Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Magnesium Positively Affects C-Reactive Protein Levels

Most Americans consume magnesium at levels below the RDA. Individuals with intakes below the RDA are more likely to have elevated CRP, which may contribute to cardiovascular disease. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that 68% consumed less than the recommended daily alllowance of magnesium, and 19% consumed less than 50% of the RDA. Those adults who consumed less than the RDA were 1.48-1.75 times more likley to have elevated CRP levels than those who consumed the RDA or above.

Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol.24, No.3, 166-171 (2005)

Bonnie - as I have been saying since I began practicing nutrition, magnesium is one of the most important yet deficient nutrients in the American diet. Many do not like taking magnesium because it often creates digestive discomfort. This is why many of my clients supplement with magnesium glycinate, which is easy on the gut.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Dark chocolate seen healthy for arteries

Eating dark chocolate may have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system in healthy people, the results of a new study in the American Journal of Hypertension.

They point out that the elasticity or stiffness of arteries "are important determinants of cardiovascular performance and are predictors of cardiovascular risk."

The researchers examined the effects of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate on blood-vessel function in 17 young, healthy volunteers over a 3-hour period after they consumed 100 grams of a commercially available dark chocolate.

The investigators saw that an artery in the arm dilated significantly more in response to an increase in bloodflow. Chocolate consumption also led to a significant 7-percent decrease in aortic stiffness.

Courtesy of Reuters 6/24/2005

Bonnie - Music to my ears. I have telling this to clients for years and it is nice to see it in a pretisgious cardiac journal. Make sure the cocoa content is 61% or above. Dark chocolate is ALWAYS milk-free.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mending Sports Injuries

We thought an 6/20/05 LA Times article on sports injuries was telling. What a shocker...experts are now saying that to increase recovery time, add extra protein in your diet to optimize tissue repair. In addition, increase your vitamin C and zinc intake to aid in healing and repair. These are two things that we have been suggesting to our clients for years!

Soy isoflavone may damage fertility, finds new research

The soy component genistein, one of the isoflavones in soy, could damage human sperm.

Genistein, and other isoflavones, are marketed as dietary estrogens to women as a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT). They are also being investigated for their potential to slow prostate and breast cancer.

But Lynn Fraser, professor of reproductive biology at King's College London, will present evidence today that even tiny doses of the natural compound can cause human sperm to ‘burn out’ and lose fertility.

Speaking ahead of the annual European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference, Fraser said: "Human sperm proved to be even more responsive than mouse sperm to genistein."

Moreover, when the compound is combined with other environmental oestrogens, such as 8-prenylnaringenin (found in hops), and nonylphenol that is found in industrial products like paints, pesticides and cleaning products, the damage to fertility could be even more serious.

In particular, the chemicals stimulated the sperm to undergo an acrosome reaction - when the cap on the head of the sperm ruptures and releases enzymes that enable the sperm to penetrate the coverings of the egg. If the acrosome reaction happens before a sperm reaches the egg, then fertilisation is unable to take place because the sperm has lost special 'docking' molecules that allow it to bind to the egg.

Courtesy of nutraingredients.com

Bonnie - whenever fertility is an issue, I suggest reducing or eliminating soy foods or supplements. They may create a fluctuation of women's hormone levels as well as affect men. While this is one of the first studies of its kind, and more research needs to be done, it is compelling nonetheless.

Bronchitis & Conjunctivitis Sufferers Can Skip Antibiotics

A study found that bronchitis sufferers who are otherwise healthy do not get better any faster by taking antibiotics. "Antibiotics for the vast majority of people don't seem to make much difference," said Dr. Paul Little, author of the five-year study of patients in England. Moreover, many bronchitis cases are caused by viruses, which antibiotics do not fight.

Little said that otherwise healthy patients can skip the drugs to treat the chest infections, even though they will feel crummy for a couple of weeks. But patients with conditions such as chronic lung and heart disease that can cause bronchitis to develop into pneumonia should see their doctors, he said.

In the study, coughing lasted an average of 11 days after patients saw their doctors, whether they got antibiotics or not. Other symptoms, such as phlegm and shortness of breath, were reduced by less than a day for people treated with amoxicillin or erythromycin.

The study, based on 640 patients ages 3 and older, was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. The study excluded patients with conditions that could complicate their bronchitis, such as asthma or heart and lung disease.

Courtesy of AP 6/22/2005

One in eight children develop the eye condition conjunctivitis each year and in many cases family doctors use the antibiotic chloramphenicol to treat it.

But an Oxford University study in the Lancet said the cure rate was nearly the same if the drops were used or not.

Researchers urged parents to wash children's eyes with warm water rather than use the drops.

The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the UK drugs regulator, announced earlier this month the eye drops would become the first antibiotic to be made available without prescription.

Steve - Like this is a surprise? We have been saying for years that antibiotics do not treat viral infections. Finally, doctors are starting to take notice and reducing the amount of antibiotics they prescribe.

Friday, June 17, 2005

2005 MyPyramid: What the USDA Won’t Tell You

by Bonnie C. Minsky, MA, MPH, LDN, CNS

With all the bravado and excitement concocted since the release of MyPyramid 2005, there is a seedy underbelly aching to be exploited. Specifically, I am talking about a $500 billion dollar food industry influencing a wing of government that has no business overseeing our nation’s nutrition policy, because their loyalties are not to the American public.

We should have known it was doomed from the start. From the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee handpicked by special interests to MyPyramid.gov incapacitated for the first 24 hours it was online, we should have known.

Other than a few positive changes (consuming more fruits and vegetables and promoting more exercise), MyPyramid reeks badly.

This is what we've been waiting thirteen years for? This is what a marketing firm hired by the USDA for $2.4 million of our tax dollars came up with?

Last food pyramid was a failure

Actually, this is one thing the USDA did tell you. Dr. Eric Hentges, Director of the Center for Nutrition and Food Policy, said as much. As far back as 2001, The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and The National Institutes of Health (NIH) admitted at a conference for health professionals that the Food Guide Pyramid was a total failure. 80% of Americans recognized the symbol, but have become sicker and heavier than at any other time in recorded history since it was updated in 1992.

My Pyramid is not based upon sound science

In 2004, the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons pontificated that, “the 2005 changes in the Dietary Guidelines and Food Guide Pyramid will add complexity but will not correct the errors.”

Harvard School of Public Health and the top genetic researchers in America agree that our genes and dietary needs have changed very little (about 0.005 percent) since the beginning of the agricultural revolution over 10,000 years ago. At that time, a human’s system, taste buds, and food supply, were in harmony. Our ancestor’s diet consisted mostly of game meats, fish, shellfish, small mammals, tubers and sprouted vegetables, fruits, and nuts. They consumed very little grain except wild emmer wheat and barley when they couldn’t get enough other foods. They consumed no dairy products. They consumed no concentrated or refined sugars. No mention of genetic variation as it relates to dietary needs was ever considered in the pyramid or in the dietary guidelines.

As anticipated, grain and milk make up the largest sections of MyPyramid. 80% of the pyramid is carbohydrates and milk products. Wheat (the grain most prominent on MyPyramid.gov) is the number two allergen in the United States. In excess, whole wheat blocks the absorption of essential minerals. There is a strong correlation between gluten intolerance (the grain that holds grains together) and diabetes, osteoporosis, thyroid malfunction, and autoimmune disease. The Glycemic load (how fast carbohydrates are metabolized as sugar into the bloodstream) shows that whole grains are not much better than refined carbohydrates and are much worse than fruit and vegetable carbohydrates.

MyPyramid makes no mention of added sugars, and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines simply say’s, “choose your carbohydrates wisely.” A study done by Dr. Shanthy Bowman, a nutritionist at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, showed that people who got more than 18% of their calories from added sugars had “the least adequately nutritious diets,” than two other groups with 10-18% or less than 10%. Considering millions of Americans are in the more than 18% group, and the study came from one of its own, would one not expect there to be a stronger phrase than “choose carbohydrates wisely?” We’ve actually regressed with regard to the sugar issue. In 1980, it was “avoid too much sugar.” In 2000, it was “choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugar.” In 2005, it is “choose your carbohydrates wisely.”

Now that the amount of dairy servings has been increased to three daily from 2-3 in the last food pyramid, let’s look at the sound science. Two-thirds of the world is lactose intolerant (the sugar in milk and dairy products). Many others are allergic to casein (milk protein). Milk is the number one allergen in the United States. A 2005 Pediatrics review study found that milk is not essential for healthy bone growth in young children if they get calcium from other sources and exercise adequately. Countries, such as Finland, consuming the most cows’ milk have a high rate of the “calcification” form of heart disease and the most osteoporosis in the hip areas. Countries consuming virtually no cow’s milk products, such as Japan, have lower levels of osteoporosis than the US and the lowest rates of heart disease and cancer in the world.

Public relations firm Porter Novelli created the MyPyramid symbol. Of course you would want to hire them again when 80% of the American public recognized the last symbol. But the problem is, why were they involved in the science, as shown by their inclusion as a member of the March 2004 Naturally Nutrient Rich Symposium (see below)?

USDA hired a PR/Marketing firm

USDA paid marketing/pr firm Porter Novelli, as it did back in 1992, to create the new pyramid symbol for $2.4 million and has received $59 million in federal grants since 1997. The problem is that Porter Novelli also represents food conglomerates such as Campbell Soup Company, The Dole Food Co., Proctor & Gamble, and McDonald’s.

MyPyramid symbol looked different as little as one year ago

Based upon a graphic published in the March/April 2005 issue of Nutrition Today, as far back as 2003, Porter Novelli, the public relations and marketing firm hired by the USDA, knew exactly what the new MyPyramid symbol was going to look like. They just were not sure which food categories would dominate.

The March 2004 Naturally Nutrient Rich Symposium held in Washington D.C., which involved Dan Snyder, a Porter Novelli partner, exhibited the graphic that is now the 2005 MyPyramid symbol. What is fascinating is that based on the nutritional experts’ advice at the time, the milk category was much smaller and less prominent than it is now. As the graphic showed, the milk, yogurt, and cheese group was smaller than the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group, was the same size as the fats and oils group, and was dwarfed by the vegetable, fruit, and bread/cereal/rice/pasta group.

At this symposium, according to Nutrition Today, Snyder said that he did not want to send conflicting messages to consumers. As the current MyPyramid symbol shows now, "milk" is the second most prominent group behind "whole grains." How did dietary recommendations change so much in one year? Is that not a conflicting message?

Lobbyists and special interest groups play a huge role in nutrition policy

Many critics have used the phrase “it’s like putting the fox in charge of the hen house,” when referring to the USDA’s role in nutrition policy. Intense lobbying from the $500 billion food industry has already questioned the validity of the new food pyramid and dietary guidelines. Seven of the thirteen Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee members have received food industry funding to support their research or have been paid by food companies as consultants. The USDA bases its nutrition policy on their suggestions.

The Wheat Foods Council nominated Janet King Advisory Committee Chair. Connie Weaver, another committee member, conducted paid research for The National Dairy Council. Is it a surprise that wheat and dairy are most prominent in MyPyramid? General Foods is putting the MyPyramid symbol on 100 million of their Big G brand cereal boxes. The Dairy Council has put on the full court-press with their “3-a-Day Campaign.” It is believed that the problems associated with the intake of refined sugars were downplayed due to the intense pressure from the sugar industry.

The USDA should be ashamed of themselves. Even after they were found guilty in U.S. District Court in 2000 for not disclosing the Committee’s special interest affiliations in the 2000 Revised Dietary Guidelines, they still tried to hide the 2005 Committee’s special interests.

USDA itself is a conflict of interest

Two years ago, lawmakers lobbied to move nutrition policy from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Health and Human Services, but to no avail. The USDA gives $15 billion in farming subsidies each year, but does not reflect what the USDA wants Americans to eat to stay healthy. Instead, foreign trade and farm politics dominate the delineation of subsidies. Fruit and vegetable farmers, which combined make-up the largest portion of MyPyramid, receive no subsidies. While corn, soybeans, cotton, rice, wheat, dairy, and sugar receive most of the subsidies.

USDA funds “check off programs,” which are marketing initiatives that encourage consumers to eat more of specific foods and commodities. “Got Milk” and “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner,” are prime examples of check off programs. In 2002, dairy received check off funding totaling $254 million, fluid milk $100 million, beef $86 million, and pork $62 million. Dairy also receives $2 billion annually because of the Milk Income Loss Contract. Is this a conflict of interest?

USDA has not taken into account the citizens who need it most

The My Pyramid symbol is more ambiguous than the last version. One can derive nothing from the symbol itself. There are no icons or text listing what the colored sections mean. You must go to mypyramid.gov to figure out what the symbol means. This alienates many lower income and elderly citizens who do not have a computer, are computer illiterate, or cannot afford Internet access. When asked how a citizen can get the information other than the web, our Agricultural Secretary Mike Johanns said one would need to see a health professional or order it from the government bookstore. A licensed health professional’s rate is minimum $60/hour, and the cost to order printed copies from the bookstore, depending on detail, ranges anywhere from $12-$66.

In a poll done by Opinion Dynamics one week after MyPyramid’s release, only 29% of minorities polled had seen the new symbol as opposed to 49% with household incomes of $75,000 per year or more.

What they call individualization is a mirage
MyPyramid offer’s 12 individualized pyramids based upon only three criteria: age, sex, and physical activity. Surprisingly, all 12 pyramids recommend 3 servings of milk products daily. Is this individualized?

USDA has set unattainable Goals

According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid, we should all exercise a minimum of 30 minutes daily. How can we follow this advice when our Agricultural Secretary Mike Johanns cannot? He said at the MyPyramid press conference that he only exercises 20 minutes five days weekly!

In an Opinion Dynamics poll taken one week after MyPyramid’s release, 46% believe that it is equally useful as the old symbol, which was a failure!

Serious omissions in MyPyramid

There is no safe level of trans fats. The Pyramid and Dietary Guidelines do not state that people should avoid trans fats. My Pyramid and the Dietary Guidelines hardly mention olive oil and fish, two of the healthiest menu options and recognized by other branches of our government as heart-healthy. There is a poverty of protein. Why does MyPyramid recommend that only about 15% of the diet come from protein when complete amino acids are required for the formation, maintenance, and repair of all bodily tissue and organ systems? It is a biochemical fact that no carbohydrate is essential for human nutrition. Yet, 55-60% of the USDA’s recommendations are carbohydrates (grains, fruits, and vegetables).

The protein category is called “Meat and Beans.” Beans are mostly carbohydrates and do not contain complete proteins. Why was “Meat,” and not meat, poultry, fish, and eggs specifically mentioned.

MyPyramid brilliantly avoids any “eat less” messages. Organizations like the American Pediatrics Association and some of the most prestigious journals in the world can say, “Don’t drink sodas. Don’t drink juice with added sugar.” But our government, cannot?

We, as consumers, should not be surprised, but angry. This was a golden opportunity to seize the moment at 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 I predict we may be worse off because of it. I am sick and tired of the USDA and special interests coming into our kitchens and children’s classrooms telling us what to eat.

It is time for the USDA to remove their influence over the food pyramid and dietary guidelines and to transfer the power of nutrition policy to an independent agency. Worldwide scientific and nutrition research should also be compiled and coordinated with the World Health Organization and other international health agencies, especially from countries that boast the greatest longevity and optimum health.

The Director of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy, Eric Hentges, said that a food chart could not be done in one icon. That's the reason for the twelve pyramids in MyPyramid. I disagree. I can prove that it can be done and done well.

My Circle of Health Food Chart, scaled to an average dinner plate, exhibits exactly what is required to maintain normal weight, and most importantly, optimal health. In addition, the Circle of Health plan encompasses a simple how-to, in which every version of the Dietary Guidelines and Food Pyramid has failed to accomplish.

I gave the USDA the Circle of Health and copious amounts of data when they requested input from health professionals back in 2003. I figured it was a ceremonial plea to alert the public it was seeking their input, but gave it a try anyway. They did not take an ounce of my advice, which I also expected. I am not a special interest. I am only a twenty-year health professional, working in the trenches with thousands of Americans, and see every day how our government’s nutrition policy is not working for us, but against us.

Bonnie Minsky, LDN, MPH, MA, CNS is President and Wellness Director of Nutritional Concepts, Inc., established in 1985. Bonnie counsels individuals, corporations, schools, and has performed hundreds of speaking engagements. Minsky has authored two books, Our Children’s Health and Nutrition in a Nutshell. Bonnie’s website, nutritionalconcepts.com, is widely respected as a credible and cutting edge source for nutrition and public health information.

© Copyright 2005

Thursday, June 16, 2005

USDA Won't Enforce Rules against Junk Food Sales in Schools

The junk food industry won a major victory yesterday, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture rejected a petition that it enforce its own competitive foods rule, which prohibits public schools from selling "foods of minimal nutritional value" during mealtimes in school cafeterias. The rule was designed to promote the health of school children, but enforcement today is lax to non-existent. The petition simply requested that the USDA enforce the rule as written.

A Wall Street Journal poll in February, 2005, found that 83% of American adults believe "public schools need to do a better job of limiting children's access to unhealthy foods like snack foods, sugary soft drinks and fast food."

In March, the USDA admitted in a report that it does not know whether schools are complying with prohibitions against the sale of foods of minimal nutritional value during school mealtimes. The report stated, "it is unclear to what extent federal and state regulations [against the sale of foods of minimum nutritional value] are enforced at the local level".

Foods of minimal nutritional value are defined as soda pop, water ices, chewing gum, and certain types of candies, such as hard candies, jellied candies, licorice and marshmallows.

Bonnie & Steve - What could we add to this that is not said already?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fish may protect against colorectal cancer

People who regularly eat fish are less likely to develop colorectal cancer, reveals new data out today from the biggest ever investigation into diet's impact on cancer incidence.

The new study, based on data from around half a million participants in the EPIC trial, also confirmed that red meat consumption significantly raises the risk of this cancer, while fibre protects against it.

The findings are reported in today’s issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (vol 97, no 12).

In contrast, eating 100 grams of fish daily reduces the disease risk by half. People eating less than 14g of fish a day were 40 per cent more likely to develop the cancer than those eating more than 50g per day, the researchers report.

Vitamin D may cut prostate cancer risk, suggests sunlight study

High sun exposure halved the risk of prostate cancer in men participating in a US trial, said researchers today, likely because of their body’s higher vitamin D stores.

If future studies continue to show that sunlight lowers prostate cancer risk, men may be advised to increase their vitamin D intake from diet and supplements as a safer option to sunbathing, they say.

Writing in today’s issue of Cancer Research, researchers noted that in men with certain gene variants, high sun exposure reduced prostate cancer risk by as much as 65 per cent.

Previous research has shown that the prostate uses vitamin D to promote the normal growth of prostate cells and to inhibit the invasiveness and spread of prostate cancer cells to other parts of the body.

"The genes involved are those that determine the type of vitamin D receptors a person has," said co-author Gary Schwartz of Wake Forest University. "These receptors, which function with vitamin D like a lock and key, vary in their ability to bind vitamin D and thus to influence cell behaviour."

The trial compared 450 non-Hispanic white patients in the San Francisco Bay area who had advanced prostate cancer with a matched control group of 455 men who did not have prostate cancer.

Courtesy of nutraingredients.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Non-Dieters Weigh the Same, but They're Happier

In a paper published this month in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers found that obese women who used a nutrition and behavior approach that ignored weight and body mass index, or B.M.I., a common measure of weight in relation to body size, were psychologically healthier at the end of a two-year trial period than those on conventional weight-loss diets.

Forty-one percent of dieters dropped out of the program; only 8 percent of nondieters quit. Nondieters lost no weight during the trial. Dieters initially lost weight, and then gained it back, showing no weight loss after two years. Nondieters felt significantly better about their bodies and showed highly significant decreases in depression, as measured by a widely used test.

"There is an extraordinary amount of scientific research that documents that dieting is not an effective health or weight-loss strategy," said Dr. Linda Bacon, the lead author. But, she said, "there is abundant research to show that when people make lifestyle changes, they improve health."

Courtesy of NY Times 6/14/05

Bonnie - Amen. It should not be about dieting. Discovering what foods are right for you and making those changes should be considered a lifestyle change. That is why I have never liked to use a scale or B.M.I. I have found in most cases for it to be counter-productive. When an individual is eating the right foods for their genetics and make the effort to change their lifestyle, weight comes off naturally and healthfully.

Calcium, vitamin D combat premenstrual ills-study

A diet high in calcium and vitamin D could reduce the risk of getting premenstrual syndrome, according to a report published on Monday.

Previous studies have shown calcium supplements helped treat the problem, but "this is the first, to our knowledge, to suggest that calcium and vitamin D may help prevent the initial development of PMS," said the report.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine did not say why the combination provided a protective effect.

Bonnie - the combination is effective because calcium and vitamin D are not just essential for bone health. The two nutrients are essential for almost every organ system, especially the endocrine and hormone systems, which affect menstruation.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Children can learn to like healthful foods with some encouragement from their families

Excerpts taken from article by Sally Squires, Special to The L.A. Times

Children can indeed learn to eat smart and move more. And they do so, a new study finds, if their parents give them access to healthy food, encourage regular physical activity and set a good example for these habits themselves.

The Dietary Intervention Study in Children focused on 663 children ages 8 to 10, for which fatty snacks, desserts and pizza accounted for about a third of the daily calories, as they do for most children today.

All participants were encouraged to daily get 60 minutes of physical activity. Half the children were then randomly assigned to a control group that received standard educational material on heart-healthy eating. The other half — the intervention group — enrolled in a yearlong, intensive program that included group meetings, individual sessions with registered dietitians, behavioral training and advice about boosting daily physical activity. These youngsters and their families received a guide that categorized food into three groups:

• "Go" foods that are nutrient rich and have little saturated fat, trans fat or cholesterol, such as fruits and vegetables without sauces or butter; whole grains; lean meat and poultry without the skin; egg whites; beans and nonfat or 1% dairy products; water and diet soda.

• "Slow" foods that are higher in fat and cholesterol, including Canadian bacon, lean ground beef, low-fat salad dressings and mayonnaise, 2% milk and 100% fruit juice, sports drinks and dried fruit.

• "Whoa" foods that should be eaten "once in a while" because they are calorie-dense or high in unhealthy fat. Examples include French fries, fruit in heavy syrup, fatty cuts of meat, chicken with the skin, whole eggs, cookies, cake, buttered popcorn, whole milk and regular soda.

Not only did the lower-calorie, low-fat regimen have no adverse effects on growth or development, but the study found that children learned healthy habits that lasted. Three years after the study began, kids in the intervention group consumed 67% of their calories from heart-healthy "go" foods, compared with 57% for the control group.

The results show that "families can learn to enjoy healthy foods and to be selective about their food choices" if they have "the right tools to help them make positive lifestyle changes," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded the study.

To provide those tools, the National Institutes of Health last week launched the We Can! program to help reduce childhood obesity, increase physical activity and cut sedentary behavior.

Here are some suggestions:

• Help kids reach for "go" foods.

• Get youngsters moving. Children are more likely to be active — and stay active — if you do physical activities with them.

• Fists are for food. Serving sizes are usually too large for most kids, so use your child's fist as a portion size for food.

• Quench thirst with water.

• Serve dessert, but make it fruit. The study found that even children who otherwise improved their eating habits fell short on fruit.

• Make fruit and vegetables part of each meal. Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University and lead author of the study, says, "Hungry kids will eat whatever is there, even the healthy stuff."

The study appears in the journal Pediatrics. www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/index.htm.

Steve - We say similar things to parents who are deathly afraid of changing their children's eating habits. It takes time and a lot of hard work, but we have seen many, many success stories! You can do it!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Higher protein better for elderly bone mass

Elderly women may need more protein than currently recommended to protect their bones from risk of fracture, suggests a new study.

The effect of protein intake on bone density is still uncertain but research increasingly suggests that it may be more important than previously thought.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia in Perth and other Australian institutions used data from a cross-sectional and longitudinal study of a population-based sample of 1077 women aged around 75 years old.

The results show a positive correlation between protein intake and qualitative ultrasound of the heel, as well as hip bone mineral density, even after adjusting for age, body mass index, and other nutrients, write the researchers in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 81, no 6, pp1423-1428).

For those women with the lowest intake, (less than 66g of protein per day), ultrasound of the heel was 1.3 per cent higher than women with the highest intake (more than 87g protein per day) and hip BMD was 2.6 per cent more.

Group Calls on FDA to Crack Down on Dannon, General Mills, and Maker of Lactaid

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today, requesting it put an end to false and misleading claims by dairy product manufacturers that contend milk consumption promotes weight and fat loss.

PCRM is calling on the FDA to declare all dairy products labeled with these claims as “misbranded,” to institute a product recall, and to require the manufacturers to publish corrective ads and food labels.

“The vast majority of scientific studies show that milk either causes weight gain or else has no effect at all on weight or body fat,” says Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., senior nutrition scientist of PCRM. “Nonfat milk is 55 percent sugar, while whole milk is nearly 50 percent fat, as a percentage of calories. Neither one is a formula for weight loss.”

New research by the Harvard Medical School backs up PCRM. The study, published in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, analyzed milk intake data from more than 12,000 children from 1996-1999, and concluded that the more milk children drank, the more weight they gained. Children consuming three servings a day of milk—including low-fat milk—were 35 percent more likely to become overweight than those consuming even one or two servings daily.

The dairy industry’s weight-loss campaign is based solely on two small, poorly controlled studies conducted by Michael Zemel, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Tennessee whose funding comes from dairy industry sources.

Since 1998, Zemel has accepted $1.68 million in research grants from the National Dairy Council (NDC), a promotional arm of the American dairy industry, and $275,000 from General Mills. Among the industry manufacturers using Zemel’s research are international food giants Dannon Company, Inc.; General Mills, Inc., the nation’s second largest cereal maker and the manufacturer of Yoplait brand yogurt; and McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of Lactaid.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Omega-3 offers hope for new anti-breast cancer drugs

Omega-3, the fatty acid found in oily fish, could be combined with a commonly used anesthetic to develop drugs to treat breast cancer, according to research published today in the journal Breast Cancer Research. Compounds of Omega-3 fatty acids and propofol reduce the ability of breast cancer cells to develop into malignant tumours, inhibiting cancer cell migration by 50% and significantly reducing their metastatic activity. These new compounds could be developed into a new family of anti-cancer drugs.

Dr Rafat Siddiqui, from the Methodist Research Institute and Indiana University in Indianapolis, and his colleagues studied the effect of two Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), combined with propofol on a breast cancer cell line in vitro. Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA have a minimal effect on cancer cells when applied alone. Propofol is a potent anti-oxidant known to inhibit cancer cell migration by only 5-10%.

The results of the study show that propofol and DHA or EPA have a much more significant effect on cancer cells when used in combination, as conjugates, than when used alone. The conjugates inhibit cancer cell adhesion by 15% and 30% respectively, reduce cell migration by 50% and increase apoptosis by 40%.

"These results suggest that the novel propofol-DHA and propofol-EPA conjugates reported here may be useful for the treatment of breast cancer" conclude Siddiqui and colleagues.

Cauliflower a weapon against breast cancer

Women who eat cauliflower regularly could provide the body with powerful tools to help fight breast cancer, as a new Italian study reveals the chemopreventive compounds of this popular vegetable.

Cauliflower is a member of the Brassicaceae mustard/cabbage family that includes brussels sprouts and broccoli, and a raft of studies have already suggested these ubiquitous winter vegetables could be an important source of health benefiting compounds.

“Cell growth inhibition was accompanied by significant cell death at the higher juice concentrations,” they report in the June issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

The scientists stressed that they found all cauliflower varieties tested suppressed cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Raisins fight oral bacteria

Compounds found in raisins appear to fight bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and gum disease.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago said yesterday that one of five raisin compounds tested, oleanolic acid, was particularly effective in killing bacteria.

The findings counter the public perception that raisins promote cavities.

"Raisins are perceived as sweet and sticky, and any food that contains sugar and is sticky is assumed to cause cavities," said lead author of the study Christine Wu, professor and associate dean for research at UIC.

"But our study suggests the contrary. Phytochemicals in raisins may benefit oral health by fighting bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease."

The data, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology running in Atlanta this week, come as food manufacturers and oral care companies show increasing interest in natural compounds that can fight gum and tooth disease.

Dental floss and other products containing cranberry extracts have recently been launched in the US on the back of research showing that the fruit contains compounds that prevent adhesion of the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, an agent for dental caries, to teeth.

The new study shows that a raisin compound may have the same action.

Courtesy of nutraingredients.com

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Senator Releases Report Exposing FDA & Drug Companies

Conspiracy of Silence: How the FDA Allows Drug Companies to Abuse the Accelerated Approval Process

Download this document if you have time to read twenty-five compelling pages. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) has put together a very concise report showing how medications are rapidly approved without adequate safety data. Markey's report also lists many of the medications with safety data still pending, even though they are being marketed to consumers (some as far back as 1996).



Milk may cause weight gain in kids

A survey of more than 12,000 children aged 9 to 14 showed that those who drank more milk weighed more than those who drank less.

"Children who drank the most milk gained more weight, but the added calories appeared responsible," the team at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University in Boston wrote in their report, published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"The take-home message is that children should not be drinking milk as a means of losing weight or trying to control weight," Berkey said.

Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, who worked on the study, said he was concerned about the heavy advertising of milk.

"The basic beverage should be water," Willett added. "We know that in many parts of the world, kids don't drink any milk at all and they end up with healthy bones."

In March a study in the journal Pediatrics showed that exercise was at least as important for building strong bones in children as eating calcium-rich foods was.

Children who drank more than three servings a day were 25 percent more likely to become overweight than those who drank two to three servings a day.

Bonnie - The USDA's 2005 MyPyramid now recommends 3 dairy servings daily for everybody!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Apples = Antioxidants!

A Canadian government study that measured the levels of antioxidants in eight varieties of apples found that Red Delicious contain the highest concentrations of the health enhancing chemicals.

The skin of Red Delicious apples — the most common variety grown in the United States — contains over six times more antioxidant activity than the flesh.

The study, to be published in the June 29 issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, compared apple varieties popular in Canada, some of which are available only regionally in the United States.

Red Delicious, which account for 27 percent of U.S. apple production, has more than six times the antioxidants as the bottom-ranked Empire variety. Northern Spy was No. 2, followed by Cortland, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, McIntosh and Mutsu.

And in every variety tested, the skins of the apples contained substantially higher levels of antioxidants than the flesh.

Though apples have significantly lower concentrations of antioxidants than other fruits, especially many berries, researchers say year-round availability and greater popularity might make them a better source for many people.

Courtesy of AP 6/6/2005

Friday, June 03, 2005

Fuel born from carbohydrates could be clean and easy.

The diesel fuel in your car could one day come from plants rather than oil wells, according to chemists who have converted plant chemicals into useful hydrocarbons.

Biomass fuels are often touted as a green alternative to oil. Although the carbon dioxide they produce when burnt is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, in theory it should be sucked up by the following year's crop as it grows.

The easiest way to extract energy from plants is simply to burn them, and convert the heat to electricity. Although this is good for stationary power plants, it isn't ideal for cars. Electric cars have to be recharged frequently, which may make them unsuitable for long journeys.

A better idea is to convert plant material into fuel that vehicles can use directly. This has been done with the fatty acids in vegetable oils, which make up a small part of plant material. But now researchers have found a way to create fuel from the carbohydrates that make up about 75% of a plant's dried weight.

The result is a much more efficient use of plant material, report James Dumesic, a chemist from University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his colleagues in Science.

The plant-derived hydrocarbons are just like conventional diesel, notes Jens Rostrup-Nielsen of Haldor Topsoe, a chemical technology company based in Lyngby, Denmark, so they can be distributed through existing infrastructure. This makes the fuel easier to use than hydrogen, for example, which requires a different kind of pumping station and storage system.

If all goes according to plan, Dumesic estimates one could grow enough plants in the United States to power a significant percentage of the country's vehicles.

Chain of fuels

Carbohydrates have proven an expensive source of fuel in the past. Glucose, for example, can be fermented into ethanol and then added to gasoline. But this process is very inefficient, largely because of the energy it takes to boil ethanol away from water at the end of the fermentation.

Dumesic's team reasoned that this energy-intensive process could be avoided if plant carbohydrates were converted directly to the long-chain hydrocarbons that make up diesel fuel. Because oil and water do not mix, these hydrocarbons float to the top of the reaction mixture, where they are easily siphoned off.

The chemists first used a platinum catalyst to make carbohydrates containing five or six carbon atoms react with hydrogen gas: plant material provides both the carbs and the gas2.

A magnesium-based catalyst then knits these molecules together to create the longer carbon chains required for diesel fuel. Adding more pressurized hydrogen, and removing any remaining oxygen atoms with a platinum catalyst, delivers the finished fuel.

If this can be streamlined into a simpler process, it would be able to compete commercially with ethanol production, says Dumesic.

The next challenge is to work out how to extract the all-important carbohydrates from plant matter. The chemists used a pure carbohydrate supply in their tests, and Dumesic says that plants may have to undergo extensive processing to remove unwanted chemicals.

"We don't know how dirty a biomass stream we can tolerate," he says. "That's where the uncertainty lies."

Courtesy of Nature 6/2/2005

Steve - This is what we can do with the surplus of excess grain carbs!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Vitamin B12 supplements correct deficiencies as well as injections

Taking supplements of vitamin B12 appear to correct deficiencies of the vitamin just as efficiently as B12 injections but the doses needed would far exceed the RDA of this vitamin.

Elderly people often develop vitamin B12 deficiencies as the effects of ageing impact the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Yet the vitamin has been shown to reduce levels of the amino acid homocysteine, high levels of which are linked to increase risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Traditional treatment for this vitamin deficiency is through injections of cobalamin but taking supplements is a painless and therefore, preferable method.

Researchers investigated the doses of cyanocobalamin supplements needed to correct this deficiency, they found that only daily doses of at least 647 mug of cyanocobalamin could reduce the deficiency by 80-90 per cent.

Their study tested different daily doses of vitamin B12 supplements in 120 people over the age of 70.

“The lowest dose of oral cyanocobalamin required to normalize mild vitamin B12 deficiency is more than 200 times greater than the recommended dietary allowance, which is approximately 3 mug daily,” the authors write in the 23 May issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Courtesy of nutraingredients.com