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 The discovery of the unpublished research comes as Merck and Schering are already under criticism for not yet releasing data from an important Zetia study, called Enhance, that they completed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 A Schering executive, when asked by a reporter about the unpublished studies, confirmed their existence.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Schering-Plough Research Institute, Kenilworth, N.J. Schering also said that the F.D.A. had reviewed the data from the unpublished studies and had approved Zetia for use alongside statins.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.