Monthly Archives: October 2012

Early puberty epidemic may be linked to meat and dairy consumption

Children today are reaching puberty at far younger ages than ever before. FoodFacts.com understands that this has become a big concern for parents everywhere. One of the first questions being asked is how this early onset of physical maturity can affect their children’s health and well-being. There has been information that early puberty may be associated with cancers like prostate and breast cancer that are hormone-related. As often as questions are asked about why this has occurred in our society, the answers have been few and far between.

New research published in the Journal of Nutrition has linked the consumption of high levels of meat and dairy with the early onset of puberty. It goes further to suggest that eating more vegetable protein can, in fact, be associated with the late onset of puberty.

The study originated at the Department of Nutritional, Food and Consumer Sciences at Fulda University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Dietary records were provided from 112 participants for their children at 12 months old, 18 to 24 months old, three to four years old and then again at 5 to 6 years old. After the age of 6 and until the age of 13, the participants provided information regarding the onset of puberty in both boys and girls.

It was discovered that the children consuming more animal protein (meat and dairy) between the ages of 5 and 6 had an earlier onset of puberty. Those children who consumed a higher level of vegetable protein were more likely to experience a later onset.

The study took into consideration other factors that might be an influence on the age of the children entering puberty. Things like gender, how long they were breastfed, and parental education levels were factored into the results.

All developed countries have been experiencing the same phenomenon regarding the age at which children begin to physically mature. It’s certainly worth noting that all developed countries have higher levels of animal protein consumption.

There have been past studies that have linked early puberty with obesity, environmental chemicals and food additives. Certainly this new information fits in with the other factors that have been pointed out in the past. Parents who are concerned about this for their children may want to include more vegetable proteins in their diets early in life, while lowering meat and dairy consumption in addition to helping them avoid processed foods and encouraging them to exercise.

FoodFacts.com hopes that this information will help parents in our community to continue to make the healthiest choices possible for their families.

Read more:  http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Food/meat_dairy_products_early_puberty_1020121044.html

News for diabetics … a link between legumes and blood sugar

FoodFacts.com found some good news for diabetics today that might not simply help them control their blood sugar levels, but might also lessen their risk of heart attacks and stroke.
A study released this week found that daily consumption of legumes can result in a reduction of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Beans and lentils can help type 2 diabetics with all of this.

The research showed that when a diet including one cup of legumes daily had a better affect than a diet rich in whole grains. Participants were placed on a diet that included this one cup serving each day for three months. It was estimated that their ten-year risk of cardiovascular disease fell a little over 1% at the end of that period.

The 121 participants in the study all had diabetes.  They were split into groups.  One group increased their consumption of legumes by at least a cup per day.  The others followed a diet which included an increase in whole grain products designed to increase their fiber consumption.

At the end of the study period, those people on the “bean diet” experienced a larger drop in their hemoglobin A l c levels than those on the whole-grain diet.  It is important to note that health regulators in the U.S. do consumer a change of .3 or .4% to be “therapeutically relevant.”

In addition, those on the whole-grain diet did not experience a reduction in their blood pressure levels, while those consuming increased amounts of legumes saw a definite difference.

Legumes are a healthy source of protein.  There are so many varieties and so many different ways to include them in your diet.  FoodFacts.com encourages our community to share this important information with the diabetics in your life, and, perhaps try it yourself, even if you aren’t diabetic.  While further study needs to be done, it certainly couldn’t hurt to include more legumes in your meals!

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/10/23/beans-show-promise-in-diabetes/#ixzz2AGKmFshv

A serious problem with labeling brought to light by a very sad story

When FoodFacts.com learns of a story like this we feel compelled to bring it in front of our community. We are committed to educating our audience about what is actually in the food products we consume every day and alert everyone we can about possible dangers in our food supply. Sometimes, though, that mission becomes disturbing and sad.

Earlier this month, Wendy Crossland filed suit against Monster Beverage, the company that produces Monster Energy Drinks. Her 14 year old daughter died last year from cardiac arrest after she had consumed two 24 –ounce cans of the drink over a 24-hour period. Her lawsuit states that Monster Energy did not warn about the risks of consuming its drinks. According to the results of her daughter’s autopsy, the teenager passed due to “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity” that exacerbated an underlying heart problem.

First let’s touch on how much caffeine is in an average-sized cup of coffee. It’s about 100 milligrams. In one 24-ounce can of Monster Energy, there are 240 milligrams. An average grown, healthy adult who has no adverse reactions to caffeine can safely consume between 200 and 300 milligrams per day. The teenage girl who passed away consumed 480 milligrams in a 24-hour period … well over the amount that’s safe for grown human beings. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that adolescents consume no more than 100 milligrams per day.

While FoodFacts.com understands that the teenager willingly consumed the beverages and the company did not force her to purchase them, we feel that it is important to point out that she had no way of knowing how much caffeine she was consuming. While the FDA does regulate the amount of caffeine in soft drinks and has set the limit in 12 ounces of soda at about 71 milligrams, energy drinks are not held to these same standards. Since energy drink manufacturers choose to classify their products as dietary supplements, they are not required to adhere to the same regulations or to label the actual amount of caffeine their beverages contain.

In addition to that very important piece of information, energy drinks most often contain guarana seeds. This botanical product breaks down to caffeine – in a potent way. Three to five grams of guarana seed breaks down to 250 milligrams of caffeine. This is in ADDITION to the actual caffeine the manufacturers are adding to the drinks.

Last spring, the FDA was asked to investigate the caffeine levels and the safety of other ingredients in energy drinks. Noting the products’ specific appeal to young people, it was felt that manufacturers need to prove the their safety.

It appears that Wendy Crossland’s 14-year-old daughter is one of five people who may have died in the last three years consuming energy drinks. In addition, according to a 2009 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, visits to the emergency-room directly related to the consumption of energy drinks rose from 1128 in 2005 to over 13,000 in 2009.

While the FDA is investigating the five deaths reported that seem to be related to energy drink consumption, FoodFacts.com can’t help but wonder why it’s allowable for these beverage manufacturers to avoid rules that have been set in place by the FDA for other caffeinated drink producers. Our government seems to be very proficient at regulating many other industries and products. We can’t help wonder why energy drinks seem to escape this much-needed step.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/business/fda-receives-death-reports-citing-monster-energy-a-high-caffeine-drink.html?_r=1&
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-monster-fda-20121023,0,181549.story
http://neurobonkers.com/2012/06/19/where-does-your-energy-drink-fall-on-the-caffeine-spectrum-and-does-that-taurine-actually-do-anything/

Better health might be written in the tea leaves … green tea, that is.

FoodFacts.com is always looking for information regarding the health benefits of green tea. There has always been conjecture about this tea boasting many, varied health properties gained from including it in your beverage consumption. It’s been heralded in different cultures and has fascinated people for years.

Recent research has pointed to these benefits and recently we’ve blogged about a few of them. It seems, though, that newer research is actually shedding light on how specific elements in green tea might, in fact, be involved in preventing the spread of both breast and prostate cancer!

The new research was focused on 40 women with a form of breast cancer that’s unaffected by hormone therapy. Coming out of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, the researchers gave the participants green tea extract in various amounts and a placebo. Those women consuming the green tea extract exhibited much lower levels of tumor growth than those given the placebo just two months into the study.

Green tea contains polyphenols. These chemicals are thought to have caused the slowing of the growth of the cancer in the women studied, specifically by hindering two proteins that support cancer cell growth and movement in the body. The study has tried to identify how much green tea extract, and/or cups of green tea would be needed to achieve the strongest effects. More research will be required to pinpoint the optimal level.

This research was based on a 2009 study on 26 men with prostate cancer, which showed comparable results in the slowing of cancer growth and migration. There’s another study that’s been released out of the University of California that’s even more recent that followed 67 men with prostate cancer who were about to have their prostate removed. Prior to having the procedure done, the men were instructed to drink six cups of brewed greed tea or water each day on a random basis. The men who drank six cups of green tea had lower levels of PSAs (prostate specific antigens). PSA levels are associated with prostate tumor growth.

It’s interesting to note that Japan, whose citizens consider green tea a steady and regular part of their diets, has a prostate and breast cancer rate that’s just about three times lower than the United States.

While we understand that these findings cannot yet be considered conclusive and that further research will be necessary, FoodFacts.com is certainly encouraged and looks forward to learning more about how green tea might be used in the future to help slow cancer growth and maybe even lend some hope to cancer prevention.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/10/19/green-tea-anti-cancer-secrets-revealed/#ixzz2A4hXKjCV

In case you’re looking for a reason to eat more chocolate, read on …

FoodFacts.com was happy and surprised to read some new research that (loosely) links chocolate and increased brain power! We know how much some folks love chocolate and that it can often be a guilty pleasure. This information could alleviate some of the guilt.

Apparently, those countries that have the largest number of Nobel Prize winners are also the countries with the highest regular chocolate consumption per person. Seems pretty incredible, doesn’t it? Switzerland, for example, has one of the world’s largest numbers of Nobel laureates and it is also the country with the world’s highest chocolate consumption. This is actually from an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Swiss chocolate is very high quality, containing higher amounts of pure cocoa than other chocolates produced around the world. And, to really clarify the consumption part of the equation, Swiss people consume 120 three-ounce bars of chocolate each per year.

While the United States can happily claim our fair share of Nobel laureates, our population is much larger. The U.S. comes out in the middle of the list for these brainy prizewinners. And while we do consume quite a bit of chocolate, the products we consume are not as pure as those consumed in countries where chocolate is taken much more seriously. There are citizens of other countries who would not consider those products to be chocolates at all. For them, chocolate is an art form.

While the evidence can be considered a little farfetched, the data appears to be pretty solid. It seems that it is being attributed to the flavanols contained in cocoa. These are a subclass of flavanoids which are present in plant-based foods. Flavanoids have been linked to increased cognitive function. In fact, studies have shown that flavanoids are connected with reducing the risk of dementia.

Flavanols are thought to lower blood pressure and some animal studies have shown that they do improve cognitive ability.

The data examined showed that Switzerland is the top country for chocolate consumption and also ranks very high in its number of Nobel prizewinners. Sweden was another country cited for having had a very high number of Nobel laureates and plenty of chocolate lovers!

FoodFacts.com thought that this information, although fun and a little frivolous, looks like it may hold some truth based on the flavanol component of cocoa. Not to mention, we thought our community might enjoy learning about another reason why it may be okay to become better friends with chocolate!

There’s more information to learn about here:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251491.php

Pomegranate juice drinkers may have natural protection against advanced breast cancer

FoodFacts.com found some exciting information today that can bring new ammunition for women in the war against breast cancer!

There’s a new study that has been released by the A. Rocha Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at the University of California, Riverside that has linked drinking pomegranate juice or eating the fruit may reduce the risk of the advancement of breast cancer in the human body.

There are three components of the pomegranate fruit and its juice that appear to be responsible for these findings. They are luteolin, ellagic acid and punicic acid. These are the components that are thought to be responsible for slowing the cellular and molecular processes that can cause breast cancer to progress to advanced stages. The juice seemed to be able to decrease cancer cell migration in the body. It was only observed to affect cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells alone. Another exciting part of the findings was that pomegranate fruit and juice seemed to inhibit the attraction of breast cancer cells to bones.

Researchers are encouraged that the ability of pomegranate fruit and juice to slow down the metastasis of breast cancer can lead to the discovery a new treatments that could potentially prevent cancer progression.

FoodFacts.com knows that our community is aware of the serious threat that breast cancer poses to women all over the world. In the United States alone, the disease is expected to affect over 200,000 women this year alone. Over 18% of the women diagnosed are expected to have fatal outcomes from the disease. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and so informing our community about the possible effects of the pomegranate fruit and its juice is a great way to call attention to the progress being made every day in the worldwide fight against this severe disease and its importance to women.

Read more: http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Food/pomegranate_juice_may_prevent_advanced_breast_cancer_1016120812.html

Real developments in the fight against GMOs and how YOU can get involved!

Last month, FoodFacts.com posted a blog focused on a study from France that suggested a link between GMO corn and cancer in rats. Since that time, many different organizations have tried to debunk the study, while others have come to its defense. It seems, however, that the study itself has raised tremendous concerns around the world from countries who commonly import corn from the United States.

It appears that a few weeks back, the Russian government has suspended all imports and the use of GMO corn in products in their country.

In addition to this sizeable statement from Russia, the French government has asked all European authorities to follow suit and take whatever steps are needed to protect the population. They are currently considering an emergency suspension of all imports of genetically modified corn to the entire European Union.

This would certainly be a blow to the United States economy (which is already fairly stressed at this juncture). While every nation in the European Union already requires labeling of foods containing GMOs, and many of these countries have banned the planting of GM crops, Europe is still an importer of genetically engineered corn. There has been some information that actually indicates that our own government has been discussing some form of retaliation against Europe to use genetically modified seeds and suspending corn imports. This would signify the American governments intent to engage in a pretty hostile trade war against the nations involved in these bans and suspensions.

The United States is currently the major political and agricultural force behind genetically modified foods. While this is undisputable, it’s also true that 91% of our population supports GMO labeling and that more than half would choose non-GMO foods if they are able to see them clearly stated on labels. GMO manufacturers like Monsanto are vehemently opposed to this labeling fearing that consumers would sink a ship that they’ve built, marketed and profited from.

This election day, Proposition 37 is on the California ballot. It states simply that manufacturers will be required to label GMOs on any product on grocery store shelves in their state. It is understood that the act of passing this proposition in California will lead to other similar propositions nationwide. The biotech industry is spending many millions of dollars to fight the proposition. It isn’t working though – recent polls in California show that over two thirds of the population in the Golden State intend to vote to pass Proposition 37.

This isn’t simply California’s fight, though. It’s an issue that affects every American consumer – and, obviously based on Russia and the European Union’s response to the recent study linking GMOs to cancer, consumers around the world as well. The Food Revolution Network has partnered with Care2, the Institute with Responsible Technology and other organizations has put together a national petition aimed at the Congress of the United States to act and mandate effective labeling of GMO foods. The petition makes it clear to lawmakers that their responsibility is to stand with the consumers they represent and not the interests of industry.

FoodFacts.com is putting this in front of our community so that you can get involved and make a difference in this tremendous issue facing our population, our government, and populations around the world.

You can find out more about the petition here AND sign it: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/448/913/868/?z00m=20411632 And you can read more about the entire issue here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/gmo-california-vote_b_1955563.html

Stay informed. Stay active. Make a difference.

Reduce your stroke risk … include more tomatoes in your diet

FoodFacts.com just found another great reason to include more tomatoes in your diet. You could lower your risk of having a stroke!

Recent research released from the University of Eastern Finland have found a link between lycopene in tomatoes and stroke prevention. This latest finding illustrates just one more benefit from tomato consumption. Last year, the National Center for Food Safety & Technology found that tomatoes may provide protection from cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Seems like that juice, round, red globe packs a powerful health punch!

1,031 Finnish men participated in the study. They were between 46 and 65 years old and were followed for 12 years. They were all tested to determine their blood concentrations of lycopene when the study began. Significantly, the research showed that those men who had the highest levels of lycopene in their blood at the end of the 12 year period were at a 55% lower risk of stroke.

They compared the instance of stroke in the group of men with the lowest lycopene levels (258 in total) with the men with the highest concentrations of lycopene (259 in total). Of those with the lowest level, 25 experienced a stroke and of those with the highest concentrations, only 11 suffered from stroke.

When researchers isolated the instances of ischemic strokes which are caused by blood clots the connection to lycopene was even stronger. Those who had the highest levels of lycopene had a 59% lower risk.

FoodFacts.com recently posted a blog with information that recommended people increase their daily servings of fruits and vegetables and this research certainly seems to corroborate those thoughts. Lycopene isn’t just found in tomatoes. Fruits like watermelon, papaya and apricots are also sources of lycopene. We keep learning more about this powerful antioxidant and everything we learn points to tremendous benefits for the population.

So maybe you’re a fan of tomato based salads, or perhaps you enjoy homemade tomato sauce, or maybe roasted tomatoes are especially appealing to you – there are so many ways to include tomatoes in your diet. For FoodFacts.com, tomatoes get high points for versatility, flavor, texture and color. Experiment a little and you’ll find new and exciting ways, not only to get more lycopene in your diet, but also increase your daily fruit and vegetable servings in some flavorful new creations!

Read more: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251246.php

Great New Contest from the Center for Science in the Public Interest

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has contacted FoodFacts.com and asked us to let our community know about a great new video contest they’re running.

We all know that the concern about sugary beverages has become an important conversation for the population. The New York City ban of large-sized sugary beverages in certain establishments as well as a tremendous amount of new research regarding sugary beverages and obesity has sparked this significant discussion all over the country.

So when the Center for Science in the Public Interest asked us to let FoodFacts.com visitors know about this exciting and enlightening contest they’re now running, we were happy to comply!

Here are the details:

POUR ONE OUT VIDEO CONTEST

Help spread the health message about sugary drinks and you could win $1,000!

Sugary Drinks make up the largest single source of calories in the American
diet and each year more studies are finding a link between soda and obesity.
We invite you to submit a short video pouring out sugary drinks in a fun and
creative way for a chance to win up to $1,000! The Pour One Out video
contest seeks to reframe perceptions about sugary drinks by raising
awareness of the health effects of overconsuming beverages like soda,
sports drinks, sweetened teas and energy drinks. Videos will be judged on
creativity, originality and effectiveness of the health message. Prizes
will go to the top 3 videos:

1st place video will receive a $1,000 cash prize 2nd place will receive $500
3rd place will receive $250

Submissions will be accepted until November 7th by email at:
fewersugarydrinks@cspinet.org. For more details and the official contest
rules, visit: cspinet.org/liquidcandy/pouroneout.html

If you’ve got a video camera, a point of view and a little creativity, this is a great opportunity to help share your knowledge and spread a significant message that’s affecting the health and quality of life of all our citizens.

FoodFacts.com encourages our community to have a little fun, perhaps win a great prize and get involved in the issues that matter to our health and well-being!

7 a day is better than 5 to keep you healthy AND happy!

FoodFacts.com has reviewed research in the past that linked the consumption of junk food to a decline in the human ability to be optimistic and happy. It has been suggested that poor eating habits can actually add to depression and depressed moods. Today, however, we came across new research that links and increase in positive mental health and happiness to eating vegetables and fruits. We love the idea that our boosting our mental well being could be as simple as increasing our consumption of the foods that we already know are healthiest for our physical well being!

The University of Warwick in Great Britain conducted a study focusing on the diets of 80,000 people. They discovered that mental well being increased along with the number of servings of fruits and vegetables people consumed on a daily basis. Mental well being rose the most among those consuming seven servings each day.

While the current recommendations are to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables each day because we understand that this level of consumption protects our cardiovascular health and reduces our cancer risk, we’ve never looked at the effect of those servings – or an increase in those servings for our mental well-being.

The study focused on British citizens. It appears that currently 25% of the English population is eating one serving or no servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Only 10% are consuming seven or more. While the research doesn’t tell us that there are specific fruits and vegetables that are aiding in the mental health boost from those seven servings, they have, in fact, set a serving size that matters. One serving equals one cup. So, for instance one medium apple is one serving of fruit and two medium carrots will qualify as one serving of vegetables.

The authors of the study were somewhat surprised by their findings, mainly because mental health and well-being have not been related to diet in the past. For the most part treatment for mental health related difficulties has always been addressed medically, not nutritionally.

While we understand that nine servings per day can sound fairly daunting for many people, we know that there are some things you can do that can help increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Here are a few ideas from your friends at FoodFacts.com.

Fruit Salad for Dessert
If your family only indulges in desserts on the weekends, you might want to reconsider that schedule. On weeknights, prepare a fresh fruit salad and not only will you be treating your family to dessert, you’ll also be getting an extra serving of fruit into their diets.

Breakfast
Especially with the colder weather coming, hot cereal brings the opportunity to get more fruit into your diet. We know that prepared flavored oatmeal isn’t always made with the best ingredients. But if you add apple slices and cinnamon to a bowl of homemade oatmeal, it will be tastier than the box products and provide extra fruit for the day.

Extra Dinner Veggies
We’ve always liked the idea of getting some vegetables into an entree that may or may not be noticeable. For instance, sliced zucchini works well in lasagna and chopped spinach can easily be mixed inside a burger. A few others might include broccoli in a side of macaroni and cheese, or cabbage in mashed potatoes. You would, of course, be serving a vegetable alongside that entree, effectively adding to vegetable consumption.

Side Salads
So you have your protein, your vegetable and (perhaps) your starch picked out for your evening meal. Serve a salad with it. Salads can be prepared in interesting manners with fruit and vegetable additions that are very appealing and add new textures and flavors AND extra fruits and vegetables to your dinner!

FoodFacts.com encourages you to read more about this new research (and to try some of our ideas as well):
http://scienceblog.com/57078/fruits-and-veggies-7-a-day-for-happiness-and-mental-health/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+scienceblogrssfeed+%28ScienceBlog.com%29#S5q6kFDK0R80JVOc.99