Health


From the New York Times

Whole milk from organic dairies contains far more of some of the fatty acids that contribute to a healthy heart than conventional milk, scientists are reporting.

A study shows that drinking whole organic milk is more likely to lessen the risk factor for heart disease than conventional milk.

The finding, published Monday in the journal PLOS One, is the most clear-cut instance of an organic food’s offering a nutritional advantage over its conventional counterpart. Studies looking at organic fruits and vegetables have been less conclusive.

Drinking whole organic milk “will certainly lessen the risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” said the study’s lead author, Charles M. Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“All milk is healthy and good for people,” he continued, “but organic milk is better, because it has a more favorable balance of these fatty acids” — omega-3, typically found in fish and flaxseed, versus omega-6, which is abundant in many fried foods like potato chips.

Under government requirements for organic labeling, dairy cows must spend a certain amount of the time in the pasture, eating grassy plants high in omega-3s; conventional milk comes from cows that are mostly fed corn, which is high in omega-6s. Nonorganic cows that graze in pastures also produce milk with greater amounts of omega-3s.

The research was largely funded by Organic Valley, a farm cooperative that sells organic dairy products. But experts not connected with the study said the findings were credible — though they noted that the role of milk in a healthy diet and the influence of fatty acids in preventing or causing cardiovascular disease are far from settled.

“I think this is a very good piece of work,” said Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, a nutritional neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers looked at 384 samples of organic and conventional whole milk taken over 18 months around the country. Although the total amount of fat was almost the same, the organic milk contained 62 percent more omega-3 fatty acids and 25 percent fewer omega-6s.

The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the organic milk was 2.28, much lower than the 5.77 ratio in conventional milk. (The figures do not apply to nonfat milk, which strips away the fatty acids.)

Nutrition experts broadly agree that omega-3 acids offer numerous health benefits. That was the impetus for the United States Department of Agriculture to urge people to eat more seafood when it revised its dietary guidelines in 2010.

But experts disagree sharply whether omega-6 consumption should be reduced.

In ancient times, people ate roughly equal amounts of the two fatty acids. Today most Americans now eat more than 10 times as much omega-6, which is prevalent in certain vegetable oils and thus also fried foods, as omega-3.

While omega-6 is essential, some health studies suggest that such a wide disparity is associated with many ills, Dr. Benbrook said. A shift to drinking organic whole milk — and raising consumption from the currently recommended three servings a day to 4.5 — would take a big step to lowering the ratio, he said, although adjustments would have to be made elsewhere in the diet to offset the added calories of the milk fat.

Donald R. Davis, another of the study’s authors, said the longstanding assumption that the saturated fats in whole milk raise the risk of cardiovascular disease has been questioned in recent years.

Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, did not question the underlying data in the study. But he said the conclusions and recommendations were based on the “false assumption” that omega-6 fatty acids are harmful.

Dr. Willett said omega-6s were actually associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and he called the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s “irrelevant.” People should try to eat more of both, he said.

And he noted that milk was not essential to a healthy diet; adults in many countries drink little or none. “We don’t know all the long-term consequences, so I think the best strategy given current knowledge is to keep intake low to moderate (as in the Mediterranean diet) if it is consumed at all,” Dr. Willet wrote in an email.

But Dr. Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health, who has conducted research on the effects of fatty acids on heart disease, said animal studies showed that high levels of omega-6s interfered with omega-3s.

At the same time, though, he cautioned that the mix of omega-3s in milk is different from that in fatty fish. The simple ratio, he said, “is not as meaningful as we would like it to be.”

Still, he endorsed the organic milk recommendation. “You’re heading in the right direction,” he said.

Organic Valley uses independent milk-processing companies around the country, allowing the researchers to compare samples of organic milk with conventional milk from the same region.

The company provided $45,000 for an independent laboratory to measure the fatty acids, and it is a corporate sponsor of Dr. Benbrook’s program at Washington State. The university spent $90,000 to analyze the data and prepare the paper for publication.

George Siemon, chief executive of Organic Valley, said he was hoping to gain a better idea of how organic foods differ from conventionally produced ones.

“Organics have lacked a science base,” Mr. Siemon said. “I just wanted to know.”

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I got a request via Contact Me on this blog for the recipe for oat water so here I am obliging.  I am going to attempt to rebrand it as oat broth.

The basic principle is to use more water that normal and cook it longer

Currently I use old fashioned oats and about 4 times the normal recommended amount of water but you can use more.  We used to cook it for an hour but I am too impatient anymore so stop after 25-30 minutes. The sign when it is cooked enough is you see the  “cream” starting to come out of it and the oats have mostly lost their shape.  If you add enough water it is almost like a drink you can sip instead of  spoon.

I add fresh ginger and cinnamon but you add whatever you want to taste, I like it quite gingery. I usually don’t cook with salt but do lightly salt this as it seems to really bring out the flavor.  A tablespoon of butter per gallon doesn’t hurt it.

I add  a tablespoon or two of plain yogurt  to a bowlful and sweeten to taste with honey or jam.

I make a large batch once and keep it in the refrigerator taking out a daily dose and heating it up. Sometimes I add fresh or dried fruit when reheating it.

You can do the same thing with rolled barley but it takes a little longer to cook.

It is the kind of food that when you eat it you can almost heat your cells screaming, this is so good for me and tastes good to boot.

From the New York Times
Published: April 27, 2009

There was a time when red meat was a luxury for ordinary Americans, or was at least something special: cooking a roast for Sunday dinner, ordering a steak at a restaurant. Not anymore. Meat consumption has more than doubled in the United States in the last 50 years.

Yarek Waszul

Now a new study of more than 500,000 Americans has provided the best evidence yet that our affinity for red meat has exacted a hefty price on our health and limited our longevity.

The study found that, other things being equal, the men and women who consumed the most red and processed meat were likely to die sooner, especially from one of our two leading killers, heart disease and cancer, than people who consumed much smaller amounts of these foods.

Results of the decade-long study were published in the March 23 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine. The study, directed by Rashmi Sinha, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute, involved 322,263 men and 223,390 women ages 50 to 71 who participated in the National Institutes of HealthAARP Diet and Health Study. Each participant completed detailed questionnaires about diet and other habits and characteristics, including smoking, exercise, alcohol consumption, education, use of supplements, weight and family history of cancer.

Determining Risk

During the decade, 47,976 men and 23,276 women died, and the researchers kept track of the timing and reasons for each death. Red meat consumption ranged from a low of less than an ounce a day, on average, to a high of four ounces a day, and processed meat consumption ranged from at most once a week to an average of one and a half ounces a day.

The increase in mortality risk tied to the higher levels of meat consumption was described as “modest,” ranging from about 20 percent to nearly 40 percent. But the number of excess deaths that could be attributed to high meat consumption is quite large given the size of the American population.

Extrapolated to all Americans in the age group studied, the new findings suggest that over the course of a decade, the deaths of one million men and perhaps half a million women could be prevented just by eating less red and processed meats, according to estimates prepared by Dr. Barry Popkin, who wrote an editorial accompanying the report.

To prevent premature deaths related to red and processed meats, Dr. Popkin suggested in an interview that people should eat a hamburger only once or twice a week instead of every day, a small steak once a week instead of every other day, and a hot dog every month and a half instead of once a week.

In place of red meat, nonvegetarians might consider poultry and fish. In the study, the largest consumers of “white” meat from poultry and fish had a slight survival advantage. Likewise, those who ate the most fruits and vegetables also tended to live longer.

Anyone who worries about global well-being has yet another reason to consume less red meat. Dr. Popkin, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, said that a reduced dependence on livestock for food could help to save the planet from the ravaging effects of environmental pollution, global warming and the depletion of potable water.

“In the United States,” Dr. Popkin wrote, “livestock production accounts for 55 percent of the erosion process, 37 percent of pesticides applied, 50 percent of antibiotics consumed, and a third of total discharge of nitrogen and phosphorus to surface water.”

Finding a Culprit

A question that arises from observational studies like this one is whether meat is in fact a hazard or whether other factors associated with meat-eating are the real culprits in raising death rates. The subjects in the study who ate the most red meat had other less-than-healthful habits. They were more likely to smoke, weigh more for their height, and consume more calories and more total fat and saturated fat. They also ate less fruits, vegetables and fiber; took fewer vitamin supplements; and were less physically active.

But in analyzing mortality data in relation to meat consumption, the cancer institute researchers carefully controlled for all these and many other factors that could influence death rates. The study data have not yet been analyzed to determine what, if any, life-saving benefits might come from eating more protein from vegetable sources like beans or a completely vegetarian diet.

The results mirror those of several other studies in recent years that have linked a high-meat diet to life-threatening health problems. The earliest studies highlighted the connection between the saturated fats in red meats to higher blood levels of artery-damaging cholesterol and subsequent heart disease, which prompted many people to eat leaner meats and more skinless poultry and fish. Along with other dietary changes, like consuming less dairy fat, this resulted in a nationwide drop in average serum cholesterol levels and contributed to a reduction in coronary death rates.

Elevated blood pressure, another coronary risk factor, has also been shown to be associated with eating more red and processed meat, Dr. Sinha and colleagues reported.

Poultry and fish contain less saturated fat than red meat, and fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that have been linked in several large studies to heart benefits. For example, men who consume two servings of fatty fish a week were found to have a 50 percent lower risk of cardiac deaths, and in the Nurses’ Health Study of 84,688 women, those who ate fish and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week cut their coronary risk by more than 20 percent.

Ties to Cancer

Choosing protein from sources other than meat has also been linked to lower rates of cancer. When meat is cooked, especially grilled or broiled at high temperatures, carcinogens can form on the surface of the meat. And processed meats like sausages, salami and bologna usually contain nitrosamines, although there are products now available that are free of these carcinogens.

Data from one million participants in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition trial found that those who ate the least fish had a 40 percent greater risk of developing colon cancer than those who ate more than 1.75 ounces of fish a day. Likewise, while a diet high in red meat was linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer in the large Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial, among the 35,534 men in the study, those who consumed at least three servings of fish a week had half the risk of advanced prostate cancer compared with men who rarely ate fish.

Another study, which randomly assigned more than 19,500 women to a low-fat diet, found after eight years a 40 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer among them, when compared with 29,000 women who ate their regular diets.

high fructose

FILE – In this Sept. 15, 2011, file photo, high fructose corn syrup is listed as an ingredient on a can of soda in Philadelphia. Scientists have used imaging tests to show for the first time that fructose, a sugar that saturates the American diet, can trigger brain changes that may lead to overeating. The study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, is a small study and does not prove that fructose or its relative, high-fructose corn syrup, can cause obesity, but experts say it adds evidence they may play a role. Photo: Matt Rourke / AP

This is your brain on sugar — for real. Scientists have used imaging tests to show for the first time that fructose, a sugar that saturates the American diet, can trigger brain changes that may lead to overeating.

After drinking a fructose beverage, the brain doesn’t register the feeling of being full as it does when simple glucose is consumed, researchers found.

It’s a small study and does not prove that fructose or its relative, high-fructose corn syrup, can cause obesity, but experts say it adds evidence they may play a role. These sugars often are added to processed foods and beverages, and consumption has risen dramatically since the 1970s along with obesity. A third of U.S. children and teens and more than two-thirds of adults are obese or overweight.

All sugars are not equal — even though they contain the same amount of calories — because they are metabolized differently in the body. Table sugar is sucrose, which is half fructose, half glucose. High-fructose corn syrup is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Some nutrition experts say this sweetener may pose special risks, but others and the industry reject that claim. And doctors say we eat too much sugar in all forms.

For the study, scientists used magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scans to track blood flow in the brain in 20 young, normal-weight people before and after they had drinks containing glucose or fructose in two sessions several weeks apart.

Scans showed that drinking glucose “turns off or suppresses the activity of areas of the brain that are critical for reward and desire for food,” said one study leader, Yale University endocrinologist Dr. Robert Sherwin. With fructose, “we don’t see those changes,” he said. “As a result, the desire to eat continues — it isn’t turned off.”

What’s convincing, said Dr. Jonathan Purnell, an endocrinologist at Oregon Health & Science University, is that the imaging results mirrored how hungry the people said they felt, as well as what earlier studies found in animals.

“It implies that fructose, at least with regards to promoting food intake and weight gain, is a bad actor compared to glucose,” said Purnell. He wrote a commentary that appears with the federally funded study in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers now are testing obese people to see if they react the same way to fructose and glucose as the normal-weight people in this study did.

What to do? Cook more at home and limit processed foods containing fructose and high-fructose corn syrup, Purnell suggested. “Try to avoid the sugar-sweetened beverages. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever have them,” but control their size and how often they are consumed, he said.

A second study in the journal suggests that only severe obesity carries a high death risk — and that a few extra pounds might even provide a survival advantage. However, independent experts say the methods are too flawed to make those claims.

The study comes from a federal researcher who drew controversy in 2005 with a report that found thin and normal-weight people had a slightly higher risk of death than those who were overweight. Many experts criticized that work, saying the researcher — Katherine Flegal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — painted a misleading picture by including smokers and people with health problems ranging from cancer to heart disease. Those people tend to weigh less and therefore make pudgy people look healthy by comparison.

Flegal’s new analysis bolsters her original one, by assessing nearly 100 other studies covering almost 2.9 million people around the world. She again concludes that very obese people had the highest risk of death but that overweight people had a 6 percent lower mortality rate than thinner people. She also concludes that mildly obese people had a death risk similar to that of normal-weight people.

Critics again have focused on her methods. This time, she included people too thin to fit what some consider to be normal weight, which could have taken in people emaciated by cancer or other diseases, as well as smokers with elevated risks of heart disease and cancer.

“Some portion of those thin people are actually sick, and sick people tend to die sooner,” said Donald Berry, a biostatistician at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

The problems created by the study’s inclusion of smokers and people with pre-existing illness “cannot be ignored,” said Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society.

A third critic, Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, was blunter: “This is an even greater pile of rubbish” than the 2005 study, he said. Willett and others have done research since the 2005 study that found higher death risks from being overweight or obese.

Flegal defended her work. She noted that she used standard categories for weight classes. She said statistical adjustments were made for smokers, who were included to give a more real-world sample. She also said study participants were not in hospitals or hospices, making it unlikely that large numbers of sick people skewed the results.

“We still have to learn about obesity, including how best to measure it,” Flegal’s boss, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, said in a written statement. “However, it’s clear that being obese is not healthy – it increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many other health problems. Small, sustainable increases in physical activity and improvements in nutrition can lead to significant health improvements.”

___

Online:

Obesity info: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html

___

Marilynn Marchione can be followed at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP

Americans drink more soda than anyone else on earth. And it’s no wonder we keep reaching for soda over water, coffee and juice–soda is addictive. From morning to night, many of us rely on a steady stream of sugary, caffeinated soda to power us through long hours sitting in front of steering wheels, computer screens, dinner tables and televisions. Like gas-powered cars and high-speed internet, Coke and Pepsi products are just another fixture in most Americans daily lives.

It may be time to confront our soda addiction. Just as lifestyle diseases like Type II Diabetes and obesity grow to epidemic proportions in the U.S., the average American now consumes 20 oz of soda every day. For non-diet drinkers that means guzzling an extra 17 teaspoons of sugar daily. And if your poison is diet or low calorie soda, you’re still not in the clear. Many studies now link aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to increased risks for certain cancers, kidney damage and even Alzheimer’s.

So what is the total hidden cost of guzzling this sugar-laden syrup like water?  Check out our video evaluating the toll soda takes on our nation’s health, economy and environment.

By Steve Almasy, CNN (click link to see video)

(CNN) — On average, 18 people in the United States die each day waiting for an organ transplant.

Billionaire Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to change that. He announced Tuesday that the social networking site wants to “help solve the crisis” by allowing users to volunteer as potential organ donors in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“We think that a lot of people who might just be on the fence about whether or not they want to do this, could be convinced to do that,” Zuckerberg told ABC News.

He described widespread acceptance of organ donation as “a shift in society that will probably take a while to fully take hold” until more Facebook users start sharing their experiences.

“But I think that if people choose to share these stories with their friends, that can make a big difference over time.”

CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen: Each donor can save seven lives

Facebook and organ donation status

More than 114,000 people in the United States are awaiting organ donations, 79 people on an average day receive a transplant while 18 die, according to Organdonor.gov. The site says more than 100 million people in the U.S. are registered donors.

“We could save thousands more lives a year if we had another 20, 30, 40 million more people registered,” said David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America, which is partnering with Facebook in this effort.

The Facebook tool works like this: Users go to their timelines, where under Life Event they will see a health and wellness section. Zuckerberg said: “You put in, ‘I decided to be an organ donor’ and your state or country you live in and you can add a story about how you decided to be an organ donor.”

More than 10,000 people in the United Kingdom need a transplant, according to the website for NHS Blood and Transplant.

A Facebook user will also see a Share Your Donor Status link when a friend’s donor update hits their news feed.

The Facebook page also includes links to Donate Life America for people to become official donors. Going through an online state registry or indicating you want to be a donor when you get your driver’s license means signing a legal agreement, unlike the Facebook pledge.

“The Facebook partnership is an opportunity for people to share decisions,” Fleming said. “The most important part of this is actually registering to be a donor so that your wishes can be carried out. Sharing that decision through Facebook is an opportunity to encourage your friends and family to also register.”

People have shared their desire to donate their organs on Facebook before, and others have talked about their need for a transplant, but the idea isn’t to match these people, Fleming said.

Promoting social agendas hasn’t been a big tradition at Facebook, although in 2011 it did pair with CNN’s sister company, Cartoon Network, to rally against bullying. There have been several other initiatives.

“Encouraging users to share that they are organ donors is another simple and non-controversial move Facebook can make to add value to the service beyond the traditional status updates and photo sharing,” wrote Brittany Darwell, lead writer at the blog Inside Facebook, in an e-mail to CNN.

She said Facebook has also been involved with finding places to vote in national elections, issuing Amber Alerts through some pages, as well as joining a group of companies to promote world peace.

Anne Paschke, a spokeswoman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, applauded the organ donation plan.

“It’s absolutely fabulous that so many people will learn how easy it is to sign up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor,” she said.

Organdonor.gov also recommends that people who want to be donors inform family members, tell their doctors and include this wish in their wills.

Facebook has 161 million users in the United States, spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said in an e-mail. She said the company didn’t have solid numbers on how many people had used the organ donation tool yet.

Source

Eat Meat & Die
Created by: OnlineAssociatesDegree.com

Doctors always suspected that our heavy reliance on antibiotics is what spurred the rise MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the staphylococcus “super germ.” Turns out it may not have been us, but rather our porcine population.

According to a new study by researchers Paul Keim and Lance Price, both from Northern Arizona University, and published in the journal mBio, MRSA actually began as a nonresistant strain that infected humans.

The duo employed sequenced the genomes of 89 types of animals — including turkeys, chickens, pigs, and humans-samples from four continents.

They discovered that MRSA only developed its resistance after jumping from humans to pig populations within our food production chain. While floating amongst the hogs, it became immune to two antibiotic medications — tetracycline and methicillin — that pigs are commonly administered. These medications are also commonly prescribed to fight human staph infections. From there, the strain appears to have then jumped back to humans, bringing it’s new-found defenses with it.

As the study posits,

The human-associated isolates from the basal clades carried phages encoding human innate immune modulators that were largely missing among the livestock-associated isolates. Our results strongly suggest that livestock-associated MRSA CC398 originated in humans as MSSA.

“Our findings underscore the potential public health risks of widespread antibiotic use in food animal production,” Price said in a statement. “Staph thrives in crowded and unsanitary conditions. Add antibiotics to that environment and you’re going to create a public health problem.”

The CC398 strain, as it’s known first appeared in cattle, pig, and poultry populations around 2003. The study argues that the mixture of growth hormones, antibiotics, and other medications employed to increase production and make the animals more suitable for the crowded conditions industrial food production requires are to blame for creating an ideal setting for the bacteria to gain resistance. “The most powerful force in evolution is selection. And in this case, humans have supplied a strong force through the excessive use of antibiotic drugs in farm animal production,” said Paul Keim, a co-author on the study. [PopScienceInside NAUmBio]

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