Monthly Archives: February 2013

New negative effects of BPA … this time on brain development

FoodFacts.com has been following studies on the effects of BPA on the population. We were relieved when it was banned from baby bottles and sippy cups. But it’s still out there, as it hasn’t yet been banned for usage in canned goods and does pose numerous possible dangers. And today, we found more disturbing information that we wanted to share with our community.

In a study from researchers at Duke University, results linked Bisphenol A (BPA) with more potential negative effects. It appears that the chemical may cause a disruption of an important gene responsible for the proper functioning of nerve cells. Based on the findings of this new study, it appears that BPA might impair the development of the central nervous system, leading to the possibility that exposure might predispose animals and humans to neurodevelopmental disorders.

The study was conducted with rodents. They discovered that the rodents exposed to BPA experienced the shut down of a gene necessary for the development of the central nervous system – the Kcc2 gene. The study is published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If the Kcc2 gene shots down, it cannot produce a protein that is essential to removing chloride from neurons. This is vital for the proper functioning of brain cells. Researchers noted that further research is needed to determine other genes that might be affected by BPA and that this is just a first step in much-needed determinations of how BPA affects brain development.

For the most part our exposure to BPA is through the containers used in packaging foods. Prior research has suggested that BPA is an endocrine disruptor. It affects the way hormones work and can lead to reproductive problems and developmental difficulties. In addition, BPA has been linked to a variety of different health conditions and diseases, among them are diabetes and obesity. BPA is known to mimic estrogen in the body. It was banned from baby bottles and sippy cups here in the U.S. Other food product categories, however, remain unaffected by the ban. France has recently instituted a ban that will require all food product containers to be BPA-free by 2015. And Japanese food manufacturers have voluntarily removed BPA from food product containers. Recent reviews of Japanese products have found no traces of the chemical in canned food and drink and BPA blood levels in the Japanese population have dropped dramatically.

FoodFacts.com is certain that as research into the negative effects of BPA continues, there will be further bans on the chemical worldwide, including here in the United States. While there have been claims in many countries that BPA concentrations in product packaging are low, there has never been any encouraging information regarding its health effects. Let’s all remain vigilant in our efforts to avoid the chemical and add our own voices to those already speaking out against the use of BPA.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/bpa-gene-regulation-brain-development_n_2776474.html?utm_hp_ref=health-news&ir=HealthNews

Learning difficulties and ADHD may be linked with childhood obesity

FoodFacts.com tries to stay aware of the latest news regarding the growing obesity epidemic and how it affects the health and well being of the population. Today we found an interesting study out of the University of Illinois that highlights a possible link between diets high in fat and conditions that affect children in our country like ADHD and learning disabilities connected to memory.

Both childhood obesity and childhood conditions like ADHD and learning disabilities have been on an upsurge. The researchers involved in this study explored the effects of a high-fat diet (with 60% of its calories derived from fat) versus a low-fat diet with only 10% of calories coming from fat on the behavior of two different groups of one month old mice. Before the mice on the high-fat diet were able to gain any weight from their food consumption, the behavior of the group began to change.

The mice on the high-fat diet experienced an increase in anxiety, evidenced by increased burrowing and wheel running as well as a hesitance to explore available open spaces. Those same mice also developed learning and memory problems. They experienced difficulty negotiating a maize as well as difficulty recognizing objects. When some of these mice were switched over to a low-fat diet, their memory was back to normal in one week’s time.

Some of the mice were kept on the high-fat diet and the memory problems continued for a three week period. At about 10 weeks, their bodies seemed to compensate for the diet – but by that point the mice became obese and developed diabetes. These results suggested to researchers that a high-fat diet could possibly trigger anxiety and memory problems in children.

While the researchers expected that the high-fat diet would encourage inflammation which is associated with obesity, they didn’t see an inflammatory response in the brains of the mice consuming the higher-fat food. What they did find, however, was the initiation of a chemical response that was similar to the responses seen in addiction … the increase of dopamine, which is associated with pleasurable feelings in an addict. The increase in dopamine is felt to have triggered the anxious behaviors and learning difficulties in the high-fat diet group. It was noted that the increase of dopamine in the brain is common to both the ADHD condition as well as obesity.

FoodFacts.com found the information in this study to be very valuable. While we understand that further research must be conducted to clarify these results, and we understand that not every child with ADHD or a learning disability is obese, the study certainly calls into question how diets high in fat affect our children. Let’s continue to be mindful of building healthy nutrition habits for our families and to develop a deeper understanding of how the foods we (and our children) eat affect our health and well being.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219121021.htm

Good news for our ears … red wine and red grapes can protect us from hearing loss

FoodFacts.com has been following recent research that’s pointed out the health benefits of red wine. In moderation, red wine and certain foods which contain a substance called resveratrol seem to offer various protections for our overall health.

Today we read some more news coming out of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan offering more information on resveratrol’s possible connection to protecting the body from hearing loss and cognitive decline.

Researchers conducted a laboratory experiment on rats. They wanted to determine whether the rodents would experience the effects of noise-induced hearing loss if they consumer resveratrol prior to extended periods of listening to loud noises. Specifically, the study focused on how resveratrol influences bioinflammation. That’s the body’s response to injuries. It’s also suspected of being the cause of a variety of different health problems, like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and aging – as well as hearing loss. Resveratrol seems to have a protective effect on the inflammatory process.

The study was designed to measure the effect of a substance called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), a protein that is important in the inflammatory process in the body. What they discovered is that COX-2 increases after a certain amount of overexposure to excessive noise. Additionally, it was found that resveratrol had a significant effect on the inhibition of that increase. The rats who had consumed the resveratrol had less evidence of noise-induced hearing loss.

Almost 20% of the U.S. population has some hearing loss. As they age, that loss becomes progressively worse. Increasingly, our military suffers from noise-induced hearing difficulties. More than 12% of the soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan show significant hearing problems upon their arrival home.

Resveratrol occurs naturally in red grapes. It is found in its largest concentrations in red wine. It is also present in white wine and white grapes, but is not has heavily concentrated. It’s also worth noting that blueberries, peanuts and dark chocolate also contain resveratrol.

It’s well known that inflammation is a cause of and has influence on a variety of health conditions. FoodFacts.com is encouraged by the recent research that’s focusing on how resveratrol that naturally occurs in real food can influence inflammation in the body. Red wine, in moderation, seems to have positive health effects – as do the many other food choices that contain this powerful substance.

You can read more about this fascinating study here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/256802.php

New evidence linking acne to diet

FoodFacts.com understands the problems acne causes for so many in our population. Most common in the teenage years, but reaching well into adulthood and middle age, so many people are affected by this condition which has negative consequences for self esteem and socialization.

A new study recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has shown evidence of a link between diet and acne, most specifically from high glycemic load diets and dairy products. In addition, it illustrates that nutrition therapy can play a major role in the treatment of acne.

Over 17 million people in the United States suffer from acne. It influences their quality of life and can be a cause of anxiety and depression. Since the 1800s, research linked diet to acne. Most especially, the consumption of chocolate, sugar and fats were associated with the skin condition. By the 1960s new studies began to separate diet from the condition. Recently, though, dermatologists and registered dieticians have begun to explore the relationship between diet and acne and have become interested in how medical nutritional therapy might change the treatment of acne.

The new study comes out of the New York Medical College and New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health. The researchers conducted a literature review to look at evidence for the diet/acne relationship.

Using information from studies conducted between 1960 and 2012, they compiled data for various study characteristics that included design, participants, results and conclusions, to name a few. After this review, it was concluded that a high glycemic index diet as well as frequent dairy consumption are the strongest factors in the link between diet and acne. They were careful to note that the research reviewed did not illustrate that diet is a cause of acne, but that it may well influence or aggravate the condition.

The researchers are recommending that dermatologists and dieticians work together to design and conduct further research based on their findings. They are interested in discovering how these dietary findings are related to acne and want to learn how the development of dietary interventions may change the way acne is treated.

FoodFacts.com appreciates every possibility for the treatment of health concerns through diet. It’s always important to learn and understand how the foods we consume affect our health and how adjustments to our diet can lessen the need for powerful medications, leading to more natural solutions for many different conditions.

Read more here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/256658.php

That cup o’ Jo may do more than get your morning started – possible link between coffee and a longer life span

FoodFacts.com really enjoys finding information that lets us feel good about indulging in some of our favorite foods and beverages. Coffee is a favorite for many consumers. It helps them get their day going, it’s hot and comforting – and for many, the day just isn’t the same without it. But there have been ongoing concerns about caffeine, even for folks who aren’t sensitive to it, or have other health problems that prevent them from considering products in which it is an ingredient.

Coming out of the National Cancer Institute, a new study of almost 500,000 older adults has shown some surprising results. The study’s participants were followed for about 12 years and it was discovered that as coffee consumption increased, the risk of death decreased.

An article has just been published in Journal of Caffeine Research titled “Epidemiology of Caffeine Consumption and Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-specific Mortality” discussing the research.  It presents an exploration of the many factors that might contribute to the association between coffee, disease and mortality.

The researchers explore the relationship between coffee drinking and behaviors like smoking and alcohol abuse, the effects of caffeine on blood pressure and cardiac function, and the importance of differentiating between the effects of coffee and caffeine. They point out that with the almost universal daily consumption of caffeine, there is a definite need for random controlled trials to help identify the components of coffee, as well as other caffeinated beverages and find out which of those components can demonstrate the benefits seen in this new study, as well as cause potential harm.

This is certainly just a preliminary study, but it does appear possible that there may be specific findings in subsequent studies that can clarify how coffee – and caffeine – can be advantageous and explore relationships between both for specific conditions as we age.

While we understand that caffeine is not something we want to consume in tremendous quantities, because it is a stimulant and can have adverse affects, FoodFacts.com is very curious to see whether or not there is a real relationship between coffee drinking and longevity. Meanwhile, we’re happy to hear that a cup of Morning Jo might be doing us more good than harm. We’ll keep you posted on further studies that provide more detailed information!

Read more here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/256623.php

Eat your asparagus … you might be preventing breast cancer!

FoodFacts.com is always thrilled to learn how natural foods can play an important role in the prevention and treatment of disease. Breast cancer affects so many – not only in our own country where over 200,000 women are diagnosed with the disease each year – but worldwide.

A study out of the Rajiv Gandhi University in Bangalore, Karnatak, India illustrates that compounds known as shatavarins found in the roots of asparagus show the potential for anticancer, particularly activity against human breast cancer cells.
The researchers involved prepared shatavrin IV, the ingredient found in asparagus that is active against cancer and isolated it in a preparation. The prepared shatavrin IV samples were tested in human breast cancer cell lines, colon adenocarcinoma cell lines and human kidney carcinoma cell lines to determine the different cells’ reactions.

The shatavarin IV preparations showed the potential to be effective in fighting cancer cells.

In addition to testing done in this manner, on oral administration of an extract of asparagus was also prepared. It was given in doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg body weight for 10 days. It was discovered that this led to a significant reduction in tumor volume and viable tumor cell count as well as an increase in the non-viable cell count. In addition to these results, the asparagus extracts also restored blood parameters to normal levels.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded that the asparagus preparations show noteworthy anticancer potential.

This promising study could lead to new and natural treatments for breast cancer and provide hope that there are less toxic treatments than the traditional medical approaches to the disease. While we know that such treatments are effective in many cases, they are also incredibly difficult for patients to endure. FoodFacts.com understands that for breast cancer patients and those who love them, a solution that may come from a simple vegetable would offer a far less traumatic path for patients worldwide.

And based on this research, perhaps we should be serving more asparagus with our meals and get used to telling our children “Eat your asparagus,” just as often as we’ve ever told them to eat their broccoli!

Read more about this fascinating study here: http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Phytochemicals/asparagus_breast_cancer_1228120409.html

Obesity may pose brain development risks for newborns

FoodFacts.com tries to keep our community informed about the latest news regarding the obesity epidemic plaguing the United States and the rest of the world. There’s been so much news in recent months about the causes and effects of obesity. And today, we found new information regarding the risks to babies of obese moms.

It appears that genes found in the amniotic fluid of obese pregnant women suggest that the brains of their babies are developing differently than the babies of mothers of typical weight. With about one-third of American women suffering from obesity when they become pregnant, this is of particular concern.

A new study from Tufts University in Boston extends information found in previous research that sought to pinpoint differences in the fetuses of typical-weight and obese women. Such studies have found an association between a mother’s obesity and autism and ADHD in their children.

As a fetus develops, its brain cells don’t just multiply … some of them also die. It’s a necessary process that rids the growing brain of unnecessary cells. That process is called apoptosis. Research in rats has shown brain differences (including apoptosis) between the fetuses of obese and normal-weight rodents.

This new, small study looked for changes like this in the amniotic fluid of human mothers. The amniotic fluid gives scientists an important view of fetal brain development.

Researchers analyzed the amniotic fluid samples from 8 women who were obese according to their body mass index (BMI) and 8 women of typical weight. Each of these women had undergone an amniocentesis for unrelated reasons. Both groups of women were of similar ages and at the same stages in their pregnancies. In total, between both groups, the mothers were carrying 4 male and 4 female fetuses.

The analysis showed that in the amniotic fluid samples of obese women, the genes identified favored decreased apoptosis. So the appropriate death of some of the developing fetus’s brain cells was lower for the obese mothers’ fluid samples.

This new study was very small, so it’s much too early to conclude that the brains of babies born to obese women are abnormal. Researchers noted that the next best step is to compare brain images of the developing fetuses of obese and typical-weight mothers in order to get a clearer view of the effects of the observations.

Regardless of the small size of the study, or further steps taken to arrive at more certain conclusions, FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that obesity’s affects are many, varied and severe. And this research points out that those affects may not be limited simply to the obese person. Share this with anyone in your network who you feel may benefit from it. And read much more here: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/779429

Another win for health-conscious consumers … Monster Energy changes its labeling

FoodFacts.com has done more than a few blog posts recently regarding the dangers inherent in energy drinks. Many of the energy drinks being marketed today are labeled as dietary supplements, not beverages. Because of this, the requirements for their labeling are quite a bit different than your average beverage.

Monster Beverage Corp. has stated that it will be changing the labeling on its products so that its energy drinks will no longer be considered dietary supplements. This decision changes the federal guidelines the drinks must follow. The products will now list “Nutrition Facts,” instead of “Supplement Facts” and will now disclose caffeine content for the beverages.

This change is a result of the allegations made against various energy drink manufacturers last year. There have been lawsuits filed against manufacturers regarding both deaths and hospitalizations allegedly related to the consumption of these products. Lawmakers have called on the Food and Drug Administration to look into the safety of the caffeine levels as well as other ingredients included in the drinks. And it also illustrates consumer confusion regarding the labeling of energy drinks because the manufacturers have the option of categorizing them as dietary supplements or regular beverages as they see fit.

Manufacturers have greater freedom with the ingredients that can be included in dietary supplements. A regular beverage can only include ingredients that are approved food additives – those that are “generally recognized as safe. The lawmakers that have asked the FDA for further exploration of the safety of energy drinks have cited issues regarding their ingredients. These products can currently contain ingredients that are not well known. As an example taurine is used in some of Monster’s products. This ingredient is not approved for use in food and beverages and is not included in the database of ingredients “generally recognized as safe.”

The FDA is currently working on new rules for the qualifications of a beverage vs. a dietary supplement. It’s important to note that the agency issued guidance in 2009 that specified that dietary supplements were being marketed in such a fashion that they could be perceived as regular beverages. By using terms like “drink,” “juice” or “beverage, consumers could easily become confused by the product.

While there’s a lot left to find out regarding the new labeling for Monster beverages, FoodFacts.com is happy to see that the voices of consumers (some of them heard through lawsuits against various manufacturers) are being responded to and acknowledged. These beverages have been prove to be risky choices for some in the population who already have existing health problems. Perhaps as Monster makes changes, others will follow suit. We’ll keep an eye out for continuing information on this emerging story.

Meanwhile you can read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/13/monster-label-change-beverage-now-drink_n_2681366.html?utm_hp_ref=business

Vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease

FoodFacts.com is aware that there are many dedicated vegetarians in our community. We’re also aware of the rise in the recommendation of plant-based diets for heart disease patients. Today, however, we read some very interesting information regarding the risk of heart disease for vegetarians vs. the remainder of the population.

The University of Oxford recently released a new study showing that the risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease is 32% lower for vegetarians than people who eat meat and fish.

It’s the largest cause of death in the developed world. Tens of thousands die from heart disease each year. And the results of this newest study suggest that a vegetarian diet could significantly reduce the risk of developing coronary disease.

This is the largest study conducted in the United Kingdom that looked at rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. It involved almost 45,000 participants from England and Scotland who were enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. 34% of the participants were vegetarians.

The results of the study are very clear. The risk of heart disease for vegetarians is about one third lower than for non-vegetarians. The researchers conducting the study accounted for influencing factors like age, alcohol consumption, exercise, smoking, and education.

Participants completed questionnaires regarding their health and lifestyle when they joined. Detailed questions on diet and exercise as well as other factors affecting health such as smoking and alcohol consumption were included. Almost 20,000 participants also had their blood pressures recorded, and gave blood samples for cholesterol testing.
The volunteers were followed until 2009. During that time, 1235 of the participants were diagnosed with heart disease. 169 participants died and another 1066 were hospitalized.
The vegetarians participating in the study had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than the non-vegetarians. Researchers attribute this to be the primary reason for their decreased risk of heart disease. They also had lower body mass indices (BMI) and less instances of diabetes.

The study’s results confirm the concept that diet is key to the prevention of heart disease and expands on prior studies that have focused on the influence of vegetarian diets on our health.

FoodFacts.com knows that the vegetarians in our community will be happy to learn that their chosen lifestyle is likely to hold great health benefits. We also encourage the remainder of our community to remain committed to maintaining a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits and lean protein sources. Every day we are learning more and more about how the foods we eat influence our health and longevity. Eat well. Stay well.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130130121637.htm

February is National Heart Month and Valentine’s Day – honor both with some red wine and dark chocolate!

FoodFacts.com wants to acknowledge that February is National Heart Month! And Valentine’s Day – the holiday of hearts – is this coming Thursday. So we felt that it would be appropriate to inform our community tonight that you can celebrate both with some dark chocolate and red wine while knowing that, in moderation, you’re actually making good choices for your heart health!

Susan Ofria, a registered dietitian at the Loyola University Health System in Melrose Park confirms that both are actually good health choices. In moderation, both have positive components that are actually beneficial for your heart. Both red wine and dark chocolate that has a cocoa content of 70 percent or higher contain resveratrol. This has been found to lower blood sugar. Red wine also contains catechins which may help to boost “good” HDL cholesterol.

So this Valentine’s Day, give yourself permission to enjoy both and give your romantic heart and your physical heart the benefits of your own enjoyment!

Ofria also makes some recommendations for heart-healthy foods you can enjoy during National Heart Month – and all year long!

Red Wine – all varieties of red wines contain resveratrol and catechins. Enjoy them in moderation.

Dark chocolate, 70 percent or higher cocoa content – as long as it’s dark chocolate with the specified cocoa content, it contains resveratrol and flavonoids.

Salmon and tuna – specifically white, albacore tuna, are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Flaxseeds – brown or yellow ground flaxseeds are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and phytoestrogens.

Oatmeal – it’s good source of soluble fiber, niacin, folate and potassium.

Black or kidney beans – both are a good source of niacin, folate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, soluble fiber.

Walnuts and almonds – additional sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber and heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

Blueberries/cranberries/raspberries/strawberries – berries are high in beta carotene and lutein, anthocyanin, ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber.

Don’t you just love it when we get healthy permission to indulge in food and drink? FoodFacts.com certainly does!  This Valentine’s Day, make sure your chocolate is dark and your wine is red and share a romantic moment with your loved one. And then, after that, remember to incorporate this great list of heart-healthy foods into your diet. Not just during National Heart month, but all year long to play an active role in your own good heart health!

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130211134742.htm