Thursday, December 29, 2005

Year-End Review 2005

Here's our list of the 10 Best and Worst Nutritional and Public Health Trends of 2005. Let's start with the worst:

10 Worst

1. 40% of the U.S. population are obese; 65% are overweight. Enough said.

2. The release of 2005 MyPyramid Food Guide. An abomination and disgrace to our tax dollars. Feeds the Big Foods coffers and will do nothing to curb obesity. The only saving grace is recommending an increase in fruit and vegetable intake.

3. USDA will not enforce rules against junk food sales in schools and Congress refuses to curb junk food advertising on television. A travesty for our children. It is okay for the United Kingdom to ban junk food in schools and on television, but not us?

4. Misuse of reflux medication in infants and young children. Read Bonnie's article in special reports at

5. Government launches $2.7 billion, 21 year study to find out what makes kids unhealthy. Couldn't they just put that money towards education programs? We'll give them the information for free!

6. Soy is in everything! Milk, corn, wheat, and now soy. Is it not interesting that our most plentiful crops find there way into just about every food. Is it not also a coincidence that these foods are the most common allergens in the U.S. Not to mention that there have been a bevy of less than impressive studies to come out this year with regard to soy's health benefits (or lack thereof).

7. Sucralose in everything! It has now replaced Aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet) as the most popular synthetic sweetener. Do not believe the marketing that it is a natural substance. It is not. The manufacturer is currently being sued for false advertising. We have also had a plethora of new clients this year who had major digestive issues go away after they stopping the substance.

8. Pandemics/Shmandemics. First SARS and now the Avian Bird Flu...what's next? If world health officials could scare us half as much about our diet and lifestyle, we'd be a whole lot better off.

9. Vitamin E thrown under the bus. A perfect example of how the media gets ahold of a story and runs with it. One bogus meta-anaylsis study and on tiny review study made hundreds of thousands eliminate vitamin E supplementation after decades of safety. See Bonnie's comments at Special Reports at

10. "Expert Panel" allows Vioxx back onto market. Certain scientists were discovered to have ties to the makers of Vioxx. Suprised? No.

10 Best

1. Balanced, not Fad Diets are here to stay. One of our greatest moments of the year was when The Obesity Society said at their annual conference that
an abundance of "new" evidence supporting diets that foster 30% protein, 20% fat, and 50% carbohydrate increase satiety and accelerate weight loss if overweight. That breakdown mirrors our Circle of Health exactly.

Vitamin D, Omega 3 Fish Oil, Magnesium, and Dark Chocolate dominate the headlines. Numerous positive studies were published this year promoting these substances...all of which we have been touting for years!

Soft Drinks & Fruit Juices receive crushing blows. Doctors, news media, government, and school officials alike lambasted these products for contribuitng to childhood obesity. It's about time!

Protein takes center stage. More studies than we can count were published this year lauding the benefits of increased dietary protein. Of course, our government did not take notice as MyPyramid exhibits a poverty of protein.

Illinois, California, and Iowa ban vaccines with mercury. Not satisfied with the federal government's voluntary removal of mercury from vaccines, these three states made it mandatory. Many more states will follow.

Reduction of antidepressant, attention deficit medication intake seen in children. A welcome statistic. Although, it must take black box warnings on antidpressants and who knows how many injuires and suicides to achieve this.

Avocado gets a new lease on life. Unschackled from decades of being categorized as a "fattening food," avocado is now recommended for many reasons as a staple of our diet.

Organic produce is being purchased more frequently. As every year passes, more and more consumers are choosing pesticide-free produce, helping their own health as well as the environment.

The government finally acknowledges that too many Americans are overmedicating. They finally realize that in order to achieve a preventative, proactive health policy as oppsed to a reactive health policy, they must drastically reduce the amount of medications that are dispensed to the average American. This is a good first step.

FDA & Big Pharma get what was coming to them. I cannot remember a year so devastating to the integrity of both of these groups. From over-the-line advertising, to drug-related deaths, to conflicts of interest, to class-action lawsuits, it has been a sobering year. All we can say's about time. While this usually comes a decade or two late, the public always finds out, and when they do, it is not pretty.

On a selfish note, if we had to add two more to the 10 best list, it would be the advent of this blog and the creation of our Action Plans. We hope you agree.

Have a happy, healthy New Year!

Bonnie & Steve

Barley products can claim heart benefits

Here we go!

While barley is not half as allergenic as wheat (because it not nearly consumed as much), it is a wheat cousin and a glutenous grain.

Quinoa has three times as much fiber as barley. Avocado has 4 times as much fiber as barley. Would the FDA ever claim they have heart benefits? Probably not.

So the question is why barley? Because major US food producers, in their effort to meet MyPyramid requirements for more whole grain, are putting barley in many of their products.

Elementary my dear Watson!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Vitamin-rich diet cuts risk of vision malady: study

A vitamin-rich diet lowers the risk of contracting macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among the elderly in developed countries, according to this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The eight-year study involved more than 4,000 older residents of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. It found those whose diets included more than the median levels of vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc had a 35 percent lower risk of developing macular degeneration, compared with those whose diets provided a below-median level of any of the four nutrients.Participants with a below-median consumption of all four of the nutrients had a 20 percent higher risk of macular degeneration.

Vitamin D 'can lower cancer risk'

High doses of vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing some common cancers by as much as 50%, US scientists claim. Researchers reviewed 63 old studies and found that the vitamin could reduce the chances of developing breast, ovarian and colon cancer, and others.

Experts cautiously welcomed the University of California study but warned too much vitamin D could harm the kidneys and liver. The "natural" form of the vitamin, called D3, is normally produced in the skin after exposure to sunlight, but is also obtained from certain foods such as oily fish, butter and meat.

The research, done at the University of California in San Diego, looked at the relationship between blood levels of vitamin D and cancer risk. The papers reviewed, published worldwide between 1966 and 2004, included 30 investigations of colon cancer, 13 of breast cancer, 26 of prostate cancer and seven of ovarian cancer.

Scientists said analysis showed that, for at least some cancers, the vitamin D factor could not be ignored. Taking 1,000 international units (IU) - or 25 micrograms - of the vitamin daily could lower an individual's cancer risk by 50% in colon cancer, and by 30% in breast and ovarian cancer, they said.

The findings have been published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Steve - While we are always wary of meta-analysis studies (because they tend to make gross generalizations), we are well aware how crucial it is to have sufficient vitamin D stores. The cancer prevention connection is not suprising because sufficient vitamin D stores suppress Tumor Necorsis Factor (TNF), which when expressed, is implicated in increased cancer risk.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Another downside to heartburn drugs

According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people on prescription heartburn drugs, such as Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, are at greater risk to getting a dangerous form of diarrhea caused by the bug Clostridium difficile. The study explains that because the drugs reduce the amount of gastric acid in th gut, patients have a weakened resistance to bacteria and viruses.

Patients with prescriptions for powerful acid-fighters called proton pump inhibitors, which include Prilosec and Prevacid, were almost three times more likely to be diagnosed with the bug than those not taking the drugs. Those on less potent prescription drugs called H2 receptor antagonists, which include Pepcid and Zantac, were two times more likely than nonusers to get C-diff infections.

Certain colonoscopy preparations may increase risk of kidney damage

In rare instances, certain popular bowel-cleansing preparations that patients gulp down the day before a procedure can severely damage the kidneys.

The products are oral preparations made with sodium phosphate and they include Visicol tablets, sold by prescription, and over-the-counter solutions like Fleet-Phosphosoda and store-brand versions that contain the same active ingredients.

A team of doctors from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons recently reported 21 cases of acute kidney failure from such products, including three that led to permanent dialysis and one to a kidney transplant. The study appeared in the November issue of The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The new findings lengthen the list of people who may be especially vulnerable to kidney damage. Among the dozen or so groups now thought to have a slightly elevated risk are healthy elderly people, patients with unstable angina or who have had heart attacks and anyone who is especially likely to become dehydrated, including people who take certain hypertensiondrugs and people who do not drink enough fluid to replenish that lost in bowel cleansing.

While experts agree that the likelihood of severe kidney damage is very small, some say that any added risk is unnecessary, and that people in these risk groups should avoid phosphate-based bowel preparations.

Courtesy of NY Times

Fewer children being given antidepressants

Use of antidepressants by children continued to drop sharply this year in the wake of warning labels linking the prescription drugs to suicidal behavior, according to market analyses.

The decrease signals that doctors and parents are taking a more careful look at benefits and risks of treatments for depression, says child psychiatrist David Fassler of Burlington, Vt. "Not all depressed kids need medication. There are effective therapies, especially for milder forms of depression."

The Food and Drug Administration ordered "black boxes," the most severe safety warning, for antidepressants in October 2004, and these stronger labels were on the medicines by March. The FDA said two out of 100 children were more likely to think about or try suicide because they were taking the pills.

There has been a 25% drop in pediatric prescriptions for antidepressants since the FDA started issuing safety warnings in 2003, according to a September analysis by Medco Health Solutions, pharmacy-benefit managers. About a 20% overall drop is reported by NDC Health Inc. from March 2004 to June.

Courtesy of USA Today

Bonnie - This is welcome news!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Grapefruit may cut gum disease

Eating grapefruit could help fight gum disease, a study suggests.

Researchers found people with gum disease who ate two grapefruits a day for a fortnight showed significantly less bleeding from the gums.

They believe this is due to an increase in blood levels of vitamin C, known to promote wound healing and cut damage by unstable free radical molecules.

The research, by Friedrich Schiller University in Germany, is published in the British Dental Journal.

The study of 58 people with chronic gum disease found that eating grapefruits had a positive effect on both smokers and non-smokers.

Steve - keep in mind that while grapefruit has its benefits, when mixed with certain medications and dietary supplements, it can create adverse effects. Contact your pharmacist to see if any of your medications contraindicate with grapefruit. In addition, this study showed benefits from people eating grapefruits, not grapefruit juice. There is a big difference.

High-vegetable diet reduces cancer risk

Eating at least five portions a day of certain fruit and vegetables could cut the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 50%, US researchers believe.

Onions, garlic, beans, carrots, corn, dark leafy vegetables and citrus fruits were among the most protective foods, according to a University of California team comparing the diets of 2,200 people.

The report, published in the Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention journal, said eating five portions daily of the most protective vegetables cuts the risk in half or eating any nine fruit or vegetables could have the same effect.

Raw vegetables were found to be more protective than cooked ones, the study said after conducting interviews with 532 people with the cancer, and 1,700 people who did not have the disease.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Removing mold in your house

Cleaning up after mold can pose health dangers. Government and private industry experts give these tips:

- Dry out a building as soon as possible, ideally within 24 to 48 hours of flooding or rainfall. Open doors and windows and use fans.

- Don't start mold removal until the area in and around the building is dry or it will just reappear.

- When in doubt, take it out is the rule for furniture, etc.

- Fix water problems fueling the mold , such as leaks in roofs, walls or plumbing.

- To remove mold from hard surfaces, use commercial products, soap and water, or a solution of 1 cup bleach in 1 gallon of water. Use a stiff brush on rough surfaces like concrete. Never mix bleach with ammonia (can cause toxic fumes), and open windows and doors for fresh air. Wear gloves and protective eyewear.

- If you think mold is inside air conditioners or heating systems, don't turn them on. That could blow spores throughout the building.

- If the moldy area is less than 10 square feet (roughly 3 feet by 3 feet), most people can handle the job themselves. If more than that, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guide "Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings," available at 800-438-4318 or

- If you hire a contractor, make sure he has experience cleaning up mold. Several associations certify mold remediators.

Courtesy of Associated Press

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Dannon to launch Activia yogurt in U.S. in January

The dairy products company said it is expecting Activia, a so-called pro-biotic yogurt that contains special bacteria it says can help regulate the digestive system if eaten daily for two weeks, to expand the overall U.S. yogurt market, currently estimated at about $2.5 billion a year. It originated in France.

Steve - They can keep it! Check out the ingredients of the natural flavor Activia...

Skim milk, concentrated skim milk, cream, sugar, fructose, whey protein concentrate, corn starch, gelatin, active bacterial cultures.

A house of horrors for many of us!

Most of us know already that yogurt has probiotic cultures. Dannon is trying to capitalize using probiotics as a marketing ploy to separate the its product from the rest. Don't buy into the hype.

Bonnie's Blog is back! Green tea extract 'is cancer aid'

A green tea extract may help patients with a form of leukaemia, a study says.

The team from the Mayo Clinic in the US found it appeared to improve the condition of four patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Experts said the Leukaemia Research journal study was interesting but more research was needed.

The Mayo researchers decided to try green tea after a test tube study in 2004 showed it killed leukaemia cells.

Four CLL patients being treated at the clinic took green tea extract tablets containing epigallocatechin gallate, an antioxidant thought to fight cancer cells.

Within a few months, doctors realized that three out of four patients were showing signs of the cancer regressing.

The fourth patient also showed a slight improvement, but it was not judged to be clinically relevant.

Report author Tait Shanafelt said: "Green tea has long been thought to have cancer-prevention capabilities. It is exciting that research is now demonstrating this agent may provide new hope for CLL patients.

"The experience of these individuals provides some suggestion that our previously published laboratory findings may actually translate into clinical effects for patients with this disease."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bonnie's Blog on Vacation

Due to the editor's absence, Bonnie's Blog will be on hiatus from 12/14-12/22.

So now there is really nothing left to eat!

After reading this week's Chicago Tribune mercury in fish "expose," it's official...there is really nothing left to eat!

We were warned to stop eating eggs for fear of developing high cholesterol and salmonella.

We were warned to stop eating red meat due to elevated cholesterol and mad cow disease.

We were warned to stop eating poultry to protect us from the Avian flu.

We have discovered that cow's milk..."nature's perfect food"... is really only perfect for calves. It often carries estrogen and bovine growth hormone residues, cannot be well-digested by at least two-thirds of the world's population, and is the number one food allergen in the United States.

Now we've been warned that eating heart healthy fish can produce mercury toxicity.

The answer seems to be: stop eating all animal foods...except that a strict vegan diet makes it nearly impossible for most people to get enough bioavailable protein, not to mention the negative affects of eating a heavy soy diet and consuming pesticide-laced fruits and vegetables.

What's wrong with this picture? It's not the life-giving foods that are to's man's greed and belief that we can keep destroying our environment and abusing ourselves with toxic foods, air, and water without paying the price.

Our holiday wish for all of you is to do your part to demand and ensure that our foods and environment will be safe for future generations.

Have a blessed holiday season, Bonnie and Steve

Changing Attitude Towards Long-Term Health

According to Health Focus' The National Study of Public Attitudes and Actions Towards Shopping and Eating, consumers are rejecting diets and dieting, in favor of healthy choices they can live with over a lifetime. The study shows that fewer are dieting to lose weight. And, 75% of shoppers stongrly agree that it is more important to eat light rather than diet.

The study also predicts that the focus on limiting carbohydrates will have a lasting impact on how consumers think about health and weight management. The focus will be on smart carbs such as fiber, fruits, and vegetables to help manage blood sugar levels, and satiating proteins to satisfy one's appetite.

Steve - Wow! It is so refreshing to hear that consumers are starting to get it. As we have said from the beginning, there are no "quick-fixes." Time and time agian, research has shown that dieting may help short-term weight-loss, but is not a long-term healthy lifestyle solution. Dietary lifestyle changes create long-term health. It is also wonderful to see consumers mention fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein as staples for a healthy diet.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Study Finds Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Decrease Postpartum Depression

A new clinical study shows positive effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on postpartum depression. "Omega-3 fatty acids were assessed in a double-blind dose-ranging trial," says Marlene P. Freeman, M.D., director of the Women's Mental Health Program and assistant professor of Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. "Subjects in the trial were randomized to 0.5 g, 1.4 g, or 2.8 g per day (N=16). Among all three doses, patients with postpartum depression improved substantially during the trial. Scores on depression measures decreased by approximately 50 percent, and differences were statistically significant." The Omega-3 fatty acids were well tolerated.

In addition, a larger, placebo-controlled trial for perinatal depression is now in progress at the University of Arizona (Marlene P. Freeman, M.D. and colleagues).

Friday, December 09, 2005

Business stresses role of proper diet

Nutritional Concepts appeared in the business Section of the Daily Herald today.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Magnesium could reduce osteoporosis risk

Increasing magnesium intake could increase bone density in the elderly and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, suggests a large American study.

"Higher Mg intake through diet and supplements was positively associated with total-body [bone mineral density] BMD in older white men and women. For every 100 mg per day increase in Mg, there was an approximate 2 per cent increase in whole-body BMD," said Kathryn Ryder and colleagues.

More than 2,000 volunteers aged 70 to 79 took part in the cross-sectional American study by completing a food-frequency questionnaire. All supplements and dietary intakes of magnesium were calculated from ingredients databases.

Dietary sources of magnesium include green, leafy vegetables, meats, starches, grains and nuts, and milk. Earlier dietary surveys show that a large portion of adults do not meet the RDA for magnesium (320 mg per day for women and 420 mg per day for men).

Responding to this study, a spokesperson for the UK-based charity, the National Osteoporosis Society, said: "Although there have been previous studies into the effect of magnesium on bone density, it is always encouraging to learn of studies which help build upon our knowledge of bone health."

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society (November, Vol 53, No 11, pp 1875-1880).

Steve - Music to our ears. For many of you that know us well, we have been touting magensium as one of the most important yet most deficient nutrients in humans.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Panel Doesn't Want Junk Food Aimed at Kids

The Institute of Medicine said television advertising strongly influences what children under 12 eat. Their report said the food industry should spend its marketing dollars on nutritious food and drinks. "The foods advertised are predominantly high in calories and low in nutrition -- the sort of diet that puts children's long-term health at risk," said J. Michael McGinnis, a senior scholar at the institute and chairman of the report committee.

The growth in new food products targeted to kids has been huge, from 52 introduced in 1994 to nearly 500 introduced last year, the report said. The panel said the government should use tax breaks and other incentives to encourage the shift away from junk food and said if it doesn't happen, Congress should mandate it.

An arm of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine is congressionally chartered to advise the government on medical issues.

Courtesy of Associated Press

Aspartame carinogenic in rats

Italian researchers found that apspartame is a multipotential carniogenic agent, even at a daily dose much less than the current acceptable daily intake. Aspartame was administered to 8 week-old rats at varying concentrations. The treatment lasted until natural death. Increased incidence of malignant tumors were exhibited in both male and female rats at multiple concentrations. In particular, lymphomas, leukemias, transitional cell carcinmoas of the renal pelvis and ureter and their precursors (dysplasias), and schwannomas of peripheral nerves were discovered. The researchers plea is as follows: "On the basis of these results, a re-evaluation of the present guidelines on the use and consumption of aspartame is urgent and cannot be delayed."

Steve - This is further clarification of our 12/5/05 post. We recently learned of this study which appeared in Environmental Health Perspectives, published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. We rarely comment on studies not performed on humans, but given the fact that no substantative study has ever been done on humans with regard to aspartame, we are taking liberty here given the devastating findings the study produced.

Stress 'hinders healing process'

Researchers at The Ohio State University focused on 42 married couples and found wounds on hostile couples healed at 60% of the healing rate for non-hostile couples.

The team told the journal Archives of General Psychiatry the findings showed hospitals should try to minimise stress for patients ahead of surgery. This could lead to shorter hospital stays and save money, they added.

The researchers focused on a group of 42 married couples who had been together an average of at least 12 years.

Steve - if stress can affect wound healing, what do you think it can do to us day in and day out? Stress management is a pillar in the foundation of good health. It's easy for health professionals to say "reduce stress." Although, it is much harder to do. Finding the right stress management technique for you is of the utmost importance.

Monday, December 05, 2005

These supplements didn't make the grade, an independent laboratory in the business of testing dietary supplements in the marketplace, recently found that these products did not meet label claim for a variety of reasons:
  • Theragran-M® Advanced Formula High Potency Multivitamin/Multimineral Supplement Mfd. by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Exceeded limit for lead (3.5 mcg lead in 1 unit dose).
  • L'il Critters™ Gummy Vites® Dietary Supplement Dist. by Northwest Natural Products® Inc. Low in folate. Exceeded limit for lead (1.25 mcg lead in 1 unit does, 2.5 mcg lead in 2 unit dose).
  • Doctor's Best Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM Dietary Supplement Dist. by Doctor's Best, Inc. Less than 85% of labeled amount of chondroitin sulfate.
  • Glucoflex 24™ Patented 24-Hour Release Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sulfate with Cox II Inhibitors & MSM Mfd. by Windmill™ Health Products Only 18% of the labeled "chondroitin sulfate complex" was chondroitin.
  • Life Extension™ Chromium 200 mcg Caps Dist. by Life Extension Foundation Buyers Club, Inc. Contaminated with chromium VI (3.85%).
  • EZ-Trim™ Mfd. by Scientific Weight Loss Labs. Only contained 25% claimed chromium.

Chocolate study proves eye-popping

Keeping your hands off chocolate can be difficult — and you may have your eyes to blame. For three weeks, researchers at Cornell University and the University of Illinois-Champaign gave 40 women several dozen chocolate Hershey Kisses in clear or opaque candy jars either on their desks or six feet away. They refilled the candy jars each day and tracked how much the women ate.

They found that women ate nearly twice as many Hershey Kisses when the candy was in clear containers on their office desks (7.7 pieces per day) than when the candy was in opaque jars (4.6 pieces per day).

Distance also played a role. On average, women ate 5.6 Kisses a day when the candy was visible in clear containers placed six feet away from their desks compared with 3.1 chocolates a day when the candy was in a non-translucent jar.

"If we want to reduce our consumption of sweets, we should keep them out of sight and inconvenient," said James Painter, professor of nutrition at Eastern Illinois University and a co-author of the study.

The study was presented at a North American Society for the Study of Obesity meeting this fall and will soon be published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Courtesy of the LA Times

Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Overweight Kids

Ohio State University researchers found that babies born to women who were overweight at the start of their pregnancies had up to three times the risk of becoming overweight themselves compared to children of women at normal weight. In mothers who smoked during their pregnancy, the risk of a child becoming overweight was nearly doubled. The findings appear in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Their analysis included more than 3,000 children, who were weighed when they were roughly ages 3, 5 and 7 years.

"As parents, we need to look at ourselves and see how we take care of ourselves. That will influence what our children see. Childhood obesity isn't a child's problem; it's a family problem and ultimately, society's problem. We can't just address childhood obesity; obesity is the issue," said Dr. Helen Binns, director of the nutrition evaluation clinic at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Courtesy of HealthDay