Friday, April 24, 2009

Hard News For Soft Drinks

We have it on good authority ....

The Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is calling for a new era of beverage formulation. We need less sugar in our drinks.

Why didn't we know this already? Just asking.

Harvard has called for beverages to have less than 1 gram of sugar per ounce -- without resorting to synthetic, chemical, zero-calorie sweeteners.

They are going on their own research, published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looking at 90,000 women over 20 years. Here's the bottom line: women who drank more than two servings of high sugar beverages a day were at about 40 per cent higher risk of heart disease than subjects who drank less.

According to them, this changes your drink selection from a personal choice to a public health concern. So they are also calling for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require drink makers to provide calorie information on packs related to an entire bottle and not a single serving of drink.

It is terrific that we are beginning to take a hard look at the drinks that are driving weight and health problems. However, don't look to clever new inventions before choosing the pedestrian drinks that are standards: water, milk, tea. With these, you know that they will not one day be discovered as a surprise health risk.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Plastic Containers

Plastic containers can leech a chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) into your foods and drinks.

This is particularly true if you warm up your food while it's still in the plastic. The amount of leeching is proprotional to the temperature it is kept at. Also, foods with some acidity and oils in them tend to be more prone to this (think spaghetti sauce).

So be on the lookout for containers that are BPA free.

They may not be easy to find, though. According to the report "Seeking Safer Packaging", 14 of the largest public packaged food and beverage companies still use the controversial packaging chemical in their packaging despite studies linking it to developmental problems, heart disease and diabetes.

You can read the full report here.

There are safer alternatives to BPA. In fact, six of the largest baby bottle manufacturers announced last month that they would phase it out of all bottles sold in the US. Heinz has already replaced the BPA in some of its products (liners in cans). Going further, legislation in Canada and the US is currently under consideration to ban its use in products aimed at children under the age of three.

That said, food safety regulators in both the US and the EU assure us that there is no risk to consumer health through exposure to BPA in packaging at current levels. But, assurances aside, where our health is concerned, we should be conservative and put our food in packaging that we are certain won't introduce health problems.

Monday, April 20, 2009

No Joke ... Laughter Loves The Heart

If you could bottle laughter, and prescribe it to patients, you would make a gazillion dollars.

According to this report, laughing (basically) gets rid bad chemicals and encourages good ones.

Dr. Lee Berk, at the Oak Crest Health Research Institute in Loma Linda, assigned 20 adults with type 2 diabetes, average age 50, either to a "laughter group" or a control group.

All of these patients had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Then, for 12 months, the laughter group was instructed to view humor (watching sitcoms or funny movies) for at least 30 minutes every day.

That's all ... just 30 minutes per day.

After 12 months, the researchers measured cholesterol and levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation associated with heart disease. The laughter group increased their "good" HDL cholesterol by 26 percent, compared to just a 3 percent increase in the good cholesterol of the control group. The harmful C-reactive proteins dropped by 66 percent in the laughter group but just 26 percent for the control group.

Enjoy your life. Laugh out loud. Oh, by the way, when you do you improve your heart health in the process.

Funny, eh?

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