Obesity Linked to Cancer, Heart Attack and Miscarriage

Obesity is a HUGE problem in the United States. And yet, A LOT of people don’t realize it. A new study, in Obstetrics & Gynecology, claims many women are unaware that obesity can lead to certain cancers, like colon cancer and breast cancer; Reuters reports.

Now, obesity HURTS your heart too. Another study, this time in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, ties obesity to early risk of heart attack. One researcher told Reuters, “Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature heart attacks.”

That’s NO joke! Neither is having a miscarriage. And new a study in Fertility and Sterility claims obese women are 67% more likely to have a miscarriage than normal weight women; via Reuters.

Wow! That’s three HUGE reasons to maintain healthy bodyweight.

Exotic Pets Bad for Kids

When I was little, I had hermit crabs, frogs, birds, toads, lizards and goldfish, but apparently some of those AREN’T safe for children. Exotic pets, like hedgehogs, hamsters, baby chicks, lizards and turtles, can make kids SICK; the Associated Press reports.

Oh crap. I used to share fruit with my chameleon! Speaking of crap, kitty litter can also be a DANGER. Dr. Fuhrman suggests pregnant women should AVOID cat litter and cat feces because it contains a parasite that spreads a disease called toxoplasmosis.

Our poor pets! They’ve got problems too. In Australia, the obesity epidemic is EVEN making pets fat, and, there’s actually a LINK between fat pats and fat owners. So, if you’re looking to stay healthy. You could always get a pet kiwi fruit instead!

China Says Breastfeed

Melamine, a chemical pesticide and fire retardant, has caused MASSIVE panic in the China by turning up in infant formula—and even chocolates sold here in the United States! In response, China is urging its citizen to return to breastfeeding; Reuters reports.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned consumers AGAINST purchasing Chinese-made formula. China has reacted by detaining 22 people suspected of introducing melamine into the food supply; more from Reuters.

In 2007 FDA officials determined eating chicken, fish, pork or eggs from animals inadvertently fed melamine was UNLIKELY to pose a health-risk to humans. Nice job FDA! The tainted Chinese baby formula has killed 4 infants; via The Earth Times.

Chinese Baby Formula Scare

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now urging parents to avoid Chinese-made baby formula. Reuters reports the FDA fears some of the formula, which is being blamed for the death of an infant in China, may have slipped into U.S. markets.

In response, China is widening its efforts to find the source of the contamination. They believe melamine—a substance used in fertilizers and plastics—may have been mixed in with milk used in manufacturing baby formula; more from Reuters.

Actually, melamine has run amuck before. Last year melamine contaminated a bunch of hogs and chickens—EEK!
 

Problems: Obesity and Pregnancy


We all know that being overweight carries consequences—increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, etc.—but obesity during pregnancy prompts even more tangible complications. Annie Murphy Paul of The New York Times explains:
The challenges of caring for these patients begin early. “We perform an anatomical survey of the fetus, but in an extremely obese woman, the ultrasound signal often can’t penetrate through all the tissue,” Dr. Mark Chames, an obstetrician at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, says. He must use a vaginal probe instead. A thorough examination is especially important in obese women, Chames said, because they are at greater risk of having babies with neural-tube defects and other malformations.

Birth brings more difficulties. The fetuses of obese women are often too large to fit through the birth canal; their mothers are about twice as likely as normal-weight women to need a Caesarean section. Longer surgical instruments are required, as are extra-wide operating-room tables, reinforced to support hundreds of additional pounds.

To head off such problems, patients at the bariatric obstetric clinic at St. Louis University in Missouri are counseled not to put on any pounds at all during pregnancy, and are even encouraged to lose weight. Dr. Raul Artal, the chairman of the ob-gyn department and the clinic’s director, acknowledges that the notion of weight loss during pregnancy can be startling. “It goes against everything we were taught in medical school, everything we’ve always told our patients,” he says. Some scientists warn that we still know little about the potential dangers of this approach. Emerging evidence, however, suggests that obese women who maintain or lose weight during pregnancy experience significantly fewer complications and deliver healthier babies.
Getting fat and pregnant is a dangerous cliché. Clearly, an obese mom is not eating healthfully—bad idea! According to Dr. Fuhrman a pregnant mother’s diet is vitally important to a developing baby’s health. He explains:
We know that children have sensitive vulnerabilities that are quite distinct from adults. Their exposure to chemicals in our environment is more potentially damaging than the same exposure at a later age. It is important to realize that the diet a woman eats during her pregnancy and even before her pregnancy effects the adult health of her future offspring. For example, a recent study shows a strong association in children who develop brain tumors with the mother’s consumption of hotdogs during pregnancy.1 Scientific evidence suggests that cigarette smoking during pregnancy is associated with testicular cancer in sons thirty-five to fifty years later.2 We may get away with risky behaviors when we imbibe in our later years, but when we gamble with our children, the stakes are much higher and the damage more profound.
Maybe I’m going out on a dangerous limb here, but, if you’re pregnant and eating unhealthfully. You’re perpetrating a tremendous act of irresponsibility and selfishness. Am I wrong on this?
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Study: Fiber Cuts Preeclampsia-Risk


New research by the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine has determined that eating fiber reduces women’s risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy. Here’s some of the abstract via The American Journal of Hypertension:
Background: Substantial epidemiological evidence documents diverse health benefits, including reduced risks of hypertension, associated with diets high in fiber. Few studies, however, have investigated the extent to which dietary fiber intake in early pregnancy is associated with reductions in preeclampsia risk. We assessed the relationship between maternal dietary fiber intake in early pregnancy and risk of preeclampsia. We also evaluated cross-sectional associations of maternal early pregnancy plasma lipid and lipoprotein concentrations with fiber intake.

Conclusions: These findings of reduced preeclampsia risk with higher total fiber intake corroborate an earlier report; and expand the literature by providing evidence, which suggests that dietary fiber may attenuate pregnancy-associated dyslipidemia, an important clinical characteristic of preeclampsia.
Very science heavy for a dingy blogger like me—I had to Wikipedia preeclampisa—but dietary fiber is very health-promoting. Just check out this illustration from Dr. Fuhrman:



That guy almost looks like the liquid metal terminator.

Breast-Feeding, Good Times!


A new study claims breast-feeding releases happy hormones into mothers making them feel content that their babies needs have been met. Reuters reports:
When a baby breast-feeds, it triggers a flood of the hormone oxytocin that releases milk from the mammary gland and a feeling of love and trust in the mother that ensures the baby's needs are met.

This reflex has long puzzled researchers because it requires large surges of oxytocin to pull off all of this. Using a special computer model, researchers from China, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom said on Thursday they now understand how it works.

Their study, reported in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, suggests that breast feeding not only taps the normal brain cells involved in secreting oxytocin.

It also recruits dendrites -- whose normal job is to create communication channels between brain cells -- into secreting the hormone.
Dr. Fuhrman is a huge advocate of breast-feeding. Just check out DiseaseProof’s healthy parenting category for more.

Fat Kids, Mom Ate Junk


A new study on rats has determined that mothers who eat junk food while pregnant or breastfeeding have obesity-prone children. WebMD reports:
"The maternal diet seems to influence and trigger events early in the life of their offspring," study researcher Stephanie Bayol, PhD, tells WebMD. "We found that by the end of their adolescence, the offspring from the junk-food-fed animals had increased blood sugar, blood fat, and decreased insulin sensitivity — all of which are associated with overweight and diabetes."

Bayol and colleagues at London's Royal Veterinary College gave pregnant rats normal rat chow. But they also gave them free access to cookies, chocolate, doughnuts, muffins, potato chips, candy, and cheese.

In earlier studies, they showed that the offspring of these rats liked high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar foods better than other rats. But the new studies show that even when never fed junk food themselves, the rats whose mothers ate junk food during pregnancy grew up fatter than normal rats.

"Their fat cells were larger, which might make them more prone to obesity and might make it harder for them to lose weight," Bayol says. "So there were lasting effects from their mother's consumption of junk food, even if they were not fed junk food after weaning."
There’s been a lot of news about diet and pregnancy lately, especially when it comes to the baby’s long term health. Check it out:
Seems like a good reason to ALWAYS eat healthy.

Pregnancy Weight Gain Yields Fat Kids...


New research is encouraging women not to gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy because the extra pounds could increase their child’s chances of becoming overweight. More from Reuters:
Looking at data from more than 10,000 mother-child pairs, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that children whose mothers gained more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy were 48 percent more likely than other children to be overweight at age 7.

In the U.S., the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that normal-weight women gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy. Women who were overweight before becoming pregnant are encouraged to gain a little less -- 15 to 25 pounds -- while underweight women should put on 28 to 40 pounds.

The new findings suggest that exceeding those recommendations may raise a child's own odds of excessive weight gain in the future.

"Based on these results, encouraging healthy eating and aerobic physical activity for pregnant women to help meet the IOM guidelines may help curtail the childhood obesity epidemic," said lead researcher Dr. Brian Wrotniak, a postdoctoral fellow at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Reminds me of last week’s report: High-Fat Diet During Pregnancy, May Impact Daughter's Puberty.

High-Fat Diet During Pregnancy, May Impact Daughter's Puberty


“A mother's diet prior to conception affects the health of her children,” explains Dr. Fuhrman, “We must face reality. You can't escape the effects of poor food choices.” And now, a new study claims that mother’s who eat high-fat diets while pregnant might trigger early-puberty in their daughters. Via the Well blog:
The investigators, from the University of Auckland, fed pregnant rats a high-fat diet throughout pregnancy and lactation. Another group of rats received a regular diet of rat chow. After the baby rats were weaned, they also ate either regular chow or a high-fat diet.

The onset of puberty was much earlier in all the rats whose mothers ate a high-fat diet, regardless of whether the baby rats ate high-fat or regular diets. Baby rats that ate a high-fat diet also had early puberty even if their mothers ate a healthful diet. Rats exposed to a combination of a high-fat diet inside the mother’s womb and a high-fat diet after birth also had early puberty, but it wasn’t any earlier than other rats eating a fatty diet.

“This might suggest that the fetal environment in high-fat fed mothers plays a greater role in determining pubertal onset than childhood nutrition,” said Deborah Sloboda, lead author of the study.
I asked Dr. Fuhrman for his thoughts on mothers’ diets and early-puberty. Here’s what he had to say:
Everything is a combination of factors. Sure, the mother's diet plays a strong role, so does infant nutritional practices and genetics. As people looking to prevent disease, rather than futilely trying to treat it after it occurs, we should welcome any information that aids individuals looking to maximize the health and well-being of themselves and their offspring, there is just no substitute for eating healthfully at all stages of life.
Actually, this topic comes up a lot. Check out these previous posts:
Don’t kids already grow up too fast

Silver Fillings, Dangerous?


The FDA says silver-colored dental fillings may pose a mercury risk for pregnant women, children, and fetuses. Reuters reports:
As part of the settlement with several consumer advocacy groups, the FDA agreed to alert consumers about the potential risks on its website and to issue a more specific rule next year for fillings that contain mercury, FDA spokeswoman Peper Long said.

Millions of Americans have the fillings, or amalgams, to patch cavities in their teeth.

"Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses," the FDA said in a notice on its Web site.

"Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury bioburden, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner," the agency said.
Actually, I’m in the process of getting mine switched to white fillings.

Drug-Labels, Getting a Pregnancy Update

The FDA wants to make drug-labeling guidelines more pregnancy-friendly. The Checkup blog is on it:
Once you've addressed those issues, many other important questions remain -- including this one: Are your prescription drugs safe for you to take while you're pregnant?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been working for more than a decade to make that question easier for women and their doctors to answer. Late last week the agency took another step in that process, proposing new drug-labeling guidelines that aim to more clearly and thoroughly spell out a drug's potential risks and benefits to a pregnant or nursing mother and her baby…

…Interested parties have 90 days to comment on the proposal. Assuming no major obstacles, FDA approval of the measure is expected within a year. Once that occurs, makers of new drugs will have to update their labels immediately. Makers of older drugs will have more time to phase in label changes.

But new system or not, making decisions about taking meds while you're pregnant or nursing isn't likely to become clear-cut anytime soon. Weighing whether the possible risks of a drug outweigh its likely benefits won't always be easy: In many cases, such as when a woman takes medications for asthma, depression, or diabetes, it may well be in a woman's best interest to stay on those meds while pregnant, even if it's uncertain how those drugs may affect her baby. But at least women and their doctors will have the best-available information right in front of them.
Makes sense to me. After all, a pregnant woman is taking drugs for two.

Depression: Pregnancy and Omega-3's

A new study found treating depressed pregnant women with omega-3 fatty acids helped reduce symptoms. Michelle Rizzo of Reuters reports:
"Perinatal depression is common, and treatment remains challenging," Dr. Kuan-Pin Su, of China Medical University Hospital, Taiwan, and colleagues explain in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

When a pregnant woman needs to be treated for major depression, "the possible risks and benefits of antidepressant medication are considered to have significant impacts on both mother and baby," Su commented to Reuters Health. "Many women and their health care providers prefer the use of non-medication treatments," Su added.

"Depression has been reported to be associated with the abnormality of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)," the team notes in their article. They propose that the requirements of the growing baby lead to "a profound decrease of omega-3 PUFAs in the mother during pregnancy," and this might "precipitate the occurrence of depression."

To see if omega-3 supplements would help, the researchers assigned 36 pregnant women with depression to take 3.4 grams of omega-3 PUFAs or an inactive placebo daily for eight weeks.
Omegas are wonderful nutrients. Not only can they help with mood disorders, but they’re great for your ticker too. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Compared to the American population, those eating this way in the Mediterranean region exhibit a lower risk of heart disease and common cancers. Heart attack rates are 25 percent lower, and the rate of obesity is about half of America’s. The climate and fertile soil allow for many high nutrient plants to grow, which makes most of the dishes rich in phytochemicals. That, in turn, accounts for the diet’s protective effects. Nuts, particularly walnuts, are commonly used in the diet and they are a good source of omega-3 fats and other heart protective nutrients. The use of fish instead of meat also decreases saturated fat consumption and increases these beneficial fats. For these reasons, it is understandable why the Mediterranean diet is considered healthier than the SAD, but it is not without drawbacks. Studying its beneficial health outcomes—along with those of diets in other areas of the world such as Japan, rural China, Fiji, and Tibet— allows us to use the Mediterranean diet’s culinary principals to make a diet deliciously varied and even more disease protective, while avoiding its problems.
Seeds are another awesome source of healthy fats. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Over the last few years, the health benefits of seeds also have become more apparent. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed, hempseeds, chia seeds, or other seeds can supply those hard-to find omega-3 fats that protect against diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.1 Seeds are also rich in lignans, a type of fiber associated with a reduced risk of both breast cancer and prostate cancer. In addition, seeds are a good source of iron, zinc, calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and folate. The plant goes to great effort in producing and protecting its seed, filling each genetic package with high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential oils, and enzymes.
For more on depression and how to treat it without medication, check out: Treating Depression Naturally.
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Pregnancy, Babies, and Fish

If you’re pregnant Dr. Fuhrman suggests avoiding seafood. Why? Mercury contamination. Here, I’ll let him explain:
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.
And a new study reveals the catch-22 that is seafood. It seems fish can help babies’ cognitive function, but mercury can hurt it. Reuters reports:
"Recommendations for fish consumption during pregnancy should take into account the nutritional benefits of fish as well as the potential harms from mercury exposure," Dr. Emily Oken of Harvard Medical School in Boston and her colleagues write in the May 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Advisories on mercury contamination of certain types of large, long-lived fish -- including tuna and swordfish -- have raised concerns about seafood consumption during pregnancy, Oken and her team note. On the other hand, fish are also the chief dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, substances key to early brain development, they add.

To better understand the risks and benefits of fish consumption, Oken and her team surveyed 341 mothers about their intake of fish during the second trimester of pregnancy, and then had their children complete a battery of tests of cognitive function at 3 years of age.

On average, women reported eating 1.5 servings of fish each week while they were pregnant. The amount of mercury the women had in their red blood cells was directly related to the amount of fish they ate. Children's test scores rose with the amount of fish their mothers had consumed, but those whose mothers had more mercury in their bodies performed less well on the tests.
I think this is one of those better to be safe, than sorry situations—skip the fish.
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Wednesday: Health Points


A report released this week by the Stockholm International Water Institute says that as much as 50 percent of the calories grown globally don't make it to the table. Given that crop production uses about 1,800 trillion gallons (1,700 cubic miles) of water a year, almost 40 percent of which comes from irrigation rather than rainwater, that loss represents a lot of water.

In the United States, up to 30 percent of food is tossed out each year, the report says, worth about $48.8 billion and equivalent to flushing 10 trillion gallons of water down the drain.

"There's a very low awareness about the size of these figures," said report lead author Jan Lundqvist. "I think most people don't realize that the loss and the wastage is at that level."
They were navigating the streets of the nation's capital, on the way to get their hair done. Nakia Sanford was driving, while Washington Mystics teammate Taj McWilliams-Franklin sat in the passenger's seat talking and playing with her iPod.


"I look up, and there's this restaurant," McWilliams-Franklin said. "Soul Vegetarian?"

Sanford pulled over on the spot. The hair would have to wait.

"We hopped out, went in there, it was awesome," McWilliams-Franklin said. "We had soy mac and cheese, whole wheat pasta, soy cheese, soy milk, and it was fabulous."

The chance pit stop at the Soul Vegetarian Cafe was a rare moment in American professional sports: Two players from the same team indulging their dietary preferences by sharing a vegan meal.
If you are vegetarian or vegan you're probably used to meat-eaters asking you "How do you get your protein?". If you're sick and tired of rattling off a list of veg foods, then you need "How I Get My Protein: A List of Meat-Free Protein Sources"!


This adorable pocket-sized book measures 3 x 1 7/8 inches and contains a short list of meat-free protein sources, the amount of protein per serving, and % daily value.

Also included is information on how much protein the average person needs each day, and a list of resources on vegetarian and vegan nutrition.
A study recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that teens in towns with complete smoking bans were 40 percent less likely to become established smokers compared with their peers in areas with weak restrictions.


The study followed 3,834 Massachusetts youths, ages 12 to 17, for up to four years. I

In towns where smoking wasn't restricted or was only partially restricted, 9.6 percent and 9.8 percent of the youths, respectively, became established smokers over the study period.

But in towns where smoking was banned in restaurants, 7.9 percent became smokers.
According to a recent study, one third of American parents have no clue what to expect after they're no longer expecting. This is bad news for babies because parents with unrealistically high expectations can become frustrated, and those with low ones may inadvertently hinder on-track development or delay treatment for correctable condition.


In the study, parents of 10,000 babies were assessed using both a written test and videotape of the parents attempting to teach their young children a new task. The findings showed 31% of the parents surveyed had low-level knowledge of infant development.

One of the researchers, Heather Paradis feels doctors need to step up to help correct the situation. "This is a wake-up call for pediatricians," Paradis said. "At office visits, we have a prime opportunity to intervene and help realign parents' expectations for their infants, and in turn, promote healthy physical, social, and emotional development for these children.
In a study of more than 5,500 men and women ages 30 to 79, researchers found that three-quarters of women and two-thirds of men reported at least one urinary tract symptoms -- such as frequent trips to the bathroom overnight, difficulty emptying the bladder and urinary incontinence.


Obese adults were more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to have multiple, more severe symptoms. Smoking, lack of exercise and heavy drinking were also linked to more serious urinary problems.

The researchers, led by Dr. John B. McKinlay of the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, report the findings in the medical journal BJU International.
Now there's a new risk factor -- researchers are saying that cell phone usage during pregnancy can cause hyperactivity and emotional or behavioral issues in children.


Over 13,000 mothers in Denmark were surveyed -- some didn't use a cell phone at all, others used one sporadically, and a third group used their cells often during pregnancy. Their results indicate that using a cell phone as little as two to three times a day during pregnancy can cause health issues -- hyperactivity, conduct issues, emotional issues, or difficult with relationships -- for the children.
BAD: Most cereals made for kids contain more calories, sugar and salt and less fiber and protein than other cereals. Most kids' cereals don't meet national school nutrition standards.


Good: Eat according to the colors of the rainbow. The more colors to your food -- such as the reds, oranges, yellows, greens and even blues of fruits and vegetables -- the more important nutrients you'll get.

Sugar in the Baby Formula?

Organic baby food sounds like a good idea, but The New York Times reveals one potential flaw of some organic baby formulas, sugar cane juice. Julia Moskin reports:
Parents may be buying it because they believe that organic is healthier, but babies may have a reason of their own for preferring Similac Organic: it is significantly sweeter than other formulas. It is the only major brand of organic formula that is sweetened with cane sugar, or sucrose, which is much sweeter than sugars used in other formulas.

No health problems in babies have been associated with Similac Organic. But to pediatricians, there are risks in giving babies cane sugar: Sucrose can harm tooth enamel faster than other sugars; once babies get used to its sweeter taste, they might resist less sweet formulas or solid foods; and some studies suggest that they might overeat, leading to rapid weight gain in the first year, which is often a statistical predictor of childhood obesity.

Asked about these concerns, Carolyn Valek, a spokeswoman for Abbott Nutrition, the division of Abbott Laboratories that makes Similac Organic, said that sucrose had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and was considered “safe and well established.” Ms. Valek said that Similac Organic had no more sweetener than other formulas and that prolonged contact with any kind of sugar could cause tooth decay.

In Europe, where sudden increases in childhood obesity are a pressing public health issue, sucrose-sweetened formulas will be banned by the end of 2009, except when ordered by a doctor for babies with severe allergies. The 27 countries of the European Union adopted the new rules according to the recommendations of the group’s Scientific Committee on Food, which found that sucrose provided no particular nutritional advantages, could, in rare cases, bring about a fatal metabolic disorder, and might lead to overfeeding.
I used to drink a lot of Silk Soymilk, until I found out it’s sweetened with cane juice. So now I only drink it occasionally and when I do, I drink Light Silk. Here’s my fridge:


And honestly, unsweetened almond milk tastes just as good!

Stress and Pregnancy, Asthma and Allergies--Linked

New research contends that stressed out expectant mothers increase their baby’s likelihood of developing asthma or allergies later in life. Serena Gordon of HealthDay News explains:
Babies born to mothers experiencing high levels of stress had more IgE in their blood at birth than did babies born to less-stressed moms. IgE is an antibody involved in allergic and asthmatic reactions.

"Moms who had elevated levels of stress had children who seemed to be more reactive to allergens, even when exposed to low levels of allergens," said study co-author Dr. Rosalind Wright, an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Wright's colleague, and another author of the study, Junenette Peters, said that stress may make women more susceptible to allergens because it "may make the cells more permeable" so that even low levels of exposure trigger a reaction. And, women whose immune systems are altered by stress may, in turn, pass down that trait to their infants.

Peters, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School, was to present the findings Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference, in Toronto.

The study, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, included 315 expectant mothers and their infants. All of the mothers lived in an urban environment.
Stressed and pregnant! How do you ladies do it? You all need to relax. Hey, maybe this will help. Check it out:


Keep breathing...

Eat Good Early, Eat Good Later

New research lends support to the notion that learning to eat healthfully when you’re young, leads to a healthier adulthood. EMaxHealth is on it:
Children between 2 and 5 years old experience developmental changes that affect their eating habits, and by anticipating and appropriately reacting to these changes, families can help turn their preschoolers into healthy eaters for life.

According to Monica Montes, a Los Angeles-area registered dietitian and co-founder of N.E.W. Health Consultants, Inc, eating habits form as early as age 3, making the preschool years an important developmental window. At the same time, parents may face difficult changes in their children's food preferences.

"Feeding obstacles often start as children reach 2 years old and continue for several years," said Montes. "Children may eat less, demand foods they see on television, refuse foods or beverages they once enjoyed and start using utensils or sippy cups."
Dr. Fuhrman’s been screaming about this for years!

Chemicals, Pregnancy, Obesity...

A new study claims exposure to certain chemicals—like Bisphenol A (BPA) and perfluorooctanoic acid—while pregnant, increases a baby’s chance of becoming obese. Michael Kahn of Reuters reports:
"We are talking about an exposure at very low levels for a finite time during development," said Jerry Heindel of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"The fact that it is such a sensitive period, it may be altering the tissue and making people more susceptible to obesity."

The World Health Organization estimates some 400 million people are obese, a problem that raises the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease…

…One of the chemicals is called Bisphenol A, found in polycarbonate plastics. Past research has suggested it leaches from plastic food and drink containers.

A team at Tufts University in the United States showed that female mice whose mothers were exposed to this chemical early in pregnancy gained more weight in adulthood even though they ate the same amount of food and were as active as other mice.

A similar effect occurred with perfluorooctanoic acid -- a greaseproofing agent used in products such as microwave popcorn bags. These animals were unusually small at birth then became overweight later in life.
This kind of news is all too common. Just look at the potential risks for being exposed to polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs). Dr. Fuhrman explains:
The EPA explained that these compounds persist in the environment and build up in the bodies of farm animals that eat contaminated feed or grass. While many of these toxic chemical compounds are resistant to degradation in the natural environment, they dissolve readily in oil and thus accumulate in the fatty tissues of fish, birds, and mammals. Humans are exposed predominately by eating contaminated animal products. Every time an animal is exposed to a tiny bit of these toxic chemicals, it remains in the animal's body for life, only released when the animal is eaten by humans, through fatty animal products such as meat, cheese, and full-fat milk.1 Animal products tested to be exceptionally high in these harmful compounds are catfish, lobster, mollusks, cheese, butter, and ice cream.2


Unborn children and breast feeding infants are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of these chemicals. These chemicals are linked to a broad range of diseases, including behavioral disorders, thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis, and cancer.3 Since these chemicals are stored in the fatty tissues of animals and in our fat stores too (because we are animals as well), a woman has to begin eating more carefully before she gets pregnant to prevent harmful exposure to the developing fetus.
Scary, thank goodness men can’t get pregnant—EEK! Continue Reading...

Health Points: Friday

York company voluntarily recalled more than 286,000 pounds of its products.

Officials said certain products labeled Gourmet Boutique, Jan's and Archer Farms may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, although there were no reports of illness before the recall.

Listeria can cause a potentially fatal disease that it is rarely contracted by healthy people, the Monterey County Health Department reported. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, neck stiffness and nausea. Rare but serious symptoms can occur in those with compromised immune systems. Pregnant women make up about a third of listeriosis cases, health officials said.
Arthritis strikes more than half of the 20.6 million American adults who have diabetes, and the painful joint condition may be a barrier to exercise among these patients, a new government report shows.


Being physically active helps people manage both diseases better by controlling blood sugar levels and reducing joint pain, according to the report in the May 9 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The prevalence of arthritis is astoundingly high in people with diabetes," said Dr. John H. Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "Over half the people with diabetes have arthritis."
Nudging reluctant seniors to take physical fitness classes represents just one strategy to reduce the risk of falling. It's also vital to evaluate their vision and the medications they're taking. Aged pupils, for example, don't dilate as well in darkness or constrict as well in brightness.


One study showed that falls decreased 34 percent among seniors who had the milky opaqueness of a cataract removed from their eyes. Some specialists also point to bifocals and trifocals, which can blur vision, as potentially contributing to falls.

It's also common for lighting to be so inadequate that navigation of hallways and rooms can be treacherous, said Dr. Gary Chu, vice president for community collaborations at the New England Eye Institute.
"I've asked all the presidential candidates whether America should be smoke-free," he told a Senate committee hearing on how to tackle cancer.


"The consensus is that it's better left to the cities and states," he said, agreeing that state- or community-level bans were "the way to go."

"Second-hand smoking is something I'm very passionate about," he told the committee.
Young children who live in neighborhoods with lots of trees have lower rates of asthma than children who reside in areas with fewer trees, a new study finds. Researchers looked at asthma rates among children age 4 to 5 in New York City. Asthma rates decreased by almost one-quarter for every standard deviation increase in tree density, equivalent to 343 trees per square kilometer, the study found. The researchers said that trees may help reduce asthma rates by encouraging children to play outdoors more or by improving air quality.
Male postpartum depression may have more negative effects on some aspects of a child's development than its female counterpart, says James F. Paulson, PhD, of the Center for Pediatric Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va.


Paulson and colleagues reviewed data on more than 5,000 two-parent families with children aged 9 months.

They found that one in 10 new dads met standard criteria for moderate to severe postpartum depression.

That's a "striking increase" from the 3% to 5% of men in the general population that have depression, Paulson tells WebMD.
In the current study, researchers found that professional firefighters had higher-than-expected rates of colon cancer and brain cancer. There was also evidence, albeit weaker, that they had elevated risks of bladder and kidney cancers, as well as Hodgkin's lymphoma.


Dr. Letitia Davis with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues report the findings in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Firefighters are exposed to many potentially cancer-causing chemicals released from burning materials. At the scene of the fire, toxic substances such as benzene, lead, uranium and asbestos can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
A drug from a new class of weight-loss treatments disrupted wiring needed for brain development in young mice, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday, raising concerns about using such medications in children.


Mark Bear and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology studied the effects of a chemical that suppresses appetite by blocking cannabinoid receptors in the brain, the same brain mechanisms that make people hungry when they smoke marijuana.

"I think that the cautionary note is that these mechanisms play an important role in ... brain development," said Bear, whose study appears in the journal Neuron.
Even a benign lesion on a mammogram makes women and doctors nervous, and doctors sometimes recommend a biopsy anyway. But new data show that waiting six months for a follow-up mammogram is a safe option.


Researchers tracked more than 45,000 women who were given six-month follow-up mammograms after an initial scan found lesions that were “probably” benign. In most cases, they were. Only about one in 100 women were eventually diagnosed with cancer six to 12 months later, according to the study, which appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.
It is well known that high blood sugar levels indicative of the diabetes that occurs during pregnancy present risks for expectant mothers and their infants. The current study is believed to be the first to show that higher blood sugar levels -- not high enough to be considered diabetes -- also convey these increased risks.


In a study of nearly 24,000 pregnant women who had their blood sugar levels tested between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy, researchers found that the higher the mother's blood sugar level, the greater the chances that she would require Caesarean delivery and deliver an abnormally large baby.

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.

Pregnant, Drinking, Lying?


According to a Swedish study some pregnant women say they’re not drinking, but results prove otherwise. Reuters is on it:
When Swedish researchers surveyed 103 pregnant women about their alcohol use and also tested their urine and hair to check for alcohol byproducts, they found that seven had levels "highly suspicious of heavy drinking," but just one admitted to drinking at all.

"You cannot solely rely on the self-reports given by the women; you have to add some other measure of (alcohol) consumption to get a better test of how many women consume (alcohol) during pregnancy," Dr. Inger Sundstrom Poromaa of Uppsala University, who led the study, told Reuters Health…

…Ninety-four of the women studied, or 91 percent, said they hadn't consumed alcohol at all during their pregnancy. Of the nine who admitted to drinking while pregnant, six said they drank once a month or less often, while three said they drank two to four times a month. Seven said they had one to two glasses of wine each time that they drank, one said she had three to four glasses, and another did not report how much alcohol she consumed.

However, hair tests detected alcohol use in 19 of the women, with levels in seven suggestive of heavy drinking. Based on the results, 25 percent of the women did in fact drink alcohol during pregnancy, but just 8.7 percent admitted to doing so on the AUDIT questionnaire.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman considers alcohol as one of the things you shouldn’t consume while pregnant, and, he points out that alcohol is very problematic for good health. Take a look:
Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks for men. Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other potential problems.1 For example, alcohol consumption leads to mild withdrawal sensations the next day that are commonly mistaken for hunger, which leads people to eat more than is genuinely necessary, resulting in weight gain.
When you’re eating for health, it’s definitely drink at your own risk—that probably goes double if your pregnant.
Continue Reading...

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!

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: 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."

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!

Health Points: Monday

When he became a psychiatrist in the 1970s, John Ratey didn't expect to evolve into an exercise buff. But today, the Harvard University professor and expert in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder calls exercise the single most important tool people have to optimize brain function…

…Exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, can improve cognitive performance, soften the effects of stress, help fend off addiction-related cravings and tone down the negative consequences of women's hormonal changes, Ratey says. When it comes to psychiatric disorders, he calls exercise "one of the best treatments we have."
Bacteria can cause rhinosinusitis -- an inflammation of the sinuses -- but a virus such as the common cold is often a more likely culprit so antibiotics seldom work, the researchers reported in the journal Lancet.


Yet doctors still dole out the drugs more than they should. In the United States, for instance, 80 percent of sinus patients are prescribed an antibiotic while the proportion ranges from 72 percent to 92 percent in Europe.

"What tends to happen in practice is when patients have had symptoms for a while and go see their family doctor, the doctor assumes they have a bacterial infection and gives them antibiotics," said James Young, a statistician at the University Hospital Basel, who led the study.
In the new study of about 5,000 adults, the college-educated with household incomes of more than $75,000 a year had much less of a blood protein linked to heart disease than did the poorer or less educated - as long as they weren't overweight.


But as weight crept up, so did C-reactive protein in the blood, a sign of inflamed tissue that can lead to blocked coronary arteries, says Cathy Bykowski, a psychologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

That's not surprising, because excess body fat is known to increase the protein, she says.
New research suggests that people who don't get enough sleep tend to weigh more -- and that sleep can affect levels of the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin.


"There is a dynamic balance between proper sleep and proper health. Sleep deprivation affects weight and a lot of other things. If you cheat sleep, there are a number of consequences, including affecting your hormones, appetite and mood," said Dr. Patrick Strollo, medical director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Sleep Medicine Center.
At first glance, the $45 session just looked like a bunch of boys having fun, not surprising since Lego Club members have good language skills and average or above-average intelligence. In contrast, children at the severe end of the autism spectrum may be mute and have catatonic behaviors.


But signs of problems were soon evident. A boy wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt stood amid the hubbub, staring at the floor, obsessively pulling the hem of his shirt - until leader Greg Shugar gently drew him into an activity. At a table, Lily Brown, another leader, helped two boys revise their "script" - a sheet of lined paper covered with angry scratch-outs and scribbles.

Jonathan Shanahan, 13, of Riverton, rocked from foot to foot and acknowledged that earlier that day, in school, he threw a pencil at a classmate.

"He's my archrival," Jonathan declared, holding a winged Lego beast he had created.
Breast-fed babies appear to be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes when they reach adolescence, according to findings published in the medical journal Diabetes Care.


"Dramatic increases in childhood obesity and the emergence of type 2 diabetes in youth motivate research to identify lifestyle approaches to primary prevention of both conditions," write Dr. Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and colleagues.
Folate
Use: To improve heart health


Why it works: Folate and other B vitamins help break down excess homocysteine -- an amino acid that can damage the inner lining of arteries -- possibly reducing the risk of heart disease.

Daily intake: 400 mcg

Best food sources: 1/2 cup cooked asparagus (134 mcg), 1 cup raw spinach (58 mcg), 1/2 cup cooked lentils (179 mcg)
Type 1 diabetes occurs because of pancreatic beta cell damage. These cells are responsible for insulin hormone production. The disease is becoming more common and it is expected to increase by 40% in 2010, compared to 2000.


The study showed that those suffering from type 1 diabetes have lower levels of vitamin D and are common in countries with less sunlight. It is well known that sunlight exposure stimulates vitamin D production and that supplement intake without sunlight exposure doesn't mean anything.

Lack of vitamin D is previously linked to autoimmune disorders, and this new study shows another key role of vitamins in health.
Breast cancer patients who are overweight have more aggressive disease and are likely to die sooner, U.S. researchers reported on Friday.


A dangerous type of breast cancer, known as inflammatory breast cancer, was seen in 45 percent of obese patients, compared with 30 percent of overweight patients and 15 percent of patients of healthy weight.

"The more obese a patient is, the more aggressive the disease," said Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who led the study.

Mixed News on Caffeine and Pregnancy

“Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. He’s especially concerned about caffeine. Take a look:
Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.1 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible.
In fact, back in January a study confirmed the link between caffeine and miscarriage. Here’s some of the AFP report:
US researchers said Monday they have conclusive proof to show that women who drink a lot of caffeine on a daily basis in the early months of pregnancy have an elevated risk of miscarriage, settling a longstanding debate over the issue.


To be absolutely safe, expectant mothers should avoid caffeinated beverages of any kind during the first five months of pregnancy, the researchers said in a paper published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Again, “It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun,” Dr. Fuhrman insists. But, the research continues to be mixed. Nancy Tones of TheNestBaby.com offers up two conflicting caffeine-pregnancy studies. Check them out:
In the last few months, two studies about the relationship between caffeine and miscarriages have come out. Which should you believe? We've ground it all down to size and asked the experts for some answers:


Study one Cool it on the caffeine
Gulping down 200 milligrams or more of caffeine per day (two or more cups of coffee or five 12-ounce cans of soda) doubled the risk of miscarriage (compared with women who cut out caffeine) in a study of over 1,000 women by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

Study two Some caffeine is safe
When women drank less than two cups of coffee a day, their babies fared just fine, according to a study of 2,407 women in the journal Epidemiology. Though higher caffeine intake wasn't studied, moderate amounts didn't seem to be associated with miscarriages.
And this report by Anahad O’Connor of The New York Times casts more confusion over the link between caffeine and pregnancy dangers. Here’s an excerpt:
One of the more unnerving studies was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. It looked at more than 1,000 pregnant Swedish women and found that those who drank the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent increased risk of miscarriage, while those who had the equivalent of at least five cups had more than double the risk.


But a majority of studies have suggested that any risk might apply only to high levels of caffeine intake. One study carried out by the National Institutes of Health in 1999 looked closely at the blood levels of caffeine in tens of thousands of pregnant women and found that those who consumed the equivalent of more than five cups of coffee a day did have an increased risk, while those who drank one or two cups did not. Other studies have had similar findings.
Clearly, there’s some doubt here. So in the end, maybe its just best to take Dr. Fuhrman’s advice, “The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.” I think we can all agree with that.
Continue Reading...

Pregnancy and Alcohol: Just One Drink...

Back in November the American Cancer Society published a report with suggestions to help people decrease their cancer risk. Here’s an excerpt:
The report, called Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, urges people to stay at a healthy weight, which means having a body mass index (or BMI, a ratio of weight to height) between 18.5 and 24.9. And it recommends regular physical activity as a way to control weight…


…The report also makes recommendations for eating more healthfully to reduce cancer risk. It says people should eat mostly foods from plants, limit red meat and alcohol, and avoid processed meats like bacon, sausage, and lunchmeat.
And as Dr. Fuhrman points out, alcohol isn’t exactly health-promoting. Its basically drink at your own risk. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks for men. Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist and other potential problems.1 For example, alcohol consumption leads to mild withdrawal sensations the next day that are commonly mistaken for hunger, which leads people to eat more than is genuinely necessary, resulting in weight gain.
Okay, as far as pregnancy is concerned, Dr. Fuhrman considers alcohol “really risky for you and your unborn children.” Here’s his list of no-no’s:
  • 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
  • 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
Now, this new research sends a confusing message. A Swedish Study says its okay for moms to have a few swigs while breastfeeding. More from the AFP:
"There is no medical reason to abstain completely from alcohol while breastfeeding," Annica Sohlstroem, head of the agency's nutrition department, said in a statement.


"The amount of alcohol that the child can ingest through the breastmilk is small if you drink one or two glasses of wine" per week, she said.

The new advice is an about-face for the agency, which has for the past decade or so advised women to avoid alcohol while breastfeeding, and is based on current medical research.
I think pairing alcohol with pregnancy and breastfeeding is just a bad idea. In fact, past research determined that alcohol may alter a child’s mind. From HealthDay News:
In their study, researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) examined 22 children and adolescents (ages 8 to 18 years) -- 13 with and 9 without histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure. The participants were part of a larger study at the Center for Behavioral Teratology, SDSU...


"...We found two regions within the prefrontal cortex where the youth with alcohol-exposure histories had increased brain activation and one area in the subcortex (called the caudate nucleus) where the alcohol-exposed youth had decreased brain activation," study co-author Susanna L. Fryer, a graduate student in the SDSU/University of California, San Diego, joint doctoral program in clinical psychology, said in a prepared statement.
I won’t be faced with this decision, but, I hope my wife would totally abstain from alcohol while she was pregnant and breastfeeding—I’d easily give it up right along side her!
Continue Reading...

Breastfeeding: Weight Disparities

“Just because you were not breast fed for a prolonged period when you were a child, does not mean you are destined for fatness,” explains Dr. Fuhrman. Of course this contradicts a new study citing a link between lower rates of breastfeeding and obesity among minority children in the United States. Reuters reports:
Researchers found that among 739 10- to 19-year-olds, those who had been breastfed for more than four months had a lower average body mass index (BMI), and lower odds of being overweight.


This was true regardless of race or parents' education levels, the researchers report in the journal Pediatrics. However, the study found, there were disparities when it came to rates of breastfeeding; 40 percent of white adolescents but only 11 percent of black children had been breastfed for at least four months.

There was a similar difference when the researchers looked at parents' education levels, a marker of socioeconomic status. Forty percent of children with college-educated parents had been breastfed for at least four months, versus 18 percent of those with less-educated parents.

"This really does suggest that if we could somehow increase the frequency and duration of breastfeeding in these groups, we could reduce disparities in (obesity)," said researcher Dr. Jessica G. Woo of Cincinnati Children's Hospital.
Clearly, a rough start is no reason to grow up to live a life of condemned health. “Optimal nutrition and regular rigorous exercise still works and is necessary for optimal health whether you are overweight or not, and whether you were breast fed or not,” insists Dr. Fuhrman.

Yeah, Don't Smoke if You're Pregnant...

I could care less about Lindsey Hilton or Paris Lohan, but this picture really irked me. Britney Spears demonstrates her abysmal parenting skills by SMOKING while she was pregnant. Disgusting:


As a man, I realize that I swimming in dangerous waters here, but, I think it is incredibly selfish and offensive to smoke while a new life is forming inside you—opinions?

Health Points: Friday

A recent review of scientific research suggests cranberries may offer a natural defense against the development of this dangerous disease. Researchers feel that many of these results are due to the fact that cranberries contain a greater concentration of antioxidants than other commonly consumed fruit and that these nutrients may be working together to offer even greater benefits.

The report conducted at Tufts University, and published in Nutrition Reviews, found that cranberries offered a range of different benefits that work to promote cardiovascular health. These benefits include effects on cholesterol as well as on blood pressure and the development of blood clots, all established risk factors for heart disease.
One in five of all male deaths and one in 20 of all female deaths between the ages of 30 and 69 will be caused by smoking, said the study, conducted by a team of doctors and scientists from India, Canada and Britain and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.


"The results we found surprised us, because smokers in India start later in life and smoke fewer cigarettes or 'bidis' than those in Europe or America, but the risks are as extreme as in the West," said Prabhat Jha of the Center for Global Health Research at the University of Toronto, the lead author of the study.
On average, the students gained 14 pounds, added 2.6 inches to their waistline, and padded their body fat percentage by 3.7% during the study.


Blood samples provided by the students throughout the study show a spike in levels of the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT). ALT levels rose quickly -- typically within a week -- after the students started the fast-food diet.
Tuna is one of those annoying pregnancy foods that might be really, really good or really, really bad for the baby.


Instead of driving yourself crazy (like I did!) trying to guess the proper amount to ingest without putting increasing your mercury level to the point of now return, you can use the handy dandy Tuna Calculator that will give you a suggested weekly serving based on your weight.
PCC Natural Markets is prohibiting suppliers from using cloned animal products in their food. It also wants them to disclose where ingredients are from and what they mean by terms such as "natural flavors."


These moves come months after the Seattle chain eliminated high-fructose corn syrup from its eight stores and began identifying the countries of origin for its meat, seafood, peanuts and fresh and frozen produce.
According to the research, red wine and alcohol consumption were found to have virtually identical impact on health, with one drink of either substance helping to reduce the work rate of the heart.


The findings, which are published in the February edition of the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology, could challenge the perception that polyphenol content of red wine is responsible for cardiovascular benefits.

Red wine has been linked to extended survival rates of mice and prevented the negative effects of high-calorie diets, in other testing, due to the presence of the polyphenol, resveratrol.
"You're in a dark, gloomy place," said Bruce Hollis, a leading vitamin D researcher at the Medical University of South Carolina. "In the winter, you could stand outside naked for five hours and nothing is going to happen."


Increased use of sunscreen has turned a seasonal shortfall into a year-round condition for many people. A recent survey in Britain found 87 percent of adults tested during winter, and more than 60 percent in summer, had subpar vitamin D levels. Doctors in many parts of the world — including California — report a resurgence of childhood rickets, soft bones caused by lack of vitamin D.
Tobacco giants Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco actively collude with cigarette smugglers to gain a foothold in lucrative developing markets, campaigners alleged on Wednesday.


"Transnationals benefit in a number of ways from the illicit trade in tobacco," said Kathyrn Mulvey, director of international policy with the lobby group Corporate Accountability International (CAI).

Babies, Baby Products, and Phthalates

A new study has determined that many baby care products may be exposing babies to potentially harmful chemicals called phthalates. Megan Rauscher of Reuters reports:
"At this time, we do not know what the potential long-term health effects might be, but there is a large body of animal studies to suggest developmental and reproductive toxicity (from phthalates) and a few human studies with changes in health outcomes as well," Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana told Reuters Health.


Phthalates are used to make plastics flexible and stabilize fragrances, and are found in a plethora of consumer products including toys, personal care products and medical equipment.

As reported online today in the journal Pediatrics, Sathyanarayana, from the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues measured the levels of nine different phthalate breakdown products in urine from diapers of 163 infants aged 2 to 28 months.

All of the urine samples contained at least one phthalate at measurable levels, they report, and 81 percent of the samples had measurable amounts of seven or more phthalates.
I don’t know all that much about phthalates, so, I ran it through Wikipedia. This caught my eye, scary stuff. Take a look:
In 2007, a cross-sectional study of U.S. males conducted by researchers at Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry concluded that urine concentrations of four phthalate metabolites correlate with waist size and three phthalate metabolites correlate with the cellular resistance to insulin, a precursor to Type II diabetes.
Now, this clearly illustrates that the manufacturers don’t have children’s best interests at heart. So, who’s job is it to protect our kids form stiff like this. Dr. Fuhrman makes it very clear:
We must be careful not to expose our children to chemical cleaners, insecticides, and weed killers on our lawns. Chemicals used in pressure-treated wood used to build lawn furniture, decks, fences, and swings sets have been shown to place children at risk. When children are around, we must be vigilant to maintain a chemical-free environment.
In this case, baby lotions and shampoos are no different.

Expensively Sick

Julie’s Health Club relays a list of America’s top ten medical costs. Scary stuff, my wallet hurts just looking at it. Check it out:
  1. Heart conditions ($76 billion)
  2. Trauma disorders ($72 billion)
  3. Cancer ($70 billion)
  4. Mental disorders, including depression ($56.0 billion)
  5. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ($54 billion)
  6. High blood pressure ($42 billion)
  7. Type 2 diabetes ($34 billion)
  8. Osteoarthritis and other joint diseases ($34 billion)
  9. Back problems ($32 billion)
  10. Normal childbirth* ($32 billion)
*Normal childbirth means without medical complications or surgical procedures. C-sections are not included in the normal childbirth category.
This list gets even more frightening when you consider the over-arching cost of obesity. Dr. Fuhrman offers up some facts and figures:
The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2230 all adults in the United States will be obese. The National Institutes of Health estimate that obesity is associated with a twofold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year.1
Wows, it certainly pays to be healthy.
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Allergies: The Power of Breast Milk

“Allergies are increasing because women do not breast feed long enough,” explains Dr. Fuhrman and it seems to be the same with mice. Researchers believe breast milk protects mice from allergic asthma. Reuters reports:
Lactating mice that develop tolerance after exposure to airborne antigens appear to be able to transfer this immunity to their offspring though breast-milk.


The tolerance was transmitted to the newborn mice through breast milk and antigen-stimulated allergic asthma was prevented, a French research team reports in the advance online edition of Nature Medicine. Antigens are substances the body recognizes as foreign that trigger the immune system to mount a defensive reaction, which accounts for allergy symptoms.

Dr. Valerie Julia, at Universite de Nice-Sophia-Antipolis in Valbonne, and associates exposed lactating mice to ovalbumin aerosols every other day until their offspring were weaned. (Ovalbumin is the major protein in the white part of an egg.)
I’ll go ahead and add this to the pile of evidence supporting breastfeeding. Now, in case you didn’t get the memo, Dr. Fuhrman thinks breastfeeding is very important. Why? The magic’s in the milk! He explains:
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.
I’ve seen the word dozens of times, but I’m telling you, immunoglobulins would be a killer name for a rock bad. “Ladies and gentlemen, The Immunoglobulins!”

UPDATE: Dr. Fuhrman wanted to add his two cents to this article. Enjoy:
Wow, I am amazed that they could find all those women who would let mice nurse from their breasts!! I guess it was a better choice than rats.
I'm still laughing!

The Caffeine-Miscarriage Link

When you’re talking pregnancy, mom’s diet is very important. Even before you’re pregnant, eating healthy is a good idea. He explains in Disease-Proof Your Child:
It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun. Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby.
Now, one of the things Dr. Fuhrman suggests expecting mothers to avoid is caffeine. Caffeine has been linked to miscarriage. Back to Disease-Proof Your Child:
Caffeine has been a controversial topic for decades. Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.1 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible.
Some new research seems to confirm Dr. Fuhrman’s fears; study confirms the link between caffeine and miscarriage. Louise Daly of the AFP reports:
US researchers said Monday they have conclusive proof to show that women who drink a lot of caffeine on a daily basis in the early months of pregnancy have an elevated risk of miscarriage, settling a longstanding debate over the issue.


To be absolutely safe, expectant mothers should avoid caffeinated beverages of any kind during the first five months of pregnancy, the researchers said in a paper published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The concept that pregnant women may be putting their babies in jeopardy by drinking large amounts of caffeine on a daily basis is not new.
I’m not pregnant—the science is not yet available and ramifications would be monstrous—but if I were, I’d avoid caffeine; better to be safe than sorry. What do you think?
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Mandatory Flu Shots: NJ Goes Insane!

I can’t say that I’m proud to be a Jersey guy right now. Evidently my home state has lost its freaking mind. The Public Health Council wants to make flu shots mandatory for all children attending preschool. Before your head explodes, Linda A. Johnson of the Associated Press reports:
Parents concerned about possible vaccine dangers and government intrusion are trying to block New Jersey from becoming the first state to require flu shots for preschoolers.


The Public Health Council on Monday is set to consider whether New Jersey should require flu shots as well as three additional vaccines. If approved, New Jersey would become the first state to require annual flu shots for children attending licensed preschool or day care centers.

State health department officials also want to require a pneumococcal vaccine for preschoolers, a booster shot to fight whooping cough for sixth-graders, and meningitis shots for school children as young as 11.
This is unreal in my opinion, un-American and outlandish. What right does the government have to intrude on this parental decision? The answer is, ZERO RIGHT! Dr. Fuhrman once said this about mandatory HPV vaccines and it certainly applies here, look:
This is not about arguing about the effectiveness or value of vaccines, just whether we should mandate medical care and take another freedom away from Americans. We no longer have the freedom to take or not take medications. Sounds like the Taliban to me.
I know, I use that quote a lot, but come on, Dr. Fuhrman’s on the money! This is essentially the opposite of freedom and it’s doubly stupid when you realize that flu shots aren’t the wonder drugs that pharmaceutical companies market them to be. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Three antiviral drugs, amantadine (Symmetrel), rimantadine (Flumadine), and oseltamivir (Tamiflu) are available in the US for influenza. These medications are only partially effective and not effective at all unless they are started within the first two days of symptoms. All are prescription drugs and have serious potential risks. Besides the more common side effects of nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and insomnia, rare but serious adverse reactions have been reported including depression, suicide, and a potentially fatal reaction called Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, which involves a high fever muscle rigidity and mental status changes. I cannot recommend the general use of these medications given their poor benefit-to-risk ratio. However these medications would be appropriate in the event of an outbreak in a nursing home or hospital where immunologically weakened, high risk people are in close contact with one another.


Another drawback to Tamiflu and the others is that it takes time to diagnose the flu and by the time one gets to a doctor for an accurate diagnosis, you have passed the window in which the medications are effective. Hundreds of thousands of doses of Tamiflu will be prescribed and in more than 90 percent of instances, it will be used after the period when it has any potential to help. People will be increasing their risk of medication-caused side effect, without any potential benefit.

All medical interventions have a benefit-to-risk ratio. One has to weigh the potential risks with the supposed benefits. Often the long-term risks of medications are not clearly delineated and the supposed benefits are exaggerated by doctors and pharmaceutical companies (because after all, medicine is still a business to make money).

Flu vaccines have benefits and risks too. If you read about the flu vaccine in the information supplied by the manufacturer you will learn it contains formaldehyde and 25 micrograms of thimersol (mercury) per dose, used as a preservative. The injection of even this small amount of mercury repeatedly year after year from multiple vaccines can cause neurotoxicity (brain damage). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public Health Service have issued a joint statement calling for the removal of mercury from vaccines. Chronic low dose mercury exposures may cause subtle neurological abnormalities that rear their head later in life.

Considering all the vaccines that children get already, adding the flu to the mix and giving it each year, is something I am not ready to recommend in healthy children, fed a nutritionally sound diet. That does not mean I would not recommend it to an elderly person or one with a reason for compromised immune function.

The flu vaccine itself has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential and animal reproductive studies have not been performed. Adverse reactions to the vaccine including arthralgias (muscle aches) lymphadenopathy (swelling of lymph nodes) itching, angiopathy, vasculitis, and other events reflective of toxicity. Allergic reaction, hives, anaphylaxis, neurological disorders such as neuritis, encephalitis, optic neuritis, and demylenating disorders (such as MS) have also been temporally associated with influenza vaccine.
These New Jersey officials should get a clue! Hopefully commonsense prevails, but I doubt it, after all, we are talking about government. Now, here’s a great NEW quote from Dr. Fuhrman on all this insanity. Enjoy:
It seems that lawmakers do not understand that freedom should include freedom from forced medications for ourselves and our children. The fact that we grant religions the right to do anything, but if not under a religious umbrella, those with strong science-based, philosophical-based or strong-personal belief get no such rights, I think this is unconscionable.


Especially when we are talking about vaccines with their known dangerous side-effects and potential unknown negative effects down the road. Here in New Jersey, home of the drug industry, we have no rights for personal medical savings accounts, no rights to purchase catastrophic health insurance, and no rights to refuse mandatory vaccinations. The drug companies hold the politicians in their financial pockets. People are led to believe in drugs and the exaggerated benefits of medical care and they do; the new religion in America—In Drugs We Trust.
Oh no he didn’t!

Rocket Fuel in Breast Milk!

HealthDay News reports that a chemical used in explosives and rocket fuel is showing up in human breast milk—scary. More form Carolyn Colwell:
Scientists have discovered the mechanism by which a chemical known as perchlorate can collect in breast milk and cause cognitive and motor deficits in newborns.


Used since the 1940s to manufacture explosives and rocket fuel, the contaminant is still widely present in the water and food supply, experts say.

And high concentrations of perchlorate in breast milk can be passed to an infant and affect it's ability to manufacture essential thyroid hormone, the new study suggests. Perchlorate can also lessen the amount of iodide available to a mother to pass on to her infant, and a baby needs iodide to produce thyroid hormones.

"The deficit of thyroid hormone is particularly delicate if it's at the beginning of life because the central nervous system has not completely matured," said study author Dr. Nancy Carrasco, a professor of molecular pharmacology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City.

UK: Maternal Deaths and Obesity

This is sobering. New research has determined that more than half of British mothers who died during child birth were overweight. Reuters is on it:
The Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) said maternal-related deaths in Britain are at a two decade high.


In its annual report, "Saving Mothers' Lives: reviewing maternal deaths to make motherhood safer", it found that of the almost 300 women who died during childbirth between 2003 and 2005 from pregnancy-related conditions, more than half were obese. The deaths left 520 children motherless, it added.

Obese pregnant women are more at risk of dying, suffering heart disease, miscarriage, diabetes, infections and blood clots.

Although the death rate has not changed significantly since 2000, it has risen by around 40 percent since 1985/87, the study showed.
Gaining baby-weight is one thing, but, staying healthy while pregnant is important. More on this from Dr. Fuhrman—take a look:
The time to begin paying attention to a child’s health is long before birth. Even the mother’s diet twelve months before conception can influence the child’s future health. It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun. Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby.
Also, be sure to check out this post: Don't be Fat and Pregnant.

Los Angeles Times: Breast or Bottle

The Los Angeles Times investigates the advantages of breastfeeding. Here’s a rather convincing excerpt. Take a look:
The researchers found that breast-fed babies had fewer ear, gastrointestinal tract, and severe lower respiratory tract infections than formula-fed ones and were less prone to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), obesity, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, early-childhood asthma and atopic dermatitis (a skin disorder that causes eczema).


Though the reductions were as large as 72% (for severe lower respiratory tract infections), the report states that none of its findings imply causality.

This inability to prove cause and effect is a problem that plagues virtually all breast-feeding research. The problem is that women who breast-feed, as a whole, are very different from their bottle-feeding counterparts: wealthier, older and more educated, for starters. Although researchers are able to adjust their results for such factors, there's no way to adjust for every difference. Women who breast-feed are probably more health-conscious in numerous ways, which could explain why breast-fed children tend to be healthier.

The evidence is more suggestive in some areas than in others. "It's well proven that breast-feeding is effective at reducing infections in the newborn period, as long as children continue to be breast-fed," said Dr. Lawrence Gartner, past chairman of the AAP's breast-feeding group. The reason is that breast milk contains antibodies and other agents that prevent bacteria, toxins and viruses the baby has swallowed from attaching to the lining of the throat and gut.

He said that the research was "not nearly as good" for the other claims. One reason is that fewer studies have been done; another is that how breast milk might offer protection is less clear.
I think its best to reiterate Dr. Fuhrman’s point from yesterday’s post on peanut allergies. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Allergies are increasing because women do not breast feed long enough...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.
In the end, it’s the mother’s choice.

The Peanut Gallery on Peanut Allergies

“Allergies are increasing because women do not breast feed long enough,” Dr. Fuhrman responded when I asked him to comment on this report claiming peanut allergies in children are on the rise. Andrew Stern of Reuters has more:
Allergies to peanuts and other foods are showing up in children at younger ages for reasons that are not clear, researchers said on Monday, and some urged parents to postpone exposing susceptible children to peanuts.


In a study of 140 children with peanut allergies, the median age of the first allergic reaction was 14 months among those born between 2000 and 2005, compared to 22 to 24 months among allergic children born between 1988 and 1999.

"There's a valid reason to delay introduction to products containing peanuts," said Dr. Todd Green of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Fuhrman couldn’t agree less. “It is not delaying peanut introduction that will solve this problem, it is delaying the unhealthful cessation of breast feeding at too young an age,” Dr. Fuhrman points out. He talks more about it in 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.
What really surprised me is according to Dr. Fuhrman roasting peanuts actually increase their allergen potency. Maybe it’ll make parents think twice before they slather peanut butter and jelly on two slices of white bread and shoo their kids off to school.

Naples: No Smoking Near Pregnant Women

The Italian city of Naples has issued a ban against smoking near pregnant women and children in public parks. More from the AFP:
"We're not going to use a ruler to measure the distance between smokers and women or children," Deputy Mayor Gennaro Nasti told AFP.


"But it will be forbidden to smoke during open-air shows or under covered structures."
Hey, when the Deputy Mayor’s last name is Nasti, you better do what he says!

Cut Allergy Risk through Breastfeeding

New research has determined that breastfeeding during the first three months of life can protect children from developing food allergies. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News is on it:
That's just one of a number of findings on food allergies scheduled to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Dallas.


Research has determined a possible role for food allergy prevention strategies in high-risk children, including maternal food avoidance in pregnancy, breast-feeding, maternal food avoidance while breast-feeding, use of hyper-allergenic formulas, delayed introduction of allergenic foods and probiotics, noted one expert.

"A review of 18 studies demonstrates a significant protective effect of exclusive breast-feeding for at least three months for children with high risk for atopy (genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases) against the development of atopic dermatitis and early childhood asthma-like symptoms," Dr. Robert Wood, international health director for pediatric allergy and immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.
Important yes, but not exactly new news, in Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman insists breastfeeding is an important line of defense for young children. Here’s an excerpt:
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.

Thursday: Health Points

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Pregnancy: Bad Diet, Fat Kid?

Wait, a pregnant mother’s diet might affect their baby’s health—NO—you don’t say? Shari Roan of The Los Angeles Times reports:
Multiple studies have shown that either underfeeding or overfeeding the fetus during pregnancy can affect how a child's body will respond to food over a lifetime, increasing the risk for diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.


Pioneering research in the late 1980s by British physician David Barker showed that babies weighing 6 pounds or less are more likely to have an increased risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. It is the disparity between the prenatal environment and the nutritional environment after birth that appears to cause abnormalities in energy metabolism, endocrine functions and organ development.

Given the modern environment of preschoolers in Western countries -- marked by a lack of exercise, and diets high in calories, fat and sugar -- this disparity creates a problem, Barker and other researchers say.

"The fetus is reading the environment during development and is using that to predict what the environment will be once it's born," says Jerry Heindel, a fetal-programming expert at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. "If the fetus gets poor nutrition, it will set itself up to be able to adjust to that. If it has poor nutrition during life, it will do quite well. But later in life, if nutrition changes and becomes like the food we're eating today, that is a mismatch, and that will increase the susceptibility to disease."
Eating right during pregnancy is a hot-button issue for Dr. Fuhrman. He talks about it in his book Disease-Proof Your Child. Here’s an excerpt:
The time to begin paying attention to a child’s health is long before birth. Even the mother’s diet twelve months before conception can influence the child’s future health. It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun. Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby.
Perhaps even more important are those foods mothers should completely avoid while pregnant. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
  • 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
That’s why this makes me shudder. A couple weeks ago I saw a pregnant mom eating an Egg McMuffin at the gym of all places—very disturbing.

Something Fishy Here...

A couple of weeks ago a report came out urging pregnant women to eat fish—I know, crazy—but anyway, here’s a refresher. From the Reuters report:
Women who want to become pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding should eat at least 12 ounces of fatty fish such as tuna every week to help themselves and their babies, experts will recommend later on Thursday.


Fish including mackerel, sardines, light tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- components of fat known to help brain development. Walnuts, flaxseed oil and leafy green vegetables also contain the compounds.

Women need the nutrients to prevent postpartum depression and babies need them for brain and motor skill development, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition says.

The coalition, which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says "90 percent of women are consuming less than the recommended amount of fish."

But these fish can also carry high levels of mercury, which is a brain and nerve toxin.
So why is it crazy for pregnant women to eat fish? Dr. Fuhrman talks about it in his book Disease-Proof Your Child. This is a solid quote, here's it again:
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.
Now, soon after the report came out I began to read some strange things. Like maybe there was another motive here, or maybe, all this was designed to serve a higher master. So naturally I jumped out of my boots when Dr. Fuhrman sent this over. Marian Burros of The New York Times offers up “Industry Money Fans Debate on Fish.” Here’s a bit:
The coalition based its advice on a finding by the Maternal Nutrition Group, made up of physicians, dietitians and nutritionists. It relied on recent research, including a study in the British medical journal Lancet, showing that the benefits for babies of omega-3 fatty acids and other substances in fish outweighed the risks of mercury. Another study showed that fears about mercury had kept some women from eating any fish.


But in an 1,800-word response to its critics, the coalition acknowledged that a member of the Maternal Nutrition Group, Dr. James McGregor, a visiting professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, had gotten the National Fisheries Institute to provide $1,000 honoraria to each of the group’s 14 members, with an extra $500 each to the group’s four executive committee members.

The National Fisheries Institute also gave the coalition $60,000 for its education campaign. The coalition’s leadership said that the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller “facilitated this group sharing its findings” with the coalition and is working to promote the recommendations.

Burson-Marsteller which represents the fisheries institute, had worked for the U.S. Tuna Foundation before it joined with the institute.
Honestly, it’s not all that shocking. America has a chronic problem with lobbyists, in all facets of society. This controversy reminds me a lot of yesterday’s post Medicine, Man, and Big Pharma.
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Fish: Good for Pregnancy?

I always thought women shouldn’t eat fish when they’re pregnant. Why? Well, remember this little list? From Dr. Fuhrman’s book Disease-Proof Your Child:
  • 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
Did you see it? “Fish!” Right there on the list. Makes me wonder what the heck this report is all about. According to Reuters, a coalition recommends women eat fish while pregnant. Here’s a bit:
Women who want to become pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding should eat at least 12 ounces of fatty fish such as tuna every week to help themselves and their babies, experts will recommend later on Thursday.


Fish including mackerel, sardines, light tuna and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- components of fat known to help brain development. Walnuts, flaxseed oil and leafy green vegetables also contain the compounds.

Women need the nutrients to prevent postpartum depression and babies need them for brain and motor skill development, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition says.

The coalition, which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says "90 percent of women are consuming less than the recommended amount of fish."

But these fish can also carry high levels of mercury, which is a brain and nerve toxin.
Eat tuna! Have they gone loony? Dr. Fuhrman is very mercury-phobic—especially for pregnant mothers! And tuna is hardly a safe fish. More from Disease-Proof Your Child:
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.


Fish with Highest and Lowest Mercury Levels

Highest
  • tilefish
  • swordfish
  • mackerel
  • shark
  • white snapper
  • tuna
Lowest
  • salmon
  • flounder
  • sole
  • tilapia
  • trout
I have one final question. Who writes these reports? Bozo the Clown!
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Coumadin, Vitamin K, and a Plant-Based Diet

From the September 2004 edition of Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times:

I have been asked by multiple individuals to give a complete answer with guidelines for patients on Coumadin (Warfarin is the generic name) who have been told by their health professionals to avoid green vegetables because of the interaction between Coumadin and vitamin K.

This subject is of interest to me because I am a physician and author who advocates a green vegetable-rich diet for both weight loss and disease reversal and longevity. As a proponent of a diet rich in leafy greens, broccoli, and other foods rich in vitamin K, my dietary recommendations often contradict the advice of dietitians, nurses, and doctors who advise their patients taking Coumadin to avoid vitamin K-containing foods.

The reason health professionals recommend that their patients on Coumadin avoid vitamin K containing foods is because Coumadin produces its anticoagulation (blood thinning) effects by interfering with the activation of a vitamin K-dependent enzyme that is needed to build clotting factors.

When you ingest more vitamin K from green vegetables, you can decrease the effectiveness of Coumadin. A higher dose of the drug will then be required to maintain the recommended degree of blood thinning. The term “blood thinning” is a lay term that means a reduction in the natural ability of the body to form a blood clot.

The following definitions are important in order to understand this issue:

Coagulation: refers to the formation of blood clots formed by clotting factors and platelets, a normal body reaction when, for example, you cut yourself. Coumadin (Warfarin) is called an anticoagulant because it works against the formation of blood clots.

Thrombus/Thrombi:
clots formed inside the blood vessels, typically to seal a defect in the vessel wall. These clots, when formed in the blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen, cause heart attacks. Thrombus is singular; thrombi is plural.

Embolus/Emboli:
a traveling clot, usually caused by a thrombus that breaks off and travels to a distal portion of the artery where it is narrower, occluding it, leading to a stroke, pulmonary infarction, or heart attack. A traveling thrombus is an embolus. Embolus is singular; emboli is plural.

In many cases, Coumadin is used as a preventive treatment to reduce the chance of forming emboli that could cause a stroke. Coumadin is most often prescribed for patients with atrial fibrillation, a common irregularity in the heart rate. When you have this irregular heartbeat, the turbulent flow of blood increases the likelihood of the formation of an embolus that can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Coumadin therapy also is used by people who have experienced a serious blood clot.

Serious Side Effects
Since Coumadin is a drug given to prevent clots, the major side effect is bleeding. When you are taking Coumadin, you will not stop bleeding easily if you are cut. If you get in a car accident, you will more likely bleed to death. If you have a stomach ulcer or a broken blood vessel in your digestive tract while taking Coumadin, you can bleed to death.

The main problem with this medication is its very narrow therapeutic range—too much, and you can suffer from a major bleeding episode; too little, and it is ineffective at preventing embolic events. Patients have to be closely monitored with blood tests and their dose adjusted accordingly to make sure they are taking the correct amount.

According to current estimates, 70 percent of patients on Coumadin tend to stop taking the medicine because of frustration with blood tests, dosage changes, and side effects. While Coumadin monitoring is a medical necessity, many times the demands of heavy patient loads can make it very challenging for busy physicians to follow patients as closely as necessary.

Besides the risk of a major bleed, another serious but more infrequent complication of Coumadin therapy is drug-induced limb gangrene and skin necrosis. Other adverse reactions that occur infrequently include white blood cell diseases, hair loss, allergic reactions, diarrhea, dizziness, hepatitis and abnormal liver function, skin rash, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, and itching.

Physicians treat patients with Coumadin primarily to decrease the occurrence of thrombo embolism. They perceive that this risk has a greater clinical impact than the risk of Coumadin induced bleeding. However, only recently has the extent of the risks of bleeding been thoroughly investigated. A recent meta-analysis that pooled data from 33 separate studies examined the bleeding rates of patients who received at least three months of anticoagulation therapy. Major bleeding occurred at a rate of 7.22 per 100 patient-years, and fatal bleeding occurred at the rate of 1.3 per 100 patient-years.1 That means if 10 people were put on Coumadin therapy for ten years each, seven out of the ten would have suffered a bleeding event and one would have died from taking Coumadin.

Only for High-Risk Patients
Before 1990, Coumadin therapy for the prevention of stroke for those who had atrial fibrillation was limited to those who also had additional risk factors, such as rheumatic heart disease and prosthetic heart valves.

In recent years, however, hundreds of thousands of patients with atrial fibrillation, including those without significant accompanying risk factors, have been placed on Coumadin to decrease the risk of embolic stroke. Medical studies have shown that patients with atrial fibrillation, who also have other risk factors for strokes, did have a survival advantage and a reduced risk of strokes when Coumadin was prescribed. The results were considerably better than those in high-risk patients who only used aspirin, but not considerably better in patients who had only atrial fibrillation and no other serious risk factors.

Younger patients with atrial fibrillation and those without cardiac risk factors have not been demonstrated to have lived longer as a result of taking Coumadin. Aspirin does just as well in this low-risk group mainly because strokes are more infrequent.

The American College of Cardiology recommends aspirin, not Coumadin, for those patients with atrial fibrillation who have a relatively low risk for embolic stroke. That includes patients who do not have diabetes, advanced atherosclerosis, poorly controlled blood pressure, an enlarged heart, a recent embolic event, obesity, or who smoke. In other words, it is standard practice that treatment with Coumadin be guided by the risk of thromboembolic events and not be used for those patients at relatively low risk.

Eat more healthfully and stop taking Coumadin. The main problem with the studies that show that patients at risk of stroke benefit from anticoagulation with Coumadin is that they tested mostly high-risk patients on the typical disease-creating American diet, not low-risk patients on a vegetable-heavy, plant-based diet. As one’s diet changes to include more vegetation and less and less animal products and refined foods, one’s cholesterol drops, one’s blood pressure typically decreases, and one’s risk of a heart attack or embolic stroke plummets.

A high-nutrient, plant-based diet already has been demonstrated in medical studies to have a powerful effect at decreasing the risk of embolic stroke as well as heart attacks. In fact, in the Nurses Health Study a mere 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables reduced risk of embolic stroke by 30 percent (and this is still a poor diet by my standards). 2 Another study looking at the consumption of greens, vegetables, and daily fruit consumption found a dramatic decrease in stroke incidence (approaching 50 percent) when they compared high and low fruit and vegetable consumption.3 My dietary recommendations, extremely low in salt and offering the equivalent of more than 10 servings per day of stroke-protecting produce, have been demonstrated to dramatically lower cholesterol and offer a much greater resistance to both strokes and heart attacks than Coumadin therapy. For people following my nutritional advice, the use of Coumadin becomes ill-advised. The use of this dietary intervention quickly drops people from a high-risk to a low-risk status. In most cases, Coumadin is no longer needed.

Most people on Coumadin would be much safer if they ate an ideal diet with lots of vitamin K containing greens; took an aspirin, EPA/DHA fatty acids, and LDL protect daily; and stopped taking the Coumadin. The risk of all causes of death would decrease precipitously. Eating right will not cause you to bleed to death. Instead, it can save your life.

Natural anticoagulants to consider instead of Coumadin are tomato juice, pomegranate juice, fish oil, vitamin E, horse chestnut seed extract, and ginkgo biloba.

Is Coumadin the Only Hope?
For those who absolutely must take Coumadin, because of a recent thrombotic event, the danger of not eating a healthful diet exceeds the risk of increasing the Coumadin dose slightly to accommodate the healthier diet. As long as the amount of greens you eat is consistent, your doctor can adjust your Coumadin dose to accommodate it.

For the patient who must stay on Coumadin, the diet must be consistent from day to day to avoid fluctuations in the effectiveness of the drug. To keep the vitamin K amount constant, it is sensible to eat one large raw salad a day and one serving of dark green vegetables such as asparagus and string beans, but leave out the dark green leafy vegetables, such as steamed kale, collards, and spinach. Adding some of those to a soup is okay, however. The goal is to keep your vitamin K level stable, so the amount of blood thinning does not swing into a danger zone. A dangerous level of blood thinning can occur if the dose of Coumadin is adjusted to a high vitamin K intake and then suddenly the patient does not eat many vitamin K-containing foods for a few days. In other words, the main goal is to eat the same amount of vitamin K-containing foods every day.

In summary, the evidence indicates that both Coumadin and aspirin are effective for prevention of emboli in patients with atrial fibrillation. Coumadin is more effective than aspirin in those very high-risk patients, but is associated with a higher rate of serious bleeding. The advice of the typical healthcare provider to severely limit vitamin K-containing foods does not consider the risk reduction that occurs from the dietary improvements. A diet high in processed foods and animal products, although low in vitamin K, will increase your risk of a heart attack and stroke. Instead, eat even more of those high-vitamin K foods and, if at all possible, get off the Coumadin.
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Don't be Fat and Pregnant

I know, harsh words, but when you’re pregnant you’ve really got live in the best interest of your child; mind you, this is a guy talking, but still. Just take a look at this report. New research claims overweight women are at risk of pregnancy complications. Reuters is on it:
Using data from more than 24,000 UK women who gave birth between 1976 and 2005, researchers found that the risk of problems, such as high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia and premature delivery climbed in tandem with a woman's pre-pregnancy weight.


The findings, published in the online journal BMC Public Health, add to evidence that obesity is a risk for mothers and newborns.

They also support the belief that all pregnancies in obese women should be considered "high risk," and managed accordingly, conclude the study authors, led by Dr. Sohinee Bhattacharya of Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

No Booze for Baby

I figured this was common sense, but maybe it isn’t. Drinking alcohol when you’re pregnant is a bad idea—why? Here’s one reason. New research has determined that drinking while pregnant may alter a child's brain. Krisha McCoy of HealthDay News reports:
Heavy prenatal alcohol exposure does not always lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, noted a team reporting in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. In some cases, it can cause cognitive and behavioral problems without the facial features characteristic of fetal alcohol syndrome.


In their study, researchers at San Diego State University (SDSU) examined 22 children and adolescents (ages 8 to 18 years) -- 13 with and 9 without histories of heavy prenatal alcohol exposure. The participants were part of a larger study at the Center for Behavioral Teratology, SDSU.

The participants who were exposed to heavy alcohol before birth had altered responses in the frontal-striatal areas of the brain.

"We found two regions within the prefrontal cortex where the youth with alcohol-exposure histories had increased brain activation and one area in the subcortex (called the caudate nucleus) where the alcohol-exposed youth had decreased brain activation," study co-author Susanna L. Fryer, a graduate student in the SDSU/University of California, San Diego, joint doctoral program in clinical psychology, said in a prepared statement.
Kind of falls in line with yesterday’s post: Pregnancy: Healthy Eating for Two.

Pregnancy: Healthy Eating for Two

Perhaps there’s no better time for women to start eat healthfully than pregnancy—unless of course you’ve been eating healthy all along. The New York Times investigates how women should eat during this precious time. Jane E. Brody reports:
Foods to Avoid

Many popular foods are potentially dangerous during pregnancy. Pregnant women should refrain from the following:

Raw fish and shellfish, a possible source of the parasite Toxoplasma that can cause fetal blindness and brain damage.

Large predatory fish like swordfish, shark, king mackerel and albacore tuna (fresh or canned), which can contain risky levels of mercury. The Food and Drug Administration says to limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week, but it is acceptable to eat up to 12 ounces a week of chunk light tuna, shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish.

Undercooked or raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a meat thermometer and cook pork and ground beef to 160 degrees; beef, veal and lamb to 145 degrees; whole poultry to 180 degrees; and chicken breasts to 170 degrees.

Unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses — feta, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela, unless the label says “made with pasteurized milk.” They may contain the food-poisoning bacteria Listeria that can cause miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth or fatal newborn illness.

Hot dogs and deli meats, unless cooked until steaming hot. These can become contaminated with Listeria after processing.
I think knowing what foods to avoid is most important. It’s amazing to see pregnant women eating dangerous foods like under-cooked and deli meats—makes you wonder what they’re thinking. This list is very similar to Dr. Fuhrman’s foods to foods to avoid during pregnancy. From Disease-Proof Your Child:

The real concerns are not microwave ovens, cell phones, and hair dryers. The things we know to be really risky for you and your unborn children are:

  • 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

When a pregnant women uses drugs, even aspirin, she and her unborn child can face serious health problems. Also, just because something is natural or purchased in a health food stores does not mean it is safe. Herbal remedies work because of their medicinal properties from naturally occurring toxins; they are not health food. I also advise against dying your hair during pregnancy.

I’d be interested to know. Any readers who’ve had children, which foods were you most adamant about avoiding—call it a little research experiment.

Fish Oil for Preemies

Doctors—recognizing the healthful benefits of Omega-3s—are starting to experiment with fish oil to help protect premature babies against Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), a disease that attacks their eyes. Is it a good idea? The researchers seem to think so. Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press reports:
Premature babies have still forming retinas; blood vessels necessary to nourish them haven't finished growing. ROP forms when something spurs those blood vessels to grow abnormally , too many form, and they leak.


But do omega-3s play a role? Dr. Lois Smith, an opthalmologist at Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues at Harvard and the National Eye Institute first turned to mice to find out.

They harmed the mice retinas in a way that mimics ROP, and then fed them different foods: Half ate the rodent version of a typical Western diet, high in omega-6s and low in omega-3s. Half ate the equivalent of a Japanese diet, with a 2 percent higher omega-3 content.

That simple change cut in half the retinal disease among the omega-3-nibbling mice, Smith reported last month in the journal Nature Medicine.

More intriguing, the omega-3s didn't just block bad blood vessels from forming. They also helped normal, healthy blood vessels grow. They appeared to work by blocking well-known inflammation-causing pathways in the body, while mice fed more of the omega-6s experienced extra inflammation.

Now, Smith is about to begin a study in premature babies at her Boston hospital to see if adding omega-3s to their IV feedings , feedings that today contain omega-6s instead , decreases their risk of eye damage.
I always find it puzzling when experts miss glaring truths. You’d think somewhere in their research they would have dug up SOMETHING warning them about dangers of fish oil, and, that there are much safer sources of Omega-3 fatty acids available, but, I’m no know-it-all. I’ll let Dr. Fuhrman explain, from Fatty Acids and Fish Oil:
Flaxseeds and hempseeds are the foods with the highest concentration of this much-needed fat. Besides omega-3 fats, these seeds also contain very high levels of photochemicals, anti-oxidents and fibers that have been shown to have beneficial effects that inhibit prostate, breast and colon cancer. However, these protective nutrients and cancer-fighting lignans are not present in significant quantity in the oil, only in the whole seed…


… The amount of DHA can vary significantly in various fish. Some salmon (especially farm raised) has very little DHA, for example. More importantly, several studies have indicated that both fish and fish oil supplements are prone to contamination with toxic materials. For example fish and fish oils have been shown to contain large concentrations of dioxins and PCBs because the dumping of toxic waste and raw sewage into our oceans has taken a toll. Lipid peroxide contamination occurring with aging of the oil further complicates the supposed health benefits of fish oil consumption. Fish and fish oils also contains mercury. Data from the Center for Disease Control indicates that one in 12 women of childbearing age in the United States has unsafe mercury levels, and their threshold for safety is high. The major contributor to body mercury load is fish and fish oils, not dental fillings. Multiple studies have illustrated most of the body's mercury load is from the consumption of fish…

…If you avoid fish and instead consume fish oil, you may still have a problem. One problem with fish oils is that much of the fat has already turned rancid. If you have ever cut open a capsule and tasted it, you will find it can taste like gasoline. Many people complain of burping, indigestion and of fish breath. I have also observed that rancidity of this fish fat places a stress on the liver. Patients of mine with abnormal liver function noted on their blood tests when consuming fish oil have had these tests return to normal when the fish oils were stopped.
I don’t know about you, but, I wouldn’t want my child eating something that tastes like gasoline or potentially contains harmful toxins. Although, this shouldn’t underscore the benefits of Omega-3s; Dr. Fuhrman talks about Omega-3s in Disease-Proof Your Child:
For the brain cells to maintain their cell membrane fluidity and to properly recognize chemical messengers they must have the right ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats built into their structure. Too little omega-3 fats and too much saturated fat and trans fat could stiffen the fatty acid membranes and interfere with proper cellular communication. Raw nuts and seeds supply children with unpolluted omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a protective package rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals.

Omega-3s Good for Baby

Earlier in the month we learned that Omega-3s help with blood pressure, and today, Reuters reports Omega-3s boost baby’s brainpower. More from reporter Amy Norton:
Researchers found that 9-month-olds whose mothers had eaten DHA-fortified bars during pregnancy performed better on a test of problem-solving abilities than infants whose mothers had not added DHA to their diets.


DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is one of the major omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, sardines and tuna. Because of the fat's vital role in brain development, experts recommend that pregnant women get 300 milligrams (mg) of DHA each day.
However, research shows that few U.S. women meet this goal.

The new findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that women who do get adequate DHA may aid their infants' cognitive abilities.

Blood Sugar, Birth, and Babies

Dr. Fuhrman makes it pretty clear. A nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet is the key to long-term health. Among other things, you’ll lose weight, prevent disease, and maintain healthy blood sugar. A good thing, because according to this report, high blood sugar is bad news if you’re pregnant. Carla K. Johnson of the Associated Press explains:
The research involved more than 23,000 pregnant women in nine countries. It found a surprisingly strong relationship between the blood sugar levels of the women and the rate of big babies and first-time Caesarean sections, said lead investigator Dr. Boyd Metzger of Northwestern University.


The newborns also were more likely to have low blood sugar levels and high insulin levels if their mothers' blood sugar levels were higher. The problems can lead to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure later in life.

Large babies risk shoulder damage and other injuries if delivered vaginally and lead to more C-sections, which also pose health risks to mothers and babies.

Large babies were defined in the study as those bigger than 90 percent of those born in the local population, so large Thai babies would be smaller than large U.S. babies.

Down on the Farm, Simpsons Style

In the spirit of The Meatrix, here’s how the Simpsons explain cattle farming:

ABC News: Breastfeeding a Good Idea

Hey, we all know Dr. Fuhrman thinks breastfeeding is a smart move. One of it's critical function is supplying babies with important antibodies and nutrients. Dr. Fuhrman explains in 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.
And this video report by ABC News provides even more reasons to breastfeed that baby:


Caffeine and Pregnancy

This country loves caffeine. Coffee, energy drinks, chocolate—you name it, we’ll eat it! Come on, have you been in a diner lately? Half the tables are filled with high school kids slurping down cups of Joe—hook them while they’re young! Now, we all know Dr. Fuhrman thinks caffeine consumption is a bad idea, but kicking it can be a real nightmare. Take coffee for example, from Eat to Live:
The body can heal itself when the obstacles to healing or stressors are removed. The reason people can’t ever make complete recoveries is that they are addicted to their bad habits and unhealthful ways of eating and drinking.


Imagine if you were drinking ten cups of coffee daily. You stopped drinking coffee, you would feel ill; you might get headaches, feel weak, even get the shakes. Fortunately, this would resolve slowly over four to six days, and then you would be well.

So, if your were this heavy coffee drinker, when do you think you would feel the worst? Right after eating, upon waking up in the morning, or when delaying or skipping a meal?

You are correct if you answered either upon first waking up or when delaying or skipping a meal. The body goes through withdrawal, or detoxification, most effectively when it is not busy digesting food. A heavy meal will stop the ill feelings, or you’ll feel better if you take another cup of coffee, but the cycle of feeling ill will start all over gain the minute the caffeine level drops or the glucose level in the blood starts to go down.
Okay, but what about caffeine and pregnancy? Well, it’s a tough topic. In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman explains that drinking coffee isn’t a smart move if you’re pregnant, but, even he admits the research isn’t always clear. Check it out:
Caffeine has been a controversial topic for decades. Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.1 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible. The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.
I like that advice—why bother? But in case you’re an information hound, take a gander at this New York Times investigation. Anahad O’Connor examines the evidence for and against caffeine consumption when you’re pregnant. Look:
One of the more unnerving studies was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. It looked at more than 1,000 pregnant Swedish women and found that those who drank the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent increased risk of miscarriage, while those who had the equivalent of at least five cups had more than double the risk.


But a majority of studies have suggested that any risk might apply only to high levels of caffeine intake. One study carried out by the National Institutes of Health in 1999 looked closely at the blood levels of caffeine in tens of thousands of pregnant women and found that those who consumed the equivalent of more than five cups of coffee a day did have an increased risk, while those who drank one or two cups did not. Other studies have had similar findings.
I don’t know about you, but this just seems like more running around a problem and not really doing anything about it. Now, if there’s even the slightest chance something you eat can hurt you or your child, do you really need to have it? Probably not.

For more on this topic, don't forget about this previous post: Caffeine, Risk, and Babies.
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Fat Babies, Fat Later On

According to Reuters, new research has determined that heavy infants have a higher risk of being obese later in life. Tan Ee Lyn reports:
Obesity has long been associated with a person's lifestyle and dietary habits, but the study shows it might just as well be dependent on "epigenetics" -- factors such as genes, and the eating habits and lifestyle of parents and grandparents, said researchers at the University of Hong Kong.


"You tend to assume it's just your lifestyle, but what people are realising is it's not just what you are doing now, but what people have done in your family in the past," said Mary Schooling, assistant professor at the university's School of Public Health.

New born infants would be considered heavy if they weigh 3.65 kg (8 pounds) and over.

Excess weight and obesity pose major risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and some forms of cancer.
All the more reason to upgrade the eating habits of the whole family.

Asthma: Fish Good During Pregnancy?

Now, this next report gave me pause. Apparently a new study claims consuming fish during pregnancy is a good idea. Juhie Bhatia of HealthDay News reports:
Researchers from the Netherlands and Scotland have found that eating apples throughout pregnancy may protect against wheezing and asthma in 5-year-old children, while fish consumption may lower the risk of eczema, an allergic skin condition. The findings were to be presented Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's International Conference in San Francisco.


"To our knowledge, we are one of the first studies evaluating the influence of maternal consumption of so many different foods and food groups during pregnancy on childhood asthma and allergic disease," said study author Saskia Willers, a doctoral student at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Previous studies in the same group of children, part of the SEATON birth cohort conducted at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, found that maternal intake of vitamins E and D, and zinc during pregnancy may also lower the risk of asthma, wheezing and eczema. For this study, the researchers looked at how eating different foods, rather than individual nutrients, during pregnancy impacted these children.
Okay, eating apples is great, but, according to Dr. Fuhrman consuming fish while pregnant can be risky. From Disease-Proof Your Child:

Clearly, there are a lot of dangerous habits to avoid before pregnancy, and there are also a lot of fears women have that are not found in science or logic.

The real concerns are not microwave ovens, cell phones, and hair dryers. The things we know to be really risky for you and your unborn children are:

  • 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

Obesity, Eating, and Pregnancy

I don’t think you need to be a doctor or nutrition to expert to rightfully assume that a pregnant mother’s health and eating habits can have a direct effect on the child developing inside her. But, don’t take my word for it—I’m just a blogger—here’s what Dr. Fuhrman has to say. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
The time to begin paying attention to a child’s health is long before birth. Even the mother’s diet twelve months before conception can influence the child’s future health. It is important to eat healthfully prior to conception as well as once pregnancy has begun. Proper nutrition and good health habits are more important than ever during pregnancy and can help in maintaining good health for both mother and baby.
So, with that being said, check out this report by Malcolm Ritter of the Associated Press. New research has determined that weight-gain during pregnancy may negatively impact babies once they’re born. Read on:
Women in the study who gained the recommended amount of weight ran four times the risk of having a child who was overweight at age 3, compared to women who gained less than the advised amount.


The outcome was about the same for women who gained more than the advisable amount.

So what's a pregnant woman to do? Clearly, she shouldn't gain more weight than recommended, said the study's lead author, Dr. Emily Oken of Harvard Medical School.

But beyond that, it's too early to say whether women should try to gain less than the standards call for or shoot for the low end of the recommended range, Oken said. At least the latter course is probably safe, she said.
Some other experts urged that pregnant women not try to gain less weight than recommended.

In any case, Oken said, it's too soon to call for a revision of the standard guidelines.
Do you really need to wait for the guidelines to change before you take action in your own life?

Dairy: Ice Cream for Fertility?

Dairy has been crammed down our throats for decades. School lunch trays across America sport that familiar mini-carton of milk and college students basically survive on a diet of grilled cheese and breakfast cereal. And if you don’t eat dairy people act as if something’s wrong with you. Having a lactose intolerance is like being branded with a scarlet letter. But don’t worry. According to Dr. Fuhrman avoiding dairy isn’t exactly a bad idea. From Eat to Live:
Dairy is best kept to a minimum. 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 Considering that cheese and butter are the foods with the highest saturated-fat content and the major source of our dioxin exposure, cheese is a particularly foolish choice for obtaining calcium.
So then, I imagine articles like this only confuse the heck out of people. The Associated Press reports that ice cream might help fertility. I wonder what the magic ingredient is, the chunks of cookie dough or the hot fudge? Marilynn Marchione explains:
Researchers found that women who ate two or more low-fat dairy products a day were nearly twice as likely to have trouble conceiving because of lack of ovulation than women who ate less than one serving of such foods a week.


Conversely, women who ate at least one fatty dairy food a day were 27 percent less likely to have this problem.

Even the researchers say women should not make too much of these results, which are based on reports of what women said they ate over many years - not a rigorous, scientific experiment where specific dietary factors could be studied in isolation.

"The idea is not to go crazy and start to have ice cream three times a day," said the lead author, Dr. Jorge Chavarro, a research fellow at Harvard. "But it is certainly possible to have a healthy diet with low saturated fat intake by having one serving of high-fat dairy a day."
Now when you weigh all the risks of consuming dairy, is it really worth it? I’m sure millions of people read a report like this and use it to justify loading up on Double Chocolate Chip Mint, Oreo Snickers Cookie Surprise, or whatever other concoction they’ve come up with now.

A lot of people eat dairy because they believe it’s essential for getting adequate calcium. Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman. In fact, check out these posts for great sources of veggie calcium:
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Childhood Eating: The Pack Mentality

Have you ever watched the Discovery Channel and seen those nature shows with hungry hyenas frenzying over a fallen gazelle? That’s exactly what this next report reminded me of, except, it involves children and not blood thirsty predators of the Serengeti. Although some of you might be able to relate to that comparison. According to new research when young children are part of a large group they eat more. Eric Nagourney of The New York Times explains:
The researchers, who report their findings online in The Archives of Disease in Childhood, say it has often been observed in animals and adults that consumption goes up as the number eating increases. People will even keep eating past the point when their appetite has been satisfied…


…The tools of the study were simple: hungry children, a snack area and that mainstay of childhood, graham crackers. The researchers looked at how children ate when they were in groups of three or nine. They found that in the larger groups, the children ate 30 percent more.
Here’s what troubled me about this study. The researchers used graham crackers—in other words—junk food. Now, if you’re familiar with Dr. Fuhrman’s concept of toxic hunger, you know that sugary refined flour treats like graham crackers contribute to it. Now before I continue, here’s a refresher on toxic hunger. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
A few hours after eating, feeling weak, headachy, tired, mentally dull, and stomach cramping or discomfort is not true hunger! These symptoms of stomach cramping and fluttering, headaches and fatigue that begin when digestion is completed I call “toxic hunger” because these symptoms only occur in those who have been eating a toxic diet. These are withdrawal symptoms from an unhealthful diet, and this discomfort is mistakenly interpreted as the need to eat more frequently and take in more calories. Continual eating stops the discomfort, just like frequent coffee drinking stops the headaches from caffeine withdrawal.
So this brings me to this question. By feeding participants graham crackers, wouldn’t that by default increase their risk of overeating? After all, graham crackers are nothing more than standard American snack food. It seems to me that it would have made more sense to conduct this study using natural or “real” food. That way you avoid the risk of toxic hunger, which obviously would taint the results.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “What would have been a good food to use?” How about green vegetables? According to Dr. Fuhrman green veggies do a great job of filling you up, provide lots of essential nutrients, and don’t contain a lot of calories. Check out Foods That Make You Thin for more that:
Green vegetables are so incredibly low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat of them, the more weight you will lose. One of my secrets of nutritional excellence and superior healing is the one pound-one pound rule. That is, try to eat at least one pound of raw green vegetables a day and one pound of cooked/steamed or frozen green vegetables a day as well. One pound raw and one pound cooked--keep this goal in mind as you design and eat every meal. This may be too ambitious a goal for some of us to reach, but by working toward it, you will ensure the dietary balance and results you want. The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose. The high volume of greens not only will be your secret to a thin waistline but will simultaneously protect you against life threatening illnesses.
But you know what? I’m sure a lot of people succumb to social influence and kids are probably no different. Take me for example, I come from an Italian family and if you don’t eat—or in most cases overeat—there’s automatically something from with you. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the findings of this study were the same, even if they ditched the graham crackers in favor of something healthier. Although, what do you think about this? If children are raised around good food and people who don’t overeat, might they be able to resist the social feeding frenzy? I’ll leave that one to speculation.

Caffeine, Risk, and Babies

For a long time I was a coffee guy. Three cups a day in fact. Coffee so black I used to stir it with a dipstick. Needless to say, I don’t partake in the java anymore. Why? Well according to Dr. Fuhrman coffee and caffeine can contribute to major health problems, like cardiac arrhythmias and heart disease. There’s more on that in Eat to Live:
Caffeine addicts are at higher risk of cardiac arrhythmias that could precipitate sudden death.1 Coffee raises blood pressure and raises cholesterol and homocysteine, two risk factors for heart disease.2
Also, Dr. Fuhrman insists that caffeine consumption can interfere with your body’s ability to overcome toxic hunger and leave you further out of touch with true hunger. Back to Eat to Live:
Eating more food suppresses caffeine-withdrawals headaches and other withdrawal symptoms. When you are finally finished digesting the meal, the body more effectively cleans house; at this time people experience a drive to eat more to suppress caffeine-withdrawal symptoms. You are prodded to eat again, eating more food than you would if you were not a caffeine addict.
Now, not only does Dr. Fuhrman recommend avoiding caffeine as an adult, but he considers it especially verboten for pregnant mothers. He talks about that in Disease-Proof Your Child:
Caffeine has been a controversial topic for decades. Evidence clearly concludes that heavy coffee drinkers have an increased risk of miscarriage and low birth weight infants, but evidence is not clear for moderate users of caffeine.3 Nevertheless, is wise to stay away from as many potentially harmful substances as possible. The bottom line, if in doubt, don’t do it.
Personally, I agree with him. There are plenty of other things to drink. You don’t HAVE to drink coffee or caffeine. Just because as a culture we associate mornings with caffeine, doesn’t mean you need to follow the rest of lemmings off the cliff. But apparently for some, this isn’t satisfactory.

Dutch researchers claim that reducing caffeine consumption during pregnancy from three cups of coffee a day to one has no effect on the baby’s birth weight. Nicholas Bakalar of The New York Times reports:
The researchers recruited 1,207 pregnant women at 20 weeks’ gestation or less who reported drinking at least three cups of caffeinated coffee a day. About half of the women were randomly assigned to drink caffeinated coffee, while the other half were instructed to drink decaf for the duration of their pregnancies, with no other changes in their usual consumption of tea or caffeinated soft drinks.


After adjusting for prepregnancy weight, smoking status and other variables, the average birth weight of babies in the decaf group was a statistically insignificant one-half ounce higher than that of babies in the coffee-drinking group.
Again, if something as trivial as your beverage preference has even the slightest risk of harming your unborn child, why not put the kibosh on it? Uh duh!

For more on coffee and health, check out these previous posts:
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The Social Status of Breastfeeding

Fortunately for me, I’m a guy. And as a guy, I am ill-equipped to get pregnant. Good thing too, because a pregnant me would be the laziest creature on earth, second only to the giant tree sloths of yore. But, if I ever con a woman into having children with me, I’d hope that she’d breastfeed.

In Disease-Proof Your Child Dr. Fuhrman makes it clear that breast milk is the human fuel that babies need to grow and develop:
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.
And it seems their might be something to the whole idea of “maximizing intelligence.” New research shows that people who were breastfed as children are more likely to move up the social ladder. Robert Preidt of HealthDay News reports:
Researchers at the University of Bristol analyzed data on more than 1,400 people from 16 rural and urban areas in England and Scotland who were born from 1937 to 1939. Among these people, the likelihood of being breast-fed was not dependent on household income, spending on food, birth order, number of siblings, or social class in childhood.


The study found that individuals who were breast-fed as babies were 41 percent more likely to advance up the social ladder than those who'd been bottle-fed. The longer a person was breast-fed, the more likely they were to be upwardly mobile.

No More Candy Ads for Kiddies

Here’s progress for you. Feeling the heat from TV watchdog groups in Europe and the UK, Masterfoods the producer of Mars and Snickers candies will stop targeting ads to children under the age of twelve. More from BBC News:
Masterfoods will stop advertising in magazines and television programmes intended for children under the age of 12 by the end of the year.


Masterfoods, which also makes Twix and Maltesers, already has a policy of not targeting children under six.

The move comes after TV watchdog Ofcom said it would ban junk food advertising during TV shows aimed at under-16s.
Via Blogging Baby.

Health Points: Tuesday

According to the report of the study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, overweight rates increased through adolescence from 7 to 10 percent in the Caucasian girls and from 17 to 24 percent in African American girls. Girls were 1.6 times more likely to become overweight between 9 and 12 years of age than in later adolescence.
She said she’d skip the wine but would take the cheese. Then she grabbed a handful of cheese cubes off the food platter and stuffed them into her mouth. After she swallowed, she looked at me, smiled, and said she wanted to die if she couldn't eat what she wanted. I called the doctor and my patient was treated for a sharp rise in her blood pressure.
The problem was the letter Karlind discovered, tucked inside her report card, saying that she had a body mass index in the 80th percentile. The first grader did not know what “index” or “percentile” meant, or that children scoring in the 5th through 85th percentiles are considered normal, while those scoring higher are at risk of being or already overweight.
My best advice is to keep the food that you want on hand and keep the types you don't out of the house. Start your children with healthy eating habits as soon as possible. Read labels and make informed choices.
The effects of the green-tea drinks go beyond those of caffeine-laden zero-calorie sodas, the manufacturers of Celsius and Enviga say. An antioxidant found in green tea — epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG — significantly increases metabolism, they say, which boosts the body's ability to burn fat.
Soft drink consumption:
  • All Americans: 6.4% of total caloric intake.
  • Teenage boys: 10%
  • Teenage girls: 9%
  • Will an online fitness tracker help people get people exercising? The American Heart Association sure hopes so. More from Jamie Stengle of the Associated Press:
The group hopes its new free Start! program will inspire Americans to follow through on those resolutions to get in shape. With its online fitness and nutrition tracker, participants can enter what they eat each day and how much exercise they get, then get a summary of calories in and calories out.
  • Ever heard of the Swine Flu? Sounds like something you order at a bar. Aetiology enlightens us:
The main swine viruses circulating are of serotypes H1N1, H3N2, and H1N2. (The news report doesn't identify the serotype this person was infected with). Some of these viruses are combinations of human, swine, and avian influenza viruses, and swine have previously been implicated in the generation of pandemic influenza viruses due to their ability to serve as a "mixing vessel" for avian and human-type influenza viruses. And since they're so closely related to humans (well, much more closely related than, say, birds, anyway), there is concern that a swine virus (or an avian virus that becomes adapted to mammals by infecting a pig) could enter the human population and wreak havoc. So, in a nutshell, that's one reason why we're so interested in swine influenza, even though "bird flu" has recently been so dominant in the news. And though this news report shows a fairly simple scenario so far, it raises a lot of unanswered questions.

Fish Oil for Baby's Hand-Eye Coordination

Most news outlets push fish oil on us with greater fervor than a Central Park Rastafarian. But whenever I hear fish oil or just plain fish, I immediately think of mercury, chemicals, and pollution. Not to mention I conduct a mini risk-benefit analysis in my head before eating things like sushi or steamed salmon. Sure fish and fish oil is loaded with omega-3, but the level of contamination in seafood always gives me pause, and is the reason why I space out my fish consumption. From Fishing for the Truth, here’s a small refresher on the potential dangers of contaminated fish:
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.
Dr. Fuhrman takes fish contamination seriously. So seriously, that he actually includes fish in his list of foods mothers should avoid during pregnancy. Take a look. From a previous post entitled Precautions to Take When Pregnant or Nursing:
The real concerns are not microwave ovens, cell phones, and hair dryers. The things we know to be really risky for you and your unborn children are:
  • 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
So with all this being said, a new study that touts the benefits of consuming fish oil during pregnancy is enough to make anyone say, “What the—?” Well it’s true. Steven Reinberg of HealthDay News reports Australian researchers have determined toddlers whose mothers took fish oil supplements during pregnancy developed superior hand-eye coordination. Why? Well those omega-3’s of course:
"Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly referred to as 'fish oil,' are essential nutrients for human health," said Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study…


… It will take more research to clarify the optimal dose of omega-3 fatty acids, and the long-term health effects of supplementation during pregnancy, Katz said. "But we know enough already to conclude that fish oil from supplements is generally a good idea, during pregnancy especially. I routinely advise 1 gram, twice daily, of fish oil to my pregnant patients -- and my non-pregnant patients, too."
I don’t think Dr. Fuhrman would agree with Katz’s fish oil recommendation, especially if that particular brand of supplement ran the risk of containing mercury or some other contaminate. So this begs the question, are we stuck with fish? Or are there other sources of omega-3’s that don’t potentially expose mothers or unborn children to harmful chemicals and compounds? Yes. Check out what Dr. Fuhrman recommends in this post, Dr. Fuhrman's Anti-ADHD Plan:
Flax seeds and walnuts are rich sources of beneficial but hard-to-find short-chain omega-3 fats, plus they are rich in lignans, minerals, and vitamins. Until recently, the primary source of DHA dietary supplements was fish oil. However, new products are available that contain DHA from algae, the fish’s original source. Unlike fish oils, the algae-derived DHA, grown in the laboratory, is free of chemical pollutants and toxins that may be present in some fish oil-based brands.
Now I’m no doctor, in fact I’m just a lowly blogger with a Marketing degree, but if I had to pick, I’d go for the contaminate-free option every time. How about you?
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Asthma: The Bronx Bomber

I’ve never known that many asthmatics, so my familiarity with the condition is minimal. But until I read Disease-Proof Your Child I didn’t realize that asthma is another condition that can be treated with superior nutrition. Like many Americans I thought it was just one of those things you’re born with and can’t really do much about. Not so according to Dr. Fuhrman:
Allergies and asthma are often a reaction to inhaling substances such as pollen, house dust, and cat hair, or the hyperactivity of the airways may be triggered by infections, chemical irritants, exercise, and even emotions. In virtually every case, there is an underlying abnormality—an excessive irritability of the airways that leads to inflammation and narrowing of the airways.


It is always prudent to avoid and remove things that are known to trigger a reaction in a sensitive child, but what is most important, but rarely even considered, is why an individual is so hypersensitive or allergic to begin with. Learning why a person has allergies or asthma makes it possible to take steps to improve and reverse this common chronic condition.
So, why do I bring this up? Well a couple days ago The New York Daily News ran a rather startling article. Apparently the Bronx is a hotbed of childhood asthma attacks, despite the overall decline in the number of kids being hospitalized for asthma citywide. Lisa L. Colangelo has more:
The overall hospitalization rate for the city decreased last year from 6.5 per 1,000 children to 5.4 per 1,000, according to a recent Health Department study. But the Bronx rate was 8.9 per 1,000, and the numbers in three Bronx neighborhoods were higher still…


…Similar high numbers were found in low-income neighborhoods around the city.
Now, I’m no detective, but maybe these low-income neighborhoods have something to do with it. This excerpt from Disease-Proof Your Child might leave you feeling the same way:
The occurrence of asthma and allergies is also related to lifestyle factors and dietary patterns. Genetics play a role, but not the major role. Children’s growing bodies and dividing cells make them more susceptible to damage, but there is an up side, too. Their growing bodies are also more malleable and can make dramatic recoveries from serious diseases such as asthma easier than an adult’s can, when a program of superior nutrition is adopted.


Certainly, living in an urban area around pollution is an important contributor. Non-dietary risk factors include exposure to day care before four months of age, and exposure to wood smoke, oil smoke, or exhaust anytime from birth to age five all increase asthma risk by 50 percent.1 But nutritional influences are also powerfully linked and appear again and again in multiple scientific studies. One important risk for the development of allergies and asthma is lack of breast-feeding and high dietary ration of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids.2 Animal products (except for fish) are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, while flax seeds and walnuts are rich plant sources of omega-3 fats. This same inadequate dietary fatty acid pattern in mother’s diet during pregnancy has also been shown in scientific trial to beget a higher number of allergic and asthmatic children.3
This report reminded me of January's New York Times investigation of diabetes in Manhattan . Check it out and let me know if you see some similarities too.
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Chemicals and Young Children

One of DiseaseProof’s major issues is childhood exposure to hazardous chemicals during and after pregnancy—whether it’s from eating contaminated seafood, pesticides on playgrounds, or anything else—according to Dr. Fuhrman it’s bad. In Disease-Proof Your Child he points to scientific findings that are difficult to ignore:
  • Children whose parents work with pesticides are more likely to suffer leukemia, brain cancer, and other afflictions.
  • Studies show that childhood leukemia is related to increased pesticide use around the house.
  • Nine studies reviewed by the National Cancer Institute showed a correlation between pesticide exposure and brain cancer.
  • Exposure to week killers in childhood increases asthma risk by more than fourfold.
And all this is just from eating produce treated with pesticide! Dr. Fuhrman encourages parents to be wary of other commonly used chemicals as well. More from Disease-Proof Your Child:
We must be careful not to expose our children to chemical cleaners, insecticides, and weed killers on our lawns. Chemicals used in pressure-treated wood used to build lawn furniture, decks, fences, and swing sets have also been shown to place children at risk. When young children are around, we must be vigilant to maintain a chemical-free environment.
So, if you haven’t already realized, this is kind of a big deal. And perhaps an issue that often goes overlooked—except when it hits us in the face, like right now. According to Reuters new research reveals exposure to industrial chemicals in the womb or early in a child’s life can impair brain development. And what’s worse is only a handful of these chemicals are controlled to protect children. Reporter Patricia explains:
"Only a few substances, such as lead and mercury, are controlled with the purpose of protecting children," said Philippe Grandjean of Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts and the University of Southern Denmark.

"The 200 other chemicals that are known to be toxic to the human brain are not regulated to prevent adverse effects on the fetus or a small child," he added.
Come on, you’ve got to be astounded by this. In this day and age where information is everywhere—does no regulatory agency think this is important? Reaney adds that even though millions of children may have been harmed by toxic chemicals, only lead, methylmercury, and polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs) have been adequately studied and regulated. Pretty concerning if you ask me. Makes you wonder if this will ever change.

For a list of things Dr. Fuhrman advises women should avoid during pregnancy, check out this previous post: Precautions to Take When Pregnant or Nursing

Dr. Fuhrman on the Happy Housewives Club

Stay at home moms, working moms, dads—all sorts of parents play an important role in raising kids, especially when it comes to teaching healthy eating. How do I know this? Dr. Fuhrman wrote a book about it, Disease-Proof Your Child. Here’s an excerpt:

Here is the most important: No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children. Don’t argue about what your children should and shouldn’t be eating; discuss this in private. As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not perfect either. For example, if the parents decide that an unhealthy food or a restaurant meal is acceptable for the children once per week, then that goes for the adults, too. Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.

Darla Shine of HappyHousewivesClub.com has taken a real shining to Disease-Proof Your Child, as a result once a week she’ll be broadcasting a podcast with Dr. Fuhrman. So, if you’re a stay-at-home-mom and you want you’re kids to grow up disease-proofed head over to HappyHousewivesClub.com, sign up, and start listening.

Health Points: Friday

A study done by the doctors at Temple University in Philadelphia showed that music played during a colonoscopy procedure made some patients able to relax enough to require less sedation, without sacrificing comfort.
Researchers found that gaining weight during that interval — not during the pregnancy itself — raised the risk of such complications as diabetes and high blood pressure during the second pregnancy, and even stillbirth.
Believe it or not, it’s in her book, Confessions of an Heiress Paris Hilton her blonde girl teen diet advice. A die-hard fan of McDonald’s and Taco Bell, she recommends eating chocolate, fast food, lasagna, and Coca Cola.
The Culinary Institute [of America], which buys directly from about two dozen local farms, is among the many colleges providing healthier choices for their students while throwing a lifeline to farmers getting by on thin margins.
  • Do you know what “learned helplessness” is? Neither did I. Retired Doc discusses its origin and how its affecting doctors in The United Kingdom. Could it become a problem in the United States? Maybe:
Are U.S. physicians far behind in the areas of learned helplessness and diminishing professionalism? To not speak out against the practices and structures of managed care that clearly are detrimental to patient care, and to go along to get along would be about as antithecal to medical professionalism as anything I can think of.
The mumps outbreak at Wheaton College has grown to 37 cases, with three more under investigation, DuPage County health officials said Thursday.
At a press conference yesterday, he said, "If you want to eat fries, nobody's taking away your ability to eat fries. I love McDonald's fries." It's just that restaurants should use fatty oils that just don't have trans fats! We expect McDonald's to be sending a truck of fries to City Hall shortly.
A Craftster competition to produce edible, miniature food inspired a wife-and-husband team to prepare an incredibly tiny fast food meal, complete with miniscule fries and a tiny soft drink -- they also made a miniature tray, cup, and fries-bag.

Breast Cancer Causation Is Multi-Factorial

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease-Proof Your Child:

Worldwide, there is a linear relationship between higher-fat animal products, saturated fat intake, and breast cancer.1 However, there are areas of the world even today where populations eat predominantly unrefined plant foods in childhood and breast cancer is simply unheard of. Rates of breast cancer deaths (in the 50-to-70 age range) range widely from 3.4 per 100,000 in Gambia to 10 per 100,000 in rural China, 20 per 100,000 in India, 90 per 100,000 in the United States, and 120 per 100,000 in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.2

Experimental evidence suggests that the susceptibility of mammary tissue to carcinogens is greatest in the childhood and teenage years. The time during breast growth and development is a particularly sensitive period in a woman’s life, affecting the later development of breast cancer in adulthood. Teenagers who eat more high-fiber, high-antioxidant foods such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts have less occurrence of benign breast disease, the precursor marker of breast cancer.3

Of particular concern is the pattern linking breast cancer to the early age of puberty we are witnessing in modern times. The average age of onset of menstruation in the nineteenth century was seventeen, whereas in the last fifty years in Western industrialized countries, such as the United States, the average age of onset of menstruation is twelve. The over-nutrition and heightened exposure to animal products, oils, and saturated fats4 earlier in life induces a rapid earlier growth and an earlier puberty. Earlier age of puberty increases one’s lifetime exposure to estrogens and is associated with a higher incidence of breast cancer years later.

Cohort studies, which follow two groups of children over time, have shown that the higher consumption of produce and protein-rich plant foods such as beans and nuts is associated with a later menarche, and the higher consumption of protein-rich animal foods—meat and diary—is associated with an earlier menarche and increased occurrence of adult breast cancer.5

Early puberty is strongly associated with breast cancer, and the occurrence of breast cancer is three times higher in women who started puberty before age twelve.6

A recent intelligently devised study investigated all twin sisters in northern Europe and England where on developed breast cancer and the other did not. The researchers found 400 cases of breast cancer in only one twin occurring before the age of fifty. They concluded that childhood growth before puberty (the twin with cancer was most often taller at age ten) and developing breasts before her cancer-free sister was the primary marker of the increased risk.7

Another recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 1,811 sets of twins and reported that for identical twins with cancer, the first twin to reach puberty was five times more likely to develop cancer at an earlier age.8 The link was even stronger when menstruation began before the age of twelve. Jo Ann Mason, M.D., of Harvard’s Brigham and Woman’s Hospital said the implications of the study are worrisome given the gradual decline in the age of puberty in the United States and the rise in childhood obesity.

Physicians are seeing more and more girls with precocious sexual development, even before today’s average age of twelve, and medical studies confirm that the trend is real and getting worse. How early are our children developing today? At age eight, almost half black girls and 15 percent of white girls start developing breasts or pubic hair. At age nine, those numbers change to 77 percent of black girls and a third of white girls.9

The critical questions, which our nation generally ignores, are how harmful is this and what can be done about it? Obviously, this anomaly in human history where girls mature so young is threatening. We will undoubtedly see breast cancer occurrence continue to climb as today’s children reach adulthood. Cancer occurrence has been shown to occur many years after dysplastic changes occur to the breast, and these changes are often viable in teenagers.

It is of particular importance to note the most significant age range where dietary intake most critically affects the age of puberty. A 1999 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology followed children since birth and reported that the girls who consumed more animal products and fewer vegetables between ages one and eight were prone to early maturation and puberty, but the strongest predictor was a diet rich in animal protein before age five.10
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Secret Chemicals in Our Food

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof Your Child:

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science released a public report in June 2003, warning the public about the cancer risk from consuming food containing dioxin and other polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs). The Institute of Medicine advises the federal government on medical matters and appoints experts to research and produce reports. The report concluded with the statement:

The most direct way for an individual or a population to reduce dietary intake of dioxins is to reduce their consumption of dietary fat, especially from animal sources that are known to contain higher levels of these compounds.

This report from the National Academy of Science came out only one day after the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the amount of dioxin released into the environment by industry increased to 328 pounds in 2001, up from 220 pounds the year earlier. The EPA added that 6.16 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment in 2001.

The EPA explained that these compounds persist in the environment and build up in the bodies of farm animals that eat contaminated feed or grass. While many of these toxic chemical compounds are resistant to degradation in the natural environment, they dissolve readily in oil and thus accumulate in the fatty tissues of fish, birds, and mammals. Humans are exposed predominately by eating contaminated animal products. Every time an animal is exposed to a tiny bit of these toxic chemicals, it remains in the animal's body for life, only released when the animal is eaten by humans, through fatty animal products such as meat, cheese, and full-fat milk.1 Animal products tested to be exceptionally high in these harmful compounds are catfish, lobster, mollusks, cheese, butter, and ice cream.2

Unborn children and breast feeding infants are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of these chemicals. These chemicals are linked to a broad range of diseases, including behavioral disorders, thyroid dysfunction, endometriosis, and cancer.3 Since these chemicals are stored in the fatty tissues of animals and in our fat stores too (because we are animals as well), a woman has to begin eating more carefully before she gets pregnant to prevent harmful exposure to the developing fetus.

The health of children is not merely the result of what they have been fed as youngsters, but is strongly influenced by a mother's diet and what she consumed and stored in her fat-supply years before her child is conceived. The National Academy of Science gave a clear public warning against eating a diet rich in animal fats, especially fatty fish and shellfish. Again, a plant-based diet containing healthy fat from avocados, raw nuts, and seeds, with much less or no animal fats, is revealed as a powerful weapon to beat the modern cancer epidemic.

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Research: Dairy Consumption and Multiple Births

The New York Times reports mothers who regularly consume dairy are fives times more like to have fraternal twins than those who do not. Experts point to hormones given to diary cows as explanation. Nicholas Bakalar reports:

Dr. Gary Steinman, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, reached that conclusion by looking at the medical records of 1,042 mothers who were vegans consuming no dairy products and comparing them with those of mothers who regularly ate dairy products.


His findings appear in the May issue of The Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Eating dairy products increases blood levels of insulinlike growth hormone, or I.G.F., and it is this increased hormone level that is associated with increased rates of multiple ovulation.

In a study published in 2000 and cited in the findings, vegan women had concentrations of I.G.F. that were 13 percent lower than those in women who regularly consumed dairy products...

The article also discusses the potential role of synthetic hormones given to cows:

Many dairy farmers inject their cattle with recombinant bovine somatotropin, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone. This increases size and milk production, but it has another effect: cows with higher growth hormone levels produce more twins.

Precautions to Take When Pregnant or Nursing

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Disease Proof Your Child:

The developing baby inside you is sensitive to the effects of toxins more so than at any other time in its life. It is never too early to start protecting yourself and your unborn child.

Clearly, there are a lot of dangerous habits to avoid before pregnancy, and there are also a lot of fears women have that are not found in science or logic.

The real concerns are not microwave ovens, cell phones, and hair dryers. The things we know to be really risky for you and your unborn children are:

  • 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

When a pregnant women uses drugs, even aspirin, she and her unborn child can face serious health problems. Also, just because something is natural or purchased in a health food stores does not mean it is safe. Herbal remedies work because of their medicinal properties from naturally occurring toxins; they are not health food. I also advise against dying your hair during pregnancy.

Fishing for the Truth

Michael Hawthorne and Sam Roe of the Chicago Tribune report that the United States safety net for safeguarding consumers against the increased mercury levels in fish is in tatters. In the article the reporters detail the fate of one particular piece of fish:

Shipped from Singapore, the swordfish entered the U.S. this year without being tested for the toxic metal mercury.

When a fillet from that fish reached a display case at a supermarket in suburban Des Plaines, it carried no government warning labels, even though federal officials know swordfish often is so contaminated that young children and pregnant women should never eat it.

The Chicago Tribune actually bought and tested a portion of this fish, which produced alarming results:

When the Tribune bought and tested this particular piece of fish, the results showed not just high amounts of mercury, but levels three times the legal limit.

Hawthorne and Roe point out the dangers lurking in the fish and in the actions of U.S. health officials:

Even though mercury can cause learning disabilities in children and neurological problems in adults, regulators do not even bother to routinely check fish for metal. This leaves consumers with little idea about which fish are most hazardous.

In some cases, regulators have ignored the advice of their own scientists who concluded that mercury was far more dangerous than what consumers were being told.

In other instances, regulators have made decisions that benefited the fishing industry at the expense of public health.

In his book Eat to Live Dr. Fuhrman explains that consumption of fish creates a parodox:

Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that interfere with blood clotting much the same way aspirin does. Once you have significant atherosclerosis, it is helpful to take such anti-clotting agents, especially if you continue a dangerous diet. These fish derived-fats also have some effect on protecting the arterial walls from damage from other fats.

However, the best way to prevent a heart attack or stroke is to follow a high-nutrient diet with little or no animal products, thereby ensuring that such blockages don't develop in the first place. Then eating fish won't matter. In fact, the reason fish-derived fats, EPA and DHA, are not considered essential fats is that almost all people have enzymes to convert the plant-derived omega-3 fat rapidly into EPA and DHA.1

Fish is a double-edged sword, especially because fish has been shown to increase heart attack risk if polluted with mercury.2 It seems that the cardioprotective effects of eating a little fish is lost when you eat lots of fish, most likely because lots of fish exposes you to high mercury levels, which can promote lipid peroxidation.3 Lipid peroxidation plays a major role in the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

Dr. Fuhrman provides important information to consider when deciding whether or not to consume fish:

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.4 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.5 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.

Fish with Highest and Lowest Mercury Levels

Highest
  • tilefish
  • swordfish
  • mackerel
  • shark
  • white snapper
  • tuna

Lowest
  • salmon
  • flounder
  • sole
  • tilapia
  • trout

Source: Mercury levels in seafood species. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Office of Seafood, May 2001.

The bottom line: Choose fish over other animal products, but be aware that the place where it was caught, and the type of fish, matters. Don't accept recreational fish from questionable waters. Farmed fish is safer. Never eat high-mercury-content fish. Don't eat fish more than twice a week, and if you have a family history of hemorrhagic stroke, limit it further to only once a month.

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The Plastic Predator: BPA

In work published in Endocrinology University of Cincinnati researchers have found that a chemical widely used in food cans, milk container linings, water pipes, and even dental sealants could disrupt important effects of estrogen in the developing brain.

In a press release, researcher Scott Belcher, PhD, says Bisphenol A (BPA) interferes with the vital role of estrogen in female and male brain development even at low doses.

"We have now shown that environmental estrogens like BPA appear to alter, in a very complicated fashion, the normal way estrogen communicates with immature nerve cells," Dr. Belcher explained. "The developmental effects that we studied are known to be important for brain development and also for normal function of the adult brain," he said...

In the face of more than 100 studies published in peer-reviewed journals showing the detrimental effects of BPA, Dr. Belcher said, the chemical industry and federal regulatory agencies have resisted banning BPA from plastics used as food and beverage containers, despite the fact that plastics free of BPA and other toxic chemicals are available.


In the discussion forum of his member center, Dr. Fuhrman discussed plastics with members in 2004. One presented research that #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), used for "cloudy" milk and water jugs and opaque food bottles, may be one of the safer ones. Dr. Fuhrman responded that he wasn't convinced, based on two primary factors. First of all, he wrote, water from those jugs "tastes like plastic, so it can't be good." Dr. Fuhrman also cited this study as a sample of research showing leeching from plastic into food.

The blog Mindfully has examined plastic and food extensively. I was hoping to find some handy advice to pass along about how to recognize safer kinds of plastics, but instead found only that they conclude plastic should never touch food. I can't vouch for their conclusions, but it's something to consider.

Any plastic experts out there who can shed some more light on this for us? I bet a lot of us would like to know some steps we can take to try to reduce our exposure to these kinds of toxins. Please comment away.

(Thanks to Medical Informatics for the heads up on this story.)

Study: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Prevent Cancer in Mice

The New Scientist has word of a study suggesting mothers can reduce their daughters likelihood of developing breast cancer by getting lots of omega-3s during pregnancy and breast-feeding:

Elaine Hardman at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana looked at the effects of mothers' diets on mice predisposed to develop breast cancer. Female mice whose mothers ate a diet rich in omega-6 fatty acids and which ate the same diet themselves after weaning all developed tumours by six months. The diets of most people in western countries are much richer in omega-6 oils than omega-3s.

In mice whose mothers ate a diet richer in omega-3s, or mice fed this diet only after weaning, tumour rates fell to 60 per cent. In female mice fed the omega-3-rich diet and whose mothers ate it as well, the rate fell to just 13 per cent, Hardman told a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research this week.

Healthy Diet. Healthy Pregnancy. Healthy Children.

The following story was written by Lori M. who lives in Statesville, North Carolina.

Dr. Fuhrman immediately struck me as being very knowledgeable, very committed to his work, and amazingly informed about how nutrition affects each part of the body and its specific function. My husband and I both converted to Dr. Fuhrman's plant-based approach to eating, enjoying a tremendous increase in energy levels, lower cholesterol, loss of excess weight, and we were able to conceive our first child. I enjoyed two complication-free pregnancies, no small detail, giving birth to our son at age 39 and our daughter at 44. While pregnant, Dr. Fuhrman helped tremendously with bouts of nausea, but there were no other complications.

I believe that our nutrition choices -- pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and as we introduced foods to our children -- have changed their lives forever. Because our children have always eaten a plant-based diet, they enjoy all types of fruits and vegetables and meal time is a pleasant experience. Neither has ever needed antibiotics -- no ear infections, allergies, asthma or persistent childhood illnesses. They do get the occasional cold, but quickly recover. My son is now a very energetic six-year old, but very well-behaved and not hyperactive. He has an excellent attention span for his age and excels as a home-schooled student.

I am so thankful that Dr. Fuhrman offers the option for telephone consultation, since it is very difficult to find classically-trained medical doctors who understand and advocate the nutrition component of disease prevention and natural living, without the use of medications.