Friday, March 06, 2009

Wake-up Call For Wellness

One food industry group is reporting that the current economic climate is turning into a wake-up call for wellness.

Food industry research analyst Christopher Shanahan said that consumers are increasingly focused on ways to avoid becoming ill due to the economic downturn. “There is a growing interest in health and wellness products."

Read the entire article here.

This article gives the point of view of the food industry, which is interested in "functional foods", "fortified products", and other processed foods that have long shelf lives and maximize profit for the industry. Fair enough.

For you and I, it is wonderful that we are starting to think about wellness more ... that we are starting to focus on prevention more ... and that we are taking steps to live a healthier life in the long term. I love that.

Just don't fall prey to the gimmicks. Find the "Real Foods", not the "Faux Foods". Eat clean, in control, and you'll give your body the best chance it has for optimal health. Daily fruit and vegetable consumption is your path to a well life, every day.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Chips Ahoy

A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gives us one more reason to argue against the consumption of snack foods such as potato chips.

Why?

It's not about your fat grams or even your tendency to overeat when you nosh on salty foods from a sack. It's more about your heart and the consumption of Acrylimide, which can lead to hardening of the arteries, and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

This new study showed that consuming 160 grams of potato chips per day may increase levels of compounds linked to inflammation (i.e., Acrylamide), which may increase the risk of certain chronic disease.

Acrylamide is a suspected carcinogen that is formed by a heat-induced reaction between sugar and an amino acid called asparagine. Known as the Maillard reaction, this process is responsible for the brown colour and tasty flavour of baked, fried and toasted foods.

The compound first hit the headlines in 2002, when scientists at the Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of acrylamide, found to cause cancer in laboratory rats, in carbohydrate-rich foods.

Since the Swedish discovery a global effort has been underway to amass data about this chemical. More than 200 research projects have been initiated around the world and their findings co-ordinated by national governments, the EU and the United Nations.

Despite being a carcinogen in the laboratory, many epidemiological studies have reported that everyday exposure to acrylamide in food is too low to be of concern.

The new study, while making no reference to cancer, does appear to increase the pressure on food manufacturers to reformulate in order to reduce or eliminate the levels of the compound in their products.

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009, Volume 89, Pages 773-777“Chronic intake of potato chips in humans increases the production of reactive oxygen radicals by leukocytes and increases plasma C-reactive protein: a pilot study”Authors: M. Naruszewicz, D. Zapolska-Downar, A. Kosmider

Monday, March 02, 2009

Coffee and Health

Is coffee good for you? What are the limits of coffee consumption?


Early studies linked coffee to cancer. This connection, though, was later shown to be confounded by cigarettes ... those who drank coffee often smoked as well.

When you subtract out the smoking, the carcinogenic effect was removed as well. So there is nothing to fear from (moderate) coffee consumption.

The question is ... what in the world does "moderate" mean. The data vary depending on the study, but studies suggest that you can consume between 3 and 6 cups of coffee per day. At this amount, you would get the health benefits without it becoming a health liability.

3 to 6 cups per day seems like an aweful lot to me. Who drinks that much coffee?

Keep in mind, too, that we are all individuals, and the effect of caffeine on your system will vary. If you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, don't feel like you have to drink it. In fact, DECAF coffee had a stronger correlation with the reduction of colon cancer than regular coffee.

Why is that? It's not clear, but stay tuned as more data comes in and we learn more about America's favorite morning beverage.

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