Health Points: Friday

  • Personally I don’t put much stake in the Body Mass Index, but in case you’re interested, Abby Ellin of The New York Times reports on its growing popularity:
“Our society is really fixated on numbers, and the problem is when it comes to weight distribution and the risk for heart disease, it’s not just one number — it’s the percentage of body fat, B.M.I. and waist size that matters,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Dieting will be with us for a long time to come, and so will a plethora of popular diets. My hope is that the popular diets today (many of which have useful nutritional advice) will not just be used as a brief attempt at a quick fix - but that the good principles of nutrition will be taken to heart.
A review of nearly 2,000 3-year-old, low-income children and their mothers found that one-third of white and black children were overweight or obese, while a stunning 44 percent of Latino children fell into those categories.
  • Fast Weight Loss offers up some pretty basic diet tips. I’m not sure Dr. Fuhrman would agree with all of them, but here are a few that seem okay:
    5. Give some time to exercise. It is not going to take hours to exercise. What you have to do is give 30 or 40 minute to exercise.

    6. Avoid drinking soda as much as you can and replace that by water.

    7. Avoid breads, cereals and pasta in your food.
  • Next time you’ve got aches and pains you might want to reach for the spice-rack. At least that seems to be the message of this CNN report. More from Amy Paturel:
Turmeric: Because rates of Alzheimer's disease are lower in India, where the population eats a diet containing more turmeric than Western diets, scientists have suggested the spice may be linked to preserving mental function. "The compounds in turmeric have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cholesterol-lowering properties -- all thought to be involved in the onset of Alzheimer's disease," says Sally Frautschy, Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and neurology at UCLA.
Lots of craziness and hilarity at work these last few nights. Christmas night wasn’t horrible, but it was busier than I expected. At least the holiday kept the violence down… until 0016, when there was a shooting two miles from the hospital and we got two really bad gunshot wounds in as traumas… It was sort of a nice, “well, it’s not Christmas anymore” moment… Not Norman Rockwell, exactly…
Inside a recent issue: an interview with pro volleyball player Kerri Walsh, stories on flag football and kids' cross-country running, and step-by-step photos that demonstrate how to do five morning exercises, such as squats and shoulder rotations. There are also articles on how to pick a healthy lunch at school, study smarter and snack right.
Researchers from George Washington University tested a vegan diet and the ADA-recommended diet to see which worked best in the management of diabetes, kidney function, cholesterol levels and weight loss. Around 100 adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes participated, with half following a low-fat vegan diet and half following the ADA-recommended guidelines. Overweight ADA dieters were also advised to reduce their calorie intake by 500-1,000 calories. According to experts, one small risk associated with a vegan diet is a lack of vitamin B12, so the vegan participants’ meals were supplemented with B12 vitamins.

Health Points: Thursday

“I don’t think people who count calories eat at McDonald’s,” said Michelle Iadarola of Staten Island. Although she rarely eats at McDonald’s, she was about to order a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit (440 calories) because she was in a hurry. The calorie count made no difference.

The law is considered radical both by people who hold food companies partly responsible for the obesity crisis and by those who see the government’s regulation of food deemed unhealthy as an affront to freedom of choice.
This doesn’t mean that the road is not long and rough. I do feel disappointed when I end up caving to myself and eating food that I shouldn’t. Eating for comfort and stress relief is something that I do have to get a grip on, and will. Sometimes I do get feeling down about my progress, especially when I get into these places where I struggle to get the scale moving. Losing weight is tough, and I want to be as honest about my experience as possible. It’s not all good, but I do try to find the positive. I’m sorry if sometimes this doesn’t come through, I will be more vigilant about it in the future.
Dr. Teri Brentnall, an associate professor of gastroenterology at the University of Washington in Seattle, announced the discovery Tuesday during a news briefing in New York, saying the discovery marks one of the biggest advances in pancreatic cancer.

With the gene now in hand, scientists have a marker that can be spotted in blood tests. Brentnall has used such a test in her Seattle studies. By testing for the cancer, she said, doctors can mount an assault on the cancer before it starts.
  • People thought that low-fat snacks were 20-25 percent lower in calories (confusing low-fat with low-calorie - in fact low-fat snacks tend to be about 15% less calories).
  • Normal weight people would eat 30 more calories per session (i.e. when presented with a low-fat snack).
  • Overweight people would eat an average of 90 more calories when presented with a low-fat option.
"We have identified several ingredients that may be associated with the outbreak. These include lettuce, ground beef and cheddar cheese," Dr. Christopher Braden, a medical epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a teleconference late Wednesday. "The most likely food vehicle is lettuce. But we are still looking at other food items."
Obesity cannot go unchecked and it is a threat to the health and welfare of children and adults alike, as obesity is linked to greater increased risks for a number of life-threatening diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But, it is uncomfortable to think that one of the solutions to childhood obesity is a scalpel.
In a study of older women, researchers found that a physically active smoker had a 35 percent lower risk of lung cancer than a sedentary smoker.

Even so, one expert called that reduction trivial because smoking itself is so risky. And Dr. Kathryn Schmitz, the study’s lead author, stressed that exercising does not give women a free pass to smoke.

Nutritional Wisdom: "The Secret Weapon for Permanent Weight Loss"

Dr. Fuhrman’s radio show Nutritional Wisdom airs live Wednesdays at 11am EST with an encore presentation Thursdays at 3pm EST on VoiceAmerica. Here’s a peek at this week’s episode:

There is a recipe for successful, permanent weight loss that is just as effective as gastric bypass – high nutrient eating. Thousands of Dr. Fuhrman’s clients have successfully lost hundreds of pounds and in this episode he shares his effective secrets to success. Listen in as Dr. Fuhrman explains how you can unlock the secret to permanent weight loss.

Check out the Nutritional Wisdom category for previous episodes.

Health Points: Tuesday

  • Did you hear about the E. coli outbreak in New Jersey? No? Well I live in Jersey, and I can tell you—it’s all over the news! So if you haven’t heard about it, Chris Newmarker of the Associated Press will fill you in:
Authorities were still trying to determine how and where the victims became infected over the past two weeks. At least 11 of them ate at a Taco Bell restaurant in South Plainfield, and authorities were expected to finish tests on restaurant workers Monday.
I shaped a slice of firm tofu into a tiger's head, then fried it in a bit of oil until it turned golden brown. The tiger stripes are bits of nori seaweed cut with scissors; the face is more nori cut out with a "happy face" paper punch. The tiger sits on a bed of rice, and up above you can see a plastic squirting fish filled with soy sauce.
Outdoor clothing company L.L. Bean, Inc. shuts down its manufacturing line three times a day for mandatory five-minute stretches, designed to prevent the most common injuries the workers suffer…

…After L.L. Bean increased the price for burgers and lowered the price for salads in its cafeteria fruit and salad bar purchases doubled while French fry and burger sales fell by half.
  • Honestly, I thought a Kiwano was the type of robe people in Japan wear. Not so. FatFree Vegan Kitchen shares her take on this freakish looking fruit:
When you cut open a kiwano, you find that it's attractive even on the inside, a bright green color with lots of nicely formed seeds. But when you try to remove the "fruit" from the shell you discover that it's just a gelatinous mass and that those seeds are too tough to eat. Taste it and you find that it tastes decidedly "green"--not bad, really, but not good either. And the one I bought wasn't sweet at all.
  • Do we have any readers from Minnesota? If so, take a bow because according to the Associated Press your state is the healthiest in the country. You’ve topped United Health Foundation rankings for the fourth straight year—congratulations! Frederic J. Frommer has more:
Minnesota, which has held the top spot in 11 of the 17 years of the survey, was cited for, among other things, its low rate of uninsured (8.4 percent), low percentage of children in poverty (10 percent), and low infant mortality rate (5.1 deaths per 1,000 live births).
  • Something that really amazes me is fast food restaurants in hospitals. I don’t know. It just doesn’t put the vibe out there that Americans are serious about health. “Hey guys! Since my triple-bypass was a success, let’s celebrate with a cheeseburger and fries!” According Robert Preidt of HealthDay News some health researchers share this concern:
"At a time when obesity has become the most common, critical medical condition of childhood and consumption of fast food is widely considered to be a major contributor to this epidemic, the location of such restaurants in pediatric health care facilities promotes dietary choices that are contrary to the desired messages and established recommendations of our profession," lead researcher and pediatrician Dr. Hannah Sahud, of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, said in a prepared statement.
  • Ever wonder what doctors would be if they weren’t doctors? Well UroStream has decided that if she wasn’t taking care of people, she’d be a restaurant critic. Sounds like a good premise for a sitcom. Urologist by day, restaurant connoisseur by night—I just hope she washes her hands. Here’s her story:
But I've thought this over, and I've finally reached my dream alternative career choice: restaurant critic. I mean, I love food, I have an adventuresome yet discriminating palate, I like to write, and I eat out a lot. If I could get paid to do this, it would indeed be my ideal job.
Early results suggest some compounds in mangoes work by activating or inhibiting groups of receptors known as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, or PPARs. PPARs play a role in cellular metabolism. The findings of this study could present positive nutritional health benefits for diabetes and high cholesterol. Furthermore, preliminary findings also suggest that mango skin, often a component of mango juice, is particularly rich in these compounds.

Obesity Can Cost You

You don’t need to be a master of observation to recognize this country’s obsession with weight; obesity is constantly in the news, diet pills and supplements are everywhere, and fad diets, like Atkins and South Beach, run amuck. But maybe all our concern is justified, because according to Dr. Fuhrman the number one health problem in the United States is obesity.

In Eat to Live he points out that if this current trend continues by the year 2030 all adults in the United States will be obese. Well isn’t that a depressing glimpse into the future. Now, consider this recent article in The New York Times and you’ll see it could be a whole lot worse—for each and every one of us.

Reporter Damon Darlin takes a look at the individual cost of being heavy—and he’s not referring to the toll it can take on your health—Darlin is talking about the actual price tag for being overweight or obese. And the cost is a lot more than just a few bags of cookies. Take a look:
Heavy people do not spend more than normal-size people on food, but their life insurance premiums are two to four times as large. They can expect higher medical expenses, and they tend to make less money and accumulate less wealth in their shortened lifetimes. They can have a harder time being hired, and then a harder time winning plum assignments and promotions…

…Complications from obesity, particularly diabetes, which afflicts 21 million Americans, push up the bill: $44,000 for a heart attack, $40,200 for a stroke or $37,000 for end-state kidney disease, estimates Judith A. O’Brien, the director of cost research at the Caro Research Institute, a health costs consulting firm. Amputating just a toe, a not uncommon consequence of untreated diabetes, averages $15,000, she estimates.
You don’t usually get this kind of perspective in the obesity discussion. Usually the overall cost obesity inflicts on the society gets all the press. So I was surprised to read how being overweight can directly effect a person’s ability to accumulate wealth. Now here’s the scary part. Couple Dr. Fuhrman’s prediction with Darlin’s investigation; does this mean by 2030 all Americans will be fat and broke?

Calories, Calories, Calories!

We spend a lot of time worrying about calories. “How many calories are in that? What’s the serving size? I burned 100 calories on the treadmill today!” But is it just all about calories? Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman. He’ll tell you, it’s also about nutrition. If it wasn’t, then calories from milk, meat, oil, vegetables, and fruit would all be the same. Guess what? They’re not!

Now we all know people like Charles Stuart Platkin the “Diet Detective” don’t get it. He makes all his food determinations based solely on calorie content. But laypeople can be just as misguided. Candice Choi of the Associated Press explains more and more people love new low-calorie foods—loaded with dairy, Olestra, sugar alcohols, and fat and sugar substitutes:
According to ACNielsen, U.S. supermarket, drug-store and discount sales of products labeled low-, no- and reduced-fat reached $32.1.billion for a one-year period ending Oct. 7, up from $31.7.billion for the same time period in 2002…

… Many diet foods, however, rely on fat and sugar substitutes that have raised health concerns, he said. Olestra, the fat substitute used in Frito Lay's light potato chips, can cause cramps and diarrhea. Sugar alcohols, used in a variety of desserts and low-carb foods, including Snackwell's Sugar Free Shortbread Cookies, can have a laxative effect in high quantities.
In my opinion, you want a quick snack? Have a piece of fruit and don’t worry about the calories—that’s what I do. Personally, I don’t pay much attention to “health food.” To me, all those South Beach bars, Snackwells cookies, and low-carb treats are just junk. I don’t care if some ice-creams are low-fat, low-carb, reduced-calorie, trans-fat free, all natural, or with no chemical additives—I’m still not eating it.