Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Omega-6 increases metabolic syndrome

The role of serum omega-3 (from fish and fish oils) and omega-6 (from vegetable oils) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the course of metabolic syndrome is poorly understood. At the Primary Health Care Unit in Pieksämäki, Finland, all subjects born in 1942, 1947, 1952, 1957, and 1962 (1,294) were invited for health checkups in 1997–1998 and 2003–2004.

The serum omega-3 PUFAs, omega-6 PUFAs, and total fatty acids were analyzed by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Altogether, data from both checkups were available for 665 subjects. The incidence of metabolic syndrome between the 2 checkups with a 6.4-year follow-up was inversely associated with the increased relative proportion of omega-6 PUFAs in serum lipids.

The authors did not find any significant associations between omega-3 PUFAs and the incidence of metabolic syndrome. Therefore, their results suggest that the change in the relative proportion of omega-6 PUFAs in serum lipids is inversely related to the incidence of metabolic syndrome. American Journal Epidemiology, August 2012

Scarcity of drug trials in kids

Relatively few clinical trials have tested medications in children - even when kids make up a large share of patients with the condition the drug treats. Overall, just 12% of the trials focused on children and teenagers. Yet kids accounted for 60% of those suffering the conditions studied. And that, she noted, is despite legislation passed in recent years and designed to encourage more pediatric trials.
The study was published July 23rd in Pediatrics

40% of care provided by specialists in US

Another reason why our health care system is broken? Nearly 40% of primary care services are provided by specialists, according to a research letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"This study highlights the fact that the US healthcare system is out of balance. If you look at research into the quality and cost of other industrialized nations, you see that their systems are based on primary care. In the United States, our physician workforce is approximately 70% subspecialists and 30% primary care physicians. We must work to rectify this and rebalance our system on primary care," Douglas Henley, MD, executive vice president and chief executive officer, American Academy of Family Physicians.

As soda declines, energy and diet drinks increase

At least somebody is pointing this out. New York's Attorney General issued subpoenas in July to three firms that make energy drinks, including PepsiCo Inc, seeking information on the companies' marketing and advertising practices, the Wall Street Journal said. Investigators are examining whether the companies overstated the benefits of ingredients in the drink while understating the role of caffeine. Besides Pepsi, maker of AMP, the Attorney General also sent subpoenas to Monster Beverage Corp and Living Essentials LLC, maker of 5-hour Energy drink.

U.S. retail sales of the energy drinks rose 16 percent last year to $8.9 billion, accounting for 12 percent of the carbonated soft drink category, according to Beverage Digest.

The number of U.S. children who drink sugar-free beverages has doubled in the past decade. By 2008, 12.5% of children were drinking artificially-sweetened beverages. That was up from 6% a decade earlier, according to a recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.

Dairy cows produce milk beyond healthy capacity

Twenty five years ago, the average dairy cow produced 13,293 lbs of raw milk every year. Twice-a-day milking was the norm, and bovine growth hormones were an emerging topic of debate.

Today’s dairy cow now produces an average of 21,345 lbs of milk each year, a 61 percent increase over the past quarter century. That means that the average dairy cow weighing 1,400 lbs produces more than 4 percent of its body weight in milk each day.

Growth hormones and three-times-a day milking are major factors in the increase. So, too, are high-energy feed rations and genetic selection for animals with maximum milk output.

These modern milk-producing marvels carry bags far larger—and much heavier—than Mother Nature ever intended to hang below the belly of a cow. The genetic selection, feed rations and growth hormones maximizing milk production have done little to provide the cow with stronger muscles and larger bones to carry around the extra 58 lbs of weight every day.

So, by the time a cow reaches age five, she’s not only spent, she is literally used up.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Food waste higher than its ever been.

About 40% of all food produced in the United States goes to waste – an amount worth about $165 billion, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report claims that the relatively low cost of food at retail is a major factor in household food waste, as food spending now accounts for less than 10% of average household income, the lowest proportion in history. 

An average family of four throws away food worth about $2,275 a year. Portion sizes in restaurants have grown to twice to eight times recommended standard serving sizes, meaning more food ends up in the trash, and retailers toss about $15 billion worth of unsold fruits and vegetables every year.

Overall waste has increased by half in the United States since the 1970s. Among the most frequently wasted items in the United States are produce, 52% of which goes to waste, seafood (50%), grain products (38%), meat (22%), and dairy (20%).

NRDC suggests that businesses, consumers and government should work together to reduce food waste, by introducing measures that would clarify date labels on food, improve food recovery, and encourage less wasteful shopping habits.

Overtreatment is taking a harmful toll

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Great Organic Deceivers

Antibiotics, Infants, Obesity, and MRSA

Giving babies antibiotics before the age of six months could cause them to be overweight children. According to the researchers, "microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, especially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean." Hmm, where have you heard that before?

The International Journal of Obesity study, the first to analyze the relationship between antibiotic use and body mass starting in infancy, adds to a growing body of research warning of the potential dangers of antibiotics, especially for children. They found that children treated with antibiotics in the first five months of their life weighed 22% more for their height by 38 months.

One of the researchers made a great comment: "For many years now, farmers have known that antibiotics are great at producing heavier cows for market. This carefully conducted study suggests that antibiotics influence weight gain in humans, and especially children too."
To add insult to injury, antibiotic use in children is associated with increased risk of acquiring methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the community, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The results support efforts to minimize unnecessary antibacterial drug prescribing, particularly of second-line agents, to children in the community.

Eliminated Soda? Juice Should Be Next.

"Juice is just like soda, and I'm saying it right here on camera," pediatric obesity specialist Robert Lustig said in the documentary "The Weight of the Nation," produced in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "There is no difference. When you take fruit and squeeze it, you throw the fiber in the garbage. That was the good part of the fruit. The juice is nature's way of getting you to eat your fiber."

The American Academy of Pediatrics has advised limiting daily juice consumption to 4 to 6 ounces for children 6 and younger and 8 to 12 ounces (the size of a soda can) for children 7 to 18. The academy's head of environmental health took it even further when he said children do not need to drink any juice at all. "Don't drink an apple," he said. "Eat an apple."

While numerous studies that show correlations between increased fruit juice consumption and increased risk of obesity and diabetes, there are no studies that show the opposite - that drinking a glass or two of fruit juice each day will have positive long-term health benefits on weight or diabetes. Even 100 percent juice beverages can contain as much sugar as there is in soda. In addition, most commercial fruit juice is derived from concentrates, which often results in a higher sugar content than if the product were, say, simply squeezed from oranges.

While the public health community is coming to increasing agreement on fruit juice, some believe it could take years to persuade parents and school districts to act on the findings. Soft drink companies have fought hard to replace soft drinks with fruit juice (made by juice companies they bought) and will fight just as hard to keep them ubiquitous, but the research has shown fruit juice has the same effect as soft drinks on our health - all adverse, negative and fairly severe.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vegetarians More Likely to Have Eating Disorder History

According to an August study in Journal of the American of Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition, when individuals with a suspected or diagnosed eating disorder adopt a vegetarian diet, health care professionals might worry that this choice could function as a socially acceptable way to legitimize food avoidance. Yet only limited research has examined vegetarianism in relation to eating disorders. The study compared individuals with and without an eating disorder history and individuals at different stages of eating disorder recovery on past and current vegetarianism and motivations for and age at becoming vegetarian. Participants were females seen at some point for an eating disorder and controls who never had an eating disorder 

Compared with controls, individuals with an eating disorder history were considerably more likely to have been vegetarian. Clinicians need to be aware of this discovery.

New Prescription Fish Oil, Vascepa, Approved

Vascepa, an ethyl ester fish oil, was recently approved by the FDA. Like Lovaza, which has trans fat, it is a no go because of its excipients. 

Vascepa contains malitol and sorbitol, two sugar alcohols that are derived from corn. In such small amounts, they probably will not cause loose stool (a common symptom of sugar alcohol consumption). However, if you get these symptoms, stop it immediately. 

In addition, the ethyl ester form has shown to be not as effective as triglyceride form fish oil.

New Data Reaffirms ADD, ADHD Natural Therapies

A favorable report covering the scientific literature on the significance of diet for children with ADHD was published by researchers at University of Copenhagen. "There is a lot to suggest that by changing their diet, it is possible to improve the condition for some ADHD children," says the lead professor of pediatric nutrition. She points to omega-3 fatty acids adn elimination diets as the most promising. They caution that there are different types of ADHD, and the disturbance is probably due to both genetic and environmental factors. Children with ADHD react very differently to both medication and dietary changes. This study hopes that, by acquiring more knowledge on the subject, it is possible to reduce the use of medication and instead develop special dietary advice for the children:


Copper, Zinc Levels
A study presented to a recent American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting investigated the incidence of metal metabolism disorders in an autistic-spectrum patient population. Of patients tested, 85% exhibited severely elevated Copper to Zinc ratios in blood compared to a population of healthy controls. 6% exhibited a pyrrole disorder associated with severe Zinc deficiency.

The absence of Cu and Zn homeostasis and severe Zn deficiency are suggestive of a metallothionein (MT) disorder. MT functions include neuronal development, detoxification of heavy metals, and immune response. Many classic symptoms of autism may be explained by a MT defect in infancy including G.I. tract problems, heightened sensitivity to toxic metals, and abnormal behaviors. These data suggest that an inborn error of MT functioning may be a fundamental cause of autism.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
The antioxidant, N-Acetylcysteine, lowered irritability in children with autism as well as reduced children's repetitive behaviors, according to results of a study appearing in Biological Psychiatry. Currently, irritability, mood swings and aggression, all of which are considered associated features of autism, are treated with second-generation antipsychotics. But these drugs cause significant side effects, including weight gain, involuntary motor movements and metabolic syndrome, which increases diabetes risk. By contrast, side effects of NAC are generally mild, with gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, nausea, diarrhea and decreased appetite being the most common. 

During the 12-week trial, NAC treatment decreased irritability scores from 13.1 to 7.2 on the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, a widely used clinical scale for assessing irritability. NAC is a precursor to Glutathione.

According to a study in Nutrition and Metabolism, Glutathione has a wide range of functions; it is an endogenous anti-oxidant and plays a key role in the maintenance of intracellular redox balance and detoxification of xenobiotics. Several studies have indicated that children with autism spectrum disorders may have altered glutathione metabolism which could play a key role in the condition. A review found evidence for the involvement of the γ-glutamyl cycle and trans-sulphuration pathway in autistic disorder is sufficiently consistent, particularly with respect to the glutathione redox ratio, to warrant further investigation to determine the significance in relation to clinical outcomes.

Bonnie: We have known about and used one or more, if not all of these therapies throughout the years in our practice. It is nice to see the data start flowing.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Artificial Sweetener Intake in Kids, Pregnant Women

Bonnie and Steve: Two studies in the August issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition exhibit artificial sweetener intake in two very important parts of the US population. The consumption of artificially sweetened beverages has doubled among US children over the past decade. While they say further research is needed to understand the health effects of this trend, we can tell you what the effect is: a continued uptick in obesity. The second study showed that high intakes of artificially sweetened beverages in pregnant women is associated with an increased risk of preterm delivery.

Mightiest mineral of them all?

The scientific community is asking NASA to specifically study magnesium in astronauts. The reason is that space flight’s microgravity leads to significant reductions in magnesium levels in large studies of astronauts and cosmonauts. This reduction in magnesium levels leads to both a tenfold decrease in cardiovascular system functional capacity and a progressive shortening of telomeres—the next great frontier in anti-aging research. Consumers are starting to gravitate toward the power of magnesium—sales are up 14 percent in 2011 and up 79 percent since 2006, according to Nutrition Business Journal.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blood Type Related to Heart Risk

Not all blood types may be alike when it comes to heart disease risk. According to researchers in journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, certain blood types seem to be associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease than others. 

Specifically, people with type AB have a 23 percent increased risk of the condition compared with type Os. People with type B blood had an 11 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease, and people with type A blood had a 5 percent higher risk compared with people with type O blood. 43 percent of people in the U.S have Type O blood. 

The study included blood type analysis from nearly 100,000 people between ages 30 and 75, who participated in the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, in which they were followed for at least 20 years. 

The researchers said they have yet to understand the exact cause for the blood type-heart disease connection. They did say that past research has suggested a link between having A type blood and higher levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, and a link between having AB type blood and inflammation.

Last year, a study presented at the conference of the American Heart Association suggested a link between blood type and stroke risk. That study showed that AB type blood in men and women, and B type blood in women, is linked with an increased risk of stroke, compared with people with O type blood.

Bonnie: Unfortunately, one thing we cannot change is our blood type. That said, it is always good to know your blood type. This study confirms from what I have witnessed over the years: blood type O's do very well eating a lot of animal protein and do not see as many adverse cardiac events.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dr Schuster: The Human Body is Amazing!

The other day I was showing a patient a model of the human vertebrae including the disc and spinal cord. I explained how the spinal cord releases nerves, arteries, veins and lymph from each vertebra to the muscles, organs, bones and tissues. The structures from the spinal cord help with circulation, movement, immunity, communication with the brain and so many other functions that are extremely important to the body. 

When my patient saw the model and also heard my explanation the light went and she realized how amazing the human body truly is. She had only felt this way with regards to nature, the cosmos and anything else that inhabits our planet. She now realized that she could also be in awe of what makes everyone’s human body, including hers, so incredible.

Each of us has an intricate system within our body that works day and night without our telling it what to do. The better we feed it, rest it, appreciate it and take care of it, can help us live a higher quality of life.

Here are a couple of videos you may enjoy:

1.)This is a 41 second 3-D animation of how our thoughts and actions are reflected by the Nervous System. 

2.)This is a 2-minute 3-D animation of the entire spine and skeleton.

Dr. Liselotte Schuster
Family Practice for Pregnant Women, Babies, Kids, Teens and Adults.

Yolked Over the New Egg Study?

Newly published research from journal Atherosclerosis tries to show that eating egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis in a manner similar to smoking cigarettes. The researcher, surveying more than 1200 patients, found regular consumption of egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to increased build-up of carotid plaque, a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. It is apparent that this researcher was looking for media coverage sensationalism, because the data certainly is not back up the claims.

We can say confidently that egg consumption is not the cause of increased atherosclerosis in this group. Here's why:
  1. There are important differences in the makeup of each group in the study. The group that ate the most eggs had an average age of 69.77 years compared to only 55.70 years for the group who ate the least eggs. The group who ate the most eggs also smoked the most and had the highest rate of diabetes. Surprisingly, the group that ate the most eggs had the lowest total cholesterol, lowest LDL cholesterol, highest HDL cholesterol, and lowest body mass index.
  2. The data was collected from individuals soon after they had a stroke or transient ischeamic attack (known as a “mini stroke”). This study is not examining healthy individuals or comparing the number of strokes in people who ate lots of eggs vs. those who ate few eggs. All participants in the study already had a stroke regardless of their egg consumption.
  3. Participants were given questionnaires and asked to recall the number of eggs and packs of cigarettes they had smoked during their lifetime. Questions regarding exercise, stress levels, and other aspects of the diet were not asked. The researchers relied on the participants to be both truthful and accurate in their memory of egg consumption and smoking history during their lifetime.
  4. The authors promote the idea that egg yolks are bad because they are high in cholesterol and eating foods high in cholesterol supposedly increases serum cholesterol in the blood. However, as stated earlier, the group that ate the most eggs actually had the lowest total cholesterol, lowest LDL cholesterol, and highest HDL cholesterol. According to their data, it seems that eating lots of eggs actually promotes a healthier cholesterol profile and lower body mass index. Amazingly, the authors do not address this in their paper nor do they hypothesize on what mechanism is causing high egg consumption to increase plaque buildup.
Alternatively, this data could be interpreted completely differently. The data shows the individuals who ate the most eggs were the oldest and had the most plaque after their stroke. Perhaps the eggs actually had a protective effect allowing those who ate the most eggs to withstand more plaque buildup and live the longer before having a stroke. Those individuals who ate the fewest eggs had a stroke an average of 14 years earlier than those who ate the most eggs. Perhaps if they would have been eating more eggs, they would have lived longer without a stroke.

Bonnie and Steve:
Our recommendation has always been to consume organic eggs preferably with added omega 3 (DHA). Eggs are a great lean protein source. Depending on the individual, moderation may be warranted. If you consume copious amounts of eggs, try to halve the amount of yolks you consume. Now, of course, we assume you are eating eggs hard boiled, cooked in a healthy oil (not butter or margarine), or in a healthy recipe/food product. We certainly do not endorse copious amounts of cheese-laden omelets cooked in butter with a side of bacon, hash browns, and pancakes!

Magnesium lowers colorectal cancer risk

Dietary magnesium might be related to colorectal tumor risk through the pivotal roles of magnesium in cellular metabolism, insulin resistance, and systemic inflammation, according to a study in the August issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers evaluated the hypothesis of whether higher dietary magnesium intake is associated with reduced colorectal tumor risk. In a study on colorectal adenomas (768 cases; 709 polyp-free control subjects), every 100-mg per day increase in magnesium intake was associated with 13% lower risk of colorectal adenomas and 12% lower risk of colorectal cancer. The findings support the hypothesis that higher intakes of dietary magnesium are associated with lower risk of colorectal tumors. The consumption of magnesium-rich foods and supplements should be a new avenue to explore further in the search for cancer-prevention strategies.

Bonnie and Steve: maybe a new avenue of research for the authors of this study, but not for Nutritional Concepts!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Blog Will Be Back August 15th

We are on hiatus. See you in a few weeks!