Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Olive oil proective for Alzheimer's?

Oleocanthal, a naturally-occurring compound found in extra-virgin olive oil, alters the structure of neurotoxic proteins believed to contribute to the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease. This structural change impedes the proteins' ability to damage brain nerve cells.

Known as ADDLs, these highly toxic proteins bind within the neural synapses of the brains of Alzheimer's patients and are believed to directly disrupt nerve cell function, eventually leading to memory loss, cell death, and global disruption of brain function. Synapses are specialized junctions that allow one nerve cell to send information another.

According to researchers from the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University, "If antibody treatment of Alzheimer's is enhanced by oleocanthal, the collective anti-toxic and immunological effects of this compound may lead to a successful treatment for an incurable disease."

While studies have only been done in-vitro, plans are in the works for human trials.

The findings are reported in the October 15 issue of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.

Steve - while they continue the research, please continue to consume olive oil, the staple food of the anti-inflammatory Mediterranean-diet.

Current laws inadequate says EPA

The Obama administration is announcing new principles to guide Congress in updating the 33-year-old law that governs how the Environmental Protection Agency controls toxic chemicals, saying the current law is inadequate to protect against risks.

"The American people are looking to government for assurance that chemicals have been assessed using the best available science and that unacceptable risks haven't been ignored — and unfortunately the current law doesn't allow us to grant them that assurance," says EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

Since passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, EPA "has issued regulations to control only five existing chemicals," she said. "That's five from a universe of almost 80,000."Jackson listed some chemicals of special concern, including bisphenol A, used in some baby and water bottles; certain polybrominated diphenyl ethers used in flame retardants; and phthalates, used to give plastic flexibility.

Jackson outlined the principles EPA believes are essential for reforming chemical management legislation. Broadly, the principles are that chemicals need to be reviewed for safety using strong science-based standards, to protect human health and the environment. Chemical manufacturers need to give EPA the information it needs to determine that safety, and EPA needs authority to take action when chemicals don't meet standards.

Steve - would it be facetious to say this legislation is long overdue?

Heartburn not the only symptom of GERD

Excerpt from an article by Gastroenterologist Jonathan LaPook

If you don't have classic symptoms of reflux you may still have acid bubbling up from the stomach into the esophagus, a condition called "gastro-esophageal reflux disease" (GERD). Over the past decade, research has suggested that acid reflux can cause atypical symptoms such as cough, hoarseness, sore throat, asthma, and even chronic sinusitis. GERD can also cause chest pain, especially if the acid causes the muscle in the esophagus to go into spasm.

Bonnie - if any of the symptoms Dr. LaPook suggest are chronic and have not been ameliorated, GERD should be a consideration. Dr. LaPook goes on to mention that he tries lifestyle medication first with his patients, which is always preferable to reflux medication.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Got Gout?

Gout is an arthritic condition that causes inflammation, swelling and pain, usually in one joint in the body - commonly the big toe. However, it can affect any of your joints. Gout is common in men aged 30 to 60, postmenopausal women, and older persons. It is believed that gout affects approximately 3 to 5 million Americans.

Causes of Gout:
  • Diet (too many purine foods in diet; high fructose corn syrup)
  • Excess Uric Acid Buildup -
    Your kidneys do not pass urate fast enough, or your body produces too much. If too much is produced and not passed, tiny crystals form and collect in your tissues.
  • Drinking excess alcohol
  • Certain medication (such as diuretics)
  • Family History/Genetic Predisposition
  • Kidney Disease
  • Overweight
  • Psoriasis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Severe pain in your joints
  • Swelling and warmth around your joints
  • Red and shiny skin around your joints
  • Fever
  • Spread to other joints
  • Damage to joints
  • Formation of kidney stones
  • Damage to kidneys if crystals form there
  • Above symptoms and high levels of urate in blood
  • Raise and rest your limb(s) (no physical exercise)
  • Apply ice to reduce swelling
  • Cherries, cherry extract, or unsweetened cherry juice (helps remove purine, uric acid, and soften kidney stones)
  • Watermelon (neutralizes acid)
  • Vitamin C
  • Medicine to be prescribed by your physician
  • Special Purine-Free Diet (see a licensed health professional)
  • Limit red meat. Avoid organ meats, shellfish, sardines, lentils, whole wheat/wheat germ, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and artificial sweeteners.
  • If taking fish oil as a supplement, only use salmon or cod liver oil (others are too high in purine)
  • Remove all high fructose corn syrup
  • Consume nuts and vegetables daily
  • Black coffee consumption may be beneficial
  • Reduce alcohol content (beer and port especially)
  • Supplement with Vitamin C - A look at nearly 47,000 U.S. men studied from 1986 to 2006 for a variety of health issues found that every 500 milligram increase of daily vitamin C intake produced a 17 percent decrease in the risk for gout. Among the men studied those with daily intake of 1,500 supplemental mg a day had a 45 percent lower risk of gout than those who took in less than 250 mg a day, said the team headed by Choi, who is now at Boston University. Archives of Internal Medicine.
  • Supplement with calcium, magnesium glycinate, vitamin B6, and vitamin D
  • Lose weight if overweight
  • Manage stress
  • Eat balanced diet
  • Drink sufficient amounts of filtered water
  • Allopurinol (prescribed by physician)
  • Uricosurics (prescribed by physician if intolerant to allopurinol)
  • Uricase (enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of uric acid to allantoin for lowering uric acid)
US Pharmacist 7/2009
UK Gout Society

Nutritional Concepts Inc.

Aspartame sensitivity study begins

Scientists are to assess whether the artificial sweetener aspartame causes health problems in people unusually sensitive to it.

A number of people have reported sensitivity to the product including headaches, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea and fatigue.

The University of Hull study is funded by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Aspartame, 150 times sweeter than sugar, is found in products such as diet soft drinks, cereal bars, yogurts and chewing gum.

There have long been concerns that the sweetener is linked to a raft of health problems, including a greater risk of cancer, fertility issues, nausea, double vision and an effect on appetite.

However, after reviewing the available scientific literature, both the FSA and the European Food Safety Authority decided there was no firm evidence of any impact on health, and ruled that aspartame was safe to consume.

Professor Stephen Atkin, who will lead the new research, said: "This study is not to determine whether aspartame can be consumed safely; this has already been established, but rather to see whether certain people are sensitive to it."

The Hull team hope their work will lead to a larger international study to pin down the issue once and for all.

Professor Atkin also hopes to secure funding to analyze the chemical breakdown of aspartame in the body.

The sweetener can be broken down to produce methanol and formaldehyde, both of which have been previously linked to cancer.

However, it is not clear whether this process takes place in the body, or, if it does, whether the metabolites are absorbed into the blood in sufficient quantity to produce any biological effect.

Andrew Wadge, Chief Scientist at the Food Standards Agency said: "We know that some people consider that they react badly to consuming this sweetener so we think it is important to increase our knowledge about what is happening."

One hundred people will take part in the Hull study, half of who have complained of side effects from aspartame.

The study is expected to take 18 months.

Bonnie - I'm glad they are doing this to "increase their knowledge." Forget about the thousands who have had adverse effects.

Half million kids have bad drug reactions

More than half a million U.S. children yearly have bad reactions or side effects from widely used medicines that require medical treatment and sometimes hospitalization.

Children younger than age 5 are most commonly affected. Penicillin and other prescription antibiotics are among drugs causing the most problems, including rashes, stomachaches and diarrhea.

Parents should pay close attention when their children are started on medicines since "first-time medication exposures may reveal an allergic reaction," said lead author Dr. Florence Bourgeois, a pediatrician with Children's Hospital in Boston.

Doctors also should tell parents about possible symptoms for a new medication, she said.

The study appears in October's Pediatrics, released Monday.

It's based on national statistics on patients' visits to clinics and emergency rooms between 1995 and 2005. The number of children treated for bad drug reactions each year was mostly stable during that time, averaging 585,922.

Bourgeois said there were no deaths resulting from bad reactions to drugs in the data she studied, but 5 percent of children were sick enough to require hospitalization.

The study involved reactions to prescribed drugs, including accidental overdoses. They were used for a range of ailments including ear infections, strep throat, depression and cancer. Among teens, commonly used medicines linked with troublesome side effects included birth control pills. Bad reactions to these pills included menstrual problems, nausea and vomiting.

Children younger than 5 accounted for 43 percent of visits to clinics and emergency rooms; followed by teens aged 15 to 18, who made up about 23 percent of the visits.

Similar numbers of hospitalized children -- about 540,000 yearly -- also have bad reactions to drugs, including side effects, medicine mix-ups and accidental overdoses, recent government research suggests.

The new report indicates children at home are just as vulnerable.

Michael Cohen, president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, said a common problem involves giving young children liquid medicine. Doses can come in drops, teaspoons or milliliters, and parents may mistakenly think those amounts are interchangeable.

Cohen said doctors should be clear about doses and parents should be sure before leaving the pharmacy that they understand exactly how to give liquid medicine.

The study was funded by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Low folate linked to colon cancer

Women who consumed more folate had a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, colon cancer and rectal cancer, according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A hospital-based case-control study examined 596 men and women with colorectal cancer and 509 controls, aged 30 to 79 years. Subjects who consumed 180 mg of folate or less daily were more than twice as likely to have cancer compared to people who ate 270 mg/d. Women who consumed more than 300 mg/d of folate were 64 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer compared to women whose intake was 200 mg/d or less. However, researchers found no influence of folate intake on men’s colorectal cancer risk.

1 in 10 high schoolers eating recommended daily fruits and veggies

Health officials say only 13 percent of U.S. high school students get at least three servings of vegetables a day and just 32 percent get two servings of fruit.

Together, less than 10 percent of high schoolers were eating the combined recommended daily minimum of fruits and vegetables.

Some states — including Arkansas and North Carolina — were significantly below that average. But some New England states, including Vermont, were notably better.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the report Tuesday, calling it the first to give such detailed information on adolescents' fruit and vegetable consumption.

The information comes from a national survey of about 100,000 high school students in 2007.

Bonnie - this should not come as a surprise to anyone given the high percentage of overweight and obese teens.

Choline, folate both essential for pregnancy


In a folate-fortified population of women, low levels of choline raise the risk of neural tube defects, while higher levels are protective, research indicates.

The finding "may offer a useful clue toward understanding the complex etiologies of neural tube defects in an era of folic acid fortification of the food supply," the study team concludes in the September issue of Epidemiology.

"We know that supplementation of the food supply with folic acid appears to be an effective prevention tool, but also appears to be only part of the solution," first author Dr. Gary M. Shaw from Stanford University in California noted in an email to Reuters Health.

In a folate-fortified population in California, Dr. Shaw's group identified 80 pregnancies affected by neural tube defects and randomly selected 409 unaffected pregnancies. Maternal serum was tested for choline and other nutrients related to one-carbon metabolism.

"We observed elevated neural tube defect risks associated with lower levels of total choline, and reduced risks with higher levels of choline," they report.

Bonnie - every prenatal, like the one I recommend, should include choline.


Recommendations to increase folic acid intakes during the early stages of pregnancy may reduce mental and emotional health problems in children, says a new study. Dutch researchers report that the children of mothers who took folic acid supplements during pregnancy were better at internalizing and externalizing problems, compared to the children of mothers who did not take supplements, according to findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recipe du Jour - Coconuts Galore

Coconut, along with dates and sago starch make up the palm family. It is not a common allergen/intolerant because Americans eat few palm foods. Dried coconut and coconut milk are fairly high in fat and calories. However, the theory that coconut raises blood cholesterol has been debunked because coconut contains no cholesterol.

Coconut is a wonderful, healthy fat choice for brain function, is high in phosphorous, niacin, riboflavin, and when consuming coconut meat, fiber.

Here are several recipes (gluten-free) that would be good milk substitutes. Use Thai Kitchen brand or other "Lite" brands for weight loss or maintenance. Use regular coconut milk for weight gain. Read labels to make sure they do not contain sulfur dioxide, sweeteners, or artificial ingredients.

Non-Alcoholic Pina Colada
  • 1 c. coconut milk
  • 4 oz. pineapple tidbits or crushed pineapple, drained of juice
  • 1/2 c. ice cube chips
  • Whip all in a blender until smooth. Serve immediately.
  • Serves One
Coconut Piecrust
  • 1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 c. rice, quinoa, or potato flour
  • 2 T. butter or substitute, melted
  • Spread thin layer of coconut on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes or until toasted. Then combine coconut with flour and butter in a medium size bowl. Toss with two forks until coconut is thoroughly coated with butter. Press mixture firmly onto bottom and sides of 9-inch plate. Bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned and refrigerate for cold pies. For baked pies, fill and bake according to pie directions.
Grainless Coconut Cookies (Macaroons)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cc. pure maple syrup, honey, or agave syrup
  • 2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a baking sheet. Combine eggs and syrup in a medium size bowl. Add coconut and mix well. Drop by teaspoons onto prepared baking sheet, Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet and cool on wore racks.
Coconut-Almond Kisses
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 c. pure maple syrup, honey, or agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 T. finely chopped almonds
  • 2 T. finely chopped coconut
  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or unglazed brown paper. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in syrup, continuing to beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Fold in vanilla, almonds, and coconut. Drop by teaspoons onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes. Allow kisses to cool on the baking sheet, then remove gently. The foil/paper can be peeled off.
  • Yields 2 1/2 dozen

Low carb, high healthy fat preferred for type 1 Diabetes

A diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in monounsaturated fats is appropriate nutritional therapy for patients with type 1 diabetes who have good metabolic and weight control, according to a report in the September issue of Diabetes Care.

Triglyceride profiles tended to be lower in the lower carbohydrate/higher monounsaturated fat group, and glycemic levels after supper were higher in the higher carbohydrate/lower fat group.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

CoQ10 for Parkinson's Disease

Rush University Medical Center is participating in a large-scale, multi-center clinical trial in the U.S. and Canada to determine whether a vitamin-like substance, in high doses, can slow the progression of Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that affects about one million people in the United States.

"At present, the very best therapies we have for Parkinson's can only mask the symptoms – they do not alter the underlying disease," said neurologist Dr. Katie Kompoliti, a specialist in movement disorders. "Finding a treatment that can slow the degenerative course of Parkinsons's is the holy grail of Parkinson's research."

The substance being tested, called coenzyme Q10, is produced naturally in the body and is an important link in the chain of chemical reactions that produce energy in mitochondria, the "powerhouses" of cells. The enzyme is also a potent antioxidant – a chemical that "mops up" potentially harmful chemicals generated during normal metabolism.

Several studies have shown that Parkinson's patients have impaired mitochondrial function and low levels of coenzyme Q10. Moreover, laboratory research has demonstrated that coenzyme Q10 can protect the area of the brain damaged in Parkinson's.

The Phase III clinical trial, a large, randomized study with a control group, follows an earlier investigation that tested several doses of coenzyme Q10 in a small group of patients with early-stage Parkinson's disease. The highest dose, 1,200 mg, appeared promising. Over the course of 16 months, patients taking this dose experienced significantly less decline than other patients in motor (movement) function and ability to carry out activities of daily living, such as feeding or dressing themselves.

But researchers involved in the study, including Kompoliti, were cautious about their findings, citing the need for a more extensive review to confirm the results.

In the present trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Neurological and Disorders and Stroke, 600 patients will be enrolled at 60 centers in the U.S. and Canada. Two dosages of coenzyme Q10 are being tested,1,200 mg and 2,400 mg, delivered in maple nut-flavored chewable wafers that also contain vitamin E.

Participants in the study will be evaluated periodically over 16 months for symptoms of Parkinson's disease, including tremor, stiffness of the limbs and trunk, impaired balance and coordination, and slowing of movements. They will also be assessed for ability to perform daily activities, overall quality of life, and need to take medications to alleviate symptoms.

Steve - if you know somebody with Parkinson's and would like to know more about the product used for this study, contact our office.

Vitamin D for colon cancer surgery survival, the elderly, blood pressure, and athletic performance

People with the highest average levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-(OH)D) – the non-active storage form of the vitamin – had a cancer-specific mortality half that of people with the lowest average levels, says a new study published in the British Journal of Cancer. Furthermore, high levels of the vitamin were associated with an overall mortality level 40 per cent lower than people with the lowest average levels, state Havard researchers.

In another study from Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, older people with insufficient levels of vitamin D may be at an increased risk of dying from heart disease than those with adequate levels of the vitamin. Compared to people with optimal vitamin D status, those with low vitamin D levels were three times more likely to die from heart disease and 2.5 times more likely to die from any cause.

Younger white women with vitamin D deficiencies are about three times more likely to have high blood pressure in middle age than those with normal vitamin levels.

The study, presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, adds younger women to a growing list of people including men who may develop high blood pressure at least in part because of low vitamin D.

Researchers in Michigan, who examined data on 559 women beginning in 1992, found that those with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to have high blood pressure 15 years later in 2007.

"Our results indicate that early vitamin D deficiency may increase the long-term risk of high blood pressure in women at mid-life," said Flojaune Griffin, who worked on the study for the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

The women in the blood pressure study lived in Tecumseh, Michigan, and were 24 to 44 years old with an average age of 38, when the research began. The study was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

According to scientists at the Australian Institute of Sport, of the Vitamin D status of 18 of the country’s elite female gymnasts, 15 had levels that were “below current recommended guidelines for optimal bone health.” Six of these had Vitamin D levels that would qualify as medically deficient.

In another study presented, earlier this year, University of Wyoming researchers found that many of a group of distance runners had poor Vitamin D status. Forty percent of the runners, who trained outdoors in sunny Baton Rouge, Louisiana, had insufficient Vitamin D.

More recently, when researchers tested the vertical jumping ability of a small group of adolescent athletes, they found that those who had the lowest levels of Vitamin D tended not to jump as high.

Low levels might also contribute to sports injuries, in part because Vitamin D is so important for bone and muscle health. In a Creighton University study of female naval recruits, stress fractures were reduced significantly after the women started taking supplements of Vitamin D and calcium.

According to researchers, almost every cell in the body has receptors for Vitamin D. It can up-regulate and down-regulate hundreds, maybe even thousands of genes. We’re only at the start of understanding how important it is. But many of us, it seems, no matter how active and scrupulous we are about health, don’t get enough Vitamin D. Lack of exposure to sunlight and dietary sources of Vitamin D are meager.

Cod-liver oil provides a whopping dose. But a glass of fortified milk provides a fraction of what scientists now think we need per day. Supplements are crucial.

Steve - the research continues to pile on. The fact that public health officials have not to this point included vitamin D level screening in a flu prevention plan is unconscionable.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zinc deficiency a global concern

Two billion people around the world have diets deficient in zinc – and studies at Oregon State University and elsewhere are raising concerns about the health implications this holds for infectious disease, immune function, DNA damage and cancer.

One new study has found DNA damage in humans caused by only minor zinc deficiency.

Zinc deficiency is quite common in the developing world. Even in the United States, about 12 percent of the population is probably at risk for zinc deficiency, and perhaps as many as 40 percent of the elderly, due to inadequate dietary intake and less absorption of this essential nutrient, experts say. Many or most people have never been tested for zinc status.

Studies have shown that zinc is essential to protecting against oxidative stress and helping DNA repair – meaning that in the face of zinc deficiency, the body's ability to repair genetic damage may be decreasing even as the amount of damage is going up.

Two studies recently published, in the Journal of Nutrition and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found significant levels of DNA damage both with laboratory animals and in apparently healthy men who have low zinc intake. Zinc depletion caused strands of their DNA to break, and increasing the intake of zinc reversed the damage back to normal levels.

"In one clinical study with men, we were able to see increases in DNA damage from zinc deficiency even before existing tests, like decreased plasma zinc levels, could spot the zinc deficiency," Ho said. "An inadequate level of zinc intake clearly has consequences for cellular health."

Many zinc studies, Ho said, have focused on prostate cancer – the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men – because the prostate gland has one of the highest concentrations of zinc in the body, for reasons that are not clearly known.

When prostate glands become cancerous, their level of zinc drops precipitously, and some studies have suggested that increasing zinc in the prostate may at least help prevent prostate cancer and could potentially be a therapeutic strategy. There are concerns about the relationship of zinc intake to esophageal, breast, and head and neck cancers. And the reduced zinc status that occurs with aging may also contribute to a higher incidence of infection and autoimmune diseases, researchers said in one study in the Journal of Nutrition.

Zinc is naturally found associated with proteins in such meats as beef and poultry, and in even higher levels in shellfish such as oysters. It's available in plants but poorly absorbed from them, raising additional concerns for vegetarians. And inadequate intake is so prevalent in the elderly, Ho said, that they should usually consider taking a multivitamin to ensure adequate levels.

Steve - we have a very simple way of testing zinc status. Come to our office for a taste test of our zinc sulfate solution. Detecting and addressing zinc deficiency is imperative for overall health, especially for men.

Pathways To Flu Virus Exposure

A new study examines four flu exposure pathways and quantifies the risk posed by each pathway, which, the analysis found, varies based on changes in viral concentrations. The study appears in the September issue of the peer-reviewed journal Risk Analysis, published by the Society for Risk Analysis.

“Relative Contributions of Four Exposure Pathways to Influenza Infection Risk” calculates the risks involved with each kind of exposure in a setting where a person attends a bed-ridden individual ill with influenza. In examining ways of reducing the risk of preventing infections through each pathway, the study supports general advisories to cover coughs, wash hands frequently, and disinfect surfaces. The study also substantiates the benefits of caregivers using gloves and a filtering-facepiece respirator, if possible, when they are present in a confined room with an individual ill with influenza.

Researchers Dr. Mark Nicas of the University of California Berkeley’s School of Public Health, and Dr. Rachael M. Jones of the University of Illinois Chicago’s School of Public Health, used sophisticated modeling and examined available research to show infection rates in four pathways of exposure dealing with direct skin contact and inhalation of cough particles.

The relative likelihood of being infected by the different exposure routes were:

  1. hand contact with contaminated surfaces, 31 percent;
  2. inhaling small particles carrying virus when in the room, 17 percent;
  3. inhaling relatively large particles carrying virus when three feet or closer to the infected person, 0.52 percent; and
  4. close contact spraying of cough droplets carrying virus onto the membranes of the eyes, nostrils and lips, 52 percent.

Since incidents of infection were documented with each pathway, Nicas and Jones conclude, “Non-pharmaceutical interventions for influenza should simultaneously address potential exposure via hand contact to the face, inhalation, and droplet spray.” Thus, all four exposure pathways should be addressed when someone is sick, as it is difficult to know which one poses the most risk as virus concentrations change.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quorn manufacturer faces lawsuit

Quorn Foods is facing a class action lawsuit filed by an Arizona woman who claims the main ingredient in the company’s meat substitute products made her violently ill. Quorn, from British company Marlow Foods, is made from a fungus grown in steel vats, which is flavored and shaped to imitate meat and poultry products. The company markets the fungus as a ‘mycoprotein’ similar to mushrooms. But that claim has been continually contested by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which is backing Kathy Cardinale’s case, saying it is “as misleading as claiming that humans are related to jellyfish since they’re both animals”.

Cardinale, a 43-year-old advertising executive, said she had reacted to Quorn products on three separate occasions, vomiting seven or eight times within two hours. Cardinale and CSPI have called for Quorn products to carry an allergen warning label. However, spokesperson for Quorn Foods David Wilson called the lawsuit “frivolous and unwarranted”. He said in a statement: “There is absolutely no foundation in the allegations made against Quorn product's safety and their labeling. In the US, Quorn products are supported by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and are recognized as safe and are appropriately labeled. “Consumer safety and product quality is our number one priority...We will strongly defend allegations and challenges made to our brand and company.” US introduction Although Quorn products have been widely accepted in Europe since their introduction in 1985, they faced opposition from CSPI – as well as the American Mushroom Society and rival veggie burger maker Gardenburger – when they were launched in the US in 2002. At, CSPI says it has collected more than 600 complaints from people who claim to have been sickened by eating the product.

Bonnie - I rarely get inquiries about Quorn because I assume most of my clientele already know the answer to the question "should I consume this product?"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vitamin D and calcium reduce mortality

According to research presented to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, older subjects from the prestigious Women's Health Study had a lower mortality risk if they supplemented with vitamin D and calcium. The reduction in mortality was significant even when patients sustained hip fractures during the course of the study. The effects were greater among patients younger than 75 years, and no differences were observed related to sex or fracture history.

Arnica for Pain Relief

Anahad O'Connor
New York Times

More than a third of American adults use some form of complementary or alternative medicine, according to a recent government report. Natural remedies have an obvious appeal, but how do you know which ones to choose and whether the claims are backed by science?

Today, New York Times “Really?” columnist Anahad O’Connor begins a weekly series exploring the claims and the science behind alternative remedies that you may want to consider for your family medicine cabinet.

The Remedy: Arnica

The Claim: It relieves pain.

The Science: Arnica Montana, a plant native to mountainous areas of Europe and North America, has been used for centuries to treat a variety of pain. Athletes rub it on muscles to soothe soreness and strains, and arthritis sufferers rub it on joints to reduce pain and swelling. It’s believed that the plant contains derivatives of thymol, which seems to have anti-inflammatory effects. Either way, scientists have found good evidence that it works. One randomized study published in 2007 looked at 204 people with osteoarthritis in their hands and found that an arnica gel preparation worked just as well as daily ibuprofen, and with minimal side effects. Another study of 79 people with arthritis of the knee found that when patients used arnica gel twice daily for three to six weeks, they experienced significant reductions in pain and stiffness and had improved function. Only one person experienced an allergic reaction.

The Risks: Arnica gels or creams can cause allergic reactions in some people, but it is generally safe when used topically. However, it should never be rubbed on broken or damaged skin, and it should only be ingested when in a heavily diluted, homeopathic form.

Steve - we have recommended topical arnica gel for years and have the feedback has always been wonderful for muscle pain.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where do Eggs Fit in a Heart-healthy Diet for the Elderly?

For elderly persons, it has been suggested that the widely accepted risk factors for CHD may not be applicable. Whereas elevated total cholesterol and LDL-C values are considered predictive of CHD risk in the middle years, this may not be relevant for the elderly population. In this population, a low-fat diet prescription may actually lead to a diet pattern that increases CHD risk. A higher carbohydrate, especially simple carbohydrate, diet is associated with elevated triglycerides, low HDL-C, and the production of small, dense LDL particles. In cases in which fat/ cholesterol restriction is practiced over energy restriction, a high-carbohydrate diet may have the net effect of promoting insulin resistance. To promote energy restriction instead, eggs may provide a low-calorie and nutrient-dense option for meal planning. In addition, the protein quality of eggs reflects its balanced amino acid profile, and the high-quality egg protein may be helpful in avoiding the loss of muscle mass associated with aging.

American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Joanne Curran Celentano PhD

Celiac Disease increase raise risk of dying

Cancer and heart disease were the main causes of death in the patients studied, and the risk was higher in people who had had small-intestinal biopsies in childhood.

According to the study, which appears in the Sept. 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, risk of death increased by 39 percent in patients with celiac disease and 35 percent with latent celiac disease.

The research "reinforces the importance of celiac disease as a diagnosis that should be sought by physicians. It also suggests that more attention should be given to the lesser degrees of intestinal inflammation and gluten sensitivity," wrote researchers.

Bonnie - it's nice to see researchers are coming around with regard to the devastation that celiac can cause. And for those of you who are intolerant or celiac, please follow your gluten-free plans religiously!

Metformin, insulin have little effect on cardiac-related inflammation

In people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, the glucose-lowering medications metformin and insulin don't to reduce the inflammation associated with heart disease.

Even though these medications helped reduce glucose levels, the researchers found they didn't affect inflammatory markers any more than a placebo drug did, according to a study published in the Sept. 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers pontificated, "We thought by lowering glucose levels that we would also address inflammation. But, we found that going lower in glucose levels doesn't impact inflammation, which is a risk factor for heart disease."

The volunteers were randomized into one of four groups: placebo alone, placebo plus insulin glargine (Lantus), metformin (an oral anti-diabetes medication) alone or metformin plus insulin glargine. Study volunteers also received advice on diet and weight.

Overall, the volunteers lost an average of 3.2 pounds during the 14-week study, except for the insulin and placebo group.

As for markers of inflammation, the researchers found reductions in inflammation (as measured through levels of C-reactive protein, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor receptor 2) for all of the groups. The insulin-plus-placebo group, however, had the smallest reduction in inflammatory markers. For example, C-reactive protein levels went down in the placebo group by 19 percent, in the metformin group by 16 percent and the metformin and insulin group by 20 percent. However, the insulin plus placebo group went down just 3 percent.

Celiacs may benefit from antioxidant supplements

Sufferers of celiac disease have significantly reduced antioxidant capacity, and need natural antioxidants and appropriate dietary supplements. According to findings published in the Clinical Biochemistry, the major reduction in their antioxidant levels is due to a reduction in levels of the antioxidant glutathione. “As glutathione could be regenerated by other antioxidants, a diet rich in natural antioxidants, as well as appropriate dietary supplements, could be important complements to the classic therapy of celiac disease.” wrote the researchers.

The researchers set about studying the role of oxidative stress and antioxidant status in the pathogenesis of celiac disease. They found decreased glutathione concentrations in intestinal mucosa of the patients with active and silent celiac disease in comparison to the controls. In these patients lipid peroxide concentration (free radical oxidative stress) was 80 to 100 per cent higher than in the control group. These observations, along with knowledge that glutathione could be regenerated by other antioxidants, led the researchers to note that consumption of an antioxidant-rich diet and appropriate dietary supplements.

Bonnie - I have been an ardent proponent of glutathione for decades. Several of our complexes contain this methylating antioxidant, which was just featured in our September 1st eNewsletter.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Great piece on Low-Fat vs. Full-Fat Dairy

This writer did one of the best jobs I've seen summarizing the issue:

Skimming the Truth

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weight Loss Counseling crucial to addressing obesity epidemic

Steve - I read a study recently that came from Journal for Nurse Practitioners. They agree that there is more of a need for weight loss counseling in a primary care setting. While very effective, it is performed too infrequently by nurses and physicians. The drawbacks include lack of time, training, and reimbursement.

Nutritional Concepts certainly does not have a problem with lack of time and training.

Splits form over how to address bone loss

Bonnie - tell me where you have heard this before! My comments are interspersed in the article.

By Kate Murphy, New York Times

As people age, their bones lose density and they grow ever more vulnerable to osteoporosis, with its attendant risk of a disabling fracture. But how do you know just how vulnerable you are? The question has been complicated by a relatively new diagnosis: osteopenia, or bone density that is below what is considered normal but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis.

Millions of people worldwide, most of them women, have been told they have osteopenia and should take drugs to inhibit bone loss. But the drugs carry risks, so many public-health experts say the diagnosis often does more harm than good.

Bonnie - very true.

Now the World Health Organization has developed an online tool meant to help doctors and patients determine when treatment for deteriorating bones is appropriate.

A preliminary version of the tool, called FRAX, was released last year and can be found at A revised version is to be released later this year. But FRAX is proving almost as controversial as the diagnosis of osteopenia. While some experts applaud it for taking factors besides bone density into account, others say that the formula on which the tool is based is faulty and that the advised threshold for medication is too low. “FRAX is coming from the same people who came up with osteopenia in the first place,” said Dr. Nelson Watts, director of Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center at the University of Cincinnati, who said the diagnosis unnecessarily frightened women and should be abolished.

Indeed, it was a W.H.O. panel financed by the pharmaceutical industry that in 1994 defined normal bone mass as that of an average 30-year-old woman. Because bone naturally deteriorates with age, anyone much older than 30 is likely to qualify for a diagnosis of osteopenia; using similar logic, a middle-aged woman might be said to have a skin disorder because she had more wrinkles than her 30-year-old daughter.

Rebecca Doll, 36, received a diagnosis of osteopenia after a bone density test this year. “The nurse didn’t tell me how bad it was,” said Ms. Doll, a computer consultant who lives in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “She just wanted to know where to call in the prescription.”

The W.H.O. panel said its definitions of osteopenia and osteoporosis were not intended to provide reference points for diagnoses, much less for prescribing drugs. But Dr. Watts and other experts warn that this is what is happening, as more drugs become available to treat thinning bones and drug companies pay for the installation of bone-density measuring devices in doctors’ offices — not to mention in drugstores, shopping malls and health clubs. Since 2003, annual sales of osteoporosis drugs have about doubled to $8.3 billion, according to Kalorama Information, a provider of market research on medicine.

Dr. Watts said that while FRAX was a useful tool because it took factors like family history into account, it had significant flaws. For example, he said, it does not consider factors like vitamin D deficiency, physical activity and use of epilepsy drugs and antidepressants that can erode bone. And while it accounts for tobacco and alcohol use, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis, it does not ask how long or how much a patient has been smoking or drinking. Other experts object that the mathematical formula used to calculate FRAX scores has not been released to the public. “I have asked for it repeatedly,” said Dr. Nananda Col, director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Maine Medical Center in Portland. “There’s no way to validate the equation if you can’t tell the independent contribution or weight of each risk factor.”

Dr. John A. Kanis, an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of Sheffield in England and the director of the W.H.O. center that developed FRAX, said the formula, or algorithm, had been kept secret so “the tool is not tampered with and remains authentic.” Dr. Kanis added that he was in “advanced negotiations” to license the formula to two leading manufacturers of bone-scanning equipment, GE Lunar and Hologic. That would allow them to incorporate it into their software, so patients would receive a calculation for risk of fracture, along with a T score, the standard measure of bone density.

The main controversy, however, involves whether and when to start taking bone-loss drugs, whose side effects can include gastrointestinal and other problems. Merck’s popular drug Fosamax is the subject of hundreds of lawsuits by patients who assert that it caused osteonecrosis of the jaw, a rare disease that breaks down the jawbone. (The company says there is no proof of cause and effect.)

The FRAX guidelines in the United States call for medication when the calculated risk for hip fracture in the next 10 years is 3 percent or the combined risk of a broken hip, vertebra, shoulder or wrist is 20 percent. The recommendations “don’t mean you have to take drugs or you are crazy if you don’t,” said Dr. Bess Dawson-Hughes, senior scientist and director of the Bone Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts, who helped devise the United States guidelines. (Recommendations differ by country, she said, because of varying health care costs.) Indeed, Ms. Doll’s FRAX calculation indicates that she does not need medication, even though her mother has osteoporosis.

But Dr. Pablo Alonso-Coello, an epidemiologist at the Iberian-American Cochrane Center in Barcelona, Spain, said the guidelines implied that “a hip fracture is greater in magnitude and patient importance than a cardiovascular event, because risk thresholds for treating the latter are usually stated as 20 to 30 percent at 10 years.” Dr. Alonso-Coello was the lead author of an analysis of osteoporosis drugs published last year in The British Medical Journal, concluding that they were largely ineffective and unnecessary in women with osteopenia.

To determine when drugs are appropriate, FRAX’s developers said they undertook an extensive cost-benefit analysis comparing the expense of hospitalization and rehabilitation for a major fracture with the cost of drugs, which can range from $105 to about $1,800 a year.Dr. Ethel S. Siris, director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center at Columbia University, said she hoped FRAX would end the fixation on “that horrible term” osteopenia and focus treatment decisions on individual risk of fracture.

“Clearly, doctors have been at fault,” Dr. Siris said. “But women need to educate themselves about the risks” before consenting to treatment. Dr. Steven Cummings, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, said it was also important to understand when medication was likely to help. “The drugs work if you have osteoporosis,” Dr. Cummings said. “But some studies suggest there is little benefit, if any benefit at all, if you take these drugs when you have osteopenia.”

Bonnie - Let's also keep in mind that before the pharmaceutical industry prodded the WHO to change the definition of osteoporosis, the true and more accurate definition is "a spontaneous bone break or a shattered bone after a fall or injury."

Fruits, veggies linked to cognitive performance

Should it be a surprise to anybody that in healthy subjects 45 to 102 years tested for plasma antioxidant micronutrient status and cognitive performance, those with a high daily intake of fruits and veggies (400 mg) had lower free radical damage and better cognitive scores than those with lower intake (100 mg or less)? Of course not. The study just appeared in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Monolaurin effective against food bacteria

Another day, another ringing endorsement for one of our long-standing dietary supplement recommendations.

Monolaurin, an extract from coconut oil, can be used as an effective microbial agent in foods, according to a study in the Journal of Food Science.

Monolaurin has been recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is known for its antimicrobial properties.

Researchers from Zhejiang University in China studied the use of monolaurin as a nontraditional preservative in food products by combining it with commonly used antimicrobials in various concentrations and testing it on bacterial strains including Esherichia coli and on food components such as soy protein and water-soluble starch. Researchers made the following findings:

  • Monolaurin combined with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA),a binding agent, was effective against Esherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis.
  • When combined with the antimicrobial nisin, monolaurin was synergistically effective against both of the aforementioned bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus.

Bonnie - as many of you who take Monolaurin can attest, it is a very safe, effective preventative for not only bacteria, but viruses as well. In supplement form, it is also much more concentrated and powerful than what they would put in food. Unless you are coconut intolerant, it is a no brainer.

As mentioned in yesterday's blog, it is encouraging to see researchers looking for substances made in nature instead of synthetics for reducing food contamination.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why is the public unaware of Acrylamide?

Acrylamide, a substance created naturally when carbohydrate-rich foods are cooked at very high temperatures, came under suspicion in 2002. So why after seven years is the public still completely in the dark about its potential damaging effects?

We've been tracking acrylamide since a study came out in 2002 linking it to kidney cancer in animals. Since it was one study and subsequent data was not always conclusive in humans, we took the "watchful waiting" approach. We did report a study in 2007, Burned Foods Linked to Cancers. In 2008, we gave acrylamide honorable mention in Five Most Dangerous Food Additives.

The reason why we have not been as vocal about acrylamide as other substances, such as trans fats, is three-fold:
  1. Big Food responded immediately to the call of finding ways to reduce acrylamide. Where trans fat was a fifty year battle, addressing acrylamide will be less than ten years. Was it that Big Food quickly saw the writing on the wall and wanted to minimize litigation? They settled a lawsuit with California in 2008. Was it that making these changes were not as difficult as it was with trans fats? What we can say is that from a public health standpoint, we are satisfied with what Big Food has been doing to lower and/or remove acrylamide from the offending food products. While it still required pressure from scientists, organizations, states, and countries, this time Big Food did respond.

  2. Acrylamide is a chemical that naturally forms in certain foods when cooking at extremely high temperatures. This does not make it the villain that artificial trans fats were. We have also said repeatedly that you should not overcook your food.

  3. Finally, the highest concentrations of acrylamide have been detected in potato chips and french fries. In our opinion, if you are eating optimally, like most of our clients do, you are not consuming very many foods that contain acrylamide. If you are not eating as optimally as you should, Big Food has lowered and will continue to lower acrylamide levels in food. And as long as you don't overcook your food at home, the danger is not overwhelming.
Our Acrylamide Recommendations Are Simple:
  • If you are a "junk food junkie," consuming tons of chips, doughnuts, and heavily processed bread products, than you are probably exceeding safe levels of acrylamide. We cannot forget about those of you who consume a lot of "natural junk." Minimize or eliminate these products from your diet!

  • Avoid over-frying or over-baking of potato products. Excess browning and crisping can significantly elevate the levels of acrylamide compared with products more lightly fried or baked. This goes for bread/grain foods such as doughnuts as well.

  • While preliminary data does show a connection between roasting coffee beans and high acrylamide levels, we do not think it is compelling enough to stop drinking it. There are also many other health benefits from drinking black coffee that outweigh the potential acrylamide issue.
WHO, Governments on Acrylamide:

World Health Organization -
WHO acknowledges implications of that high levels may pose, but at this time they are acting as a conduit for compiling more data.

European Union -
Proposing adding to list of hazardous substances; already monitors food levels and offers ways to reduce levels in food.

Canada -
Recently placed acrylamide on its toxic substance list.

United States -
FDA is currently seeking guidance on creating guidelines for safe levels.

After learning about Acrylamide, what is your opinion? Comment below.

Quercetin offers protection from colon cancer

Increased intakes of the compound quercetin, found in onions and apples, may reduce the risk of developing cancer of the colon by 50 per cent, says a new study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Researchers add that increased intakes of flavonols in general were associated with a 40 per cent reduction in the risk of dev eloping colorectal cancer. Flavonoids can be split into a number of sub-classes, including anthocyanins found in berries, flavonols from a variety of fruit and vegetables, flavones from parsley and thyme, for example, flavanones from citrus, isoflavones from soy, mono- and poly-meric flavonols like the catechins in tea, and proanthocyanidins from berries, wine and chocolate. A vast body of epidemiological studies has linked increased dietary intake of antioxidants from fruits, vegetables wine, chocolate, coffee, tea, and other foods to reduced risks of a range of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Steve - chalk up another positive for quercetin, one of our favorite supplemental nutrients.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Essential Oils From Common Spices Are Possible Allies In Food Safety

Oregano, allspice and garlic essential oils (EOs) can be effective, natural barriers against E. coli,Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists. The new study from government researchers revealed that oregano oil was found to be the most effective antimicrobial, followed by allspice and garlic. Salmonella and Listeria, according to a study in the

Researchers at Processed Foods Research and Produce Safety and Microbiology units of Western Regional Research Center from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigated the effectiveness of the oils by incorporating them in thin, tomato-based antimicrobial coatings known as edible films. In addition to its flavor properties, tomatoes are reported to possess numerous beneficial nutritional and bioactive components that may benefit human health. Edible tomato films containing antimicrobials may protect food against contamination by pathogenic microorganisms.

According to researchers:

  • Oregano oil consistently inhibited the growth of all three bacteria.
  • Garlic oil was not effective against E. coli or Salmonella, but was effective against Listeria.
  • Oregano and allspice oils were effective against E coli and Salmonella. Vapor tests of oregano and allspice oils indicated that these two oils diffuse more efficiently through the air than through direct contact with the bacteria.
  • Listeria was less resistant to EO vapors while E. coli was more resistant.

Edible films for fruits and vegetables can serve as carriers for food additives including plant-derived, safe antimicrobials. The increased interest in antimicrobial films is the result of increased consumption of contaminated fresh-cut produce.

In a related study from the same USDA research group, it was found that cinnamon, allspice and clove might protect food from bacteria according to a study in the Journal of Food Science.

Steve - wouldn't you feel much more comfortable using these substances as opposed to irradiation, viral adulteration, chemical rinsing, etc.?

Green tea slashes heart disease death risk: Study

Seven cups of green tea a day over the long-term may massively reduce the risk of death from colorectal cancer and heart disease. Compared to people who drank less than one cup a day, seven or more cups of green tea a day may reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 75 per cent, report scientists from Okayama University in the Annals of Epidemiology. Additionally, a reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer mortality of 31 per cent was observed for people who drank more than seven cups of green a day, compared to people who frank less than three cups a day.

The strong effects observed in the study may be due to long-term, high consumption of green tea, said the researchers. Only people aged between 65 and 84 participated in the study. “Assuming that green tea consumption at the time of assessment is sufficiently representative of long-term, previous exposure to make a plausible link with the risk of mortality, the longer cumulative exposure to green tea may be responsible for the stronger effects of the present study, [compared to past studies],” they added.

The Japanese team recruited 14,001 elderly residents in Japan, of which 12,251 individuals were analyzed to estimate the various associations between green tea consumption and all-cause mortality, cancer and CVD. During an average of 5.2 years of follow-up, 1,224 participants died, 400 were due to cancer, and 405 from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Bonnie - this is one study so let's not get overly excited. However, I hope this at least gets the attention of drug-happy cardiologists in this country.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

How cruciferous veggies protect the heart

Courtesy of BBC News

Researchers have discovered a possible reason why green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are good for the heart. Their work suggests a chemical found in the vegetables can boost a natural defense mechanism to protect arteries from disease. Details appear in Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

The latest study has shown that a protein that usually protects against plaque build up called Nrf2 is inactive in areas of arteries that are prone to disease. However, it also found that treatment with a chemical found in green "brassica" vegetables such as broccoli can activate Nrf2 in these disease-prone regions. "We found that the innermost layer of cells at branches and bends of arteries lack the active form of Nrf2, which may explain why they are prone to inflammation and disease. "Treatment with the natural compound sulforaphane reduced inflammation at the high-risk areas by 'switching on' Nrf2. "Sulforaphane is found naturally in broccoli, so our next steps include testing whether simply eating broccoli, or other vegetables in their 'family', has the same protective effect.

Whole flaxseed, but not oil, may cut cholesterol

Courtesy of Reuters Health

Adding whole flaxseed to your diet, but not flaxseed oil, may help lower your cholesterol levels.

The study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed subjects who took about one tablespoon daily of whole flaxseed or flaxseed oil.

Total and LDL cholesterol reductions with whole flaxseed intake were stronger in women, particularly postmenopausal women, than men, and in people with higher cholesterol concentrations at the outset, the researchers note.

Lin's group also noted declines in total and LDL cholesterol, but not HDL cholesterol or triglycerides, associated with taking supplements of flaxseed lignans (about 430 milligrams on average), but no reductions associated with flaxseed oil supplements.

Bonnie - we found this compelling because we have always said that it is much more beneficial to take whole flaxseed (in pulverized form, of course) than the oil. This data seems to concur.

EPA allows more pesticides on citrus

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has increased the tolerated level of pesticide residue for citrus fruits and oils, following a petition from Dow AgroSciences.

The EPA conducts random tests for residues of the insecticide methoxyfenozide at the grower, food manufacture and retail level. If they are found to be too high, ingredients can be withdrawn and growers face fines as well as the loss of income from crops that may have cost them thousands of dollars to produce. Although food manufacturers are not held responsible for ensuring that pesticide levels are acceptable, they are susceptible to disruption if the EPA withdraws an ingredient found to have excessive pesticide residues.

The agency said that as a result of the petition from Dow AgroSciences, which produces the insecticide, it has reviewed the available scientific data for methoxyfenozide, and has increased the maximum tolerance level for citrus fruit from two parts per million (ppm) to ten ppm, and the tolerance for citrus oil from 70 to 100ppm.

In its final rule, it said that the pesticide is “not acutely toxic” and that studies show “it has few or no biologically significant toxic effects at relatively low-dose levels in many animal studies and only mild or no toxic effects at relatively high-dose levels.”

The maximum level for dry peas was also increased from 0.35ppm to 2.5ppm and the EPA established a maximum residue level for pomegranates at 0.6ppm.

However, it did not accept a proposed increase in tolerance levels for corn from 0.05ppm to 30ppm, as it said that the available data support the current threshold. Nor did it increase the permitted level for dry beans.

Water assessment

The EPA also simulated the effect of higher tolerated levels of the pesticide on drinking and surface water. It said: “There is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.''

The agency added: “EPA made conservative (protective) assumptions in the ground and surface water modeling used to assess exposure to methoxyfenozide in drinking water. These assessments will not underestimate the exposure and risks posed by methoxyfenozide.”

Further information on the EPA’s final rule can be found online here.

Bonnie - do you feel comfortable with this ruling?

Oxidative stress leads to genetic mutations

Bonnie - I'd say this is a ringing endorsement for infusing your body with antioxidants, don't you think?

Courtesy of Science Daily

A study that tracked genetic mutations through the human equivalent of about 5,000 years has demonstrated for the first time that oxidative DNA damage is a primary cause of the process of mutation - the fuel for evolution but also a leading cause of aging, cancer and other diseases.

The research, just published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also indicated that natural selection is affecting the parts of the genome that don't contain genes – supposedly "junk" DNA that increasingly appears to have important roles in life processes that are very poorly understood.

The analysis was done by scientists at Oregon State University, Indiana University, the University of Florida and University of New Hampshire, in studies supported by the National Institutes of Health.

This research was unusual, scientists say, because the model animal used for the study, a type of roundworm called C. elegans, was tracked through 250 generations and in that period of time accumulated 391 genetic mutations through normal life processes. That's more than 10 times as many mutations as have ever before been tracked in a study such as this.

Several Nobel Prizes have been awarded based on studies done with this roundworm, which was the first animal to have its entire genome sequenced. And despite their vast evolutionary separation as life forms, this tiny roundworm and humans still share comparable forms of DNA maintenance.

"Genetic mutations in animals are actually pretty rare, they don't happen very often unless they are induced by something," said Dee Denver, an assistant professor of zoology at OSU and principal investigator on the study. "The value of using this roundworm is that it reaches reproductive age in about four days, so we can study changes that happen through hundreds of generations, using advanced genome sequencing technology."

Genetic mutations can take various forms, such as a disruption in the sequence of DNA bases, larger deletions of whole sections of DNA, or other events. They are a fundamental part of the biological process of life and the basis of evolution, allowing organisms to change – sometimes in ways that are good and lead to greater survival value, sometimes bad and leading to decline or death. But the process is difficult to study and a real understanding of the driving forces behind mutation, its frequency, and the types of mutation that happen most often has been elusive, researchers say.

"Most life on Earth depends in some form on oxygen, which is great at the production of energy," Denver said. "But we pay a high price for our dependence on oxygen, because the process of using it is not 100 percent efficient, and it can result in free oxygen radicals that can damage proteins, fats and DNA. And this process gets worse with age, as free radicals accumulate and begin to cause disease."

This is one of the first studies, Denver said, that is clearly demonstrating the effects of oxidative damage at a genome-wide scale.

"The research showed that the majority of all DNA mutations bear the signature of oxidative stress," Denver said. "That's exactly what you would expect if you believe that oxidative stress is an underlying cause of aging and disease."

Beyond that, however, the study also found that mutation and natural selection is also operating in the "junk DNA" parts of the roundworm, which actually comprises about 75 percent of its genome but traditionally was not thought to play any major role in life and genetic processes. This suggests that these poorly-understood and little appreciated parts of the genome may have important biological roles that are not yet known, Denver said.

Oxidative stress for decades has been suspected as a mechanism for some of the processes that lead to aging and disease, and it has been studied extensively for that reason. This research provides a better fundamental understanding of the genetic impacts of oxidative stress and its role in both genetic disease and evolution, researchers say.

eNews: Sports Nutrition, Natural Thyroid Update, Vitamin D Screening for Flu

Friday, September 04, 2009

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Folate improves Peripheral Arterial Disease

Supplements of folic acid may improve cardiovascular health and reduce the prevalence of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), suggests a new study. Daily doses of 400 micrograms of the B vitamin led to significant improvements in blood pressure and improved blood flow after 16 weeks of supplementation, according to results published in the British Journal of Surgery. Furthermore, equal doses of 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), the naturally circulating form of folate, produced the same results, leading the researchers to conclude that “5-MTHF may be a safe and effective alternative to folic acid”.

Supplements of either folic acid or 5-MTHF could reduce homocysteine levels, and improve blood flow in people with PAD. PAD is associated with decreased blood flow in the legs, and occurs when arteries in the legs become narrowed or clogged with fatty deposits.

Compared to the placebo group, both the folic acid and 5-MTHF groups displayed significant reductions in homocysteine. Measures of blood flow, namely the so-called pulse wave velocity (PWV), decreased in the 5-MTHF group by 1.1 meters per second, and by 0.9 m/s in the folic acid group.

Nutritionist, Med diet delay need for diabetes drugs

According to a study in the September 1st issue of Annals of Medicine, following a Mediterranean diet rather than a low-fat diet, newly diagnosed diabetic patients may postpone the need for drugs to control the disease.

After four years of continued nutritional advice, only 44% of patients on a Mediterranean diet versus 70% of those on a low-fat diet required drug therapy to control their diabetes. Patients on the MD also showed improvement in cardiovascular risk factors.

What is important to note is that patients received frequent counseling sessions from nutritionists - monthly for one year, then every two months for three years.

The researchers implore that diet with professional support can "no longer be overlooked."

Nonagenarian researcher an insipration

Bonnie - if we could all be as passionate and motivated as Professor Kummerow, the world would a lot better off!

"I request to ban trans fats from the American diet."

Thus begins a 3,000-word petition to the Food and Drug Administration, the work of a man on a dogged, decades-old crusade to eradicate trans fats from food.

Fred Kummerow, a 94-year-old University of Illinois veterinary biosciences professor emeritus who still conducts research on the health effects of trans fats in the diet, filed the petition with the FDA last month. The petition is now posted on the FDA Web site, and public comments are invited. (See below for information on viewing the petition and making a comment.)

"Everybody should read my petition because it will scare the hell out of them," Kummerow said.

Trans fats contribute to the two main causes of heart disease: blood clots in the coronary arteries that can lead to sudden death from a heart attack, and atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries that interferes with blood flow, he said. Trans fats are also known to increase low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) in the blood and to spur inflammation, both of which contribute to heart disease.

Trans fats displace the essential fatty acids linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3), which the body needs for a variety of functions. Kummerow's own research, published last month in the journal Atherosclerosis, found that trans fats also interfere with the function of a key enzyme essential to blood flow regulation.

An earlier study from Kummerow's lab found that pregnant sows fed a diet that included trans fats passed significant quantities of the trans fats to their offspring during nursing. The piglets' plasma levels of trans fats increased from 5 percent three days after birth to 15.3 percent at 6 weeks of age.

Kummerow believes the FDA's requirement (begun in 2006) that trans fats be included on food labels is inadequate and misleading. Anything less than one-half gram of trans fats per serving can be listed as zero grams. This means that people are getting the mistaken impression that their food is trans fat-free, he said.

Although Kummerow began publishing on trans fats in 1957, his efforts against trans fats in food began in earnest in 1968, when he urged the American Heart Association to ask the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils to have its members decrease the amount of trans fatty acids in shortenings and margarines, replacing them with essential fatty acids.

"Even then, there was strong evidence that trans fatty acids increased plasma cholesterol levels," Kummerow said.

The food oil industry reluctantly agreed to lower the trans fatty acid content and increase essential fatty acids in its products. That change coincided with a dramatic decline in coronary heart disease mortality after 1968. Kummerow believes the decline in the dietary intake of trans fats and the increase in linoleic acid could explain at least part of the reduction in mortality due to heart disease.

To reinforce his message, Kummerow keeps in his lab a sample of human arteries that are clogged with atherosclerotic plaque. Another unfortunate characteristic of trans fats is that they cause cells to increase calcium in the blood, which builds up in and narrows the arteries, the main symptom of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis makes the arteries "look like old scrub boards," Kummerow said. "They look corrugated. This corrugation builds up to the point where it will stop blood flow."

Kummerow's petition was filed Aug. 7, 2009. The FDA has 180 days to respond.

"According to American Heart Association data, nearly 2,400 Americans die of heart disease each day," Kummerow said. "This statistic shows the importance of a quick response."

To view and comment on the petition, visit Under "Enter Keyword or ID," type the petition docket number: "2009-P-0382" and click on the "Search" button. Once you get the results, scroll down the right-hand column and click on "Submit a Comment." Enter your information on the left and write your comment in the box on the right.

The full petition is also available at,fred/FDA-petition.pdf

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Compassionate Carnivore

Bonnie - This book, written by Catherine Friend, has a very interesting take for meat eaters with a conscience. We found these entries particularly interesting:

"Some people believe the best way to help livestock animals is to stop eating them altogether. Yet despite the deeply felt and admirable sentiments behind these calls to vegetarianism, "I've always wondered whether the act of becoming vegetarian or vegan has any positive impact on the lives of animals. Instead, I believe that remaining "at the table," if you will, is more effective than walking away, and as it turns out, the numbers have proved me right."

"Carnivores speak most loudly not through their words, but by how they spend their food dollars. People who remain at the table and support sustainable, responsible, and humane agriculture by purchasing meat from these farmers are sending a positive message to keep doing what your doing."

"Sustainable farming returns to an idea that worked for thousands of year: kicking the animals out of the barn and putting them out into pasture. Making them actually walk around, harvesting the grass and clover and dandelions, letting them spread their own manure. Letting them roll in the mud or root in the ground. Giving them the bedding materials and food and space that best fit their lives."

"Although sustainable farms may look very different from one another, they all follow these basic principles:
  • Use animal manure and cop rotation to fertilize the soil instead of using chemicals.
  • Manage weeds and insects using minimal insecticides or herbicides.
  • Put ruminants (cud-chewing animals, such as cattle, sheep, and goats) out on pasture, using rotational grazing to most efficiently harvest the grass.
  • Don't use hormones to encourage growth.
  • Don't use antibiotics unless necessary. if a farmer treats an animal with antibiotics, she will not sell the meat to customers as antibiotic-free meat. At the same time, she will not withhold life-saving drugs just to keep the animals free of antibiotics.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Experts urge wider folic acid use in Scotland

Courtesy of the BBC

Women of childbearing age have been urged to take folic acid supplements, even if they are not planning a family. The Scottish Spina Bifida Association said 15 babies had been born in Scotland with the condition since January - double the normal number. It said folic acid supplements, which research suggests can prevent many cases, were often taken too late.

Its advice targets all sexually active women of childbearing age because of the numbers of unplanned pregnancies. Children born with spina bifida are often paralyzed from the waist down and can suffer lifelong spinal cord, bowel and bladder problems. Some children also have brain damage. Four weeks Research suggests up to 75% of cases could be prevented by the mother taking folic acid three months before conception, and during pregnancy. The spinal cord develops within the first four weeks of pregnancy so by that stage it's too late.

Bonnie - yet another example of the importance of taking folic acid.