Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pesticides in Food Linked to ADHD in Kids

A recent study found that non-organic foods, with pesticide residues, do significantly increase "children's risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and could be causing an increase in the number of children living with the condition".

The Study
Researchers collected data from 1,140 children from a previous survey conducted in the US by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Nearly 10% (119) of the children met the criteria for ADHD. Pesticide by-products in urine were part of the collected data.

The Results
"Children with substantially higher levels of a breakdown product of neurotoxic organophosphate pesticides were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD."

According to the article, researchers concluded that "parents should buy organic for their kids." Although several studies have been conducted on the effects of pesticides on workers, this is the first study to look at effects, in children, of eating foods grown with pesticides.

The article points out something very interesting... something we have been telling the public for years: Some pesticides are "designed to attack the neurological systems of pests (unfortunately, they harm humans, too)". And "most people's exposure to them comes through food, drinking water, and residential pesticide use, according to the EPA."

The following statement is very powerful and troublesome:
"A 2008 U.S. Pesticide Residue Program Report found detectable concentrations of one organophosphate alone, malathion, in 28 percent of frozen blueberries, 25 percent of strawberries, and 19 percent of celery sampled. (Malathion is also commonly sprayed out of airplanes and onto communities as part of mosquito-control programs. Organophosphate pesticides, also found in some flea and tick products, have been tied to childhood leukemia, and are believed to be partially responsible for colony collapse disorder, which is killing off honeybees (who pollinate our food crops) at unprecedented rates."

Our Suggestion
Grow your own. At the very least, grow your own spices. Some fruits are easy to grow as well. If you are unable to grow your own, buy organic. Wash EVERYTHING VERY WELL, even what is grown at home. Washing and disinfecting becomes even more crucial when you are unable to grow your own or purchase organic fruits and vegetables.

There is little you can do to prevent exposure from airborne pollutants/pesticides. But, as this study suggests, most common exposure to these lethal chemicals is through food. This is something you can control - albeit, not eliminate.

[MSNBC.com]: Pesticides in food linked to ADHD in kids

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grocery Stores Central in Childhood Obesity

We recently read an article based on an initiative to make Philadelphia supermarkets healthier, in an attempt to reverse childhood obesity.

Obesity rates have more than quadrupled for children ages 6 to 11 and more than tripled for adolescents ages 12 to 19 in the past 40 years. Rates are more significant in the lower-income, multi-ethnic communities and neighborhoods - usually located in food deserts (areas with no easy access to healthy affordable food).

"If we don't reverse the epidemic, the current generation of young people could be the first generation in U.S. history to live sicker and die younger than their parents' generation," says the Philadelphia proposal.

Because full-service supermarkets and grocery stores offer large varieties of healthier foods compared with convenience stores, there is growing evidence that people who live more than a mile from a full-service grocery store are less likely to consume a healthy diet and more likely to be obese.

Almost 60% of shoppers say they spend most of their food-budget money in full-service grocery stores and over 90% of shoppers from households with children say they have shopped in a grocery store in the past 3 months (half the time accompanied by their children).

Supermarkets also help protect adolescents from becoming overweight. Additionally, there is a direct correlation between the presence of convenience stores and being overweight.

Conclusion: Grocery stores are "center stage" for combating and preventing childhood obesity.

Change Supermarket Design
Although, as mentioned above, there are advantages to having easy access to grocery stores, some experts believe they need to be rearranged. After all, remember that supermarkets are designed to sell inventory as fast, and in as large quantities as possible. They actually have ways of luring you into buying much more than what you've put on your shopping list - what you had planned.

Here are a few of the proposed changes for supermarkets:
The initiative proposes things like moving sodas and chips from the end of isles (highly visible and very easy to access) and removing sugary cereals from the bottom shelves where little kids can most easily see and grab them. Another proposed change is to place healthy and unhealthy items next to each other.

Why are these Changes Needed?
The following is a very powerful statement taken directly from the article:
"Self-checkout doesn't have the gauntlet of candy bars. Some industry consultants calculated that an average American woman could lose four pounds a year just going through self-checkout."

This is proof that people are lured into buying and consuming items they did not intend to buy. One of the references used for our "Scientific Reasoning Behind Drinking Diet Soda" says that certain foods are as addictive as some illegal drugs.

We agree that placing addictive items at arms' reach of kids, and enticing buyers is a huge factor in the current obesity trend seen across the world (not just the US). Changing displays and updating item locations can be a huge aid. It will be interesting to see how far this initiative gets... All of these changes affect the stores' bottom line.

We invite you to read the following two articles. They expose manufacturers and their use of food labels to make their products look healthier than they really are:

Subliminal Messages in Food Labels
Subliminal Messages in Food Labels II

[Good.is]: Check Yourself Out! The Science of Supermarket Design

Download initiative (PDF - 29 pages)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fish Oils Could Help with Mood and Alcoholism

Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine found a potential therapeutic benefit from fish oil supplements "for treating alcohol abuse and psychiatric disorders."

Mood Control
The study was a multi-year study in which mice were given omega-3 fatty acids. In mice with bipolar disorder, "The fatty acid DHA, which is one of the main active ingredients in fish oil, 'normalized their behavior,' according to Alexander B. Niculescu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and the lead author of the study."

They found that these mice would stop being depressed and did not become "manic" when stressed - unlike bipolar mice which are usually highly depressed and become readily manic under stress.

Dr. Niculescu also said that "When [they] looked into their brains, using comprehensive gene expression studies, we were surprised to see that genes that are known targets of psychiatric medications were modulated and normalized by DHA." This is molecular proof that dietary omega-3 influences gene expression in the brain.

Alcohol Consumption Control
Researchers also found that mice given DHA showed a reduced desire for alcohol.

"'These bipolar mice, like some bipolar patients, love alcohol. The mice on DHA drank much less; it curtailed their alcohol abusive behavior,' he said, adding that this is a completely novel finding."

A separate experiment was conducted on alcohol-loving mice. The researchers saw similar results.

Dr. Niculescu said that he believes a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help the prevention of certain disorders, and could also help with alcoholism.

Learn more about EPA and DHA (Omega-3).

[ScienceDaily]: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526091758.htm

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mexico's "Queso Fresco" has Antihypertensive Activity

A study was conducted by the Eastern Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture. They state that "Hispanic-style cheeses are one of the fastest growing varieties in the United States, making up approximately 2% of the total cheese production in this country. Queso Fresco is one of most popular Hispanic-style cheeses."

The Study
Proteins from 18 different "queso fresco" cheeses were analyzed for potential antihypertensive activity. 6 were Mexican-style "queso fresco," made from raw milk, 12 were made from pasteurized milk and did not utilize starter cultures.

Researchers were looking for the proteins' ability to inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) - an enzyme that participates in vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels).

Cheeses were aged, and proteins were extracted periodically.

The Results
All cheeses produced ACE-inhibiting proteins.

The 6 Mexican style "queso fresco" cheeses stood out, however - the proteins were found only a few days after being aged. The model cheeses, made from pasteurized milk, produced these same results "after 8 weeks of aging when they were no longer consumable."

[PubMed]: Short communication: Assessing antihypertensive activity in native and model Queso Fresco cheeses

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Intense Exercise Better Than Endurance Training

A recent study identified "high intensity exercise [to be] more beneficial than traditional endurance training" for those concerned about their cardiovascular health.

The study
47 boys and 10 girls volunteered for the study. The kids were randomly assigned to two groups - the moderate intensity group and the high intensity group.

Both groups performed 3 exercise sessions a week for 7 weeks. The moderate intensity group was asked to jog, non-stop, for 20 minutes while the high intensity group was asked to run a series of 20m sprints in a period of 30 seconds.

By the end of the study the moderate intensity group had 420 minutes of exercise and the high intensity group had only done 63 minutes. The moderate intensity group had burned an approximate 4,410kcals while the high intensity group had only burned 907.2kcals.

The Results
"The results revealed that both groups demonstrated improved CVD risk factors. However, the total exercise time over seven weeks was six times higher for the MOD group compared to the HIT group. Thus, significant improvements in CVD risk factors in the HIT group occurred in only 15% of the total exercise time."

This states that the body benefits MOST from high intensity training - kids in the high intensity group had same results in less than a fifth of the time as the kids in the moderate intensity group. This suggests that, "brief, intense exercise is a time efficient means for improving CVD risk factors in adolescents."

[Medical News Today]: Better A Sprint Than A Marathon: Brief Intense Exercise Better Than Endurance Training For CVD

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Roxarsone, Poultry, and Your Health

News that Roxarsone will no longer be used in poultry hit the web today.

Roxarsone is a 67 year-old drug that has been administered to poultry to protect it against certain diseases. Pfizer (Roxarsone's manufacturer), along with the FDA, opted to stop giving the medication to poultry because the compound contains levels of organic arsenic that can convert into inorganic arsenic which is known to cause certain cancers.

It doesn't look like there will be a recall of any chicken. "FDA officials stress that the levels of inorganic arsenic detected were very low and that continuing to eat chicken as 3-Nitro is suspended from the market does not pose a health risk." And really... why should there be a recall? We've been eating this junk for decades.

Is There a Cover-up on the Way?
We're not advocates of conspiracies but we did find it odd that for the first time, the Medical News Today displays a 404 (page not found) error when following links from Google and Twitter.

Here are three screen shots (one of Google, one of the tweet, and one of the page).

Google Results Screenshot

Tweet that Informed Us About this

Error Page on Medical News Today

[LA Times]: Arsenic-containing drug in chicken feed to be pulled from U.S.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Potassium-to-Sodium Ratio

Recent literary reviews suggest that salt balance may be key to preventing heart disease.

Literary Review
"Americans are consuming too much sodium and not enough potassium."

"This imbalance is taking a toll in the form of higher rates of heart disease and stroke, the first and third most deadly diseases in the U.S., respectively, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

The article names some fruits and vegetables that are good potassium sources. The idea is that if you eat these foods you will increase your potassium intake, balancing your potassium-to-sodium ratio.

Why is this important? According to the article, recent scientific research suggests that it is low potassium-to-sodium ratio that damages the heart, and not necessarily a person's total sodium intake.

[Medical News Today]: High Potassium-To-Sodium Ratio May Reduce Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease