Health Points: Friday


Roughly 19 percent of U.S. energy consumption goes toward producing and supplying food, David Pimentel and his colleagues at Cornell University write in the current issue of the journal Human Ecology. Considering that the average American consumes an estimated 3,747 calories a day, — at least 1,200 more than health experts advise — the researchers suggest everyone cut back.

Animal products and junk food, in particular, use more energy and other resources for their production than staples such as potatoes, rice, fruits and vegetables.

Producing all the stuff that goes into a single hamburger, for example, requires some 1,300 gallons of water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A study in 2006 by University of Chicago researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin found that a vegetarian diet is the most energy-efficient, followed by one that includes poultry. Diets with red meat or fish are the least efficient.

"By just reducing junk food intake and converting to diets lower in meat, the average American could have a massive impact on fuel consumption as well as improving his or her health," Pimentel and his team write in a statement released today.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Hospital recruited 80 seniors, age 65 to 89, and found that three-quarters of them had insufficient levels of Vitamin D.


That's probably because they thought the old levels were sufficient, said Sunny Linnebur, associate professor at the CU-Denver School of Pharmacy.

"It was a surprise because in Denver we have so much sun," she said. "And these were ambulatory elderly, people who can walk around and go outside. We were expecting more of them to have normal levels of Vitamin D."

Sara Jane Barru of Denver said she had assumed she was taking plenty of Vitamin D, but when a test found her levels were low she eagerly jumped into the study.

She said she started taking a lot more Vitamin D while in the study "and I'm continuing to keep it up there.

More risk assessment studies are needed to understand what exactly defines toxicity due to nanoparticles, and what kind of regulations the sector needs, said Hermann Stamm, head of nanotechnology and molecular imaging at the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection in the European Commission's Joint Research Council.


Speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona this week (20 July), Stamm said concern over possible health risks due to nano-sized particles arises from several studies that found a link between ultra-fine particles from exhaust engines and air pollution to lung cancers and heart disease.

Nanotechnology — the use of particles as small as one-billionth of a metre — holds tremendous potential for the health sector, particularly in drug delivery.

Developing countries are keen to use nanotechnology in healthcare and agriculture. India, for example, in 2007 launched a US$225 million programme for nanoscience and technology.
In June 2007, the Government of Canada called on industry to voluntarily reduce the levels of trans fat in the Canadian food supply to the levels recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force, and announced that the Government would monitor the progress.


The Trans Fat Task Force recommended a trans fat limit of 2% of the total fat content for all vegetable oils and soft, spreadable margarines, and a limit of 5% of the total fat content for all other foods, including ingredients sold to restaurants.

"I am very pleased to see that industry is continuing to make progress to reduce the levels of trans fat," said Parliamentary Secretary Fletcher. "This second set of data, which focused on popular fast food chains and family restaurants in Canada, further illustrates the commitment of industry to achieve the limits recommended by the Trans Fat Task Force. The fact that we're seeing reductions in the levels of trans fat in so many areas is great news for all Canadians."

Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France, said the United States needs to make more progress against the various types of cancer.


"As a survivor, I think I can say this -- we have taken our eye off the ball," Armstrong told a news conference along with former surgeons general Richard Carmona, David Satcher, Joycelyn Elders and Antonia Novello.

Cancer is the No. 2 cause of death in the United States, and is expected to kill about 566,000 this year. Only heart disease kills more.

At Armstrong's request, the four doctors developed a national "call to action" against cancer that emphasizes prevention efforts such as not smoking, eating more fruit and vegetables, getting less fat in the diet, getting more exercise, using sunscreen and avoiding indoor tanning beds.
Dawn Page, 52, has been awarded £810,000 in damages from her nutritionist, although the practitioner denies fault.


Mother of two Mrs Page, who weighed 12st, became ill within days of taking up the Amazing Hydration Diet.

She had been told by the nutritionist to drink four extra pints of water a day and drastically reduce her salt intake.

The first stage of the regime left her suffering from severe vomiting and stomach cramps, but she was told these were just part of the detoxification process.

She was told by her dietician to increase the amount of water to six pints and consume still less salt.

Days later she suffered a massive epileptic fit and brain damage caused by severe sodium deficiency.

A Los Angeles city council planning committee unanimously approved a 1-year ban, which could be extended for a further year, on new fast food outlets in a 32-square-mile (82-sq-km) area of Los Angeles.


The measure, the latest in efforts by U.S. cities to promote healthier eating, will go to the full council for a vote next month.

If passed, it would affect about half a million Angelenos living in an area that supporters say already has about 400 fast-food eateries and few grocery stores.

The proposed moratorium follows a report last year which found that about 30 percent of children living in the South Los Angeles, West Adams, Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park areas are obese compared to about 21 percent in the rest of the city.
"For cattle and pigs, food safety concerns are considered unlikely. But we must acknowledge that the evidence base is still small. We would like to have a broader data base and we need further clarification."


In its initial response to the issue of cloning -- which many consumer and religious groups strongly oppose -- EFSA said in January that cloned animals could be safe to eat.

It also said it saw "no environmental impact" from animal cloning, which takes cells from an adult and fuses them with others before implanting them in a surrogate mother.

But when asked if cloned products such as meat and dairy would be safe for people to buy in European supermarkets, Dr. Dan Collins of EFSA said: "There are possible concerns ... there is an impact of animal health and welfare on food safety. We need more data."

Eat For Health: Eating More, Not Less



This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

I consider the ideal version of this diet to be one that contains at least 90 percent of calories from the healthiest foods; vegetables, fruits, beans, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, and whole grains. For many others, this amount of change may feel too dramatic because they are giving up foods that they love and replacing them with foods that aren’t familiar, while adjusting to the physical symptoms of a changing diet at the same time. This modified approach is the one you are learning here and was designed to work in sync with your brain so that you won’t feel withdrawal or deprivation.

The focus here is on eating more, not less. The more raw and cooked green vegetables you consume, the less space you will have to eat high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. As the below graphic demonstrates, you will fill a sizeable volume of space in your stomach with a very small number of calories. This will help you comfortably cut the number of calories that you eat each day. This is very much like gastric bypass surgery without the surgery.



You will need to adjust the amount of raw vegetables you eat to what your body will comfortably tolerate. If you have uncomfortable gas, cut back a little on raw vegetables and beans. Don’t remove these foods, just cut back partially, because the goal is to let the body adjust the timing and secretion of its digestive enzymes and peristalsis to accommodate this healthy, more natural diet-style. You should be able to increase the amount of raw vegetables gradually without a problem. Don’t forget to concentrate on chewing better, because that may solve the problem. For some, it takes time for their digestive system to build up the capacity to digest raw, whole foods, especially after eating so little fiber for so long.

Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol...


I was reading That’sFit and found this link to Jonny Bowden’s Simple Ways to Improve Your Cholesterol—Now, on Remedy Life. Here are Jonny’s 5 tips:
  1. Eat more fiber.
  2. Lose weight.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Choose cholesterol-lowering foods.
  5. Take your supplements.
I was a little skeptical at first because Jonny has popped up on low-carb blogs—we all know how kooky those are—but his tips are right on point; especially when he suggests eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals, and legumes.

As for taking supplements, Dr. Fuhrman sells his own, so that’s a good place to start. Also, Jonny recently provided the Well blog with his list of super foods. If you skip the canned sardines and canned pumpkin, it’s pretty good too. Via Well:
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Swiss chard
  • Cinnamon
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Dried plums
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Frozen blueberries
You should also check out Dr. Fuhrman’s Ten Super Foods and his Seven Best and Seven Worst Foods for Health and Longevity.

Extra Body Fat Increases Risk of Type-2 Diabetes


The heavier you are, the greater the risk you will develop type-2 diabetes. For some susceptible individuals, even moderate amounts of excess fat on the body can trigger diabetes. When we have more fat on the body, more insulin is required to deliver glucose to the cells as the coating of fat around our cells makes it difficult for the hormone insulin to easily transport the glucose into the cells.

The pancreas is then required to produce even higher amounts of insulin to accommodate the heightened insulin requirements. This stresses the pancreas’s beta cells to work harder and eventually poop out, but also the effects of NOT eating a diet high in veggies, beans, seeds and fruits places the pancreas at further risk from oxidative stress.

For example, twenty pounds of extra fat may force the pancreas to produce twice as much insulin to do the necessary job. Fifty pounds or more of excess fat on our frame and the pancreas may be forced to produce 6 to 10 times as much insulin as a normal person who is lean. What do you think occurs after ten or twenty years of overworking the pancreas? Again, it poops out and loses the ability to keep up with such huge insulin demands. The pancreas is still overworked, pumping out much more insulin than a thinner person might need, but still not enough to cover all that disease-causing body fat.

Adult diabetes is a disease of insulin resistance, not of insulin deficiency. The pancreas's ability to secrete insulin continues to diminish as the diabetes continues and the overweight condition continues year after year. Total destruction of insulin secreting ability almost never occurs in type-2 (adult onset) as it does in type-1 (childhood onset) diabetes. But the sooner the type-2 diabetic can lose the extra weight causing the diabetes, the more functional reserve of insulin secreting cells in the pancreas will remain.

Your Job, Good Health Mandatory...


With healthcare costs soaring, many businesses have instituted mandatory health guidelines—like refusing to hire smokers—which have kicked off a fiery debate, are employee health guidelines good or just an invasion of privacy. CNN reports:
"Health and wellness programs at work are a win/win situation for everybody," says Richard Taylor, vice president of human resources at Intel. "We keep our insurance costs down, and the employees are offered free health and wellness opportunities."

Alfred Sanchez, the CEO of the YMCA of Greater Miami, agrees. He started a free health and fitness program in March for his staff and their families that include weigh-ins, meetings with health counselors, nutritional guidance and exercise plans. Out of a staff of 170, all but 40 employees signed up…

…Some people, however, bristle at what they perceive as having lifestyle choices dictated by an employer.

This May, for example, the University of Massachusetts Medical School banned all tobacco use from their campus and hospital, including parking lots. If an employee is caught smoking, they risk being fired.

"They won't even allow people to smoke in their cars," says James LeBlanc, 45, an employee at the university and himself an ex-smoker who kicked the habit prior to the ban. "We all know smoking is bad for you, but last time I checked it was still legal in this country."

Some companies forbid their employees to light up at all -- even at home. There are at least 20 states that allow for this type of work policy, including Ohio, where the state's second-largest employer, the Cleveland Clinic, stopped hiring smokers in September.
This is tough. Everyone wants a healthier workforce, but this is America. If you want to ruin your health, you can. It’s your right. But then again, don’t companies also have the right to hire or not hire whoever they want—barring any civil rights infractions that is.

Wednesday: Healthy Points


Denmark is the happiest nation and Zimbabwe the the most glum, he found. (Zimbabwe's longtime ruler Robert Mugabe was sworn in as president for a sixth term Sunday after a widely discredited runoff in which he was the only candidate. Observers said the runoff was marred by violence and intimidation.)

The United States ranks 16th.

The results of the survey, going back an average of 17 years in 52 countries and involving 350,000 people, will be published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Researchers have asked the same two questions over the years: "Taking all things together, would you say you are very happy, rather happy, not very happy, not at all happy?" And, "All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?"
The study, researchers say, suggests that CKD should be added to the list of conditions that are associated with weight gain, including diabetes and high blood pressure.


Obesity is a known risk factor for CKD, but the impact of weight gain in normal-weight individuals without high blood pressure or diabetes is unknown, Dr. Seungho Ryu, at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, and associates note in their report.

In Korea, workers are required to undergo periodic health examinations. Using these data, Ryu's team followed 8792 healthy men ages 30 to 59 years with no known risk factors for CKD between 2002 and 2007. The prevalence of obesity was about 33 percent.

For example, for apricots, a cup of fresh halves is 86 percent water, with 74 calories, and a half cup of dried fruit is 76 percent water, with 212 calories. Fresh apricots have 3.1 grams of fiber versus 6.5 for dried; 0.6 milligrams of iron versus 2.35 milligrams; 15.5 milligrams of vitamin C versus 0.8 milligrams; and 149 retinol activity equivalents of vitamin A versus 160.


A cup of fresh Thompson seedless grapes is 80 percent water, with 104 calories, and a half cup of raisins is 15 percent water, with 434 calories. The grapes have 1.4 grams of fiber, versus 5.4 grams for the raisins; 0.54 milligrams of iron versus 2.73 milligrams; 288 milligrams of potassium versus 1,086 milligrams; and 16.3 milligrams of vitamin C versus 3.3 milligrams.
At a meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint body of the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), officials also set benchmarks for producing gluten-free foods.


Peter Ben Embarek, a scientist in the WHO's food safety division, said the adoption of the "landmark" code of hygienic practices for powdered formula could reduce contamination from two bacteria that can cause severe illness and death in babies.

People with wheat allergies would also be protected by the standards for gluten-free food that countries pledged to work into their national legislation, and to meet in food exports under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

Most trade shows are the stuff of, if not nightmares, then at least a sleepwalk from one charmless kiosk to the next. Not so at the 54th Summer Fancy Food Show, where 20,000+ gourmet retailers, restaurateurs, chefs, media folks and plain ol' food fans spend three days chomping their way through a fever dream of some 180,000 specialty foods. The throwback "Fancy" is a bit of a misnomer by now, as there's a very wide slice of products on offer, ranging from swankity wines, oils, cheeses and caviar to humble chewing gums, ketchups, chili seasonings and snack mixes.
Most commercial brands of mayonnaise contain vinegar and other ingredients that make them acidic — and therefore very likely to protect against spoilage. When problems occur, they usually result from other contaminated or low-acid ingredients (like chicken and seafood), improper storage and handling, or homemade versions that contain unpasteurized eggs.


One prominent study published in The Journal of Food Protection found, for example, that in the presence of commercial mayonnaise, the growth of salmonella and staphylococcus bacteria in contaminated chicken and ham salad either slowed or stopped altogether. As the amount of mayonnaise increased, the rate of growth decreased. When temperatures rose to those of a hot summer day, the growth increased, but not as much as in samples that did not contain mayonnaise.

After following over 5,700 men for 23 years, researchers concluded that the faster your rate drops after exercise, the lower your risk of dying of a heart attack. To perform the calculation, first take note of your heart rate at exactly one minute after you've finished your workout. Then, take that number and subtract it from the maximum heart rate you reached during the workout. If the difference is more than 35bpm, there's a good chance you do not face an increased risk.


If, however, it is less than 35bpm, the study suggests there's need for caution. Specifically, if the difference is between 31-35bpm, your risk is increased by 40 percent; 25-30bpm, risk increase is 30 percent; less than 25bpm, risk increase is 110 percent.
In Berlin, where a ban took effect on January 1, smokers were granted a six-month period of grace that expired on Tuesday and those who breach the ban now face fines of 1,000 euros (1,575 dollars).


In the eastern state of Saxony, fines can run up to 5,000 euros but in the northern port of Hamburg and Thuringia, in eastern Germany, the highest fine authorities can issue is 500 euros.

The wealthy southern state of Bavaria is considered to have the country's toughest public smoking ban because it prohibits restaurants from opening separate smoking sections -- a practice allowed in other states.

Tuesday: Health Points


The report by scientists at the WHO's International Agency for Cancer Research urged more countries to adopt smoking bans in public and at the workplace, saying there was enough evidence to prove they work, without hurting businesses such as restaurants and bars.

"Implementation of such policies can have a broader population effect of increasing smoke-free environments," the researchers wrote in the Lancet Oncology special report.

"Not only do these policies achieve their aim of protecting the health of non-smokers by decreasing exposure to second-hand smoke, they also have many effects on smoking behavior, which compound the health benefits."
Watching television in America takes some getting used to. Apart from the accent, it is strange to hear companies marketing drugs directly to the consumer. Not only do they sell their own brand, but they actively name and shame their competitors' products. During a commercial break there may be two different brands of antihistamine telling you how bad the other is.


Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is the promotion of prescription drugs through newspaper, magazine, television and internet marketing. Although the drug industry is mounting major campaigns to have DTCA allowed in Europe and Canada, the only two developed countries where it is currently legal are the U.S. and New Zealand.

Studies have shown that increases in DTCA have contributed to overall increases in spending on both the advertised drug itself and on other drugs that treat the same conditions. For example, one study of 64 drugs found a median increase in sales of $2.20 for every $1 spent on DTCA. It has been reported that 10 of the leading 12 brand-name drugs with DTCA campaigns have sales in excess of $1 billion annually.

The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office on Women's Health launched BodyWorks in 2006 by training instructors in the hopes that they would bring the program home to their communities. All materials are provided free, but communities must find the resources to pay trainers and a place to offer the program.


"Throughout the years I've worked with nutritionists, I've worked with diet programs, and it's very frustrating," Dr. Monica Richter, a pediatrician on staff at the Children's Hospital Seattle and a BodyWorks instructor who coordinates fundraising to help support the program, told Reuters Health. "I'm hoping that this will be one of the answers to this growing problem."

Girls 9 to 13 years old who are overweight or obese are referred to BodyWorks through their pediatrician, or by word of mouth. Parents and caregivers attend 10 weekly 90-minute sessions, and girls are expected to show up for at least three. The goal is to give parents and caregivers "hands-on tools to make small behavior changes to prevent obesity and help maintain a healthier weight," according to the BodyWorks Web site (http://www.womenshealth.gov/bodyworks/).
However, a new study suggests that the Nutrition Facts panel found on the side of grocery store products does a poor job of getting that message across to consumers.


"It's very misleading to just throw a number out there," contends study author Elizabeth Howlett, a professor of marketing at the University of Arkansas, in Little Rock.

Her team found that the average health-conscious consumer is often misled by trans fat information found on the Nutrition Facts panel.

The main problem is that because no amount of trans fat is good for you, it makes no sense to post a percentage of the "recommended daily value" -- as is done with other ingredients such as sugar, or total or saturated fats. So consumers are just left with a number -- such as 2, 3 or 4 grams of trans fat per serving -- and no way of interpreting how unhealthy that might be.

What surprises me most about it is that the parking lot next to the field is not full. I would think people would be lined up to climb up on that roof and get a good look at the art from above.
Even a bra that perfectly maximized motion (without sacrificing support and comfort) would be useful to me only if there were a way to turn that motion into energy. For a primer on how to do that, I turned to Professor Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Tech, who is currently working to develop fabric made from nanowires that will capture energy from motion. Wang's wires are about 1/1,000th the width of a human hair. When woven together in a fabric, these nanowires rub up against one another and convert the mechanical energy from the friction into an electric charge. According to Wang, the fabric is cheap to produce and surprisingly efficient; his team hopes to use it to create energy-generating T-shirts and other articles of clothing. A square meter of fiber produces about 80 milliwatts of power, which is enough to run a small device like a cell phone. Wang expects to have a shirt available for purchase within five years.


Many bra patterns call for about a meter of fabric, which would probably mean that a regular bra would have enough energy to power an iPod. But the fabric could also be layered, doubling or even tripling the amount of energy produced. I asked Wang whether his fabric could be used to make a bra. "Bras would be ideal," he said. "There is a lot of friction and movement in that general area. And the fabric would be thick."

Parents secretly putting things (even if it's broccoli) into their children's food without their knowing it? When they grow up, I wonder what they'll think of that?


Seems a trust is broken here, and I'm not sure it won't affect food issues these children may have down the line.

Delicious is key where food and children are concerned. If a parent wants to get a child to eat fruit, he or she can wash, chop and freeze fresh strawberries, then take a blender and pour in one cup of fat-free milk. Add three packages of artificial sweetener. Add four or five frozen strawberries, and blend. Keep adding strawberries until you have a thick, luscious strawberry milkshake that could stand toe-to-toe with any fast-food shake you've ever had.
Condition worsened
The girl grew increasingly weak and feverish and "became more limp, appears sleepy, acts as if drunk," the report said. She was hospitalized and underwent surgery and was finally withdrawn from life support. She died April 5, according to the report.


The 9- and 6-year-olds suffered from mitochondrial disorders, a spectrum of genetic diseases that has received almost no attention from federal health officials. The 9-year-old, Hannah Poling, was 19 months old and developing normally in 2000 when she received five shots against nine infectious diseases. Two days later, she developed a fever, cried inconsolably and refused to walk. In the next seven months, she spiraled downward, and in 2001, she was diagnosed with autism.