Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

The New Science Behind America’s Deadliest Diseases – WSJ.com

The New Science Behind America’s Deadliest Diseases – WSJ.com (16th July 2012)

What do heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke and cancer have in common? Scientists have linked each of these to a condition known as chronic inflammation, and they are studying how high-fat foods and excess body weight may increase the risk for fatal disorders.

While much focus has been on fighting inflammation with drugs, researchers are getting a better understanding of the links connecting diet, inflammation and illness and discovering ways that foods can help keep inflammation in check. Laura Landro has details on Lunch Break.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and outside irritants. But when the irritants don’t let up, because of a diet of high-fat foods, too much body fat and smoking, for example, the immune system can spiral out of control and increase the risk for disease. Experts say when inflammation becomes chronic it can damage heart valves and brain cells, trigger strokes, and promote resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes. It also is associated with the development of cancer.

Much of the research on chronic inflammation has focused on fighting it with drugs, such as cholesterol-lowering statins for heart disease. A growing body of research is revealing how abdominal fat and an unhealthy diet can lead to inflammation. Some scientists are investigating how certain components in foods might help. Dietary fiber from whole grains, for instance, may play a protective role against inflammation, a recent study found. And dairy foods may help ease inflammation in patients with a combination of risk factors…

…A substance known as C-reactive protein, measured with a simple blood test, is an indicator of inflammation in the body. A report published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007, which analyzed results of 33 separate studies, found that losing weight can lower C-reactive protein levels. For each one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of weight loss, whether by dieting, exercise or surgery, the mean reduction in C-reactive protein among participants was 0.13 milligram per liter…

..At a meeting in Quebec City last week on abdominal obesity and its health risks, experts in cardiology, endocrinology, nutrition and related specialties presented a wide range of new research linking obesity to inflammation-related diseases…

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are All Fibers Created Equal?

Sapore High Barley Fibre Natural Barley Fettuccine

Sapore High Barley Fibre Natural Barley Fettuccine (Photo credit: avlxyz)

[Reblog from the 12 July 2012 post at

FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health]

]

Fiber can be classified as functional fiber, dietary fiber, and total fiber and all share the property of not being broken down by human digestive enzymes.  Dietary fiber like whole grains has many health benefits, like regulating blood glucose and decreasing blood cholesterol.  It also helps to create a feeling of fullness to aid in weight loss.   Dietary fiber comes in two forms — one form dissolves in water, the other doesn’t — and both are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains. “But these are foods that Americans just don’t eat enough of anymore”, says Mian Riaz, director of the Food Protein Research and Development Center at Texas A&M University in College Station.  Women and men younger than 50 need a total of about 25 grams or 38 grams, respectively of fiber per day.  People older than 50 need a few grams less.  But on average, American women get about 13 grams and men 17 grams, according to a 2005 report by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.

Leave it to the food companies to come up with a solution with the functional fibers,  those added to foods by the manufacturer.   Every food producer seems to want to put some kind of fiber into their product these days, but there are some concerns and questions about whether some of the fibers added to foods have the same health effects on the body, as does dietary fiber.

A growing number of products, like Yoplait’s Fiber One yogurt,  are getting some or all of their fiber added with ingredients called inulin, maltodextrin and polydextrose.   Manufacturers add these to boost their product’s fiber content.  Inulin is commonly extracted from chicory root, so look for chicory root extract on the ingredient label.   Maltodextrin, are long chains of glucose strung together.

Polydextrose is synthesized from glucose and sorbitol.  These fibers are showing up products like yogurt or ice cream that never had any fiber in the first place. These fiber additives serve dual purposes—they can serve as bulking agents to make reduced-calorie products taste better, such as the case with Breyers fat-free ice cream, and carry an added appeal to consumers by showing up as dietary fiber on food labels. “They’re considered fiber because, like naturally occurring fiber, they’re resistant to digestion”, says Mary Ann Johnson, professor of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia in Athens and a spokeswoman for the American Society for Nutrition.  “However, these functional fibers lack the array of vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and plant chemicals found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables”, says Jennifer Anderson, professor of food science and human nutrition at Colorado State University in Fort Collin

“We just don’t know if they all act the same,” says Jennifer Nelson, director of clinical dietetics and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “They have not necessarily been studied to see if they’re beneficial.”

According to Food and Drug Administration guidelines, a food can be labeled a “good” source of fiber if a serving contains at least 2.5 grams of fiber and “high” in fiber if a serving contains at least 5 grams

“Don’t just look at the number [of fiber grams] or the health claims,” Nelson says. “Dig down into the ingredients.” Better yet, says Johnson, get as much dietary fiber as possible from whole foods.

There are some gastrointestinal drawbacks with the intake of some of these functional, added fibers.  See my previous post, entitled “Maybe It is Something You ate – Fructans”.

July 14, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Robert J. Davis, Ph.D.: Top 10 Food Label Tricks to Avoid in 2012

 

How to understand and use the US Nutritional F...

Image via Wikipedia

Robert J. Davis, Ph.D.: Top 10 Food Label Tricks to Avoid in 2012

This slideshow presents the truth about many claims that seem healthy on the surface as

  • No trans fat – anything including at least .5 grams of fat per serving can legally be rounded down to zero
  • High fiber – many fibers have no health benefit, you’re almost always better off with natural fibers in fruit, vegetables, whole grains

Click here to see the entire slideshow

 

January 7, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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