Thursday, January 08, 2009

French Paradox ... a Piece of the Puzzle

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009) 63, 11–17; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2008.2; published online 13 February 2008

US and France adult fruit and vegetable consumption patterns: an international comparison


To observe fruit and vegetable consumption as it relates to body mass index (BMI) and other variables, by analyzing the health surveys of two countries—the United States and France—with traditionally distinct diets, and identifying factors that may explain the differences.


Two nationally representative surveys that assess food intake via 24-h diet recalls. Respondents include 2126 women and 1911 men from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and 1572 women and 1141 men from the French Nutrition Barometer Survey. Standard linear regression models and t-tests of both simple and predictive marginal means were run employing the software package SUDAAN.


Americans appear to consume fruits and vegetables less often than their French counterparts (1.04 vs 1.33 times per day fruits; 1.98 vs 2.29 times per day vegetables). American men consume fruits and vegetables least often (0.98 times per day fruits; 1.88 times per day vegetables) than do American women or French men (1.10 vs 1.25 times per day fruits; 2.07 vs 2.18 times per day vegetables). French women consume fruits and vegetables most often (1.41 times per day fruits; 2.41 times per day vegetables). The French have lower mean BMI than Americans (23.34 vs 28.22 women; 25.20 vs 28.02 men). Regression analyses showed that age, BMI and educational attainment are strongly associated with frequency of consumption.


These results support our hypothesis that the French tend to eat fruits and vegetables more often than Americans. This study proves to be an important first step in determining some of the influential factors that may affect various populations' consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Wacky Food Trends

This is a funny article from Mairi Beautyman.

The kitchen is a good place to start when it comes to green living. We already know that eating organic is better for both your body and the earth. But there are a few things I've heard about recently that may cause a bit more trepidation when it comes to the stomach.

1. Eat Squirrel
According to The New York Times, the Brits are going nuts (hee hee) about eating squirrel. Turns out this cute little critter is super low in fat (depending on its diet) and potentially really scrumptious, as long as you shoot it in the head and get an expert to skin it.

2. Eat a Camel
On the same lines, if you live in Australia, you should start digging into the tasty camel burger. Seems these spitting four-legged beasts are tearing up the Australian Desert. Start eating them, and save the ecosystem. Plus, they don't have squirrels there, so it's your only option.

3. Poach Your Salmon in the Dishwasher
Talk about multitasking. Run the dishwasher and voila , you've got an energy-efficient and delicious salmon meal that doesn't even require any extra dirty dishes. If you can get beyond the idea of dirty clumps of food getting in your meal, that is.

4. Raise Some Urban Chickens in Your Backyard
Back to those Brits: Turns out more and more people are also raising their own chickens. Want hormone-free eggs? Just raise it in your backyard. Sales of the "eglu," a small plastic chicken coop manufactured by Omlet, are booming. And makes sense to us. Organic eggs are dirt cheap and you know exactly what that chicken is eating. Food for thought.

5. Start Foraging for Your Own Food
Did you know that you can find healthy and exotic organic food in city parks? Foraging for your own food is becoming increasingly popular. This hobby can add some interesting diversity to your diet and slash your monthly food bill. Plus, it's easier than you think, with a little education (be wary with mushrooms).

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Oldest woman

World's Oldest Woman Dies at Age 115

Sent from my iPhone

Raw Foods, In the Raw

It's funny. The visibility and growing popularity of "Raw Food" presents a problem for its adherents.

It's kind of like my son, who was into indy rock, from independently produced garage bands that had something novel and truly interesting.

Once people realized how fresh it was (and its economic potential!), many more people wanted to standardize, homogenize, and replicate it. Suddenly, what started out pure and simple became complicated and remote from its origins.

With Raw Food, it is similar. Eating this way has morphed from a very intuitive notion: eat food in the form that is closest to the Earth.

But now we find many incarnations of raw and vegan strategies and complicated recipes and strictures about what FORM of vegan you are and how close you adhere to the lifestyle.

Simpler, however, is always better. Just eat the real food you love, your body will be cleaner, and your head will be clearer!!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Legislating Food Compliance

Here's the question:

Should we look at legislating junk food advertisments aimed at kids?

I understand regulation of cigarette ads to children, because nicotene is addictive and tobacco is lethal ... a terrible combination that mystifies anyone who asks, "and WHY is a lethal addictive carcinogen on the market at all?"

But having one Cheeto is not awful. Having several sleeves of Oreos every day is. And this is the difference between the two cases. One is "quantitative" and the other is "qualitative".

The cigarette case is Qualitative. In other words, there is something uniquely bad about them. Junk foods are only Quantitatively bad. In other words, it's not deadly in itself, until you eat so much of them that they become that way. They become bad with greater quantity.

Because of this, we need to exercise restraint when trying to police what our kids watch, because eating too much chocolate is BAD for you. But a little is very heart healthy. Eggs are healthy for us, until we eat a dozen-egg omelet. Same with cheese, same with butter, same with carb-laden "white foods".

As parents, this is where we need to talk to our kids about food choices. As a society, this is where we need to talk to parents about talking to their kids.

In this case, we need to focus on responsibility, not abstenence.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Does Detoxing Work?

The truth, as always, lies most often in the middle.

Are the florid bloom of detox miracles just a bunch of biological ponzi schemes ... fueled by clever marketing, a gullible populace, and the Placebo effect?

Or perhaps we really do need to flush the synthetics and chemicals that the food industries put in their products to give them the color of Day-Glo paint and the shelf life of steel-belted radials?

The research on Detoxification is still very new, and will certainly evolve over time. Some subset of the detox approaches that are out there now, will survive scrutiny. If there are ones that will turn out to be helpful, give it 10 - 20 years and they will bubble to the surface.

Unfortunately for us, we can't tell the difference right now between those that might be real, and those that are just really useless.

One other possibility is that, maybe, the best possible detox-er for our body is our own Liver. That's what it's there for. It may be that, if we stop eating synthetics and other things that just are not Food, our liver will do its work quite naturally and detox our body in the process.

Time will tell.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

"Weight Tracking" in Context

"Weight tracking" as a tool to control the pounds is interesting, because our culture tends to rely on this to a greater extent than others.

The French culture, for example, does not agonize over pounds. Indeed, they will froth at you if you suggest that their low weight results from a "diet". After living there for 2 years, I saw that their success begins with their cultural habits at the table.

I now teach the Mediterranean diet to Americans by training these cultural habits of eating, fork control, pacing, etc. What I find is that, once these behavioral habits are conditioned, "weight tracking" becomes unnecessary. Most actually throw the scale away.

I know this is not typical, and that the very success of the Weight Watchers business model is built around our need to track our weight as an aid to compliance. However, our American cultural habits have produced seadily increasing obesity.

With great respect for the status quo, I just think there may be a fundamentally different, and more effective, approach.

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