Friday, September 29, 2006

Vitamin E in pecans may reduce LDL oxidation

A handful of pecans a day could reduce the risk of heart disease, found a recent study, likely due to the nut’s high vitamin E content.

Researchers at Loma Linda University in California linked pecans to slowing down the unwanted oxidation of blood lipids by up to 7.4 per cent, in turn potentially lowering the risk of heart disease.

Pecans are especially rich in a form of vitamin E, gamma tocopherol, which is thought to protect fats from oxidation.
The study is published in Nutrition Research (volume 26, issue 8, August 2006, 397-402).

The Loma Linda University researchers analyzed blood samples from 23 men and women between the ages of 25 and 55. The participants were randomly placed on either the American Heart Association's Step I diet or the study’s pecan-enriched version of the diet in which 20 per cent of calories were replaced with pecans.

After four weeks on one diet, each group switched to the other diet.

"We concluded that even though the pecan diet was high in unsaturated fats, which one may think would increase blood oxidation, that did not happen,” said Dr.Haddad. “We found the opposite result: the pecan diet showed reduced oxidation of blood lipids."

Sugar linked with mental problems in Norway study

Oslo teens who drank the most sugary soft drinks also had more mental health problems such as hyperactivity and distress, Norwegian researchers reported on Thursday.

Their study of more than 5,000 Norwegian 15- and 16-year-olds showed a clear and direct association between soft drink intake and hyperactivity, and a more complex link with other mental and behavioral disorders.

They surveyed the students, asking them how many fizzy soft drinks with sugar they had a day, and then questions from a standard questionnaire used to assess mental health.

The teens who reported skipping breakfast and lunch were among the heaviest soft drink consumers, Dr. Lars Lien and colleagues at the University of Oslo found.

Most of the students said they drank anywhere between one and six servings of soft drinks per week.

Those who drank no soft drinks at all were more likely than moderate drinkers to have mental health symptoms, the researchers said. But those who drank the most -- more than six servings a week - had the highest scores.

For hyperactivity, there was a direct linear relationship -- the more sodas a teen drank, the most symptoms of hyperactivity he or she had.

The worst problems were seen in boys and girls who drank four or more soft drinks a day. Ten percent of the boys and 2 percent of the girls drank this much.

Courtesy Reuters

Steve - this is such a welcome study. While painfully evident in what we see clinically, there has been so little data connecting sugar and mental health. Results of a study such as this done in the United States would produce numbers much higher because the average diet is much worse than in Norway.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tai chi mind-body exercise may benefit cardiovascular physiology

According to Harvard Researchers, data from multiple Chinese studies showed positive outcomes related to improved cardiovascular physiology from the incorporation of Tai chi. These results were presented to the National Institutes of Health last month.

More selenium could slash bladder cancer risk, says study

Increasing the daily intake of selenium from dietary and supplementary sources, could cut the risk of bladder cancer by 70 per cent, suggests a new study from Belgium.

Continued coverage of positive results, like the new study published in the International Journal of Urology (Vol. 13, pp. 1180-1184), could help further increase public awareness of a mineral already associated with reducing the risk of prostate and lung cancer, as well as boosting the immune system.

The authors carried out a population case-control study with 178 cases and 362 controls. Blood samples were taken to assess serum selenium concentrations. After accounting for sex, age, smoking and occupational exposure, the researchers calculated that the risk of bladder cancer was slashed by 70 per cent for those people with blood levels of more than 96 micrograms per litre, compared to those with serum levels of less than 82.4 micrograms per litre. Serum selenium levels between 82.4 and 96 micrograms per litre were associated with a 52 per cent risk reduction in bladder cancer risk.

The European recommended daily intake (RDI) is 65 micrograms.

Health Insurance rises again!

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health insurance premiums rose on average 7.7% in 2006, which is twice the rate of inflation. What is particularly startling is the difference between wage and premium growth. Since 2000, health insurance has gone up 87%; wages have gone up 20%. The average cost for health insurance for individuals is $4242 per year. For families, the cost is $11,480. As employers move away from offering health benefits to their employees, the burden will fall on employees, putting further strain on their budgets.

Steve - these numbers become more and more staggering. Until we change the health care paradigm and focus on prevention, the numbers will continue to increase.

Americans still confused by food labels

According to a poll published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, almost all of the participants had difficulty with at least some of the labels.

Many had trouble understanding serving sizes and completing simple calculations. In particular, those with chronic illnesses where understanding labels might be particulary important, actually had a harder time reading labels than other people.

Steve - this is why it is crucial to have a nutritionist/dietitian that can trust to sort out the details with you.

New York proposes trans fat ban in restaurants

New York City's Health Department on Tuesday proposed a near ban on the use of artificial trans fat at restaurants, likening its health danger to that of lead paint.

The proposal would limit the use of the artery-clogging fat, which is often used in fast foods, to 0.5 grams per serving. The proposal comes after a year-long city campaign to educate restaurants on the effects of such fats and encourage them to stop their use.

The city said the voluntary campaign failed and while some of New York's more than 20,000 restaurants reduced or stopped using artificial trans fat, overall use did not decline at all.

"Trans fat causes heart disease. Like lead in paint, artificial trans fat in food is invisible and dangerous, and it can be replaced," New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said in a statement.

The proposal would give restaurants six months to switch to oils, margarine and shortening with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

After 18 months, all other food items would need to contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. Packaged food items still in the manufacturer's original packaging when served would be exempt.

The department would also require that more restaurants print calorie information on menus.

Bonnie - well, now...the idea does not not seem as ludicrous as Mayor Daley thinks! Now we have seen by New York's example that trying to get restaurants to voluntarily remove the trans fats from its menus is a failure. Hopefully we can trump New York and implement Alderman Burke's plan (while watered down, it is still something) before they implement their own. This will show at least that the fattest city in America is trying to do something for its citizens.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Make sure you know your fruit is organic, conventional, or GMO

We found in Julie Deardorff's column in the Chicago Tribune:
Look at the PLU stickers on your produce.
What a great little tip!

Conventionally grown produce are four digits long
and begin with the number 3 or 4.

Organically grown produce are five digits
and begin with the number 9.

Genetically modified produce are also five digits
and begin with the number 8.

Fatty fish benefits kidneys

According to a study published in the September 20th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, omega-3 fatty acids may help protect your kidneys against cancer. The 15-year study showed that women who ate high amounts of fatty fish (more than one serving per week) had a 44 percent less risk for developing renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Legendary nutritional authority has a lot to say

Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FACN, is a senior scientist and director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. His research efforts are focused on the biochemical basis for the role of antioxidant nutrients and their dietary requirements in health promotion and disease prevention during the aging process via their modulation of oxidative stress status. Dr Blumberg is also a professor in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, where he teaches graduate students and trains post-doctoral fellows.

In a recent interview that appeared in the September/October issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Dr. Blumberg was asked how he would characterize the mainstream medical establishment’s understanding and acceptance of dietary supplement research and dietary supplements in general?

"Some clinicians and policy makers fear that recommending dietary supplements will suggest these products are substitutes for a healthful diet. But there should be no dichotomy between foods and supplements. It seems clear to me that both are necessary solutions to promoting health. Of course, all the available evidence suggests that people who use supplements are more likely to engage in other proactive health behaviors, including eating better, exercising more, and not smoking. There is no indication that people use supplements as an excuse to continue with poor dietary choices. Oddly, some people then conclude that those who use supplements do not need them. But they do need them, albeit less desperately than those who do not take them. Nonetheless, I have found physicians who actively discourage any use of any supplements rather than try to design a rational supplement regimen for their patients.

Perhaps many physicians do not feel knowledgeable enough about nutrition to make the recommendation, or they simply do not have the time to assess each patient’s dietary pattern and nutritional status. This only suggests to me the need for a healthcare team approach, actively involving dietitians and pharmacists to contribute to this effort.

It is also likely that some physicians have been discouraged by the null results of recent clinical trials. However, there is a great deal of misunderstanding regarding the conclusions that should be drawn from studies conducted in patient populations receiving polypharmacy therapies and the inappropriateness of extrapolating them to use in primary prevention. For example, do vitamin E supplements reduce the risk of heart disease? Vitamin E given in randomized trials to patients with heart disease and/or diabetes who are also receiving anticoagulants, anti-platelet drugs, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, ACE inhibitors, statins, and other agents does not appear in most studies to provide a benefit. However, most of the observational data on healthy people taking vitamin E indicate a marked reduction in the risk of a first cardiac event."

Bonnie - Dr. Blumberg is as highly regarded a scientist as there is. He also serves on the board of The American College of Nutrition, in which I am a member of. He has understood for decades the importance of dietary supplementation. Being a researcher for the government, Dr. Blumberg stepped out of his comfort zone with these comments. I am glad he did.

Acupuncture shows promise for hot flashes

Acupuncture may offer women an alternative for easing hot flashes during menopause, preliminary research suggests.

In a study of 29 women with frequent, daily hot flashes, researchers found that those who received acupuncture began to have fewer and less severe symptoms during the night.

As nighttime hot flashes improved, so did the quality of the women's sleep, the researchers report in the journal Fertility & Sterility.

Recent medical research has found that acupuncture may work by altering signals among nerve cells or by affecting the release of various chemicals of the central nervous system. There's also some evidence that acupuncture affects hormones related to both sleep and menopause.

By the end of treatment, women who'd been getting the real acupuncture sessions reported a greater reduction in the severity of their nighttime hot flashes than those in the comparison group.

Both groups said their hot flashes had become less frequent, the researchers found, and as hot flash symptoms improved, so did the women's sleep quality.

Panel: FDA hasn't learned from Vioxx

Two years after the withdrawal of the pain-killer Vioxx, the Food and Drug Administration still can't adequately track the safety of new drugs and respond quickly to problems, a panel of experts said Friday.

The Institute of Medicine said the FDA needs more money, people and power to ensure it maintains focus on the safety of drugs it regulates once they're on the market.

The institute proposed a series of steps to improve safety review, including boosting the FDA's budget.

It recommended the FDA review the safety of all new drugs five years after their introduction, making initial approval almost tentative and subject to withdrawal.

New drugs also would carry a symbol for two years alerting patients and doctors that uncertainties may remain about their risks and benefits. Advertising would be restricted during that period, if legally permissible, according to the report.

Courtesy AP

Wait-and-see approach lowers antibiotic use for ear infections

A new study suggests that taking a wait-and-see approach before giving antibiotics to children with acute ear infections results in significantly lower use of antibiotics, with little difference in outcomes for the children.

The study's results, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are particularly timely. Resistance to antibiotics is a major public health concern worldwide, and acute otitis media (AOM, or ear infection) is the most common reason for prescribing antibiotics to children, at a rate of approximately 15 million prescriptions per year in the United States.

The study, co-authored by Vanderbilt's Donald H. Arnold, M.D., M.P.H., tracked emergency department visits of nearly 300 children, ages 6 months to 12 years. Participants were divided into wait-and-see prescription (WASP) group, where parents had the option of delaying use of antibiotics, and standard prescription (SP) group.

Researchers found that the WASP group significantly reduced the use of antibiotics: 62 percent of parents in that group did not fill the antibiotic prescription, compared with 13 percent in the SP group, resulting in an overall 56 percent reduction in antibiotic use. Although the WASP group had 2.4 days of earache versus two days in the SP group, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups in the frequency of subsequent fever or unscheduled visits for medical care.

Courtesy Healthy News Service

Friday, September 22, 2006

Protein triggers weight loss hormone

New research that appears in the September issue of Cell Metabolism shows that increasing the protein content of the diet augments the body's own weight-loss hormone, called PPY, thus reducing hunger and aiding weight-loss.

Steve - how shocking...not! How many times do we need to say it? Eat protein! Make sure you consume it with every meal and make it at least 30% of your daily intake.

Diet Lowers Cancer Risk

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, it is estimated that eating a Mediterranean-style diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly can reduce your cancer risk by 30 to 40 percent.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

American Journal Clinical Nutrition Highlights

From our favorite nutrition journal, here is the latest:
  • For women with risk of developing uterine fibroids, lignan consumption (such as flaxseed) may be a viable strategy for reducing the risk.

  • Ingestion of protein WITH carbohydrates after activities of daily living improves whole-body protein balance, and the increase of muscle protein synthesis in older person.

  • Per last week's blog entry, you'll find our comments on US Medical Students' attitude towards nutrition education.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The breakfast hype

A recently released article in the New York Times, quoting numerous academic authorities across the country, weighed the pros and cons of eating breakfast.

It was universally agreed upon that breakfast for children is crucial. Experts were mixed on the importance of breakfast for adults. For the experts who believe that breakfast is not important for asults, we think it is ridiculous.

Without protein every 5-6 waking hours, we see impaired glucose, lower levels of concentration, and breakdown of muscle (protein) for fuel. Eating the wrong fuel, however (typical breakfast fare of fruit juice, sugar cereals/bars/rolls) is worse than no breakfast because it causes a peak, then drop in insulin levels.

In short, eat a balaced breakfast!

Bonnie and Steve

A Milk War Over More Than Price

Organic milk is about to become much more widely available, as Wal-Mart rolls out its own organic brand, which will be cheaper than similar milk on the market. But critics worry that what consumers will be getting is a diluted form of organic milk. Sold under Wal-Mart’s popular Great Value label, half-gallon cartons of the milk is likely to create stiff competition for many other makers of organic milk — which comes from cows that have not been treated with hormones or antibiotics — and even sellers of conventional milk.

The organic milk Wal-Mart is selling under its own label comes from Aurora Organic Dairy, which also supplies Safeway, Costco, Target and Wild Oats with their store brands of organic milk. The controversy turns on how closely Aurora adheres to the principles behind the organic food movement. Many organic farmers say grass feeding is essential for organic dairy production because it is part of a cow’s natural behavior. Milk from grass-fed cows, they say, is also higher in beneficial fatty acids than milk from cows fed grain, making it more nutritious.

At Aurora’s Platteville operation, 4,000 cows are put on grass only when not being milked or when they are nearing the end of a lactation cycle. That totals about two to three months a year. The rest of the time they stay in dirt-lined outdoor pens where they eat from an ample trough filled with a mixture of hay, silage, corn and soybeans. In accordance with organic standards, Aurora cows also get no hormones or antibiotics and all their feed is grown organically.

Courtesy of NY Times

Steve - of course, we still need to keep an eye on Wal-Mart and the metamorphisis of the organic dairy industry. In an ideal world, if all cows could be grass-fed, it would be best. That is nearly impossible right now. There are organic dairies that produce grass-fed milk. You can also buy from local dairy farmers. You will just have to pay more. Nevertheless, the fact that Wal-Mart is carrying organic milk that is free of antibiotics and hormones is a very positive step for the overall health of the population. Rome wasn't built in a day!

Salad eaters more likely to get key nutrients

People who eat salads have higher serum levels of vitamins C and E, folic acid, and carotenoids, according to a large study of US adults that suggests these nutrients are well absorbed in the body from raw vegetables.

Researchers at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans based their findings on data from a federal health and nutrition survey of 17,688 US adults between 1988 and 1994. For the study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, salad consumption was assessed based on intakes of salad, raw vegetables and salad dressing.

The study contributes to the existing body of research showing Americans are not getting enough fruits and vegetables and could serve as a roadmap for supplement formulators to target specific populations not getting enough of the nutrients in question.

“From this analysis we know that one extra serving of salad daily increased levels of a variety of nutrients,” concluded the authors led by Dr Joseph Su.

The data revealed consumption of salads or raw vegetables was 10 to 15 percent less among non-Hispanic African Americans than among non-Hispanic whites of the same age and sex.

Essential food for young minds

Kids who regularly eat breakfast appear to get the nutrients they need and do better in school.

Kids should eat breakfast. Children are still growing, so their need for energy and nutrients is more critical. "The research overwhelmingly shows that there appear to be many more benefits to eating breakfast than any negative consequences," says Gail Rampersaud, a dietitian at the University of Florida in Gainesville who recently analyzed 47 studies published between 1970 and 2004 on the health effects of breakfast (or skipping it) on children.

Among the findings:

Many studies — although not all — suggest that skipping breakfast may have ill effects on the cognitive function of children, especially on their memory.

Studies have also reported that the introduction of a school breakfast program led to better math grades, as well as reduced absences and tardiness.

In addition to the effects on children's mind, children who don't get breakfast risk losing out on adequate intake of vitamins A and C, calcium and iron, according to about a dozen studies.

About another dozen studies suggest that children and adolescents who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight. Despite this evidence, even children as young as 4 years old are not always fed breakfast by their parents. In the United States, it's estimated that 8% of children age 6 to 11 skip breakfast, with the number climbing to 25% in 12- to 19-year-olds.

By Andreas von Bubnoff, Special to The LA Times
September 18, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

Watermelon as lycopene source

A new method for extracting lycopene from watermelons developed by US scientists could challenge tomatoes’ pre-eminence as the source of the antioxidant for foods and dietary supplements.

Lycopene is an antioxidant that is present in red- and pink-coloured fruits and vegetables. As well as being used as a food colouring, it is also used in supplements. The role of lycopene in heart health and in reducing the risk of certain cancers is supported by a body of research.

Scientists from the Agricultural Research Services have previously established that watermelons have a higher lycopene content than tomatoes. The scientists analysed 13 varieties of watermelon for their lycopene content, and found that the seedless varieties tended to have more.

Bonnie - this is something we forget. Tomato is not the only vegetable that contains lycopene. This is good news for those of who cannot tolerate the acidity and salicylic acid content of tomatoes.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Study portrays dismal outlook on doctors understanding importance of nutrition

Nutrition counseling by physicians can improve patients' dietary behaviors and is affected by physician's nutrition practices and attitudes.

A study which appears in this month's issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition aimed to gather perceived relevance of nutrition counseling among graduating US Medical Students at 16 schools. The results are not promising.

Freshmen students were more likely (72%) to find nutrition counseling highly relevant than were students at the time of ward orientation (61%) or during their senior year (46%).

Only 19% of students believed that they had been extensively trained in nutrition counseling, and 17% of seniors reported that they frequently counseled their patients about nutrition.

Steve - there is no excuse for these numbers. It is a direct indictment on our medical education systems. Another uninformed generation loses out or has to figure out for themselves the importance of nutrition counseling. What a disgrace!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Increased dietary fish oil may prevent many deaths

Fish oil could potentially save more lives than cardiac defibrillators, devices used to revive individuals whose hearts have stopped beating and to prevent and treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias, researchers estimate in a new report.

Past research has linked the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish to a lower risk of fatal heart rhythm disturbances. This latest study tried to estimate the potential public health impact of raising adults' omega-3 levels with fish oil supplements.

Using a computer-simulated community of 100,000 Americans and data from past medical studies, the researchers calculated that raising omega-3 levels would save 58 lives each year.

This amounts to a 6.4-percent total death reduction -- mostly by preventing sudden cardiac death in apparently healthy people, according to the study authors, led by Dr. Thomas E. Kottke of the Heart Center at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Conversely, the researchers estimate that far fewer lives would be saved by defibrillators, devices that deliver a "shock" to restart the heart or to resolve ventricular fibrillation, an otherwise fatal heartbeat irregularity in which the heart quivers instead of contracting normally.

The study, which is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, has its limitations, as a computer simulation.

Courtesy, Reuters Health

Steve - these are the kinds of studies we need to see more of! This is a proactive, not reactive study.

Heart-Healthy green tea

Japanese Researchers who followed more than 40,000 adults found that drinking green tea was associated with a lower death rate from cardiovascular disease, but not from cancer. The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. During the seven years volunteers were followed, those who drank five or more cups of green tea per day were 26 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who drank less than one cup per day. The link was statistically stronger for reducing deaths from stroke than from heart attacks. In addition, the heavy tea drinkers were 16 percent less likely to die from all causes than those who drank little or no tea during 11 years of followup. Researchers found no decrease in cancer deaths among tea drinkers.

FDA whistle-blower Graham blasts new Merck arthritis drug

The arthritis drug that Merck has developed to compete with Celebrex may be as risky for the heart as its predecessor, Vioxx, writes Food and Drug Administration whistle-blower David Graham in an editorial posted online Tuesday.

In considering whether Arcoxia should be approved, "the FDA, academia, and the medical research enterprise are once again faced with the opportunity to forsake common sense by willfully accepting misdirection and disinformation presented in the guise of science," Graham writes on the Journal of the American Medical Association's website.

An editor's note says the FDA allowed Graham to write the editorial as a private citizen, not as an agency employee. The editorial and the two studies it accompanies will run in the Oct. 4 JAMA, but they were posted online early "because of the public health implications," a JAMA press release says.

Graham, a physician in the FDA's Office of Drug Safety, made news nearly two years ago when he told a Senate panel that the agency was "virtually defenseless" in preventing a "tragedy and profound regulatory failure" such as Vioxx.

Concerns for cardiovascular safety had spurred Merck to stop selling Vioxx in September 2004.

Like Vioxx and Celebrex, Arcoxia is a so-called COX-2 inhibitor. Their selling point has been a lower risk of bleeding stomach ulcers and other serious digestive tract complications than other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen.

A month after Vioxx was taken off the market, the FDA issued an "approvable letter" for Arcoxia, its successor, asking for more data on safety and effectiveness. The FDA still has not made a final decision on Arcoxia, which is sold in 62 countries.

In an August paper in the American Heart Journal, Merck scientists reported that preliminary analyses of clinical trial data showed that the rate of cardiovascular "events," such as heart attacks, was similar between Arcoxia and diclofenac, an older arthritis drug.

But one article posted online by JAMA raises serious questions about the cardiovascular safety of diclofenac, which, in turn, raise questions about the safety of Arcoxia. Researchers pooled the results of 23 studies in which people decided whether to take an NSAID. They found that diclofenac raised cardiovascular risk as much as lower-dose Vioxx. Only higher-dose Vioxx was riskier.

Co-author David Henry, a clinical pharmacologist at the University of Newcastle in Australia, says he has switched patients from diclofenac to naproxen, which, in his study and others, appears to be the only NSAID that doesn't raise cardiovascular risk. "It causes gastrointestinal bleeding, no question," he says. "But I'd rather have a gastrointestinal bleed than a heart attack."

Courtesy USA Today

Vitamin D halves pancreatic cancer risk: study

People who take vitamin D supplements are half as likely to get deadly pancreatic cancer as people who do not. The study, which appeared in Journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, suggests this is an easy way to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer, the fourth-leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 32,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed, and only 5 percent of patients will survive more than five years.

"Because there is no effective screening for pancreatic cancer, identifying controllable risk factors for the disease is essential for developing strategies that can prevent cancer," Halcyon Skinner of Northwestern University in Chicago, who helped lead the study, said in a statement.

"Vitamin D has shown strong potential for preventing and treating prostate cancer, and areas with greater sunlight exposure have lower incidence and mortality for prostate, breast, and colon cancers, leading us to investigate a role for Vitamin D in pancreatic cancer risk."

Working with colleagues at Harvard University, Skinner's team examined data from two large, long-term health surveys involving 46,771 men aged 40 to 75 and 75,427 women aged 38 to 65.

They found that people who took the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D, 400 IU a day, had a 43 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

Those who took doses of less than 150 IU per day had a 22 percent reduced risk of cancer.

Steve - this will come as good news to those of you who take a multivitamin, vitamin D separately in supplement form, or the gold standrad (other than the sun), Cod Liver Oil.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Another study touting CoQ10’s benefits for heart health

The majority of research looking at the benefits of CoQ10 for health has focused on the cardiovascular diseases. The heart tissue contains the highest concentration of CoQ10 in the human body (about 132 nanomoles per gram), and there is evidence, said the researchers of the new study, that plasma CoQ10 levels decrease in patients with advanced chronic heart failure (CHF).

According to the Study on Heart failure Awareness and Perception in Europe (SHAPE), to test if supplementation of the coenzyme could improve cardiocirculatory efficiency and endothelial function in patients with CHF, Romualdo Belardinelli from the Lancisi Heart Institute, Italy and her colleagues recruited 23 patients (20 men, average age 59) with stable CHF for a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study.

Participants were randomly assigned to one of four four-week intervention groups: oral supplements of CoQ10 (100 mg three times per day); CoQ10 plus supervised exercise training (ET) five times a week; placebo; or placebo plus ET.

The results, published on-line ahead of print in the European Heart Journal, show that the heart’s functional capacity improved significantly by nine per cent, as measured by the peak volume of oxygen consumed (VO2), for the CoQ10 compared to placebo. Similar results were observed for the CoQ10 plus exercise groups.

Blood flow also increased, as measured by endothelium-dependent dilation of the brachial artery (EDDBA) by 38 per cent after CoQ10 supplementation.

Supplementation with CoQ10 tripled plasma CoQ10 levels, and CoQ10 plus exercise further increased levels.

The coenzyme is concentrated in the mitochondria - the 'power plants' of the cell - and plays a vital role in the production of chemical energy by participating in the production of adenosince triphosphate (ATP), the body's co-called 'energy currency'.

A role beyond the mitochondria is also acknowledged, with CoQ10 acting as a potent antioxidant, and it is this role that is proposed to be behind the benefits observed in this study, by reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, which results in increased levels of nitric oxide and widening of the blood vessels (vasodilation).

Monday, September 11, 2006

Plant extracts beat synthetics as meat preservatives

Grape seed and pine bark extracts as additives in cooked meats performed better than the synthetic preservatives in oxidation and microbial effects, results that could be readily acceptable to consumers seeking ready-to-eat meat products with natural preservatives.

The new study, published in the Elsevier journal Food Microbiology (Vol. 24, pp. 7-14), gives a boost to the natural sector by reporting that grape seed extract (ActiVin) and pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) performed better that BHA and BHT in retarding the microbial contamination by E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella of freshly ground beef.

The same extracts also performed better at reducing oxidation of the beef than the synthetic alternatives after nine days. Oxidation processes in food can lead to organoleptic deterioration in taste, colour and texture.

Steve - hey, FDA, this sure beats treating our meat with viruses (see last week's blog entry)!

Antibiotic for Sinuses Is Questioned

An antibiotic proposed as a treatment for acute sinus infections should be studied further because of serious skin reactions associated with its use, federal health officials said in documents released Monday. When compared with other antibiotics used to treat minor infections, the incident of serious rashes has Food and Drug Administration officials concerned about the safety of the drug, Factive or gemifloxacin.

Steve - many experts now believe from recent studies that chronic sinus infections or sinusitis are predominately fungal, not bacterial, then rendering antibiotics ineffective.

NIH researcher accused of misconduct

A senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health engaged in "serious misconduct" by entering into dozens of unauthorized private arrangements with drug companies and failing to report annually the outside income, totaling more than $100,000, a confidential internal review by the agency has found.

Officials at the NIH concluded late last year that the actions of Dr. Thomas J. Walsh, who has helped lead major clinical trials involving cancer patients, might result in dismissal from federal government service. No disciplinary action has been taken.

The previously unreported findings shed light on the depth of conflict-of-interest problems that have persisted at the NIH - the government's pre-eminent agency for medical research on humans. The NIH's handling of disciplinary decisions related to Walsh and other senior scientists is expected to be a focus of a congressional hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Bonnie is quoted in Sunday's Trib

If you aren't taking fish oil, consider getting hooked

Julie Deardorff
Chicago Tribune

September 10, 2006

If you're not yet convinced that fish oil should be slipped into the water supply, consider this: Scientists have created genetically modified pigs that can produce the omega-3 fatty acids normally found in seafood.

Though this omega bacon isn't sizzling just yet, the researchers believe the cloned creatures are necessary because if omega-3s grow any more popular, we'll need to dig up new sources for what some consider the "miracle drug" of the century.

The strongest evidence shows that a diet rich in omega-3s fights heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends fish and fish oil to reduce heart attack risk and to help those who already have had one. They also are suggested for people with high triglycerides, which are important fats found in the blood. Heart disease, obesity and diabetes are associated with high triglycerides.

But omega-3s, nutrients that have antiinflammatory properties, may have a rainbow of other therapeutic uses, including treatment of arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, exercise-induced asthma, macular degeneration, depression, attention-deficit disorder, autoimmune disorders and breast and liver cancer, just to name a few. (See sidebar, Page 6.) Preliminary studies have shown that the use of omega-3s may even help prevent premature labor.

And although it's too early to call fish oil a cure-all, business is booming. Sales of fish-oil supplements, which totaled $183 million in 2003, almost doubled to $359 million in 2005, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Sales of plant oils, which also contain omega-3s, grew 11 percent in 2005.

Omega-3s are found in grass-fed animals, seafood, seeds and leaves and now are used to spike dozens of other products, including meal-replacement shakes, nutrition bars for expectant mothers, eggs, waffles and topical skin-care formulations. More than 75 percent of U.S. infant formulas now contain the omega-3 fatty acid DHA because of findings linking DHA in breast milk to brain-related function.

For Chicago dietitian and nutritionist Bonnie Minksy, omega-3s are critical tools thanks to their many uses and because bad side effects are "virtually non-existent." At a recent conference on integrative medicine, she noted that 21 researchers working in varied medical fields all found omega-3 fats helpful.

"Most disease is caused by inflammation," said Minsky, the wellness director for Nutritional Concepts Inc. "Omega-3s `put out the fire.'"

Newer research is looking at how fish oil protects the brain, slows cognitive decline in the elderly and lowers the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Scientists at Rush University Medical Center have found that Chicagoans who ate fish one or more times a week had 13 percent slower decline in thinking ability with time. Those who rarely ate fish had a somewhat faster decline in their thinking ability.

Fighting cancer

Cancer is another hopeful frontier. The balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is thought to play a role in the development and growth of breast cancer. Others have speculated that omega-3s in combination with vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium can play a preventive role.

Keith Block, director of the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Evanston, incorporates them into a nutritional plan to treat those already suffering from cancer.

In addition to the anti-inflammatory benefits, Block said, omega-3s condition the membranes of cancer cells in a way that allows "greater absorption of chemotherapy," which can lead to the death of more cancer cells. Recent research also hints that omega-3s can reduce resistance to chemotherapy in patients who have been treated repeatedly, he added.

And cardiologist and biochemist Angelo Scanu, director of the University of Chicago Hospitals Lipid Clinic, uses omega-3s to treat high trigylcerides, a major cause for coronary heart disease and stroke.

But despite the exploding popularity, Scanu doesn't believe that people with normal triglyceride levels need omega-3 supplements, which illustrates the current debate: Though fish oil has blockbuster druglike status among integrative medicine practitioners, mainstream doctors are waiting for definitive studies before jumping on the bandwagon.

There are limits

The research isn't all positive. A June study in the Journal of the American Medical Association determined that consuming fish oil does not appear to protect younger people against abnormal heart rhythms.

Other researchers looked at the risk and benefits of omega-3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease and cancer. They were not able to find evidence of a clear benefit of omega-3 fats on health, according to work published in the British Medical Journal.

"The research produces mixed results for practically every suggested benefit," said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. "To me this means that if there are benefits, they are small."

After reviewing the literature on omega-3s for her book "What to Eat" (North Point Press, $30), Nestle concluded fatty acids are overhyped.

"At this point, putting omega-3s into bread and sodas or whatever is about marketing, not health," Nestle said.

Still, there is one major area of agreement: Omega-3s are important in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, according to Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, a pioneering researcher in the field and co-author of "The Omega Diet" (HarperCollins, $14.95). "This is no longer something people doubt," she said.

Beyond that, there is a burgeoning interest but less research in the area of blood-pressure control. And finally, scientists hope that omega-3s can help in the areas of mental health, depression and cognition.

Well-planned, controlled clinical trials are needed, but adequate funding is scarce.

"If omega-3s were a pharmaceutical drug, it would be a very different story," said Simopolous, founder and president of the non-profit Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health. "But while we don't have adequate data to say omega-3s can cure attention-deficit disorder, we have enough to say `We need to do the study.' And the data accumulated over the past few years point in that direction."

This may, indeed, indicate a need for genetically modified omega pigs. But Simopoulous pointed out there's an easier way to go about it: a change in diet. Pigs can get omega-3s simply by eating grass.

- - -

Evidence piles up in favor of omega-3s

The preliminary research finding positive health benefits of omega-3s is flooding in. In just the last six months, it has been shown that:

- Raising the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet may prevent more sudden deaths than automated external defibrillators found in homes or public places, according to a study in next month's issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

- Although research has linked low levels of omega-3s to mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, newer work shows it also can benefit mood in healthy adults.

People with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were less likely to report mild to moderate depression, according to a study presented at the American Psychosomatic Society's annual meeting.

- UCLA researchers found that increasing the amount of omega- 3s and reducing the amount of omega-6s in the diet may reduce prostate cancer tumor growth rates and prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels, according to a study published in the August issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

- Those who ate more fish and more omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to have age-related macular degeneration.

The benefits of eating more omega-3 fatty acids were most apparent among those who consumed less linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, suggesting that the proper balance of fats is key.

- Omega-3 fatty acids may be an effective therapy for the treatment as well as the prevention of human liver cancers, according to studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

--Julie Deardorff

Friday, September 08, 2006

Cosmetics full of chemicals

Women who wear mainstream cosmetics products may be unknowingly applying as many as 175 different chemicals to their bodies every day, according to

The campaign group says three cosmetics ingredients in particular can cause severe health problems. Parabens -- preserving agents used in many moisturizers and body creams -- have been linked to cancer and skin irritation. Sodium laureth and sulfate -- foaming agents used in shampoos -- can irritate the skin, and formaldehyde -- used in hand soap and shampoo -- can also act as a skin irritant.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Natural Hair Coloring Recommendation

We have heard from several clients about their positive experience with the product EcoColors Hydbrid as an alternative to the chemically-laden hair dyes.

Locally, Salon 970 in Winnetka performs the treatments.


Noni Juice - proceed with caution

According to a report from Jodi Farrell of MCT News Service, while the minimal studies done on Noni Juice have been lab and animal studies, it is high in sugar and potassium, a potential problem for people with diabetes or kidney problems. Some people reportedly suffered liver damage after drinking the juice.

Bonnie - I have never been a big fan of noni Juice. In fact, I have seen liver damage in several clients who have used this product on their own.

Bonnie's Fish-Friendly List

Here is a list of fish that I consider high in omega-3 fats and safe for consumption because of its low mercury content:
  1. Wild Caught Salmon
  2. Sardine
  3. Shad
  4. Trout (feesh water)
  5. mercury-free canned tuna
  6. Mackerel (North Atlantic)
  7. Herring
  8. Whitefish
  9. Flounder/Sole
  10. Pollock

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Omega-3 test marker in the future?

The measure, merely a quantification of the fatty acid status of a person, could help physicians and heart patients achieve levels of omega-3 that are reported scientifically to provide cardiovascular benefits.

“As is the case now for LDL [so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol], in the future cardiac societies might very well recommend [intake of] EPA and DHA to become goal orientated,” wrote Clemens von Schacky from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat in Munich, and William Harris from the University of South Dakota.

Their new review, published on-line ahead of print in the Elsevier journal Cardiovascular Research (doi: 10.1016/j.cardiores.2006.08.019), reviewed epidemiological and four large scale intervention studies, and concluded that the majority of the evidence supports the benefits of omega-3 intake for heart health.

Von Schacky and Harris proposed, therefore, the “omega-3 index”, defined as the percentage of EPA plus DHA in red blood cell membranes, relative to all other fatty acids.

Using data from the scientific literature, the reviewers calculated that an omega-3 index value of eight per cent or above is associated with a 90 per cent reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death, compared to a value of four per cent or less.

Bonnie - this would be a welcome addition to our diagnostic options!

Take care of your child's weight problems early on

An NICHD funded study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics this month, states that being overweight at any time during early childhood should prompt interventions by pediatricians in counseling parents about healthy eating and activity patterns for their child, since obesity in the teen years is highly predictive of obesity in adulthood.

Researchers tracked the height and weight of roughly 1400 healthy subjects starting in infancy through about 12 years of age. At the end of the study, 1042 children still remained in the sample, of whom 555 had been weighed and measured at all seven points in time.

Results showed that children who were ever overweight in the preschool years were five times more likely to be overweight at age 12 than the rest of the cohort. They defined overweight as having a body mass index (BMI) greater than the 85th percentile for age.

During elementary school years, children who were overweight at 7, 9, and 11 years of age had a 374-fold increased risk of being heavy at age 12 than those who remained below the 85th percentile.

Moreover, 60 percent of children who were ever overweight during preschool years and 80 percent of those ever overweight during elementary school age were overweight at the end of the study.

Even being in the top 50th percentile by age 3 puts children at higher risk, with 40 percent being overweight at age 12, they note. As would be expected, none of the children who were below the 50th percentile for BMI during elementary school years were overweight at age 12.

Courtesy Reuters

Bonnie - once again, I implore parents to be proactive and vigilant about their eating habits for themselves and their children. The numbers don't lie.

There are a few simple steps to can get you started...EAT REAL FOOD...BALANCE YOUR PROTEINS, CARBS, AND FATS. Use us as a resource, whether by private counseling or our self-help literature.

FDA approves viral adulteration of our food supply (repeated from 8/28)

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.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Man lives to be 112 despite junk food diet

George Johnson, considered California's oldest living person at 112 and the state's last surviving World War I veteran, had experts shaking their heads over his junk food diet. "He had terrible bad habits. He had a diet largely of sausages and waffles," Dr. L. Stephen Coles, founder of the Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, said Friday. The 5-foot-7, 140-pound Johnson died of pneumonia Wednesday at his Richmond home in Northern California.

Coles participated in an autopsy Thursday that was designed to study Johnson's health. "All of his organs were extremely youthful. They could have been the organs of someone who was 50 or 60, not 112. Clearly his genes had some secrets," Coles said. "Everything in his body that we looked at was clean as a whistle, except for his lungs with the pneumonia," Coles said. "He had no heart disease, he had no cancer, no diabetes and no Alzheimer's. "This is a mysterious case that someone could be so healthy from a pathology point of view and that there is no obvious cause of death." The family was in favor of an autopsy. Relatives said Johnson wanted them to allow it if it would help science.

Courtesy Associated Press

Steve - as we have always said, there are exceptions to the rule! :) George Burns lived a very long life of excess. His wife tried to keep up with him and died in her fifties! Quality of life is what we strive to instill in all of our clients. Mr. Johnson was one of those very rare cases of living the life of excess and having the quality of life to boot!

Disney putting a stamp on healthy?

Disney Consumer Products has signed a deal with major US retailer Kroger that will see the supermarket chain stocking more than 100 Walt Disney-branded healthy foods and beverages. Called Disney Magic Selections, the co-branded items will have 12 categories including water, low-sugar juices, milk, fruit, vegetables, pasta, soup, bread, yogurt, meat, cheese, and 'portion-control snacks' such as ice cream and biscuits.

It is the first time Disney has licensed with a food retailer for its own-store brand of products.
Disney's Magic Selections will become the Ohio-based supermarket chain's private label for children in its 2500-plus US stores. It is the second biggest retailer in the US, after Wal-Mart.

Ken Harris, an analyst at Illinois-based Cannondale Associates told Brandweek magazine, "There's no disconnect here. What you're seeing is major properties like Disney recognising the power of retailers' private-label brands and their willingness to market their properties with them. This signals a clue of things to come."

Disney Magic Selections will not carry price premiums and certain products will feature a Mickey Mouse 'thumbs up' logo such as '0 Grams Trans Fat,' 'Made with Whole Grains,' and 'No Preservatives.'

Steve - Although it sounds like a step in the right direction, let's reserve judgement until we see the ingredients!

Cocoa protects the skin?

The Journal of Nutrition recently published a study of the effects of cocoa flavonoids on skin health. The 24 women in the study drank 100 ml of cocoa every day for 12 weeks. One group drank cocoa fortified with 326 mg of cocoa flavanols (a type of flavonoid) per serving; the other group drank cocoa with 27 mg of cocoa flavonols per serving.

The skin of the women drinking high-flavanol cocoa was more tolerant to ultraviolet light exposure after 6 weeks and 12 weeks, but the skin tolerance of women drinking the low-flavanol cocoa did not change. What's more, skin quality improved in the women drinking high-flavanol cocoa: roughness and scaling diminished, and their skin was thicker, denser and better hydrated by the end of the study.

Supplements aid diabetics

A new study shows a positive correlation between dietary supplement use and health in diabetics. The study, commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance and conducted by The Lewin Group, is based on both a focused review of existing research and an analysis of data from the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination survey.

The study's goals were threefold: to determine whether dietary supplements are associated with better health among the general population, to create a profile of people with diabetes who use supplements, and to determine whether diabetics who use supplements manage their condition differently than diabetics who do not use them.

The supplements that diabetics reported they used most included chromium, zinc, calcium, folate and omega-3 fatty acids. While many of these supplements support general health, others have been linked specifically to diabetes care. For example, studies have shown that chromium picolinate helps insulin function more effectively in the body, which in turn helps regulate blood glucose levels—a critical component of diabetes management. A 2004 study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, showed that diabetics have lower levels of chromium in the body than nondiabetics. Omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-lipoic acids and magnesium have also shown promise in managing glucose levels and alleviating neuropathic symptoms associated with diabetes.

According to the new study, only 34 percent of diabetics currently take supplements. However, of those who use supplements regularly, a higher percentage report to be in good, very good or excellent health (54.1 percent) compared with nonsupplements users (43.2 percent). The study concluded, "Use of dietary supplements is significantly associated with reporting oneself to be in better health than a year ago.

Low vitamin E intake during pregnancy can lead to childhood asthma

Children whose mothers had a low intake of vitamin E during pregnancy are more likely to develop wheezing and asthma by age five.

This research appears in the first issue for September 2006 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Graham Devereux, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, and seven associates assessed maternal nutrient and respiratory status in 1,253 mothers and children during a five-year period.

According to the authors, children born to mothers from the lowest quintile of vitamin E intake were over five times more likely to manifest early persistent asthma than children whose mothers were in the highest quintile.