Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[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

hamburger
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.

 

Read the entire post here

 

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

[News article] Impulsive Personality Linked to Food Addiction

From the 24 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the entire article here

 

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

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

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

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

Read the entire article here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

From the November 2013 Bloomberg article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the 14 January 2014 New Yorker Magazine article

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

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

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

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

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

Related Resources

 

Read the entire article here

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

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

From the PDF file of the Prevention Institute **

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Magazine article] Extreme Diets Can Quickly Alter Gut Bacteria

From the 11 December 2013 Science article

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Read the entire article here

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

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

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

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

 

From the 11 December 2013 ScienceDaily article

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

From the 10 December 2013 Science Daily article

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Read the entire article here

 

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

[Reblog] Nuts and death – journal animated video explanation

From the 22 November post at HealthNewsReview.blog

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

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

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

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Comments

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

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

Reply

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

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

 

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

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

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

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

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

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Read the entire article here

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Eight teams made the finals:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

This post originally appeared in the RWJF Pioneering Ideas Blog.

 

 

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

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

From the 28 November 2013 ScienceDaily report

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

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

Maintenance of genes

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

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

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

A small worm provides the answer

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

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

Affecting lifespan with the aid of genes

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

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

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

Can do great harm

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

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

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

 

Read the entire article here

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

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

About NYU Langone Medical Center

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

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

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

This image shows all countries classified as &...

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

 

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

 

From the 12 November 2013 post at healthyfood112

 

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

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

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

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

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

Food Industry Needs Closer Monitoring By Public Health Authorities

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

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

 

 

 

Read the entire blog item here

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

From the November 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Report

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

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

 Key Findings

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

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

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

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

From the1 November 2013 ScienceDaily article

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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