Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blog Goes Into Hibernation Until January 1.

We urge you to take this time to set your wellness goals for 2009.

Everyone have a happy holiday and New Year!

Bonnie and Steve

Monday, December 15, 2008

Colonoscopy Has a 'Right Side' Blind Spot

Colonoscopy does a good job of detecting early signs of disease on the left side of the colon, or large intestine, but is not as effective at spotting potential problems of the right side of the organ. This means a colonoscopy's success at preventing colorectal cancer deaths seems to lie with its ability to uncover so-called "left-sided" problems.

"We did find that colonoscopies are effective -- that's the good news. It's still one of the best screening tests for any cancer that we have," said study author Dr. Nancy Baxter, a colorectal surgeon with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

"But it's not perfect," she added. "And it does not appear to be as effective in picking up growths on the right side of the colon as it is in detecting them on the left side."

The findings are published online Dec. 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In an accompanying editorial in the journal, Dr. David F. Ransohoff, a professor of cancer epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, suggested that the mortality risk reduction offered by colonoscopies is probably closer to 60 percent to 70 percent, rather than the 90 percent figure typically cited.

Dr. Judith Collins, section chief of gastroenterology at the VA Medical Center in Portland, Ore., said that despite the apparent limitations highlighted in the new study, colonoscopies are still the gold standard for detection of colorectal cancer.

"This is a totally preventable cancer," she said. "So whether screening for it results in a 60 percent reduction in death or 90 percent reduction, there's just no other cancer that we can see this well, and colonoscopy certainly reduces mortality. And that's the bottom line. There are a lot of variables that show that it is not a perfect test, but it's still a very good test."

Bonnie - I would be interested to see if the virtual colonoscopy fares better in picking up the right side.

Fruits, veggies slash breast cancer risk

Certain breast cancer survivors who load up on fruits and vegetables, eating far more than current U.S. guidelines, can slash their risk the tumors will come back by nearly a third. The finding only held for women who did not have hot flashes after their cancer therapy, the researchers said -- a finding that suggests fruits and vegetables act on estrogen. Their analysis suggests an explanation for why some studies have shown that eating more fruits and vegetables lowers the risk that breast cancer will come back, while others do not. It may depend on the individual patient, they report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "Women with early stage breast cancer who have hot flashes have better survival and lower recurrence rates than women who don't," said Ellen Gold of the University of California Davis, who helped lead the study.

"It appears that a dietary pattern high in fruits, vegetables and fiber, which has been shown to reduce circulating estrogen levels, may only be important among women with circulating estrogen levels above a certain threshold," said John Pierce of the University of California San Diego. The researchers looked at the data on these women specifically and found that only 16 percent of those who doubled up on fruits and vegetables had their tumors come back after seven years, compared to 23 percent of those merely given advice on food guidelines. Women who had been through menopause lowered their risk by 47 percent if they loaded up on salads, fruit and other plant food.

Bonnie - women with high circulating estrogen would do themselves even better if they make sure some of those vegetables are of the cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc.).

Eye disorders linked to statin use

Eye disorders related to statins are rare, occurring in about 0.1 percent of patients. A new study led by F.W. Fraunfelder, MD, of the Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, is the first to systematically report on the association of eye disorders with statin use. The study appears in the Dec. 1 issue of Ophthalmology. Dr. Fraunfelder's group analyzed statin-associated reports of double vision (diplopia), drooping of the upper eyelid (ptosis), and loss of full range of motion of the eyes (ophthalmoplegia) in the databases of the National Registry of Drug-Induced Ocular Side Effects, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Drug Administration. Since statins were known to cause skeletal muscle disorders in some patients, a similar affect was plausible in the eye muscles. The average statin dose of patients who exhibited one or more eye disorder was within ranges recommended by drug manufacturers, and the average time from beginning of therapy to developing an adverse drug reaction (ADR) was 8.3 months.

New study firmly ties hormone use to breast cancer

Taking menopause hormones for five years doubles the risk for breast cancer, according to a new analysis of a big federal study that reveals the most dramatic evidence yet of the dangers of these still-popular pills. Even women who took estrogen and progestin pills for as little as a couple of years had a greater chance of getting cancer. And when they stopped taking them, their odds quickly improved, returning to a normal risk level roughly two years after quitting. Collectively, these new findings are likely to end any doubt that the risks outweigh the benefits for most women. It is clear that breast cancer rates plunged in recent years mainly because millions of women quit hormone therapy and fewer newly menopausal women started on it, said the study's leader, Dr. Rowan Chlebowski of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Bonnie - there are also numerous natural methods to assist with detoxing these bad estrogens when one goes off the hormones. Please work with a knowledgeable health professional.

Friday, December 12, 2008

FDA puts black box warning on bowel-clearing drugs

Federal health officials said they will add the sternest safety warnings available to drugs used before colonoscopies, following reports of kidney damage in several patients.The Food and Drug Administration said it has received more than 20 reports of a serious form of kidney failure among patients taking the bowel-cleansing drugs, known as oral phosphate products.The new boxed warning label will apply to Visicol and OsmoPrep — both prescription tablets made by Salix Pharmaceuticals. The label warns that the drugs should be used with caution in patients older than 55, those who suffer from dehydration and kidney disease, and those who take medications that affect the kidneys. Regulators said they are also concerned about the risks of over-the-counter bowel cleansers, such as Fleet Phospho-soda, made by C.B. Fleet Company Inc.

Officials said kidney damage can occur within days or weeks of using the drugs, but symptoms — such as lethargy, drowsiness and swelling — may not appear until much later. FDA is requiring Salix to distribute a medication guide warning patients about the risks of the drugs. The company also must conduct a follow-up study looking at which patients are most vulnerable to kidney damage.

What You Don't Know About a Drug Can Hurt You

Untold Numbers of Clinical-Trial Results Go Unpublished; Those That Are Made Public Can't Always Be Believed.

There's a common assumption that when a drug makes it to market, it has run a rigorous gantlet of testing and proper disclosure. Testing, yes. Disclosure -- not necessarily. Findings from many clinical studies assessing prescription drugs never see light of day. That skews the basic scientific record that every patient, physician and researcher needs to judge whether treatments cause more harm than good. There is no easy way to discover how much knowledge we've been missing, raising the possibility that we may be taking medications that are less effective than we've been led to believe or may have undisclosed side effects.

After years of congressional debate, however, the FDA now has imposed more stringent reporting requirements to ensure the complete scientific record of clinical drug experiments is readily available. Under a new federal law, researchers for the first time will have to post their basic results publicly on the federal online registry maintained by the National Library of Medicine.

Since it was established nine years ago as a voluntary patient guide, the federal registry at has logged 65,000 studies. Prodded by medical journal editors and settlements in five major lawsuits, researchers have gone from registering 25 new studies a week to about 350 every week. Until this past September, though, researchers only had to report the start of a clinical trial. They had no federal obligation to report the outcome in the registry or in a peer-reviewed journal.

Several recent surveys of the medical literature offer a glimpse of how much data about drugs already on the market never made it into the published record.

Last month, analysts led by health research expert Lisa Bero at the University of California in San Francisco checked 164 clinical trials testing 33 different drugs submitted for FDA approval from 2001 to 2002 and found that one in four had yet to be published. Almost all of the unpublished findings made the drug in question look bad.

Steve - this WSJ piece is a must read. It lays out the reasons why we always say to wait on trying a new medication for one to two years, sometimes longer, after it comes to market.

FDA revokes ban on antibiotic for animals

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it has revoked the order prohibiting the extralabel use of cephalosporin antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals. The revision comes despite the US regulator’s assessment in July that the use of cephalosporin in this way was a public-health risk. According to the FDA, it received many substantive comments on the order of prohibition regarding cephalosporin, which was published on the US Federal Register on 3 July, and, it said that in order for the agency to fully consider that feedback, it was required to revoke the order. The US regulator’s plan to ban many uses of cephalosporin drugs in cows, pigs, and poultry was challenged by industry, with agriculture groups and animal-drug companies saying that the antibiotics prevent many infectious diseases in animals. The term ‘extralabel use’ refers to use of an approved drug in an animal in a manner that does not follow the approved labelling. The FDA said its position was that extralabel drug use should only occur in circumstances when an animal’s health is threatened, or suffering or death may occur if treatment is not administered. Resistance to antibacterials in animals is rising, meaning that the risk of animal-based food becoming contaminated is higher. At the same time, antimicrobials are also becoming less effective in fighting human infections.

Bonnie - this is absolutely outrageous. Once again, pay for play politics at hand. A big push by the livestock industry put the FDA on its heels. How counterproductive to the CDC's public health campaign warning of antibiotic resistance. Ugh!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Season's Greetings and Happy New Year from Nutritional Concepts

Genetic Link Between Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac Disease Seen

Researchers have identified common genetic mutations between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, suggesting that the two inflammatory disorders may stem from a shared underlying mechanism.

The finding also suggests that the two diseases may be triggered by similar environmental factors.

The study, released early online by the New England Journal of Medicine, was co-sponsored by
the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are autoimmune disorders, meaning they both result when the body mistakenly turns on itself. In type 1 diabetes, the body attacks the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. In celiac disease, it's the small intestine that is damaged.

Many people who have type 1 diabetes also have celiac disease, and vice versa. According to the study authors, the small intestine and pancreas share some characteristics. Seven "loci," or regions of a chromosome, were shared in people with both diseases. These regions may be involved in regulating the processes that cause the body's immune system to go awry.

Bonnie - this is precisely the reason why diagnosing celiac early is crucial. The current average for diagnosis is ten years, which does not cut it.

State of the Nutritionist 2009

A Look Back at 2008.
It was another great year for preventive wellness. No single issue was more important than the medical establishment acknowledging the vitamin D deficiency epidemic. How could they ignore it? We blogged over dozens of studies demonstrating vitamin D’s ever-widening reach. Experts agree that individualized supplementation is the only option to correct a deficiency.

Food allergies and intolerances continue to rise in adults and children (18% in children over the last decade). IgG food intolerance testing is now commonplace. That puts Nutritional Concepts in an ideal position to assist the public because we have over fifteen years of experience working with food intolerance.

Breast-feeding hit an all time high of 77%. Going forward, research in the field of Epigenetics, which explores how lifestyle choices affect the expression of our genes, suggests that a concerted public education campaign be directed at men and women in their childbearing years. Making ideal lifestyle choices during preparation for conception and during pregnancy will not just affect the generation being born, but up to two generations in the future. Research shows that ideal diet and nutrient intake, consistent exercise, reduced exposure to environmental toxins, balanced emotional health, low stress, and low medication intake during the height of fertility is vital.

The modified Mediterranean diet solidified its claim as the best long-term dietary lifestyle choice. Besides an ideal balance of protein, carb, and fat, it encourages the “never eat a carb alone” and “eat real food” mantras. Hmm…where have we heard that before?

We privately counseled over 400 new clients this year. We introduced several new Action Plans: Smart Cleanse, Sleep Well, Candida, and Recipes to Live By. All nineteen plans were updated to include 2007-2008 research. Our Rejuvenating Room has proven to be a valuable healing and stress-relieving modality. We published a record 600 blog entries, which helps keep our clients well informed. Our free eNewsletter currently reaches over 2600 subscribers. Nutritional Concepts was also nominated as a finalist for Best Family Business in Illinois.

On the downside, the government’s ineptitude to protect our health from harmful pharmaceuticals, food products, and cosmetics was astonishing. The current oversight policies in place are in disarray and we have yet to establish a policy for nanomaterials. We must continue to be our own advocates. For those who doubted the safety of dietary supplements, the first statistics from the government’s new Adverse Event Reporting System were made available. 600 total adverse events were linked to dietary supplements, most of them minor. By comparison, 482,154 adverse events were reported for prescription medication and deaths from pharmaceuticals hit an all-time high in 2008.

What's in Store for 2009?

Maintain consistent contact with your preventive health professionals. A study in Journal of American College of Nutrition showed that nutritional counseling results in significant decrease in body weight and health improvements, but in order to maintain them long-term, consistent interaction with your nutritional counselor is imperative.

Food prices should drop precipitously, relieving the inflationary pressure on the consumer. This will hopefully reverse the trend of Americans choosing cheaper, heavily processed food (evidenced by the soaring sales of Hormel Spam in 2008) and get us to make more healthful choices again.

Stress Management needs to be a top priority. Until the economy starts pointing upward, stress will exacerbate or contribute to sleep disturbances, weakened immune system, and increase in blood pressure, to name a few. Environment is undeniably playing a prominent role in adversely affecting our health. When President Obama takes office, it is believed that much of the data that the Environmental Protection Agency had been withholding to protect interest groups will be released. Then we can hopefully take the necessary measures to improve our environment.

Genetic Lifestyle Kits: current science vs. hype. According to most experts, the world is not yet ready. There are too many unknowns, the most important being how multiple genes interact to improve or worsen a genetic predisposition. Not to mention what does an individual do with the information provided and what is the psychological impact it would create if the results were proved valid. At this time, there are few ethical health professionals who would help translate this information into practical and useful terms. Many experts, including leading geneticist David Goldstein at Duke University, believes that the cracking of the human genome has revealed almost nothing yet. In short, “lifestyle genetic tests are being sold direct-to-the-public in advance of scientific support,” according to Journal Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics. In practical speak, this is a nice way of saying they are not ready for prime time.

Good Manufacturing Practices for Dietary Supplements (cGMP) goes into effect for large manufacturers. This directive will weed out some of the “bad apples” that adulterate or skimp on quality in their products. Support HR2719, the Dietary Supplement Tax Fairness Act. This bill aims to amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide that amounts paid for foods for special dietary use, dietary supplements, or medical foods shall be treated as medical expenses.

This summer, the World Health Organization is set to make a landmark ruling on the safety of cell phones. Research from the last few years have provided mixed messages regarding their safety. An unfavorable WHO ruling, which may hurt the cell phone industry short-term, may be beneficial for the long-term. Innovations to assure cell phone safety, which many believe needs to be accomplished, would increase consumer minutes used as well as number of units sold.

You may hear about new superfruits like Baobab, Yuza, Yumberry, Gac, and Amla. While nice to enjoy as a delicacy from a far off locale, they are no match in cost and nutrient content for stalwarts like pomegranate, apple, avocado, and blueberries.

What’s Hot:

  • IgG Food Intolerance Testing.
  • Diet/Exercise - priority for President Obama’s wellness initiative.
  • Stevia - will dominate as natural, non-caloric sweetener of choice.
  • Lean Protein Breakfast - promotes weight loss.
  • 25(OH)D - detects vitamin D deficiency.
  • Virtual Colonoscopy - as effective as conventional procedure.
  • HgbA1C - the gold standard diagnostic screening for diabetes.

What’s Not:

  • Omega-3 Functional Foods - dietary supplements are the most accurate way to gauge an ideal daily dose
  • Side Effects of Pharmaceuticals - for children especially (antipsychotics; cold/cough/flu), osteoporosis drugs, and weight-loss drugs (sales of Alli woefully under performed; obesity drug Acomplia was not approved by the FDA and was pulled off the selves in Europe). Merck and Pfizer announced they are getting out of the “lifestyle” drug business. They realize that quick fixes are not the answer for long-term health.
  • Bottled water - toxic plastic, pathogens found in the bottles, using filtered municipal water, and environmental impact of all that plastic will point this industry downward.
  • Artificial Sweeteners - they do not reduce obesity or metabolic syndrome and may promote weight gain.
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) - found to be an unreliable marker for prostate cancer risk.

Get a head start in 2009 and schedule a wellness appointment.

As always, we truly appreciate serving your wellness needs.

Bonnie Minsky, Steve Minsky and the staff at Nutritional Concepts

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More than 10% of kids use alternative treatments

A surprisingly large number of children — nearly 12% — are using herbal supplements and other complementary and alternative therapies. Kids are five times as likely to try unconventional therapies if their parents also use them, according to the survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NIH, which included 23,393 adults and 9,417 children. About 38% of adults have used complementary and alternative medicine in the past year, the study shows.

Children used these therapies most often for back or neck pain, colds, anxiety or stress, other muscle and skeletal problems and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, the study shows. Kids are more likely to use complementary and alternative therapies if they see the doctor a lot and if they have ongoing medical problems, the report shows. Unconventional care is also more popular among teens, whites and those with private insurance and well-educated parents. Yet kids are also more likely to use complementary and alternative medicine when their family has to delay or forsake conventional medical care because of cost, the study shows.

The number of children using these therapies would also have been higher if researchers had included prayer, vitamins, minerals or home remedies, says Kemper, lead author of an article on kids and complementary medicine in the December Pediatrics.

Some pediatricians have concerns about kid using unconventional therapies. Alternative practitioners, such as those who prescribe herbs or practice massage, may not have experience with children. That's why it's critical for parents to tell pediatricians if their children are using non-standard treatments. Only one in three parents tell their children's doctors when they're using these therapies, according to the Pediatrics study.

Bonnie - this study is encouraging in the sense that parents are turning to safer alternatives for their children. I do agree that these remedies should be taken under the supervision of a licensed health professional with proper experience. Unfortunately, most doctors do not have the experience. The reason one in three parents fail to discuss these substances with their pediatricians is that they get no support or at times, lambasted for trying them.

Lack of vitamin D causes weight gain and stunts growth in girls

Insufficient vitamin D can stunt growth and foster weight gain during puberty, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Even in sun-drenched California, where scientists from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the University of Southern California conducted their study, vitamin D deficiency was found to cause higher body mass and shorter stature in girls at the peak of their growing spurt.

Until this study, little was known about the consequences of insufficient vitamin D in young people. The research team measured vitamin D in girls aged 16 to 22 using a simple blood test (25-hydroxy vitamin D). They also assessed body fat and height to determine how vitamin D deficiency could affect young women’s health.

“The high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in young people living in a sun-rich area was surprising,” says study lead author, Richard Kremer, co-director of the Musculoskeletal Axis of the MUHC. “We found young women with vitamin D insufficiency were significantly heavier, with a higher body mass index and increased abdominal fat, than young women with normal levels.”

“Although vitamin D is now frequently measured in older adults, due to a higher level of awareness in this population, it is rarely measured in young people – especially healthy adolescents,” says Dr. Kremer.

“Clinicians need to identify vitamin D levels in younger adults who are at risk by using a simple and useful blood test,” says the co-author, Dr. Vicente Gilsanz, head of musculoskeletal imaging at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles of the University of Southern California.

“Because lack of vitamin D can cause fat accumulation and increased risk for chronic disorders later in life, further investigation is needed to determine whether vitamin D supplements could have potential benefits in the healthy development of young people,” added Dr. Gilsanz.

Vitamin E, vitamin C, or selenium may not lower the risk of prostate cancer

The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) randomly assigned over 35,000 men to receive daily selenium, vitamin E, both, or placebo. After almost five and a half years, no significant differences were observed between any of the groups in relation to prostate cancer risk.

In the second study – the Physicians' Health Study II – about 15,000 men were randomly assigned to vitamin E supplements every other day and daily vitamin C supplements. Over the eight tears of follow-up no effects on either prostate cancer or overall cancer.

The results are to be published in the 7th January 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Researchers for the Physician's Health Stuudy led by J. Michael Gaziano, MD, from Brigham and Women's Hospital, recruited 14,641 male physicians in the US, and randomly assigned them to receive supplements of 400 IU of vitamin E every other day, or 500 mg of vitamin C daily, or placebo for about eight years. Neither vitamin had any effect on the incidence of prostate cancer or total cancer.

In a challenge to the results, Gaziano and his co-workers said: “It is reassuring that there was not a clear signal of harm for either agent.”

Commenting on the limitations, the researchers said: “The study was conducted in a well-nourished population, and thus, these results may not preclude potential benefits in less well-nourished populations.

“One concern is the choice of dose used. It is not feasible to test multiple doses in these large-scale trials. The doses of vitamin E and C in the PHS were chosen because they were in the range of those commonly in use, because they did not have known major adverse effects that would impact adherence, and because their safety data were sound - a critical issue when conducting a trial by mail.

“The form of vitamin E chosen for our study was synthetic alpha-tocopherol, the most abundant component of natural vitamin E. However, in nature, vitamin E is composed of both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol. Gamma-Tocopherol has been postulated to possibly play a more important role in prostate cancer protection,” they added.

Bonnie - eureka! The researchers finally wised up to the critical errors in structuring these studies. In particular, using synthetic vitamin E, all alpha tocopherol, renders the study useless. I am glad the researchers owned up to it.

GE crop containment does not go far enough says GAO

Measures to help prevent the unauthorized release of genetically engineered crops into food do not go far enough, according to a report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). Government agencies overseeing the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) crops should do more to improve co-ordination and monitoring, the investigation concluded, as the unauthorized mixing of some GE crops with non-GE crops has caused controversy, financial harm and product recalls. The global value of GE seeds sold in 2007 was estimated at $6.9bn and about 70 percent of processed foods sold in the US contain ingredients and oils from GE crops. The GAO said that if agencies do not act to restrict the growth or use of a GE crop, it can enter into the food supply and mix with conventional (non-GE) varieties without being monitored, traced, or labeled.

It recommends that the USDA and FDA develop an agreement to share information on GE crops with traits that, if released into the food or feed supply, could cause health concerns; And the USDA, EPA, and FDA should develop a risk-based strategy for monitoring the widespread use of marketed GE crops. Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology director for The Center for Science in the Public Interest, said: “The incoming Obama Administration should implement all of the GAO recommendations.” The US accounts for about 50 percent of GE crops planted globally and GE varieties account for about 80 percent of corn and 92 percent of the soybeans planted in the US.

Bonnie - it took them this long to realize this? We testified in front of the FDA ten years ago and warned that this would occur. It is now, unfortunately, too late to contain. Looking for another reason why food allergies are up in kids? Here you go.

Diabetes drugs double women's fracture risk

Long-term use of GlaxoSmithKline's Avandia and Takeda's Actos doubles the risk of bone fractures in women with type 2 diabetes. Scientists already knew the two thiazolidinedione (TZD) drugs for diabetes were associated with fractures, but the magnitude of the risk had not been evaluated.

"This study shows that these agents double the risk of fractures in women with type 2 diabetes, who are already at higher risk before taking the therapy," said Sonal Singh of North Carolina's Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The results may add to concerns about the TZD class of drugs, which are already linked to adverse cardiovascular side effects. Both Avandia, known generically as rosiglitazone, and Actos, or pioglitazone, raise the risks of heart failure and carry strong warnings on their labels.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Selenium may prevent female bladder cancer

Increased levels of selenium may reduce a woman’s risk of bladder cancer by 34 per cent. Researchers from Dartmouth Medical School also report significant risk reductions for moderate smokers and people with a cancer related to a specific gene . Other studies have already reported similar association between selenium and bladder cancer among women, but the new results, published in the December issue of Cancer Prevention Research, are said to be the first to show an association between selenium and p53 positive bladder cancer.

Study measured selenium levels in the toenails of 767 people newly diagnosed with bladder cancer (76 per cent male, average age 62) and 1,108 people from the general population (61 per cent male, average ag 61). While no associations were found between selenium levels and bladder cancer risk for the whole population group, significant reductions in risk were found for women (34 per cent), moderate smokers (39 per cent) and those with p53 positive cancer (43 per cent).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Antioxidant fights ALS

Salk Institute scientists have used the first human model of Lou Gehrig's disease built with human embryonic stem cells to determine that a well-known antioxidant in plants fights off the nerve cell death that occurs in the disease.

The antioxidant stopped the oxidation and inflammation that cause the death of the cells, known as motor neurons, according to the work published today in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

The work of the San Diego scientists could aid in the discovery of other molecules that might prevent the neuron death that occurs in the spinal column and usually makes the degenerative disease fatal.

The antioxidant apocynin, which is found in many plants, stopped both oxidation and inflammation, protecting the motor neuron from death, according to the journal article.

The team is now testing other molecules for both anti-inflammation and antioxidant properties, Gage said.

Meanwhile, it will use apocynin in mouse models of ALS to see if it helps the animal survive, he said.

Stress hits even before pregnancy

Stress in the six months before conception increases the risk of giving birth prematurely. Mothers who experience a death or serious illness in the family before falling pregnant are more likely to have a preterm baby. The link was particularly strong in mothers who had experienced "severe life events" in older children, the Human Reproduction journal reported. Effects of stress hormones in the womb, may explain the findings, experts said. Records from 1.35m mothers in Denmark were analyzed in the study, which comes on the back of earlier research suggesting stress during pregnancy is a risk factor for premature birth. Serious illness or death in older children in the six months prior to conception, increased the risk of birth before 37 weeks by 23% and the risk of birth before 33 weeks by 59%. Death or illness in close relatives, such as parents, siblings or a partner in the last six months before becoming pregnant increased the risk of birth before 37 weeks by 16%. Mothers who had experience stress and were also missing a parent or who did not have a partner were significantly more likely to have a premature birth.

The researchers suggested several possible explanations for the findings including increased levels of stress hormones or lifestyle changes in response to stress, such as increased consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and poor food choices.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Fruit and veg boost bone health

Increasing the alkali content of the diet by eating food such as fruit and vegetables may reduce calcium excretion and boost bone health. According to a study in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, "when it comes to dietary concerns regarding bone health, calcium and vitamin D have received the most attention, but there is increasing evidence that the acid/base balance of the diet is also important," said lead author Bess Dawson-Hughes from Tufts University in Boston. As adults age they become less able to excrete the acid produced via dietary metabolism, explained Dawson-Hughes. Reacting to the increasing acid levels, the body counters this by bone resorption, a process by which bones are broken down, releasing minerals such as calcium, phosphates, and alkaline (basic) salts into the blood. Bone resorption weakens the bones and increases the risk of fracture. Tufts researchers, in collaboration with scientists from Northeastern University in Boston, recruited 171 men and women aged 50 or older and randomly assigned them to receive supplements of potassium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate, potassium chloride or placebo for three months. Dawson-Hughes and her co-workers report that only bicarbonate-receiving volunteers had significant reductions in calcium excretion, which indicated a reduction in bone resorption. “When fruits and vegetables are metabolized they add bicarbonate, an alkaline compound, to the body," said Dr. Dawson Hughes. "Our study found that bicarbonate had a favorable effect on bone resorption and calcium excretion. This suggests that increasing the alkali content of the diet may attenuate bone loss in healthy older adults." Major changes “Achieving alkali-producing diets would require drastic changes in food choices and be challenging in older people who tend to have long-established dietary patterns,” wrote the researchers. “Should it be shown to be beneficial, an alternative approach may be to administer bicarbonate in supplement form or to lower the acid-producing capacity of selected foods through alkali fortification,” they added.

Bonnie - hmm...I wonder who has been beating this drum forever? We have always talked about alkaline/acid balance being a key to prevent bone loss. It is nice to hear it from Tufts as well. Excess acid creates inflammation and impacts healthy bone formation. Stress, improper diet, and certain medications all can be culprits. I do agree that EXCESS protein can cause an acidity imbalance, but it has to be in extreme amounts (which I never recommend). The cereal grains are a no brainer...major acid producers!

Many of my clients have been for years taking a sodium and potassium bicarb supplement called Alka-Aid. The only thing they could have done better in this study is also use mmagnesium as a control. They would have found it would have helped as well.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

December Research Highlights

  • Mean serum 25(OH)D was lower in 2000–2004 than 1988–1994. In an adult subgroup, combined changes in BMI, milk intake, and sun protection appeared to contribute to a real decline in vitamin D status.
  • The range of vitamin D intakes required to ensure maintenance of wintertime vitamin D status [as defined by incremental cutoffs of serum 25(OH)D] in the vast majority (>97.5%) of 20–40-y-old adults, considering a variety of sun exposure preferences, is between 288 IU and 1640 IU/d.
  • Long-term consumption of caffeinated and uncaffeinated soft drinks appears to have bone catabolic effects in boys and girls. Bonnie - in short, soda inhibits optimal bone formation.

  • The objective of this research was to determine the effects of the DHFR mutation with respect to folate status and assess influence of folic acid intake on these relations. The relationship between DHFR genotype and plasma concentrations of circulating folic acid, total folate, total homocysteine, and concentrations of RBC folate was determined in 1215 subjects from the Framingham Offspring Study. Our results suggest the del/del polymorphism in DHFR is a functional polymorphism, because it limits assimilation of folic acid into cellular folate stores at high and low folic acid intakes. Bonnie - as we have said so many times before, there is a significant part of the human population that does not assimilate folic acid. Hence, one must supplement with all three forms of folate to enhance absorption.
  • Data does not support the hypothesis that excessive body iron stores are associated with risk of CHD.
    Bonnie - the first I have seen stating this, so more study is needed.

  • Combined pharmacological doses of Arginine and Glutamine decreased TNF{alpha} and the main proinflammatory cytokines release in active colonic Crohn's Disease biopsies via NF-{kappa}B and p38 MAPK pathways. These results could be the basis of prospective studies evaluating the effects of enteral supply of combined Arg and Gln during active CD.
  • Deficits in DHA or its peroxidation appear to contribute to inflammatory signaling, apoptosis, and neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer disease (AD). Bonnie - DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid
  • Iron deficiency is estimated to be the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide and is particularly persistent among infants and children. The high prevalence of anemia in 6- to 9-mo-old children raises the concern that birth iron stores in some infants are inadequate to sustain growth and development through the first 6 mo of life, and postnatal factors are contributing to early depletion of iron stores and development of anemia. At the same time, there are concerns about negative effects of excess iron in infants. Maternal iron status, infant birth weight and gestational age, as well as the timing of umbilical cord clamping at birth all contribute to the establishment of adequate total body iron at birth. Postnatally, feeding practices and growth rate are factors that will affect how quickly birth iron is depleted during the first 6 mo of life. Under conditions in which maternal iron status, birth weight, gestational age, and umbilical cord clamping time are optimal, and exclusive breast-feeding is practiced, infants should have adequate iron stores for the first 6–8 mo of life. Under suboptimal conditions, infants may not reach this goal and may need to be targeted for iron supplementation before 6 mo of age.

  • High-protein intakes may ameliorate an obesity-induced decline in fat oxidation.

  • Selenium, sodium, DHA, EPA, and vitamin A intake from diet and supplements were associated with PHA-induced proliferative responses (positive immune function). Clients may be counseled to have adequate selenium, EPA, DHA intake, and vitamin A, but avoid excess vitamin A.
  • Dietary and supplemental folate intakes were assessed of young Canadian women (Canada fortifies their grains with folic acid). The biochemical evidence showed that no women were folate deficient, but only 14% reached red blood cell folate concentrations associated with significant reductions in neural tube defect risk. Therefore, intakes of folic acid from fortified foods are within the level originally predicted for the fortification efforts. These data suggest that women of childbearing age are achieving positive folate status in the postfortification era, but it may not be sufficient to achieve red blood cell folate concentrations associated with a significant reduction in neural tube defect risk. Even with food fortification, women of childbearing age should be advised to take a folic acid–containing supplement on a daily basis.

  • Interaction between the Periconception folate supplementation significantly reduces the risk of neural-tube defects, but few U.S. women start folate supplementation before pregnancy, and the amount of clinician time available to counsel patients about folate is limited. A one-time, brief, computerized counseling session about folate with the provision of free folate tablets increased the knowledge and use of folate supplements among women ≥6 months later. Bonnie - AGREED!

  • Contamination and health risk hazards of organophosphorus pesticides residues in vegetables were studied. Ethyl-chlorpyrifos were observed in tomato, eggplant, and pepper. Dichlorvos was the most frequently detected residue in all the samples analyzed. Levels of malathion in tomatoes and pepper exceeded the MRL. Health risks were found to be associated with methyl-chlorpyrifos, ethyl-chlorpyrifos, and omethioate in tomatoes and methyl-chlorpyrifos, ethyl-chlorpyrifos, dichlorvos, monocrotophos and omethioate in eggplant. Routine monitoring of these pollutants in food items is required to prevent, control and reduce the pollution and to minimize health risks.
  • Background
    Orally administered, food-specific immunotherapy appears effective in desensitizing and potentially permanently tolerizing allergic individuals.


    We sought to determine whether milk oral immunotherapy (OIT) is safe and efficacious in desensitizing children with cow's milk allergy.

    Twenty children were randomized to milk or placebo OIT (2:1 ratio). Dosing included 3 phases: the build-up day (initial dose, 0.4 mg of milk protein; final dose, 50 mg), daily doses with 8 weekly in-office dose increases to a maximum of 500 mg, and continued daily maintenance doses for 3 to 4 months. Double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges; end-point titration skin prick tests; and milk protein serologic studies were performed before and after OIT.

    Nineteen patients, 6 to 17 years of age, completed treatment: 12 in the active group and 7 in the placebo group. One dropped out because of persistent eczema during dose escalation. Baseline median milk IgE levels in the active versus placebo groups were 34.8 kUa/L versus 14.6 kUa/L. The median milk threshold dose in both groups was 40 mg at the baseline challenge. After OIT, the median cumulative dose inducing a reaction in the active treatment group was 5140 mg, whereas all patients in the placebo group reacted at 40 mg. Among 2437 active OIT doses versus 1193 placebo doses, there were 1107 versus 134 total reactions, with local symptoms being most common. Milk-specific IgE levels did not change significantly in either group. Milk IgG levels increased significantly in the active treatment group, with a predominant milk IgG4 level increase.

    Milk OIT appears to be efficacious in the treatment of cow's milk allergy. The side-effect profile appears acceptable but requires further study.

Vitamin D may protect against placental infection

Supplementing the diet of pregnant women with vitamin D may enhance the placental innate immunity and protect it from infection, according to researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Production of an antimicrobial protein called cathelicidin was stimulated when trophoblasts - cells that develop to make up a major part of the placenta – were exposed to the active form of vitamin D (1,25(OH)2D). The study, published in the journal Biology of Reproduction, suggest that local synthesis of active 1,25(OH)2D may play a key role in placental innate immunity,” wrote the researchers, led by Martin Hewison from UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. “We further postulate that improvement of maternal vitamin D status through dietary supplementation may act to potentiate placental innate immune responses during pregnancy.”

Study shows that the 'genetic impact' of a pregnant woman's diet has a profound effect on her child

A stunning discovery based on epigenetics (the inheritance of propensities acquired in the womb) reveals that consuming choline—a nutrient found in eggs and other foods—during pregnancy may significantly affect breast cancer outcomes for a mother's offspring. This finding by a team of biologists at Boston University is the first to link choline consumption during pregnancy to breast cancer. It also is the first to identify possible choline-related genetic changes that affect breast cancer survival rates. According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, the researchers made the discovery in rats by studying females whose mothers were fed varying amounts of choline during pregnancy. Different groups of pregnant rats received diets containing standard amounts of choline, no choline at all, or extra choline. Then the researchers treated the female offspring with a chemical that causes cancer of the mammary gland (breast cancer). Although animals in all groups developed mammary cancer, the daughters of mothers that had received extra choline during pregnancy had slow growing tumors while daughters of mothers that had no choline during pregnancy had fast growing tumors. The researchers also found multiple genetic and molecular changes in the rats' tumors that correlated with survival outcomes. For example, the slow growing tumors in rats had a genetic pattern similar to those seen in breast cancers of women who are considered to have a good prognosis. The fast growing tumors in mice had a pattern of genetic changes similar to those seen in women with a more aggressive disease. The researchers also found evidence that these genetic changes may result from the way that choline affects modifications of the DNA within the mammary gland of fetuses as they develop in the womb.

Bonnie - while we rarely comment on non-human trials, this one is significant because it reaffirms yet again how important making proper diet and lifestyle choices are during pregnancy for future disease outcomes.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Vitamin D deficiency data shows increased cardiovascular events

A lack of vitamin D is associated with major cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and stiffening of the left ventricle of the heart and blood vessels. Inflammation is really important for heart disease, and people with vitamin D deficiency have increased inflammation according to a review of such studies to be published in the December issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Experts estimate that up to half of adults and 30 percent of children and teenagers in the United States are vitamin D-deficient.

Vitamin D is well known as the "sunshine vitamin" because human skin makes the nutrient upon exposure to sunlight. Only 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day will be enough for whites to reach the recommended level, experts say. People with darker skins will need somewhat longer exposure. Sunscreen can also block vitamin D production. People must balance the risks and benefits of sun exposure, however.

Milk is supplemented with vitamin D but you would have to drink 10 to 20 glasses of milk a day to get the recommended intake. "Food is not really an option," the researchers suggest. "You don't get enough vitamin D in the foods we ordinarily eat. Supplementation is our preferred choice, although we get sunlight whenever the sun shines here in Ann Arbor."

Steve - here, here!

Depression can accelerate visceral fat in older persons

People in their 70s who are depressed are twice as likely to develop a dangerous type of internal body fat, called visceral fat, than people who are not depressed. The connection goes beyond obesity and suggests some biological link between a person's mental state and fat that collects around the internal organs. Some researchers believe depression triggers high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which promotes fat around the belly. The research was published in Archives of General Psychiatry.

Steve - as we have alluded to many times in the past, the gut brain connection is undeniable. Depression can often be triggered by poor dietary and lifestyle choices.

Man has eaten organic for three years

Interesting piece in the NY Times about a doctor that has has spent the last three years eating exclusively organic.

We are not surprised that he has felt more energized and healthier (no sickness even though he is a pediatrician) since he began the journey. There are a few things we wanted to add regarding his comments.
  • Difficulty sticking to 100% organic: we always prefer buying organic when possible, especially when eating at home. However, when eating out, you do not have to be as vigilant.
  • Cost of living organic more expensive: it is an important lifestyle change. The costs could be offset by minor cuts in other aspects of lifestyle, less doctor visits and medicine, etc. We have also shown in our Low Inflation Diet that there are many organic foods that are similar in cost to conventional.

Monday, December 01, 2008

U.S. gets a D for preventing premature births

Last month, the U.S. received a set of grades from the March of Dimes, the nation's leading organization committed to preventing preterm births, that were nothing short of horrible. Overall, the nation received a D. Not a single state merited an A, and only one, Vermont, earned a B. Given recent trends, it's unlikely that these grades will improve any time soon. Rates of preterm birth in the U.S. have been steadily increasing for years. In 2000, 11.6% of infants were born prematurely. In 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available, this figure had grown to 12.7%.

Births between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation, or the late-preterm period, have increased most dramatically (a full-term birth takes place at 40 weeks). Late-preterm births now constitute 72% of all preterm births, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The fact that women are having babies at an older age is thought to contribute to this increase. "When they do get pregnant, women who are well into their 30s are more likely to incur all of the problems associated with pregnancy -- including prematurity," says Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director for the March of Dimes.

The use of in vitro fertilization and other types of assisted reproductive technology also plays a role. More than half of all pregnancies conceived with assisted reproductive technology result in multiple births, dramatically increasing the risk of prematurity. Roughly half of all twin pregnancies deliver before 37 weeks and only 1 in 10 triplet pregnancies progress to term.

Perhaps the most significant factor contributing to the rise in late-preterm births, however, is an escalation in the rates of cesarean delivery. About 1 in 3 infants in the U.S. is born by cesarean section. Though rates vary substantially among states, ranging from 21.6% in Utah to 36.8% in Louisiana, they are almost universally higher than those of most European countries.

Bonnie - the most important thing one can do for their child is to make a concerted effort to be as perfect with their diet and lifestyle before conception and during pregnancy. It is absolutely crucial now that the medical paradigm for pregnancy has changed so dramatically.

Healthy snack to eat between meals

New research suggests a great food you can nibble on between meals - and especially after a meal - is the almond nut. Even a modest daily intake of no more than 73 grams – or around three ounces – can dramatically reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels, it can lower the body’s insulin output, and it may even help with gut health. These good effects can be seen after just four months of eating almonds every day. The new research underpins just how good almonds can be for us. Two new studies, presented to the Experimental Biology conference, discovered that eating almonds every day reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 24 per cent, while three further studies have shown that almonds can reduce the body’s production of insulin, especially if the nuts are eaten immediately after a meal.