Friday, April 29, 2005

Consumers Prefer New USDA Food Pyramid to Old Pyramid by Two- to-One Margin

Results from a nationwide survey show that within one week of the USDA's unveiling of MyPyramid on April 19, 2005, 40% of Americans -- 87 million adults -- report they have seen the new food pyramid. Most consumers who have seen the new pyramid believe the design is equal to or better than the previous pyramid, originally released in 1992.

However, awareness of MyPyramid varies widely by demographic characteristics; minorities, consumers under the age of 30, and those earning less than $75,000 per year are less likely than other consumers to have seen the design for MyPyramid.

Lawrence Shiman, vice-president at Opinion Dynamics, says "The USDA must make a special effort to reach minorities and younger adults if there is to be any hope of changing diet and physical activity behaviors within these groups."

The Opinion Dynamics survey, entitled "Consumer Attitudes Toward MyPyramid," polled 1000 adults. The survey was conducted independently and not funded by any outside source.

    Key findings include:
Of those that have seen the new design, 28% believe that it is more
useful than the old design, 14% believe it is less useful, 46% believe
it is equally useful, and the rest are unsure.

By a nearly three-to-one margin, women prefer the new design to the old
pyramid (30% to 11%). Men's reactions are more mixed (26% prefer the
new design, while 20% preferred the old design).

People over the age of 55 (44%), and those with household incomes over
$75,000 per year (49%) are particularly likely to have seen the new
pyramid. Only 28% of those between the ages of 18 and 29, and only 29%
of minorities have seen the new pyramid.

Steve - Should we be satisfied with 46% of those polled saying it is equally as
effective as the last Pyramid? Considering that the last Pyramid was considered
an utter failure, I think not. These statistics show exactly how and why the new Pyramid
is already a failure. The percentage of minorities and people of lower income exposed
to the Pyramid already lags far behind those of white ethnicity and higher income.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Study Shows Environmental Pollutants Affect Sperm

Environmental pollutants from domestic and industrial waste and pesticides could be changing the ratio of sex chromosomes in sperm, researchers said on Thursday.

They found that Swedish fishermen exposed to high levels of organochlorine pollutants have a higher proportion of the male Y chromosomes in their sperm.

"The more exposed the fishermen were to the chemicals the more Y chromosomes we found," Professor Aleksander Giwercman, of Malmo University in Sweden, told Reuters.

An egg fertilized by a Y chromosome sperm will produce a boy while an X chromosome sperm results in a girl.

Earlier studies have suggested that exposure to different chemicals in the environment could change the ratio of boys to girls being born.

Dioxin, DDT and PCBs, which were used in industrial and commercial applications before being banned, are examples of organochlorine pollutants.

Giwercman and his team studied semen from 149 fishermen who were exposed to persistent organochlorine pollutants (POPs) to determine whether the chemicals had an impact on the number of sperm carrying Y and X chromosomes.

"The answer was 'yes,"' said Giwercman, whose findings were reported online by the journal Human Reproduction.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that the distribution of the sex chromosomes in sperm can be affected by exposure to POPs. This is more evidence that chemicals which everyone is exposed to have an effect on the function of the reproductive system," Giwercman said.

He added that the quality of the sperm is also affected by the pollutants.

Courtesy of Reuters 4/28/2005

CDC Accepts Mosquito Repellant Alternatives

After years of promoting the chemical DEET as the best defense against West Nile-bearing mosquitoes, the government has for the first time accepted the use of an insect repellent made of a natural substance.

Repellents containing the oil of lemon eucalyptus offer "long-lasting protection against mosquito bites," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The CDC said it still will promote other personal protection measures, such as wearing long-sleeved clothing while outside and disposing of containers of water that could be breeding grounds for the flying insects.

Courtesy of the AP 4/28/2005

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Doctors Influenced By Mention Of Drug Ads

Actors pretending to be patients with symptoms of stress and fatigue were five times as likely to walk out of doctors' offices with a prescription when they mentioned seeing an ad for the heavily promoted antidepressant Paxil, according an unusual study being published today.

The study employed an elaborate ruse -- sending actors with fake symptoms into 152 doctors' offices to see whether they would get prescriptions. Most who did not report symptoms of depression were not given medications, but when they asked for Paxil, 55 percent were given prescriptions, and 50 percent received diagnoses of depression.

The study adds fuel to the growing controversy over the estimated $4 billion a year the drug industry spends on such advertising. Many public health advocates have long complained about ads showing happy people whose lives were changed by a drug, and now voices in Congress, the Food and Drug Administration and even the pharmaceutical industry are asking whether things have gone too far.

Nearly every industrialized country bans such advertising, and physicians said the new study raises new questions.

"It is a haphazard approach to health promotion that is driven primarily by the pharmaceutical industry's interest in turning a profit," said Matthew F. Hollon, an internist at the University of Washington in Seattle, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. "The most overlooked problem in the health care system today is the extent to which it is permeated by avarice."

Courtesy of the Wahsington Post 4/27/2005

Steve - This is an ingenious way of showing how advertising leads to the misuse and over-prescribing of meds. There is no good reason why advertising for medications should be exposed to the public. Wait, there is one good reason...$!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Prebiotic ingredient plus probiotics reduces cancer risk

An European Union-funded project has found that a prebiotic ingredient in conjunction with probiotics can help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Raftilose Synergy1, an enriched inulin-composition patented by Belgian ingredient company Orafti, was shown, when taken with probiotics, to significantly limit damage to cell DNA.

Dr Anne Franck, executive vice president of science and technology at Orafti, said the research had demonstrated that the ingredient was “particularly effective in those who have had intestinal polyps removed.”

The double-blind randomised placebo-controlled study involved 80 people who had either had intestinal polyps (precancerous lesions) removed or had been treated for colon cancer. Half of each group was given a placebo and the other half a symbiotic (12g/day Raftilose Synergy1 and probiotics Bifidobacterium bifidum BB12 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG). The trial volunteers consumed either the symbiotic or placebo everyday for 12 weeks.

The researchers found that in people with a high risk of colon cancer, those receiving the treatment had significantly decreased damage to their cells’ DNA, compared to those who consumed the placebo.

In addition, the people with colon cancer had an enhanced immune response, producing more interferon gamma which has antiviral activity and helps to avoid proliferation of potentially damaging cells. Cell proliferation of epithelial cells was reduced in the group taking synbiotics.

Courtesy of 4/26/2005

Restaurants on Mission to Dismiss Obesity as Hype

A group backed by the U.S. food and restaurant industries on Monday launched an advertising campaign aimed at dismissing as hype concerns about the large number of obese Americans.

The full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers were inspired by new government data questioning government assertions that obesity causes nearly as many deaths as smoking, according to the Center for Consumer Freedom, which paid for the ads.

The group, based in Washington, does not disclose names of its donors, though spokesman Mike Burita said casual dining restaurant chains "are predominant sources of funding for us."

The group spent about $600,000 on the ads, which appeared on Monday in the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. Ads are also to run in Newsweek magazine and on billboards in the Washington-area metro system.

The campaign, Burita said, was sparked by new statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a unit of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), that contradict previous findings from the CDC that obesity was catching up to heart disease as a major cause of death in the United States.

The CDC has said that smoking kills 435,000 Americans a year and that obesity kills close to 400,000 annually. But the NCHS report issued last week cuts that number by 75 percent.

Since it was published last year, the CDC's 400,000 figure has been cited in media reports regarding the impact of obesity on everything from healthcare costs to diets.

"We're putting pressure on the leadership of the CDC, who has still not endorsed this new figure," Burita said.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner, who said he has seen the ad, said the CDC was not wrong a year ago.

"All the science around computing mortality associated with obesity is still evolving. If you look at the papers and try to compare them, you really can't do that," Skinner said.

He said it was more important to look at obesity-associated illness and disability. "It is a well-known fact that obesity is also contributing to other well-known leading causes of death including cancer and diabetes," Skinner said.

Courtesy of Reuters 4/26/2005

Steve - Just when you think you have heard everything! The CDC actually does something right in emphasizing the grave consequences of a nation that is between 40-60% obese, and now the large restaurant chains are berating them because of one flawed statistical discovery.

The large restaurant chains have been getting off scot-free because they do not have to list nutritional information in their menus. The food is loaded with trans fats, refined grains, added sugars, and artificial ingredients, unbeknownst to the customer.

Due to the recent acknowledgement that obesity kills, not to mention contributing to a multitude of diseases and chronic conditions, public and legislative pressure has been put on the restaurant chains to create healthier options, but more importantly, disclose nutritional facts in their menus. This disclosure would be disaster for them and they know it. If consumers discovered how horrific the menus really are, the restaurant chains would be hard-pressed to recover.

This is a desparate move from a group who are used to flying under the radar, and now that the heat is on. They are grasping for any piece of data that can help their cause. Let's hypothetically say that obesity does NOT cause 75% of the deaths that smoking does (which we know it does), we are still looking at almost 100,000 deaths per year. This does not include the serious debilitating disease and chronic issues to which obesity also contributes.

Let's as citizens call the restaurant lobby's your local senators and congressmen/women and ask them to require restaurants to disclose all nutritional information and ingredients in their menus.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Consensus is...Pyramid a Dud

Almost one week after the USDA's MyPyramid was released, there is a majority reaction in the media...MyPyramid is a dud. From the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times and all media in between, columnists and reporters are giving MyPyramid a stiff pounding. "Confusing, Elitist, McPyramid, Ambiguous," are just some of the words to describe the program.

As we have been saying for the last two decades, we cannot expect the government to act in our best interest with regard to food policy when there are too many special interests to placate. We must take it upon ourselves to change food policy. Our most potent weapon resides in our pocketbooks. Consumer demand always wins out. The only reason we see tremendous growth in organic products and antibiotic/hormone-free meat and poultry is that we are demanding it.

Do not let your congressmen/women off-the-hook though. If you are as irked as we are about this latest waste of our tax dollars, let them know about it.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Fish Oil Found to Reduce Arthitis Pain

The results of this study, conducted by Joseph Maroon, MD, and Jeff Bost, PAC, at the University of Pittsburgh (PA) were presented today at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons' annual meeting in New Orleans, LA.

Adult patients with non-surgical neck or back pain under physician's care were asked to supplement with 1200 mg of omega-3 EFAs, of which 900 mg are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 200 mg are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

After supplementing for an average of 75 days, 60% of the respondents reported reduction in both overall pain and joint pain, and 59% discontinued taking prescription pain medications or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

In additional reported results, 80% of the subjects reported being satisfied with the improvement experienced from supplementing with omega 3's, and 88% reported that they would continue to take them. Virtually no side effects were reported, which is noteworthy in light of the recent voluntary withdrawals of two widely prescribed NSAIDs: Vioxx® (10/30/04) and Bextra®.

Dr. Maroon noted that they were gratified "to see such a high percentage of patients who were able to stop taking their prescription NSAIDs after starting the omega-3 EFAs. Patient satisfaction exceeded 80%”.

Green tea reduces prostate risk

A new study presented at the 96th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research found that after a year’s oral administration of green tea catechins (GTCs), only one man in a group of 32 at high risk for prostate cancer developed the disease, compared to nine out of 30 in a control.

The researchers said that earlier studies demonstrated primarily that green tea catechins were safe for use in humans, while they have newly identified that EGCG targets prostate cancer cells specifically for death, without damaging the benign controls.

The patients used in the study were men aged between 45 and 75 with high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia – premalignant lesions that presage invasive prostate cancer within one year in nearly a third of cases and for which no treatment was given.

Of the 62 volunteers, 32 received three tablets per day of 200 mg GTCs, while the remainder were given a placebo. The reaseachers carried out follow-up biopsies after six and 12 months. Only one case of prostate cancer was diagnosed among those receiving 600 mg daily of GTCs, while nine cases were found in the untreated group. The 30 percent incidence rate among controls is consistent with previous findings, as was the absence of significant side effects or adverse reactions.

The 600 mg-per-day dosage of caffeine-free, total catechins (50 percent of which is EGCG) given to participants in the study was one or two times the amount of green tea consumed daily in China, where 10 to 20 cups a day is normal, said the scientists.

Bettuzzi concluded by suggesting that green tea catechins could be used as a prophylactic against prostate cancer in men believed to be at higher risk, such as the elderly, African-Americans, and those with a family history of prostate cancer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

5 fruits & veggies for toddlers

According to a study published in Monday's journal Circulation, parents should make sure 3 and 4 year-olds get an hour of active play each day along with five fruits and vegetables. It is believed that it is a vulnerable period to start excess weight gain.

Courtesy of Jamie Stengle at Chicago Sun-Times 4/19/2005

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My Pyramid Unveiled by the USDA

So this is what we've been waiting thirteen years for? You have got to be kidding! This is what a pr firm hired by the USDA for $2.5 million of our tax dollars came up with?

What was considered a dismal failure the last go-around will be eclisped by this USDA "My Pyramid" abomination. It can be found at

I have many comments, so I will try to keep them brief:
  • The My Pyramid symbol is a disgrace. There are no icons or text listing what the colored sections mean. Confusing is an understatement.

  • You must go to their website to figure out what the symbol means. This wipes out many lower income and elderly citizens who do not have a computer or cannot afford internet access. When asked how somebody who cannot go on the internet get this information, the Agricultural Secretary said, "you would have to go to a health professional."

  • As I anticipated, grain and milk make up the largest sections of My Pyramid.

  • 85% of the pyramid is carbohydrates and milk products.

  • They offer 12 inidivualized pyramids based on only three criteria: age, sex, and physical activity.

  • Our agricultural secretary, when asked about his exercise regimen, did not even meet the minimum exercise requirements of My Pyramid, which is thirty minutes.

  • The tiny sliver that is protein is called Meat and Beans. Beans are a vegetable. No mention of fish.

  • Healthy Oils are thrown in with discretionary calories in the tiniest slice.
One should not be surprised, but outraged nonetheless. This was a golden opportunity to seize the moment in a time where our country is fatter and sicker than it has ever been. What have we done? We have let special interests run the show and we will be worse off because of it.

The Director of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy said that a food chart could not be done in one icon. That's the reason for the twelve pyramids. We disagree. Our Circle of Health proves that it can be done and done well.


See or Hear Bonnie!

Watch Bonnie on First Business on Friday, April 21 @ 5AM on WCIU Channel 26.

Hear Bonnie on WBEZ's Eight Forty Eight April 26th.

Bonnie's Comments on My Pyramid

Further thoughts to follow...the USDA's My Pyramid is abysmal. More confusing, more vague, more alienating. I will break it down for you in the near future.

Have a happy, healthy day.


Monday, April 18, 2005

CDC Says Americans Are Overmedicating

According to the CDC, about 130 million Americans swallow, inject, inhale, infuse, spray, and pat on prescribed medication every month, more medicine per person than any other country.

The number of prescriptions has swelled by two-thirds over the past decade to 3.5 billion yearly, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical consulting company. Americans devour even more nonprescription drugs, polling suggests.

Well over 125,000 Americans die from drug reactions and mistakes each year, according to Associated Press projections from landmark medical studies of the 1990s. That could make pharmaceuticals the fourth-leading national cause of death after heart disease, cancer and stroke.

"We are taking way too many drugs for dubious or exaggerated ailments," says Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicineand author of "The Truth About the Drug Companies."

Around the country, prescription drug sales have pushed relentlessly upward by an annual average of 11 percent over the past five years.

The aging population is partly at fault, with its attendant ailments like cancer, heart attacks, stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Other conditions have mysteriously proliferated, including asthma, diabetes and obesity.

Exercise and better diet ward off heart disease and diabetes just as effectively as drugs do, studies show. However, says Fred Eckel, who teaches pharmacy practice at the University of North Carolina, "There tends to be a reliance on drugs as the first option."

Drug advertising to consumers has also boomed since the late 1990s, thanks largely to relaxed government restrictions on television spots.

Courtesy of Jeff Donn, Associated Press 4/18/2005

American Journal Clinical Nutrition Highlights

Bonnie - AJCN is our favorite nutrition journal. We will try every month to encapsulate its new findings, which are always at the cutting edge of nutritional research.

Vitamin's E and C are safe across a broad range of intakes -
A review article from nutritional experts across the globe conclude from clinical trial evidence that vitamin E supplements appear safe for most adults in daily amounts of 1600IU or less and vitamin C supplements in daily amounts of 2000mg or less. Note: three of the ten contributors of this study are emplyed by a vitamin trade organization (2) and manufacturer of bulk vitamin ingredients.

Dairy Products do not lead to alterations in body weight or fat mass in young women
Dairy advocates suggest that increased dairy calcium intake is associated with reduced weight and fat mass. It is the crux of the Dairy Council's 3-A-Day Campaign. 155 young women (18-30 yrs) were tracked in a one year study. Based upon the findings, increased intake of dairy products did not reduce body weight or fat mass.

Vitamin C Supplementation Prevents Premature Rupture of Chorioamniotic Membranes in Pregnant Women -
Vitamin C is involved in the synthesis and degradation of collagen and is important for maintenance of membranes encapsulating amniotic fluid. Inadequate availability of vitamin C durng pregnancy has been proposed as a risk factor for premature rupture. Of 126 women tracked from their 20th week of pregnancy, daily supplementation with 100mg vitamin C effectively lessened the incidence of PROM (premature rupture of the chorioamniotic membranes).

Carbohydrate-Restricted Diets Effective in Promoting Fat Loss -
Seventy-three obese men and women were given either a lowfat, high (lean) protein diet or a high
(monounsaturated-enriched) fat, standard (lean) protein diet each with the same amount of carbohydrates over a 16 week period. Both diets were well accepted with no deleterious effects on renal function, blood pressure, or markers of bone turnover and were qually effective at reducing body weight, improving insulin resistance, and improving cardiovascular disease risk factors. Thus, the study concluded that restriction of carbohydrates in these diet models may be beneficial in improving body composition.

Ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Bone Mineral Density in Older Adults -
A higher ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is associated with lower bone mineral density at the hip in 642 men and 564 women. The findings suggest that an ideal ratio of 2 or 3:1 Omega 6 to Omega 3 is more beneficial to bone health than the average ratio which can range anywhere from 6 to 20:1.
Steve - the easiest way to bring this ratio into balance, which was 2:1 in the paleolithic era, is to eat more fatty fish, supplement with high quality fish oil, and/or eat flax seeds. Keep in mind that omega 6 polyunsaturate oils are vegetable and grain oils such as corn, soybean, and rapeseed (canola) oils.

Effects of Soy Protein and Soy Isoflavones on Calcium Metabolism in Women -
Based upon a small study of fifteen postmenopausal women, supplementing their diets with soy protein enriched with isoflavones did not significantly affect calcium metabolism in a positive manner.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Rice consumers healthier

Researchers at Iowa State University in the US found that people who eat rice have healthier diets, eat more fruits and vegetables, consume less added sugar and fat, and are likely to have a lower body mass index than non-rice eaters.

Rice is the staple food for over half of the world's population, principally in Asia where the average person eats rice two or three times a day, considerably more than Americans or Europeans. While the average person in Myanmar eats 195 kg of rice each year, their European counterpart will consume just 3 kg a year.

"The data also show that rice eaters consume more nutrients, such as folic acid, potassium and iron that are contained in rice products, and that they appear to manage their weight better than non-rice consumers,” commented Helen Jensen, the Iowa State University researcher who conducted the study.

The study looked at two surveys representing over 35,000 consumers: the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), and the Continuing Survey of Food Intake of Individuals (CSFII), from 1994-1996.

The survey identified those who consumed at least half a serving of white or brown rice; and how rice consumers' diets differ from the diets of non-rice eaters.

Key findings revealed: over 40 per cent of rice consumers ate diets containing no more than 30 per cent of calories from fat compared to 30 per cent of non-rice consumers; rice consumers are less likely to have a body mass index score classified as obese.

In addition, rice consumers ate 4.5 grams less fat (1 tsp) per day and 3.3 grams less sugar.

Steve - What this also says is that the more rice products you eat, the less wheat and corn you will eat. This will keep you healthier and slimmer! Rice is also low allergy and certain types, such as basmati, aid digestion.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Runners Who Drink Too Much Water At Risk

After years of telling athletes to drink as much liquid as possible to avoid dehydration, some doctors are now saying that drinking too much during intense exercise poses a far greater health risk.

An increasing number of athletes - marathon runners, triathletes and even hikers in the Grand Canyon - are severely diluting their blood by drinking too much water or too many sports drinks, with some falling gravely ill and even dying, the doctors say.

New research on runners in the Boston Marathon, published today in The New England Journal of Medicine, confirms the problem and shows how serious it is.

The research involved 488 runners in the 2002 marathon. The runners gave blood samples before and after the race. While most were fine, 13 percent of them - or 62 - drank so much that they had hyponatremia, or abnormally low blood sodium levels. Three had levels so low that they were in danger of dying.

The runners who developed the problem tended to be slower, taking more than four hours to finish the course. That gave them plenty of time to drink copious amounts of liquid. And drink they did, an average of three liters, or about 13 cups of water or of a sports drink, so much that they actually gained weight during the race.

Dr. Paul D. Thompson, a cardiologist at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and a marathon runner, advises runners to drink while they are moving.

Courtesy of NY Times 4/14/2005

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

PR Firm Tapped to Market New Food Pyramid

The United States Department of Agriculture is paying public relations and marketing firm Porter Collins $2.5 million to remodel the food pyramid icon and put together a campaign.

Porter Collins has received $59 million worth of federal contracts since 1997.

Porter Collins also represents or has represented in the past, some of the largest food corporations in the world, such as McDonald's, The Campbell Soup Company, The Dole Food Company, and The Snack Food Association.

The new Food Pyramid will be unveiled sometime in April.

Courtesy of Kim Severson of the New York Times 4/10/2005

Steve - Shocked? No. Angry? Maybe. Disillusioned? Definitely. There is good reason why 80% of Americans know what the Food Pyramid is, but few follow it. We are skeptical that the government does not have our best interests in mind. This is another of the ever-growing list of reasons why we are correct in thinking this way. The government has such an opportunity to grasp the moment when our country needs it the most (obesity rates at an all-time high), but from what we've seen with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and the anticipated revised Food Pyramid, at least in the Nutritional Concepts' camp, momentum has coming to a screeching halt. Business as usual!

Glaceau Fruit Waters No Longer

Bonnie - One of my staple drink recommendations, Glaceau Fruit Water with electrolytes, has gone to the dark side! They have added sugar to all of their flavors. I can no longer recommend them. Smart Water is still available without sugar, but it is not flavored. Alternative suggestions will be forthcoming...

Monday, April 11, 2005

"Trader Diet" General Tips

Due to the overwhelming response to Bonnie Minsky's appearance on "First Business," we have summarized some general tips for Traders on how to maximize performance and focus.

1) Have a solid breakfast. This is most important. Make sure that you have lean protein in the morning with your breakfast. Think of breakfast as any other meal, not just bacon, eggs, or a bagel. Eat leftovers from dinner the night before. If you often eat family dinners at home, make sure you double what the recipe allows so you can take some in the morning. And instead of a bagel with your protein, have a banana, or some carrots. Vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates!

2) Drink water, especially with electrolytes. Thes stress and physicality of working in pits warrant lots of fluid. There are several electrolye waters on the market. I like Smart Water by Glaceau. Also, Water Joe is a caffeinated alternative to coffee.

3) Force yourself to snack during the workday. Very important for stamina. Nuts and seeds with dried fruit are my favorite because it's a perfect mixture of carb, healthy fat, and protein.

4) Do not eat carbohydrates without lean protein or healthy fats. Whether it's breakfast, snack, lunch or dinner, eating a carb with healthy fat or lean protein will prevent the ebb and flow of blood sugar, the main reason we get the "afternoon swoon."

5) Supplement with Magnesium and Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10). 100-200mg magnesium and 60-100mg CoQ10 will help greatly with focus and stress-management. They dont' call magnesium "Nature's Valium" for nothing! Brands vary so make sure you are getting high quality.

For more details, go to Our Circle of Health Food Chart is a great resource for the good and bad foods. Or for an individualized diet, contact our office at 847-498-3422.

Have a happy, healthy day.

Bonnie and Steve

Vitamin E 'relieves period pain'

Taking vitamin E can significantly reduce the severity and duration of period pain, research suggests.

The condition, also known as dysmenorrhoea, usually affects teenage girls, and can significantly disrupt their education.

The research is published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

UK experts said the "breakthrough" could help thousands of young girls.

Period pain affects around 40% of adult menstruating women, and over 10% report it severely limits what they can do for up to three days during each cycle.

Just under 280 girls aged 15 to 17 who had reported suffering from period pain took part in the study.

Half were given 200 "international units" (IU) twice a day (a total equivalent to about 270mg), while the rest took dummy pills (placebos), over four consecutive menstrual periods.

They were asked to rate the pain they experienced during each period, and how many painkillers they took.

The amount of blood lost was also monitored.

At the end of the study, researchers found girls who took vitamin E reported the greatest decrease in the intensity of pain which they felt, which was reflected in a significant reduction in the number of painkillers they took.

Those who took the vitamin also experienced less blood loss than the placebo group.

Courtesy of BBC News 4/11/2005

Probiotics Help with Eczema in Infants

Mixing a type of beneficial or "probiotic" bacteria, Lactobacillus GG (LGG), into food helps reduce symptoms in allergic infants with the skin condition eczema, according to a report in the medical journal Allergy.

Researchers assessed symptoms in 230 infants with eczema and suspected allergy to cow's milk.

The children's food was mixed with capsules containing LGG alone, LGG plus three other probiotics, or inactive "placebo" for 4 weeks.

Following the treatment phase, milk exposure testing was performed and cow's milk allergy was diagnosed in 120 infants, the authors report.

In the overall analysis, allergy symptoms dropped by 65 percent during the study, but no differences were observed between the treatment groups.

However, when the analysis was confined to subjects sensitized by a type of antibody called IgE, LGG alone, but not with the other probiotics, seemed to reduce symptoms compared with placebo.

Influencing the natural microbes in the intestinal tract "by administration of probiotic bacteria to treat allergy is a new alternative," the authors state. The findings suggest that this may be a successful approach for some children with food allergy.

Steve - This is a puzzling study because the symptoms also dropped in the placebo group. It is a good reminder of the results we've seen from our own clients, which is that probiotics do assist in reducing allergy symptoms in infants and young children.

High Carb Diets May Raise Breast Cancer Risk in Postmenopausal Women

Diets that have a high "glycemic index" -- that is, they produce high blood sugar levels -- may increase the risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women who've used hormone replacement therapy (HRT), study results suggest.

Typically, high glycemic index diets include a lot of sugars and refined starches and carbohydrates, which produce a rapid rise in blood glucose levels.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers used data from a large group of 49,613 Canadian women to examine breast cancer risk in association with overall glycemic index and dietary carbohydrate and sugar intake.

During a follow-up period of 16 years, 1,461 women developed breast cancer.

In the overall study population, the risk of breast cancer was not related to glycemic index or sugar and total carbohydrate intake, the team reports in the International Journal of Cancer.

However, in postmenopausal women, diets with a high glycemic index raised the risk of breast cancer by 87 percent.

Courtesy of Reuters 4/12/2005

Friday, April 08, 2005

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Longer Life

In a study of nearly 75,000 Europeans aged 60 and above, the diet based on plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, fish and olive oil was linked to a longer life expectancy.

"Adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduces mortality," Professor Dimitrios Trichopoulos, of the University of Athens said in an interview.

"There is a particular type of diet in Mediterranean countries that seems to prolong life."

The benefits of the diet in warding off heart disease, some cancers and other illnesses are well documented but the findings reported in the British Medical Journal are among the first to show it may prolong life.

How the Mediterranean diet may reduce mortality is unknown but Trichopoulos said the diet is rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A and C which neutralize cell damage from charged particles called free radicals. Antioxidants are thought to help fight cancer and heart disease.

The diet includes a reduced intake of saturated fats, meats and dairy products which Trichopoulos said may modulate blood lipid levels. Saturated fats can clog the arteries.

The researchers compared the diet of people in nine European countries -- Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Britain.

The link between diet and mortality was most pronounced in Greece and Spain, two nations which the researchers said follow a true Mediterranean diet.

"We are closer to the genuine Mediterranean diet. The others are approximations," according to Trichopoulos.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Milk linked to Parkinson's risk

Drinking a glass or two of milk a day may raise the risk of Parkinson's disease in middle-aged men, research suggests.

Researchers say the apparent link is unlikely to be anything to with calcium - milk's key nutritional ingredient.

But they say it is unclear whether another ingredient, or a contaminant may raise the risk of Parkinson's - which overall still remains low.

The study, led by Korea University, is published in the journal Neurology.

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disease of the nervous system associated with trembling of the arms and legs, stiffness and rigidity of the muscles and slowness of movement.

Previous research has also suggested a link between high consumption of dairy products and a raised risk of Parkinson's in men - but not women.

The latest study focused on 7,504 men aged 45 to 68, who were enrolled in a heart study in Hawaii.

During the course of the 30-year study, 128 developed Parkinson's.

The researchers found those men who consumed more than 16oz (454g) of milk a day were 2.3 times more likely to develop Parkinson's than those who drank no milk at all.

Overall, the risk of Parkinson's - even among men who drank a lot of milk - was low.

The researchers calculated that in each 12 month period 6.9 cases of Parkinson's could be expected per 10,000 people who drank no milk.

Among those who drank more than 16ozs a day the figure was 14.9 per 10,000.

However, they found no evidence of a link between calcium consumption and Parkinson's.

Courtesy of BBC News 4/7/05

FDA Asks Pfizer to Pull Bextra Off Market

The government said Thursday it has asked Pfizer Inc. to withdraw the painkiller Bextra from the market because it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Regulators also want all other anti-inflammatory drugs in the same class to carry the strongest safety warning possible.

In February, advisers to the FDA had recommended that people who depend on Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx be allowed to continue to use them despite the health risks.

The panel said Vioxx posed the greatest risk and that Celebrex had the fewest side effects. It recommended that the prescription drugs carry strong warnings and that more study be done to get a better understanding about the drugs.

Steve - Why were the makers of Vioxx not asked to withdraw first? Bextra was the least popular fo teh three COX-2's.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Too Much Dietary Iron a Cancer Risk for Some

The combination of high iron stores in the body and a high iron intake from food could raise a person's risk of cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers estimate that up to 10 percent of Americans have iron stores high enough that, when coupled with excessive iron intake, could increase their likelihood of developing cancer.

The study, involving a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults, looked at a measure called transferrin saturation. Transferrin is a protein that transports iron through the body, and transferrin saturation levels in the blood are an indicator of the body's iron stores.

Research has linked excessively high transferrin saturation to an elevated risk of death from any cause, and possibly to an increased cancer risk. In general, the evidence has suggested that transferrin saturation levels of 60 percent or higher -- found in about 1 percent of the U.S. population -- may present a cancer risk.

However, the new findings implicate lower levels of transferrin saturation -- 41 percent or higher -- that are seen in about 10 percent of Americans.

The findings are published in the current issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Low Iron May Impede Mom-Baby Bonding

New mothers who don't get enough iron are more likely to have a difficult time bonding with their babies than women who take their vitamins, according to a landmark Penn State study that is the first to look at how iron deficiency affects new mothers' ability to tune in to their children emotionally.

"Our new results suggest that the effects of mild iron deficiency ... can disrupt the solid foundation that is established by healthy mother-infant interactions," said the study's lead author, Dr. Laura Murray-Kolb.

Women who forgo vitamin supplements commonly experience iron deficiency after childbirth, the researchers said.

"New mothers should be aware of their iron status, which we now know affects the child as well as the mother," Murray-Kolb said in a statement. "Iron deficiency is easy to correct and could be a big part of postpartum problems with mother-child interactions."

Courtesy of Reuters 4/5/05

UK Calls For Overhaul of Pharmaceutical Marketing

About 650 million prescriptions are written each year by General Practitioners, which means the pharmaceutical industry is now the third most profitable in the UK, behind tourism and finance.

But the government officials warned it has come with a cost, with adverse drug reactions responsible for 5% of all hospital admissions.Drug firms have become increasingly focused on marketing and some GPs have been too easily influenced by promotions. The promotions to doctors and patients lead to the over-prescription of drugs, citing painkillers such as Cox-2 inhibitors, which have been linked to heart problems. Negative clinical trial results were being suppressed and there was a risk trials which produced positive results were not adequately designed.

A special health select committee recommends an overhaul of the regulatory system in a bid to keep the pharmaceutical industry in check.

Courtesy BBC News 4/5/2005

Zinc may be good for teenagers' brains

According to a paper presented yesterday at a meeting of the American Society of Nutritional Sciences, 209 seventh graders were randomly assigned to one of three groups.

The first group received 4 ounces of fruit juice a day containing 20 milligrams of zinc, the second drank the same juice with 10 milligrams of zinc, and the third drank the juice alone with no zinc added.

At the beginning and end of the 12-week study, students were examined with a series of tests of attention, memory, problem solving and hand-eye coordination. "As far as I know," Dr. Penland said, "this is the first study of its kind undertaken with teenagers."

Students who had taken 20 milligrams of zinc increased their scores significantly on visual memory, word recognition, and attention and vigilance tasks compared with the plain-juice drinkers.

Dr. Penland said that if further studies confirmed those results, it might follow that the current recommended dietary allowance for zinc of 10 milligrams should be increased for adolescents.

Although supplements of zinc are not particularly toxic, very large doses can cause diarrhea and vomiting, and Dr. Penland does not recommend usage in excess of the recommended daily allowance. He suggests lean red meat, fish and some grains as good sources of zinc.

Courtesy of the New York Times 4/5/2005

Advocate general finds food supplements directive invalid under EU law

There was tremendous news today for the millions of people in Europe who choose to use food supplements. Following a landmark challenge in the European Courts of Justice (ECJ) brought by the Alliance for Natural Health and Nutri-Link Ltd to the contentious Food Supplements Directive, which effectively proposed to ban 75% of vitamin and mineral forms, Advocate General Geelhoed, the senior adviser to the ECJ, gave his Opinion in favour of the Alliance’s case.

What does this mean? That the chances of consumers being able to continue using the natural food supplements they believe are beneficial to their health are now greatly increased.

The Advocate General concluded that:

The Food Supplements Directive infringes the principle of proportionality because basic principles of Community law, such as the requirements of legal protection, of legal certainty and of sound administration have not properly been taken into account.

It is therefore invalid under EU law.
It should be stressed that the Advocate General’s pronouncement is not a ruling.

That will come from the ECJ judges, later - probably around June. But typically, in the vast majority of cases, the Court Judgment follows the recommendations of the Advocate General.

Steve: This is very good news for Americans who value their right to consume dietary supplements. If the EU directive had passed, most experts felt that the United States would follow suit.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Ginger Seems Safe for Easing Nausea in Pregnancy

Ginger appears to help pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness, without side effects to the unborn child, according to a review of the medical literature.

In six studies that examined the effects of ginger in reducing nausea and vomiting in expecting mothers, ginger worked better than a placebo, or inactive drug, and as well as vitamin B6, which has been shown to improve nausea and vomiting in some pregnant women.

None of the women who took ginger had problems with their pregnancies, the authors report in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

To review what has been studied about ginger, Borrelli and colleagues scanned the medical literature, and found six trials that tested ginger in 675 women with nausea in pregnancy.

In four studies that involved a combined total of 246 women, ginger consistently beat out placebo in quelling nausea and vomiting, even in women with a severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum.

In the most recent studies, participants were randomly assigned to take a capsule containing 350 milligrams (mg) of ginger or one containing 25 mg of vitamin B6 three times a day for three weeks.

Ginger was equally effective as vitamin B6 at relieving nausea, vomiting and dry retching. Symptoms of morning sickness improved in a little more than half of the women in each group.

SOURCE: Obstetrics & Gynecology, April 2005. Courtesy of Reuters Health 4/4/05

Health Benefits Help Peanuts Shed Stigma

Peanuts, a dietary outcast during the fat-phobic 1990s, have made a comeback, with consumption soaring to its highest level in nearly two decades and more doctors recommending nuts as part of a heart-healthy diet.

Total consumption of peanuts jumped last year to nearly 1.7 billion pounds, compared to 1.5 billion pounds the year before. The amount of snack peanuts eaten climbed to 415 million pounds in the 2003-2004 crop year, the highest since the mid-1990s. And peanut butter consumption soared to 900 million pounds, from a low of about 700 million in the '90s.

The federal government's latest dietary guidelines say peanuts, which contain unsaturated fats, can be eaten in moderation. There are 14 grams of fat in one serving of peanuts, which is only one ounce. A handful can have up to 200 calories.

``The problem is that the portions need to be low so you don't overconsume the calories - that's where the public has a disconnect,'' said Madelyn Fernstrom, director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. ``It's a well-spent 200 calories if you can limit it to that. The problem is volume. It's very hard to have a small serving of peanuts, meaning a small handful.''

The Peanut Institute:

Steve - The peanut lobby has spoken! Peanuts, if tolerated from a digestive and allergenic standpoint, are fine.
Let us not forget that peanuts are one of the top seven most allergenic substances. We do not suggest eating them on a daily basis because an allergen can be developed over time. We still prefer consuming other nuts more frequently, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews. Make sure that you look at the labels of any peanut product you intend to consume. There are often unhealthy added oils and trans fats such as partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils. If you are pregnant or nursing, exclude peanuts from your diet to prevent allergy with your baby. Do not eat the shells because most of the aflatoxin, the very dangerous allergenic trigger in peanuts, resides here. Also, if you have a mold or fungus sensitivity or allergy, peanuts are not recommended.

Cranberries may reduce heart attacks by improving artery health

A daily dose of cranberry powder restored blood vessel health to animals with atherosclerosis, said researchers yesterday.

The findings suggest that the fruit may have additional benefits to heart health than those previously demonstrated in human trials.

Small studies have found higher levels of HDL cholesterol after people drank cranberry juice. The new study however examines blood vessel health in pigs that are bred to develop high blood cholesterol and then atherosclerosis, the thickening and hardening of arteries, by eight months of age.

"Since the abnormal functioning of blood vessels is an important component of heart disease, finding ways to improve vascular function in patients with high cholesterol and atherosclerosis is critical to helping protect these patients from consequences such as heart attack or stroke," said lead researcher Kris Kruse-Elliott from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

Speaking at the annual congress of the International Union of Physiological Sciences, she described the effects of feeding familial hypercholesterolemic (FH) pigs with a daily supplement of 150g cranberry juice powder per kg weight. The blood vessels in these pigs do not function normally.

By the end of six months, these pigs' blood vessels acted more like normal pigs, said Kruse-Elliott. Another group that did not get cranberry juice powder had "significantly less vascular relaxation" than either normal or cranberry-fed pigs.

Cranberries are increasingly consumed for health reasons as they have been shown to prevent urinary tract infections. They are also thought to play a role in gum disease, ulcers and even cancer.

Steve - We usually do not post animal studies, but based on fact that the cranberry has shown heart benefits in very small human trials, we thought this study was significant.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Fruit, Veggies Tied to Lower Pancreatic Cancer Risk

New research from Canada suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help prevent pancreatic cancer, a particularly deadly type of tumor.

The findings, based on a comparison of 585 pancreatic cancer patients and about 4,779 adults without the disease, suggest that the risk of the cancer declines as fruit and vegetable intake increases.

Among cancers, pancreatic tumors have one of the most dismal survival rates, with less than 5 percent of patients still alive 5 years after diagnosis. The poor prognosis is in large part due to the fact that the disease is rarely caught early.

Using data from a large study of Canadians diagnosed with cancer between 1994 and 1997, Ghadirian and his colleagues found that higher intakes of fresh fruit and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, were associated with a lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, May 1, 2005

CLA keeps body fat off over two years

Supplements of conguated linoleic acid (CLA) taken for two years helped overweight adults keep their body fat mass down, without having to restrict calories or change exercise habits, shows a study published today.

The findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition, come from the extension of a 12-month study on 157 adults. It found that a daily intake of 3.4g of CLA, produced an average 9 per cent reduction in body fat mass.

While the second year of study was not carried out in double-blind conditions, and therefore cannot provide such strong evidence of efficacy, it does reflect high compliance levels for the product and its long-term safety.

“The high compliance and low drop-out rates indicate that long-term CLA supplementation was well-tolerated by subjects,” write the authors.

After the initial 12 month trial, published last spring in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 134 of the participants volunteered to continue for another 12 months. Ethical reasons stopped the researchers from continuing the double-blind procedure.

CLA supplementation also appeared to lower levels of leptin, a hormone associated with increased weight. Over the course of 24 months, leptin levels dropped 20-35 per cent as study subjects lost body fat.

The researchers say that risk of side effects from CLA is no greater than in those taking the placebo.

Heat Remedies Arthritis Better Than Drugs

A study presented at the the 24th annual scientific meeting of the American Pain Society in Boston found that heat wraps gave more relief to people with arthritic knee pain than over-the-counter drugs .

The findings come in the wake of revelations about the dangers of popular anti-inflammatory arthritis drugs, including Vioxx and Celebrex.

"This is not a product you are going to get a stroke from," said Dr. Bill McCarberg, the study's lead author and a nationally recognized pain expert.

"People are worried about taking drugs. They want alternatives that are safe," McCarberg added.

The three-day study included 110 men and women with osteoarthritis of the knee.

"All had about the same amount of pain," McCarberg said.

The participants were divided into four groups.

They were either given Tylenol, which contains acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, or they wore a wrap with no heat or a ThermaCare Heat Wrap for eight hours a day.

Those who wore the heat wrap had significant benefits in pain reduction and more flexibility compared to the others, the researchers found.

The findings were published in this month's Journal of Pain.