Friday, September 30, 2005

Glucosamine better than common painkiller for knee arthritis

Two long-awaited clinical trials on glucosamine have found the shellfish-derived substance to significantly reduce the pain of arthritic joints, and it may be better than a commonly used painkiller in Europe.

Yet the findings will also lend scientific weight to earlier sometimes conflicting evidence on the efficacy of this natural supplement, both alone and in combination with chondroitin sulphate.

The first set of results come from the multi-centered Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) conducted by the US government-funded National Institutes of Health.

Almost 1,500 osteoarthritis patients were given a daily dose of either 1,500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride, 1,200 mg of chondroitin sulphate, a combination of both supplements, 200 mg of the common prescription painkiller celecoxib (Celebrex) or a placebo for 24 weeks.

The patients were evaluated at baseline and every four weeks thereafter.

Both celecoxib and the glucosamine-chondroitin combination significantly reduced knee pain compared to placebo.

“Combination glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate is effective in treating moderate to severe knee pain due to osteoarthritis,” says the authors’ abstract.

It adds that a lack of response in patients with mild pain may be due to a floor effect, limiting ability to detect response.

Daniel Clegg from the University of Utah will present the full study findings at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) meeting in San Diego on 14 November.

The following day Dr Herrero-Beaumont from the Fundacion Jimenez Diaz in Madrid will disclose the results of a multi-centre European study, which has found glucosamine sulphate to be more effective than the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen on joint pain.

The Glucosamine Unum in Die Efficacy (GUIDE) trial compared a daily dose of 1500mg of glucosamine sulphate and 3000 mg of the OTC drug to a placebo in 318 patients.

Steve - as effective as we know it is, glucosamine is not for everyone. For those with shellfish, salicylate or sulfa sensitivity, it is poison. Also, keep in mind that it is partially a "band-aid' approach. As usual, nothing replaces diet as the gold standard for pain relief. Although, it is a much better choice than NSAID's and COX-1 or 2 inhibitors.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Curry's situation brings magnesium to light

I applaud Dr. David Cannom, the Los Angeles Cardiologist who realized there's nothing wrong with Chicago Bulls star Eddy Curry's heart. His findings found the benign arrhythmia that caused Curry to miss the last ten games of the 2005 season and playoffs was due to magnesium deficiency and high levels of caffeine intake.

I have been pleading with physicians for years that when they find arrhytmias in athletes, the first thing they should test for is magnesium deficiency. Seventy percent of all people living in the U.S. are magnesium deficient. Magnesium is an electrolyte depleted rapidly in athletes who follow an intense training regimen. Many healthy athletes have died from dangerously depleted magnesium. An arrthymia is the first warning sign.

How difficult would it be for trainers to supplement all elite athlete's diet with at least 300-400 mg. of magnesium as a preventive measure?


Lilly adds suicide risk to Strattera

Eli Lilly and Co. on Thursday said it will add strong warnings to its label for Strattera, used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, including the risk of suicidal thoughts among children and adolescents.

Strattera will now carry a "black box" warning, the strongest required by U.S. regulators.

The warning came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requested Lilly to submit an analysis of adverse event data from its Strattera clinical trials data base, which identified a small but statistically significant increased risk of suicidal thoughts among Strattera-treated children and adolescents.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Make This Year a Healthier Halloween

Do you cringe around Halloween time? Weeks of parties, school events, and trick-or-treating increase your child's (and sometimes your) candy/sweet consumption ten-fold over any other time of the year. Do you find your child's attention span off, emotional and physical highs and lows more pronounced? More immune-depressed than usual? All the excess sugar and chemicals help to create these symptoms.

Here are some ideas to make Halloween a bit healthier:
  • Trick-or-treating: what to do with all the candy! If you are an enterprising parent or child, turn that candy into cash! We have used the following method for two generations of Minsky children. Tell your child that for every piece of candy, they will receive a nickel or dime (your choice). When you explain to them what it can add up to, and they can use the $ to spend as they wish, they usually jump at the chance. Don't forget to let them know that they can still eat a piece or two of their spoils (if interested).
  • School Parties or Events: we always recommend kids eating healthy snacks instead of candy. Although, if your child is going to eat candy, try to accompany them with their own candy (free of artificial ingredients and hydrogenated fats) and always, ALWAYS accompany it with a healthy fat (like nuts/seeds) or lean protein (jerky, deli turkey, etc.). This will protect against blood sugar highs and lows.
  • Handing Out Candy: do your visiting trick-or-treaters a favor. If you are going to pass out candy, try to offer the best of the worst (free of artificial sweetners, artificial flavors, artificial colors, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated fats).
Happy Halloween!! Bonnie and Steve

Paxil Tied to Birth Defects

The Food and Drug Administration is warning that a study has suggested that the antidepressant Paxil may be associated with birth defects.

Paxil's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, said it will include the results of the study in the drug's list of precautions.

A retrospective study found increased numbers of babies born with birth defects to women who were taking Paxil during the first trimester of pregnancy, as compared with women on other antidepressants, according to the FDA and the company.

This included an increase in heart defects, according to a letter from GlaxoSmithKline to health care professionals. The FDA released the letter Tuesday.

The drug, which goes by the generic name paroxetine, is already classified as a "Category C" drug for pregnant women — meaning comprehensive studies of its effects on a pregnancy have not been performed.

Courtesy of AP

Poor Have Difficulty Eating Healthy Foods

Many Americans survive on food stamps, trips to the food bank, and a state program for pregnant women and their children that provides essentials such as dairy products, fruit juice and cereal.

Many know they should both be eating more fruits and vegetables. But the foods on the government's new food pyramid are too expensive. Boxed macaroni and cheese costs less than a dollar to feed the whole family; a fresh chicken breast and steamed vegetables cost about $2.60.

But pasta, canned vegetables and hamburger are much more likely to be on the poor's dinner table. Scientists, doctors and government officials are working on ways to get poor families to eat healthier food.

The poor have more barriers to dealing with obesity, eating healthy and leading an active life, said Dr. Lydia Tinajero-Deck said.

Fast food restaurants are more common in their neighborhoods than fresh produce markets. Many parents, sometimes working two jobs, don't have the time to cook healthy meals. And fresh food is more costly.

Dr. David L. Katz of Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center advocates vegetable subsidies. He favors the idea of a junk food tax that would use the money to lower the price of vegetables, as well as pay for anti-obesity programs.

Diana Crane, a spokeswoman for PCC Natural Markets in Seattle, argues that educated consumers can still find fresh food bargains. "Many types of produce remain very affordable, such as potatoes and many greens, many under $1 per pound," she said.

Crane said PCC would be happy to see more funding for government programs that get produce to low-income families.

Courtesy of AP

Steve - if the USDA evened the playing field by earmarking some of the billions of dollars in subsidies that go to dairy, corn, soy, wheat, and beef and put it into fresh fruits and vegetables, that would be a start!

UK announces plans to ban school junk food

Junk food high in fat, salt or sugar is to be banned in schools across England within a year, Education Secretary Ruth Kelly announced on Wednesday.

"Teachers know that eating well at school encourages good behavior and children getting better results," she told Sky News.

Kelly said school governors would have a responsibility for the food they served and said Ofsted inspectors would check it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Common fruit and veg may protect memory in elderly

Broccoli, potatoes, oranges, apples and radishes all contain substances that act in the same way as drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s, UK researchers will report today.

The findings provide scientific backing for previous studies suggesting that higher intake of fruit and vegetables may lower the risk of developing the disease.

Due to present the research at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, the scientists from King’s College London have found that compounds in each of these fruit and vegetables inhibit acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

This is also the target of common Alzheimer's drugs and although it has been previously suggested that some vegetables might have this activity too, no detailed investigation has ever been carried out, claim the UK team.

Of each of the fruit and vegetables studied, broccoli was found to have the most potent activity and in further tests, the researchers showed that glucosinolates, a group of compounds found throughout the cabbage family, were likely to be responsible for this action.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Intensive Lifestyle & Dietary Changes May Affect Progression of Prostate Cancer

Men with prostate cancer are often advised to make changes in diet and lifestyle, although the impact of these changes has not been well documented. Therefore, researchers evaluated the effects of comprehensive lifestyle changes on prostate specific antigen (PSA) and serum stimulated LNCaP cell growth in men with early, biopsy proven prostate cancer after 1 year.

A total of 93 volunteers with serum PSA 4 to 10 ng/ml and cancer Gleason scores less than 7 were randomly assigned to an experimental group that was asked to make comprehensive lifestyle changes or to a usual care control group.

None of the experimental group patients but 6 control patients underwent conventional treatment due to an increase in PSA and/or progression of disease on magnetic resonance imaging.

PSA decreased 4% in the experimental group but increased 6% in the control group. The growth of LNCaP prostate cancer cells was inhibited almost 8 times more by serum from the experimental than from the control group. Changes in serum PSA and also in LNCaP cell growth were significantly associated with the degree of change in diet and lifestyle.

Conculsion: intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of early, low grade prostate cancer in men.

Journal Urology, September 2005

Acne Antibiotics Linked to Respiratory Infections

Researchers found that acne patients on antibitoics for at least six weeks were twice as likely to develop an upper respiratory tract infection than those who were not on treatment, according to the September issue of Archive of Dermatology. 118,496 patients were tracked.

Bonnie - I have been saying for years how dangerous it is to be on long-term antibiotics. Diet and acne are almost always interrelated, but dietary change is not a band-aid approach.

California Enacts Toughest Diet Rules in Nation

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed landmark legislation that will raise nutritional standards for food sold at California schools and ban the sale of sodas on all campuses by 2009. The restrictions will apply only to food sold at schools and does not affect what students bring to campuses.

-SB12 says that by 2007, all K-12 schools should have no more the following in an individually sold snack:
  • 35% of its calories from fat (excluding legumes, nuts, nut butters, seeds, eggs, non-fried vegetables and cheese packaged for indidivual sale).
  • 10% of its calories from saturated fat (excluding eggs and cheese).
  • 35% sugar by weight (excluding fruits and vegetables).
  • 175 calories (elelmentary) or 250 calories (middle and high school)
An individually sold entree may have no more than 4 grams of fat per 100 calories and not exceed 400 calories.

-SB965 allows only milk, water, juice, and electrolyte drinks to be sold.

-SB281 will provide $18.2 million to provide fruits and vegetables for school breakfast programs.

Steve - This is a great start. As usual, California takes the lead. The federal government should follow their lead. After these restrictions have had some time to take hold, we should take the guidelines a few steps further.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Higher DHA Levels in Breast Milk Benefit Newborn Behavior

A new study published in this month's Journal of Pediatric Psychiatry revealed a positive correlation between DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) levels in breast milk and newborn neurobehavioral function.

These findings support numerous clinical studies showing that DHA, a long chain omega-3 fatty acid, plays an important role in infant mental and visual development. DHA is now added to over 75% of U.S. infant formulas.

The study, conducted at Texas Tech University, analyzed the DHA content of breast milk collected from 20 breastfeeding mothers nine days after delivery. At the same time, their infants were tested for their neurobehavioral functioning using the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), a commonly used behavioral test. Analysis revealed a positive correlation between DHA levels in the mother's breast milk and their child's NBAS score.

"This study is significant because it correlates higher DHA in breast milk to higher cognitive function at a very young age," said study investigator Connye Kuratko, PhD, a registered dietitian formerly with Texas Tech University and now with Martek Biosciences. "Americans have among the lowest level of breast milk DHA in the world because of our diets, but pregnant and breastfeeding moms can safely ensure their baby is getting enough DHA simply by taking a DHA supplement. This study also underscores the importance of adding high levels of DHA to infant formula to ensure formulas provide enough of this important brain building nutrient."

One recent study published in the July issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that infants of mothers who supplemented with DHA during the first four months of breastfeeding had better psychomotor skills at 2 1/2 years of age.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Protein Diet, Exercise Aids Weight Loss

A high-protein diet can make regular exercise more effective for women trying to lose weight — helping to build muscle while trimming body fat, a small study suggests.

In a four-month period, the protein-rich diet along with exercise significantly reduced abdominal fat and triglycerides, risk factors for heart disease, according to findings published in the August issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

"People thinking about doing exercise want a return on that investment," said Donald K. Layman, a professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus, who led the study. "Our way of looking at it is the protein-rich diet basically boosts the benefit of doing exercise."

The research was funded by the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Kraft Foods and the Beef Board.

Forty-eight women took part in the study, eating about 1,700 calories per day. Half ate a diet rich in meat and dairy while half ate a diet that contained more complex carbohydrates, such as rice or pasta.

Each group was then split between women who were asked to walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and women who were required to walk at least that much and participate in two 30-minute weightlifting sessions per week.

The low-exercise group was voluntary and averaged less than 100 minutes per week. The other group was supervised and averaged more than 200 minutes of exercise per week, Layman said.

All the women who exercised at least 200 minutes per week lost about the same amount of weight whether they ate a high-protein or a high-carb diet. But almost all the weight lost by those who ate the protein diet was fat, while almost one-third of the weight lost by those on the high-carb diet was muscle.

Steve - While many other studies have shown the same, we need to apporach this one with caution because of who funded it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Study: 'Superbug' Germ Kills 3 in Chicago

Three Chicago-area children have died of a toxic shock syndrome-like illness caused by a superbug they caught in the community and not in the hospital, where the germ is usually found.

The cases show that this already worrisome staph germ has become even more dangerous by acquiring the ability to cause this shock-like condition.

"There's a new kid on the block," said Dr. John Bartlett of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, referring to the added strength of the superbug known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

"The fact that there are three community-acquired staph aureus cases is really scary," continued Bartlett, an infectious disease specialist.

The Chicago deaths were described in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Health officials do not yet know how the drug-resistant staph causes this new syndrome, but it appears to be rare, said Dr. Clifford McDonald, an epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, doctors should be on the lookout for shock-like cases caused by MRSA, said Dr. Robert Daum, a pediatrician at the University of Chicago who co-authored the study.

In the cases reported in Thursday's medical journal, the baby and two toddlers who died were otherwise healthy before they were separately admitted to a Chicago hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms between 2000 and 2004. Doctors believe the children probably inhaled the germ.

The children died within a week of being hospitalized and autopsies showed they suffered from shock and bleeding in the adrenal gland. The infections were caused by MRSA, which is usually not associated with the syndrome.

The first Chicago death occurred in 2000 when a 15-month-old girl was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. She died eight hours later. In 2003, a 9-month-old girl was hospitalized with fever and breathing problems. Her condition deteriorated and she died six days later. A year later, a 17-month-old boy was admitted with respiratory problems and died the next day.

In all three cases, the victims' conditions progressed from pneumonia to shock.

Bonnie - yes, scary; even more reason to make sure your kids are getting adequate probiotics, limited sugar intake, meds only if necessary, and as many natural immune boosters as possible.

Reducing pancreatic cancer risk

Eating more raw vegetables every day, especially yellow and dark green ones, may help cut the risk of pancreatic cancer in half.

Researchers at UC San Francisco have found that eating five or more servings of yams, corn, carrots, onions or other similar vegetables is linked with lower risk of the disease — one of the most deadly and hard-to-treat cancers. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, and cruciferous ones such as broccoli also worked well, they said.

Light green veggies and tomatoes were slightly less beneficial, according to the study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute. The results will be published in the September issue of the medical journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

In interviews with 2,233 men and women, including 532 pancreatic cancer patients, researchers cataloged how much produce they ate for a year. They also asked about other factors such as overall diet and smoking.

They then compared the habits of the cancer patients with the 1,701 others. Those who ate at least five servings had half the cancer risk compared with those who ate two or fewer servings.

Courtesy of the LA Times

Monday, September 19, 2005

Salicylate-Free Cosmetics

We have found a great line of cosmetics for those of you who are salicylate-intolerant entitled Andrea Rose. Go to their website for details.


Pomegranate’s heart benefits shown

Pomegranate juice is remarkably rich in antioxidants, such as soluble polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanins, which scavenge free radicals and help prevent DNA damage that can lead to a number of serious health conditions.

It is also believed to have antiatherosclerotic properties, as studies in Israel have shown that the fruit juice, taken daily, prevented the thickening of arteries and slowed down cholesterol oxidation by almost half (Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33).

Researchers from the University of California’s non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and California Pacific Medical Center claim their new study, published in the September 16 issue of the Journal of Cardiology, is the first to assess its effect on patients with ischemic coronary heart disease (CHD).

They randomly divided 45 participants, all of whom had CHD and myocardial ischemia, into two groups. One group received 250ml (8.5 oz) pomegranate juice each day for three months, and the other received the same amount of a placebo drink with a similar calorific content, flavor and color.

Their findings showed that blood flow to the heart improved by about 17 percent in the pomegranate group and declined by 18 percent in the placebo group. The researchers noted that this benefit was realized without and negative effects on lipids, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, body weight or blood pressure.

Senior author Dean Ornish said: "Although the sample in this study was relatively small, the strength of the design and the significant improvements in blood flow to the heart observed after only three months suggest that pomegranate juice may have important clinical benefits in those with coronary heart disease."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Kraft Introduces Snack Foods Made of Whole Grains

Don't believe the hype. Kraft is launching its "Wholesome Foods" line. Two of their biggest snack brands, Chips Ahoy and Fig Newtons, are offering whole grain options. This is Kraft's contribution to a healthier lifestyle.

Actually, to our benefit, the cookies are free of trans fats. But let's look at it realistically: these are still not "healthy snacks" as Kraft will want you to believe. There are only ten fewer calories than the original brands. In addition, the main reason to swtich to whole grains, fiber, only boasts one more gram per serving.

These are still products to avoid or if consumed in moderation, always accompany them with a healthy fat or lean protein.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tests Find High Mercury Levels in Swordfish

Store-bought swordfish contained mercury levels above the legal limit in a study released Thursday by environmental groups.

A University of North Carolina Lab found elevated mercury concentrations in 24 swordfish samples from supermarket chains including Safeway, Shaws, Albertsons and Whole Foods.

Groups that paid for the analysis want supermarkets to post signs warning shoppers of health risks from mercury.

Average levels were 1.1 parts per million, just over the goverment's limit of 1.0 ppm. The Food and Drug Administration can take legal action to remove a product from the market if mercury levels exceed that limit. Two samples, from Maine and Rhode Island, contained double the federal limit for mercury.

Steve - this is old news. We know that larger fish that live longer build up more heavy metals in their tissue. We never recommend fish like shark, swordfish, or marlin for this reason.

Use of Attention-Deficit Drugs Soar Among Adults

The use of drugs to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in younger adults more than doubled from 2000 to 2004, and spending on the drugs in the same age bracket, 20 to 44, more than quadrupled, a major prescription management company is reporting today.

The pills are also becoming increasingly popular among women. Indeed, adult women are now just as likely as men to take them, said the company, Medco Health Solutions. Among children, use by boys is nearly three times as likely as by girls.

One percent of adults ages 20 to 64 now take the drugs, according to Medco, which administers pharmaceutical benefits for managed care companies.

"I think this shows a clear recognition and new thinking that treatment for A.D.H.D. does not go away for many children after adolescence," said Dr. Robert S. Epstein, the company's chief medical officer.

Dr. James McGough, a professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, said more adults should probably be taking the pills. A recent study by Harvard researchers found that as many as 4 percent of adults had symptoms of the disorder, Dr. McGough noted. Of the Medco report, he said, "I think it's a good sign that this is increasingly recognized and people are getting help."

But Dr. Alexander Lerman, a New York specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry, said psychiatrists were using increasingly vague definitions of the disorder to conclude that adults with mild symptoms needed medication. For those who truly need the medicines, Dr. Lerman said, they can be highly useful. For others, the drugs, which are generally stimulants, can cause even more problems, he said.

"I think this is a very mixed bag," Dr. Lerman said. "Stimulants are mood destabilizers. They make people more emotionally unstable, depressed, irritable, less social and obsessive."

Dr. Lawrence Diller, a behavioral developmental pediatrician in Walnut Creek, Calif., pointed out that stimulants often promoted weight loss, which could be one explanation for their increasing use.

The use of medications for attention-deficit disorder grew faster from 2000 to 2004 than the use of any other class of medication except treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, the Medco study found.

Courtesy NY Times

Bonnie - this is a disturbing trend. Like statin meds, this may be Big Pharma's next push to get most of America to take ADD drugs.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Green Tea Flavor

Republic of Tea just came out with a scrumptious, antioxidant-laden "Pomegranate Green Tea." They combined their high quality green tea with POM's pomegranate concentrate. It tastes great!
Urge your grocers to carry it in your local store.


Probiotic multivitamin reduces cold symptoms, duration

Taking probiotic supplements or foods could shorten the duration of colds and reduce the severity of symptoms, shows new research from Germany.

In a randomized, double-blind study on almost 500 adults, people that took daily vitamins and minerals with probiotic bacteria for at least three months reported that colds lasted almost two days less than the average nine days suffered by a group taking only vitamins and minerals.

The volunteers, who recorded their symptoms when they had a cold on a daily basis, also reported that headaches, coughing and sneezing, and fever were less severe if they were taking a probiotic supplement.

The research, presented this week at the European Influenza Conference in Malta, shows that symptoms were down by nearly a quarter and the time spent with a fever was cut from 24 hours to six.

The study's findings are reported in the August issue of Clinical Nutrition (vol 24, issue 4, pp481-91).

Courtesy of

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

2.5m men have fertility problems

More than 2.5 million men in Britain could have low fertility, a report says.

The research by Norwich Union Healthcare estimates that 9% of the UK's 28.5 million men might have difficulty conceiving.

Of GPs questioned, a third were worried declining male fertility would add to ageing population issues. Many blamed smoking and alcohol for the trend.

Sperm quality and number have declined in the last 30 years.

Male infertility accounts for about a third of couples' problems conceiving.

Steve - translate those numbers to the United

Vitamin C 'helps to fight cancer'

High doses of vitamin C injected into the bloodstream may help fight cancer, a US study says.

Scientists found that intravenous vitamin C in the form of ascorbate killed cancer cells in lab tests.

The findings contradict earlier studies, but the Maryland-based Institutes of Health said they had looked at lower-dose oral vitamin C.

In the latest study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers conducted laboratory experiments which simulated clinical infusions of vitamin C on a range of nine cancer and four normal cells.

In five of the cancer lines, there was a 50% decrease in cell survival, while normal cells were unaffected.

A more detailed look at lymphoma cells - which were especially sensitive to ascorbate - showed they were killed completely.

The effective dose was around four millimoles, a concentration much higher than an oral dose but easily achievable by intravenous infusion.

Henry Scowcroft, senior information officer at Cancer Research UK, said despite the findings, the "overwhelming" evidence still pointed to vitamin C not being an effective treatment.

"This work is at a very early stage. There are many substances that have been shown to kill cancer cells in the lab, but failed to fulfil that promise when tested in people.

"But we do know that eating a healthy, balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, is an effective way to reduce the risk of getting cancer in the first place."

BBC News

Monday, September 12, 2005

An unsavory addition to kids' lunchboxes: lead

A study by an Oakland-based environmental group found harmful levels of lead in some lunchboxes made of soft vinyl. The Center for Environmental Health filed lawsuits late last month against several lunchbox manufacturers and various retailers who sell the products.

The environmental group found that 27 lunchboxes — one-quarter of the products tested — had high levels of lead when tested with an at-home detection kit. The group then sent those 27 products to an independent laboratory for more rigorous testing; that study found that 17 of the lunchboxes contained lead in excess of federal safety standards.

One lunchbox, made by Targus Group International Inc. and featuring the children's character Angela Anaconda, was found to contain more than 90 times the legal limit for lead in paint in children's products. The Center for Environmental Health has advised parents to avoid vinyl lunchboxes or to purchase a home test kit to check for lead. Such kits sell for about $3 and can be found on the Internet and in hardware stores.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Exercise and Diet Slow Memory Loss

An active lifestyle and a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may help tackle memory loss, according to two leading neuroscientists speaking at the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Specifically, those who remained physically fit, avoided high stress levels and enjoyed a rich and vaired social life are better equipped to stay alert as they age. Mental stimulation, learning new things and simply thinking young also helps, according to Professor's Ian Robertson and Maria Lynch of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

BBC News

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bonnie's Back to School Tips Revised

Here are a few reminders to keep your children healthy and focused:
  • reduce sugar intake - sugar is the number one contributor to reduced immunity to viruses and bacteria
  • supplement with cod liver oil - vitamins A & D are essential to immunity and exist in ideally bioavailable form in cod liver; no sunshine in fall and winter means little vitamin D; 1/2 - 1 tsp. daily is suggested
  • adequate sleep - this is crucial for your child's immunity and focus; between 9-12 hours for young children through teen
  • probiotic supplementation - balanced gut ecology is essential for fighting bacteria and viruses, and healthy neurological function; healthy flora is usually deficient in most of us; supplementing with a high quality acidophilus/bifidus probiotic is suggested
  • be selective with carbohydrates - instead of loading up on grain carbs, make your child's carbs fruit and veggie-heavy; fruit juice does not count (not much better than soda pop) because it is absorbed like pure sugar
  • magnesium - if extra support is needed for focus or hyperactivity, there is nothing better than "nature's valium"; a glycinate form is suggested to reduce potential intestinal disturbance, which is the only side effect of magnesium
  • practice clean hygiene - make sure your children wash their hands after going to the restroom and before meals; try to disuade them from putting their fingers in their mouth, nose, or rubbing their eyes
  • immunizations - two days before and after injections, give your child 500mg. extra vitamin C and 10-15 mg. of zinc
  • athletics - if your child is playing a sport several times weekly, make sure you are supplementing them with extra calories and proper nutrients, especially electolytes like magnesium and potassium
  • eat breakfast - breakfast affects learning for the rest of the day and is your most important meal; a recent study appeared in the August edition of Journal Physiology showing enhanced memory and test performance simply by eating breakfast, but those students who ate the healthiest breakfast showed the best performance
Good luck! Bonnie

USDA Awards $9 Million to Promote Fresh Fruit & Vegetables in Schools

Up from $6 million in 2002, 225 schools in eight states will participate in a program to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.

Steve - This is wonderful! Oh, but when you consider that Dairy receives $254 million and Milk $100 million for promotion, you realize it's just a spit in the bucket. It seems like they should be ponying up for more considering fruits and vegetables are supposed to be the "darlings" of 2005 MyPyramid.

Chronic pain is poorly managed

A fifth of adults in Europe have moderate to severe chronic pain, and in many cases their symptoms are inadequately managed, says a recent study.

Only one in 50 cases are managed by a pain specialist, and a third of patients are not currently being treated, says the study in the European Journal of Pain, published online on 10 August.

"We have documented that chronic pain is a major health care problem in Europe," wrote the authors, from the University of Oslo, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, and Mundipharma International, Cambridge. "This needs to be taken more seriously by health care providers and those responsible for health care policies and allocations of resources."

British Medical Journal 2005;331:476 (3 September)

Steve - Timely? The numbers are higher in the United States. It just so happens that we just published The Pain Relief Diet at

Friday, September 02, 2005

Bonnie's Back to School Tips

Here are a few reminders to keep your children healthy and focused:
  • reduce sugar intake - sugar is the number one contributor to reduced immunity to viruses and bacteria
  • supplement with cod liver oil - vitamins A & D are essential to immunity and exist in ideally bioavailable form in cod liver; no sunshine in fall and winter means little vitamin D; 1/2 - 1 tsp. daily is suggested
  • adequate sleep - this is crucial for your child's immunity and focus; between 9-12 hours for young children through teen
  • probiotic supplementation - balanced gut ecology is essential for fighting bacteria and viruses, and healthy neurological function; healthy flora is usually deficient in most of us; supplementing with a high quality acidophilus/bifidus probiotic is suggested
  • be selective with carbohydrates - instead of loading up on grain carbs, make your child's carbs fruit and veggie-heavy; fruit juice does not count (not much better than soda pop) because it is absorbed like pure sugar
  • magnesium - if extra support is needed for focus or hyperactivity, there is nothing better than "nature's valium"; a glycinate form is suggested to reduce potential intestinal disturbance, which is the only side effect of magnesium
  • practice clean hygiene - make sure your children wash their hands after going to the restroom and before meals; try to disuade them from putting their fingers in their mouth, nose, or rubbing their eyes
  • immunizations - two days before and after injections, give your child 500mg. extra vitamin C and 10-15 mg. of zinc
  • athletics - if your child is playing a sport several times weekly, make sure you are supplementing them with extra calories and proper nutrients, especially electolytes like magnesium and potassium
Good luck! Bonnie

Pomegranate extract could slow cartilage loss in arthritis

Pomegranate fruit extracts have been shown to block enzymes that contribute to cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis, a condition that currently has little perspective for treatment.

A team from the Case Western Reserve University found that a water extract of pomegranate fruit inhibited stimulation of certain enzymes in human cartilage cells affected by osteoarthritis.

Production of these enzymes, matrix metalloproteases, is speeded up by the pro-inflammatory protein interleukin-1b (IL-1b) during osteoarthritis, leading to cartilage degradation and damage to joints.

Writing in this month’s issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Tariq M. Haqqi and colleagues said the findings suggest that consumption of pomegranate fruit extract “may help in protecting cartilage from the effects of IL-1b by suppressing cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis”.

Further research will be needed to determine the absorption rate of pomegranate fruit extracts in the joints and to confirm in animals whether the fruit extract promotes cartilage repair.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Extra-virgin olive oil anti-inflammatory-scientists

Scientists have just found out what gourmets have always known -- that there is something special about fresh extra-virgin olive oil.

A tasting experience at a molecular gastronomy meeting in Sicily led University of Pennsylvania biologist Gary Beauchamp to analyze freshly pressed extra-virgin olive oil, in which he found a chemical that acted like ibuprofen.

He and his team named their discovery oleocanthal and found that, although it has a different chemistry, its effect is similar to that of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compound in the commercial pain-killer, they wrote in the science journal Nature.

The discovery is significant because scientists believe to an increasing extent that inflammation plays an important part in a variety of chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease, and breast and lung cancer.

"Our findings raise the possibility that long-term consumption of oleocanthal may help to protect against some diseases," they wrote.

It may also go some way to explaining the health benefits long attributed to the olive-oil rich Mediterranean diet.

Reuters 8/31/05

Steve - Whoah! We're on a roll. It just so happens that we are launching "The Pain Relief Diet" Action Plan in a few days, in which olive oil plays a major role.

Many couples unfit for pregnancy

Many couples do not ensure they are in the best physical condition to conceive, a survey suggests.

A poll of 2,000 women in the UK by Pregnancy & Birth magazine found two-thirds drink alcohol and four in 10 smoke while trying for a baby.

Only 44% of women hoping to conceive said they tried to eat a healthy diet.

Experts said it was important couples were educated how health could affect their fertility and that most would subsequently follow medical advice.

Most of the women surveyed were readers of the magazine and were either pregnant or trying to conceive.

The average age of those who responded was 29.

While trying to conceive, 68% of all women said they continued to drink alcohol and two out of 10 admitted they drank "far too much".

Of the 49% who were smokers, only 26% gave up the habit. Of the 47% of male partners who smoked, only 23% gave up.

Unhealthy lifestyles

A third of the women and their male partners trying to conceive were overweight, according to the responses.

Three out of 10 couples trying to conceive reported taking recreational drugs.

Many said it had never occurred to them that they might have problems conceiving.

One in seven couples in the UK today already have fertility problems caused by a combination of factors - women delaying motherhood, an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, a huge increase in obesity which can interfere with ovulation and a possible decline in male fertility.

The editor added: "People need to realise the way they live has a direct effect on their fertility.

Steve - Serendipity? We just came out with our Natural Fertility Action Plan in the mid-August. Not serendipity, just a response to what he have been seeing in our practice and worldwide.

Anti-depressant pregnancy concern

Use of a type of anti-depressant medication during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects such as cleft palate, research suggests.

Danish and US scientists found use of SSRIs in the first three months of pregnancy was linked to a 40% increased risk - but the results are preliminary.

Cardiac defects appeared to be 60% more likely when the women used SSRIs.

But the researchers stress the results, featured in Pulse magazine, do not mean women should stop taking the drugs.

The findings were presented an International Society for Pharmacoepidemiology conference.

Their use during pregnancy was linked to withdrawal symptoms in newborn babies in a study published in The Lancet earlier this year.

And doctors have been told not to prescribe them to children because of an increased risk of suicide.

In the latest study, focusing on 1,054 women who took SSRIs during pregnancy, scientists also found that use of the drugs late in pregnacy was associated with a 40% increased risk of premature birth.

And a second study of 377 cases of persistent pulmonary hypertension in babies found SSRI use late in pregnancy was linked a 5.5-fold increased risk.

"As with all medicines, antidepressants should only be taken in pregnancy if the expected benefit to the mother is thought to be greater than the risk to the foetus, and all drugs should be avoided in the first trimester if possible.

"People taking antidepressants should not stop them without seeking medical advice."