Monthly Archives: July 2012

Important nutrition news for diabetics

FoodFacts.com ran across some very important information today that we wanted to share with our community. It’s especially pertinent for diabetics or anyone with diabetics in their family or circle of friends and warrants attention.

Many diabetics and folks who know and love them have considered diet food products as an answer to keeping their sugar levels down. In addition to understanding how carbohydrates affect their disease, and adjusting their diets accordingly, they can also consider sugar-free diet, light, or low fat food products acceptable choices. After all diabetes is a disease that is directly related to sugar … right?

There’s been new research released that point to two additives in foods that can actually cause an increase in fasting blood glucose levels and have been found to be linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes. This is the most common form of the disease, affecting anyone from young children to older adults. And it turns out that the foods that some people think may actually be safe to eat for diabetics really may not be at all.

The study involved mice and its results showed that both aspartame and MSG are actually increasing fasting blood glucose levels and reducing insulin sensitivity … not a good combination for folks with dietabetes.

The presence of aspartame as a product ingredient was shown to have both these effects. When both aspartame and MSG are included in product ingredients a dual effect was discovered – both the spike in fasting blood glucose levels and reduced insulin sensitivity along with weight elevation. As double whammy for diabetes.

This study is fairly ground breaking as it is the first one published that illustrates a hyperglycemic effect from chronic exposure to a combination of food additives that are incredibly common in the food supply. Just take a look at products labeled “sugar-free”, “diet”, “light”, “low-calorie” or “low fat”. And it’s especially important to remember that looking for MSG isn’t just a simple search for monosodium glutamate on an ingredient list. MSG is hidden in many ingredients that are added to processed food. The dual effects described in this study show that this combination can actually spur the development of diabetes.

As with all studies, more research is needed. But since FoodFacts.com understands how many of the products in stores across the country contain both of these ingredients, we felt it especially important to inform and educate our community. Whether you have diabetes or there’s someone in your family who does, it’s more important than ever to read and understand the ingredients of food products. Once again, the ingredient list can tell us what we need to know to keep our families safe and healthy.

Read more: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22697049

Another clue to the obesity problem

Food Facts is keeping a close eye out news that can help our community and the people they reach in their communities understand more about and combat the growing obesity problem in our country. Today we came across a fascinating new study that we wanted to make sure we shared with you.

A study conducted by Planet Money/National Public Radio outlines how Americans are spending money on the foods they eat. It uncovered that the country is spending more of their food budgets on sweets and processed foods than they were 30 years ago, in 1982. And while spending more on those items, we are spending the same percentage on fruits and vegetables. The scale is tipping, but in the wrong direction.

On average consumers spend 14.6% of their grocery money on fruits and vegetables. In 1982, that figure was 14.5%. Back in 1982, the grocery budget allowance for sweets and processed foods was 11.6% — considerably less than the amount allocated for fruits and vegetables. Today, in 2012, that figure has risen a whopping 11.6% to 22.9%! That’s a fairly dramatic increase.

There were other changes reflected in American spending habits as well. Meats, for instance, dropped by almost 10% of expenditures. Dairy product expenditures dropped to 11.1% from 13.3%. And spending on grains and baked goods increased from 13.2% to 14.4%.

So it appears that the data which was compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects increases in spending on foods that aren’t nutritionally important for us and decreases in foods that are actually good for us.

There are reasons to believe that cost plays a part in these statistical changes. There are some fruits and vegetables that are less expensive now than they were in 1982 (costs adjusted for inflation) and others that are markedly higher. But in today’s economic climate and consumers trying to do whatever they can to stretch their dollars and make them go further, the perception may, in fact, be different than the reality. It does appear that people look at processed foods as a less expensive alternative to fresh and are moved by their budgets as opposed to nutritional quality. The concept of convenience also rears its head here, as it’s acknowledged that the idea of packaged products is still very appealing in our busy day and age.

While finances are a concern for all Americans right now, Food Facts wonders if we’re not sacrificing our health in an effort to tighten our belts. And sadly, if we’re tightening our belts with our food budgets, maybe that’s making more of us need to loosen our belts – literally.

Read more here: http://www.factsfiguresfuture.com/issues/july-2012/where-consumers-put-their-food-money.html

Are GMOs adding to obesity problems?

Here at Food Facts, we’re always discussing the effect of ingredients on our health and well being. We’ve always believed that the ingredient list is key to many, many issues … including weight gain. While calories are important, we don’t believe that they are the be all and end all of weight control for anyone. If a low-calorie food has a bad ingredient list, we understand that a person might actually end up hungrier and looking for more to eat. We understand that ingredients like MSG or hidden MSG ingredients are actually known to increase hunger.

With the country more focused than ever on the obesity epidemic, we feel that it’s more important than ever to pay close attention to the foods we eat and their effects. Now it appears that we may be able to add GMO ingredients to the list of those that might make you eat more and consequently gain more weight.

There’s some new research coming from the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science. Yes, it’s an animal study, but its results are certainly a cause for concern throughout the human population. It has linked GMO food products to weight gain.

The study was conducted over a 90-day period and involved both rats and salmon and was focused specifically on how these populations reacted to a diet of genetically modified foods.

The rat population was divided into two study groups. One group was fed only GMO foods and the other only non-GMO foods. The rats who were fed genetically modified corn not only got slowly fatter than the non-GMO population, they also grew considerably quicker and ate more food, more often.

The salmon population studied experienced the same results, with some extra findings. The GMO salmon population experienced more weight gain, and ate more food, more often. In addition, they developed an inability to properly digest protein and developed intestinal changes.

In both rats and salmon, there was a link between the consumption of genetically modified foods, hunger and weight gain. It’s important to remember that in both the rat and salmon populations, there was no restriction of movement (or calorie expenditure). The weight gain occurred regardless of the normal energy expenditure of either the rats or the salmon. Therefore, calories consumed vs. calories burned had nothing to do with the weight gain.

While the study concentrates on animals and fish, it does lead you to ask if it’s possible that the obesity explosion we’re experiencing in our own country and throughout the world, might just have something to do with the amount of processed foods we’re ingesting and their ingredients. Considering that corn is present in almost every processed food available, soy is a common ingredient (and mostly GMO) and canola oil is a popular and “better” oil (that’s also GMO), and that the phenomenal infiltration of these food products actually might coincide with the obesity problem, it’s definitely something we want to keep an eye on.

Food Facts wanted to make sure our community has this important information so that we can all continue to make the best choices we can for our diet and health. Read more here: http://sciencenordic.com/growing-fatter-gm-diet

Cheese may be helpful in reducing your possibility of developing Type 2 Diabetes

Food Facts ran across this information today and wanted to share it with our community. Diabetes is a disease that can affect anyone in the population … male or female, young or old, rich or poor. We all know someone who lives with diabetes and needs to adjust their lifestyle accordingly.

Recent research is now linking the possibility that eating a moderate amount of cheese each day can actually reduce the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of the disease, affecting about 26 million children and adults in the U.S. The researchers wanted to explore a possible connection between dairy products and the disease.

They studied about 16,000 healthy adults and 12,000 adults with diabetes in eight European nations. The results took into consideration the ages, sex, education level, BMI, and diet of each participant. At the conclusion of the study it was discovered that those who consumed two slices of cheese every day reduced their chances of developing the disease by 12 percent.

It was found that the total intake of dairy products among participants did not affect diabetes development. However, the association between the consumption of cheese and the development of diabetes became obvious. In fact, it wasn’t just about cheese, the inverse relationship between diabetes went further, including other fermented dairy products like yogurt and fermented milk.

It’s important to remember that the USDA guidelines for dairy intake suggest three cups of dairy each day. Two slices of cheese accounts for one cup of that intake. So needless to say, the study isn’t suggesting that we all eat cheese with every meal, or over do in any way. However, moderate cheese intake does seem to play a part in keeping diabetes at bay. And, if you’re a cheese lover, it’s good to hear that you can enjoy that moderate amount and know that it’s doing something valuable for your health! Of course, it’s noted that more study is certainly called for.

Food Facts likes to keep our community aware of every way our food affects our health. It’s nice to have some good news about a food that many people enjoy. We’ll continue to keep you posted as we find our more and more. In the meantime, you can read more here: http://www.ajcn.org/content/96/2/382.abstract

Are calories the only thing we should be worrying about?

Today, Food Facts heard about the roll-out of McDonald’s “Favorites Under 400 calories promotion. As of today, you’ll be able to walk into your local McDonald’s and view signage listing the products on the McDonald’s menu that are under 400 calories each. The promotion has been timed around the Summer Olympics in London that begin with opening ceremonies this coming Friday, July 27th, 2012.

It’s no secret that McDonald’s came under fire for sponsoring the games. With obesity rates on the rise worldwide, folks in the medical profession as well as health advocates everywhere were questioning whether or not this particular company should be one of the “faces” of this ancient event that promotes athleticism and sportsmanship. So … it appears as though this was McDonald’s answer to its naysayers.

In the first place, it’s important to note that there aren’t really that many menu items on the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” list. And the products featured are single items – not meals. You won’t find a burger with fries and a coke on it. Instead, you’ll find a burger – a regular, small burger. We all know that’s not the burger most folks are ordering from their menu and that it’s fairly rare that anyone is going to order any burger without some sort of meal accompaniment.

But more importantly, Food Facts feels compelled to ask – just how are we defining healthy these days??? If an item is under 400 calories, does that actually make it desirable to eat? We don’t think so. And we wanted to take the time to point out some of the less-than-desirable ingredients you’ll find in a few of the products on the new McDonald’s list.

Filet O Fish sandwich: A few of the controversial ingredients you’ll find in this item are: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Barley Malted Flour, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Azodicarbonamide and Polydorbate 80. But it does come in at 380 calories.

 

Sausage McMuffin: The controversial ingredients for this product include: Barley Malted Flour, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, BHA, BHT, Caramel Color, Propyl Gallate, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and Sodium Benzoate. But it’s on the list at 370 calories.

 

Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap: A few of the ingredients you may not want to consume include: Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Hyrolyzed Protein, Polysorbate 80, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil and Sodium Benzoate. This weighs in at 270 calories.

There are more products to examine and we’d like to encourage our blog followers to go into our database and search them out. You can find an image of the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” signage here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/mcdonalds-favorites-under-400-calories_n_1695885.html   Take a look inside these products that are being heralded as “better to eat” than the Big Mac and make some educated choices. And, more importantly, educate others about your own educated choices.

For some people, calories are a big concern. But Food Facts likes to think that if people understood the ingredient list, calories wouldn’t be the ONLY concern.

Read more about the McDonald’s “Favorites Under 400 Calories” promotion: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/07/23/low-cal-menu-mcdonalds-new-ploy-woo-its-critics
http://jezebel.com/5928496/mcdonalds-swears-its-a-perfectly-healthy-olympic-sponsor

The latest news on caffeine and skin cancer

Food Facts came across some great information regarding caffeine intake and skin cancer that we wanted to make sure we brought to the attention of our community.

A new study published here in the United States has linked the increase of caffeine a person’s diet with a lower risk of basil cell carcinoma.  Basil cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer.  The study included over 110,000 people and was published in early July in the journal Cancer Research.

Dr. Jiali Han, an associate professor with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health went on record saying:   “I would not recommend increasing your coffee intake based on these data alone.”  However, he did add that basal cell carcinoma is just one of a growing list of diseases that appear to be positively affected by increasing coffee/caffeine intake.  That list includes diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Most skin cancers  treated in the U.S. are basal cell skin cancers.  This is the type that begins in the epidermis (the skin’s top layer) and results from regular exposure to ultraviolet radiation.  Basal Cell Carcinoma is a slow-growing cancer which is not life-threatening.   However, it still requires costly treatment.  Any finding that helps prevent the disease can have a positive effect on the public health and our over-burdened health care system.

There were 112,897 people taking part in the health study.  Of those participants a little over 22,700 developed basal cell carcinoma during the 20 years of follow up involved in the study.

It was found that the more caffeine participants consumed, the lower their risk of developing Basal Cell Carcinoma.   They then ranked the study participants according to their caffeine consumption and found that in the case of women, the top 20% of consumers had an 18% lower risk of developing the cancer than the bottom 20%.  The risk was lower for men by 13%

For coffee specifically, it was found that women drinking 3 cups of coffee per day had a 21% lower risk of developing the skin cancer and risk for men was 10% lower.  Caffeine from other food and beverage sources were found to have a similar effect.   The consumption of decaffeinated coffee, however did not correspond to a similar decrease in risk.

It was noted that more study is needed that will include different populations.  It is also important to note that the increase of caffeine consumption showed no effect on developing other forms of skin cancer.

Food Facts thinks that the ability to help prevent Basal Cell Carcinoma through an increase in caffeine is just one of the first steps of many to discovering how food and ingredients both positively and negatively can affect our health.  Stay informed.  It makes a world of difference.

Read more at:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/247423.php

 

A low-fat diet and weight loss may help reduce menopausal symptoms in women

Food Facts understands that women going through menopause experience a number of symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. It can go well beyond “discomfort”, having tremendous negative effects that are individual for every women experiencing this transitional time of life.

The most common menopausal symptoms for most women are weight gain, the inability to lose weight and “hot flashes” – episodes of body heating accompanied by intense sweating. In the past, women have been prescribed hormone replacement therapies. And in recent years those replacement therapies have been called into question for their possible effects on women’s health.

A new study just released is pointing to a low-fat diet as key in reducing these often-traumatic symptoms. Researchers studied 17,473 menopausal women and followed their results as the women ate a diet of low-fat, high-fiber, whole-grain foods without using any hormone replacement therapies. Those women involved in the study who lost either 10 pounds or 10 percent of their body weight were less likely to have hot flashes or night sweats than women who did not lose weight. Women who lost more than 22 pounds found that their symptoms were eliminated completely.

“Since most women tend to gain weight with age, weight loss or weight gain prevention may offer a viable strategy to help eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause,” said study author Bette Caan, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. “Because fat insulates the body, increased body fat may worsen hot flashes and night sweats, which are caused by a complex interaction between hormones, brain chemicals and sweat glands during menopause. The less fat a person has, the more easily the body can dissipate heat,” Caan said.

In the past, there has been research associating body weight with the severity of menopausal symptoms. This study, however, is the first to link a healthy diet and losing weight to the reversal of symptoms.

Data for the study was gathered during The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modifications trial. U.S. women were tracked in the trial between 1993 and 1998 to study how a low-fat diet affects many different health issues, menopausal symptoms, included. While the diet focused on reducing fat and increasing intake of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, its focus was not on weight loss, but overall health. Women in the study following the diet lost about 4.5 pounds each year. But surprisingly, the study also revealed that women who didn’t lose weight, but followed the diet also experienced a reduction in their symptoms. This may be because of the high-fiber increase as other studies have shown a connection here. It’s worth it to note that after a year of following the diet, the women studied were 3x more likely to lose weight than other menopausal women. Since weight gain, and difficulty losing weight is such a prevalent complaint among menopausal women, the simple adoption of a low-fat diet can have a tremendous, positive effect on so many women’s lives as they age.
While, more study is needed, one thing is fairly clear. A high-fiber, low fat diet promises more benefits than heart health and may be a simple answer to the discomfort women have lived with for generations during this important stage of their lives.

Food Facts is excited to bring our community this important information that can have real impact on there lives! Read more about it: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120711101030.htm and http://www.ajc.com/health/can-weight-loss-cool-1476751.html

GMOs: Beet Sugar vs. Cane Sugar

Here at Food Facts, we’re very concerned about GMOs (or genetically engineered food, or genetically modified organisms or genetically modified food – take your pick of terminology). We’re always posting information on our Facebook page and always keeping an eye out to the news.
Tonight, we’d like to bring up the subject of sugar as an ingredient.

Sometimes we think that sugar, in general, has gotten a bad reputation. It’s certainly not something we want to eat too much of, but it may fall into that “not bad in moderation” category for most of us – unless of course, you need to watch your sugar intake for health reasons. But those health reasons aren’t really limited to what we already understand – diabetes and hypoglycemia.

What about if you’re watching your intake of GMO ingredients for your health???? Sugar really becomes more complicated with the subject matter in mind.
What’s the difference between cane sugar and beet sugar? Cane sugar doesn’t seem to be a genetically modified crop – while beet sugar does check in as a heavily modified crop (95% of sugar beets planted in the U.S. are GMO).

Scientifically, there doesn’t seem to be a difference – at least not right now. We’ve been publishing links to articles that talk about the downsides of GMOs that are being proven over time. And – just to reinforce the notion – Food Facts is here to help consumers determine what is best for their nutritional needs, so we’re not “backing” any idea or product … we just want you to know what you’re buying. But when an ingredient like sugar becomes a question mark for consumers, we’re really concerned.

Sugar (in some form or another) is in everything that’s packaged from the grocery store. And even in some products that might not appear “packaged” to the consumer even though they are (read packaged apple slices or packaged fruit in the fresh fruit section).

Bottom line, if you are concerned about GMOs and the ingredient list just reads “sugar”, it could very well be (and probably is) beet sugar – and since 95% of the sugar beet crop in the U.S. is estimated to be GMO, there’s a problem there. Look for labels that talk about cane sugar and you can feel better. At least for now…

Infertility treatment outcomes and nutrition

Food Facts is always interested in how nutrition affects our health, and realizes that sometimes it can be in hard to discern ways. We came across a great article in Science Daily that refers to a new study that is showing a link between nutrition and positive outcomes in infertility treatment and wanted to share it with our community.

A study released by the Harvard School of Public Health and funded by the US National Institutes of Health probed the effects of dietary fat on the outcomes of women treated for infertility via in vitro fertilization. Dietary fat in the study as classified as total, saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega 6, omega 3 and trans-fat. It was shown that women with a higher consumption of dietary saturated fats have fewer mature eggs (oocytes) for the egg retrieval process in IVF (in vitro fertilization).

While dietary fat intake had been previously studied for its effects on fertility, there has been little exploration done regarding its effects on fertility treatment outcome. It has already been known and accepted that higher consumption of trans-fat can be associated with ovulatory difficulties like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and miscarriage. Saturated fats can be a cause of lower sperm counts in men. But now we are discovering how the consumption of fats can affect treatment outcomes.

The in vitro process is highly dependent on the number of mature eggs that can be harvested from the patient. The lower the amount of mature eggs for reproductive endocrinologists to work with, the lower the number of actual embryos that can be used in the final stage of IVF, the embryo transfer.

The study was presented during the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Emryology by Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

147 women undergoing in vitro fertilization for the treatment of infertility at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center were studied. The study included assessments of egg development, fertilization rates and embryo quality as well as pregnancy and live birth rates. The fat intake of each of the women were categorized into tertiles and results were controlled for other possible fertility influences including specific infertility diagnosis, BMI and smoking status.

The resulting statistical analysis showed that women with higher fat intake produced fewer eggs that were mature enough for successful fertilization (classified as metaphase II (MII) oocytes). The results was associated with intake of saturated fats
Dr. Chavarro stated,”Only MII oocytes can be used for IVF, thus, having fewer mature oocytes can mean fewer embryos to choose from for … transfer.”

When asked about recommendations to IVF patients based on this study, Professor Chavarro responded, “While these results are interesting, this is the first time to our knowledge that dietary fats have been linked to treatment outcome in IVF. So it is important that our results are replicated in other studies before making strong recommendations about fat intake to women having infertility treatment.”

There’s more fascinating information about how a variety of different fats effect the in vitro fertilization process. Food Facts invites you to read more at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120703120655.htm

Growing evidence on the harmful effects of GMOs

Reports have surfaced all over the web recently regarding an important new report from genetic engineers with further explanation as to why genetically modified food is not good for people or our environment. Food Facts wanted to make are community aware of the report, highlight some of its important content and provide you with a link so you can learn firsthand what they are saying.

Appropriately titled, “GMO Myths and Truths” was released last month. This a such an important paper because it is offering actual authoritative evidence that GMOs are not the innocent victim of a bad reputation. Genetic engineers collaborated on the report giving it substantial credibility.

Who they are
Dr Michael Antoniou of King’s College London School of Medicine in the U.K. and Dr John Fagan, a former genetic engineer have compiled this compelling information.

In 1994, Dr. Fagan returned substantial grant monies to the National Institutes of Health, due to concerns about the safety and ethics of GMO technology. He went on to found a GMO testing company.

According to Dr. Fagan, “Crop genetic engineering as practiced today is a crude, imprecise, and outmoded technology. It can create unexpected toxins or allergens in foods and affect their nutritional value. Recent advances point to better ways of using our knowledge of genomics to improve food crops, that do not involve GM.”

Dr. Antoniou is quoted as saying, “GM crops are promoted on the basis of ambitious claims – that they are safe to eat, environmentally beneficial, increase yields, reduce reliance on pesticides, and can help solve world hunger … I felt what was needed was a collation of the evidence that addresses the technology from a scientific point of view.”

Unsafe effects in laboratory animals and the environment
“Research studies show that genetically modified crops have harmful effects on laboratory animals in feeding trials and on the environment during cultivation”

Superweeds, anyone?
“Over 75% of all GM crops are engineered to tolerate being sprayed with herbicide. This has led to the spread of herbicide-resistant superweeds and has resulted in massively increased exposure of farmers and communities to these toxic chemicals. Epidemiological studies suggest a link between herbicide use and birth defects and cancer.”

“These findings fundamentally challenge the utility and safety of GM crops, but the biotech industry uses its influence to block research by independent scientists and uses its powerful PR machine to discredit independent scientists whose findings challenge this approach.”

Read more of what they’ve had to say here, as well as comments from the third author involved in the report, Claire Robinson, research director for Earth Open Source. The entire report can be viewed here.

Food Facts will continue to keep our community up to date with all the information being made available on this important topic.