199 pounds and his waist size has dropped from 50 to 36.

The 42-year-old businessman from Quinton says he chose McDonald's because it's convenient.
Sounds like someone was just trying to be the next Jared—tisk, tisk!

The Hotdog Hamburger...

Next time you’re in the U.K. don’t order one of these. Via Slashfood:

"As I was wandering the streets of London foraging for food, I came across something even more foreign to me than the British slang -- the hot dog hamburger, or the 'express special'. It was so strange that I had to take a picture. I'm not sure what about this makes it faster than your average meal, but I do know that it comes with fries. But don't get too excited, judging by the recent price dip, it won't be popping up in your local deli anytime soon."
Here’s the understatement of the year—EEK!

Tomato Points...

Federal health officials have learned of 106 more cases of salmonella linked to tainted tomatoes, putting the outbreak's toll at 383 on Wednesday and counting.

"We do not think the outbreak is over," said Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of this newest influx of cases were people who got sick weeks ago but hadn't been counted yet. Some states began doing a better job of checking for salmonella as the outbreak has dragged on, while part of the surge comes from test results that had been backlogged in jammed laboratories.

What hasn't changed is that the earliest known victim got sick on April 10, and the latest on June 5.
Many people, concerned about food and tomato safety ask questions on how it is that tomatoes can be contaminated with salmonella. We usually hear of salmonella being a problem with raw eggs and poorly cooked meat.

Here's what I found. Animals infected with salmonella don't show symptoms. So when they eliminate waste, the salmonella that was in their intestines in now in the manure that unsuspecting farmers use to fertilize fields.

Usually the process of composting the manure kills most bugs. Usually... not always.

Of course, animal waste can get into fields in the form of run-off from contaminated water supply systems and infected animals that sneak in and relieve themselves.
“We may not ultimately know the farm where these came from,” Dr. David Acheson, the agency’s associate commissioner for foods, told reporters in a conference call. “Some trace-backs that we thought were looking pretty good have been falling apart.”

Dr. Acheson said he remained optimistic, but added, “I’m trying to be realistic.”

The agency is investigating a cluster of nine people who ate tomatoes at the same restaurant chain, but has not disclosed the chain’s name or location.

Also on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised its count of people who have become sick from eating raw tomatoes, to 383 in 30 states and Washington, D.C., up from 277 cases in 28 states and Washington.

And the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said it had confirmed six new cases in addition to a previously known one. More cases might still be confirmed, the department said.

Howard Stern is Toast!

Some people see Jesus in the weeping sap of an old maple tree and others, see Howard Stern in a piece of toast. No, I’m not kidding. Head over to Ebay:

Now, I’m no holy-roller, but I can clearly see The King of All Media. Too bad it’s on a piece of burnt toast though. Toast is not exactly health-promoting. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
When processed foods are baked and fried at high temperatures, cancer-causing chemical compounds called acrylamides are produced. Many processed foods, such as chips, french fries, and sugar-coated breakfast cereals, are rich in acrylamides. Acrylamides also form in foods you bake until brown or fry at home; they do not form in foods that are steamed or boiled…

…White pasta, white rice and white bread are just like sugar; because their fiber has been removed, these nutrient deficient foods are absorbed too rapidly. This, in turn, will raise glucose, triglyceride, and insulin levels in your blood. Refined grains are undesirable and will sabotage your weight-loss.
As a goof, I’m tempted to bid on it! Oh, and for more Howard Stern, Dr. Fuhrman news don’t forget about: Dr. Fuhrman on Howard 100!

High-Fat Diet During Pregnancy, May Impact Daughter's Puberty

“A mother's diet prior to conception affects the health of her children,” explains Dr. Fuhrman, “We must face reality. You can't escape the effects of poor food choices.” And now, a new study claims that mother’s who eat high-fat diets while pregnant might trigger early-puberty in their daughters. Via the Well blog:
The investigators, from the University of Auckland, fed pregnant rats a high-fat diet throughout pregnancy and lactation. Another group of rats received a regular diet of rat chow. After the baby rats were weaned, they also ate either regular chow or a high-fat diet.

The onset of puberty was much earlier in all the rats whose mothers ate a high-fat diet, regardless of whether the baby rats ate high-fat or regular diets. Baby rats that ate a high-fat diet also had early puberty even if their mothers ate a healthful diet. Rats exposed to a combination of a high-fat diet inside the mother’s womb and a high-fat diet after birth also had early puberty, but it wasn’t any earlier than other rats eating a fatty diet.

“This might suggest that the fetal environment in high-fat fed mothers plays a greater role in determining pubertal onset than childhood nutrition,” said Deborah Sloboda, lead author of the study.
I asked Dr. Fuhrman for his thoughts on mothers’ diets and early-puberty. Here’s what he had to say:
Everything is a combination of factors. Sure, the mother's diet plays a strong role, so does infant nutritional practices and genetics. As people looking to prevent disease, rather than futilely trying to treat it after it occurs, we should welcome any information that aids individuals looking to maximize the health and well-being of themselves and their offspring, there is just no substitute for eating healthfully at all stages of life.
Actually, this topic comes up a lot. Check out these previous posts:
Don’t kids already grow up too fast

Obesity: Want Healthy Kids, Have a Healthy Home!

A new study has determined that calling a child overweight or forcing a diet down their throat doesn’t work, but parents creating a healthier home environment does. Here’s the abstract from Pediatrics:
OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to explore whether parents of overweight adolescents who recognize that their children are overweight engage in behaviors that are likely to help their adolescents with long-term weight management.

METHODS: The study population included overweight adolescents (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) who participated in Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) I (1999) and II (2004) and their parents who were interviewed by telephone in Project EAT I. Cross-sectional analyses were conducted with 314 adolescent-parent dyads, and longitudinal analyses were completed with 170 dyads.

RESULTS: Parents who correctly classified their children as overweight were no more likely than parents who did not correctly classify their children as overweight to engage in the following potentially helpful behaviors: having more fruits/vegetables and fewer soft drinks, salty snacks, candy, and fast food available at home; having more family meals; watching less television during dinner; and encouraging children to make healthful food choices and be more physically active. However, parents who recognized that their children were overweight were more likely to encourage them to diet. Parental encouragement to diet predicted poorer adolescent weight outcomes 5 years later, particularly for girls. Parental classification of their children's weight status did not predict child weight status 5 years later.

CONCLUSIONS: Accurate classification of child overweight status may not translate into helpful behaviors and may lead to unhealthy behaviors such as encouragement to diet. Instead of focusing on weight per se, it may be more helpful to direct efforts toward helping parents provide a home environment that supports healthful eating, physical activity, and well-being.
I think Dr. Fuhrman would agree with this. He explores this topic in his book Disease-Proof Your Child. Check out this excerpt:
Parents are entrusted with the responsibility of securing the selection of healthy foods for the family and preparing the food in a way that makes it desirable. Children are responsible for deciding how much they eat. If they are in an environmental of healthful foods they will have no problem regulating variety and timing. They can choose what they eat, when they eat, and if they will eat. Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Don’t offer a treat because the child was good or ate well. Offer healthy treats as part of the normal well-balanced diet.
So yeah, raising your child on French fries isn’t a “healthy” environment.

Eat For Health: Your Diet, Your Choice

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

I sat back and thought about it one day: why do I eat the way I do? So what if I die younger? Why not just enjoy all the processed food our high-tech, modern world has to offer? Why not eat cheeseburgers, fries, soda, and ice cream for lunch, and take my chances with an earlier death? At least I will enjoy the time I am alive, right?

In thinking about it, I noticed that I actually enjoy being a nutritarian and eating my healthy diet. I believe I enjoy the taste of food and get more pleasure from eating than people who live on unhealthy food because I’ve learned to appreciate tastes, and I know I’m doing something good for myself. I would eat this way anyway, even if there was a slight decrease in the pleasure of eating, but after years of eating like this, I prefer it. The fact that it is healthy is certainly the largest attraction, but health-destroying foods are not enticing to me anymore. However, I am not in jail. I have complete freedom to eat anything I want, and if I occasionally want to eat something unhealthy, I do. But, over the years, I have found that I desire unhealthy foods less and less because over time I have found I do not feel well after eating those foods. The taste was not as pleasurable as I thought it would be compared to other foods that I like that are health-supporting. Also, the great tasting, healthy alternatives to attractive but unhealthy food choices, that I and others have developed, makes it even more easy to choose this diet-style. I do not feel deprived.

So, I eat the way I am advocating you eat. I am not overweight and I am not on a diet. I may not eat perfectly all the time, but I have balanced pleasure and health in my diet so that I am not sacrificing one to have the other. The objective is to have both comfortably married. But, I eat this way for lots of reasons:
  • I enjoy this way of eating. It tastes great, and I like to eat lots of food.
  • I want control of my health and want complete assurance I will not suddenly have a heart attack or stroke.
  • I enjoy living too much. I love sports, travel, entertainment, exercise, my work, and my family, and I want to maintain my youthful vigor and enjoyment of life.
  • I feel well eating this way and do not like the way I feel, the way I sleep, my digestion, or my mental energy when I do not eat this way.
  • I want to live longer and without medical interference, pain, and unnecessary suffering in my later years.
Eating healthfully is only an option. It is your choice. Each individual has the right to care for their own body as they choose, and some may continue to follow risky behaviors using the rationale that they would rather enjoy life more and live less healthfully or for a shorter time. The fallacy with this way of thinking is the belief that people who smoke, drink, take drugs, or eat dangerous foods are enjoying life more. In fact, they enjoy it less. You might feel temporary pleasure or satisfaction, but toxic habits and rich, disease-causing foods inhibit your ability to get as much pleasure from eating over time. Your taste is lessened or the smoking or drinking loses it thrill, but now you are stuck feeling uncomfortable if you don’t continue the habit.

Many people who have adopted my advice and become nutritarians have reversed autoimmune diseases, gotten rid of diabetes, headaches, and heart disease and have been brought back from the brink of death, simply by changing the way they eat. And yet there are a very large number of people who are completely deterred from even attempting this change. Their habits now control them, and they are no longer in total control of their lives. I urge you: don’t be one of those people

Tomato Scare, GMOs, and Climate Change

Some environmental activists believe that global warming and the use of genetically modified organisms are responsible for the recent tomato-salmonella outbreak. From the Better Plant blog:
I was interviewing a board member of Food and Water Watch for a feature I am writing, and he positioned the scare as an eco outbreak because with less space to farm, more droughts, and higher costs, GMOs are the logical choice for farmers who want quick crops from less land.

For the record the source of the tomato infection hasn’t been determined. The FDA hasn’t narrowed its search. But this time of year the most common varieties are red round, red Roma, and red plum tomatoes. They are most likely grown in Florida or Mexico. The agency admits U.S. consumer demand to eat fresh fruits and vegetables year-round - has its job a lot more difficult. And concedes it needs more inspectors overseas. See a good take on this from the San Jose Mercury News here.

Anyway, the source of the E. coli in spinach turned out to be feces on the hoofs of wild boars that traipsed through spinach plants.

The source of tomato infections may turn out to be something as naturally errant as that. But with less room and climate change affecting crops, another outbreak is sure to come. GMO strands can only serve to exacerbate the spread.
For a recap of news about the tomato scare, check out these posts:
Good thing I’m growing my own tomatoes!

Playing With Bad Food...

Making sculpture out of bacon is certainly better than eating it. Check out the “baconiel” from TheAntiCraft:

And the enigmatic “baconhenge.” Take a look:

Gives new meaning to the idea of dying for the sake of art.

Migraines, What Sets Off the Pain?

CBS News identifies some possible triggers for migraine headaches. Take a look:
Mechanism: amino acid and vasodilator
Found in: aged cheese, wine, chocolate, smoked, cured or pickled meat, processed meats, tofu, some fruits and vegetables such as eggplant, avocado, bananas and raspberries

Food Additives: Nitrites, MSG:
Mechanism: preservative that excites neurons and has been linked to the onset of migraines; research is inconclusive.
Found in: Chinese food, cheese powders such as Doritos, Campbell's soups, potato chips, frozen meals, and some salad dressings

Mechanism: artificial sweetener that research has linked to onset of migraines, though mechanism is unknown. Some believe it's linked to serotonin. It's been shown to cause neurons to fire spasmodically, burning out neurons.
Found in: diet drinks and foods

Alcohol: contsains Histamines
Mechanism: histamines stimulate the immune system
Found in: wine and beer, some cheese, beef, pork, bananas
Now, Dr. Fuhrman is all about using nutrition to overcome migraines. He explains:
I see many patients who have come to me after seeing neurologists and headache specialists who had given MRI’s and multiple drug regiments. Frequently, these patients suffer from the side effects of the medications, yet they continue to experience ongoing headaches. I spend lots of time with these patients explaining that a complete cure, without the need for medication, is possible. They can elevate their health with nutritional excellence. They can be slowly weaned off their medication and eventually achieve complete resolution of their recurrent headache problems.
And things like MSG and aspartame AREN'T part of excellent nutrition! For more on this , check out:  Retained Toxins are the Major Cause of Headaches.

Green-News: Beef's Problems, Organic Solutions

Chris Weber, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has studied the global-warming impacts of the American diet. He found that red meat - such as beef, pork, and lamb - produces 150 percent more greenhouse gases than chicken or fish, not to mention veggies.

It's the Hummer of foods.

Weber's study is merely the latest in a cascade of beefs about beef. There's the fat and cholesterol. And, since most beef is fattened with copious amounts of corn - enough to feed eight times the people the beef itself will feed - it raises ethical questions related to world hunger.

Here's another eco-biggie: methane, emitted from both ends of these ruminants. Incredibly, the EPA rates their belchings as the third-largest methane source behind landfills and natural gas systems.

A greenhouse gas, methane has 20 times the global warming effect of carbon dioxide.
"They are less price sensitive, and also have more fully integrated LOHAS products into their lifestyle and are less likely to go back," said Gwynne Rogers, business director at NMI, Harleysville, Pa.

About 20% of Americans make up this segment of buyers. These highly desirable consumers tend to spend 10% more in warehouse clubs as well as buy more cereal, jelly, pasta, produce, soup and ready-to-serve prepared food than "non-green" consumers.

Products labeled organic represented $4.4 billion in sales for the 52 weeks ended April 19 (excluding Wal-Mart), per The Nielsen Company. Mintel, Chicago, forecasts sales will grow to $6.8 billion by 2012.

Small brands are seeing big growth. Ian's Natural Food's grows 45% annually, per the company. Nature's Path Foods, meanwhile, grew 30% in the first half of this year and will launch 15 new products by year's end.
Organic farms are not allowed to use chemical pesticides or artificial fertilizers on their crops, nor to give their cows antibiotics. As a result, chemical costs were virtually wiped out on the farms studied, saving almost $1,900 per cow, while veterinary costs were cut in half.

At the same time, once the transition period was over, the price that farmers received for their milk went up.

For the farms' last conventional year, Fisher's study cited a price of 59 cents a litre. In the first organic year, the price was 74 cents, a jump of more than 25 per cent.

In the end, Fisher says, the farms were making $217 less per cow once the switch to organic was complete. That's a small enough drop to make switch to organic a viable option, he says.

Ann Slater, a market farmer near St. Marys and president of the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario, says soils continue to improve even after the transition is complete, and farmers get better at running their farms.

Within a few years, she says, they are doing as well or better than they were as conventional farm operators.

NYC Nearly Trans-Fat Free...

In a couple weeks New York City’s plan to completely ban trans-fat in restaurants goes into effect. EMaxHealth reports:
In early June, the Trans Fat Help Center mailed brochures on baking without artificial trans fat to all 25,000 New York City food service establishments and to New York State food suppliers serving the city. Most large bakery suppliers will include the brochures with the orders they ship during July.

"I made the transition seven months ago," said Saul Haye, owner of Christie’s Jamaican Patties in Brooklyn. "Cooking my patties and baked goods with replacement shortenings hasn’t hurt the products or my business, and it’s healthier for my customers."

Since New York City passed the artificial trans fat regulation for restaurant food, new "0 grams" trans fat products have come on to the market, increasing the options for restaurant owners and bakers. "Chocolate chips, sprinkles and baking margarines are all now available without artificial trans fat," said Laura Stanley, Coordinator of the Trans Fat Help Center. "In many cases, bakers don’t need to switch brands; they’ll simply order new formulations of familiar products. We found that some of these products actually worked better than the old versions made with artificial trans fat."
I’m not exactly broken up over it. It’s not like trans-fat is good for you. It’s all bad! More from Dr. Fuhrman:
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.
And the Kind of All Media, Howard Stern, is no fan of trans-fat either: Howard Stern On Trans-Fat.

Bad Tomatoes, Mexicans Love Them...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is blaming Mexican growers for the recent salmonella-tomato outbreak, but this hasn’t stopped Mexican consumers from gobbling up U.S. rejected tomatoes like hotcakes. Olga R. Rodriguez of Associated Press reports:
"We can't sell a single box of tomatoes," said Jesus Macias, sales manager at the Productora Agricola Industrial del Noreste, a tomato grower that normally ships 50,000 boxes of tomatoes a day to an importer in Chula Vista, Calif.

Instead, he now sends his top-quality tomatoes to markets around Mexico where they sell for a third the U.S. price. He leaves lesser-quality produce, normally sold in Mexico, to rot.

At the capital's bustling central food market, truckloads of tomatoes are now arriving in boxes originally meant for the United States. The top-quality tomatoes now sell for 35 cents a pound in the capital.

Most customers don't know about the salmonella scare, and those who do don't seem alarmed. Some shoppers said they have always been more careful than Americans in preparing produce -- they have to be, because vegetables sold in Mexico are not held to the same standards as those certified for export.
Maybe I’m irresponsible—or just lazy—but all this hasn’t changed my tomato buying habits. Whatever the store has, I buy. I haven’t noticed any difference, have you?

Stress Tests Fail to Determine Heart Attack Risk

By now you probably already know, but the much beloved host of NBC’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert, has died. He collapsed from a heart attack at the NBC News studio in Washington, D.C. on Friday. Nicole Weisensee Egan of People Magazine reports:
In a statement detailing autopsy results, Dr. Michael Newman said his famous patient had passed a stress test on April 29 and had even worked out on a treadmill the morning of his death.

"Russert, age 58, was known to have asymptomatic coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis), which resulted in hardening of his coronary arteries," Newman said. "The autopsy revealed an enlarged heart and significant atherosclerosis of the left anterior descending coronary artery with (a) fresh clot which caused a heart attack resulting in a fatal ventricular arrhythmia…"

…Dr. Cyril Wecht, a nationally renowned forensic pathologist, said Newman's description of why Russert died makes sense. "The left anterior descending artery is well known among pathologists as the widow-maker," he tells PEOPLE. "That tells you a lot, doesn't it? It's a classical situation that one encounters with great frequency in sudden unexpected death where you get a blood clot, or a thrombosis, or bleeding and if he had an enlarged heart, that adds to it."

Clots can be caused by any number of things, he said. "Sometimes it's associated with stress and exertion, physical and/or emotional," he said. "Was he flying a long time? Was he tired? People shoveling snow in the wintertime can get them. People working excessively hard. Or people under great physical and/or emotional stress and that can include flying."
He PASSED his stress test, how could that be? If he checked out okay, how could be dead a couple months later? Something doesn't seem right. I called Dr. Fuhrman and asked him about stress tests. Here’s what he had to say:
A stress test is not an accurate test for determining the risk of a heart attack. A stress test only identifies obstructions, it doesn't identify vulnerable plaque—the plaque that is likely to throw a clot. A stress test can only detect a blockage of more than 80% and the propensity of plaque to rupture has nothing to do with the amount of obstruction. You could have a completely normal stress test and then have a heart attack the next day.1 Juvenile plaque, which is thinly laid down, has a higher propensity to rupture then the old plaque that is more obstructive.

Cardiologists' attempt to intervene with cholesterol-lowering drugs hoping that cholesterol-lowering will reduce the thickness of the lipid pool within the plaque, but it only partially reduces risk. Over fifty percent of Americans still die of heart attacks and strokes. About 70 percent of the clots that cause death are formed in areas of the heart with non-obstructing lesions, not visible to cardiac testing and not treatable with stenting or bypass.

Stress tests are big money-makers for doctors. They identify those people with large blockages who qualify as candidates for costly angioplasty or bypass surgery. However, drugs and medical procedures reduce risk only slightly. There is a more effective option. People who normalize their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol through nutritional excellence and exercise don't have heart attacks.
Dr. Fuhrman makes it pretty clear. Protection against cardiovascular disease will not be found by a scalpel or in a bottle of pills. The best way to prevent heart disease is through aggressive dietary intervention; specifically a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet. He explains:
A high nutrient, plant-based diet is more effective at lowering cholesterol than drugs, but also the weight loss, blood pressure lowering and reduction of oxidative stress from the high levels of micronutrients are all important factors in dramatically lowering one’s risk of heart disease.2 Their have been numerous medical studies to document that dietary intervention is more effective than drugs, and that heart disease is preventable and reversible.3,4 That’s why my patients with advanced heart disease get well and never have heart disease again.
Maybe if less focus is placed on pointless money-making procedures that only promote a false sense of security, millions of Americans, like Tim Russert, wouldn’t die needlessly each year.
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Kid Snacks, Fruit Tops Cookies!

This is encouraging. Fruit has overtaken cookies as the number one snack given to children under the age of 6. Nanci Hellmich of USA TODAY reports:
Parents seem to be serving healthier products, which may partly explain why the number of overweight children is holding steady, Balzer says.

Recent government statistics show that 32% of children and teens ages 2 to 19 — about 23 million — were overweight or obese in 2003-2006 compared with 29% in 1999. The increase is not considered statistically significant.

"Women's weight has also stabilized, and since mothers are the primary food providers and role models, these two trends may be related," says Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers. She says it's "a whole lot better" for parents to serve their children fruit or yogurt and water than soft drinks and cookies.

The types of snacks parents feed their young children is critical because studies suggest snacks account for about a quarter of a child's daily calories, and snacking behavior sets the pattern for lifelong eating habits, says Boston nutritionist Elizabeth Ward, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler. "Snacks present an enormous opportunity for good nutrition."
Although, beyond the fruit. Parents are still serving up a lot of junk. More from the report:

I don’t have any kids—that I know of—but when I do, I imagine I’ll be quite the food sentinel. No milk and fruit snacks for little Gerry!

Processed Food: You Pay for the Processing

The more a food is processed, the less you are actually paying for the cost of the FOOD itself! The Toronto Star reports:
Here's something to chew on over your morning bowl of cereal: Only 2 per cent of the price you paid for that product represents the cost of the grain.

The rest goes to pay for things like shipping, processing, packaging and advertising, along with heating and lighting the store where the final product is sold, according to a report by Statistics Canada.

That's one of the reasons food price inflation remains relatively low in Canada, at 1.2 per cent in the 12 months up to the end of April, even as the price of grain soars on world markets, the study concludes.

The more processed the product, the less the actual cost of the food is reflected in its final price on the store shelves.

It's not the only reason Canada has the second-lowest food price inflation in the world, after Japan, said the study, called "Food Prices: A boon for producers, a buffer for consumers."

Americans also consume a lot of processed food, where the price of the grain represents a small share of the final product cost. Yet, food price inflation south of the border is up 5.9 per cent in the past 12 months.
Get a load of this chart:

Here’s a great cost-saving move. Leave the food alone! No one needs multi-colored breakfast cereal.

NYC Calorie-Menus, FDA Agrees

The Food and Drug Administration is on board with New York City’s calories-on-menus law, but The New York State Restaurant Association isn’t too happy about it. More from the Associated Press:
The Food and Drug Administration believes the city has a right to force chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menu boards, a government lawyer told a federal appeals court last week, but the court did not immediately decide whether it agrees.

The city will begin issuing fines on July 18, but Judge Rosemary Pooler, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, questioned the wisdom of doing so if she and two other judges rule against the city.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David S. Jones said on Thursday that the FDA did not want to "shackle city and state authorities" from protecting consumers by preventing the enforcement of regulations such as the calorie rule.

The court must decide whether the city acted constitutionally when it required restaurants that are part of chains with at least 15 outlets across the country to post calories on their menu boards.
People do have the right to know exactly what’s in their food—including calories—but, I doubt knowing the calorie-content of a McWhopper matters much.

South Koreans Ticked About U.S. Beef

With the U.S. and South Korea renegotiating beef imports, South Koreans are protesting in the streets over mad cow. Choe Sang-Hun of The International Herald Tribune reports:
South Korea agreed in April to lift an import ban on U.S. beef, imposed in 2003 after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in the United States.

South Korea is asking that U.S. exporters exclude meat from cattle 30 months and older, despite an agreement in April that made no such age restrictions and statements from both governments that they do not intend to renegotiate the accord. Younger cattle are believed less likely to contract mad cow disease.

The April agreement quickly became a lightning rod for surging public anger at Lee and protesters in Seoul mounted the biggest anti-government demonstrations in two decades.

South Korean and U.S. officials have repeatedly said that U.S. beef was safe from mad cow disease. But many South Koreans apparently did not believe them. On Sunday, Lee vowed not to allow the import of meat from older cattle.
Here’s what I don’t understand. If the South Korean people—i.e. the consumers—don’t want it, why force it on them.

Green-News: Beef Worse Than Ethanol

A Swedish study has concluded that beef and milk production is a far bigger burden on the environment than ethanol. Via TreeHugger:

Just one percent of the world's arable acreage is planted in crops for ethanol, compared to a third of global arable acreage (500 million hectares) used for milk and meat production - though milk and meat make up just 15 percent of our total food basket. The claims about ethanol's effect (percentage-wise) on food prices range extremely widely from three to 65%. The International Food Policy Institute says 30%. Hard to say who is more accurate, but it doesn't look as if Swedes are going to give up their ethanol (or beef for that matter) any time soon. But they will be first to sell so-called "sustainable" ethanol.

Sweden, or rather Sweden's SEKAB, a biofuel and chemical company, will launch the world's first "sustainable ethanol" in early August, made from Brazilian sugar cane and to be blended in E85 and ED95 fuels. SEKAB says that the criteria for the "sustainable" designation include well-to-wheel reduction of CO2 of at least 85 percent compared to fossil fuels, and a "zero tolerance" for child labor, slave labor and the felling of rain forests for production.

Listen, with these absurd gas prices. I say ditch the steak and ice cream and get me some cheap earth-friendly fuel!

Toddler Raised On French Fries!

Thanks to Diet Blog for finding thing one! Apparently one British mother thinks it’s totally fine to feed her 18-month year old at diet almost entirely of French fries. You got to see it, to believe it. James Tozer of The Daily Mail reports:
But despite being warned her daughter's future health is at risk, her mother Angela insists the toddler will grow up just fine.

Miss Boswell, 33, said persuading Courtney to eat healthier foods has proved almost impossible.

She said: 'Most of all she loves chips. I ate a lot of chips in chocolate sauce when I was pregnant with her so maybe it comes from that.

'I think she'll be fine when she's older - I'm not worried at all.

'People say she's getting podgy because her tummy sticks out a bit, but it's just a bit of puppy fat and she will grow out of it.'

Courtney, who weighs 2st 2lbs, or half a stone more than the average 18-month-old, will this week feature in Wednesday's ITV1 documentary, Britain's Biggest Babies.

The toddler, whose diet also occasionally extends to chocolate, crisps, cereal and Coca-Cola, is shown devouring a portion of chips in just under ten minutes.
Clearly, this story is a lightening rod. It certainly shot Dr. Fuhrman out of a cannon! Here’s what he had to say:
If I was a child welfare judge, I would lock up this mother in a jail cell with a copy Disease-Proof Your Child and not release her until the book is read and she was quizzed on its contents.
This woman is a freaking a whack job! It’s hard to believe people like this exactly exist! She needs to hear this podcast—stat! Dr. Fuhrman on Getting Children to Eat Well.

Where You Live Impacts Your Weight...

According to a new study, if you live in a neighborhood with access to healthy food and physical activity, you’re likely to be leaner. Joene Hendry of Reuters reports:
The researchers found that men and women living in neighborhoods with better walking environments and availability of healthy foods were leaner than those living in less physically desirable neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods rated higher in social qualities, such as safety, aesthetics, and social cohesion, were associated with lower overall body mass index among women. However men showed the opposite -- higher body mass index among those residing in highly rated social neighborhoods -- and the investigators say further research must confirm this unexpected finding.

Overall, Dr. Mahasin S. Mujahid of Harvard University's School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts notes, these findings add to a growing body of evidence that indicates genes and individual choice, as well as the environments in which people live affect health. Continuing research needs to further assess links between environment and obesity, Mujahid and colleagues conclude.
This falls in line with the majority of the reports I’ve read. Here are some posts that come to mind. Take a look:
But, I think if you really want to be healthy, you find a way. You think I like driving 30 minutes to get to Yoga!

Raw Milk, Under the Gun

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the claims made about unpasteurized raw milk. The Associated Press reports:
The unpasteurized milk swiftly caught on as part of the growing natural food movement. But the Food and Drug Administration considers McAfee a snake oil salesman and recently launched an investigation into whether his dairy illegally shipped raw milk across state lines. The agency even tried to recruit one of his employees to secretly record conversations with him.

The case against McAfee is part of a crackdown on raw milk by government health officials who are concerned about the spread of food-borne illnesses. Lawmakers and law enforcement agencies are stepping up efforts to keep unpasteurized milk out of reach, even as demand for the niche product grows.

McAfee, who was among the first in California to sell raw milk on a large scale, brushed off the investigation: "When you're a pioneer, you have to expect to take a few arrows."

Twenty-two states prohibit sales of raw milk for human consumption, and the rest allow it within their borders. The FDA bans cross-border sales.

In Pennsylvania, local officials recently busted two dairies unlawfully selling milk straight from the cow.
Listen, normal milk isn’t healthy. So how could unpasteurized milk be any good? More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Parkinson’s disease: Recent studies have shown that men who consume more dairy products and who are big milk drinkers have a higher occurrence of Parkinson’s disease. Honglei Chen, M.D., of Harvard University reported his findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition (December 2004) and presented a few other studies, one of which was the Parkinson’s Disease Honolulu Study, that showed the same association. The interesting finding was that it was not the fat in milk and dairy that were implicated. Usually, the high saturated fat content of dairy is blamed for its disease risk. But in this case, according to Chen, fat was “out of the picture.” Calcium and added vitamin D also were unrelated. That means something else in dairy is the culprit. The relationship between Parkinson’s and milk consumption has been suspected for decades1 and was first reported by researchers a few years ago. Chen’s and other recent prospective studies have confirmed the earlier, less definitive findings.

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

Ovarian cancer: A recent study of 61,000 women found that those who consumed more than 2 glasses of milk per day had twice the risk of serous ovarian cancer than women who consumed fewer than two glasses. The risk of those who drank two glasses a day was double that of women who rarely drank milk.3 Lactose in milk seemed to be the primary culprit. Again this larger study confirms earlier studies with the same findings.
Despite its “wholesome” image, milk is not your friend. Just check out these posts:
Personally, I’d rather have a pet cow, than a glass of milk—moo!
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FDA: No More Food Safety

Last year the FDA promised to improve food safety, but, they haven’t followed through. Reuters reports:
In the past week, a rare strain of Salmonella has sickened 167 people in 17 states who ate certain types of tomatoes.

This is the latest in a series of incidents that have eroded public confidence in the safety of the food supply and lead to more calls for change at the Food and Drug Administration. There also have been problems with lettuce, peanut butter and spinach in recent years.

"These continued outbreaks are unacceptable," said Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the full House Energy and Commerce Committee. "To have (the FDA) come up and say they don't know what to do about it or how much money they need or what resources they require is a shame and a disgrace."

Last November, the FDA, which oversees 80 percent of the food supply, issued a "food protection plan" that would focus on preventing problems in the riskiest areas before they occur, both domestically and overseas, rather than simply conducting more inspections and testing.
Wait, government letting the people down? No! Never heard that before.

Snacking and Not Sleeping

Researchers have determined that not getting enough sleep causes people to over indulge in snacks. More from WebMD:
The study involved 11 healthy men and women who agreed to enter the sleep lab for two 14-day periods. During one visit, they were allowed to sleep for only five-and-a-half hours each night. During the other, they slept for eight-and-a-half hours a night. During both visits, they could eat as much as they wanted, whenever they wanted.

Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, of the University of Chicago, headed the study. He presented the findings here at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Results showed that when bedtimes were restricted to five-and-a-half hours, participants consumed an average of 1,087 calories a day from snacks alone. In contrast, they consumed 866 in calories from snacking when given eight-and-a-half hours to sleep.

The total number of calories consumed each day and the total weight gain was similar during both visits. But Kothare notes that participants were only studied for a few weeks. It's possible other changes would have been seen if they were followed longer, he says.
Yup, I agree with this. If I don’t get enough sleep. I plow through my fruits and vegetables like a hippopotamus.

Sodium: Importance of Reading Labels

Read the Nutrition Facts label on the back of the can or package before you purchase a processed food. It is easy to see if it has too much sodium. Since the labels are based on serving size, if a serving of a particular product contains 100 calories, it should not have more than about 50 mg. of sodium (half the number of calories). If, instead, that product contains 200 mg of sodium, you know that 150 mg of sodium has been added to what was originally in the food.

Don’t be misled by the manufacturer’s claims on the front of the package, such as “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “light in sodium,” since products making these claims may still contain very high levels of sodium.

USDA Guidelines

The guidelines that must be followed if making sodium claims are:
  • “Sodium Free,” less than 5 mg sodium.
  • “Very Low Sodium,” 35 mg or less of sodium.
  • “Low Sodium,” 140 mg or less of sodium.
  • “Reduced Sodium,” at least 25% less than the regular product.
  • “Light in Sodium,” at least 50% less than the regular product.
As you can see, these guidelines are not very helpful, especially in instances where the caloric content of the portion size is low. For example, a product whose serving size contains 100 calories can claim it is “low sodium” and still have 140 mg of sodium—which is almost triple the amount of sodium found in natural foods. In a low-calorie food, 140 mg of sodium might represent more than 10 times the amount of sodium found in the natural product. Still, the product can be labeled “low sodium.”

As I mention in the accompanying article, I suggest that you not add more than 200-300 mg of sodium to your diet over and above what is in natural foods. Using this guideline, you still can have one serving of something each day that has some sodium added to it, but all other foods should have only the sodium contained in the food itself

Scared Consumers!

These tainted tomatoes and even the spinach-E. coli outbreak have seriously whacked U.S. consumer-confidence. Reuters reports:
"Food in the U.S. is all kinds of unsafe," said Arjuna Balasooriya, 35, on Tuesday as he left lunch at a Souplantation in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, which closed for a week last year due to a Shigella bacteria outbreak.

"You're always running scared," wondering whether the food is contaminated by bacteria, genetically modified or sourced from areas with poor health and safety records, he said.

Like many other people who spoke with Reuters on Tuesday, the banker said he is not buying or eating tomatoes following news that an outbreak of a rare strain of Salmonella had sickened 145 people who ate round, Roma or plum tomatoes.

"I'll wait for a while for the air to clear up to be safe, at least a month," he said, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified California and 25 other tomato-supplying states and countries as not being associated with the outbreak.

McDonald's Corp, the world's biggest restaurant chain, has pulled raw sliced tomatoes from its sandwiches and has no immediate plans to bring them back.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, on the other hand, is making plans to start returning safely sourced tomatoes to its restaurants later this week.
Hooray for Chipotle, a Followhealthlife favorite. But clearly, U.S. food producers and growers must clean up their act.

The Sugar-Free Kid...

Refined carbohydrates like sugar and processed grains will sabotage your health, leading to a myriad of afflictions. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Medical investigations clearly show the dangers of consuming the quantity of processed foods that we do. And because these refined grains lack fiber and nutrient density to turn down our appetite, they also cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and significantly increased cancer risk.1
Maybe that’s why Sarah Kamrath’s son, five-year-old Lucas, has never had any refined sugar. This exclusive from Mothering:
I will be the first to admit that completely avoiding all refined sugar is not the easiest thing to do. I also understand that it might not be desirable for every parent—a little sugar here and there isn't going to do any real harm, however, I have also found that most parents would like to avoid sugar as much as possible in their children's diet.

So for anyone who is interested in trying to limit empty, sugar-filled calories and get their children to eat more nutritious foods, the following are some practices I have found useful…

…We have a rule in our house that you have to try something before you say no. When Lukas says he doesn't want a certain food and I make him try one bite, many times he'll look at me and say "Mmmm, I like that." If he doesn't, I won't force him to eat it, but I will continue to re-introduce it to him one bite at a time. By repeatedly offering healthy foods to children, the foods eventually become more familiar and your child is likely to develop a taste for them. In fact, research shows that it can take up to 10 times of tasting the same food before this happens, so be patient.

Also, if your child complains about a certain food and refuses to eat it, try not to quickly substitute it with one of his favorites. If he knows that when he complains and makes a fuss that you will simply prepare him something else to eat, then be prepared to do just that. If you explain to him that this is dinner and if he doesn't eat it then he will be hungry (and you are consistent with this message), then he is much more likely to give it a real try. Don't worry—he won't starve!
Kudos to Sarah! That’s one determined mom. Any of you have similar stories?
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Friends, Booze, and Stress can Muck up Your Diet...

Ali Hale of Diet Blog investigates why your friends, drinking, and stress can hinder your diet. Here’s a bit:
For many of us, good intentions dissolve somewhere in the first glass, and after a few drinks, stodgy comfort food like a big plate of fries or creamy pasta seems far more attractive than a salad.

Do you have friends who urge you to order dessert, even when you're stuffed, or who insist on sharing their huge tub of popcorn with you at the movies? Perhaps every social occasion involves pizza, humungous bags of chips, or a trip to a new restaurant.

Whether it's a horrendous day at work, a toddler having a tantrum, an impending visit from your mother-in-law, or a teenager threatening to run away from home, stress often leads straight to the fridge door.
Yup, they’re all important things to consider. Check out these posts for more:

Backing Off the Meat...

Mark Bittman of The New York Times offers up some practical suggestions to help everyone cut back on meat eating. Here’s a bit:
Let’s suppose you’ve decided to eat less meat, or are considering it. And let’s ignore your reasons for doing so. They may be economic, ethical, altruistic, nutritional or even irrational. The arguments for eating less meat are myriad and well-publicized, but at the moment they’re irrelevant, because what I want to address here is (almost) purely pragmatic: How do you do it?

I’m not talking about eating no meat; I’m talking about cutting back, which in some ways is harder than quitting. Vegetarian recipes and traditions are everywhere. But in the American style of eating — with meat usually at the center of the plate — it can be difficult to eat two ounces of beef and call it dinner.
  1. Forget the protein thing.
  2. Buy less meat.
  3. Get it out of the center of the plate.
  4. Buy more vegetables, and learn new ways to cook them.
  5. Make non-meat items as convenient as meat.
  6. Make some rules.
  7. Look at restaurant menus differently.
This is really cool and right up Followhealthlife’s alley! Take the protein thing for example:
Complementary Protein Myth Won't Go Away!
“The ‘incomplete protein’ myth was inadvertently promoted in the 1971 book, Diet for a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappe. In it, the author stated that plant foods do not contain all the essential amino acids, so in order to be a healthy vegetarian, you needed to eat a combination of certain plant foods in order to get all of the essential amino acids. It was called the theory of ‘protein complementing.’”
And here’s plenty of reason to consume less animal products:
Followhealthlife Gets Green!
“Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests.”
Not to mention all the delicious ways to prepare fruits and veggies:
Orange Berry Greens Smoothie
2 cups organic baby spinach
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
4 pitted dates
1 orange, peeled & quartered
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy. Serves 2.
And it’s easy to eat healthfully when dining out:
Eating to Live on the Outside
“I’m in a New York state of mind. So, time to grab the next train and hit the big apple. This week we’re checking out Counter, right off east Houston Street in the capital of the world—New York City! And this vegetarian bistro certainly makes a good first impression.”
See, the world is catching on. Nutrient-dense vegetable-based eating is the way to go!

Tomatoes Out at McDonalds

Amid the salmonella scare, McDonald’s will stop serving sliced tomatoes. The Associated Press reports:
McDonald's says it has stopped serving sliced tomatoes in its restaurants over concerns about Salmonella food poisoning linked to uncooked tomatoes.

Spokeswoman Danya Proud said Monday the world's largest hamburger chain has stopped serving sliced tomatoes on all of its sandwiches in the United States as a precaution until the source of the salmonella is known.

Proud says McDonald's will continue to serve grape tomatoes in its salads because no problems have been linked to that variety.
How ironic, the one healthy thing at McDonalds gets the boot.

Heart Health: No Point in Monitoring Blood Sugar?

New research contends that individuals with type-2 diabetes do not lower their heart attack and stroke risk by controlling their blood sugar. More from Gina Kolata of The New York Times:
The results provide more details and bolster findings reported in February, when one of the studies, by the National Institutes of Health, ended prematurely. At that time, researchers surprised diabetes experts with the announcement that study participants who were rigorously controlling their blood sugar actually had a higher death rate than those whose blood sugar control was less stringent.

Now the federal researchers are publishing detailed data from that study for the first time. Researchers in the second study, from Australia and involving participants from 20 countries, are also publishing their results on blood sugar and cardiovascular disease. That study did not find an increase in deaths, but neither did it find any protection from cardiovascular disease with rigorous blood sugar control.

Thus both studies failed to confirm a dearly held hypothesis that people with Type 2 diabetes could be protected from cardiovascular disease if they strictly controlled their blood sugar.

It was a hypothesis that seemed almost obvious. Cardiovascular disease accounts for 65 percent of deaths among people with Type 2 diabetes. And since diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood sugar, the hope was that if people with diabetes could just get their blood sugar as close to normal as possible, their cardiovascular disease rate would be nearly normal as well.
Dr. Fuhrman was not impressed by this report. His thoughts:
That is because when you are an overweight diabetic the metabolic consequences are not the blood sugar alone and taking drugs is not the answer. Some of the drugs (especially insulin) cause weight gain and make the metabolic syndrome worse. Losing weight, exercising and eating high on the nutrient density line is the answer, not more medications.
Not more medications! But how will the drug companies make bigger profits?

Economic Recession: Let them Eat Doughnuts

Talk about circling vultures, Krispy Kreme offered free doughnuts to mark the occasion when the Salvation Army served coffee and doughnuts to thousands of homesick soldiers during the Great Depression. More from the MSN Money Blog:
Around here we think of every day as doughnut day, but those with more self-restraint know the real thing comes the first Friday in June – today, in fact…

…Doughnut purveyor Krispy Kreme is offering a free calorie bomb. No doubt you can find your nearest store in your sleep, but here's a way to find one if for some reason you've awakened in a strange part of town. Wait for the “hot light” if you want one of their notorious melt-in-your-mouth glazed, but you can choose one (1) of any of their varieties at participating stores. Here’s a peek at their lineup.

No Krispy Kremes in your neck of the woods? Dunkin Donuts hasn’t ponied up any freebies that we know, but that’s no reason not to drop a couple of bucks on a cruller and a cuppa joe and think about Doughboys, doughnuts and the women who served ‘em up hot.
This nauseates me as much as car makers offering cheap gas for a year if you run out right now and buy a brand new car—exploiting a bad situation, classless.

High Protein Diet: Lose Weight, Without Losing Bone?

“Nutritional research today is typically the blind leading the blind. People following nutritional belief systems like religion,” explains Dr. Fuhrman and this study claiming that high protein diets help preserve bone integrity during weight-loss is no different. From the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:

The scientists recruited and randomized 130 middle-aged, overweight persons at two sites—the U of I and Pennsylvania State University. Participants then followed either the higher-protein weight-loss diet or a conventional higher-carbohydrate weight-loss diet based on the food-guide pyramid for four months of active weight loss followed by eight months of weight maintenance.

"Essentially we substituted lean meats and low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, etc., for some of the high-carbohydrate foods in the food-pyramid diet. Participants also ate five servings of vegetables and two to three servings of fruit each day," Evans said.

Bone mineral content and density were measured with DXA scans of the whole body, lumbar spine, and hip at the beginning of the study, at four months, at eight months, and at the end of the 12-month period.

"In the higher-protein group, bone density remained fairly stable, but bone health declined over time in the group that followed the conventional higher-carbohydrate diet. A statistically significant treatment effect favored the higher-protein diet group," said Matthew Thorpe, a medical scholars (MD/PhD) student who works in Evans's lab and was the primary author of the study.

I asked Dr. Fuhrman about this research and here’s what he had to say. Take a look:

There are so many variables that the conclusions are simplistic. First of all, the vast majority of Americans are severely Vitamin D deficient and their higher protein group was given more Vitamin D fortified milk. Second, the intervention group was encouraged to eat more green vegetables and less sugar, bread and white potato, getting higher level of bone building nutrients, including Vitamin K, and thirdly, the intervention group, though eating less refined carbohydrates were only given a diet a little higher in protein (30 percent) which is not a very high protein diet.

All in all, if they are going to claim some benefit to lean muscle or bone for the higher protein diet, they have to control for Vitamin D, K and other bone supportive nutrients that were higher in the intervention group. Even though this was a poorly designed and poorly controlled study, I basically agree with what they found—that a moderate protein diet with more fruits and vegetable and less refined foods bread and pasta, with attention to more Vitamin D from fortified skim milk will result in better bone mass with dieting compared to a diet not paying attention to these details. However, I think the better results stem from numerous factors, and not likely from a higher percentage of protein and less carbohydrate.

No doubt, this report will whip the low-carb congregation into their usual zealotry.

Food for Food Allergies, Big Money!

How convenient. All these food allergies have spawned a multi-million dollar niche food market. Annys Shin of The Washington Post reports:
The market for food-allergy and intolerance products is projected to reach $3.9 billion this year, according to Packaged Facts, a New York research firm. And the market for gluten-free foods and drinks is expected to hit $1.3 billion by 2010, up from $700 million in 2006, according to research firm Mintel.

An estimated 12 million people in the United States have food allergies, and another 2 million have celiac disease, a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks itself when exposed to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Those figures are expected to rise. The number of children with peanut allergies alone has doubled in the past decade. Food-induced anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction, causes about 30,000 emergency room visits and 150 to 200 deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Medical experts don't know why the number of people with food allergies is increasing. Theories include reduced contact with germs, exposure to certain environmental pollutants and, in the case of peanut allergies, the way peanuts are processed and when they are introduced into people's diet. None of the theories is backed by much research.

"We don't know if some of them are true or there's some truth to all of them," said Marshall Plaut, chief of the allergic mechanisms section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
For more on this, visit our friends at

Salt: Hemorrhagic Stroke Risk

Risk of “bleeding” stroke a concern for vegans and others! High-salt consumption may be potentially more dangerous for vegans, vegetarians, and others who have earned low cholesterol levels by eating otherwise healthful diets. Just as we know that high cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease, low cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
  • Small arteries vulnerable: Some studies have suggested that low serum cholesterol could enhance the vulnerability of small intraparenchymal cerebral arteries and lead to the development of stroke in the presence of hypertension.1 The plaque-building process that results in atherosclerosis and premature death may in some way protect the fragile blood vessels in the brain from rupture due to high blood pressure.A high-salt diet may dramatically increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke in vegans because they can live longer than the general population and not to die from a heart attack first. To protect against heart attacks, ischemic strokes, and hemorrhagic (bleeding) strokes, you must dramatically curtail salt consumption.
  • Additional problems: As previously mentioned, cardiovascular diseases are not the only problems associated with salt consumption. Salt increases the body’s excretion of calcium. This could lead to loss of bone mass and osteoporosis.2 Diets high in salt appear to cause higher rates of infection with Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes stomach ulcers, and salt has been shown to be associated with higher rates of stomach cancer.3 Salt also has been shown in numerous studies to be associated with asthma, and salt reduction can improve breathing.4 Some of these studies seem to indicate that salt has a stronger negative impact on the lungs of boys.5
  • The forgotten killer: There is good reason to refer to salt as “The Forgotten Killer.”6 Although it is easy to get distracted with the other diet-related topics that dominate the headlines, high sodium levels can be deadly. Eating a healthful, plant-based diet composed of unprocessed, unsalted whole foods is the best weapon we have.
Continue Reading...

Canadian Salmon, Low Mercury

A new study claims Canadian salmon has low-levels of contaminants, including mercury. WebMD is on it:
Total mercury levels in the wild salmon tested were three times higher than in farmed, but total mercury intake from both types of fish was found to be lower than from many other foods.

The study was funded by the Canadian fishing industry, which supplies much of the farmed salmon eaten in the United States.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about the safety of farmed salmon vs. wild, and there have also been suggestions that Canadian and other Atlantic-farmed salmon contains more contaminants than farm-raised fish from other areas, such as Chile. The newly published study was conducted in an attempt to address these concerns.

Researchers measured mercury levels as well as levels of 18 other trace metals in commercial salmon feed and farmed and wild salmon from British Columbia fisheries and waters.
And according to Dr. Fuhrman, in addition to salmon, fishes like flounder, sole, tilapia, and trout are also safer choices.

The Salmonella is Spreading...

The salmonella linked to uncooked tomatoes has now spread to 16 states. The Associated Press reports:
Investigations by the Texas and New Mexico Departments of Health and the U.S. Indian Health Service have tied 56 cases in Texas and 55 in New Mexico to raw, uncooked, tomatoes.

"We're seeing a steady increase," Deborah Busemeyer, New Mexico Department of Health communications director, said Saturday.

An additional 50 people have been sickened by the same Salmonella "Saintpaul" infection in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Investigators are trying to determine if raw tomatoes also are responsible for the illnesses in those states, said Arleen Porcell, a CDC spokeswoman.
Hopefully this doesn’t get as bad as the spinach-E. coli outbreak.

Are Parents Botching Kids' Weight Loss?

New research claims that parents of overweight kids are all talk and no action when it comes to getting their children healthy. More from WebMD:
Minneapolis-based researchers have found that parents need to "talk less and do more" when encouraging their kids to become fit and trim. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD, of the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues found that parents who correctly recognized that their child had a weight problem talked with their kids about dieting, but this was not helpful.

Previous studies have suggested that parents do not correctly recognize if their child is overweight. Furthermore, little research has been done to determine how parents act when they correctly perceive their child's weight status.

Neumark-Sztainer's team explored whether parents of overweight teens who correctly recognized their child's weight status engaged in behaviors that helped their child's long-term weight management.
I’m no expert—or a parent for that matter—but I’d imagine, like everything else, its all about setting an example. I think Dr. Fuhrman would agree:
No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children…Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.
Plus, parents and children getting healthy together has to be a great bonding experience—right?

Shakes and Drinks, Protein and Carbohydrates

Protein shakes are a mega business—saturated in hype. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in How Safe Are Protein Drinks And Powders? Here’s a snippet:
Unfortunately, most trainers and bodybuilders are influenced by what they read in exercise and bodybuilding magazines. This is worse than getting nutritional information from comic books. Look through any current bodybuilding magazine; what are the vast majority of advertisements selling? Supplements! Most of the pages in these magazines are devoted to pushing worthless powders and pills. Supplement companies slant the opinions of the magazine article writers. The articles in the magazines are geared to support their advertisers.

Our entire society is on a protein binge, brainwashed with misinformation that we have been hearing since childhood. The educational materials used in most schools have been provided free by the meat, dairy, and egg industries for more than seventy years. These industries have successfully lobbied the government, resulting in favorable laws, subsidies, and advertising propaganda that promote corporate profits at the expense of national health. As a result, Americans have been programmed with dangerous information…

…Nutritional supplements can be marketed without FDA approval of safety or effectiveness. Athletes who choose to ingest these supplements should be concerned with the safety of long-term use. They are low-nutrient, low-fiber, highly-processed, high-calorie “foods,” whose consumption reduces the phytochemical density of your diet.

Ingesting more protein than your body needs is not a small matter. It ages you prematurely and can cause significant harm. The excess protein you do not use is not stored by your body as protein; it is converted to fat or eliminated via the kidneys. Eliminating excess nitrogen via your urine leaches calcium and other minerals from your bones and breeds kidney stones.
And now The New York Times investigates what you need for a long workout; protein or carbohydrates. Gina Kolata reports:
Dr. Tarnopolsky, a 45-year-old trail runner and adventure racer, might be expected to seize upon the nutritional advice. (He won the Ontario trail running series in 2004, 2005 and 2006.)

So might his colleague, Stuart Phillips, a 41-year-old associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster who played rugby for Canada’s national team and now plays it for fun. He also runs, lifts weights and studies nutrition and performance.

In fact, neither researcher regularly uses energy drinks or energy bars. They just drink water, and eat real food. Dr. Tarnopolsky drinks fruit juice; Dr. Phillips eats fruit. And neither one feels a need to ingest a special combination of protein and carbohydrates within a short window of time, a few hours after exercising.

There are grains of truth to the nutrition advice, they and other experts say. But, as so often happens in sports, those grains of truth have been expanded into dictums and have formed the basis for an entire industry in “recovery” products.

They line the shelves of specialty sports stores and supermarkets with names like Accelerade drink, Endurox R4 powder, PowerBar Recovery bar.

“It does seem to me that as a group, athletes are particularly gullible,” said Michael Rennie, a physiologist at the University of Nottingham in England who studies muscle metabolism.

The idea that what you eat and when you eat it will make a big difference in your performance and recovery “is wishful thinking,” said Dr. Rennie, a 61-year-old who was a competitive swimmer and also used to play water polo and rugby.
I don’t bother with any of these “energy” products. The only thing I eat, either before or after my workouts, is my chocolate pudding.

Mexican Tortilla Crisis!

The demand for corn for biofeuls has left Mexico’s poor short on tortillas. Lorne Matalon of National Geographic News reports:
Tortillas are filling—Mexicans eat up to ten every day—but a dramatic rise in the cost of corn flour has driven up the cost of a dozen tortillas from the equivalent of 30 U.S. cents to 50 cents or more in some stores.

By some estimates, a kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of tortillas now takes up about one-fifth of the daily minimum wage of Mexico's working poor.

"I will not make my customers pay more—at least not for now," said Francisco Barriga, the owner of a tortilla factory in the border town of Reynosa, near McAllen, Texas.

"But I am paying 12 to 20 percent more for 20-kilogram [44-pound] bags of flour I need to make the tortillas."

For the country's low-income citizens, who already spend a large percentage of their money on food, the increases are disastrous, sending frustrated citizens to the streets to rally against the biofuels and trade policies they feel are the cause.
I know tortillas are part of their culture, but, they’re not exactly the healthiest food in the world. From Dr. Fuhrman’s Food Scoring Guide:

Aye carumba!

Food, What Women Want

Hey dudes, here are five foods women crave. That’s Fit tips us off:
  1. 31 percent of women report chocolate is their most coveted food.
  2. 24 percent of women say their strongest desire is for salty snacks.
  3. 10 percent of women admit they regularly have an urge for ice cream.
  4. 10 percent of women long for carbs, such as pasta and bread.
  5. 7 percent of women desire protein-rich foods, such as fish and meat.
Next time my stuff is being thrown out a window. I’ll try to restore peace with some chocolate covered pretzels.

Strictly Controlled Veggies...

This tray liner might be funny, but you still won’t find me at a Burger King anytime soon. Via BoingBoing:

Honestly, I check all my onions that way—makes them tender.

Blood Sugar, Not Just for Diabetics

Diabetics know all about blood sugar, but it matters to non-diabetics too. So, when you make food choices, keep blood sugar in mind. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The combination of fat and refined carbohydrates has an extremely powerful effect on driving the signals that promote fat accumulation on the body. Refined foods cause a swift and excessive rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin surges to drive the sugar out of the blood and into our cells. Unfortunately, insulin also promotes the storage of fat on the body and encourages your fat cells to swell.

As more fat is packed away on the body, it interferes with insulin uptake into our muscle tissues. Our pancreas then senses that the glucose level in the bloodstream is still too high and pumps out even more insulin. A little extra fat around our midsection results in so much interference with insulin’s effectiveness that two to five times as much insulin may be secreted in an overweight person than in a thin person.
And a new study insists that blood sugar levels are indeed important to diabetes-free people too. Reuters reports:
Only a few prospective studies have looked at associations between blood sugar levels among subjects initially free of diabetes and subsequent risk of death, Dr. Naomi Brewer, of Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, and colleagues point out in the journal Diabetes Care.

Hemoglobin A1C testing -- a standard way to measure blood sugar -- was offered to people without diabetes during a screening program for hepatitis B in a region of New Zealand from 1999 to 2001. Mortality risk was examined to the end of 2004 in these subjects.

Among a total of 47,904 individuals, whose average age was 38 years, 815 died during the median follow-up of 4.4 years.

Brewer's team found that the risk of premature death rose in tandem with blood sugar levels. The risk of death increased steadily from the A1C "reference category" (4.0% to less than 5.0%) to the highest A1C category (7.0% or higher).
Sadly, I think too many people only worry about blood sugar after they’re staring at a diabetes diagnosis.

Salt, Not a Big Deal?

This sounds a little nutty, but a new study claims that a low-salt diet might not be heart healthy after all. More from Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News:
"No one should run out and buy a salt shaker to try to improve their cardiovascular health. But we think it's reasonable to say that different people have different needs," said study author Dr. Hillel W. Cohen, an associate professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The study, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, doesn't confirm that a low-salt diet itself is bad for the heart. But it does say that people who eat the least salt suffer from the highest rates of death from cardiac disease.

"Our findings suggest that one cannot simply assume, without evidence, that lower salt diets 'can't hurt,' " Cohen said.

Cohen and his colleagues looked at a federal health survey of about 8,700 Americans between 1988 and 1994. All were over 30, and none were on special low-salt diets.

The researchers then checked to see what happened to the volunteers by the year 2000.

Even after the researchers adjusted their statistics to account for the effect of cardiac risk factors like smoking and diabetes, the 25 percent of the population who ate the least salt were 80 percent more likely to die of cardiac disease than the 25 percent who ate the most salt.
Yeah, I wouldn’t start downing the salt anytime soon. Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of salt. Here are his thoughts on salt and health:
For maximum disease prevention, sodium levels should be held to the levels that are normal to our biological needs—under 1000 mg per day. High-sodium diets lead to high blood pressure, which causes an estimated two-thirds of all strokes and almost half of all heart attacks. According to the National Institute of Health. Consuming less sodium is one of the single most important ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.1 The most commonly cited behaviors that lead to maximal health and disease prevention and reversal are: not smoking; maintaining a healthy, slim body weight; eating a high-nutrient-dense diet rich in vegetables and fruits; and limiting trans fat and saturated fat. But avoiding excess sodium ranks right up there alongside them. Excess sodium consumption is a primary killer in our modern toxic food environment, but it is all too often overlooked by most people until it is too late to do anything about it.

Natural foods contain about .5 mg of sodium per calorie or less. If you are trying to keep the sodium level in your diet to a safe level, avoid foods that have more sodium than calories per serving. It would be impossible to consume too much (or too little) sodium if a person just ate a healthful diet of real food in its natural state.

If your daily intake of whole natural foods consists of about 2000 calories, your daily intake of sodium will be less than 1000 mg. By comparison, the average adult sodium intake in the United States is around 4000 mg for every 2000 calories consumed. Americans are not alone in their dangerous over-consumption of sodium. Most of the world’s population consumes 2300–4600 mg of sodium each day (1–2 teaspoons of salt).

I suggest that you should not add more than 200–300 mg of extra sodium to your diet over and above what is in natural foods. That allows you to have one serving of something each day that has some sodium added to it, but all other foods should have only the sodium that Mother Nature put in them.
I think what the research is should say is that a crappy diet without salt isn’t that much better than a crappy diet with salt.
Continue Reading...

Save at the Supermarket, Again...

Now The Chicago Tribune is trying to save us money when shopping for groceries. Give these tips a try:
  1. Shop the perimeter.
  2. Use what you have.
  3. Shop in ethnic grocery stores.
  4. Make your own salad dressing, marinades and sauces.
  5. Pay attention to the food's price per ounce.
  6. Exploit your freezer.
  7. Write a grocery list and stick to it.
  8. Eat less.
  9. Skip the expensive beverages.
  10. Use coupons and loyalty cards to save money.
Check out the article for more and don’t forget these tips from the other day, and, definitely don’t do this: Potato chips beckon as food prices rise.

Thursday: Health Points

Using surveillance of hospital staff to observe the ways the wipes are used routinely, researchers discovered hospital workers were using the same antimicrobial wipe on many surfaces, from bed rails to monitors, tables, and keypads. One wipe was frequently used to wipe down several surfaces or to wipe down the same surface repeatedly before being thrown away.

The research team then replicated the disinfecting methods they’d observed for laboratory analysis. The lab findings showed that some wipes were more effective than others at removing bacteria from hard surfaces but they did not kill them. When the bacteria-laden wipe was used repeatedly on one surface or on several, it spread the bacteria instead of eliminating it.
The Agriculture Department, which detected the flu in samples tested at its Ames, Iowa, laboratories, said the H7N3 strain of influenza isn't dangerous to humans. Although the Tyson flock of 15,000 chickens is being destroyed, regulators aren't blocking U.S. consumers from eating chicken raised in Arkansas, the largest poultry-producing state after Georgia.

The Tyson label has been a point of contention and confusion since it was cleared by the Agriculture Department in May 2007. As the department was moving to rescind the label, Tyson officials tried to beat regulators to the punch by announcing earlier this week that it was "voluntarily" withdrawing the label.

Removing the label quickly is a logistical and financial headache for Tyson, which said Tuesday that the Agriculture Department's June 18 deadline is "unrealistic." Tyson says it has "several months" of chicken labeled "antibiotic-free" in storage.

Agriculture Minister Chung Woon-chun said earlier Tuesday that Seoul had asked the U.S. to refrain from exporting any beef from cattle 30 months of age and older, considered at greater risk of the illness.

Presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said the president told a weekly Cabinet meeting that "it is natural not to bring in meat from cattle 30 months of age and older as long as the people do not want it."

The spokesman also expressed hope that the United States would respect South Korea's position following large-scale anti-government protests over the weekend.
The risk of being hospitalized was greatest among babies 6 months old and younger, but the increased risk persisted up until the children were 8 years old, Dr. M. K. Kwok of the University of Hong Kong and colleagues found. Children who were premature or low birth weight were particularly vulnerable.

The findings suggest that secondhand smoke exposure may not only be harmful to children's respiratory tracts, but to their immune systems as well, Kwok and colleagues say.

Hong Kong banned smoking in public places in 2007, but babies and children may still be exposed to secondhand smoke at home, the researchers note in their report in the journal Tobacco Control. While the danger smoke exposure poses to children's developing respiratory systems is well understood, less is known about its effects on overall infection risks.

Scientists previously thought that fat cells were relatively passive and inert. Now they have evidence that fat cells are metabolically active, continuously communicating with the brain and other organs through at least 25 hormones and other signaling chemicals.

For example, fat cells seem to release hormones that inform the brain how much energy is left and when to stop (or start) eating, guide muscles in deciding when to burn fat and tell the liver when to replenish its fat stores.

All this cross talk can be a mixed blessing in the body, however. A healthy population of fat cells, for example, helps the immune system fight off infection by releasing chemicals that cause mild inflammation. But an overactive group of fat cells might keep the inflammation permanently in the "on" position, eventually leading to heart disease.
Adult-onset asthma, like other inflammatory diseases that disproportionately affect women such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, may be a relatively strong risk factor for heart disease and stroke, Dr. Stephen J. Onufrak from the US Department of Agriculture, Stoneville, Mississippi told Reuters Health.

Onufrak and colleagues used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study to examine the association of asthma with the risks of heart disease and stroke according to gender.

They found that, compared with their counterparts without asthma, women with adult-onset asthma had a 2.10-fold increase in the rate of heart disease and a 2.36-fold increase in the rate of stroke.

There was no association between childhood- or adult-onset asthma and heart disease or stroke in men, or between childhood-onset asthma and heart or stroke in women.

Researchers found that among 9,100 middle-aged men at higher-than- average risk of heart disease, those with gout were more likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular cause over 17 years.

The findings should give men with gout extra incentive to have a doctor assess their cardiac risks, lead researcher Dr. Eswar Krishnan told Reuters Health.

And if they have modifiable risk factors -- like high cholesterol, high blood pressure or excess pounds -- it will be particularly important to get them under control, noted Krishnan, an assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Give Yourself Permission to Do Less.
If you're struggling to exercise at all, bribe yourself with a mini-workout--it's better than none. You may not need to, once you get going, but the "permission" should be sincere. It's not the end of the world to shave off 10 minutes of cardio or skip a few strength training exercises. Check your routine for duplicate exercises that work the same muscles --you may be able to alternate rather than doing them all every time. If the thought of an easier workout gets you out the door, it's well worth doing "less" sometimes.

Change Routes and Routines.
Another obvious tip, but one we don't do often enough. If you exercise outdoors and have found the "best" route available for your run or walk, it can be tempting to just stick to it until you are totally sick of it but don't even realize it. Find new routes, or if there are none, revisit rejects that seemed too hilly or busy or boring--they may make a good change of pace even if they're not perfect.

To Ban Food Dyes...

Yesterday we learned that food additives may contribute to ADHD and now The Center for Science in the Public Interest is calling for an outright ban on food colorings. More from Anna Boyd of eFluxMedia:
Therefore, the group is asking the FDA to ban the following eight food dyes: Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Orange B, Red 3, and Yellow 6. These ingredients, primarily derived from petroleum and coal tars, are used in everything from candies to cereals, soft drinks, and snack foods. Jacobson told the Associated Press that these chemicals are used to mask the absence of real food and to increase the appeal of a low-nutrition product to children.

However, the FDA dismissed the request saying on its web site “although the hypothesis was popularized in the 1970s, well-controlled studies conducted since then have produced no evidence that food additives cause hyperactivity or learning disabilities in children.”

The FDA’s position was also embraced by a prominent industry group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, whose chief science officer Robert Brackett said parents and children “can safely enjoy food products containing these food colors.”
You’d think the potential health risks would outweigh any need to consume colored eggs and purple candies—right?

Beyond the Saltshaker

Deadly excess salt comes from a wide variety of insidious sources! As I’m sure you now know, the salt you add at the table or during cooking is just the tip of the dangerous salt block. Only about 11% of the salt in the American diet comes from salt added at home. A whopping 77% comes from processed foods and restaurant foods (the remaining 12% occurs naturally in foods). Processed foods can contain 1000 mg or more of sodium per serving, and many typical restaurant meals contain 2300–4600 mg.1

Beyond fast food: It’s not just the usual fast food villains that are adding to the mounting excess sodium woes. Seemingly innocent, otherwise healthful foods can be part of the problem. One cup of commercially prepared vegetable broth can provide 940 mg of sodium, and one cup of canned beans can rack up 770 mg. Two tablespoons of Italian dressing on your salad adds 486 mg, and 1 cup of regular pasta sauce could include 1100 mg. (See chart for other foods and low-sodium

Not all brands the same: Sodium levels vary widely across brands for the same product. Some brands have 50–200% more sodium than their competitors. The “same” product marketed in different countries also will have different sodium levels. The U.S. version of Nabisco’s Premium Saltines has 40% more sodium per serving than its Canadian counterpart.2

Perfect for profit: Why are processed foods so loaded up with sodium? Salt heightens flavors, reduces bitterness, and enhances sweetness. Salt is perfect for processed foods. It is cheap. It keeps foods from becoming discolored, and it extends shelf life. It binds water and makes foods weigh more, so you pay more for a heavier package.3

What people want: When food companies do consumer research, they find that unless their food products are salty enough, people do not like the way they taste. As consumers have gotten used to higher and higher levels of salt in their foods, their taste buds have lost their ability to taste the subtle flavors found in natural foods. Once your ability to taste deteriorates to that point, all foods taste too bland unless they are highly salted. It is no wonder that a growing population whose taste buds are damaged demands foods that contain lots of salt.
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Kids, Drinking A LOT of Sugar...

Kids’ diets appear to be getting worse—kind of conflicts the news that childhood obesity is leveling off—because a new study claims sugary drinks now make up to 15% of children’s daily calories. Kathleen Doheny of HealthDay News reports:
Children aged 2 to 19 now take in up to 15 percent of their total daily calories from drinks that contain sugar, a finding that confirms previous research and suggests consumption is rising.

It's known from previous studies that children and teens in the United States drink a lot of sugary beverages, said study author Dr. Y. Claire Wang, an assistant professor of health policy and management at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, in New York City.

"We show that the consumption trend continues to increase," she said, and that it's occurring mostly at home.

Experts recommend restricting both sugary beverages such as soft drinks and 100 percent fruit juices, to avoid excess "empty" calories.

Wang's team analyzed 24-hour dietary recall records from children or their parents, trying to determine how many calories a day came from sugary beverages and 100 percent fruit juices.

They used data from two national surveys, conducted from 1988 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2004. The first survey had almost 10,000 participants, the second, almost 11,000.

Overall, daily calories from sugary beverages or 100 percent fruit juices rose from 242 calories a day to 270 during the two study periods.
Scary news because—despite the hype and their often hefty calorie-load—soda, sports drinks, and most juices are poor sources of nutrition. Check out their rankings via Dr. Fuhrman’s Food Scoring Guide:

I think you’d be better off eating air!

Hyperactivity: The Food Additives Argument

A new studying suggests eliminating colorings and preservatives from foods in order curb hyperactivity disorders. From The BMJ Publishing Group:
Whether preservatives and colourings cause or exacerbate hyperactive behaviours is an important question for many paediatricians and parents. A recent randomised placebo controlled trial in 297 children aged 3-9 years provides evidence of increased hyperactive behaviour after they ate a mixture of food colourings and a preservative (sodium benzoate).1 In contrast to many previous studies, the children were from the general population and did not have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The trial found an adverse effect of the mixture on behaviour as measured by a global hyperactivity aggregate score. The daily dose approximated that found in two 56 g bags of sweets.
Dr. Fuhrman is no stranger to this argument. He’s seen it first hand. Take a look:
What has been shown to be highly effective in some recent studies is high-nutrient eating, removal of processed foods, and supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids.1 The difference between my approach and others is that it changes a poor diet into an excellent one, supplying an adequate amount of thousands of important nutrients that work synergistically as well as removing those noxious substances such as chemical additives, trans fat, saturated fats, and empty-calorie food that place a nutritional stress on our brain cells. I believe this comprehensive approach is more effective; the scientific literature suggests this, and I have observed this in my practice with hundreds of ADHD children who have see me as patients.
Certainly lends credence to getting off preservatives and other additives.
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Wednesday: Health Points

An analysis of adult eating habits in the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that eating apples and apple products could greatly reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Researchers who looked at the NHANES data found that regularly consuming apples, applesauce or apple juice reduced the overall risk of metabolic syndrome by 27 percent.

An estimated 36 million Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X or insulin-resistance syndrome. It is linked to heart disease and diabetes and is characterized by hypertension, increased waist size and abdominal fat and elevated c-reactive protein levels.
"These data show that probiotic supplements modulate immune responses...and may have the potential to alleviate the severity of symptoms," Claudio Nicoletti and colleagues at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, Britain, reported in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy.

Probiotics contain live micro-organisms, so-called good bacteria that colonize the intestine. They are sold as supplements but are also found naturally in many fermented foods, including yogurt and certain juices.

Humans normally carry several pounds of bacteria in their intestines and they are key to digestion, immune system function and possibly play other beneficial roles. They can also out-compete "bad" bacteria that may cause disease.
Research shows that may not be a great idea. In a recent study, British researchers conducted a review of the medical literature going back to the 1950s in search of scientific evidence supporting the claim. They found none. Then, after a biochemical analysis, they compared the contents of colas and other sodas with over-the-counter oral-rehydration solutions containing electrolytes and small amounts of sugar.

The soft drinks, the authors found, not only contained very low amounts of potassium, sodium and other electrolytes, but also in some cases as much as seven times the glucose recommended by the World Health Organization for rehydration. “Carbonated drinks, flat or otherwise, including cola, provide inadequate fluid and electrolyte replacement and cannot be recommended,” they said.
The study, published in the American Medical Association's journal Archives of General Psychiatry, also found the heavy cannabis users earned lower scores than the nonusers in a verbal learning task -- trying to recall a list of 15 words.

The marijuana users were more likely to exhibit mild signs of psychotic disorders, but not enough to be formally diagnosed with any such disorder, the researchers said.

"These findings challenge the widespread perception of cannabis as having limited or no harmful effects on (the) brain and behavior," said Murat Yucel of ORYGEN Research Centre and the University of Melbourne, who led the study.
Convenience stores across the state and the smokers who will be paying the price are angry about the change, but health officials hail the tax increase as a success. Cigarette taxes will raise a total of $1.3 billion for the state budget in fiscal year 2008-2009, including the new tax.

"Isn't that something - to say that I'm excited about a tax increase? But I am," said Dr. Richard Daines, the New York health commissioner. "This is a public health victory. We know one of the really effective tools to get people off of their nicotine addiction is to the raise the price."

Smokers will be paying $2.75 per pack in state taxes, a jump from the previous tax of $1.50. Before the new tax, the average price of a pack of cigarettes was $5.82 statewide, and about $8 a pack in New York City, which levies its own taxes, Daines said. The new retail price for a pack in the city could now soar past $10 depending on the store.
Very preterm infants who are fed human milk that is supplemented with fatty acids show signs of improved intellectual development, or "cognition," at 6 months of age, researchers in Norway report in the medical journal Pediatrics.

During pregnancy, fatty acids are transferred to the fetus by placental proteins and incorporated into cell membranes, Dr. Christian Andre Drevon and colleagues explain. However, premature infants are relatively deprived of two fatty acids -- docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid -- because human milk supplies less than the fetus receives in the womb.

Drevon, at the University of Oslo, and colleagues examined the effect of adding docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid supplements to human breast milk, which was given to very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (birth weight less than 1500 grams, or about 3.3 lbs.). Infants with major birth defects or cerebral hemorrhage were excluded from the study.
True or false?
  1. Brussels sprouts are a type of cabbage.
  2. Brussels sprouts provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection for your body.
  3. Brussels sprouts are low in fiber.
  4. Phytonutrients in Brussels sprouts help the body to defend against diseases.
  5. Folate is one nutrient that can't be found in Brussels sprouts.
  6. If you need a good night's sleep, eating Brussels sprouts for dinner can help because they contain tryptophan, which is sleep-promoting.
  7. Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamin A.
Their findings, confirmed in two studies the researchers did on mice, were published in the June 2 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Researchers have long known that inflammation caused by infectious agents, such as Helicobacter pylori and hepatitis C, produces cytokines -- chemicals that can foster cancerous cell proliferation and suppress cell death. This increases the risk of stomach and liver cancers. They had also suspected that the inflammation pathway could also induce cancer, as the body's response to infection includes a release of reactive oxygen and nitrogen that can damage DNA.

Normally, the DNA damage would be repaired by the cells. But, if the DNA repair system is not functioning properly, the damage could induce cell mutations that can lead to cancer, according to the new study.

Salmonella Outbreak: Tomatoes a Suspect

Uncooked tomatoes are being linked to salmonella outbreaks in 9 states. The Associated Press reports:
An investigation by Texas and New Mexico health authorities and the Indian Health Service tied those cases to uncooked, raw, large tomatoes.

At least 17 people in Texas and New Mexico have been hospitalized. None have died, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Another 30 people have become sick with the same Salmonella Saintpaul infection in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Idaho, Illinois and Indiana. CDC investigators are looking into whether tomatoes were culprits there, too.
Not good. Tomatoes are a super food. Save the tomatoes!

Breaking Habits, Keeping Weight Off

Change can be hard. Changing your diet can be doubly tough and America’s favorite foods don’t exactly help matters. Dr. Fuhrman explains in Eat For Health:
Modern foods are designed to seduce your taste buds. You have been manipulated by profit motivated food manufacturers. We all have. The artificially concentrated flavors that the processed food industry uses to stimulate the brain’s pleasure center are designed to increase and retain sales. Tragically, the result is that they lead people’s taste buds astray. Artificial, intense flavors cause us to enjoy natural flavors less. Our taste buds become desensitized, and the more we succumb to the heightened, artificial flavors, the less appealing natural, whole foods become.
Now, Shari Roan of The Los Angeles Times asks the question, “Why it's hard to maintain weight loss?” Here’s an excerpt:
"There is a big shift toward understanding long-term weight maintenance," says Paul MacLean, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver. "We have a huge number of diet books and diet programs, and if you do them, you can lose weight. The big problem is keeping it off. The recent estimates are that 5% to 10% of people are successful at keeping weight off on a long-term basis."

But before you throw up your hands and reach for the Twinkies, consider this: Scientists think the truth will set us free -- that understanding the stubborn biological processes at work will lead to ways to fight back and outsmart them.

Exercise, it's known, buffers the post-diet body against regaining weight, in ways that researchers are just starting to comprehend. Certain foods, scientists believe, may help stave off weight regain too. And medications now in development target some of the biochemistry thought to be linked to packing the pounds back on…

…Appetite hormones change too. The hormone leptin, for example, is a major appetite regulator -- it tells the body to stop eating and store fat after meals. Some people may be genetically prone to having lower leptin levels, making them more prone to obesity. But studies also show that, after a weight loss, leptin levels are lower than what they used to be. That means appetite is less easily quelled. It's like a car that has suddenly lost its brakes.

Another hormone, ghrelin, stimulates food intake -- levels in the brain fall lower after a meal. However, after a weight loss, ghrelin levels in the blood generally increase, and the fall-off after mealtimes isn't as marked.

"You lose 10% of your body weight. All of a sudden all these systems kick in to try to keep you from losing weight," says Dr. Ken Fujioka, director of nutrition and metabolic research at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego. "People are mad at themselves or depressed after they regain the weight. But I explain: It's not you. Biology has kicked in now. . . . You are hungry all the time. You think about food all the time."
This is all well and good, but staying determined and keeping your eyes on the prize is a great way to buck to the trend. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
It is not easy to develop new habits, and there is no such thing as a quick shortcut to developing new skills and expertise. When you do something over and over, it creates a pathway in the brain that makes it easier and more comfortable to repeat again. That is one reason why it is so hard to change bad habits. However, if you are motivated to persevere and keep trying, the change becomes considerably easier. The more you make healthful meals and the more days you link together eating healthful foods, the more your brain will naturally prefer to eat that way. Of course, feeling better and losing weight is a great motivator, but through this process, your taste for a different way of eating can be established. It has been shown that a new food needs to be eaten about 15 times for it to become a preferred food. Keep in mind that the more days you eat healthfully, the more you will lose your addiction to unhealthful, stimulating substances, and, with time, you will look forward to, and prefer, a healthy diet. Don’t give up. The only failure is to stop trying.
I’m not an expert, but I think eating and living healthfully gets easier the longer you do it. For me, its as if my instincts changed—know what I mean?

Morning Joe Jolts Blood Sugar

New research claims that a morning cup of coffee causes glucose levels to rise. Sharon Kirkey of Canwest News:
Eating low-sugar cereal may seem like the healthy choice but drink a cup of coffee before breakfast and you might as well go for the chocolate corn pops.

Canadian researchers say drinking coffee before eating your morning cereal can affect the body's blood-sugar response and cause blood glucose levels to rise dramatically - especially when eating low-sugar cereals.

According to the study by University of Guelph researchers, blood sugar levels in people who ate low-sugar cereal were 250 per cent higher if they drank caffeinated coffee before or with breakfast, compared to decaf.

Eating low-sugar cereal may seem like the healthy choice but drink a cup of coffee before breakfast and you might as well go for the chocolate corn pops.

Canadian researchers say drinking coffee before eating your morning cereal can affect the body's blood-sugar response and cause blood glucose levels to rise dramatically - especially when eating low-sugar cereals.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman drops an interesting tidbit about coffee in Eat For Health:
It is difficult to discern the precise risks from heavy coffee drinking because most people who drink lots of coffee, do lots of other unhealthy behaviors too.
And eating processed breakfast cereal is certainly an unhealthy behavior.

Food Safety, Employee Attitude...

Apparently employee morale has A LOT to do with food safety. EMaxHealth reports:
The researchers surveyed 190 foodservice employees in 31 restaurants across three Midwestern states on their knowledge of and attitude toward three food safety measures that have the most substantial impact on public health: hand washing, using thermometers and proper handling of food contact surfaces. Only employees whose jobs directly involved food preparation tasks participated.

The researchers conclude that providing workers with training that does not target their attitudes may not improve food safety results. "While emphasis should be placed on training, it is also important to educate employees regarding positive outcomes of food safety such as decreasing patrons' risk of food borne illness, reducing the spread of microorganisms and keeping the work environment clean."
If you ever go to a restaurant and those people are working there—RUN!

Mediterranean Diet vs. Type-2 Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is supposed to be healthy, but many members of my Italian, pasta and olive oil eating extended family have endured obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Is there something wrong here? Maybe so, Dr. Fuhrman explains:
In the 1950s people living in the Mediterranean, especially on the island of Crete, were lean and virtually free of heart disease. Yet over 40 percent of their caloric intake come from fat, primarily olive oil. If we look at the diet they consumed back then, we note that Cretans ate mostly fruits, vegetables, beans and some fish. Saturated fat was less than 6 percent of their total fat intake. True, they ate lots of olive oil, but the rest of their diet was exceptionally healthy. They also worked hard in the fields, walking about nine miles a day, often pushing a plow or working other manual farm equipment.
Well, my family does eat a lot of olive and fish, but they’re certainly not plowing any fields. Actually, their diet and lifestyle is more like the diet of modern Crete. Back to Dr. Fuhrman:
Today the people of Crete are fat, just like us. They're still eating alot of olive oil, but their consumption of fruits, vegetables, and beans is down. Meat, cheese, and fish are their new staples, and their physical activity level has plummeted. Today, heart disease has skyrocketed and more than half the population of both adults and children in Crete is overweight.1
So I’m not sure you can bank on the results of this study. According to new research in the British Medical Journal adhering to a Mediterranean diet can protect you against developing type-2 diabetes. HealthDay News reports:
A Mediterranean diet is often recommended as a way to guard against cardiovascular disease, but whether it protects against diabetes hasn't been established. The diet emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts, cereals, legumes and fish, and deemphasizes meat and dairy products.

"The Mediterranean diet is a healthful eating plan that seems to help in the prevention of heart disease," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved with the study. "Consumption of the Mediterranean diet will support health and may aid in the prevention of several diseases," she added.

For the study, published online May 30 in the British Medical Journal, researchers tracked the diets of 13,380 Spanish university graduates with no history of diabetes. Participants filled out a 136-item food questionnaire, which measured their entire diet (including their intake of fats), their cooking methods and their use of dietary supplements.

During an average of 4.4 years of follow-up, the team found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, those who stuck very closely to the diet reduced their risk by 83 percent.
I think what attracts people to the Mediterranean diet is that it sound exotic and it is better than the Standard American Diet, but it’s not good enough! Time to start eating a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet!
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Bacon: Bad Just Got Worse!

Now I’ve seen it all. Someone actually figured out how to bacon MORE unhealthy! Presenting, canned bacon. Via

Please don’t tell me our soldiers are actually eating this garbage! Just look at bacon’s poor nutrient scores. From Dr. Fuhrman’s Food Scoring Guide:

And remember this report linking stomach cancer-risk to processed meats, like sausage, smoked ham, and bacon. Here’s a bit:
A review of 15 studies showed the risk of developing stomach cancer rose by 15 to 38 percent if consumption of processed meats increased by 30 grams (1 ounce) per day, the Karolinska Institute said in a statement…

…The institute said processed meats were often salted or smoked, or had nitrates added to them, in order to extend their shelf-life which could be connected to the increased risk of stomach cancer, the fourth most common type of cancer.
And of course Dr. Fuhrman is no fan of over-consuming animal products:
Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
I wonder who gets up in the morning and says, “Gee, I could really go for some canned salt and fat!” Yuck