Archive | June, 2007

How far food travels (video)

28 Jun

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/video/55335/

Wonder why your preschooler’s chubby?

27 Jun

sugar-drinks.jpgPreschoolers pack on pounds from sugary drinksLast Updated: Wednesday, June 27, 2007 | 3:03 PM ET CBC News Canadian preschoolers who snack on sugar-sweetened drinks are twice as likely to become overweight as children who don’t, researchers have found. Children should drink limited amounts of unsweetened fruit juice, pediatricians recommend. (CBC) Lise Dubois, Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Population Health at the University of Ottawa, and her colleagues explored the link after dietitians in Quebec said they often saw obese kids who drank a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks between meals. “Regular sugar-sweetened beverage consumption between meals may put some young children at a greater risk for overweight,” the study’s authors concluded in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. “Parents should limit the quantity of sweetened beverages consumed during preschool years because it may increase propensity to gain weight.” The study focused on about 2,000 children born in 1988 in Quebec who participated in a nutrition study at age four or five. Continue Article About 15 per cent of children who drank the sugary beverages four to six times a week were overweight at ages 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 years. In comparison, about seven per cent of children who did not consume the beverages between meals were overweight at 4.5 years, the researchers said. Between 14 and 16 per cent of children drank sweetened drinks daily. “Snacking is good for kids,” dietitian Liz Pearson told CBC Newsworld Wednesday. “But we’re probably having kids snack more than they should, or [eating more] higher-calorie foods than they should at snack time.” When people of all ages consume liquid calories, the calories are often not perceived in the same way; eating an apple leaves you feeling full more than drinking juice does. When children drink sugar-sweetened beverages, they also take in more calories, more sugar in a concentrated form and generally receive less nutrition than they would by drinking milk, Pearson said. Healthier alternative tips include: Buying 100 per cent fruit juice, not fruit punch or fruit blend. Look for “no sugar added” on the label, and check for sugar in the form of glucose, sucrose, fructose or high-fructose corn syrup in the list of ingredients. Dilute fruit juice with water, like a spritzer for kids. Eat fruits and vegetables with a high water content to quench thirst, such as grapes and watermelon. Drink milk. (Canada’s Food Guide recommends two cups a day up to age eight and then three to four servings.) When children say they’re thirsty, water should be the first drink offered, followed by milk and unsweetened fruit juice in small quantities, Pearson suggested, noting that eating habits are set early in life. After an extensive research study in 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children aged one to six should have no more than four to six ounces (118 ml to 177 ml) of 100 per cent fruit juice a day, and eight to 12 ounces (250 ml to 350 ml) a day for ages seven to 18.

Sugary drinks also hardens arteries

27 Jun

 SATURDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) — The type of sugar in a sugary drink may impact how healthy — or unhealthy — it is for arteries, a new study suggests.Fructose-sweetened drinks are more likely to provoke the development of fatty artery deposits in overweight adults than glucose-sweetened beverages, researchers say.

Kimber Stanhope, of the University of California at Davis, and colleagues compared the results of drinking fructose-sweetened beverages versus glucose for 10 weeks in overweight and obese adults.

Participants ate a balanced diet with 30 percent fat and 55 percent complex carbohydrates. Thirteen of the participants also consumed glucose-sweetened drinks, while 10 drank fructose-sweetened drinks.

The researchers found that 9 weeks later, 24-hour post-meal triglyceride (blood fat) levels went up after 2 weeks of fructose-sweetened drink but went down in those who consumed glucose-sweetened drinks.

Those who drank fructose-sweetened drinks also had a boost in fasting blood concentrations of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and other measures. Those levels were unaltered in those consuming glucose-sweetened drinks, however.

The findings were scheduled to be presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association, in Chicago.

The bottom line, according to the researchers: “Persons at risk for developing metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease should avoid over-consumption of fructose-containing beverages.”

The ADA notes, however, that consumption of fructose-sweetened beverages has gone up by 135 percent in the United States over the past four decades.

Figs the miracle fruit

27 Jun

figs.jpgYesterday I bought some fresh figs from the supermarket. I asked where they got the fruit from and the storekeeper said he believed it is from the US.  I know figs is a Mediterranean staple.  

Figs are thought to be originally from small Asia and are one of the first fruits cultivated ever.  However, the fruit was so good and very sweet. I loved the texture then I read up on it.  This fruit is a dynamite of nutrients.  It is high in fibre, high in calcium, promotes good sleep, lowers blood pressure,  helps the brain and all kind of good stuff but the draw back is it is also high in calories because of its sugar content.   If you are going to try it you cannot eat a lot or you might gain instead of lose weight. Always a drawback eh!
It is said that humans could live on Figs alone as a source of food — such is the goodness and nutrition in the fruit!

Composting for better food

26 Jun

I have been composting for about three years now. I have not been successful in getting nice black earth.  The stuff does not decompose easily and I get sort of impatient waiting. I recently emptied the composter and piled everything in a heap in my small backyard.  I noticed today that there are lots of stuff growing on that heap = pumpkin, squash, cukes and some other stuff I cannot figure out.

My excitement today comes from the fact that I phoned about a kitchen compooster, you know the one with worms. I am going to go that route.  It costs  about $69.00. I think this would solve my problem/

The other good news is that our Farmer’s Market has opened and I am looking forward to eating “fresh”.

Weight Obsession

24 Jun

Let’s face it we all want to lose weight or to maintain weight and some even want to gain weight (gosh why couldn’t I be so lucky).  Loving food is natural.  Without food we cannot live. But why do we crave food so much. I believe and there is some science behind it as well that we crave not food but the taste of food and that taste that we are addicted to is salt.  Most of the stuff we eat has too much salt and some of us add salt at the table as well.

I have the genetic doe for hight blood pressure. I did not suffer from it until Iin my late forties a few years ago.  Before then my blood pressure was normal. My mother and grandmother suffered from it so it is not so out of the ordinary for me to inherit it.  But I believe I can do something about it.  I have been about 10-15 pounds overweight for the last 5 years and I have taken small steps since then to lose the weight.  Nothing drastic. I do not believe in quick fixes. I read somewhere about the DASH diet that is good for blood pressure. I chose that one. I eat everything but I cook without salt. I have completely eliminated salt from my own diet. When I eat out I try as much as possible to control the salt but that is not always possible. I have control over what I do.

I use a lot of herbs and lots of pepper and lemon juice. I do not miss salt and I do not feel the need or the craving to eat more. I have lost 20 pounds in the last 2 years. It is now showing and all my friends are asking – what are you doing. People seems alarmed because the weight has been dropping unnoticeably in small increments. The good news is that my blood pressure has gone down considerably. I believe one day my doctor is going to tell me to cut back on my water pill. Right now I take one tiny pill but I am hoping to cut it down to half and then to none. Will keep you posted.

Vitamin D Craze

24 Jun

Recently a research was published saying that Vitamin D  is good for cancer.  It didn’t  take very long for Vitamin D to run off the shelves in the drug stores in the city where I live – Winnipeg.  People just rushed out and bought and stocked up on vitamin D.  For crying out loud, this is summer and you can get a lot of the stuff for free from the sun. Just be sure you wear the proper sun screen.  I think that as a people we are programmed to listen to those who we believe are experts in a particular thing. It is as if we abandon our own common sense and just do things because someone say so.  Not long after that report the experts said that Vitamin D is not a panacea. It may be helpful in combatting certain types of cancer. The recommended dosage is some 1000 mg per day.

Do we know if there are any side effects to taking such high dosage of vitamin D?  My motto has always been to take everything with a pinch of salt and exercise moderation in all that I do.

I have been studying foods on my own for more than 20 years and I can say that I am a healthy woman with few  health problems.  I do my research and follow my own heart in these matters.

My diet is simple. Dessert is not part of my mealplan. I may have a piece of fruit as a late night snack.  I try as far as possible to stick to foods that grow around my area. I do go for a mango, papaya and pineapple when in season.These tropical fruits takes between 4-8 hours to get to my market from its source. That’s not too bad.

I work hard for my money and to see it is stored energy. I use it very carefully and not on things that are not good for me.

Stick to moderation in all you do and you will be alright. Commonsense is still the best sense we have so let’s  use it.

Let’s stop the junk food

21 Jun

Why Americans Keep Getting

Fatter

 

By Scott Kahan, The Baltimore Sun
Posted on June 21, 2007, Printed on June 21, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/53792/

A long-running contradiction in U.S. farm policy is fattening the waistlines of Americans and the profits of agribusiness at the same time. For the 30 years that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been issuing dietary guidelines, there has been a stark inconsistency between the federal government’s advice and its food funding.

True, the USDA has been doing more, over time, to promote health through dietary guidelines, food pyramids and other nutrition programs. And yet more than $20 billion yearly — more than one-fifth its budget — is sunk into a farm bill that supports many of the foods its recommendations warn against. At the same time, the department virtually ignores incentives to produce, promote and consume some of the healthiest foods: fruits and vegetables.

This contradiction may play a role in today’s obesity epidemic and is in part driven by a counterintuitive farm policy, highlighted by the farm bill, which is up for renewal this year in Congress. This legislation began during the Depression to protect farmers against environmental disasters and plummeting crop prices but has evolved into a massive program of handouts, largely benefiting agribusinesses. Worse, it promotes vast overproduction of crops that are the building blocks of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor, processed junk foods. It has become a “food bill.”

For a half-century, the farm bill served farmers and the public well by regulating supply and stabilizing food prices. In 1973, it was overhauled to significantly increase crop production. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the U.S. food supply has since ballooned by 500 calories per person per day, and per capita food consumption has increased by more than 200 calories per day — the equivalent of more than 20 pounds of fat per year.

This mammoth oversupply would be less egregious if it were spread equally among the food groups. Instead, most funding supports just a few crops, and those lay the foundation of the standard American diet: high in sugars and empty-calorie, refined grains; high in fats; low in whole grains and fiber; and low in fruits and vegetables.

Take corn, the most highly subsidized crop, which received $9.4 billion in 2005 — nearly as much as all other crops combined. Corn production has more than doubled since the 1970s, and all this artificially cheapened corn is unloaded on the public, largely in the form of tasty but empty-calorie junk foods. Refined corn is the chief source of carbohydrates and calories in most processed foods, particularly snack foods. High-fructose corn syrup is the most widely used caloric sweetener in the United States. And corn meal is widely used as cheap animal feed to fatten factory-raised livestock.

Another example is soybeans, the fourth-most-subsidized crop. Although soy protein is a healthful meat substitute, soybeans are more commonly used in junk foods. Soybean oil accounts for 75 percent of the fat in processed foods and is commonly hydrogenated to create trans fats, which improve shelf life but are known to cause cardiovascular disease.

In contrast, healthful foods are grossly underfunded. USDA guidelines advise that fruits and vegetables make up at least one-third of daily intake, but just 5 percent of its food funding supports the fruit and vegetable industries. There is virtually no funding for public education and advertising encouraging fruit and vegetable consumption. At its peak, the “Five-a-day” campaign budget was just $3 million annually — compared with the $11 billion spent yearly in the United States for fast food and junk food advertising. McDonald’s spent $500 million just promoting its “We Love To See You Smile” campaign.

This is one reason Americans don’t eat fruits and vegetables. Although some surveys suggest we eat about four servings daily, this number is greatly exaggerated because French fries and potato chips are counted the same as spinach, carrots or broccoli. In fact, 25 percent of vegetables consumed in the United States are fried potatoes, making the daily consumption of healthful fruits and vegetables closer to two servings — and possibly lower in children and inner-city populations.

Farm policy is an ideal avenue to address the obesity epidemic at its roots.

As Congress considers this year’s farm bill, it should rework the legislation so it meets the needs of today’s food consumers, not agribusiness. The new farm bill should significantly shift funding to improve the availability, affordability and promotion of fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods.

In particular, it should include targeted investments to fruit and vegetable growers to increase the availability of fresh produce, support for the new “Fruits & Veggies — More Matters” initiative, expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program to all 50 states to promote the eating of fruits and vegetables in schools, creation of incentives for fresh fruit and vegetable purchases in the Food Stamp program, and support for organic farming.

These steps could signal that our government is ready to lead the fight against obesity and diet-related chronic disease by nurturing the health-conscious lifestyle it advocates by its dietary guidelines.

Scott Kahan is a physician and postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University. He has published 13 books on medicine and nutrition. His e-mail is scott.kahan@iebn.org. Roni Neff, research director for the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, contributed to this article.

 

Probotic’s hot nowadays – What the heck is it?

19 Jun

In Depth

Food Safety

Probiotics

Your gut’s love affair with bacteria

Last Updated March 13, 2007

You do your best to live right — you eat all the right foods, shy away from alcohol, tobacco and drugs and are fastidious about your hygiene. Still, that temple that is your body is a breeding ground for bacteria.

There have been estimates that there are 10 times as many microbes associated with the human body than there are human cells in it — as many as 100 trillion microbes, extending from your mouth down through your gastrointestinal tract and into the vaginal tract of women. They also reside on your skin. More than 400 species of bacteria call your body home, an ecology of microbes known as the gut flora.

You need most of these microbes — the good bacteria — to live a healthy life, since they’re involved in the development of the immune system, prevention of infection from pathogenic or opportunistic microbes — the bad bacteria — and the maintenance of your large and small intestines.

Sometimes the chemistry gets out of whack and the bad bacteria flourish. Maybe you’re hit with a case of diarrhea, or you’ve developed irritable bowel syndrome. Maybe that hamburger you had for lunch was a veritable incubator for E.coli bacteria, and you get very sick.

Maintaining a healthy gut flora is an important part of maintaining your health and — the theory goes — probiotics can play a large role in keeping your gut flora healthy.

What are probiotics?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has defined probiotics as “live microorganisms administered in adequate amounts which confer a beneficial health effect on the host.” Good bacteria.

They are dietary supplements that are supposed to help boost levels of the good bacteria and keep your gut flora healthy, by keeping the bad bacteria from gaining the upper hand.

They’ve been understood for half a century, but it’s only been in the last decade that they’ve generated much interest in North America. However, a recent survey found that just under half of Americans say they’ve never heard of the term.

How do they work?

The theory is, high doses of these good bacteria get into your intestinal tract and boost your immune system. But the problem is, it’s a hazardous trip down your esophagus, into your stomach and through your intestines.

Anything that goes down is subject to breakdown by gastric juices, containing digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid. Survival — even for bacteria — is not guaranteed.

Adding the bacteria to food — especially dairy products — buffers stomach acid and increases the chance that the bacteria will survive into the intestine and help restore balance to the gut flora.

What they won’t do is replace the body’s natural flora when they have been killed off. There is evidence that probiotics can form temporary colonies that can help — but those colonies will disappear within days if you stop taking the supplements.

What are the benefits of probiotics?

There have been claims that probiotics can help with anything from diarrhea to hypertension and cancer, but for most of those claims, the evidence is not very clear.

However, it’s been established that Lactobacillus — one of the good bacteria — is safe and effective as a treatment for children with acute infectious diarrhea.

There have been claims that probiotics can be an effective way to treat irritable bowel syndrome, with studies suggesting relief in some symptoms, mainly from diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating.

It has also been shown that probiotics can make it easier for lactose-intolerant people to consume fermented dairy products like yogurt with fewer symptoms than the same amount of unfermented milk. Yogurt was found to aid digestion of lactose because the lactic acid bacteria used to make yogurt produce lactase and digest the lactose before it reaches the colon.

A recent study suggested that probiotics may have positive implications for colorectal cancer. The study found that “symbiotic intervention” led to significant changes in fecal flora which resulted in a reduction in the destruction of colonic cells. The study concluded that “several colorectal cancer biomarkers can be altered favorably by symbiotic intervention.”

Are there side effects?

As with any medicine, there can be. The most common are diarrhea, bloating, constipation and gas. Cutting the dose may curb those side effects.

How can I tell if a product contains probiotic?

Check the label. Yogurt is one of the most common ways of delivering probiotics. Another is through capsules containing “good bacteria.”

The “good bacteria” that you are consuming are live microorganisms and do have a limited shelf life. The good bacteria may already be dying off when you buy the product. With yogurt, scientists say there should be one million to one billion active cultures per gram to be considered probiotic.

Take responsibility for the Food you Eat

19 Jun

Food Safety

A safer food supply 

Buyer bewareLast Updated May 23, 2007

CBC News 

Tainted spinach. Botulism in carrot juice. Concerns that a tainted food additive in pet food imported from China may have made its way into the human food chain. These three major crises since September 2006 have left many wondering whether Canadians can trust their food supply.It is the job of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to keep tabs on the safety of the food we eat. The CFIA is the sole agency that provides all federal inspection services related to food safety, economic fraud, trade-related requirements, animal and plant disease, and pest programs. The decision to centralize those responsibilities with one agency was meant to enhance food safety systems: One set of standards, enforced by one agency.The CFIA administers and/or enforces the following acts:·         Food and Drugs Act (as it relates to food). ·         Canada Agricultural Products Act. ·         Meat Inspection Act. ·         Fish Inspection Act. ·         Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (as it relates to food). ·         Plant Protection Act. ·         Health of Animals Act. ·         Administrative Monetary Penalties Act. ·         Seeds Act. ·         Feeds Act. ·         Fertilizers Act. ·         Canadian Food Inspection Act. ·         Plant Breeders’ Rights Act. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture are among a total of 15 agencies that have responsibility over the safety of the food supply. Congressional hearings that opened in mid-April this year were convened — in part — to determine if those responsibilities should be consolidated, along the lines of the CFIA.The CFIA may be regarded as a model system by many countries, but it can’t catch all problems in the food supply.“We can’t provide zero risk because it doesn’t exist,” Paul Mayers, executive director of the animal products directorate with the CFIA, told CBC News. “What we want to do is make sensible use of the resources available to minimize that risk to consumers to the extent that we can.”Mayers says inspectors can’t check every food product that enters Canada or moves from farm to supermarket shelves. What they can do is try to identify risk and then decide how to apply available resources to make sure what might be a risk doesn’t turn into a major problem.No need for food paranoia, says professorThe CFIA issues advisories about potential problems with foods on a regular basis. The agency issued more than 50 advisories between January and the middle of May. The vast majority of them were for problems like possible traces of nuts that were not listed on the label or traces of milk protein, also undeclared on the label.“It’s still a relatively small amount of the food that we eat that is contaminated,” Mansell Griffiths, professor in food science department at the University of Guelph, told CBC News. “Generally we should be concerned about some of the events of the past few months, but I don’t think we need to become paranoid about the safety of our food supply.”Griffiths says there are limits to what food inspection can effectively achieve. He would like to see a much more proactive approach to safeguarding our food supply.“Instead of putting the onus on government to protect us, we should be putting the onus on the companies that supply the food that it’s safe to distribute. When it gets to the level of stopping it at the borders, it’s a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. We need to put the onus on the supplier.”At Kansas State University, Dr. Douglas Powell heads the International Food Safety Network. It’s focusing on ways to compel everyone in the farm-to-fork food safety system — individual producers, retail employees and consumers — to acknowledge and adopt best practices to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. He says we shouldn’t just be concerned about food imported from countries where standards may not mesh with ours. Locally grown food has a role to play, too.“It doesn’t matter whether [food] comes from China or down the road, the question is — is it microbiologically safe? And whether that farmer is 10,000 miles [16,000 kilometres] away or 10 miles [16 kilometres] away, you have to ask the questions: what are you doing to reduce microbial contamination on that product?”Consumers also responsible for food safety: MayersPowell notes that food retailers will label their products as certified organic, hormone- or antibiotic-free, and free range. But they won’t use terms like “microbiologically safe.”“I think the time has come, and consumers are savvy enough and want this stuff because there’s been so many outbreaks, that if there’s a way to figure out how to market microbiologically safe food, you’d find a good market for it.”Mayers notes that while the CFIA has a huge role to play in identifying and acting on risk in the food supply, the consumer also has responsibilities.“We want consumers to be aware, we want them to play their role in handling and preparing products appropriately, but we equally want them to pay attention to situations that arise and if products are recalled, to respond to those recalls appropriately in terms of removing those products from the set of products that they might choose or use in any period of time.”Preliminary results of a study from the University of Regina released in April suggested the CFIA is really good at getting out word of recalls — but not very good at following up afterwards. The survey found that people are aware when there is a recall, but don’t know what to do about it and don’t know when it’s safe to eat a product again.  

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