It's all in good fun?

By now many of us are familiar with the infamous news of the man who suffered a heart attack last week while eating a Triple Bypass Burger at the Heat Attack Grill in Las Vegas. The very sad part is that onlookers thought it was a stunt and were actually taking pictures of the man’s suffering. Thankfully, as of today, he has survived, but this incident brings up the question, “How did we, as a culture, get to this point?” How did we go from my parents’ generation of surviving the Great Depression by eating dandelion greens and growing gardens out of necessity ~ to today’s Heart Attack Grill slogan that touts, “Tastes Worth Dying For,” and having their 575 lb spokesman die last year at the age of twenty nine?  

And it’s not just the Heart Attack Grill, but popular TV reality shows like Man v. Food where the “big food” offerings of different American cities face off against a pre-existing eating challenge at a local restaurant. During one episode, the show’s host and a group of 40 regional eaters attempted to set a Guinness World Record by eating a 190 pound burger in two hours, in which case “food” won the epic battle with about 30 pounds left of the burger. The Travel Channel, which hosts the show, received its highest rating ever when Food v. Man debuted. Reviews claim, “It’s all in good fun.”

Believe it or not, there’s actually a term for all of this called “food porn.” Basically food porn is glamorizing high fat, high calorie foods and exotic dishes that arouse the desire to indulge in and glorify food. There are many high profile restaurants now sprouting up all over the US that are famous for serving extreme, artery-clogging entrees that customers boast about eating as if they accomplished an Olympic feat.        

All of this reminds me of the story of the frog who died in the pot of boiling water. A frog was sitting in a pot filled with tepid water that was placed on top of a stove. One day, someone came along and turned the burner on; and slowly, but surely, the water became warmer. It was such a gradual, incremental increase of temperature that the frog didn’t notice the heat until it was too late and the boiling water killed it.

Have we become so incrementally desensitized by the sensationalism and preoccupation of eating for disease (aka food addiction) that it’s actually celebrated as a victory to achieve such demise? Is it any wonder that a bag of Doritos can now be considered an afternoon snack before a Super Size Big Mac Meal and large Dairy Queen Blizzard?

It’s all in good fun?

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

image credit:  flickr by Joel Washing

Vitamin D protects against death from heart disease and stroke

(Image credit: denn @Flickr)

heart anatomy paintingThe evidence connecting Vitamin D deficiency with chronic disease continues to mount. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, multiple cancers, musculoskeletal diseases, thyroid disease, depression, and Type II diabetes. This is especially troublesome since several studies have found that most Americans are Vitamin D deficient.

Now, a long-term study has examined the connection between blood Vitamin D levels and death from cardiovascular disease – and the results were dramatic:

Serum Vitamin D levels were measured at the beginning of the study, and subjects were followed for 26 years. The researches found that those individuals with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D were 24% less likely to die from any cardiovascular disease, and 52% less likely to die from stroke.1

This new data supports results from the Framingham Heart Study, in which subjects were followed for 5 years – even after 5 years, those with low blood levels of vitamin D had a 60% greater risk of heart disease.2

How might Vitamin D affect cardiovascular health? Vitamin D localizes to most tissues and cells in the human body and is involved in several vital processes – to name a few - insulin production, immune cell function, inflammation, and heart contractility. Vitamin D deficiency could possibly lead to a pro-inflammatory environment, which would promote cardiovascular disease.3

How can you get adequate Vitamin D? Food sources of Vitamin D are scarce, and it is almost impossible for your body to produce sufficient Vitamin D from a safe amount of sun exposure, especially if you work indoors and don’t live in the tropics. So a Vitamin D supplement is your best bet. Remember – the standard dose of Vitamin D found in most multivitamins is not enough to assure adequate blood Vitamin D levels. In order to support all of Vitamin D’s important actions in the body, additional supplementation is necessary. Be cautious of Vitamin D supplements geared toward bone health – they may also contain excessive amounts of calcium, which can result in poor absorption of other minerals. Dr. Fuhrman’s Osteo-Sun was designed to deliver adequate amounts of Vitamin D along with a low dose of calcium in order to promote bone health without causing adverse effects associated with excess calcium intake.

 

References:

1. Kilkkinen A et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Oct 15;170(8):1032-9. Epub 2009 Sep 17. Vitamin D status and the risk of cardiovascular disease death.

2. Wang TJ. Circulation. 2008 Jan 29;117(4):503-11. Epub 2008 Jan 7. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease.

3. Holick MF. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1678S-88S. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.

 

Cut Back Meat, Save the Planet...

You shouldn’t eat a lot of meat. It’ll boost your risk of heart attack, cancer and other diseases. But the rearing of livestock also beats up the environment, polluting water supplies and generating huge amounts of greenhouse gases. That’s why many scientists are scrambling to repurpose cattle emissions, i.e. cow farts, burps and poop, into sources of energy, specifically methane fuel.

Now, those systems cost money and might not always be practical. So here’s a simpler solution, don’t eat as much meat! It doesn’t mean you have to go vegetarian, vegan or even flexitarian, but some experts insist if Americans cut meat consumption from 12 ounces per capita to only 3.1 ounces per day, roughly the size of a deck of cards, we’ll slow global climate change; Fresh Greens explains.

Not a bad idea. Especially when you consider Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid, he recommends eating foods like meat and dairy very infrequently.

Via Serious Eats.