Friday, December 21, 2007

Bonnie's Blog will be on vacation until January 3rd, 2008. Happy New Year!

May your holidays be full of health, happiness, and giving.

Data About Zetia Risks Was Not Fully Revealed

Courtesy of NY Times

New evidence shows that the drug makers Merck and Schering-Plough have conducted several studies of their popular cholesterol medicine Zetia that raise questions about its risks to the liver, but the companies have never published those results. Partial results of the studies, alluded to in documents on the Food and Drug Administration’s Web site, raise questions about whether Zetia can cause liver damage when used long term with other cholesterol drugs called statins. Most of the millions of people who use Zetia take it along with a statin like Lipitor, Crestor or Zocor. Or they take it in a single pill, Vytorin, that combines Zetia with Zocor. The discovery of the unpublished research comes as Merck and Schering are already under criticism for not yet releasing data from an important Zetia study, called Enhance, that they completed early last year. The Enhance data may also contain important information about Zetia’s liver risks. At least some patients were dropped from the Enhance study after testing revealed that they had elevated liver enzymes, a Schering-Plough spokesman confirmed this week. But a full report on that trial, including the number of patients who had liver problems, will not be available until March.

Doctors say that by failing to disclose promptly all their research, Merck and Schering-Plough may be leaving the public with a misleadingly favorable view of Zetia’s safety and benefits. “You don’t want to have data missing,” said Dr. Bruce Psaty, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Washington. “When there have been adverse effects, when the benefits don’t look impressive, those are the trials that historically don’t make it to press.” A Schering executive, when asked by a reporter about the unpublished studies, confirmed their existence. But the executive, Dr. Robert J. Spiegel, said the companies had not considered the studies scientifically important enough to publish their findings. Some may eventually be published, he said. “We’re pretty comfortable that people don’t have trouble tolerating Zetia,” said Dr. Spiegel, the chief medical officer of the Schering-Plough Research Institute, Kenilworth, N.J. Schering also said that the F.D.A. had reviewed the data from the unpublished studies and had approved Zetia for use alongside statins. But experts on drug safety say that the agency has been slow to issue warnings about many widely used drugs that have turned out to carry serious risks, including the painkiller Vioxx, the diabetes medicine Avandia and the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa. Even doctors critical of Zetia generally say it is safe for most patients. But before the drug was approved in 2002, one F.D.A. reviewer said it should not be cleared for use with statins because the combination had caused liver damage in animals. And in the last two years, scattered case reports of severe liver damage in patients taking Zetia in combination with statins have appeared in medical journals.

In the United States, the product label for Zetia contains only mild warnings about the drug’s potential for liver damage. But in Australia and Canada, regulators have been more cautious. Since 2005, they have issued a series of warnings about Zetia’s potential to cause hepatitis, pancreatitis and depression — warnings that have largely gone unnoticed in the United States.

Steve - I don't like where this is going. Haven't we heard this before? Could Zetia be yet another in the long list of examples for why you wait several years, if not more, to take a new drug. Because in most cases, there have been no long-term studies done!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

High dairy in childhood linked with cancer risk

Children who consume high levels of dairy products may have a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer in adulthood, study findings suggest.

Among nearly 5,000 individuals followed for an average of 65 years, those who grew up in families reporting the highest levels of dairy consumption -- nearly 2 cups per day -- had close to three-times the risk of colorectal cancer compared with those from families reporting the lowest intake, Dr. Jolieke C. van der Pols and colleagues report.

The level of milk consumption in the high-diary group was similar to the estimated average daily intake of children in the United States, van der Pols, of the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues noted.

Links between colorectal cancer risk and childhood exposure to dairy products have not been previously evaluated, the researchers said.

Using data from a study of weekly food consumption in families living in England or Scotland from 1937 to 1939, the researchers estimated the daily dairy intake ranged from less than half a cup at the lowest to nearly 2 cups at the highest. Nearly all, 94 percent, of the diary produces came from drinking milk.

Among the 4,374 individuals still available for follow-up between 1948 and 2005, the investigators identified 35 registrations and 41 deaths from colorectal cancer.

An increased risk of colorectal cancer among those who consumed the highest amounts of dairy during childhood was still seen after the investigators adjusted the data for potentially influential factors such as meat, fruit, and vegetable consumption; and socioeconomic status.

SOURCE: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 2007.

Bonnie - I'd say this is a pretty compelling argument for dairy not being "the end all be all".

Maternal omega-3 consumption boosts offspring's coordination

Increased intake of the omega-3 DHA during pregnancy could produce improved motor function in the offspring in later life, suggests a new study from the Netherlands.

Over 300 children were followed for seven years, with the results showing a positive effect on docosahexaenoic acid (DHA: 22:6n-3) levels in the umbilical blood during pregnancy and nervous system health in the children, states the study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Mothers are also aid to be less at risk of post partum depression or mood change, and to recover more quickly after pregnancy, if they consume enough of the fatty acid.

The study supports an earlier report from Australia involving 98 pregnant women given fish oil supplements (1.1 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 2.2 g of DHA) from 20 weeks of pregnancy until the birth of their babies (Archives of Disease in Childhood (Fetal and Neonatal Edition), doi: 10.1136/adc.2006.099085).

While no significant differences were observed in overall language skills and growth between the two groups of children, the researchers report that the children whose mothers had taken fish oil supplements had higher scores for receptive language (comprehension), average phrase length, and vocabulary.

They also report that high levels of omega-3 fatty acid in cord blood were strongly associated with good hand-eye coordination.

Putting Very Little Weight in Calorie Counting Methods

Courtesy of NY Times

Exercise physiologists say there is little in the world of exercise as wildly exaggerated as people’s estimates of the number of calories they burn. Despite the displays on machines at gyms, with their precise-looking calorie counts, and despite the official-looking published charts of exercise and calories, it can be all but impossible to accurately estimate of the number of calories you burn.

One reason for the calorie-count skepticism is that two individuals of the same age, gender, height, weight and even the same level of fitness can burn a different amount of calories at the same level of exertion.

Even if you wanted to get a rough estimate of the calories an average person your size might burn at the gym, you might not want to trust the displays on cardio machines, with the possible exception of treadmills, said William Haskell, an exercise physiologist at Stanford. But for most people, calories burned should not matter. The aim is to get some exercise, preferably outdoors.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cloned food postponed

Food from cloned animals looks likely to take longer than expected to enter the American food supply, following the passage of a provision in the Senate's Farm Bill that requires more testing.

The amendment, which was included in the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419), calls for a rigorous review of the human health and economic impacts of introducing cloned foods.

FDA in December issued its assessment of the available scientific evidence surrounding cloning, which concluded that there were no additional safety risks posed by the technology when compared to other assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in US agriculture.

However, fierce opposition from scientists, health groups, consumer advocacies and even industry sparked a heated debate, which culminated in the proposal of an amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill.

The amendment requires that two rigorous studies be performed before the FDA is able to issue a final decision on food from clones.

It directs the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to convene a blue-ribbon panel of leading scientists to review the FDA's initial decision that food from cloned animals is safe.

The amendment further requires the NAS to study the potential health impacts of cloned foods entering the nation's food supply, including the possible health effects of lessened milk consumption as a result of consumer avoidance of cloned food.

Steve - this is great news!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Legislation to update the nutrition standards dropped

Courtesy of the Washington Post

The Senate last Thursday night dropped an amendment to the farm bill that would have banned fatty foods and high-calorie beverages at school snack bars, stores and vending machines. The National School Nutrition Standards Amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), would have been the first legislation to update the nutrition standards since 1979, a period in which scientific opinion on what foods are appropriate has drastically shifted.

The measure, the result of months of negotiations, ultimately garnered the support of more than 100 public health and education organizations and food industry giants, including Coca-Cola, Nestle and Frito-Lay. Proponents had hailed it as a crucial step toward addressing the dismal state of school nutrition.

The amendment would have banned most candy, cakes and cookies, staples of today's school snack bars. Sugary beverages, considered one of the main causes of teenage obesity, would also have been restricted. Serving sizes and calories for all drinks, with the exception of bottled water, were to be capped.

Steve - folks, this was even a watered-down amendment! Once again, we'll have to rely on the state to pick up the pieces.

Don't worry though, our federal government has its priorities in order. The Farm Bill will increase subsidies for milk, corn, wheat, and try to bail out the American Sugar industry!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy Holidays From Nutritional Concepts!

May your holidays be full of health, happiness, and giving.

F.D.A. Panel Rejects Over-the-Counter Cholesterol Drug

Government advisers rejected on Thursday Merck’s bid for over-the-counter sales of Mevacor, the cholesterol-lowering drug. Too many people would mistakenly use the drug if it no longer required a prescription, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration concluded in a 10-to-2 vote against the nonprescription sales.

The advisers, however, were struck by how many people, in a study of almost 1,500 potential customers, wanted to buy the drug even though they were bad candidates. A quarter of people who wanted the pill did not have a high enough risk of heart disease to qualify, meaning they would face unnecessary side effects. Worse still, 30 percent of very high-risk people — those who have heart disease or diabetes or had survived a stroke — wanted Mevacor; these are people who should be under a doctor’s care. Merck said many of them were not seeing a doctor and that a little treatment was better than none. Yet more than 30 percent of patients already taking prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs said they wanted the over-the-counter version. Half said they would drop the more potent drug in favor of low-dose Mevacor.

Bonnie - all I can say is thank goodness the committee has a conscience. Now, let's wait and see what the FDA decides. history has shown they side with the advisers, but you never know when billions are at stake.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Perfect example of when big food gets involved in the supplement industry

Procter & Gamble Co. is getting into the probiotic supplement business -- slowly -- with a three-city test of a product called Align that it first began selling online two years ago.

While their intentions are good, they have taken a valuable probiotic strain and loaded it up with horrific inactive ingredients. Read their reasoning:

Sugar: Adds to formulation stability of bacteria
Sodium caseinate: Adds to formulation stability of bacteria
FD&C blue #2: Color to make capsules distinctive

Sodas and cereals most popular food items in 2007

If any of us thought that the US population has begun to move towards a healthier trend, these statistics may give you pause.

Carbonated soft drinks topped the list of all packaged goods purchased in the US this year. Refrigerated milk, ready-to-eat cereal, fresh bread, cookies, chocolate candies, and potato chips were all in the top ten.

Bonnie - what can you say but, ugh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Caesareans may harm lung growth

Babies born by elective Caesarean section are much more likely to develop breathing problems, a Danish study examining 34,000 deliveries suggests. Researchers found they were up to four times more likely to have respiratory problems than those born naturally, or by emergency Caesarean section. The babies may miss out on hormonal and physiological changes during labor which help mature the lungs, they say. The University of Aarhus study features in the British Medical Journal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Med diet linked to longer life

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruit, vegetables, olive oil and fish, may reduce the risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease, says a new US study.

A study of almost 400,000 people with an age range of 50 to 71 reports that greater adherence to a Med-style diet reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer by 22 and 17 per cent in men, and 12 per cent for women.

"To our knowledge, the present study is the first and largest US cohort to evaluate the Mediterranean dietary pattern and mortality," wrote lead author Panagiota Mitrou in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Bonnie - this study once again reaffirms one of our Top Revelations of '07.

Analysis questions calcium's benefits for fractures

Placing all the eggs in one basket and relying on calcium supplements alone to protect against fractures in old age may be inefficient, according to a new review by Harvard researchers.

No benefits were calculated for calcium supplements and the risk of hip fracture, according to the meta-analysis of 12 prospective cohort studies and nine clinical trials, published in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The authors, led by Heike Bischoff-Ferrari from Harvard School of Public Health, report no statistically significant benefit for 300 mg per day calcium intakes from seven prospective cohort studies involving 170 991 women and with 2954 documented hip fractures, and five prospective cohort studies involving 68 606 men and with 214 documented hip fractures.

Moreover, clinical trials involving supplementation with 800 to 1600 mg per day of calcium did not show any benefits with respect to non-vertebral fractures and hip fracture, compared to placebo.

In an accompanying editorial, Jeri Nieves and Robert Lindsay from New York's Columbia University and the Clinical Research Center, Helen Hayes Hospital wrote: "Perhaps these data suggest that calcium supplementation, to be effective, requires the addition of vitamin D supplementation.

"Studies of calcium without regard to vitamin D status may then lead to erroneous conclusions… Those authors discussed the possibility that the efficacy of calcium intake may be enhanced by additional vitamin D.

"A well-rounded diet is important, and evaluation of one element or vitamin does not give the whole story," concluded Nieves and Lindsay.

"Bone is not just calcium, and calcium does not function in isolation."

Bonnie - while we have discussed at length that one cannot rely on meta-analysis, we published this study because of the comments made by the researchers (we put in bold). They are finally starting to get it! What have we said for years? Bone is not just calcium. It is complex matrix of nutrients. This is why we have always said that it is not about how much calcium you get, but how well it is absorbed. Additionally, one must have adequate vitamin D, magnesium, and low inflammation to maintain healthy bone.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A New Taste Sensation - Umami

We wrote about "umami" back in May. We suggest you read this before you look at the following Wall Street Journal 12/10/07 article. With a lot of attention being paid to salt reduction in our food supply, expect to see MSG (monosodium glutamate) in many more products. That makes reading labels that much more important for those of you who react to MSG.

We highlighted several paragraphs below to which we vehemently disagree.

Americans are taught from an early age that there are four basic tastes -- sweet, salty, sour and bitter. But what describes the taste of chicken soup?

To an increasing number of chefs and food-industry insiders, the answer is "umami," dubbed "the fifth taste." First identified by a Japanese scientist a century ago, umami has long been an obscure culinary concept. Hard to describe, it is usually defined as a meaty, savory, satisfying taste.

But now, in the wake of breakthroughs in food science -- and amid a burst of competition between ingredient makers to create new food flavorings -- umami is going mainstream. Chefs including Jean-Georges Vongerichten are offering what they call "umami bombs," dishes that pile on ingredients naturally rich in umami for an explosive taste. Packaged-food companies such as Nestlé, Frito-Lay and Campbell's Soup are trying to ramp up the umami taste in foods like low-sodium soup to make them taste better, while the nation's mushroom farmers are advertising their produce to chefs as an ideal way to get the umami taste.

The food industry is embracing umami as part of an effort to deliver highly flavored foods to consumers while also cutting back on fat, salt, sugar and artificial ingredients. At the same time, more consumers are scrutinizing food labels for chemical-sounding words and unhealthy ingredients.

To understand the taste of umami, imagine a perfectly dressed Caesar salad, redolent of Parmesan cheese, minced anchovies and Worcestershire sauce; or slurping chicken soup; or biting into a slice of pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza. The savory taste of these foods, and the full, tongue-coating sensation they provide, is umami.

While umami is a relatively new concept in this country, it has been well known in parts of Asia for nearly 100 years. It was identified in the early 20th century by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese scientist who coined the name umami (pronounced "oo-MA-mee") using the Japanese term for "deliciousness." He found that foods with the umami taste have a high level of glutamate, an amino acid and a building block of protein. Mr. Ikeda developed and patented a method of making monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a processed additive that adds umami taste to food, much as sugar makes things taste sweet.

MSG, which was first manufactured by the company Ajinomoto in 1909, is made through a complex process that involves fermenting corn glucose and other raw materials. Today, an estimated 95,000 metric tons of MSG are sold in North America each year, according to Ajinomoto. It appears in everything from some McDonald's sausage and chicken meals to supermarket items like Campbell's soup, Doritos chips and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

What MSG has going for it is that it is a readily available, inexpensive, intensely umami ingredient with no off-flavors -- just as sugar is a classic expression of sweet and salt is perfectly salty. (Other ingredients also add umami, including yeast extracts, but these can add flavors some product developers don't want.) In many parts of Asia, it is as common to add a dash of MSG to dishes as it is for cooks here to toss in a little salt or sugar. But in the U.S., MSG has developed a bad reputation as a suspicious additive that many consumers believe gives them allergies or headaches.

In fact, many studies have found that MSG doesn't cause ill effects. "I don't see normal amounts of MSG as posing a risk to the vast majority of people," says Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington food-safety advocacy group.

For years, Western chefs and food scientists debated whether umami was a true taste, as fundamental to the sensory system as sweet or sour. That changed in 2000 when scientists at the University of Miami published a study -- partly funded by Ajinomoto -- identifying receptors on the tongue with no purpose other than to recognize the presence of glutamate. Subsequent studies, some funded by the ingredient industry and others without industry funding, identified other umami receptors.

While there is debate about which study is correct, scientists now widely believe that the body was designed to recognize glutamate, says Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, a sensory research institute that also receives some Ajinomoto funding. Just as we crave sweets as a spur to seek out carbohydrates, we are also geared to enjoy glutamate so that we will eat proteins, he says.

A Monell study found that babies will eat more soup if it has small doses of glutamate. (When my 17-month-old son had a recent bout of pneumonia and lost his appetite, a grating of Parmesan, one of the foods highest in glutamate in the Western diet, helped entice him to eat noodles, rice and lentils.)

Umami's acceptance as the fifth taste has spurred everyone from high-end chefs to packaged-food makers to find ways of delivering the taste to foods. Because MSG's negative connotation has persisted in the West, that often means finding MSG substitutes. Mr. Vongerichten creates intense umami-tasting dishes, which he dubs umami "bombs," at his various restaurants. "The ultimate umami dish is expensive," he says, citing a $185 Parmesan custard with white truffles at his New York restaurant Jean Georges. His less pricey umami bombs include a $12 lunch dish of black bread with sea urchin.

Hiro Sone, chef and co-owner of Ame, a new-American restaurant in San Francisco, touts his "umami soy sauce," enhanced with kombu, a type of seaweed, and bonito flakes, which are pieces of dried fish. When added to cuttlefish and sea urchin, the umami sauce is "like an MSG bomb," Mr. Sone says, but without any MSG.

Interest in umami is driving new research and development among companies that create and manufacture flavorings for the processed-food industry. These can range from natural ingredients to artificial flavors that essentially are to MSG what saccharine and aspartame are to sugar. Senomyx, an ingredient-making company in San Diego that went public in 2004, has developed an artificial taste bud, complete with umami receptors, in its lab. The company uses it to test reactions to thousands of ingredients.

So far, Senomyx has identified four new umami ingredients that can often be used in small enough amounts to be listed on a food label simply as "artificial flavors." This is a boon to food companies because it eliminates the need to add an unfamiliar, chemical-sounding word to an ingredient list.

Nestlé is using one of the Senomyx umami ingredients in bouillon cubes in the Caribbean, instant noodle dishes in Brazil and powdered seasoning in parts of Central America, all under the company's Maggi brand.

When Campbell's recently reformulated its soups to lower the sodium content, part of the focus was on "including ingredients that would provide umami-type characteristics," says George Dowdie, Campbell's senior vice president of global research and development and quality. Mr. Dowdie wouldn't reveal which ingredients did the trick but says it was a combination of natural foods -- things like cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes -- and proprietary flavorings from flavor companies. He adds that the company is hoping to learn more about umami through a research deal it has made with Senomyx.

In mid-July, Frito-Lay, a unit of PepsiCo, hired its first executive chef, Stephen Kalil. Mr. Kalil says he is experimenting with umami ingredients from Latin and Asian cultures -- like cheese powder, anchovy powder, fermented soybean products and mushroom powder -- to create new flavors for brands including Lay's and Flat Earth vegetable and fruit crisps. The company has no plans to replace the MSG in certain products, however. "If we were to change the flavor of Doritos, for our 18-to-24-year-old male consumer there would probably be a riot," says Mike Zbuchalski, vice president of culinary innovation for Frito-Lay North America.

Dairy Management Inc., a trade group for the dairy industry, recently funded research into what compounds cause the umami taste in Swiss and cheddar cheese, in the hope of learning how to give cheese umami taste more consistently and quickly.

The Mushroom Council, a trade group for the mushroom industry, has distributed a report to restaurants about how mushrooms contribute to umami. Titled "Umami: If You've Got It, Flaunt It," it offers instructions in "building the U-bomb," by sautéing mushrooms and adding them to grilled steak.

Some of the biggest promoters of the idea that there are umami-rich alternatives to MSG in many foods we eat are MSG makers themselves. A consortium of MSG manufacturers, led by Ajinomoto, sponsors the Tokyo-based Umami Manufacturers Association. The group hosts conferences about umami and publishes a Web site in English featuring MSG-free umami recipes.

"We are hoping that eventually people will become familiar with why this flavor enhancer is in our food -- well, because it's giving my food the taste that I like," says Kitty Broihier, a consultant for Ajinomoto Food Ingredients, a Chicago-based subsidiary of Ajinomoto. By emphasizing that the glutamate in food is the same as the glutamate in MSG, makers hope to make people think of MSG as a more natural ingredient.

For home cooks, umami can open up an entire pantry of ingredients. Just as a few shakes of salt can improve a dish, a correctly applied dash of cheese, wine or even ketchup can pump up the umami, without overwhelming the dish with the flavor of the added ingredient. Cooks skilled in umami can reduce the fat and salt content of foods without sacrificing flavor. There are several ways to boost the umami taste in a meal (see the accompanying graphic for umami tricks used by top chefs). One is to add ingredients rich in glutamate, such as Parmesan (even a rind tossed into the soup pot deepens flavor) or other types of aged cheese; soy sauce; tomato products such as juice, paste or ketchup; and fish-based sauces (like Worcestershire and Thai fish sauce). Another is to use foods high in certain nucleotides, another compound that contributes to the umami taste. These include many kinds of seafood, mushrooms and meat, especially veal and stocks made from bones.

For a more powerful effect, cooks can combine foods from those two categories. For reasons scientists don't entirely understand, when glutamate is combined with certain nucleotides, the umami effect is magnified.

Finally, cooks can build umami flavor through technique. In general, any process that breaks down protein, including drying, aging, curing and slow cooking, increases umami. This is because glutamate, normally bound up in proteins, is released into a form the tongue can perceive as umami when proteins are broken down, says Chris Loss, a senior culinary scientist at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, Calif.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Newsweek article on fertility

An informative article written by Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, Walter Willett, MD, and Patrick Skerrett appeared in the December 10th issue of Newsweek. It has some very positive comments on the importance of diet, exercise, and weight control in fertility. However, i completely disagree with their comments on protein.

  • The linked epidemics of obesity and diabetes sweeping the country have reproductive repercussions. Environmental contaminants known as endocrine disruptors, such as some pesticides and emissions from burning plastics, appear to affect fertility in women and men. Stress and anxiety, both in general and about fertility, can also interfere with getting pregnant.

  • 18,000 women have taken part in the Nurses' Health Study, a long-term research project looking at the effects of diet and other factors on the development of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Each of these women said she was trying to have a baby. Over eight years of follow-up, most of them did. About one in six women, though, had some trouble getting pregnant, including hundreds who experienced ovulatory infertility. When we compared their diets, exercise habits and other lifestyle choices with those of women who readily got pregnant, several key differences emerged.

  • Ovulatory infertility, which accounts for one quarter or more of all cases of infertility.

  • New research from the Nurses' Health Study shows that carbohydrate choices also influence fertility. Eating lots of easily digested carbohydrates (fast carbs), such as white bread, potatoes and sugared sodas, increases the odds that you'll find yourself struggling with ovulatory infertility. Choosing slowly digested carbohydrates that are rich in fiber can improve fertility.

  • Blood-sugar and insulin levels - when these rise too high, as they do in millions of individuals with insulin resistance, they disrupt the finely tuned balance of hormones needed for reproduction. The ensuing hormonal changes throw ovulation off-kilter.

  • Glycemic load - this relatively new measure conveys information about both the amount of carbohydrate in the diet and how quickly it is turned to blood sugar. Women in the highest glycemic-load category were 92 percent more likely to have had ovulatory infertility than women in the lowest category. In general, cold breakfast cereals, white rice and potatoes were linked with a higher risk of ovulatory infertility.

  • Adding more carbohydrates at the expense of naturally occurring fats predicted a decrease in fertility. This could very well mean that natural fats, especially unsaturated fats, improve ovulation when they replace easily digested carbohydrates.

  • Eating whole grains, beans, vegetables and whole fruits—all of which are good sources of slowly digested carbohydrates—can improve ovulation and your chances of getting pregnant.

  • Trans fats are a powerful deterrent to ovulation and conception. Eating less of this artificial fat can improve fertility, and simultaneously adding in healthful unsaturated fats whenever possible can boost it even further. Across the board, the more trans fat in the diet, the greater the likelihood of developing ovulatory infertility. We saw an effect even at daily trans fat intakes of about four grams a day. That's less than the amount the average American gets each day.

  • Women, their midwives and doctors, and fertility researchers have known for ages that body fat and energy stores affect reproduction. Women who don't have enough stored energy to sustain a pregnancy often have trouble ovulating or stop menstruating altogether. Women who have too much stored energy often have difficulty conceiving for other reasons, many of which affect ovulation.

  • A daily serving or two of whole milk and foods made from whole milk—full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese—seem to offer some protection against ovulatory infertility, while skim and low-fat milk do the opposite.

  • Weighing too much or too little can interrupt normal menstrual cycles, throw off ovulation or stop it altogether. Excess weight lowers the odds that in vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive technologies will succeed. Women with the lowest and highest Body Mass Indexes (BMI) were more likely to have had trouble with ovulatory infertility than women in the middle.

  • Too much blood sugar and insulin in the bloodstream, it endangers ovulation, conception and pregnancy. Physical activity and exercise are recommended and even prescribed for almost everyone—except women who are having trouble getting pregnant.

  • Being in the fertility zone means you aren't overdoing or underdoing exercise. For most women, this means getting at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Results from the Nurses' Health Study support this evolutionary perspective and show that exercise, particularly vigorous exercise, actually improves fertility. Exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week is a great place to start.


  • The Protein Factor

    At the center of most dinner plates sits, to put it bluntly, a hunk of protein. Beef, chicken and pork are Americans' favorites, trailed by fish. Beans lag far, far behind. That's too bad. Beans are an excellent source of protein and other needed nutrients, like fiber and many minerals. And by promoting the lowly bean from side dish to center stage and becoming more inventive with protein-rich nuts, you might find yourself eating for two. Findings from the Nurses' Health Study indicate that getting more protein from plants and less from animals is another big step toward walking away from ovulatory infertility.

    Scattered hints in the medical literature that protein in the diet may influence blood sugar, sensitivity to insulin and the production of insulin-like growth factor-1—all of which play important roles in ovulation—prompted us to look at protein's impact on ovulatory infertility in the Nurses' Health Study.

    We grouped the participants by their average daily protein intake. The lowest-protein group took in an average of 77 grams a day; the highest, an average of 115 grams. After factoring in smoking, fat intake, weight and other things that can affect fertility, we found that women in the highest-protein group were 41 percent more likely to have reported problems with ovulatory infertility than women in the lowest-protein group.

    When we looked at animal protein intake separately from plant protein, an interesting distinction appeared. Ovulatory infertility was 39 percent more likely in women with the highest intake of animal protein than in those with the lowest. The reverse was true for women with the highest intake of plant protein, who were substantially less likely to have had ovulatory infertility than women with the lowest plant protein intake.

    That's the big picture. Computer models helped refine these relationships and put them in perspective. When total calories were kept constant, adding one serving a day of red meat, chicken or turkey predicted nearly a one-third increase in the risk of ovulatory infertility. And while adding one serving a day of fish or eggs didn't influence ovulatory infertility, adding one serving a day of beans, peas, tofu or soybeans, peanuts or other nuts predicted modest protection against ovulatory infertility.

    Eating more of one thing means eating less of another, if you want to keep your weight stable. We modeled the effect that juggling the proportions of protein and carbohydrate would have on fertility. Adding animal protein instead of carbohydrate was related to a greater risk of ovulatory infertility. Swapping 25 grams of animal protein for 25 grams of carbohydrates upped the risk by nearly 20 percent. Adding plant protein instead of carbohydrates was related to a lower risk of ovulatory infertility. Swapping 25 grams of plant protein for 25 grams of carbohydrates shrank the risk by 43 percent. Adding plant protein instead of animal protein was even more effective. Replacing 25 grams of animal protein with 25 grams of plant protein was related to a 50 percent lower risk of ovulatory infertility.

    These results point the way to another strategy for overcoming ovulatory infertility—eating more protein from plants and less from animals. They also add to the small but growing body of evidence that plant protein is somehow different from animal protein.

Bonnie comment - Soybeans and peanuts are awful for pregnancy. I suspect that when they looked at animal protein in these subjects, the protein was not organic, free-range, or antibiotic/hormone-free, which makes a huge difference. Animal protein is essential for pregnancy.

The full article can be accessed below.

Folate may reduce depression symptoms for men, says study

Increased intake of folate may reduce the incidence of depression amongst by 50 per cent, suggests a new study of over 500 Japanese subjects in the journal Nutrition.

"To our knowledge this is the first study of these associations conducted in a non-Western population and used validated methodologies for the assessment of depressive symptoms and nutrient intake," wrote the researchers, led by Kentaro Murakami from the International Medical Center of Japan, and the National Institute of Health and Nutrition.

"Although more research is needed to confirm the causality of the association, dietary modification to increase intake of folate may be an important strategy for the prevention of depression."

Indeed, male subjects with the highest average intake (235 micrograms per 100 kcal) were 50 per cent less likely to have depressive symptoms than men with the lowest average intake (119 micrograms per 100 kcal).

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Shari's Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

We are so excited to share with you this incredible recipe from Steve's wife Shari. It is amazing. Beware: those who taste it crave it!

Shari's Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

3 1/2 c. organic (sifted) quinoa flour
3 c. sugar (1 1/2 c. sucanat & 1 1/2 sugar c. in the raw)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt (optional)
4 organic eggs (omega-3) beaten
1 c. organic canola oil
2/3 c. water
2 c. organic cooked & mashed organic pumpkin
2 c. organic chocolate chips
Pecan halves (optional)

Directions: sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Combine eggs, oil, water and pumpkin and mix well. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Turn into 3 greased (PAM or Spectrum Olive Oil Spray & rub sides with butter) 9x5" loaf pans and top with a few pecan halves. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until cake tester (toothpick) inserted into center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Recall on Metromint Water

Read the FDA's release

Vitamin C may prevent fracture complication

According to research in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, a condition called complex regional pain syndrome, might be avoided by taking vitamin C. The syndrome most often follow an injury to a limb because of the changes in nerve function. If not treated early, it can lead to irreparable muscle damage, causing the fingers or toes to stay in a fixed position.

The study concentrated on 317 people with wrist fractures who were given either 200 mg, 500 mg, or 1500 mg vitamin C per day. 99 subjects were given placebo. Results showed that just 2% of those taking the 500 or 1500 mg dose developed the syndrome as opposed to 10% in the placebo group.

Bonnie - for an injury to the bone or soft tissue that requires assisted healing (surgical procedure or not), Quercetin and Vitamin C are a must. Vitamin C helps to renergize healthy cells and Quercetin reduces inflammation.

Vitamin D deficiency linked to greater pain

According to recent research performed on 267 adults at the Mayo Clinic, one in four patients who suffer from chronic pain also have inadequate blood levels of vitamin D. The vitamin D-deficient group also showed lower levels of physical functioning and poorer overall health.

Bonnie - so if you add Cod Liver Oil to your regimen, you are getting the benefit of bioavailable vitamin D and omega-3, both of which reduce inflammation.

Antibiotics may not aid sinus infections

Subjects suffering from facial pain and a runny nose with greenish or yellowish mucous generally improved within about two weeks — whether they took the standard antibiotic amoxicillin, steroid nose spray or fake medicine. The results, based on patients' reporting whether their symptoms had improved, echo previous findings in children. Antibiotics, particularly the penicillin-like drug amoxicillin, are among the most commonly prescribed medicines for sinus infections. Steroid sprays sometimes are used, but the study found they also were no better than dummy drugs, although they appeared to provide some relief for patients with only minor symptoms. The study, according to its authors, should lead to a "reconsideration of antibiotic use for acute sinusitis."

Inhaling steam and squirting salt water into the nose to flush out thick mucous are among other methods that sometimes provide relief, he said. The study appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. Causes of sinus infections include bacteria, viruses, fungal infections and allergies. Despite a long-held notion, recent studies have found that yellowish or greenish mucous doesn't always mean the infections are bacterial.

Bonnie - how many studies do we need to see to convince doctors to stop prescribing antibiotics for sinus infections? As I have said for over ten years and the Mayo Clinic for five, sinus infections are very often fungal (from yeast-overgrowth) or allergy-related. Do not consider taking an antibiotic unless the infection is cultured and confirmed bacterial.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You are what your mother eats

A mother's likes and dislikes, particularly for fruit and vegetables, is passed on to her infant during breastfeeding, suggests new research from the US.

A study of 45 infants, just under half of which were breastfed, showed that a baby's preference for a certain food is dependent on its mother's tastes, but only if the baby is breastfed, report researchers in this month's issue of Pediatrics.

The study deepens our understanding of the evolution of taste preferences, and could aid the development of modern tools for both nutritional counseling and food development.

Such research may also help explain why children and adults like and dislike foods and could be important for the understanding of eating problems, such as obesity with over 22 million children under five are severely overweight.

During the first exposure, the researchers report that infant intake of peaches was greater if the child were breastfed and the mothers liked peaches. This suggested that the enhanced peach acceptance of their infants might be attributed to increased exposure to fruit flavours through breast milk.

"It's a beautiful system," said Mennella. "Flavours from the mother's diet are transmitted through amniotic fluid and mother's milk. So, a baby learns to like a food's taste when the mother eats that food on a regular basis."

Bonnie - there also has been much fanfare for taste in foods through genetics. The answer is not clear cut and is multifactorial. Introducing a food numerous times (eight to ten times instead of one and done) increases the chances that your child will eat it!

Monday, December 03, 2007

'Burned foods' linked to cancers

Dutch researchers quizzed 120,000 people on their eating habits, and found that women who ate more acrylamide, chemicals produced when you fry, grill or roast a wide range of foods, appeared more than double the risk for ovarian or womb cancer. While food experts say it is virtually impossible to eliminate acylamide from our diets altogether, analysis of these findings suggested that those who ate 40 micrograms of acrylamide a day - equivalent to a portion of chips - were twice as likely to fall prey to these cancers compared with those who ate much less acrylamide.

Experts at the EU said, "General advice, resulting from this project, is to avoid overcooking when baking, frying or toasting carbohydrate-rich foods. "French fries and roast potatoes should be cooked to a golden yellow rather than golden brown color."

The food industry says it has made efforts to reduce the acrylamides within processed foods in recent years. A study published in 2005 found no evidence that acrylamide increased the risk of breast cancer.

Bonnie - acrylamide is a relatively new finding. One also must take into account
heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), carcinogenic compounds produced when food is overcooked or charred.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Researchers deem Alzheimer's a Type 3 diabetes

Sometimes it's better if great minds don't think alike. Neurobiologists with decidedly different interests recently collaborated at Northwestern University and came up with new evidence about Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia that affects about 5 million Americans. They now consider it a Type 3 diabetes.

Researchers discovered that a specific toxin does its damage by causing the brain to become insulin resistant. Just as Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes insulin resistant, Alzheimer's would be a Type 3 diabetes.

The team claims, "Whenever insulin can bind to a receptor, it sticks very tightly, and this turns on those insulin receptors; and that's essential for memories to form. That's the normal physiological process. But now, on the other hand, if we have ADDLs [binding] -- these are the toxins that are building up in Alzheimer's brains -- the insulin receptors are removed from the membrane. There's nothing [for the insulin] to stick to, ... and memories cannot form."

The toxic ADDLs, or amyloid beta-derived diffusible ligands, are the result of an overproduction of the amyloid beta protein. The body can't clear away this protein fast enough, and it binds itself into small clumps and attaches to the synapses in the brain's hippocampus and cortex regions. The plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease are also made from this protein, but many researchers now believe that these plaques could be the body's attempt to limit the damage by locking the toxins into immovable masses.

Bonnie - neurological imbalance from insulin resistance is not a new concept. Calling it Type 3 Diabetes will give it more cache.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Little milk, exercise hurts kids' bones


Too little milk, sunshine and exercise: It's an anti-bone trifecta. And for some kids, shockingly, it's leading to rickets, the soft-bone scourge of the 19th century. But cases of full-blown rickets are just the red flag: Bone specialists say possibly millions of seemingly healthy children aren't building as much strong bone as they should — a gap that may leave them more vulnerable to bone-cracking osteoporosis later in life than their grandparents are.

Doctors have long known that less than a quarter of adolescents get enough calcium. But strong bones require more than calcium alone. Exercise is at least as important. Likewise, the body can't absorb calcium and harden bones without vitamin D. By some estimates, 30 percent of teens get too little. It's not just that they don't drink fortified milk. Bodies make vitamin D with sunlight. With teen computer use, urban youngsters without safe places to play outdoors and less school P.E., it's no wonder D levels are low. Because skin pigment alters sun absorption, black children are particularly at risk.

Bonnie - it surely is not from too little milk. It is from excess sugar from fruit juice and softened drinks (including phosphorous) that are chosen instead of milk which is the culprit. If mineral dense waters were chosen instead of milk, we wouldn't be seeing the bone issue in children. Studies have shown calcium waters are just as good for bone or better than milk.

In addition, while they say a quarter of adolescents do not get enough calcium, at least 75% don't get enough magnesium, which is essential for proper calcium metabolism.

Lastly, sunlight and good vitamin D intake is crucial for bone.

More young adults with diabetes hospitalized

A University of Michigan study that appears in the December issue of Diabetes Care found that from 1993-2004, hospitalization of individuals ages 0-29 increased 38 percent. $2.42 billion was spent in 2004 alone for hospitalizations.

Rates of hospitalization were higher among young women with diabetes than for young men. Lead study author Joyce Lee, M.D., MPH, a pediatric endocrinologist and member of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit in the U-M Division of General Pediatrics, says these findings reflect the recent epidemic of childhood obesity and the increasing burden of diabetes among young adults.

While the data showed a considerable increase in hospitalization rates among young adults, ages 20 to 29, it did not find significant growth for hospitalizations among children younger than 20.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) Pediatric HSR Training Grant, and the Clinical Sciences Scholars Program.

Bonnie - after two decades of damage done by excess simple carbs, it makes sense that the 20-29 age group would express the full effects of diabetes.
As diets have become even worse, if the same study is done following individuals 0-29 from 2004-2018, the results may show more being hospitalized as young as 12-18.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Vitamin E boost for diabetics' heart health

Vitamin E supplements may halve the risk of cardiovascular events among diabetics, if they carry a particular version of a gene, says new research from Israel.

Diabetics with the haptoglobin (Hp) 2-2 gene, associated with an inferior antioxidant protection and a raised risk of cardiovascular events, were afforded protection from vitamin E supplements (400IU daily mixed tocopherol), according to the research published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

Levy and co-workers recruited 1434 people with type-2 diabetes with the Hp2-2 genee and randomly assigned them to receive a daily vitamin E supplement (400 U/d) or placebo for 18 months.

They report that the individuals receiving the vitamin supplements had 50 per cent fewer heart attacks, strokes, and related deaths than Hp 2-2 patients receiving the placebo (2.2 per cent compared to 4.7 per cent, respectively).

Moreover, the researcher report no adverse effects observed in patients who took vitamin E.

Removing tonsils may not be the best treatment for kids

Removing the tonsils of children with mild or moderate throat infections is more expensive and has fewer health benefits than simply watching and waiting, Dutch researchers said. In a study published in the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery involving 300 children aged 2 to 8 advised to have their tonsils out, those who avoided surgery had fewer annual visits to doctors and lower resulting medical costs due to fevers and throat infections.

Bonnie - I have said this for a while. Getting to the root of the issue is much more prudent than removal.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Breast-Feeding Cuts Food Allergy Risk

Breast-feeding in the first three months of life appears to help shield children from developing food allergies, according to findings presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Dallas.

Research has determined a possible role for food allergy prevention strategies in high-risk children, including maternal food avoidance in pregnancy, breast-feeding, maternal food avoidance while breast-feeding, use of hypoallergenic formulas, delayed introduction of allergenic foods and probiotics, noted one expert.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine offered a number of recommendations for children at high risk of allergic diseases:
  • Women should avoid peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
  • If needed, mothers should supplement breast-feeding with a hypoallergenic formula.
  • Delay feeding these children solid foods until they're six months old.
  • Delay introduction of milk and egg until age 1 and peanut and tree nuts until age 3.
  • Start early intervention when signs of food allergy appear (secondary prevention).
Another expert said doctors need to consider food allergy as a potential cause of gastrointestinal or dermatological symptoms in patients. "The eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders (EGID) which may affect the esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum are mostly chronic and recurrent disorders that adversely impact quality of life for patients and families," Dr. Amal Assa'ad, director of the Food Allergy & Eosinophilic Disorders Clinic at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center, said in a prepared statement. "Patients with EGID have a high rate of sensitization to food and environmental allergens, and many of them have a high rate of clinical symptoms with various food ingestions. A subset of patients respond to removal of major food allergens from their diet," Assa'ad said. "EGID management often requires multiple specialists, including the primary physician, allergy and immunology, gastroenterology, nutrition and psychology," she noted.

Bonnie - Hmmm. All of this sounds very familiar :)

FDA issues report on dietary supplements

"Fortify Your Knowledge About Vitamins"
FDA Consumer Health Information
November 19, 2007


Why Buy Vitamins?
There are many good reasons to consider taking vitamin supplements, such as over-the-counter multivitamins. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a doctor may recommend that you take them:
• for optimal health
• for certain health problems
• if you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet
• if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Develop a Vitamin Strategy.
Barbara Schneeman, Ph.D., Director of FDA’s Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling, and Dietary Supplements, says, “supplements may be useful when they fill a specific identified nutrient gap that cannot or is not otherwise being met by the individual’s intake of food.” She adds, “An important point made in the guidelines is that nutrient supplements are not a substitute for a healthful diet.”

Practice Safety with Dietary Supplements.
When it comes to purchasing dietary supplements, Vasilios Frankos, Ph.D., Director of FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Programs, offers this advice: “Be savvy! ”Today’s dietary supplements are not only vitamins and minerals. “They also include other less familiar substances such as herbals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes,” Frankos says. “Check with your health care providers before combining or substituting them with other foods or medicines.” Frankos adds, “Do not self-diagnose any health condition. Work with your health care providers to determine how best to achieve optimal health.”Consider the following tips before buying a dietary supplement:

• Think twice about chasing the latest headline. Sound health advice is generally based on research over time, not a single study touted by the media. Be wary of results claiming a “quick fix” that departs from scientific research and established dietary guidance.
• More may not be better. Some products can be harmful when consumed in high amounts, for a long time, or in combination with certain other substances.
• Learn to spot false claims. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Examples of false claims on product labels include:· Quick and effective “cure-all”· Can treat or cure disease· “Totally safe,” “all natural,” and has “definitely no side effects.” Other red flags include claims about limited availability, offers of “no-risk, money-back guarantees,” and requirements for advance payment.

Bonnie - I was floored that this was published by the FDA. This is, from what I've seen, their first admission that dietary supplements serve a purpose. This is an immense step for the FDA to take.

Sinus problems are treated well with safe, inexpensive treatment

A new study from University of Michigan Health System researchers is the first of its kind to show greater efficacy of saline irrigation treatments versus saline spray for providing short-term relief of chronic nasal symptoms. Participants in the study who were treated with irrigation experienced a much greater benefit than those who were treated with saline spray, in terms of both the severity and frequency of their symptoms. "Strikingly, subjects experienced 50 percent lower odds of frequent nasal symptoms compared with the spray group."

The findings, which appear in the new issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, could be significant for the multitudes of people who suffer from chronic nasal and sinus conditions. Treatments including antibiotics, antihistamines and anti-inflammatory drugs can be helpful, but for many patients, symptoms persist. The authors of this study say their findings suggest that otolaryngologists and primary care physicians should recommend this treatment to their patients more often. Saline sprays are often used as an alternative to irrigations because spray "is often perceived to be equivalent to and better tolerated than irrigation," the researchers note.

Frequency of symptoms also improved in both groups, though more for the irrigation than the spray group. While 61 percent of the spray group reported having symptoms "often or always" after the eight-week study, just 40 percent of the irrigation group did. "It's clear from our results that both treatments led to a decrease in frequency and severity of symptoms, but the difference is that the salt water flush led to substantial improvement," researchers said.

Bonnie - we often recommend saline irrigation and sprays for allergies, chronic sinus infections, etc. This is the first major study we have seen on the treatments.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Zinc plays a key role in better aging

Courtesy of the LA Times

Two studies published this year addressed the role of zinc in maintaining health in older people. One, a yearlong study of 50 nursing home residents 65 or older found that people with low levels of zinc in the bloodstream -- defined as 70 micrograms per deciliter or less -- had twice the incidence of pneumonia and nearly 50% more antibiotic prescriptions over the year than those with normal zinc status.

The study, conducted by scientists at Tufts University and Boston University and published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also found that those who began the study with normal zinc levels had a 39% lower mortality rate -- from any cause -- than those who were deficient.

In a second small study, led by Dr. Ananda Prasad at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, 50 free-living, healthy elderly subjects were recruited from a senior center to receive either a daily zinc supplement or placebo for a year to determine if zinc supplementation offered protection against colds and flu.

By the end of the yearlong study, zinc-takers had significantly higher zinc levels in the bloodstream and had suffered significantly fewer infections -- seven cases versus 35 cases in those taking a placebo.

The study also found lower serum levels of a chemical called malondialdehyde and other signs of oxidative stress (the production of cell-damaging free radicals) in the group taking supplements, confirming earlier evidence that zinc can function as an antioxidant.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March.

Adequate zinc is critical for the production of lymphocytes -- the army of specialized white cells in the immune system that help defend against foreign invaders.

Zinc deficiency leads to impaired immunity and thus decreased resistance to a host of bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic invaders. Recovery from illness takes longer when zinc levels are low than when zinc status is normal.

Multiple vitamin and mineral supplements can help meet needs. A recent analysis of food and supplement use from a large survey of Americans taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (known as the USDA's Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals) found that supplement users had better dietary intake of zinc than nonusers.

Among people age 71 and older, 43% of those who shunned supplements consumed inadequate intake of zinc from foods compared with 29% of supplement users. And when the amount of zinc supplied from supplements was factored in, only 5% of supplement users failed to meet the estimated average requirement.

Poor zinc intake is not just a problem among the elderly. Data from another large government food intake survey known as NHANES III indicated that after seniors, teenage females had the lowest zinc intake, with 61% failing to meet recommendations. Fewer than half of women at any age took in an adequate amount.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chia offers health benefits to diabetics

Chia, an ancient grain that was once the staple of the Aztec diet is not only surprisingly nutritious, it can also help regulate blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease in diabetics, Canadian researchers report in a new study in the journal Diabetes Care.

The chia seed contain high levels of fibre, calcium, magnesium, more antioxidants than many berries, and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Dr. Jack Bukowski, a professor of Internal Medicine and Rheumatology at the Harvard School of Medicine is impressed with how nutritious this "super grain" appears to be. "It has a remarkable nutrient profile. We haven't seen anything like this before."

Steve - we have known about chia for a while. In fact, it is on the Coco Chia Bars, one of the few snack bars that we recommend. Chia is a mild salicylate, but for those not salicylate-sensitive, it is a wonderful food and you will be seeing more of it in foods in the near future.

Whole Foods makes loans to local producers

Whole Foods Market Inc. has lent $1 million through its Local Producer Loan Program.

Loan recipients include small-scale food producers and growers from 12 states, four in Colorado.
Loan recipients must meet Whole Foods' quality standards, use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan. Loan amounts are between $1,000 and $100,000 with low, fixed interest rates currently between 5 percent and 9 percent.

Steve - I have been impressed with their commitment to local food production. We just wish it would get on the "fast track."

Alzheimer's and dementia may be a result of the Western diet

According to a recent study in Neurology, people who eat a diet that's rich in fish, omega-3 oils, fruits and vegetables are up to 60 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s - whereas people who consume large amounts of omega-6 oils, such as sunflower and corn, double their chances of suffering dementia.

Omega-3/omega-6 imbalance in the processed and fast-food diet of the West is so out of kilter that people on average are consuming 30 times more omega-6 than is good for them.

Diet has been highlighted as the main factor in determining whether we enjoy our full mental capabilities until the end. A French study tracked the diet and progress of 8,085 men and women over the age of 65 who did not have dementia at the beginning of the trial. In the four years' follow-up, 183 of the participants developed Alzheimer’s and a further 98 had dementia.

The researchers found that people who regularly consumed omega-3 oils, reduced their risk of dementia by 60 per cent compared to those who do not regularly consume the oils. People who ate fruits and vegetables every day reduced their risk of dementia by 30 per cent.

Steve - while this certainly isn't new information, it is nice to see in a journal like Neurology.

Neotame has moved a step closer to being approved for use in the EU

Neotame, which was developed by The NutraSweet Company in the US, is a derivative of aspartame. It is said to be 30 to 60 times sweeter than aspartame, depending upon the food application.

Neotame is already approved for use as a food additive in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico. It remains unapproved in the EU, however, despite an opinion published in the The EFSA Journal (2007) 581, 1-43, by the authority's Panel on Food Additives, Flavourings, Processing Aids and Materials in Contact with Food, which concluded that "neotame is not carcinogenic, genotoxic or associated with any reproductive/developmental toxicity".

Its opinion is based on assessment of animal studies on diet preference, sub-chronic effects, chronic effects, carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and genotoxicity.

The human clinical testing program was to evaluate metabolism and pharmacokinetics, and safety in healthy subjects and those with diabetes. These results have not been published yet.

Steve - ugh. Yet another artificial sweetener. Neotame was created to replace aspartame. They are virtually identical. NutraSweet created it because aspartame has become highly controversial and the company needs another blockbuster free of controversy. They probably have about ten years or so until Neotame becomes controversial.

Study warns on safety of Sanofi's Acomplia

Patients taking the Sanofi-Aventis anti-obesity drug Acomplia have well over double the risk of depression and anxiety, researchers said, adding to the bad news for a drug already linked to suicidal thoughts. Danish researchers reviewed four studies featuring 4,105 patients and found that people taking 20 milligrams per day of the drug were 2.5 times more likely to discontinue treatment due to depressive disorders and three times more likely to stop because of anxiety than those who received a placebo. The findings published in the Lancet journal follow a U.S. advisory panel decision in June that the drug should not be approved in the world's largest drugs market because it may increase suicidal thoughts and depression. "Taken together with the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration finding of increased risk of suicide during treatment with rimonabant, we recommend increased alertness by physicians to these potentially severe psychiatric reactions," Arne Astrup of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues wrote.

A study in the British Medical Journal on Friday also found that people taking anti-obesity drugs -- including Acomplia -- would only see "modest" weight loss with many remaining significantly obese or overweight. They also found that while patients given Sanofi's drug lost nearly 5 kilograms more over a one-year period, the risk of serious side effects -- ranging from dry mouth to headaches to depression -- rose 40 percent.

Steve - thanks goodness the powers that be have come to their senses regarding this drug. Five years ago, it is very likely that this drug would have received approval in the US. For more, see what we wrote about this drug back in April.

Ohio scientists develop blue-blocking glasses to improve sleep and ADHD symptoms

Researchers have also employed this technology for use in special 'night lights' Scientists at John Carroll University, working in its Lighting Innovations Institute, have developed an affordable accessory that appears to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Their discovery also has also been shown to improve sleep patterns among people who have difficulty falling asleep. The John Carroll researchers have created glasses designed to block blue light, therefore altering a person’s circadian rhythm, which leads to improvement in ADHD symptoms and sleep disorders.

How the Glasses Work:

Jumpstarting Melatonin Production
The individual puts on the glasses a couple of hours ahead of bedtime, advancing the circadian rhythm. The special glasses block the blue rays that cause a delay in the start of the flow of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Normally, melatonin flow doesn’t begin until after the individual goes into darkness. Studies indicate that promoting the earlier release of melatonin results in a marked decline of ADHD symptoms.

Alternative Uses: Better Sleep/Disease Prevention/Depression Relief Major uses of the blue-blocking glasses include: providing better sleep, avoiding postpartum depression, preventing Seasonal Affective Disorder and reducing the risk of cancer.

An alternative to the glasses has also been developed in the form of night lights and light bulbs with coatings that block the blue light. Instead of wearing the glasses, an individual may simply turn off ordinary lights and, instead, turn on the ones with filters that remove the blue rays. The night light is a convenient “plug-in” device. The cost of the items ranges from approximately $5 for light bulbs and night lights to $40-$60 for glasses.

Steve - I am familiar with this for of therapy, and while I have not heard much feedback on it, it certainly cannot hurt to try.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Black cohosh stops breast cancer growth in the lab

Extracts from black cohosh may stop breast cancer cells, suggests a new laboratory study published in Phytomedicine.

The study adds to a small but growing body of research suggesting breast cancer prevention for a herb most commonly used by women to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes.

They note that the inhibition of growth was related to an induction of programmed cell death (apoptosis).

"These results corroborate the results of our previous studies indicating that the growth inhibitory effect of actein or an extract of black cohosh is associated with activation of specific stress response pathways and apoptosis," wrote the researchers, referring to their studies published earlier this year in Anticancer Research (Vol. 2, pp. 697-712) and the International Journal of Cancer (Vol. 121, pp. 2073-2083).

Previously, concerns have been raised about breast cancer patients taking black cohosh supplements in order to alleviate the menopause-like side effects.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Bonnie - the reason I wanted to post this is because of those that have said black cohosh may cause breast cancer, which of course, is ludicrous.

As cloned foods approach shelves, opposition increases

Foods from cloned animals could enter the US food supply by the end of the year, despite calls for further review of the long-term risks of such products.

The outcome currently lies with Congress and its decision to review an amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill.

Amendment 3524, introduced by Senators Mikulski and Specter, calls for more information on food products from cloned animals, with specific focus on elements that have not been addressed by the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) initial risk assessment.

FDA in December issued draft guidance on allowing meat and milk from cloned cows into the food chain. According to its assessment of the available scientific evidence, the agency said there are no additional safety risks posed by the technology when compared to other assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in US agriculture.

The regulator collected a multitude of comments during a 120-day comment period that closed in May this year. It said it planned to review these and would likely make a decision on food from cloned animals by December.

However, FDA said that it is in the process of updating its cloning risk assessment (RA) and reviewing the public comments.

"There is no estimated timeframe on when this will be finished," it said.

Opposition to the approval of clone foods has been raised by scientists, health groups, consumer advocacies and even industry, sparking a fierce debate that shows no signs of abating.

At the forefront of this is the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a non-profit science-based public interest group, which earlier this year released a review of the FDA's risk assessment.

The report said that the assessment was based on "flawed assumptions and misrepresented findings", and claimed that FDA found virtually no scientific evidence to support the commercial release of these experimental foods.

"Animal cloning is a new technology with potentially severe risks for food safety. Defects in clones are common, and cloning scientists warn that even small imbalances in clones could lead to hidden food safety problems in clones' milk or meat. There are few studies on the risks of food from clones, and no long-term food safety studies have been done," the group states on its website.

In response to such concerns, the proposed amendment to the Farm Bill calls for studies that would evaluate the health effects of allowing the commercialization of milk and meat from cloned animals.

A major aspect of FDA's plan that has invited significant opposition is that the labeling of meat and milk products from cloned animals would not be required. Consumer concerns at this level are reflected in a number of state bills that have been recently introduced calling for labeling of cloned food products.

Bonnie - the sentence in bold is the most important. If allowed to be put into the food supply, I want cloned food labeled, as I do carbon monoxide treated meat, virally adulterated food, irradiated food, etc. As a consumer, I want to choose. If we are not granted the opportunity to choose, one of your few remaining options is to buy exclusively organic.

Milk thistle may protect against liver cancer

A flavanone compound in milk thistle, silibinin, may stop the growth and spread of liver cancer, suggests a laboratory study from the University of California, Irvine.

The in vitro study,
published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, used human liver cancer cells exposed to different doses of silibinin, and found that the milk thistle compound could inhibit the spread of the cells and promote programmed cell death (apoptosis).

"Our findings not only indicate silibinin's novel anti-cancer mechanisms, but also provide additional targets for searching new agents for HCC chemoprevention," concluded the researchers.

Bonnie - milk thistle, also commonly referred to as silymarin, is a very safe herb that we recommend by itself or in a complex for liver protection called Hepagen. While we rarely comment on in-vitro studies, milk thistle has been very well-researched in human clinical trials, so we are comfortable posting these results.

Physicians And Nurses Both Take And Recommend Dietary Supplements

The "Life…supplemented" Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study found that more than three quarters of U.S. physicians (79 percent) and nurses (82 percent) recommend dietary supplements to their patients. The study also shows that an almost equal number—72 percent of physicians and 89 percent of nurses—personally use vitamin, mineral, herbal and other supplements either regularly, occasionally or seasonally, which is a higher percentage than the 68 percent of adults who report they take nutritional or dietary supplements.

The study found that almost half of physicians and nurses who take supplements most often do so for "overall health/wellness benefits," while 41 percent of physicians and 62 percent of nurses who recommend supplements most often do so for the same reasons.

"Given the current state of the science, it is not surprising that increasing numbers of healthcare professionals are incorporating dietary supplements into their personal health routines. However, the fact that only 25 percent of physicians actively counsel patients regarding their dietary supplement use demonstrates an on-going and concerning problem that requires more outreach and education," said Tieraona Low Dog, M.D, director of education, Program in Integrative Medicine, and clinical assistant professor, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences.

Bonnie - while encouraging, one cannot expect physicians to counsel their patients with regard to supplemental intake. Physicians are not taught to do so, and most medical schools still do not emphasize nutrition and supplemental nutrient education. Until that happens on broader scale, one needs to seek out a professional who does like myself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Great Unusual Snacks

Great Unusual Snacks When You are Bored with the Usual

*Make sure to always eat with a protein and/or fat

  • Spiced Kamut Snack Mix
    Pour cereal into a small paper bag, add toasted pumpkin seeds or chopped dried tomato, and sprinkle with chili powder and garlic salt; shake well

  • Smoked Salmon on Cucumber Rafts
    Cut seedless cucumber lengthwise and add a few strips of smoked salmon. Top with a spicy sprig of watercress or arugula to add a flavorful little kick.

  • PLT Roll-Ups
    Lay out a leaf of large, soft lettuce, such as Boston or Bibb, and place a slice of prosciutto in the center of it. Place a thin slice of tomato on top, then roll up the leaf and eat it out of your hand.

  • Balsamic Sesame Shrimp
    Thaw an individual portion of precooked frozen shrimp in warm water. Dip in balsamic dressing, then coat lightly with toasted sesame seeds.

  • Fruity Rice Cake
    Top a rice cake with a spoonful of chutney and some sliced pear or mango. Mediterranean Dates with Cheese: Stuff individual whole, pitted dates with a generous strip of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

  • Stuffed Tomato Cups
    Fill tomato halves with small cubes of tofu (preferably a seasoned variety) or precooked chicken sausage; microwave briefly just to warm.

  • Applesauce Crisp
    Sprinkle applesauce with a pinch of cinnamon and a tablespoon of granola. Heat briefly in microwave.

  • Dolmades with Feta
    Sprinkle store-bought stuffed grape leaves with crumbled feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

  • Creamy Rice and Fruit Salad
    Mix all-natural rice pudding with chopped fresh fruit seasoned with a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon.

  • Raspberry Banana Lassi
    Lassis are chilled yogurt-based drinks popular in Northern India. Similar to smoothies, lassis tend to be thinner and often spiced with cardamon or rose water. Here is a recipe:
    -½ banana, peeled and cut up
    -8 oz. (1 cup) yogurt (preferably thick Greek-style)
    -½ cup skim milk or milk substitute
    -8 raspberries
    -2 tsp. honey
    -generous pinch ground cardamom
    In a blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth and blended. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • Quick Cheddar Fondue with Pear
    As the fondue sits, it will firm up into a cheese spread. To thin it out again, heat fondue in a microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
    -¼ cup substitute milk
    -2 T. no trans fat butter substitute
    -1 ½ cups grated reduced-fat cheddar cheese
    -1/8 tsp. nutmeg -pinch salt
    -4 small pears
    To make fondue: In medium-size saucepan, heat evaporated milk to boiling. Reduce heat to very low; stir in cheese. Whisk until cheese is melted and blended. Stir in nutmeg and salt. Cut pears into thick wedges; remove seeds. Dip wedges into warm fondue.

Milk allergy can take years longer to outgrow

A new study published in the November issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that most children who had a milk allergy as infants did not outgrow the disease before entering elementary school, according to Dr. Robert Wood, chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. Wood, one of the study's authors, said that finding was contrary to previous research.

According to the study, which examined children who had been sent by a doctor to a pediatric allergy center, "the prognosis for developing tolerance [to milk] is worse than previously estimated." The authors said that the character of cow's milk allergy "has changed over time ... and may now truly be a more persistent disease."

When exposed to milk, children in the study had a range of reactions, including rashes, hives, gastrointestinal symptoms, respiratory difficulties and even multiple-organ anaphylactic shock, a severe, sometimes fatal reaction. With data collected on 807 patients, this was the largest group of milk-allergic children ever studied.

The study found that kids who had asthma and hay fever were less likely to outgrow milk allergy. There was also a worse prognosis for those who had ever received infant formula. Wood and his team concluded that a simple blood test measuring milk-specific, or IgE antibodies can have enormous value in predicting who will and will not outgrow a milk allergy. "That test has pretty significant value in predicting the natural history" of the disease and is widely available, Wood said.

Bonnie - this study is a waste of time for professionals like myself who have worked in the trenches on milk issues. Milk allergy is not easily outgrown because, simply, we are not genetically wired to tolerate milk products well. Even if an allergy subsides or is "outgrown" as allergists claim, intolerances (IgG cytotoxic) persist and are much more common than true allergy.

Sunset to open store in Long Grove

Sunset Foods isn't a big national chain, but it has made an impact on the North and Northwest suburban grocery business. Sunset is a 70-year-old family-owned gourmet grocery chain with stores in Highland Park, Northbrook, Libertyville and Lake Forest. A fifth grocery is planned for Long Grove.

The high-end chain is noted for its wide variety of goods, and it offers cooking classes and a catering service. Another hallmark is that each store has at least one family member working there. They greet customers at the door and ensure shoppers find what they're looking for. One cousin, Ron Bernardi, greets shoppers at the Northbrook store pulling carts out so they don't have to wrestle with them. Bernardi says Sunset has no plans to sell to a larger chain and the family takes great pride in the fact that they have never laid off any employees. "They are like family," he says.

Steve - we frequently refer clients to Sunset. They are the lone wolf in a sea of chain stores. Their customers are very loyal.

Fish for brain health supported by trio of studies

Omega-3-rich fish consumption may improve brain function across a broad demographic spectrum, suggest three new studies from around the world.

The studies pull together data from New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Norway, and all suggest significant benefits of fish consumption, specifically the omega-3 fatty acid content, and cognitive health.

Published in the November 2007 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the studies have been commended by an independent expert.

"These recent reports are novel in that they address the association of n-3 fatty acid intake and cognitive function in non-demented individuals and, thus, present a shift in the attention to earlier stages of cognitive decline with the hope of preventing progression to states of dementia and disability before they become irreversible," wrote Irwin Rosenberg from Tufts University.

For the first study, Dutch researchers reported that increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the plasma were associated with a 69 per cent lower decline in sensorimotor speed and a 60 per cent lower decline in complex speed over three years in 807 participants.

Researchers in New Zealand investigated if a relationship existed between the fatty acid composition of serum lipids and the mental and physical well-being of 2416 people participating in the 1997 National Nutrition Survey. The ratio of EPA to arachidonic acid (AA) was positively associated with physical well-being, and the EPA to AA ratio for mental well-being. "The synthesis of the inflammatory series-2 prostaglandins and series-4 leukotrienes from AA would be reduced in favour of the less inflammatory series-3 prostaglandins and series-5 leukotrienes synthesized from EPA."

The final study, led by Eha Nurk from the University of Oxford, examined the relation between consumption of seafood products and cognitive performance in 2031 elderly Norwegians. The researchers report that consumption of at least 10 grams of fish a day performed significantly better in tests for cognitive performance than people who ate less than 10 grams of fish and fish products. Moreover, the effect was dose dependent, with the best test scores occurring in individuals consuming about 75 grams per day.

In the accompanying editorial, Rosenberg commended the research groups for addressing the association of fish and n-3 fatty acid intake with cognitive function in individuals not yet showing signs of impaired cognitive function.

"These studies of nutritional associations with brain function during the elongated prodromal period of age-related neurodegeneration and decline offer an opportunity for early intervention to maintain brain function and slow progression to dementia, which is costly economically and in terms of quality of life," concluded Rosenberg.

Bonnie - a-ha! Another study shunning the disease model and focusing on prevention? I love it!