Thursday, November 29, 2012

Organic peanut butter company shut down by FDA

The Food and Drug Administration has halted operations of the country's largest organic peanut butter processor, cracking down on salmonella poisoning for the first time with the new enforcement authority the agency gained in a 2011 food safety law.

FDA officials found salmonella all over Sunland Inc.'s New Mexico processing plant after 41 people in 20 states, most of them children, were sickened by peanut butter manufactured at the Sunland plant and sold at the Trader Joe's grocery chain. The FDA suspended Sunland's registration Monday, preventing the company from producing or distributing food.

The food safety law gives the FDA authority to suspend a company's registration when food manufactured or held there has a "reasonable probability" of causing serious health problems or death. Before the food safety law was enacted early last year, the FDA would have had to go to court to suspend a company's registration.

Sunland had planned to reopen its peanut processing facility Tuesday. The company has the right to a hearing and must prove to the FDA that its facilities are clean enough to reopen.

Sunland sold hundreds of peanut products to many of the nation's large grocery chains other than Trader Joe's, including Whole Foods, Safeway, Target and others.

Why mindful breathing works

Compelling study on Chondroitin for hand arthritis

A study done on chondroitin sulfate, appearing in the November issue of Evidence Based Medicine, found that patients who completed the trial had improvement in their assessment of global hand pain and the improvement was significantly more pronounced versus the placebo group. The benefit became evident only after 3 months of treatment. No serious adverse reactions occurred in any study patients.

Chondroitin provided a benefit on symptoms and function of a similar magnitude than what has been previously reported for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the same type of patients. Chondroitin sulfate was associated with minimal side effects, hence generating a risk/benefit ratio which will most likely be better than the one derived from NSAID studies.

Chondroitin sulfate was previously reported to reduce structural progression of knee osteoarthritis.The results from the present study that suggests chondroitin can also be effective on osteoarthritis at other sites, is another piece of evidence for the consideration of chondroitin as a first-line treatment of osteoarthritis.

Bonnie: Exciting stuff. Just make sure that the glucosamine/chondroitin combination you purchase are the right sources.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Alzheimer's Research Summit Highlights Diet

Are probiotics the next penicillin?

Just how far have probiotics come in the eyes of the public (and media)? The headline of this blog was the title of the following piece in the Wall Street Journal: "Are Probiotics the Next Penicillin?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Maternal folic acid and its affect on offspring

Two recent studies show the crucial aspect of not just adequate folic acid supplementation during pregnancy, but also the crucial nature of absorbing the folic acid into usable folate.

The first study, in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined the epigenetic regulation of imprinted genes, how they have been implicated in human disease, and how the maternal diet plays a crucial role in offpspring. The researchers measured folate intake from diet, the use of folic acid supplements and the period of consumption, maternal and cord red blood cell (RBC) folate, and genotypes for 5 methylation (detoxification) cycle enzymes. Supplement use after 12 weeks of gestation was associated with a better level of methylation (detoxification). Given the importance of methylation in ridding the body of excess toxicity, assuring adequate levels of folate during pregnancy is yet again confirmed.

 The second study, appearing in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found that folic acid supplements during pregnancy may reduce the risk of childhood brain tumors. Simply, children of mothers who took folic acid supplements during pregnancy were at significantly lower risk of developing brain tumors during childhood, with the risk reduced by up to 45%.

Study shows lutein supp benefit eyes

Lutein and zeaxanthin are lipid-soluble antioxidants found within the macula region of the retina. Links have been suggested between increased levels of these carotenoids and reduced risk for age-related macular disease (ARMD). The effect of lutein-based supplementation on retinal and visual function in people with early stages of ARMD was assessed in a recent British Journal of Nutrition study. Participants were randomly allocated to either receive a lutein-based oral supplement (treated group) or no supplement (non-treated group). The statistically significant increase in visual function was encouraging and may suggest a potentially beneficial effect of lutein-based supplementation in ARM-affected eyes.

Happy childhood equals affluence as an adult?

So finds a new study that links well-being in American adolescents to greater wealth by the time they reach 30.

The research doesn't definitively prove that happy kids have a better chance of making more money when they grow up. And it's not clear if inheriting money -- or marrying into it -- could be important factors.

Still, the findings do suggest the value of creating happy environments for children. The researchers launched the study to "figure out what happiness actually does," they said. "We might think that human happiness is important in itself as a goal, but does it cause other things, perhaps other good things?"

To find out, the researchers examined a research project that tracked U.S. kids from grades 7 to 12 into adulthood. Researchers last interviewed the remaining participants -- almost 16,000 people -- in 2008.

Overall, those who said they were very unhappy as adolescents had incomes around age 29 that were 30 percent below the average, the study found. On the other hand, those who said they were very happy as kids had incomes that were 10 percent above the average.

The researchers found a connection between happiness and later wealth even after adjusting the statistics so they wouldn't be thrown off by larger or smaller numbers of participants who were of certain ages, genders, IQs and ethnicities, among other factors.

The study also examined how happiness after childhood might affect wealth. Oswald's team found that a one-point increase in life satisfaction (on a scale of 1 to 5) at age 22 was associated with a growth in annual income of about $2,000 by the age of 29, although it's not clear if the two events are directly linked.

The study was published online Nov. 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

AHA teams up with RJF to curb childhoood obesity

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the American Heart Association (AHA) today announced an ambitious collaboration to reverse the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic by 2015. Building upon AHA’s extensive advocacy capacity and experience, RWJF will provide the Association with $8 million in initial funding to create and manage an advocacy initiative focused on changing local, state, and federal policies to help children and adolescents eat healthier foods and be more active.

RWJF is the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to improving health and health care. AHA is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting cardiovascular disease.

“Some cities and states are starting to see progress in their efforts to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “As a country, we’re gaining a better sense of what changes work, and now it’s time to make those changes in every community. I’m confident this new collaboration with the American Heart Association will help us do just that.”

Under the new initiative, RWJF and AHA will focus on policy interventions to advance six priorities that research shows are likely to have the greatest impact on childhood obesity. AHA will develop the overarching strategy that knits together efforts across all six priorities and fund efforts for three of them: 

  1. improving the nutritional quality of snack foods and beverages in schools;  
  2. reducing consumption of sugary beverages; and protecting children from unhealthy food and beverage marketing. 
  3. RWJF will fund efforts to address the following priorities in underserved communities: 
  4. increasing access to affordable healthy foods; 
  5. increasing access to parks, playgrounds, walking paths, bike lanes and other opportunities to be physically active; and 
  6. helping schools and youth-serving programs increase children’s physical activity levels.
Both RWJF and AHA will focus on reaching communities hardest hit by the epidemic, including communities of color and lower-income communities.

Vitamin D, coffee for type 2 diabetes prevention

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with impaired human insulin action, suggesting a role in the pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus type 2. A study in the November issue of Cardiovascular Diabetology investigated the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on the metabolic profiles of T2DM subjects pre- and post-vitamin D supplementation over an 18-month period.

Subjects were given 2000 IU vitamin D3 daily for 18 months. Anthropometrics and fasting blood were collected (0, 6, 12, 18 months) to monitor serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. In all subjects there was a significant increase in mean 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, as well as serum calcium. A significant decrease in LDL- and total cholesterol were noted, as well as a significant improvement in insulin function.

While the population's 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels remained below normal 18 months after the onset of treatment, this "suboptimal" supplementation significantly improved lipid profile with a favorable change in HDL/LDL ratio, and insulin function.

In a study from the November 14th issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers examined the association of caffeinated compared with caffeine-free beverages, including coffee, tea, and sugar-sweetened beverages, with T2D risk. Irrespective of the caffeine content, sugar-sweetened beverage intake was associated with a higher risk of T2D and coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of T2D.

Probiotics cut C-Diff by 66%

Probiotics were associated with a 66% reduction in the incidence of Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea (CDAD) with very few adverse events, according to a study in the November 13 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Probiotic prophylaxis would prevent 33 episodes of antibiotic-associated CDAD per 1000 patients, the authors report, with low relative risk for clinically relevant adverse events.

The authors write. "Given the low cost of probiotics and the moderate-quality evidence suggesting the absence of important adverse effects, there seems little reason not to encourage the use of probiotics in patients receiving antibiotics who are at appreciable risk for CDAD."

Steve: Big Pharma would kill for a 33 episode per 1000 of antibiotic-associated CDAD!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blood Lipids: to fast or not to fast?

A new study published in JAMA weighs the pros and cons of performing fasting lipid profiles. According to the study, it is not necessary to fast because the variance in levels is not extreme enough to warrant the hassle. While total and HDL ticked only 2% higher, LDL was 10% higher, and triglycerides were 20% higher without fasting.

The skeptic in us sees more opportunity to put people on statins. For example, if a patient does not fast and tests 5% above normal levels, he or she becomes a candidate for life long statin therapy. If the patient had fasted, there level would have come 5% below high, and they would not be considered a candidate for statins. This is extremely significant given that the benchmarks for statin medication has continued to trend downward. 

In addition, with many experts believing that triglycerides are as much or more important than cholesterol, non fasting lipids is not ideal because it does not produce an accurate result. With non fasting triglycerides, a patient who may have consumed high refined carbs before the blood draw could have abnormally high triglycerides, whereas if they fasted, the triglycerides would be much more accurate.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Refined carbs can affect colon cancer outcome

A new study found that people treated for Stage 3 colon cancer, in which tumor cells have spread to lymph nodes, had greatly increased chances of dying of it or experiencing a recurrence if their diets were heavy in carbohydrate-rich foods that cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin. The patients who consumed the most carbohydrates and foods with high glycemic loads had an 80 percent greater chance of dying or having a recurrence during the roughly seven-year study period than those who had the lowest levels. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, indicates that insulin may play the critical role in recurrence.

Antibiotics devastate infant guts

Eight weeks after antibiotic treatment of infants, the diversity of gastrointestinal flora remained diminished, according to a paper in the November 2012 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Additionally, the potentially disease-causing Proteobacteria were now the dominant population in the treated infants. "This is the first sequencing-based study to demonstrate the negative effects of short-term antibiotic treatment on the beneficial gut bacteria populations in infants," says coauthor Catherine Stanton of the Teagasc Food Research Centre, Fermoy, Cork, Ireland.  

In the study, nine infants were treated with intravenous ampicillin/gentamicin within 48 hours of birth, and over the two month study period, their gastrointestinal flora were compared to that in nine control infants. At four weeks, bacteria from the beneficial genera, the Bifidobacteria and the Lactobacilli, were significantly reduced. By altering the gut microbiota, and thus the immune system very early in life, the antibiotics could negatively influence long-term health, particularly by boosting the risk of developing asthma, allergy, and obesity, according to the report. The risk is heightened by the fact that the antibiotic-driven disruption of the microbiota comes at a time "when this population is in rapid flux and can easily be unbalanced," according to the report.

Bonnie: It is crucial that for any infant that must go on an antibiotic, taking supplemental probiotics is a must.

Modest weight loss pays big dividends later in life for kids

An Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine study investigated the notion of indicated prevention—helping overweight or obese youth attain non-overweight status to prevent adult obesity—by examining weight-for-height changes needed to normalize weight status in 669 overweight youth (aged 8 to 13 years) who are growing.

Attaining nonoverweight status in childhood was possible with modest weight loss or, in some circumstances, by slowing weight gain, and may help prevent adult obesity. Future research should investigate how much intervention is needed to shift the growth trajectory to nonoverweight status and how much weight-for-height change is needed to improve other health outcomes in adulthood.

Fast Food and Full Service Restaurants Make the Problem Worse
In the same journal, researchers examined the effect of fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption on total energy intake, dietary indicators, and beverage consumption in children aged 2 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years.

Fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption, respectively, was associated with a net increase in daily total energy intake of 126.29 kcal and 160.49 kcal for children and 309.53 kcal and 267.30 kcal for adolescents and with higher intake of regular soda and sugar-sweetened beverages generally. Fast-food consumption increased intake of total fat, saturated fat, and sugar for both age groups and sodium and protein for adolescents. Full-service restaurant consumption was associated with increases in all nutrients examined.

Fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption is associated with higher net total energy intake and poorer diet quality.

The Benefit of Social Medicine

"Social medicines" are beneficial to the health and wellbeing of individuals and the population. These include a stable family life, stress-free childhood, alcohol-free culture for young people, secure and rewarding employment, positive relationships with friends and neighbors, and a socially active old age. Researchers are releasing a guide to their research as part of the Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science.

A stable family life where children have secure routines, including being read to and taken on outings by their parents, is more likely to result in them being ready to take in what will be offered at school (school-readiness). Getting a flying start at school is one of the most important pathways towards wellbeing later in life.

An environment free of constant bombardment with cigarette and alcohol advertisements helps adolescents avoid the first steps towards addiction.

People with more friends have higher levels of health and wellbeing -- and researchers have found this to be almost as important as avoiding smoking over the longer term. A supportive social network can make all the difference as people confront the problems of aging, helping them to maintain a high quality of life for many years.

Breast cancer screening saves lives, but at what cost?

Breast-cancer screening saves lives even though it also picks up cases in some women that would never have caused them a problem, according to a review published in The Lancet. Critics of routine screening argue that women can be subjected to unnecessary surgery, radiotherapy and medication to treat cancers that would have posed them no risk. The researchers acknowledged the shortcomings of screening but argued that until testing for breast cancer becomes more sophisticated, regular monitoring is the best option.

Screening prevents about 1,300 deaths per year in Britain but can also lead to about 4,000 women having treatment for a condition that would never have troubled them. This means that for every death that is prevented, three women are over-diagnosed.

Research is under way that could lead to more sophisticated tests that distinguish aggressive cancers from those that are not. This, coupled with a better understanding of genetic predisposition and lifestyle factors that play a role in breast cancer, could mean more finely targeted screening and less over-diagnosis.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Chiropractic for Head Injuries

Last week a patient of mine came to me suffering symptoms after head butting a soccer ball. He had been playing soccer over the weekend and as soon as his head hit the ball he could tell it did not feel right. He usually is very mindful how he sets himself up but this time it was different. He then began to feel symptoms starting in his head, ears, some dizziness/fuzziness, not quite right and then it traveled into his back. He tried to release it himself with miracle balls yet that was not helping the way he needed so he came in for chiropractic alignment.

I worked on all of the joints in his back, spine, and neck and then onto the plates in his head. He really jammed himself and I was determined to help him feel better. While working on him I couldn’t help but think that this is a grown man who can articulate when he does not feel right. He knows the benefits of chiropractic and chose to come in to get natural help first to get to the root of the cause.

Imagine how a baby may feel who had a difficult delivery, or a very young child falling and hitting their head. They can’t explain to others how they feel the way my adult patient did, yet they can exhibit excessive crying, or get real quiet, moody, runny nose, even digestive or sleep disturbances. How about the young athlete who may not understand why they feel different after a head injury? They may start to decline in school or begin to have more mood swings, sinus issues or other symptoms and not realize what the cause was.

Only about 15% of the population goes to a chiropractor and even fewer bring in their children for care. Imagine how many more kids and adults could feel there best if 100% of our population were educated to choose chiropractic first when they didn’t feel right.

In health and happiness,

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

Study: Probiotics Lower Cholesterol

Two daily doses of a probiotic lowered key cholesterol-bearing molecules in the blood as well as “bad” and total cholesterol, in a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.
In previous studies, a formulation of the bacteria, known as Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242, has lowered blood levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
Researchers investigated whether the same probiotic could lower LDL and reduce blood levels of cholesterol.  

The study involved 127 adult patients with high cholesterol. About half the participants took L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 twice a day, while the rest were given placebo capsules. Those taking the probiotic had LDL levels 11.6 percent lower than those on placebo after nine weeks. Furthermore, cholesterol esters were reduced by 6.3 percent, cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids by 8.8 percent, and total cholesterol was 9.1 percent lower compared with the placebo group.  

Scientists have proposed that Lactobacillus bacteria alone may impact cholesterol levels in several ways, including breaking apart molecules known as bile salts. Based on correlations between LDL reduction and bile measurements in the gut, the study results suggest the probiotic broke up bile salts, leading to reduced cholesterol absorption in the gut and less LDL.

The probiotic worked at doses of just 200 milligrams a day, far lower than those for soluble fiber or other natural products used to reduce cholesterol.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Lactobacillus GG's bioavailability confirmed

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in British Journal of Nutrition was conducted to determine whether consumption of probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (GG) would lead to the recovery of GG in a tonsil tissue. After 3 weeks' daily consumption of GG as a single strain (n 20), GG as a part of a multispecies combination (n 17) or placebo (n 20), tonsil tissue samples were collected from young adults during tonsillectomy due to chronic or recurrent tonsillitis. GG was recovered in the tonsil sample of 40 % of the subjects in the GG group, 41 % in the multispecies group and 30 % in the placebo group. In all subjects with positive recovery of GG in the tonsil tissue, GG was also recovered in the fecal sample taken at the start of the intervention and at the time of the tissue sample collection, which indicates more persistent adherence of the probiotic. To conclude, GG can be recovered from tonsil tissue after oral administration as a single-strain probiotic or as a part of a multispecies probiotic combination.

Two positive studies on magnesium glycinate

Two recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studies using magnesium bisglycinate chelate, had positive outcomes, one related to pregnancy-induced leg cramps and the other around functional variables in children with cystic fibrosis.

The first trial sought to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of oral magnesium in pregnant women with leg cramps. The double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, four-week trial included 80 healthy pregnant women who had leg cramps at least twice per week. Women received 300 mg/d of magnesium bisglycinate chelate or placebo. Intervention with magnesium bisglycinate chelate reduced leg cramp frequency by 50 percent in 86 percent of the treated group; active treatment also yielded a 50 percent reduction in leg cramp intensity in 69.8 percent of the women.

In the second trial, researchers hypothesized patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) may have low body magnesium storage, and that supplementation with magnesium could improve respiratory muscle strength. Patients currently undergoing conventional treatment for CF were randomly assigned to receive 300 mg/d oral magnesium bisglycinate chelate or a placebo for eight weeks. Maximal inspiratory pressure showed an 11 percent predicted increase, while maximal expiratory pressure also showed an 11.9 percent predicted increase. The researchers concluded oral magnesium bisglycinate chelate supplementation could significantly improve the functional status of respiratory musculature in children and adolescents with CF.

Prop 37 defeat a win for Big Food, Big Chemical

Money was well spent by Big Food and Big Chemical. They duped uninformed Californians into voting against labeling GMOs. Here are your top contributors who opposed the proposition and outspent those in support by 10:1:

1Monsanto CompanyAug. 13, 2012$4,208,000
2Monsanto CompanySept. 14, 2012$2,892,000
3E.I. Dupont De Nemours & Co.July 31, 2012$2,441,500
4Grocery Manufacturers AssociationOct. 26, 2012$1,500,000
5E.I. Dupont De Nemours & Co.Aug. 13, 2012$1,273,600
6Dow Agrosciences LLCAug. 13, 2012$1,184,800
7Pepsico, Inc.Aug. 13, 2012$1,126,080
8Kraft Foods Global, Inc.Oct. 19, 2012$1,094,852
9Bayer CropscienceJuly 31, 2012$1,064,000
10Monsanto CompanyOct. 26, 2012$1,000,000  

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Long-term study finds multivitamins do not prevent CVD in men

Bonnie and Steve: Just as we were skeptical of the results from last month's JAMA study showing an eight percent reduction in cancer in men taking Centrum multivitamins, we are just as skeptical with this month's JAMA finding that the same Centrum multivitamin, used in the same study, did not prevent cardiovascular disease risk in the same group of men. There were fewer total deaths among multivitamin users, but this statistic was deemed statistically insignificant. There were a small number of participants that had heart disease at the start of the study who were found to be 44% less likely to die of a heart attack than in those not taking a multi. None of this was presented in media coverage.

In short, we do not trust Centrum multivitamins period. The harmful excipients. The poorly absorbed sources. Just too many holes in the product to trust the data for or against.

New York Times Takes Unusual Stance on Flu Vaccine

Thursday, November 01, 2012

You can market healthy food and still be profitable

Food marketers are masters at getting people to crave and consume the foods that they promote. In a recent study, authors challenge popular assumptions that link food marketing and obesity. The findings presented last weekend at the Association for Consumer Research Conference point to ways in which smart food marketers can use the techniques that peak consumer appetite for calorie-dense fast foods to help people eat better -- and improve their bottom line as well.

People generally want food that tastes good while being affordable, varied, convenient and healthy -- roughly in that order. The research suggests that consumption of healthy and unhealthy food respond to the same marketing tactics, particularly price reduction. The study presents food marketers with a 'win-win' situation in which they can turn the tables, compel consumers to eat healthier foods, and maintain profitability. For example, marketers can steer consumers away from high-calorie sugary drinks by offering meal discounts if a person buys a less caloric drink -- or by offering a healthy habit loyalty card when consumers opt for water instead of sugary drinks.

Omega-3 boosts working memory

Increasing intakes of omega-3 may improve the working memory of young adults who are at the
peak of their cognitive abilities, according to research published in PLoS One. Researchers investigated the effects of omega-3 supplementation on the cognitive functions of healthy young adults who are at the top of their ‘cognitive game’. In the first study of its kind, participants received high dose omega-3 for six months (750 mg DHA, 930 mg. EPA), finding that the supplementation improved working memory even further. They also noted that the omega-3s they were getting from their diet prior to the study already positively correlated with their working memory.