Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Nutritional Concepts Healthy Holiday Tips

  1. Alcohol is loaded with calories. Try substituting with sparkling water or club soda (an added benefit is feeling more full with water so you won’t eat as much). Add a small amount lemon or lime to your water for added flavor. Another great alcohol substitute is a festive virgin “bloody mary” with a celery stick.

  2. Eat healthy foods before you go to a party, especially protein foods. Your blood sugar will be more stable and you won't eat as much. At the party, eat plain fish or lean meats (i.e. cold shrimp, turkey breast, and smoked salmon).

  3. At a buffet, graze to take a taste of enticing items, but spend most of your time with the raw vegetables and heart healthy guacamole and humus dips.

  4. If you want a rich dessert, keep your fat and carbohydrate intake low the rest of the day to compensate.

  5. Watch out for raw foods (raw fish, steak tartare and eggnog made with raw eggs) or foods left out too long at room temperature. They could harbor harmful pathogens such as salmonella, shigella, listeria, or e coli.

  6. Avoid foods high in saturated fat. These are typically very high in calories. For example: 8 oz. eggnog = 340 calories, 1 slice pie with whipping cream = 520 calories; 1 cup standard poultry stuffing = 500 calories.

  7. Exercise more to burn more calories during the holidays. Cycling, fast-walking, and cross-country skiing are great ideas. Even shoveling the snow off of your driveway and sidewalk counts.

  8. Offer to bring your favorite healthy recipe to the party and spend most of your time eating it. That way, you won’t have to worry about leftovers.

  9. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, call your host before the party to determine what foods would be safe. There is nothing worse than having an allergic reaction or digestive distress when you are trying to have fun.

  10. Don’t begin a diet during the holidays or become obsessive about avoiding tempting holiday fare. If you restrict yourself too much, you’ll either be depressed or “pig out” later. Remember that the average adult gains 6 lbs. from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day. If you can even maintain your weight during the holidays,
    you’ll be one step ahead when it is time to make your New Year’s resolutions.

  11. If you you've eaten too much and you need to cull the indigestion, take a couple of Vitaline Alka-Aid (sodium/potassium bicarbonate tablets)!

© Copyright 2005. Nutritional Concepts

Nutritional Concepts Unveils "The New American Breakfast"

Our newest Action Plan has put the kibosh on the tired, unhealthy standard American breakfast and replaced it with something healthily exciting! It has appeal to all lifestyle "gears." The "I don't have time for breakfast" excuse will not cut it anymore. Read the first 2 pages. This is surely an Action Plan ALL OF US can use!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Acetaminophen poisonings on the rise

Despite more than a decade's worth of research showing that taking too much acetaminophen can ruin the liver, the number of severe, unintentional poisonings from the drug is on the rise, a new study reports. The drug is best known under the brand name Tylenol. But many consumers don't realize that it is also found in widely varying doses in several hundred common cold remedies and combination pain relievers.

These compounds include Excedrin, Midol Teen Formula, Theraflu, Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine, and NyQuil Cold and Flu, as well as other over-the-counter drugs and many prescription narcotics, like Vicodin and Percocet.

The authors of the study, which is appearing in the December issue of Hepatology, say the combination of acetaminophen's quiet ubiquity in over-the-counter remedies and its pairing with narcotics in potentially addictive drugs like Vicodin and Percocet can make it too easy for some patients to swallow much more than the maximum recommended dose inadvertently.

Dr. Davern and a team of colleagues from other centers led by Dr. Anne Larson at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, tracked the 662 consecutive patients who showed up with acute liver failure at 23 transplant centers across the United States from 1998 to 2003.

Acetaminophen poisoning was to blame in nearly half the patients, the scientists found. The proportion of cases linked to the drug rose to 51 percent in 2003 from 28 percent in 1998.

"Part of the problem is that the labeling on many of these drugs is still crummy," said Dr. William Lee, a liver specialist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Nearly two-thirds of the people in the transplant center study who unintentionally poisoned themselves were taking one or another of the roughly 200 prescription drugs that contain acetaminophen plus an opiate.

Courtesy of the New York Times

Monday, November 28, 2005

Breast-feeding lessens women's diabetes risk

Breast-feeding, backed for the health effects it bestows on the baby, also appears to reduce the mother's risk of developing adult-onset diabetes.

The protective effect probably comes from the way breast-feeding uses up energy and keeps blood sugar levels stabilized, said the report from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

A look at women 15 years after they had their last baby "found that each year a woman breastfeeds reduced her risk of diabetes by 15%," said Alison Stuebe, a physician who led the study.

The finding was based on a look at more than 150,000 U.S. nurses whose health histories have been tracked for years.

A woman with two children who breast-fed each of them for a year could reduce her risk of diabetes by nearly a third in later years, she said.

"A breast-feeding woman uses up about 500 calories a day making milk for her baby. That's the equivalent of running about four to five miles a day … a lot of energy," Stuebe said.

The study was published in the combined Nov. 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

Courtesy of LA Times

Bonnie Minsky Chimes in on Grains

In case you missed it, Bonnie was quoted in the Sunday Trib.

Going against the grain

Outside the mainstream is a group that touts vegetables and fruits over our daily bread

By Ross Werland
Tribune staff reporter

November 27, 2005

Though most nutrition experts would agree that there is something fundamentally very wrong with the way we eat, a small segment of that group has singled out as a villain what the mainstream food culture touts as one of the good guys.


It's so deeply a part of our lives that even our religions rely on it for their timeless messages and ceremonial munchies.

The man turning over the tables in this temple is Loren Cordain, a professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. He has studied diet via fossils and determined that people have never evolved to eat bread, cereal, pasta, cake, pie, cream puffs or whatever else many of us might call the greatest gastronomical inventions of mankind, no matter how good they smell.

A large portion of his message, he points out, has caught on with main-line nutrition. His list: reducing saturated fats; reducing trans fats; increasing omega-3 fats; increasing monounsaturated fats found in nuts, olive oil and avocados; reducing salt; reducing refined sugars; reducing refined grains; reducing processed foods; increasing fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and seafood.

These "are pretty much mainstream, and you would be hard pressed to find any nutritionist anywhere who wouldn't agree with these points," he said. "What most nutritionists object to is when I take it a step further and suggest that all grains, refined or whole, should be severely cut or eliminated and replaced with fresh fruits and vegetables.

"From a nutrient-density perspective, we have made direct comparisons showing that whole grains cannot hold a candle to fruits and veggies when it comes to all vitamins and minerals on an energy-comparison basis."

On her own, certified nutrition specialist Bonnie Minsky reached the same conclusions when she suspected that her own children's allergies and the behavioral problems of teenage students she counseled were rooted in the foods they ate.

"A lot of these things are not really allergies, they're intolerances," she said. In other words, people aren't meant to tolerate the foods, so their bodies react poorly whether through obesity or diabetes or even poor behavior.

In her Northbrook practice, Nutritional Concepts, wheat in particular has drawn her attention.

"If you're going to do a whole grain, people are programmed to think it's wheat," she said. "Every client who comes in to see me, when I tell that I don't recommend whole wheat, they're in shock."

Citing wheat gluten as one of the most common food allergens in this country, she said, "Isn't it fascinating that there is no fruit or vegetable out there that is considered a common allergen other than soy, but that's only because they put it in everything."

If someone is determined to consume grains, a variety such as brown, or whole, rice is superior to wheat, she said.

Tucson nutritionist Melissa Diane Smith, author of "Going Against the Grain," also lines up against grain and wheat in particular. "There's no doubt that bones were stronger and healthier when our ancestors ate meat and vegetables than when they ate a lot of gluten grains," she wrote.

Among the beefs with refined grains is their radical action within the body. They are broken down quickly into blood sugar, causing it to spike much more rapidly than it would with whole grain or especially vegetables. Vegetables deliver their carbohydrate load much more slowly, in tempo with the body. With refined grain, the resulting rise, then plunge in blood sugar can lead to hunger pangs or, over time, insulin resistance and diabetes, according to Smith.

Further, Smith said in agreement with Cordain, fruits and vegetables, as whole, unrefined foods, deliver much greater nutrition than even whole grains.

Nevertheless, from the federal government through the ranks of dietitians and even the Harvard School of Public Health, whole grain remains a strong recommendation, though refined grain has fallen from favor, even if it's still reportedly 95 percent of the grain consumed worldwide.

Jennifer K. Nelson, a registered dietitian at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., responded this way: "Each person is a unique human being and is subjected to different genetics and risk factors. To answer this question [of excluding grain] is not an easy thing to do. What we do know is that people who are healthiest are people who eat a wide variety of foods. Those who have less variety are less healthy."

So her point is that excluding grains, particularly whole varieties, serves to limit the diet and possibly deny the body nutrients.

Nevertheless, the pro-vegetable group insists that even whole grains don't compare in nutrient content. Yet studies showing benefit in whole grain are released fairly regularly.

The question is, whole grain versus what? From their own observations, the anti-grain group insists their side will win any head-to-head faceoff.

As for the rest of us, they say, just try substituting vegetables and fruits and watch the "swelling" go down.

Copyright (c) 2005, Chicago Tribune

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mediterranean diet good for the heart

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet for three months can reduce the risk of heart disease by 15 percent, a new study shows.

The heart-healthy effects of the Mediterranean diet -- rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish and olive oil and light on red meat -- are well documented, Dr. Denis Lairon of the Faculty of Medicine Timone in Marseille, France and colleagues note in November's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But just one other study has looked at what happens when healthy people are actually put on a Mediterranean-style diet.

To investigate, the researchers assigned 212 men and women at moderate risk for heart disease to eat a Mediterranean diet or a standard low-fat diet for three months. Participants on the Mediterranean diet were instructed to eat fish four times a week and red meat only once a week. Men were allowed two glasses of red wine daily, while women were limited to one.

Recommendations for people on the low-fat diet were to eat poultry rather than beef, pork and other mammal meats; eat fish two or three times a week; stay away from animal products rich in saturated fat; and eat fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and vegetable oils.

Among people on the Mediterranean diet, total cholesterol dropped by 7.5 percent, and it fell by 4.5 percent in the low-fat diet group. Based on this reduction, the researchers write, overall cardiovascular risk fell 15 percent with the Mediterranean diet and 9 percent with the low fat diet.

Vegetarians need DHA supplements, says Nutrinova

Vegetarians are unlikely to gain a sufficient level of omega-3s from a non-fish diet. Omega-3 fatty acids as well as fish consumption have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease.

For the double-blind, randomized, intervention study, the researchers gave 104 healthy vegetarians a DHA supplement (0.94 g DHA) or an olive oil placebo for eight weeks.

Although most of the participants reached recommended intakes for essential fatty acids, such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), none of them reached a recommended omega-3 index of at least 8 per cent, shows the study reported in the August issue of Lipids (vol 40, issue 8, pp807-14).

At the end of the study, the omega-3 index increased significantly in the supplement group, with 69 per cent of these subjects reaching an omega-3 index above 8 per cent.

None of those in the placebo group attained this level.

Courtesy of

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bonnie's Turkey Day/Winter Holiday Recipe Tips Part II

Other side dish recipes to add to that succulent bird!

Squash Soup

-1/2 c. green onions, chopped
-1/2 c. white onions, chopped
-2 large carrots, sliced or 8 baby carrots, sliced
-1 T. canola oil
-2 c. frozen or homemade baked acorn squash
-6 c. organic or homemade chicken broth
-2 T. fresh parsley
-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
-1/2 tsp. allspice
-dash of sea salt
Directions: saute onions and carrots on oil in a 4-quart pot. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 1/2 hour. Puree soup in a blender. For a festive Halloween or Thanksgiving Centerpiece, use a large scooped out pumpkin for a soup tureen or save in individual acorn squash halves. Serves 8

Rice Tabbouleh
-Water and chicken/vegetable broth, equal parts for cooking rice
-1 1/2 c. wild rice, quick-cooking variety
-2 c. medium long grain rice, cooked
-3 T. fresh lemon juice or brown rice vinegar
-1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
-2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/8 tsp. salt
-1 c. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
-1/2 c. thinly sliced green onions
-1 c. zucchini (seedless), peeled and cut into small pieces
-1 c. halved grape or cherry tomatoes
-1/2 tsp. salt
Directions: follow package directions for both rice preparations, Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. While rice cools, whisk together lemon juice, oil, and garlic paste in a large serving bowl. Add rice, parsley, tomatoes, zucchini, green onions, and salt. Toss well. Serve at room temperature. Serves 12

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Garlic
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1/4 c. olive oil (or enough to coat sweet potatoes slices)
10 cloves garlic, peeled
Fresh rosemary sprigs (3-4)
Directions: coat sweet potatoe slices with olive oil on both sides. Place in a pyrex baking dish and place olive oil coated garlic cloves in between sweet potato slices. Add rosemary sprigs. Bake (turning potatoes, if necessary) about 25-30 minutes in a 400 degree oven until tender and crusty.

French Green Beans with Almonds or Peas with Pearl Onions
1 pkg. frozen green beans (fench-cut) or peas with pearl onions
1 tsp. butter
2 T. water
Heat on stovetop or in microwave. Serves 4-6 (Cascadian Farms brand carries both)

Mini Zucchini Muffins
3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. oat flour
1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs, well-beaten
1/2 c. canola oil
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. organic pureed pumpkin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Directions: grease with canola oil spray 3 dozen mini muffin tins. In a small bowl, combine eggs, oil, sweetener, vanilla, and spices. Add slowly to dry ingredients until just blended. Gently blend in shredded zucchini. Pour mixture into muffin tins and bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from tins and cool on wire reack for 2 minutes. Serve warm. Yields 36 mini muffins

Bonnie's Cranberry Sauce
-2 packages fresh cranberries, thoroughly washed with soft ones removed
-2 12 oz. cans frozen organic apple juice
-1 cup water
-1-2 swet apple (fuji, golden or red delicious) peeled and diced or grated
pure maple syrup, optional to taste
Directions: in a large pot with lid, pour in frozen apple juice and wafer. When defrosted (on low temperature), add the cranberries and apple. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature to medium (or medium high) and cover. When cranberries have popped, remove lid, stir, add maple syrup for added sweetness, and cool to room temperature. Cool in refrigerator in glass or ceramic.

Enjoy these at Thanksgiving or other Winter Holidays!

Silicon may boost calcium/Vitamin D bone benefits

New research adds to mounting evidence that silicon delivered as choline-stabilised orthosilicic acid (ch-OSAT) may boost the ability of calcium and vitamin D to build bone mineral density (BMD) in osteoporosis and osteopenia sufferers.

The latest study, led by Professor Tim Spector of St Thomas Hospital in London, UK, builds on an earlier investigation indicating that the benefits of ch-OSA in helping build and maintain bone lie in its regulation of bone mineralization, which help trigger the deposition of calcium and phosphate, reducing the number of bone-destroying cells (called osteoclasts) and increasing the number of bone-building cells (osteoblasts).

Spector and his team divided a group of 114 women, all of whom suffered from osteoporosis or osteopenia (bones that are less dense than normal, giving the individual a higher risk of developing osteoporosis), into four groups.

Over a 12-month period the placebo group received the standard recommended dose of calcium and vitamin D3 for osteopenia and mild osteoporosis each day – that is, 1000mg and 800IU respectively.

The other three groups received the same calcium and vitamin D3 doses, but in addition from Jarrow Formulas).

Their findings were presented at the weekend at the conference of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research in Nashville, Tennessee.

Overall, they noted that the ch-OSA seemed to confer some additional benefit to Ca/Vit D3 supplementation. The effect was particularly pronounced in the PINP, the most sensitive bone formation marker. In the groups receiving six and 12mg of silicon, the improvements were “significant”.

"This study suggests that combined therapy of ch-OSA plus Ca/Vit D3 is a safe, well tolerated treatment that has a potentially beneficial effect on bone turnover, especially bone collagen, and possibly femoral BMD, compared to Ca/Vit D3 alone," concluded the researchers.

Courtesy of

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Calcium from food better than from supplements

A Finnish study appearing in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found young girls who get extra calcium from food tend to gain more bone mass than those who get it from supplements.

Steve - this study echoes many of the things that we have been saying for years.

It is always preferred to get calcium from food. Although, unless we eat tons of dairy (which is not advised) or leafy green vegetables (which we should tons of, but do not), we have to supplement. The key point to this study is that when one gets extra calcium from food sources, the calcium is usually accompanied by many other trace minerals and micronutrients that enhances its absorption.

When taking calcium supplements, most just take calcium by itself, rarely accompanied by vitamin D, magnesium, and other trace minerals. This is when calcium can become ineffective and harmful. This is precisely why we always harp on the fact that one must always take calcium with magnesium and vitamin D to assure proper absorption.

MCHC calcium (microcrystalline hydroxyapatite) is our preferred calcium source because it is a whole bone food that contains many of the trace minerals that form the matrix of bone. This is why we have been using MCHC for approximately 15 years.

Bonnie's Turkey Day Cooking Tips

Just a few last minute ideas for your Turkey Day!

Buying the Turkey

Ideally, you want a bird that is natural and free-range, organic, heritage and wild, or kosher (free of antibiotics and hormones).

Turkey Prep

Organic or natural turkeys have less fat, so brining one to two days before cooking helps keep them moist and adds seasoning. Instructions:
  1. after removing the neck and giblets, rinse bird and put in a brine container large enough to submerge the entire bird in cold water
  2. add one cup kosher salt for every gallon of water used; stir salt until mostly dissolve
  3. store in refrigerator or in cool place (33 to 40 degrees) for 24 to 36 hours, turning the turkey once
When ready to cook the turkey, follow instructions on the package to figur out how long it will take to cook.

Stuffing & Gravy Prep

There is always a concern about growing salmonella or other unwanted organisms in stuffed turkeys. I've never had a problem in 35 years because I immediately begin roasting the turkey directly after stuffing it. I think turkey stuffing and the turkey taste better this way.

Long Grain and Wild Rice Stuffing
3/4 c. quick cooking long grain rice
1/2 c. quick cooking wild rice
1 c. chicken or vegtebale broth
1 c. filtered water
1/2 c. celery, finely chopped
1/2 c. onion, finely chopped
1 T. canola oil or grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. marjoram (optional)
1/4 tsp. thyme (optional)
1/4 c. blanched, slivered almonds (optional)
Saute celery and onion in hot oil until onion is translucent. Add water and broth and bring to a boil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low, covered, for about 20 minutes until most, but not all, of the water is absorbed. Cool to room temperature before sutffing loosely into poultry cavity. This recipe may also be baked in a small, greased casserole for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Serves 8


Turkey Sausage Stuffing
2 T. butter or no trans fats margarine
1 c. onions, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 lb. turkey sausage
1/2 c. chopped parsley leaves
12 cups herb bread cubes
2 eggs well beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. - 2/3 c. chicken broth
Melt fat in a large non-stick pot over medium heat. Add onions and celery pieces. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add sausage. Chop into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until the sausage is cooked through. Mix the eggs, salt and parsley with the sausage mixture. Gently fold in the bread cubes. Add enough broth to prveent the cubes from sticking. Stir until the cubes have softened. Transfer the stuffing to a greased casserole (bake for 30 minutes covered and 15 more minutes uncovered) or stuff into turkey and roast until turkey is done. Serves 12

Turkey/Chicken Giblet Stock

turkey/chicken giblets (I use only the neck)

4 c. water

4 c. (1 qt.) organic chicken broth

2 cloves garlic (cut into quarters)

2 large onions (cut into quarters)

4 stalks celery (with leaves)

1 c. sliced carrots (optional)

1 c. fresh parsley

sea salt to taste

fresh/dreid herbs to taste

Cover all with water. Cook for 3-4 hours or while the bird is roasting. Strain. Reheat to a boil and keep boiling for 5 mintes to reduce. Use immediately to make gravy. Yields about 8 c. (2 qts.)

For thickening gravy - to avoid using flour (which can cause lumps and must be avoided for gluten intolerance or wheat allergies), puree the vegetables used in roasting the turkey. They provide the thickening agent. Use about 1 c. of the pan juices and add 1-2 c. of the stock. Use a strainer just before serving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

American Journal Clinical Nutrition highlights

As we try to do as much as possible, here are the highlights (Oct/Nov) from the most cutting edge nutritional journal in the world:
  • General adherence to the "Mediterranean diet" is associated with elevated total antioxidant capacity and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) concentrations, which may indicate its beneficial role on the cardiovascular system.

  • A diet high in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains, diet soft drinks, and processed meat, but low in wine, coffee, cruciferous vegetables was associated with an associated risk in diabetes and chronic inflammation (which was the main focus of the study).

  • Elevated homocysteine levels and low folate (folic acid) concetrations are independent predictors of the the development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

  • Low B vitamin and high homocysteine concentrations predict cognitive decline in a general population of aging men.

  • Vitamn D may reduce susceptability to gingival inflammation (Gingivitis) through its antiinflammatory effects.

  • Older men with a diet predominately of high-glycemic load foods indiciated an association with selcted predictors of type 2 diabetes.
Steve - It is so exciting to see the bevy of research focusing directly on how our diet affects every common condition and disease.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Long-term dietary protein intake good for young bones

In an effort to show yet again how important an influence protein and alkalizing minerals have in influencing bone status, German researchers unveiled some promising results in November's American Journal Clinical Nutrition.

In 229 healthy children and adolescents ages 6-18, long-term dietary intakes were collected yearly over a 4 year period before a one-time bone analysis. The following was discovered:
  • There is a consistent positive association of dietary protein with overall bone health (including bone mineral content) and bone stability.

  • Until recently, protein was believed to have a negative effect on bone health. Most believe it is due to the excess acidity high protein intake produces. This study shows that if alkalizing mineral intake is adequate, the acid issue is a non-factor.

  • Increasing intake of fruits and vegetables (alkali-forming foods) decrease urinary calcium excretion and show a positive effect on bone health.

  • This study failed to detect any positive association between calcium intake and bone variables.

  • Researchers support the health benefit of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, in accordance with the "5-A-Day" campaign.

  • In children, alkali intake should be achieved through appropriate nutrition, and only if this is not possible with alkalizing supplements, i.e., potassium bicarbonate.

  • What the study greatly emphasized was that dietary influences on bone health should involve an integrative approach, because a focus on a single nutrient (i.e. calcium) is not sufficient.
This study is music to our ears! Stay tuned for Bonnie's comments.

More protein, less carbs may cut heart risk

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that substituting about 10 per cent of calories from carbohydrate to either protein-rich foods, mostly from plant sources, or to monounsaturated fats, contained in olive and canola oil, had a greater benefit on the heart than a carbohydrate rich diet, similar to that known in the US as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

The study, called the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial to Prevent Heart Disease (OmniHeart), compared the effects of three different diets, each consumed over a six-week period, on blood pressure and fat in the bloodstream of 164 adults with pre-hypertension.

The first of these diets was rich in carbohydrates, but in the other two diets, approximately 10 per cent of the calories from carbohydrate were replaced with either monounsaturated fat or protein. In the protein-rich diet, about half came from plants.

Each diet was found to lower blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and estimated coronary heart disease risk. But when people reduced their carbohydrate intake, the benefits were greater.

Overall, the protein-rich diet decreased cardiovascular disease risk by 21 per cent, and the monounsaturated fat diet decreased risk by almost 20 per cent.

The carbohydrate-rich diet only decreased risk by roughly 16 per cent.

The findings were presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Dallas yesterday and published in today’s issue of JAMA.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Breast-feeding may protect against celiac disease

Mothers who breast-feed their children may help to protect them from developing celiac disease, which is characterized by intolerance to a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

In a review of 15 studies, they found that the longer children are breast fed the less likely they are to suffer from the illness.

Although, in a report published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, researchers are not sure whether breast-feeding delays the onset of symptoms of the illness or provides permanent protection against it.

People who suffer from celiac disease have an intolerance to gluten and are unable to eat wheat, barley and rye products. It is a genetic disease in which the immune system damages the small intestine when gluten is eaten.

The review, which involved more than 4,000 children, showed that if babies were breast-fed when they were introduced to solid foods containing gluten, it cut their risk of suffering from the illness by 52 percent compared to other youngsters.

Courtesy of Reuters

Bonnie - 52% reduction for developing celiac is an astounding number. Chalk up another point for breastfeeding!

Numbers do not lie when kids eat out

This story will get a lot of press, but it is essential that we address it as well.

Children who eat out are more likely to be unhealthy than those who eat at home. Here are some statistics of 126 Wisconsin children who ate out more than four times weekly compared to 495 children who ate out fewer than 4 times weekly:
  • Overall higher blood pressure
  • Lower levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
  • Ate foods higher in starchm sugar, sodium, fat, and cholesterol
  • Drank an average of six cups of soda and other sugary soft drinks
  • Overall increase in sedentary activity
Enough said.

Too much calcium may raise prostate cancer risk

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, based upon the 17 years of follow-up and 1269 incident cases of prostate cancer in the ATBC study, men who consumed more than 2000 mg calcium per day nearly doubled their risk of developing prostate cancer.

Bonnie - as we have said many times with calcium, "too much of it is not a good thing." If malabsorbed, it leeches into other areas of the body like the arteries (creating calcification), and the prostate. Calcium intake should be individualized. In addition, calcium should ALWAYS be taken with magnesium and vitamin D to ensure proper absorption.

NIH-sponsored trial lauds Glucosamine/Chondroitin

The widely respected Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, published its results of the six month trial involving 1500 osteoarthritis patients. According to the study, the combination of 1500 mg glucosamine and 1200 mg chondroitin was effective in treating moderate to severe knee pain due to osteoarthritis.

In another European study entitled the GUIDE trial, researchers claim that glucosamine sulfate was more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than the pain medicine acetaminophen.

Steve - while many studies have showed similar results, the fact that it is NIH-sponsored gives it credibility in the allopathic community. Keep in mind that as wonderful as these substances are for some, they are not for others. Make sure that you discuss glucosamine/chondroitin with your health professional before taking.

Government Publishes "A Healthier You"

It isn't enough that our government failed miserably this year when they released the latest version of the Food Guide Pyramid ("MyPyramid"), they are now selling a book about it for $12.95 in all brick and mortar and online retail outlets.

Our hard-earned tax dollars were wasted on the creation of MyPyramid, which directed everyone to the morass that is Many citizens who need dietary advice the most do not use computers or do not have the money or training to use a computer. So now, our government is asking them to pony up $12.95 to buy a 340 page book that they already paid for?

Surprised? Unfortunately, not. It takes far more to surprise us these days.

Stay tuned to our review of "A Healthier You."


"Wrap Up" to avoid catching a cold

Your mother always warned you to wear a lot of clothing to stay warm...she had a point.

In a 180 volunteer study at the Common Cold Centre in Great Britain, researchers asked half of them to keep their bare feet in icy water for 20 minutes. They found 29% developed a cold within five days, compared with only 9% in the control group not exposed to a chill.

According to the study, if one becomes chilled, this causes a pronounced constriction of the blood vessels in the nose and shuts off the warm blood that supplies the white cells that fight infection.

Of course, given how small the study was, more research is needed.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Nutritional Concepts Health Holiday Tips

  1. Alcohol is loaded with calories. Try substituting with sparkling water or club soda (an added benefit is feeling more full with water so you won’t eat as much). Add a small amount lemon or lime to your water for added flavor. Another great alcohol substitute is a festive virgin “bloody mary” with a celery stick.

  2. Eat healthy foods before you go to a party, especially protein foods. Your blood sugar will be more stable and you won't eat as much. At the party, eat plain fish or lean meats (i.e. cold shrimp, turkey breast, and smoked salmon).

  3. At a buffet, graze to take a taste of enticing items, but spend most of your time with the raw vegetables and heart healthy guacamole and humus dips.

  4. If you want a rich dessert, keep your fat and carbohydrate intake low the rest of the day to compensate.

  5. Watch out for raw foods (raw fish, steak tartare and eggnog made with raw eggs) or foods left out too long at room temperature. They could harbor harmful pathogens such as salmonella, shigella, listeria, or e coli.

  6. Avoid foods high in saturated fat. These are typically very high in calories. For example: 8 oz. eggnog = 340 calories, 1 slice pie with whipping cream = 520 calories; 1 cup standard poultry stuffing = 500 calories.

  7. Exercise more to burn more calories during the holidays. Cycling, fast-walking, and cross-country skiing are great ideas. Even shoveling the snow off of your driveway and sidewalk counts.

  8. Offer to bring your favorite healthy recipe to the party and spend most of your time eating it. That way, you won’t have to worry about leftovers.

  9. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, call your host before the party to determine what foods would be safe. There is nothing worse than having an allergic reaction or digestive distress when you are trying to have fun.

  10. Don’t begin a diet during the holidays or become obsessive about avoiding tempting holiday fare. If you restrict yourself too much, you’ll either be depressed or “pig out” later. Remember that the average adult gains 6 lbs. from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day. If you can even maintain your weight during the holidays,
    you’ll be one step ahead when it is time to make your New Year’s resolutions.

  11. If you you've eaten too much and you need to cull the indigestion, take a couple of Vitaline Alka-Aid (sodium/potassium bicarbonate tablets)!

© Copyright 2005. Nutritional Concepts

B vitamins to lower homocysteine may prevent strokes

Taking high doses of B vitamins may help reduce the risk of a second stroke and heart attacks, according to a new analysis.

The B vitamin group, including folic acid, B6, and B12, reduce the amount of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. High levels of this substance have been linked to heart disease.

In a new analysis they excluded patients with low and very high B12 levels at baseline. These were likely to have B12 malabsorption or to be taking B12 supplements outside the study.

In the remaining 2155 patients, high-dose vitamin supplements reduced recurrent stroke, death and heart disease by 21 per cent compared with those taking low-dose vitamins, they report in the 1 November issue of Stroke (vol 36, p2404).

The authors suggest that given the fortification of flour with folate, the response to vitamin therapy for lowering homocysteine largely depends on B12 levels of heart patients.

Higher doses of B12 could be required to reduce homocysteine, and thus to reduce stroke and heart attack.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Vitamin D appears more important than high calcium for bones

Consuming more than 800 mg of calcium per day may be unnecessary for bone health if the body has enough vitamin D, say Icelandic researchers.

Using food consumption records from more than 900 adults, the researchers determined that sufficient vitamin D levels can ensure an ideal level of parathyroid hormone (PTH) - a measure of calcium metabolism - even when calcium intake is less than 800 mg per day.

But consuming more than 1200 mg of calcium daily is not enough to maintain ideal PTH if the vitamin D status is insufficient.

The study is part of a growing body of work that points to the important role of vitamin D, and not just calcium alone, in bone health.

The new study, published in today’s issue of JAMA (vol 294, no 18, pp2336-2341), underlines the need to do further work on the RDA for this vitamin.

Courtesy of

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Antibiotics given too often for sore throat-study

Doctors often improperly prescribe antibiotics to children complaining of sore throats but could avoid that mistake by administering a simple test for strep throat, a study said on Tuesday.

American physicians prescribe antibiotics for 53 percent of the estimated 7.3 million children with sore throats who visit a doctor each year, the eight-year study said.

But antibiotics are called for in just the 15 percent to 36 percent of cases where the source of the pain and inflammation is strep throat, or group A streptococcal pharyngitis, against which antibiotics are effective.

"Children with sore throat are frequently given unnecessary antibiotics," said study author Dr. Jeffrey Linder of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. "This over-prescribing of antibiotics could be easily remedied by following known guidelines, which include doing a simple, inexpensive strep test before giving antibiotics."

About half the children prescribed drugs did not undergo a test for strep.

"Strep testing is underused," Linder said. "Instead of writing a prescription, physicians should order a test and make sure they are treating kids' symptoms by offering a pain medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend the strep throat test before giving antibiotics to a child with a sore throat.

"This is critical for not just children but all patients as unnecessary prescription of antibiotics can lead to a variety of issues including increased costs, the potential development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and adverse drug effects," said Linder, who reported his findings in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In addition, the study found antibiotics not recommended for use against strep throat were prescribed for 27 percent of the children who received drugs. Penicillin, amoxicillin, erythromycin and first-generation cephalosporins are considered effective against strep, the report said.

Courtesy of Reuters

Steve - Parents, take matters into your own hands...request a strep test before giving your child an antibiotic. If the sore throat is due to cold or flu, an antibiotic is useless. Antibiotics are only effective for bacterial infections, such as strep.

Can a dose of bacteria a day keep the doctor away?

Yes, according to a study of Swedish workers who took supplements containing microorganisms: those on the 'friendly' bacteria pills stayed home sick half as much as their colleagues taking a placebo. The findings lend support to claims that foods with live bacteria can boost the body's immune system.

Workers at a packaging plant received daily liquid doses of either a placebo or Lactobacillus reuteri, a bacteria that is cultured in some yogurts, for 80 days. While 23 of the 87 volunteers receiving a placebo reported sick during that period, only 10 out of the 94 volunteers that took the L. reuteri said they were ill. The results of the blind study appear in the journal Environmental Health.

Steve - I blogged this because it appeared in the Nature, a fairly mainstream journal. We have known for a long time how probiotics help the immune system, but to see it promoted in a journal such as this is exciting.

Olive oil compounds fight colon cancer in-vivo

Compounds in olive oil appear to protect against colon cancer, one of the most common forms of the disease in the Western world.

A number of epidemiological studies have linked consumption of olive oil with a reduced risk of cancer and researchers are increasingly investigating this association further in laboratory studies.

But while a recent report from the US suggests that one of the oil's fats - oleic acid - could be responsible for protecting against breast cancer, the latest research, by a team at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, suggests that a mixture of compounds in virgin olive oil, called phenols, could protect against colon cancer.

Writing in the 20 October issue of the International Journal of Cancer (vol 117, issue 1, pp1-7), the researchers say their tests on in vitro cell models also pointed to mechanisms by which olive oil may reduce the risk of this cancer.

"We have demonstrated that phenols extracted from virgin olive oil are capable of inhibiting several stages in colon carcinogenesis in vitro," write the researchers in the journal report.

Courtesy of

Tryptophan may help Multiple Sclerosis

A substance found in many foods, including turkey, can suppress an overactive immune system, researchers are reporting.

The substance, tryptophan, produces a breakdown product in the body that, in the study, reversed paralysis in mice with an experimental form of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the fatty cells that insulate neurons.

"I have always been a skeptic regarding the interaction of diet and immunity," said Dr. Lawrence Steinman, the chairman of the immunology program at Stanford, who led the study, published in Science last week. "But now I'm getting smacked in the head by my own research."

But he said the next step, and a very large one, was to find out if the treatment is safe for humans. He added that people often asked if they should eat a lot of turkey or buy tryptophan pills to treat autoimmune disorders, "but it probably won't help unless you are starving to death," he said. "A drug that works on the right pathways should be more effective."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nutritional Concepts unveils two new Action Plans

Nutritional Concepts is very proud to release the next two installments of its Action Plan series, what we call the "Cliffs Notes of Nutrition."

Blood Sugar Balance Action Plan -
Whether pre-diabetic, hyper/hypoglycemic, diabetic,
or have blood sugar issues in your family history,
our Blood Sugar Balance Action Plan is a complete
program to follow. Includes low-glycemic foods,
sample menus, micronutrients, and sugar-substitutes,
all based upon the most cutting edge research.

Babies' First Foods Action Plan -
The definitive step-by-step guide for introducing the
first 40 foods to your child. Starts at 5-6 months and
takes you through 18 months. Ideal for preventing
digestive issues and food intolerances.
Babies' First Foods Action Plan.


What makes fatty foods so enticing?

New research shows that the allure of greasy treats may come from a special sensor in your taste buds that's tuned to fat.

Both animals and humans show a natural preference for fatty foods. But given that our taste buds are known to detect only five tastes — salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami, which is linked to the taste of meat and cheese — scientists have wondered how we detect fatty foods.

Now Philippe Besnard and colleagues in Dijon, France, have shown that a protein found in the taste buds of rodents may be the elusive fat sensor. The scientists have discovered that when the protein comes in contact with fat on the tongue, it triggers release of stomach juices. Mice missing this protein don't show the typical preference for fatty foods.

Humans also have this protein. Scientists say the finding, published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, might shed light on some forms of obesity.

Steve - They are just discovering this now? The fast food corporations are no dummies. They've know this for years!

Edible Allergy Vaccines?

For those of you who go through the tedious and arduous process of desensitizing shots for allergies, there may be hope on the horizon. Japanese researchers are testing genetically modified rice to build up the immune system. In preliminary mice studies, they have shown to be effective.

Plant-based vaccines have several advantages. They are simpler to administer and cheaper to produce. Not to mention easier on skin and the psyche!

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Friday, November 04, 2005

Broccoli fights cancer-causing bacteria in humans

H. pylori, is known to cause gastritis and is believed to be a major factor in peptic ulcers and stomach cancer. In humans the cells lining the stomach can act as reservoirs of helicobacter, making it more difficult to get rid of the infection. Nonetheless, in all but 15 to 20 percent of cases it can be tackled with antibiotics.

The findings of the new study, led by Akinori Yanaka of the University of Tsukuba, were presented yesterday at the American Association for Cancer Research's Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting in Baltimore.

The study involved 40 people who were infected with H. pylori. Over a two-month period, 20 of them received 100g of two- to three- day old broccoli sprouts with their food each day. At this young age, broccoli sprouts contain the highest concentrations of sulforaphane.

The other 20 received 100g of fresh alfalfa sprouts.

The rationale for testing broccoli sprouts against alfalfa was that the chemical constituents are very similar. However while broccoli sprouts contain 250mg of sulforaphane glucosinolate per 100g, alfalfa sprouts contain neither sulforaphane nor sulforaphane glucosinolate.

After two months, the broccoli group showed significantly less H. pylori, although the bacterium was not completely eradicated. Participants’ pepsinogen were also reduced. In the alfalfa group however, both H. pylori and pepsinogen remained at pre-intervention levels.

Further tests conducted two months after the end of the intervention showed that both H. pylori and pepsinogen returned to their previous levels when participants stopped consuming the broccoli sprouts.

Commenting on the findings, Yamaka said: "Even though we were unable to eradicate H. pylori, to be able suppress it and relieve the accompanying gastritis by means as simple as eating more broccoli sprouts is good news for the many people who are infected."

Courtesy of

Supplements reduce health care costs

A major study into the economics of older Americans taking omega-3 and lutein with zeaxanthin supplements has shown that they may shave a combined $5.6 billion off health care costs over the next five years, and help seniors live independently for longer.

The Lewin Group was commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) to study the scientific evidence on the two supplements' ability to reduce the risk of disease and developed Congressional Budget Office-type estimates of potential health care savings.

It found that a daily intake of 1800mg of omega-3 by the over-65s could result in conservative savings of around $3.1 billion in five years, from physicians fees and approximately 385,303 fewer hospitalizations.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

American J Clinical Nutrition Highlights

It has been a while. Below are September and October highlights.

  • Finding from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study indicate an association between dietary glycemic index (how fast carbohydrates turn into sugar) in foods and selected predictors of type 2 diabetes on older adults, particularly in men. The more high glycemic index foods consumed, the higher the diabteic risk.
  • Vitamin D may reduce susceptibility to gingival inflammation through its antiinflammatory effect.
  • A dietary pattern higth in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains, diet soft drinks, and processed meat but low in wine, coffee, cruciferous vegetables, and yellow veegtables, was associated with an increased risk of diabetes in women participating in the prestigious Nurse's Health Study.
  • Greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with elevated antioxidant capacty and low LDL cholesterol concentrations which help explan its benefit with the cardiovascular system.
  • In addition to adequate deitary calcium intake, appropriate intakes of vegetables and fruit have a beneficial effect of total bone mineral content in boys aged 8-20.
  • Dietary habits were significant predictors of poor hospitalized outcome in very old hospitalized patients. A questionnaire on dietary habits can serve as a useful tool in assessing nutritional status and prognosis.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Govt. Summary on Omega 3 Fatty Acids

According to the National Institute's of Health Office of Dietary Supplements,

  • Most American diets provide more than 10 times as much omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acid. There is general agreement that individuals should consume more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acids to promote good health. Good sources of ALA are leafy green vegetables, nuts, and vegetable oils such as canola, soy, and especially flaxseed. Good sources of EPA and DHA are fish.
  • Impact on cardiovascular disease: According to both primary and secondary prevention studies, consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, fish, and fish oil reduces all-cause mortality and various CVD outcomes such as sudden death, cardiac death, and myocardial infarction. The evidence is strongest for fish and fish oil supplements.
  • Impact on CVD risk factors: Fish oils can lower blood triglyceride levels in a dose-dependent manner. Fish oils have a very small beneficial effect on blood pressure and possible beneficial effects on coronary artery restenosis after angioplasty and exercise capacity in patients with coronary atherosclerosis.
  • Impact on other conditions: Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce joint tenderness and need for corticosteroid drugs in rheumatoid arthritis. Data are insufficient to support conclusions about the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on inflammatory bowel disease, renal disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, bone density, and diabetes.
  • Safety: Adverse events related to consumption of fish-oil or ALA supplements are generally minor and typically gastrointestinal in nature (such as diarrhea). They can usually be eliminated by reducing the dose or discontinuing the supplement.
  • Health Benefits of Soy Limited

    According to the NIH's Office of Dietary Supplements October Newsletter, soy products do not have significant effects on blood pressure, bone health, cancer, kidney disease, endocrine function, reproductive health, neurocognitive function, or glucose metabolism. However, daily consumption may lower LDL cholesterol (by about 3%) and triglycerides (6%), and soy isoflavones (at doses of 17.5 to 100mg daily) may reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women.

    The evidence was reviewed by the federal government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

    Reasons to go organic

    1. organic food delivers more nutrition
    2. reduces pesticide exposure
    3. decrease intake of food additives
    4. no hormones or antibiotics
    5. mostly GMO (genetically-modified)-free
    6. stays fresher longer

    from Food as Medicine Fall 2005

    Veggies may prevent cancer

    Chemicals in certain vegetables and herbs -- including broccoli sprouts, cabbage and gingko biloba -- appear to help prevent cancer, new studies found.

    Highlights of the findings, which were presented Monday in Baltimore at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research:

    *Japanese scientists found that eating fresh broccoli sprouts cut infections from a type of bacteria linked to stomach cancer. Sulforaphane -- a chemical in broccoli sprouts -- helps fight molecules that damage DNA and can lead to cancer. Broccoli sprouts are two- to three-day-old broccoli plants.

    *Researchers at the University of New Mexico, Michigan State University and the National Food and Nutrition Institute of Warsaw found that women who ate three servings a week of lightly cooked cabbage or sauerkraut might have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

    *Scientists in Boston found a reduced risk of ovarian cancer in women who consumed ginkgo biloba, an herbal supplement derived from leaves of the gingko tree. Women who took the supplement for six months or longer had a 60 percent lower risk.

    *In the final study, a component of garlic was found to curb the effects of a suspected cancer-causing agent released by cooking meats and eggs. Researchers at Florida A&M University tested the substance on human tissue and found it blocked the cancer-causing enzyme.

    Courtesy of Bloomberg News