Friday, September 28, 2007

The Power of the Pomegranate

Every once in a while we feature a fruit or vegetable because it’s health benefits are so amazing. This Fall, we would like to feature the Pomegranate.


The pomegranate (punica granatum) fruit is native to western Asia and the Middle East. It has a very long history of use. It was one of the first fruit trees spread by humans. Ancient cultures brought it to the Meditteranean region and other temperate regions. The pomegranate was held sacred by the ancient Egyptians, Jews, and Assyrians. Islamic and Christian art depicted it as a symbol of unity, longevity, and eternal life. All ancient medical writers mentioned its benefits for treatment of conditions ranging from fevers to tapeworms. It also was used as a contraceptive by ancient cultures and still is in some parts of Africa.

Could the pomegranate have been the “apple” in the Garden of Eden? Older myths of Middle Eastern and Meditteranean cultures connected it to agricultural abundance and spiritual well-being. Pomegranate was once referred to as malum granatum or “apple with many seeds”. It was also referred to in the first century A.D. as malum punicum or “punic apple”. The name pomegranate even derives from the French pommegarnete or “seeded apple”. Scholars and historians, thus, believe that it could have been the “forbidden apple” in the Garden of Eden.

Scientific Health Benefits

Pomegranate is a potent antioxidant and is proving useful in a host of age related problems, including heart disease. Its antimicrobial benefits may help fight infection. Estrogenic compounds found in the seeds’ oil and juice can help with difficulties of menopause and prevent certain cancers, especially of the prostate, breast, mouth, and colon. The juice, unlike most fruit juice, does not seem to raise blood sugar, which is especially exciting for diabetics.

How to Eat/Drink Pomegranate

Pomegranate does stain, which is why it was used as rouge and lipstick in ancient times. To prepare it with a minimum of mess, cut off the top (not stem), then cut the fruit into four or more sections. Put the sections into a bowl of water and pop out the seeds into the water. Discard the pith and rind. Strain out the water. The seeds may then be eaten as is (sorry, not if you have a diverticuli problem), added to recipes, or made into juice. To make your own juice, blend the seeds until liquefied. Then pour the juice through a sieve to remove the fibrous part of the seed. Tip: If you want juice without all the work, there are many delicious commercial brands available today. Make sure the label says 100% pomegranate juice. Also, pomegranate syrup, used in many Middle Eastern recipes, may be found in the ethnic foods section of most grocery stores. Following are a few easy recipes:

Pomegranate Spritzer

-8 oz. (1 cup) sparkling mineral water
-2 oz. (¼ cup) 100% pomegranate juice
-mint leaves (for garnish)

Mix the juice and water. Serve in a cocktail glass with mint leaves for garnish.

Pomegranate Sorbet

-½ cup honey
-¼ cup water
-1 quart pomegranate juice
-pomegranate seeds, optional

In a medium saucepan, combine honey and water. Stir over medium heat until boiling. Then reduce liquid to about 1/3 cup. Remove from heat to cool completely. Stir in pomegranate juice. Chill the liquid for about 2 hours in refrigerator. Transfer to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Freeze in a covered container until firm. Serve on a chilled plate or in chilled glasses, garnished with mint sprigs and optional pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Molasses (Syrup)

This versatile, tangy syrup blends well with sweet nuts (walnuts/pecans) and beans. It sharpens the taste of poultry and fish and gives a piquant edge to salads. It’s also a great tenderizer for tough cuts of lamb and pork.

-6 cups fresh or bottled (100%) pomegranate juice
-¾ cup raw sugar or ½ cup honey/pure maple syrup
-½ cup fresh lemon juice

Place all ingredients into a heavy duty saucepan. Heat over medium heat to boiling, stirring often. Continue boiling until reduced to two cups. Cool, bottle, and keep refrigerated.

Fresh Summer Savory Salad with Pomegranate

-24 ten-inch sprigs of summery savory, washed, drained, and stemmed
-coarse sea salt
-1 packed cup mildly bitter greens, washed, stemmed, and shredded, or coarsely chopped parsley for milder salad
-¼ cup chopped scallions
-½ tsp. pomegranate molasses
-¼ tsp. peeled and crushed garlic
-salt to taste
-1 T. extra virgin olive oil
-1 tsp. fresh lemon juice or more to taste
-2 T. cubed tomato, optional

Use your fingertips to rub the savory leaves with a good pinch of sea salt; rinse and drain. (This removes the bitterness and releases the fragrance) In a small salad bowl, combine the leaves with the shredded greens and the scallions. Separately, combine the pomegranate molasses, garlic, salt to taste, oil, and lemon juice. Drizzle over the greens, scatter with cubes of tomato (if desired), and serve at once.

Classic Roasted Turkey with Pomegranate Syrup

-One 16-pound turkey, legs and giblets reserved
-1 celery rib, thinly sliced
-1 carrot, thinly sliced
-1 onion, thinly sliced
-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
-8 thyme sprigs
-2 rosemary sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
-2 c. pomegranate molasses (syrup)
-4 c. water
-4 1/2 c. Turkey stock (see recipe below) or chicken broth
-1/4 c. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
Directions: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan and scatter the sliced celery, carrot, onion, and garlic and the herb sprigs all around. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Add 2 c. of water to the pan and baste with 1/2 of the pomegranate syrup. Roast the turkey for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Add the remaining 2 c. of water to the roasting pan and baste frequently with remaining pomegranate syrup. Cover the turkey with foil and roast for about 2 hrs. longer, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the inner thigh registers 170 degrees.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

-3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
-2 T. canola oil
-3 T. white wine vinegar
-2 T. Pomegranate molasses (syrup)
-1 tsp. pure maple syrup, optional to taste
-3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-11/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
-1/2 tsp. salt
-dash of freshly ground black pepper
Directions: combine olive oil, canola oil, white wine vinegar, Pomegranate Syrup, sugar, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper in a cruet or screw-top jar and shake well. Keep refrigerated and shake again before use.


Diabetes Forecast Magazine, April 2007.
Foster, Steven. The Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine, National Geographic, 2006.
The Herb Companion Magazine, November 2007.
Wolfert, Paula. The Cooking of the Eastern Meditteranean, 1994.

Top Ten Anti-Aging Skin Care Tips (for Adults)

(Adapted from Chicago Health & Beauty Magazine and The Perricone Prescription)

  1. Know your skin type. Is your skin dry, oily, or a combination? This is important because not every skin care product suits everyone.

  2. Cleanse your face two times daily. Both morning and night time washing with lukewarm water (too hot or too cold will damage delicate skin over time) removes pore-clogging dirt and other harsh elements. For gentle facial washes, check with your dermatologist or skin care specialist.

  3. Never use soap on your face. Soap should only be used below the face.

  4. Be gentle to your skin. Exfoliation and scrubbing are great, but not too harsh and not too often. Also, don’t overdo chemically laden skincare products. The best rule of thumb is “less is more”.

  5. Keep your skin moist. Dry skin will peel and break. Moisturizers are best applied when skin is damp.

  6. Drink a lot of filtered water. This will keep your skin moist and hydrated while removing harmful toxins.

  7. Use both sun and sunscreen. Fifteen minutes of quality sun exposure (not between the hours of 10:00AM to 2:00PM) without a sunscreen will allow you to absorb Vitamin D. Otherwise, use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 20 to protect yourself from harmful UV light. Tip: Many moisturizers have a sunscreen already built into them.

  8. Get a good night’s sleep. Not only will eight hours of restful sleep rejuvenate you physically, mentally, and emotionally, but will also produce brighter eyes with less wrinkles.

  9. Beat stress. Whether through exercise, meditation, or a soothing Epsom Salt bath, consider stress relief an important part of your overall health regimen.

  10. Take your antioxidant supplements daily. Health professionals can usually pinpoint problems by looking at your skin because what you put into your body will be reflected on the outside. The best antioxidants for a healthy, glowing skin are:

    Vitamin A
    from Fish Oil (2000-4000 i.u.) and Beta Carotene, a non-toxic Vitamin A precursor (5,000-15,000 i.u.);

    Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids (500-1000 mg.);

    Vitamin D (800-1200 i.u.), especially from Cod Liver Oil or D3 sources;

    Vitamin E (200-800 i.u.);

    Fish Oil (1 gram daily-600 mg. EPA, 400 mg. DHA) that is high quality and free of contaminants; and CoQ10, optional (50-200 mg. in the morning) is also an energizer for people on statin drugs.;

Battle Cold, Flu Naturally.

October brings in the chill as well as infection! Optimize your immune system by adhering to the following:

Supplemental Nutrients (ask us which combination is optimum for you):

  • Andrographis NEW! - great to have on hand when you feel something coming on; has demonstrated significant activity in fighting common cold, flu, and upper respiratory infections.
  • Zinc Sulfate (liquid) - zinc has always been an immune-boosting stalwart; topical fights sore throats at the source.
  • Cod Liver Oil - most bioavailable vitamin D source; while integrally linked to every aspect of immune system activity, it is widely known that vitamin D stores drop in the fall and winter due to little sun exposure.
  • Vitamin C with Quercetin - vitamin C has long been known for its immune-boosting capabilities; finding a low acid (such as Ester-C) and corn-free (sago palm) source is ideal; combining it with Quercetin, a bioflavanoid which has antiinflammatory properties and has recently been found to reduce respiratory infections, makes them a potent one-two punch.
  • Monolaurin - a component of human breast milk that provides immunity for newborns is also found in the ester of coconut; suggested use daily as an antiviral preventative.
  • Nutribiotic (Grapefruit Seed Extract) all NEW vegicap available! - a bioflavanoid that has potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties; suggested daily as a bacterial preventative.
  • Probiotics - it is well-known that harmonious gut flora balance is the key to a healthy immune system.
Proper sleep - your body needs down time in order to be able to fight the rigors of the modern daily lifestyle.

Limit refined sugar and excess carbohydrate consumption - sugar depresses the immune system.

Manage stress - stress depresses the immune system.

Proper Hygiene - refrain from touching your eyes, nostrils, ear canals, and mouth with unwashed hands; this allows pathogens to bypass the strongest immune deterrent: dermal tissue.

Infrared Sauna Therapy - great way to detox deep from within the dermal tissue.

Exercise - one of the best immune-boosters; however, this takes dedication because it always gets harder to exercise when it gets cold!

Do not take an antibiotic unless it is cultured and confirmed to be a BACTERIAL infection. Antibiotics do not work for viral or fungal infections!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Medication that pile on the pounds

If you know us well, you know that we believe there is a direct correlation with weight and medication intake. Here is a piece courtesy of Health Magazine:

Can Medicine Make You Fat?

by Jennifer Acosta Scott

When you start putting on weight, you look to the usual suspects: the dusty treadmill or that stash of chocolate in your desk drawer.

But for 30-year-old Chelley Thelen, the culprit sat in her medicine cabinet. In six years, Thelen gained 60 pounds from taking prednisone, a steroid used to treat her arthritis.

Thelen is just one of a growing number of women who can blame their excess pounds on the drugs they’re taking for everything from allergies to migraines. The chances of finding yourself on a drug that can lead to weight gain have more than doubled in the last 20 years.

In fact, the number has increased from one in ten to one in four, says George Blackburn, MD, associate director of the Harvard Medical School Division of Nutrition. The problem is so critical that Blackburn teaches a course for physicians on the weight-gain side effects of medications.

“The drugs we’re most concerned about are drugs for chronic diseases, like diabetes and psychiatric problems, because you have to be medicated for life,” Blackburn says. But even innocuous-sounding meds like over-the-counter sleep aids can cause snug-jeans syndrome—some by slowing your metabolism, others by altering the hormones in your body that control your appetite.

And the problem isn’t just affecting women’s waistlines: Some are even choosing not to take drugs critical to their health for weight-control reasons. If you suspect that meds are making you gain weight, check our list below for the most common culprits and expert advice on what to do about it.

Drugs that can pile on pounds

The fat effect: Allergy drugs containing diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl) have a sedating effect that saps your energy if you take them regularly. You’re not as active, so you’re burning fewer calories, Blackburn says.

What to do: Ask about another antihistamine like Claritin or Zyrtec that doesn’t include sedating ingredients.

Bonnie: Twinlab Allergy Fighters and Magnesium Glycinate will help as well.

The fat effect: Some antidepressants affect neurotransmitters in your brain that control appetite and mood, both of which can make you eat more.

What to do: See a psychiatrist instead of a family physician or internist and ask about antidepressants that don’t typically cause weight gain, such as Wellbutrin or Zyban.

Bonnie: these two still may cause weight gain. Consistent exercise and 5-HTP (if off antidepressants) are alternatives.

Birth control pills
The fat effect: Birth control pills may add up to five pounds because the estrogen in them can cause you to retain water.

What to do: Ask about a low-estrogen pill like Yasmin, or the progestin-only minipill. Or consider trying the NuvaRing, which releases lower doses of hormones than the birth control pill, or try an intrauterine device.

Bonnie - birth control can add up to 15 pounds.

Sleep aids
The fat effect: You’ll find the same culprit, diphen-hydramine, in over-the-counter sleep aids, such as Tylenol Simply Sleep, Sominex, or Nytol, or “nighttime” versions of cold and pain medicines, like Sudafed PE Nighttime Cold or Excedrin PM.

What to do: What to do: Your doctor may prescribe an option like Ambien that’s designed to cut carryover sedating effects.

Bonnie: natural alternatives such as Valerian, 5-HTP, L-Theanine, and Rescue Sleep are effective

Migraine meds
The fat effect: Depakote and Depakene, medicines which are sometimes used to prevent recurring migraines, can make you want to eat more, says Harminder Sikand, clinical director of pharm-acy at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego.

What to do: Ask your doctor about Imitrex or other migraine drugs that are less likely to increase your appetite.

Bonnie: find the cause of the migraine...discovering food intolerances is a good place to begin. And of course, taking magnesium glycinate while avoiding aspartame and MSG is crucial.

The fat effect: Prednisone, often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and chronic inflammation, can make you feel ravenously hungry.

What to do: Your doctor may be able to give you prescription-strength NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen) to help. If you need to stay on steroids, work with a trainer to increase the calories you’re burning.

Bonnie: for the pharmaceutical remedy - take the lowest dose for the shortest time possible; for the natural remedy - take omega 3 fatty acids (especially Cod Liver Oil) to reduce inflammation. Also, take a probiotic to prevent yeast imbalance, take magnesium glycinate with B-6 to remove excess fluid, and follow our Pain Relief Diet to remove inflammatory foods from your diet.

Omega-3 may reduce type-1 diabetes

An increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources may protect children at high risk of type-1 diabetes from developing the disease, suggests new research.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the incidence of the disease among 1770 children at high risk of developing type-1 diabetes, with increased omega-3 intake associated with a 55 per cent reduction in risk.

In order to investigate the potential role of dietary factors in the development of type-1 diabetes, researchers examined whether consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids was associated with the development of pancreatic islet autoimmunity (IA).

Dietary intakes were evaluated using a 111-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) completed annually by the children's mothers. The children were recruited at age two and followed for an average of 6.2 years. Children were identified as having a high risk of type-1 diabetes by either possessing a high diabetes risk HLA (human leukocyte antigen) genotype or having a sibling or parent with type 1 diabetes.

The researchers also conducted a case-cohort study with a subset of 244 children in order to investigate the risk of IA related to the levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids in red blood cell (erythrocyte) membranes.

They noted that a newly established clinical trial, called "The Nutritional Intervention for the Prevention of Type 1 Diabetes," is testing if dietary supplementation with anti-inflammatory doses of DHA during pregnancy and infancy could inhibit early islet inflammatory events key to the development of type-1 diabetes.

"If this trial confirms this hypothesis, dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids could become a mainstay for early intervention to safely prevent the development of type 1 diabetes," concluded Norris.

Steve - for those of us in that understand the nutrigenomic and epigenetic nature of certain natural substances, this is not a surprising finding. While the structure of the study was a FFQ and Case Cohort (not ideal), we already know that omega-3 fatty acids harmoniously modify our epigenetic kinases (that send messages to our genes). Hence, the negative expression of the type-1 diabetes genes will stay dormant. So yes, women who are thinking of getting pregnant, who get pregnant, give birth, and nurse should supplement with omega 3. Children should also ingest sufficient omega 3's.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

ADA gives seal to Wrigley sugar-free gum

The nation's largest dentist group now says gum can be good for you, as long as it's sugar-free.

The American Dental Association said Tuesday it has awarded its seal of acceptance to Wrigley sugar-free gums Orbit, Extra and Eclipse — based on studies funded at least partially by the maker of Wrigley gums, Chicago-based Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

It said studies submitted by Wrigley showed that chewing those gum products for 20 minutes three times a day after meals increases saliva production. Saliva, the ADA said, helps neutralize and wash away plaque acid and bathes the teeth in minerals such as calcium, phosphate and fluoride, which are known to strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent cavities.

Clifford Whall, director of the ADA seal of acceptance program, said its council on scientific affairs found the studies, which focused solely on Wrigley products, had followed scientific principles.

"The council has looked at the body of data and concluded that there are some health benefits to chewing these products three times a day for 20 minutes," he said.

Wrigley paid $36,000 to submit its evaluation material — $12,000 per product. ADA also said Wrigley spends $35,000 to $45,000 in exhibit booth space at its annual meeting, advertising in its publications and on other sponsorships. It also pays $25,000 to help sponsor an ADA health screening program.

Consumer advocate Peter Lurie said the dental association should test other products before issuing such a seal, with the system appearing to be biased in favor of large companies that can afford the clinical studies.

"As long as the testing process and the criteria for receipt of a seal is unclear, the exact meaning of the ADA's seal will remain obscure," said Lurie, deputy director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, the nonprofit consumer advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader.

Steve - this is unconscionable. Besides the glaring conflicts of interest, you are opening up a pandora's box for overconsumption of artificial sweeteners, especially in children. Not to mention that these gums are loaded with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Study: Acupuncture works for back pain

"Acupuncture represents a highly promising and effective treatment option for chronic back pain," study co-author Dr. Heinz Endres of Ruhr University Bochum in Bochum, Germany, said in an e-mail. "Patients experienced not only reduced pain intensity, but also reported improvements in the disability that often results from back pain and therefore in their quality of life."

In the largest experiment on acupuncture for back pain to date, more than 1,100 patients were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture, sham acupuncture or conventional therapy. For the sham acupuncture, needles were inserted, but not as deeply as for the real thing. The sham acupuncture also did not insert needles in traditional acupuncture points on the body and the needles were not manually moved and rotated. After six months, patients answered questions about pain and functional ability and their scores determined how well each of the therapies worked. In the real acupuncture group, 47 percent of patients improved. In the sham acupuncture group, 44 percent did. In the usual care group, 27 percent got relief. "We don't understand the mechanisms of these so-called alternative treatments, but that doesn't mean they don't work," said Dr. James Young of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, who wasn't involved in the research.

Chinese medicine holds that there are hundreds of points on the body that link to invisible pathways for the body's vital energy, or qi. The theory goes that stimulating the correct points with acupuncture needles can release blocked qi. Dr. Brian Berman, the University of Maryland's director of complementary medicine, said the real and the sham acupuncture may have worked for reasons that can be explained in Western terms: by changing the way the brain processes pain signals or by releasing natural painkillers in the body.

In the study, the conventional treatment included many methods: painkillers, injections, physical therapy, massage, heat therapy or other treatments. Like the acupuncture patients, the patients getting usual care received about 10 sessions of 30 minutes each. The study, appearing in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, used a broad definition for low back pain, but ruled out people with back pain caused by spinal fractures, tumors, scoliosis and pregnancy.

Alkaline water suggestions

A client asked for bottled water recommendations that were considered alkaline.

San Faustino

San Pellegrino

San Pellegrino

Magnesium deficiency increases the risk for colorectal cancer

A large study that appears in September's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that magnesium deficiency can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, it introduces new evidence that a specific genetic polymorphism could also increase or decrease our colorectal cancer risk depending on calcium:magnesium intake ratio. The highest calcium intake coupled with the lowest magnesium intake produced the highest colorectal cancer risk among 4623 subjects.

Bonnie - this is one the of most comprehensive studies to explain why too much calcium and too little magnesium and vitamin D is damaging to your health. I wish the Dairy Council would study this at length!

The researchers explain that magnesium counters the action of calcium in many physiologic activities, just like potassium does with sodium. Calcium and magnesium compete for intestinal absorption, so if one's calcium intake is too high, it makes absorbing magnesium much tougher (this is why many of my new clients go off of supplemental calcium for a while give the body a chance to balance the cal:mag ratio). Hence, a high calcium intake with low magnesium intake may exaggerate colorectal cancer risk.

In the United States, this issue is magnified because while our magnesium intake does not differ from many other parts of the world, our calcium intake is much higher than most of the world.

The researchers go on to say that the largest single contributor to magnesium intake is supplemental magnesium. They comment that getting adequate magnesium through food or other means is difficult.

The researchers were very clear in saying that the risk of colorectal adenoma decreased with an increasing total intake of magnesium in every model they studied.

Another very important discovery was that the higher the vitamin D levels, the higher the magnesium levels were as well. The only scenario where total calcium intake was associated with lower colorectal cancer risk was when vitamin D and magnesium levels were high in comparison to calcium intake.

Furthermore, the researchers suggest that magnesium deficiency may cause calcium deficiency (translation: if you are magnesium deficient, all that calcium you are taking is either excreted from your body or is calcifying in soft tissue). This can cause irregularities in many biological activities, such as inflammation, DNA repair, cell proliferation, differentiation, angiogenesis, apoptosis, insulin resistance, and carcinogenesis.

Many unaware of meds that cause birth defects

According to a University of Pittsburgh study, doctors are not doing a very good job of warning women to avoid getting pregnant when taking prescription drugs that can cause birth defects. Of the 500,000 women taking the medicines, nearly half did not get counseling from their doctor about using birth control measures, or going off the medications before getting pregnant.

Confusion over Biopure Protein product

We just recently learned from a client that there are two products on the market called "BioPure Protein." They are both whey protein powder products, but their ingredients are VASTLY different.

The product we recommend, Metagenics BioPure Protein, is derived from grass-fed organic New Zealand cows. It has naturally-occurring immunoglobulins for added benefit and no sweetener.

The other product, Biochem BioPure Whey Protein Isolate, is not organic, contains artificial flavor, and sucralose (the artificial sweetener Splenda).

Please take note!

Gummy vitamins, rotten teeth?

Gummy-style vitamins are helping kids munch down their daily supplements without a grimace, but some pediatric dentists worry that the candy look-alikes and taste-alikes could be harmful to little teeth. The sugar combined with the gooey texture could add up to increased cavities, says Mary Hayes, a spokeswoman for the American Dental Association and a pediatric dentist in private practice in Chicago.

So far, no research has been published evaluating whether gummy vitamins are any worse for the teeth than chalky chewables in healthy children. But, many experts agree, plenty of evidence in the medical literature links sticky foods and cavities, and parents with little ones who chew gummy vitamins need to be extra vigilant about their tooth care. Dentist's suggest offering them with meals. A bad time to give one is right after they brush in the morning, or an even worse scenario is at night before bed, after they've already brushed.

Bonnie - these products vary in sugar content. Hero Yummi Bears, for instance, has very little sweetener. Even so, I always recommend taking them after a meal and then to brush your teeth. Many children will not swallow a vitamin or do not like the taste of a chewable with an allowed alternative sweetener such as xylitol or lo han. It is a much better option than Flintstones (loaded with sweetener) or multis with splenda, aspartame, or saccharin.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

West Nile virus still active, six Illinoisans infected last week

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported today that six more people in the state were diagnosed with mosquito-borne West Nile virus last week, bringing the total to 34 in the state for 2007. The total fatalities for the year were three, which remained unchanged last week. The six new human cases of West Nile virus were reported from Cook County, Dupage County, Kane County, and Warren County. Among the total of 37 counties positive for West Nile virus in mosquitoes, birds, or humans, 34 reported early include Jackson, Kane, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Macon, Marion, Macoupin, Madison, McHenry, Mg Bureau, Champaign, Clinton, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Franklin, Gallorgan, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Richland, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, Tazewell, White, Whiteside, Winnebago, Woodford, McLean, Vermilion, and Will counties.

“Summer is winding down but the West Nile virus season is not over so you need to remember to take precautions against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, Illinois Department of Public Health Director. "We still may have another month of hot summer temperatures and possibly more warm weather in the fall. Senior citizens and those individuals with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable so I want to stress the importance of taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself against mosquito bites," Dr. Whitaker said.

Eighty percent of people who are infected do not show any symptoms. But about 20 percent experience symptoms including fever, headache and body aches. In serious cases, the virus results in encephalitis and meningitis and even death.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

FDA gives isomaltulose health claim green light

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a non-cariogenic health claim for the carbohydrate sweetener isomaltulose.

Marketed under the brand Palatinose by German manufacturer Palatinit, the sweetener is said to maintain sweetness while also having a low glycemic effect. It can be used to enhance the nutritional value of foods since it is digested much more slowly than sucrose, providing energy over a longer time period.

Receiving the FDA health claim approval represents a significant achievement for the company as it permits its food and beverage clients to now make product claims.

The term "cariogenic" refers to a substance that stimulates tooth decay. It is a common description for sugars that can easily be digested by oral bacteria, such as sucrose, fructose, and lactose.

Steve - unfortunately,
the FDA makes this claim only from in-vivo and ex-vivo trials on rats, not humans. I suggest waiting several years to see how this substance is tolerated in the general public. I don't want our clients to be guinea pigs. I would say the only circumstance that would warrant trying isomaltulose would be for those who do not tolerate Xiylitol because it is predominately corn-derived. Otherwise, xylitol has an unmatched safety record, data from human trials, and we have recommended it for years. It is also non-cariogenic.

Supplement users better nourished than non-users

Older men and women who take nutritional supplements are more likely to get adequate amounts of several vitamins and minerals than their peers who don't use supplements, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The researchers also found that while a substantial proportion of people 51 and older don't get enough vitamins and minerals from diet alone, fewer than half took supplements every day.

They analyzed 1994-1996 data on 4,384 men and women aged 51 and older to investigate if supplement users were actually better nourished, and also to determine which people were most likely to use supplements. Overall, abut 40 percent reported taking supplements daily. While supplement users obtained more nutrients from food than people who didn't use supplements, both groups got far less folate, vitamin E and magnesium than they needed from diet alone, Sebastian and her team found. Eighty percent of supplement users got enough vitamin A, B-6, B-12, C and E; folate; iron; and zinc from diet and supplements.

The researchers also found that some supplement users, especially men, were consuming too much iron or zinc, while some female supplement users were getting too much vitamin A. Excess iron consumption may be harmful to the heart, while getting too much zinc may impair immune function and reduce levels of the "good" cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, the researchers point out. Based on the findings, the researchers add, older people should avoid the routine use of supplements containing retinol (a form of vitamin A) and iron.

Bonnie - I agree with several assumptions: over 50 mg. zinc daily is too much (however, I do not believe that many people ingest that much); with regard to too much vitamin A, if mostly from beta carotene, it is non-toxic, even in large amounts and under 5000IU of retinol vitamin A is perfectly fine; male adults and post-menopausal women should never take supplemental iron unless anemic. Watch for iron in multivitamin/minerals and iron-fortified cereals, which could give you excess iron.

Low Cholesterol May Increase Cancer Risk?

Have we been sent off in the wrong direction by producers of cholesterol lowering medications, doctors and thoughtless health advice? Yes indeed, says Al Sears, MD who practices in Florida, USA. To give an example, he points to a study recently published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, which finds that the more you lower cholesterol the greater the risk of your liver enzymes going off kilter, your muscles dissolving in a potentially deadly disease called rhabdomyolysis and of contracting cancer.

Rhabdomyolysis, the muscle dissolving disease, is preceded by horrendous muscle pains. Patients are reporting this to their doctors, but apparently they aren't believed most of the time. Quite little of these often valid complaints filters up to where drug decisions are made and indeed, cholesterol lowering drugs are among the best sellers world wide raking in billions every year. And of course the suffering continues. If excruciating pain and loss of mobility sounds like something people should be able to stand for a chance to escape heart attack, try amnesia, behavioral and neurological side effects such as Alzheimer's and ALS. But let's get back to doc Al Sears and see what he thinks about the fad of lowering cholesterol and the connection between too low cholesterol levels in your body and cancer - and what you can do to protect your heart's health without the drugs ...

For years, I've been telling my patients that the medical establishment's obsession with lowering cholesterol to prevent heart disease is causing more harm than good. If your doctor continues to get you worried about your high cholesterol levels, here's a bit of news for you... In fact, your high cholesterol may be protecting you from cancer. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology revealed that driving down cholesterol levels actually increases the risk of cancer. Researchers at the Tufts University School of Medicine found that among people taking "statin" drugs - like Lipitor and Zocor - there was a higher rate of cancer. Although the link between the drugs and cancer wasn't clear, there was no doubt that drastically low cholesterol levels correlated to cancer risk.

The big drug makers continue to sell the notion that the best way to fight heart disease is to lower LDL levels, the so-called "bad" cholesterol. Yet 75 percent of people who suffer heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels. It makes sense that low cholesterol levels are linked to cancer because cholesterol is one of your body's basic building blocks. You need it to produce testosterone, to build and repair cell membranes, and to preserve your nerve cells through the formation of the protective "sheaths" that cover them. Starving your body of this critical substance will lead to other health problems. We already know that extremely low cholesterol levels result in muscle weakness, fatigue, depression, decreased sex drive, and "brain fog." This new research shows that there may be even more deadly consequences.

What really matters is not low "bad" cholesterol, but high levels of HDL, the so-called "good"cholesterol. As long as you have a high HDL count - 75 to 80, for example - it doesn't matter whether your total cholesterol is 150 or 350. A high HDL will always keep your risk of heart disease extremely low. So why haven't you heard this already? It may be because there's no drug that effectively raises good cholesterol levels.

To Your Good Health, Al Sears, MD

Reference: 1 Alawi A, et al. Effect of the Magnitude of Lipid Lowering on Cancer. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 50(2007):409-418.

Bonnie - I have been saying this for years. How can a doctor justify putting a patient on a cholesterol lowering drug when their HDL is over 100 and their LDL is below 100? Yet, they still prescribe the drugs because their total cholesterol is over 200. Of course it will be over 200 when you have so much good cholesterol!

Actually, I agree with Dr. Sears with regard to no drug available that can improve HDL. However, there is a prescribed substance called Niacin (a B-Vitamin), which has been around for years! You can get this by prescription from your physician in greater strengths. Never take over 500 mg. of niacin on your own.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Athletes choosing Pedialyte in place of Gatorade

Courtesy of NY Times News Service

Between innings, pitcher Tom Glavine sips Pedialyte, a liquid sold alongside diapers in drugstores that is meant to quickly rehydrate toddlers experiencing diarrhea. The neon-tinted fluid that comes in grape and other child-friendly flavors contains electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and glucose, which happen to be the basic ingredients in most sports drinks.

Without an iota of marketing effort from Abbott Laboratories, the maker of Pedialyte, the over-the-counter remedy with a teddy bear on its label has developed a small and devoted following among professional and amateur athletes, a trend that long-distance runners seem to have started sometime in the 1980s.

"It'd be different if they were drinking formula," Brad Childress, the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings told The St. Paul Pioneer Press before last season about his players' pre-workout predilection for the baby elixir. "But Pedialyte is used in hospitals throughout the United States for hydration. It's different than just your regular sports drink."

"They say it's for babies," high school wrestling coach Gary Bannat said. "But I tell them forget the Gatorade. With Pedialyte, the kids can maintain a better electrolyte balance. The kids can work out harder and recover faster."

Although Abbott does not market Pedialyte as a sports drink or track its sales to athletes, the company is aware of its off-label use in locker rooms. Dr. Keith Wheeler, a divisional vice president for research and development at the company, says he has done enough research to know Pedialyte will work on the field.

"If you take a 300-pound NFL lineman and put him in 95 degrees with 75 percent humidity," Wheeler said, "he will dump a volume of electrolytes from his body through sweat that will be equivalent to a child with diarrhea." As best as most observers can tell, endurance athletes were the first to consume Pedialyte as an adult sports drink in the 1980s. Compared with original Gatorade, Pedialyte has more than twice the sodium per ounce and half the carbohydrates, and it sells for more than double the price.

In a phone interview, Wheeler of Abbott Laboratories said that Gatorade had too much sucrose, "the wrong kind of carbohydrate," to effectively hydrate athletes, a statement Murray said years of his company's research proved is untrue.

Superbug Causes Kids' Ear Infections

A vaccine that has dramatically curbed pneumonia and other serious illnesses in children is also having an unfortunate effect: promoting new superbugs that cause ear infections.

On Monday, doctors reported discovering the first such germ that is resistant to all drugs approved to treat childhood ear infections. Nine toddlers in Rochester, N.Y., have had the bug and researchers say it may be turning up elsewhere, too.

It is a strain of strep bacteria not included in the pneumococcal vaccine, Wyeth's Prevnar, which came on the market in 2000. It is recommended for children under age 2.

Prevnar prevents seven strains responsible for most cases of pneumonia, meningitis and deadly bloodstream infections. But dozens more strep strains exist, and some have flourished and become impervious to antibiotics since the vaccine combats the more common strains.

If the new strains continue to spread, "it tells us the vaccine is becoming less effective" and needs to be revised, said Dr. Dennis Maki, infectious diseases chief at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospitals and Clinics.

Wyeth anticipated this and is testing a second-generation vaccine. But it is at least two years from reaching the market, and the new strains could become a public health problem in the meantime if they spread hard-to-treat infections through day care centers and schools.

"I don't think the new strains are moving fast enough to call it a race, but the fact is that certain strains are increasing," said Peter Paradiso, a scientist at Wyeth Vaccines, the Collegeville, Pa., division that makes Prevnar.

"It is very worrying," said Dr. Keith Klugman, an infectious diseases specialist at Emory University. "With the eradication of all the other types in the vaccine, this one is emerging."

Prevnar is a unique vaccine because it covers only seven of the 90-odd strains of the germ. By contrast, measles is caused by one type of virus. Booster shots are needed for chickenpox, mumps and measles because immunity wanes, not because the germ changed.

Prevnar, however, is losing its punch because strains not covered by the vaccine are filling the biological niche that the vaccine strains used to occupy, and they are causing disease.

All 19A strep subtypes tend to be resistant to some drugs and have been growing in prevalence:

* Scientists from a drug company and two labs analyzed more than 21,000 bacterial samples from around the nation and found 19A increasing. Among children 2 and under, the portion of samples that were this strain rose to 15 percent in 2005-2006, from 4 percent in the previous three years.

* A British lab tracking respiratory infections in U.S. kids found that the 19A strain accounted for 40 percent of drug-resistant cases.

* University of Iowa researchers found 19A accounted for 35 percent of penicillin-resistant infections in 2004-05, compared with less than 2 percent the year before the new vaccine came out.

Because these bacteria easily swap gene components to become even more hardy, "new types may emerge that can both escape containment by vaccine and spread throughout the world," Dr. Daniel Musher of Baylor College of Medicine wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine last year.

Some think Prevnar might be destined to be like flu shots that must be periodically updated to reflect new strains causing illness. But each tweak requires new safety studies and more expense.

Bonnie - this is the problem with vaccines that treat these types of's like a dog trying to catch its own tail. What does this mean essentially? More vaccines for our kids are on the way.

Med diet found to benefit arthritis sufferers

Women suffering from arthritis who adhered to a Mediterranean diet for only nine months experienced "significant" alleviations in pain, according to a new study.

Writing in the September issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, the researchers noted that the gain from a Mediterranean-type diet intervention in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is potentially twofold.

Firstly, improvement in disease activity and secondly, reduction in cardiovascular risk - since people with RA are known to be at increased of suffering from, or dying from, cardiovascular disease.

The study involved a six-week dietary intervention in 130 female patients from different hospitals in Glasgow, UK. Participants were aged between 30 and 70, and had suffered from RA for eight years.

"This study shows that this intervention was achievable and well received by patients. Intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes increased significantly over 3 months in the intervention group and the use of monounsaturated compared with saturated fats improved."

Bonnie - nice to see more research into the diet/pain relationship.

Sugar Finds Its Way Back to the School Cafeteria

Courtesy of NY Times

Stung by harsh publicity about fat kids and threatened with lawsuits, the nation’s three largest beverage companies finally got some love last year when they voluntarily agreed to remove sugary drinks from schools. In the place of soda and sugar-laden beverages, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes agreed that only water, low-fat milk and 100 percent juice would be offered in elementary and middle schools. In high schools, sports drinks, light juices and diet drinks would also be allowed. The announcement was brokered by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a collaboration of the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, and it was widely praised. Former President Bill Clinton, who attended the press conference, called the decision “courageous.” “Shrewd” was probably a better word.

The truth is that full-calorie soda would have been forced out of schools eventually, either by litigation or legislation. And the beverage companies were lucky to get sports drinks in the deal since many nutritionists believe there is no reason for kids to be drinking them unless they are vigorously exercising. But that wasn’t the end of it. After the deal was signed and the editorials written, the beverage makers sought a change. Under the original terms of the agreement, only sports drinks and light juices with no more than 66 calories per eight ounces were allowed to be sold in high schools. But because of a quietly executed amendment in late April, “other drinks” with no more than 66 calories per eight ounces are now allowed. By doing so, the beverage companies opened the door for beverages like Vitaminwater and Propel, both considered enhanced water, to be sold. Sports drinks are generally defined as sweetened drinks with electrolytes; enhanced waters have vitamins instead. The change is significant because teenagers are rejecting soda in droves in favor of a huge new variety of “mid-calorie” beverages like sports drinks, enhanced waters, sparkling juice and sweetened teas.

The market for such beverages in the United States is so bullish that Coke forked over a whopping $4 billion in June for GlacĂ©au, which makes Vitaminwater. The beverage industry and its nonprofit partners describe the amendment as a minor tweak — so minor that they didn’t bother to tell the people who applauded them the previous year for striking such a bold deal. Nutrition advocates accuse the beverage industry of gutting the agreement. “This is a huge loophole that will bring lots more sugar and calories into kids’ diets,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Ms. Wootan says enhanced waters are simply sugar water with vitamins tossed in, most of which children don’t need.

Dr. Carlos A. Camargo, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical School, says if people are concerned about teenagers consuming too many liquid calories, they should fix school drinking fountains. “It has zero calories, zero artificial sweeteners, zero stimulants and — if the schools made sure that their drinking fountains actually worked — it could be provided throughout the school day at NO COST to students,” Dr. Camargo wrote in an e-mail message. Dr. Camargo was part of an Institute of Medicine panel that suggested last spring that schools should offer only water, low-fat milk or 100 percent fruit juices during the school day.

Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, has tried repeatedly to pass legislation that would allow the Department of Agriculture to update its standards on what kinds of foods and beverages can be sold in school vending machines and school stores. In the past, the beverage industry has been among his biggest foes. But this time around, the beverage industry isn’t opposing the bill — it is encouraging Senator Harkin to adopt its standards (with the amendment included, of course) on beverage sales in schools. “Voluntary nutrition standards were announced just over a year ago with great fanfare, but in a short time, there was quiet backsliding to sneak sugary beverages into our schools again,” said Kate Cyrul, a spokeswoman for the Senate agriculture committee, of which Senator Harkin is the chairman. “For the sake of our children’s health, Congress should pass science-based school nutrition standards that cannot be altered at the request of just a few parties and without public input.”

It’s not so surprising that soda makers would push for such a change given their struggle to keep pace with the changing tastes and demands of the public. Like most food and beverage companies, they are trying to figure out how to promote healthy lifestyles in ways that don’t discourage customers from buying their products. But you would think that an organization called the Alliance for a Healthier Generation would be more concerned with kids’ health than corporate profits. The deal was already signed. Why give in to the beverage companies? Robert S. Harrison, the alliance’s executive director, said the intent of the original agreement was to remove high-calorie drinks from schools and reduce portion sizes. Now, for instance, only 12-ounce sports drinks can be sold in high school rather than 20 ounces. “The amendment is a technical amendment that is completely consistent with the original agreement,” he said. “We are trying to move the needle to improve the offerings that are available to kids in schools.” The alliance deserved credit for moving the needle. But it could have pushed it further. I guess that’s why it’s not called the Alliance for the Healthiest Generation.

Steve - bravo NY Times for breaking this story! As we have been saying consistently, moving from soda to these energy drinks is just more of the same.

Many 'imagine' food intolerance

Millions of people in the United Kingdom have self-diagnosed a food intolerance and may be avoiding key foods as a result, a poll by a testing firm suggests. Less than a quarter of the 12 million people who claim to be food intolerant have had their condition formally diagnosed. Nearly 40% of the 1,500 people polled by Yorktest thought it trendy to be intolerant and many blamed celebrities. Actress Rachel Weisz for instance has a well-publicized wheat intolerance, TV presenter Carol Vorderman a gluten one, and Rod Stewart's former wife, Rachel Hunter, a lactose intolerance. The range of foods people declared themselves intolerant of was diverse, but grapefruit and sushi were declared by those polled to be key culprits. Food intolerances are not as severe as food allergies, which in severe cases can prevent people from breathing properly. But symptoms can nonetheless be uncomfortable, ranging from a stuffy nose to aching joints and nausea.

Courtesy of BBC News

Bonnie - I have a hard time blaming celebrities for people avoiding foods. I applaud them for putting the issue in the public eye. "Joe Public" is more aware of food intolerances than most physicians anyway and are laughed at if they bring it up.

However, I agree that one should never self-diagnose food intolerance. An expert like myself or other health professional with food intolerance expertise and testing capabilities should be involved.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Quercetin reduces upper respiratory infections

A flavonoid found in fruit, such as apples and berries, could help reduce illnesses in people who have carried out extensive exercise.

Researchers writing in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal found that supplementation of quercetin reduced incidence of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI).

According to the New Scientist, studies of quercetin have been supported by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) - the Pentagon's research arm - in the hope it could be used to protect US troops.

Lead author David Nieman from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, said in the New Scientist: "During missions, soldiers are running around for two or three days with heavy packs on. They don't eat or sleep, and infections are as much of a problem if not a more serious issue than injuries,"

Researchers gave 40 male cyclists one gram of quercetin a day, which is the equivalent to eating 100 apples, or a placebo for three weeks. During this time, the cyclists spent a three-day period training at maximum intensity for three hours each day.

They found that URTI incidence during the two week post-exercise period "differed significantly" in the quercetin's group favor.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Family meals may have lasting impact on kids' diets

Teenagers who sit down to meals with their families may have healthier diets as adults, according to a new study.

The findings, say researchers, point up the importance of the traditional family dinner -- something that has fallen by the wayside in an age of hectic schedules and take-out food.

Some past studies have suggested that when parents and children regularly connect over dinner, children are less likely to take up habits like smoking and drinking. The new findings, which appear in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, suggest that children's diets may also benefit in the long run.

Among the more than 1,700 teenagers researchers followed for five years, those who ate the most meals with their families tended to have a more healthful diet in young adulthood.

By their early 20s, these teens reported eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking less soda, and getting more fiber, potassium and magnesium than their peers who ate few meals with their families.

Steve - we have posted many blogs with regard to this issue. Can't hurt to list another one, especially when backed by research, to have it hit home.

New Online Consumer Health Guide Reveals Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Prescription Drugs, a leading natural health news and information site, has launched NewsTarget DrugWatch(TM), a free online resource that reveals the nutritional deficiencies caused by over 540 brand-name prescription drugs. The pages are provided free of charge as a service to enhance the health and safety of consumers:

All prescription drugs have unintended side effects, and many drugs deplete the body of essential nutrients. Today, most consumers are not being told about these drug-induced nutritional deficiencies, and they continue taking pharmaceuticals without knowing they are often leaving their body in a dangerous state of nutrient depletion that can lead to chronic degenerative disease. Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, for example, greatly interfere with Coenzyme Q10 production (a nutrient essential for cellular energy), but instead of being told to take supplemental CoQ10, many patients suffering from fatigue and exhaustion on statin drugs are simply diagnosed with another disease and given yet another prescription drug to take.

Antidepressant drugs, as another example, interfere with the metabolism of carbohydrates. Most people taking antidepressants are deficient in the B vitamins (especially folic acid). Supplementing with B vitamins has been found to either make the antidepressant drugs seem more effective or eliminate the need for the drugs altogether.

The NewsTarget DrugWatch database is updated monthly to reflect the latest research about drug-induced nutrient deficiencies. It is financially supported by the presence of Google advertising on each page, keeping it free to the public.

Taste, nutrients decline as size of crops grows

When it comes to eating fruits, vegetables and grain, bigger is not better for you.

A report issued this week examined several recent studies by food scientists, nutritionists, growers and plant breeders. It found clear evidence that as the produce we eat gets larger, its vitamins, minerals and beneficial chemical compounds significantly diminish, as do taste and aroma.

Growing bigger tomatoes and ears of corn leads to a bigger yield for the producer, but the trade-off is the lower nutritional value.

Some say the gutting of the nutritional value of what we eat could affect public health, particularly in poorer countries. "There is no sinister villain behind this," said Chuck Benbrook, chief scientist for the Organic Center, which commissioned the report. "Increasing the amount of food grown per acre, by itself, is a good thing.

"The problem is that until recently, no one ever checked to see what was happening to the nutritional value of these much larger tomatoes, bigger grapefruit and the rest of the crops.

"Now we're in trouble. Not just the U.S. but almost every Western country that is using improved growing methods," Benbrook said.

Because of the work of plant scientists and crop breeders, farmers have doubled or tripled the yield per acre of most major fruits, vegetables and grains over the past 50 years.

Agriculture's "almost single-minded focus on increasing yields created a blind spot" in nutritional content, said Brian Halweil, author of the Organic Center's report, "Still No Free Lunch."

"Almost more alarming, this decline has escaped the notice of scientists, government and consumers," wrote Halweil, a senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute and a member of the Organic Center's scientific advisory board.

The report said studies found:

  • The more a tomato weighs, the lower its concentration of lycopene, a natural anti-cancer chemical that makes tomatoes red. There is also less vitamin C and beta carotene, a nutrient linked to vitamin A.
  • Milk from high-production dairy cows has lower concentrations of fat, protein and other nutrition-enhancing components than the milk from dairy operations of 20 years ago or more.
  • Sweet corn, potatoes and whole-wheat bread show double-digit declines in iron, zinc and calcium. The time span of the decline varies depending on the product studied but generally ranges from 20 to 100 years.

    Over the years, improvements in seeds and plant stock not only grew larger plants but permitted them to be grown closer together and crop yields soared.

    "Of course we're now capable of feeding more people, but what's happened is that unintentionally, the nutritional value of our food supply has been eroded," Benbrook said.

    Nutrient decline is also found in some organic crops.

    "I wish I could say that there is no loss in organically grown crops, but that's just not the case," Benbrook said.

    "Organic farmers face the same laws of nature and economic pressures as conventional growers, and pushing yields upward often increases profits."

    Vital chemical missing

    Donald Davis, a senior researcher at the University of Texas, did some of the most illuminating research into the disappearing nutrients.

    He compared Agriculture Department figures on nutrient content for 43 common fruits and vegetables.

    Davis says historical data spanning 50 to 70 years show apparent declines of 5 percent to 40 percent or more in minerals, vitamins and proteins in groups of foods, especially vegetables.

    Higher-yield crops also decrease the concentrations of cancer-fighting chemicals and anti-toxins -- known as phytonutrients or phytochemicals. Food scientists have identified the benefits of only a few of these.

    "We are beginning to understand how valuable these phytochemicals actually are," Davis said. "We can only guess what the loss of these from high-yield farming will mean to the health of the consumer."

    Surprise in the wheat fields

    Washington State University professor Stephen Jones and researcher Kevin Murphy, who are involved in the school's century-old wheat-breeding program for Northwest farmers, decided to see how the grain's nutritional value has changed in 100 years.

    "Kevin's research showed that today's modern wheat has less nutritional value," Jones said. "It is a concern, and the differences are easy to understand.

    "You would have to eat twice as many slices of modern bread as you would of the older variety to get the same nutritional value. How did this happen? The breeders and growers and all the rest of us never looked at whether the nutritional content stayed the same as the yield increased."

    Instead, researchers focused on "how good a cookie the wheat made, how nice a loaf of bread it produced or how the pizza dough acts," Jones explained.

    "That's all related to protein," he said. "It's not related to iron and zinc and selenium and other essential vitamins and minerals."

    Jones and Murphy are concerned because 25 percent of the wheat in the world comes from the United States.

    "None of that has ever been bred for nutritional value," he said. "In this country we get our nutrients by spreading on the peanut butter or a cheeseburger, and we call it good.

    "In many countries that import our wheat, the mainstay of the diet may be bread alone. The lack of nutrients becomes a far more serious issue."

    Courtesy of Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    Steve - the issue is also soil quality. It is no secret that soil quality has diminished greatly over the years, mainly due to pesticide use. This once again explains the need for at a minimum, supplementing with a solid multivitamin/mineral.

  • Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Utah extends pool ban to battle parasite

    After more than 1,300 illnesses, health officials Tuesday extended a ban on toddlers in public swimming pools to try to stop cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause severe diarrhea. The ban on kids under 5 and anyone in diapers will remain through Sept. 25 at pools at parks, schools, apartments, hotels and amusement parks. Since Aug. 28, when restrictions were first announced, cases continue to be reported in "substantial numbers," the Utah Department of Health said. "Public-health officials have been unable to determine whether the restrictions have been effective in controlling the outbreak," the department said. Crypto is found in soil, food, water or surfaces that have been contaminated with human or animal feces. Diapers in a swimming pool are a common way to spread it, but they are not the only way. "If you have a family member who is sick, it's important to practice good hygiene so the illness is not spread from person to person," said Ilene Risk, a manager at the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. Utah typically sees about 30 cases of crypto a year. So far this year: 1,302. There have been 492 cases in Salt Lake County and 454 in Utah County, said Rich Lakin, state manager of disease investigation.

    Steve - this is a HUGE issue with pools everywhere. It is crazy to think that bans are being implemented with kids under 5, especially those who are not potty-trained. However, Cryptosporidium are starting to become chlorine-resistant and can create violent symptoms when we get sick.

    Lutein/zeaxanthin again linked to lower AMD risk

    Supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin has once again been associated with a lower risk for age-related macular degeneration, according to a new report published in the September issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

    The research was undertaken as part of the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) - a major clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute under the umbrella of the National Institutes of Health. The AREDS Research Group assessed 4,519 participants between the ages of 60 to 80 years when they enrolled in 1992 through 1998.

    "Higher dietary intake of lutein/zeaxanthin was independently associated with decreased likelihood of having neovascular AMD, geographic atrophy, and large or extensive intermediate drusen," concluded the authors.

    "A number of diet-based compounds concentrated in the retina may have the capacity to modulate exogenous and endogenous defense and repair systems in response to oxidative stress and inflammation," explained the researchers in the study.

    This link between dietary nutrients and AMD has been investigated in numerous recent publications. The nutrients include lutein and zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, provitamin A carotenoids, vitamin A, retinol, alpha-tocopherol and vitamin C.

    Study shows vitamin C's cancer-fighting properties

    Vitamin C can impede the growth of some types of tumors according to new research published in the journal Cancer Cell. The researchers generated encouraging results when giving vitamin C to mice that had been implanted with human cancer cells -- either the blood cancer lymphoma or prostate cancer. Another antioxidant, N-acetylcysteine, also limited tumor growth in the mice, the researchers said. Researchers led by Dr. Chi Dang, a professor of medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, found that antioxidants appear to be working in a different way -- undermining a tumor's ability to grow under certain conditions. Figuring out how antioxidants impede tumors should help scientists figure out how they might be harnessed to fight cancer, Dang said. In addition to the cancer types involved in this study, others that might be vulnerable to vitamin C include colon cancer and cervical cancer, he said.

    Linus Pauling argued in the 1970s that vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, could ward off cancer, but the notion has proved contentious. Pauling, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry as well as the Nobel Peace Prize, died in 1994. "Pauling actually had some good evidence that under certain situations vitamin C can prevent tumor formation. It's just the mechanism was really not that clear then," Dang said. "Now that, I think, we provide relatively compelling evidence of how this works, maybe Pauling is partly right. We shouldn't dismiss him so quickly." Dang added.

    Bonnie - this is a mouse study, and the results must be viewed cautiously. We posted it because of Dr. Dang's comments with regard to further pinpointing the mechanism of how antioxidants may prevent cancer. The discovery is monumental because it cements the principal we preach every day...prevention! Vitamin C's action in undermining the tumor's ability to grow mirrors what professionals like myself have said about nutrients...they work best as preventatives and until they are addressed as such in research studies, results will be mixed and in many cases ineffective.

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    At a glance: Advances In Women's Health

    Bonnie wanted to share some insight from a recent Women's Health Conference:
    • 80% of women taking Elavil (Amitryptaline) gain weight from it.

    • Tylenol P.M., Benadryl, and Elavil are some popular anti-cholinegenic drugs, meaning they block signal transmission from the nerves to muscles that keep memory intact. Women over the age of 50 who are taking these drugs on a regular basis are setting themselves up for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

    • Women are not just “smaller men”. There are over 100 anatomical differences between men and women!

    • Over sixty (60%) percent of depressed people first complain about chest pains and sleep disturbances to their doctor.

    • The optimum temperature for sleep is 65-67 degrees.

    • There is a 20% increase in major depression disorders for obese individuals who are also Caucasian and college grads!

    • 50-75% of women experience “baby blues” after the birth of their baby due to stress, hormonal changes, and consistently high cortisol levels from interrupted sleep.

    • There are 5 stages of sleep that typically go in 90 minute cycles for adults and 60 minute cycles for babies and young children.

      Stage 1: shallow, superficial, not restful sleep;
      Stage 2: transition to deep sleep (can still be tossing and turning); this is where most of our sleeping time falls. New mothers usually stay in Stages 1-2;
      Stage 3: priority sleep to begin restoring and repairing damaged tissue;
      Stage 4: delta wave sleep (brain still is repairing and restoring); 80% of the growth hormone is produced during this stage;
      Stage 5: REM (rapid eye movement sleep); skeletal muscles are “paralyzed” here; this is the stage where dreaming occurs and the brain can organize and discover answers to difficult issues of the day.

      If an adult doesn’t get to bed by 10:00-10:30PM, it is very difficult to get through all 5 stages of sleep. The peak time benefit for REM sleep is around midnight. Without consistently getting Stages 3-5, people will feel tired, irritable, and in pain!

    • It is much easier to detect breast cancer from an MRI scan than from a mammogram. So, why isn’t the MRI recommended more often? It is too expensive!

    • The definition of a medically induced weight loss is “Five to ten percent (5-10%) of body weight lost over a six month period (this is about 1-2 pounds per week).

    • The gender differences in symptoms between men and women concerning Coronary/Heart disease are, for women:
      -lower prevalence of Mycocardial Infarction (MI)
      -more severe angina
      -more microvascular dysfunction
      -abnormal vasomotor tone

    • Higher hospital mortality rate after treatment for MI-depressed individuals are four times or more likely to have heart attacks as those who are not depressed.

    • Metabolic Syndrome Criteria
      -abdominal obesity (woman=>35” waist circumference; man=>40”)
      -high triglycerides (=>150 mg.)
      -low HDL (<45 men; <50 women) cholesterol
      -elevated BP (130/85 hypertension; 120/80 pre-hypertension)
      -fasting glucose >100

    • Forty percent (40%) of children diagnosed with ADHD have been misdiagnosed. What if we did this with cancer?!!

    • The difference between Delirium and Dementia:
      -Delirium: waxing and waning of cognitive function.
      -Dementia: a chronic progressive neurological issue that produces high levels of homocysteine (folic acid, B-6, and B-12 can reduce homocysteine).

    • Menorrhagia is defined as “menstrual flow that soaks through one or more tampons every hour for several hours or a menstrual flow that lasts heavily for seven or more days.”

    • If you become severely anemic with a Hemoglobin below 9-10, you can have major shortness of breath.

    • Should young women be given the HPV Vaccine (Gardisil)? Here are the facts for you to make an educated decision:
      1. This vaccine prevents four types of the papilloma virus (there are many others).
      2. The vaccine must be administered before a woman’s first sexual encounter.
      3. 30% of cervical cancers cannot be prevented by taking the HPV Vaccine.
      4. Eighty percent (80%) of all women have been infected by this virus by age 50; most have no apparent health issues related to it (subclinical).

    • Many doctors are removing folic acid from their patient recommendations because recent research says that bringing down high homocysteine levels may not prevent heart disease. So what? Folic acid has been proven to help the following issues:
      1. reduction of depression
      2. mood highs and lows
      3. periodontal disease
      4. pernicious anemia
      5. hearing loss
      6. reduction of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

    Reports of adverse drug effects on the rise

    The Food and Drug Administration received 2½ times more reports of serious health problems linked to medication in 2005 than it did in 1998, a study reports today. Reports of serious problems grew four times faster than the total number of U.S. outpatient prescriptions, according to the Archives of Internal Medicine. Such medication-related health problems account for an estimated 3% to 6% of hospital admissions, they write. "The overall message is that the drug-safety evaluation system is not working," says co-author Curt Furberg, a medical epidemiologist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and former member of the FDA's drug safety and risk management advisory panel. "Harmful drugs are getting into the marketplace."

    Steve - from the horror stories we hear on an almost daily basis, we are surprised the numbers are not higher. The public does seem to be heeding the call and paying more attention to the type and number of medications they consume.

    Link found between a lack of vitamin D and pre-eclampsia

    Researchers in the United States say women who have a vitamin D deficiency early in their pregnancy are at risk from pre-eclampsia. Pregnant women who have pre-eclampsia, which is also known as toxemia, suffer from raised blood pressure as well as swelling of the hands and feet and it is the most common cause of premature birth, and is a factor in 76,000 deaths each year worldwide. In the study, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, data and blood samples were evaluated from 1,198 women and newborns from 1997 and 2001 at Magee-Womens Hospital. Blood samples were collected from the pregnant women prior to 22 weeks pregnancy and again just before delivery and newborn umbilical cord blood also was tested for 25 hydroxyvitamin D, an indicator of vitamin D levels in the babies. The researchers found that the risk of pre-eclampsia could be five times as high as that for those who were not deficient of vitamin D during pregnancy and even a small decline in vitamin D concentration more than doubled the risk of pre-eclampsia. The researchers were concerned that many of the women had apparently been taking prenatal vitamins, which typically contain 200 to 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D.

    Bonnie - most of the prenatals I see are woefully deficient not just in vitamin D, but other vitamins and minerals as well. In addition, many of the prenatals that doctors recommend by prescription contain vitamin D2, the synthetic source of vitamin D. It is imperative that the source be D3, which is much more bioavailable. Magnesium is also a crucial nutrient for pre-eclampsia, which is also usually minimal in most prenatals.

    Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Price, taste remain challenges for healthy foods in schools

    Less than half of school districts that pledged to provide healthy food and beverages for sale in schools have managed to implement the policies, due in large to the high costs of healthy products, and to students being reluctant to accept these, says a new report by the School Nutrition Association (SNA).

    Published this week to mark the first-year anniversary of wellness policies in schools, the report tracks their implementation progress, including the establishment of nutrition guidelines for products sold in schools.

    Local wellness policies, required in every school that participates in the school lunch or school breakfast program- the large majority of US schools- were designed to address the problem of childhood obesity. They require that schools set nutrition standards for all foods sold in school, including in vending machines, a la carte lines, and school stores.

    However, results from a survey of 976 school nutrition directors indicate that implementation has been more of a challenge for policies that address foods and beverages offered outside of the school nutrition program, said SNA.

    Fewer than half of all districts that included these policy components have finished implementing them, according to the new report, From Cupcakes to Carrots: Local Wellness Policies One Year Later.

    "Finding affordable products that meet policy nutrition standards, acceptance by students and monitoring/oversight of the policy were the biggest implementation challenges cited," said SNA.

    Steve - there will be growing pains of course. However, real progress will not be made unless the national standards, as well as the commodities offered by the USDA, change dramatically. This was outlined in a wonderful annual report issued by the President's Cancer Commission.

    Mediterranean diet may benefit arthritis sufferers

    Learning how to eat Mediterranean-style may help people with rheumatoid arthritis improve their symptoms, a study suggests.

    The traditional diets of people in the Mediterranean region tend to be high in fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil, and comparatively low in red meat. Some research has suggested these components, such as the healthy fats in olive oil, have anti-inflammatory effects. The diet is also typically rich in antioxidants, which help shield body cells from damage.

    In the new study, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, UK researchers split 130 women with RA into two groups. One group attended classes on Mediterranean-style eating, which included hands-on cooking instruction. The other group was given written dietary information only. The researchers found that women who attended the classes bumped up their intake of fruits, vegetables, beans and monounsaturated fat -- the type found in olive oil. What's more, over the next six months they reported improvements in pain, morning stiffness and overall health. In contrast, women who received only written information made no significant diet changes, as a group. Nor were there any overall symptom improvements, the study found.