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 "The lower body fat is like a bank into which deposits are made during childhood and only withdrawn during pregnancy and nursing," says Lassek.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.

Bigger Belly Means Greater Death Risk

When Dr. Fuhrman wrote Eat to Live he pointed out that obesity is a major detriment to long term. It sets you up for a whole mess of health problems. Here’s an excerpt:
Obesity is an important predictor of chronic ailments and quality of life than any other public scourge. In a recent survey of 9,500 Americans, 36 percent were overweight and 23 percent were obese, yet only 19 percent were daily smokers and 6 percent heavy drinkers.

With time, the ravages of obesity predispose the typical American adult to depression, diabetes, and hypertension and increase the risks of death in all ages and in almost every ethnic and gender group. The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that 300,000 deaths annually are caused by or related to obesity.
Clearly he’s onto something. A new study has determined that a large waist circumference is linked to an increased risk of death. Reuters reports:
"People should not only look at their weight, but also consider their waist," Dr. Annemarie Koster of the National Institute on Aging, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters Health.

Being overweight or obese is clearly bad for one's health, but the best way to gauge whether a person's fatness is putting them at risk has been "controversial," Koster and her team write in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Body mass index, or BMI, has been the standard measurement used, they add, but the way fat is distributed throughout the body -- especially at the waistline -- may be even more important than how many excess pounds a person is carrying.

To investigate the relationship among belly fat, BMI and mortality, the researchers followed 245,533 men and women participating in the National Institutes of Health-American Association of Retired Persons study. Study participants ranged in age from 51 to 72 at the study's outset, and were followed for nine years.

Among men, the researchers found, those in the top fifth based on their waist circumference were about 22 percent more likely to die during the study period than men with trimmer waistlines, independent of BMI. A similar risk was seen among women.
Why are some many Americans obese? In his new book, Eat for Health, Dr. Fuhrman believes that people are simply making the wrong food choices. Take a look:
Many people suffer from medical ailments because they were never taught about their bodies’ nutritional requirements. We eat entirely too many low-nutrient foods, which gives us excessive calories without enough nutrients. Our nutrient-deprived body then craves more food, and the availability of calorie-rich, low-nutrient foods enables us to eat ourselves to death. A diet based on milk, meats, cheese, pasta, bread, fried foods, and sugar-filled snacks and drinks lays the groundwork for obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, and autoimmune illnesses.
Here’s an experiment. Go to the supermarket and count the number of people in the produce isle and then the snack food isle. Let me know what happens.

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.

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...

Heart Disease: Get Some Sun!

According to new research lack of sunshine increases risk of death from heart disease. Lindsey Tanner of the Associated Press reports:
Patients with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D were about two times more likely to die from any cause during the next eight years than those with the highest levels, the study found. The link with heart-related deaths was particularly strong in those with low vitamin D levels.

Experts say the results shouldn't be seen as a reason to start popping vitamin D pills or to spend hours in the sun, which is the main source for vitamin D.

For one thing, megadoses of vitamin D pills can be dangerous and skin cancer risks from too much sunshine are well-known. But also, it can't be determined from this type of study whether lack of vitamin D caused the deaths, or whether increasing vitamin D intake would make any difference.
Vitamin D has been in the news a lot lately. Here are some recent posts:
Please, get some sun.

Eating Tomatoes, Again?

Tomatoes are returning to menus, but growers aren’t sure if people are going to eat them. Mercury News is on it:
California was one of the first states the FDA ruled out as a source of the salmonella outbreak, but the Golden State's tomato industry was still stricken by the warning.

"There's still a lot of consumer confusion out there," said Ed Beckman, president of California Tomato Farmers, a grower-owned cooperative that produces about 80 percent of the state's billion-pound-a-year fresh tomato crop.

Beckman said Monday that consumer demand is only 35 to 40 percent of normal, just as the state's tomato harvest in the San Joaquin Valley kicks into high gear. Demand from restaurants and other food service operators is only 65 to 80 percent of normal.

At Nob Hill Foods in Los Gatos, produce manager Eddie Ponce said tomato sales dropped considerably during the past couple of weeks. "People were scared and didn't want to buy any tomatoes, even the good ones," Ponce said.

Before the outbreak, he said, the store sold eight to 10 boxes of vine-ripened tomatoes a week. After the outbreak, sales plummeted to two to three boxes a week.

Low demand has driven down prices. Right now, Beckman said, tomatoes are between $8 and $10 for a 25-pound box. Before the scare, they were running about $15 a box.
Now, here’s a great reason why I’ve kept eating tomatoes. From Dr. Fuhrman:
Tomatoes have been a hot topic in recent years because their consumption has been linked to dramatic reduction in the incidence of common cancers. One of the tomatoes' heavily investigated anti-cancer phytochemicals is lycopene, which has been shown to be protective against cancer, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancers.
Let’s not forget about my kick-ass tomatoes!

No Plowing the Way for Energy-Crops

Actually, that’s a good thing! Using abandoned farmlands to grow bio-fuels could eliminate the need to clear forests for new fields. From the Environmental News Network:
Using these lands for energy crops, instead of converting existing croplands or clearing new land, avoids competition with food production and preserves carbon-storing forests needed to mitigate climate change. Sustainable bioenergy is likely to satisfy no more than 10% of the demand in the energy-intensive economies of North America, Europe, and Asia. But for some developing countries, notably in Sub-Saharan Africa, the potential exists to supply many times their current energy needs without compromising food supply or destroying forests…

…The researchers estimate that globally up to 4.7 million square kilometers (approximately 1.8 million square miles) of abandoned lands could be available for growing energy crops. The potential yield of this land area, equivalent to nearly half the land area of the United States (including Alaska), depends on local soils and climate, as well as on the specific energy crops and cultivation methods in each region. But the researchers estimate that the worldwide harvestable dry biomass could amount to as much as 2.1 billion tons, with a total energy content of about 41 exajoules. While this is a significant amount of energy (one exajoule is a billion billion joules, equivalent to about 170 million barrels of oil), at best it would satisfy only about 8% of worldwide energy demand.
I’ve got an even better idea. Let’s cut down on all the cattle pastures and use that land for bio-fuels too!

Artificial Turf, Full of Lead

Back in April federal authorities expressed concern over artificial turf and now their suspicions have been confirmed. Excess lead has been found in artificial turf. The Associated Press reports:
The report from the Center for Environmental Health comes after New Jersey officials found unacceptably high lead levels in some synthetic surfaces and federal authorities recommended lead testing on fraying sports fields.

The center's tests, which it hired an independent lab to verify, went beyond sports fields. They found excessive lead in indoor/outdoor carpeting, artificial lawns and playground grass made with nylon and polyethylene, said Charles Margulis, a spokesman for the group.

The group classified the amount of lead as excessive if it exceeded 600 parts per million, which is the maximum allowable in paint. About 50 products were tested, and at least 15 were found to have high lead levels.

In one test, the lead was so accessible it could be wiped away with a cloth, according to the Oakland, California-based group that focuses on identifying toxins in everyday consumer products.
Yeah, I stick to running on pavement.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Yields Fat Kids...

New research is encouraging women not to gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy because the extra pounds could increase their child’s chances of becoming overweight. More from Reuters:
Looking at data from more than 10,000 mother-child pairs, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that children whose mothers gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy were 48 percent more likely than other children to be overweight at age 7.

In the U.S., the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that normal-weight women gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Women who were overweight before becoming pregnant are encouraged to gain a little less -- 15 to 25 pounds -- while underweight women should put on 28 to 40 pounds.

The new findings suggest that exceeding those recommendations may raise a child's own odds of excessive weight gain in the future.

"Based on these results, encouraging healthy eating and aerobic physical activity for pregnant women to help meet the IOM guidelines may help curtail the childhood obesity epidemic," said lead researcher Dr. Brian Wrotniak, a postdoctoral fellow at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Reminds me of last week’s report: High-Fat Diet During Pregnancy, May Impact Daughter's Puberty.

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...

My Thoughts on Dean Ornish's Cancer-Prevention Claims

Dean Ornish, M.D. has always been and still is a pioneer of lifestyle medicine in America. His most recent papers add to the growing body of evidence that shows dietary excellence and other healthful habits like exercise, yoga and meditation have a profound beneficial effect on the body.

It is not just heart disease and prostate cancer, but high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. It is headaches, allergies, autoimmune diseases and pain syndromes too. We are not going to win the war with more money spent on drug research looking for a magic pill, the money is in prevention and we must educate the public to take action now. We have an unconscionable expensive and relatively ineffective health care system in America that relies on drugs that reinforce to the population that disease is predominantly genetic and not within their control. This just fuels food addiction, poor diet choices and poor lifestyle as people no longer take personal responsibility for their own health. As politicians argue the best way to pay for the mess we have created through our dependency on physicians, medicines and surgeries, we ignore the best answer—lifestyle and nutritional medicine. It works more effectively than drugs for most diseases, and it is practically free.

Not to toot my own horn, but I have been hollering this from the rooftops for twenty years. I and others are also involved with some exciting studies in progress, but many excellent studies have been done already and many more will follow, but you don’t have to wait until mainstream doctors give up their prescription pads, you can take control of your health destiny now and protect yourself so you can have a healthful and more pleasurable long-life. The best health care is proper self care and nutritional excellence.

I may not agree with everything Dr. Ornish advises, but these are small issues. The main thing here is Dean Ornish is making it easier for all of us to convince the skeptics. More people than ever before are joining the bandwagon to take control of their health destiny via a healthier lifestyle and better food choices and saying no to doctors and prescription drugs.

Is Big Business Really Making Teflon Safe?

Many companies promised to phase out cancer-causing chemicals in Teflon by 2015, but, it seems they’re up to their old tricks instead. From the Environmental News Network:
But an investigation by Environmental Working Group (EWG) finds no evidence that the industry-touted replacement chemicals being rushed to market are safer -- and plenty of evidence that DuPont and other manufacturers are continuing a decades-long pattern of deception about the health risks of PFOA and related chemicals.

Like PFOA-based coatings, the new compounds are also made from, contaminated with, or break down into perfluorochemicals (PFCs), including new coatings for household products like stain-resistant fabrics and carpet, waterproof clothing, and food packaging. Like PFOA, they persist in the environment and can cross the placenta to contaminate babies before birth. But unlike PFOA — for which there are dozens of peer-reviewed studies showing links to cancer, reproductive problems and immune disorders — for the replacement chemicals there are almost no publicly available data on their health risks, leaving in question whether food packaging and other PFC-containing products are any safer.

EWG’s investigation is the first review of health data and industry greenwashing since the phaseout agreement was announced. We examined federal reports on food packaging toxicity; industry-funded health studies in Environmental Protection Agency files; and company e-mails unearthed in a lawsuit over PFOA pollution of drinking water near a DuPont facility in West Virginia.
Wait, big business ignoring social responsibility—no! You don’t say. Give me a break.

Obesity, the Stigma...

In this country of desired-perfection being overweight is a bummer—believe me, I know—and new research outlines the pain and discrimination of being obese. WebMD reports:
"Being overweight has consequences," says Paul Komesaroff, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at Monash University in Melbourne. Komesaroff led the study and presented his findings this week at ENDO 08, the 90th annual meeting of The Endocrine Society in San Francisco.

His team interviewed 76 people about their life experiences associated with their excess weight. "They feel they are regarded as lazy, self-indulgent, and blamed for the fact they are overweight, despite the fact they may have to struggle to overcome it," he tells WebMD.
  • Being obese carries a social stigma.
  • Being obese affects their personal identity.
  • Obese persons say they feel misunderstood by health care providers.
It sounds simplistic, but, the solution is obvious. Put your nose to the grindstone and get healthy. To semi-quote Smokey the Bear, “Only you can prevent…obesity.”

Aussies, Very Tubby

Guess what? We’re NOT the fattest! According to a new report, Australians are more obese than Americans. From the AFP:
The report from the Baker Heart Institute found that 70 percent of men and 60 percent of women aged 45-65 had a body mass of 25 or more, meaning they were overweight or obese.

Titled "Australia's Future Fat Bomb," the study compiled the results of height and weight checks carried out on 14,000 adult Australians in 2005.

The institute's head of preventative cardiology professor Simon Stewart said the results meant Australia probably had the highest rate of obesity in the world, outweighing even the United States.

"As we send our athletes off to the Olympics let's reflect on the fact that we would win the gold medal problem now in the world fat Olympics if there was such a thing," he said.
Not good. Crocodile Dundee won’t be nearly as cool with a beer belly.

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.

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.

Training Helps Cancer Patients

A Dutch study insists that physical training should be part of a cancer patient’s rehabilitation. Reuters reports:
After being treated for cancer, people showed significant improvements in physical function and vitality for up to three months after completing a 12-week training program. They also felt healthier, Dr. Bart van den Borne of Maastricht University and colleagues found.

Adding cognitive behavioral therapy to the mix didn't result in additional improvements, van den Borne and his team report in the medical journal Psychosomatic Medicine, but they say it's too early to conclude that this type of counseling has no value for patients.

More and more people are surviving cancer, the researchers note, but as many as 30 percent say their quality of life has been reduced and that they could use help with both physical and psychosocial issues.

To investigate what type of rehab program might be most effective, van den Borne and his colleagues randomly assigned 209 patients who had completed cancer treatment to a physical training program, or to physical training plus a weekly cognitive behavioral training session, or to a waiting list.
Exercise, always a good idea! Be sure to check out Followhealthlife’s exercise category.

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.

Diet Blog's No Worries...

Mike Howard of Diet Blog offers up his list of 10 things you don’t need to worry about for a healthy life, and, here they are:
    1. Macronutrient Ratios
    2. Taking a Multivitamin
    3. Drinking Coffee
    4. 8 Glasses of water
    5. Bicep Curls
    6. Fat count
    7. Net Carbs
    8. Eating After 6pm
    9. Eating Organic
    10. Artificial Sweeteners
I don’t agree with all of Mike’s thoughts, but the one about macronutrients is pretty good. Check this out, from Food Scoring Guide: Macronutrients:
Macronutrients are nutrients that contain calories. There are only macronutrients—fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Macronutrients give us the calories we need for energy and growth. All natural foods contain a mixture of fat, carbohydrates, and protein, although some (primarily animal products) contain only two of the three. For example, a banana is mostly carbohydrate (93%), but it does contain some fat (3%) and protein (4%). Spinach, like all dark leafy green vegetables, contain approximately equal amounts of carbohydrates (40%) and protein (43%), along with a lesser amount of fat (7%). Sirloin steak is all fat (44%) and protein (56%) and contains no carbohydrate.

With Americans gaining weight at such a fast pace, there seems to be an endless stream of diet books that focus on manipulating the amounts and the percentages of the macronutrients—carbohydrate, fat, and protein—that we eat. But fiddling around macronutrient percentages is not the way to lose weigh or improve health. In fact, the only way to slow the tidal wave of increased chronic disease and obesity is for people to eat less of all three macronutrients.
Oh, and be sure to read the rest of the post for Mike’s explanations.

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.

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.
Continue Reading...

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.

Male Diabetics: Stay Fit, Live Longer

According to a new study fitness is a very important component in determine male diabetics’ lifespan. Kevin McKeever of HealthDay News is on it:
"Death rates were the highest for those who were 'low fit' in all weight categories," researcher Dr. Roshney Jacob-Issac, an endocrinology fellow at George Washington University Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

Researchers used 2,690 male diabetic veterans in VA hospitals, most of whom were overweight or obese based on their body mass index (BMI), a measure of body fat using height and weight.

The vets were categorized as having low, moderate or high fitness level, depending on their performance on a standard treadmill exercise tolerance test.

The researchers found that the higher the man's level of fitness, the lower his risk of dying during the study period. For example, those in the high fitness level -- whether at normal body weight or overweight -- reduced their risk of death by 40 percent. The findings were even more dramatic for those classified as obese but in reasonable good shape: a cut in death risk of 52 percent, when compared to peers not physically fit, the study found during its seven-year follow-up period.

"Diabetics should improve their fitness level or exercise capacity to at least a moderate level, by being physically active. Weight loss is great, but being active is just as important," Jacob-Issac advised.
If you ask me, exercise is always a good idea!

Are Shower Curtains Dangerous?

Nowadays everyone is creeped out by plastic and phthalates, but should we be worrying about shower curtains too? More from Bethany Sanders of ParentDish:
Phthalates also may pose a health risk, however, and have been linked to everything from hormonal changes to allergies to cancer. They also are present in many common household products, including your shower curtain. You know that chemical-y odor you smell when you first put up a new vinyl curtain? That's an indicator that the curtain you bought contains phthalates.

Consumers have reported nausea, headaches, and even breathing difficulty after putting a new shower curtain into place. Because children spend a lot of time in the tub, not only getting clean but also playing, this can be a concern for parents.

Of course, it's easy enough to get around this problem -- don't buy shower curtains that say "PVC," "vinyl," or have the number 3 in the recycling symbol. Also, avoid shower curtains that are unlabeled. Instead, stick to fabric shower curtains and liners instead. (For those of you that think fabric shower curtains are more work, we bought a fabric liner last year and not only is it far less likely to mildew, it's simple to clean.)
What’s next? Pen caps and sandwich bags!

Obesity, Then and Now

This is depressing. The CDC shows how obesity has ballooned in the United States over the past 20 years. Here we are in 1985:

And now fast forward to 2005:

Wow, based on this our future looks grim. Thanks to Michael for sending this over.

U.S. Hospitals Botch Breast-Feeding

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that hospitals in the United States fail to adequately promote breast-feeding. The Associated Press is on it:
About a quarter of hospitals reported giving formula or some other supplement to more than half of their healthy, full-term newborns. The practice was common even when mothers were able and willing to breast-feed, Dee said.

Of hospitals who gave supplements, 30 percent gave sugar water and 15 percent gave water.

Experts say there are no good nutritional reasons to use those, but it is commonly done to quiet crying babies separated from their mother. Sometimes it's done to test a baby's ability to feed - even though such a test is usually not necessary, Dee said.

Breast-feeding is considered beneficial to both mothers and their babies. Breast milk contains antibodies that can protect newborns from infections, and studies have found breast-fed babies are less likely to become overweight that those fed with formula.
For more breast-feeding news, check out Followhealthlife’s healthy parenting category.

Arthritis Bad for the Heart

According to a new report rheumatoid arthritis can double your heart attack and stroke risk. More from Reuters:
A report by a medical task force to the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Paris concluded the risk was comparable to that associated with type 2 diabetes, which is already an established cardiovascular risk factor.

Dr Michael Nurmohamed , leader of the task force, said the inflammatory processes underlying rheumatoid arthritis appeared to increase patients' risk of serious heart problems.

"There is mounting evidence that inflammation may be the missing link," he said in a statement.

As a result, giving patients cholesterol-lowering statin medicines and anti-hypertensives to reduce blood pressure may yield greater benefits than in the general population, he added.
This will make you think twice about your achy joints.

Aerobics vs. Insomnia

Can’t sleep? Well, a new study has determined that moderate aerobic exercise can ease the symptoms of insomnia. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
Researchers at the Federal University of Sao Paulo divided 28 women and eight men with primary chronic insomnia into three exercise groups -- moderate aerobic, heavy aerobic, and moderate strength -- and one control group.

After the exercise session, those who did moderate aerobic exercise showed reductions in sleep onset latency (54 percent) and wake time (36 percent) and increases in total sleep time (21 percent) and sleep efficiency (18 percent). They also showed a 7 percent decrease in anxiety.

"These findings indicate that there is a way to diminish the symptoms of insomnia without using medication," study author Giselle S. Passos said in a prepared statement.
Sometimes I get up so early to exercise. It feels like I have insomnia.

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!

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!
Continue Reading...

Teenagers, Not Enough Vitamin D

Some experts believe that the current Vitamin D recommendations for teenagers may be too low. Reuters is on it:
In a trial that followed 340, 10- to 17-year-olds for one year, Lebanese researchers found that vitamin D doses equivalent to 2,000 IU per day were not only safe, but also achieved more-desirable blood levels of the vitamin.

The dose used in the study was 10 times the official "adequate intake" level set for vitamin D in the United States -- 200 IU per day for children and adults younger than 50.

An adequate intake, or AI, is set when health officials believe there is insufficient evidence to lay down a recommended dietary allowance, or RDA.

But some researchers have argued that the 200 IU standard is too low. This year, the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that children and teenagers get 400 IU of vitamin D each day.
When I was a teenager I wasn’t worried about vitamin D. I was more concerned with the cute girl in my Spanish I class—hola senorita. Wink-wink.

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.

Americans Can Live to 78

Japan has the longest life expectancy of 83 years, but despite all our health woes, U.S. life expectancy is 78. Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press reports:
For the first time, U.S. life expectancy has surpassed 78 years, the government reported Wednesday, although the United States continues to lag behind about 30 other countries in estimated life span.

The increase is due mainly to falling mortality rates in almost all the leading causes of death, federal health officials said. The average life expectancy for babies born in 2006 was about four months greater than for children born in 2005.

Japan has the longest life expectancy -- 83 years for children born in 2006, according to World Health Organization data. Switzerland and Australia were also near the top of the list…

…The U.S. infant mortality rate dropped more than 2 percent, to 6.7 infant deaths per 1,000 births, from 6.9.

Perhaps the most influential factor in the 2006 success story, however, was the flu. Flu and pneumonia deaths dropped by 13 percent from 2005, reflecting a mild flu season in 2006, Anderson said. That also meant a diminished threat to people with heart disease and other conditions. Taken together, it's a primary explanation for the 22,000 fewer deaths in 2006 from 2005, experts said.

U.S. life expectancy has been steadily rising, usually by about two to three months from year to year. This year's jump of fourth months is "an unusually rapid improvement," Preston said.
Honestly, 78 and even 83 doesn’t impress me. I want it all! I want to want to live to 100 plus. And it’s very possible according to Dr. Fuhrman:
Increasing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and raw nuts and seeds (and greatly decreasing the consumption of animal products) offers profound increased longevity potential, due in large part to broad symphony of life-extending phytochemical nutrients that a vegetable-based diet contains…

…Centenarian studies in Europe illustrate that those individuals living into their hundreds were likely to have consumed a plant-based diet consisting of fewer than 2000 calories per day. Multiple studies have confirmed that the thinnest people live the longest.
Just get a load of this dude. He’s one kick-ass old guy: 72 and Going Strong.

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.

How You Sleep and You

Researchers have determined that the way you sleep, says a lot about your personality. Via eDiets:
According to a study by Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, there are six most-common sleep positions, and each one can give a real glimpse into what kind of person you are. "We are all aware of our body language when we are awake, but this is the first time we have been able to see what our subconscious posture says about us," he told the BBC News. "What's interesting is that the profile behind the posture is often very different from what we'd expect."
The Starfish

If you like on your back with both arms up on your pillow (5 percent), you are always ready to listen and often offer help where needed. Starfish sleepers generally make good friends -- but tend to dislike being the center of attention. Not-so-fun fact: Typically leads to snoring and restless sleep.

The Freefall

Brace yourself: People who sleep on their stomachs with hands up around their head (7 percent) can come off as brash and unreserved, but are really a little nervy and thin-skinned underneath. Freefallers don't like criticism or extreme situations. Fun fact: Sleeping like this is good for digestion.
I always fall asleep in starfish, but usually wake up in freefall—so what the heck does that say about me! Be sure to check out the rest of the report: What Your Sleep Position Says About You...

Fat Baby, Fat Kid?

It seems rapid weight-gain as an infant can lead to obesity later in life. WebMD reports:
In a separate study from Finland, researchers found little evidence of an obesity link associated with rapid weight gain before the age of 2. But rapid weight gain after the second birthday was found to be a risk factor for obesity later in life.

The study included 885 Finnish men and 1,032 women between the ages of 56 and 70, whose childhood weights and heights were known from medical records.

Rapid weight gain before age 2 was associated with increases in lean mass while rapid gains later in childhood predicted higher body fat in adulthood.

In the third study, rapid weight gain during the first six months of life was found to increase obesity risk later in childhood.

Researchers from London's Institute of Child Health investigated the associations between weight gain during different periods in infancy and later body composition in 105 boys and 129 girls living in the U.K.

The three studies are not the first to link early growth to later obesity.
For more baby news, check out Followhealthlife’s healthy parenting category.

Pomegranate Juice Good for the Little Man

New research claims that drinking pomegranate juice can help with erectile dysfunction. Chris Sparling of That’s Fit passes it along:
Pomegranate juice has for quite some time been touted for its antioxidant properties. Citing heart health as a primary benefit of its ability to help prevent free radical damage, many people made the switch to this more expensive juice in recent years…

…A University of California study revealed that drinking a glass of pomegranate juice every day helps erectile dysfunction. It turns out that the same antioxidant properties that help ward off free radical damage also prevent circulatory issues, thus offering a wee bit of help to the fellas who need it.
I drink a shot of pomegranate juice everyday, but not for this reason! Now, Dr. Fuhrman is a big fan of pomegranates. Take a look:
Not only are pomegranates good for your heart and blood vessels but they have been shown to inhibit breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia and to prevent vascular changes that promote tumor growth in lab animals.1

Pomegranates' potent antioxidant compounds have also been shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.2 Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.

Pomegranate juice has also been found to contain phytochemical compounds that stimulate serotonin and estrogen receptors, improving symptoms of depression and improving bone mass in lab animals.3

Given the fact that pomegranate juice is so rich in heart protective compounds and there are animal studies to support the beneficial findings in human studies, it makes the results of these recent investigations understandable and believable. Pomegranate is a powerful food for good health.
So, why not give these pomegranate inspired recipes a try: Got Pomegranate?
Continue Reading...

Low Vitamin D, More Heart Attacks in Men

Apparently low levels of vitamin D can double a man’s risk of having a heart attack. Martin Mittelstaedt of Globe and Mail reports:
The findings, published yesterday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, may help shed light on why many people with no known risk factors - such as high blood pressure or smoking - inexplicably develop heart attacks. It also suggests it may be possible to reduce the incidence of the often fatal condition by popping an inexpensive pill that is widely available in pharmacies and supplement stores.

"It's an important finding," says Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, one of the researchers.

"It does indicate that even individuals without the standard risk factors for heart disease may be at somewhat higher risk if they have lower vitamin D levels," he said.

Dr. Giovannucci said vitamin D may be beneficial by reducing the buildup of plaque in arteries, one of the causes of heart attacks.

The possible link between vitamin D insufficiency and heart attacks is among a growing number of recent medical observations about the nutrient, which is often dubbed the sunshine vitamin because it can be created in people's skin when it is exposed to strong ultraviolet light, in addition to being available in a pill form.
Shameless plug, but Dr. Fuhrman sells a great vitamin D, its called Osteo–Sun.

Clean Teeth, Healthy Heart!

According to a new study having good oral hygiene lowers your risk of developing bacterial disease in your heart valves. HealthDay News reports:
In the study of 290 dental patients, researchers analyzed the amount of bacteria released into the bloodstream (bacteremia) during tooth brushing and tooth extraction, with and without antibiotics. Blood samples were taken from the patients before, during and after these activities, and analyzed for bacterial species associated with IE.

The researchers found the incidence of IE-related bacteremia from tooth brushing (23 percent) was closer to that of extraction than expected -- 33 percent for extraction with antibiotics and 60 percent for extraction without antibiotics.

"This suggests that bacteria get into the bloodstream hundreds of times a year, not only from tooth brushing, but also from other routine activities like chewing food," study author Peter Lockhart, chairman of the department of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C., said in a prepared statement.

"While the likelihood of bacteremia is lower with brushing, these routine daily activities likely pose a greater risk for IE simply due to frequency: that is, bacteremia from brushing twice a day for 365 days a year versus once or twice a year for dental office visits involving teeth cleaning, or fillings or other procedures," Lockhart said.
That’s why every 4 months you’ll find me digging my nails into a dentist chair getting scraped and cleaned—eek!

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?

Sleep, Get Some!

I’m a little sleepy today and apparently I’m not alone. About 40 million Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. Dennis Thompson of HealthDay News reports:
As things get more hectic, sleep tends to get short shrift. It's seen as wasted time, lost forever.

"For healthy people, there's a big temptation to voluntarily restrict sleep, to stay up an hour or two or get up an hour or two earlier," said Dr. Greg Belenky, director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University Spokane.

"But you're really reducing your productivity and exposing yourself to risk," Belenky added.

That's a message doctors are trying to spread to Americans, including the estimated 40 million people who struggle with some type of sleep disorder each year.

Before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1880, people slept an average of 10 hours a night. These days, Americans average 6.9 hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.5 hours a night on weekends, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

"The group of people getting optimal sleep is getting smaller and smaller," said Dr. Chris Drake, senior scientist at the Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center in Detroit. "When a person's sleep drops to six hours or less, that's when a lot of things become very problematic."
We all need sleep and lots of it! Dr. Fuhrman explains in Get Sufficient Rest and Sleep for Recovery.

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.

Locally Grown Food Healthier?

Food bought at a farmers market or a CSA tastes much better than food from large commercial food companies, but, could it also be better for you? The New York Times Well blog investigates:
A team of researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a grant to study the public health impact of moving toward a local, sustainable food system. An increasingly vocal local food movement calls for consumers to try to buy and eat foods produced within 100 miles of their homes.

So far, there’s not real evidence that eating locally farmed food is better for you. But there are many reasons to think it might be. By definition, locally farmed food is not going to come from large commercial food companies, so people who eat locally aren’t going to consume as much processed food, which typically contains lots of refined carbohydrates, sugar, fat and preservatives.

By focusing your diet on products grown and raised within 100 miles of your home, you will likely end up eating more fruits and vegetables as well. Shopping for fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets is also pleasurable and may lead to more variety in your diet. Eating local often means you can meet the people who produce your food, and you can also ask questions about pesticide use and farming methods.
I think a big plus is the environmental factor. Locally grown food means less fuel burned during transport.

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.

Eco-Points: Burning PCBs and Dole Planting Trees

Despite that law, Veolia Environmental Services is asking the EPA to let it ignore the law and import more than 20,000 tons of PCBs from Mexico for incineration.

And let's talk about just how nasty PCBs are. Some are implicated as carcinogens. PCBs and breakdown products may suppress your immune system, can impair your reproductive system; and they accumulate and linger in the body. Pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable and sensitive populations to harm from exposure to PCBs.

Veolia ES already incinerates all sorts of hazardous things in Port Arthur - including chemical weapons the Army no longer needs (and under controversial arrangements, as well). A Gulf Coast town, Port Arthur is home to many chemical plants, Superfund sites and oil refineries. Local resident Hilton Kelly said because the town is also home to many low-income families, Veolia sees it as the path of least resistance. It is an environmental justice issue. "They're taking advantage of this community," said Kelly.

Dole Food Company, Inc and its operating divisions in Latin America celebrated World Environment Day yesterday by organizing tree-planting events and environmental awareness campaigns with communities, employees and local officials to motivate participants to work toward environmental protection and mitigation of climate change.

Jonathan Bass, President of Dole Latin America stated, “I am pleased to see and share in the excitement that these World Environment Day events have produced with our employees and workers and particularly within the communities in which our production units operate. We all have an important role to play in protecting the environment”.

In Costa Rica, the event is also linked to the official opening of Dole’s organic pineapple plantation reaffirming the company’s leading position in organic agriculture and alternative production methods. The activity includes the planting of 5,000 trees provided by the National Electricity Institute as part of the Costa Rican Government’s pledge to plant 7 million trees in the year 2008. School children, local government regulators, field workers, office employees, neighbors and the region’s congresswoman will plant trees at the organic plantation to commemorate World Environment Day and demonstrate the effectiveness of private, public and community partnership.

Garlic, Fresh Power!

We all know garlic is good for us, but new research has determined that fresh garlic is best. More from WebMD:
Researchers in Japan compared fresh garlic with garlic preserved in water, alcohol, and vegetable oil, specifically measuring a key ingredient called allicin. Allicin is the main active ingredient in garlic and the chemical responsible for its characteristic smell.

Allicin is widely promoted for its antibacterial properties. Some studies have shown that allicin helps fight infections and may help prevent bacteria-related food poisoning. Other research has suggested that the compound can help against blood clots and certain cancers.

Allicin is fragile and disappears quickly, leading the study's researchers to question whether various storage methods would affect its levels.

The team's experiments revealed that fresh crushed garlic is more stable and maintains higher levels of allicin than preserved versions.
I love garlic! If you do too, give this recipe a try:
Southern-Style Mixed Greens
1 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
dash of black pepper
1 15-ounce can black eyed peas (no or low salt)*, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped yellow peppers
1 cup chopped tomato
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or low fat dressing
10 ounces (about 7 cups) mixed salad greens
Combine water, garlic, and black pepper in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Add black eyed peas; cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Drain. In a bowl, combine black eyed peas with yellow peppers and next four ingredients. Cover and chill for 3 hours or overnight. Serve over salad greens. Serves 2.
And it keeps vampires away too!

High Cholesterol, High Risk of Parkinson's Disease

According to a new study having high cholesterol increases your risk of Parkinson’s disease. Reuters reports:
While it's well established that high cholesterol increases heart disease risk, "the association between serum cholesterol level and neurodegenerative diseases risk has been debated," write Dr. Gang Hu, of the National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues.

The researchers examined this relationship in a cohort of 24,773 Finnish men and 26,153 women between the ages of 25 and 74 years. A total of 321 men and 304 women developed Parkinson's disease during an average follow-up of 18 years, the researchers report in the medical journal Neurology.

Compared to people with the lowest cholesterol, those with the highest had an 86 percent greater likelihood of developing Parkinson's disease.
Keeping tabs on your cholesterol is important. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in Can Cholesterol Be Too Low?

Silver Fillings, Dangerous?

The FDA says silver-colored dental fillings may pose a mercury risk for pregnant women, children, and fetuses. Reuters reports:
As part of the settlement with several consumer advocacy groups, the FDA agreed to alert consumers about the potential risks on its website and to issue a more specific rule next year for fillings that contain mercury, FDA spokeswoman Peper Long said.

Millions of Americans have the fillings, or amalgams, to patch cavities in their teeth.

"Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses," the FDA said in a notice on its Web site.

"Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury bioburden, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner," the agency said.
Actually, I’m in the process of getting mine switched to white fillings.

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?

Heart Health: Sprint or the Long Haul

A new study claims short high-intensity workouts are just as heath health as endurance training. The New York Times Well blog is on it:
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada recruited 20 healthy men and women whose average age was 23. All of the study subjects rode stationary bikes. Some exercised five days a week, doing 40 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling. Others did four to six sets of 30-second sprints on the cycle, allowing 4.5 minutes of recovery time between sets; their total exercise time was about 15 to 25 minutes just three days a week.

After six weeks, the researchers found that the intense sprint interval training improved the structure and function of arteries as much as traditional, longer endurance exercise.

“More and more, professional organizations are recommending interval training during rehabilitation from diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, peripheral artery disease and cardiovascular disease,'’ said Maureen MacDonald, academic advisor and an associate professor in the department of kinesiology.
I do both. I run for a steady pace and then I sprint the last leg—it’s not how you start, but how you finish! Here’s more on my exercise routine: Blogging and Dieting, a Follow Up.

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.

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...

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?

Science, Progress, and Profits...

Julie’s Health Club passes along a new study that claims pharmaceutical ads “bias” medical journal content. See for yourself:
Doctors often rely on medical journals to stay updated. But the more drug ads a journal contains, the less likely that the journal will also contain articles about dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals and herbs), according to a small pilot study that reviewed a year’s worth of issues from 11 major journals…

…More research is needed because "the ultimate impact of this bias on professional guidelines, health care, and health policy is a matter of great public concern," concluded lead author Kathi Kemper, director of the program for holistic and integrative medicine at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
It gets worse. Get a load of this report by NBC News, “More profit than progress in cancer research.” Here’s a bit:
As I do every year at this time, I have been covering the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s biggest gathering of cancer specialists. At least 33,000 medical professionals registered for this year’s meeting. The number of attendees has been climbing yearly for decades, an indication of the enormous growth of the cancer treatment industry.

In the massive commercial exhibits area, drug companies vie to attract attention for their treatments and diagnostics. Many of those products sell for tens of thousands of dollars a year for each patient and bring in billions of dollars for their manufacturers.

During conference session breaks the seemingly endless hallways of Chicago’s monstrous McCormick Place Convention Center become gorged with doctors walking at slightly crooked angles. The gait results from each carrying a conference bag filled with the huge printed programs, books of study abstracts, as well as the drug company handouts they accumulate. Those doctors, considered "thought leaders" whose prescribing patterns influence other doctors, score invitations to drug company parties at some of the cities most elegant restaurants and clubs.

In the midst of this annual frenzy, it's appropriate to ask a question that has become a cliché of medical journalism: Are we winning the war on cancer?
This doesn’t surprise me. Doesn’t surprise Dr. Fuhrman either, his thoughts:
Pharmaceutical companies—not independent medical or scientific researchers—control the vast majority of research and clinical trials. We have lost the judgment and rationale of independent experts and now depend on drug companies to honestly report the risks and benefits of drugs they manufacture and sell. This is like asking the fast-food industry to be in charge of our nutritional advice. The medical studies that drug companies pay for and publicize are heavily biased in favor of the drugs they sell. The economically powerful pharmaceutical industry and the large chemical-food conglomerates wield undue influence on government and the media. Accurate nutritional information is rarely reported because the media cannot produce stories that go against the interests of their advertisers. Instead, the media is quick to report on drug company press releases--self-serving propaganda announcing new anticancer "breakthroughs" that reinforce the myth that we are winning the war against cancer.
Seems tyrannical—makes me angry!

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.
Continue Reading...

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.

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!

Type-1 Diabetes: Vitamin D Good for Babies...

According to a new study giving babies vitamin D may help prevent type-1 diabetes. Anne Harding of Reuters explains:
"This is just another reason why current recommendations regarding vitamin D supplementation should be rigorously adhered to," Dr. Christos S. Zipitis told Reuters Health.

Vitamin D is produced in the skin with sun exposure. Deficiency in the nutrient can lead to a host of health problems, Zipitis said. Because breast milk typically contains little vitamin D, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vitamin D supplements for nursing infants and UK public health authorities say that all children should receive the supplements for at least the first two years of life.

There are a number of clues suggesting a link between low vitamin D levels and type 1 diabetes, Zipitis of Stockport National Health Service Foundation Trust and Dr. A. K. Akobeng of Booth Hall Children's Hospital in Manchester, UK, note in their report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The investigators reviewed all published research on vitamin D supplementation and diabetes risk. Overall, they found, infants who were supplemented with Vitamin D were 29 percent less likely to develop type 1 diabetes than children who had not received supplements.
For more parenting news, check out Followhealthlife’s healthy parenting category.

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!
Continue Reading...

Baby Boomer Body Breakdown

After years of wear and tear many baby boomers are seeing their bodies poop out. Megan Rauscher of Reuters reports:
"We are seeing a number of overuse or 'wear and tear' injuries in the foot, ankle, knees, hip, shoulders and elbows, in baby boomers," Dr. Jeffrey A. Ross, a foot and ankle podiatrist from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, told Reuters Health. "Baby boomers suffer injuries over a period of time and a lot has to do with biomechanics, poor flexibility, wear and tear, and pounding on hard surfaces" that come with sports like running, tennis, step aerobics and basketball, Ross added.

As people age, Ross believes it's worth considering alternative activities that put less stress on joints. "It is really important that people continue to be physically active, but they need to think logically about how to remain active as they age," he said.

Ross spoke about overuse injuries in baby boomers at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine underway in Indianapolis. "We need to be rational and logical without hurting ourselves and developing overuse injuries that can really become debilitating as we get older," Ross told Reuters Health.
For a great rant about baby boomers, check out this video from George Carlin: Baby Boomers and Politicians. Warning, it’s not safe for work or kids!

Stroke Risk: A Little Pollution Goes a Long Way

According to a new study even low levels of air pollution may increase stroke-risk. More from the Annals of Neurology:
The results showed borderline significant associations between same day and previous day fine particulate matter exposures and ischemic stroke/TIA risk. Similar associations were seen with ozone. Despite the fossil fuel industry in the area, fine particulate matter exposures were relatively low relative to other regions in the US, probably because of the proximity to the coast and prevailing wind patterns. “Although the magnitude of elevated risk of stroke/TIA due to PM2.5 exposure was relatively small, the vast majority of the public is exposed to ambient air pollution at the levels observed in this community or greater every day, suggesting a potentially large public health impact.”

These findings support the hypotheses that recent exposure to fine particulate matter may increase the risk of ischemic cerebrovascular events specifically. There is experimental evidence that particulate air pollution is associated with acute artery vasoconstriction and with increases in plasma viscosity (thickening of the blood) which may enhance the potential for blood clots, although this requires further study.
The sad part is I’m not really sure what you can do to avoid this—not breathe!