Most of America's Salt Comes from Processed Food

Presented at the 2009 American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Conference, experts claim switching to a low sodium diet is the most important lifestyle change people with heart problems can make, but many people ignore their doctor’s recommendation. Scientists surveyed 116 heart patients on what they ate for three days, finding 70% of sodium intake comes from processed foods such as deli meats and fast food; HealthDay News reports.

Boxed breakfast cereals are another high-salt culprit, especially kids’ cereals. Salt is bad news for your heart. Sodium decreases levels of a helpful enzyme that helps blood vessels relax and lowers blood pressure. And consuming a lot of salt worsens metabolic syndrome, which is a known precursor to cardiovascular disease.

As for meat, a recent study revealed men eating too much red or processed meat had a 27% higher risk of dying from heart disease and women had a 50% greater risk. Eek!

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Low-Fat Diets Heart Healthier After Weight-Loss

New findings in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reveal diets low in saturated fat are healthier and help keep LDL, or “bad cholesterol”, in check after someone loses weight. For the study, experts assigned 26 healthy, non-obese diets to one diet, Atkins, South Beach or Ornish, for one month apiece, with the intent of studying biological effects of each diet, specifically cholesterol, blood vessel function and inflammation. Data concluded high-fat diets, like Atkins, raised LDL, but the low-fat, vegetarian Ornish style had the best affect on blood vessel function; Reuters reports.

A low-fat diet, i.e. eating less animal foods and more fruits and veggies, has been proven to not only prevent heart trouble, but reserve it. And just last week, scientists found pomegranates help fight cell inflammation that can lead to heart disease. Also, a previous report observed fad diets, such as high-protein low-carbohydrate, don’t hold up overtime, with dieters gaining back weight after only six months.

High-fat diets, like Atkins, are dangerous. A recent study showed participants eating an Atkins diet plan, consuming 50% saturated fat, performed the worst on blood vessel testing.

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Charred Meat Raises Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Bad news for that greasy steak! Discussed at the 2009 Meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, individuals who regularly eat burned or barbecued red meat may have a 60% higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Charred meat contains cancer-causers like heterocyclic amines. For the study, researchers closely monitored the diet of 62,000 healthy people. Over nine years 208 participants were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The participants eating foods like hamburgers were far more likely to develop cancer. And very well-done meat came with a 70% higher cancer risk; Reuters reports.

Barbecued meat is a nightmare. Last year, a study showed diets loaded with red meat increase risk of colon cancer. Grilled chicken is no better. In January, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine warned against grilled chicken, due to PhIP, another known carcinogen. And fake charring food is horrible too. Smoke flavorings are now being linked with liver and kidney problems.

But some folks don’t take a hint. The ballpark for the Gateway Grizzlies, a minor league baseball team in Illinois, sells a grilled burger topped with bacon and cheese served in a glazed doughnut. Eek!

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Europe Blasts Smoke Flavoring, Cites Health Risks

A new report by The European Food Safety Authority warns about the dangers of artificial smoke flavorings, claiming products like Unismoke and Zesti Smoke may cause adverse health effects, namely changes in the liver and kidneys and inability to gain weight. However, experts note testing has only been conducted on rats that were given a high intake of smoke flavoring, adding that long-term studies are needed; via FoodNavigator.

Regular smoking isn’t much better. Along with butter, cheese and salt, Dr. Fuhrman considers smoked foods as some of the worst stuff you can eat. And data shows processed and smoked meats, like ham and sausage, increase risk of stomach cancer, but last year that didn’t stop people from eating 7 billion hotdogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day!

In related news, someone figured out how to make smoked bacon even more horrible. Fully cooked bacon rolled in wax paper and stuffed into a can. Seriously, I’m going to vomit.

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More Problems with Multivitamins

A new report by ConsumerLab.com discovered many multivitamins either contain significantly more or less of an ingredient than they claim and some are even contaminated with lead. Scientists tested several products, including three for children, and found many exceeded tolerable limits of certain vitamins, such as vitamin A, folic acid, niacin and zinc, which can cause health risks like liver damage and bone-weakening. And a vitamin water examined had 15 times the amount folic acid stated; Reuters reports.

Our society loves magic pills and we forget foods like fruits and veggies are loaded with healthful nutrients. For example, broccoli is packed with vitamin K, which fights prostate cancer. Eating seeds and nuts helps prevent type-2 diabetes. And greens like Bok Choy contain compounds that neutralize harmful free radicals and protect against cancer.

In related news, a recent study showed high-dose beta-carotene may raise lung cancer risk. That’s why Dr. Fuhrman’s multi does not contain things like isolated beta-carotene, vitamin A and copper, which have be linked to cancer, birth defects and liver problems.

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Too Much Meat and Dairy Harm Sperm

No, no! Don’t mess with my sperm. A new study in the journal Fertility and Sterility reveals diets low in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and high processed meats and full-fat dairy heighten risk of low-quality sperm. The study involved 61 men visiting a fertility clinic. Of the participants, half had poor sperm quality. Those men also had a higher intake of meat and dairy, but the other half of men had normal sperm counts and tended to eat more fruits and vegetables. Experts cite increased levels of antioxidants, like vitamin C and lycopene, for better sperm; Reuters investigates.

Antioxidants are like Superman and Batman rolled up in one. Take blueberries, they’re packed with healthful nutrients, like flavonoids, which are associated with cancer prevention and plants like broccoli protect against things such as respiratory inflammation and stroke, while antioxidant-devoid foods like hotdogs and bacon may lead to leukemia and raise lung cancer risk.

The bad news for meat keeps piling up. Just last month, a study linked processed meat to increased death risk, as high as 50% and recently red meat was pinned to blindness. Eek!

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Guess What? Fast Food Leads to Bad Food Habits.

A new study in the Journal of Happiness Studies suggests kids and adults eating fast food, like hamburgers, fries, pizza and soda, develop poor eating habits and obesity. Researchers claim children ages 2 to 12 who regularly eat fast food have a higher risk of becoming overweight. Mothers consuming fast food were more likely to have kids who eat fast food and drink more soda, but despite these kids being overweight, they were found to be happier than kids who ate less fast food. Leading scientists recommend healthy eating campaigns also focus on reduction of happiness; via Booster Shots.

Okay, even when I was a fat load, I avoided fast food like the plague. But not everyone does. In the Mediterranean, which traditionally had a healthy diet, fast food is now invading countries like Greece and muscling out good food. This does not bode well. New research found people living in neighborhoods with a lot of fast food restaurants, ate more fast food and gained more weight.

Fast food is gross and apparently indestructible too. Burgers kept in cool, dry basement will last forever and don’t decompose, seriously! But they’re great for painting pictures, like the Mona Lisa in grease.

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No More Cupcakes at Soccer Games!

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Amy Roskelley of SuperHealthyKids and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of Followhealthlife or Dr. Fuhrman.

I remember as a child going to my brother’s soccer games. When it was our turn for snacks, we would cut up a bowl full of oranges, and the players would eat them during half time for extra energy. Today, our soccer games usually culminate with a box of Kool-Aid and a candy bar on the side. What happened here!

When it’s your turn for little league treats, you want to find something healthy, but you also want the kids to like it, right? During the fall soccer season, I decided to go against the grain, return to days of old, and bring sliced oranges. Those kids loved them!

I had a huge bowl with orange wedges for during and after the game, and every single one was gone before I could have any myself. Often parents underestimate the kids’ desire for solid, healthy food. Here are some other foods my kids love to eat:

  • Sliced apples, watermelon wedges and bananas.
  • Individually packaged non-salted nuts or trail mix
  • 8 oz water bottles, kids like these little water bottles.
  • Dried apricots and raisins in little individual boxes.
  • Baggies of air-popped popcorn.

So, ditch the cupcakes and give kids something better to replace their lost nutrients from playing hard.

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I'll Admit It. I'm a Junk-Food Junkie from Way Back!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Jennifer McCann of Vegan Lunch Box and This Is Why You’re Thin and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of Followhealthlife or Dr. Fuhrman.

Most of my life there was not a sugary, fat-filled food that didn't have my name on it. And even though I've had a lot of success on Eat To Live in the last few years, I've also continued to struggle with the emotional urge to keep eating my old favorites. Foods that, intellectually, I know are bad for my health, but that my mind still thinks of as friends.

Sometimes it's been so difficult. I've even felt like giving up on Dr. Fuhrman's plan altogether. So when his new book Eat For Health came out, I felt like his chapters on "Changing How You Think" were written just for me. That's exactly what I needed to do! During the time I spent reading the book and doing the exercises, I realized I could use this kind of daily mental training to work out my mind and reprogram my thinking, just like I use daily exercise to work out my body.

Dr. Fuhrman's book was one form of mental training for me. Other mental work outs include talking openly with my health-conscious friends, working with a wellness coach to set weekly goals, increasing and reinforcing my nutrition knowledge with books and DVDs and visiting inspirational websites.

Speaking of websites, the popular blog This Is Why You’re Fat has been getting a lot of press lately. If you haven't been there yet, people send in their craziest junk-food creations, like bacon-topped doughnuts or deep-fried pepperoni pizza, for us all to groan and laugh over. I think the blog really is funny, but in the past few weeks I’ve noticed that a lot of people talking about the site are saying the same thing:

"It’s so gross, but now I want some."

"Eww! Oh, I bet that tastes good."

"That’s a heart attack waiting to...mmmm, bacon."

Isn’t that interesting? At the same time that we’re appalled, these images are sinking into our little monkey minds and triggering cravings for these kinds of foods. Is this a form of mental training, but in reverse? Are those images, added to all the commercials and advertisements we see every day for unhealthy food, training our minds to keep asking for what we know we shouldn't eat namely salty, fatty, deep-fried, sugary and processed foods?

I started thinking, what if, instead of looking at images of junk food every day. We served ourselves up a daily helping of healthy images instead? Can healthy images inspire us to want what's best for us, make us crave colorful salads instead of fatty burgers or help us get to the gym?

So, I decided to create the antithesis of This Is Why You're Fat by starting a brand new blog called This Is Why You’re Thin!

I’m hoping encourage exercise and the consumption of healthy plant-based foods through fun, intriguing and beautiful images that will inspire us all. I’m looking for photos of fresh fruits and vegetables, beautiful bean soups or healthy salads, people running, climbing, swimming, stretching and smiling kids drinking smoothies and picking strawberries.

Please visit my new blog and find out how to contribute. I want to fill the pages with lots of Fuhrman-friendly, nutrient-dense cuisine!

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America's Energy Crisis

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Scott Wharton of HealthandMen and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of Followhealthlife or Dr. Fuhrman.

Is there ever going to be a point where we stop seeing the walls of energy drinks and energy shots at our convenient stores? When I was in my late teens and early 20 there wasn't any Red Bull, Monster or Rock Star drinks. There was only Jolt Cola. Jolt was just like any other cola, except they claimed that it packed more caffeine and more sugar than your average Pepsi. If I was about to embark on a long drive from Quantico, Virginia to upstate, New York I would grab one or two of these for the road. I wasn't much of a coffee drinker back then and Jolt Cola was my pick-me-up when I had to make long trips home. The downfall with caffeine and sugar was the crash. I would often get about 6 hours in to the trip and suddenly start to feel the crash. By the time I got home I would be either be wiped clean of any energy I had.

Truck stops used to have the plastic cases next to or behind the counter loaded with little bottles of mini-thins and similar products. They were Ephedrine or Ephedra based stimulants that were not the healthiest stimulant but then again loading up on caffeine and sugar isn't either. People started dying from overuse of ephedra and the United States took action against ephedrine because of the Meth epidemic. That's the reason you have to go to the pharmacy to get anything with ephedrine in it like Sudafed. The most you see in them now are Stackers and other caffeine, guarana and ginseng products.

These days the energy shots and drinks are still loaded with caffeine, sugar and extra vitamins. We know too much caffeine is bad for your heart and too much sugar is never a good thing for the human body, but what about the vitamins? Vitamins are good, right? That's what we're told as children. People don't know nearly enough about vitamins except for what they might hear on television and rarely do their own research. Naturally if you're told by some random person on TV that B Vitamins are good for you, then you're bound to believe that. Granted, B Vitamins are good for you and B vitamin deficiencies are, well, not good.

The funny thing that people fail to understand when they buy the energy shots like 6 Hour Energy and equivalent products is that most of that vitamin B that is supposed to give you all that energy is just going to waste. If you eat properly you get plenty of vitamin B and there really isn't much need for more. Either way, your body will get rid of any excess water soluble vitamins that it doesn't need and has no need to absorb and pees out. People that take a vitamin B supplement often know how well their body is absorbing it by the color of their urine. Riboflavin or vitamin B2 will tend to make your urine a bright yellow color.

Marketing is an amazing thing because people are so easily manipulated by things that help make day-to-day life more convenient. Fat burning pills, energy supplements and anything else that helps cope with the stress of work or life in general. When you're tired you're tired. There is no other way around it and your body needs rest. No matter how much energy supplements you take, it can not substitute the rejuvenating effect your body gets from a good night sleep. Sometimes you have to slow down, take it easy and let Mother Nature do her thing.

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Would We be Healthier Without Taste Buds...

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Bloggy McBloggenstein of Stop Being So Fat! and does NOT necessarily represent the opinions of Followhealthlife or Dr. Fuhrman.

The obese are now the majority in America. Sure, there are no shortage of reasons behind this, but let’s boil it down into its simplest terms. In an increasingly busy, modern, convenience filled, processed food-filled environment, the majority of people are seeking out what is easy, cheap, and above all PLEASURABLE over what is healthy.

Evolutionarily speaking, it’s doubtful one could argue that we developed taste buds simply for pleasure. The real reason is because our ancient ancestors needed a mechanism that told them whether or not the substance they were putting in their mouth was good or bad for them. Little absorption happens in the mouth, so when the tongue sends a message to the brain that something tastes “bad” we spit it out before swallowing it. Harmful or poisonous foods often have a bitter or sour taste, and nutrient rich foods, particularly nutrient-rich often have a sweet or savory taste.

Today, we don’t need our taste buds to save our lives. There’s no danger of scavenging through a wild grocery store and accidentally eating something poisonous. We’re too educated to let that happen. No one is going to pick up a bottle of bleach and give it a swig to find out if it’s food or not.

It’s probably to our detriment that today, when most food products are made in factories, that our taste buds still rule our diet choices. We still seek out the foods that are most fulfilling to our energy needs, even if those needs are met. AND THEN SOME! Food companies win us over by putting MORE of what tastes good into our food, while maintaining a relative level of vitamins in production is often an afterthought.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the next step in our evolution made it so that we could taste if something were high in micronutrients relative to energy? Just like we can taste the difference between a regular and a fat free version of something, we would be able to tell if a food was high in vitamins and minerals, and actually prefer it over a food that has been stripped of its vitamins.
We know what is healthy.

Really, as much as people seem confused over all of the conflicting information out there regarding healthy eating, I doubt you could find me a person that would point to the super-sized value meal instead of the basket of fruits and veggies when asked which is healthier. When we’re honest, the only real reason we act confused about what is bad for us is when we want to continue to eat what tastes good, despite available information.

Obviously we can’t turn off our taste buds, and if we could, who would want to? Food is one of the major things that drives and shapes various cultures because the preparation and eating of food is often very social and can be highly pleasurable. Life would seem pretty grim if we suddenly couldn’t taste. Taste buds are a luxury now. Let’s not let that luxury be our downfall.

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Many U.S. Children on Diabetes and Blood Pressure Pills

After examining prescription records of nearly 6 million children and adolescents experts found prescriptions for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol medication increased by more than 15% among children from 2004 to 2007. The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, showed separately diabetes medications rose 23% and blood pressure medications 15%, but cholesterol-lowering drugs dropped 23%. Scientists attribute the drop to bad press associated with medications like Crestor and Lipitor. However, the rise in childhood obesity and doctors’ willingness to prescribe medications to young children is being blamed for the increase; HealthDay News investigates.

Actually, a recent study showed overweight children as young as age 3 may start showing signs of cardiovascular disease, so it’s easy to see why doctors would dole out pills, but a family-based approach to good nutrition is best for keeping kids healthy and off drugs.

And here’s some of bad press on cholesterol-lowering drugs. In January, Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor were found to cause eyelid droop and double vision as potential side effects. Eek!

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American Indian Children Hit Hard by Obesity...

A new study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine claims 1 in 5 Native American preschoolers are obese. Children were considered obese if their body-mass index (BMI) placed them in the 95th percentile or higher on government growth charts. Of the 8,550 participants the rate of obesity among Asians was 13%, whites 16%, blacks 21%, Hispanics 22% and a startling 31% for American Indian children. Researchers cite possible genetic disparities as reason why, but also blame lifestyle issues such as low-income status; the Associated Press reports.

Makes sense, a recent report linked childhood poverty with an 82% higher risk of cardiovascular problems later in life and in February, researchers determined 89% of American preschoolers are not active enough. Not a good combination, especially when you consider weight gain in very young children increases their chances of becoming obese as they mature. Add all that up and you’re in a lot of trouble, no matter what race you are.

Occupation doesn't seem to matter either. Many emergency responder recruits, like ambulance drivers and firemen, are overweight and unable to meet national fitness standards. Even U.S. combat troops in Iraq are getting fat! I still can't believe that.

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Folic Acid Ups Colon Cancer Risk

This is definitely one acid trip you don’t want to go on. New findings in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology reveal foods fortified with folic acid may increase colon cancer rates. In 2000, the Chilean government instituted a mandatory folic acid fortification in wheat flour in order to help prevent spina bifida. Since that time, reported cases of colon cancer have jumped 162% in people ages 35 to 64 and 190% in people 65 to 79 and there was a slight increase in breast cancer rates too. Chile uses a higher dose of folic acid than other countries; from Medical News Today.

In 2007, a similar study reported 15,000 more cases of colon cancer with folic acid enrichment and another report showed folic acid harms the heart. In general, enriched foods are pretty silly. Food producers strip all the nutrients out of food and then put something back in and call it healthy? Pretty kooky.

In the past, folic acid supplements have been shown to heighten men’s risk of prostate cancer, 9.7% after 10 years. That why supplements, like Gentle Care, don’t contain folic acid.

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Less Sugary Drinks Mean More Weight-Loss

Not exactly a revelation, but new research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found reducing calories from sugary beverages, even as little as one serving per day can result in over two pounds of weight-loss over 18 months. Experts examined the diets of 810 adults, ages 25 to 79, for 18 months, finding that sugar-sweetened drinks accounted for 37% of calories consumed, leading researchers to claim cutting sugary drinks is more important for losing weight than eating less; via HealthDay News.

Soda’s not your friend, despite how cute the Coca-Cola polar bears are. All the high-fructose corn syrup in soft drinks raises type-2 diabetes risk and soda is pretty creepy, it has the same pH as vinegar and leaches calcium from your bones and let’s not forget. Cola will rot your feet with the gout. Eek!

Last week, scientists determined women drinking sweetened beverages have a 35% higher risk of heart disease and other studies have linked soda with kidney disease and metabolic syndrome.

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Cholesterol Crystals Tied to Heart Attacks

A study in the American Journal of Cardiology claims cholesterol in the arteries crystallizes from a liquid to a solid, expanding and disrupting plaque, leading to potential heart attack and stroke. Researchers examined coronary arteries from patients who died from cardiovascular events and when compared to a control group, they discovered cholesterol crystals following a cardiac attack damaged artery linings and appeared much further away from the site of attack, putting survivors of an attack at higher risk; ScienceDaily reports.

Cutting cholesterol is a bid deal! Studies show the more animal products in a population's diet the higher their cholesterol levels and the more heart attacks they have, but eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with fiber and plant nutrients, effectively cuts cholesterol, even putting cholesterol-lowering medications to shame.

And a recent report showed why lowering cholesterol and blood pressure is still the major preventer of heart trouble. Actually, in the May 2006 edition of Healthy Times, Dr. Fuhrman discusses how superior diet protects against and reverses cardiovascular disease.

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Ha Ha! Atkins Diet Raises Heart Risks, Duh!

More bad news for the Atkins fad, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association new research reveals the high-protein, i.e. high-saturated, Atkins diet reduces blood vessel dilation, an important factor in heart health. Scientists placed 18 healthy people on three different diets, the Atkins diet (50% fat) and two others lower in saturated fat, 30% and 10%. Four weeks after completing the experiment, Atkins participants performed the worst on a blood vessel test. Atkins Nutritionals had no intelligent rebuttal; HealthDay News reports.

High-fat diets are dangerous. A couple years ago, a study linked the Atkins diet with inflammation linked with heart and artery disease. Atkins himself was overweight and had heart problems. In addition to heart problems, consuming copious amounts of meat, i.e. saturated fat, and little to no fiber and fruit, heightens risk of colon cancer and other cancers. Recently, hotdogs were tied to leukemia risk and red meat with blindness.

In related news, a previous report showed low-carb high-protein diets sap people’s energy and discourage activity and another study revealed Atkins produced only modest weight-loss results with limited sustainability in the long run. Tisk, tisk.

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Sugary Drinks Heighten Coronary Danger in Women

New research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found women drinking sweetened beverages may have a 35% higher risk of heart disease. For the study, experts evaluated data from nearly 89,000 women without heart problems, stroke or diabetes in 1980, using questionnaires to track dietary habits. After 24 years, researchers documented over 3,000 incidences of fatal and non-fatal coronary artery disease; via Food Navigator.

Warning labels have even been suggested for soda, due to probable weight-gain associated with over-consumption. Also, soda has been linked with the gout, a buildup of uric acid, causing arthritis or worse. However, a report this November revealed taking soft drinks out of schools, while good intentioned, doesn’t stop kids from getting their soda fix.

In the past, sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup have raised concern over mercury contamination and sugary drinks’ link to weight-gain and obesity is causing politicians to consider taxes on non-diet soft drinks, such as New York governor David Paterson.

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Infant Fat Linked to Childhood Obesity

Don’t put the baby on the treadmill just yet, but a new study in the journal Pediatrics claims gaining weight as an infant might foreshadow obesity later in life. A group of 559 mother and child pairs were examined after three years. For example, two infants with the same birth weight, but after six months differed in weight by 1.5 pounds, the larger being 18.4 pounds, puts the bigger child at a 40% higher risk of being obese at age 3; from EurekAlert!

Actually, other studies have linked a baby’s weight-gain to high blood pressure, saying babies who put on weight too rapidly can develop hypertension as adults. So don’t be like this idiot and only feed your toddler French fries. The woman needs her head examined.

In February, research found obese women are more likely to give birth to children with congenital anomalies, like cleft palate, and obesity can give kids heart disease too.

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Vitamin K Battles Prostate Cancer!

A new study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention shows vitamin K, found in leafy green such as spinach and broccoli, may help lower the risk of prostate cancer. Scientists recruited 250 participants with prostate cancer and 494 healthy people. Data revealed every 0.1 increase of undercarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC), associated low with low vitamin K intake, resulted in 38% higher likelihood of advanced-stage prostate cancer and 21% increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer; NutraIngredients reports.

Actually, last week it was determined omega-3 fatty acids, in this case found in fish, but are also contained in micro algae, protect against aggressive prostate cancer tumors and other reports highlight broccoli’s protective effects against prostate cancer, while foods high in saturated fat, like read meat and dairy, increase risk of prostate cancer.

Vitamins are great, but they’re not magical pills. Last year, a study showed just taking vitamins, like vitamin C and E, don’t prevent prostate cancer. You have to eat healthy too!

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