Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Tai Chi: Gentle Exercise

For over 2,000 years, Tai Chi has provided a non-competitive, gentle, and self-paced form of exercise. The benefits go beyond basic exercise. It is used as a therapy for chronic pain and limited mobility, but its greatest power is preventive. Small studies have shown that it can reduce blood pressure, epsiodes of anxiety and depression, and symptoms of attention deficit disorder.

Bonnie - I love it when something comes along that nourishes body, mind, and spirit with no side effects. There's certainly a long history of safety!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Mercury levels in a new light

They ate fish during pregnancy — lots of it. But their children are now teenagers and show no signs that their high levels of mercury exposure while in the womb led to any problems with intellectual development.

"Everyone on this team was so sure that we would find adverse effects from high levels of mercury," said Philip W. Davidson, professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. "It was a shock. We didn't believe it. The kids are almost 16, and we still have yet to see a problem."

Davidson's work was presented earlier this month at the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science meeting in St. Louis. He and colleagues from the Ministry of Health in Seychelles have been following 770 children whose mothers were tested during pregnancy for their exposure to mercury from fish. Women from this group of islands in the western Indian Ocean consume 10 times the fish that Americans do.

The study was designed to test the effects of mercury on the developing fetus and then follow the child to see if it affected development. The concern was born in the 1950s when a factory in Japan dumped high levels of mercury in the water, which led to children being born with developmental abnormalities. This was an acute poisoning from massive levels of mercury, but it left open another question: Can low-level, chronic mercury exposure be harmful to the developing fetus?

"This is good news," said Conrad Shamlaye, an epidemiologist with the Ministry of Health in Seychelles. "If people ate 10 times the level of fish with no problem, then Americans should not worry about consuming fish."

There continues to be controversy over mercury exposure — both from fish and from man-made pollutants. The Food and Drug Administration has studied the issue and has tried to educate the public about the importance of the nutrients in fish while trying to minimize exposure to mercury.

Many environmental groups have advised that pregnant women and children younger than 6 limit their intake of canned tuna, fresh tuna, swordfish and shark. These environmentalists say the FDA's evaluation program for mercury contamination is inadequate.

Mercury enters the atmosphere and drops into lakes, rivers and oceans. But about 85% of the mercury pollution in the United States is caused by power plants that burn coal and incinerators that burn trash that contains mercury.

The University of Rochester researchers have continued to conduct neuropsychological tests on the Seychelles children.

"We have seen problems in other studies," said Jason Babbie, a senior environmental policy analyst for the New York Public Interest Research Group. "It is incumbent to act on the side of caution."

Davidson said there could be several explanations for the surprising findings. One is the amount of mercury consumed from fish "may be just too low to cause problems," he said. This study found high levels of mercury in tests of the mothers' hair, a good indicator of what both mothers and fetuses were exposed to. Another possibility: Fish may contain micronutrients that support the developing brain and prevent the potential problems of mercury exposure.

The team has been conducting another study in the same region on another group of pregnant mothers and their children, who are now about 4. In addition to studying mercury levels, they are studying the blood for other nutrients taken from fish, including omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, taurine, choline and protein.

By Jamie Talan

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pain patients often suffer in silence

By Will Boggs, MD, Reuters

More than 20 percent of patients with chronic pain do not seek physician care for their pain, according to a report.

"We need to get over what for many people appeared to be the 'don't ask, don't tell' mentality about chronic pain," Dr. Barbara P. Yawn from Olmsted Medical Center, Rochester, Minnesota told Reuters Health.

Among 3575 individuals who responded to a mailed questionnaire, 2302 reported having chronic pain and 2221 answered relevant questions. The investigators found that 497 of these patients (22.4 percent) said that they had not informed their doctors about their pain.

Of these silent pain sufferers, 70.6 percent had moderate or severe pain, 48.9 percent had pain for eight days or more per month, and 40.6 percent met both of these criteria.

About one quarter of them reported at least moderate interference with general activity and sleep, the results indicate. Vocal pain sufferers were more likely to report interference with general activity and sleep.

The survey showed that 78.9 percent of the silent sufferers used over-the-counter pain medications (compared with 56.3 percent of vocal sufferers), but only 5 percent used prescribed pain medications (compared with 35.2 percent of vocal sufferers).

Silent sufferers made fewer health care visits per year than their vocal counterparts (5.2 vs 8.6), the report indicates.

"I think we need to reassure our patients (probably by example) that we will listen to concerns about chronic pain and take those concerns seriously," Yawn said, and "that we do have alternatives to the 'stronger' pain medications that can cause side effects and have the potential for addiction."

"I think it is important to determine if the chronic pain is interfering with work, play, or sleep and if it is, try to help," Yawn commented. "We also need to know when patients are able to deal with the pain on their own and don't need us--but I would prefer they have the confidence to ask us when it is interfering with activities they want to do."

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, February 2006.

Bonnie and Steve - Many chronic pain sufferers are silent because they are not confident their doctors can remedy the pain. Doctors do not look at their diets as being triggers of pain. After band-aid approaches wear off, patients usually have nowhere else to turn except surgical procedures. We were truly shocked by the response we received after our Pain Relief Diet story aired on WGN News this month. The two most common things we heard were: 1) I never thought about the connection between food and pain. 2) Why didn't my doctor tell me about this?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Campbells to reduce sodium in products

Campbell Soup Company will reduce sodium by at least 25% in some of their top-selling soups. What are they using in its place? Sea salt, which is naturally lower in sodium, and has other trace minerals that lowers its hypertensive effect. Conventional salt is bleached and 'chemicalized' during processing. Sea Salt is not.

Now granted, they are not removing all conventional sodium from their products. It is a blend of sea salt and conventional salt. Although, Campbell's postulates that in the future, all of their products could be exclusively made with sea salt.

Still, their products contain too much sodium, artificial colors and flavors, MSG, sugar, and chemicals. If we could just get them to remove these as well?????

Bonnie and Steve

Glucosamine Chondroitin Intervention Trial (GAIT) results

Despite the mostly negative headlines on television stations and in newspapers, let us sort through the results tactfully. In fact, if you read most of the quotes from physician's in these reports, they are pleased by the results and see no reason not to keep recommending glucosamine/chondroitin.

Nevertheless, here are the exact words from The New England Journal of Medicine's study.

Results The mean age of the patients was 59 years, and 64 percent were women. Overall, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate were not significantly better than placebo in reducing knee pain by 20 percent. As compared with the rate of response to placebo (60.1 percent), the rate of response to glucosamine was 3.9 percentage points higher, the rate of response to chondroitin sulfate was 5.3 percentage points higher, and the rate of response to combined treatment was 6.5 percentage points higher. The rate of response in the celecoxib control group was 10.0 percentage points higher than that in the placebo control group. For patients with moderate-to-severe pain at baseline, the rate of response was significantly higher with combined therapy than with placebo (79.2 percent vs. 54.3 percent). Adverse events were mild, infrequent, and evenly distributed among the groups.

When you read the fine point, you see that glucosamine/chondroitin was quite effective (25% reduction) for the group that is supposed to be taking them, those with moderate to severe arthritis pain. We rarely recommend glucosamine/chondrotin as a preventive or first option for reducing mild arthritis pain. It can be more easily remedied with omega-3 fish oil and dietary modification. Moderate to severe pain usually means that there is significant degradation of joints and cartilage. Glucosamine and chondroitin have shown to help repair and minimize further degradation of the joints and cartilage. Even though the target was 20% for all participants, we are not surprised that those with mild arthritis showed only single digit improvements. What is more shocking is that celecoxib (Celebrex), whose family of drugs have come under scrutiny over the last year, showed only a 10% improvement.

As we have said many times, glucosamine/chondroitin is not for everyone. It should only be used for those with moderate to severe arthritis pain. We have many clients who cannot tolerate glucsoamine/chondroitin because of allergy to shellfish, sensitivity to sulfur derivatives, and its acidic nature. There are other first line therapies for mild arthritis pain.

Bonnie and Steve

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Doubts cast over value of low-calorie sweeteners

A lack of convincing evidence means that firm conclusions on the role of artificial sweeteners in weight loss cannot yet be made, according to a scientist.

Professor David Benton of the University of Wales, Swansea, conducted a review of the scientific evidence looking at the effect of artificial sweeteners in weight control and energy intake.

Publishing his findings in Nutrition Research Reviews, he concluded that there would appear to be little long-term benefit for people of normal body weight.

It is widely believed that replacing sugars with artificial sweeteners can help reduce calorie intake and aid weight loss. As a result, sales of foods and drinks sweetened with artificially sweeteners are at an all time high.

This would appear to be just the tip of the iceberg as more and more artificially sweetened products are continually hitting the shelves. But if Benton is correct, then this low-calorie craze could end up having little or no impact on the current obesity crisis.

Courtesy of nutraingredients.com

Prevention: Breast-Feeding, to Keep Infant Infections at Bay

Two additional months of full breast-feeding may make a big difference in the number of upper respiratory infections a child suffers.

A new study has found that babies whose mothers stopped breast-feeding them between the ages of 4 months and 6 months had a risk of recurrent middle ear infections twice as great and a risk of pneumonia four times as great as babies who were exclusively breast-fed until 6 months or older.

The study, published in February in Pediatrics, followed the children until they were 2 years old.

Stopping full breast-feeding at 4 months increased the risk of infection even more than day care attendance or exposure to smoke.

"I was a little surprised that the effect was so large," said Dr. Caroline J. Chantry, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Davis, and the study's lead author.

The longer the duration of breast-feeding, the study found, the greater the protection, and the protective effect endured until the children were 2, even when exclusive breast-feeding stopped at 6 months.

Courtesy of the New York Times

Monday, February 20, 2006

Computer Lets Parents Track Kids' Eating

A student slides a tray toward the cafeteria cash register with a healthy selection: a pint of milk, green beans, whipped sweet potatoes and chicken nuggets — baked, not fried. But then he adds a fudge brownie.

When he punches in his code for the prepaid account his parents set up, a warning sounds: "This student has a food restriction."

Back goes the brownie as the cashier reminds him that his parents have declared all desserts off-limits.

This could be a common occurrence at Houston schools when the district becomes one of the largest in the nation with a cafeteria automation system that lets parents dictate — and track — what their kids get.

Primero Food Service Solutions, developed by Houston-based Cybersoft Technologies, allows parents to set up prepaid lunch accounts so children don't have to carry money, said Ray Barger, Cybersoft's director of sales and marketing.

It also shows the cashier any food allergies or parent-set diet restrictions for his or her account, and the student is not allowed to buy an offending item.

Parents also can go online to track their child's eating habits and make changes.

The system already is being used in schools in Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee, as well as other Texas cities. Several other companies have similar cafeteria monitoring programs at other schools.

Courtesy of AP

Rev up your metabolism with lean protein

By Sally Squires
Special to The LA Times

February 20, 2006

The weight loss world is full of claims, rarely proven, that some pill or potion can help "burn calories while you sleep." But a recent study reports that this may, in fact, be possible — simply by eating more lean protein.

Dutch researchers have reported for the first time that consuming nearly a third of one's daily calories as lean protein — for example, lean meats or poultry without the skin — revs up a person's metabolism during sleep. And the benefits aren't just nocturnal. The researchers also found that higher protein intake boosted the burning of calories and fat during the day.

Plus, when the study's participants, who were all women of healthy weight, ate more protein, they said they felt fuller, more satisfied and less hungry than when they consumed a diet with the typical amount of protein, about 10% of calories.

The findings suggest that adding lean protein to your daily fare "enables you to reach the same level of satiety that you are used to with about 80% of your normal energy intake," notes the study's lead author, Margriet Westerterp-Plantenga, an associate professor of human biology at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands. "That means you can eat about 20% less and still have the same satiety…. It's a very easy way to ingest" fewer calories without feeling hungry all the time.

This is not the first study to reveal protein's satiating effects. The same research team found similar results in 1999, but during waking hours. A number of other researchers also report evidence of protein's satiating and calorie-burning properties.

What gives protein its caloric edge? It's more difficult for the body to metabolize protein than fat or carbohydrates.

The body also doesn't store protein as efficiently as it does carbohydrates or fat. So protein is more likely to be burned, a process called thermogenesis. That in turn requires more oxygen and helps you feel satisfied in the hours after eating, Westerterp-Plantenga says.

But the latest findings don't mean it's time to dust off those high-protein, low-carb diet books. The protein-heavy Atkins diet included high fat and in some phases eliminated most fruit and vegetables.

The current study limited fat to about 30% of daily calories, and included 40% of calories as healthy carbohydrates, including fruit and vegetables.

Bonnie and Steve - Just as The Obesity Society discovered late last year, research starting to pile up regarding the importance of at least 30% lean protein in your daily diet. Did the ratios of this study seem familiar? Yes, because, once again, it mirrors our Circle of Health Food Chart exactly!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Our Comments on The New England Journal of Medicine Calcium Study

In so many ways, the results of this study validate so much of what we have been saying about calcium and bone health over the years.

It is not one size fits all -
Bone health is not one size fits all, which is why we are not surprised with this result. If you put everybody on the same amount of calcium and vitamin D, some people will do better, other people worse, and many in the middle, which gives you a fair outcome.

Diet was never taken into account -
This is a key to the study. We don't care how much many supplements you take. If one eats the standard American diet, loaded with acidic and inflammatory food triggers, you are going to lose healthy bone and increase your fracture risk.

The calcium source was carbonate -
The equivalent of swallowing pulverized rock. Your body does not absorb it well. When taking a source that better mirrors the matrix of the bone, like MCHC, it is infinitely better absorbed.

Kidney stones increased -
This is the lynchpin of the study as far as we are concerned. If calcium is being absorbed properly and taken at a dose optimal for the INDIVIDUAL, kidney stones should not be an issue. This should be a clear sign that the calcium carbonate form is poorly absorbed and/or the dose was too much. Malabsorbed calcium can also create calcification in other areas of the body, like the arteries.

Small but significant improvement in bone density -
Some of the calcium carbonate is bound to be absorbed, but most is not and will leech out into other areas of the body.

Did not significantly reduce hip fracture -
Poorly absorbed calcium can do little to avoid fracture when most eat the standard American Diet, which distinigrates bone with excess acidity and inflammatory food triggers.

Magnesium was not used in the study -
It is a travesty that magnesium was not used in addition to the calcium and vitamin D. Magnesium and calcium need to be in balance. Without magnesium, calcium is very poorly absorbed.

Vitamin D dose was too low -
400IU is too low, especially if that is the only supplemental intake one is getting.

Started on postemenopausal women 50 to 79 -
This is probably too late to start the study. Much of the damage to the bone has already been done and it is asking too much for the supplements to reverse the process. Early childhood sets the tone for bone health with diet and adequate vitamin/mineral intake.

With all the aforementioned variables that were not taken into account in this sutdy, it is no wonder that our mantra since we have been in business is, "one size does not fit all." There are many variables that need to be taken into account when assessing bone health. For further information, read our Healthy Bones Action Plan at nutritionalconcepts.com.

Bonnie and Steve

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

FDA re-opens probe into benzene contamination of soft drinks

US food safety authorities have re-opened an investigation closed 15 years ago into soft drinks contaminated with cancer-causing chemical benzene, following evidence the industry has failed to sort out the problem.

A chemist at the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) said testing in recent weeks had revealed some soft drinks contaminated with benzene at levels above the legal limit for water set by the US and Europe.

Benzene is listed as a poisonous chemical shown to increase the risk of leukaemia and other cancers.

The FDA was originally alerted in 1990 to the problem of benzene in soft drinks triggered by the preservative sodium benzoate. It never made the findings public, but came to an arrangement with the US soft drinks association that the industry would “get the word out”.

But in recent months, internal documents and private tests have begun to surface, supported by claims from a former chemist for Cadbury Schweppes, who is now keen to blow the whistle on the health risk involved. He and a US lawyer commissioned new tests that have now prompted the FDA to re-open the case.

These independent tests, performed by a laboratory in New York, found benzene levels in a couple of soft drinks two-and-a-half-times and five times above the World Health Organisation limit for drinking water (10 parts per billion).

The FDA now confirms it has found a similar problem in its own follow-up testing. “There were a few isolated products that have elevated levels. We certainly want to make sure there is some reformulation,” said an FDA chemist.

The problem is caused by two common ingredients – sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) – which can react together to cause benzene formation. It is considered completely separate from other outbreaks of benzene contamination due to faulty packaging in the 1990s.

The two ingredients are still used together in a wide range of soft drinks across the world.

More than 1,500 soft drink products containing sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid or citric acid have been launched across Europe, Latin America and North America since January 2002.

Courtesy of nutraingredeints.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kellogg's using genetically modified soybean oil

Kellogg's announced that in 2006, it will use oil made from genetically modified soybeans in place of the partially hydrogenated oil and saturated fats found in some of its crackers and snacks. The oil, called Vistive and developed by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co., contains no trans fatty acids or saturated fatty acids.

Bonnie - if you consume their products, make sure you read labels. If the product contains Vistive, be extra aware of allergic symptoms. Soy itself is very allergenic, but genetically modified soybeans may present a whole new level of allergy. Pay attention to your body.

McDonald's discloses allergens in french fries

Less than one week after disclosing that their french fries contained more trans fats than they had thought, another revelation was revealed.

McDonald's had said until recently that its fries were free of gluten and milk or wheat allergens and safe to eat for those with dietary issues related to the consumption of dairy items. But the fast-food company quietly added "Contains wheat and milk ingredients" this month to the french fries listing on its Web site.

The company said the move came in response to new rules by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the packaged foods industry, including one requiring that the presence of common allergens such as milk, eggs, wheat, fish or peanuts be reported.

McDonald's director of global nutrition, Cathy Kapica, said its potato suppliers remove all wheat and dairy proteins, such as gluten, which can cause allergic reactions. But the flavoring agent in the cooking oil is a derivative of wheat and dairy ingredients, and the company decided to note their presence because of the FDA's stipulation that potential allergens be disclosed.

"We knew there were always wheat and dairy derivatives in there, but they were not the protein component," she said. "Technically there are no allergens in there. What this is an example of is science evolving" and McDonald's responding as more is learned, she said.

While the company wanted to make consumers aware that fries were derived in part from wheat and dairy sources, she said, those who have eaten the product without problem should be able to continue to do so without incident.

Steve - Do you believe them?

The acknowledgment has stirred anger and some concern among consumers who are on gluten-free diets.

Steve - You think?

Couretsy of AP

Monday, February 13, 2006

Alzheimer's risk 'is 80% genetic'

In the US study, published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and colleagues identified 392 pairs of twins where one or both had Alzheimer's from the Swedish Twin Registry. All were aged 65 or over.

The researchers looked at how common it was for identical twins to both have Alzheimer's, or for only one to be affected. They also looked at the same patterns in non-identical twins.

It was more common for identical twins to both have Alzheimer's compared to non-identical, and risk rates in the groups gave the researchers their estimate of how significant genetic factors are.

The researchers estimated heritability - what proportion of risk for a disease across a population is genetic - for Alzheimer's to be between 58% and 79%.

Writing in the journal, they said: "In the largest twin study to date, we confirmed that heritability for Alzheimer's is high and that the same genetic factors are influential for both men and women.

"However, non-genetic risk factors also play an important role and might be the focus for interventions to reduce disease risk, or delay disease onset."

They added: "If individuals are worried that they may be at elevated genetic risk due to family history and are looking for lifestyle suggestions, possibly the most reliable advice we can offer today is that a healthy heart is related to a healthy brain."

The study also found that genetic factors appeared to determine when a person developed the condition.

Two-thirds of adults aged 65 years and older with dementia have Alzheimer's. The number of cases is expected to rise with the growing older adult population.

Steve - the bold line says it all. The heart and the brain are integrally linked.

It is not a guarantee that the genes that contribute to Alzheimer's will express themselves. Many genes that create negative health effects need to be "switched on." If one can do the right things with diet and lifestyle, it has been shown that negative gene expression can be kept at bay.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Feds Recommend Warnings on ADHD Drugs

Federal science advisers voted narrowly Thursday to recommend the most serious type of warning labels for Ritalin and other stimulants that are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The 8-7 vote, with one abstention, by the Food and Drug Administration committee was to recommend adding "black box" safety warnings to ADHD drugs. Doctors prescribe the increasingly popular drugs to about 2 million children and 1 million adults a month.

The FDA isn't required to follow the recommendations of its advisory committees but typically does.

The agency's own data suggested a link between the drugs and an increased risk of sudden death and serious cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks.

A federal health official said Thursday that there was a strong possibility the drugs may be linked to the deaths of 25 people.

The deaths occurred between 1999 and 2003, according to an FDA report. Nineteen of them involved children. The report also detailed 54 cases of serious cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, stroke, hypertension, palpitations and arrhythmia, in adults and children being treated with ADHD drugs.

Some of these patients had pre-existing heart conditions or hypertension.

Courteys AP

Bush aims to cut children's health study

Last March, we lambasted the government for launching a $2.7 billion National Children's Study to find out 21 years later what makes kids unhealthy. Our reasoning was clear: they need to eat better, exercise, limit exposure to toxins, etc. One does not need to spend $2.7 billion to discover this.

This week, President bush decided to cut the study out of the budget. Of course, his reasoning did not fall in line with ours. Bush was simply looking for ways to trim the fat from the federal budget.

Although Bush does not have the final word, Congress does, and it looks like this study is dead. Why doesn't Bush put that $2.7 billion in incentives to make farmers to grow more organic fruits and vegetables!


From March 2005...

Government to find what makes kids unhealthy -
The federal government is launching a 21- year National Children's Study, in which researchers will track 100,000 kids in 96 counties from birth to their 21st birthdays to discover what makes them unhealthy.

More than 2,4000 scientists have helped design the $2.7 billion project, the largest and most expensive long-term children's study in history.

Saw Palmetto may not help BPH

According to a small 225 participant study that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, saw palmetto did not reduce moderate-severe symptoms asociated with an enlarged prostate. This goes against results from more than 20 studies that have shown promising findings. Saw palmetto had no side effects or safety issues throughout the study.

Bonnie - while this is a study to keep a eye on, it is way too early to write-off saw palmetto. I have prescribed it successfully for years for treatment of mild symptoms and as a preventative. Researchers should also increase the dosage in future studies for moderate to severe symptoms because 160 mg is considered a pretty low dose.

Vitamin D may inhibit prostate cancer growth

Vitamin D can slow down the spread of prostate cancer by limiting the activity of certain enzymes, US and Taiwanese researchers report.

The in vitro study, reported in the journal Carcinogenesis (Vol. 27, pp. 32-42), showed that vitamin D, in the form of the highly active 1alpha, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-VD), inhibited the function of protease enzymes that are involved in tumour invasion.

The body of evidence for the benefits of vitamin D against prostate cancer is rapidly growing, but the scientists do not recommend taking high doses of the vitamin warning against increased calcium blood levels and kidney problems.

Our take on the landamark low fat diet study

Once again, I hate to say we told you so.

Researchers of the Women's Health Initiative, one of the largest (48,835 participants), most expensive government studies ($415 million), found that eating less fat failed to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease among older women.

Suprised, no? Does that mean you can run out to McDonald's and scarf down their french fries (which McDonald's recently "discovered" had more saturated and trans fat then they knew of)? No.

Like I have said for years, fat is not the problem. As long as you eat saturated fats in moderation, elminate all trans fats, and get your daily servings of healthy fat, you will be fine. Your body needs fat in your diet!

This is sweet vindication for the tireless conversations I put in with clients and public health officials throughout the 90's.

So where does the focus turn to now for reducing cancer and heart disease? Carbohydrates. Particulary those of the grain variety like wheat, corn, and soy. And, of course, the biggie...SUGAR! It has been my war cry for years and years. I hope we do not have to wait for another long running study to prove this. Of course, the Women's Health Initiative study puts a major crimp in 2005 MyPyramid's plans. As I said last year, their call for more grain carbs was another disasterous error!


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

We smell a rat!

In the never ending power struggle between government oversight over Big Pahrma, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Lester M. Crawford, whose sudden resignation last fall after less than three months in office remains a mystery, has joined a lobbying firm that specializes in food and drug issues.

Crawford is listed as "senior counsel" to the firm Policy Directions Inc. Among the companies and organizations listed as clients are Altria Group Inc. (formerly Philip Morris Companies), Merck & Co. Inc., the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA,) the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the American Feed Industry Association.

When he resigned in September, Crawford said simply that it was time for someone else to lead the agency. Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) have asked the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general to look into whether Crawford resigned because of an undisclosed financial conflict of interest.

Crawford is barred from lobbying former colleagues at the FDA for a year, but he can give clients strategic advice about food and drug issues and can lobby members of Congress.

Steve - hmmm...a joke? No. Unfortunately it happens all the time. Ah, Washington politics.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Babies go through anti-depressant withdrawal too

When pregnant women take anti-depressants, their newborns are likely to feel symptoms of withdrawal, the second negative study published on antidepressants in a week. Last week's New England Journal of Medicine study showed that babies of mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy had six times the risk of a rare but life-threatening lung problem.

Researchers at the Children's Medical Center of Israel found that nearly one-third of 60 infants whose mothers had taken anti-depressants while pregnant had "neonatal abstinence symptoms," which include high-pitched crying, tremors, and disturbed sleep. Children of mothers who were not taking the anti-depressants did not experience such symptoms.

Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, February 2006

Latest alternative sweetener scores

We rate the hottest sweeteners on the market. You may find these names in food products as well as tabletop sugar alternatives. This is not a complete list, mostly what you will see in various health foods. Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin are not listed because we have been very outspoken with our distaste for these substances.


Inulin and oligofructose - natural dietary fibers extracted from the chicory root. Some are sensitive to chicory, but otherwise, a safe ingredient.

Stevia - we have loved stevia for years as a tabletop sugar alternative; it has a great safety record with our clients; it also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels

Palatinose - derived from the sugar beet, then is treated with microbial enzymes; it is very low glycemic and kind to teeth

Xylitol - dervied from corn, which rules this out for many; however, is very safe, helpful in preventing tooth decay, and can be used in a wide variety of products; must be eaten in moderation because it may create intestinal disturbance


Isomalt - a sugar alcohol that can create intestinal disturbances

Shugr - a sweetener blend (popular trend at the moment) of erythritol, maltodextrin, tagatose, and sucralose. A house of horrors!

Sunett - artificial sweetener blend. Anything that has a lng shelf-life and does not degrade over time scares us.

Tagatose - natural sweetener usually derived from milk and carries a high pH.

Bonnie and Steve

Magazine publishes special edition on Autism

Mothering Magazine, always a supporter of new therapies for autism, has published their latest update in the January/February issue. You can purchase it at newsstands or go to mothering.com.

Declining mineral levels in food suggest potential crisis

According to research published by the UK Food Commission this month, food mineral content studied in 1940 compared to 2002 show a stark change for the worse.

For example, the iron content in 15 varieties of meat had decreased on average 47%, with some showing a decline as high as 80%. The iron content in milk had dropped over 60%.

Mineral loss was seen across the board, icnluding crucial nutrients like magnesium, zinc, calcium, and copper. One would need to eat 4 carrots now to get the same magnesium content as one carrot in 1940.

Intensive farming on exhausted land and manufacturing/processing methods appear to be two likely causes of the mineral decline. The food industry is under intense pressure to produce cheap, instead of nutrient-dense food.

The UK Food Standards Agency, which publishes this report, admits that something is seriously wrong with the levels of nutritional awareness in Europe.

Bonnie - until growers and processors can reverse their shift from making cheap, nutrient-less food to more nutrient-dense food, we need to supplement our diet with nutrients. At the least, it is crucial to supplement with a high potency multivitamin/mineral. Extra calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, omega 3, and probiotics are other essential nutrients. Of course, I always recommend seeking the advice of a licensed health professional to assess your individual nutritional needs.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Ginger may prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting

Medical data suggest that at a dose of at least 1 gram of ginger is effective in preventing the nausea and vomiting that often afflicts patients after undergoing surgery. Researchers from Thailand pooled data from five clinical trials that involved a total of 363 patients. Compared with placebo, ginger cut the risk of nausea and vomiting in the 24 hours after surgery by 31 percent.

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, January 2006.

Mediterranean diet helps keep the weight off

People who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet are 60 per cent less likely to be obese, Greek researchers have said.

The diet, rich in cereals, fruits, legumes and whole grains, fish and olive oil, has been linked to longer life, less heart disease, and protection against some cancers. The diet’s main nutritional components include beta-carotene, vitamin C, tocopherols, polyphenols, and essential minerals.

The cross-sectional study surveyed the diet of 1514 men and 1528 women with an average age of 45. The diets were evaluated using a self-administered, validated food frequency questionnaire. Daily or weekly intake of 156 different foods was reported, along with alcohol consumption and physical activity.

“Greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 51 per cent lower odds of being obese and a 59 per cent lower odds of having central obesity,” wrote lead author Demosthenes Panagiotakos in the journal Nutrition (available online February 2006, doi:10.1016/j.nut.2005.11.004).

Stress And Emotions Can Negatively Effect Heart Health

Research shows that 20 percent of Americans are worried that stress will affect their health, yet 36 percent say they deal with stress by eating or drinking alcohol. While these behaviors may reduce stress in the short term, they contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle that can negatively affect your body and are proven risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

"Achieving a healthy lifestyle comes from adopting behaviors over time that help to manage stress in effective ways that don't at the same time take a toll on your physical health and body," says Russ Newman, Ph.D., J.D., APA executive director for professional practice.

Although heart disease is a serious condition that requires constant monitoring, there are many lifestyle and behavioral changes you can do to manage stress and reduce your risk for cardiovascular problems.

* Identify the sources of stress in your life and look for ways to reduce and manage them.

* Talk to your health professional. No two people are alike, and some treatment or risk reduction strategies may be inappropriate or even harmful if you attempt to do too much too quickly.

* Avoid trying to fix every problem at once, if possible. Focus instead on changing one existing habit (e.g., eating habits, inactive lifestyle). Set a reasonable initial goal and work toward meeting it.

* Don't ignore the symptoms of depression. Feelings of sadness or emptiness, loss of interest in ordinary or pleasurable activities, reduced energy, and eating and sleep disorders are just a few of depression's many warning signs. If they persist for more than two weeks, discuss these issues with your heart doctor. It may be that a psychologist working in collaboration with your physician would be beneficial.

* Enlist the support of friends, family, and work associates. Talk with them about your condition and what they can do to help. Social support is particularly critical for overcoming feelings of depression and isolation during recovery from a heart attack.

* If you feel overwhelmed by the challenge of managing the behaviors associated with heart disease, consult a qualified health professional. He or she can help develop personal strategies for setting and achieving reasonable health improvement goals, as well as building on these successes to accomplish other more ambitious objectives. IN particular, a psychologist can also help clarify the diagnosis of depression and work with the physician to devise a suitable treatment program.

Courtesy of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Friday, February 03, 2006

Who's to blame for junk food still being in school?

Stephanie Rose walked into the lunchroom of the Idaho Falls High School with a homemade chart and tallied what she found: Canisters of potato chips. Heaps of candy. Cellophane-wrapped cakes. High-caffeine sports drinks.

Twelve percent of the foods offered by the district a la carte program were granola or cereal bars, fruits, vegetables, or low-fat chips or pretzels. The other 88 percent included nachos, corn dogs, chips and cookies.

"For 25 cents you can buy 310 calories," said Rose, a nurse and diabetes educator who attended Idaho Falls High in the 1980s, when she had to take a helping of beans on her plate whether she wanted them or not.

These days, the school promotes "Corn dogs: two for a dollar," she says. "Good Lord, what are you trying to do here?"

Rose studied the food offerings for a school wellness committee, and she's campaigning to get rid of junk food. But she's facing opposition from some parents and school officials who say that if they ban school snacks, the kids will just buy them somewhere else. It will also cut off money that pays for equipment and programs.

As in the rest of the country, Idaho residents are getting fatter. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2003 that nearly 60 percent of adults in Idaho were considered overweight or obese. Rose said one-third of the patients she sees who are at risk for diabetes are under the age of 18.

The Idaho Falls district wellness committee is the result of a federal law that directs all school districts to have a policy in place by the end of June. But the law has no teeth in it; nothing happens if districts don't come up with a plan.

For now, the Idaho Falls committee is proposing minor changes — banning sales of candy in the lunchroom and limiting the size of sodas sold in vending machines.

"It's going to sort out the school districts who care about their kids from the ones who don't," she said.

Courtesy of AP

Bonnie - this is what we have run into when we have consulted for several school districts. Many of the superintendents want to make major changes, but back down when confronted by parents. It is not so much the kids as it is the parents. If the kids eat healthier at school, they will start asking questions about why they don't eat healthier at home. Many parents do not want to make the effort to change.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Transcript of WGN Story "Eat Pain Away"

Bonnie & Steve - suffice it to say, we were very pleased with the story. We are truly overjoyed that WGN would put such effort into this. We feel it is so crucial for the public to understand the relationship between food and pain.

Eat Pain Away

Comfort foods are foods that make us feel good. But new evidence shows some foods can actually take away physical pain.

It's not just about filling up to feel good. This is a specific diet packed with foods you have to avoid.

And when we followed a woman in pain who tried the diet, she found with each meal she started to heal.

You can't measure it with a specific medical test, can't chart it against other patients, but when you are in pain you know how bad it is.

"your body aches all the time."

Yet all of the doctors Francee Knachbar went to couldn't put their finger on a cause or a cure, so she suffered, for 15 years.

"I was taking probably four Tylenol every couple of hours cause my body ached so bad and nothing was helping."

Popping pills didn't work. So Francee gave blood in an effort to figure out what was wrong.

"The doctor's offices called and and said your blood looks amazing, everything looks great, your cholesterol is low. You look great."

But she still felt awful. Then she went to a nutritionist.

"Bonnie looked at my blood results and literally she said, well your protein is bad, your sodium's bad, you're lacking magnesium. I mean she just went through list by list of what was wrong and the doctors thought it's perfect."

Dr. Bonnie Minsky knew she was a perfect candidate for the pain-free diet.

"Yes, you can limit the pain. Because there's two big issues with pain. Too much acid in the body and too much inflammation. So we want to asses whether food relationships or missing, key nutrients could improve the situation."

The diet is specific and strict, aimed at eliminating all common pain triggers. That means no excess sugar or carbohydrates, no grains or acidic foods, no yeast producing foods or artificial colors or sweeteners. No preservatives, no fried foods, no trans fats, and no soft drinks.

"The first time when I went to the grocery store it took me two and a half hours, just to try to find the right thing."

Now the pantry is stocked, full of the right foods.

"Crispy brown rice for cereal in the morning."

Cereal without cow's milk that is.

"I can have the rice dream."
But will all this effort make her dream of being pain-free come true?

"I just want to feel like a normal human being."

Two days into the diet. no change. one week..."Still kind of tired and a little achy. Not sleeping great at night."

Then came the two week mark. "Then all of a sudden it was just like - I had energy. I was sleeping well. Um, no body aches."

Cindy Dooley knows the joy and surprise when the pain free diet begins to make you feel better. She followed the food plan three years ago to relieve arthritis symptoms.

"My hands were so swollen and my wrists and my toes and my feet hurt so much that I couldn't even drive."

Medications did help, but cindy didn't want to take steroids indefinitely. She knew she could live with the diet. What she found is, she's living better.

"By the end of the month I was totally pain-free and the next month I got pregnant."

A New baby and a new lease on life. She knows what foods to avoid pears, tomatoes, coffee.-- and which ones she can now enjoy.

"The diet itself, it's only about a month. And it's challenging to do that. But it's not challenging to balance right now, what I'm doing."

Francess is still trying to figure it out. Of all the things she cut out, what was the most harmful. Now comes the time to slowly add foods back into her diet.

"So far I've added back oatmeal - been fine. Red meat has been fine. Yesterday I added back corn and I seem to be okay."

"Everyone has different reactions. Some people have wheat and dairy and that's it. Some people have salisylic acid, nothing else. So we look at it, we don't care if it's an allergy, we don't care if it's an intolerance. If it's producing pain and you reduce it or stay away from it, you're going to be free of the pain."

The complete diet is available from:

Nutritional Concepts
1535 Lake Cook Rd, Suite 204
Northbrook, IL 60062

Copyright © 2006, WGN-TV

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

WGN story on Nutritional Concepts

We are proud to announce that WGN News at Nine will be airing a special Medical Watch segment dedicated to Nutritional Concepts' Pain Relief Diet Action Plan. Please tune in...

Wednesday, February 1 @ 9PM CST
WGN Channel 9 in Chicagoland or check your cable guide for WGN Superstation if outside Chicagoland.

Spa Recipes Now Available!

In honor of our association with Esthetique Wellness Spa,
Bonnie Minsky has created over 100 of the healthiest,
most delectable, pampering spa recipes imaginable.
You can order at www.nutritionalconcepts.com
Here's a sneak peek!

Thai Style Tofu Lettuce Wraps - V (vegetarian)

4 T. rice vinegar
1½ T. unsulphured molasses
4 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. crushed pepper
1/3 c. Tamari Teriyaki (San-J)
1 T. finely grated fresh ginger
2 T. asian sesame oil
8 (4 oz.) tofu squares
1 large european seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into ¼ “ dice
2 c. fresh mung bean sprouts
½ c. cilantro leaves
1 c. chopped roasted peanuts or any nuts
1 head of lettuce

In a small saucepan, mix the vinegar with the molasses and cook over moderate heat, stirring until blended. Add 1 tsp. of the garlic and crushed red pepper and let cool. In a large bowl, mix 3 T. of sweet seasoned vinegar with remaining 3 T. of garlic and teriyaki, ginger, and sesame oil. Set aside ¼ c. of this teriyaki marinade. Add the tofu to the remaining marinade in the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Light a grill or preheat the broiler and position a rack 6 “ from the heat. Remove the tofu from the marinade and let it drain, then grill or broil for about 3 minutes per side, until browned and cooked through. Transfer the tofu to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut the tofu crosswise into ½ “ strips and mound in a bowl. In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber with the remaining sweet seasoned vinegar. Put the bean sprouts, cilantro, and peanuts in separate bowls. Arrange the lettuce leaves in a basket. Let guests wrap the tofu and garnishes in lettuce leaves and pass the teriyaki marinade and cucumber salad separately. SERVES: 6