Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sharing breast milk is totally acceptable !

Again the negative press trots out stupid health advice. This time is the repeating the mantra from the FDA that you shouldn't share breast milk. In my book sharing breast milk is total acceptable, and in fact should be supported or even encouraged.

A short history lesson would be timely. Breast milk banks were very common until the mid 80's. Mum's would take in excess breast milk, and mum's who for whatever reason who needed some would pick it up. What happened in the mid 80's...... the AIDS problem. Overnight the breast milk banks were shut down as it was found that breast milk can contain the AIDS virus. So instead of screening breast milk for the virus (like they do with blood) they just shut them down.

Now Peter Hartman in Perth WA started a few years ago developing a pasteurization process that doesn't destroy the bioactive activity in the milk. Last time I checked he was very close to success however this has yet to rolled out around the world. Therefore milk banks are very uncommon, but good news they are on the increase.

So where else can a mum who has breast feeding issues or other complications get breast milk from? Only here friends. Now the probability that you have a friend breast feeding and can "spare" the extra milk is rather low. Breast feeding mum's especially in the USA were breast feeding isn't "normal" often join support groups that can help them. Therefore these group are also on facebook (I belong to one in the South Island - go figure). Hence people would be using this tool to obtain the precious milk.

My recommendation - AIDS is only found in breast milk when you (a) are not exclusively breast feeding - ie you sometimes get a milk back up in the mammary gland or (b) you have mastitis. Both of these force open the tight junctions isolating the milk from the blood. Now most people wouldn't donate breast milk if they had mastitis...... and if mum is not felling "full" for long periods then breast milk has a low probability that it contains nasty viruses. If mum say has a cold, the antigens and immunity bits kick into the breast milk, so common viruses pose a very low risk, cause if they are in the milk, the milk is highly like to have the antidote as well. 

Therefore be wise with your friends!Don't accept milk from a drug addict! Seriously though, people who are from lower social economic groups have higher probability of diseases such as meningitis and liver issues. Therefore my advice is only accept milk from women who you have known for a while and have a lifestyle (and lack of disease) that you are comfortable with. If this is unavailable ie relationship is online, asking some quesitons around health, lifestyle etc would be wise.

To me the risks of tainted breast milk are low especially as people donating breast milk would have to be rather passionate about health to consider donation. Also the benefits of breast milk would be significant, and in my personal option worth the risk. In my mind the risk of feeding formula is worse than the risk of feeding someone elses breast milk.    

Monday, November 29, 2010

In misery after doing the right thing

Fortunately not my rash, but my arms and legs look like this
Early last week I sprayed the bamboo on the back section. I don't like spraying with this nasty as spray. However we have physically removed the bamboo from our back yard. It took huge amount of effort to dig up the mat of bamboo roots over the period of 2 years. Therefore on the back section - which is beyond the back yard, and technically isn't ours, I have resorted to hack and spray methods of beating back the bamboo.

So it has been very hot here and the bamboo creates a very sheltered, and hence hot, micro climate. Therefore I was in shorts and a t-shirt. I didn't want to get spray on my skin. Therefore I cleverly used a silicon barrier cream. It set it was breathable...... yeah right.

A day later I got this weird rash on my arm. It didn't go away, nor was it itchy or painful. After surfing the web I came to the conclusion that it was Miliaria.This is when your sweat pores get blocked and the sweat then travels sideways into your skin. Needless to say the skin doesn't like this, so it breaks out in red dots, one dot for each blocked sweat duct. Over the course of the next few days it appeared on the other arm and after walking in the hot sun on Friday it appeared over my legs. But only where I put the cream.

Yesterday it started getting itchy. Today it is exceptionally itchy. To the point where hydrocortisone cream doesn't help and I have taken orally antihistamine coupled with some nasty as anti itch cream I am getting buy. Don't want to cover all my arms and legs with this nasty cream, so only using in worst spots...........

Really annoyed that trying to do the right thing has led to misery and more chemicals on my skin!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The paracetamol debate

There is once again a newspaper article about impact of paracetamol on young children. It is not the first study that links early paracetamol to asthma or other long term health issues. My thoughts on this:
  • We tend to use to many drugs. Well I am all for saving sanity of parents and other siblings by feeding pamol to screaming kids in the middle of the night, we in general reach for pamol (brand name for liquid paracetamol) more than we should. We found that giving lower dose, often half of what was stated often worked. From memory this depended on the child as each child has a different pain tolerance. So make sure you are using the minimum amount and remember pain in children is not normal. So look for other things you can do to reduce usage. 
  • Just because use of paracetamol is linked with development of asthma, doesn't mean that it is causative. That is pamol may not cause asthma. It may mean kids who are susceptible to needing pamol are susceptible to asthma. I suspect that kids who are more sickly, thus needing pamol more, are more likely to develop asthma.
We need to realize that minor sickness point to bigger issues. So if you or your children are often sick, then you should find the missing part of the puzzle....... often this is either a decent supplement or significant changes in diet and food sources. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Biotin - possibilities of optimizing your own levels.

Biotin, known as vitamin H (German hair and skin being "Haar und Haut”) or Vitamin B7, is involved in fat metabolism. Therefore for weight loss it make sense that you want to maximize or optimize your biotin levels. However like measuring any vitamin in your body there are a number of significant and probematic issues to overcome. These include:
  • Finding a compound to measure that reflects body levels. For example vitamin E in blood isn't indicative of vitamin E levels. 
  • Finding a way to simply extract this compound. ie taking a blood, urine, fecal, saliva, hair sample. As unpleasant as some of these exaction/collection might be they would be infinitely better than having a lathroscopic investigation. 
  • Having this compound easily testable. For example there is a local clinic that can take a DNA sample then send this to the US to determine your genetic susceptibility for disease. As much as I think that this is a wonderful tool, I haven't even asked the price cause I know it will be beyond what I can afford. 
Therefore it is pleasing to note that a biomarker for biotin may have been found. Research has indicated that   3HIA-carnitine levels depend on biotin levels. Carnitine is involved in fat metabolism and in fact it was called vitamin bt when first isolated as it was thought it was a vitamin. Caritine can be purchased as a supplement and can be measured in medical labs. Therefore it is likely that in the future you could have a blood test to determine how much biotin you should be supplementing with - or how well your high nutrient dense diet is optimizing your biotin levels.    

Thursday, November 25, 2010

When body is understress it depletes nutrients

It is logical that when the body is under stress it depletes its nutrients. Therefore when the body is about to be under stress, like have surgery, or when the body is under stress like a accident or sudden illness, one should feed the body maximum nutrients.

Why this is hospital food so low in nutrients?! I would encourage anybody who is going into hospital or have a loved one in hospital to contact me for my latest list of  "Zestos approved" supplements.

Yet another study proves this logical conclusion. When children are recovering form burn injuries their body consumes their vitamin E stores. Therefore for the month after the hospital admission the vitamin E levels drop. They drop not just in the blood plasma (which isn't a reliable indicator of vitamin E stores), but in the adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is the scientific name for body fat. As vitamin E is fat soluble it is stored in this fat. Therefore when the fat levels drop it is a indication that the body levels have indeed decreased.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vitamin D and insulin sensitivity

Vitamin D appears to be connected to insulin sensitivity. A study investigating the connection between white skinned and African American women exploring the effect of vitamin D levels on insulin sensitivity.

African Americans are more sensitive to sugar (higher insulin sensitivity) therefore they have great chance of developing insulin resistance (type two diabetes) because their "tolerance" for sugar/high GI foods is lower. Given the same environmental conditions darker skinned people will have lower vitamin D levels as the melanin in their skin prevents the production of vitamin D.

What the study found was the lower the vitamin D the higher the insulin sensitivity in the healthy women. This indicates that higher vitamin D levels could well be associated with reduced chance of type two diabetes (insulin resistance).  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

accidents happen - even at hospitals

Stuff happens, or so the saying goes. Accidents are a normal part of life, not planned nor welcome, but a part of life none the less. I am amazed that we pretend that doctors/nurses/medical people don't make them. By this I mean that if a mistake occurs, it is a really big deal, investigations, paper work, careers on the line..... yet when a mechanic makes a mistake, apart from changing mechanics or getting angry we accept this as part of life.

There are systems that document mistakes in hospitals. However because of the big issues around reporting mistakes, it would follow logically that medical people would be reluctant to report them. Therefore they go unreported, thus the system can't improve. We should make medical mistakes "normal". That is accept them as part of life, so design systems that allow upfrontness about them. Thus systems can grow and change. Tiffany and I have had a season each were we spent a few weeks in hospital. In this experience we observed the following mistakes:
  • First response person told Tiffany here ankle wasn't broken and removed the shoe and sock that should have been left on as compression. Ankle wasn't just broken is was shattered  
  • Tiffany getting physio on her operated ankle days to early 
  • Myself nearly getting plugged into a vacuum line that had underneath it "Do not use for patient drainage". She was able to plug me in - and I pointed out the notice..... they were short staffed due to the Easter break so I was in the wrong ward
  • While I was in A & E I guy stoned out on magic mushrooms got up and wondered about before falling into me recovering from surgery. 
  • My chest drain stopped bubbling in the middle of the night (a very good thing). Called a nurse and he tripped over the drainage machine, causing tube to move and chest to continue to bubble again 
I say this things not to point the finger not to name and shame. But to say in a busy hospital, with multiple pressing issues it is no surprise that things didn't quite go as planned. If I was in charge of quality I would be asking every exciting patent what went wrong. Until we have real data we cannot make informed changes. I would argue that these "minor" mistakes mentioned above would likely point to underlying issues which if left unchecked could cause serious harm.

I have said all that, because is the newspaper mentions patient fall top the number of serious injuries/mistakes that happen in hospitals every year. From what I can work out serious injury/mistake is one that causes death!. No surprise really, falls is the number one at home to. Apparently these incidents occur at 0.037 % which calculates out to be1 in 2702. So your odds are rather low. The question I have is anything done to track the almost mistakes? the "minor" issues that could lead to system improvements.

Or maybe fundamentally the hospitals don't care. They are happy to employ junior doctors for 12 days straight at 10 - 12 hours days without toilet or meal breaks. Clearly this doesn't result in optimal staff, nor optimal decisions. So therefore I have to conclude that hospital management don't really care about optimal procedures, just about getting people out the door.......  

Friday, November 19, 2010

The rhythm of seasons and eating

Today at work the leeks were harvested from the permaculture garden. They were not very big, but they were going to seed with the lack of rain we have had. Apparently they go bitter if they flower/seed. Therefore when I came home I checked mine. I get very annoyed if I grow food and it goes to waste. Mine were just starting to goto seed, so harvested them.

In a wonderful twist of God fortune. I picked up a herb book at random off the shelf and there was a recipe for potato and leek soup. Had to go and purchase potatoes, I also spiced it up with some persimmon cider that I made which isn't that drinkable, but good in cooking. Also added some well cooked bacon at the end. The recipe also used stock, which I made for the first time a few months ago, so out came some real beef stock.

Result - yummy dinner. Kids even ate it and enough for tomorrow.

Got me thinking about harvest and seasons. This combination of leeks and potatoes would indicate it was a late winter / early spring recipe. Leeks would still be fresh and in the ground. Potatoes would be old being in storage for at least a few months. Therefore turning potatoes to soup would be logical, then adding a fresh vegetable. It is interesting how the calender no longer dictates cooking. Leeks and potatoes are available nearly throughout the year (if you have the $). So we have lost that connection between season, produce and cooking.  

Doctors confused about vitmain D of course they are

Another no brainer newspaper article title. Of course doctors are confused about vitamin D. There are a host of reasons why this is the case, including
  • When at medical school the vitamins are portrayed as anti disease factors (read my book). Therefore if someone doesn't have rickets, they don't need any more vitamin D
  • Doctors are pressed for time. We would all agree that doctors are very pressed for time. Therefore they don't have the time to do their own research
  • New advances in medicine get "pushed" onto the doctors via drug companies. When a drug company comes out with a new wonder drug they do all they can to educate the doctors via visits, conferences, promotions, advertising etc. However with vitamins and nutrition there is no educational push, as there is money in vitamins like medications (which are patentable)  
Add to this that newspapers or media jump on any new study, thus the patients might now more about a vitamin or health product than a doctor. This media coverage is somewhat random and chaotic. This adds to the confusion as doctors can't use the media to make wise decisions.

My summary or rule of thumb regarding vitamin D is this: Maximize your sun exposure. But NEVER get sun burnt.  

Sugar is bad for you - no really ?!

Saturday's paper has an article that discussed how poor diet can effect your body even if you don't gain weight. I firmly believe that weight gain is not the problem. It is one of the symptoms of a poor diet. I believe you can have a poor diet, not put on any weight, and still have high risk of heart disease, cancer etc. etc.

My uncle was a very tragic case in point. Skinny and athletic, but died of heart attack while his two children where still teenagers. This is the problem that most of the medical fraternity now understand the connection between being over weight and risk of Western disease. However they don't understand that the diet is the root problem and the weigh it only a symptom. This is why I am slightly dubious about weight reduction operations like gastric banding. Sure they work and you eat less. However if your percentage of "bad" food stay the same I would argue that your risk factors stay that same as you are still eating a low nutrient diet.

Back to the article in point. It found that rats feed a high sugar diet for a 12 week period developed signs of heart disease. To put this in context rats live for 2 - 3 years. So this was 1/8th to 1/12th of their life span. So this would equate to about 10 years for a person. (assuming that this transformation holds across species).

The article goes on to say that high sugar is bad for you. No surprise to anyone interested in nutrition. However there are significant numbers of people who think high fat = bad and high sugar is ok.      

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The cost of sickness to employers

A few days ago there was a very interesting article in the paper. I wanted to undertake a robust review of this article and propose solutions. However due to other commitments I haven't been able to undertake this review yet. Therefore I will just draw your intention that it is estimated that sickness is costing employers between $4.5 - 13 billion dollars a year. This is a huge cost, and even higher than I would have thought. To make the maths easy lets assume there is 2.25 million employees. This equates to a cost per staff member of $2 000 - 6 000  a year.

It is great to see estimates like this coming out. I hope it helps employers help their staff make healthy decisions.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Surgery is taxing on the body - that should be obvious

Surgery is very taxing on your body. Think about it. You are injected with a poison. This shuts down your brain, so much so that you are no longer "awake". Then you get sliced and diced, cut and sown up. Then you typically get another batch of poisons to take regularly. Things like pain killers, anti inflammatory etc.

All this is good, you live longer because of it. I didn't suffocate from a collapsed lung, Tiffany, my wife, walks properly after a surgical reconstitution of a smashed ankle. My dad didn't die from appendicitis. These are all good things. However in focusing on the positive we can forget how stressful surgery can be on the body. When we are young this isn't as much of a problem as aged persons.

Here in Huntly a year or so ago a retied man and husband who went in for a knee replacement, came out with a stroke and died within a few weeks. And it isn't uncommon for elderly who have surgery to become a tipping point after which they never really regain full health (the same happens with falls and other sickness with elderly).

It is great to see that a national newspaper has picked this up. In elderly 1 in 20 will die as a result of the surgery and 1 in 5 will have a major complication. These types of statistics calls into the question of having surgery in senior years. For some it would be better not to have the surgery. Something to consider when deciding if you, or an elderly loved one, is weighing up the risks and benefits of surgery.        

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's complex - that's why medical community moves slowly

Reading today that osteoporosis didn't have an agreed definition until 1992. On one hand that is quite a while ago, being 18 years. However the question then becomes what was the time lapse between discovery/naming and agreed definition.

Think about 150 years! Yup one and half centuries. A Frenchman in 1935 published the first articles about "holes" in bones in elderly. Through his work he named it osteoporosis ("osteon" which means bone and "poros" which means pore).

Now clearly science has come a long way in understanding the disease that effects about 50% of Westerners as they age. You can see that science moves slowly in the 150 years before a definition was agreed upon. This is because medical researches like to get things right (this we should be very grateful of!) Therefore there would have been much robust debate about what made up osteoporosis, its development and clinical signs that occur in all cases.

However the down side to this is that innovation can sometimes reach the consumer at a glacial pace. Thus our loved ones live a life of suffering which they don't need to. I hopefully with this blog (a) reduce the time for the consumer to know things that can change their lives and (b) report reliable and solid science.   

Lastly for you techy's who would be annoyed if I didn't quote what the definition is (source: Wikipedia).....
Osteoporosis is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a bone mineral density that is 2.5 standard deviations or more below the mean peak bone mass (average of young,healthy adults) as measured by DXA

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Use it or lose it applies to brain matter as well

There is a very intriguing school of thought regarding brain size and Alzheimers/dementia. Undertaking autopsies on elderly it was discovered that some people should have had major alzheimers symptoms as their brain was full of dead bits (physiological manifestation of alzheimers) yet these people showed no outward signs of alzheimers.

This lead to the development of a theory called brain reserve / cerebral volume. This theory states that larger certain parts of the brain, the more can be "eaten" up with alzheimers before clinical signs of alzheimers states to occur.

A recent study shows that you need to use it or lose it also applies to brain function as well. They found that "Education, occupation attainment, and leisure activities" all contributed to brain reserve. Interesting that education, which generally occurs earlier in life effects brain reserve later in life. Occupational attainment is an interesting one as anyone can climb the ladder, so to speak, in their profession. When this occurs people generally have more complex problems to solve, so increased brain function could be expected. Again leisure activities generally either us the thinking mind (eg board games or jigsaws) or "physical" part of the brain (eg hand eye coordination). There could also be some cross over, eg you need a strategy, or able to read the play in a team sport.

So use your brain or lose it.

Reference: Alexandra Foubert-Samiera, b, Gwenaelle Cathelinec, d, Hélène Amievab, Bixente Dilharreguyc, Catherine Helmerb, Michèle Allardc, d and Jean-François Dartigues. Education, occupation, leisure activities, and brain reserve: a population-based study doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.09.023

Friday, November 12, 2010

Commercial orange jucie is good for you !

I am rather suspect of any commercially produced and mass marketed "health" product. The more processing involved the more the nutrients get destroyed. In vying for a mass market price is going to be sensitive. Therefore the companies are going to go for cheaper and fast, rather than healthier and more wholesome.

Therefore I am very suspicious of orange/citrus juices. If you read the label they are often made from reconsitutted orange jucie. A typically process would be grow oranges in California. Make juice from said oranges. Sterilize/pasteurize the orange juice. Then dehydrate / dry the orange juice as water is heavy and waste of energy to transport. Then ship this juice across the Pacific to New Zealand. Filter Auckland city water, remake juice and put into plastic bottles.

So when people say drink orange juice..... I question if there are any health benefits. Well it turns out that a pint (500ml) of orange juice actually reduces oxidative stress. And this reduction of oxidative stress was the same as a 500ml drink of water plus a hesperidin. This is a plant compound that is high in oranges. Thus it must be rather stable in processing.

I should also point out that the supplement was just as good as the orange juice. Yet another example of supplementation working. (For the record drinking home made fresh orange juice would be the best thing).    

Reference: Christine Morand, Claude Dubray, Dragan Milenkovic, Delphine Lioger, Jean François Martin, Augustin Scalbert and Andrzej Mazur  Hesperidin contributes to the vascular protective effects of orange juice: a randomized crossover study in healthy volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr (November 10, 2010). doi:10.3945/ajcn.110.004945

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An acknowledgment of the fat/sugar cycle

If you have ever tried to come of sugar or fat, you will know that you experience cravings and a moreish drive.  A clinic that has helped >4 000 people reduce their weight and change their eating habits has written a very interesting paper. As these people are "at the coal face" so to speak of the obesity epidemic they have a unique perspective on things. The following quotes are fascinating:

Our hypothesis is that a diet containing an abundance of processed food and low in micronutrient-rich plant foods can create physical symptoms of withdrawal when digestion ceases in between meals

I find this to be very true. When I am on a low sugar diet high in fruits, vege's, whole grains and lean protein I don't get hungry between meals. Furthermore when on a sugar/chocolate/fat diet I get the muchies for chocolate/sugar in the mid afternoon and after dinner.
A “dopaminic high” from ingestion of high calorically concentrated sweets and fats has been documented and leads to subsequent craving of these foods. Very little human research has been done in this area
I have blogged about this before. I long for the day that people see obese people as victims of an addiction just like alcoholics. There is a lot of disproving people who just think over weight people lack self control. As much as we do need to take responsibility for our actions, someone who is on the addiction roller coaster needs very different help to someone just lacking self will. Believe me if we could will away an addiction there wouldn't be any addicts in the world.     
We speculate that the discomfort of withdrawal from the toxins mobilized when one tries to refrain from consumption of pro-inflammatory processed foods and animal products may be also be a major contributor to compulsive eating and consequent obesity.
That is an interesting hypothesis. I have heard about toxins being mobilized (ie a de-tox) when people start to supplement with a good supplement or radically change their lifestyle. However never connected withdraw symptoms to toxin release. Would love to read more on this topic (if anything else exists)

Reference: Joel Fuhrman email, Barbara Sarter email, Dale Glaser email and Steve Acocella Changing perceptions of hunger on a high nutrient density diet Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:51doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-51 Published:     7 November 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sensationalist news reporting: Vitamin E supplements lead to stroke

The media love to have catching headlines. Therefore anything that is controversial is in their interest to print. Hence any study that comes out showing that supplements don't work gets published. The only problem is that they don't publish the overwhelming number of studies that show the opposite.

The weekends headline "Vitamin E linked to risk of certain types of stroke" is no exception.  

Firstly most studies that show supplements don't work have the following technique.
  1. Researchers go out and interview the population. They ask "do you take supplements". If the answer is yes, then the move onto the next question such as health issues, or they come back years later and find out what disease(s) that person has.
  2. Data miners then troll this data to determine correlation between supplements and a disease
What is immediately obvious is that there is no quality questions around what type of supplements. There are some supplement brands that I wouldn't take, nor feed to my kids, even if they were free. There is very little done around the quality of the supplement, what it contains, are the compounds natural or manufactured, are they bioavailable etc. etc. Sensationalist

So the vitamin E study didn't look at if the vitamin E was natural or synthetic. This is important because there is preliminary data that seems to indicate that synthetic vitamin E is treated like a poison in the body. I would never take a supplement that had synthetic vitamin E in it.

Secondly there was no indication at what dosage level this increase was associated with. There is a massive difference between a supplement that has the RDI of vitamin E (from memory is approx 60 IU's) and what is considered a ODA of 200 - 300 IU's and a mega doses which might be 1000+ IU's. There is such a massive difference, I can't understand how they can be lumped together.     

Not only this, berried in the newspaper article is:
[vitamin E] increased the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, where bleeding occurs in the brain, by 22 percent, but cuts the risk of ischaemic stroke by 10 percent
So the increase in probability of a stroke is likely only 12%. It may in fact be lower depending on the probabilities of the different types of strokes (ie if probability of hemorrhagic stroke is 1% and ischaemic stroke 99 %, then a 22% in crease in hemorrhagic stroke is a negligible increase, compared to the 10% decrease in ischaemic stroke).

Therefore what can we conclude from the newspaper article? Nothing ! Except that reporters and newspaper articles are useless for obtaining relevant supplement information.

Red meat and cancer: More misleading journalism

Yet another example of poor reporting is in todays paper. The headline Red Meat Linked to Cancer is only partly true.

First thing: It was a North American study. North American cows/beef are very often barn housed, or feed lot housed. What this means is that there food isn't grass but processed material. This could be a grain such as corn or a chicken feed type of pelts. What this means is North American cows are very low in cartenoids, vitamin E and Vitamin D. I also suspect that it is low in omega-3's that come from grass seeds and wonder about the vitamin B levels.

Therefore if red meat is supposed to have all these vitamins (minerals?) then it is no surprise that eating animals that get feed a low nutrient diet, very similar to a Western diet, results in increase in sickness. To me it is logical.

My frustration is that people in NZ might avoid red meat and have chicken instead. In NZ it is the chickens that have the western diet compared to the red meat.

Lastly if you read the fine print of the article you find that top 20% of meat consumers were approx 80% more likely to develop upper esophagus (throat) cancer, than the bottom 20%. So it is not just red meat consumption, it is excess red meat consumption. We are not told what top 20% consumed. However being a North American study, where the steaks are big, it is likely to be a very large volume. The study also estimated meat consumption, where the meat was cooked on barbecue, or other cooking method that produced "burnt" meat. It was the increased intake in the burnt meat that was thought to produce the increase. So again the title isn't true.

In summary the title Red Meat Linked to Cancer is misleading because:
  • It was North American red meat, not NZ red meat
  • It was very high levels of meat consumption 
  • It was only one cancer - cancer of the upper throat
  • It was intake of "burnt" meat that is thought to be the problem

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Natural vitamin C increases iron absorption

One of the more well known nutrient interactions is that taking vitamin C with iron increases the uptake of iron into the body. Up till I wrote that last sentence I had never thought to question this, nor understand biochemically why this is. However given it is widely known for the time being we will assume it is true.

Was in at Zespri- the kiwifruit people - last week.While waiting in read their monthly newpaper/newsletter. On the front page is the title "Women with low iron stores benefit from Zespri Gold kiwifruit." I immediately thought of kiwifruit being high in vitamin C and this increasing the iron uptake. Buried in the article is exactly this.

This indicates to me that food that had high vitamin C, is going to increase iron absorption. Therefore this shows it is not just occurring in vitamin / multi mineral supplements.  

Reference: October 2010 # 300

Friday, November 5, 2010

Messign up kids lives through inadequate nutrition

The stupidity of so called experts never ceases to amaze me. Most of the time I try to ignore such things as I believe (a) they are trying their best, they are just ignorant and (b) I don't like to criticize people as this doesn't produce a positive atmosphere..... but sometimes the overwhelming stupidity of researchers makes me angry.

I have access through a local university full access to most journals. However part of this access is that they are not to be used commercially. My business Zestos is both education and commercial. So in some ways I could justify using this full journal access as Zestos has basically an education company. However I like to ere on the side of caution and take the more ethical path of not using this journal access for Zestos. But every now and then I access the full article because I am extremely interested in the study. This was one such case.

The study took kids who had major burns, high enough that they needed to be tube fed. Between 1985 and 1995 they children were fed "normal" milk. Between 1996 and 2004 they were feed "formula". This formula was similar in concept to a baby formula. It had low fat, high carbohydrates, very good balance of highly available proteins and a bunch of vitamins and minerals.

It appeared from the abstract (which is publicly accessible) that the milk was just that, milk that you would purchase in a supermarket. I was amazed, surely the hospital wouldn't have feed straight milk, without the addition of vitamins (and minerals) that are essential to healing and life. Hence I was so intrigued I read the whole paper. Conclusion: the milk was straight milk. 

So what they did was feed kids who couldn't eat cause they were so badly burnt a food that lacked vitamins and minerals. In a time were the body needed the nutrients the most, they were not fed them ?! I cannot believe the malpractice.....

Unsurprisingly there was significant differences in healing time. The milk children staying in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for 47 days were as the formula group stayed 31 days. Sepsis, which is a serious condition of inflammation occurred in 20% of the milk kids, but only 11% of the formula kids.There was no difference in the death rate, but the autopsies showed fatty live in 66% of the milk deaths, were as only 17% of the formula children.

What I find even more amazing is the conclusion was that is was the low fat formula diet that was better, not that the additional nutrients eg vitamins and minerals that made the difference. Sometimes the shear stupidity of medical researches/professionals amaze me.

Rant over !  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Increasing health of everyday food - carrot tops to pasta

We should all be looking to increase our intake of healthy food. One way of doing this is to add vegetables to what we are already eating. For example I add pineapple sage, purple/blue pansy and violet flowers to salads. I figure they much be good for me as they are brightly colored, fresh and you don't typically have them in a salad. Therefore I am increase my intake of good stuff.

A study looked at adding a herb (oregano or carrot leaves) to "home made" pasta. These leaves had been dried and processed so they were easy to mix in with the flower. Unsurprisingly they found that the more green stuff added, the higher the antioxidant levels in the pasta. The good news is that they pasta still tasted great even at the 10% concentration of either oregano or carrot leaves.

What is extra great about this is that you are using a "waste" product. I have never considered using carrot tops in any cooking. Therefore if you purchase organic or grow your own you are eating more of the produce which means you are getting better value for money (or value for time).

So the addition of green stuff into pasta is good for you. Now is it going to work a miracle? No but make these small changes across all your diet - then you are talking miracles.

Reference: Marcela Boroskia, Ana Carolina de Aguiara, Joana Schuelter Boeinga, Eliza Mariane Rottaa, Camila Leite Wibbya, Elton Guntendorfer Bonaféa, Nilson Evelázio de Souzaa and Jesuí Vergílio Visentainer Enhancement of pasta antioxidant activity with oregano and carrot leaf Food Chemistry Volume 125, Issue 2, 15 March 2011, Pages 696-700 doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.09.068


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Phase of the moon influences strokes

I have always been a bit sceptically about the phase of the moon and what it influences down here on the earth. I hear all sorts of things accredited to the moon, most without any scientific backing. Well through a miss directed web address I ended up at a study that looked at moon phase and stroke. Amazingly they found that the phase of the moon influences strokes. The stated:
Stroke admissions were evenly spread throughout lunar phases (P=.72). Admission with medically unexplained stroke symptoms was significantly increased during full moon phases (P=.023)  
So stroke admissions didn't change but the type of stroke did. The medically unexplained stroke symptoms eg people who thought they had a stroke, but didn't (or a cause couldn't be found) increased in the full moon phase. I loved their conclusion "The reasons for this observed variation remain elusive"

It tickles my sense of wonder/irony/mystery when science proves something that was thought to be a myth. Technically the moon should have no effect on strokes. However it would appear to.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Subconscious role in pain

Pain is very difficult to quantify and the physiology and physiology of pain isn't always clear cut. I think we have all experienced time when some kind of pain disappeared as we concentrated on something else. Then magically came back once we thought about it.

A study looks at autosuggestion and pain tolerance. Using subliminal messaging they either played words that were connected to a previous illness/pain event in their lives. Or they got neutral words, general body sensations or negative words.

What the study found was that pain threshold measured after this subconscious communication around previous illness decreased pain tolerance. That is accessing previous memories about a illness/pain event, even at a subconscious level made the mind susceptible to pain.

Reference: Esther E. Meermanlow  Bart Verkuila and Jos F. Brosschota Decreasing pain tolerance outside of awareness Journal of Psychosomatic Research doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.08.006  

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mum's influence childrens pain level

Pain is very difficult to quantify and the physiology and physiology of pain isn't always clear cut. I have observed with my children that response to pain can vary depending on a number of internal circumstance. For example when they get hungry or tired little knocks become big deals, little knocks that wouldn't worry them normally.

Once a close friend of mine who is grandfather material, theorized that a lot of the crying due to "hurt" babies/toddlers was due to the attention they got if they had an accident. So he used to ignore young children that fell unless they really did themselves a mischief. And it seemed to work somewhat, kids used to pick themselves up and move on if he was looking after them, instead of crying. 

Anyway an article with the wonderful title "Parental catastrophizing about their child’s chronic pain: Are mothers and fathers different?". Parental catastophizing has such a neat mental image and rolls of the tongue. What the study found was that dads behavior didn't have an effect on the child's pain. 

However mums had significant impact. Not only did the catastrophize more, mums "contributed significantly in explaining the child’s pain intensity". In simple terms this means if mum was freaking out and working up about how bad the pain was, the child felt more pain. Where if the mum was chilling then the child's pain was less.

So mum's chill out a bit when your child gets hurt. This will help decrease the pain for the child. 

Reference: Tanja Hechlera, Tine Vervoortb, Maximiliane Hamanna,  Anna-Lena Tietzea, Silja Vocksc, Liesbet Goubertb, Christiane Hermannd, Julia Wagera, Markus Blankenburga, Sandra Schroedera and Boris Zernikowa. Parental catastrophizing about their child’s chronic pain: Are mothers and fathers different?.European Journal of Pain doi:10.1016/j.ejpain.2010.09.015 |

Friday, October 29, 2010

Maybe it is genetic that you don't like vegetables

I unfortunately have my mothers genetics when it comes to vegetables. We don't like them! We try to eat them because we know they are healthy. However it isn't by choice..... found an article yesterday which talked about super-tasters.  

Approximately 25% of people have extra high number of taste buds, high enough that they are categorized super-tasters. Because this people have more taste buds they taste flavors at about 3 times more intense than non super tasters. This results in:
Because of this, supertasters tend to hate green vegetables, grapefruit juice, certain alcoholic beverages, coffee, green tea, soy based products, overly sweet things, and generally are just considered “picky eaters”. 
So there you go. It could be genetic that your don't like vegetables. I don't like green vegetables, nor grapefruit juice that is store purchased (I can taste the bitter pith). Not to keen on coffee, don't have soy products so don't know about that. I also don't like artificial sweeteners because they are to sweet and don't like sugary soft drinks for the same reason. And yes my wife would call me a picky eater!

Next time I must choose the right genetics....... lol

And I'm back

Life has somewhat returned to normal after a mammoth and all consuming few weeks at university. Hopefully I will now have the mental space to blog. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Supplemented zinc makes it into your blood stream.

One of the biggest myths is that supplements gives you expensive urine/fecal matter. This is one of the reasons I wrote the book. Anyway research published today shows that supplemented zinc makes it into your blood stream, well at least if you are a "healthy" adult male. A placebo double blind trial looked at zinc blood levels between a placebo, 10mg and 20 mg of zinc sulfate a day. The zinc blood levels rose within 5 days to be massively statistically different to the placebo (P < 0.0001).

Interestingly enough the blood levels between 10 and 20 mg dose were not significantly different. This means that say if you were eating lots of oysters and you were getting your 10 mg of zinc through your food that supplementation wouldn't effect it. However as this study shows healthy men on Western diet aren't getting enough zinc. So you need to supplement! and when you do supplement the zinc makes it into the blood.

Now I would assume that if you are getting zinc into your blood stream that your body uses it.....

Reference: K. Ryan Wessells, Joshua M. Jorgensen, Sonja Y. Hess, Leslie R. Woodhouse, Janet M. Peerson and Kenneth H. Brown  Plasma Zinc Concentration Responds Rapidly to the Initiation and Discontinuation of Short-Term Zinc Supplementation in Healthy Men J. Nutr. (October 13, 2010). doi:10.3945/jn.110.122812

Sorry lite posting....

Hi, note about the lite posting. Currently working on two big projects. A review paper for our national lactation consultants magazine about the bioavailability of nutrients in breast milk. Secondly I am planning a you tube video around the food pyramid. Plus all my other work...... so posting is a bit lite at the moment.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Farmed fish have lower omega 3 essential fatty acids

I have always proposed that farmed fish have lower levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids. I.e. wild fish are better for you than farmed fish. This is because I have the belief that the omega 3's found in fish come from their food. Don't know why I believe that, suspect either logical deduction or I read it someplace that has been lost in the mists of time.

Anyway glancing through a 1990 journal and found:
The ratio of n-3 to n-6 polyunsaturates was significantly lower in cultured than in wild fish
This was across the three fish they measured trout, eel and salmon. So my gut feel has been validated. Therefore we need to be asking our suppliers of fish oils - are they farmed fish? Because if they are the oil you are taking is likely to have less omega 3's than stated on the bottle. Also we need to ask if our salmon and other fish are wild ( and sustainably harvested).   

Reference: T van Vliet and MB Katan Lower ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids in cultured than in wild fish. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 51, 1-2

Friday, October 8, 2010

Quaility of fish oil supplements

The quality of fish oil supplements is very important. It is well established that fish oils are beneficial to your health. Every brand and every shop seems to have some fish oil on special, shouting out to the world to purchase. However the quality of supplements have received scant attention.

Firstly I understand that fish obtain their fish oils from their food. In the wild this is other fish, insects or plankton. Therefore farmed fish which are feed fish meal products may, or may not, have a high level of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Therefore the first question to ask is - have the fatty acid levels actually been measured in this product.

Secondly fish oils are typically made from salmon or other fish that are at the top of the food chain. Being at the top end of the food chain means that pollutants can also be concentrated up. The latest study looking at fish oil contamination in Canadian fish oils found that PCB and dioxin levels in salmon, tuna, herring and seal (?!) oils exceed daily tolerable limits. They conclude with "The results of this study suggest that it is prudent to consume supplements derived from small, cold-water fatty fish."

So either make sure your supplements are from small fatty fish or that you supplement company tests the supplements to make sure contaminates (including heavy metals as well). I am also aware of a supplement company which distills the oil under vacuum (so boils a low temperature) to eliminate the contaminants. So make sure you ask some hard questions next time you purchase your fish oil supplements to make sure the quality exceptional.     

Reference: J.A. Bourdona, T.M. Bazinetb, T.T. Arnasonb, L.E. Kimpeb, J.M. Blaisb and P.A. Whitea, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) agonist activity of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements: Implications for daily intake of dioxins and PCBs. Food and Chemical Toxicology Volume 48, Issue 11, November 2010 doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.07.051

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Frozen chicken - Less B vitamins

A study looked at fresh and frozen chickens. They had a "surprising result" with only 10% of vitamin B5 and only 25% B3 (niacin) and B9 (folic acid) of vitamins remaining. It was surprising as previous studies didn't show this. It is a reminder that we really don't know how to preserve the nutrients in food when we process them. 

Reference: van Heerden S. et al. Nutrient content of South African Chickens. Journal of food composition and analysis (2002) Vol 15 pg 47-64.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Treatment of milk or lactose intolerance

Some people are dairy intolerant. A section of these people are intolerant due to a inability to break down lactose. Because this milk sugar is not broken down it is free to be used by the kilogram of bacteria you have in your digestive system. These bacteria produce gas as a waste product. The gas then causes you to have gas/bloating and the other symptoms of lactose intolerance.

The enzyme needed to break down the lactose is called lactase.The groovey thing is that if you take lactase with a meal that contains lactose, the lactase will break down the lactose as it passes through your digestive system. This is an over the counter health product and can be purchased in NZ online or at other online stores.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crunchy apples

I have two comfort foods, chocolate (no surprise) and crunchy apples. There used to be a gap between end or winter and the middle of summer / end of summer where no crunchy apples existed. So when apples from the local orchard stopped being crunchy quite a few weeks (months?) ago I assumed that crunchy apples were off the menu until last summer / autumn. However in the last week or so we have been purchasing apples mainly for the kids to eat or to juice. The kids don't mind soft apples (go figure!). However when I tried them they were still crunchy. Really strange given that they look like early apples! Thought it must have been a random thing. However purchased today a bag of Pacific Rose from another supermarket, again crunchy.

Very excited as someone clearly has figured out how to keep apples crunchy for longer! I know that nutritionally they might not be very good, but there is something special about eating a crunchy apple that I find very enjoyable. So big thank you for who ever has figured this out.  

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ethical dilemma in food modification

I found today yet another example of the ethical dilemma in food modification. Let me start first with a story. A few years ago we got to know a couple. The guy was addicted to smoking. He also was on ACC (off work) for back problems. Therefore the couple didn't have much money. Seeing some tobacco seeds for sale I contemplated growing some tobacco (I enjoy gardening) so they could save money instead of paying absorbent prices for cigarettes. However would this be helping, or helping support his addiction? I never could resolve that question....... so hence I never did grow tobacco.

So the same ethical dilemma occurs in food modification. Do we take our modern, processed, dead food and add stuff to it, to make it healthy. Or would that support the infatuation we have with unhealthy food. The example that set this off was a review paper that discussing adding fish/marine products into breads and pastry's. The logic being that marine products are good for us, we eat a lot of bread, so adding good stuff to what we already eat. Other examples abound, for example cows can be feed on fish oil and the fish oils make it into the milk, but without having any fishy smell. There is an army of researchers out there investigating ways to make our unhealthy eating choices "more healthy".

Ethically I have come to the conclusion that this is misguided. A better value for money would be training/coaching people how to change their lifestyle eg how to stop eating so much white flour (says he who has just had a white flour sandwich as my wife purchased a loaf of white bread for a holiday treat). My logic is that improving foods that are unhealthy would give people an excuse to continue eating them. For example chocolate, everyone likes to justify eating chocolate cause it is good for you. However they forget that it must be dark chocolate and only one or two small squares a day. Now who actually does this? Nobody!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Medication is more dangerous than driving a car

We think of our road toll as bad, however deaths directly related to medical errors are just under 3 times higher, than deaths from our roads. That is right folk 1500 people die yearly from medication errors. To put this in perspective:
  •  86 deaths due to melanoma, so you are 17 times more likely to die from medication errors than melanoma (skin cancer). This is no excuse not to get your moles checked!  In fact the death from medication is approximately the same number of people (1 896) who are diagnosed with skin cancer.
  • Over twice as likely to be killed by medical errors as diagnosed with breast cancer (644 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in NZ a year) 
  • Approximately twice as likely for you men to be killed from medication, than suicide.
  • The number of people who die from heart disease is 5461. So medication errors kill approximately a third of the death rate of heart disease.
So think about how much media attention and money is spent on breast cancer, skin cancer and heart disease. Yet a relatively simple to solve killer is wiping out a large chunk of NZ'ers every year, yet no body wants to talk about it..... talk about a conspiracy of silence.

Reference: NZ herald 13th December 2005

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guess the date: Anti-oxidant theory of vitamin E

Flicking through material and found this quote:
[cell components] were susceptible to lipid peroxidation and that this could b prevented by the addition of [vitamin E] to the system. The antioxidant theory of vitamin E function postulates that the role of [cellular] vitamin E is to stabilize the [cell] lipids against oxidation damage.
Apologies about so many brackets. Lots of complex science jargon had to be summarized.... Know when did you first understand about the antioxidant theory and that antioxidants such as vitamin E were good for you. I would be surprised if it was before the year 2000. So when was this paper published?

with in the last 10 years?

within the last 20 years ?

or was it 30 years ago?

or 40 ???? - keep on going, almost there......

1966 was the year it was published in the first edition of the journal called Lipids. So our parents or grandparents would have written this article. 1966 was the year that the first man made rocket to land on the moon. No not carrying a person, but just landing a simple rocket onto the moon surface. It was the year that the US decided to scale up Vietnam operations..... this was quite some time ago folks. It is a very vivid illustration that it takes a long time for science information to filter into the public space/sphere.

 The next logical question I have is - if it has taken approximately 40 years for this theory to be known, what theory's are being postulated and created today that would make a big difference to my life. Hence my reading and blogging. To try and cut down this time. I don't have 44 years to wait !!!! 

Reference: A. Mellors and A. L. Tappel Quinones and quinols as inhibitors of lipid peroxidation Lipids Volume 1, Number 4, 282-284, DOI: 10.1007/BF02531617

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Vitamin E is higher in grass feed beef

Following on from yesterday, vitamin E is higher in grass feed beef. This increase is from double to 5 times the level and on average 2.8 times higher. These was enough data to give an average, where as yesterdays beta carotene there were only 3 data points, so average couldn't be calculated. 

This is important because vitamin E is one of the hardest vitamins to obtain your RDI. Therefore eating meat from grass feed animals would be a good source of vitamin E.

The paper also stated:
Vitamin E (a-tocopherol) acts post-mortem to delay oxidative deterioration of the meat; a process by which myoglobin is converted into brown metmyoglobin, producing a darkened, brown appearance to the meat. In a study where grass-fed and grain-fed beef
were directly compared, the bright red color associated with oxymyoglobin was retained longer in the retail display in the grass-fed group, even thought the grass-fed
meat contains a higher concentration of more oxidizable n-3 PUFA.
 This tells me that the brown colored meat is less healthy for you as it has used up the antioxidants that keep it red, hence will be less nutritious. It also tells me that even though grass feed beef has higher omega-3 which are easily damaged by oxidation make it into your system because the higher vitamin E protects them.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Medication is more dangerous than driving a car

We think of our road toll as bad, however deaths directly related to medical errors are just under 3 times higher, than deaths from our roads. That is right folk 1500 people die yearly from medication errors. To put this in perspective:
  • 86 deaths due to melanoma, so you are 17 times more likely to die from medication errors than melanoma (skin cancer). This is no excuse not to get your moles checked!  In fact the death from medication is approximately the same number of people (1 896) who are diagnosed with skin cancer.
  • Over twice as likely to be killed by medical errors as diagnosed with breast cancer (644 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in NZ a year)  
  • Approximately twice as likely for you men to be killed from medication, than suicide. 
  • The number of people who die from heart disease is 5461. So medication errors kill approximately a third of the death rate of heart disease.
So think about how much media attention and money is spent on breast cancer, skin cancer and heart disease. Yet a relatively simple to solve killer is wiping out a large chunk of NZ'ers every year, yet no body wants to talk about it..... talk about a conspiracy of silence.

Reference: NZ herald 13th December 2005

Up to 160 times more beta carotene in grass feed beef

Previous post stated that there was more beta carotene in grass feed beef, compared to grain feed beef. This increase is anywhere from 4 to 160 times higher. Need I say any more? !   

Sunday, September 26, 2010

If you proccess cow's food carotenoids are reduced

Hay: Its processed western food for cows
Way back in the beginning of my wellness quest I discovered in a dairy publication a blood test to determine if you cow had optimal levels of beta carotene. It turned out that if you feed your cow 100% on fresh grass / plants that the cow had optimal levels of beta carotene. However if you processed the cow food you reduced it carotenoid levels. It was a seminal moment for me as I saw the direct comparison between cow diet and nutrition level, and the same parallel changes occurring in the human diet. I will have to search around and see if I can find this article.

Anyway in reviewing the cow article the paper stated:
Green grass/stuff: Good for both cows and us !
Plant species, harvest methods, and season, all have significant impacts on the carotenoid content of forage. In the process of making silage, haylage or hay, as much as 80% of the carotenoid content is destroyed.      
Funny how we can objectively say that processing cow food, reduces it nutrition. And that the nutrition depends on the plants, harvesting, season etc. However we cannot have the same discussion about human food before people get up in arms about the mythical "good diet" and we can eat enough...... these people need to go study farm animals to learn the truth!


Friday, September 24, 2010

"Fish oil" in your beef

EPA and DHA, the two "fish oils" are found in numerous places in nature. One such place is beef. Now grain feed cows and grass feed cows have different levels of these essentially fatty acids. The following two graphs demonstrate this. What these graphs clearly show is that the EPA fatty acids are anywhere between double and 12 times higher in grass feed cows. With DHA there may or may not be an increase.... and if an increase occurs it is a smaller relative increase of up to 3.5 times the level.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Free range cow's produce healthier meat

Beef produced by this steer/bull will be higher in good stuff
I have always believed that the studies that showed that red meat was unhealthy was done on barn housed / grain feed animals.

This animal diet produces cows with low carotene levels. By logical deduction it would also have love vitamin E levels. I believe that cattle feed this processed food diet (silage, hay, corn, gains, etc) is equivalent to eating a Western Diet. Where as the free range cattle (like in NZ) would produce meat that is much healthier for you.

Well I have been proved right (I love that feeling). Grass feed cows have higher levels of:
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Carotene
  • Vitamin E 
  • Grain feed animals are kept in cages without fresh  green foods
  • glutathione (GT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) two powerful antioxidants 
It also had lower fat content. 

So you can see that free range or grass feed cattle produce healthier meat. I will be unpacking this information over the next few blog posts.

Reference: Cynthia A Daley, Amber Abbott, Patrick S Doyle, Glenn A Nader and Stephanie Larson. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:10doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-10

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Sugar consumption been high before

    I'm sure that you have heard that our sugar consumption is really bad and that we eat way more sugar than we ever used to. Now this is somewhat true. However have a look at the line graph. It shows that sugar consumption massively increased from about 1860 to 1915. Before WWI occured and sugar consumption went down. It then again massively increased to pre war levels before WWII. However after WWII the increase was much slower and it wasn't until the 70's that the sugar consumption level reached that of 1915 or pre WWII.

    Now since the 70's - ie over 40 years, the sugar consumption has continued to rise. As the graph below shows the total sugar intake as gone from 55 kg / person to 69 kg / person. This increase is with line with the trend of the above graph. Also note that the types of sugar have changed from sugar (sucrose) to glucose and high fructose corn syrup. Neither glucose or fructose corn syrup are found in large quantities in nature (or not at all with high fructose syrup).

    Therefore given that historically sugar intake has been at high levels, without the levels of degenerative diseases seen today. One could conclude that high sugar is not the issue - it is the type of sugar. Or you could conclude that it takes decades of high sugar intake to create degenerative disease. Or sugar doesn't create degenerative disease. My money would be on the long term exposure to sugar is the real issue. 


    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Garlic and Grape Seed extracts - good for you but need high volumes

    As I have written before, it is one thing to say a food or product is good for you. It's another thing to eat the level required. Today we look at garlic oil and grape seed extract.

    Garlic oil protected rat brains from nitrates that are found in preserved meats. Sounds good to me. However the level of garlic was 5 ml / kg of body weight. So for a 100kg human that would be 500ml of garlic oil/extract. Now suddenly the study doesn't look very promising - are you going to drink two full glasses of garlic oil extract a day??? I think not. However on the flip side the nitrate levels feed to the rats were 80 mg / kg of body weight. So again the same average 100 kg person would need to eat 8 000 mg or 8 grams of nitrate. Now what level does this mean. Taking the maximum nitrate level allowed in the US is 1 pound per 100 pounds of dry cured meat. Converting this into grams and applying the maths, this results in having to eat 750 grams of meat to obtain the 8 grams of nitrate. Clearly this is a very high level.

    However assuming the dose effects were linear...... if had 75 grams of bacon or other nitrated meat, which is not unreasonable as 100 grams is standard meat portion in a meal. This is a reduction of a factor of 10. Therefore 50 mls of the garlic oil extract would be taken. Even 50 mls is a huge amount of oil, that is almost 6 tablespoons of oil. Gross!!!!

    OK so we can safely say that people are not going to eat enough garlic or garlic extracts to obtain the benefits.

    So how about the Grape Seed Extract (GSE). From this study they concluded:
    intake of GSE may be a feasible therapeutic strategy for prevention of a high-fructose diet-induced insulin resistance and oxidative stress
    This is good news, but what level was the GSE? It was 1 % of the diet. Apparently we eat about 2 kg of food a day. Thus 1% would be 20 grams, which would be quite a large supplement tablet!! Tablets typical range from 100 mg to 300 mg. So to obtain 20 grams of GSE you would need to take between 200 to 70 tablets.   

    References: Wannaporn Suwannapheta, Aramsri Meepromb, Sirintorn Yibchok-Anuna and Sirichai Adisakwattana. Preventive effect of grape seed extract against high-fructose diet-induced insulin resistance and oxidative stress in rats. Food and Chemical Toxicology Volume 48, Issue 7, July 2010, Pages 1853-1857

    Hanaa A. Hassana, Hani S. Hafezb, and Fawzia E. Zegheba. Garlic oil as a modulating agent for oxidative stress and neurotoxicity induced by sodium nitrite in male albino rats. Food and Chemical ToxicologyVolume 48, Issue 7, July 2010, Pages 1980-1985

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Feedback loop now working !

    Some of you would know that due to my burnout and depression I am on rather powerful sleeping medication combined with what would be "complementary" medicine. This was good move as it got me sleeping, instead of waking up in the middle of the night screaming, or waking feeling worse than going to bed. However in the long term I need to move off the medication.

    I have cut down the drug does from 120 unit to 100 units. Have now hit a snag as the 50 unit pills seem to induce better sleep than 5x10 pills.

    The other thing I am on are melatonin - both normal release - and long term release for helping getting to sleep and staying asleep respectively.

    One of the issues with such strong medication is that it didn't matter what I did (apart from having lots of dark chocolate just before bed) I would be knocked out and sleep really well. Hence I lost my motivation to stay fit. Before the powerful drugs I was taking herbals, the would work, but if I didn't exercise, I didn't sleep properly.As I lost my need to exercise I started to gain weight and have done a very good job at gaining weight.

    So very pleased, I have cut down my melatonin to 1/4 of a tablet. If I am unfit I don't drop off to sleep easily. However being fit - straight to sleep. So this has got me out exercising again. Hopefully this will stop the weight gain!

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Cheese making gear in NZ !

    Hauraki Homebrew supplies, the company supplies me the hard to find beer making materials has now go into supplying cheese making ingredients (except of the milk). Way COOL !

    Sorry about light posting. This week has been madness !

    Fail blog supplements

    This is why you want reputable supplements

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Zinc - blood levels not a good indicator

    Metals are stored up in the body for release when needed. This is because you would die without the minerals. Zinc has over 200 functions in the body. If these were to remove all zinc from your body you would be dead very quickly. Now metals don't get "used up" like vitamins. Therefore turnover is lower. One of the way minerals get lost is though urine. Because we pee out urea - from excess protein / protein break down and sulfuric acid. Both are nasty and acidic. Therefore the body balances these out with metals, typical calcium, hence peeing doesn't acid etch out our body.

    When you go for an iron test they take your blood and analyze it for its current iron content. They also measure your iron stores (or infer it from blood levels? I actually don't know). This clearly works.  Is a blood test a valid way to measure your zinc levels?

    As mentioned above zinc is really important to the body. Hence measuring your bodies zinc levels would be an important step to determine if you are low on zinc. However the following methods don't work:
    • Urine analysis 
    • Blood analysis. This is the most common way of determining zinc status. However this is not a accurate method. 
    • Zinc levels in red blood cells, again it doesn't correlate.
    So basically we have no idea about how to measure your zinc levels.

    The RDI for Zinc is 15 mg a day. A study looked at supplementing zinc at 0 (control), 15 mg and 30 mg per day. After 6 months they did some fancy measurements to determine the total zinc in the body (zinc being "used" and zinc being stored). They found that the control group at total of 2.15 mg, the 15 mg group had 12.7 mg and the 30 mg group had 100.5 mg.

    These results tell me that supplementation of zinc is a good idea. Having only 2.15 mg in total body when you are supposedly on a healthy diet (of 15 mg a day) seems rather low. Hence people in Europe were the study was undertaken are not getting enough zinc in their diets. The large jump between 0 mg supplementing and 15 mg supplementing is large. I would prefer to have the large total level of zinc so that all my enzymes and processes run well, not just at minimal levels.   

    There is also a massive increase, by factor of approx ten, in body stores between the 15 mg and 30 mg group. This tells me that 15 mg was actually too low and 30 mg to high. Therefore the optimal level of supplementation is somewhere between these two numbers. Hence make sure your multi tablets have about 15 mg in them.

    Reference: Christine Feillet-Coudray, Nathalie Meunier, Mathieu Rambeau, Marion Brandolini-Bunlon, Jean-Claude Tressol, Maud Andriollo, Andrzej Mazur, Kevin D Cashman and Charles Coudray Long-term moderate zinc supplementation increases exchangeable zinc pool masses in late-middle-aged men: the Zenith Study American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 82, No. 1, 103-110, July 2005

    Palm Oil and Health: A Case of Manipulated Perception and Misuse of Science

    In the 1980s, a combination of forces came together to convince the public that food products containing tropical oils contributed to their risk of coronary heart disease. Tropical oils were competing with the U.S. soy bean oil market as an alternative vegetable oil, yet they were higher in saturated fat, which had become the target of the health promotion community for its theoretical association with coronary heart disease risk. Successful national campaigns were undertaken to force food manufacturers to remove tropical oils, including palm oil, from their products and to replace them with hydrogenated vegetable oils, resulting in increased intakes of trans-fatty acids, which later became the target of the same advocacy groups. Today palm oil is being touted as a suitable replacement for hydrogenated vegetable oils.
     Nothing else to say really. Quite sad really, that people have a negative impression of a healthy oil.

    Reference: Donald J McNamara, Palm Oil and Health: A Case of Manipulated Perception and Misuse of Science Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 29, No. 3_Supplement_1, 240S-244S (2010) 

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Zinc - it helps your bones

    Everyone knows the calcium is essential for bone health in our older years. What amazes me is that there is a host of other nutrients that directly impact bone density/health that people are not aware of. Vitamin D and magnesium are the ones that immediately come to mind.

    Well we need to add Zinc to the list. It turns out that:
    Zinc is an essential trace mineral that is a component of >200 enzymes and is known to be necessary for normal collagen synthesis and mineralization of bone. In animals, zinc deficiency has been associated with abnormalities in bone growth, bone formation, and mineralization. A significant positive correlation between human bone zinc content and bone strength suggests that zinc may play a role in bone health. Low zinc intake has been reported to be associated with low bone mass in women. Furthermore, reduced serum or plasma zinc concentrations and increased urinary zinc excretion have also been reported in women with osteoporosis 
    This is taken from an introduction to 2004 paper. Hence this information is at least 6 years old. Now last time you saw anyone about your bone health - did they tell you about the importance of zinc. Not likely. Medical professionals are to busy to be keeping up with the latest nutritional information.......

    The study then went onto show that zinc plasma levels in elderly men are correlated with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is actually serious in men as well as women. With 1 in 8 men over 50 having a bone fracture due to this disease. 

    Reference: Taisun H Hyun, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor and David B Milne Zinc intakes and plasma concentrations in men with osteoporosis: the Rancho Bernardo Study American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 80, No. 3, 715-721, September 2004 

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    feeling down - maybe take some more thiamin...... in a supplement....

    Doing some research connecting nutrition to sleeping issues. Picked up my first edition of Vitamins and Hormones, printed in 1943. Came across this quote:
    Recent knowledge concerning thiamin [thiamine] shows that many symptoms are produced by deficiency and exist long before the development of clinical beriberi...... there earlier symptoms are usually classified under the heading of a neurasthenic syndrome and consist  essentially of the triad of anorexia, fatigability and sleep disturbances...... other symptoms are produce such as .... queer feelings in the abdomen [had to include that LOL], constipation, backache, headache....
    This sounds like chronic fatigue, or depression or general blahness. I know headaches are the bane of GP's as there is normally no concrete reason/diagnosis.

    Well how much thiamine do you need daily to prevent these symptoms? 1.8 mg of thiamine. (The current RDI is 1.0 mg to  1.4 mg.) I used the Linus Pauline Institute data on high vitamin B1/thiamine foods. The table below is the levels you need to eat to obtain 1.8 mg of thiamine :

    Food   Food amount Units
    Wheat germ breakfast cereal  0.4  cup
    Fortified breakfast cereal  1.8  cup
    Peas (cooked)  4.3  cup
    Lentils (cooked)  5.3  cup
    Long grain white rice, enriched (cooked)  6.9  cup
    Cantaloupe  8.2  fruit
    Long grain brown rice (cooked)  9.5  cup
    Spinach (cooked)  10.0  cup
    White bread, enriched  16.4  cup
    Whole wheat bread  18.0  cup
    Orange  18.0  fruit
    Milk  18.0  cup
    Long grain white rice, unenriched (cooked)  45.0  cup
    Egg (cooked)  60.0  egg
    Pork, lean (cooked)  210.0  g
    Pecans  265.3  g
    Brazil nuts  280.0  g

    I like eggs - but 60 of them?! Or have some milk, 18 cups worth that is only 4 and 1/2 liters!What I find somewhat ironic and rather disturbing is that one of the best sources of thiamine is fortified cereal. This is a blatant statement that we need to supplement. We can't get enough through our normal food so we have to add a vitamin to cereals - This is supplementing, just hidden supplementation. So to all of you who don't think you need to supplement - answer this - why do they fortify cereals?  And secondly how do you achieve your 1.8mg of thiamine ?!

    To make sure that I was only using one set of data I then used the data from Worlds Healthiest Foods to create this table:

    Food Food level units
    Sunflower seeds, raw 0.5  cup
    Sesame seeds 1.6  cup
    Black beans, cooked 4.3  cup
    Green peas, boiled 4.4  cup
    Split peas, cooked 4.9  cup
    Navy beans, cooked 4.9  cup
    Corn, yellow, cooked 5.0  cup
    Lentils, cooked 5.5  cup
    Pinto beans, cooked 5.6  cup
    Lima beans, cooked 6.0  cup
    Kidney beans, cooked 6.4  cup
    Oats, whole grain, cooked 6.9  cup
    Asparagus, boiled 8.2  cup
    Spinach, boiled 10.6  cup
    Brussel sprouts, boiled 10.6  cup
    Winter squash, baked, cubes 10.6  cup
    Pineapple 12.9  cup
    Watermelon, diced 15.0  cup
    Carrots, raw 15.0  cup
    Tomato, ripe 16.4  cup
    Oranges 16.4  cup
    Cabbage, shredded, boiled 20.0  cup
    Broccoli, steamed 20.0  cup
    Green beans, boiled 20.0  cup
    Eggplant, cooked, cubes 22.5  cup
    Summer squash, cooked, slices 22.5  cup
    Collard greens, boiled 22.5  cup
    Grapes 22.5  cup
    Kale, boiled 25.7  cup
    Celery, raw 30.0  cup
    Mustard greens, boiled 30.0  cup
    Bell peppers, red, raw, slices 30.0  cup
    Turnip greens, cooked 30.0  cup
    Swiss chard, boiled 30.0  cup
    Romaine lettuce 32.7  cup
    Cauliflower, boiled 36.0  cup

    Now at least this table has some intakes that might be obtainable. I could have 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds in a shake or on top of my cereal.  But 4 cups of beans..... I don't think so. How about juice asparagus and spinach cooked are 8 and 10 cups respectively. There would be loose in cooking, however there is also lose in juicing as it is impossible to get all the nutrients out of the vege's (if we could get it all the waste would be white). So let us say lose is same between cooking and juicing. Therefore need to juice 8-10cups. This is a rather large amount! When we make juice at home we have 1/4 - 1/3 of the juice as green stuff, otherwise it gets a bit over powering. So odds of doing 10 cups, slim and non.

    Therefore if you ware not feeling 100%, bit tired, not sleeping quite right, having not much of an appetite, take some vitamin B supplements (well a multi would be better).