Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Blog goes on hiatus today.

This is our last blogging day until January 2, 2007.

We wish you the happiest, healthiest holiday and New Year!

Bonnie and Steve

Bonnie advocates infrared saunas for detoxification

Recently, I have discovered the beenfits of infrared sauna treatments for the detoxification of substances such as heavy metals and yeast. I have actually heard from clients that they see the yeast comeing out of their pores! This is a safe, relaxing way to aid detoxification. Look for a spa in your area that has one.


One can exercise too much

According to experts, one can overdo it when it comes to exercise. Overzealous exercisers can run their way into stress fractures, insomina, and comrpomised immune systems. Every individual has a different threshold, however, one hour daily seems to be the maximum. More than 12 hours of exercise a wekk does not allow the body to bounce back well.

Of special concern are middle-age men who get back into exercise after years of inactivity and are at risk for heart attacks.

Courtesy of AP

Bonnie - one thing not mentioned in this piece is the depletion of essential vitamins and minerals from overexercise. I can guarantee that individuals who exercise a lot do not replenish their nutrients properly, and this is crucial!

High protein a recipe for cancer

Steve -

This study appeared in our favorite journal, the American College of Nutrition. The study has its merits, but the media has misinformed the public with its headlines. The study is not so much about low protein and high protein as it is about real foods versus the Standard American Diet.

The study pitted vegans and endurance-running vegetarians against subjects consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD). Who do you think is going to have a lower rate of cancer? Additionally, the proteins that the SAD group consumed the most were red meats and dairy, which consumed in large amounts have been linked to cancer.

Dark chocolate helps chronic fatigue

According to British Government Researchers, eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day can help combat symptoms of chronic fatigue. The cocoa content was 85%, much more than most commercial dark chocolates. The study participants on the chocolate felt less fatigued than those on the placebo who felt greater tiredness.

The polyphenol content and enhancement of serotonin neurotransmitters are believed to provide the relief.

Bonnie - they took the words right out of my mouth! Any dark chocolate at 70% cocoa content or higher is good. However, I must emphasize, in moderation!

Holidays can make women eat more

According to the American Psychological Association, nearly half of all women in the U.S. suffer from increased stress during the holiday season and many turn to food to calm themselves.

Bonnie - this is a shocker! Maybe the following will help.

Emotional Survival Guide for the Holidays

This time of year can often trigger a bout of the blues or ignite a depression that has been smoldering under the surface for months. “Holiday blues are a pretty common problem despite the fact that as a society, we see the holidays as a joyous time.” (Rakesh Jain, MD) “Many people feel depressed which can be due to the increased stress that comes with the need to shop and the decreased time to exercise which gets put on the back burner during the holidays.” Here are some tips to help your emotional stability stay intact during this busy season:

1. See what it was in the past that led to trouble, whether it was too much drinking, not enough exercise, or forgetting to connect with friends and family. Depression leaves a fingerprint so try to find ways to avoid what happened in the past.

2. Unwrap your heart. Gift giving can cause stress and unhappiness on so many levels, such as if a person doesn’t have the money or time. The cost of the gift is not so important, the thought really is what counts.

3. A lot of people feel sad and lonely during the holidays if they have recently lost a loved one.Try to create a new tradition instead, do something different! When you expect something to happen and it doesn’t, you feel lousy.

4. Look at how to protect yourself from the energy vampires of the holiday season who deplete your holiday energy reserve. Try to be around positive people instead of the drama queens, blamers and criticizers.

5. Try to carve out three minutes a day to relieve stress and use your breath to calm down and focus on the positive. Get enough sleep which will help you to function properly throughout the day.

6. Volunteer! Deliver presents for Santa or help at a homeless shelter. Volunteerism makes your feel better about yourself and this is the time of year where the spirit of helping and compassion is right at your fingertips. This will also help you to realize how grateful you are for what you do have and focus on the positive things in your life.

7. If you are overcommitted, say no. Don’t feel guilty.

Expectant mothers may be at risk for vitamin A deficiency

Women expecting twins or their second child inside two years could benefit from beta carotene supplementation, according to a small study that appeared in the European Journal of Nutrition. Of the 29 women studied, 75% did not have the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

Bonnie - even though this is a small study, I wanted to blog this because the results were shocking. In addition, OB-HYN's are scaring pregnant women away from vitamin A (especially in the non-toxic beta carotene form) and are doing them a disservice.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Black cohosh no help in menopause

The yearlong study of 351 women suffering from hot flashes and night sweats found that those given black cohosh got about the same amount of relief as those who took a placebo.

"It's safe and not effective, so therefore it doesn't have any utility whatsoever," said Barrie Cassileth, an alternative-medicine researcher at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, who was not involved in the study.

Women taking the herbal treatments reduced hot flashes by only about half an episode per day when compared with those taking the placebo, the study found.

The study was conducted at Seattle-based Group Health, a health plan, and was published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Black cohosh, an herb that is a member of the buttercup family, is commonly given to ease menopause symptoms.

Bonnie - so my clients and millions of women around the world that have used it successfully over the years are just experiencing the placebo effect? I don't think so. A 2005 study with a similar participant size appeared in Obstetrics & Gynecology and did find improvement in hot flashes.

Trib columnist examines soy

One of our favortie columnists, Julie Deardorff, wrote a very good piece on the positives and negatives of soy. As we have said all along, soy has its place in our food supply. Unfortunately, it is much too prevalent to date.

One major issue that Julie did not cover in her piece was the fact that many of the soy products made to replace junk foods (such as soy dogs, soy burgers, and soy bacon) often have hidden monosodium glutamate (MSG) and are very high in sodium.


Combining fruits and vegetables gives them more nutritional punch.

Many of the beneficial compounds in fruits and vegetables provide them with their beautiful colors, none more than the carotenoids, nature's most widespread pigments. They include lycopene (which provides the red color to tomatoes, pink grapefruit and watermelon), beta carotene (the orange in carrots, pumpkin, papaya and cantaloupe) and yellow-green lutein (found in spinach, corn and avocado).

It is becoming increasingly clear that whole fruits and vegetables, with their full complement of phytochemicals, are more bioactive than any single substance they might contain. Adding new fruits and vegetables in new combinations and varieties may be more healthful still.

Phytochemicals seem to work cooperatively to exert their effects so that the benefits, when they are taken together, are often greater than the sum of the parts. For example, it has been shown that the antioxidant effects of a combination of red apples, blueberries, grapes and oranges are much larger than when any of the fruits are taken individually.

Even different varieties of the same fruit or vegetable can provide different compounds to the body. For example, a deep-purple blood orange shares phytochemicals in common with berries, while a navel orange doesn't, so the two offer somewhat different benefits. The pairing of different foods may affect how well these nutrients are absorbed. Colorful carotenoids, for example, are all fat-soluble, so small amounts of fat eaten at the same time (a teaspoon or less in each meal) helps the body efficiently use them.

Scientists have shown that the healthful fat in avocado helps the body absorb the carotenoids in romaine, carrots and tomato. Thus, guacamole and salsa eaten together may pack a better punch than either one eaten alone.

Finally, while this may not be welcome news to raw food enthusiasts, cooking carotenoid-rich spinach, carrots and tomatoes releases the carotenoids from the whole food, making them up to six times more bioavailable than when the foods are eaten fresh.

Courtesy LA Times

Bonnie - as we have always said...variety, variety, variety!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Breast Cancer Rate Falls in U.S., Study Shows

Rates of the most common form of breast cancer dropped a stunning 15 percent from August 2002 to December 2003, researchers reported yesterday. They proposed a reason for the drop that was just as stunning: It probably occurred, they said, because at that time, millions of women abandoned hormone treatment for the symptoms of menopause after a large national study concluded that the hormones slightly increased breast cancer risk.

Donald Berry, head of the division of quantitative science at MD Anderson Cancer Center and the senior investigator for the analysis, called the connection between the drop in rates and hormone use “astounding.” It was the first time ever that breast cancer rates had fallen significantly, something experts said was especially remarkable because the rates had slowly inched up, year by year, since 1945. But the decrease was most striking for women with so-called estrogen positive tumors, which account for 70 percent of all breast cancers. The hypothesis is that when women stopped taking menopausal hormones, tiny cancers already in their breasts were deprived of estrogen and stopped growing, never reaching a stage where they could been seen on mammograms. Other cancers may have regressed, making them undetectable. And, possibly, without hormones, cancers that would have gotten started may never have grown at all.

Until 2002, as many as a third of American women over age 50 were taking menopausal hormones. The use of estrogen to treat menopause took off in 1966, when an enthusiastic doctor, Robert Wilson, wrote a best-selling book, “Feminine Forever” and aggressively promoted it around the country. The heaviest users of hormone therapy were women in affluent places like Marin County where high breast cancer rates had long troubled women and researchers. Women in those areas also largely abandoned hormones after the July 2002 report and their breast cancer has declined accordingly.

Bonnie - rarely has there ever been such strong evidence linking medication to disease. While it took nearly 40 years and thousands of deaths for the allopathic community to discover the connection, it finally happened. This is the most extreme example of why it is imperative to treat the cause of a health issue instead of treating the symptoms. Additionally, one must greatly consider the ramifications of taking medication.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Study Questions Colonoscopy Effectiveness

A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that of 12 highly experienced board-certified gastroenterologists in private practice, some were 10 times better than others at finding adenomas, the polyps that can turn into cancer. One factor distinguishing the physicians who found many adenomas from those who found few was the amount of time spent examining the colon. They discovered that those who slowed down and took their time found more polyps.

“Patients assume that one colonoscopist is as good as another,” said Dr. Douglas K. Rex, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at Indiana University who did not take part in the study. “But these are dramatic differences.”

The Rockford study was preceded by other signs that colonoscopies are by no means foolproof. The first indication that colonoscopies were not as effective as widely believed came with two studies, one in 1991 and a larger one, in 1997, in which patients had two colonoscopies on the same day. Those studies showed that doctors were missing 15 to 27 percent of adenomas, including 6 percent of large adenomas. Then, in the last few years, two studies of so-called virtual colonoscopies, which use a CT scan to view the colon, found that the rate of overlooked adenomas in traditional colonoscopies was even higher. Patients in those studies had traditional and virtual colonoscopy on the same day. Traditional colonoscopies missed 12 to 17 percent of the large adenomas detected in the virtual colonoscopies.

The study by the group in Rockford suggests a way to improve colonoscopy: by slowing down. “If you rush things, you miss things,” Dr. Schoen said. That happens in part because reimbursement rates for colonoscopies have fallen in recent years, and some doctors are doing the exams faster than ever, Dr. Schoen and others say. The Rockford group concluded that doctors should take at least eight minutes to withdraw the endoscope.

Dr. Douglas J. Robertson, a gastroenterologist at Dartmouth University and at the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River, Vt., said it did not hurt to ask for a doctor’s detection rate. “If you are met with a total blank stare,” Dr. Robertson said, “that tells you the doctor is really not clued in to quality issues and is not listening at national meetings.”

Courtesy NY Times

Bonnie - it is astounding that the virtual colonoscopy is not used more. Make sure you
do your due diligence before doing a traditional colonoscopy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

USDA attempts to pack organic standards board with corporate agribusiness reps

On December 5, 2006, the USDA announced its new appointments to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The NOSB essentially advises the USDA on how to interpret and implement federal organic laws that regulate industry. The NOSB has the ability to significantly weaken or strengthen the effectiveness of the national organic standards.

According to federal law, the NOSB is to be made up of a diverse group of experts in the organic field, including a public interest group representative, an environmentalist, a scientist, and a handler. Despite this clear mandate of diversity, the USDA's new appointments are all industry representatives.
USDA’s new appointees are:

Scientist: Katrina Heinze (General Mills)
Consumer and Public Interest Group Representative: Tracy Miedema (Stahlbush Island Farms, a primarily non-organic operation)
Environmentalist: Tina Ellor (Phillips Mushroom Farms)
Handler: Steve DeMuri (Campbell Soup)

Historically, there has only been one other instance where the USDA has attempted to stack non-industry seats on the NOSB with industry representatives, and the results were an embarrassment for the USDA. One year ago, the agency attempted to put a General Mills’ company representative, Katrina Heinz in the NOSB Public Interest Group Representative seat, which was closely followed by a massive consumer backlash spearheaded by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and the Consumers Union. The protests caused Heinz to decline the appointment.

“Never before has the Bush administration’s USDA made such a blatant attempt to pack the National Organic Standards Board with people who represent corporate agribusiness and industrial farming practices,” says OCA National Director Ronnie Cummins. “Stahlbush Farms, which admits on its website to using pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides on its crops (except for its canned pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and frozen green beans) is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an organic consumer or public interest group.

Steve - another battle we must fight. Contact your congressmen/women and let them know that this is unacceptable. In appointing these people, it is not a strecth to say that the organic standards will be watered down. The USDA Organic Standards are under an incredible amount of pressure as it is. This is like letting the fox into the hen house!

Dominick's parent to expand organic line

Safeway Inc. said on Tuesday that it would expand its O Organics line into baby food and food for children and introduce a new brand for consumers on a diet or just looking for healthier fare.

Safeway, the No. 3 U.S. grocer, introduced the O Organics line in December 2005. Since then, the products, which are only sold in Safeway chains such as Dominick's, have reached more than $150 million in sales.

During a meeting with analysts and investors, Safeway said the O Organics line is helping to attract shoppers from chains such as Whole Foods Market Inc., the No. 1 natural and organic grocer.

The O line currently features produce, cereal, milk and coffee. Safeway said that it now plans to introduce affordable organic food for babies and a group of organic products targeted at children aged six years old to 12 years old.

It also plans to introduce a new line, called Eating Right, with nutritional icons on packages that should help consumers find products that fit their diet.

Steve - I hope Whole Foods is ready for war. All the "conventional" food stores are starting to flex their muscle.

Deep mercury cuts OKd at coal plants

Illinois lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to new state rules requiring deep cuts in mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants.

With little comment, a legislative panel endorsed a compromise negotiated between Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration and two of the state's major utilities, Ameren and Dynegy.

A third company, Midwest Generation, agreed to a similar deal Monday. Rules dealing with the company's six power plants, including five in the Chicago area, will be issued after Jan. 1.

The utilities will reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015, which is faster and deeper than federal rules require. They also will sharply cut other forms of air pollution that create smog and soot.

Coal-fired power plants are the nation's largest source of mercury, a toxic metal that can cause learning disabilities in children and neurological problems in adults.

Mercury pollution is so pervasive that Illinois and 43 other states advise people to limit consumption of freshwater fish, mostly large predator species that can accumulate large amounts of the metal.

Courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times

Steve - this is a ruling that was decades overdue.

Folic acid won't cut heart, stroke risk, study says

Taking a folic acid supplement does not cut the risk of heart disease or stroke in people with a history of cardiovascular ailments.

Researchers led by Dr. Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans analyzed the results of 12 trials conducted since 2002 involving nearly 17,000 people.

Comparing people who had taken folic acid supplements for at least six months with those who had not, the study found virtually identical percentages of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke and all causes of death.

"We found that there was no benefit to using folic acid supplements in terms of cardiovascular disease risk or stroke risk," Bazzano said in an interview.

"We also found that there was no harm in terms of all-cause mortality. Using the supplements didn't seem to make you die any faster, which was good news," Bazzano added.

The findings appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bazzano said folic acid remains extremely important for other reasons, namely for women planning to become pregnant or already pregnant to prevent major birth defects of the baby's brain and spine.

"Take it if you're a woman trying to get pregnant, absolutely. But if you're an older person who's already had a heart attack or has any form of vascular disease, this is not what you should be doing," Bazzano said.

Courtesy Reuters

Bonnie - let's make some sense out of this study. Folic acid is extremely important for older persons for mental acuity and bone health, among other benefits. This review study was a waste of money because using folic acid as a treatment to reduce cardiac risk in those who already have heart ailments is a joke. You could give one of these patients folic acid in mega doses in perpituity and it still would not make a difference. The fact that the length of these trials were only six months long is also outrageous. Finally, it was another dreaded "meta analysis" where the researchers review a bunch of trials at once.

Once again, the researchers have used studies that look at sick participants. As I have said incessantly with regards to folic acid for cardiac health, it is a preventative nutrient. It is not a therapeutic nutrient.

To study the protective effects of folic acid for heart health, the research must be long-term (at least 10-20 years) to get a consensus.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nutritionist Applauds Passing of The Dietary Supplement Adverse Events Bill

Northbrook, IL December 12, 2006 - Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist Bonnie Minsky was thrilled to see the United States Senate and House of Representatives pass the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act, S. 3546. Introduced by Senator's Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), S.3546 establishes a requirement for marketers of dietary supplements and OTC drugs to inform the FDA if they receive reports of serious adverse events associated with their products.

"I have a keen interest in S.3546 because I have been prescribing dietary supplements for over twenty years with great safety and success. However, in the past decade, a few unsavory manufacturers have tarnished the industry's reputation," noted Minsky, president and Wellness Director of Northbrook-based Nutritional Concepts and spokesperson for the American College of Nutrition. "This bill will help weed those manufacturers out, and in turn, help to assure the public that the industry is being regulated properly," she added.

S. 3546 passed by unanimous consent. Manufacturers, packers or distributors of OTC drugs or dietary supplements in the United States must notify the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within 15 business days of any reports of any serious adverse events associated with their products. Serious events include death, a life-threatening experience, inpatient hospitalization, disability or incapacity, birth defect, or medical/surgical intervention to prevent one of these outcomes.

"This is a good bill that helps the Food and Drug Administration immediately respond to serious problems," said a spokesperson from Senator Durbin's office.

More than 150 million Americans use dietary supplement products, and critics of existing legislation believe that consumers deserve to know that if they report a serious adverse event they believe may be associated with a supplement product, that the regulatory body that oversees the supplement industry will be made aware of that report.

Many in the dietary supplement industry applaud the legislation. Steve Mister, president and chief executive officer of Council for Responsible Nutrition states, "We believe that, ultimately, such a system will highlight the strong safety record of dietary supplements. CRN strongly encourages the House of Representatives to consider the Senate-passed bill and quickly enact this legislation."

Energy Drinks - the next chapter of the food and beverage war?

Steve - Energy Drinks are an issue that we have been blogging about for a while now. Now that the trans fat issue is starting to go away, this seems to be the next battle we will have to fight. The following is a sobering look into the energy drink market.

The Energy-Drink Buzz Is Unmistakable. The Health Impact Is Unknown.

By Michael Mason, New York Times

Meet Jamey Kirby. If you’re young enough, and hip enough, he’d like to sell you some Cocaine. Arriving soon at a convenience store near you, Cocaine is a recent and controversial entry in the burgeoning market for so-called energy drinks. Loaded with caffeine and sugar, and often laced with herbs, vitamins or amino acids, they have become the fuel of choice for some thrill-seeking youngsters and, more recently, for weary adults navigating an always-on world. But with their increasingly novel additives, energy drinks are taking consumers into uncharted nutritional territory, especially because they are often used as mixers with alcohol.

Even if they are not dangerous, experts say, energy drinks may be fostering an unhealthy dependence on caffeine even as they pad the waistlines of young adults. None of that much concerns Mr. Kirby, the California entrepreneur behind Cocaine. His business is buzz — in every sense of the word. Each 8.4-ounce can of Cocaine contains 280 milligrams of caffeine, more than twice the amount in a cup of coffee, and a throat-numbing blend of fiery spices. It’s perfect, Mr. Kirby said, for jaded 16- to 28-year-olds clamoring for extreme refreshment. And the provocative name? Just marketing. “It was always the plan to let negative publicity move us forward,” Mr. Kirby said. “There is an enormous amount of competition out there.” About that, there is no controversy.

Nearly 200 new energy drinks have hit store shelves since January, according to the market research firm ACNielsen. Led by such brands as Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster, energy drinks are a $3.7 billion industry whose revenues have increased by 51 percent in the past year alone. Red Bull is the third-largest source of beverage profits in convenience stores, according to one recent market survey. “It started out as something for clubbers and extreme-sports types,” said Jeffrey Klineman, the editor of Beverage Spectrum. “Now it’s gone mainstream.” So has the ingredient list.

Energy drinks increasingly are formulated with fruit juices, teas and dietary supplements like ginseng and glucosamine that appeal to older, health-minded consumers. Taurine, an amino acid essential to growth in infants, is a frequent additive, though scientists say large amounts provide no advantage to ordinary adults. Despite exotic formulations, the energy boost in these drinks is delivered via a whopping dose of common caffeine. This year, in a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, a team of researchers analyzed the caffeine content of 10 popular energy drinks and found concentrations as high as 141 milligrams per 16-ounce can. While the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the amount of caffeine in soft drinks, agency guidelines for colas suggest no more than 68 milligrams per 12-ounce serving.

Only four of the drinks carried caffeine warnings on their containers, the researchers noted, and none suggested a limit. “The caffeine content really should be listed on the labels,” said the lead author, Bruce A. Goldberger, a toxicologist at the University of Florida. “Caffeine may be the mostly widely used drug in the world, but certain people need to avoid it.” Among them are those with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and certain anxiety disorders, as well as pregnant women.

Perhaps more troubling, Dr. Goldberger said, is that there is little scientific research on how high intakes of caffeine affect adolescents over the long term. Caffeine is difficult to abuse; unpleasant side effects appear even at modest doses, and toxicity occurs only at very high doses. Those who overconsume it are usually teenagers or young adults. “There’s an American subculture out there that loves the idea of being wired,” said James D. Lane, professor of medical psychology at Duke University. “But caffeine produces real psychological and physiological dependence.”

A recent survey by researchers at Northwestern University found that an overdose of caffeine supplements triggered more than 250 reports to the Illinois Poison Control Center over a three-year period. The average age of those affected was 21. At an emergency room in Berkeley, Calif., Dr. Guy Shochat last year treated an 18-year-old who had arrived in an ambulance with sudden heart arrhythmia. The teenager had been drinking eight 16-ounce cans of Rockstar every evening to stay awake for his night job. “He was totally clueless that there might be something wrong with drinking so much of this stuff,” said Dr. Shochat, an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

The American College of Sports Medicine has warned high school athletes away from energy drinks because the caffeine in them may cause dehydration. High schools in Fairfax County, Va., this year removed energy drinks from its vending machines after student athletes complained of headaches and nausea after drinking them at practice. Energy drinks may be a worry at bars and clubs, too, where certain brands are used as mixers. In a recent Brazilian study, 26 men were evaluated as they downed an energy drink and alcohol, separately and in combination. Consumption of the beverages together did not diminish the men’s intoxication, as demonstrated on objective tests. But the combination did reduce the men’s ability to perceive their own inebriation, the researchers found, leading the subjects to believe they were more in control than they were. By masking the depressant effects of alcohol, the scientists concluded, energy drinks may have made it more likely that the users drank to excess. Ordinary use of caffeine may be addictive, experts say, but it is usually benign. Still, there is strong evidence that in a hectic world, this kind of “energy” isn’t part of the solution — it’s part of the problem.

The grogginess that plagues so many people in the morning and during the day can be a symptom of caffeine withdrawal, according to Dr. Lane. Far from being revitalizing, another shot merely sates the user’s addiction for a while. “Caffeine’s effect at high doses is like having a chronic anxiety condition,” Dr. Lane said. “It exaggerates the perception of stress and the body’s response to it, and I think it could be contributing to the stress we all experience in daily life.” But if Mr. Kirby’s reported sales of Cocaine are any measure, the country’s jittery romance with caffeine is intact. He said more than 200,000 additional cases of the drink have been ordered and are in production.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Some lean AM protein curbs hunger

Of all the macronutrients that we eat, "protein blunts your hunger the most and is the most satiating," notes Wayne Campbell, who leads a team investigating protein at Purdue University's Campbell Laboratory for Integrative Research in Nutrition, Fitness and Aging.

In October, Campbell and his colleagues reported at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society that women who added a little more lean protein to their breakfast experienced less hunger over the next four hours. Blood levels of the hunger hormone — ghrelin — also rose significantly less.

The Purdue findings are just the latest in a growing number of studies that point to some weight benefits of eating more protein.

Courtesy of LA Times

Steve - as we always say, eat a balanced breafast (including, of course, lean protein).

Our thoughts on the "Master Cleanser"

We have had several inquiries of late with regards to a detox entitled "The Master Cleanser." It was a diet created by a nutritionist in the 1940's and made popular in a 1970's book. This "diet" is a fast that requires subsisting for 10 or more days solely on an elixir of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and water. By following this, one is consuming about 650 calories per day, far less than what is needed to sustain a normal human being's energy output.

We do not support The Master Cleanser. It happens to be in vogue because several popular public figures have done it and lost weight. However, anyone will lose weight when you starve yourself!

Be very careful when choosing any kind of detox or fast.

Steve & Bonnie

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bonnie Applauds Dietary Supplement Adverse Events Bill

Northbrook, IL December 8, 2006 - Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist Bonnie Minsky was thrilled to see the United States Senate pass the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act, S. 3546. Introduced by Senator's Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), S.3546 establishes a requirement for marketers of dietary supplements and OTC drugs to inform the FDA if they receive reports of serious adverse events associated with their products. The bill will need to be considered in the House of Representatives (the companion bill is H.R. 6168) in the last days of the current 109th Congress in order to be passed into law.

"I have a keen interest in S.3546 because I have been prescribing dietary supplements for over twenty years with great safety and success. However, in the past decade, a few unsavory manufacturers have tarnished the industry's reputation," noted Minsky, president and Wellness Director of Northbrook-based Nutritional Concepts and spokesperson for the American College of Nutrition. "This bill will help weed those manufacturers out, and in turn, help to assure the public that the industry is being regulated properly," she added.

S. 3546 passed by unanimous consent. Manufacturers, packers or distributors of OTC drugs or dietary supplements in the United States must notify the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within 15 business days of any reports of any serious adverse events associated with their products. Serious events include death, a life-threatening experience, inpatient hospitalization, disability or incapacity, birth defect, or medical/surgical intervention to prevent one of these outcomes.

"This is a good bill that helps the Food and Drug Administration immediately respond to serious problems," said a spokesperson from Senator Durbin's office.

More than 150 million Americans use dietary supplement products, and critics of existing legislation believe that consumers deserve to know that if they report a serious adverse event they believe may be associated with a supplement product, that the regulatory body that oversees the supplement industry will be made aware of that report.

Many in the dietary supplement industry applaud the legislation. Steve Mister, president and chief executive officer of Council for Responsible Nutrition states, "We believe that, ultimately, such a system will highlight the strong safety record of dietary supplements. CRN strongly encourages the House of Representatives to consider the Senate-passed bill and quickly enact this legislation."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Omega-3, fibre, vitamin E linked to lower Lymphoma risk

The researchers behind the new study, led by Ellen Chang from the Northern California Cancer Center, looked at the dietary intakes of 591 people with non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHL) and certain lymphoma subtypes, and 460 healthy controls recruited from seven Swedish counties.

“Overall, we found that eating fish and marine fats was associated with lower risk of overall non-Hodgkin lymphomas and certain lymphoma subtypes (which should be examined separately, since NHLs represent a group of several different lymphomas),” Dr. Chang told

“We also found that consuming certain antioxidant vitamins, commonly found in some fruits and vegetables, was associated with lower risk of overall NHL and some common subtypes.”

After adjusting the results to eliminate potential confounding factors like gender and BMI, Chang and her colleagues report that, while dietary intake of most macronutrients was not associated with NHL risk, average consumption of about 0.8 grams per day of omega-3 or marine fatty acids was associated with a 20 and 60 per cent reduced risk of NHL and its subtypes, compared to those who consumed about 0.2 grams per day.

This also extended to fish oil supplements, with people who supplemented their diet with fish oil at a significantly reduced risk of NHL and its subtypes than people who did not take the supplements (risk reduction of between 30 and 50 per cent).

Strong associations between dietary fibre intake and NHL risk reductions were also observed, said the researchers in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Indeed, Daily average intake of 14.4 grams per 1,000 kcal was linked to a 50 to 60 per cent risk reduction of NHL and all its subtypes.

Dietary consumption of the micronutrients beta-carotene or alpha-tocopherol was also associated with lower NHL risk, said the researchers, with the highest dietary beta-carotene intake (average 4.4 micrograms per day) associated with 40 per cent reduction in NHL risk, compared to the lowest intake (average 1.2 micrograms per day).

Similarly, the highest dietary alpha-tocopherol intake (average 9.8 milligrams per day) associated with 60 per cent reduction in NHL risk, compared to the lowest intake (average 5.0 milligrams per day).

Study: Doctors call in more antibiotics without exams

Prescribing antibiotics has become so common that many doctors literally are just phoning it in, a new analysis of insurance claims suggests.

Researchers found that 40% of people who filled an antibiotic prescription had not seen a doctor in at least a month, raising the possibility that their symptoms were the result of a viral infection, which doesn't respond to antibiotics, instead of a bacterial infection, which does. Though antibiotics generally are benign, overprescribing has helped produce drug-resistant "superbugs."

"The study is just a broad indicator of too great a willingness to prescribe," says author William Marder, senior vice president and general manager of Thomson Medstat, a health care information company based in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Steve - after a rigorous campaign by the media and government to reign in reckless antibiotic use, it is inexplicable that this is still happening. Either the message is not being heard or some doctors just find it much easier to prescribe an antibiotic than to do the due diligence it requires to discover if they are even needed. Is it not scary enough that many pathogens are now becoming resistant to many of the antibiotics that exist? Have we not learned that the resistant pathogens are becoming more virulent than ever?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bonnie quoted - New York fat ban turns up heat on McDonald's

Crain's Chicago Business 12/6/2006

The pressure on McDonald’s Corp. to cook its French fries in a healthier oil intensified today with the passage of a New York City ban on artery-clogging trans fat at all city restaurants.

“Now that they’ve done it in New York, I bet you’re going to see trans fat banned in Chicago and other cities,” says Bonnie Minsky, a Northbrook-based dietician and spokeswoman for the American College of Nutrition. “They can’t say they’re working on recipes anymore, like they have for the last few years. The pressure now is extreme, and it needs to be.”

In recent months, major McDonald’s rivals have either switched to cooking oils containing lower levels of trans fat or announced a timeframe for doing so.

Wendy’s International Inc. in August began frying food in a blend of corn and soy oil containing little trans fat while KFC Corp. in October said it will switch to a trans fat-free cooking oil by the end of April.

Taco Bell Corp. last month said it will eliminate trans fat from many of its menu items by April, Burger King Holdings Inc. said it will test healthier oils soon and Culver’s, a Wisconsin-based burger chain, said it will switch to a trans fat-free canola oil by March 1.

In June, Alderman Edward Burke (14th ward) introduced a trans fat ordinance here. After a few iterations, the proposed ordinance now calls for restaurants with more than $20 million in annual sales to limit the level of trans fat in its food and to disclose the amount.

The proposed ordinance is currently in the city council’s license and consumer protection committee.

“The committee members have indicated a go-slow approach to consideration and possible adoption of the ordinance,” says a spokesman for Alderman Burke. “I think they want to study it further. In the meantime, we feel fast-food chains are being put under the spotlight not only because of New York’s adoption of a ban today but because of the continuing drumbeat of our hearings. The problem is that restaurant chains are unable to explain why they can’t drop trans fat from the menu.”

Since early 2003, McDonald’s has been saying that it’s been having trouble finding a healthier oil that retains the taste of its iconic fries, which are currently fried in trans fat-producing partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

The ban did not impact shares of McDonald', which hit an intraday high of $43.43 - the first time the company's stock has been above $43 since January, 2000.

After an analysts meeting with McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, J.P. Morgan's John Ivankoe affirmed McDonald's as its top large-cap pick, saying in a note to clients that McDonald's U.S. same-store sales are ``robust,'' helped by breakfast sales, a balance between value and premium product promotions and extended hours.

The ban that New York’s board of health passed today will go into effect in July 2007, but restaurants will have another year to come up with a trans fat substitute for baked goods. It’s the first city to pass such a ban.

In a statement, a McDonald’s spokesman said, “As we’ve stated before, we will comply with the New York Board of Health’s proposal.”

He also said McDonald’s is testing zero trans fat oil in some U.S. restaurants but that “we are not yet prepared to announce a national rollout for an alternative oil blend.”

Of McDonald’s more than 13,000 U.S. restaurants, approximately 300 are in New York City.

“It’s shocking that it took that long for a ban like this to pass. This should have been done 15 years ago,” Ms. Minsky says. “There’s no safe level of trans fat.”

Study Finds Medication Raises Suicide Risks in Young Adults

In a long-awaited analysis, FDA officials reported yesterday that antidepressant medications appeared to increase significantly the risk of suicide attempts and related behaviors in adults under 25. The analysis, the most comprehensive and rigorous to date, found that suicidal behavior of any kind was rare, and that people taking the medications were no more likely to kill themselves than those taking placebo pills. But adults under 25 taking the drugs were more than twice as likely as those on placebos to report a suicide attempt, or to prepare for one by, say, writing a suicide note.

Bonnie - let this be a stern warning for young adults over 18 or parents thinking about giving antidepressants to their children.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New York City passes trans fat ban

The Board of Health voted Tuesday to make New York the first city in the nation to ban artery-clogging artificial trans fats at restaurants — from the corner pizzeria to high-end bakeries.

The board, which passed the ban by a unanimous vote, did give restaurants a slight break by relaxing what had been considered a tight deadline for compliance. Restaurants will be barred from using most frying oils containing artificial trans fats by July, and will have to eliminate the artificial trans fats from all of its foods by July 2008.

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said recently that officials seriously weighed complaints from the restaurant industry, which argued that it was unrealistic to give them six months to replace cooking oils and shortening and 18 months to phase out the ingredients altogether.

The board also ordered restaurants to standardize how they display the number of calories in dishes on their menus in an effort to combat obesity.

The new law, to take effect July 1, applies to restaurants that already report the calorie counts and requires them to display the numbers on menus and menu boards. It is expected to affect about 10 percent of New York City restaurants, including many fast-food establishments.

Steve - we are dancing in the streets! Chicago, you're next! Bonnie just interviewed with Crain's Chicago Business on how this will affect Chicago. Look for it at withjin the next few days.

USDA disputes claim that U.S. chicken unsafe

Eighty-three percent of chicken sold in U.S. grocery stores may contain bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses, a consumer group said on Monday, 34 percentage points higher than the rate it found three years ago.

Critics, however, said the study by Consumer Reports suffered from flaws that included an unreliably small number of samples. A U.S. Agriculture Department spokesman called the report "junk science."

Consumer Reports said tests on 525 chickens -- including samples from leading brands Perdue, Pilgrim's Pride Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. -- showed most of the poultry had campylobacter or salmonella, two of the leading causes of food-borne diseases. A test conducted in 2003 showed 49 percent of the birds had at least one of the bacteria.

A spokesman with the U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service said the study was riddled with flaws such as a small sample size and uncertainty over the report's methodology.

He said it also failed to mention what type of salmonella was found, noting that one common strain, Salmonella Kentucky, doesn't make people ill.

"There is virtually nothing or any conclusion that anyone could draw from 500 samples," said Cohen. "They're passing along junk science and calling it an investigation."

Steve - the real answer lies somewhere in between. I have no doubt that our meat and poultry supply are laden with pathogens. This is why the our government continually attempts to come up with newer and deadlier ways to destroy them, such as irradiation and the proposed viral adulteration. As I have discussed in past blog entries, the way to reduce the amount of pathogens is to alter the system, from feed to packing.

On a positive note, the government is looking at using natural substances, such as oregano and eseential oils to repel pathogens, which would be a much safer and more effective option.

What we can we do in the interim? Surely we cannot stop consuming meat and poultry. However, we need to take the proper precautionary measures to make sure that pathogens are killed off before consumption. This includes properly washing off your meat and poultry before cooking. Clean the surrounding area and receptacles in which you placed the raw meat and poultry. Make sure that you cook your meat and poultry at the proper temperature. If possible, purchase organic or free-range. Maintain healthy gut flora with probiotics and/or natural antimicrobial/bacterial/viral/pathogenic substances such as Grapefruit Seed Extract or Monolaurin.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Antioxidant-rich almonds may help in blood sugar control

Almonds may improve the control of blood sugar levels and eliminate ‘sugar spikes’ after eating.

The study, published in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition, looked at the effects of five meals, eaten on five different occasions, on the blood glucose, insulin and antioxidant levels of 15 healthy volunteers (eight women).

Serum protein thiol concentrations were measured to gauge the level of oxidative protein damage – increased levels associated with less damage. Jenkins and his co-workers report that, following the almond meal, thiol concentrations increased, while decreases were observed following the control bread, rice, and potato meals.

Bonnie - while a small study, it reaffirms the idea that balance at meals is ideal.

Beta-carotene may protect certain people against Alzheimer’s

High levels of the carotenoid beta-carotene may protect cognitive decline in people with a certain genotype that is said to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, say researchers.

“Among high-functioning older persons, antioxidants and beta-carotene in particular may offer protection from cognitive decline in persons with greater genetic susceptibility,” wrote lead author Peifeng Hu in the Journal of Gerontology.

The new study, by researchers at UCLA School of Medicine, the University of Southern California, and the National Institute on Aging, used data from a seven-year cohort study of older people to investigate if serum beta-carotene levels had an effect on cognitive decline in people with differing ApoE 4 genotypes (homo- or heterozygous).

Out of the sample population of 455 people, the researchers report that nine people were ApoE4 homozygous, and 97 were ApoE4 heterozygous. Serum beta-carotene levels were measured at baseline, and cognitive function assessed using a 9-item Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ).

During the seven years of follow-up, cognitive decline (as measured by falling SPMSQ scores) was documented in 249 people. Hu and co-workers reported that the presence of at least one ApoE 4 allele was linked to a higher risk and larger decline in SPMSQ scores.

The researchers report that high serum beta-carotene levels was associated with a 89 per cent reduction in the risk of cognitive decline in people with at least one APOE 4 allele. For those with no ApoE4 alleles, high serum beta-carotene levels were associated with only a modest 11 per cent reduction in the risk of cognitive decline.

Pfizer's halted drug trial revealing

Courtesy NY Times

The news came to Pfizer’s chief scientist, Dr. John L. LaMattina, as he was showering at 7 a.m. Saturday: the company’s most promising experimental drug, intended to treat heart disease, actually caused an increase in deaths and heart problems. Eighty-two people had died so far in a clinical trial, versus 51 people in the same trial who had not taken it.

Within hours, Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, told more than 100 trial investigators to stop giving patients the drug, called torcetrapib. Shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, Pfizer announced that it had pulled the plug on the medicine entirely, turning the company’s nearly $1 billion investment in it into a total loss.

The abrupt decision to discontinue torcetrapib was a shocking disappointment for Pfizer and for people who suffer from heart disease. The drug, which has been in development since the early 1990s, raises so-called good cholesterol, and cardiologists had hoped it would reduce the buildup of plaques in blood vessels that can cause heart attacks. Just last Thursday, Pfizer’s chief executive, Jeffrey B. Kindler, said publicly that the drug could be among the most important new developments for heart disease in decades and that the company hoped to get Food and Drug Administration approval for it in 2007.

“I’m terribly disappointed,” said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and lead investigator of an earlier torcetrapib clinical trial. “This drug, if it worked, would probably have been the largest-selling pharmaceutical in history.”

Bonnie - stop the story right here! This comment says it all. What he should have said was that he was sorry that the drug's failure will not help millions raise their good cholesterol. Unfortunately, he had to lament the billions lost in sales.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pregnant women are urged to avoid Paxil

Pregnant women and those who plan to become pregnant should avoid taking the antidepressant Paxil if possible because of the risk of birth defects. The opinion issued by the obstetric practice committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists comes nearly a year after the Food and Drug Administration and manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline reclassified the drug to reflect studies in pregnant women that showed the drug poses a risk to the fetus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also said the decision whether to treat pregnant women with SSRIs, a class of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Zoloft and Lexapro as well as Paxil, should be considered on an individual basis. Exposure to SSRIs late in pregnancy has been associated with short-term complications in newborns, the doctors said. The opinion appears in the December issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Courtesy of AP

Bonnie - I have been saying this for a while. Be extremely careful and look long and hard at the data before deciding to take or stay on antidepressants pre-pregnancy or during pregancy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Super food: Edible coating fights E. coli

According to a study being published Wednesday in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Oregano oil is a natural bacteria fighter, as are other plant-based essential oils. The apple puree enables the coating to stick. Researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture have developed a flavored edible coating for fresh produce that not only tastes good, it kills E. coli bacteria.

The coating can be applied as a liquid or a thin film. It combines two unlikely flavors -- oregano oil and apple puree.

Researchers tested the coating on E. coli samples -- not on actual produce, though that's in the works, McHugh said. They also plan tests on other bacteria, including salmonella and listeria.

Courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

Steve - essential oils and herbs have always been an option to prevent food contamination. It is a much better idea than irradiating or virally adultering our food!

That Prenatal Visit May Be Months Too Late

For years, women have had it drummed into them that prenatal care is the key to having a healthy baby, and that they should see a doctor as soon as they know they are pregnant. But by then, it may already be too late. Public health officials are now encouraging women to make sure they are in optimal health well in advance of a pregnancy to reduce the risk of preventable birth defects and complications. They have recast the message to emphasize not only prenatal care, as they did in the past, but also what they are calling “preconception care.”

The problem, doctors say, is that by the first prenatal visit, a woman is usually 10 to 12 weeks pregnant. “If a birth defect is going to happen, it’s already happened,” said Dr. Peter S. Bernstein, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York who helped write new government guidelines on preconception care. For many women, Dr. Bernstein said, “The most important doctor’s visit may be the one that takes place before a pregnancy is conceived.”

The new guidelines, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include 10 specific health care recommendations and advise prepregnancy checkups that include screening for diabetes, H.I.V. and obesity; managing chronic medical conditions; and reviewing medications that may harm a fetus. Much of the advice directed to women is fairly standard: they should abstain from smoking, alcohol and drugs, and should take prenatal vitamins, including folic acid. What is new and somewhat controversial about the guidelines is the suggestion that they should apply to women throughout their reproductive years, even when they are not planning pregnancies. (Men should be wary of exposures to toxins that cause birth defects and should avoid sexually transmitted diseases, experts say.)

Courtesy of NY Times

Bonnie - this is so stunning to read. Since my internship at the March of Dimes over 25 years ago, I have been asking the government to address women's health preconception. FINALLY!! This is such an important development I cannot emphasize it more. Public health professionals and practitioners need to start spreading the word. For any of your family and friends, read the Natural Fertility Action Plan on our website, for a sound preconception plan.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Take folic acid to protect against heart disease.

Despite some controversy in reports of the benefits of folate consumption on cardiovascular disease risk, the evidence is now enough to recommend the vitamin for heart health, British scientists have reported.

“Since folic acid reduces homocysteine concentrations, to an extent dependent on background folate levels, it follows that increasing folic acid consumption will reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by an amount related to the homocysteine reduction achieved,” wrote lead author David Wald in the British Medical Journal.

According to Wald, a three micromole per litre decrease in serum homocysteine levels, said to be achievable with a daily folic acid intake with 0.8 milligrams, lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke by 15 and 24 per cent. Moreover, some randomized trials have reported similar effects, but the reviewers state: “Folic acid is expected to reduce cardiovascular disease events by only about 10-15 per cent (compared, for example, to about an 80 per cent reduction in neural tube defects from taking five millgrams folic acid daily).” In studies looking at genetic mutations of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, which affects one in ten people, influences folate metabolism and is associated with increased homocysteine levels, the researchers report that high homocysteine levels were associated as causal for the risk of stroke.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wine flour promises taste, health benefits to bakers

A new wine flour manufactured from grape skins claims to allow manufacturers of baked goods, pasta and snacks to naturally fortify their products with healthy fatty acids and fiber. Manufactured from a by-product of the wine industry, the flour is also marketed as containing high levels of iron and calcium, as well as the heart-healthy polyphenol resveratrol.

The product is obtained using a patent-pending drying process, applied to the grape pomace – or what is left of the fruit after it has been crushed for wine-making. Primarily made up of grape skins, together with a small amount of seeds, this by-product is dried, sifted and ground into a flour.

In bakery goods, such as breads, crackers, bagels or muffins, the wine flour is used at a concentration of 7-10 percent. In pasta it can be used at a concentration of up to 25 percent. And if the flour is ground finer, it can be incorporated into energy bars or even drinks, such as protein beverages or tea.

Other flour products on the horizon will include flours made from asparagus, peppers, egg plant, leak, carrot, parsley and green peas.

Steve - now this is the kind of innovation that we LOVE to see!

Nutrition and brain health: It's a big deal for Nestlé

“Nestlé is in the midst of a strategic transformation into a nutrition, health and wellness company, and research & development will increasingly drive and contribute to the acceleration of this process as we go forward,” said Werner Bauer, Nestlé’s executive vice president.

The link between nutrition and cognitive function is an area that has been largely overlooked in the past. But recent studies looking at the potential protective role of foods like pomegranate and berries, green tea, and fish against cognitive impairment and the on-set of Alzheimer’s disease shows that this is slowly changing. Peter van Bladeren, director of the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne, told that Nestlé would be looking at a range of new and existing ingredients and investigating novel ways of delivering and improving the bioavailability, thereby giving Nestlé a proprietary ingredient. “We can find a novel form of a natural ingredient,” said van Bladeren. “We now know that diet can have very beneficial effects on the mature and ageing brain,” he said. “As we have seen in the past 20 years with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, we will see, starting now, the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases in the next 20 years,” said Dr. Sandrine Andrieu from the Toulouse University School of Medicine.


Steve - it is very encouraging to see large food conglomerates starting to focus their energy on prevention. However, we still must keep a watchful eye. If using healthy ingredients equates to putting them in Nesquick or KitKat Bars, it will not do a darn thing for prevention of disease.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Surgery no better for sciatica

Two big government-funded studies on back surgery for painful herniated disks show no clear-cut reason to choose an operation over other treatment.

The pain and physical function of the patients, who were suffering from a condition called sciatica, improved significantly after two years whether or not they had surgery. However, neither strategy offered complete relief.

"In back surgery for this particular condition, there's actually a choice," said lead author Dr. James Weinstein of Dartmouth Medical School. "If you don't want the risk of surgery, you can do watchful waiting" and still get well.

The findings, published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, are the first from a big government-funded research project on spine surgery. Patients were treated at 13 spine centers in 11 states.

Courtesy of AP

Bonnie - this is enough of a reason to try to discover and then avoid trigger foods that can be contributing to back pain. My Pain Relief Diet has shown to produce immediate results in pain relief. More importantly, it helps you detect what groups of foods that cause the pain so you can avoid them long-term.

Doubts hit FDA handling of benzene in soft drinks

A senior ex-FDA official said it was “embarrassing” that the Food and Drug Administration had failed to eradicate benzene residues from all drinks. His comments come as newly released meeting memos show at least one soft drinks maker, Kraft Foods, called for more guidance on benzene in soft drinks from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year. The developments put pressure on the FDA nine months after an investigation revealed some drinks containing more benzene than is allowed in US drinking water. Benzene causes cancer if consumed in enough quantities over a sustained period. Both FDA and industry had known of the source, a reaction in drinks between two common ingredients – sodium benzoate and ascorbic or citric acid – for 15 years.

The FDA agreed in 1991 for firms to “get the word out and reformulate” privately, without an official guide or limit drawn up. Some in the soft drinks industry appear to have wanted a better lead from the FDA. Kraft Foods recently reformulated all of its ready-to-drink beverages containing sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid to limit benzene formation, according to an internal FDA meeting memo from this year. The same memo noted Kraft’s warning that “there is no one solution that can be applied to all beverages [to mitigate benzene formation]”.

Courtesy of

Black Cohosh study demonsrates safety

A study that appears in the journal Menopause tracked 400 postmenopausal women taking 20 mg. of black cohosh over a 52 week period.

This long-term study showed no findings of endometrial hyperplasia or endometrial thickeness. Serum estradiol levels remained in the postmenopausal range. There were no changes in breast density. There were no relevant cases of hepatotoxicity from increased liver enzymes levels.

Significant increases were found in osteocalcin activity, which reduces bone resorption (bone loss).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bonnie Minsky featured in the Daily Herald

Bonnie contributed to a Thanksgiving article written by columnist Susan Stevens.

Milk allergy in babies 'missed'

Cow's milk allergy in babies is being missed by doctors, a survey suggests. Nearly 80% of 500 doctors polled by the medical taskforce Act Against Allergy thought their colleagues confused milk allergy symptoms with other conditions. Experts say the problem lies in the symptoms being both vague and common - including skin rashes and diarrhea. The poll also found many of the doctors did not know the best treatment. Without treatment food allergies can be distressing and even deadly.

Bonnie - I anticipate those numbers would be similar in the United States. Because I always look at health from a public health as well as individual perspective, I believe food sensitivity and food allergy is much more prevalent in the population than is believed.

Scientists probe omega-3 DHA as anti-obesity agent

The omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), suppressed the development of fat cells in vitro, and could lead to reductions in body fat, US researchers have reported.

Fish oil, and other omega-3-rich sources have previously been shown to decrease body fat in rodents, but the mechanism behind such observations and whether doses smaller than those usually found in humans could also exert an effect of the development of fat cells, and therefore play a potential role in weight management. The new research, published in the new issue of the Journal of Nutrition (Vol. 136, pp. 2965-2969), looked at the effects of DHA on cell growth, differentiation, cell death (apoptosis), and fat breakdown in cultured fat (3T3-L1) cells. The researchers report that when added to a culture of preadipocytes (cells that can be stimulated to develop into fully-fledged fat cells, adipocytes) all the concentrations studied (25, 50, and 200 umol/L) resulted in a reduction in the number of viable cells. This was due, said the researchers, to an effect of DHA on adoptosis (programmed cell death). They also report that DHA significantly decreased the accumulation of fat in the preadipocytes in a dose-dependent manner and the development (differentiation) of mature adipocytes in culture.

Steve - omega-3 has literally become a super-nutrient. It is being studied for anything and everything. While we should not get ahead of ourselves with regard to the aforementioned study, it is encouraging.

Friday, November 17, 2006

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Highlights - November

  • Data taken from southern European populations show an association between a higher frequency of consumption of allium vegetables (onion, garlic) and lower risk of several common cancers.
  • Subjects with the lowest intake of fiber and magnesium were three to four times as likely to have Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation (via C-reactive protein test).
  • According to a huge Norwegian population study, most pregnant women started folic acid supplementation too late with respect to the prevention of nerual tube defects. Supplementation needs to optimally begin at least one to two months pre-conception.

Soy during childhood linked to lower breast cancer risk

High consumption of fermented soy-based foods during childhood could reduce the risk of developing breast cancer later in life by 58 per cent, say researchers from the US National Cancer Institute.

"Childhood soy intake was significantly associated with reduced breast cancer risk in our study, suggesting that the timing of soy intake may be especially critical," said lead investigator, Larissa Korde, from the NCI's Clinical Genetics Branch.

Korde and co-workers, including researchers from the University of Hawaii, the Northern California Cancer Center, and the University of Southern California, recruited 597 Asian-American women with breast cancer (cases) and 966 healthy women without the disease (controls). The participants were asked to answer questions about adolescent and adult diet and lifestyles. Additionally, for a subset of 255 participants whose mothers were alive and living in the US, the mothers were asked about their daughter's early childhood exposures. By comparing the highest and lowest soy intake values for soy-based foods such as tofu, miso and natto, Korde and co-workers calculated that women with the highest soy intake during childhood (ages 5 to 11) had a 58 per cent lower risk of breast cancer as adults as the women with the lowest soy intake as children. Regina Ziegler, senior investigator on the study, added a note of caution, however, and said that it would be premature to recommend changes in childhood diet. "This is the first study to evaluate childhood soy intake and subsequent breast cancer risk, and this one result is not enough for a public health recommendation," she said.

Bonnie - this is what I have been saying. Soy has a place in our food supply, but only if fermented sources such as miso, tofu, and natto are consumed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Antibiotics usually useless for bronchitis: study

There is no evidence antibiotics help the vast majority of patients with acute bronchitis, and doctors should stop routinely prescribing them, researchers reported on Wednesday.

Acute bronchitis, an inflammation of the main airways to the lungs marked by an irritating cough, is one of the most common conditions treated by primary-care doctors, occurring in about 5 percent of adults each year.

Two Virginia Commonwealth University doctors, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, said an exhaustive review of existing research studies and clinical trials turned up no evidence to support prescribing antibiotics for short-term bronchitis.

This is because, they stated, almost all cases are viral infections and do not respond to antibiotics.

They also found little evidence that cough medicine, also prescribed in most acute bronchitis cases, had any value.

Courtesy Reuters

Omega-3s may cut colorectal cancer risk in men

Men who eat fish at least five times a week could slash the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 40 per cent, compared to men who ate fish less than once a week, Harvard researchers told the American Association for Cancer Research’s Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meeting.

The new research, by scientists at Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital, analysed data from 22,071 participants in the Physicians' Health Study (PHS), a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial primarily designed to investigate the effect of aspirin and beta-carotene supplements on development of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Almost 10 per cent of the men ate fish less than once a week, 31 per cent ate it less than two times a week, 48 per cent ate fish less than five times a week, and about 11 per cent ate it five times or more a week.

After an average of 19.4 years of follow-up, they calculated that five or more servings of fish a week was associated with a 40 per cent reduction in colorectal cancer risk, compared to men who ate fish less than once a week.

The relative risk of eating fish 2-5 times a week was 20 per cent lower, and 13 per cent lower among participants who ate fish less than twice a week.

Steve - while it is a stretch for many of us to eat fish five times weekly, a great alternative is fish or cod liver oil.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pancreatic cancer linked to high sugar intake

A study published last week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who drink large quantities of fizzy drinks or add sugar to coffee or tea run a higher risk of developing cancer of the pancreas.

This 80,000 person study showed that those who drank fizzy or syrup-based drinks twice daily or more ran a 90 percent risk of getting cancer of the pancreas than those who never drank them. The risk was 70 percent higher for those who added sugar to their drinks about five times daily.

Bonnie - this was a huge population study. I have said for years that sugar feeds cancer. The pancreas is particularly vulnerable because it is the organ that secretes and regulates insulin. Health professionals should warn their cancer patients to curb the sugar even the minute they are diagnosed.

So keep in mind when you see all of these positive studies on coffee and tea, they do not take into include added sugar or blended mochas!

Trans fats adversely affect blood levels

In yet another study condemning trans fats, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that a person consuming 4 grams of trans fats in a daily diet that consisted of 2,000 calories had triple the risk of heart disease of a person consuming 2.6 grams of trans fats in a 2,000-fat calorie diet.

Earlier studies have shown a link between trans fats and heart disease, but the Harvard study is the first to show that people with the highest trans fats in their diet also had the highest levels of trans fats embedded in their red blood cells.

The study, reported Tuesday at the American Heart Association scientific session, found that high trans fat levels in the blood are also associated with increased levels of low density lipoproteins, the so-called bad cholesterol, and low levels of high density lipoproteins, the helpful cholesterol.

The study involved blood samples collected in 1989-90 from 30,000 participants of the Nurses' Health Study. "Our bodies do not need trans fats and this research shows they are not good for our health," Dr, Qi Sun said.

Bonnie - folks, 4 grams of trans fats in the Standard American Diet is very little. One order of french fries is double that! Let's get these out of our food supply.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Antioxidant Therapies Do Not Interfere with Radiation Treatment

Cancer patients can get the vital nutritional benefits from taking antioxidants without the risk of interfering with radiation treatment, according to research findings being presented this weekend at the Society of Integrative Oncology's Third International Conference in Boston.

The study, Effect of Concomitant Naturopathic Therapies on Clinical Tumor Response to External Beam Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer, was conducted by researchers at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and reviewed PSA levels of prostate cancer patients after receiving radiation therapy. Researchers found no difference between patients taking antioxidants and those who did not. Antioxidants used in the study included green tea extract, melatonin, high-potency multivitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E.

"This study provides evidence that antioxidants as a complementary therapy in cancer treatment do not interfere with external beam radiation therapy," said Timothy Birdsall, ND, vice president of integrative medicine for Cancer Treatment Centers of America and lead author of the paper. "Antioxidants are one of many complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies that are crucial in today's fight against cancer."

Fish Oil Linked to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

A substance found in fish oil may be associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias, researchers reported yesterday. The scientists found that people with the highest blood levels of an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, were about half as likely to develop dementia as those with lower levels. The substance is one of several omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fatty fish and, in small amounts, in some meats. It is also sold in fish oil or DHA supplements. The researchers looked for a reduced risk associated with seven other omega-3 fatty acids, but only DHA had any effect. The study, in the November issue of The Archives of Neurology, used data from the Framingham Heart Study to follow 899 initially healthy participants, with a median age of 76, for an average of more than nine years. People in this top one-quarter in DHA levels had a 47 percent reduced risk of developing dementia, even after controlling for body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, smoking status and other known or suspected risks. Those in the bottom three-quarters in DHA level showed no detectable difference in risk. People who ate two or more servings of fish a week reduced their risk for dementia by 39 percent, but there was no effect on the risk for dementia among those who ate less than that.

Courtesy NY Times

Steve - tell us something we don't know. The researchers say that more research still needs to be done. I don't know what else they need to look at! There has been more research on DHA than almost any nutrient on the market. There is a reason why doctors have been getting into the act and recommending fish oil. It works!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ignoring climate change will cost countries billions and lead to food scarcity

The Stern Review, commissioned by the UK's chancellor in July last year and published last week, is the most comprehensive study ever on the economics of climate change.

Pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were 280ppm CO2 equivalent (CO2e). The current concentration is 430ppm CO2e. Unabated climate change, caused by CO2 emissions, risks raising average temperatures by over 5C from pre-industrial levels.

Such changes will transform the physical geography of our planet. Agricultural practices would be catastrophically altered beyond recognition in many parts of the world, as the UN's current climate change conference in Nairobi confirms.

A temperature increase of just 2C would dramatically decrease productivity in many parts of the world. Such a rise might raise agricultural productivity in colder climates no one really knows for sure. But the net effect would likely be a decline in output especially in the poorer south.

What's more, low-lying agricultural areas will increasingly be more susceptible to flooding. This will pose a significant challenge to farmers especially as most attention will be focused on protecting built-up areas rather than the countryside.

The Stern review estimates that the costs of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change can be limited to around 1 per cent of global GDP each year. People would pay a little more for carbon-intensive goods, but economies could continue to grow strongly.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dairy firms unite to fight milk critics

Top dairy firms around the world, backed by Britain’s biggest supermarket, will work together to promote the health qualities of milk as concerns rise over a growing anti-dairy league.

A new Global Dairy Forum, established at the recent International Dairy Federation summit, aims to co-ordinate research and promotions to improve dairy products’ image.

Dairy products and especially milk, once the embodiment of a healthy upbringing, have come under threat from several reports and high-profile figures linking them to disorders and diseases.

Bonnie - get ready for the propaganda onslaught!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Target goes organic

Target is launching a private label organics line. Archer Farms organic collection will include a variety of items. Additionally, the produce departments at all Super Targets (140 nationwide), are now certified organic by the USDA.

Dried plums offer natural antioxidant alternatives for meat

"We found that dried plums, when pureed, actually have a very good antioxidant capacity," said lead researcher, Professor Jimmy Keeton, from Texas A&M.

Interest is growing in plant-derived food additives as replacements to synthetic antioxidants like butylhydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylhydroxytoluene (BHT) to slow down the oxidative deterioration of food.

Indeed, according to a 2003 report by Frost and Sullivan, the synthetic antioxidant market is in decline, while natural antioxidants, such as herb extracts (particularly rosemary), tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbates (vitamin C) are growing, pushed by easier consumer acceptance and legal requirements for market access.

The new research, funded by the California Dried Plum Board, has looked into the effects of dried plums and plum juice in ready-to-eat meat products, like pre-cooked pork sausages, roast beef and ham, said Keeton, to see which of those products will respond most effectively as antioxidants.

"We found that pre-cooked and uncured products like sausages and roast beef actually respond the best," he said.

Typically, the oxidative deterioration of meat and meat products is caused by the degradation reactions of fats and pigments. Oxidation processes in food can lead to organoleptic deterioration in taste, colour and texture.

Weight gain between pregnancies poses risks

The study, which appeared in the Sept. 30 issue of The Lancet, used the records of more than 150,000 Swedish women who had first and second consecutive births from 1992 through 2001. The researchers calculated body mass index, or BMI, at the beginning of the first pregnancy and at the start of the second.

Compared with women who gained less than one unit of BMI between pregnancies, those who gained three or more were twice as likely to have gestational diabetes, 76 percent more likely to have gestational hypertension, 30 percent more likely to have a Caesarean delivery and 63 percent more likely to have a stillbirth. The more weight they gained, the more likely they were to have an adverse outcome.

Courtesy NY Times

Babies with low iron levels grow up impaired: two studies

Children who had low levels of iron as infants grow up with brain deficiencies -- even if they get early treatment, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

A study of 185 Costa Rican teenagers shows that babies with the worst iron deficiency never recovered on tests of learning, memory and thinking and the poorest of these children worsened as they got older.

The report, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, shows the importance of early nutrition for babies, the researchers said.

"If direct and indirect effects of early iron deficiency on the brain disrupted or delayed basic developmental processes, there could be a snowball effect," said Dr. Betsy Lozoff of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who led the study.

Babies with low iron levels were given supplements but some never got up to normal levels, even though the treatment took care of the worst cases, diagnosed as anemia, in all the infants.

A second study in the same journal found that children who kept drinking cow's milk from bottles past the age of a year were more likely to be iron-deficient than babies the same age who drank from a cup.

Dr. Trenna Sutcliffe of the University of Toronto and colleagues tested 150 healthy children, aged 12 to 38 months, who drank unfortified cow milk.

They found that 37 percent of the bottle-fed babies and 18 percent of the cup-fed children had lower than desired iron levels.

"The bottle may act as a vehicle for excessive milk consumption, which may compromise iron absorption or the intake of iron-rich foods or juices," the researchers wrote.

Courtesy of Maggie Fox, Reuters

Bonnie - this is such an important issue that receives so little attention. Kudos to Maggie for addressing it. Iron is essential for babies neurological growth. Talk to your physician or licensed health professional about how to make sure you are getting enough iron during pregnancy as well as during your baby earliest months of life.