Thursday, August 31, 2006

Nutritional Concepts appears in Pioneer Press

If you live in the Northern suburbs of Chicago, pick up one of the 57 local Pioneer Press newspapers. The article featuring Bonnie Minsky is entitled, "Starting the Day Right." It is about creating healthy breakfast and lunches for the school-age child.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nutritional Concepts Launches Newest Action Plan

Just in time for the beginning of the school year, Nutritional Concepts'
brings its proudest installment yet in its Action Plan series:

The School Age-Child, Optimized

The 34 page Action Plan covers everything you need to help your child
achieve peak performance. Opening remarks from the Action Plan:

"We put so much emphasis on educating our children,
yet the most rudimentary tools they need to succeed
are often absent. Physical, mental, and emotional stability
need to be in balance for optimal school success. The current
state of our children’s eating habits and lifestyles puts them
behind the eight ball. Children, Parents, School Officials, Teachers,
Politicians, Food Manufacturers and Distributors, let’s get it started!"

Highlights from the September Lark Letter

I have always liked what Dr. Susan Lark had to say. Here are some interesting issues she addressed in her latest newsletter:

Dr. Lark began by stating what we have been saying about bisophosphonate drugs, such as Fosomax for a long time:
  • It does not always work
  • Well-known side effects include gastrointestinal side effects and chemical burning of the esophagus, eye pain, and inflammation, blood calcium deficiency, kidney toxicity, and the newest revelation...osteonecrosis, which is the infection and death of bone tissue in the jaw.
  • Bisphosphonates do not actually restore bone. They slow the rate of loss of old bone by blocking the action of osteoclasts, cells naturally present in bone that are meant to dismantle old, stressed, or damaged bone tisseu so it can be replaced by new tissue, made by osteoblasts.
Dr. Lark also talks about Peripheral Neuropathy (PN). It is often unlcear how it develops, but some well-known risk factors are:
  • Diabetes
  • Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Gatrsic bypass Surgery
  • Excessive Alcohol Use
  • Exposure to Toxins
  • Autoimmune Disorders
What has been most helpful for Dr. Lark's patients with PN:
  • Nutrient Nourishment
    Certain B-Vitamins
    Acetyl L-Carnitine
    Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Low glycemic diet
  • Test for gluten-sensitivity
  • Avoid excess alcohol consumption
  • Infrared Light Therapy
  • Avoid trauma to affected nerves (any tight jewelry or clothing)
  • Minimize Toxic load
  • Exercise

Alzheimer's Association emphasizes diet and physical activity for lowering risk

There was encouraging copy on the front page of the Alzheimer's Association newsletter. The headline read, "Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Linked to Diet, Physical Activity." The newsletter was echoing research that was presented at the 10th International Conference of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders.

Another front page headline read, "
Fat Intake at mid-life associated with changes in cognitive function later on." This study presented by Finnish researchers showed that high intake of saturated fat from milk products at midlife was associated with poorer cognitive function and memory, while high intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids and fish consumption correlated with better overall cognitive function.

We know both of these headlines to be true, but the significance is that the Alzheimer's Association acknowledges them. The Minsky family has been ardent supporters of the Alzheimer's Assocation for years, but what has frustrated us is the lack of attention paid to preventative measures. The millions of dollars that are poured into Alzheimer's research for a cure we feel is somehwat misguided. A sufficient portion of those funds should go to the education and implementation of techniques for PREVENTING the onset of the disease, especially in those most susceptible. Of course, prevention is not as sexy as finding a "cure," but has shown in many other cases to be the most effective method.

With the release of the most recent Alzheimer's Association publication, we are hoping that this is the beginning of a shift in the paradigm in attacking Alzheimer's.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Pomegranate juice shows possible diabetes benefits

The findings, although only from a small trial in humans, showed that the sugars contained in pomegranate juice – although similar in content to those found in other fruit juices – did not worsen diabetes disease parameters (including blood sugar levels) in patients, but in fact cut the risk of atherosclerosis.

“In most juices, sugars are present in free – and harmful – forms,” explained Israeli researchers. “In pomegranate juice, however, the sugars are attached to unique antioxidants, which actually make these sugars protective against atherosclerosis.”

The new research, published in the August issue of the journal Atherosclerosis (Vol. 187, pp. 363-371), reports that subjects who drank 50 ml of pomegranate juice (containing 1.5 millimoles of polyphenols) every day for three months experienced a reduced risk for atherosclerosis.

In a follow-on study, to be published in the September issue of Atherosclerosis (Vol. 188, pp. 68-76), researchers report that the antioxidant activity of the pomegranate juice cannot be attributed solely to the polyphenol content of the fruit, but that some credit must also go to the sugar content.

Sources of Sodium

77% - restaurant cooking
12% - naturally occurring
6% - table salt
5% - home cooking

This stat makes eating at home appealing!

Exposure to environmental pollutants may reduce effectiveness of vaccines

New epidemiological evidence suggests that exposure to environmental pollutants may have an adverse impact on immune responses to childhood vaccinations. The research appears in the Aug. 22, 2006, online edition of Public Library of Science Medicine.

The study looked at two groups of children in the Faroe Islands, which are located in the North Atlantic and where traditional diets may include whale blubber contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Blood and milk samples taken during pregnancy from the mothers were analyzed to determine the children's prenatal PCB exposure. After routine childhood vaccinations against tetanus and diphtheria, the two groups of children were examined at age 18 months and 7 years, and blood samples were examined for tetanus and diphtheria antibodies.

The findings showed an association between increased PCB contamination and lowered antibody response to the vaccines. At 18 months, the diphtheria antibody concentration decreased by 24 percent for each doubling of the PCB exposure. At 7 years, the tetanus antibody response showed the strongest response and decreased by 16 percent for each doubling of the prenatal exposure.

The work was supported by the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Danish Medical Research Council and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency.

FDA Approves Viral Adulteration of Our Food Supply

The FDA recently approved a viral cocktail to be sprayed on foods we eat. This is the first time viruses have been approved for use as food additives. The FDA believes it will be safe to consume these viruses every day for the rest of your life with no adverse health effects.

The first virally contaminated foods will be luncheon meat and poultry. Live viruses will be sprayed on foods such as cold cuts, sausages, hot dogs, sliced turkey, and chicken. The stated goal of the new FDA-approved viruses is to kill a rare bacterium known as Listeria monocytogenes. This bacterium is killed by cooking; however, it poses a problem in meats that are cooked during processing and not cooked again prior to consumption, so it can readily infect foods such as deli meats.

The FDA assures us the viruses will not attack human cells. However, they cannot possibly be certain the viruses will not attack the friendly bacteria that make up the lining of your digestive tract. The FDA approval was based on scant human testing, mostly from unrelated medical experiments. Such safety data is woefully inadequate to determine safe ingestion of a specific product by humans over the course of a lifetime.

The viruses are known as bacteriophages, viruses that kill bacteria, or phages for short. Phages have been around a long time, living as parasites inside many bacteria.
The company that produces these viruses, Intralytix, Inc., uses biotechnology to grow viral phages in a culture with Listeria, in theory teaching the viruses to recognize the bacteria. The FDA-approved cocktail contains six different viruses intended to attack one strain of bacteria. This concoction is then sprayed on food. If Listeria is present in the food, the bacteria will ingest the viruses. This results in massive viral replication inside the bacteria, until such point as the bacteria simply bursts. This battle results in significant production of bacterial poisons called endotoxins, as the bacteria tries to defend itself. When the bacteria burst, these endotoxins are released.

The human immune system is highly reactive and sensitive to bacterial endotoxins. They provoke allergy, asthma, autoimmune problems, and elevate cholesterol. They also interfere with the healthy function of cells lining the digestive tract. Researchers have demonstrated that the presence of bacterial endotoxins can start cancer in the colon. Additionally, the human immune system reacts directly to viral phages. We know the Listeria bacteria are not going to take the issue lying down. They will develop resistance to the viruses over time, as we have seen with the overuse of antibiotics. Going down this path, we are likely to have hundreds of viral food additives in the food we eat, all designed to combat some possible infection coming from poor quality food. We may inadvertently create deadly new super-strains of bacteria and/or parasitically infect the human digestive tract with an untreatable infection.

Intralytix is also seeking FDA approval for viral sprays to treat foods that could be contaminated with E. coli and Salmonella, which means that similar viruses could end up in a majority of the protein foods in our food supply. Intralytix sees financial opportunity. They have already licensed their now FDA-approved viral spray to an undisclosed multi-national company for use around the world.

While the FDA will require the ingredient to be listed on packages as "bacteriophage preparation," most consumers will have no idea that means they are ingesting live viruses. Foods bought at deli counters or prepared in restaurants will not need to warn consumers. How can any responsible parent feed virus-tainted food to their children?

Courtesy of Healthy News Service

Bonnie - you heard it hear first. The above article, while biased against the virus spray, is unfortunately, dead-on. This issue, which has until now flown under the radar (it was approved 10 days ago by the FDA), I predict will open up a "Pandora's Box." The digestive tract of the average human is under attack every second of its existence. Adding more endotoxins and creating a new menagerie of mutated viruses and bacteria will just compound the problem for the next generation. The goverment and Big Pharma's "band-aid approach" has struck again. My suggestions?
  1. Read labels: anything mentioning bacteriophage preparation, AVOID! If you get cold cuts and meats at a restaurant, ask them if they use meats prepared this way. The same rule goes for irradiated foods, and foods that contain hormones and antibiotics.

  2. Eat organic as much as possible.

  3. Supplement with probiotics daily. Nobody knows to what extenet this new virus spray will create mutated bacteria and viruses. We do not know if they will be contained or will extend into our entire food supply. Thus, you must give your digestive tract every possibility to sustain balanced gut ecology. It is near impossible to do this without probiotic supplementation. Make sure your probiotic is from a high quality, reputable brand.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Phytosterols/stanols work in real populations, says study

Using phytosterol and stanol enriched margarines in everyday life stabilizes cholesterol levels in a free living population, and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, says a post-launch monitoring study of the functional foods.

“Blood cholesterol levels remained stable over a period of five years in users of phytosterol and -stanol enriched margarines whereas it increased in non-users,” wrote lead author Marion Wolfs.

“Although this effect seems to be modest, it can still reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and thereby result in health benefits in the general population.”

Numerous clinical trials in controlled settings have reported that daily consumption of 1.5 to 3 grams of phytosterols/-stanols can reduce total cholesterol levels by eight to 17 per cent, representing a significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, but whether such benefits are repeated by everyday people in everyday life is not known, said the Dutch researchers.

The new study, published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (Vol. 44, pp. 1682-1688), used data from the Dutch Doetinchem cohort study. Over 4500 subjects were examined initially between 1994 and1998 and then again five years later (1999 to 2003). Seventy-two people were found to be regular enriched margarine users.

Only 26 per cent of the users achieved the 10 per cent reductions in total blood cholesterol concentrations that are “claimed by the producers of the phytosterol/-stanol enriched margarines,” reported Wolfs.

The overall net effect in this free-living population, said Wolfs, is less than most clinical trials, and is a stabilization of cholesterol levels, rather than the slight increase observed naturally with age.

Even though the effects are modest this can still translate into cardiovascular disease risk reduction, said the researchers.

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to present achieved effects of customary phytosterol and -stanol enriched margarine use. As such this confirms to the extensive database on efficacy of these in controlled clinical trials,” concluded Wolfs.

Concern Mounts as Bacteria Resistant to Antibiotics Disperse Widely

A particularly persistent and sometimes deadly bacterial infection known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, often abbreviated as M.R.S.A. have health care providers concerned about an increasing number of such cases for years. But they are now reporting infections in unexpected locales and among a bewilderingly diverse population.

M.R.S.A. is also demonstrating an alarming virulence and protean nature, making it more difficult to contain and treat. Doctors say that because it is not clear who is vulnerable — even people who are in good health and practice good hygiene have been infected — everyone should take steps to reduce his or her risk.

Although the bacterium has lurked in hospitals for decades, outbreaks elsewhere were virtually unheard of until the 1990’s. Even then, the incidence was small, and the infection was confined mostly to people with weak immune systems: young children, the elderly and people with H.I.V. It occurred mostly in large metropolitan areas.

But in the last five years, the number of cases has drastically increased. “It’s infecting normal, healthy people everywhere,” said Loren G. Miller, a principal investigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center.

Officials at the CDC have reported that infection rates have doubled since 2002 in cities like Atlanta and Baltimore, where the agency finances disease surveillance.

Staphylococcus aureus can be found almost everywhere: on countertops, in towels and sheets, and on skin. It is harmless until it enters a break in the skin, where it can feed on tissue and multiply. White blood cells often destroy the bacteria. But sometimes, an antibiotic is needed as reinforcement to prevent the microbes from invading the bloodstream and attacking the vital organs.

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, the experts say, is undeterred by most frontline antibiotics, and it is rapidly developing resistance to others. The overuse of antibiotics has not helped. That problem, combined with the widespread prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock, has given staph, not to mention other bacteria, ample opportunity to evolve into superresistant and superpersistent bugs.

“It’s part natural evolution, but we’re speeding it up by our behaviors,” said Nicole Coffin, a spokeswoman for the C.D.C. Unlike the resistant staph seen in hospitals, many of the strains being reported elsewhere can release a toxin, Panton-Valentine leukocidin, or P.V.L., that kills white blood cells.

Also disturbing, doctors say, are infections of resistant staph that mutate into life-threatening necrotizing fasciitis, the so-called flesh-eating bacteria. Such infections had been associated primarily with streptococcal bacteria, which cause strep throat.

M.R.S.A. has also been implicated in fatal cases of meningitis, or swelling of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, and pyomyocitis, which results in abscesses deep in muscle tissue and is more commonly found on tropical islands.

The big questions are why some of those people develop infections and others do not, and why some who are infected become ill or even die while others rapidly recover.

“The short answer is we don’t know,” said Dr. Franklin Lowy, a professor of pathology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University and the lead researcher in a study on the spread of resistant staph financed by the National Institutes of Health.

Failing to wash thoroughly, and sharing razors, towels or sports equipment increases the odds of exposure and infection, experts say. Tattooing and body waxing also make an infection more likely, because needle punctures or vacant hair follicles give the bacteria more portals of entry.

But the bacteria can also creep into a person’s system through an invisible abrasion from shaving or even a mosquito bite. Being infected can be a matter of “plain old bad luck.”

Though cleanliness is a good preventive, washing too frequently can also make someone more susceptible. Bathe obsessively, and “you clear a path for more aggressive bacteria like M.R.S.A. to take hold,” said Dr. Stephen K. Tyring, a professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Research also suggests that antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap in killing the bacteria, though alcohol-based sanitizing gels kill more bacteria on the hands than soap.

After an infection has begun, antibiotics like clindamycin, minocycline and vancomycin are effective, but they tend to work slowly and can have side effects like rashes, teeth discoloration and severe diarrhea.

When caught early enough, infectious disease experts said, a staph infection can also be treated by a minor surgical incision to drain the lesions, without resorting to oral or intravenous antibiotics.

It is important to see a doctor when a cut, scrape or bump becomes red, large, painful or purulent. Red lines tracking away from the abscess, as well as a fever, indicate that the infection is severe and needs immediate attention.

Courtesy of NY Times

Bonnie - scary stuff; there is no succinct answer to counteract this; although, keeping your immune system as strong as possible by avoiding high added sugar intake and balanced eating will help.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Critics say dairy tests the boundaries and spirit of what `organic' means

These are excerpts from an article by Andrew martin in Sunday's Chicago Tribune:

Critics of Horizon Dairy, including two former workers, say the empty pastures are emblematic. The dairy's new management, installed a year ago, has been so obsessed with increasing production to meet the soaring demand for organic milk that it has mostly kept the cows in the barn, the former workers allege, despite a U.S. Department of Agriculture requirement that organic cows have access to pasture.

When cows are kept in a barn, they can be fed large amounts of energy-rich food, increasing their milk production. Organic milk enthusiasts argue that it is healthier, more natural and better for the cows to be allowed to forage in a pasture, even if that results in less milk.

Horizon officials flatly deny the allegations, saying they follow and even exceed the USDA's organic rules. Kelly Shea, the dairy's vice president for environmental stewardship, said the company is constantly looking for ways to provide its cows with more pasture at the Maryland dairy.

More broadly, the debate over organic milk reflects the growing pains of an industry that started as a counterculture movement in the 1970s but has increasingly attracted the interest of major food and grocery companies, from General Mills to Wal-Mart. Dean Foods, the nation's largest milk bottler, owns Horizon Organic.

As the organic business has flourished, critics maintain that big business has sought to water down the organic standards in the interest of profit, threatening the credibility of the organic label and the original values of the organic movement, which include helping the environment, producing healthy food and saving family farms.

Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, said the problem with Wal-Mart and other large players getting into the organic business is that they demand cheaper and cheaper prices, forcing suppliers such as Horizon to look for ways to cut corners.

"You can only get the kind of prices [large discount stores] want if you bend the rules a little bit, which is what they've done," said Cummins, whose organization has called for a consumer boycott of Horizon and Aurora milk. "They are in flagrant violation of traditional organic standards."

Because of complaints that several large farms were exploiting loopholes in the regulations, the Organic Standards Board sought to clarify the guidelines last year. Under the new guidelines, organic dairy cows would be required to get about one-third of their diet from pasture four months out of the year. To date, the USDA has not adopted the recommendations.

Steve - this cannot come as a surprise due to the explosion of organic foods; whether or not these allegations are valid, this piece should shed some light on how the organic standards can dragged through the mud.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Does Body-Mass Index Really Predict Heart Risk?

The widely used body-mass index (BMI) is not an accurate indicator of cardiovascular risk for people with heart disease because it does not distinguish between muscle and fat, a major review of the data contends.

BMI is determined by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. Doctors have typically gauged a person's weight-linked risk for heart trouble by using their BMI.

However, a new analysis of 40 studies involving over 250,000 patients showed that those with a BMI under 20 were at higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those with "obese" BMIs of 30 to 35.

"An explanation for the lack of a positive association with BMI and mortality in older ages is that, in older persons, BMI is a poor measure of body fat," concluded a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic, who published their findings in the Aug. 19 issue of The Lancet. "The measurement of weight does not differentiate between fat and fat-free mass, and fat-free mass (especially muscle) is progressively lost with increasing age."

Lead researcher Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a consultant in the Mayo cardiovascular division, said his suspicions regarding the fallibility of BMI began a while ago. "One of the studies [included in this review] was ours, which we did about four years ago," he said. "At that time, we had an idea that the BMI was not the best way to assess cardiovascular problems. We faced resistance from publishers at that time, but we found other studies confirming it."

Next, he said, "We presented a report at an American Heart Association meeting a few months ago showing that BMI did not correlate with fat. A better way to distinguish between fat and muscle is to take a cross-sectional view of the abdomen, to focus on the waist-hip ratio."

A British study published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gave further evidence for that view. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine studied nearly 15,000 patients over age 75 and concluded that it is not appropriate to use BMI to calculate death risk in this age group. They noted that the health risks associated with a high BMI are known to decline with age.

By contrast, the researchers said waist-hip ratio "is a measure of body shape and, to some extent, of lower trunk adiposity [abdominal fat]."

Health Day News

Bonnie - I have never used BMI in my practice and will not do so in the future.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bonnie appears on PBS' NewsHour

Congrats Bonnie on your appearance on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer last night!

For those who missed it, you can watch it here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Low-Risk Prostate Cancer Called Over-Treated Disease

About 10% of men with early-stage prostate cancer have unnecessary surgery and 45% receive unnecessary radiation, according to University of Michigan researchers. More than half of 24,405 men with low-risk prostate cancer who were candidates for expectant management (watchful waiting) instead received aggressive treatments. The study appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The authors conclude that "greater attention to the factors that influenced the use of expectant management among men with prostate cancer is essential insofar as initial patient counseling and shared decision making mark the most important role that physicians play during the course of caring for patients with localized prostate cancer."

Bonnie - from the ineffectiveness of the PSA (prostate specific anitgen) to the study above, males with prostate cancer have to give much thought to how they want to proceed (with or without treatment).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sports Drinks are very acidic

Sports drink such as Gatorade are very acidic (pH 2.95 acidic; water 7.0 neutral) and do damage to the teeth and gi tract if used frequently. And that is the problem; they have been substituted through the day instead of nutritional drinks such as water and milk.

A nice alternative can be made by using 8 oz. orange juice, 8 oz. water, and 1/8 tsp. salt.

Courtesy of Lori Walsh, M.D., Glenbrook Pediatrics which appeared in Pioneer Press

Bonnie - it is nice to see my opinion echoed by an MD. I have been an avid detractor of Gatorade and other sports drinks for a very long time. I like her suggestion for a homemade electrolyte drink (although it could use more magnesium). I like the product Endura by Metagenics because it is lower acid, has no preservatives or artificial colors, and has plenty of magnesium.

Making vegetables more nutritious

Some fat-soluble nutrients that may be better absorbed by the body if consumed with a little healthy fat:

Beta Carotene
Vitamin E

Fat soluble means that some fat needs to be present for the body to adequately absorb the nutrients. This is one reasons why avocado is a superfood (the nutrients are absorbed so well because of the healthy fat in the avoacado).

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Friday, August 11, 2006

Omega-3 eggs’ heart benefits get clinical trial boost

Eating a breakfast of omega-3 enriched eggs could improve blood triglyceride levels and boost heart health, and could be the ideal way of helping people reach their omega-3 recommended intakes, says a study from Canada.

“Egg products can serve as ideal functional foods for the dietary delivery of the cardioprotective n−3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA) since the US population consumes relatively high levels of eggs, which are also rich sources of various other important nutrients, including essential amino acids, vitamins, etc,” wrote lead author Emily Rose in the journal Food Research International (Vol. 39, pp. 910-916).

Previous studies have reported that starting the day with an egg breakfast could increases satiety in overweight and obese people, and could lead to weight-loss. Eggs are well known to have a 50 per cent higher satiety index than regular breakfast cereals, which is generally believed to be due to the high protein content of the eggs.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dietary Supplements Show Promise in Patients with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis

Dietary supplementation with curcumin and quercetin may reduce the number and size of polyps in individuals with familial adenomatous polyposis who have undergone surgical removal of the colon. These results were published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Adenomatous polyps are non-cancerous growths in the colon or rectum that may eventually develop into cancer. Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is an inherited genetic condition characterized by the development of many—often more than a hundred—adenomatous polyps in the colon or rectum. Individuals with FAP have a greatly increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

To evaluate a potential alternative to COX-2 inhibitors in patients with FAP who have undergone surgery, researchers conducted a study to explore the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplementation with curcumin and quercetin. Curcumin is a constituent of the spice turmeric. Quercetin is found in foods such as apples, onions, and tea. After an average of six months, all patients had a decrease in the number and size of polyps. The average decrease in the number of polyps was 60%, and the average decrease in polyp size was 51%.Curcumin and quercetin produced minimal side effects, and none of the patients developed laboratory abnormalities.

The researchers conclude that the combination of curcumin and quercetin may reduce the number and size of rectal and ileal polyps in patients with FAP who have undergone surgical removal of the colon. Larger studies that include an appropriate comparison group will be needed to confirm these findings.

Israeli soldiers food staples

A client of ours living in Israel gave us the food contents in Israeli soldiers packs. How can an army subsist on this type of fare?

8 tea bags
4 packets of sugar
4 packets Kool Aid type drink
4 cans of processed meat
1 can olives
2 small cans halvah
1 can opener
1 packet plastic forks and knives

The ingredients are filled with additives, preservatives, sulphites, nitrates, colorings and other toxins.

U.S. Babies Getting Fatter: Study

American babies carry more "baby fat" now than ever before, a new study finds.

Researchers say infants are 59 percent more likely to be overweight today than they were two decades ago.

"The obesity epidemic in our country has spared no age group, even our very youngest children," said lead researcher Dr. Matthew Gillman, an associate professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School. "Overweight rates are going up in young children, and ours is the first study to show that they are going up in infants, in addition to toddlers and preschoolers," he said.

In the study of 120,680 children under six years of age, Gillman's team found that children, especially infants, are now more likely to be overweight. Looking at records collected from pediatricians working with a Massachusetts HMO for the years 1980 to 2001, they found that the prevalence of overweight children climbed from 6.3 percent to 10 percent during those 22 years. In addition, the proportion of children at risk of becoming overweight grew from 11.1 percent to 14.4 percent overall.

The report was published in the July issue of Obesity.

Infants had a 59 percent increased risk of being overweight, and the number of overweight infants increased by 74 percent, the researchers found.

The data suggests that obesity prevention may need to start even before babies are born, Gillman said. There are a number of factors that appear to be responsible for the trend, he noted.

The first is that women who become pregnant weigh more than they ever have, Gillman said, and "maternal body mass index is a determinate of infant weight at birth and after."

In addition, more mothers are putting on excess weight during pregnancy compared with decades past, Gillman said. "There is also an increase in type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes among mothers, which are determinants of infant weight at birth and after birth," he added.

How babies are fed may also play a role. "Infants that are breast-fed tend to gain weight more slowly than formula-fed infants," the Harvard expert said.

Gillman said early weight gain can have dire consequences for long-term health. Studies suggest that gaining excess weight during the first months of life is associated with becoming overweight and developing high blood pressure years later. Other data suggests that infants who gain excess weight are more likely to suffer from wheezing, which can lead to asthma, Gillman noted.

"We need to think about preventing obesity at the very early stages of life," he said. "Women need to maintain exclusive breast-feeding for at least four to six months, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics," he said.

One expert called the finding just one more facet of the ongoing obesity epidemic.

"This news is disturbing, but not surprising," said Dr. David L. Katz, an associate professor of public health and director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. "The progression from lean to overweight to dangerously obese occurs slowly, one pound at a time. The widely publicized increases in childhood obesity indicate that weight gain is beginning at an ever younger age. These data merely confirm the obvious," he said.

The message is disturbing for several reasons, Katz said. "As weight gain becomes problematic earlier in life, other chronic disease can be expected to do the same. If overweight becomes commonplace among babies, heart disease may well become commonplace among adolescents, as type 2 diabetes is already," he said.

The trend is also troubling because the nature of weight gain varies with age, Katz said. Infants and adolescents are far more adept at generating new fat cells than adults, he explained, and obesity caused by a high number of fat cells is harder to reverse than obesity caused by enlarging pre-existing fat cells.

"As difficult as weight control is for us, it will be that much harder, and more elusive, for our children," he said.

"The findings reported here are from a single HMO in one part of the country, but they contribute to an overwhelming body of evidence that childhood obesity is a crisis throughout the United States," Katz said.

Courtesy of

Bonnie - I could not have said it better myself.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Flavonoids linked to colorectal cancer protection

A diet rich in certain flavonoids, from eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by over 40 per cent, says a large observational study from Italy.

“The findings of this large study provide support for an inverse association of selected classes of flavonoids with colorectal cancer risk,” wrote lead author Marta Rossi in the August issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention (Vol. 15, pp. 1555-1558), a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The new case-control study, led by Rossi from the Università degli Studi di Milano, recruited 1,953 cases of colorectal cancers (1,225 colon cancers and 728 rectal cancers) and 4,154 hospital controls admitted for acute non-cancerous diseases. Dietary intake was assessed using validated food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Intake of six classes of flavonoids (isoflavones, anthocyanidins, flavones, flavonols, flavan-3-ols, and flavanones) was quantified using recently published food and beverage composition data.

After adjusting the results for sex, age, family history of colorectal cancer, BMI, energy intake, education, alcohol consumption, and physical activity, the researchers calculated that the highest intake of flavonols was associated with a 46 per cent reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer, compared to people in the lowest intake group.

Flavones, commonly found in citrus fruit, have been increasingly linked to health benefits, including protection against cancer, heart disease and inflammation.

Berries, particularly blueberries, are a rich source of anthocyanidins (anthocyanins without the sugar part). A recent in vitro study reported that blueberry anthocyanidins, mainly delphinidin, cyaniding, petunidin, peonidin and malvidin, could stop the growth of liver cancer cells (Food Research International, Vol. 39, pp. 628-638).

Courtesy of

Report says sugary drinks pile on pounds

An extra can of soda a day can pile on 15 pounds in a single year, and the "weight of evidence" strongly suggests that this sort of increased consumption is a key reason that more people have gained weight, the researchers say.

"We tried to look at the big picture rather than individual studies," and it clearly justifies public health efforts to limit sugar-sweetened beverages, said Dr. Frank Hu, who led the report published Tuesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. He and others at the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed 40 years of nutrition studies that met strict standards for relevance and scientific muster. The work was funded by ongoing grants to his lab from the federal government and the American Heart Association.

Soft drink trends have marched lock-step with the growing obesity epidemic, but industry groups have long fought efforts to say one directly caused the other. Not all studies conclude that beverages are at fault, and the new analysis ignored some that would have discounted such a link, the American Beverage Association said in a statement issued in response to the study.

About one-third of all carbohydrate calories in the American diet come from added sweeteners, and beverages account for about half of this amount, the new report says. The main sweetener in beverages — high-fructose corn syrup — contains slightly more fructose than ordinary table sugar. Some studies suggest that pure fructose fails to spur production of insulin, which is needed to "process" calories, or leptin, a substance that helps regulate appetite.

A single 12-ounce can of soda provides the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar, the Harvard review says.

Courtesy AP

Bonnie - there is no purpose for soft drinks and other sweetened drinks. They have no nutritional value and contain chemical additives. Hopefully, our consumption of sodas will begin to decline as they have in India, which for the first time, showed a decline in cocoa Cola sales.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Celiacs can try to get nutritonal services covered

A client told us that the American Celiac Disease Alliance is taking surveys with the purpose of taking on the insurance industry to force them to look at providing insurance benefits for those patients with celiac who seek nutritional counseling.

The site is

Alternative methods for detoxing heavy metals

I have heard from a few clients and health professionals that infrared saunas and detox clay baths have been very helpful in chelating heavy metals.


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Highlights

  • Fish oil was as effective as atorvastatin (Lipitor) in raising the HDL levels of 48 obese men. While the underlying mechanisms responsible for this change was previously unknown in both substances, researchers now believe that fish oil raises HDL by having a favorable effect on apolipoproteins A-1 and A-11, something atorvastatin did not do in this study.

  • Palm and partially hydrogenated soybean oils, compared with soybean and canola oils, significantly raised the LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) profile in subjects with moderately high cholesterol.

  • Chronic consumption of high glycemic foods may lead to chronically high oxidative stress. A low glycemic diet, not low carbohydrate diet, appears to be beneficial in reducing oxidative stress. Steve - refer to our Blood Sugar Balance Action Plan for a list of high glycemic or low glycemic foods

  • In one of the largest studies ever done on antioxidant concentrations in food (1113 food products tested), blackberries, walnuts, strawberries, artichokes, cranberries, brewed coffee, raspberries, pecans, bluberries, ground cloves, grape juice, and unsweetened baking chocolate were at the top of the list for highest concentration of antioxidants.

  • In 144 healthy women of childbearing age given folic acid, 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate), or placebo, the group who received 5-MTHF, which is an acivated form of folic acid, showed a more significant increase in folate levels than the folic acid or placebo groups. Steve - 5-MTHF is in our Metagenics Actifolate

  • Greater intake of omega 3 fish oil was related to a lower prevalence of high CRP (C-Reactive Protein) concentrations in an older Japanese population. High CRP levels are associated with cardiac disease.

  • Dietary supplementation with concentrated red grape juice lowers LDL-cholesterol and apolipoprotein B-100 concentrations, increases HDL and apolipoprotein A-1, and reduces overall inflammatory cardiac biomarkers. Quercetin is the predominate polyphenol (antioxidant) found in the grape juice.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Allergists offer food safety guidelines for infants

Parents can help prevent food allergies by waiting to introduce certain foods into a child's diet and by feeding a child breast milk exclusively until the sixth month of life, a group of allergists advises.

Avoiding milk and dairy products at this time can help infants at risk of food allergies, but there are no evidence-based guidelines on when other foods should be introduced and when children should begin eating solid food, Dr. Alessandro Fiocchi of the University of Milan Medical School in Italy and colleagues from the Adverse Reactions to Foods Committee of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology write.

To fill the gap, Fiocchi and his team searched the existing scientific literature and developed a consensus statement. "Pediatricians and allergists should cautiously individualize the introduction of solids into the infants' diet," they write in the July issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Other than breast milk, no supplemental foods, including cow's milk-based formulas, should be given until the child reaches six months of age, the researchers state. Introducing solid foods in a child's first four months of life, they add, has been associated with an increased risk of allergies up to age 10.

Foods should also be introduced one at a time in small amounts, Fiocchi and his colleagues state, and children should not be given mixed foods unless it is clear they are not allergic to any of the components.

Courtesy Reuters

SOURCE: Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, July 2006.

Steve - sound familiar? It seems like the allergists read our playbook! Only their advice comes years too late and way too many children have suffered.

Teenagers may benefit from vitamin D supplements

The new study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood (Vol. 91, pp. 569-572), suggests that the burden of osteoporosis could increase in the future with the finding that over 70 per cent of the teenage girls who took part in this study were vitamin D deficient.

The researchers, led by Dr Zulf Mughal, recruited 51 teenage girls with an average age of 15.3 years. Fourteen girls were white, and the other 37 were non-white. Dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium were assessed using food frequency questionnaires, and skin exposure to sunlight was also calculated based on typical everyday clothing cover. The girls also had blood samples taken to measure levels of calcium and 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active ‘storage’ form of the vitamin.

The researches report that 73 per cent of the girls (37 girls) were vitamin D deficient, with levels of 25(OH)D below 30 nanomoles per litre of serum.

Worryingly, nine girls (17 per cent) had levels below 12.5 nanomoles per litre. These low levels are typically associated with rickets and osteomalacia.

“Avoidance of exposure to sunshine for religious and cultural beliefs that encourage wearing of concealing clothing and restriction of outdoor activities has previously been reported as a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency in Saudi Arabian adolescents.

“Increased skin pigmentation is a further factor that might explain the difference in vitamin D status of white and non-white girls in our study,” wrote the researchers.

UK researchers recently proposed 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to the midday sun as a good source of the vitamin. In the US, where over 1.5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, experts are pushing supplements, claiming recommendations for sun exposure are “highly irresponsible”.

By this thinking, the best source could be from fortified foods and supplements.

Steve - UK researchers are right on with the 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure. Although, for much of the year, that is not possible in Northern climates, so supplementation from sources such as cod Liver Oil is warranted.

Breast-fed handle stress better

Babies who are breast fed cope better with stress in later life than bottle-fed babies, research shows.

Among almost 9,000 children aged 10, those who had been bottle fed as a baby found it harder to deal with stressful events such as parental divorce.

The Swedish researchers believe close physical contact and mother-baby bonding during the first few days of life may be important factors.

Their work appears in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The children's teachers were to rate the anxiety of their pupils on a scale of zero to 50, while parents were interviewed about major family disruption, including divorce or separation, which had occurred when their child was aged 5-10. The Karolinska Institute team also looked at other factors that might influence or be linked with a child's reactions to stress and coping mechanisms, including maternal depression, parental education levels, their social class, and smoking habits.

The children whose parents had divorced or separated were more likely to have high anxiety than their peers.

Specifically, breast-fed children were almost twice as likely to be highly anxious, while children who had been bottle fed were over nine times as likely to be highly anxious about parental divorce or separation.

The authors stress that their findings do not mean breastfeeding itself makes children cope better with life stress.

Rather, breastfeeding might affect the quality of the bonding between mother and child, and the way in which the two relate to each other.

The World Health Organization recommends that mothers should feed their babies on breast milk alone for the first six months of life.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Bonnie's Blog will be on hiatus until Monday.

Painkillers may raise heart attack risk slightly

All painkillers of the type known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) seem to increase the risk of having a heart attack, according to a population-based study conducted in Finland. The finding applies not only to selective COX-2 inhibitors such as celecoxib but also to non-selective drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen.

The investigators evaluated data for 33,309 heart attack patients entered into the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register between 2000 and 2003. These subjects were compared with 138,949 matched "control" subjects.

Helin-Salmivaara from the University of Turku, in Helsinki, and colleagues found that current use of any type of NSAID was associated with 40 percent increased risk of having a heart attack. The risk of having a heart attack tended to decline over time after discontinuation of NSAID use, but this trend reached statistical significance only for nonselective NSAIDs.

In a related editorial, Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, from Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, points out that the report by the Finnish team is the largest population-based study of NSAIDs performed to date.

SOURCE: European Heart Journal, July 2006.

Courtesy of Reuters

Steve - as anticipated, the scope of NSAID's effects has widened. More research needs to be undertaken, but I anticipate that many medical scholars and health professionals alike are on high alert. As we have said for years, NSAID's are a band-aid approach for most. One needs to get to the root of the cause, and in most cases, that begins with diet. In addition, there are many nutrients available that can assist with pain relief.

More vitamin B6 linked to lower Parkinson’s risk

Increased intake of vitamin B6, from diet and supplements, could cut the risk of Parkinson’s disease by half suggests a prospective study from the Netherlands.

The researchers, from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, recruited 5,289 people over the age of 55 and found that those with the highest total vitamin B6 intake had significantly lower risk of developing risk that those with the lowest intake.

The Rotterdam Study looked into reports that increased levels of the amino acid homocysteine might promote Parkinson’s disease. Numerous studies have reported that higher intakes of folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 decrease plasma homocysteine levels and therefore might offer protection from Parkinson’s.

The researchers found that people who had daily vitamin B6 intakes of 230.9 micrograms or more had an associated risk of developing Parkinson’s disease 54 per cent lower than people who had average daily intakes lower than 185.1 micrograms.

The results are published in the journal Neurology (Vol. 67, pp. 315-318).

Courtesy of

Most fat people confident of healthy eating habits

More than three-quarters of obese Americans say they have healthy eating habits, according to a survey of more than 11,000 people. About 40 percent of obese people also said they do ''vigorous'' exercise at least three times a week, the telephone survey found.

''There is, perhaps, some denial going on. Or there is a lack of understanding of what does it mean to be eating healthy, and what is vigorous exercise,'' said Dr. David Schutt of Thomson Medstat, the Michigan-based health-care research firm that conducted the survey.

Courtesy of AP

Steve - we would agree with the lack of understanding of what does it mean to be healthy. This is why along with your doctor, your nutritionist should be one of your most important advisers! Food and dietary options are always changing as is your body and lifestyle. You need a nutritionist to lean on to keep up you up to date and help you make the necessary adjustments throughout your life.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

'Anti-obesity vaccine' developed

US researchers have developed a vaccine which prevents weight gain in rats, offering clues about human treatments. The vaccine prompts the body to produce antibodies against ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger and weight gain. Vaccinated rats put on less weight while eating the same amount as those which did not have the jab.

A UK obesity expert said the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study was interesting, but it might not be safe for people.

The reduction in weight gain occurred despite the rats eating and drinking normally, indicating that the inhibition of ghrelin was having an effect on the animals' metabolism.

Professor Janda said the ultimate goal was to develop a vaccine to promote weight loss in humans although it may not be an active vaccine because it is more difficult to control.

"Whether active immunization against ghrelin would help prevent the development of obesity because of energy-dense, palatable, high-fat Western diets or would facilitate weight loss once obesity is established is uncertain," he added.

Professor Stephen Bloom, professor of investigative science at Imperial College London, said big pharmaceutical companies had been looking for ways to block the action of ghrelin for years but it had not yet proved effective.

"What is surprising about this study is that by producing antibodies to block ghrelin it works as well as it does.

"This is an important proof of principle but there are problems. For example if you develop antibodies against something you can't get rid of them very easily, so if there's anything bad you can't undo it.

"And since ghrelin is present in the brain you might start an immune system response against the brain. It's not necessarily a very safe thing to do - I wouldn't want to be a volunteer."