Friday, March 30, 2012

FDA rules against removing Bisphenol A (BPA)

Steve: The FDA rejected a petition by environmentalists to remove BPA from plastics. They do not see enough scientific evidence. While they have millions of dollars in studies currently underway, many companies have already removed BPA. This is just another example of how the FDA can sometimes move at a snail's pace when an issue could affect big business.

This diet leads to diabetes in men

An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study was to examine associations between breakfast omission, eating frequency, snacking, and Type 2 Diabetes risk in 29,206 men over a 16 year period. Men who skipped breakfast had 21% higher risk of T2D than did men who consumed breakfast. Compared with men who ate 3 times per day, men who ate 1–2 times per day had a higher risk of T2D. Additional snacks beyond the 3 main meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) were associated with increased risk, but statistically insignificant. Men...eat your breakfast and 3 squares daily!


Let them eat dirt

A new study in Science supports the idea that exposure to germs in childhood helps develop the immune system and thereby prevent allergies and other immune-related diseases such as asthma and colitis later on in life.

The "hygiene hypothesis" proposes that early childhood exposure to microbes increases susceptibility to certain diseases by suppressing development of the immune system. The new study not only supports this idea, but may also explain the whys and hows.

However, they investigated mice, so it does not necessarily mean the same results would occur in humans. Researchers bred
"germ-free" (GF) mice, that are bred in a sterile environment, without exposure to microbes, and specific-pathogen-free (SPF) mice raised in a normal laboratory environment, to develop forms of asthma and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and compared their immune systems. They found that the GF mice had more invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells in their lungs and bowel, and developed more severe disease symptoms:

When they exposed GF mice to germs in their first few weeks of life, they did not develop high levels of iNKT cells, and they did not develop the more severe symptoms seen in those kept germ-free. The early-life exposure proved to be long-lasting.

This shows the critical importance of proper immune conditioning by microbes during the earliest periods of life and research in humans needs to proceed.

The Pine Nut Mystery

"Pine Mouth," a metallic taste that consumers feel after consumption of pine nuts, has been an unsolved mystery until recently. Researchers in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that many of the pine nuts on the market contain Chinese pine, a pine nut not usually consumed by humans. As there has been growing demand for pine nuts worldwide, manufacturers have been adulterating the product with cheaper, readily available pine nuts that are not fit for human consumption.

While the researchers cannot accurately pinpoint that the adulteration is to blame for "pine mouth," it is certainly the best hypothesis to date since the decade-old mystery started.

Pine mouth is described as appearing one to two days after eating pine nuts and lasting for one to two weeks.

Good nutrition = good mood

New research shows there is a strong link between higher levels of nutrient intake and better mental health. In the February issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers observed dietary habits in adults diagnosed with mood disorders. Intake of major nutrients, including carbohydrates, fat, and protein, as well as individual nutrients, including vitamins and minerals were examined. The results showed that the vitamins and minerals in participants' diets were consistently and reliably associated with their mood scores. Significant correlations were found with calories, carbohydrates, fiber, total fat, linoleic acid, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. According to researchers, it was way beyond what you would expect by chance. The consistency and reliability was remarkable.

Is Popcorn Healthy?

Scientists recently reported at a meeting of the American Chemical Society that popcorn contains more polyphenols than some fruits and vegetables. The reason is that the polyphenols are more concentrated in popcorn, which averages only about 4 percent water, while polyphenols are diluted in the 90 percent water that makes up many fruits and vegetables. The researchers discovered that the hulls of the popcorn -- the part that everyone hates for its tendency to get caught in the teeth -- actually has the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber.

Researchers cautioned, however, that the way people prepare and serve popcorn can quickly put a dent in its healthful image. Cook it in a potful of oil, slather on butter or the fake butter used in many movie theaters, pour on the salt; eat it as "kettle corn" cooked in oil and sugar -- and popcorn can become a nutritional nightmare loaded with fat and calories. Microwave popcorn has its own issues because of the toxic compounds in the packaging. Let's not also forget about the frequency of allergy and intolerance to corn.

Air-popped popcorn with very little sea salt is about the only healthful way to antioxidants from corn. Is it worth it? We would prefer loading up on fruits and veggies instead.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Action Plans - Complete Library

Aging Well Inside and Out
Babies First Foods
Best of the Mediterranean
Blood Pressure
Blood Sugar Balance

Build the Optimal Youth Athlete Nutritional Concepts' Way
Candida
Chronic Fatigue
Cold and Flu Support
Conquering Allergy and Intolerance

Eye-Mazing Vision Protection
Fast Mimicking Diet
Gestational Diabetes
Heal Your Headache
Healthy Bones
Heart Health

How to Eat Well While Dining Out
Improve Your Mood
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Jump-Start PaleoMediterranean Diet
Kidney Stone
MANopause
Natural Fertility
Natural Treatment for PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies for Cancer Prevention
Optimal Pregnancy
Pain Relief Diet
 

Prostate Cancer Support
Recipes to Live By
Reverse Reflux

Salicylate Action Plan
School Age Child, Optimized

Safe Breast Cancer Screening and Optimum Breast Health
Sleep Well
Smart Cleanse (Vegan)
Smart Detox 2-Week

Smart Menopause
Sports Nutrition, Optimized
Take Action Diet Plan
Take Action Gluten-Free Diet Plan
The New American Breakfast
Vulvodynia/Interstitial Cystitis

Wellness for the "New Senior Male"

To order Actions Plans individually, go to this page.

If you are an NCI Well Connect subscriber, our entire Action Plan library is free upon request. For more information about NCI Well Connect and to see a sample issue,
click here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

These fruits help lower diabetes risk

Eating more blueberries, apples and pears may be linked to lower risk of diabetes due to their flavonoid content, according in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, parallels a study published in the same journal last year associating flavonoid-rich fruits with a reduced risk of high blood pressure. None of the subjects in the study had diabetes at the outset, but about 12,600 of the participants were diagnosed during the research period.

The biggest blueberry consumers (two or more servings per week) had a 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who ate no blueberries. People who ate five or more apples a week also had a 23 percent lower risk compared with those who didn't eat apples.

Bonnie: this study aside, I still do not recommend eating fruit by itself. Always accompany it with a healthy fat or lean protein source.

Hormone therapy and breast cancer regression

As soon as women quit hormone therapy, their rates of new breast cancer decline, supporting the hypothesis that stopping hormones can lead to tumor regression, according to Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention. As part of the national Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium, researchers studied 741,681 woman-years of data on 163,490 women aged 50-79 who had no prior history of breast cancer.

This is the first study to look over time at screening mammography use among individual women by their hormone therapy status linked with their breast cancer diagnoses. Previous research has shown a rapid decline in new breast cancers -- and also in use of hormone therapy and of screening mammography -- since 2002, when the Women's Health Initiative published that breast cancer rates were higher in women taking estrogen and progestin than in those taking either a placebo or only estrogen. Some have suggested that the decline in use of hormone therapy may have caused the fall in the breast cancer rate, perhaps by making tumors regress,

Others have countered that the explanation for the declines in both breast cancer and hormone use might instead be that because former hormone users are less concerned about breast cancer or see their doctors less often, they may get less screening mammography than do women who have never taken hormones. These results refute that hypothesis. Differences in rates of screening mammography don't explain the declines in rates of the incidence of invasive breast cancer among women who've stopped using hormone therapy.

Most do not meet heart health targets

Less than 2% of Americans meet seven recommended heart health targets that could dramatically reduce their risk of heart disease. The number of people has actually dropped. The seven behaviors include:
  • Not smoking
  • Being physically active
  • Having normal blood pressure (under 120/80)
  • Healthy fasting blood-glucose levels (below 100)
  • Total cholesterol levels below 200
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy diet
People who met six of the seven goals had a 76% lower risk of heart-related death and a 51% lower risk of death from any cause, compared with those who met one or fewer.

T
he study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bonnie: the only one we do not agree with is the total cholesterol below 200. There is so much much more to heart health than just total cholesterol. I would have liked to have seen high triglycerides included.

Warning for strontium supplement users

The European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use today recommended that the osteoporosis drug strontium ranelate no longer be used in immobilized patients or patients with venous thromboembolism. The committee also recommended updated warnings regarding serious skin reactions with strontium ranelate. It is not approved for the treatment of osteoporosis in the United States but is sold as a dietary supplement.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Want your kid to lose weight?

Then lose weight yourself.

A study appearing in journal Obesity shows that a parent's weight change is a key contributor to the success of a child's weight loss in family-based treatment of childhood obesity. After looking at parenting skills and styles, as well as changing the home food environment, the number one way in which parents helped an obese child lose weight was to lose weight themselves.

The researchers conclude that clinicians should focus on encouraging parents to lose weight to help their overweight or obese child in weight management.

In another study in Pediatrics, low carb diets work for kids, but they are tough to stick to.
Obese 7- to 12-year-olds were assigned to one of three eating plans: one that followed the conventional wisdom of portion control; a low-carb diet; or a reduced glycemic load plan that cut down on certain carbs that typically cause surges in blood sugar -- like white bread, sweets and white potatoes. Over one year, all three plans worked equally well in controlling kids' weight gain. The difference, researchers found, was that the low-carb plan was tough to stick with. The reduced portion or reduced glycemic load diets were not.

All three diet groups ended up with healthier cholesterol levels. The low-carb group had a dip in triglycerides, another type of blood fat. And kids who focused on portion control or cutting glycemic load had signs of better blood sugar control.

Bonnie: What you should take away from both studies is that implementing a "family plan" for weight loss is ideal, and, focusing on eliminating high glycemic carbs is a priority.

Going with the flow of bio-energy

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120319/entlife/703199987/

Healthy 20s, Healthy 40s

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle from young adulthood into your 40s is strongly associated with low cardiovascular disease risk in middle age, according to a new study in journal Circulation.

According to the study's authors, even people with a family history of heart problems were able to have a low cardiovascular disease risk profile if they started living a healthy lifestyle when they were young. This supports the notion that lifestyle may play just as prominent a role as genetics.

This is the first study to show the association of a healthy lifestyle maintained throughout young adulthood and middle age with low cardiovascular disease risk in middle age. The majority of people who maintained five healthy lifestyle factors from young adulthood (including a lean body mass index (BMI), no excess alcohol intake, no smoking, a healthy diet and regular physical activity) were able to remain in this low-risk category in their middle-aged years.

In the first year of the study, when the participants' average age was 24 years old, nearly 44 percent had a low cardiovascular disease risk profile. Twenty years later, overall, only 24.5 percent fell into the category of a low cardiovascular disease risk profile. Sixty percent of those who maintained all five healthy lifestyles reached middle age with the low cardiovascular risk profile, compared with fewer than 5 percent who followed none of the healthy lifestyles.

Bonnie: This is how a preventive study should be structured. Twenty years is the ideal time to gauge the impact of optimal lifestyle adherence. The fact that the study started in young people was key.

Men: Cut out soda. Reduce CVD risk

Men who drank a daily 12-ounce sugar-sweetened beverage had a 20 percent higher risk of heart disease compared to men who didn't drink any sugar-sweetened drinks, according to research in Circulation. The Harvard School of Public Health researchers, who studied 42,883 men aged 40-75 years over a 22 year period, found that the increase persisted even after controlling for other risk factors, including smoking, physical inactivity, alcohol use and family history of heart disease. Less frequent consumption -- twice weekly and twice monthly -- didn't increase risk.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Multivitamins improve memory recall

Complementary medicine use is becoming increasingly popular with multivitamins being the most commonly used vitamin supplement. Although adequate vitamin and nutrient concentrations are necessary for optimal health and cognitive functioning, there is no scientific consensus as to whether multivitamin use prevents cognitive decline or improves mental functioning. The aim of the February 2012 Journal of Alzheimer's Disease study was to determine if multivitamins can be used efficaciously to improve cognitive abilities. Results indicated that multivitamins were effective in improving immediate free recall memory but not delayed free recall memory or verbal fluency.

New Pap smear guidelines

The annual Pap smear is now officially a thing of the past, as new national guidelines recommend cervical cancer screening no more often than every three years. The new guidelines, issued on Wednesday by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, replace recommendations last issued in 2003 and use more decisive language to advise women to undergo screening less often. The new guidelines were published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Cost is not a factor in the task force recommendations. Instead, its members focus on the effectiveness of a screening test to reduce cancer deaths, balanced against the potential harms that accompany the screening. The worry about frequent Pap smear screening is that tests can result in a large number of false positives that lead to sometimes painful biopsies and put women at risk for pregnancy complications in the future, like preterm labor and low-birth-weight infants.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Beauty in a Bowl: Produce and Your Skin Tone

http://healthland.time.com/2012/03/12/beauty-in-a-bowl-eating-fruits-and-veggies-may-improve-skin-tone/

The worst place to be if you're sick

http://www.aarp.org/health/doctors-hospitals/info-03-2012/protect-yourself-from-hospital-errors.html

Do statins make it tough to exercise?

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/do-statins-make-it-tough-to-exercise/?ref=health

Bonnie: All the more reason to take CoQ10 if you are taking a statin.


In Gretchen Reynolds article, "Do Statins Make it Tough to Exercise," she eloquently brought attention to side effects patients must endure while taking statin medication. Statins' effect on mitochondria can be detrimental to muscles, especially in those who exercise regularly. The research she cites, in which joggers saw an extreme rise in free radical production, is well known to the manufacturers of statins as well as health professionals. Unfortunately, Ms. Reynolds missed a golden opportunity to present one crucial aspect of this issue. Co-enzyme Q10, or CoQ10, ensures optimally functioning mitochondria because it quenches excess free radical production. CoQ10 is depleted by statin medication.

Merck, maker of the popular Zocor, applied for patents in 1989 and 1990 for CoQ10-simvastatin combination products. The company’s 1989 patent application states that a combined statin-CoQ10 product might be effective against not only cardiomyopathy, but also elevated levels of the enzyme transaminase, which reflects liver damage. The company has thus far declined to exercise these patents, and the FDA and other major drug manufacturers have yet to acknowledge the risk of CoQ10 depletion from statins.

Many cardiologists recommend CoQ10 supplements to patients taking statin medications because humans do not produce CoQ10. It can only be obtained through meat products and supplements.

Statin medication is currently being considered by the FDA to be sold over-the-counter. The public must know every detail of these medication, even if the truth is not as rosy as we would like it to be.

A Dairy Farm's Disneyland

One of our clients forwarded this to us. Amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJRy82i8e5Q&feature=email

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NIH announces database for genetic test info

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has unveiled its Genetic Testing Registry, a database of information on genetic tests that will be voluntarily submitted by test producers. According to the NIH, there are now genetic tests available for some 2,500 diseases, including those tests that can be directly purchased by consumers.

The registry is meant to provide patients and health-care providers with a centralized repository for details on the myriad of disease-specific tests that are now available. It will serve as a resource for “all who are struggling to make sense of the complex world of genetic testing”.

The NIH is now asking for genetic-testing companies to submit to the registry on a voluntary basis. The registry can be queried by the name of a genetic test, the name of the test’s provider or, more generally, by a condition (for example, cardiomyopathy or hearing loss) or gene. It also links to National Library of Medicine descriptions and data.

The Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG) commends the NIH for creating the database, which offers consumers previously inaccessible information. However, the group is concerned by the lack of oversight to ensure that the data are accurate. The NIH does not keep this point secret. At the bottom of every page of the online registry, the agency notes that “NIH does not independently verify information submitted to the GTR; it relies on submitters to provide information that is accurate and not misleading.”

Bonnie: Keep in mind that even though genes that appear on this registry may be associated with certain health conditions, it in no way means that you will get those conditions. In fact, there is still so little yet known about how certain genes work in conjunction with one another that there are very few, if any certainties. For example, one gene, BRAC, once thought to be iron clad in its link to breast cancer, has recently come into question. Stay tuned.

More men are grocery shopping. I'm one of them!

Steve: According to consumer research from Schnuck Markets, six percent more men are doing the primary grocery shopping in their household versus five years ago. As someone who took over the reins about 18 months ago, I am that six percent.

What's fascinating about this research is that it corroborates with what I have found since I started buying the food.
  • While men make significantly more routine and immediate needs trips than women, female shoppers spend more money during these excursions than men. Steve: I agree. While food prices have increased significantly since I took over, and my kids are eating more, I have kept the food budget in line with where it was 18 months ago.

  • Women also spend more time shopping with the largest difference coming from routine trips. Steve: I agree. I cannot count how many times my kids have said after coming out of the grocery store, "Dad, Mom would have taken at least twice as long." No offense babe :)

  • Men shop later in the day, and are more likely than women to make a fill in trip after 6 p.m. Steve: I disagree. I like to get it out of the way early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday. I will go to Trader Joes, Sunset Foods/Whole Foods, and Costco in a span of ninety minutes to two hours. And I only go to these locations once a week!

  • Steve: While Shcnuck's did not explore this issue, I thought I would: impulse purchases. One thing that makes my shopping more efficient is to get only what I need. I have my shopping list on my iPhone and I remove each item as I go. No impulse purchases are allowed. This allows me to go into Costco at 10AM and be checking out at 10:10AM. Boom, done!

Feel free to share your grocery shopping tips.

Gadgets in the bedroom can hurt your sleep

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/13/ipad-use-bedroom-sleep_n_1339346.html?ref=healthy-living

Red Meat Mortality Study: So Right and So Wrong

Bonnie and Steve: A study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine from some of the most respected nutrition researchers in the world confirmed what most of us already know. The more conventional red meat you eat, the higher your risk of dying.

Conventional raw red meat is comprised of inflammatory omega-6 fats, antibiotics, hormones, and chemical byproducts. Processed red meat includes the aforementioned as well as nitrates, excess sodium, sugar, and a host of other chemicals.

Unfortunately, the Harvard researchers lost an amazing opportunity to offer a solution for the future of red meat. There was no mention or distinction between how conventional animals are raised and how organic animals are raised.

The diet of conventional animals raised for red meat consumption is diametrically opposed to how they should be eating genetically. This produces sickly, inflammatory, chemical-laden meat.

Domesticated animals raised for red meat consumption that are provided with diets that are genetically harmonious produce healthful, nutrient dense meat. Furthermore, the majority of these animals are provided the opportunity to exist in an open, stress-free environment.

Instead of categorically denouncing red meat, which the mainstream media will certainly feed upon, the researchers missed a golden opportunity to offer an alternative to the way red meat is currently presented to the world.

Friday, March 09, 2012

What to do about Norovirus.

Norovirus affects one in 15 Americans every year, causing sudden vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps that continue for a very unpleasant 24 to 48 hours, usually requiring no medical intervention. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about half of cases of food poisoning are caused by norovirus. January through April is high season for norovirus activity. There is no vaccine and no treatment, and if you get infected by one strain, you can get walloped by another strain, or even re-infected a few months later by the one that got you first time around.

The intermittent appearance of the highly contagious bug - often called "stomach flu" - is spread through vomit and fecal matter of sick people, and outbreaks often occur when an infected person handles food.

Nearly one fifth of all infectious outbreaks in hospitals have been linked to norovirus, according to results from a survey appear in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Norovirus is a hardy bug. It can survive in cold water as long as 61 days and be infectious. It's detectable for two weeks on hard surfaces, though it's not clear that it could still cause illness at that point. Cooking destroys it, but foods eaten raw, such as produce washed with contaminated water or foods prepared by cooks with unclean hands, can carry the virus. Oysters, which are nourished by filtering water on the ocean floor, are the single food most likely to be contaminated.

The best offense against norovirus illness is a good defense. Tips to reduce risks:
  • Wet hands with clean running water, hot or cold, apply soap and work into a lather. Scrub all parts of hands for 20 seconds (two rounds of the Happy Birthday song). Rinse and dry with air or a clean towel.
  • Avoid touching contaminated surfaces.Be aware that elevator buttons, door knobs, water fountain handles, all could potentially be contaminated.
  • Be careful in the kitchen. Wash fruits and vegetables, cook shellfish before eating. Don’t prepare food if you’re sick and for three days after you recover.
  • Clean surfaces. Use bleach-containing disinfectant wipes or a solution of 5-25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water to wipe down bathrooms, kitchen and “high-touch’’ surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, light switches, hand rails.
  • Wash laundry. Immediately remove clothing or bedding that might be contaminated with vomit or fecal matter. Handle carefully to avoid spreading the virus. Wash in detergent at the longest cycle length and machine dry.

  • Take your probiotics. Healthy flora are your army against pathogenic organisms.

  • Other supplements, such as monolaurin and vitamin D, may be supportive.
  • If you get sick, stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids and if you can’t, get medical help.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Weight-loss supplements ineffective

Researchers have reviewed the body of evidence around weight loss supplements and has bad news for those trying to find a magic pill to lose weight and keep it off -- it doesn't exist. The study appears in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

A few products, including green tea and fiber, can have a modest weight loss benefit of 3-4 pounds. Researchers looked at supplements that fell into four categories: products such as chitosan that block absorption of fat or carbohydrates, stimulants such as caffeine or ephedra that increase metabolism, products such as conjugated linoleic acid that claim to change the body composition by decreasing fat, and appetite suppressants such as soluble fibers. Most of the products showed less than a two-pound weight loss benefit compared to the placebo groups.

Some were found to have side effects ranging from the unpleasant, such as bloating and gas, to very serious issues such as strokes and heart problems. According to the researchers, adding fiber and drinking green tea can help, but will not have much effect unless one addresses whole body lifestyle change, including exercise, dietary modification, stress management, environmental modification, and pharmaceutical management.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Pink slime meat being bought for school lunches

http://chicagoist.com/2012/03/07/pink_slime_meat_rejected_by_mcdonal.php

Magnesium intake in the US: suboptimal.

In comparison with calcium, magnesium is an “orphan nutrient” that has been studied considerably less heavily. Low magnesium intakes and blood levels have been associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated C-reactive protein, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, osteoporosis, migraine headache, asthma, and colon cancer. Almost half (48%) of the US population consumed less than the required amount of magnesium from food in 2005–2006, and the figure was down from 56% in 2001–2002.

Surveys conducted over 30 years indicate rising calcium-to-magnesium food-intake ratios among adults and the elderly in the United States, excluding intake from supplements, which favor calcium over magnesium. The prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes in the United States increased sharply between 1994 and 2001 as the ratio of calcium-to-magnesium intake from food rose.

Dietary Reference Intakes determined by balance studies may be misleading if subjects have chronic latent magnesium deficiency but are assumed to be healthy. Cellular magnesium deficit elicits calcium-activated inflammatory cascades independent of injury or pathogens. Refining the magnesium requirements and understanding how low magnesium status and rising calcium-to-magnesium ratios influence the incidence of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, and other inflammation-related disorders are research priorities. Nutrition Reviews, March 2012

Hypomagnesemia
Hypomagnesemia is relatively common, and most patients are asymptomatic. Causes of hypomagnesemia include inadequate magnesium intake, increased gastrointestinal or renal loss, and drugs such as PPIs and loop diuretics. Patients with symptomatic hypomagnesemia frequently have other electrolyte disturbances that are resistant to treatment until the hypomagnesemia has been reversed. Clinical Endocrinology, December 2011

Gluten, casein-free diet helps with autism

A gluten-free, casein-free diet may lead to improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms in some children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to research in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.

The research team asked 387 parents or primary caregivers of children with ASD to complete a 90-item online survey about their children's GI symptoms, food allergy diagnoses, and suspected food sensitivities, as well as their children's degree of adherence to a gluten-free, casein-free diet. They found that a gluten-free, casein-free diet was more effective in improving ASD behaviors, physiological symptoms and social behaviors for those children with GI symptoms and with allergy symptoms compared to those without these symptoms.

Specifically, parents noted improved GI symptoms in their children as well as increases in their children's social behaviors, such as language production, eye contact, engagement, attention span, requesting behavior and social responsiveness, when they strictly followed a gluten-free, casein-free diet.

According to the researchers, autism may be more than a neurological disease -- it may involve the GI tract and the immune system. "There are strong connections between the immune system and the brain, which are mediated through multiple physiological symptoms," they said. "A majority of the pain receptors in the body are located in the gut, so by adhering to a gluten-free, casein-free diet, you're reducing inflammation and discomfort that may alter brain processing, making the body more receptive to ASD therapies."

The team also found that parents who implemented the diet for six months or less reported that the diet was less effective in reducing their child's ASD behaviors. Parents who completely eliminated both gluten and casein from their child's diet, as opposed to just on of them, reported the most benefit.

Bonnie: Progressive health professionals have known for years that the gut and brain are inextricably linked. However, it is always nice to see the research validate what we have seen clinically.

The Sleep Quandary: Is Melatonin Safe?

With all the recent issues with sleeping pills, Melatonin has shown to have a solid safety record.

Children
A review article in the March 1 issue of Natural Medicine Journal covers key studies on the use of melatonin in pediatrics, including its use for children’s sleep disorders, pediatric anesthesia, epilepsy and febrile seizures, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, neonatal care, and the feeding of newborns.

Key Findings:
Melatonin use in children has been well-studied to date, and research suggests efficacy for several conditions. Melatonin has been most studied for its chronobiotic (sleep modulation) effects in various pediatric populations. No significant side effects of melatonin use in children have been reported.

Most interesting is the use of melatonin in children’s insomnia, a condition for which there are no approved pharmaceutical drugs. Most pediatricians and primary care physicians rely on behavioral treatments for insomnia, but a growing number of physicians are recommending melatonin. Administration of melatonin has been associated with faster sleep onset, as well as increased sleep duration. The greatest effect is seen with advancing sleep onset, and the most benefit is achieved when melatonin is dosed approximately 30–60 minutes before desired bedtime.

In the area of pediatric anesthesia, melatonin has been studied as an alternative to general anesthesia for diagnostic procedures such as MRI or brainstem audiology. It has also been studied as a premedication to general anesthesia for surgical procedures.

Most importantly, the body of evidence reviewed highly suggests that melatonin administration is very safe, even in the youngest children.

Melatonin Safe for Post-Menopausal Breast-Cancer Survivors
In the March issue of Cancer, Causes, and Control, researchers examined compliance with and the effects of melatonin supplementation on breast cancer biomarkers (estradiol, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1), insulin-like growth factor–binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3), and the IGF-1/IGFBP-3 ratio) in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, postmenopausal women with a prior history of stages 0-III breast cancer who had completed active cancer treatment (including hormonal therapy) were randomly assigned to either 3 mg oral melatonin or placebo daily for 4 months. Melatonin was well tolerated without any grade 3/4 toxicity. Overall, among postmenopausal women with a prior history of breast cancer, a 4-month course of 3 mg melatonin daily did not influence circulating estradiol, IGF-1, or IGFBP-3 levels.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Vitamin D and Crohn's prevention

Increased intake of vitamin D may significantly reduce the risk for Crohn's disease (CD) in women, according to an article published in the March issue of Gastroenterology.

Investigators found that 72,719 vitamin D–sufficient women were 62% less likely to be diagnosed with CD during a 22-year period compared with those deemed deficient. The direct relationship between vitamin D ingestion and reduction in CD risk was not affected by smoking status or contraceptive use. According to the article, results strengthen the rationale for considering vitamin D supplementation both for treatment of active CD or prevention of disease flares.

According to a Mayo Clinic physician not associated with the study, "Many patients are worried about medication safety, so any vitamin that might either reduce the risk of Crohn's or might decrease relapse rates is going to be well received by patients."

Removing BGH from milk lowers diabetes risk

Bonnie - the dairy lobby cannot claim there is no data showing that BGH may affect children adversely, as this week's Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine study exhibits.

Researchers wanted to know whether weaning to a bovine insulin–free cow's milk formula (CMF) reduces type 1 diabetes mellitus–associated autoantibodies in children at genetic risk. The randomized, double-blind pilot trial examined 1113 infants over three years with HLA-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes were randomly assigned to receive the CMF, whey-based hydrolyzed formula (WHF) (n = 350), or whey-based FINDIA formula essentially free of bovine insulin during the first 6 months of life whenever breast milk was not available.

6.3% of children in the CMF group, 4.9% of those in the WHF group, and 2.6% of children in the FINDIA group were positive for at least 1 autoantibody by age 3 years. In comparison with ordinary CMF, weaning to an insulin-free CMF reduced the cumulative incidence of autoantibodies by age 3 years in children at genetic risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Look for nutrition labels on meats today

The next time you shop at the grocery store, you may see something new– nutrition labels on meat. The same types of labels you already find on other foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture made nutrition labeling mandatory today for all raw meats. The new rule affects all ground meat and poultry and 40 of the most popular cuts of meat in the United States such as chicken breasts, steaks, pork chops, roasts, lamb and veal. If the nutrition facts are not on the package, as in the case of some larger cuts of meat, look for posters or signs at the meat counter for this information.