Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nutritional Concepts Announcement

As of June 1, 2006, Nutritional Concepts is no longer providing services to Esthetique Wellness Spa. There no longer exists an association between the two companies.

USDA weighs label for beef from cattle fed only grass

Courtesy of Matthey Chayes, Chicago Tribune

Under proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, beef farmers could soon be allowed to apply a special "grass-fed" label to their meat. Nutrition activists and government officials say these labels would help consumers ensure that what's called grass-fed actually comes from animals with exclusively grass diets and not some mixture.

To be eligible for the new label, a cattle's energy source would have to be 99 percent grass or other forages under the rules proposed this month.

As it stands now, any producer can label his or her beef grass-fed. Even once the regulations are finalized, producers will be able to label their beef grass-fed, but the new regulations will cover labels with the imprimatur of the USDA.

Most of the beef Americans eat comes from animals who spend the twilight of their lives in feedlots to be "finished"--fattened up with feed consisting largely of corn--before slaughter. Advocates of grass-fed beef call this process unnatural for the animal and say it leads to fatty, less healthful meat.

The specialized beef market has benefited from negative publicity about mad-cow disease and the way traditionally raised beef cattle spend their last days in huge feedlots after being pumped with antibiotics. Activists contend that the antibiotics are necessary only because cows aren't built to eat feed grain that way.

As grass-fed beef becomes more common, Mellon said, research could show more conclusively that the specialized beef is healthier. At the very least, she said, it's less fatty.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said this month that one of the components in grass-fed beef--omega-3 fatty acids--shows promise for treating Alzheimer's disease.

Steve - we have said for years that grass-fed beef is much healthier than conventional beef. The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is much more balanced. In addition, it is the way cattlewere meant to eat. We applaud this effort.

Canadians Healthier Than Americans, Survey Says

Canadians are healthier than Americans, have better access to health care and have fewer unmet health needs, a new study of both countries reveals. The findings come in spite of the fact that the United States spends almost twice as much per capita on health care as Canada, the researchers noted.

"This shows that you can spend much less than we [Americans] do, and deliver much more and better care then we do," said study co-author Dr. David U. Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Mass.

The new study appears to reinforce the findings of a Rand Corporation report issued earlier this month that showed a similar health care gap between the U.S. system and that of Great Britain, which, like Canada, has a universal health care system -- subsidized by tax dollars.

Reporting in the July issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers found that although Canadians smoke more than Americans, Americans are more likely to be inactive and obese, and have higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and lung disease.

Courtesy Health Day News

Bonnie - OK...first Great Britain...and now Canada? I think we're onto something here. If data continues to be exposed showing how other countries are healthier than we are, maybe this will appeal to the competitive spirit of Americans to finally do something! We can't let the Brits and Canadians best us, right? I know, let's not get carried away. It was just a thought.

Significant increase in diabetes prevalence in US

More than one out of every three individuals in the United States have diabetes and another 26 percent have impaired fasting glucose, which increases the risk of developing diabetes, according to the June 2006 issue of Diabetes Care.

The findings are based on an analysis of four years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The study included information on 4,761 adults, age 20 years or older, who were classified according to their glycemic status. Cowie and her team compared data from the 1999-2002 with data from 1988-1994.

"We were surprised by the fact that diagnosed diabetes is increasing," researchers said. "We need to do a better job of diagnosing those one in three who don't know they have it (diabetes) and finding those with impaired fasting glucose."

Courtesy Reuters

Steve - these numbers continue to boggle the mind. The Standard American Diet breeds glucose intolerance. These numbers may get worse after the newest version of the Food Guide Pyramid suggests increasing whole grain consumption.

We could start to reduce these awful statistics if most Americans balanced their food plates. Our Circle of Health is the perfect example for balance: 50% from carbohydrates (2/3 of which from fruits and vegetables), 30% lean protein, 20% healthy fat.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

High calcium mineral waters effective in postmenopausal women

Many postmenopausal women have a calcium intake far below the recommended amount and, in addition to attempting to improve their diet, need a calcium supplement. The aim of the study was to assess the effects of the consumption of a high calcium mineral water on biochemical indices of bone remodeling in postmenopausal women with low calcium intake.

A 6-month randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial was designed to assess the effects of a daily consumption of 1 liter of a high calcium mineral water on serum parathyroid hormone and biochemical markers of bone remodeling in postmenopausal women with a dietary calcium intake lower than 700 mg/day. The placebo group drank 1 liter of a mineral water with a low calcium content. 152 women completed the trial.

The high calcium mineral water was able to lower serum PTH and the indices of bone turnover in postmenopausal women significantly. While warranting further study, high calcium mineral water could contribute to the repair of calcium deficiency and to the reduction of age-related bone loss in this population.

Osteoporosis International, October 2005

Steve - I know it is a little late in discovering this study, but given our passion for suggesting daily consumption of naturally-occurring sparkling water, we felt the need to share this with you. It was also a small study, but statistically relevant nonetheless.

San Faustino and Gerolsteiner are the most commercially available naturally-occurring sparkling mineral waters with high mineral content. We stress naturally-occurring because many sparkling mineral waters on the market (San Pelligrino and Perrier, for example) are infused with carbon dioxide, giving them the bubbly taste, but making the positive effect on bones less.

The mind as a path to comfort for IBS

When a disease is poorly understood, when it's of a distinctly personal nature and when medication doesn't help, there's often little left to do but to suffer in silence.

That's the case for the 15% of Americans — about 25 million people — who have irritable bowel syndrome. Although television commercials and magazine advertisements promise easy relief for a chronically misbehaving gut, many people with the condition know better. The constipation, bloating, diarrhea and gas make their lives miserable, limiting some to short excursions when they leave home at all.

Although the pharmaceutical industry is eagerly pursuing new drug treatments for irritable bowel syndrome, these potentially more effective medications are several years away. Now researchers say the best hope may be the most basic of treatments: lifestyle changes.

Experts meeting last week in Los Angeles for Digestive Disease Week, the world's largest gathering of gastrointestinal health professionals, reported that behavior modification and dietary alterations can significantly ease symptoms of the still little-understood condition.

For example, even a brief, self-help course of cognitive behavior therapy — in which people identify their symptoms' triggers and learn techniques, such as relaxation and thought processes, that can alter the response — significantly helped most patients in one study presented at the meeting. Another study found that 12 sessions of hypnotherapy reduced symptoms in many patients for at least one year.

Dissatisfaction and safety concerns with Lotronex and Zelnorm, the two medications currently approved for IBS has led to a resurgence of interest in how patients can help themselves, said Jeffrey M. Lackner, an assistant professor of medicine at University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

"At this point, there are no drugs that seem to be satisfactory for the full range of symptoms," he said. "The real burden of IBS rests on the shoulders of patients on a day-to-day basis."

Psychotherapies may work just as well, without side effects, to alter the communication between the brain and the gut. In the government-sponsored behavior study presented last week, researchers randomly assigned 59 patients to receive a 10-week, clinic-based behavioral treatment; a four-session home-based program (using a self-study workbook); or nothing.

The behavior therapy goal is to learn new ways to think about the disorder and coping behaviors. For example, patients learn muscle relaxation exercises, which can reduce stress, and how to avoid worrying about having an "attack" out in public.

Overall, 74% of the patients in the 10-week program reported moderate to substantial improvement in symptoms, but so did 73% of the patients in the quicker and less costly, four-session program. A follow-up examination of the patients after three months showed the benefits persisted. Those who got no therapy did not improve.

The manner in which hypnotherapy works is harder to explain, said the lead author of that study, Dr. Magnus Simrén of Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden.

In two studies, IBS patients were randomized to a group receiving hypnotherapy, one receiving education and visits from a nurse or no therapy at all. Just over half of the patients in the hypnotherapy group improved while the patients in the control groups did not.

"I was afraid patients would think this is hocus-pocus, but they were very open to it," Simrén said. "I think we need to address [IBS] with different kinds of therapies. We need new drugs. But we should not only focus on drugs."

Courtesy LA Times

Bonnie - while the focus of this story was on behavior, which is very important, it also mentioned dietary change, which is even more important. Eating incompatible and untolerated foods, and severe nutrient deprivation are often at the root of IBS symptoms. When one makes compatible and tolerant food choices, and corrects nutrient deficiencies, IBS symptoms are reduced. Concurrently, behavioral modification improves for the better.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Diet Counseling Cracks the Top 20!

For the first time, dietary counseling cracked the top 20 rankings of clinical preventive services. Even though it is listed as 19th, this is a major development. Performed by the Partnership for Prevention, Aspirin Chemoprophylaxis was number one, a bit odd considering 25% of the population cannot handle the substance.

Hopefully, dietary counseling will continue to rise up the ladder, because it belongs in the top three.

A daily drink 'only good for men'

Drinking alcohol every day protects against heart disease in men but not in women, Danish research shows.

A study of 50,000 people found that men who drank daily had a 41% reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared with a 7% drop in men who drank once a week.

In women, the risk of heart disease fell by a third with a weekly drink but did not fall further in daily drinkers.

Experts warned the results, published in the British Medical Journal, should not be used to justify heavy drinking.

Previous research has shown that moderate alcohol intake is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, but up until now most studies have been in men.

Men and women aged 50-65 who took part in this study were questioned on their drinking behaviour and then followed for an average of six years.

Women drank an average of five and a half drinks a week, and men consumed 11.

In men, the risk of heart disease fell significantly with increased frequency of drinking - with men who drank a little every day having the lowest risk.

But for women, although drinking on at least one day a week was associated with a 36% reduced risk of heart disease compared to those who drank more rarely, the risk was the same whether women had one drink a week or drank moderately each day.

Steve - positive results from a well designed, large population study. Moderate wine consumption is an ideal dietary choice except for those with sulfa allergy, grape allergy, salicylate sensitivity, or yeast overgrowth.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Study: ADHD drugs send thousands to ERs

Accidental overdoses and side effects from attention deficit drugs likely send thousands of children and adults to emergency rooms, according to the first national estimates of the problem.

Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated problems with the stimulant drugs drive nearly 3,100 people to ERs each year. Nearly two-thirds — overdoses and accidental use — could be prevented by parents locking the pills away, the researchers say.

Other patients had side effects, including potential cardiac problems such as chest pain, stroke, high blood pressure and fast heart rate.

Concerns over those effects have led some doctors to urge the Food and Drug Administration to require a "black box," its most serious warning, on package inserts for drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall. Yet even doctors advising the FDA don't agree on whether that's warranted.

The issue was discussed in a series of letters in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, including some from doctors worried about the dangers of not treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Twenty-five deaths linked to ADHD drugs, 19 involving children, were reported to FDA from 1999 through 2003. Fifty-four other cases of serious heart problems, including heart attacks and strokes, were also reported. Some of the patients had prior heart problems.

This week, the FDA said it is "working diligently" on "labeling changes that we feel accurately reflect the available data and the advice of the committees." The agency declined interview requests.

Courtesy AP

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

US beachgoers at risk from polluted water

An environmental group said on Wednesday it would sue the U.S. government for failing to protect millions of beachgoers from contaminated water.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has moved too slowly to update beach water quality standards and protect people from diarrhea, skin rashes, earaches, pink eye, respiratory infections and other ailments from polluted water.

The agency missed an October 2005 deadline mandated by Congress to revise outdated water quality standards and says it will not be able to finish the job until 2011, the group said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said it had served the EPA with a notice of its intent to sue in 60 days, as required by law, on Wednesday.

The lawsuit will seek to force the EPA to accelerate its timetable for setting new water quality standards and to strengthen those standards to "fully protect the public" from bacteria, viruses and parasites in beach water, the group said.

The EPA also needs to set standards for facilities that discharge contaminated water, such as sewage treatment plants, it said. In addition, the EPA should establish testing methods that allow public health officials to quickly decide whether to close beaches or advise people against swimming.

The current outdated standards may not protect beachgoers from serious illnesses such as hepatitis and encephalitis as well as a host of common stomach ailments and infections, the group said.

The EPA needs to put breakthrough technologies in microbiology -- the kind seen on TV crime scene shows -- to work detecting pollutants at beaches, said Dr. Joan Rose, director of Michigan State University's Center for Water Sciences.

"We are essentially using about 100-year-old methods, particularly when we monitor discharges that end up at our beaches," Rose said.

The elderly, children and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk from waterborne contaminants.

The Natural Resources Defense Council said experts estimate some 7 million Americans are made ill by contaminated water, including recreational and drinking water, each year.

Studies have estimated anywhere from 2 to 14 percent of people who go into the water at beaches become infected and serious outbreaks can send people to hospitals for treatment, Rose said.

The Natural Resources Defense Council advised beachgoers to find out whether their beaches are regularly monitored for water quality and to avoid those with visible discharge pipes or where the water smells or looks murky.

Urban beaches can be a particular problem after heavy rain because rainwater can wash pollutants into oceans, lakes and rivers.

Swimmers should avoid swallowing water and use alcohol gels to clean hands before handling food, the group said.

Steve - this is a serious issue not just at beaches, but pools as well. Before you or your kids swim, take extra probiotics, saccaromyces bouillardi, and/or grapefruit seed extract (GSE) for extra gi protection from pathogens and bacteria.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Common painkillers may raise risk of heart failure

Patients who use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen or naproxen, have a small increased risk of experiencing a first hospitalization for heart failure, researchers from Spain report. They also found that for patients with pre-existing heart failure, NSAIDs may worsen the condition, triggering the need for hospital admission.

This increased risk may have "considerable public health impact," particularly among the elderly, the population most at risk for heart failure, notes the study team in a report in the journal Heart posted online.

Dr. Consuelo Huerta and colleagues compared NSAID use among 1,396 individuals between 60 and 84 years old who were hospitalized for non-fatal heart failure and a random sample of 5,000 subjects (controls).

Fourteen percent of the heart failure patients were current NSAID users compared with 10 percent of the controls. NSAIDs were primarily used for osteoarthritis.

With current NSAID use, the overall risk of a first hospitalization for heart failure was increased by 30 percent after accounting for major heart failure risk factors, report Huerta and colleagues from Centro Espanol de Investigacion Farmacoepidemiologica in Madrid.

Steve - for some, taking NSAID's for pain reduction is worth the risk. Alternatively, while definitely the tougher road, there are other options to explore. Discovering foods in your diet that may be exacerbating your pain can make all the difference. We have countless testimonials of those who have reduced or eliminated their pain by eliminating certain foods or groups of foods from their diet. What's more, it is not a band-aid is getting to the root of the cause.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Obesity tests for four-year-olds in England

Tests to see if children aged four and 10 are overweight are being introduced in schools.

The Department of Health has opted to go ahead with the tests, despite opponents saying it could lead to overweight children being bullied.

Pupils in England will be weighed and measured as they start primary school and again before they leave.

The results will be given to parents and local health chiefs, but overweight pupils will not be offered extra help.

From next year, parents of any obese four or 10 year olds can expect a letter telling them their child faces long-term health damage unless they lose weight.

The government said the aim is to give it and primary care trusts, which run community NHS health services at a local level, a better idea of which geographical areas have a childhood obesity problem.

But parents will be given the right to refuse permission for the child to be tested and to ask not to be sent the results.

Steve - as we said last week regarding overall philosophy in tackling the obesity crisis, England is taking a much harder line than the U.S. Will they see better results? Time will tell.

'Healthy' Foods a Pitfall for Dieters

On a mission to whip herself into shape, Kate Kowalczyk tossed out the junk food and stocked up on her idea of good-for-you staples like yogurt and low-fat cookies.

Despite her persistence, the 35 pounds she was trying to shake wouldn't budge.

It turns out those "healthy" foods were just as fattening as the chips and soda they replaced: The yogurt was filled with Reese's Pieces and the low-fat cookies were brimming with sugar that kept her hunger on razor's edge.

As concerns grow over rising obesity rates, so does confusion about the difference between what is healthy and what aids weight loss — with many believing the two are interchangeable.

According to a survey by the Washington-based Food Marketing Institute, 59 percent of shoppers were trying to eat a healthier diet last year, up 14 percent from 2000. Forty-two percent of those shoppers said losing weight is a health goal that influences their purchases.

But confusion is rampant about what healthy means; the same survey found 20 percent of respondents didn't know what "organic" meant, except that it was "better for you." But even foods labeled organic or "natural" can have just as many calories.

"It's all in the advertising — you see this bright packaging that says it's good for you," said Kowalczyk, 34, of Troy, N.Y.

Courtesy AP

Steve - Exactly! You really have to know your stuff when you shop. Marketers know what they are doing, and they can get around any labeling law to make something seem healthier than it really is. If you take anything with you to the store, remember, the less number of ingredients on the label, the better. Less ingredients usually means it is a real food.

You always have us to use as a resource. We have tons of information at, including a Natural Foods Shopping List. We have associates that can take you shopping and educate you in a hurry.

Bone mineral density test only tells half of the story

A tidbit appeared in Alternative Medicine, May 2006 stating that bone mineral testing (BMD) measures strength of just the mineral part of the bone, but up to 40 percent of bone strength comes from the organic part, which the BMD cannot detect. That is why those diagnosed with osteoporosis based solely upon an BMD test need to look further before becoming convinced.

A new technique developed by scientists at Imperial College in London have devised a spectroscopy that bounces light particles off bone, thus are able to distinguish between normal and unhealthy bone tissue in both mineral and organic parts. Eventually, the technology may help doctors better assess the risk for fractures.

Bonnie - This seems like an exciting development. At present, Osteoporosis is one-size-fits-all. I tell clients incessantly that BMD is only part of the picture. It is good to see that others are starting to admit it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

For allergy sufferers, an alternative to shots

For decades, allergy sufferers in Europe and much of South America have been able to control their allergies with daily under-the-tongue drops instead of shots.

And although the prescription drops are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, their use is spreading across the U.S. too.

Like shots, the active ingredients in the drops are customized to the patients' allergies and use the same allergy antigens. Because the antigens in the shots are FDA approved, it is legal for doctors to prescribe the medication in a novel way. In this practice, known as off-label prescribing, a doctor uses an approved drug in a way that is not specifically listed in the FDA package insert. Botox and blood pressure medications prescribed for migraine headaches are common examples of off-label use.

Allergy drops are not for people who just sneeze for two weeks when the trees bud each spring. They are for people whose immune systems overreact to a variety of environmental offenders, mistaking harmless dust, pollen or other substances for threatening bacteria and going into overdrive to repel them.

Allergy drops work in the same way that shots do. The idea is to inoculate people with small amounts of the substances they are allergic to so that their bodies gradually develop immunity. Because such small amounts of the allergens are introduced with each shot or drop, it can take three to five years to reach a point at which a patient allergic to pollen, for example, will not sneeze in the spring.

Instead of going to a doctor's office for weekly shots, patients can take allergy drops at home. Patients place one or two drops under the tongue first thing in the morning and before going to bed at night.

There is no taste, and the only reported side effect can be some itching under the tongue for the first several weeks of treatment.

The drops cost about $12 a week, with most patients buying a three-month supply. They are not covered by most health insurance plans.

The drops have not been sufficiently studied in the United States, he says. In addition, there are no proven dose recommendations, and there is no way for doctors to bill for prescribing them, because they are not FDA-approved.

Excerpts taken from the LA Times 5/15

Bonnie - while I am not a proponent of off-label prescriptions, this development in the allergy field is promising. Maybe through more exposure it will achieve FDA-approval.

Company to research yam in functional foods

Takara Bio is planning to research the use of a specific form yam that contains a substance similar in structure to DHEA. DHEA plays a role in maintaining hormone balance.

Bonnie - it should come as no surprise that this form of yam comes from the Okinawa region, one of the healthiest groups of people in the world. Eating yam is also a great way to obtain small amounts of progesterone, which helps regulate hormone balance.

NIH Panel Split on Vitamin Benefits

Specialists convened by the National Institutes of Health called Wednesday for strengthened federal oversight of the $23 billion dietary supplement industry — especially efforts to pin down side effects.

For the average healthy American, there's simply not enough evidence to tell if taking vitamins is a good or bad idea, said Dr. J. Michael McGinnis of the Institute of Medicine, who led the NIH panel's review.

"We don't know a great deal," he said, calling for more rigorous research.

Moreover, McGinnis added, "The product with which we're dealing is virtually unregulated," meaning there are even questions about how the bottles' labels convey what's really inside.

Vitamins and minerals, often packaged together, are the most-used dietary supplements, and widely assumed to be safe. After all, vitamins naturally occur in some of the healthiest foods, and vitamin deficiencies have been known to be dangerous since scurvy's link to a lack of fruits and vegetables was discovered centuries ago.

Concern arises mainly with super doses that exceed the government's "recommended daily amount," or RDA. Between 1 percent and 11 percent of supplement users may be exceeding the upper limits set for certain nutrients, if they add together their doses from pills and their diets, said Cornell University nutritionist Patsy Brannon.

Leading her list: Too much niacin can damage the liver. Among other examples, too much vitamin A can cause birth defects, and too much vitamin E can cause bleeding problems.

Some vitamins also can interact dangerously with medications, and doctors should ask their patients what they take, the panel said.

But "for millions of Americans who struggle with diet and nutrition, a daily multivitamin provides a safe, affordable, and reliable means of filling nutrition gaps and promoting overall good health," added Council for Responsible Nutrition president Steven Mister.

Courtesy of AP

Bonnie - We are in support of these comments. The average consumer should think twice before making their own decisions on what vitamins and minerals they should be taking. That is the job for an expert such as myself. With 20 years of clinical experience, I know that an individualized vitamin and mineral regimen
prescribed by an expert should be required for most Americans. It is impossible to get certain crucial nutrients based upon current dietary and lifestyle habits, even if healthy. Although, a proper nutrient regmien should be based upon genetic and family history, lifestyle, and health related symptoms. This is what a licensed expert such as myself is trained to do. I do not know if more federal oversight is going to do the trick, as they are up to their ears already with drugs. There should be a continued effort to alert consumers that they should seek the advice of a licensed health professional before self-prescribing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More fruit could mean less asthma in adults

People with an antioxidant-rich diet could reduce their risk of developing asthma in adulthood, say Cambridge researchers - adding to a growing body of science on the subject.

“We have found symptomatic asthma in adults to be associated with a low intake of the dietary antioxidants vitamin C and manganese. The low intake of vitamin C appears to primarily associated with a diet deficient in fruit,” wrote corresponding auther Dr. Nick Wareham.

This study appears to support a growing body of science that has linked antioxidant intake, particularly vitamins C and E, to the incidence of asthma, a condition on the rise in the Western world and the most common long-term condition in the UK today. According to the charity Asthma UK, affecting over four million adults and over a million children.

The new study, published in the journal Thorax (Vol. 61, pp. 388-393), used a nested case-control design to investigate a potential relationship between fruit and vegetable intake, and corresponding antioxidant intake, and the incidence of both diagnosed and symptomatic asthma for 515 cases and 515 controls with average age 32.

Dr. Wareham and his colleagues found that dietary intake of vitamin C and manganese were inversely and independently linked to symptomatic asthma, with a 12 per cent reduction in incidence with increasing vitamin C intake, and a 15 per cent reduction in incidence with increasing manganese intake. The researchers divided intakes into five groups (quintiles) ranging from low to high intake, but no quantification of each cut-off point is made.

For diagnosed asthma, only manganese has an effect on the incidence of the condition. Increasing intake of manganese, as a per quintile measure, was associated with a 14 per cent reduction in the risk of diagnosed asthma.

When the researchers looked at the incidence and associated risks of both symptomatic and diagnosed asthma in terms of fruit and vegetable consumption, and particular types of each, it was reported that moderate consumption (between 0.7 and 46.2 grams per day) of citrus fruits decreased the risk of asthma by 12 per cent. High consumption (46.3 grams per day or more) decreased the risk by 41 per cent.

Apples consumption also reported a significant effect on the risk of asthma, both symptomatic and diagnosed, with high consumption (48.1 grams per day or more) associated with a 32 per cent reduction in risk.

There are several limitations however, as there are with all observational studies. The most notable being that cases may have altered their diets because of their asthma, although possible errors from this are reduced by the fact that only 22 cases reported such a change. There also exists the possibility that other, unaccountable confounders, may have affected the results.

Courtesy of

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wal-Mart Eyes Organic Foods

There is a very interesting article about Wal-Mart's goal to be the largest consumer of organic foods. Obviously, when Wal-Mart is involved, you have to ask is it a blessing or a curse. Demand for organic products is already outstripping supply. Wal-Mart in the short-term may gobble up all the market share in the US, and then have to go other countries for product where the organic standards are much less stringent.

In an ideal world, Wal-Mart would be able to arrange a situation where they could use a network of local organic growers that could provide to their stores. This would save on fossil fuel costs (i.e. transport of product by truck, plane, boat) and stimulate the economy in the process. Unfortunately, it is not an ideal world. Stay tuned.


Monday, May 15, 2006

Comments on vitamin and mineral safety

Overall the last several years, disillusionment with Big Pharma's breaches in drug safety have drawn public scrutiny. The focus has now turned to the manufacturers of dietary supplements.

We have always said to our clients, "Would you go to a grocery store to pick out your medications? No, you would see your doctor or pharmacist. Then why would you pick out vitamins and minerals without consulting an expert?" We felt it was time to remind you of our place in assuring your safety.

Dietary Supplements are crucial for the prevention of disease, and as thousands of our clients have discovered, are also crucial in addressing day to day health issues. Alternatively, dietary supplements can create adverse health effects if not taken responsibly, especially when taken with medication.

We have, and will continue to go to great lengths to recommend only the highest quality, allergen/preservative-free, independently assayed, and heavily researched dietary supplements available.

There is good reason why we have recommended many of the same nutrients for over a decade or more. They have a track record of effectiveness, quality, and reliability that is unmatched. We scrutinize assays of the raw materials and have written guarantees from every manufacturer that all ingredients in their products are disclosed. Many of you who have been clients with us for a while know that any product that fails to meet or breaches these requirements are eliminated.

Many of you have wondered why we recommend products from over 20 different manufacturers, some that often are difficult to find?

1) For your safety. The dietary supplement industry is self-regulated, which unfortunately allows a great variance in quality and safety. We are experts in prescribing and dispensing nutrients that are safe.

2) We know that what we recommend meets label claim. The sources are easily absorbable, low allergy, and are free of contaminants, heavy metals, chemicals, and PCB’s.

3) People do not like to break a routine. It is an inconvenience to keep having to switch supplement regimens because of safety issues. We can boast that most of the products we recommend have been used successfully in our practice as far back as 1985.

Let 20 years of clinical and research experience put you at ease. We are here for you!

Bonnie and Steve

US and EU rule out new food laws to fight obesity

European and U.S. health chiefs on Monday ruled out imposing new regulations on the food industry to fight obesity, in spite of concern that the problem is becoming a serious threat to health worldwide.

European Union Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and Deputy U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar told Reuters they would not bring in laws such as those used to reduce smoking.

"The government can't tell someone what to eat. They can't say that something is tasty if it's not tasty," Azar said in an interview with Reuters television.

"The business case has to be there for healthy food. If there's not a business case for it, it won't happen."

Food and drink companies breathed a sigh of relief at the news that their industry was being left to regulate itself.

Steve - Well, it is about time they admit it. Money talks. If the desire for unhealthy food wanes, we will see healthier foods on menus and in our grocery stores. Food manufacturers make what we want to buy. It is up to us to demand change.

Government to promote home births

Women will be given every encouragement to give birth at home if that is their preferred option. The Department of Health says it wants to end assumptions that a hospital is always the best place to have a baby. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has commissioned work into how to make home births more available.

The National Childbirth Trust welcomed the move, saying currently women were often discouraged by doctors from considering a home birth. Expectant women will now be given more choice about giving birth either in hospital, at a birthing center, or at home. However, women with a history of complications will still be urged to give birth in a hospital.

Office of National Statistics data showed there were 15,198 home births in 2004, up 7% on the 14,204 in 2003.
However, this represents just 2% of the total number of births each year in the UK.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "We are committed to offering all women the choice of how and where they give birth, and what pain relief is available. All these services will be offered within the context of what is safe and clinically appropriate care for each individual woman.

"We also want every woman to be supported by a named midwife throughout their pregnancy."

Steve - The UK is making some radical changes across the board with regard to their health care. Banning junk food advertising to children, a complete overhaul of the national school lunch program, and now promoting home births? I think it is amazing. The Brits realize that they must address their future by focusing on the youth, and they are taking strong action. Alternatively, progress is going slower in the US.

Home births can be an amazing experience. It is a choice that should be supported, not shunned. As long as there are no risk factors for the baby and mother, it can be extremely comforting for the mother and baby.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

U.S. Newborn Survival Rate Ranks Low

The Save the Children Organization reported that among 33 industrialized nations, only Latvia is lower than the United States in survivial rate among newborns. Japan had the highest success rate.

Bonnie - as an intern at the March of Dimes many years ago, reducing the United States' high infant mortality rate was a priority. We provided a series of lunchtime lectures to corporations called "Babies and You." It was very successful and brought home the message that 90-95% of premature births and birth defects can be prevented with the mother and father's healthy diet and lifestyle.

Our health care system in the US is focusing on high tech services instead of spending money to provide free prevention services, such as prenatal counseling with a dietitian or public health nutritionist, especially in areas where the infant mortality rate is the highest. These results were not a surprise to me.

Bonnie's response to Newsweek article on soy & rice milk substitutes

I have received several inquiries of concern from clients about soy and rice milk substitutes in children. I don't understand the nature of concern. The parents in the Newsweek story gave their infants soy and rice milks as the primary source of nutrition. They were grossly mistaken.

I will say that if children are not getting enough protein in any other form, and parents think they are getting adequate protein from these milks, of course it is a problem. The kids would then have nutrient deficiencies with or without the milk. The infants in the Newsweek story should never have been weaned off formula until one year or they had enough real food. The article is right in this regard. I have seen several infants who have problems when this was done. It is says it right on the box do not substitute for formula.

As I mention to all my clients with young children, make sure they are introduced to a wide variety of foods (see my Babies' First Foods Plan), have a multivitamin/mineral, and rice and soy milks should always be enriched.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Experts question dairy guidelines

A little piece in the Sun-Times included comments from several leading nutritional voices, Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard and T. Colin Campbell of Cornell. Willett, who works closely with three of the biggest and longest running health studies in the country, found that women getting the most calcium from dairy products had more fractures than women who had less dairy. Campbell suggests that vegetables, legumes, are better for bones than milk.

Bonnie - as I have been saying as long as these gentlemen have, dairy is not a priority for bone health. A few things not mentioned in this piece were the fact that dairy can be acid-producing, and acid eats away bone. The article did mention vitamin D, but once again, magnesium gets shut out with nary a mention. Magnesium is just as important as vitamin D for calcium absorption. As an adjunct to this article, I found a study that concurred with what we reported last year with regard to B-12 levels and their connection with bone health. A report from the prestigious Framingham Osteoporsis Study showed that out of 2,576 men and women ages 30 to 87, the lower the B12 levels, the greater the risk of osteoporsis.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bonnie comments on soft drink bottlers mea culpa

Last week, the top three soft-drink companies announced that beginning this fall, they would start removing sweetened drinks like Coke, Pepsi, and Iced Teas from school cafeterias and vending machines in response to the growing threat of lawsuits and state legislation. Under an agreement between the beverage makers and health advocates, students in elementary school would be served only bottled water, low-fat and nonfat milk, and 100 percent fruit juice in servings no bigger than eight ounces. Serving sizes would increase to 10 ounces in middle school. In high school, low-calorie juice drinks, sprots drinks and diet sodas would be permitted; serving sizes would be limited to 12 ounces. Dr. Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, applauded the agreement, but said, "I'd like to get rid of the Gatorades and diet soft drinks completely."

Courtesy NY Times

Bonnie - I concur with Dr. Jacobson. You've got to keep diet soft drinks and sports drinks out of high schools as well. A recent long-term study of Coke vs. Diet Coke showed more obesity with those drinking Diet Coke.

With regard to the other age groups, even the American Pediatric Association recommends limiting fruit juice, so I do not think having 100 percent juice is a great idea either. Filtered waters (sparkling and plain) and electrolyte waters (such as Glaceau Smart Water) would be my choice.

The problem is that you still have big soft drink makers controlling 90% of school sales. They do not care if they are selling their waters, juices, or diet instead of regular soft drinks; but it is virtually impossible to remove their products entirely. This is why parent involvement is crucial.

I just thought I would throw out my Vending Machine Wish List:
  • Glaceau Smart Water (unsweetened electrolyte water)
  • Naturally occurring spring water (not from tap); brands such as Trinity, Fiji, Volvic
  • Naturally occurring sparkling water (not from carbonation; flavored but not sweetened); brands such as Blu, Perrier, Whole Foods 365, and Gerolsteiner
  • V-8 Juice (original) in 6 oz. cans
  • V-8/Fruit Juice blends in bottles
  • Tea (plain/flavored; unsweetened); brands such as Republic of Tea, ItoEn, Honest, Lipton (unsweetened only)
  • Calcium-fortified Orange Juice
Do I think this will ever happen? Probably not in my lifetime...but at least you can stock this in your home as a "personal vending machine."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The acidity in soft drinks and other sugary drinks

pH level (the lower it is, the worse, or more acidic, it is)

Water - 7.00
Barq's - 4.61
Diet Barq's - 4.55
Diet7up - 3.67
Sprite - 3.42
Diet Dr. Pepper - 3.41
Diet Coke - 3.39
Diet Mountain Dew - 3.34
Mount Dew - 3.22
Diet Peppsi - 3.05
Gatorade - 2.95
Dr. Pepper - 2.92
Squirt - 2.85
Hawaiian Punch - 2.82
Minute Maid Soda - 2.80
Coke Classic - 2.53
Pepsi - 2.49
Battery Acid - 1.00

Two telling comments about Menopause

We found two very telling quotes that appeared in a recent New York Times piece on nonhormonal drugs for hot flashes:

Dr. Jeffrey Tice, and internist at University of California San Francisco, said, "With hormones, we were really thinking we were preventing a lot of diseases and it was good for the long term. Maybe we were brainwashed by the industry paying people to tell us that in medical school."

Dr. Heidi Nelson, an internist and professor at the Oregon Health and Science University, said, "We hate to medicalize the process (menopause/hot flashes). We want to take severe symptoms seriously, but not everybody needs to be on prescription durgs for it."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

US urges junk food makers to restrict ads to kids

U.S. regulators urged food companies on Tuesday to voluntarily limit their advertising of sugary snacks, soft drinks and other junk food to kids to help combat childhood obesity.

The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Health and Human Services recommended expanding current, self-imposed guidelines on advertising to children, and said the industry should consider setting nutritional standards for foods marketed to kids.

"Although the (current) guides are a good foundation for industry self-regulation, the agencies believe the guides should be expanded and their enforcement enhanced," the government report said.

In the report, the federal government recommended the expansion of a unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus called the Children's Advertising Review Unit.

The group oversees guidelines that require all advertising to children be "truthful, accurate and developmentally appropriate."

The government also said the unit should consider setting minimum nutritional standards. The unit's advisory board should be expanded to include more experts in nutrition, child health and developmental psychology, the report said.

Bonnie - While many would see this as a good start, I see it as a "cop-out." Too many times in public health have I seen the government "urge" and suggest to groups to implement "voluntary" changes to their practices. For instance, in 1970, the government urged vaccine makers to remove thimerosal (mercury preservative) from vaccines. Many did not remove it until recently, and several vaccines still contain the preservative.

The United Kingdom has cracked down on junk food advertising by banning it altogether. Desperate times sometimes require drastic measures. In the case of protecting our children's health, there could be no better reason.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Mold season has begun

We are seeing a lot of mold sporing outdoors now. A bit earlier than usual. If you have yeast or mold sensitvities/allergies, be extra vigilant to avoid them in your diet. Also, you can supplement with NutriBiotic (GSE) extract tablets to kill mold spores and further reduce internal yeast. Do not take if on antihistamines or statin medication.


Type 2 Diabetes Invading Teenage Years

Thirty-nine thousand U.S. adolescents are estimated to have type 2 diabetes, and more than 2.5 million may have impaired fasting glucose levels, according to statistical estimates extrapolated from a national survey.

In addition to the alarming prevalence of type 2 diabetes among teenagers, impaired fasting glucose levels in this many young people suggests an even larger number arriving at the threshold of diabetes, according to a study in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

These findings have important implications for public health because of the high rate of conversion from impaired fasting glucose levels to type 2 diabetes in adults and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

"It is hoped," the lead author of the study wrote, "that the recognition of the public health time bomb reflected in the report by Duncan will lead to a pervasive societal effort to prevent obesity, a daunting task of such magnitude that enormous community and governmental commitment will be required."

Bonnie - I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting your child or teen the right educational tools to make wise dietary choices. If we do not, what we can consider epidemics now (obesity and diabetes) will be pandemics in several decades.

Omega-3 could reduce neck and back pain

Supplements of omega-3 fatty acids could reduce the incidence of neck and back pain and eliminate the need for medication, says a small US study.

“It is important for patients to know that safer alternatives to pain medications are available,” said Joseph Maroon from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “A fish oil supplement containing EPA and DHA omega-3s is an effective choice with fewer or no side effects.”

Previous studies have reported that omega-3 fatty acids, from both fish and supplemental sources, could reduce and/or prevent inflammation. The new study, published in the April issue of Surgical Neurology (Vol. 65, pp. 326-331), adds to this body of evidence.

The researchers supplemented the diets of 125 people with non-surgical spine pain, and who were taking NSAIDs. The volunteers were given daily supplements of 2400 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids for two weeks and then 1200 mg per day thereafter.

After two weeks, the volunteers were asked to stop their NSAIDs and after one month a questionnaire was sent to the participants to ask about joint and spine pain, side effects and level of NSAID discontinuation.

Fifty-nine per cent of the participants reported that they had stopped completely the NSAIDs medication, and 60 per cent said that their overall level of pain had improved since starting the omega-3 supplements.

“Eighty per cent of the respondents stated they were satisfied with their improvement and 88 per cent stated they would continue to take the omega-3 essential fatty acids,” reported the researchers.

The mechanism of anti-inflammatory action of omega-3 fatty acids, say the authors, is well established and involves the conversion of the fatty acids into the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (PGs) of the PGE3 series.

The study has several obvious weaknesses including being a retrospective, non-placebo controlled. As such, the placebo effect cannot be eliminated. In addition, the survey was very short-term and longer term follow-up is clearly needed.

Bonnie - while this study does have its limitations, it adds to the ever-growing body of evidence that omega 3 fish oils are a catalyst in reducing inflammation.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Super Foods - Version II

By Bonnie C. Minsky, M.A., M.P.H., L.D.N., C.N.S

At a time when the public has been bombarded with negative aspects of food, it is important to remember that many foods also contain life-enhancing, medicinal benefits. These Super foods (“functional foods”) provide health benefits far beyond their provision of macro and micronutrients. As a practicing nutritionist for almost 20 years, I am often asked about my own list of super foods. My top ten choices, or the best of the best, include:

Quinoa is a gluten-free, complete protein, “grain-like” food. It supplies all of the essential amino acids in balance. It also has more fiber and iron than any grain. Grown in the mighty Andes Mountains of South America, quinoa dates back over 5,000 years. The Incas called quinoa, “the Mother grain”. It once was the staple food of an ancient civilization stretching from the seacoast of Chile to the snow-capped peaks of the Peruvian Andes.

Cruciferous Vegetables include high fiber cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. They stimulate the body to produce enzymes for detoxifying cancer-causing chemicals. They have also been shown to modulate estrogen and thyroid metabolism.

Pomegranates are just beginning to gain popularity in the United States, but have been popular in many other countries since biblical times. An infusion from the root of the pomegranate was used in ancient times to rid the body of tapeworms. Pomegranates are powerful antioxidants that help prevent cancer, heart disease and stroke. Their flavanoids can help alleviate bladder and urinary tract infections. Pomegranate extract has even been shown to block enzymes that contribute to cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis. Pomegranate juice is available in most health food and grocery stores.

Dried beans and peas include white beans, black beans, garbanzo beans (chick peas), split peas, and soybeans (especially fermented tempeh, tofu, and miso). Their fiber aids elimination, keeps blood sugar stable, benefits the heart, including the lowering of cholesterol. Legumes (beans) are also an inexpensive, lowfat source of plant protein. Beans are a staple in the healthiest countries.

Avocados, contrary to popular belief, are not fattening. Some of their benefits include raising good (HDL) blood cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, and providing glutathione to cleanse the liver. Their naturally occurring lutein helps eyesight, and their potassium and magnesium enhance muscle strength and endurance. Recent animal studies have even shown a protective affect against breast cancer. Their buttery taste and high smoking temperature also make avocado oil great for stovetop cooking.

Onion (Allium) Family includes onion, garlic, shallot, chive, leek, and asparagus. The entire food family provides anti-microbial benefits. Garlic, in particular, showed its ability to fight the plague, amoebic dysentery, many types of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses even as far back as five thousand years. Garlic can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure while increasing natural killer cell activity.

Wild Pacific Salmon is a powerhouse of omega-3 fats, which are proven to help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The high omega-3 content of wild salmon reduces inflammation anywhere in the body, so can reduce degenerative disease dramatically while reducing pain (especially joint and arthritic pain). Salmon is also an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Nuts and Seeds include tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds) and seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin). A daily ounce of any of these can reduce heart disease by up to 50 percent. Nuts and seeds are also a great source of fiber. Flaxseed is unique in that it boasts a high omega-3 fat content, assists the body in converting alpha-linolenic acid into heart and brain healthy DHA, and contains estrogen metabolism and lignan benefits.

Tea, including black, white, red, and white, has been used over 4,000 years as a medicinal for fighting asthma, bronchitis, infections, and a host of viruses. Its powerful antioxidant effect helps lower blood pressure, keeps arteries clean, retards bone loss, and prevents many types of cancer.

Sea vegetables contain chlorella, spirulina, and blue-green algae. They have been on our earth for more than two billion years! They boast the most bioavailable sources of complete protein, vitamins and minerals, chlorophyll, DNA and RNA. The amazing benefits of sea vegetables include boosting the immune system, detoxifying heavy metals and pesticides, aiding digestion, speeding up the healing process, alkalizing an acidic system, and fighting bacterial infections. Seaweed, dulse, nori, kelp and other sea vegetables are low calorie food sources that can be added to soups, salads, and sushi or can be consumed by themselves as crispy “chips”. The Japanese consume sea vegetables on a regular basis. Could this be why The World Health Organization considers them the healthiest people in the world?

© Copyright 2006 Nutritional Concepts

Magnesium-Rich Diet May Reduce Metabolic Syndrome Risk

A magnesium-rich diet may help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and, perhaps, a heart attack or diabetes, Northwestern University researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Previous studies indicate that magnesium can reduce the risk of the individual components of metabolic syndrome, but scientists lacked evidence of its efficacy against the syndrome.

"As far as we can determine, this is the first prospective evidence that shows magnesium intake provides a beneficial effect in the syndrome," said Ka He, MD, lead author of the study and assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "We also saw that a higher magnesium intake was associated with a reduced risk of each individual component of the metabolic syndrome," Dr. He said.

The observational study initially included 5,115 blacks and whites ages 18 to 30 enrolled in 1985 and 1986 in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study (CARDIA). After excluding those with metabolic syndrome and diabetes at the beginning, and pregnancy in the study period, 4,637 participants (53.8 percent female) remained in the study.

Reporting 15-year follow-up data, Dr. He and co-researchers found that 50 percent of participants with the highest intake of magnesium had a significantly lower rate of metabolic syndrome than the 25 percent who consumed the least magnesium.

The age of the participants at enrollment was important because "most of the evidence that magnesium lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes comes from studies using older adults," Dr. He said. "People middle-aged or older are more likely to already have had the onset of disease."

Fifteen years after enrollment, 608 of the participants had developed metabolic syndrome. For analysis, the researchers divided the volunteers into four groups based on their magnesium intake. Only 16 percent took dietary supplements that contained magnesium.

The researchers found an inverse relationship between magnesium intake and the development of metabolic syndrome—the more of the nutrient consumed, the lower a person's risk.

"This is an observational study," Dr. He said. "Without data from randomized clinical trials, we are not comfortable making any recommendation on a daily dose of magnesium intake in terms of metabolic syndrome prevention."

Magnesium can come from foods or supplements. Foods rich in magnesium include halibut, dry- roasted almonds and cashews, spinach, whole-grain cereals, blackeyed peas, long-grain brown rice, kidney and pinto beans, avocadoes, bananas, and raisins.

Steve - Wow! While we need to contain our excitement because it was an observational study, it is very intriguing nonetheless. What's amazing is that only 16% of the participants took magnesium supplementally. It is difficult to get magnesium from the Standard American Diet. That fact that magnesium alone could make a dent with a condition as broad as Metabolic Syndrome is a perfect example of why we always say that it is so important. Magnesium has over 300 functions in the body and is critical to every organ system.