Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Press release]Herbs and spices enhance heart health as well as flavor

Herbs and spices enhance heart health as well as flavor.

English: cinnamon bark Cinnamomum verum. Franç...

English: cinnamon bark Cinnamomum verum. Français : Canelle Cinnamomum verum. Ελληνικά: Κανέλα, μπαχαρικό (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Excerpt

Spices and herbs are rich in antioxidants, which may help improve triglyceride concentrations and other blood lipids, according to Penn State nutritionists.

Triglyceride levels rise after eating a high-fat meal — which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. If a high-antioxidant spice blend is incorporated into the meal, triglyceride levels may be reduced by as much as 30 percent when compared to eating an identical meal without the spice blend. The spiced meal included garlic powder, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, turmeric, ginger and black pepper.

Sheila G. West, professor of biobehavioral health and nutritional sciences, and Ann C. Skulas-Ray, research associate in nutritional sciences, reviewed a variety of research papers that focused on the effects that spices and herbs have on cardiovascular disease risk. They published their findings in a supplement to the current issue of the journal Nutrition Today, based on papers presented at the McCormick Science Institute Summit held in May 2014.

“The metabolic effects of spices and herbs and their efficacy and safety relative to traditional drug therapy represent an exciting area for future research given the public health significance of cardiovascular disease,” the researchers wrote.

West and Skulas-Ray looked at three categories of studies — spice blends, cinnamon and garlic.

“We live in a world where people consume too many calories every day,” said West. “Adding high-antioxidant spices might be a way to reduce calories without sacrificing taste.”

West and Skulas-Ray reviewed several cinnamon studies that looked at the effect of the spice on both diabetics and non-diabetics. Cinnamon was shown to help diabetics by significantly reducing cholesterol and other blood lipids in the study participants. However, cinnamon did not appear to have any effect on non-diabetics.

The garlic studies reviewed were inconclusive, but this is likely because the trials had a wide range of garlic doses, from nine milligrams of garlic oil to 10 grams of raw garlic. The reviewers noted that across the studies there was an eight percent decrease in total cholesterol with garlic consumption, which was associated with a 38 percent decrease in risk of heart problems in 50-year-old adults.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] High milk intake linked with higher fractures and mortality, research suggests — ScienceDaily

High milk intake linked with higher fractures and mortality, research suggests — ScienceDaily.
A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait

Excerpts from the 28 October 2014 article

Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
A high milk intake in women and men is not accompanied by a lower risk of fracture and instead may be associated with a higher rate of death, suggests observational research. Women who drank more than three glasses of milk a day had a higher risk of death than women who drank less than one glass of milk a day.
“there may be a link between the lactose and galactose content of milk and risk, although causality needs be tested.

“Our results may question the validity of recommendations to consume high amounts of milk to prevent fragility fractures,” they write. “The results should, however, be interpreted cautiously given the observational design of our study. The findings merit independent replication before they can be used for dietary recommendations.”

Michaëlsson and colleagues raise a fascinating possibility about the potential harms of milk, says Professor Mary Schooling at City University of New York in an accompanying editorial. However, she stresses that diet is difficult to assess precisely and she reinforces the message that these findings should be interpreted cautiously.

“As milk consumption may rise globally with economic development and increasing consumption of animal source foods, the role of milk and mortality needs to be established definitively now,” she concludes.”

A glass of milk Français : Un verre de lait (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Vitamin supplements may lower exercise endurance (but the jury seem to be out)

Vitamin supplements may lower exercise endurance |BBC Health

Excerpts:

Taking some types of vitamin supplement may make it harder to train for big endurance events like marathons, researchers in Norway suggest.

They said vitamins C and E should be used with caution as they may “blunt” the way muscles respond to exercise.

However, actual athletic performance was not affected in the 11-week trial leading other experts to questions the research.

The findings were published in The Journal of Physiology.

The team at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo argued vitamin supplements were readily taken and available, but were unsure if they affected athletic ability.

Endurance runs

There was no difference in their performance during a Beep test – running faster and faster between two points 20m apart.

However, blood samples and tissue biopsies suggested there were differences developing inside the muscle.

Each muscle cell contains lots of tiny mitochondria which give the muscle cell its energy.

Those taking the supplements seemed to be producing fewer extra mitochondria to cope with the increasing demands placed on the muscle.

Hmmm

However, Mike Gleeson, a professor of exercise biochemistry at Loughborough University, is not convinced.

He said the biggest factor in performance was how fast the heart and lungs could get oxygen to the muscle, not mitochondria.

 

November 3, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Why FoodScapes

English: Map from the Global Hunger Index publ...

English: Map from the Global Hunger Index published by IFPRI, Welthungerhilfe and Concern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why FoodScapes | FoodScapes.

From the 8 October post

Global food trade has come a long way. Is it for the better or has it made survival, nutrition, diversity and safety better.  There is a vast, complicated web of food systems throughout the globe. I think it is an essential topic that influences public health or vice versa. Consumers have a variety of fruits and vegetables at their fingertips due to even more complex trade agreements.  We have become dependent on import/export of foods, that many of us have completely lost touch or are growing up not knowing where our foods come from and how it came to be in its form. It is what we eat.  Be advised that a good portion of what I do write about (rusty) will pinpoint New Mexico.  However, much of what I write is based on a perspective of think local, act global and I feel that foodshed research is essential to that kind of thinking.  Below are some examples.

High Food Price Index Coincides with Civil Unrest: Surely people fight over this stuff as it posits a large portion of a nation’s wealth.  There are numerous studies done by economists and Food and Agriculture Organization that negatively correlate a global hunger index and food price index and incidences of civil unrest.  According to a Cornell University study, an analysis of Arab nation uprisings coincided with food index price increases.  They did also acknowledge and control for other social justice and political issues, but it would be difficult to ignore the relationship between food and other issues in a country.

This could be for a number of reasons, and I believe that this has to do with balancing expenses and food being the highest expense. It is one of my biggest monthly expenses and has been getting much harder to budget into the household income.  And I cook often and find myself scratching my head wondering why $20 doesn’t go as far as it used to, but at least that is all I do and that is a privilege-not the case across the globe.   This reached a high in 2010 and the anger was very apparent in Egypt.

food commodity price index                 foodpriceindex72014

Food shed and Local Economies: There is a significant economic impact that the food industry has on local markets, such as small rural communities that can make or break job opportunities and small business entrepreneurships.  In New Mexico 90% of agricultural products directly or indirectly related to the food industry are exported as reported in Dreaming New Mexico.  The same goes for imported food.  However, much of the imported food is not the same shape as when it was imported and has been transformed into a food product.

………

October 16, 2014 Posted by | environmental health, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Seven Nation Army (update on the link between heart disease and food)

Excerpts from the 11 May 2014 item at The Paleo Pocket

Investigative author Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet, has been investigating dietary fat and disease for nearly a decade. She has traced the history of the academic dietary establishment’s idea that you should reduce fat in your food – the idea that has lead to a replacement of fat with carbohydrates, turning us from fat burners to sugar burners. Her story has been published in many places, among them theWall Street Journal, where it quickly went to the top of the Popular Now list:

The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

1961 was the year of the first recommendation from the nutrition committee on the American Heart Association that people should eat less fat, in particular saturated fat, in order to reduce heart disease. This came from a Dr. Ancel Keyes, who built his career on this theory. He was a highly persuasive man who obtained a seat on the committee. America was struggling with rising heart disease at the time and people wanted answers.

Where was his proof? He had done a “Seven Countries” study that was considered the most thorough study on the link between heart disease and food. For this study he picked countries that were likely to support his theory, such as Yugoslavia, Finland and Italy. He ignored France, Switzerland, West Germany and Sweden, countries with high-fat diets and low rates of heart disease.

And so today people suffer from the effects of replacing fat with carbohydrates turning to blood sugar. Nina Teicholz:

One consequence is that in cutting back on fats, we are now eating a lot more carbohydrates—at least 25% more since the early 1970s. Consumption of saturated fat, meanwhile, has dropped by 11%, according to the best available government data. Translation: Instead of meat, eggs and cheese, we’re eating more pasta, grains, fruit and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. Even seemingly healthy low-fat foods, such as yogurt, are stealth carb-delivery systems, since removing the fat often requires the addition of fillers to make up for lost texture—and these are usually carbohydrate-based.

The problem is that carbohydrates break down into glucose, which causes the body to release insulin—a hormone that is fantastically efficient at storing fat. Meanwhile, fructose, the main sugar in fruit, causes the liver to generate triglycerides and other lipids in the blood that are altogether bad news. Excessive carbohydrates lead not only to obesity but also, over time, to Type 2 diabetes and, very likely, heart disease.

The real surprise is that, according to the best science to date, people put themselves at higher risk for these conditions no matter what kind of carbohydrates they eat. Yes, even unrefined carbs. Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon, followed by fish. The reality is that fat doesn’t make you fat or diabetic. Scientific investigations going back to the 1950s suggest that actually, carbs do.

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May 12, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Edible flowers may inhibit chronic diseases — ScienceDaily

 

Salad with candied walnuts, persimmon slice, c...

Salad with candied walnuts, persimmon slice, cheese (feta?), dried cranberries and pansies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edible flowers may inhibit chronic diseases — ScienceDaily.

From the April news article

Common edible flowers in China are rich in phenolics and have excellent antioxidant capacity, research has shown. Edible flowers, which have been used in the culinary arts in China for centuries, are receiving renewed interest. Flowers can be used as an essential ingredient in a recipe, provide seasoning to a dish, or simply be used as a garnish. Some of these flowers contain phenolics that have been correlated with anti-inflammatory activity and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

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May 2, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Report] Chocolate Milk Consequences: A Pilot Study Evaluating the Consequences of Banning Chocolate Milk in School Cafeterias

Janice Flahiff:

Another reason to seriously look at all angles of a potential policy change before considering implementing!

 

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Originally posted on Full Text Reports...:

Chocolate Milk Consequences: A Pilot Study Evaluating the Consequences of Banning Chocolate Milk in School Cafeterias
Source: PLoS ONE

Objectives
Currently, 68.3% of the milk available in schools is flavored, with chocolate being the most popular (61.6% of all milk). If chocolate milk is removed from a school cafeteria, what will happen to overall milk selection and consumption?

Methods
In a before-after study in 11 Oregon elementary schools, flavored milk–which will be referred to as chocolate milk–was banned from the cafeteria. Milk sales, school enrollment, and data for daily participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) were compared year to date.

Results
Total daily milk sales declined by 9.9% (p<0.01). Although white milk increased by 161.2 cartons per day (p<0.001), 29.4% of this milk was thrown away. Eliminating chocolate milk was also associated with 6.8% fewer students eating school lunches, and although other factors were also involved, this is…

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May 2, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Harsh socio-economic conditions affect the genetic health of children

Originally posted on Patrick Mackie:

Environmental health practitioners, particularly those who studied and qualified in the last twenty years, will be very familiar with Margaret Whitehead and Göran Dahlgren’s model of the social determinants of health, shown below in the well-known model from their 1991 publication.

Social determinants of health - Dahlgren and Whitehead 1991

Environmental health as a profession works at the interfaces between, generally, people’s living and working conditions and their health and wellbeing. But these are only one set of environmental factors that affect health in terms of morbidity and mortality, and there are other governmental and social actors that can work together to intervene and change the outcomes for real people in the real world. That’s why the new public health arrangements in England are game-changing for the profession and for the health of the public generally, and that’s why finding an evidence-base to target suitable and effective interventions that will really make a difference for people is so important.

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April 29, 2014 Posted by | environmental health, Nutrition, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Eat less protein in middle age, more when over 65, experts suggest

Originally posted on Public Health View:

Low protein consumption in middle age and moderate to high consumption in older adults works best for health and longevity, researchers said in a new study. Adverse effects of proteins were mostly due to animal proteins rather than plant-based proteins, they added.

Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The study, which included over 6,000 participants aged 50 and above, found that those aged 50-65 reporting high-protein diets had a 75% higher risk of death and 4 times the risk of cancer death than those who did not. Conversely, it found that this risk turned into a protective effect for those who were 65 and older. These older individuals had a lower risk of death overall and death from cancer if they consumed more proteins.

Both adult groups, however, were 5 times more at risk of death from diabetes if their lifestyle included a high-protein diet.

Also, when animal-based…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | | Leave a comment

Sugar, not fat, is real heart disease killer: We got it wrong on diet advice, claims expert

Originally posted on wchildblog:

  • Low-fat diets do not curb heart disease or help you live longer, scientist says
  • James DiNicolantonio says the real enemy is sugar and carbohydrates
  • Cardiovascular research scientist says demonising saturated fat has put public health at risk
  • Sweden’s dietary guidelines favour low-carb, high-fat nutrition advice

By Gerri Peev, 5 March 2014, MailOnline

Low-fat diets do not curb heart disease or help you live longer – the real enemy is sugar and carbohydrates, according to a leading scientist.

Current dietary advice is based on flawed evidence from the 1950s that has demonised saturated fat and put public health at risk, he said.

James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist in New York, said: ‘We need a public health campaign as strong as the one we had in the 70s and 80s demonising saturated fats, to say that we got it wrong.’

Writing in the journal Open Heart, he added: ‘There is no…

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

The Mediterranean Diet and Diabetes Prevention?

Janice Flahiff:

Does the Mediterranean Diet reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2?
A new study published in theAnnals of Internal Medicinesuggests that it might. The Mediterranean Diet has been extensively studied for its health benefits which include reducing heart disease, cancer, dementia,  hypertension and stroke risks.

Researchers studied 3,541 men and women without diabetes who ranged in age from 55 – 80 years old.  They were however, at a high risk for heart disease.  All participants were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet with 50 ml of extra – virgin olive oil (EVOO), a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams of mixed nuts, or a low-fat diet each day. Those consuming the Mediterranean diets were counseled by dietitians.  All participants were not told to reduce their calories or to increase exercise.

After 4 years of follow-up, it was determined that 273 of the patients had developed diabetes type 2.  Of these, 101 were  from the low-fat group; 80 were from the Mediterranean diet with extra EVOO and 92 were from the Mediterranean diet with extra nuts.  There were only slight changes in body weight, waist circumference, and physical activity between the groups.

The authors concluded: Following a Mediterranean diet is “palatable and sustainable”, therefore it could have public health implications for the prevention of diabetes.

There is no one particular Mediterranean diet, but can include diets that emphasize increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, beans and fish while decreasing consumption of red meats, processed meats, butter and sweets.  A previous post of mine graphically shows how to eat a more Mediterranean-type diet.  Enjoy!!

 

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Originally posted on FOOD, FACTS and FADS:

Large olive tree - Portugal

Large olive tree – Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does the Mediterranean Diet reduce the risk of developing diabetes type 2?
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that it might. The Mediterranean Diet has been extensively studied for its health benefits which include reducing heart disease, cancer, dementia,  hypertension and stroke risks.

Researchers studied 3,541 men and women without diabetes who ranged in age from 55 – 80 years old.  They were however, at a high risk for heart disease.  All participants were assigned to either a Mediterranean diet with 50 ml of extra – virgin olive oil (EVOO), a Mediterranean diet with 30 grams of mixed nuts, or a low-fat diet each day. Those consuming the Mediterranean diets were counseled by dietitians.  All participants were not told to reduce their calories or to increase exercise.

After 4 years of follow-up, it was determined that 273…

View original 122 more words

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

BBC – Future – Body bacteria: Can your gut bugs make you smarter?

BBC – Future – Body bacteria: Can your gut bugs make you smarter?.

Excerpts from the 21 February 2014 article

The bacteria in our guts can influence the working of the mind, says Frank Swain. So could they be upgraded to enhance brainpower?

I have some startling news: you are not human. At least, by some counts. While you are indeed made up of billions of human cells working in remarkable concert, these are easily outnumbered by the bacterial cells that live on and in you – your microbiome. There are ten of them for every one of your own cells, and they add an extra two kilograms (4.4lbs) to your body.

Far from being freeloading passengers, many of these microbes actively help digest food and prevent infection. And now evidence is emerging that these tiny organisms may also have a profound impact on the brain too. They are a living augmentation of your body – and like any enhancement, this means they could, in principle, be upgraded. So, could you hack your microbiome to make yourself healthier, happier, and smarter too?

..

“Diet is perhaps the biggest factor in shaping the composition of the microbiome,” he says. A study by University College Cork researcherspublished in Nature in 2012 followed 200 elderly people over the course of two years, as they transitioned into different environments such as nursing homes. The researchers found that their subjects’ health – frailty, cognition, and immune system – all correlated with their microbiome. From bacterial population alone, researchers could tell if a patient was a long-stay patient in a nursing home, or short-stay, or living in the general community. These changes were a direct reflection of their diet in these different environments. “A diverse diet gives you a diverse microbiome that gives you a better health outcome,” says Cryan.

Beyond a healthy and varied diet, though, it still remains to be discovered whether certain food combinations could alter the microbiome to produce a cognitive boost. In fact, Cryan recommends that claims from probiotic supplements of brain-boosting ought to be taken with a pinch of salt for now. “Unless the studies have been done, one can assume they’re not going to have any effect on mental health,” he says. Still, he’s optimistic about the future. “The field right now is evolving very strongly and quickly. There’s a lot of important research to be done. It’s still early days.”

 

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March 13, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition, Psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Majority of Americans have their heart health facts wrong

From the 6 February 2014 ScienceDaily article

Summary:
Despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., about three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans do not fear dying from it, according to a recent survey.

Despite the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., about three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans do not fear dying from it, according to a recent survey from Cleveland Clinic.

Conducted as part of its “Love Your Heart” consumer education campaign in celebration of Heart Month, the survey found that Americans are largely misinformed about heart disease prevention and symptoms, and almost a third (32 percent) of them are not taking any proactive steps to prevent it. Even among those Americans with a family history of the disease (39 percent), who are at a significantly higher risk, 26 percent do not take any preventative steps to protect their heart health, according to the survey.

Perhaps even more concerning is that the majority (70 percent) of Americans are unaware of all the symptoms of heart disease, even though two out of three (64 percent) have or know someone who has the disease. Only 30 percent of Americans correctly identified unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances and jaw pain as all being signs of heart disease — just a few of the symptoms that can manifest.

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 4.43.42 AM

Related Slide show at the Cleveland Clinic Web site
http://my.clevelandclinic.org/default.aspx

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in this country, so it’s disappointing to see that so many Americans are unaware of the severity of not taking action to prevent heart disease, or how exactly to do so,” said Steven Nissen, M.D., Chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “This is a disease that can largely be prevented and managed, but you have to be educated about how to do so and then incorporate prevention into your lifestyle.”

Many Americans believe the myth that fish oil can prevent heart disease.

Vitamins are viewed — mistakenly — as a key to heart disease prevention.

There is a lack of awareness about secret sodium sources.

Americans believe there is a heart disease gene.

 …

There is no single way to prevent heart disease, given that every person is different,” Dr. Nissen added.
“Yet there are five things everyone should learn when it comes to their heart health because they can make an enormous difference and greatly improve your risk:

eat right,
exercise regularly,
know your cholesterol,blood pressure, and body mass index numbers,
do not use tobacco,
and know your family history.
Taking these steps can help lead to a healthier heart and a longer, more vibrant life.”

Read the entire article here

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February 8, 2014 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Health News Items, Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Fortified foods make up for some missing nutrients: study (but unprocessed is still best)

From the 6 February 2014 Reuter article

 

(Reuters Health) – Fortification of foods with additional nutrients does have an impact on kids’ intake of vitamins and minerals, but many children and teens are still not getting adequate nutrition, according to a new U.S. study.

Based on a large national dietary survey, the researchers found that without fortification, the diets of a large number of children and teens would be nutritionally inadequate. With fortification the picture is better, but not perfect.

(Reuters Health) – Fortification of foods with additional nutrients does have an impact on kids’ intake of vitamins and minerals, but many children and teens are still not getting adequate nutrition, according to a new U.S. study.

Based on a large national dietary survey, the researchers found that without fortification, the diets of a large number of children and teens would be nutritionally inadequate. With fortification the picture is better, but not perfect.

Katz said the paper demonstrates that in a culture that eats very poorly, we need fortification to have adequate nutrient intake.

“But what this paper does not address at all is: what would happen if we actually ate well,” he added.

Katz said it’s a mistake to think that preventing nutrient deficiencies with fortified “junk” foods is in any way the same as eating truly good foods.

“Eating a variety of wholesome foods would provide those same nutrients, along with many others, and without the sugar, salt, refined starch, unhealthy oils, excess calories and so on,” Katz said.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1iq2L5M Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Online January 27, 2014.

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe (Photo credit: epSos.de) http://www.flickr.com/photos/36495803@N05/8077920518

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

 

 

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February 8, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

Recipes for folks with diabetes which are also good for us all!

Folks with diabetes are advised to plan ahead and ..

  • Limiting foods that are high in sugar
  • Eat smaller portions, spread out over the day
  • Be careful about when and how many carbohydrates you eat
  • Eat a variety of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables every day
  • Eat less fat
  • Limit  use of alcohol
  • Use less salt

Sensible advice for just about everybody.
Also, a healthy diet and a health diet can prevent diabetes from developing.

Here’s a few good resources for planning healthy meals and healthy eating in general

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 5.14.27 AM

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 5.17.35 AM

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February 3, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poor breakfast in youth linked to metabolic syndrome in adulthood — ScienceDaily

English: american breakfast

English: american breakfast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Poor breakfast in youth linked to metabolic syndrome in adulthood — ScienceDaily.

 

From the 29 January 2014 article

 

Summary — It is often said that breakfast is important for our health, and a new study supports this claim. The study revealed that adolescents who ate poor breakfasts displayed a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome 27 years later, compared with those who ate more substantial breakfasts.

The study revealed that adolescents who ate poor breakfasts displayed a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome 27 years later, compared with those who ate more substantial breakfasts.

Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for factors that are linked to an increased risk of suffering from cardiovascular disorders. Metabolic syndrome encompasses abdominal obesity, high levels of harmful triglycerides, low levels of protective HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), high blood pressure and high fasting blood glucose levels.

The study asked all students completing year 9 of their schooling in Luleå in 1981 (Northern Swedish Cohort) to answer questions about what they ate for breakfast. 27 years later, the respondents underwent a health check where the presence of metabolic syndrome and its various subcomponents was investigated.

The study shows that the young people who neglected to eat breakfast or ate a poor breakfast had a 68 per cent higher incidence of metabolic syndrome as adults…

 

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February 2, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

Scientists find genetic mechanism linking aging to specific diets

Scientists find genetic mechanism linking aging to specific diets.

From the 27 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

“These studies have revealed that single gene mutations can alter the ability of an organism to utilize a specific diet. In humans, small differences in a person’s genetic makeup that change how well these genes function, could explain why certain diets work for some but not others,” said Curran, corresponding author of the study and assistant professor with joint appointments in the USC Davis School of Gerontology, the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Curran and Pang studied Caenorhabditis elegans, a one-milimeter-long worm that scientists have used as a model organism since the ’70s. Decades of tests have shown that genes in C. elegans are likely to be mirrored in humans while its short lifespan allows scientists to do aging studies on it.

In this study, Curran and Pang identified a gene called alh-6, which delayed the effects of aging depending on what type of diet the worm was fed by protecting it against diet-induced mitochondrial defects.

“This gene is remarkably well-conserved from single celled yeast all the way up to mammals, which suggests that what we have learned in the worm could translate to a better understanding of the factors that alter diet success in humans,” Curran said.

Future work will focus on identifying what contributes to dietary success or failure, and whether these factors explain why specific diets don’t work for everyone. This could be the start of personalized dieting based on an individual’s genetic makeup, according to Curran.

“We hope to uncover ways to enhance the use of any dietary program and perhaps even figure out ways of overriding the system(s) that prevent the use of one diet in certain individuals,” he said.

January 30, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Probiotics – A Cure for what Ails You?

From the 23 January 2014 Bite into Nutrition blog

Probiotics has become one of the biggest “bug” words among nutrition and health professionals today, partly because of all the time the scientific community has devoted to researching the topic.  Research has shown that probiotics are effective in reducing and treating various ailments ranging from antibiotic-induced diarrhea, Clostridium difficile and other digestive disorders.   Partly due to all the science and media buzz, manufacturers have been introducing (and marketing) probiotic products left and right. NPR news recently featured a report on all the potential benefits that probiotics can do ranging from curing colicky babies to and prevention of heart disease. Although more research is needed, this is encouraging evidence on the many benefits that probiotics can offer.

In the past couple of years, there were reports suggesting the use of probiotics offering immune health benefits.  The article from Environmental Nutrition offers more insight into this.

Boost Your Immunity with Probiotics

Environmental Nutrition: February 2014 Issue

Inside each one of us is an “inner ecosystem”—a unique microbiome teeming with bacteria that lines the gastrointestinal (GI) tract or gut, which is the largest organ of immunity in the body. Fortifying the gut microflora with probiotics—also known as friendly bacteria—should be one of your top health priorities, as this promotes a stronger immune system. “We know that the make-up of our gut microbiome—the total of all microorganisms in the gut—has changed over time, due to environmental factors, and that this change may be partially responsible for the rise in prevalence of allergic and autoimmune disorders, which involve the immune system,” explains registered dietitian nutritionist Rachel Begun, MS, RDN.

 

Plant foods, such as whole grains and fruit, and yogurt with live and active cultures boost gut bacteria.

Boost plant foods. A plant-based, high-fiber diet is the best way to positively impact your gut microflora, according to an August 2013 article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Fiber-rich plants boost a greater volume and diversity of microorganisms in the gut, offering better defense against disease-causing invaders. And researchers are discovering that just by eating fewer calories, you can change your gut bacteria profile for the better.

“It’s best to eat whole foods that are natural sources of probiotics, as these are nutrient-dense foods that contribute other health benefits, such as yogurt made with live and active cultures, fermented vegetables like kimchi and sauerkraut, fermented soybean products like miso and tempeh, as well as kombucha, fermented tea,” says Begun.

Prebiotics (non digestible carbs that act as food for probiotics)

“It’s just as important to eat a diet rich in prebiotics, which are the foods that fuel the good bacteria in the gut.” Prebiotic foods include high-fiber plants, such as artichokes, asparagus, bananas, raisins, onions, garlic, leeks, and oats.

 

Read the entire post here

 

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January 26, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | 2 Comments

[News article] Impulsive Personality Linked to Food Addiction

From the 24 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

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The same kinds of impulsive behavior that lead some people to abuse alcohol and other drugs may also be an important contributor to an unhealthy relationship with food, according to new research from the University of Georgia.

In a paper published recently in the journal Appetite, researchers found that people with impulsive personalities were more likely to report higher levels of food addiction — a compulsive pattern of eating that is similar to drug addiction — and this in turn was associated with obesity.

“The notion of food addiction is a very new one, and one that has generated a lot of interest,” said James MacKillop, the study’s principal investigator and associate professor of psychology in UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. “My lab generally studies alcohol, nicotine and other forms of drug addiction, but we think it’s possible to think about impulsivity, food addiction and obesity using some of the same techniques.”

More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, putting them at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars, and obese people pay an average of $1,429 more in medical expenses than those of normal weight.

MacKillop and doctoral students Cara Murphy and Monika Stojek hope that their research will ultimately help physicians and other experts plan treatments and interventions for obese people who have developed an addiction to food, paving the way for a healthier lifestyle.

The contemporary food industry has created a wide array of eating options, and foods that are high in fat, sodium, sugar and other flavorful additives and appear to produce cravings much like illicit drugs, MacKillop said. Now they will work to see how those intense cravings might play a role in the development of obesity.

“Modern neuroscience has helped us understand how substances like drugs and alcohol co-opt areas of the brain that evolved to release dopamine and create a sense of happiness or satisfaction,” he said. “And now we realize that certain types of food also hijack these brain circuits and lay the foundation for compulsive eating habits that are similar to drug addiction.”

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January 25, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Amount, types of fat we eat affect health, risk of disease with an AND Opinion Piece

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Amount, types of fat we eat affect health, risk of disease.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 5.40.26 AMHealthy adults should consume between 20 percent and 35 percent of their calories from dietary fat, increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, and limit their intake of saturated and trans fats, according to an updated position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics**.

Read the entire article here

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**An aside about corporate sponsorship at the academy. The Current corporate sponsors include companies which make “junk” food in addition to healthier products.
A recent non mainstream article questions how the academy can not be influenced  by these corporations, including their advice to the public.
The academy does publish Guidelines for Corporate Relations Sponsors  which include

  • Fit with Academy strategic goals
  • Scientific accuracy
  • Conformance with Academy positions, policies and philosophies
  • Academy editorial control of all content in materials bearing the Academy name
  • Clear separation of Academy messages and content from brand information or promotion
  • No endorsement of any particular brand or company product
  • The inclusion of relevant facts and important information where their omission would present an unbalanced view of a controversial issue in which the sponsor has a stake
  • Full funding by the sponsor of all direct and indirect costs associated with the project

Ultimately, it is up to the individual to accept or not accept findings with the academy.
I’ve gathered some great online sites on how to evaluate health information. 

Have to say that I have found some of the information at the academy very useful.
For example, their peer reviewed Consumer and Lifestyle App Reviews in the areas of weight management, diabetes, and gluten free products. But even with the apps, it is good to check on who created them and is sponsoring them.

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January 22, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Real Food – Good, Better, Best Principle

From the 18 January 2014 HealthyLiving Inspiration blogScreen Shot 2014-01-19 at 6.51.08 AM

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                                 http://www.weedemandreap.com/2013/08/the-real-food-good-better-best-principle.html

 

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January 19, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] You Are What You Eat, and You Eat What You Earn

From the November 2013 Bloomberg article

There are plenty of reasons why Americans eat the foods they do, but two of the most important factors in determining diets are income levels and education.

An analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reinforces the notion that high earners with college degrees are more likely than other Americans to eat a healthy diet. In the opposite corner, lower-income Americans without high school degrees are more likely to drink whole milk and eat beans cooked with animal fats. Still, it’s hard to explain the divide between orange juice (high-income college grads), apple juice (low-income college grads), and whole oranges (low-income, less than a high school diploma).

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January 19, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Magazine article] The Rise of the Silicon Valley Diet Hacks

Caution – The pop up ad video was a bit too sensual for me

Disclaimer – I am not endorsing any products in this article,
This article is for informational purposes only

The article basically points out eating healthy involves research, getting down to basics, and being in tune with what your self (body/mind) needs.
Aside comment – Not sure how much diet/exercise can offset an unhealthy work environment.

From the 14 January 2014 New Yorker Magazine article

When it comes to dieting the Silicon Valley way, you can forget thetouchy-feely purity of a juice cleanse: You’re not trying to change your life on an emotional and spiritual level. Your body is not a temple; it’s a machine, and so improving the body is purely a problem of data and input and output. How can you make it run optimally? What food, or combination of nutrients, goes in to produce the highest cognitive function and the best performance with the least amount of time and effort?

“I spent $300,000 hacking myself,” says Dave Asprey. “It was blood work, cholesterol tests, scans, looking at my diet to figure out why I’d lose 50 pounds and have it come back.”

After fifteen years as his own lab rat, Asprey is the creator of theBulletproof Diet (which combines Tim Ferris’s Four Hour Bodylifestyle with a Paleo-esque diet) and head of the Bulletproof Executive (a lifestyle site/podcast/book that spreads the gospel of biohacking). He also looks, in his own words, “pretty damn good for a 40-year-old who was formerly obese and sleeps five hours a night.”

Really, though, looking good is just a happy byproduct. And while Silicon Valley may sit amid the locavore bounty of Northern California, diet hacking doesn’t have much to do with holistic wellness or the pleasures of organic eating. For Asprey and other Valley denizens looking to disrupt diets, the real focus isn’t weight-loss or well-being. It’s surviving a punishingly work-centric way of life, and figuring out how to apply the ideals that govern their professional world — innovation, optimization, efficiency, quantification — to the human body.

This approach to dieting has existed almost as long as Valley culture itself. The ideas behind bodyhacking and the Quantified Self movement got their start with the SiliconValley Health Institute, which was founded in 1993: Its aim was to look outside of mainstream medicine to find out not just how to treat or prevent illness, but how to optimize the body’s potential….

Related Resources

 

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January 18, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Addressing the Intersection: Preventing Violence and Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living

From the PDF file of the Prevention Institute **

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“Lasting changes will come from deep work by individuals to create systemic change.”

Reducing violence in neighborhoods enhances the community environ- ment and allows people to thrive. The prevention of violence facilitates community cohesion and participation, fosters neighborhood improve- ments, expands employment and educational opportunities, and improves overall health and well-being.

Violence influences where people live, work, and shop; whether parents let kids play outside and walk to school; and whether there is a grocery store or places for employment in the community. Violence jeopardizes health and safety directly— causing injuries, death, and emotional trauma. Witnessing or directly experiencing violence, as well as the fear of violence, are damaging, with consequences that also contribute to unhealthy behavior and a diminished community environment. Vio- lence and fear undermine attempts to improve healthy eating and active living, there- by exacerbating existing illnesses and increasing the risk for onset of disease, includ- ing chronic disease. They affect young people, low-income communities, and com- munities of color disproportionately. Violence and food- and activity-related chron- ic diseases are most pervasive in disenfranchised communities, where they occur more frequently and with greater severity, making them fundamental equity issues.

Chronic disease is a major health challenge—it contributes to premature death, lowers quality of life, and accounts for the dramatic rise in recent healthcare spend- ing. One striking example is the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the United States. Researchers predict that by 2034, the number of people suffering from dia- betes will likely double to 44.1 million, and related health care costs will triple to $336 billion.1 Improving healthy eating and active living environments and behaviors is the crucial link to preventing many forms of chronic disease. Health leaders have been making great strides in mounting a strong, effective response to chronic disease and in improving community environments to support healthy eating and activity. However, chronic disease prevention strategies—designing neighborhoods that encourage walking and bicycling to public transit, parks, and healthy food retail, or attracting grocery stores in communities that lack access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables—are less effective when fear and violence pervade the environment. As more communities grapple with chronic disease, health practitioners and advocates are becoming increasingly aware of the need to address violence as a critical part of their efforts, and they are seeking further guidance on effective strategies.

The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance and deepen the understanding of the inter-relationship between violence and healthy eating and activity. It presents first-hand evidence based on a set of interviews Prevention Institute facilitated with community representatives—advocates and practitioners working in healthy eating and active living. Direct quotes from these interviewees appear in italics throughout this paper. In addition to the interviews, the Institute conducted a scan of peer- reviewed literature and professional reports that confirm the intersection between vio- lence and healthy eating and active living.3-12 …

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**Prevention Institute was founded in 1997 to serve as a focal point for primary prevention practice—promoting policies, organizational practices, and collaborative efforts that improve health and quality of life. As a national non-profit organization, the Institute is committed to preventing illness and injury, to fostering health and social equity, and to building momentum for community prevention as an integral component of a quality health system.
Publications are online and free.

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January 18, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Magazine article] Extreme Diets Can Quickly Alter Gut Bacteria

From the 11 December 2013 Science article

With all the talk lately about how the bacteria in the gut affect health and disease, it’s beginning to seem like they might be in charge of our bodies. But we can have our say, by what we eat. For the first time in humans, researchers have shown that a radical change in diet can quickly shift the microbial makeup in the gut and also alter what those bacteria are doing. The study takes a first step toward pinpointing how these microbes, collectively called the gut microbiome, might be used to keep us healthy.

“It’s a landmark study,” says Rob Knight, a microbial ecologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who was not involved with the work. “It changes our view of how rapidly the microbiome can change.”

 

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n 2009, Peter Turnbaugh, a microbiologist at Harvard University, demonstrated in mice that a change in diet affected the microbiome in just a day. So he and Lawrence David, now a computational biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, decided to see if diet could have an immediate effect in humans as well. They recruited 10 volunteers to eat only what the researchers provided for 5 days. Half ate only animal products—bacon and eggs for breakfast; spareribs and brisket for lunch; salami and a selection of cheeses for dinner, with pork rinds and string cheese as snacks. The other half consumed a high-fiber, plants-only diet with grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. For the several days prior to and after the experiment, the volunteers recorded what they ate so the researchers could assess how food intake differed.

Within each diet group, differences between the microbiomes of the volunteers began to disappear. The types of bacteria in the guts didn’t change very much, but the abundance of those different types did, particularly in the meat-eaters, David, Turnbaugh, and their colleagues report online today in Nature. In 4 days, bacteria known to tolerate high levels of bile acids increased significantly in the meat-eaters. (The body secretes more bile to digest meat.) Gene activity, which reflects how the bacteria were metabolizing the food, also changed quite a bit. In those eating meat, genes involved in breaking down proteins increased their activity, while in those eating plants, other genes that help digest carbohydrates surfaced. “What was really surprising is that the gene [activity] profiles conformed almost exactly to what [is seen] in herbivores and carnivores,” David says. This rapid shift even occurred in the long-term vegetarian who switched to meat for the study, he says. “I was really surprised how quickly it happened.”

From an evolutionary perspective, the fact that gut bacteria can help buffer the effects of a rapid change in diet, quickly revving up different metabolic capacities depending on the meal consumed, may have been quite helpful for early humans, David says. But this flexibility also has possible implications for health today.

“This is a very important aspect of a very hot area of science,” writes Colin Hill, a microbiologist at University College Cork in Ireland, who was not involved with the work. “Perhaps by adjusting diet, one can shape the microbiome in a way that can promote health,” …

 

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December 14, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

[News article] Malnourished Children Still Have Hope Beyond First 1,000 Days

English: World map showing % of children under...

English: World map showing % of children under the age of 5 under height. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 11 December 2013 ScienceDaily article

 

Children who are malnourished during their first 1,000 days (conception to age 2) often experience developmental setbacks that affect them for life.

To that end, philanthropic groups have funded massive global health initiatives for impoverished infants and pregnant women around the world. While money flows justifiably to this cause, programs for children past the 1,000-day mark are seen as having little hope, and garner less support.

But new research from Brigham Young University is finding that global health workers should not give up on impoverished children after that critical time frame.

In a longitudinal study of 8,000 children from four poverty-laden countries, BYU health science assistant professor Ben Crookston and colleagues found that the developmental damage of malnutrition during the first 1,000 days is not irreversible.

“The first 1,000 days are extremely critical, but we found that the programs aimed at helping children after those first two years are still impactful,” Crookston said.

Specifically, the study found that nutritional recovery after early growth faltering might have significant benefits on schooling and cognitive achievement.

The data for the study, which comes from the international “Young Lives” project led by the University of Oxford, tracked the first eight years of life of children from Ethiopia, Peru, India and Vietnam.

Initially, Crookston and his colleagues found what they expected with the data: Children who had stunted growth (in this case, shorter than expected height at 1 year of age) ended up behind in school and scoring lower on cognitive tests at 8 years of age.

However, kids who experienced “catch-up growth,” scored relatively better on tests than those who continued to grow slowly and were in more age-appropriate classes by the age of 8.

 

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December 13, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Right amount of fat and protein, key to babies

A new research projects studies the nutrition of babies and infants as a means to improve dietary recommendations to young mothers

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From the 10 December post at yours.com – European Research Media Center

The early childhood diet and that of the mother during pregnancy determines the health of a child later life. This is the claim that the EU-funded research project Early Nutrition is trying to substantiate by the time it is due to be completed in 2017. Hans van Goudoever, professor of paediatrics and chair of the department of paediatrics at VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, talks to youris.com about his hopes to drastically improve the health of future generations by giving nutritional advice to pregnant women and young mothers.

Has the project produced any surprising results so far?
We have found a relation between nutrition in the first stages of life and a staggering amount of afflictions including obesity, heart diseases, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, as well as connections to IQ.  And we are now close to practical application. For instance, we found that young infants with a low-protein diet are far less likely to suffer from obesity in later life. So we have developed bottle feeding with less protein and we are tested it on piglets. The results are excellent and tests on humans are about to start.

Why do we need to study early nutrition?
Epidemiological studies, which go back as far as 25 years, have shown that birth and infant weight have an effect on the occurrence of cardiac problems later in life. But that is just a description of a relation, not a scientific proof.  These days we want hard evidence.  One group of children will get nutrition type A, another group will get type B. Then, we’ll keep following them in order to prove there is a specific effect. That’s what the project is all about.

At what stage is it possible to influence child nutrition most?
Nutrition during pregnancy and the first months of life is key. Later on, there is still an influence but it gets smaller with time. After birth, the choice between breast feeding and bottle feeding is very easy, from a nutrition perspective. Breast feeding is at least ten miles ahead.  I know there are many reasons why sometimes breastfeeding is impossible; the mother may not have the opportunity, or she is taking medicines. But if at all possible every effort should be taken to choose breast feeding. It is logical after all. Bottle feeding is made from cow milk, and cows are different from people.

What advice could you give to mothers of very young children?
Above all, avoid excess proteins and fat. Special care should be taken to make sure babies have a diet wherein the protein and fat content is just right. Not too little, but certainly not too much.

If you have a normal diet, you do not need anything else. Just forget about extra vitamins and minerals, as long as your diet is balanced. That is not easy these days. The groups where we see the most problems include, quite often, the people from the lower social classes, who are rather difficult to reach with information or nutrition campaigns. What I do hope is that we can ultimately get the message across to the hard-to-reach public.

 

 

Read more: http://www.youris.com/Bioeconomy/Food/Hans_Van_Goudoever_-_Right_Amount_Of_Fat_And_Protein_Key_To_Babies.kl#ixzz2nAe3HEhk

 

December 11, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] You Are What Your Father Eats: Father’s Diet Before Conception Plays Crucial Role in Offspring’s Health, Study Suggests

From the 10 December 2013 Science Daily article

Mothers get all the attention. But a study led by McGill researcher Sarah Kimmins suggests that the father’s diet before conception may play an equally important role in the health of their offspring. It also raises concerns about the long-term effects of current Western diets and of food insecurity.

The research focused on vitamin B9, also called folate, which is found in a range of green leafy vegetables, cereals, fruit and meats. It is well known that in order to prevent miscarriages and birth defects mothers need to get adequate amounts of folate in their diet. But the way that a father’s diet can influence the health and development of their offspring has received almost no attention. Now research from the Kimmins group shows for the first time that the father’s folate levels may be just as important to the development and health of their offspring as are those of the mother. Indeed, the study suggests that fathers should pay as much attention to their lifestyle and diet before they set out to conceive a child as mothers do.

“We were very surprised to see that there was an almost 30 per cent increase in birth defects in the litters sired by fathers whose levels of folates were insufficient,” said Dr. Romain Lambrot, of McGill’s Dept. of Animal Science, one of the researchers who worked on the study. “We saw some pretty severe skeletal abnormalities that included both cranio-facial and spinal deformities.”

The research from the Kimmins’ group shows that there are regions of the sperm epigenome that are sensitive to life experience and particularly to diet. And that this information is in turn transferred to a so-called epigenomic map that influences development and may also influence metabolism and disease in the offspring in the long-term. (The epigenome is like a switch, which is affected by environmental cues, and is involved in many diseases including cancer and diabetes. The epigenome influences the way that genes are turned on or off, and hence how heritable information gets passed along).

Although it has been known for some time that there is a massive erasure and re-establishment that takes place in the epigenome as the sperm develops, this study now shows that along with the developmental map, the sperm also carries a memory of the father’s environment and possibly even of his diet and lifestyle choices.

“Our research suggests that fathers need to think about what they put in their mouths, what they smoke and what they drink and remember they are caretakers of generations to come,” said Kimmins. “If all goes as we hope, our next step will be to work with collaborators at a fertility clinic so that we can start assessing the links in men between diet, being overweight and how this information relates to the health of their children.”

 

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December 11, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Nuts and death – journal animated video explanation

From the 22 November post at HealthNewsReview.blog

You probably saw, read, or heard about news of an observational study in the New England Journal of Medicine pointing to a statistical association between nut consumption and lower death rate.  Larry Husten did a good job explaining the study on Forbes.com.

The NEJM itself posted a YouTube video that had journal editor Jeffrey Drazen’s voice over an animated explanation.  I hadn’t seen such NEJM videos before.  Take a look. Drazen ends:  “I would be nuts to think that eating nuts alone would add years to my life.”

I wish I had that kind of budget. Frankly, I wish I had any budget.

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Comments

Ellen Goldbaum posted on November 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

Thank you for posting this wonderful video! It was everything a press release should be but so much more enjoyable! To your point about budgets, even those of us who work for large institutions are wondering, how did NEJM make that video, how much personpower and money does it take? curious.

Reply

Brad F posted on November 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm

they ript off Blank on Blank
http://blankonblank.org/pbs/

 

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] A healthy diet costs $2,000 a year more than an unhealthy one for average family of four: Harvard study

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Fresh vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 12 June 2013 article at The National Post  by Jason Rehel

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December 7, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Eight Bright New Ideas From Behavioral Economists That Could Help You Get Healthy

Not sure if this is the right approach. I was brought unto be personally responsible for my actions and not rely on others to create ways to help me do the right things.  Part of my thinks money spent on these grants could be better spent elsewhere. These ideas seem to be only shotgun approaches and do not really address underlying issues.

Still, I think their hearts are in the right place.

 

By DEBORAH BAE at the 6 December 2013 posting at The Health Care Blog

Through a series of small grants, we’re is exploring the utility of applying behavioral economic principles to perplexing health and health care problems—everything from getting seniors to walk more to forgoing low-value health care.

At a recent meeting in Philadelphia we challenged grantees to compete in an Innovation Tournament. The goal was to identify testable ideas that leverage behavioral economic principles to help make people healthier by working with commercial entities. Participants were assigned to groups and made their best pitches to their colleagues. And of course we used a behavioral economics principle (financial incentives) to increase participation: Each member of the first, second and third place teams received Amazon gift cards.

Eight teams made the finals:

1.     Love Lock: This team addressed the issue of driving and texting by proposing an app that could be installed on your cell phone that would send reminders not to text while driving. This team would work with car insurance and mobile phone carrier companies and provide discounts to those who get it installed. The behavioral economics principles being tested are default choice and opt-out.

2.     McQuick & Fit: Too many people eat unhealthy food. This team’s idea was to have a rewards card that can only be used to purchase healthy food. With each purchase, the customer would earn points toward free, healthy foods. Online orders would be placed through a website that would feature salient labeling and allow for defaults to order healthy meals. The behavioral economics principles at play include pre-commitment, default choice, labeling, and incentives.

3.     Just Bring Me Water: The problem tackled by this team is “regrettable” calories—mindlessly consuming whatever is put in front of you, such as free bread at a restaurant, or soda on a plane. The innovation: when booking a table online or calling for a reservation, you could ask to “opt-out” of the complimentary bread or chips that are offered. This would reduce the consumption of regrettable calories.

4.     Lunch Club: This group looked at addressing gluttony through a partnership with a chain restaurant. When going out for a meal, portions are typically bigger and diners consume more. But what if you had the option of doggy-bagging one third of the meal for another meal—framed as “buy dinner and get lunch free”? And, if you took this option, you would get a scratch off as an enhanced incentive and immediate reward. The behavioral economic principles being tested here include loss aversion, active choice, and incentives.

5.     Snooze, But Don’t Lose: People don’t get enough good sleep, which leads to poor executive functioning and safety issues. To increase safety, productivity, and efficiency, this group proposed using a Fitbit to build in reminders to go to bed earlier and provide feedback on good sleep. The behavioral economic principles at play are pre-commitment and loss aversion.

 

6.     Google Coach: This team’s idea was to create good habit formation, specifically commitment to a health plan, whether it was getting more sleep, adhering to a diet, or taking vitamins regularly. The group proposed partnering with Google and using its calendar and mobile phone platform to program smart defaults that are personalized to the individual. For example, people could actively schedule exercise or sleep based on their schedule on Google calendar. The group hypothesized that intelligent defaults are better than people planning themselves (without defaults).

7.     The Basketeers: This team wanted to optimize consumers’ baskets at grocery stores and supermarkets, increasing the amount of healthy items purchased. The group suggested partnering with an online supermarket to create different packages of food for customers to purchase. For example, there could be the J-Lo package, which would bundle together food items that this aspirational star would most likely eat. In addition, when checking out, the website would assess the customer’s basket for healthier options, such as switching whole milk for skim milk. As a reward, consumers would get discounts and express delivery for choosing healthier options.

8.     Team REV (Re-Engineering Vending): Soda and other sugar sweetened beverages lead to obesity. This team proposed partnering with beverage companies to make vending machines more fun, while optimizing them to help people make healthier beverage selections. For instance, the vending machine would have sensors and as you approach the unhealthy items, the healthier item buttons would light up. The behavioral economics principle applied here is choice architecture.

The participants voted for their top three choices. Lunch Club came in third while Love Lock and Google Coach tied for first place. And, you might wonder, how does a group of behavioral economists and psychologists break a tie? By playing rock, paper, scissors. Team Love Lock won.

This post originally appeared in the RWJF Pioneering Ideas Blog.

 

 

December 6, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

[News article] Vitamins: Potential Damage to Body’s Defences

From the 28 November 2013 ScienceDaily report

Vitamin supplements are a billion-dollar industry. We want to stay healthy and fit and help our bodies with this. But perhaps we are achieving precisely the opposite?

“We believe that antioxidants are good for us, since they protect the cells from oxidative stress that may harm our genes. However, our bodies have an enormous inherent ability to handle stress. Recent research results show that the body’s responses to stress in fact are important in preventing our DNA from eroding. I fear that the fragile balance in our cells can be upset when we supplement our diet with vitamin pills, says Hilde Nilsen to the research magazine Apollon. Nilsen is heading a research group at the Biotechnology Centre, University of Oslo.

Maintenance of genes

Our DNA – the genetic code that makes us who we are – is constantly exposed to damage.

In each of the hundred trillion cells in our body, up to two hundred thousand instances of damage to the DNA take place every day. These may stem from environmental causes such as smoking, stress, environmental pathogens or UV radiation, but the natural and life-sustaining processes in the organism are the primary sources of damage to our DNA.

How can the repair of damage to our DNA help us stay healthy and live long lives?

A small worm provides the answer

To answer this question, Hilde Nilsen and her group of researchers have allied themselves with a small organism – a one millimetre-long nematode called Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). This roundworm, which lives for only 25 days, is surprisingly sophisticated with its 20,000 genes; we humans only have a couple of thousand more.

C. elegans is a fantastically powerful tool, because we can change its hereditary properties. We can increase its ability to repair DNA damage, or we can remove it altogether. We can also monitor what happens when damage to DNA is not repaired in several hundred specimens and through their entire lifespan. Different “repair proteins” take care of various types of damage to the DNA. The most common ones are repaired by “cutting out” and replacing a single damaged base by itself or as part of a larger fragment.

Affecting lifespan with the aid of genes

In some specimens that do not have the ability to repair the damage, the researchers observe that the aging process proceeds far faster than normal. Is it because the damage accumulates in the DNA and prevents the cells from producing the proteins they need for their normal operation? Most researchers have thought so, but Hilde Nilsen doubts it.

One of the genes studied by the researchers has a somewhat shortened lifespan: on average, this mutant lives three days less than normal. Translated into human terms, this means dying at the age of 60 rather than at 70. -“We were surprised when we saw that these mutants do not in fact accumulate the DNA damage that would cause aging. On the contrary: they have less DNA damage. This happens because the little nematode changes its metabolism into low gear and releases its own antioxidant defences. Nature uses this strategy to minimize the negative consequences of its inability to repair the DNA. So why is this not the normal state? Most likely because it comes at a cost: these organisms have less ability to respond to further stress ‒ they are quite fragile.

Hilde Nilsen and her colleagues have now -for the very first time -“shown that this response is under active genetic control and is not caused by passive accumulation of damage to the DNA, as has been widely believed.

Can do great harm

The balance between oxidants and antioxidants is crucial to our physiology, but exactly where this equilibrium is situated varies from one person to the next.

“This is where I start worrying about the synthetic antioxidants. The cells in our body use this fragile balance to establish the best possible conditions for themselves, and it is specially adapted for each of us. When we take supplements of antioxidants, such as C and E vitamins, we may upset this balance,” the researcher warns.

“It sounds intuitively correct that intake of a substance that may prevent accumulation of damage would benefit us, and that’s why so many of us supplement our diet with vitamins. Our research results indicate that at the same time, we may also cause a lot of harm. The health authorities recommend that instead, we should seek to have an appropriate diet. I’m all in favour of that. It’s far safer for us to take our vitamins through the food that we eat, rather than through pills,” Hilde Nilsen states emphatically.

 

Read the entire article here

 

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Mandatory calorie postings at fast-food chains often ignored or unseen, does not influence food choice

From the NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine 15 November 2013 press release via EurkAlert

Population health expert Brian Elbel of NYU Langone presents findings today at leading scientific conference on obesity

November 15, 2013 – Posting the calorie content of menu items at major fast-food chains in Philadelphia, per federal law, does not change purchasing habits or decrease the number of calories that those customers consume, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center reported today at the Obesity Society’s annual scientific meeting, held in Atlanta, Georgia. The results echo those conducted by the same researchers among low-income neighborhoods in New York City before and after calorie-labels were mandated there in July 2008.

“What we’re seeing is that many consumers, particularly vulnerable groups, do not report noticing calorie labeling information and even fewer report using labeling to purchase fewer calories,” says lead study author Dr. Brian Elbel, assistant professor of Population Health and Health Policy at NYU School of Medicine. “After labeling began in Philadelphia, about 10 percent of the respondents in our study said that calorie labels at fast-food chains resulted in them choosing fewer calories.”

As part of an effort to encourage people to make healthier food choices, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates that restaurant chains with 20 or more locations nationally must post the calorie content of all regular food and drink items on their menu board or printed menus.

Yet there is limited scientific evidence from real-world studies to support calorie labeling. Moreover, little is understood about how calorie labels will impact different populations. Obesity affects more than one third of Americans, but hits low-income, urban neighborhoods hardest. “Studies have not generally examined whether labeling is more or less effective for particular subgroups,” says Dr. Elbel.

Dr. Elbel and team set out to assess the impact of calorie labels at fast-food chains in the wake of the new legislation. In their latest study, conducted in Philadelphia, researchers collected receipts from more than 2,000 customers, ages 18 to 64, who visited McDonald’s and Burger King restaurants during lunch or dinner before and after February 2010, when the calorie-label law went into effect in Philadelphia.

Each customer was asked a short series of questions, including how often they had visited “big chain” fast food restaurants in the last week; whether they noticed calorie information in the restaurant; and if so, whether they used the information to purchase more or less food than they otherwise would have at the restaurant.

The research team also commissioned a professional survey firm to simultaneously conduct a random phone survey of residents within the city limits of Philadelphia. Respondents aged 18 to 64 were asked a series of questions, including whether they had consumed any “big chain” fast food within the last three months. If they had, they were asked a series of additional questions about how often they eat fast food, along with demographic questions and their height and weight.

The researchers found that only 34 percent of McDonald’s customers noticed the labels posted to menu boards, compared to 49 percent of Burger King customers. Respondents with less education (high school or lower) were less likely to notice the labels. Moreover, respondents reported eating fast food more than 5 times a week, both before and after the labels were posted. There was no decrease in visiting fast food restaurants reported after calorie labeling began in Philadelphia.

(As a control, the researchers also surveyed customers of both chains in Baltimore, where calorie-labels are not mandated. About 70% of the customers surveyed in both cities were African American.)

“We found no difference in calories purchased or fast-food visits after the introduction of the policy,” says Dr. Elbel. “Given the limits of labeling reported here and in other studies, it’s clear that just posting calories is often not enough to change behavior among all populations. We need to consider other, more robust interventional policies in places where obesity is most prevalent.”

###

Investigators include, Brian D. Elbel, PhD,DPhil, Department of Population Health, NYU School of Medicine, and the Wagner School of Public Service, New York University, New York City; Tod Mijanovich,PhD, L. Beth Dixon,PhD, MPH, and Beth Weitzman, PhD, MPA, of the Steinhardt School, New York University; Rogan Kersh, MA, Department of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Amy H. Auchincloss, PhD, MPH, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Gbenga Ogedegbe , MD,MS, MPH, NYU School of Medicine.

This study was funded by National Institutes of Health (R01HL095935). The study sponsor had no role in study design.

About NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class, patient-centered, integrated, academic medical center, is one on the nation’s premier centers for excellence in clinical care, biomedical research and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is composed of four hospitals – Tisch Hospital, its flagship acute care facility; the Hospital for Joint Diseases, one of only five hospitals in the nation dedicated to orthopaedics and rheumatology; Hassenfeld Pediatric Center, a comprehensive pediatric hospital supporting a full array of children’s health services; and the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, the world’s first university-affiliated facility devoted entirely to rehabilitation medicine– plus NYU School of Medicine, which since 1841 has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history. The medical center’s tri-fold mission to serve, teach and discover is achieved 365 days a year through the seamless integration of a culture devoted to excellence in patient care, education and research. For more information, go to http://www.NYULMC.org.

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November 16, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Food Industry Needs Closer Monitoring By Public Health Authorities

This image shows all countries classified as &...

This image shows all countries classified as “Food Insecure” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, between 2003 and 2005. more than 5% of the people have insufficient food more than 15% of the people have insufficient food more than 25% of the people have insufficient food more than 35% of the people have insufficient food more than 50% of the people have insufficient food (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The twitter chat was last year, still I’m posting this timely topic. Because it is that, timely.

 

From the 12 November 2013 post at healthyfood112

 

From June 19, 2012 PLoS Medicine have a new main series of seven articles on the next three weeks , titled “Big Food” , which examines the impact of the food and beverage industry in public health. An argument between PLoS and guest editors in new product launches reports writing the series in the fact that multinational food and beverage not been adequately discussed or raised skepticism regardless of their growing impact on the program global health and its role in the obesity crisis .According to the editors of PLoS Medicine : 

” The food , unlike snuff and drugs, is necessary for life and is essential for health and disease , however, large multinational food companies control what people eat around the world , resulting an austere irony and sick . D’ billion people on the planet go hungry , while two billion are overweight or obese . “

The major food and beverage companies also play an important role in the global health scenario re -branding their companies as ” nutrition companies ” and market their people as experts in malnutrition , obesity . and even poverty in major conferences and meetings of the United Nations – but its main purpose is to improve profitability through the sale of food editors and posed the question: “Why do the global health community is this acceptable and how those conflicts play out ? “The series is three weeks to address these issues and discuss the role of food industry in the field of health.
Marion Nestle of New York University and David Stuckler of the University of Cambridge , the two guest editors of the series of the journal PLoS Medicine that the public health response created Food great so far as a “failure ” and state ” public health professionals must recognize the influence of the great food in the world food system is a problem, and take steps to reach a consensus on how to engage critically … [which ] alsoshould be given high priority to nutrition as they do on HIV , infectious diseases and other health threats . “
Nestler and Stuckler follow:

“They should support initiatives such as the restrictions on marketing to children , improved nutrition standards for school meals , and taxes on sugary drinks. The public health approach should be non-profit in alignment with Great Food public health goals . Without a concerted direct action to expose and regulate the interests of Great food , epidemics of poverty , hunger and obesity are likely to be more acute . “

The editors invite readers to join the debate on Twitter ( hashtag # plosmedbigfood ) and invite comments on your articles to be published over three weeks since the June 19, 2012 and collected http://www.ploscollections.org / Bigfood
People can join a chat on Twitter Wed 27 June at 13:00 ET .

Food Industry Needs Closer Monitoring By Public Health Authorities

Industry, diet, weightloss, slimming, Monitoring, Food, Authorities, health, Closer, fitness, Public Health

via healthy food 112 http://healthyfood112.blogspot.com/2013/11/food-industry-needs-closer-monitoring.html

 

 

 

Read the entire blog item here

 

 

 

 

November 13, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

[Report] Fast Food Facts 2013 Measuring Progress in the Nutritional Quality and Marketing of Fast Food to Children and Teens

Thinking my reaction to advertising was formed during weekly grocery trips when I was in grade school (back in the 60’s)
When we checked out the groceries I remember the candy, gum, and other goodies in the check out area.
While I did look at the items longingly, I knew not to ask for any of them. So, this carried over to advertising on television, especially Saturday morning cartoons.
McDonald’s? Thinking maybe, and just maybe we went there once during my grade school years.

 

From the November 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Report

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The nutritional quality of fast-food meals, and how those meals are marketed to children and teens, has improved, but more work is needed.

The Issue:
Fast Food FACTS 2013, issued by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, examines the nutritional quality of fast food, and how restaurants market their foods and beverages to children and teens. The report examines 18 of the top restaurant chains in the United states, and updates a similar report released in 2010.

 Key Findings

  • A total of $4.6 billion was spent on all advertising by fast food restaurants in 2012. This was an 8 percent increase over 2009. McDonald’s spent 2.7 times as much to advertise its products as all fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined.
  • Less than 1 percent of all kids’ meal combinations met recommended nutrition standards.
  • On average, U.S. preschoolers viewed 2.8 fast food ads on TV every day in 2012; children aged 6-11 years viewed 3.2 ads per day; and teens viewed 4.8 ads per day.
  • Fast food restaurants continued to target black and Hispanic youth, populations at high risk for obesity and related diseases.
Conclusion:
Researchers conclude that while improvements have been made, there is more work to be done to improve the overall nutritional quality of fast food. Additionally, the researchers call for fast food restaurants to stop targeting children and teens with marketing that encourages frequent visits to these restaurants.

About the Study:
The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity used the same methods as it did for the original Fast Food FACTS in 2010. Nutritional data were collected in February 2013, and most marketing data examine practices through 2012. The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Repost] A Galaxy Within Us: Our Gut Microbiota and How It Can Be Programmed by Food

From the1 November 2013 ScienceDaily article

Who would have thought that the human body contains over 10 times the amount of bacterial cells as human cells? These bacteria — now collectively called the gut microbiota — number in their trillions and are made up of more than a 1,000 different species most of which are beneficial in some way.

“Research is starting to show that the food we eat has a huge bearing on the composition of this collective and also that the profile of the collection of bacteria can be associated with a person’s health status,” explains Dr Paul Ross, Head of the Teagasc Food Research Programme and Principal Investigator at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Teagasc, Food Research Centre, Moorepark.

To the team at the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC), an SFI-funded CSET at Teagasc, Food Research Centre, Moorepark and at University College Cork, the study of the human microbiota has the potential to transform much of the thinking around basic human nutrition, gut health and disease prevention: “This has been made possible through developments made in DNA sequencing technology which has allowed the study of complex microbial communities such as the human gut microbiota, the majority of which cannot be cultured on an individual basis,” explains Dr Ross.

Although the composition of the microbiota is highly stable during adulthood, there are times when it can be highly dynamic — such as at the extremes of life, e.g., following birth, during inflammatory bowel conditions, gastrointestinal infection and in the elderly. Despite this stability, the microbiota also displays a high degree of interindividual variation reflecting differences in lifestyle, diet, host genetics, etc.

In a project called ELDERMET, a team of UCC/Teagasc scientists headed by Professor Paul O’Toole has recently profiled the faecal microbiota from elderly people in different residences including community, day-hospital, rehabilitation or long-term residential care locations.

This study found that the microbiota correlated with the residence location. “The results demonstrated that the individual microbiota of people in long-stay care was significantly less diverse than those that resided in the community,” explains Dr Ross. “In addition, these subjects were also clustered by diet by the same residence location and microbiota groupings. Interestingly, the separation of microbiota composition correlated significantly with health parameters in these individuals including measures of frailty, co-morbidity, nutritional status, markers of inflammation and with metabolites in faecal water.”

Taken together these data suggest that diet can programme the gut microbiota — the composition of which correlates with health status. Such a suggestion opens up great potential for the food industry in the design of food ingredients and supplements which may in the future shape the microbiota in a particular direction to correlate with an improved consumer health status. Interestingly, a related study called INFANTMET, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and led by Professor Catherine Stanton at Teagasc Moorepark, is looking at the development of the gut microbiota in early life as a consequence of breast feeding.

November 3, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | 1 Comment

[Bread for the World Report] The Push Up Decade: CAADP at 10

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Excerpts from the report

The 2007-2008 food price crisis was a wake-up call for the international community, reigniting the discussion about the need to refocus attention on agricultural development. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, member governments of the African Union (AU) had already been grappling with the issue for several years. In 2001, AU members agreed to establish a process to help spur economic growth and political transformation on the continent. The majority of poor people in Africa— approximately 75 percent—live in rural areas and depend on
agriculture for their livelihood.1 Yet between 1995 and 2003, most African countries spent very little public money on agriculture—well below 1 percent of their Gross Domestic Products (GDP).2

Realizing this contradiction, the AU’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) launched the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). African heads of state met in Maputo, Mozambique, in 2003, and agreed in the Maputo Declaration both to begin devoting 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture by 2008, and to set a goal of achieving an average annual growth rate of 6 percent in the agricultural sector by 2015.3 Nonetheless, donor funding for agriculture was very limited until 2009.

CAADP, an ambitious and comprehensive vision for agricultural reform in Africa, is an example of how initiatives with effective local ownership are making strides toward the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

A good example of what is possible is Tanzania, whose economy has been growing steadily over the past 10 years. On average, the economy expanded by 6.9 percent a year. Five sectors were the source of almost 60 percent of Tanzania’s economic growth between 2008 and 2012:

  • CommunicationGDPalmostdoubledinlessthanfour years, growing on average more than 20 percent a year.
  • Banking and financial services, which has expandedby 11 percent a year since 2008.
  • Retail trade, which increased by almost 40 percentbetween 2008 and 2012.
  • Construction,withaverageannualgrowthof9percentover the same period.
  • Manufacturing, which grew by 8.4 percent annuallyduring the past four years.Agriculture also contributed to Tanzania’s economic growth, but this was a given because it makes up a significant share of GDP, about 25 percent. In fact, during the period 2008-2012, agriculture’s growth rate was consistently below the overall economic growth rate.

Nutrition: Investing in nutrition is extremely cost-effective yet critically underfunded. In fact, of the “10 best buys in development” identified by a group of top economists, five are nutrition interventions.15 But although relatively simple, very affordable interventions to treat malnutrition are available, nutrition remains the “forgotten MDG.” Both overseas development assistance for nutrition, and national budget allocations have been very low.

Since 2009, the United States has worked through its global food security initiative, Feed the Future, to emphasize the urgent need to improve nutrition in the “1,000 Days” window between pregnancy and age 2.16 Because malnutrition in this critical age group causes irreversible physical and cognitive damage, countries with a high proportion of malnourished babies and toddlers pay the price in diminished productivity and economic growth. On the other hand, research shows that $1 invested in nutrition generates as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity.17 In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 41 percent of all children younger than 5 are malnourished.18 It is the only world region where the number of child deaths is increasing, and the only one expected to see further increases in food insecurity and absolute poverty.19

In spite of the currently tight budget climate, the United States and other development partners should not back off. Rather, they should press forward to support and help strengthen county-led initiatives such as CAADP. As the African Union prepares for the January 2014 African Union summit, which marks the start of “the Year of Agriculture in Africa,” there is real opportunity for this renewed commitment to have an impact on hunger. On July 1, 2013, African heads of state and government of AU Member States, together with representatives of international organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector, cooperatives, farmers, youths, academia, and other partners unanimously adopted a Declaration to End Hunger in Africa by 2025. This High Level Meeting, Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa by 2025 within the CAADP Framework, took place at the initiative of the African Union, FAO, and the Lula Institute along with a broad range of non-state actors.22 With this renewed commitment to end hunger, African countries still have a chance to fulfill their Maputo commitments since that deadline coincides with the MDG deadline, two years away in 2015.

November 3, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] Pizza perfect! A nutritional overhaul of ‘junk food’ and ready-meals is possible

A "mozzarella" pizza.

A “mozzarella” pizza. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the press release of the University of Glasgow at the 1 November 2013 EurkAlert

 

Pizza is widely regarded as a fully-paid up member of the junk food gang – maybe even the leader – at least the versions found on supermarket shelves or delivered to your door by scooter.

Historically, a few humble ingredients: bread, tomatoes and a little cheese, combined to form a traditional, healthy meal, but many of today’s pizzas have recruited two dangerous new members to their posse – salt and saturated fat.

However, pizzas and many other nutritionally-dubious foods can be made nutritionally ideal: A crowning example of ‘health by stealth’ according to scientists, who say it is possible to reformulate such foods to achieve public health goals, without upsetting their taste so they remain commercially successful for producers.

Professor Mike Lean, a physician and nutritionist in the School of Medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: “Traditional pizza should be a low-fat meal containing at least one portion of vegetables, so mainly made from ingredients associated with better cardiovascular health.

“However, to enhance shelf-life, commercial pizza recipes today include much more fat and salt than desirable. Until now, nobody has stopped to notice that many essential vitamins and minerals are very low or even completely absent. From a nutrition and health perspective, they are hazardous junk.

“Pizzas are widely consumed and regarded as meals in themselves, and yet their impact on human nutrition does not seem to have been studied.”

The team of scientists, which also included Dr Emilie Combet, Amandine Jarlot and Kofi Aidoo of Glasgow Caledonian University, set out to ascertain the nutritional content and quality of contemporary pizzas and to demonstrate that pizza can be reformulated to make it the basis of a fully nutritionally-balanced meal.

A range of new pizza recipes was then developed, each containing 30% of all the nutrients required in a day: in other words, an ideal meal.

A total of 25 Margarita pizzas were analysed. They varied widely in calorie content, ranging from 200 to 562kcal. Few approached the 600kcal energy requirement that would make it a proper meal, so people may tend to eat something extra.

Perhaps surprisingly only six of 25 pizzas tested contained too much total fat (>35% total energy), with eight having too much saturated fat while only two boasting a desirable level (<11% total energy). Most of the fat in the pizzas came from the cheese.

The amount of sodium in most of the 25 pizzas was substantially over the recommended limit, with nine containing more than 1g per 600kcal serving.

Several pizzas had sodium levels well within the recommended limit but were not advertised as low-salt or low-sodium, indicating that recipes can be modified and remain commercially successful.

To constitute a healthy nutritionally-balanced meal, at least 45% of the energy intake should come from carbohydrates. Only five failed to meet this requirement, due to combined high fat and protein contents.

Vitamin and mineral content information was mostly absent from the packaging, with only five providing this information in detail, and three having basic information. None met the recommended value for iron, vitamin C and vitamin A. One met just the iron requirement and two the vitamin C requirement. Vitamin A requirement was met in four pizzas, and only one met calcium requirements.

Prof Lean said: “Some were really bad. While none of the pizzas tested satisfied all the nutritional requirements, many of the requirements were met in some pizzas, which told us it should be possible to modify the recipes to make them more nutritionally-balanced without impacting on flavour – health by stealth, if you like.”

To demonstrate how to do it, the researchers joined forces with an industrial food producer to modify a modern pizza recipe: reducing salt, adding whole-wheat flour, adding a small amount of Scottish seaweed to provide flavour, vitamin B12 and fibre, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and iodine, adding red peppers provided extra vitamin C.

The proportions of bread base to Mozzarella cheese was adjusted to correct the carbohydrate/fat/protein ratios and minimize saturated fat content. After cooking, it was finally analysed in the laboratory.

The team put the end result to a taste test with members of the public and both children and adults gave it the thumbs-up for taste and attractiveness.

The world’s first nutritionally-balanced pizzas were subsequently marketed by food company Eat Balanced.com, and three flavours are available from various UK supermarkets.

Prof Lean said: “There really is no reason why pizzas and other ready meals should not be nutritionally-balanced. We have shown it can be done with no detriment for taste.

“Promoting ‘healthy eating’ and nutritional education have had little impact on eating habits or health so far, and taking so-called ‘nutritional supplements’ makes things worse.

“We can’t all make entirely home-made meals, so it’s about time that manufacturers took steps to make their products better suited to human biology, and we have shown then how to do it. Rather than sneaking in additives like salt, they could be boasting about healthier ingredients that will benefit consumers.”

The study ‘Development of a nutritionally-balanced pizza, as a functional meal designed to meet published dietary guidelines’, is published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

 

###

 

For more information contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 4831 or email stuart.forsyth@glasgow.ac.uk

Notes to Editors

The study was supported by a ‘First Step Award’ (funding from the University of Glasgow and the Scottish Government) between the University of Glasgow and the industrial partner Eat Balanced Ltd. The authors wish to thank Fiona Alexander, UKAS research technician at Glasgow Caledonian University, and the input of Cosmo Tamburro at Cosmo Products Ltd. Posteriori to this project, ML has acted as scientific advisor for Eat Balanced Ltd and received a consultancy fee from the company.

 

 

 

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November 1 SNAP Cuts Will Affect Millions of Children, Seniors, and People With Disabilities

State-by-State Figures Highlight the Impacts Across the Country

From the 24 October 2013 Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report

By Dottie Rosenbaum and Brynne Keith-Jennings

The 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ends on November 1, 2013, which will mean a benefit cut for each of the nearly 48 million SNAP recipients — 87 percent of whom live in households with children, seniors, or people with disabilities.  House and Senate members who are now beginning to negotiate a final Farm Bill should keep this benefit cut in mind as they consider, in reauthorizing the SNAP program, whether to make even deeper cuts.

The November 1 benefit cut will be substantial.  A household of three, such as a mother with two children, will lose $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014, the remaining 11 months of fiscal year 2014.  (See Figure 1.)  The cut is equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s “Thrifty Food Plan.”  Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits in fiscal year 2014 will averageless than $1.40 per person per meal.  Nationally, the cut totals about $5 billion in 2014 and a total of $11 billion over the fiscal year 2014 to 2016 period.[1] (See Table 1.)

The SNAP benefit cut will make it even harder for families to put food on the table.  More than 80 percent of SNAP households have monthly income below the federal poverty line ($19,500 a year for a family of three), and more than 40 percent live in deep poverty, with income below half of the poverty line.  The Recovery Act’s temporary benefit increase boosted the ability of households to provide adequate food for their families, known as “food security,” research shows.

The benefit cut will affect all households that receive SNAP, the majority of which include children, seniors, or people with disabilities.  Nationally, more than 21 million children — that is, more than 1 in 4 of all children — live in a household that receives SNAP.  At least a quarter of children receive SNAP benefits in more than 30 states and the District of Columbia; in some states, this figure is more than 40 percent.  November’s SNAP cut for households with children will total $3.5 billion in the remaining 11 months of fiscal year 2014.  Similarly, more than 9 million seniors and people with disabilities receive SNAP.  Their households will experience a $1.2 billion benefit cut over the same period.  Table 2, below, shows the number of children and senior citizens or people with disabilities in each state who live in such households.

In addition, the November benefit cut will reduce, by millions of dollars in every state, the flow of money that not only would help families afford to eat, but also would inject money into the economy.  Studies show that in a distressed economy, every dollar of SNAP benefits creates at least about $1.70 in economic activity, as SNAP recipients spend their benefits on food quickly.  For example, California and Texas will each lose over $400 million in SNAP benefits that would have helped their residents eat in 2014; the potential economic impact is even greater.

The depth and breadth of the SNAP cuts that take effect in November are unprecedented.  Past cuts have affected specific states or groups, but they have not affected all participants nor been as large as these cuts.

They are taking effect the same week that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees begin their conference committee negotiations on the Farm Bill, which includes a reauthorization of and proposed cuts to SNAP.  The House version of the bill would cut SNAP by nearly $40 billion over the next 10 years, denying benefits to about 3.8 million people in 2014 and an average of 3 million people each year over the coming decade.

Table 1
The SNAP ARRA Termination: Estimated State-by-State Impact in Fiscal Year 2014
Total SNAP Benefit Cut to State
(in millions of dollars, from November 2013 through September 2014)
Number of SNAP Recipients in FY 2014
(all of whom are impacted by the cut)
Total Share of Total State Population
Alabama -$98 910,000 19%
Alaska -$12 95,000 13%
Arizona -$109 1,101,000 17%
Arkansas -$52 501,000 17%
California -$457 4,168,000 11%
Colorado -$55 511,000 10%
Connecticut -$44 424,000 12%
Delaware -$16 154,000 17%
District of Columbia -$15 144,000 22%
Florida -$379 3,552,000 18%
Georgia -$210 1,947,000 19%
Hawaii -$33 190,000 13%
Idaho -$24 230,000 14%
Illinois -$220 2,031,000 16%
Indiana -$98 925,000 14%
Iowa -$43 421,000 13%
Kansas -$33 317,000 11%
Kentucky -$94 875,000 20%
Louisiana -$98 920,000 20%
Maine -$26 251,000 19%
Maryland -$82 774,000 13%
Massachusetts -$95 889,000 13%
Michigan -$183 1,775,000 18%
Minnesota -$55 556,000 10%
Mississippi -$70 664,000 22%
Missouri -$96 933,000 15%
Montana -$13 131,000 13%
Nebraska -$18 180,000 10%
Nevada -$37 359,000 13%
New Hampshire -$12 117,000 9%
New Jersey -$90 873,000 10%
New Mexico -$47 442,000 21%
New York -$332 3,185,000 16%
North Carolina -$166 1,708,000 17%
North Dakota -$6 57,000 8%
Ohio -$193 1,847,000 16%
Oklahoma -$66 615,000 16%
Oregon -$84 819,000 21%
Pennsylvania -$183 1,779,000 14%
Rhode Island -$20 181,000 17%
South Carolina -$93 875,000 18%
South Dakota -$11 104,000 12%
Tennessee -$141 1,345,000 20%
Texas -$411 3,997,000 15%
Utah -$26 253,000 9%
Vermont -$10 101,000 16%
Virginia -$99 941,000 11%
Washington -$114 1,113,000 16%
West Virginia -$36 350,000 19%
Wisconsin -$89 861,000 15%
Wyoming -$4 39,000 7%
Guam -$7 45,000 N/A
Virgin Islands -$4 27,000 N/A
Puerto Rico Block Grant  $0 N/A N/A
Total -$5,000 47,600,000 15%
Source: CBPP estimates based on USDA’s June 2013 Thrifty Food Plan, CBO May 2013 baseline, 2011 USDA data on SNAP Household Characteristics, recent USDA administrative data on the number of SNAP participants, and U.S. Census Bureau data on state populations.
Notes: The number of SNAP recipients shown is for a typical, or average month in fiscal year 2014.  In addition to the cuts shown in this table, an additional $6 billion in cuts are expected to occur in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 under CBO’s May 2013 food inflation projections.

Table 2
Estimated State-By-State Impact of the SNAP ARRA Repeal On Subpopulations
Number of Children Affected in FY 2014 Households With Children Affected in FY 2014 Benefit Loss to Households With Children
(in millions of dollars, November 2013-September     2014)
Number of Elderly or People With Disabilities Affected in FY 2014 Households With Elderly or People with Disabilities Affected in FY 2014 Benefit Loss to Households With Elderly or People With Disabilities
(in millions of dollars, November 2013-September 2014)
Alabama 423,000 214,000 -$71 157,000 144,000 -$23
Alaska 42,000 18,000 -$9 13,000 11,000 -$2
Arizona 538,000 251,000 -$84 147,000 134,000 -$18
Arkansas 232,000 117,000 -$37 91,000 86,000 -$12
California 2,285,000 1,171,000 -$373 154,000 123,000 -$17
Colorado 250,000 117,000 -$41 73,000 69,000 -$10
Connecticut 149,000 77,000 -$24 102,000 94,000 -$15
Delaware 68,000 34,000 -$11 23,000 21,000 -$3
District of Columbia 55,000 28,000 -$9 30,000 27,000 -$4
Florida 1,303,000 668,000 -$215 713,000 666,000 -$92
Georgia 892,000 441,000 -$152 295,000 260,000 -$36
Hawaii 70,000 33,000 -$18 39,000 34,000 -$7
Idaho 117,000 55,000 -$19 35,000 32,000 -$5
Illinois 886,000 425,000 -$145 349,000 322,000 -$47
Indiana 436,000 212,000 -$74 164,000 153,000 -$22
Iowa 174,000 87,000 -$27 69,000 60,000 -$8
Kansas 148,000 72,000 -$23 51,000 50,000 -$6
Kentucky 343,000 177,000 -$59 207,000 189,000 -$28
Louisiana 436,000 209,000 -$71 174,000 162,000 -$24
Maine 94,000 52,000 -$15 67,000 60,000 -$9
Maryland 301,000 154,000 -$46 147,000 128,000 -$17
Massachusetts 334,000 184,000 -$50 283,000 253,000 -$36
Michigan 769,000 394,000 -$131 461,000 409,000 -$67
Minnesota 239,000 112,000 -$33 114,000 104,000 -$10
Mississippi 307,000 148,000 -$49 119,000 112,000 -$15
Missouri 449,000 218,000 -$71 188,000 175,000 -$22
Montana 55,000 29,000 -$9 24,000 21,000 -$3
Nebraska 89,000 41,000 -$14 35,000 32,000 -$4
Nevada 167,000 77,000 -$24 63,000 59,000 -$7
New Hampshire 49,000 26,000 -$7 33,000 28,000 -$4
New Jersey 364,000 184,000 -$56 195,000 167,000 -$24
New Mexico 217,000 106,000 -$34 62,000 56,000 -$8
New York 1,211,000 649,000 -$207 1,064,000 944,000 -$163
North Carolina 758,000 389,000 -$118 285,000 246,000 -$31
North Dakota 29,000 15,000 -$5 13,000 12,000 -$2
Ohio 792,000 402,000 -$142 412,000 378,000 -$57
Oklahoma 294,000 145,000 -$49 116,000 106,000 -$13
Oregon 304,000 164,000 -$45 159,000 138,000 -$16
Pennsylvania 766,000 366,000 -$120 494,000 440,000 -$68
Rhode Island 64,000 36,000 -$11 46,000 42,000 -$6
South Carolina 401,000 200,000 -$66 142,000 127,000 -$17
South Dakota 52,000 24,000 -$8 20,000 18,000 -$3
Tennessee 560,000 278,000 -$95 252,000 224,000 -$29
Texas 2,360,000 1,085,000 -$342 672,000 609,000 -$95
Utah 151,000 64,000 -$22 38,000 34,000 -$5
Vermont 34,000 19,000 -$5 28,000 24,000 -$4
Virginia 415,000 211,000 -$68 174,000 160,000 -$18
Washington 456,000 231,000 -$67 234,000 208,000 -$27
West Virginia 141,000 75,000 -$23 98,000 87,000 -$11
Wisconsin 379,000 190,000 -$53 164,000 148,000 -$20
Wyoming 17,000 9,000 -$3 6,000 6,000 -$1
Guam 26,000 10,000 -$6 3,000 2,000 -$1
Virgin Islands 12,000 6,000 -$3 4,000 3,000 -$1
Total 21,500,000 10,700,000 -$3,460 9,100,000 8,200,000 -$1,192
Source: CBPP estimates based on USDA’s June 2013 Thrifty Food Plan, CBO May 2013 baseline, 2011 USDA data on SNAP Household Characteristics, recent USDA administrative data on the number of SNAP participants, and U.S. Census Bureau data on state populations.
Notes: The number of SNAP recipients shown is for a typical, or average month in fiscal year 2014.

End notes:

[1] For more information on the temporary benefit boost, see Stacy Dean and Dorothy Rosenbaum, “SNAP Benefits Will Be Cut for All Participants in November 2013,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Revised August 2, 2013, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3899.

 

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] FDA issues proposed rule to help ensure the safety of food for animals

Screen Shot 2013-10-29 at 4.53.02 AMFrom the FDA press release

FDA issues proposed rule to help ensure the safety of food for animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued a proposed rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) aimed at improving the safety of food for animals. This proposed regulation would help prevent foodborne illness in both animals and people and is open for public comments for 120 days. The proposal is part of the Food Safety Modernization Act’s larger effort to modernize the food safety system for the 21st century and focus public and private efforts on preventing food safety problems, rather than relying primarily on responding to problems after the fact.

The proposed rule would require makers of animal feed and pet food to be sold in the U.S.to develop a formal plan and put into place procedures to prevent foodborne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise.  The proposed rule would also require animal food facilities to, for the first time, follow proposed current good manufacturing practices that address areas such as sanitation.

“The FDA continues to take steps to meet the challenge of ensuring a safe food supply,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Today’s announcement addresses a critical part of the food system, and we will continue to work with our national and international industry, consumer and government partners as we work to prevent foodborne illness.”

The proposed rule would help ensure the safety of food for animals and prevent the transmission of agents in food for animals that could cause foodborne illness in both animals and people. People can get sick by handling contaminated food, such as pet food.

“This proposed rule on animal food complements proposed rules published in January 2013 for produce safety and facilities that manufacture food for humans to set modern, prevention-based standards for food safety,” said Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael R. Taylor. “They also work in concert with standards proposed in July 2013 to help ensure that imported foods are as safe as those produced domestically.”

The FDA will hold three public meetings on the Proposed Rule for Preventive Controls for Animal Food Facilities. The first meeting will be held on November 21, 2013 at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in College Park, MD. The second meeting will be on November 25, 2013 at the Ralph H. Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago. The third meeting will be held on December 6, 2013 at the John E. Moss Federal Building in Sacramento, CA. For more information, visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm247568.htm.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

And from http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm371395.htm

….The proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register, with a 120-day public-comment period. The rule is filed in FDA’s official docket at www.regulations.gov and can also be accessed at www.fda.gov/fsma

 

And from http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm371395.htm

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing preventive measures to protect all animal foods from disease-causing bacteria, chemicals and other contaminants.

This includes the food that pet owners give their dogs, cats and other companion animals, and the feed that farmers give their livestock.

Preventive Controls for Food for Animals is the fifth rule that FDA has proposed this year as part of the food-safety framework envisioned by the 2011 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that focuses on preventing foodborne illnesses.

Daniel McChesney, Ph.D., director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), explains that this rule proposes establishing a whole new set of protections for animal foods. Currently, the agency primarily gets involved when there is evidence of contaminated animal food on the market.

“Unlike safeguards already in place to protect human foods, there are currently no regulations governing the safe production of most animal foods. There is no type of hazard analysis. This rule would change all that,” says McChesney.

McChesney notes that human and animal health are intertwined. People can get sick when pet food is contaminated by disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella. When such food is handled by pet owners and placed on kitchen surfaces, the bacteria can spread to foods consumed by their family.

And if an animal has eaten feed contaminated with a chemical like dioxin and then enters the food supply, consumers could likewise absorb the chemical, putting their health at risk.

By helping to prevent the contamination of animal foods, the proposed rule protects pets and people alike, he says.

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Requiring a Safety Plan

This proposed rule would create regulations that address the manufacturing, processing, packing and holding of animal food. Good manufacturing practices would be established for buildings, facilities and personnel, and would include cleaning and maintenance, pest control, and the personal hygiene of people who work there.

It would also require facilities to have a food safety plan, perform an analysis of potential hazards, and implement controls to minimize those risks. Those controls would have to be monitored and corrected as needed.

While this rule is similar in many ways to the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule that FDA proposed in January 2013, McChesney explains that it is different in a number of ways because animals face different hazards.

For example, he says, the proposed animal rule doesn’t address allergens—substances that could cause an allergic reaction. That’s because animals don’t get the kind of life-threatening allergic reactions that people do. They might get a skin reaction but not the kind of physical shock that a food allergen could trigger in a person.

On the other hand, contaminants that endanger animals are sometimes tolerated better by people and were not as great a concern in crafting protections for human food. For example, some animals are much more vulnerable to aflatoxin, a toxin caused by mold, and could die after consuming food containing the toxin.

The animal rule is also designed to prevent nutrient imbalances in animal foods. Unlike people, who get their foods from many sources, an animal’s food is meant to be a complete and balanced diet, explains McChesney. If a food doesn’t have enough of a particular nutrient, the animal has no way to make it up. For example, cats need thiamine (also known as Vitamin B1) but their bodies don’t produce it. If they don’t get enough in their food, they can suffer severe neurological problems.

The proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register, with a 120-day public-comment period. The rule is filed in FDA’s official docket at www.regulations.gov and can also be accessed at www.fda.gov/fsma.

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Import Rules Add Safeguards

The proposed animal rule would work in concert with two rules proposed in July 2013 to help ensure that foods exported to the United States are held to the same FDA food safety standards applied to foods produced in the United States. Together, the three rules would help ensure the same level of safety for domestic and imported foods for animals.

In one of the most infamous examples of pet food contamination, dogs and cats across the country were sickened and killed in 2007 when melamine, a chemical used to make plastic, was added to pet food ingredients imported from China. McChesney noted that FDA received about 18,000 calls from anxious pet owners at the time.

The requirements proposed in both the animal and import rules are designed to help prevent that from happening again, he says.

Overall, McChesney says that the animal food supply is very safe. However, with the marketplace becoming more global and more diverse, more protections are needed. When you buy food for your animals, those ingredients could come from anywhere in the world, so animal food producers and their suppliers, no matter where they are based, have to be held to the same high standards, he says.

“Whether in the home or on the farm, people take the safety of their animals very seriously, and so do we,” says McChesney.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Oct. 25, 2013

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oral Probiotics: An Introduction

From the article at the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

Introduction

Probiotics are live microorganisms (e.g., bacteria) that are either the same as or similar to microorganisms found naturally in the human body and may be beneficial to health. Also referred to as “good bacteria” or “helpful bacteria,” probiotics are available to consumers in oral products such as dietary supplements and yogurts, as well as other products such as suppositories and creams. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any health claims for probiotics. This fact sheet provides a general overview of probiotics, with an emphasis on oral products, and suggests sources for additional information.

 

Key Points

  • Although some probiotic formulations have shown promise in research, strong scientific evidence to support specific uses of probiotics for most conditions is lacking.
  • Studies suggest that probiotics usually have few side effects. However, the data on safety, particularly long-term safety, are limited, and the risk of serious side effects may be greater in people who have underlying health conditions.
  • If you are considering a probiotic dietary supplement, consult your health care provider first. Do not replace scientifically proven treatments with unproven products or practices.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

 

Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics

Probiotics are not the same as prebiotics—nondigestible substances that stimulate the growth and/or activity of potentially beneficial microorganisms. The term “synbiotics” refers to products that combine probiotics and prebiotics.

About Probiotics

The concept behind probiotics was introduced in the early 20th century, when Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikoff, known as the “father of probiotics,” proposed in The Prolongation of Life: Optimistic Studiesthat ingesting microorganisms could have substantial health benefits for humans. Microorganisms are invisible to the naked eye and exist virtually everywhere. Scientists continued to investigate the concept, and the term “probiotics”—meaning “for life”—eventually came into use.

Picturing the human body as a “host” for bacteria and other microorganisms is helpful in understanding probiotics. The body, especially the lower gastrointestinal tract (the gut), contains a complex and diverse community of bacteria. (In the body of a healthy adult, cells of microorganisms are estimated to outnumber human cells by a factor of ten to one.) Although we tend to think of bacteria as harmful “germs,” many bacteria actually help the body function properly. Most probiotics are bacteria similar to the beneficial bacteria found naturally in the human gut.

Various mechanisms may account for the effects of probiotics on human health. Possible mechanisms include altering the intestinal “microecology” (e.g., reducing harmful organisms in the intestine), producing antimicrobial compounds (substances that destroy or suppress the growth of microorganisms), and stimulating the body’s immune response.

Probiotics commonly used in the United States include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. There are many specific types of bacteria within each of these two broad groups, and health benefits associated with one type may not hold true for others.

 

Government Regulation of Probiotics

Government regulation of probiotics is complex. Depending on a probiotic product’s intended use, the FDA might regulate it as a dietary supplement, a food ingredient, or a drug. Many probiotic products are sold as dietary supplements, which do not require FDA approval prior to marketing. Dietary supplement labels may make claims about how the product affects the structure or function of the body without prior FDA approval, but they cannot make health claims (claims that the product reduces the risk of a disease) without the FDA’s consent. (For more information about dietary supplements, seeUsing Dietary Supplements Wisely.) A product that is marketed as a drug must meet more stringent requirements. It must be proven safe and effective for its intended use through clinical studies (tests in people) and be approved by the FDA before it can be marketed.

Use of Probiotics in the United States

In the United States, probiotics are available as dietary supplements (including capsules, tablets, and powders) and in dairy foods (such as yogurts with live active cultures). According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, “prebiotics/probiotics” ranked fifth among natural products used for children, but were not among the top-ranking products for adults. Although probiotic products are more popular in Europe and Japan than in the United States, the U.S. consumer market for probiotics is growing rapidly.

Although the FDA has not approved any health claims for probiotics, they are used for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions such as infectious diarrhea, diarrhea associated with using antibiotics, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease (e.g., ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease). Probiotics are also being used for preventing tooth decay and for preventing or treating other oral health problems such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Some—but not all—probiotic formulations have been widely studied and show considerable promise. However, the rapid growth in marketing and consumer interest and use has outpaced scientific research on the safety and efficacy of probiotics for specific health applications.

 

What the Science Says

The potential of probiotics to benefit human health in many different ways has stimulated great interest and activity among researchers. For example, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Probiotic and Prebiotic Working Group, a trans-NIH effort to identify gaps and challenges in prebiotic/probiotic research.

Probiotic research is moving forward on two fronts: basic science (laboratory studies) and clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of probiotics for various medical conditions. Many early clinical trials of probiotics have had methodological limitations, and definitive clinical evidence to support using specific probiotic strains for specific health purposes is generally lacking. Nevertheless, there is preliminary evidence for several uses of probiotics, and more studies are under way. In particular, a recent review of the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of probiotics in acute infectious diarrhea concluded that there was evidence that probiotics may shorten the duration of diarrhea and reduce stool frequency but that more research was needed to establish exactly which probiotics should be used for which groups of people.

In 2008, the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases published a special issue on probiotics, which included an overview of clinical applications. Based on a review of selected studies, the authors classified several applications according to the strength of evidence supporting the efficacy of probiotics in prevention and/or treatment. For example, the authors concluded that strong evidence exists for acute diarrhea and antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and substantial evidence exists for atopic eczema (a skin condition most commonly seen in infants). Promising applications include childhood respiratory infections, tooth decay, nasal pathogens (bacteria harbored in the nose), gastroenteritis relapses caused by Clostridium difficilebacteria after antibiotic therapy, and inflammatory bowel disease. The authors also discussed various potential future applications.

Studies also indicate that probiotics may reduce side effects associated with treatment for Helicobacter pylori infection, the cause of most stomach ulcers. A systematic review suggests that there is strong evidence that probiotics may reduce the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe intestinal condition of premature newborns. Other potential future applications include use in reducing cholesterol levels, treating obesity, and managing irritable bowel syndrome.

 

Safety and Side Effects

It appears that most people do not experience side effects from probiotics or have only mild gastrointestinal side effects such as gas. But there have been some case reports of serious adverse effects, and research on safety is ongoing. A 2008 review of probiotics safety noted that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has been widely studied in clinical trials for a variety of conditions and generally found to be safe. Nevertheless, a recent review of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium noted that the long-term, cumulative effects of probiotics use, especially in children, are unknown, and also pointed to evidence that probiotics should not be used in critically ill patients. Similarly, a 2011 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality assessment of the safety of probiotics, partly funded by NCCAM, concluded that the current evidence does not suggest a widespread risk of negative side effects associated with probiotics. However, the data on safety, particularly long-term safety, are limited, and the risk of serious side effects may be greater in people who have underlying health conditions.

Concerns have also been raised about the quality of probiotic products. Some products have been found to contain smaller numbers of live microorganisms than expected. In addition, some products have been found to contain bacterial strains other than those listed as ingredients.

 

Saccharomyces boulardi (large cells) found along with bacteria in fermented fruit juice. Image width W: 18.3 micrometers.Saccharomyces boulardi (large cells) found along with bacteria in fermented fruit juice.
Photo Credit: SciMAT / Photo Researchers, Inc

If You Are Considering Probiotics

  • Our understanding of probiotics is a work in progress. Although probiotic products are marketed for many different uses, scientific evidence supporting specific uses is still limited, and the FDA has not approved any health claims for probiotics. Before using probiotics, learn as much as you can by talking to your health care provider and researching reliable sources of information.
  • Probiotic products may contain different types of probiotic bacteria and have different effects in the human body. The effects also may vary from person to person.
  • Do not replace scientifically proven treatments with unproven products and practices. Do not use a complementary health product, such as probiotics, as a reason to postpone seeing your health care provider about any health problem.
  • If you are pregnant or nursing a child, or if you considering giving a child a dietary supplement, such as probiotics, it is especially important to consult your (or your child’s) health care provider.
  • Anyone with a serious underlying health problem should be monitored closely for potential negative side effects while taking probiotics.
  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips on talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, seeNCCAM’s Time to Talk campaign.

 

Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Bifidobacterium bifidum. (Microscope magnification: 16,000x, image width: 8.0 micrometers.)Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Bifidobacterium bifidum.
Photo Credit: SciMAT/Photo Researchers, Inc

NCCAM-Funded Research on Probiotics

Recent NCCAM-supported research on probiotics has included clinical studies1 focused on:

  • Diarrhea in infants
  • Irritable bowel syndrome and minimal hepatic encephalopathy (a complication of liver disease)
  • An antibiotic-resistant type of bacteria
  • Yogurt beverages as a way of giving high doses of probiotics to young children.

NCCAM also supports laboratory studies that explore possible mechanisms of action for probiotics, providing a foundation for clinical research. For example, recent studies have found evidence that a strain of Lactobacillus reuteri might slow the growth of certain tumors, and that Lactobacillus acidophilusmight enhance the effects of a vaccine against rotavirus infection—the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in infants and children worldwide.

NCCAM’s clinical research program has designated probiotics as a high-priority topic for upcoming projects. Studies will focus on probiotics for addressing gastrointestinal disorders in infants and children, including necrotizing enterocolitis, colic, and irritable bowel syndrome; treating and preventing antibiotic-induced diarrhea; and enhancing the effects of flu vaccine.

1. NCCAM-supported clinical research includes studies conducted under FDA-approved investigational new drug applications. Before these studies can proceed to medically vulnerable populations, researchers carry out rigorous trials to determine safety in healthy adults or people with mild medical conditions.

Color enhanced scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus. A spirochete bacteria can also be seen at center.Color enhanced scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus. A spirochete bacteria can also be seen at center.
Photo Credit: SciMAT/Photo Researchers, Inc

Key References

Top

For More Information

NCCAM Clearinghouse

The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on NCCAM and complementary health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
1-866-464-3615
Web site:

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.

Acknowledgments

NCCAM thanks the following people for their technical expertise and review of the content update of this publication: Patricia Hibberd, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital for Children; Marguerite Klein, M.S., NIH Office of Dietary Supplements; and Linda Duffy, Ph.D., and John (Jack) Killen, Jr., M.D., NCCAM.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.

* Note: PDF files require a viewer such as the free Adobe Reader.

NCCAM Pub No.:
D345
Date Created:
January 2007
Last Updated:
December 2012

October 26, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

A Scientist Debunks The ‘Magic’ Of Vitamins And Supplements : Shots – Health News : NPR

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 8.14.15 AMA Scientist Debunks The ‘Magic’ Of Vitamins And Supplements : Shots – Health News : NPR.

From the 23 July 2013 NPR item

A pediatrician who spent years defending childhood vaccines against the likes of actress/activist Jenny McCarthy has launched an assault on megavitamins and dietary supplements.

“If you take large quantities of vitamin A, vtamin E, beta carotene [or] selenium you increase your risk of cancer, risk of heart disease, and you could shorten your life,” says Dr. Paul Offit, a researcher at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Many large studies in recent years have shown that vitamins and dietary supplements rarely help and often hurt, Offit says. Yet a huge number of people still believe that these products will improve their health. So, Offit says, he decided to challenge the false beliefs of “the church of vitamins and supplements.”

Offit made the remarks during an appearance in Washington, D.C., Monday to promote his latest bookDo You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.

Offit, an infectious disease specialist and the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine, is best known for publicly challenging groups that claim there is a link between childhood vaccines and autism. That effort often pitted him against actress Jenny McCarthy, who became a spokeswoman for anti-vaccine groups.

One big problem with dietary supplements is a 1994 law that exempts them from the tighter scrutiny the FDA applies to its regulation of medicines, Offit says. So the makers of a garlic supplement can say that it “supports cardiovascular health” even though a government study found that garlic supplements didn’t lower cholesterol. Meanwhile, Offit says, patients clearly benefit from a range of FDA-approved statin drugs that actually do what garlic supplements claim to do.

Dietary supplements are often advertised as “natural,” Offit says, even though that term can be misleading. For example, almonds are a natural source of vitamin E. But you would have to eat 17 pounds of almonds to get the amount of vitamin E in a single capsule sold by one supplement maker, Offit says. “So how is this a natural thing to do?”

Offit says doctors are partly to blame for the growing popularity of high-dose vitamins and other dietary supplements. Rather than pushing back against patients who want to take them, he says, doctors have acted like waiters at a restaurant, simply asking, “What would you like?”

Many hospitals also include unproved dietary supplements in their list of medicines available to patients, Offit says. But he says his own institution, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, plans to remove nearly all supplements from its list later this month.

Offit says his attack on dietary supplements has generated a steady stream of hate mail. But he says it’s not as harsh as the hate mail he used to get from people who believe vaccines cause autism. “This is more, I’m ‘a liar and a shill for the pharmaceutical industry,’ ” he says, “not, ‘You’re going to hell.’ “

Offit has some strong defenders, though, including former President Jimmy Carter and Carter’s wife, Rosalynn. They sat in the front row at Offit’s appearance in D.C. And during a question and answer session, the former president rose to tell Offit: “You’ve been a hero around our house for a long time.”

 

October 26, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Study Reveals Shocking Amount of Mercury in Many Foods we Eat

High-fructose corn syrup for sale

High-fructose corn syrup for sale (Photo credit: Steven Vance)

 

From the 20 October 2013 post at someone somewhere – from beyond the rainbow somewhere

 

According to The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency: Mercury poses a health risk to everybody but especially to young children and fetuses because they’re still developing.  Prolonged low level exposure may cause learning disabilities by hurting the ability of children to think and read.  Adults who have been exposed to high levels of mercury may experience trembling hands and numbness or tingling in their lips, tongues, fingers, and toes.  Acute mercury poisoning especially through ingestion, can damage the brain, liver, kidneys, and even cause death.

Research published in Environmental Health and conducted in part by a scientist at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has revealed that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is contaminated with the toxic heavy metal mercuryHigh-fructose corn syrup is used in almost everything, it seems. A second study conducted by David Wallinga, M.D., entitled “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury andHigh Fructose Corn Syrup” reveals that nearly one-third of all grocery items sweetened with HFCS  were contaminated with mercury

WHERE DOES ALL THE MERCURY COME FROM?

Most people don’t know how high-fructose corn syrup is really made. One of those processes is a bizarre chemical brew involving the creation of caustic soda by exposing raw materials to pools of electrified mercury in a large vat. Through this process, the caustic soda gets contaminated with mercury, and when corn kernels are exposed to this caustic soda to break them down, that contamination is passed through to the HFCS.

Another toxic chemical, glutaraldehyde, is also used in the production of HFCS. It’s so toxic that consuming even a small amount of it can burn a hole in your stomach.

…………

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Nutrition | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

[Reblog] Progress: Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Diabetes ‘No Different’ Than General Public

From the 14 October post at Science Blogging – Science 2.0

A new paper suggests that lifestyle advice for people with diabetes should be no different from that for the general public – but diabetes may benefit more from that same advice.

In the study, the researchers investigated whether the associations between lifestyle factors and mortality risk differ between individuals with and without diabetes.

Within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a cohort was formed of 6,384 persons with diabetes and 258,911 EPIC participants without known diabetes. Computer modelling was used to explore the relationship (in both those with and without diabetes) of mortality with the following risk factors: body-mass index, waist/height ratio, 26 food groups, alcohol consumption, leisure-time physical activity, smoking.

The researchers found that overall mortality was 62% higher in people with diabetes compared with those without. Intake of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pasta, poultry and vegetable oil was related to a lower mortality risk, and intake of butter and margarine was related to an increased mortality risk.

While the strength of the association was different in those with diabetes versus those without, the associations were in the same direction in each case (see table 2 full paper). No differences between people with and without diabetes were detected for the other lifestyle factors including adiposity, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and smoking.

The authors say: “It appears that the intake of some food groups is more beneficial (fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, pasta, poultry, vegetable oil) or more detrimental (soft drinks, butter, margarine, cake, cookies) with respect to mortality risk in people with diabetes. This may indicate that individuals with diabetes may benefit more from a healthy diet than people without diabetes. However, since the directions of association were generally the same, recommendations for a healthy diet should be similar for people with or without diabetes.”

 

 

October 15, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia becomes first in nation to disallow use of dietary supplements

From the 8 October 2013 EurekAlert

 

New hospital policies will improve patient safety, education

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) announced today that its Formulary- the list of medications approved for use- will no longer include most dietary supplements. The hospital said the action was being taken because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not routinely review the manufacturing of dietary supplements, and therefore cannot guarantee their safety and effectiveness. The move makes CHOP the first hospital in the United States to discourage patients from using these products without a doctor’s provision as a matter of policy.

“Because vitamins and dietary supplements are essentially unregulated, there is no sound information about adverse side effects, drug interactions, or even standard dosing for the vast majority of them,” said Sarah Erush, PharmD, BCPS, Pharmacy Clinical Manager and a member of the hospital’s Therapeutic Standards Committee. “Administering these medications – particularly to children with serious health complications– is unethical when the risks are unknown, and when there are alternative treatments that have been proven in clinical trials to be safe and effective.”

Dietary supplements are defined as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, enzymes and animal extracts meant to “supplement” the diet and are not intended to replace a healthy diet or to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. Melatonin, Echinacea, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, CoEnzyme Q10, milk thistle, and probiotics are some of the most commonly used supplements.

The hospital’s updated policy acknowledges that there are certain medical conditions that may require supplementation of vitamins or nutrients. To that end, the hospital has determined a very limited and carefully selected list of acceptable products that are proven to be of high quality and safe.

Under the hospital’s updated policy, parents or guardians will be asked upon admission whether the patient is taking any medication or supplements. If so, the attending nurse or physician will review the hospital’s policy discouraging the use of supplements and inform parents or guardians of the potential risks associated with the supplement. Potential risks include contamination, mislabeling, interactions with medications, or potential unforeseen adverse effects.

If, after receiving this information, a parent or guardian insists on continuing to give their child a dietary supplement that is not on the CHOP Formulary, they must sign a hospital waiver stating that they agree to be responsible for providing the product.

“Educating families is one of the most important reasons for implementing this new policy. Most people assume that supplements they buy at the health food store or online are strictly monitored or are safe because they are ‘all natural’,” said Erush. “But supplements are only subject to FDA review if an adverse event is reported, so there are many for which we have no reliable data. We’d much rather treat children with what we know works than provide them with a substance that may at best do nothing, or at worst, cause harm.”

In order to be included in CHOP’s formulary, all products must follow similar guidelines as for FDA-approved medications. If able to meet these criteria, pharmacy will stock and dispense as a formulary medication, avoiding the need for a waiver:

 

  • The product must have adequate safety and efficacy data to support use for the requested indication, including data in pediatric patients
  • There must be an available formulation with adequate quality assurance data

 

“CHOP has long embraced its responsibility to advance patient safety as the cornerstone to improving children’s health.” said Paul Offit, MD, Chair of the hospital’s Therapeutic Standards Committee. “Patients with chronic diseases use dietary supplements more frequently than the general population and are at greater risk for adverse events and interactions. Better monitoring and regulating the way we distribute these products is one more step we can take to make sure that we’re providing the best possible medical care for our children.”

 

###

 

About The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program receives the highest amount of National Institutes of Health funding among all U.S. children’s hospitals. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 527-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit http://www.chop.edu.

 

Diet supplement - omega 3 fish oil-based

Diet supplement – omega 3 fish oil-based (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Food prices and public health

From the 10 September post at Groping Towards Bethelem - Economics and Culture in Bite-Size Pieces

The University of Otago announced the results of some research in which I’ve been involved.  The relevant blog post is here. What I really like about the post is the moderate tone:

In the first paper from the SPEND Project, we found that across 20-odd food groups, low-income people and Māori tended to change their consumption of foods more in response to price changes, using New Zealand data.  This is entirely consistent with economic theory – and data about price impacts for other consumer goods such as tobacco.

This suggests – but does not prove for reasons we outline below – that taxes on ‘unhealthy’ foods like those high in saturated fat, salt, and sugar; and subsidies on ‘good’ foods like fruit and vegetables should not only improve diets across the board, but more so among socially disadvantaged groups with worse diets and health to start with.

But the proof is in the pudding, which in this case is the health and economic modelling to see what effect taxes and subsidies will actually have on disease rates.  And due to data limitations our modelling is still only half-baked, no matter which research group’s findings you look at.

The post goes on from there and explains more about the different bits of research.

Of course, there are all the problems with implementing such tax/subsidy programmes, and the philosophical issues with ‘nudges’ and individual welfare. But importantly, we now have better estimates of prices elasticities in order to make better calculations about gains and losses.

 

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Food and health…again

Yes, this post is a bit left of center from most of my posts.
But it does raise some valid concerns.
The related articles are just a few ways some folks are trying their best to alert us and coax us into changing unhealthy food choices.

 

From the 23 August 2013 post at eek.ology

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found this on the image site imgur.com recently and it blew me away with its accuracy. I’m living in a country which seems to produce food largely based on fat, salt and sugar. I walk into the supermarket and have to check ingredients on cheese and yoghurt and jam and ice cream to avoid rBGH and high fructose corn syrup. I go to a pharmacy and they’re selling crisps and chocolate and cigarettes and booze. Things that were once simple aren’t anymore.  Once I just needed to worry about cage free eggs. Now I’m trying to toss up the environmental damage of the food miles of cheese from Europe vs. the health implications of local cheese from cows that have been treated with rBGH.

Wendell Berry is right. The connection between food and health (and indeed our environment), while it is so blatantly, blatantly obvious, is so frequently ignored.  We ignore what is in front of our noses in both the literal and metaphorical sense every single day, and our health is getting worse for it.

 

Some Related Organizations (variety of types & organizational values)

 

August 28, 2013 Posted by | health care, Nutrition | , , , , | 1 Comment

Dietary Supplement Quality – Resources

Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B sup...

Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B supplement show above, are typically sold in pill form. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning I read a post about the health benefits of green tea.  It included a resource new to me – ConsumerLab.com. Their stated mission is to “identify the best quality health and nutritional products through independent testing”. To be honest, I was a bit wary. Testimonials always raise a red flag with me, I am not sure who the folks are and who initiated the testimonial. The section “Where to buy products” also concerned me, I was wondering if this was paid advertising…not that this alone would discredit the company. (Click here for tips on how to evaluate a Web site).

The Alliance for Natural Health has a decent review on Consumer Lab, outlining how Consumer Lab conducts business.
Consumer Lab  asks companies to pay for the tests. If the company does not wish to pay, Consumer Lab often conducts the test (through outsourcing to unidentified companies)  anyway without billing the company. And then publishes the results. Interesting… The

Dr. Sanford Levy, board certified in Integrative Holistic Medicine, has written a short informative article on the quality of Dietary Supplements. 

His professional judgements include the following

  • FDA (Food and Drug Adminstration) – Their final rules on dietary supplements tend to be reactive rather than proactive.
  • Consumerlab- He is rather neutral on how they operate, as opposed to The Alliance (above). He does note there is a $33 subscription fee to access the information at the site
  • Companies which certify manufacturers of supplements.
    (Beware though that even if a company is certified …this information is not necessarily included on the product label.)

    • uspcertificed.com -addresses bioavailability as well as chemical composition
    • Natural Products Association – addresses only chemical composition, not bioavailability
    • Emerson Ecologics- serves health care professionals as a distributor for multiple manufacturers. Emerson initiated a quality program in 2010, ranking manufacturers based on a number of criteria. Manufacturers who choose not to distribute through Emerson Ecologics will not be listed in any of the categories.

More detailed information on supplements by him at http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~shlevy/dietsuppqualitysafetyefficacy.htm
   His outline on supplement regulation is at
http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~shlevy/Regulation%20of%20Dietary%20Supplements.htm

He covers other topics at http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~shlevy/

August 26, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Nutrition, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News item] Should You Take Dietary Supplements? (with links to resources)

Someone I know takes a multitude of supplements. As this article points out, it is a good idea to get objective medical advice on which supplements may be helpful.  This person started taking Vitamin D on the advice of a friend to stop back pain. It did work. And to to be honest, I was very skeptical. After a year, he told his doctor, and the doctor said that it probably did help. However, I do think that overall if folks ate right that supplements would be unnecessary.
Also, as the article points out, supplements cannot reverse medical conditions or replace other therapies.
Looking for more information on supplements? Check out the resources below, after the article summary.

A Look at Vitamins, Minerals, Botanicals and More

From the NIH August 2013 Newsletter

Illustration of a woman shopping for dietary supplements.

When you reach for that bottle of vitamin C or fish oil pills, you might wonder how well they’ll work and if they’re safe. The first thing to ask yourself is whether you need them in the first place.

More than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. Supplements are available without a prescription and usually come in pill, powder or liquid form. Common supplements include vitamins, minerals and herbal products, also known as botanicals.

People take these supplements to make sure they get enough essential nutrients and to maintain or improve their health. But not everyone needs to take supplements.

“It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don’t have to take one,” says Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to NIH. “But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet.”

Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions. And the effects of many supplements haven’t been tested in children, pregnant women and other groups. So talk with your health care provider if you’re thinking about taking dietary supplements.

Read the entire article here

Resources

  • Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets (US National Institutes of Health)
    with links to decision making aids and consumer protection information
  • Dietary Supplement Label Database (US National Institutes of Health)
    ingredients of thousands of dietary supplements with information from the label on dosage, health claims and cautions
  • Drugs, Supplements, and Herbal Information (US National Library of Medicine)
    browse dietary supplements and herbal remedies to learn about their effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.
  • Longwood Herbal Task Force
    This site has in-depth monographs about herbal products and supplements written by health professionals and students. It provides clinical information summaries, patient fact sheets, and information about toxicity and interactions as well as relevant links. The task force is a cooperative effort of the staff and students from Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

 

August 6, 2013 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog]The rich really are different: Their bodies contain unique chemical pollutants

Disparity of rich and poor in Rio de Janeiro

Disparity of rich and poor in Rio de Janeiro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 5 August 2013 article at Quartz by Christopher Mims

“Tell me what kinds of toxins are in your body, and I’ll tell you how much you’re worth,” could be the new motto of doctors everywhere. In a finding that surprised even the researchers conducting the study, it turns out that both rich and poor Americans are walking toxic waste dumps for chemicals like mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and bisphenol A, which could be a cause of infertility. And while a buildup of environmental toxins in the body afflicts rich and poor alike, the type of toxin varies by wealth.

America’s rich are harboring chemicals associated with what are normally considered healthy lifestyles

People who can afford sushi and other sources of aquatic lean protein appear to be paying the price with a buildup of heavy metals in their bodies, found Jessica Tyrrell and colleagues from the University of Exeter. Using data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Tyrrell et al. found that compared to poorer people, the rich had higher levels of mercury, arsenic, caesium and thallium, all of which tend to accumulate in fish and shellfish.

The rich also had higher levels of benzophenone-3, aka oxybenzone, the active ingredient in most sunscreens, which is under investigation by the EU and, argue some experts, may actually encourage skin cancer.

America’s poor have toxins associated with exposure to plastics and cigarette smoke

Higher rates of cigarette smoking among those of lower means seem to be associated with higher levels of lead and cadmium. Poor people in America also had higher levels of Bisphenol-A, a substance used to line cans and other food containers, and which is banned in the EU, Malaysia, South Africa, China and, in the US, in baby bottles.

Previous research has established that rich Americans are more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables and less likely to eat “energy-dense” fast food and snacks, but this work establishes that in some ways, in moving up the economic ladder Americans are simply trading one set of environmental toxins for another.

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

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