Saturday, June 07, 2008

This is not a study. It's just an advertisement, dressed up as a report that you should take seriously.

This is a perfect example of our culture of (ill)health in action. The source of our confusion is often conflicting information, coming from "authorities" whose agenda has more to do with their bottom line than yours.

Here's what they say:

Sensible, nutritious, snacking twice a day combined with three small meals can form a healthy, balanced diet, claims Kellogg's Smarter Snacking Report ... eating three meals and two snacks a day is nothing to be ashamed of, "if managed correctly it can help maintain weight and boost mood and energy," according to the report.

[New Math: Eat more of their products and then, somehow, you'll eat less?]
Eating main meals plus snacks may help to control hunger so that we don't overeat at meal times, they report.

[Ad Attack Aimed At Children]
Unbelieveably, the nutrition expert they interviewed for this piece said that it was particularly important for toddlers to snack throughout the day because it was difficult for them to get enough nutrients at meal times.

Maybe it's only difficult for children to get enough nutrients if they don't eat a normal meal, with real foods.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Salt is Safe?

Incredible. Data from this research study, shows that salt may not be as bad as we thought ... for high blood pressure and its ultimate effect as a contributor to heart attacks.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine says that people who eat the least salt suffer from the highest rates of death from cardiac disease.

"Our findings suggest that one cannot simply assume, without evidence, that lower salt diets 'can't hurt,' " stated lead author Hillel Cohen said.

Cohen and his colleagues looked at a federal health survey of about 8,700 Americans between 1988 and 1994. Even after they accounted for other cardiac risk factors like smoking and diabetes, the 25 percent of the population who ate the least salt were 80 percent more likely to die of cardiac disease than the 25 percent who ate the most salt.

What are we to make of this incredible reversal? That all we "know" may be unknown at any point? Maybe not, but at the very least we should take each new dose of the latest greatest findings with a grain of salt.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wine and the Liver

Is wine good for you or bad for you?

The answer is that it is neighter good for you nor bad for you. If you overdrink, it's bad for you. If you drink in control, it's good for you.

Wine is famously good for your heart, but can kill your liver if you drink too much. You can't think about it, though, in terms of "good for the heart" and "bad for the liver", because this article about wine and the liver argues that wine is actually GOOD for your liver, if you drink in control.

The population-based study, from researchers at the University of California, San Diego, included 7,211 nondrinkers and 4,543 modest alcohol drinkers (an average of four ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or one ounce of liquor per day) found that those who drank one glass of wine a day had half the risk of suspected NAFLD compared to nondrinkers.

But people who reported modest consumption of beer or liquor had more than four times the risk of having suspected NAFLD than those who drank wine.

The study was published in the June issue of Hepatology.

"The results of this study present a paradigm shift, suggesting that modest wine consumption may not only be safe for the liver but may actually decrease the prevalence of NAFLD. The odds of having suspected NAFLD based upon abnormal liver blood tests was reduced by 50 percent in individuals who drank one glass of wine a day," Dr. Jeffrey Schwimmer, an associate professor of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition in the department of pediatrics, and director of the fatty liver clinic at Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, said in a prepared statement.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What is in Your Milk?

Do NOT read this report and expect to ferret out what the they're talking about.

Figure this out:

Lower input non-organic and organically produced milk has been found to contain significantly higher levels of beneficial fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants compared to higher chemical use sources, a new UK study claims.

Then this:

According to the study, higher levels of 'desirable' fatty acids like CLA9, omega-3 and linolenic acid and the antioxidants/vitamins vitamin E and carotenoids were found in low input non-organic and organic milk.
Here is the Science-to-English translation:

When they say, "Lower input farming", they mean fewer chemical-based fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides in the food supply of the animals.

In other words? Organic.

With lower "input" of chemicals, fertilizers, and insecticides into the cows that give you your milk, milks shows a 60 - 99 % increase in the presence of conjugated linoleic acids.

The presence of carotenoids in the same samples were also found to be 33 per cent and 50 per cent higher.

Likewise, lower levels of more fatty acids like omega-6 and CLA10, which are linked to detrimental health impacts were found in organic milk.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Why McDonalds Changed the Oil

What is the significance when Fast Food giant McDonalds decides to go trans-fat free?

According to this report, McDonalds is responding to public pressure to improve its image. As the most salient smiling image of unhealthy food, they fight the reputation of contributing to our nation weight and health problems.

That may be, to some degree, completely deserved. But this article gives hope for improving the culture of health simply because they had to respond to pressure to provide healthier options.

The substitute oils may be no better than then former oils, but the point is that they had to make a change because people demanded it.

The good news of this article is not just about them providing "better" foods, but the fact that it was driven by people who demanded better choices. Of course, food manufacturers can serve whatever schlock they want, but we don't have to buy it just because it's there. This is the best way to change the culture for me and you and our family.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Brain Aerobics

What does one need to do to keep the brain sharp and active?
What miracle cure, special formual, and elixer vitae does the trick?

This report is a potent reminder that the best solution is the common sense solution.

Engage in your life ... and you will be better able to engage in your life. It turns out that, just by getting together with your friends, and doing things together, you are toning up your slacking gray matter to cerebral fitness!

"We assessed social integration by marital status, volunteer activities and frequency of contact with children and neighbors," explained lead researcher Karen Ertel, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.

Her team collected data on almost 17,000 Americans and found that "people who were most socially integrated had memory decline of less than half the rate compared with those who were the least socially integrated," Ertel said.

The report is published in the May 29 online edition of the American Journal of Public Health.

Get off the couch, turn off your TV, and turn on your life.

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