Saturday, November 27, 2010

Politics on the lunch tray?

The link below is an example of politics once again dictating our health.  I’m proud to live in a country where I can make my own decisions about my belief system, my health and so many other lifestyle decisions.  Though it’s becoming a narrow margin between freedom of choice of food and supplements and some of the proposed “laws” such as S.510 and Codex where potential food devitalization and vitamin supplementation become the sole responsibility of government regulation and big pharma.  It could be likely that at some point I might only be able to purchase a bleached, irradiated steak and request a prescription of Vitamin C from my physician.

Yes, I’m frustrated.  I’m frustrated that our food supply is dictated by dollars.  I’m frustrated that while our First Lady is working hard on a campaign to bring awareness to our obesity epidemic, another is in one breath talking about her own states obesity issues and in another, knocking the other because of political party lines. 

At what point does Sarah Palin think that bringing sugar cookies to children is called freedom of choice?  Why is Sarah Palin now saying that Mrs. Obama is on an “anti-obesity kick” or that the First Lady’s message is a lack of trust of parents feeding of their children?  What message is this sending the children?  It’s only bringing out anger and blame.   Our obesity epidemic transcends party lines.  It is a national health crisis and one that is bankrupting this Country.   

Shame on you Sarah Palin.  While your children are consuming Caribou, Wild Caught Salmon and other fresh foods, the majority of our children are consuming foods that contain no vitamin content what so ever.  Inner city children who only have access to convenience markets, families living off of $300 per month for groceries and now, obvious vitamin deficiencies such as rickets are once again seen in American children.   

Instead of cookies, maybe you can bring school children some high quality protein and the lesson of a healthy lifestyle which begins with what you eat, as you obviously live yourself based on your lean physique.   

Our children should not be used as pawns for political gain nor should they be exploited to garner massive profits for the corporations supplying food to our school cafeterias and vending machines.  

There was once a day when our school children respected our Administration and the President of the United States and the First Lady no matter their political party.  

A campaign such as the Let's Move would have been welcomed into schools and homes.  Sadly, it is now dictated by party belief. 

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not stating we should never question authority but a campaign as positive as this, should be recognized and promoted by all parties because it is in the best interest of our future leaders.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Childhood Obesity and the American Family

The incidence of childhood obesity is rapidly rising throughout the world. The obesity epidemic is especially evident in industrialized nations where many people live sedentary lives and eat more convenience foods, which are typically high in calories and low in nutritional value. In just two decades, the prevalence of overweight doubled for U.S. children ages 6 to 11 — and tripled for American teenagers. The annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of U.S. children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. In total, about 25 million U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or nearly overweight. (Mayo Clinic 2006)

The obesity epidemic arrived with astonishing speed. After tens of thousands of generations of human evolution, flab has become widespread only in the past 50 years, and waistlines have ballooned exponentially in the last two decades. In 1980, 46 percent of U.S. adults were overweight; by 2000, the figure was 64.5 percent: nearly a 1 percent annual increase in the ranks of the fat. At this rate, by 2040, 100 percent of American adults will be overweight and "it may happen more quickly," says John Foreyt of Baylor College of Medicine, who spoke at a conference organized by Gifford's Oldways group in 2003. Foreyt noted that, 20 years ago, he rarely saw 300-pound patients; now they are common. Childhood obesity, also once rare, has mushroomed: 15 percent of children between ages six and 19 are now over weight, and even 10 percent of those between the ages of two and five. "This may be the first generation of children who will die before their parents". Foreyt says. (Harvard Magazine 2004)

Research has shown that almost one-third of the U.S. diet consists of sugar-filled cans of soda and bags of potato chips. Even with the rising number of people joining the low-carb craze, a study of 4,700 adults revealed that sodas and sweets, which contain what are known as "empty calories" because of their low nutritional value, were at the top of the list of most calories consumed. Statistics showed that these "empty calories" accounted for almost 25 percent of all the calories eaten by Americans. Salty snacks and fruit juices made up an additional 5 percent. Some experts have placed the blame for the obesity epidemic on these shocking revelations. A survey consisted of the collection of interview responses of 4,760 adults. The survey took place over the years 1999 and 2000 and involved questioning the participants on all the foods they had eaten over the past 24 hours. Results of the study revealed that sweets were the number one calorie consumed followed by hamburgers, pizza and potato chips. The other highly consumed calorie was soda, which made up for 7.1 percent of all the calories consumed. On the other hand, nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables accounted for 10 percent of the total calories consumed by Americans. Experts stressed that a significant portion of American diets were severely lacking essential vitamins and minerals and recommended that people focus on the kind of food they ate, not necessarily on eating smaller portions. (Yahoo News 2004)

As a parent of three and regular grocery consumer, I travel through the aisles of the grocery store in awe of the various prepared items of choice that parents are faced with.  If I have additional time while doing my own shopping, I make it a habit to browse for recommendations for you as well as read the labels of popular items promoted by my clients or in general on a variety of message boards.  Currently, parents are faced with 40+ hour work weeks not including transit time, multiple children with multiple extra curricular activities and hours of homework. The temptation for convenience is brewed above. Frequently, I speak to various people from various socio-economic back grounds about nutrition. The first item of interest that always arises in conversation is fat. My passion for nutrition and a maintained weight loss of 85 pounds has driven my need for research to maintain my success, but I must admit I am truly surprised that few people are aware of the clear and present danger of trans-saturated fats.

The second part of my conversation leads to high fructose corn syrup. Those I have spoken with are also oblivious to this dangerous additive that is difficult to eliminate if you are purchasing the standard American Faire. As an experiment, I strolled the grocery aisles of a conventional grocery store and peered into the carts of unsuspecting Parents with begging children. I wonder to myself “are they so oblivious to the stripping of nutrients and dangerous additives of these so called food items”? I have often heard of these foods referred to as a “chemical soup”. I have a need to share with these parents my knowledge I have obtained and the future danger they and their children will be faced with. They are exhausted, the children are misbehaving, I decide it’s not a good time to educate them rather I shall decide how to advocate in the near future....(hence my website)

Eating too many carbohydrates, particularly simple sugars, can be harmful to blood sugar control, especially if you are insulin resistant, experience reactive hypoglycemia, or are diabetic. Carbohydrate excess, especially consuming too many refined carbohydrates, is also associated with increased risk for obesity, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. Currently, more than half of the carbohydrates being consumed in the United States are in the form of simple sugars being added to foods as sweetening agents. The large increase in the use of corn sweetener, or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the past 30 years is directly related to the overall increase in sugar consumption in the United States. Many different products are using HFCS as an ingredient. These include beverages, cereals and baked goods, dairy products candy and many other processed foods. The consumption of sugar sweetened beverages has played the largest role in the increase of added sweeteners in the American diet. (Murray 2006)

As I mentioned above, these products that are being purchased so mindlessly also contain that dangerous ever increasing in product and waistline hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. This is the most dangerous of fats. A diet that is composed of mostly trans-fatty acids in the form of hydrogenated vegetable oils results in cell membranes that are much less fluid in nature than the cell membranes found in a person who consumes optimal levels of unsaturated fatty acids. According to modern pathology, or the study of disease processes, an alteration in cell membrane function is the central factor in the development of virtually every disease. As it relates to diabetes, abnormal cell membrane structure due to eating the wrong types of fats leads to an impairment in the action of insulin,
resulting in diabetes. (Murray 2006)

Often, I say to my adult children “I wish I knew then what I know now”. Our lives would be very different. I would advise that parents involve their children in the healthy choices. A meal always tastes better when the child is involved in the preparation. Make sure the fruit bowl is always full. Take control as a parent over the media hype. Do not give in. I would also advice parents to start with the elimination of “hydrogenated oils” and “high fructose corn syrup” from any products they purchase. Make sure your child starts their day with a nutritious breakfast that would exclude modern breakfast cereals. We drink green smoothies daily and every child loves a smoothie. Cabbage and spinach are the easiest veggies to mask and this can sustain a child with clearer thinking and brain function. In sharing with your child the importance of healthy choices and the affect on their bodies, we can reverse this preventive epidemic we call obesity. With the ability to operate and maintain the electronic equipment children have access to, we are lacking in the training and care of one very important device, the human body. Don’t forget to play. We all need the exercise and relief.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Low Vitamin D and Obesity in Children

A study published in September of 2010 in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed a positive correlation between low Vitamin D serum levels and an increase in obesity.  The most interesting component of this study of the 400+ school children was performed on Columbian children in 2006 for approximately 30 months. 

The recent deluge of reporting on vitamin d deficiency can't be missed.   It is known that the sun provides us our most bio-available form of vitamin D and most particularly, higher amounts are obtained while living near or below the equator.  Such is Columbia, right above the equator proving that at serum levels below 50, these children are mimicking our North American  hysteria and reducing sun exposure.  

Improve immunity, reduce adiposity, prevent disease, aches, pains and maintain strong bone structure with vitamin d.  

Supplementing with Vitamin D3 drops in the form of cholecalciferol is incredibly important and in my opinion, "non-negotiable" in your supplement regimen.  

2000-5000IU are recommended daily for a healthy adult dose and 800-2000IU for baby and child.  

Background: Cross-sectional studies have indicated that vitamin D serostatus is inversely associated with adiposity. It is unknown whether vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for the development of adiposity in children. 

Objective: We investigated the associations between vitamin D serostatus and changes in body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2), skinfold-thickness ratio (subscapular-to-triceps), waist circumference, and height in a longitudinal study in children from Bogota, Colombia. 

Design: We quantified plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations in baseline samples of a randomly selected group of 479 schoolchildren aged 5–12 y and classified vitamin D status as deficient [25(OH)D concentrations <50 nmol/L], insufficient [25(OH)D concentrations ≥50 and <75 nmol/L], or sufficient [25(OH)D concentrations ≥75 nmol/L]. We measured anthropometric variables annually for a median of 30 mo. We estimated the average change in each anthropometric indicator according to baseline vitamin D status by using multivariate mixed linear regression models. 

Results: Vitamin D–deficient children had an adjusted 0.1/y greater change in BMI than did vitamin D–sufficient children (P for trend = 0.05). Similarly, vitamin D–deficient children had a 0.03/y (95% CI: 0.01, 0.05/y) greater change in subscapular-to-triceps skinfold-thickness ratio and a 0.8 cm/y (95% CI: 0.1, 1.6 cm/y) greater change in waist circumference that did vitamin D–sufficient children. Vitamin D deficiency was related to slower linear growth in girls (−0.6 cm/y, P = 0.04) but not in boys (0.3 cm/y, P = 0.34); however, an interaction with sex was not statistically significant. 

Conclusion: Vitamin D serostatus was inversely associated with the development of adiposity in school-age children.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Love thy saturated fat!

There is so much mis-information out there on the subject of Saturated Fat and its relationship to health.  When did the most natural, oldest fat on earth become the most dangerous or as the so called professionals refer to as "dangerous artery clogging saturated fat"?  Now reading this, do you all realize that we've been on this planet for quite a few more years than just the last 70+ years  that vegetable oils have been here?  Think about it logically if you will. 

Michael Pollan of The Omnivores dilmena said in Food Inc. "The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000".

I often reflect on my childhood and try to count the amount of people I knew with thyroid disruption, gall bladder removal, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and the on slaught of auto-immune diseases out there. None of my grandparents took medications for cholesterol, in fact, I don't remember ever even discussing cholesterol as my Grandfather sat down to his bacon and german pancake breakfast! He lived well into his 90's by the way in quite excellent health. Fortunately, they did not discover spray butter until they were senior citizens.

So, getting back to fat....that macro-nutrient that apparently kills. Saturated fat has saved my life in so many ways. Focus, weight loss, improved blood work, satiety and so much more. I did my stint with McDougal, for a few weeks or so......until I felt the extreme hunger and the thought of gnawing my own arm off at several points sounded appetizing! Take fat away from a girl who has ADHD and absolutely no focus and you have a true recipe for disaster. I'm quite sure my neurotransmittors just became confused!

When advising my clients to increase their fat rather than reduce it, they are quite surprised. Now, we're not just talking any kind of fat, I"m talking about saturated fats from clean, animal proteins fed a species appropriate diet, raw butter and dairy, coconut and palm oils. These are the nurturing fats that will benefit you in the ways below:

You might see this repeated throughout my blog.......while it may seem redundant, redundancy I find assists the memory (as does coconut oil by the way)

Saturated fatty acids constitute at least 50 percent of your cell membranes. They are what gives your cells necessary stiffness and integrity.

They play a vital role in the health of your bones. For calcium to be effectively incorporated into your skeletal structure, at least 50 percent of your dietary fats should be saturated.

They lower Lp(a), a substance in your blood that indicates proneness to heart disease.

They protect your liver from alcohol and other toxins, such as Tylenol and other drugs.

They enhance your immune system.

They are needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids. Elongated omega-3 fats are better retained in your tissues when your diet is rich in saturated fats.

Saturated 18-carbon stearic acid and 16-carbon palmitic acid are the preferred foods for your heart, which is why the fat around your heart muscle is highly saturated. Your heart draws on this reserve of fat in times of stress.

Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. They protect you against harmful microorganisms in your digestive tract.

Following is some great information on studies. Don't just believe me, check out the studies below!

A survey of 1700 patients with hardening of the arteries, conducted by the famous heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, found no relationship between the level of cholesterol in the blood and the incidence of atherosclerosis.

A survey of South Carolina adults found no correlation of blood cholesterol levels with "bad" dietary habits, such as use of red meat, animal fats, fried foods, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon, sausage and cheese. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.

Mother's milk provides a higher proportion of cholesterol than almost any other food. It also contains over 50% of its calories as fat, much of it saturated fat. Both cholesterol and saturated fat are essential for growth in babies and children, especially the development of the brain. Yet, the American Heart Association is now recommending a low-cholesterol, lowfat diet for children! Commercial formulas are low in saturated fats and soy formulas are devoid of cholesterol. A recent study linked lowfat diets with failure to thrive in children.

Numerous surveys of traditional populations have yielded information that is an embarrassment to the Diet Dictocrats.  For example, a study comparing Jews when they lived in Yemen, whose diets contained fats solely of animal origin, to Yemenite Jews living in Israel, whose diets contained margarine and vegetable oils, revealed little heart disease or diabetes in the former group but high levels of both diseases in the latter. (The study also noted that the Yemenite Jews consumed no sugar but those in Israel consumed sugar in amounts equaling 25-30% of total carbohydrate intake.)

A comparison of populations in northern and southern India revealed a similar pattern. People in northern India consume 17 times more animal fat but have an incidence of coronary heart disease seven times lower than people in southern India.

The Masai and kindred tribes of Africa subsist largely on milk, blood and beef. They are free from coronary heart disease and have excellent blood cholesterol levels.

Eskimos eat liberally of animal fats from fish and marine animals. On their native diet they are free of disease and exceptionally hardy.

An extensive study of diet and disease patterns in China found that the region in which the populace consumes large amounts of whole milk had half the rate of heart disease as several districts in which only small amounts of animal products are consumed.

Several Mediterranean societies have low rates of heart disease even though fat-including highly saturated fat from lamb, sausage and goat cheese-comprises up to 70% of their caloric intake. The inhabitants of Crete, for example, are remarkable for their good health and longevity.

A study of  Puerto Ricans revealed that, although they consume large amounts of animal fat, they have a very low incidence of colon and breast cancer.

A study of the long-lived inhabitants of Soviet Georgia revealed that those who eat the most fatty meat live the longest.

In Okinawa, where the average life span for women is 84 years-longer than in Japan-the inhabitants eat generous amounts of pork and seafood and do all their cooking in lard.

None of these studies is mentioned by those urging restriction of saturated fats.
The relative good health of the Japanese, who have the longest life span of any nation in the world, is generally attributed to a lowfat diet. Although the Japanese eat few dairy fats, the notion that their diet is low in fat is a myth; rather, it contains moderate amounts of animal fats from eggs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood and organ meats. With their fondness for shellfish and fish broth, eaten on a daily basis, the Japanese probably consume more cholesterol than most Americans. (Interestingly enough, Japanese men smoke heavily)

What they do not consume is a lot of vegetable oil, white flour or processed food (although they do eat white rice.) The life span of the Japanese has increased since World War II with an increase in animal fat and protein in the diet.

Those who point to Japanese statistics to promote the low fat diet fail to mention that the Swiss live almost as long on one of the fattiest diets in the world. Tied for third in the longevity stakes are Austria and Greece-both with high-fat diets.

As a final example, let us consider the French. Anyone who has eaten his way across France has observed that the French diet is just loaded with saturated fats in the form of butter, eggs, cheese, cream, liver, meats and rich pat├ęs. Yet the French have a lower rate of coronary heart disease than many other western countries.

In the United States, 315 of every 100,000 middle-aged men die of heart attacks each year; in France the rate is 145 per 100,000. In the Gascony region, where goose and duck liver form a staple of the diet, this rate is a remarkably low 80 per 100,000.

This phenomenon has recently gained international attention as the French Paradox. (The French do suffer from many degenerative diseases, however. They eat large amounts of sugar and white flour and in recent years have succumbed to the time saving temptations of processed foods.)

A chorus of establishment voices, including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, claims that animal fat is linked not only with heart disease but also with cancers of various types. Yet when researchers from the University of Maryland analyzed the data they used to make such claims, they found that vegetable fat consumption was correlated with cancer and animal fat was not.

So, what does the above tell us? In my opinion, I believe we need more studies. We need to see a study of peoples currently practicing that of more traditional diets and monitor their health through that of blood work for a 10 or more year period. I once watched a great interview with Mary Enig, Phd., when asked why she or anyone else hasn't conducted such a study? Her words "No special interest groups in the field of health and natural food" Yes, it's SAD and when I say SAD, I mean that's our Standard American Diet.

The Weston A, Price foundation can be one of your superior sources of studies on fat.

Our Real Love, Chocolate!

Chocolate comes from the cacao tree (genus name theobroma cacao, meaning 'food of the gods') which grows up to 12 feet tall in the rainforests of Ivory Coast, Belize, and other equatorial countries. 

The tree produces large pods that look like footballs, which contain seeds known as cacao beans. The beans are harvested, fermented, roasted and ground into a powder that is the basis of chocolate. Why does this matter? Because cacoa pods are berries. That's right. Chocolate is a fruit. In its unprocessed form, it is one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. It is full of flavanols, potent antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in the body. 

In fact, Cornell University food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and three times more than that of green tea.

Chocolate is also high in minerals including magnesium, calcium, and zinc and it contains the substances tryptophan, PEA and anandamide, which trigger the release of numerous feel-good brain chemicals. 
No wonder our love for chocolate is almost euphoric! 
Try a few squares of high quality dark chocolate for some of the less healthy treats you already eat. It's important to choose dark chocolate, since the addition of milk appears to inhibit the beneficial antioxidant effects. So yes, your favorite hershey's milk chocolate is out!

The healthiest ways to indulge your chocolate cravings is by eating raw organic unprocessed cacao beans, also known as cacao nibs which can be purchased at your local health food store. 
They can be eaten by the handful, or added to trail mix. I make a nice trail mix with walnuts, fresh organic coconut shavings, dehydrated blueberries and cacao nibs. 
The next best option is organic unroasted cocoa powder (non-alkalized.) Mix it with heavy whipping cream for a delicious chocolaty drink or use it in baking.

Another great way to get your healthy chocolate fix is by eating organic dark chocolate with the highest percentage of cocoa and lowest amount of refined sugar (bitter or semi-sweet dark chocolate.) Since the good news about dark chocolate is out, it is widely available, even at your supermarket! 
My favorites are Endangered Species 88% (pretty hardcore) and Green & Black's organic 85%.  The photo above is my special "Mock Almond Joy" utilizing coconut butter and almond butter.