Health Points: Wednesday

The new study involving nearly 39,000 women helps sort out the combined effects of physical activity and body mass on women's chances of developing heart disease, said Gulati, who wasn't involved in the research.

The study by Harvard-affiliated researchers appears in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

Participants were women aged 54 on average who filled out a questionnaire at the study's start detailing their height, weight and amount of weekly physical activity in the past year, including walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming. They were then tracked for about 11 years. Overall 948 women developed heart disease.
Numerous claims have been made about water — that it prevents headaches, removes dangerous “poisons,” improves the function of various organs and is associated with reduced risk for various diseases. But none of these is supported by scientific evidence. The authors were not even able to find a study leading to the “eight glasses a day” rule, whose origin remains unknown.


The researchers, in the June issue of The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, say some studies have found evidence that drinking extra water helps the kidneys clear sodium, and long-term sodium retention might increase the risk of hypertension, but no clinical significance for the phenomenon has been established. Water also helps clear urea, but urea is not a toxin.

I never used to be a napper. In fact, daytime slumber was virtually beyond a congenitally wired type like me. My buddies would catch 40 winks on the long bus ride home from our high school, but for me that was out of the question. With age, however, my metabolism has changed. After the double whammy of a late-morning run and lunch, I'm pretty much a goner. I lie down and nod off in much the same way that Marlene Dietrich fell in love in that old song of hers: because I can't help it.


While it lasted, though, my nap resistance put me in sync with the American way of sleep: Do it all at once and strictly at night. Traditionally, we've begrudged ourselves naps. They may be forced on toddlers, recommended for pregnant women and tolerated among senior citizens with nothing better to do, but they've been frowned upon for worker bees in their prime. Recently, however, sleep scientists have discovered advantages to napping, which they view not just as solace but also as something akin to brain food. No longer written off as a cop-out for the weak and the bored, the nap is coming into its own as an element of a healthy life.
If only the millions of others beset with chronic health problems recognized the inestimable value to their physical and emotional well-being of regular physical exercise.


“The single thing that comes close to a magic bullet, in terms of its strong and universal benefits, is exercise,” Frank Hu, epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the Harvard Magazine.
A House-Senate conference committee claims it's getting closer to adopting a bill that would ban smoking in most Pennsylvania workplaces, but it can't seem to close the deal.


The deeply divided six-member committee had planned to meet today to vote on compromise legislation to prohibit people from lighting up in most workplaces and public places.

But late yesterday, the chairman called off the meeting, saying the bill still isn't ready despite months of negotiations.

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, a staunch critic of smoking, said the delay should only be for "a short period," meaning, probably, a few days.
According to an analysis of government statistics being released Tuesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the average dollar amount employees must pay per year for family health coverage went up by 30 percent from 2001 to 2005. During that time, incomes increased by just 3 percent.


"Nationally, insurance premium costs are going up ten times faster than people's incomes," said RWJF spokesman Michael Berman. "And in some regions, the gap is even greater. So what we've tried to do with this report is highlight for the nation's leaders what families already know; that it's getting harder and harder to afford health insurance in America."
Perhaps because Mayor Bloomberg's plan for congestion pricing in New York City has failed, the Big Apple is now trying to make up for it by becoming more bicycle-friendly. As it is, 112,000 New Yorkers bicycle on an average day, an increase of 10% over the last decade. The proposal, which is part of a new Department of Transportation strategic plan, hopes to double that number by 2015, as well as
  • Add 200 miles worth of new bicycle lane between 2007 and 2009
  • Install 37 bicycle shelters and 5,000 bike parking racks by 2011
  • Install 15 additional miles of protected on-street bike lanes by 2010 and 30 miles from 2011 to 2015
The company declined to discuss details in the so-called not approvable letter from the Food and Drug Administration. It would not comment on whether the agency had asked for further data or new clinical trials.


The drug, which was expected to be called Cordaptive, combines long-acting niacin with a new drug that prevents the flushing side effect common to niacin -- an uncomfortable sensation of burning in the face and neck that leads many patients to discontinue taking it.

Analysts widely expected the drug to be approved, especially after a committee of European regulators last week recommended it be cleared for sale there.
It's far from the only strength-boosting exoskeleton out there, but Honda's so-called "walking assist device" is one of the few that you can actually take for a test spin -- if you happen to be attending the Barrier Free 2008 trade show in Osaka, Japan next week, that is. Apparently employing some of the same technology developed by Honda for its ASIMO robot, the walking assistant is able to obtain information from hip angle sensors to help keep its wearer upright, with the device's motors also able to increase the wearer's natural stride. That, Honda says, should make the device ideal for the elderly or those with weakened leg muscles, although we're sure they could find at least a few other buyers if it ever actually hits the market at a reasonable price.
What follows are 10 of the tips for sabotaging the stress in your life, every one somehow related to nutrition and fitness.
  1. Eat a healthy breakfast
  2. Eat more fiber
  3. Eat oatmeal
  4. Eat almonds
  5. Drink black tea
  6. Hydrate
  7. Stretch
  8. Exercise
  9. Do yoga
  10. Sleep
Broccoli also contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane, indoles, kaempferol and isothiocyanates (they'll be a test later). These difficult-to-pronounce compounds have significant anti-cancer and other health effects. Here's what the literature says about it:
  • Men who ate more than a serving of either broccoli or cauliflower each week almost halved their risk of developing advanced-stage prostate cancer
  • Broccoli appear to have a unique ability to eliminate Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) - a bacteria responsible for ulcers. It has even been shown to eliminate Helicobacter when resistant to antibiotics.
  • Crucifers, including broccoli provide significant cardiovascular benefit. Those who diets most frequently included broccoli, tea, onions, and apples-the richest sources of flavonoids-gained a 20% reduction in their risk of heart disease.
The administration's decision to give the Defense Department and other agencies an early role in the process adds to years of delay in acting on harmful chemicals and jeopardizes the program's credibility, the Government Accountability Office concluded.


At issue is the EPA's screening of chemicals used in everything from household products to rocket fuel to determine if they pose serious risk of cancer or other illnesses.

A new review process begun by the White House in 2004 is adding more speed bumps for EPA scientists, the GAO said in its report, which will be the subject of a Senate Environment Committee hearing Tuesday. A formal policy effectively doubling the number of steps was adopted two weeks ago.

Heavy People's Brains Age Quicker...

New research claims middle-aged people who are overweight or obese may have greater risk of developing age-related brain diseases. Reuters reports:
The researchers looked at magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans from 50 healthy middle-aged men and women, measuring amounts of a variety of chemicals in the white and gray matter of the brain. Gray matter consists of the bodies of nerve cells, while white matter is made up of the connections between these cells.

Five of the study participants were obese, 15 were overweight, and the remaining 30 were normal weight.

The higher a person's body mass index (BMI), the ratio of body height to weight, the lower the concentration of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), a brain chemical that serves several functions and also acts as a marker for overall brain health, in the white matter of the brain's frontal, temporal and parietal regions. Heavier people also had less NAA in their frontal gray matter, and lower concentrations of choline-containing metabolite -- substances key to the formation of cell membranes--in their frontal white matter.

The strongest relationship between BMI and brain chemistry was seen in the white matter of the frontal region, which is believed to be particularly vulnerable to aging-related damage, the researchers note.
Obesity carries with it a lot of health complications. Here’s a brief list from Dr. Fuhrman. Take a look:
  • Increased overall mortality
  • Adult onset diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Degenerative arthritis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Fatty infiltration of the liver
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Cancer
That’s probably not EVEN the half of it!

Fidget Your Way to Fitness?


According to James Levine of the Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) lab at the Mayo clinic, movements like typing and fidgeting can help you stay slim. Diet Blog sums up NEAT’s latest newsletter. Here are some tidbits:
  • In a study, sedentary lean and overweight people were fitted with "magical" underwear which monitored every movement of the body. Subjects were fed 1000 calories above their weight maintenance levels. People who can activate their NEAT don't gain fat when overfed, while those who don't switch on their NEAT were gaining literally 10 times more fat!
  • About 30% of a person's daily expenditure comes from NEAT. (The other portions are from basal metabolism and thermic effect of eating). Those who are active have higher percentages of NEAT. This is the factor we have control over.
  • NEAT burns more calories than exercise in most non-athletes.
  • Levine suggests that offices, schools and other public places need to be more conducive to activity. Some ideas are walking workstations and walk-and-meet tracks, where carpet tape is laid down to map out a walking route.
Certainly interesting, but if you factor in people’s poor diets, I’m skeptical about how effective “NEAT” really is. I’ll stick to my hardcore exercise routine. Stuff like this. From The Washington Post:

Pendulum



Bridges


Decline Pushups



Although, maybe there is something to NEAT, because I always park far away from stores and make sure I get up and walk at work—do you have any of your own fitness quirks?

More Expecting Moms Diabetic...


A new study has discovered that the number of pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes has more than doubled in seven years. Alicia Chang of the Associated Press reports:
The researchers focused on health records from more than 175,000 ethnically diverse women who gave birth in a dozen Kaiser hospitals in Southern California from 1999 to 2005. Experts believe the findings likely reflect the overall U.S. population.

The actual number of pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes was small. In 1999, there were 245 such women; by 2005, there were 537. That translates to a rate that rose from 8 per 1,000 pregnancies to 18 per 1,000.

The rate increased the greatest among 13- to 19-year-olds giving birth. It ballooned from about 1 per 1,000 pregnancies to 5.5 per 1,000 during the seven-year period.

Blacks, Asians and Hispanics were more likely to have diabetes before pregnancy than whites.

The rise of diabetes among women of childbearing age mirrors the prevalence of the disease in the general population. The most common form of diabetes is Type 2, which is linked to obesity.

About 15 million people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes, and 1.5 million new cases were diagnosed in people age 20 and older in 2005, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Food Dye and Flavored Milk--Why Bother?

Here’s an odd item. New research claims food dye may protect against cancer. From New Scientist:
Gayle Orner at Oregon State University in Corvallis added the carcinogens dibenzopyrene (DBP) or aflatoxin to the feed of trout for one month, with or without the food dyes Red 40 - one of six recently linked to hyperactivity in children - or Blue 2.

Nine months later, trout that had been fed either of the dyes in combination with aflatoxin had 50 per cent fewer liver tumours, compared with those that had been exposed to aflatoxin alone. Trout that had been fed DBP in combination with Red 40 had a 50 per cent lower incidence of stomach cancer and a 40 per cent lower incidence of liver cancer.

"The public perception is that food dyes are bad, but some of them may have good points as well," says Orner, who presented her results at the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego, California, last week.
Bizarre and about to get bizarre-er. Apparently flavored milk may be just as “healthy” as plain milk. Reuters reports:
Using national survey data on more than 7,500 2- to 18-year-olds, researchers found that those who drank flavored milk had similar intakes of calcium, vitamin A, potassium and saturated fat as those who drank only plain milk.


And both groups, the study found, got more of these nutrients than children who drank no milk at all.

One reason parents might be wary of chocolate or strawberry milk is that the added sugar might encourage excess weight gain. But in this study, milk drinkers and non-drinkers had a similar average body mass index (BMI), the researchers report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
These studies are exactly the kind of junk-science that causes people to run out and buy harmful food—in this case dye and milk—for starters, milk is no health food. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
There are many good reasons not to consume dairy. For example, there is a strong association between diary lactose and ischemic heart disease.1 There is also a clear association between high-growth-promoting foods such as dairy products and cancer. There is a clear association between milk consumption and testicular cancer.2 Dairy fat is also loaded various toxins and is the primary source of our nation’s high exposure to dioxin.3 Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical compound that even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency admits is a prominent cause of many types of cancer in those consuming dairy fat, such as butter and cheese.4 Cheese is also a power inducer of acid load, which increases calcium loss further.5
Now, as for food dye, listen, if you’re really looking to prevent cancer, just stick with fruits and veggies. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Foods are nutrient dense when they contain a high level of micronutrients per calorie. Vegetables win the award for the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Therefore, as you move forward in your quest for nutritional excellence, you will eat more and more vegetables. In containing the most nutrients per calorie, vegetables have the most powerful association with protection from heart disease and cancer.
Flavored milk and food dye? Welcome to bizarro world.
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Beef's Ups and Downs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has moved to ban certain cattle parts from being used in animal feed. Reuters reports:


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees animal feed, said excluding high-risk materials from cattle 30 months of age or older from all animal feed will prevent any accidental cross-contamination between ruminant feed (intended for animals such as cattle) and non-ruminant feed or feed ingredients.
The new rule takes effect in April, 2009.

Contamination could occur during manufacture, transport or through the accidental misfeeding of non-ruminant feed to ruminant animals.
Canada and the United States banned the inclusion of protein from cows and other ruminant animals such as goats and sheep in cattle feed in 1997, following a mad cow outbreak in Britain.
Could this help restore consumer confidence? Because as it stands right now Americans are losing faith in the FDA. From Business Wire:
Majorities of U.S. adults give negative ratings for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a number of measures, such as ensuring new drugs come to market quickly (60% negative) and managing recalls or withdrawals when safety concerns arise (53%). The perception that the FDA does a good job ensuring the safety and efficacy of new prescription drugs (35% positive) has declined from 45 percent in 2007 and 56 percent in 2004, even though the general population considers this to be the most important task for the FDA to focus on (61%).


Further, only 26 percent think the FDA does a good job ensuring the safety of prescription drugs that are manufactured outside the U.S. This is no surprise, particularly coming on the heels of the recent Heparin contamination incident, which stemmed from materials made in China.
Granted, the report focuses on prescription drugs, but, you’ve got to admit. The FDA could do a better job keeping tabs on things. Two examples:
The FDA should nip problems like these in the bud before they even get close to hitting the news, but, the bad press doesn’t scare everyone. Japan will continue to import U.S. beef despite a recent ban. Reuters reports:


Japan does not plan to halt imports of U.S. beef after the discovery of a U.S. shipment that included parts banned due to the risk of mad cow disease, Japan's government spokesman told a news conference on Thursday.


Tokyo has suspended imports from the meatpacker that supplied the beef, a National Beef Packing Co plant in California, after the discovery. "It seems it was shipped to Japan by mistake," Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said.

"I don't think there is a need to suspend imports," he said.

But Machimura added that Japan would increase testing, aiming to check 10 percent of incoming U.S. beef cargoes, up from the current 1 percent.
You can’t discount the bravery of the Japanese, I wouldn’t eat any beef, mad cow disease-risk or not. Why is red meat bad? Check out: War Against Cancer, Serve Beef?

Less Fat, Less Prostate Cancer


“For prostate health limit or avoid animal products to less than 5 percent of total calories, and don’t drink milk or eat cheese or butter,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. And, a new study has found that eating less fat may prevent prostate cancer. EMaxHealth is on it:
The study, which appears in the April 15 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research, focused on fat from corn oil, which is made up primarily of omega-6 fatty acids — the polyunsaturated fat commonly found in the Western diet. Omega-6 fats are found in high levels in baked and fried goods, said William Aronson, a Jonsson Cancer Center researcher and the study's senior author.

Researchers fed one group of mice a diet with roughly 40 percent of its calories coming from fat, a percentage typical in men eating a Western diet. The other group received a diet with 12 percent of calories from fat, considered a very low-fat diet. Researchers found a 27 percent reduced incidence of prostate cancer in the low-fat diet group.

Aronson also studied cells in the prostate that were precancerous, or would soon become cancer, and found that the cells in the mice eating the low-fat diet grew much slower than those in the high-fat group.
Yeah, if you’re looking to avoid any kind of cancer, you’ve got to eat plenty of plant foods. Take fruit for example. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Fruit is an indispensable requirement to maintain a high level of health. Fruit consumption has been shown to offer the strongest protection against certain cancers, especially oral, esophageal, lung, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.1
And dairy products are no better. Here’s Dr. Fuhrman again. Take a look:
When the death rates for prostate cancer and testicular cancer were examined in forty-two countries and correlated with dietary practices in a carefully designed study, they found that cheese consumption was most closely linked with the incidence of testicular cancer for ages twenty to thirty-nine, and milk was the most closely associated with prostate cancer of all foods.2 Meat, coffee, and animal fats also showed a positive correlation.
Its got to be hard concocting all the fairytales of the benefits of high-fat diets.
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America Fat, World Starving...



Discover magazine’s Better Planet blog points out that while the United States is fat, many countries are in famine. Check it out:
Food prices have doubled as commodities prices have soared around the world. This puts people on the brink over the edge and may cause widespread starvation and rioting (some of which we’ve already see in Cairo, Mexico City, and the Philippines). The crisis is so bad that this week President Bush released $200 million in emergency food funding to help nations in need.

Walk through the slums of Mumbai, wonder out into the rural areas of Third World countries, as I have, and you’ll see how little margin for food error there is. This is serious. These are lives.

The World Food Bank reports that its reserves are the lowest they have been in about 30 years. Rice and wheat have become so expensive that nations have stopped exporting them. This causes panic and problems the likes of which the world has never seen. Meanwhile, recent health reports show the obesity rate for US adults stands at 64%. The Environmental Protection Agency says one of the most common items at landfills is tossed food
Okay, America might have a lot of food, but we eat too much of the wrong stuff—that’s why we’re so fat! It’s the quality of food that’s important. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in his new book Eat For Health. Here’s a bit:
What makes a food healthy is how many nutrients it delivers to your body. In other words, for optimal health we must eat foods that are rich in nutrients, in particular, foods that deliver the maximum nutrients in each calorie. This can be a strange concept for many people because they are accustomed to judging whether or not a food is healthy by analyzing how many calories, fat grams, or carbohydrates it has. Try to wipe those ingrained ideas from your mind. With this plan, your primary concern will be the nutrients in the foods you eat. However, to eat this way, we must first understand what nutrients are and which foods are richest in them…


…Eating foods that are rich in micronutrients is essential to achieving optimal health. A micronutrient-heavy diet supplies your body with 14 different vitamins, 25 different minerals, and more than 10,000 phytochemicals, which are plant-based chemicals that have profound effects on human cell function and the immune system. Foods that are naturally rich in these nutrients are also rich in fiber and water and are naturally low in calories, meaning they have a low caloric density. These low-calorie, high-nutrient foods provide the ingredients that enable your body’s self-healing and self-repairing mechanisms.
News like this worries me, because a lot of developing countries see America and start to emulate the good and—unfortunately—the bad too and the Standard American Diet is NOT something worth copying.

Health Points: Wednesday


Life expectancy has declined for many women in the United States, largely due to smoking-related diseases and obesity, a study published Tuesday showed.

Nearly one in five US women saw the number of years they are expected to live decline or hold steady, starting in the 1980s, showed the joint study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington.

The study looked at data from more than 2,000 county "units" between 1959 and 2001.
BPA migrates into food from polycarbonate plastic bottles or the epoxy resin coatings that line canned food. The typical adult ingests an estimated 1 microgram of BPA for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. Babies who use polycarbonate bottles and formula from cans get more, an estimated 10 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. A microgram represents a trace amount. Consider this: a single M&M is about a gram. If you cut it into 100,000 slices, one slice would equal about 10 micrograms.


The 2003-4 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found detectable levels of BPA in 93 percent of urine samples collected from more than 2,500 adults and children over 6.
Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer wasn't able to estimate how many additional cattle might be affected by a total ban, and the overall economic impact is difficult to calculate, though Mark Dopp, of the American Meat Institute, said it wasn't expected to be significant. Dairy farmers get several hundred dollars for each cow they sell for slaughter.


Undercover video taken at Westland/Hallmark Meat in Chino, Calif., showed workers shocking cattle and pushing them with forklifts to force them to slaughter. That led to the recall of 143 million pounds of beef, though authorities said the health risks were minimal.

Downer cows are more prone to infections such as mad-cow disease, partly because they typically wallow in feces.

On average, food racks up about 1,000 food miles (or 1,650 "food kilometers") traveling from farms to processing or packaging plants before reaching Americans' dinner plates, the study estimates.


The whole supply chain—including delivering grains to feed cattle and delivering fuel to farms, for example—adds another 4,200 miles (6,750 kilometers).

Yet all that shipping, driving, and flying accounts for only a sliver of foods' climate impact—just 11 percent of the total—compared with the impact from producing the food itself, the study showed.
About 180 people who ate at a Chipotle restaurant near Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, became sick with a gastrointestinal illness, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Health officials began investigating the outbreak after people started arriving at local emergency rooms complaining of diarrhea, nausea, and severe vomiting.


Many of those affected were Kent State students who had eaten burritos at the restaurant on Thursday and Friday. Some had donated blood and gotten a coupon for free food at the restaurant, according to WLWT, the Cincinnati NBC affiliate.
While most environmentalists take aim at plastic, paper comes from trees, and processing bags creates greenhouse gases.


So, Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman points out, the best bag is the one you can use again and again -- provided you remember to bring it with you to the store -- and can get out of the habit of using them!

Some are even becoming fashion statements! The now chic "I'm not a plastic bag" by designer Anya Hindmarch quickly sold out in London and New York at $15 each, but are readily available at more than double that price on eBay!

In our post on Bisphenol A from Nalgene water bottles and other polycarbonate bottles, a number of commenters asked about the lining in SIGG aluminum bottles, expressing concern that their linings might leach BPA. So we asked them, and received a response from the CEO, Steve Wasik. He says that SIGG uses a proprietary liner formula from a Swiss supplier with "an impeccable reputation for quality" but that "as there are many copy-cat manufacturers in the market (most based in China) that would like to get their hands on this formula, our supplier has an agreement with SIGG to keep his formula confidential."


Wasik continues: "Very thorough migration testing in laboratories around the world is conducted regularly and has consistently shown SIGG aluminum bottles to have no presence of lead, phthalates, Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), Bysphenol A (BPA), Bysphenol B (BPB) or any other chemicals which scientists have deemed as potentially harmful.
Breakfast cereals for children are less healthy than cereals meant for adults, and those marketed the most aggressively to kids have the worst nutritional quality, according to a new analysis of 161 brands.


"The cereal the parent is eating him or herself is probably better than what they're feeding their child," Dr. Marlene B. Schwartz of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters Health.

Schwartz and her colleagues also found that health claims made for kids' cereals were often misleading. Cereals sold as "low fat" or "low sugar" were not lower in calories, as parents might assume, and while brands touted as "whole grain" did have more fiber, they had just as much salt, sugar and fat as other brands and the same calorie content.
New Yorkers handed over $45 million in internet sales tax last year alone. Still, that’s less than half of what the government thinks it’s owed.


So, starting in June, 2008, New York will require the largest online retailers to collect sales tax on purchases shipped to the Empire State.

Japanese farmers have had somewhat better luck with the honor system, which they employ in thousands of unmanned produce stands across the country. Many of the stands see payment rates approaching 90 percent. But in Japan, as in New York, the free ride may be coming to an end, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports, as farmers start to insist on being paid in full.
In an analysis of pooled data from previous clinical trials, researchers in the Netherlands found that when healthy adults older than 55 improved their fitness through aerobic exercise, there was also often an improvement in memory, attention or other mental abilities.


The findings appear in the Cochrane Library, a publication of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.

Aerobic exercise is any activity, such as brisk walking, that gets the heart rate up and improves endurance, over time. This type of exercise has proven benefits for the heart.

Mom's Diet, Baby's Gender


New research suggests that a mother’s diet can actually impact the sex of her baby. Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times Well blog is on it:
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, shows a link between higher energy intake around the time of conception and the birth of sons. The difference is not huge, but it may be enough to help explain the falling birthrate of boys in industrialized countries, including the United States and Britain.…


…The data is based on a study of 740 first-time pregnant mothers in Britain who didn’t know the sex of their fetus. They provided records of their eating habits before and during the early stages of pregnancy, and researchers analyzed the data based on estimated calorie intake at the time of conception. Among women who ate the most, 56 percent had sons, compared with 45 percent among women who ate the least. As well as consuming more calories, women who had sons were more likely to have eaten a higher quantity and wider range of nutrients, including potassium, calcium and vitamins C, E and B12. There was also a strong correlation between women eating breakfast cereals and producing sons.
I wonder what food causes obnoxiousness, because whatever it its, my mom sure ate a lot of it!

Heart Risks in Youth



According to new research, heart disease risk begins developing in men during adolescence. Ed Edelson HealthDay News reports:
The study of the 507 Minneapolis school children found that between the ages of 11 and 19, levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat associated with cardiovascular disease, increased in the boys and dropped in the girls. Levels of HDL cholesterol, the "good" kind that helps keep arteries clear, went down in boys but rose in girls.

Blood pressure increased in both, but significantly more in boys. And insulin resistance, a marker of cardiovascular risk, which was lower in boys at age 11, rose until the 19-year-old men were more resistant than the women…

…A recent study found that more than a third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese.

The study points toward the importance of hormonal factors in cardiovascular disease risk, Dr. Antoinette Moran, chief of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital explained. "We knew that women had extra protection from cardiovascular disease, and we knew it disappeared after menopause," she said. "This adds further weight to the role of hormones by looking at the other end of the age spectrum."
Not exactly new news, being obese and eating poorly is a bad idea—at any age! Here Dr. Fuhrman talks about heart risk in youth:
As a result of the heart-unfriendly diet, blood vessel damage begins early. Not only does the development of coronary atherosclerosis develop in childhood, but earlier development of atherosclerosis and higher serum cholesterol levels in childhood result in a significantly higher risk of premature sudden death relatively early in life. Sometimes the effects of childhood dietary abuses can be seen relatively early, with premature death or a heart attack at a young age.


When we study people who died young of coronary artery disease, we find that the highest risk of an earlier death occurs in those who were above average weight in childhood.1 Findings from the famous Bogalusa Heart Study show that a high saturated fat intake early in life is strongly predictive of later heart disease burden and the higher blood pressure in childhood and adolescence is powerfully predictive of cardiovascular death in adulthood.2
And the drugs we pump kids full of aren’t doing them any favors either. It seems there might be heart risk in ADHD drugs. From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Millions of children taking drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder should be checked for heart problems, the American Heart Association said yesterday, a recommendation that also might identify more youngsters with cardiac disorders.


Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, and other stimulants commonly prescribed to treat ADHD can increase blood pressure and heart rate. While not a problem for the vast majority of patients, they can lead to life-threatening conditions and even sudden cardiac death in those with heart conditions.

"We want all children to have safe access to these medications," said Victoria L. Vetter, a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and lead author of the recommendations published today in Circulation, the heart association journal.

For the drugs to be truly safe, Vetter said in an interview, children with heart problems must be identified.

The committee of experts nevertheless emphasized that children on ADHD drugs should not stop. The recommendations are meant to prompt doctors to more carefully screen the heart health of young patients, Vetter said - "not freak out parents."
ADHD is a whole other issue. Here’s a little bit of Dr. Fuhrman on ADHD drugs. Take a look:
These medications with their reported adverse effects and potential dangers were simply unnecessary for so many children whom I have seen as patients. I have witnessed consistently positive results when these children followed my comprehensive program of nutritional excellence. The scientific studies lending support to a comprehensive nutritional approach to treating ADHD are ignored by physicians, and drugs are generally the only method offered.


Most new cases of ADHD are of the inattentive subtype. Inattentive ADHD are the children who have a short attention span, are easily distracted, and can appear to be a brain fog; they do not have hyperactivity. Research on the use of psychostimulants in these patients has shown high rate of nonresponders, and although medications showed a short-term decrease in symptoms, they did not improve grade point averages.1
Now, I’m not far seer, but, I’d be willing to bet A LOT of these problems could be avoided by upgrading the quality of kids’ diets—what do you think?
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Cancer: Get Up, Get Moving!

I think cancer shocks most people, but if you examine the root cause of the disease, it’s not all that surprising. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The bottom line is if you eat the Standard American Diet or something close to it, you most likely will develop the same diseases—heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, and cancer—that most Americans get. You cannot escape from the biological law of cause and effect. If you eat the diet most Americans eat, you will get the diseases most Americans get.
Now, let’s say you had cancer and were fortunate enough to survive it. You’d whip yourself into shape—right? Apparently not, because new research claims many cancer survivors are overweight and sedentary. HealthDay News reports:

 
General population statistics for Canada find that 37 percent of people are overweight, and 22 percent are obese, according to background information in the study. 


Fewer than 22 percent of cancer survivors reported being physically active. The lowest rates of physical activity were found among colorectal cancer survivors, breast cancer survivors and female survivors of melanoma.

Thirty-four percent of cancer survivors were overweight, and almost one in five was obese.

Obese breast cancer survivors were only about half as likely to be physically active as obese women who hadn't had cancer, a finding that's particularly worrisome, because poor outcomes in breast cancer have been associated with obesity and the often accompanying sedentary lifestyle.
Crazy, seems illogical, especially when you consider that exercise may combat the fatigue associated with cancer. More from HealthDay News:
"A lot of time, the medical response to patients is that they should expect to be fatigued, that it is a normal side effect. If patients are told that fatigue is just a side effect and to accept it, what they are not getting is any advice or support to help them cope," review lead author Fiona Camp, a lecturer at the University of the West of England in Bristol, said in a prepared statement.


Camp and her colleagues examined data on more than 2,000 cancer patients in 28 studies, which tested exercise programs that lasted from three weeks to eight months. The typical duration was 12 weeks. Walking and stationary bike riding were the most common types of exercise in the studies.

The researchers found that exercise is more effective at combating cancer-related fatigue than the usual care provided to patients.
Honestly, I can’t imagine recovering from something like cancer and NOT changing your life around.

Toxins: In the Turf, Homes, Air, and Pesticides


"We don't have the winds that blow things out of the air," Chang said. "The stuff we put into the atmosphere lingers longer."

He compared the air quality in many big cities to a chemical soup of thousands of compounds, including ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. The Environmental Protection Agency describes ground-level ozone as the primary component of smog. It includes motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents.

Chang's office is responsible for monitoring air quality and issuing smog alerts in Atlanta. He also tries to educate residents by telling them to pay attention to the warnings.

"Jogging late in the afternoon during the summer is not the best time," Michael Chang, an atmospheric research scientist at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, said. "Ground-level ozone is at its worst at that time of day."

Two fields in New Jersey were closed this week after state health officials detected what they said were unexpectedly high levels of lead in the synthetic turf and raised fears that athletes could swallow or inhale fibers or dust from the playing surface.


The artificial-turf industry denied its products are dangerous. But the CPSC it is investigating.

"We have a great deal of interest into any consumer product that could be used by children where children could potentially be in harm's way because of lead exposure," CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

One would think that a standard coming from the EPA would care about health and air quality instead of energy (isn't that another department?) but no, they recommend tightly sealing houses to reduce air leakage, the biggest energy loser. A leaky old house might change the air once an hour; a tightly sealed house designed for Energy Star might be as little as 1/100 of an air change per hour.


What happens when you don't change the air enough? The concentration of toxic chemicals gets higher. Formaldehyde, as an example, found in particle board, MDF, (medium density fibreboard) fabrics, glues and paints, and most fiberglass insulation.

Results of a family-based, case-control study support a relationship between pesticide exposure and Parkinson's disease (PD).


In a statement issued by BioMed Central, lead author Dr. Dana Hancock from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina notes, "Previous studies have shown that individuals with Parkinson's disease are over twice as likely to report being exposed to pesticides as unaffected individuals, but few studies have looked at this association in people from the same family or have assessed associations between specific classes of pesticides and PD."

In a study of 319 PD patients and more than 200 unaffected relatives, Dr. Hancock and colleagues found that the PD patients were significantly more likely to report direct pesticide application (odds ratio, 1.61).

Research: Traditional Breast-Feeding Better



A new study has determined that a traditional breast-feeding schedule is better than a “baby-led” routine. Joene Hendry of Reuters reports:
The traditional breast-feeding approach involves breast-feeding using both breasts at each feeding for no more than 10 minutes per breast.

They found that infants were more likely to be exclusively breast-fed for up to 12 weeks when their mothers followed traditional rather than baby-led breast-feeding practices.

Furthermore, feeding more than 10 minutes from the first breast was associated with poor weight gain during the first 6 to 8 weeks of exclusive breast-feeding, the researchers report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Traditional methods take advantage of the physiological mechanisms of breast-feeding, Walshaw said. The regular, short-term use of both breasts at each feeding conditions the let-down reflex. Moreover, draining milk from both breasts at each feeding inhibits the slowing of milk production in an unused breast, and takes advantage of the higher fat and protein content of early-released milk from each breast.

By contrast, baby-led breast-feeding can decondition the let-down reflex through prolonged suckling at each feed, and can gradually enhance lesser milk production by using only one breast at each feeding.
Maybe so, because according to the report baby-led breast-feeding is not backed up by evidence-based lactation physiology. Nevertheless, remember Dr. Fuhrman’s breast-feeding advice. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
The antibodies derived from mother’s milk are necessary for maximizing immune system function, maximizing intelligence, and protecting against immune system disorders, allergies, and even cancer. The child’s immune system is still underdeveloped until age of two, the same age when the digestive tract seals the leaks (spaces between cells) designed to allow the mother’s antibodies access to the bloodstream. So picking the age of two as the length of recommended breast-feeding is not just a haphazard guess, it matches the age at which the child is no longer absorbing the mother’s immunoglobulins to supplement their own immune system. Nature designed it that way.
Okay moms, what do you think? For me, the breast-feedings schedule approach makes the most sense, not sure why, just my gut feeling—opinions?

Health Points: Monday


“Based on all available scientific evidence, we continue to believe that Nalgene products containing BPA are safe for their intended use,” Steven Silverman, the general manager of the Nalgene unit, said in a statement. “However, our customers indicated they preferred BPA-free alternatives, and we acted in response to those concerns.”

The National Toxicology Program in the United States released a draft report on Tuesday reporting that some rats that were fed or injected with low doses of the chemical developed precancerous tumors and urinary tract problems and reached puberty early. While the report said the animal tests provided “limited evidence,” it also noted that the “possibility that bisphenol-a may alter human development cannot be dismissed.”
The current U.S. flu season has been the worst in four years, due, in part, to a vaccine that was not a good match for certain circulating strains of flu virus, U.S. health officials said Thursday.


For strains of influenza A (H3N2) -- the most prevalent virus during the 2007-08 season, the vaccine was 58 percent effective. But it was 100 percent ineffective against influenza B infections, leaving an overall vaccine success rate of about 44 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The tests do not show that drinking water is unsafe. But they do raise important questions for regulators and city officials aware of growing concerns about potential health effects from long-term exposure to drugs in our drinking water, even at very low levels.


"There are many unknowns," said Dana Kolpin, a researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey who conducted some of the first tests that found pharmaceuticals in municipal water supplies. "On one hand, levels of specific substances are very low and appear to be nothing to worry about. But the question is whether mixtures of many substances could build to a point where there could be some harmful effects."
But the Professor Woodpecker series, the brand new set of children's books from H and T Imaginations Unlimited, Inc., is out to change that. In the first three of the planned six book series -- "Professor Woodpecker's Banana Sandwiches"; "Green Apples, Red Apples, Yellow Apples and More"; and "Professor Woodpecker Loves Cereal" (published by AuthorHouse -- www.authorhouse.com) -- Professor Woodpecker shares invaluable nutritional advice and ideas with children everywhere, and no one is better equipped to share such dietary wisdom than clever and caring Professor Woodpecker.


Authoritative yet fun, educational yet entertaining, Professor Woodpecker serves as a role model and teacher for children and those around them who help make their nutritional decisions, like parents and grandparents. Each book features the wise and witty professor, who -- while carrying on fun activities and conversations -- introduces children to important information regarding wholesome nutrition.
"If the House and Gov. Rod Blagojevich go along, foods cooked with trans fat would be banned starting in July 2009. Such food would be prohibited in school vending machines a year later.


"State Board of Education spokesman Matt Vanover said the ban may not have a big effect on school menus because manufacturers have been shying away from the substance for several years.

"Trans fat is a man-made product that improves the taste and texture of foods, but is known to raise bad cholesterol while attacking good cholesterol. It also contributes to heart disease and diabetes."

This is the scene at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, where students attend weekly adaptive yoga class. Derived from traditional yoga, poses are modified for those with disabilities or health conditions.


Hundreds of miles away, longtime instructor Karen O'Donnell Clarke says the limitations could have a number of sources: multiple sclerosis (which she has), a sports injury, fibromyalgia or even a sedentary lifestyle. Post-surgical conditions, Parkinson's disease, stroke and arthritis may also cause some impairment. "Pretty much if you name a health condition, yoga can help with it," she says.

Physical therapist Sarah Knopf says the class' popularity is due to many patients asking what else they can be doing to strengthen their bodies or overcome a health challenge quicker.
Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York found that people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood experience an increased risk for a condition known as peripheral artery disease, or PAD.


PAD most often reduces blood flow to the legs, causing pain and numbness, impairing the ability to walk and in some cases leading to amputation. It develops when fatty deposits accumulate in the inner linings of artery walls, cutting blood flow and oxygen to the legs, feet, arms and elsewhere.

The researchers based the findings on a U.S. government health survey involving 4,839 adults who had their blood vitamin D levels measured and underwent a screening method for PAD that assesses blood flow to the legs.

I finally had a chance to use a Wii. After getting over some initial embarrassment, I had an awful lot of fun! I tried the tennis game and, sadly enough, I'm as bad at virtual tennis as I am on an actual tennis court. While the Wii was certainly more active than playing any other video game system, it wasn't nearly the same type of exercise as a real sport.


Both Bev and Bethany have written about the exercise potential in the interactive gaming system before. And, compared to sitting like a lump playing regular video games, the Wii is a great thing. But it doesn't take the place of real exercise. The active games are a great alternative to regular video games. Also, many of the games aren't violence based -- as a parent, I know I appreciate that. They also offer hand-eye coordination benefits. And, for kids (or adults) who aren't active at all, the games may be a stepping stone for developing interest in real sports.

Friday: News from You...


Lignans are plant compounds found in seeds, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. In laboratory studies, lignans have been shown to impact hormone levels and tumor growth. Researchers from Roswell Park and the University at Buffalo evaluated the dietary lignan intakes of 1,122 women diagnosed with breast cancer who participated in the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer Study (WEB Study) between 1996 and 2001. Lignan intake was calculated based on responses to a questionnaire that charted intake of over 100 foods.

The study found that dietary lignan intake had no relevance among premenopausal women with breast cancer. However, in postmenopausal women, those with a high lignan intake were 70% less likely to die from breast cancer.
Makes sense to me. Just ask Dr. Fuhrman, “Cancer is a disease of maladaptation. It results primarily from a body’s lacking critical substances found in different types of vegetation.”

Taking antioxidants like vitamins A and E to prolong life may actually have the opposite effect, new research has found.


A review of 67 studies involving more than 230,000 people found "no convincing evidence" that the vitamins prolonged life, the Press Association reported.

"Even more, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E seem to increase mortality," according to the researchers.

However, other health specialists said the research was "flawed" and the supplements were safe to take.
I doubt vitamins are poison pills. I wonder, if you take vitamins, but continue to eat an unhealthy diet, would those vitamins REALLY help? Food for thought—pun intended.

  1. Helps you lose weight. Since fruits and vegetables have a lot of fiber, the more of them you eat, the fuller you feel.
  2. Fights cancer. In a comprehensive review of the best research on fruits, vegetables, and cancer by an agency for the World Health Organization, the authors concluded that eating more vegetables "probably lowers the risk of cancers of the esophagus and colon-rectum" and "possibly reduces the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, stomach, larynx, lung, ovary, and kidney."
  3. Promotes heart health. A 14-year-long Harvard study of nurses and other health professionals found that the more fruits and vegetables a person ate daily, the lower that person's chances were of developing heart-related health problems like heart attack and stroke.
  4. Lowers cholesterol. According to a study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, people who ate more than four servings of fruits and vegetables a day had much lower levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol than those who ate fewer servings.
  5. Reduces bowel problems. The fiber in fruits and vegetables relieves constipation and helps prevent diverticulosis and colon disease.
  6. Improves vision. Eating your vegetables may help prevent vision problems associated with aging.
Pretty cool! And Lilly had this to say, “Seems that just about EVERYONE is hopping on the more veggies bandwagon!

The DASH Diet is Good...

Okay, I go to admit. I couldn’t remember what the DASH diet is, so, I ran it through Wikipedia and here’s what came up:
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or the DASH diet is a diet promoted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (part of the NIH, an organisation part of the government of the USA) to control hypertension. A major feature of the plan is limiting intake of sodium, and it also generally encourages the consumption of nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables while lowering the consumption of red meats, sweets, and sugar. It is also "rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber."


The DASH diet is based on NIH studies that examined three dietary plans and their results. None of the plans were vegetarian, but the DASH plan incorporated more fruits and vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy, beans, and nuts than the others studied. Not only does the plan emphasize good eating habits, but also suggests healthy alternatives to "junk food" and discourages the consumption of processed foods.
Doesn’t sound too bad—pretty Fuhrman-friendly—maybe that’s why the DASH diet has been shown to cute the risk of heart disease. Ed Edelson of HealthDay News reports:
The DASH -- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension -- study, reported in the same issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, is the first to look at the diet's effect on the incidence of heart disease and stroke, said study author Teresa T. Fung, an associate professor of nutrition at the Simmons College School for Health Studies in Boston.


"Previously, the benefits that were reported were for hypertension [high blood pressure]," Fung said. "No previous study looked at cardiovascular endpoints such as heart disease and stroke."

The study reported on 88,517 female nurses aged 34 to 59 who started with no evidence of cardiovascular disease or diabetes in 1980. In the 24 years that followed, the one-fifth of women in the group whose diets were most similar to that recommended in DASH -- low in animal protein, moderate in low-fat dairy products and high in plant proteins -- were 24 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and 18 percent less likely to have a stroke than the one-fifth of women with the lowest DASH scores.

While the study was not the kind of carefully controlled trial that gets the highest regard in research, it carries a message, Fung said. "This report actually shows that those people whose diet resembles the DASH diet reduce the risk of actual cardiovascular disease," she said.
Now, I’m certainly not going to abandon my nutritarian lifestyle for the DASH, but, the benefits of cutting salt, limiting saturated fat, and eating lots of fruits and veggies are truly undeniable. From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat for Health:
As the consumption of animal products, saturated fat, and processed foods drops down to low levels in a population’s diet, heart disease goes to lower and lower levels, reaching less than one percent of the total cause of death. Eating a diet lower in saturated fat and higher in fruits and vegetables dramatically reduces the occurrence of the clots that cause heart disease and embolic strokes. However, hemorrhagic strokes are not caused by atherosclerosis—the buildup of fatty substances in arteries—and the resultant clots. These strokes are caused by a hemorrhage or rupture in a blood vessel wall that has been weakened by years of elevated blood pressure as a result of chronic high salt intake. The weakened wall ruptures and lets blood flow into and damage brain tissue…


…When a diet is high in fatty animal products and high in salt, the thickened blood vessel walls caused by the unhealthful, heart-attack-promoting diet actually protect against the occurrence of this more uncommon cause of strokes. In medical studies, higher cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of other strokes…

…A recent study looked at the effects of a diet with more fruits and vegetables combined with a low saturated fat intake. It showed a 76 percent reduction in heart-disease-related deaths for those consuming more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day and less than 12 percent of calories from saturated fat, compared to those with less vegetation and more saturated fat.1 Even this small increase in vegetation and mild reduction in saturated fats showed a dramatic reduction in heart-disease-related deaths.
I’ll think of the DASH as just that, a short little burst of health, but eating a vegetable-based nutrient-dense diet—THAT’S FOR THE LONG HAUL!
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School Food: Healthy Better Food, Smarter Kids, Higher Costs!

 

A new study has determined that children, who eat healthier, actually do better in school. Reuters is on it:
Students who ate an adequate amount of fruit, vegetables, protein, fiber and other components of a healthy diet were significantly less likely to fail a literacy test, Dr. Paul J. Veugelers of the University of Alberta in Edmonton and colleagues found.

While a healthy diet is generally assumed to be important for good school performance, there has actually been little research on this topic, Veugelers and his colleagues note. To investigate, they looked at 4,589 fifth-graders participating in the Children's Lifestyle and School-performance Study, 875 (19.1 percent) of whom had failed an elementary literacy assessment.
But, feeding kids healthy food in school costs more, and many schools are feeling the financial pinch. Maria Glod of The Washington Post reports:
Sharp rises in the cost of milk, grain and fresh fruits and vegetables are hitting cafeterias across the country, forcing cash-strapped schools to raise prices or pinch pennies by serving more economical dishes. Some school officials on a mission to help fight childhood obesity say it's becoming harder to fill students' plates with healthful, low-fat foods.


School meal programs across the country are run somewhat like restaurants, relying on federal and state subsidies, and profits from meal and snack sales and catering services, to buy food and pay workers. Rising labor costs, coupled with the recent push for healthier meals — which has meant serving higher-priced foods such as whole-grain breads and fresh vegetables — has squeezed budgets. Soaring food prices make it even harder to break even.
A healthy diet is basically preventative medicine, shouldn’t these schools get extra help for TRYING TO HELP! What do you think?

Uruguay's Big Barbecue Equals Bad Health


Its official, Uruguay is now the record holder for the world’s largest barbecue. The Associated Press reports:
Some 1,250 Uruguayan grillmeisters sizzled up 26,400 pounds (12,000 kilograms) of beef Sunday, beating a 2006 record set in Mexico.

"It's all so beautiful. It's a record," Guinness World Records judge Danny Girton said after the chefs, in white hats and aprons, smoked and barbecued their way into the record book with help of 6 tons of charcoal and 1,500 metal barbecue stands.

The barbecue was so big that firefighters were called in to light the grills and make sure the flames did not get out of hand. It beat the previous record of 17,600 pounds (8,000 kilograms) of beef, Girton said.
Wow, that’s a BIG health gamble. Barbecuing food—i.e. blackening it—comes with a HUGE price. Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in his book Eat For Health:
In the last five years there has been worldwide alarm in the scientific community after researchers have found that many of the foods we eat contain these cancer-causing compounds. Acrylamides form in foods that are browned by being fried, baked, roasted, grilled, or barbequed, but not in those that are steamed, boiled or sautéed in water. Water-based cooking prevents the browning or burning that forms these harmful compounds.


Even though these chemicals have been shown to be potent carcinogens in animal models, so many acrylamides are consumed in the modern world that good research documenting the extent of the cancer risk in humans does not yet exist. This topic is still being actively investigated in many different countries, but the risk is difficult to estimate because baked, browned, and fried foods are so ubiquitous in Western diets.
A backyard cookout is fun, but acrylamides aren’t your friend. This study from the Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition discusses the development of acrylamides:
The exact chemical mechanism(s) for acrylamide formation in heated foods is unknown. Several plausible mechanistic routes may be suggested, involving reactions of carbohydrates, proteins/amino acids, lipids and probably also other food components as precursors. With the data and knowledge available today it is not possible to point out any specific routes, or to exclude any possibilities. It is likely that a multitude of reaction mechanisms is involved. Acrolein is one strong precursor candidate, the origin of which could be lipids, carbohydrates or proteins/amino acids. Acrylamide is a reactive molecule and it can readily react with various other components in the food. The actual acrylamide level in a specific food product, therefore, probably reflects the balance between ease of formation and potential for further reactions in that food matrix. There are indications in support of that the Maillard reaction being an important reaction route for acrylamide formation, but lipid degradation pathways to the formation of acrolein should also be considered.
I’m sorry, but is some silly world record worth the health risks? Which are doubly bad when you consider all the saturated fat, more from Eat For Health:
Saturated fat comes from many food sources, including processed foods, meat, cheese, and other animal products. Thousands of scientific research studies demonstrate that saturated fat promotes both heart disease and cancer and powerfully raises cholesterol.1 It is exceedingly clear that avoiding all fat is not the secret to protecting your heart. It is avoiding saturated fat, trans fat, and processed oils.2 We get heart-healthy fats in their natural, high-antioxidant environment when we eat raw seeds and nuts. Indeed, avocado, nuts, and seeds are rich in fat. They may even contain a small amount of saturated fat, but their consumption is linked to substantial protection against heart disease. But, in the American diet, fats come primarily from meat and dairy, which are saturated, and we compound the problem by the low level of food derived antioxidants and phytochemicals we ingest.
Think about it, the people of Uruguay served up 26,400 pounds of health attacking food—EGAD!
Continue Reading...

Breast Cancer: Drinking, Trans-Fat, Soy...


New research has linked alcohol consumption to an increased risk of breast cancer. Reuters reports:
The analysis of data from more than 184,000 women is the biggest of three major studies to conclude that drinking raises the risk of breast cancer for older women, Jasmine Lew, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute and the study's lead investigator said on Sunday.

The research found that women who had one to two small drinks a day were 32 percent more likely to develop a hormone-sensitive tumor. Three or more drinks a day raised the risk by 51 per cent.
More bad news, trans-fat is also being associated with a higher breast cancer risk. More from Reuters:
They found that women with the highest blood levels of trans-fats had about twice the risk of breast cancer compared to women with the lowest levels.


"At this stage, we can only recommend limiting the consumption of processed foods, the source of industrially produced trans-fatty acid," the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
But this is good to hear. A compound in soy has been found to lower the risk of breast cancer: Reuters again:
Researchers found that among more than 24,000 middle-aged and older Japanese women, those with the highest levels of the compound, called genistein, were only one-third as likely as other women to develop breast cancer over 10 years.


Genistein is one of the major isoflavones, plant compounds found in soybeans, chick peas and other legumes that are structurally similar to the hormone estrogen, and are believed to bind to estrogen receptors on body cells.
So, to recap, drinking bad, trans-fat also bad, soybeans good!

Atherosclerosis and High Blood Pressure: Organ Trouble

It seems plaque build up in the arteries not only harms the heart, but other organs too. Theresa Waldron of HealthDay News reports:
"Atherosclerosis is usually associated with plaque formation in arteries," said study author Rita K. Upmacis, an associate research professor in pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City. "But using a mouse model of atherosclerosis, we have demonstrated that the effects of this disease are more widespread, affecting . . . the heart, liver and lungs."


The finding, scheduled to be presented this week at the American Chemical Society annual meeting, in New Orleans, centers around the availability of nitric oxide (NO), an important gas within the body that relaxes blood vessel walls and helps prevent atherosclerosis. Certain substances in plaque remove NO and create a toxic substance known as peroxynitrite, which hampers the function of enzymes necessary to the health of blood vessel walls.
And high blood pressure isn’t exactly doing your brain any favors either. More from Will Boggs, MD of Reuters:
High blood pressure is associated with worse brain function than normal blood pressure in people aged 60 and older, according to a report by doctors at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC.


"Optimal control of blood pressure may be beneficial in attenuating the risk of cognitive decline as the population ages," they conclude.

Dr. Thomas Olabode Obisesan and associates used data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) to investigate whether abnormal blood pressure is independently associated with lower cognitive function in men and women between 60 and 74 years old at study entry.
I’m not doctor, but, I think the solution is clear. Try eating a diet that prevents both heart disease and high blood pressure. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
When you eat to maximize micronutrients in relation to calories, your body functions will normalize; chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol melt away; and you maintain your youthful vigor into old age. Heart disease and cancer would fade away and become exceedingly rare if people adopted a lifestyle of nutritional excellence. But in the here and now, what is exciting to so many people is that when your diet is high enough in micronutrients, excess weight drops off at a relatively fast rate. It’s like you had your stomach stapled. You simply don’t crave to overeat anymore. In fact, it becomes too difficult to overeat when you eat your fill of high-micronutrient food.
And hey, just think about how GREAT you’ll feel!

Health Points: Monday

The nine-member Atlantic City Council voted unanimously yesterday to approve a controversial measure that would prohibit smoking on all casino floors for the first time in the seaside resort's 30-year history of gambling.

The ordinance, which would allow smoking only in specially built nongaming lounges inside casinos, must go before the council again for a second reading April 23. But Atlantic City Mayor Scott Evans - who must sign it into law - has publicly stated his support of a total ban and of restricting smoking to the lounges, virtually assuring its final passage.
A form of substance abuse rampant in this country is rarely discussed publicly or privately. It involves abusing legally sold dietary supplements — vitamins, minerals, herbals and homeopathic remedies — all of which can be sold over the counter without prior approval for safety and effectiveness.


Although there was much publicity about the hazards of ephedra, once widely used as a weight-loss aid until it was found to be deadly, many other heralded dietary supplements have the potential for harm, especially when taken in large doses or in various combinations with one another or with medically prescribed prescription drugs.
Now, under the threat of regulation from Congress, the two industries promise to be more forthcoming about their spending. A dozen of the nation's leading drug and device makers have told Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that they have plans or are working on plans to publicly disclose grants to outside groups. The details will be provided on each company's Web sites.


Watchdog groups say the companies are trying to head off legislation that would require public disclosure of their giving.
I know that the whole heart-rate monitoring issue is contentious. Many athletes strap on those slender black bands around the chests. Then they try to keep their rate at some percentage of their maximum, 70 percent, say, or 80 percent, depending on their goals for the workout.


For some activities, like using an elliptical cross-trainer or riding most Spinning bikes at the gym, it can be difficult to gauge your effort without a heart-rate monitor. You can’t figure out speed or distance the way you can if you are swimming in a pool or running or cycling outside. Maybe it’s all that sweating, but it always feels as if you’re working hard even when your heart rate tells you that you could do a lot more.

But experts disagree on whether heart-rate monitoring makes sense.
In the current study, Dr. Mon-Jia Tan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai and colleagues isolated and described several compounds from bitter melon known as cucurbitane triterpenoids, and tested their effects on glucose (sugar) and fat metabolism in cells and in mice.


When tested in muscle and fat cells, the researchers found, the compounds stimulated the glucose receptor GLUT4 to move from the cell interior to the cell surface, thus promoting more effective glucose metabolism. Several of the tested compounds had effects comparable to those of insulin.
Americans didn't suffer more food poisoning last year despite high-profile outbreaks involving peanut butter, pot pies and other foods.


But it's not getting better, either. Although there have been significant declines in certain food-borne illnesses since the late 1990s, all the improvements occurred before 2004, federal health officials said in a report released Thursday.

A food safety advocacy group called the report discouraging.
A top government health official said Wednesday that climate change is expected to have a significant impact on health in the next few decades, with certain regions of the country - and the elderly and children - most vulnerable to increased health problems.


Howard Frumkin, a senior official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gave a detailed summary on the likely health impacts of global warming at a congressional hearing. But he refrained from giving an opinion on whether carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, should be regulated as a danger to public health.
University of Michigan researchers have found that tiny little tart cherries can have a big impact on heart health and on diabetes. During the study researchers fed some rats a diet that included tart cherries; a control group of rats ate a diet that was equivalent in carbohydrates and calories but contained no cherries. At the end of the study, the rats who ate cherries had improvements in weight, fat percentage, cholesterol, and inflammation. A reduction in these risk factors is good news for heart health and diabetes.
"The only explanation may be that they are standing more upright, not so much crouching," study chief Dr. Jinsup Song of Temple University told Reuters Health. Song presented the findings April 4 at the Gait and Clinical Movement Analysis Society's Annual Meeting.

While past studies have investigated yoga for helping improve balance in elderly women, Song noted, they have typically used a relatively demanding form of the practice. In the current study, he and his colleague Marian Garfinkel, a certified yoga instructor, worked with B.K.S. Iyengar, the originator of Iyengar Yoga, to develop a program specifically designed for older people. "The poses were very basic -- how to stand upward, how to bend forward, sideways," said Song, who admitted he found some of the poses challenging himself.

To Egg or Not to Egg...

For as long as I can remember eggs have been America’s on again, off again lover, but as of this moment, they’re out…again. Reuters reports that Seven or More Eggs a Week Raises Risk of Death. Check it out:
Middle-aged men who ate seven or more eggs a week had a higher risk of earlier death, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.


Men with diabetes who ate any eggs at all raised their risk of death during a 20-year period studied, according to the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study adds to an ever-growing body of evidence, much of it contradictory, about how safe eggs are to eat. It did not examine what about the eggs might affect the risk of death.

Men without diabetes could eat up to six eggs a week with no extra risk of death, Dr. Luc Djousse and Dr. J. Michael Gaziano of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School found.

"Whereas egg consumption of up to six eggs a week was not associated with the risk of all-cause mortality, consumption of (seven or more) eggs a week was associated with a 23 percent greater risk of death," they wrote.

"However, among male physicians with diabetes, any egg consumption is associated with a greater risk of all-cause mortality, and there was suggestive evidence for a greater risk of MI (heart attack) and stroke."
Now, “seven or more eggs” sounds a bit excessive—don’t you think? Especially if you’re adhering to Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid. We talked about it earlier this week, but here’s another look:



Look closely:



If you’re eating more than seven eggs a week, you’re probably not eating them once weekly or less. Therein lies the problem. Too much animal foods—eggs included—and you’re playing with fire. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. For example, subjects who ate meat, including poultry and fish, were found to be twice as likely to develop dementia (loss of intellectual function with aging) than their vegetarian counterparts in a carefully designed study.1 The discrepancy was further widened when past meat consumption was taken into account. The same diet, loaded with animal products, that causes heart disease and cancer also causes most every other disease prevalent in America including kidney stones, renal insufficiency and renal failure, osteoporosis, uterine fibroids, hypertension, appendicitis, diverticulosis, and thrombosis.2
But, Dr. Fuhrman is hardly anti-egg. Here’s why:
If you choose a limited amount of animal products to be included in your family’s diet, I favor eggs over fish or dairy, because of the potential for transmission of chemicals, mercury, and PCBs in the fish and dairy. Eggs, because they are virtually pollution-free, would be favored choice over other animal products to add to an otherwise vegan diet.
And for reference, check out egg’s Nutrient Scores:



So, I think you can ignore the wishy-washy research on eggs and just view them as other animal products—best kept to a minimum.
Continue Reading...

Exercise Helps Your Heart and Mind



New research has determined that just four weeks of moderate exercise can boost cardiac performance. Ed Edelson of HealthDay News reports:
In heart failure, the heart progressively loses the ability to pump blood. In the United States, doctors typically recommend three-times-a-week exercise sessions for eight to 12 weeks to help ease the condition, noted study author Stephen F. Crouse, a professor of kinesiology and internal medicine at Texas A&M University, in College Station.

His team looked at data from an Austrian rehabilitation center where 366 heart failure patients (average age 63) exercised 14 to 22 minutes on stationery bicycles six times a week. Participants also did a brisk 45-minute walk each day.

Four weeks of that regimen were enough to produce a significant increase in the participants' breathing capacity, Crouse said.

"This is something that we can recommend continuing for the rest of their lives," he added.
Now, That'sFit passes on some information claiming that exercise also helps improve memory. More from Chris Sparling:
MRIs taken of the brain of healthy adults taken after exercise showed signs of what Columbia University Medical Center researchers called "memory-cell" growth. Earlier studies led to similar results in mice. These studies may motivate physicians to prescribe an appropriate exercise regimen to patients who suffer from memory loss and impaired cognitive function, and also to patients who wish to be proactive in their efforts at prevention.


In the meantime, unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it wouldn't hurt to start exercising anyway if you already don't. While more research still needs to be done on this exercise/memory link, there's already plenty to support its benefit to overall health.
For me, the mood boost I get is a HUGE reason I exercise—so empowering!

Inhaled Insulin, Lung Cancer Risk



Pfizer has announced that clinical trials of Exubera resulted in increased cases of lung cancer. Lewis Krauskopf of Reuters is on it:
Pfizer Inc and Nektar Therapeutics said on Wednesday clinical trials of the inhaled insulin Exubera found increased cases of lung cancer, leading Nektar to stop seeking a marketing partner for the troubled product and abandon it.

Nektar shares tumbled 25 percent, while shares of MannKind Corp, which has been developing its own inhaled insulin, plummeted 58 percent. Pfizer was down slightly at $20.90.

The lung-cancer revelation dealt a final setback to Exubera, which held the promise of letting diabetics avoid needle sticks and was once projected by Pfizer to be a $2 billion-a-year blockbuster. Instead, Exubera has been a commercial flop that has sullied the inhaled insulin field.
Scary, but not that surprising, because—good or bad—Dr. Fuhrman insists all drugs futz with the normal functioning of the body:
In the first pharmacology lecture that I head in medical school, the physician impressed on us that all drugs are toxic and we should never forget this. We were taught that medications work because of their pharmacologic properties—properties that enable the substance to interfere with, block, or stimulate an activity of the body. Drugs typically modify the way the body expresses the signs and symptoms of disease, but in chronic disease states, they do no undo the damage or remove the disease.
My suspicion is this concept often more often than not, takes a backseat to the pursuit of profits and convenience.

Monsanto, Milk of Shadows...

Julie’s Health Club peers into the murky depth of Monsanto’s milk. Check it out:
Following the milk wars between Monsanto and dairy farmers? Or maybe you're just feeling a little concerned that one corporation with a history of deceit could one day control the world's food supply. If so, don't miss Monsanto's Harvest of Fear in the May issue of Vanity Fair piece by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele.


While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says milk from cows treated with the artificial growth hormone called Posilac is safe to drink, it comes with terrible side effects for cows. Monsanto supplied the safety data and long term studies have not been done.
Here’s some of the Vanity Fair article, from Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear:
Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers’ co-ops, seed dealers—anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country…


…Monsanto was founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, a tough, cigar-smoking Irishman with a sixth-grade education. A buyer for a wholesale drug company, Queeny had an idea. But like a lot of employees with ideas, he found that his boss wouldn’t listen to him. So he went into business for himself on the side. Queeny was convinced there was money to be made manufacturing a substance called saccharin, an artificial sweetener then imported from Germany. He took $1,500 of his savings, borrowed another $3,500, and set up shop in a dingy warehouse near the St. Louis waterfront. With borrowed equipment and secondhand machines, he began producing saccharin for the U.S. market.
Okay, back to the milk, Monsanto loves Posilac. Via MonsantoDairy.com:
POSILAC® bovine somatotropin has become one of the leading dairy animal health products in the United States and many other countries. Supplementing dairy cows with bovine somatotropin safely enhances milk production and serves as an important tool to help dairy producers improve the efficiency of their operations.

Bovine somatotropin, or bST, is a natural protein produced in the pituitary glands of all cattle and it helps adult cows produce milk. Milk from cows receiving supplemental bST is unchanged and just as wholesome and nutritious as always - full of calcium, protein, phosphorus and vitamins. In fact, the level of bST in milk remains the same.

Because POSILAC benefits large and small herds alike, it can play a critical role in helping farmers with limited resources here and around the world. The use of supplemental bST allows dairy farmers to produce more milk with fewer cows, thereby providing dairy farmers with additional economic security as well as providing related environmental benefits. We encourage you to explore this web site to learn more about POSILAC.
Now, Mindfully.org tells a different tale about artificial cattle hormones. Look:
Twenty-two consumer groups including the Physicians for Social Responsibility have endorsed a ban on artificial growth hormones in dairy cows. They cite studies that indicate treated cows produce milk with an increased second hormone, IGF-1, a hormone which some studies have associated with cancer in humans.


Rick North, director of Oregon's safe food campaign for Physicians for Social Responsibility says, "We don't have 100% proof. But there is a lot of scientific data that gives us great cause for concern."

The Food & Drug Administration has reviewed those studies as recently as the year 2000 and says there is no health impact from the milk of treated cows and that milk is the same from artificial hormone-treated cows and un-treated cows.
This graphic from Mindfully.org shows How Posilac is Made:



The Frankensteining of milk is just one of the many reasons I avoid dairy.

NYC: Fatter, More Diabetes


Unfortunately the Big Apple is getting bigger and less apple-er. Obesity and diabetes rates are rising in NYC. The Associated Press reports:
New York City's obesity and diabetes rates are rising faster than in the rest of the country, a city health department study said.

New York's obesity and diabetes rates each jumped by 17 percent between 2002 and 2004, according to the city Department of Health and Hygiene study. The national obesity rate rose by 6 percent during the same time period, while the diabetes rate held steady nationally at 7 percent, according to the study, published in this month's issue of the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Some 173,500 adult New Yorkers became obese and more than 73,000 were newly diagnosed with diabetes over the two-year period, the city said. In 2002, 19.5 percent of the city's adults were obese; in 2004, 22.8 percent were, the study said.
Don’t follow the crowd. Next time you’re in NYC try popping into one of these healthy restaurants:
Actually, I got to get my butt to Central Park—stat!

Health Points: Tuesday

The number of children who got fat during the two-year experiment was half the number of kids who got fat in schools that didn't make those efforts.

"It's a really dramatic effect from a public health point of view. That's the good news," said Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University and lead author of the Philadelphia schools study being published today in the April issue of Pediatrics.

The bad news: There were still plenty of new overweight kids in the five schools - over 7 percent of them became overweight compared with the 15 percent in the schools that didn't make changes.
The study, done with mice, found that lower doses of estrogen were safer, while moderate and high doses increased the risk of kidney and heart problems.


And although the findings were in rodents, they may provide a glimmer of insight for humans as well.

"It brings to our attention the fact that HRT [hormone replacement therapy] is not something we totally have to dismiss," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "There might be a way to give this more safely to women."
Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Thursday that its private-label Great Value milk is now being sourced only from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormones, such as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST).


The retailer said its Sam's Club chain also is offering milk selections from suppliers that have pledged not to treat cows with rbST.
People suffering from the addiction—usually those righteous raw foodists, vegetarians and vegans—obsessively check labels, avoid junk food, plan menus and often eat a healthy diet so they can feel "pure." Some even make fun of McDonald's customers.


It gets worse. While an anorexic tries to severely limit calories, an orthorexic might shun foods with artificial ingredients, trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup. Orthorexics also are generally unconcerned about their weight and do not feel fat. Their diet may make them feel virtuous.
Exercise during pregnancy has cardiovascular benefits not just for the mother but for the developing fetus as well, according to research presented Monday at the 121st annual meeting of the American Physiological Society, part of the Experimental Biology 2008 scientific conference.


The results of this pilot study "imply an exciting potential benefit of maternal exercise on fetal cardiac autonomic nervous system regulation," Dr. Linda E. May from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri told Reuters Health.

The autonomic nervous system controls the body's involuntary activities, such as the beating of the heart, blood pressure, breathing rate, and functions in the internal organs.
Not surprisingly, those with a bedroom TV were more apt to watch it a lot, clocking four to five more hours in front of a television per week, the researchers said. Twice as many of the teens with a bedroom TV were classified as heavy TV watchers -- at least five hours a day -- compared to those without one.


Girls with a bedroom television reported getting less vigorous exercise -- 1.8 hours per week compared to 2.5 hours for girls without a TV. They also ate fewer vegetables, drank more sweetened beverages and ate meals with their family less often, the researchers said.

Boys with a bedroom TV reported having a lower grade point average than boys without one, as well as eating less fruit and having fewer family meals, the researchers said.
Oteha Valley primary school, north of Auckland, has banned birthday cakes as part of a larger fat crack-down by the area's Ministry of Education.


Here's why cakes are a problem: Oteha Valley has a large number of pupils born in September and October. As a result, there's the potential for up to four cakes to arrive per week in some classes. Parents were starting to believe they were required to provide a cake for their child's birthday. Since this was both untrue and unhealthy, the school has advised parents in a newsletter to stop sending cakes to school.
During the study, the type 1 diabetics gained weight gained an average of 10.3 pounds and type 2 diabetics gained an average of 4.0. The weight gain could not be explained by a slowing of the body's metabolism, decrease in physical activity, or increase in sugar in the urine, leaving the authors to conclude that it was primarily due to overeating.


They also report that accurate assessment of calorie intake was "severely hampered by the underreporting of food intake, with (reported calorie) intakes being insufficient to meet even (the body's lowest) energy requirements."

Water: Drink, Drink, Drink?

Eight glasses of water a day, good for you or just an urban legend? Discover Magazine investigates:
Balderdash, says a new review of the scientific literature by kidney gurus Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb from the University of Pennsylvania. They found that for the average, healthy individual, there is no evidence that increased water intake benefits organ functioning, appetite, headaches, skin tone, or substance clearance from the kidneys—and the origin of 8×8 is a mystery. The human body didn’t evolve a chronic thirst—it evolved a great capacity for maintaining proper water balance in the face of variable intake.


These findings support an earlier study by Heinz Valtin from Dartmouth, which found no support for 8×8, and debunked a few other myths. He found that dark urine does not mean dehydration, caffeinated beverages “count” as fluid intake, thirst doesn’t mean “it’s too late,” water doesn’t prevent (or help) constipation, cancer, or heart disease.
Dr. Fuhrman actually emailed me this one, here’s what he had to say about all the water hype. Check it out:
If you need all that water, you must be eating an unhealthy diet. A healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in salt is full of water already.
And you won’t be peeing as much either—yippee!

Obesity, Throat Cancer, Refined Carbohydrates

“Both primary-care physicians and obesity-treatment specialists fail to make an impact on the long-term health of most of their patients,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Apparently so, because the increase in the throat cancer parallels the obesity rate. Reuters reports:
The rising incidence of throat cancer, also referred to as cancer of the esophagus or esophageal adenocarcinoma, may be related to Americans' increasing intake of total and refined carbohydrates and subsequent rise in obesity rates…


…The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma increased over the review period and "strongly correlated" with carbohydrate consumption. This cancer is also known to be strongly associated with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), which, in turn, associated with obesity and a high carbohydrate intake, the investigators report in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
What a surprise, refined carbohydrates are to blame. Refined carbohydrates—processed foods in general—are bad news. Here Dr. Fuhrman explains why manufactured food isn’t doing your health any favors. Take a look:
Refined sugars cause us to be malnourished in direct proportion to how much we consume them. They are partially to blame for the high cancer and heart attack rates we see in America.
Think about it, if instead of eating lots of cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables, you choose a lifetime of nutrient-deficient processed food—why would you be surprised if you get throat cancer or any other form of cancer for that matter? Duh!

Healthy Heart and Strong Bones

A new study claims folate may help prevent heart damage. Reuters reports:
Folate-treated rats experienced significantly less functional impairment of the heart than did the placebo-treated animals, senior author Dr. David A. Kass, from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, and colleagues found. On reperfusion, smaller areas of dead heart muscle were also noted in the animals pretreated with folate.


Further analysis suggested that folate may have achieved these beneficial effects, in part, by maintaining levels of the high-energy phosphates ATP and ADP in the heart.

"We want to emphasize that it is premature for people to begin taking high doses of (folate)," Kass said in a statement. "But if human studies prove equally effective, then high-dose folate could be given to high-risk groups to guard against possible heart attack or to people while they are having one."
Ladies are looking to keep your bones strong? Health offers up a Fuhrman-friendly tip:
Estrogen helps your bones absorb calcium and enables your body to use calcium more efficiently. A few weeks of dieting are thought to be harmless; any bone mass lost is likely reversible, says Robert Lindsay, M.D., Ph.D., a past president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. But several months or longer could be harmful.


What should you eat? Foods that help you reach the daily recommendation of 1,000 milligrams of calcium-but you don't have to count on dairy if you're worried about fat. Collard greens (179 mg of calcium per serving), kale (90 mg), broccoli (90 mg), and almonds (71 mg) are great calcium sources. Supplements can be helpful, too, but don't ignore this: Diets loaded with fruit and veggies are linked to a lower incidence of osteoporosis.
I guess all we need is a great source of both folate and calcium. Dr. Fuhrman’s got one:
Asparagus is one of the most healthful foods on the planet. It leads nearly all fruits and vegetables in the wide array of nutrients it supplies. Ten ounces (one box of frozen spears) have only 68 calories and 9 grams of protein, yet it is like a vitamin pill, giving you a variety of minerals such as selenium, zinc, calcium, copper, and manganese. Plus, it is very rich in folate.
Sure, there are others, but come on—ASPARAGUS ROCKS!

Normal BMI, Heart Still at Risk...

New research has determined that even individuals with normal Body Mass Indexes (BMI) can still have too much body fat, and, be at risk for heart disease. Martha Kerr of Reuters is on it:
The study participants' body composition was measured and a full assessment was made of body size variables and cardiovascular risk factors. Normal weight obesity was defined as a body fat content higher than 20 percent for men and 30 percent for women.


"Normal weight obesity appears to be highly prevalent," Lopez-Jimenez noted, "constituting more than half of the patients with a normal weight as defined by the BMI." Of the total 2,127 subjects in the study, 1,321 had normal weight obesity, while 806 had a normal body fat content.

The investigators also found that 13.6 percent of the normal weight obese individuals met the criteria for metabolic syndrome compared with 5.3 percent of those who had a normal weight without a high body fat content.

The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood sugar, high levels of the "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, low levels of the "good" HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess belly fat.
This research is a telling example about how being at a normal weight, doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy. Dr. Fuhrman insists you’ve still got to fuel your body with the good stuff:
As you eat more vegetables and fewer animal products, the nutrient density of your diet will go up automatically. Vegetables not only contain adequate protein, they have no saturated fat or cholesterol, and they are higher in nutrients per calorie than any other food. You can achieve your ideal weight and slow the aging process with a high phytochemical intake…


…More than 1.3 million Americans will suffer a heart attack this year, and when consider that nobody really has to die from a heart- or circulatory system-related death, it is even more of a tragedy. The disability, suffering, and years of life lost are almost totally the result of dietary ignorance. It is not impossible or even difficult to protect yourself; you simply must eat properly. Nothing else can protect you.
Sure, you can get slim by going a fad diet or taking magic pills and you might LOOK healthy, but if you’re pounding burgers and fries behind the scenes, you’re gambling with your health.

Don't Want Diabetes, Get Moving

“An essential component of my prescription for diabetes is daily exercise,” explains Dr. Fuhrman.
And so it seems exercise and bodyweight really do impact diabetes risk. Reuters reports:
Lower cardiorespiratory fitness and higher body weight are independently associated with the development of type 2 diabetes in women, new research suggests.


"These findings underscore the critical importance of promoting regular physical activity and maintaining normal weight for diabetes prevention," Dr. Xuemei Sui, of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, said in an interview with Reuters Health.

Sui and associates followed 6,249 women between the ages of 20 and 79 years for 17 years. The women were free of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes at the outset.

A total of 143 women developed type 2 diabetes during follow up. After adjusting for a number of factors including body weight, women in the middle and upper thirds of cardiorespiratory fitness, as determined by a treadmill exercise test, had significantly lower risks of diabetes compared to the least fit third.
Granted, not exactly NEW information, but, an important reminder nonetheless.

Energy Drinks, Not for Kiddies

Personally, I think energy drinks are dumb, over-hyped, snake oil, and, some new research has determined that energy drinks are especially bad news for kids. Howard Cohen of The Miami Herald reports:
The drinks, with their high caffeine content, have caused concern among health professionals — especially when kids consume them. Studies have linked excessive caffeine in children to elevated heart rates, hypertension, anxiety, headaches and interrupted sleep patterns.


Last month, four students at Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston, Fla., were taken to the emergency room of Memorial Hospital West/Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital with racing hearts and body sweats. They said they shared a can of Redline…

…The attention surrounding the Weston incident — the students recovered — prompted Broward, Fla., School Board members to consider banning energy drinks from school campuses. This potential move was welcomed by Davie, Fla.-based Redline CEO Jack Owoc, who has offered the district $25,000 toward enacting a ban. Owoc feels that minors should not be taking these drinks.

Pediatricians agree.

"There is no real therapeutic benefits associated with these energy drinks," said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "If you're a 200-pound adult, an 8-ounce bottle of something that contains 250 mg of caffeine may not be a big deal, but if you weigh 60 pounds and are getting the same dose" it's a problem. "We dose medicines based on weight and size. Caffeine's a medicine and nobody has done anywhere the clinical studies needed."
They sell so many of these at my gym. I don’t understand why people feel they need them. If you eat healthy and stay active you’ve got TONS of energy!

TV: Kids See Junk Food, You Say No!

According to a new report, children are exposed to tons of junk food during Saturday morning television. More from WebMD:
Nine in 10 food ads aimed at kids sell high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar, or low-nutrient foods.


The finding comes from a study of 27.5 hours of children's programs that ran on a single Saturday morning -- May 7, 2005 -- in Washington, D.C. During that time, advertisers inserted more than four hours of ads, half of which marketed food or restaurants to kids.

Ameena Batada, DrPH, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and colleagues analyzed the nutritional content of the advertised foods. Restaurant ads were considered to promote unhealthy foods if more than half of the restaurant's children's menu items were high in fats, salt, sugar, or were low in nutrients.
“Parents are entrusted with the responsibility of securing the selection of healthy foods for the family,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Just because they see it on T.V. doesn’t mean you have to buy it—right?

Heart Health: Bad News, Good News, Stupid News...

Quick, panic! A new study claims that people with diabetes have the same heart attack risk as individuals who have already had a heart attack. Reuters reports:
The finding, which appears in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, comes from a study of 3.3 million residents of Denmark who were at least 30 years of age. Overall, 2.2 percent of subjects had diabetes and 2.4 percent had a prior heart attack.


Dr. Tina Ken Schramm and colleagues found that, compared with men without diabetes or a prior heart attack, those with diabetes were 2.32-times more likely to experience a stroke, heart attack or death from cardiovascular causes, and those with a prior heart attack were 2.48-times more likely.

For women, the corresponding risks were raised 2.48- and 2.71-times.
You’ve got to do something! How about exercise? New research suggests that modest exercise can fight heart disease. More from the AFP:
French doctors on Tuesday said that an overview of the latest research into sport and good health proved that moderate, frequent exercise combated the risk of heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, respiratory disease and depression.


The report by the National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm) sets a benchmark, for adults, of at least 30 minutes of modest exercise, such as fast walking, at least five times a week, or 20 minutes of harder exercise, such as jogging, three times a week.

Young people are advised to do twice this regime to maintain fitness.
Good, but if you like bike riding. You might want to stay away from The Stupidest Bike Lane in America. Well passes it along:


Now, just in case you haven’t had enough stupid yet. Check out these Weight Loss Sunglasses. No, I’m not joking. Diet Blog is all over it:

This snazzy creation is designed to give food a blue tinge - theoretically rendering food dull and unpalatable. Kind of the opposite phenomenon of "beer goggles"?


While your first instinct may be to snicker (as it should be), there is actual physiological and psychological rationale to this theory: Certain colours tend to stimulate appetite, while others tend to deter it. Apparently, blue is considered to be the least appetizing color of the spectrum, with red and yellow being at the opposite end as a hunger stimulant.
Well George Carlin said it best, in life, there’re a few winners, and a whole-lot of losers. Short bike lanes and magic sunglasses—LOSERS!

Smarter Babies, Mom Eat Fish?

“Fish, mollusks and shellfish, and sushi.” What are they? If you answered seafood—you’re right—but they’re also four of the foods Dr. Fuhrman suggests avoiding when you’re pregnant. Here’s the entire list:
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter (because of an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite found in cat feces)
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats
Makes you wonder why on earth research would insinuate that eating fish is good for pregnant moms. Reuters reports:
Researchers found that among 341 3-year-olds, those whose mothers ate more than two servings of fish per week during pregnancy generally performed better on tests of verbal, visual and motor development.


On the other hand, tests scores were lower among preschoolers whose mothers had relatively high mercury levels in their blood during pregnancy.

And mothers who regularly ate fish during pregnancy were more likely to have such mercury levels than non-fish-eaters were, the researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The findings add to evidence that fish can be brain-food, but underscore the importance of choosing lower-mercury fish during pregnancy.
Why risk the mercury at all? Just because some fish is “low-mercury” doesn’t mean it’s mercury-free. Again, why roll the dice if you’re pregnant. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.1 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.2 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous. Researchers are also concerned about other toxins concentrated in fish that can cause brain damage way before the cancers caused by chemical-carrying fish appear.
It seems more responsible to do with out the fish, than chance it—what do you think?


Continue Reading...

Vytorin Bad, Statins Good?

Vytorin is a bust, so, doctors are urging people “to turn back to statins.” Yeah, great idea! More from the Associated Press:
Millions of Americans already take the drug or one of its components, Zetia. But doctors were stunned to learn Vytorin failed to improve heart disease, even though it worked as intended to reduce three key risk factors.


"People need to turn back to statins," said Yale University cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz, referring to Lipitor, Crestor and other widely used brands. "We know that statins are good drugs. We know that they reduce risks…"

…The study tested whether Vytorin was better than Zocor alone at limiting plaque buildup in the arteries of 720 people with super high cholesterol because of a gene disorder.

The results show the drug had "no result. In no subgroup, in no segment, was there any added benefit" for reducing plaque, said Dr. John Kastelein, the Dutch scientist who led the study.
Why are we so caught up with statins? It’s not like statins are some miracle. They’ve got loads of problems. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The known side effects for various statins (the most popular and effective medications to lower cholesterol) include hepatitis, jaundice, other liver problems, gastrointestinal upsets, muscle problems and a variety of blood complications such as reduced platelet levels and anemia.
Alright damn it! Let’s talk side effects. Here are the know side effects of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
The cholesterol-lowering effects of vegetables and beans (high-protein foods) are without question. However, they contain an assortment of additional heart disease-fighting nutrients independent of their ability to lower cholesterol.1 They fight cancer, too. Cancer incidence worldwide has an inverse relation with fruit and vegetable intake.2 If you increase your intake 80%, the risk of getting cancer drops 80%.
Now here’s a novel idea. Put down the cheeseburger, toss the statins out the window, and go for a jog—sheesh!
Continue Reading...

Portion Control Products--Hunh?

“It is meaningless to compare foods by weight or portion size,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Don’t believe it? Give this experiment a try:

Take one teaspoon of melted butter, which gets 100 percent of its calories from fat. If I take that teaspoon of butter and mix it in a glass of hot water, I can now say that it is 98 percent fat-free, by weight. One hundred percent of its calories are still from fat. It didn’t matter how much water or weight was added, did it?

I mean, look how silly these are. From The Los Angeles Times:




Now, many health experts think portion-control is out of proportion. Karen Ravn of The Los Angeles Times reports:

Portion-control plates are intended to do just what their name says: get portion sizes under control. Most experts agree that portions have run amok.


Starting in the 1970s, portions in all food categories except bread have been growing, according to a 2002 study conducted at New York University. That includes portions served in restaurants, packaged items sold in grocery stores and portion sizes in cookbook recipes.

Some examples: Twenty years ago, an average-sized bagel was 3 inches in diameter and had 140 calories, according to figures from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Now it's 6 inches across and packs about 350 calories. Twenty years ago, a cheeseburger, order of fries and a soda had 630 calories, fewer than half as many calories as the same 1,450-calorie meal, on average, today, according to the institute.

"People know portions are big, but they have no idea how big, and how much bigger they are than what we should eat," says Lisa Young, adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University.

Here’s my portion control. Please, may I have a GIANT portion of fruits and vegetables!

Health Points: Tuesday

The Mayo team examined the cardiovascular health of 233 retired NFL players, aged 35 to 65. They did this by measuring the internal diameter of the carotid (neck) artery and by assessing levels of plaque deposits that can block blood flow.

The researchers found that 82 percent of the retired players under age 50 had abnormal narrowing and blockages in their arteries greater than the 75th percentile of the general population. That means these retired players may be at increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.
The superintendent, Jody P. Weis, a former F.B.I. agent, came in last month as a reformer vowing to clean up the nation’s second-largest police force, and has already diversified the ranks and bolstered community relations. Now Mr. Weis, an exercise enthusiast, has shocked more than a few people with talk of mandatory fitness tests and maximum body-fat allowances (only after a year’s physical education and with exceptions, of course)…


“…I hope it’s not his opinion that this force is in bad shape as compared to others,” said Mark P. Donahue, president of the Chicago local of the Fraternal Order of Police. (Police departments across the country have long struggled with the problem of overweight officers; a chief in Florida lost his job in 2006 after sending a memo to his officers titled “Are You a Jelly Belly?”)
The requirement was supposed to take effect Monday, but a restaurant trade group has challenged it in court. The city Health Department said Thursday it was postponing the regulation's start date until April 15 because the court ruling is expected soon.


Health officials say the measure will combat obesity by forcing diners to face the caloric consequences of their orders. But the New York State Restaurant Association says the rule violates the First Amendment by forcing businesses to put what amounts to a message on their menus.
State health and agriculture officials said today that two recent cases of salmonellosis in Minnesota have been linked to raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees. The implicated product is Milford Valley Farms Chicken Cordon Bleu with a stamped code of C8021. This product is sold at many different grocery store chains.


This the fifth outbreak of salmonellosis in Minnesota linked to these types of products since 1998. The findings prompted the officials to urge consumers to make sure that all raw poultry products are handled carefully and cooked thoroughly, and to avoid cooking raw chicken products in the microwave because of the risk of undercooking.
People who are 35 or younger who keep smoking are far more prone to die from a heart-related event, have a repeat heart attack or need future treatments to clear blocked arteries compared to those who stopped smoking.


The study makes clear that smoking not only promotes a first heart attack, but poses heart risks in younger patients who have survived one, researchers said. The report was presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Chicago.
Patients with heart failure are especially vulnerable to influenza and most doctors recommend they get flu shots, but a study suggests these annual jabs may not offer them full protection, U.S. researchers said on Saturday.


They found heart failure patients in a study had lower immune responses to the vaccine compared with healthy people of similar ages, leaving them more vulnerable to infection.
Officials in southern China sealed more than 4,000 boxes of possibly contaminated milk and the manufacturer recalled another 2,700 boxes after children became sick on drinking the product, Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.


A total of 119 children, some in day care centers, fell ill on drinking the milk and 75 of them were hospitalized for two days, China's official news agency said.
Buy Local Groceries
It takes less fuel to transport locally grown or produced fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, and dairy products than it does to transport foods over long distances. As such, less pollution is produced and less fuel is used to transport local food products.


Make Smart Fish Choices
Fish populations and the health of aquatic ecosystems are at risk from overfishing, bycatch (organisms that are inadvertently killed as a result of fishing practices), and the wastes produced by fish farms. Programs such as Vancouver B.C.’s Ocean Wise Program helps locals choose sustainable fish options. This Program was launched in 2005 by the Vancouver Aquarium to work with restaurants and markets to help them buy ocean-friendly fish. The program is also intended to help consumers purchase sustainably-harvested fish and to avoid fish on the endangered list.