Thursday: Health Points

In California, 86% of the women who gave birth in 2006 nursed their newborns in the hospital, according to a report being released today by the UC Davis Human Lactation Center and the California WIC Assn., a federally funded nutrition program for women, infants and children.

Half of them -- 43% of the total -- fed their newborns only breast milk. The other half supplemented with formula.

The gap between breast-feeding a little and breast-feeding exclusively in the first 24 to 48 hours that mothers typically spend in the hospital matters because that's when a mother's milk supply is established. The act of nursing causes milk-producing hormones to be released. The more the baby nurses, the more milk the mother will produce, and vice versa.
  • Lacks scientific evidence to support claims, instead relying on glowing testimonials (which may or may not be authentic)
  • Claims you can lose weight without exercising or making dietary modifications.
  • Claims to remove fat from certain areas of your body (can you say “thigh master?”)
  • Uses terms such as “miracle”, “scientific breakthrough”, “secret formula” and “revolutionary” to describe their product.
“The answer is no, because the risky fat is inside the abdominal wall, in and around the organs,” said Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the comprehensive weight management program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.


A tummy tuck or liposuction “removes superficial, subcutaneous fat, which has little or no risk,” he said. “In such procedures, there is no change in what we call cardiometabolic risk factors, like insulin activity, blood sugar, triglycerides or any of the lipid parameters.”
Synthetic hormones have been used to improve milk production in cows for more than a decade. The chemical has not been detected in milk, so there is no way to test for its use, but more retailers have been selling and promoting hormone-free products in response to consumer demand.


State Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff said advertising one brand of milk as free from artificial hormones implies competitors' milk is not safe, and it often comes with what he said is an unjustified higher price.

"It's kind of like a nuclear-arms race," Wolff said. "One dairy does it, and the next tries to outdo them. It's absolutely crazy."
The CDC said about 20.8 percent of American adults are smokers, with 80 percent, or 36.3 million, of them smoking every day. That rate has been unchanged since 1984.


The county smoking rate was not available, but Health Director Dr. Bruce Dixon said he knows the problem of smoking and its effect on health remains a concern.

"We don't have really good numbers to say [how many county residents smoke], though we do look at high-risk groups, minorities, youth," he said, adding, "Sales to youth are off" but they still find ways to purchase.

"The marketing has not backed off ... I think we still have a disproportionate level of smoking among pregnant women and minority groups."
  • Staphylococcus seems to be the countries newest boogieman. Julie’s Health Club discusses an interesting way to stop it—garlic. Read on:
Garlic, well known for its natural antibiotic properties, contains an ingredient that has been shown to effectively kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a virulent microbe that wreaks havoc in skin and soft-tissue wounds, several studies have shown.


The nasty superbacterium that now defies most drug treatments infected more than 90,000 Americans last year and killed 19,000, making it a significant public health problem, according to a new federal report. Though 85 percent of the staph infections were in hospitals or other health-care facilities, MRSA also is marching into schools, health clubs and other crowded places.
After hearing that contestants on the recent series of The Biggest Loser have been advised to chew gum in a bid to suppress their appetites, I decided to look around to see if I could find a study to back it up. I couldn't find the actual details of the study but here is a section of a press release:

"A separate study, carried out by researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University and the Wrigley Science Institute, found that chewing gum can be a good appetite suppressant. The study found that by chewing gum before an afternoon snack, one would consume 25 less snack calories. While that is not a high number, according to nutritionists, even a slight reduction in caloric intake can have significant effects in the long term. This study was comprised of 60 adults between the ages of 18 and 54. Each participant consumed a sweet and salty snack after either chewing sweet gum or not chewing gum at all. Hunger, appetite, and cravings were then monitored throughout the remainder of the day. Along with reducing caloric intake, participants reported feeling an improved mood due to reduced anxiety and stress, and increasing contentment and relaxation. "
About three-quarters of the people of Utah are Mormons, and many of them fast for a day every month. Benjamin Horne from the Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, asked 515 elderly people undergoing X-ray examinations for suspected heart disease about their lifestyle. Those who fasted were 39 per cent more likely than non-fasters to have a healthy heart. The results were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday.
The report, called Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, urges people to stay at a healthy weight, which means having a body mass index (or BMI, a ratio of weight to height) between 18.5 and 24.9. And it recommends regular physical activity as a way to control weight.


"The recommendation reflects what the science is telling us today," says W. Phillip T. James, MD, DSc, a member of the panel that wrote the report. "Even small amounts of excess fat, especially if carried at the waist, increase risk."

The report also makes recommendations for eating more healthfully to reduce cancer risk. It says people should eat mostly foods from plants, limit red meat and alcohol, and avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, and lunchmeat.

Dieting and the Emotional Eater

Emotional eating, I’ve been there. I used to pound chocolate cake like nobody’s business! Not anymore of course. Now, according to Dr. Fuhrman breaking the chains of your emotional attachments to food is a major step towards superior health. He explains:
Most overweight individuals are addicted to food. This means almost all Americans are food addicts. Addicted means that you feel ill or uncomfortable should you not continue your usual habits. Unlike tobacco and drug addiction, however, food addiction is socially acceptable.


Most people thrust into an environment with an unlimited supply of calorie-rich, nutrient-poor food will become compulsive overeaters. That is, the craving for food and the preoccupation with eating, and the resultant loss of control over food intake, are the natural consequences of nutrient paucity. The resulting stress on our system can be toxic.

Obviously, there are complicated emotional and psychological factors that make it more difficult for some to achieve success at overcoming food addiction. Additionally, some physical changes may initially discourage you. Stopping caffeine, reducing sodium, and dropping saturated fat from your diet while increasing fiber and nutrients may result in increased gas, headaches, fatigue, and other withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are temporary and rarely last longer than one week. Eventually the high volume of food and high nutrient content will help prevent long-term food cravings.
I got to agree with Dr. Fuhrman on all Americans being foods addicts on some level. Heck, just look at the Atkins crowd, but get a load of this new report. New research has determined that dieting is hardest for emotional eaters. Reuters is on it:
The study included 286 overweight men and women who were participating in a behavioral weight loss program.


A second group consisted of more than 3,300 adults who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least one year.

Niemeier and her team analyzed responses to an eating inventory questionnaire.

They focused on people who ate because of external influences, such as people who eat too much at parties, and people who ate because of internal influences, such as feeling lonely or as a reward.

What they found is that the more a person ate for internal reasons, the less weight they lost over time.
Lucky for us being addicted to fruits and veggies isn’t a bad thing!

NY Times: A Diet Idea

So, how do you change your diet? A good question, with a simple answer. Dr. Fuhrman spills the beans in this post Eat to Live: Knowledge Motivates Change. Here’s a bit:
When I began my medical practice as a specialist in nutrition, I focused my attention on individuals who were looking for nutritional intervention as a means of reversing their medical conditions to recover their health and avoid taking medication or having invasive surgery. The inevitable outcome was that when my patients were committed to superior health through nutritional excellence, they were able to reduce and eventually stop their dependency on medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and a host of other conditions. Spectacular disease reversals were the norm, not the exception…


…The traditional viewpoint is often stated that if you lose your weight too rapidly it won't stick and you will gain it all back. I have never advocated that people be in a race to lose their excess weight. I see no reason, however, to eat unhealthy foods or to eat when you are not hungry under some notion that losing weight slower would be better. The reality is that your body just drops its unhealthy weight relatively quickly and naturally when you eat so well under the Eat to Live program.
Jane E. Brody of The New York Times has invented her own system. She calls it “Controlled Indulgence.” What do you think? From the article:
So I adopted a philosophy that I call controlled indulgence. In the two years it took me to return to a reasonable weight for my 5-foot frame, I allowed myself one small treat each day — perhaps two cookies, a thin slice of cake or pie or a few tablespoons of ice cream. The strategy worked, and I continued to use it in the decades of weight maintenance that followed.


For as long as my twin sons lived at home, rather than buy commercial cakes and cookies, I baked quick breads and muffins that were relatively low in sugar and fat and loaded with healthful ingredients like whole wheat flour, bran, wheat germ, fruits and vegetables. They served as the family’s desserts and between-meal snacks. I took some to work with me every day to enjoy when the coffee cart appeared in midafternoon.

But back to the ice cream in the freezer. My approach starts with smart selection. I read the nutrition label; the only ice cream I buy provides a maximum of 150 calories a serving, and usually less, 100 to 130. Most are the slow-churned reduced-fat flavors, and some are frozen yogurt. But none are fat free or sugar free, which to me tastes ersatz.

Equally important, of course, is how much to eat at any one time. One serving. Do you know what a serving of ice cream is? It is half a cup. I bought some half-cup containers and measure out my daily indulgence. And I made a rule for myself. If I start eating more than that half cup, all the ice cream has to go. Because I would rather have it around when I want it, I stick to the half cup.