Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Why Is the Federal Government Afraid of Fat? [Reblog]

Why Is the Federal Government Afraid of Fat?
F
rom a July 2015 post at Medication Health News

The New York ID-100303054Times has recently shared an interesting piece with their readers. Since 1980’s Dietary Guidelines and Federal food policies recommended limiting dietary fat in the American diet to less than 30% of a daily caloric intake. This recommendation has remained active since and is still used in the Nutrition Facts panel on all packaged foods. A number of recent studies of low-fat diets revealed no significant benefits in major cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer risk and weight gain. In fact, the only research that suggested a reduction in these conditions related to a Mediterranean-style diet with a higher 40% of total fat intake. Additionally, a harmful increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrates has occurred over the past several decades. For the first time the advisory committee for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines omitted the upper limit on total fat, focusing the recommendation on promoting healthy food consumption and improving the food quality rather than concentrating on the total fat content. In your opinion, is an average American ready to abandon the low-fat trend?

For additional information please read The NewYork times

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

Researchers find fructose contributes to weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat

Researchers find fructose contributes to weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat.
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From the 1 June 2015 University of Illinois news release

n the last 40 years, fructose, a simple carbohydrate derived from fruit and vegetables, has been on the increase in American diets. Because of the addition of high-fructose corn syrup to many soft drinks and processed baked goods, fructose currently accounts for 10 percent of caloric intake for U.S. citizens. Male adolescents are the top fructose consumers, deriving between 15 to 23 percent of their calories from fructose–three to four times more than the maximum levels recommended by the American Heart Association.

A recent study found that, matched calorie for calorie with the simple sugar glucose, fructose causes significant weight gain, physical inactivity, and body fat deposition.

“The important thing to note is that animals in both experimental groups had the usual intake of calories for a mouse,” said Rendeiro. “They were not eating more than they should, and both groups had exactly the same amount of calories deriving from sugar, the only difference was the type of sugar, either fructose or glucose.”

The results showed that the fructose-fed mice displayed significantly increased body weight, liver mass, and fat mass in comparison to the glucose-fed mice.

“In previous studies, the increases in fructose consumption were accompanied by increases in overall food intake, so it is difficult to know whether the animals put on weight due to the fructose itself or simply because they were eating more,” Rhodes said.

Remarkably, the researchers also found that not only were the fructose-fed mice gaining weight, they were also less active.

“We don’t know why animals move less when in the fructose diet,” said Rhodes. “However, we estimated that the reduction in physical activity could account for most of the weight gain.”

“Biochemical factors could also come into play in how the mice respond to the high fructose diet,” explained Jonathan Mun, another author on the study. “We know that contrary to glucose, fructose bypasses certain metabolic steps that result in an increase in fat formation, especially in adipose tissue and liver.”

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revealed: why GM food is so hard to sell to a wary public

Revealed: why GM food is so hard to sell to a wary public.

epa03907292 Belgian activists protest against the US chemical corporation Monsanto and their role in making Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Brussels, Belgium, 12 October 2013. Belgian anti-GMO activists joined a global protest against Monsanto who make GMOs as well as many toxic chemicals including pesticides, plastics and artificial food additives.  EPA/THIERRY ROGE

epa03907292 Belgian activists protest against the US chemical corporation Monsanto and their role in making Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Brussels, Belgium, 12 October 2013. Belgian anti-GMO activists joined a global protest against Monsanto who make GMOs as well as many toxic chemicals including pesticides, plastics and artificial food additives. EPA/THIERRY ROGE

 

From the 30 June 2015 article at The Conversation

Whether commanding the attention of rock star Neil Young or apparently being supported by the former head of Greenpeace, genetically modified food is almost always in the news – and often in a negative light.

GM divides opinion, and even individual people can find themselves pulled in two different ways. On the one hand it is a largely new technology and new tech often brings prosperity, solves problems and offers hope for the future. But this also makes it a step into the unknown and people are frightened of what they do not know, or what cannot be known.

In a study recently published in the journal Appetite, colleagues and I examined why some people reject GM technology. We were neither arguing for nor against GM, but rather we wanted to look at the characteristics which determine people’s views.

Specifically, we examined attitudes in the EU to two different types of genetic modifications made to apples. Both involve the introduction of genes to make them resistant to mildew and scab. The first is a gene that exists naturally in wild/crab apples. This is an example of what is called “cisgenesis”. In the second one the gene is from another species such as a bacterium or animal, and is an example of “transgenesis”.

As an idea of the gains available from this process, the production of a new apple cultivar may take 50 years or more. Gene transfer technologies can substantially shorten this. At the same time they may introduce characteristics from totally alien species which is virtually impossible to do naturally. This may then introduce many desirable qualities into the apple – for instance, in the hypothetical case we are analysing, the apples were made more resistant to disease.

We found people’s attitudes tend to be driven by their fears of risk, and their hopes of gain, with hopes being more important for cisgenesis (introduced genes from other apples) and the former for transgenesis (genes from other species).

But quite separate to risk and gain are perceptions that the technologies are “not natural”. Evidently people are disturbed when science takes us away from what they see as the laws of nature. People are also concerned about environmental impact.


People are more united in their disapproval of transgenesis (adding genes from other species). But, again, more educated people tend to be more approving as do men and the more prosperous, while older people tend to be more wary. Finally, for both technologies studying science, or having a father who studied science, impacted favourably on attitude

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Profiling the Adventurous Eater | Food and Brand Lab

Profiling the Adventurous Eater  – From the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab***.

Think you’re a foodie? Adventurous eaters, known as “foodies,” are often associated with indulgence and excess. However, a new Cornell Food and Brand Lab study shows just the opposite –adventurous eaters weigh less and may be healthier than their less-adventurous counterparts.

The nationwide U.S. survey of 502 women showed that those who had eaten the widest variety of uncommon foods — including seitan, beef tongue, Kimchi, rabbit, and polenta— also rated themselves as healthier eaters, more physically active, and more concerned with the healthfulness of their food when compared with non-adventurous eaters. “They also reported being much more likely to have friends over for dinner,” said lead author Lara Latimer, PhD, formerly at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and now at the University of Texas.

“These findings are important to dieters because they show that promoting adventurous eating may provide a way for people –especially women – to lose or maintain weight without feeling restricted by a strict diet,” said coauthor Brian Wansink, (author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life). He advises, “Instead of sticking with the same boring salad, start by adding something new. It could kick start a more novel, fun and healthy life of food adventure.” The article is published in the journal Obesity. It is authored by former Cornell researchers, Lara Latimer, PhD, (currently a Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin) and Lizzy Pope, PhD, RD (currently Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont), and Brian Wansink, (Professor and Director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.

Summary by Brian Wansink

***The Food and Brand Lab is an interdisciplinary group of graduate and undergraduate students from psychology, food science, marketing, agricultural economics, human nutrition, education, history, library science, and journalism along with a number of affiliated faculty.

Links to

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Beating Mindless Eating

Grocery Shopping Psychology

Restaurant Confidential

and other research areas with summaries of findings for us nonscientists!

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition, Psychology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consumers understand supplements help fill nutrient gaps, new survey shows | EurekAlert! Science News

Consumers understand supplements help fill nutrient gaps, new survey shows | EurekAlert! Science News.

From the 1 July 2015 news release

Washington, D.C., July 1, 2015–The vast majority of consumers recognize that multivitamins, calcium and/or vitamin D supplements can help fill nutrient gaps but should not be viewed as replacements for a healthy diet, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). Conclusions from the survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults were published in Nutrition Journal in a peer-reviewed article titled, “Consumer attitudes about the role of multivitamins and other dietary supplements: report of a survey,” authored by CRN consultant Annette Dickinson, Ph.D.; Douglas (Duffy) MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN; and Andrea Wong, Ph.D., vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, CRN.

“Our data suggest that policy makers and health professionals can recommend dietary supplements to help improve nutrient intakes without being concerned that this will cause consumers to discount the importance of eating a healthy diet,” Dr. Dickinson noted.

In the Nutrition Journal article, the authors cited U.S. government statistics indicating that a considerable percentage of U.S. adults fall short of recommended intakes for several nutrients, such as vitamins C, D and E. At the same time, Dr. Dickinson noted, “Surveys find that dietary supplement users tend to have better diets and adopt other healthy habits–suggesting that they view supplements as just one strategy in an array of health habits to help ensure wellness.” Further, CRN noted in the report that evidence demonstrates that incidence of over-nutrification with micronutrients is low.

Co-author Dr. MacKay advises the importance of CRN conducting this type of consumer research, noting, “As Americans continue to seek ways to stay healthy, dietary supplements play an important role, therefore, it’s important for our industry, as well as those in scientific, academic, health care practitioner and policy circles, to understand how consumers view that role.”

Related resources
MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

Learn about your prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines. Includes side effects, dosage, special precautions, and more.

Browse dietary supplements and herbal remedies to learn about their effectiveness, usual dosage, and drug interactions.

Information about label ingredients in more than 17,000 (most of 55,000 by 2016). selected brands of dietary supplements.  It enables users to compare label ingredients in different brands. Information is also provided on the “structure/function” claims made by manufacturers.
Features include historic information on supplements, calculators to compare nutrients and Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).
These claims by manufacturers have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Companies may not market as dietary supplements any products that are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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.

 

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

[News release] Savoring meals increases energy expenditure after meal intake

Savoring meals increases energy expenditure after meal intake.

From a May post at SciFeeds

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The benefits of eating slowly and chewing thoroughly have been proposed for over a century, but there has been little actual proof of the theory. Now, Naoyuki Hayashi and Yuka Hamada at Tokyo Institute of Technology have shown that, in the three-hour period after eating, energy expenditure is greater if the food was eaten slowly than if it was eaten quickly.

Read more …

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Seven projects to make progress on ethics and global food security in five years | EurekAlert! Science News

Seven projects to make progress on ethics and global food security in five years | EurekAlert! Science News. (21 May 2015)

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Making yet another commitment to go meatless 2 days/week.  Also again thinking about a year round smallish green house.
Like the idea of farmers/agricultural sector as being redefined as service industries – accent on social responsibility.

PBS had an eye opener on senior hunger, including Naples Florida.  Some were in gated communities – seems unexpected events (as major medical bills) made it impossible to afford the basics, including nutritious food.

Here’s the link to the segment –>    http://video.pbs.org/viralplayer/2365496095

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] The microbiome and the midnight snack: How gut microbes influence the body’s clock

From the 13 May 2015 Science Life article

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Poor sleep has long been linked with changes to the metabolism. Disruption of the body’s internal clock can lead to changes in appetite and cravings for unhealthy food, which in turn leads to more serious health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

New research from the University of Chicago highlights a third component to that cycle: the millions of microbes that live in the intestines. These organisms respond to the same environmental cues as their host organism; their activity and metabolism is intertwined with the sleep/wake cycles and feeding schedules of the animal.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] How used coffee grounds could make some food more healthful

How used coffee grounds could make some food more healthful 

From the 13 May 2015 American Chemical Society news release

 

Assessment of Total (Free and Bound) Phenolic Compounds in Spent Coffee Extracts
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Coffee has gone from dietary foe to friend in recent years, partly due to the revelation that it’s rich in antioxidants. Now even spent coffee-grounds are gaining attention for being chock-full of these compounds, which have potential health benefits. In ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers explain how to extract antioxidants from the grounds. They then determined just how concentrated the antioxidants are.

María-Paz de Peña and colleagues note that coffee — one of the most popular drinks in the world — is a rich source of a group of antioxidants called dietary phenolic compounds. Spent grounds, however, often end up in the trash. But recently, scientists have discovered that antioxidants aren’t just in the brewed coffee; they’re also in the used grounds. De Peña wanted to figure out the total phenolic content in extracts from these leftovers.

The researchers used three different methods to release antioxidants from spent grounds and found high levels of phenols in the extracts — sometimes at higher levels than in brewed coffee. Thus, they have the potential to serve as additives to enhance the potential health effects of other food products, the scientists conclude.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.

May 18, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Can Buttered Coffee Give You a Better Body?

483509445-coffee-butter-190x155From the March 2015 blog item by   at Clevelandclinic.org

Heart-healthy fats are good, but not in coffee

There’s a lot of hype lately about the most recent coffee trend. Take your morning cup-of-joe, add two tablespoons of butter and some oil, and call it Bulletproof Coffee. No doubt it’s an interesting flavor, but it’s the claims of increased energy and weight loss that seem to be giving this morning jolt traction.

It’s not just any butter and coffee. Those supporting this idea say it has to be unsalted, grass-fed butter and medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT) added to low-toxicity coffee beans. But can a mixture like that really live up to what proponents are saying?

What happens to butter in your body

There’s no real research into whether butter-spiked coffee is good for you, but we do know some things about how butter affects your digestion.

According to existing research, fat in butter contains glycosphingolipids, fatty acids that ward off gastrointestinal tract infections, especially in very young children and older adults.

Its omega-3 and omega-6 fats also slow down your body’s metabolism of caffeine, so you hold on to energy longer and avoid the crash that comes when the stimulant wears off.

More about MCT

MCT, most commonly found in coconut oil, is also good for our bodies and brains. When it comes to our bodies, we don’t store MCT in our adipose tissue, the fat around and inside our muscles, like the other dietary fats we eat.

Most of those fats are long-chain triglycerides, but MCTs are shorter. They travel directly to the liver where they’re processed into powerful energy particles called ketone bodies.

In addition, if your brain loses the ability to break down its primary fuel source, glucose, due to cognitive impairment or some other disorder, it can use ketone bodies as an excellent, alternative source. Researchshows that people with cognitive impairment who ingest MCT experience an almost immediate improvement in mental function.

My verdict

So, do the health benefits of butter and MCT mean you should add them to your morning coffee? To begin with, if you don’t already drink coffee, I don’t recommend you start. If you do, though, I still don’t endorse your adding butter and oil to it, and I have no plans to do it either.

Healthy fats and oils do have a place in our daily diets, but I’m not convinced that enhancing our coffee with them is the best way to incorporate them.

March 27, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] New knowledge strengthens risk assessment of chemical cocktails in food

From the THURSDAY 19 MAR 15 Technical University news release By Miriam Meister 

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Denmark’s largest research project on chemical cocktail effects infood, spearheaded by the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, has just been completed. It has established that even small doses of chemicals can have significant negative effects if they are present together. A reliable method for calculating the effects of chemical cocktails has been developed in the project. The project has also shown a need for limiting the Danish population’s exposure to certain substances.

The fact that the traditional way of assessing potential harmful effects of chemicals only takes the individual chemicals into account has long been of concern. Especially since this approach does not take into account the effects that can occur in humans when the chemicals are present at the same time in a cocktail. A serious concern is that substances can amplify each other’s effects, so that their combined effect becomes greater than what can be predicted by looking at the individual chemicals.

“Our research shows that indeed, little strokes fell great oaks also when it comes to chemical exposure. Going forward this insight has a profound impact on the way we should assess the risk posed by chemicals weare exposed to through the foods we eat.”

A recently completed, four-year research project on cocktail effects in foods, led by the National Food Institute, has established that when two or more chemicals appear together, they often have an additive effect. This means that cocktail effects can be predicted based on information from single chemicals, but also that small amounts of chemicals when present together can have significant negative effects.

”Our research shows that indeed, little strokes fell great oaks also when it comes to chemical exposure. Going forward this insight has a profound impact on the way we should assess the risk posed by chemicals we are exposed to through the foods we eat,” Professor Anne Marie Vinggaard from the National Food Institute says.

Danes’ exposure to chemicals via foods

In order to assess the risk posed by various chemicals, it is essential to know what the typical human exposure to a particular chemical is. The cocktail project has created an overview of the amount of pesticides and other contaminants that humans are exposed to via foods.

This work has shown that Danes’ intake of pesticides through foods is relatively limited. However, there is a need for reducing exposure to substances such as lead, cadmium, PCBs and dioxins.

The endocrine disrupting effects of chemicals have generally not been adequately studied. However, in cases where knowledge about the effects is available, the results show a need to reduce the intake of endocrine disrupting chemicals from current levels, such as phthalates and fluorinated chemicals.

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Magazine article] Pesticides in produce

Consumer Reports’ new guidelines show you how to make the best choices for your health—and for the environment

From the 19 March 2015 article

How risky are pesticides?   |  What’s the evidence that pesticides hurt your health?   |  Who may be at greatest risk from pesticide exposure?   |  Does eating organic mean I won’t be eating any pesticides?    |  Should I skip conventionally grown produce?   |  Rules to shop by 

 

 

Across America, confusion reigns in the supermarket aisles about how to eat healthfully. One thing on shopper’s minds: the pesticides in produce. In fact, a recent Consumer Reports survey of 1,050 people found that pesticides are a concern for 85 percent of Americans. So, are these worries justified? And should we all be buying organics—which can cost an average of 49 percent more than standard fruits and vegetables?

Experts at Consumer Reports believe that organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the people who grow our food. The risk from pesticides in produce grown conventionally varies from very low to very high, depending on the type of produce and on the country where it’s grown. The differences can be dramatic. For instance, eating one serving of green beans from the U.S. is 200 times riskier than eating a serving of U.S.-grown broccoli.

“We’re exposed to a cocktail of chemicals from our food on a daily basis,” says Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.H., director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body. “It’s not realistic to expect we wouldn’t have any pesticides in our bodies in this day and age, but that would be the ideal,” says Crupain. “We just don’t know enough about the health effects.”

If you want to minimize your pesticide exposure, see the chart below. We’ve placed fruits and vegetables into five risk categories—from very low to very high. (Download our full scientific report, “From Crop to Table.”) In many cases there’s a conventional item with a pesticide risk as low as organic. Below, you’ll find our experts’ answers to the most pressing questions about how pesticides affect health and the environment. Together, this information will help you make the best choices for you and your family.

 

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March 20, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] 4 Surprising Facts About Wheat and Gluten

From the March 2015 issue of Mother Jones

 

Is bread the devil? No, but it’s complicated. 

Is wheat a “perfect, chronic poison,” in the words of Wheat Belly author William Davis, or an innocuous staple that has been demonized to promote a trendy line of gluten-free products? I dug into the issue of wheat and its discontents recently, and walked away with some informed conjectures, but also a sense that the science is deeply unsettled. Now, a group of Cornell researchers (joined by one from Thailand) have performed a great service: For a paper published in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, they’ve rounded up and analyzed the recent science on wheat and the potential pitfalls of eating it. Here are the key takeaways:……

March 15, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl: A Collection of Recipes for Schools and Child Care Centers

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From the 23 February post at the USDA blog

This is the third installment of the What’s Cooking? Blog Series. In honor of the Let’s Move 5th Anniversary, and the commitment USDA shares with Let’s Move to promote healthy eating and access to healthy foods, this month-long series will high­­light the various features of the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl recipe website.

USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services is excited to have an interactive website that can help Child Nutrition professionals expand their portfolio of recipes.  The newly released What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl Web site is a searchable database of recipes that can be used by school nutrition and child care center professionals in their foodservice operations.

The What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl includes more than 1,000 mouth-watering recipes that are scaled for large quantity foodservice.  Most recipes for school nutrition yield 50 or 100 portions per recipe, while most recipes for child care centers yield 25 or 50 portions per recipe.  So that these popular dishes can be shared with parents and prepared at home, many of these recipes are available in the household search with fewer portions per recipe.

More than 400 large quantity recipes have been standardized by USDA and include information on how the recipe contributes toward the updated meal pattern requirements for the National School Lunch Program and other USDA Child Nutrition Programs.  Many of the remaining recipes are being analyzed for nutritional and crediting information, and will be available in the coming year.  In addition, most recipes are available in both English and Spanish.

Large quantity recipes found in the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl were compiled from a variety of resources, including the popular Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook for Schools and Cookbook for Child Care Centers.  Recipes from this series of cookbooks were taste-tested and student-approved as part of the 2010 Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition.  Many of these recipes have become quite popular in the lunch line, so school nutrition and child care professionals should definitely give them a try!

One of the exciting functions of the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl is the unique voting component which allows users to rate each recipe up to 5 stars.  This allows school and child care professionals to search and sort the database according to these star ratings, making it easier to find tried-and-true large quantity recipes for their food service operations.

The What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl offers school nutrition and child care professionals a one-stop-shop for delicious and healthy large quantity and home recipes.  Go online today and spice up your meal program with some new and exciting recipes!

– See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/02/23/whats-cooking-usda-mixing-bowl-a-collection-of-recipes-for-schools-and-child-care-centers/#sthash.jhGIkGUz.dpuf

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

[News releae] Fast Food Giants’ Ads for Healthier Kids Meals Don’t Send the Right Message

BK Meal

BK Meal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 5 March 2015 Dartmouth news release

Fast food giants attempts at depicting healthier kids’ meals frequently goes unnoticed by children ages 3 to 7 years old according to a new study by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. In research published on March 31, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald’s and Burger King children’s advertising images depicting that product. Sliced apples in Burger King’s ads were identified as apples by only 10 percent of young viewers; instead most reported they were french fries.

Other children admitted being confused by the depiction, as with one child who pointed to the product and said, “And I see some…are those apples slices?”

The researcher replied, “I can’t tell you…you just have to say what you think they are.”

“I think they’re french fries,” the child responded.

Almost Half of Energy Drink TV Ads Shown on Channels for Teens (Dartmouth press release)

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Traffic light food labels strengthen self-control

English: yellow traffic light Español: señal d...

English: yellow traffic light Español: señal de tráfico amarilla Deutsch: gelbes Verkehrszeichen Français : feux de signalisation jaunes Italiano: segnale stradale giallo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 9 March 2015 AlphaGalileo news release

Should food products be labeled with traffic light symbols to make health-related information on ingredients easier to understand? This question has remained a subject of debate. Now researchers at the University of Bonn have reached the conclusion that the traffic light label is more effective in helping consumers resist high-calorie foods than a purely information-based label. Scientists observed study participants in the brain scanner as they made purchase decisions. The study has just been published in the journal Obesity.

Red, yellow, green: The traffic signal labels on packages are supposed to be an easy-to-understand indication of the overall “healthiness” of a food product. For example, “red” symbolizes a high percentage of fat, sugar or salt, “green” a lower percentage. Just as on an actual traffic light, yellow falls in the middle. ” This is the first study that analyzes the effect that traffic light signals have on the evaluation processes in the consumer’s brain when making a purchase decision”, says Prof. Dr. Bernd Weber of the Center for Economics and Neuroscience (CENs) at the University of Bonn. Do the “traffic lights” help consumers choose a healthier diet when grocery shopping? Scientists from the CENs have addressed this question in a recent study.

 

March 10, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] The Top 6 Healthy Foods to Put In Your Shopping Cart

Mushrooms, now that’s new to me!

From the 10 February post at Next Avenue

Are there good-for-you food staples that make it onto the weekly grocery list of health experts regardless of headlines or hype about superfoods?

From doctors to scientists to dietitians, here’s a quick look at what six of the country’s top health experts are stashing in their shopping carts. You’ll notice the short list centers on whole foods, particularly a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Keep building them into your weekly shopping list, experts say, and you’ll stay on the road to good health.

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February 13, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | | Leave a comment

[Press release] ASU students find income, education affect calorie menu use

From the 5 February Arizona State University press release

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ASU students find income, education affect calorie menu use
Melissa Wenzel

Fast food restaurants around the country are starting to look a little different. Step up to the counter and you may notice calorie counts listed next to food items on the menu. Which customers notice and use that information to make healthier choices depends on their income and education level.

A newly published research study conducted by graduate students Jessie Green and Alan Brown under the guidance of Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, a nutrition researcher at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University, examined whether noticing and using calorie menu labels was associated with demographic characteristics of customers at a national fast food chain currently posting calorie counts. They found that approximately 60 percent of participants noticed the calorie menu labels but only 16 percent reported using the labels to determine food and beverage choices.

Green and her co-authors found that customers with higher incomes were twice as likely to notice the calorie labels and three times more likely to use them.

The study, published today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the first of its kind specifically designed to examine the likelihood of customers noticing and using calorie menu labels in fast food restaurants in a mixed income and racially diverse sample of adults.

“Studies show consumers and nutritionists alike have trouble estimating the calorie and nutrient content of a restaurant meal,” Ohri-Vachaspati said. “Because fast food is a popular choice among Americans, we wanted to see how effective menu labeling was and if it helped customers make healthier choices. What we found, however, was that while the majority of customers noticed the labels, a very small percentage reported using them to influence their purchasing decisions, and customers with lower income and lower education levels reported using menu labels to a much lesser extent.”

In the United States, fast food is the second-largest source of total energy in the diets of children and adolescents. Studies have found frequently eating out at fast food restaurants is associated with greater weight gain and obesity, leading to a plethora of chronic health issues.

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Study Helps Predict Pesticide Exposure in Diet

From the 2 February 2015 Boise University press release

While health-conscious individuals understand the benefits of eating fresh fruits and veggies, they may not be aware of the amount of pesticides they could be ingesting along with their vitamin C and fiber. A new study published in the Feb. 5 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives is among the first to predict a person’s pesticide exposure based on information about their usual diet.

FreshFruit620x320

 

The study was led by Cynthia Curl, an  assistant professor in Boise State University’s School of Allied Health Sciences. She recently joined Boise State from the University of Washington.

While Curl’s study is not the first to link organic produce with reduced pesticide exposure, the method she used may have significant implications for future research. By combining self-reported information on typical food consumption with USDA measurements, researchers will be able to conduct research on the relationship between dietary pesticide exposure and health outcomes in bigger populations, without needing to measure urinary metabolites.

“If we can predict pesticide exposure using dietary questionnaire data, then we may be able to understand the potential health effects of dietary exposure to pesticides without having to collect biological samples from people,” Curl said. “That will allow research on organic food to be both less expensive and less invasive.”

 

February 6, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] UMass Medical School, WPI developing smartphone app to address stress eating

Last week I started using  the USDA nutrition/exercise SuperTracker after a hiatus of three years.
Agree –  stress is indeed a reason for overeating, this app would most likely help me.

From the 2 February 2015 University of Massachusetts press releaseBy Megan Bard, UMass Medical School Communications,and Michael Cohen, WPI Communications

Researchers at UMass Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute are developing a stress-eating smartphone app that will help users better understand why they overeat, with the support of a $2 million award from the National Institutes of Health.

Sherry Pagoto, PhD, and Bengisu Tulu, PhD, are principal investigators for a $2 million NIH grant that will fund the research and development of a state of the art app for weight and stress management.
Sherry Pagoto, PhD
Bengisu Tulu, PhD, of WPI is co-principal with Sherry Pagoto on a $2 million NIH grant that will fund the research and development of a state of the art app for weight and stress management.
Bengisu Tulu, PhD

Development of the “RELAX” application and a pilot clinical study to evaluate its effectiveness will be led by Sherry Pagoto, PhD, associate professor of medicine at UMMS, and Bengisu Tulu, PhD, associate professor in the WPI Foisie School of Business, joint principal investigators on the grant.

“Most commercial apps available today focus on tracking diet and exercise, but do not help the user understand why they are eating so much and/or exercising so little,” Dr. Pagoto said. “Our clinical and research experience suggests that stress is a very common trigger for overeating and it is a barrier to exercise.”

RELAX will have two components: a mobile application that will enable patients to track their daily activities using a smartphone and a web-based tool clinicians can use to access patient information to help inform treatment.

“We want to use technology to help patients in real time, during their daily activities, and also to enhance the effectiveness of the time they spend face-to-face with their physician or counselor,” Dr. Tulu said.

Using text inputs, barcode scanning and GPS technology, the RELAX patient app will track eating patterns, daily activities, exercise, patient-mood and stress inducing events. The app will provide the patient with an itemized list of foods consumed, indicate the times of day identified as high-stress moments and illustrate the relationship between food intake and stress. The information collected will help the user to better understand his or her habits when it comes to emotional or stress eating.

For example, the patient-facing application will provide coaching for dietary choices or guided stress-reduction exercises to lessen the likelihood of overeating.

“Imagine a person driving into the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, at a certain time of day, and getting prompted with a message asking them to think about what they are feeling and whether or not it is the right time to eat,” Tulu said.

Clinicians will be able to access their patients’ information collected through the RELAX patient app using the web-based application. The web tool will present information as easily digestible visual displays and feedback reports for the clinician to review.

Much of the time during traditional weight-loss counseling sessions is spent reviewing paper self-monitoring records and soliciting information from the patient about factors impacting their adherence, such as stress and stress eating. By using the RELAX web tool, clinicians can more quickly get to the heart of causal factors behind the patient’s eating habits, which can be difficult to identify using traditional counseling. The research team believes RELAX will help patients achieve better outcomes with fewer visits to their doctor or counselor.

The researchers hope the interactive design and the clinician’s ability to engage with the patient in a more data-rich way, both unique features of the RELAX application, will enable a more comprehensive approach to counseling patients about weight and stress management.

Read the entire article here

February 2, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] What if Everything You Knew About Grains Was Wrong?

From the 19 March 2014 post by Twilight Greenaway at Civil Eats

A variety of foods made from wheat.

A variety of foods made from wheat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First it was produce. Then the local food movement expanded to take on meat. Now it’s all about grains.

Nothing proves this point more than the packed room I found myself in last Sunday morning. At the point in the week when most people are unfurling their copy of the New York Times, or making their second leisurely café au lait, I filed in to the back of the dining area at Oliveto, a high-end Italian restaurant in Oakland, to join around 100 people gathered to discuss local grains.

The event was hosted by Community Grains, a Bay Area company founded by Oliveto owner Bob Klein, which sells local whole grain flour, pasta, polenta, and beans. It brought restaurateurs, foodies, journalists, bakers like Tartine Bakery’s Chad Robertson, who has been using local and heirloom grain varieties in recent years, and farmers such as Paul Muller from the iconic Full Belly Farm out on a Sunday morning.

The post continues with points made at the presentation, including

  • Milling destroys nutrients. “The heat, oxygenation, and stress of the milling process makes the vitamins nearly impossible to recover.”
  • Many whole wheat products result from bran  added back in to white flour
  • “Grocery store products only need to be 51 percent whole grain to receive one of those brown and orange “Whole Grain” stamps by the Whole Grains Council.”
  • “Wheat is generally much more minerally dense than other staple crops,” said Killilea. “But most nutrients get milled out. We lose half the B vitamins, and lots of the vitamin E.” This last part is important, because wheat is a source of gamma vitamin E (or gamma tocopherol), which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Today, however, Pollan has hope. He pointed to a new crop of grain farmers, like the ones working with Community Grains, such as Front Porch Farm and the Mendocino Grain Project, who are breeding wheat for flavor and old world baking. Combine this trend with innovative milling techniques, and Pollan believes we can have healthy bread that tastes good too–and not just in foodie enclaves like the Bay Area. “We need to create a whole economy, in fact a whole culture, that will make whole grain bread fantastic tasting,” he told the crowd.

– See more at: http://civileats.com/2014/03/19/what-if-everything-you-knew-about-grains-was-wrong/#sthash.mKQhYrzm.dpuf

January 27, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oranges versus orange juice: Which one might be better for your health? — ScienceDaily

Oranges versus orange juice: Which one might be better for your health?

From the ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: January 21, 2015

In Vitro Bioaccessibility of Carotenoids, Flavonoids, and Vitamin C from Differently Processed Oranges and Orange Juices [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck]
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Many health advocates advise people to eat an orange and drink water rather than opt for a serving of sugary juice. But in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report that the picture is not clear-cut. Although juice is indeed high in sugar, the scientists found that certain nutrients in orange juice might be easier for the body to absorb than when a person consumes them from unprocessed fruit.

Ralf Schweiggert, Julian Aschoff and colleagues note that oranges are packed with nutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoids that, among other benefits, can potentially help lower a person’s risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. But many people prefer to drink a glass of orange juice rather than eat the fruit. Sugar content aside, are they getting the same nutritional benefits? Schweiggert’s team set out to answer that question.

The researchers found that the production of pasteurized orange juice slightly lowered the levels of carotenoids and vitamin C. But at the same time, it significantly improved the carotenoid and vitamin C bioaccessibility — or how much the body can absorb and use. And contrary to conventional wisdom, although juicing oranges dramatically cut flavonoid levels, the remaining ones were much more bioaccessible than those in orange segments.

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[press release] Current nutrition labeling is hard to digest

Current nutrition labeling is hard to digest

From the 20 January 2015 McGill University press release

Study compares four types of nutrition labels, the least effective being the one currently required in Canada and the US.
PUBLISHED: 20 JAN 2015

Current government-mandated nutrition labeling is ineffective in improving nutrition, but there is a better system available, according to a study by McGill University researchers published in the December issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

The researchers compared four different labeling systems and found that the Nutrition Facts label currently required on most food products in the US and Canada was least useable. That label, which lists the percent daily value of several nutrients, took more time to understand and led to nutrition choices hardly different from chance. Another label type, NuVal, enabled quick and nutritious choices. NuVal is a shelf sticker used in some American food markets, which indicates the overall nutritional value of each food item with a number from 1-100.

Resolving “nutrition conflicts”

“Food shoppers typically have a limited amount of time to make each food choice, and they find the Nutrition Facts labels to be confusing and difficult to use,” says Peter Helfer, lead author and PhD student in Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill. “One product may be low in fat, but high in sugar, while another product may be just the opposite. Nutrition Facts labels can highlight nutrition conflicts but fail to resolve them. Even educated and motivated shoppers have difficulty picking out the most nutritious product with these labels.”

NuVal scores are calculated by nutrition experts at several universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Northwestern, and emphasize both the positive and negative aspects of each food. By reducing nutritional content to a single number, NuVal labels resolve nutrition conflicts.

Two other labeling methods produced mixed results. The Traffic Light system used in the UK allowed for a bit more nutritious choices than chance. But it took more time to use, because the colors of several traffic lights have to be counted and compared. Labels that certify some foods as nutritious, but not others, are used in Denmark, Sweden, and Canada. These allowed quick decisions, but did not increase nutritious choices. “Such certification labels are not sufficiently discriminating to produce consistently better nutrition. They also create controversies about exactly where to draw the line between nutritious and harmful foods,” says co-author Thomas Shultz, Professor of Psychology and Computer Science at McGill.

The widespread availability of low-nutrition, high-calorie food is believed to be an important cause of an epidemic of obesity and associated diseases throughout the world. Shultz argues that “Empowering consumers to make healthier food choices with valid and useful nutrition labeling could help to stem this epidemic. If consumers have the information to make nutritious choices, this could nudge food sellers and producers to improve their products.”

Picture: compared labelling systems (%Daily Value, Traffic Light, NuVal, and Heart)

The effects of nutrition labeling on consumer food choice: a psychological experiment and computational model
Peter Helfer, Thomas R. Shultz
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Dec. 2014
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24913496

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] More holistic approach needed when studying the diets of our ancestors

More holistic approach needed when studying the diets of our ancestors.

[Journals]: More holistic approach needed when studying the diets of our ancestors

Contact: Emily Murphy / 773-702-7521 / emurphy@press.uchicago.edu

According to an article in the December 2014 issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology, current studies modeling the diets of early hominids are too narrow.

Researchers have long debated how and what our ancestors ate. Charles Darwin hypothesized that the hunting of game animals was a defining feature of early hominids, one that was linked with both upright walking and advanced tool use and that isolated these species from their closest relatives (such as ancestors of chimpanzees); modified versions of this hypothesis exist to this day. Other scholars insist that while our ancestors’ diets did include meat, it was predominantly scavenged and not hunted. Still others argue that particular plant foods such as roots and tubers were of greater importance than meat in the diets of these species.

 

Research technology has come a long way since Darwin’s time, making possible the kind of analysis early scholars could only have imagined. Recent work has presented reconstructions of early hominid diets on the basis of chemical makeups of fossil tooth enamel, evidence of microscopic wear on teeth, and advanced studies of craniodental anatomy, to name a few.

 

However, according to Ken Sayers (Georgia State University) and C. Owen Lovejoy (Kent State University) in an article published in the December 2014 issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology, although modern-day technology provides valuable insight, such tools alone cannot provide a complete picture of the diet of early hominids. Instead, they should be included—alongside other methodologies—in holistic studies grounded in the fundamentals of modern evolutionary ecology.

 

Sayers and Lovejoy suggest that researchers should examine a species’ particular habitat and “whole-body” anatomy, including digestion, locomotion, and possible cognitive abilities. In particular, foraging theory—a branch of evolutionary ecology that investigates animal feeding decisions through the lens of efficiency principles—is especially important to consider, as it demonstrates that diet is regulated by the potential value and costs of exploiting individual food items (whether plant, animal, or other) and by the relative abundance of the most profitable foods. In the case of the earliest-known hominids, evidence about their morphology and likely cognitive abilities—in addition to data obtained from modern technologies—provide little support for a reliance on any one particular food type. Rather, these species likely had a broadly omnivorous diet that became increasingly generalized over time.

 

According to Sayers and Lovejoy, the early hominid diet can best be elucidated by considering the entire habitat-specific resource base and by quantifying the potential profitability and abundance of likely available foods. Furthermore, they warn that hypotheses focusing too narrowly on any one food type or foraging strategy—such as hunting or scavenging or any one particular plant category—are too restrictive and should be viewed with caution. Modeling these species’ diets instead “requires a holistic, interdisciplinary approach that goes beyond merely what we can observe chemically or through a microscope, and draws from ecology, anatomy and physiology, cognitive science, and behavior.”

 

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

[Press release] Controlling obesity with potato extract

Controlling obesity with potato extract.

From the 9 December 2014 McGill University press release

Extract of Irish potatoes, rich in polyphenols, reduces weight gain to a surprising extent
Published: 9Dec2014

Take a look in your pantry: the miracle ingredient for fighting obesity may already be there. A simple potato extract may limit weight gain from a diet that is high in fat and refined carbohydrates, according to scientists at McGill University.

The results of their recent study were so surprising that the investigators repeated the experiment just to be sure.

Investigators fed mice an obesity-inducing diet for 10 weeks. The results soon appeared on the scale: mice that started out weighing on average 25 grams put on about 16 grams. But mice that consumed the same diet but with a potato extract gained much less weight: only 7 more grams. The benefits of the extract are due to its high concentration of polyphenols, a beneficial chemical component from the fruits and vegetables we eat.

“We were astonished by the results,” said Prof. Luis Agellon, one of the study’s authors. “We thought this can’t be right – in fact, we ran the experiment again using a different batch of extract prepared from potatoes grown in another season, just to be certain.”

The rate of obesity due to over-eating continues to rise in Canada, affecting 1 in every 4 adults. Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to this study, potato extracts could be a solution for preventing both obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Extract derived from 30 potatoes

“The daily dose of extract comes from 30 potatoes, but of course we don’t advise anyone to eat 30 potatoes a day,” says Stan Kubow, principal author of the study, “as that would be an enormous number of calories.” What the investigators envisage instead is making the extract available as a dietary supplement or simply as a cooking ingredient to be added in the kitchen.

Popularly known for its carbohydrate content, the potato is also a source of polyphenols. “In the famous French diet, considered to be very healthy, potatoes – not red wine – are the primary source of polyphenols,” says Kubow. “In North America, potatoes come third as a source of polyphenols – before the popular blueberries.”

A low-cost solution

“Potatoes have the advantage of being cheap to produce, and they’re already part of the basic diet in many countries,” Kubow explains. “We chose a cultivated variety that is consumed in Canada and especially rich in polyphenols.”

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

[News item] Each dollar spent on kids’ nutrition can yield more than $100 later

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 5.26.07 AMFrom the 8 December 2014 ScienceDaily article

Date: December 8, 2014
Source: University of Waterloo
Summary: There are strong economic incentives for governments to invest in early childhood nutrition, reports a new paper that reveals that every dollar spent on nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can provide a country up to $166 in future earnings.

There are strong economic incentives for governments to invest in early childhood nutrition, reports a new paper from the University of Waterloo and Cornell University. Published for the Copenhagen Consensus Centre, the paper reveals that every dollar spent on nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can provide a country up to $166 in future earnings.

“The returns on investments in nutrition have high benefit-cost ratios, especially in countries with higher income levels and a growing economy,” said Professor Susan Horton, of the School of Public Health and Health Systems and the Department of Economics at Waterloo.

Children who are undernourished during the first 1,000 days of their lives typically show stunted growth patterns by the age of three and have poorer cognitive skills than their well-fed peers. As adults they are less educated, earn lower wages and have more health problems throughout their lives.

“Height-for-age is a much better measure of health than weight-for-age. It is also predictive of economic outcomes,”

Currently, the World Health Organization is aiming to reduce stunting among children under age five by 40 per cent as part of its 2025 nutrition goals, and it is widely expected that the rate of stunting will also be included in its Sustainable Development Goals, which will be announced in 2015.

More information can be found at: http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus/nutrition

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] 3-D printing to the rescue of gastronomy for frail seniors — ScienceDaily

 

 

Elderly334x2403-D printing to the rescue of gastronomy for frail seniors — ScienceDaily.

Excerpt

Date: December 4, 2014
Source: youris.com
Summary: Researchers are now developing personalised food for elderly people with chewing or swallowing problems, by working on printable versions of meat and vegetables.

December 5, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Interactive chart] Snake oil? Scientific evidence for popular nutritional supplements

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 5.57.56 AM

 From the Web site

This image is a “balloon race”. The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble.

You might also see multiple bubbles for certain supps. These is because some supps affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there’s strong evidence that Green Tea is good for cholesterol levels. But evidence for its anti-cancer effects is conflicting. In these cases, we give a supp another bubble.

This visualisation generates itself from this Google Doc. So when new research comes out, we can quickly update the data and regenerate the image. (How cool is that??)

Sources: PubMed, Cochrane.org

 

The interactive chart allows one to filter by health condition and supplement type (as enzyme, plant/herb). Data in this Google spreadsheet.

 

Related resources

MEDLINE plus: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Trusted health information links from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Includes basic information, news, organizations, specific conditions, multimedia, financial issues, and more

Bandolier: Evidenced Based Thinking about Healthcare – Alternative Medicine
The site brings together the best evidence available about complementary and alternative therapies for consumers and professionals. It contains stories, systematic reviews and meta-analyses of complementary and alternative therapies with abstracts.

Herbs at a Glance  Series of brief fact sheets that provides basic information about specific herbs or botanicals—common names, what the science says, potential side effects and cautions, and resources for more information. NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)

Office of Cancer Complementary Alternative Medicine  The NIH, National Cancer Institute (NCI) Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine (OCCAM) was established in October 1998 to coordinate and enhance the activities of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the arena of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
Quackwatch.com  Nonprofit  whose purpose is to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies. Information on quackery, questionable therapies and more

 

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Do probiotics work? | Science Life

Do probiotics work? | Science Life.

From the 25 November 2014 University of Chicago press release

probiotic-yogurt

Walk past the dairy case or health food section of any grocery store and you’ll see a variety of yogurts, milk, shakes and even granola bars that say they contain probiotics. These “good” bacteria are added to foods to promote a healthy environment of microorganisms in the digestive tract, supposedly to aid in digestion and promote good gastrointestinal health. Are these claims based in real science, or are they just another food fad to squeeze money out of consumers?

We spoke to Stefano Guandalini, MD, Section Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and Medical Director of the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago, about probiotics and prebiotics, the precursor that provides fuel for the supposedly beneficial bacteria. He and his colleagues published a review paper recently looking at various studies and clinical trials that used pre- and probiotics to treat symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children. The following is an edited version of that conversation.

Many people are familiar with the term probiotics, but what are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are basically the metabolic fuel for probiotics. It’s a term that encompasses a number of mostly carbohydrates that are present in vegetables and grains, for instance in wheat, artichokes, legumes, etc. They are only partially digested by the human intestinal tract, so they reach the colon where they are fermented by bacteria. We have trillions of bacteria happily living in our colon, and they ferment these substrates. They’re happy with them, and so they thrive. The idea of taking prebiotics is that you can encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut by providing them the food they like.

Can you do that by changing your diet? Or is there a pill you can take?

You can do in both ways. If your diet is rich in things like onions, garlic, wheat, legumes and artichokes, then you ingest a lot of prebiotics already. But there are also chemically identifiable supplements that also serve the same purpose.

Are prebiotics effective for treating digestive diseases?

In theory these are a good way of promoting a healthy microflora in your gut, and one would expect beneficial effects, but in reality it has been quite disappointing. There’s not a lot of practical use for prebiotics as we speak, in terms of clinical effectiveness. The only niche in which we found them to be successful is as an additive to formula for premature babies, because human milk actually contains plenty of prebiotics. Other than that, there hasn’t been much practical use. In fact, in our review, we saw that prebiotics have been tried for treating irritable bowel syndrome, but actually with mostly negative results.

With inflammatory bowel disease, it’s likely different. Several preparations have been tried with mixed results, but again, nothing sticks out as important or with clinical relevance. So in spite of good conceptual reasons to expect good results, they have not been proven very effective.

How are probiotics different from prebiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms that, if ingested in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host beyond the nutritional value. In practical terms, it’s a class of mostly live bacteria that have been studied for a long time and found useful for treating or preventing a number of clinical conditions.

Our review paper focuses on the efficacy of probiotics for IBS and IBD, including both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. For IBS, we have some good evidence in adults that some probiotics actually seem to be effective in relieving some of the symptoms, mostly the bloating and abdominal pain that accompanies IBS, especially when there is either diarrhea or constipation that goes along with it.

And in the case of ulcerative colitis, there is a growing body of evidence supporting the efficacy of some specific strains as an adjuvant in the course of the therapy. Crohn’s disease is different, however. People have tried multiple ways of addressing the problem with different strains of probiotics, different clinical settings, different endpoints, but none of the researchers were able to show any efficacy with probiotics in Crohn’s disease patients.

You can go into any grocery store and find yogurt and other foods that have probiotics added to them. Do those products do any good?

Not all probiotics are equal, that’s an important thing to stress. People think they can walk into a store and pick any probiotic from the shelf and they’re just the same. That is not the case. Different probiotics have different strains and concentrations of bacteria that have different properties. Only a minority of them has been tested properly in clinical trials to find if they were indeed effective.

In reality, yogurt by definition has to have two strains of bacteria—Lactobacillus bulgaricus andStreptococcus thermophilus—to create the yogurt. However these strains do not pass the gastrointestinal tract intact. They are destroyed by the acidity of the stomach and the enzymes of the pancreas, so nothing reaches the colon and it’s not beneficial. However, like you said, some yogurts are now enriched with other live bacteria of different strains. Some of them indeed include strains that survive the passage through the intestinal tract and then can be beneficial, and some make that claim but they don’t, and it’s hard for the general public to discriminate. Activia, for instance, is one of the good preparations. These yogurts actually do have strains of live Bifidobacteria that have been studied and may be beneficial. Yakult, containing well-studied strains of Lactobacilli, is another one that does the same.

Is a food product the best way to treat symptoms of IBS or IBD, or do you need a special preparation in a pill?

The best way is to use specific strains that have been validated through clinical trials and published in peer-reviewed journals to show efficacy, and if possible reproduced by different groups using the same preparations. So the list of probiotics that have gone through this process is actually very short:

  • There is a product called Align, based on a specific Bifidobacterium, which is mostly for adults with IBS.
  • For infants and colicky babies there is some proof of effectiveness for a product called Biogaia, which has the bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri in it.
  • Then we have Culturelle with Lactobacillus GG, another one with a long record of scientific, well conducted studies, which has been found effective in treating diarrheal diseases.
  • Florastor, which contains a yeast [Saccharomyces boulardii] instead of bacteria, is also effective in treating and preventing antibiotic associated diarrhea. Children who get antibiotics often develop diarrhea, and in many cases that can be prevented by the use of Florastor.
  • Finally there is a preparation called VSL #3, which is a highly concentrated preparation of 8 different strains of probiotics. This has received a great deal of attention by the scientific world to treat a number of conditions. It seems to be effective for ulcerative colitis, both in adults and children, and it has been found effective in irritable bowel syndrome as well.

Outside of this incredibly short list, however, there is nothing else. There is no other probiotic that has been found to be effective in rigorous, controlled clinical trials. This is not to say they aren’t working, it’s just to say we don’t have any scientific proof yet.

Are probiotics safe?

One thing that all these probiotics have in common is that they are relatively safe. They are very tolerable and basically create no side effects. One caveat is for premature babies and people with profoundly depressed immune systems. Some of these preparations might be contaminated by yeasts, which can be dangerous in those cases. But with these two exceptions, probiotics have been used in large amounts for generations now. So they are safe, but if there is no clear cut indication, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them. That’s a question I often get from patients, “Could we use probiotics?” And if it’s not to treat a specific condition and they just think it will improve health, I tell them it’s not necessary.

Where is the research on prebiotics and probiotics headed?

It’s interesting. There was a boom for years and then it died down quite a bit. From a laboratory standpoint, we don’t understand a lot about how the probiotics work. So I think the attention of scientists now is more focused on understanding the mechanisms of the interactions between these bacteria and the host, which are different between different individuals. Each one of us has a unique composition of intestinal flora. The same probiotics may have a different effect for you and me, because they interact with trillions of other bacteria, which are different for each person. So all of these nuances are going back to basic science before moving further to the clinical arena.

That seems to be a theme of microbiome research. Everyone agrees on its profound effect on our health, but getting to where you could change something meaningfully to treat a disease is a different thing.

Right, we are not there yet. It’s very complicated. As we have said many times, the genome of the microbes is thousands of times more complex and more numerous than the human genome. When we are talking about personalized medicine, we are really talking about the microbiome: how to understand all the subtle interactions with the human host, and how to possibly exploit this for health reasons. It’s an incredibly interesting area, and my colleagues here at the University of Chicago,David RubinEugene ChangCathryn NaglerBana Jabri and others are actively working on this. We aren’t there yet, but we will. I have great enthusiasm in this. I think this is the medicine of the future.

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Healthy gut microbiota can prevent metabolic syndrome, researchers say

Healthy gut microbiota can prevent metabolic syndrome, researchers say.

From the press release

intestinal_party

ATLANTA—Promoting healthy gut microbiota, the bacteria that live in the intestine, can help treat or prevent metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, according to researchers at Georgia State University and Cornell University.

Their findings are published in the journal Gastroenterology.

The study, a follow-up to the research team’s previous paper in Science, uses an improved technical approach, making the results more significant.

The research team includes Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, a professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State; Dr. Benoit Chassaing, a post-doctoral student at Georgia State; and Dr. Ruth Ley of the departments of Microbiology and Molecular Biology at Cornell.

“These results suggest that developing a means to promote a more healthy microbiota can treat or prevent metabolic disease,” Gewirtz said. “They confirm the concept that altered microbiota can promote low-grade inflammation and metabolic syndrome and advance the underlying mechanism. We showed that the altered bacterial population is more aggressive in infiltrating the host and producing substances, namely flagellin and lipopolysaccharide, that further promote inflammation.”

Metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition that affects 34 percent of American adults, according to the American Heart Association. A person is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when he or she has three of these risk factors: a large waistline, high triglyceride (type of fat found in the blood) level, low HDL cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar. A person with metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Because metabolic syndrome is becoming more common, scientists are exploring possible causes. In their previous study in Science, Gewirtz, Ley and other researchers showed altered gut microbiota play a role in promoting metabolic syndrome.

Gut microbiota perform key functions in health and when it becomes deregulated it can promote chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In addition, altered gut microbiota promote inflammation that leads to metabolic syndrome.

“We’ve filled in a lot of the details about how it works,” Gewirtz said. “It’s the loss of TLR5 on the epithelium, the cells that line the surface of the intestine and their ability to quickly respond to bacteria. That ability goes away and results in a more aggressive bacterial population that gets closer in and produces substances that drive inflammation.”

Normally, the bacteria are in the mucous layer at a certain distance away from epithelial cells. The researchers showed altered gut microbiota is more aggressive in infiltrating the host and gets very close to the epithelium. This altered population produces flagellin and lipopolysaccharide, which further promote inflammation.

The research team improved the study by comparing mice that were siblings and littermates, making all conditions in the study the same. The mice only differed by whether they were missing a specific gene, TLR5. Previously, the researchers studied mice that were from two different strains and lived in separate environments. In this study, they found the absence of TLR5 on the intestinal surface leads to alterations in bacteria that drive inflammation, leading to metabolic syndrome.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

November 28, 2014 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[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…

View original 79 more words

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.

View original 808 more words

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…

View original 187 more words

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.

 

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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

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