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