Thursday, July 30, 2009

Organic, yes. But is it healthier?

Now what?

Now that we've all accepted the fact that we have to eat organic food to be healthier, a HUGE review of all the studies EVER done has concluded that organic and conventionally produced foods have about the same nutrient content.

Great. All that money for $22/pound salmon, waisted.

Actually, the nutrient content of each variety may be similar, but you still may want to shell out for the Organic label.

The reason? Pesticides, etc., in your conventionally grown foods. The breakdown products live in the skin and cannot (typically) be washed off. You've got to make certain that these stay OUT of your body, and particularly for our kids.

The review zeroed in on 162 studies that dealt with the nutrient content of foods. Only 55 were of what the researchers considered to be "satisfactory quality" -- a strong indicator that, overall, the science on the subject is not up to snuff.

They found no noted differences between conventional and organic crops with regard to vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc and copper content. Organic crops did have higher levels of phosphorus, and conventionally produced crops had higher levels of nitrogen.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stevia the Holy Grail of Sweeteners?

Yes, Stevia is derived from a plant, but so was ephedra (ma huang) -- which contributed to heart valve problems.

Yes it is GRAS (generally recognized as safe), but so is Aspartame.

This article comes from a very food industry perspective. And, for them, Stevia may really be the Holy Grail of sweeteners. They can market it as "all natural", zero calorie, and the latest greatest thing.

From a consumer perspective, though, we have to wait and see. Just like Aspartame when it came out to save the day, and hydrogenated oils when they came out to save your heart (so eat, eat, eat the margarine), we will not know if Stevia is safe until it has been on the shelf long enough to see its effects.

The GRAS status from the FDA does not protect you. Your best solution is to do what you know is right -- eat food -- because brown sugar will not collapse your heart valves like ephedra, honey will not break down in your body to formic acid and formaldehyde like Nutrasweet.

Let others be the test animals. We should withhold judgement and usage, until we've seen it work for 50 years or so.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Giving Statins to Kids

If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

If you have a drug, everyone looks like a user (including, it seems, our children). Check out this article just released this morning, which ponders whether cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins should be given to children.

Welcome to our Culture of Health.

"What I'm afraid of is that someone will have a modest elevation in cholesterol at age 8 without a bad family history, and an overzealous doctor will say, 'You need to be on a statin,'" said Dr. Simeon Margolis, professor of medicine and biological chemistry at Johns Hopkins University.

"That means this child will be taking a statin for 60 years or more."

Statin use can damage your liver. But, no worries, because I'm certain that the makers of the statins will have another pill to cure the problem that they induced with the solution to the problem that was caused by eating poorly.

Maybe a better solution is a behavioral one. Just thinking out loud here ....

Am I being too harsh or unfair on the poor pharmaceutical industry? Not at all. In this article, they failed to mention that the docs questioned all have financial interests tied up with the pills they are recommending. Here are their conflicts of interest, below, from the Center For Science in the Public Interest.

Pediatrics Fails to Disclose Industry Ties in Lipid Guide for Kids

The American Academy of Pediatric’s new cholesterol guidelines for children did not reveal the industry ties of three of the six authors despite its policy requiring conflict of interest disclosure in its flagship journal. The recommendations, which appeared in the current issue of Pediatrics, caused a national uproar by recommending statin drugs for children as young as eight if suggested dietary interventions, including the use of foods fortified with fiber, stanols, and sterols, proved ineffective in lowering lipid levels in overweight children.

The lead author, Stephen R. Daniels, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, has served as a consultant to Abbott Labs and Merck. Abbott makes baby food, while Merck markets Mevacor, a statin. Co-author Nicolas Stettler, an assistant professor at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, consults for numerous firms, including Wyeth Nutritional and the Dannon Institute, a non-profit wholly funded by Dannon Yogurt.

Co-author Jatinder Bhatia, a professor at the Medical College of Georgia, has commercial ties to Mead Johnson, Ross Labs, Forest Laboratories, Dey Labs, and Inhibitex. Mead Johnson, a unit of Bristol-Myers Squibb, produces fortified foods for infants and young children.

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