Monthly Archives: May 2013

Obesity linked to overeating in infancy

FoodFacts.com is continually seeking out any new information available regarding the worldwide obesity epidemic, how it affects our population, what its causes are and what we can do about it. This tremendous problem has touched so many lives negatively, instigating chronic disease and death and it continues to grow even more out of control each day.

Today we found interesting new information coming out of Brigham Young University that suggests we need to be careful about how we’re feeding our babies. Researchers discovered that clinical obesity at 2 years old strongly traces back to infant feeding.

BYU researchers analyzed data from over 8,000 families and found that babies who were formula fed were over twice as likely to become obese toddlers than those babies who were breastfed for the first six months. But the study went further than that and proceeded to define infant feeding patterns that seem to promote childhood obesity.

Babies who were put to bed with a bottle were at a 36% higher risk of childhood obesity than those who were not. The introduction of solid foods prior to the age of four months increased a child’s risk of obesity by 40 percent.

Habits like putting baby to bed with a bottle develop a habit for a child of needing to eat before sleep. It’s the kind of habit that can discourage a child from monitoring their own hunger and being able to self-regulate. Breastfeeding would naturally encourage that self-monitoring.

Breastfeeding also prevents a parent from encouraging an infant to overeat. If a formula-fed baby is full and pulls away from the bottle and the parent encourages him to finish, the baby’s cues are being ignored. If the baby is full, there’s no need to continue feeding.

Breastfeeding rates are lowest in poor and less educated families. Sally Findley, a public health professor at Columbia University, says the new BYU study shows that infant feeding practices are the primary reason that childhood obesity hits hardest below the poverty line.

Researchers noted that more and more study results are pointing towards early childhood for the origins of obesity. This doesn’t surprise us here at FoodFacts.com. There’s plenty that’s wrong with the products in our food supply geared towards infants and young children. While there are many eating patterns established in infancy, we are introducing the smallest of our population to unreasonable amounts of salt and sugar at an incredibly young age. This is certainly influencing growing children towards making unhealthy food choices later in life. Everyone in our population needs to take note of this important study information and commit to giving babies the best possible start in life. Our Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide is designed to help parents of infants and growing children make the food choices that will help little ones along the path of healthy eating for a lifetime. Take a look at our Baby Page for more information.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/260952.php

What do soda and crack cocaine have in common … they’re both equally damaging to your teeth

FoodFacts.com knows that everyone in our community is aware that there are no redeeming nutritional qualities in soda. The list of bad ingredients includes things like Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Benzoate, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Benzoate, Brominated Vegetable Oil, Artificial Food Coloring, High Fructose Corn Syrup – and if it’s diet, Aspartame and Acesulfame Potassium. Ingredient lists on soda bottles are a chemical nightmare.

So it didn’t surprise us today to read the results of a new case study in a new issue of General Dentistry that compares dental damage caused by the over-consumption of soda to the damage caused by the use of a variety of illegal drugs.

Dental erosion is the action of acids wearing away tooth enamel, which protects the teeth from the development of cavities as well as cracking and discoloration. Tooth enamel also helps us have attractive smiles because of its gloss and sheen.

The General Dentistry case study compared the damage in three individuals’ mouths — an admitted user of methamphetamine, a previous longtime user of cocaine, and an excessive diet soda drinker. Each participant admitted to having poor oral hygiene and not visiting a dentist on a regular basis. Researchers found the same type and severity of damage from tooth erosion in each participant’s mouth.

“Each person experienced severe tooth erosion caused by the high acid levels present in their ‘drug’ of choice — meth, crack, or soda,” says Mohamed A. Bassiouny, DMD, MSc, PhD, lead author of the study.

Sodas generally contain citric acid and commonly, phosphoric acid. Both are known to cause dental erosion. The participant who consumed soda admitted to drinking 2 liters of diet soda daily for three to five years. That’s certainly excessive and the explanation for that participant’s dental erosion to be equal to the participants who had used methamphetamine and crack cocaine – both highly acidic and corrosive.

While the average soda drinker is not consuming 2 liters a day, the results of this study should clearly illustrate the effects of the over consumption of acids – like citric acid and phosphoric acid – on our teeth. It’s harmful. People who do drink soda should consider rinsing their mouth out with water every time they drink it, as it will increase saliva flow in the mouth which will help to return the acidity level in the mouth back to normal.

FoodFacts.com would like everyone to consider this: many years ago, both Coke and Pepsi were used as cleaning agents due to the strength of the acids they contain. If soda was used to clean commercial toilets and the ink-stained floors of printing plants, we can only imagine what they can do to our teeth, not to mention the rest of our bodies.  Just don’t drink it.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130528122505.htm

Another reason to avoid processed foods … phthalates (chemicals in plastics and processed food packaging) linked to elevated blood pressure in children and teens

FoodFacts.com is constantly illustrating the hazards of processed foods for our communities. Unhealthy levels of sodium and sugar, trans fat, and dozens upon dozens of controversial ingredients and possible allergens plague our food supply. Food in boxes, simply stated, isn’t real food. Today we found new information underscoring the importance of avoiding processed foods.

Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are included in all kinds of processed food packaging. While they were once considered harmless, there is a growing body of research that links dietary exposure to phthalates to metabolic and hormonal abnormalities, especially in early development.

Coming out of NYU Langone Medical Center , in collaboration with the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine, new research has been published that links exposure to certain types of phthalates and compromised heart health for children and teens. The study draws on data from a national survey of almost 3,000 children and teens and documents these issues for the first time.

Researchers examined six years of data from a nationally representative survey of the U.S. population administered by the National Centers for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Phthalates were measured in urine samples using standard analysis techniques. Controls for race, socioeconomic status, body mass index, caloric intake and activity levels were considered. It was discovered that for every three-fold increase in the level of breakdown products from phthalates, there was roughly a one-millimeter mercury increase in a child’s blood pressure. While that seems quite small, applying it over the population can increase the number of children with elevated blood pressure quite substantially.

Hypertension is most common in people over 50 years of age. It is, however, becoming increasingly prevalent among children, mainly due to the global obesity epidemic. National surveys have indicated that 15 percent of American adolescents now have pre-hypertension or hypertension. While obesity is considered the greatest culprit in the unfortunate trend, this new research suggests that environmental factors like exposure to phthalates may be contributing to the growing problem This exposure can be controlled through regulatory actions and behavioral interventions.

FoodFacts.com will continue to reinforce the importance of avoiding processed foods. This is another important reason to prepare meals from scratch using fresh ingredients that you’ve chosen carefully with the health and well being of your family in mind. We all deserve to know what’s in our foods … and unfortunately, if that food is coming out of any kind of package, you just can’t be sure.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522085015.htm

Meat labels get a make-over

While FoodFacts.com has been waiting patiently to announce a different kind of labeling news (for GMOs … which hasn’t quite happened yet), we’re excited to see that at least our meats here in the U.S. will soon carry more significant information for consumers.

Up until now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requirement for meat labels has been the statement of the animal’s country of origin. New rules set by the USDA will now require steaks, ribs and other cuts of meat to list where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. So where previously, a product would read “Product of the U.S. and Canada”, it will not read “Born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.” These rules will apply to cuts of meat like steaks and roasts, not ground meats.

The USDA has required country of origin labels on seafood since 2005 and on meat and other products since 2009. The new rules for meat are meant to bring the U.S. in line with World Trade Organization standards after the organization determined the old labels discriminated against livestock imported from Canada and Mexico.

President Barack Obama’s administration had asked the meat industry in 2009 to voluntarily provide the additional information on labels. The new requirements come after the WTO’s appeals body in June upheld the organization’s earlier decision.

The meat industry and grocery stores have protested the changes. In addition to the new labeling being difficult and complicated to accomplish, it can also lead to higher prices. It is estimated that this change will cost the meat industry between $53 million and $192 million to complete. The National Grocers Association expects the change to cost grocery stores at least $100 million dollars in new signs, labels and machinery.

The rules have had support from other farmers’ organizations, along with consumer and environmental groups. Nearly 230 signed an April letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, including the National Farmers Union, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and Center for Food Safety.

The National Farmers Union issued a statement Thursday praising the Obama administration for “providing more information on the origins of our food, instead of simply watering down the process.”

“Consumers want and have the right to know where their food comes from,” it added.

FoodFacts.com agrees that consumers have the right to know where their food comes from. Any changes we can make in our food supply that create transparency for the population brings us closer to educated consumption. We can think of a few important next steps for regulation from the government … they would include labeling GMO ingredients in our food supply, as well as requiring a real ingredient list to replace the terms “artificial and natural flavors.” We hope the trend continues.

http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268743/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=ipM6oD4P

Anti-cancer compound identified in Mediterranean Diet

FoodFacts.com has been finding fascinating health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet for the past several months. We’re always excited by the new findings because the traditional Mediterranean diet is such a flavorful, fresh way to eat that incorporating it into your lifestyle is an easy transition for most to make. Today we found more information we wanted to share with our community.

There’s new research out of Ohio State University that links a compound that is abundant in the Mediterranean diet to eliminating the power of cancer cells to escape cell death. It appears that this compound alters a specific step in gene regulation and turns the cancer cells into normal cells that will die.

One of the reasons that cancer is a difficult disease to cure is that cancer cells thrive by inhibiting the regular cell death process. The researchers from Ohio State discovered that a compound found in some plant-based foods, apigenin, could re-educate breast cancer cells, leaving them to live and die by the regular cell lifecycle.

Though finding that apigenin can influence cancer cell behavior was an important outcome of the work, the researchers noted the importance of their new biomedical research technique and its contribution to nutraceutical research. The technique was compared to “fishing” for human proteins in cells that interact with molecules available in the diet.

Through experimentation, the researchers established that apigenin has relationships with proteins that have specific functions. The most important was a protein called hnRNPA2. It appears that this protein influences the activity of messenger RNA, which contains the instructions to produce a specific protein. The production of messenger RNA results from splicing RNA. It is noted that abnormal splicing is the problem with about 80 percent of all cancers. It appears that in cancer cells, two types of splicing occur when only one takes place in a normal cell. It’s an integral part of how cancer cells stay alive and continue to reproduce instead of following the normal cell lifecycle.

When apigenin was introduced, the splicing that inhibited cell death was eliminated. The single-splice characteristic was restored to the cells, causing them to die in a natural manner.

Parsley, celery and chamomile tea are the most common sources of apigenin, but it is found in many fruits and vegetables. Since the Mediterranean Diet is rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables, the compound is most readily available through this particular style of eating.

FoodFacts.com is once again thrilled by the knowledge being uncovered about the powerful health benefits that come to us through pure, fresh foods. It’s exciting to imagine a future where nutraceuticals become the chosen treatments for the chronic and often fatal diseases that plague so many in our population. In the meantime, the Mediterranean Diet is rich in many health benefits. It’s easy to incorporate into your lifestyle and allows for an abundance of food options. You’ll enjoy your food. You won’t be bored with your diet. And you’ll be doing something positive for your health!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130520154303.htm

GMO apples are getting closer to grocery stores

When it comes to GMOs in our food supply, FoodFacts.com has always been firmly in the “anti” camp. We’re thrilled that so much is being done in different states to fight for transparency in the labeling of products that contain GMO ingredients. Even though that will be a major win for consumers who have the right to know and understand what’s in the food they’re eating, sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough. This is one of those times.

Today we learned that by the end of 2013, two varieties of genetically modified apples may be sitting in produce sections across the country. The Arctic Granny Smith apple and the Arctic Golden Delicious apple may become the second genetically modified fruits to enter our food supply. Currently, the Hawaiian papaya (Rainbow and SunUp) is the only GM fruit available.

Arctic apples were created by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, Canada. The purpose of their genetic modification was to prevent the browning of their flesh when cut. Browning in apples and potatoes is the result of polyphenol oxidase which is an enzyme that produces melanin that gives the cells a brownish color. A man-made gene was inserted into these seeds and as a result, Arctic apples produce less than 10 percent of the enzyme than conventional apples do. They do not brown when sliced.

The apples have been nicknamed “Botox apples” by the Center for Food Safety, since they have only been genetically modified for cosmetic reasons. Their manufacturer claims that the benefits of Arctic apples go further than cosmetics. They claim that the apples have the potential to reduce food waste and that apples resistant to browning have a better taste and texture than their counterparts. They also claim that the apples are more likely to retain their vitamin C and antioxidants which are eliminated in the browning process.

Some supporters feel that Arctic apples can increase apple sales and consumption of the fruit here in the U.S. In addition, their use by sliced packaged apple producers would result in a healthier product at the grocery store. Most sliced apples have to be sprayed with an anti-oxidant that alters flavor prior to packaging. In addition, grocery stores stocking Arctic apples would cut down on losses because of apple bruising, which leaves the fruit in an unattractive condition and not fit for sale.

Critics focus on the unknown health issues of Arctic apples as well as other genetically modified foods. This has been the problem all along with the issue of GMOs in our food supply. We don’t know enough to proclaim their safety. And studies that have been conducted aren’t exactly encouraging. In addition, apple growers are concerned about genetic drift, where pollen from Arctic apple trees would drift and contaminate nearby organic and conventional orchards. This could prevent some crops from obtaining organic certification and others from exportation to the European Union.

Okanagan is currently seeking “deregulated status” from the USDA for both varieties of Arctic apples. They need to prove that the apple crops aren’t weaker against plant pests and won’t endanger other nearby crops. The Arctic Granny Smith has shown increased incidences of a leaf-eating but, that’s it. The other pests and diseases test for thus far on both varieties of apples have performed the same or better than their conventional counterparts. They are now expecting a second public comment period of 30 days and are anticipating full deregulation later on in 2013.

There are other genetically modified fruit manufacturers that are watching Arctic apples very closely as they prepare their own bids for the entry of other genetically modified fruits into our food supply. Okanagan is already developing genetically modified peaches, pears and cherries.

Kind of a slippery slope, isn’t it? Here at FoodFacts.com, we can’t help thinking that apples turn brown because that’s how nature intended it. Fresh food reacts with its environment. And we know what’s in fresh food. And we know how it works for our bodies and our health. We can’t say that we know the same for Arctic apples – or any other genetically modified food or ingredient. And, frankly, none of us asked for them to begin with.

Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/world-our-backyard/2013/may/10/gmo-apples-may-hit-us-supermarkets-end-year/#ixzz2Tz1jwU60

The Power of Salt

FoodFacts.com is always interested in the latest information available to us regarding the alarming levels of sodium in our food supply. We devote a lot of blog space and Facebook posts to revealing that information and highlighting those products which contain far too much sodium and why we should all be so concerned.

There’s some interesting new information coming from the Institute of Medicine that is saying that there is really no reason to limit sodium to under 1500 milligrams per day. This is the current recommended daily intake for healthy adults. They went further and cited a level of 2300 milligrams as the acceptable limit. Unfortunately, Americans are consuming an average of 3400 milligrams of sodium every day – and the majority of that isn’t coming from a salt shaker. Instead it’s coming from processed foods.

The American Heart Association has no intention of changing the current recommendation for daily sodium consumption. In fact, they find many problems with this new information from the Institute of Medicine. We tend to agree. And we don’t want to forget a basic premise that really can’t be argued. The more salt we consume, the more salt we want. We crave it.

And that seems to be the logical conclusion for why manufacturers put so much of it in processed foods. It seems to keep us coming back for more. It appears that even babies can become addicted to the taste of salt. According to the National Institute of Health, babies who are exposed early to starchy, salty foods develop a preference for the salty taste by as early as six months old. Those babies exposed to salt consumed 55 percent more than their unexposed peers. The preference has been shown to last into the preschool years. These findings indicate the significant role of early dietary experiences in shaping taste preferences that last into childhood and could potentially influence taste preferences in adults. FoodFacts.com Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide points out some very disturbing sodium levels in products designed specifically for the youngest generations, effectively “hooking” the youngest among us on salty flavors before they’re old enough to know what they are. For adults, it’s been found that people who lower their sodium intake for just two or three months experience a significant decrease in salt cravings.

While studies on salt do tend to be conflicting in terms of safe levels of consumption, we do have enough information to understand clearly that high levels of sodium are a contributing factor for many chronic health conditions and can be dangerous to our well-being. We can also clearly understand that salt is pretty addictive – and that addiction seems to originate in our taste buds. It’s something that even babies and toddlers are vulnerable too.

FoodFacts.com will continue with the concept that fresh food is the best food. The sodium levels that we find so disturbing aren’t coming from our home kitchens … they’re coming from processed foods that are much too prevalent in our pantries. The healthiest thing we can do for ourselves and our children is prepare foods at home, with the fresh ingredients we know and understand and the sodium levels we can gauge correctly for ourselves.
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/explainer/2013/05/salt_dietary_guidelines_why_do_food_manufacturers_use_so_much_salt.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/health/panel-finds-no-benefit-in-sharply-restricting-sodium.html?pagewanted=1&hp&_r=0

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/dec2011/nidcd-20.htm

Aspartame may be worse than you think

FoodFacts.com has long been of the opinion that artificial sweeteners can’t be good for our health. Artificial ingredients are generally pretty bad. They do nothing for our bodies nutritionally and many have disturbing health effects. Aspartame is one of those ingredients that we caution against.

While the FDA considers aspartame to be safe (except for those with phenylketonuria), it’s been linked to side effects such as headaches, rashes, fatigue, irritability, heart palpitations, dizziness, insomnia and seizures. Birth defects and cancers have been associated with the use of aspartame, but the National Cancer Institute has refuted any links between aspartame consumption and cancer.

A new study coming out of the University of Life Sciences in Poland reports that aspartame can be metabolized into three different molecules: phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. All of these can be toxic.

Methanol metabolites can cause central nervous system depression, vision problems and other disorders that can lead to coma.

The study points out that aspartic acid in high concentrations is a toxin that causes hyperexcitability of neurons and is a precursor of glutamic acid.

Phenylalanine can block the transport of important amino acids to the brain which can lower the levels of dopamine and serotonin, important for both mood and sleep.
In addition, the study seems to link aspartame with cancer because its metabolites can cause cancers in the central nervous system.

There have been a variety of conflicting study results on aspartame. Some have determined that it is safe and others have linked it to a variety of side effects and conditions. Interestingly, of the 166 previous studies on the artificial sweetener, the 74 that were funded by the aspartame industry found no safety issues. 90 percent of the other 92 independent studies found serious health concerned linked to the use of aspartame.

FoodFacts.com urges our community to avoid the consumption of aspartame. While none of the research is conclusive, aspartame has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. It may be linked with cancer and can have adverse neurological effects. That’s a pretty long list of possibilities linked to one artificial sweetener. Overall, it’s just not worth it. As always, FoodFacts.com encourages everyone to rely on real food ingredients. While nothing in excess is a healthy idea, using actual sugar in moderation is the best choice available when looking for a sweetener. We know what it is, we understand what it does and it doesn’t metabolize into the toxic substances that aspartame has been identified with. Let’s stay educated and aware about everything we consume.

http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Safety/chemical/aspartame_0511130104.html

Link between childhood obesity and height and adult endometrial cancer

FoodFacts.com tries to keep our community informed of any new information regarding the obesity epidemic that’s plaguing not only our own country, but countries around the world. Childhood obesity is especially disturbing as excessive weight in childhood sets the youngest generations up for lifetimes of chronic health problems and serious disease.

New research from the Institute of Preventive Medicine at the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark has now shown a possible link between obesity and height in childhood and adult endometrial cancer.

This study used data from a group of 158,000 women from the Copenhagen School Health Records Register that included information on heights and weights at 7 to 13 years of age. These women were born between 1930 and 1989. The BMI and height for each women were translated into age-related z-scores. This is a method for comparing height and weight of a child in comparison to a reference population. They linked these scores via personal identification numbers to the Danish Cancer Registry and the Hospital Discharge Register for hysterectomy information as well as the vital statistics register. Each woman’s records were followed until one of the following occurred: a diagnosis of endometrial cancer, hysterectomy, death, emigration, loss-to-follow-up (discontinuation of treatment) or December 31, 2010.

The researchers found a correlation between both weight and height and the later development of endometrial cancer. At age 7 the risk of endometrial cancer in adulthood increased 18% per increase in BMI z-score and by 12% per increase in height z-score. In other words at age 7, a girl of average height (a little over 4 feet tall) weighing about 58 pounds had an 18% higher risk of developing adult endometrial cancer than a girl of the same height who was of average weight (about 50 pounds). Additionally a girl the same age who was a little over two inches taller than that average-sized girl had a 12% increased risk for endometrial cancer. A 13 year old girl born in the late 50s of average height (almost 5 ft., 2 in. tall) who weighed about 113 pounds had a 24% increased risk for endometrial cancer than a girl the same height, but of average weight (about 98 pounds).

The study shows a possible association between both weight and height in childhood and adult endometrial cancer. Endometrial cancer diagnoses peak at about age 65. Data from those women who have not reached peak age will continue to be followed in order to obtain further information regarding this association.

FoodFacts.com will continue to bring our community new information regarding this study as it continues and on the obesity epidemic and its affect on the health on the worldwide population.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/260448.php

Way to go Vermont! House passes GMO Bill

FoodFacts.com is excited to inform our community that Vermont is coming close to being the first state in the nation to require labeling of genetically modified foods!

The Vermont House passed the bill by an incredible 107-37 vote! While the measure wouldn’t go into effect for two years if passed by the senate and signed by the governor, this is a groundbreaking moment for all of us who support the labeling of GMO ingredients in our food supply.

A little more on the bill – if passed, it would not affect the labeling of meat, milk or eggs from animals that were fed or treated with genetically engineered substances. But it would require that any food product that contains a GMO ingredient (think corn, soy and sugar) would need to clearly state it on its labeling.

It was interesting to learn that there was no argument against the idea of transparent labeling for GMO ingredients in food. Those that voiced opposition to the bill stated concerns of likely lawsuits from the biotech and food industries. This appears to be the state’s biggest concern as it would be an exceptionally costly proposition. Many believe that the state would lose such a lawsuit, as the new law could possibly contradict the First Amendment by compelling speech and pre-empting federal authority (since the FDA has not made the labeling of GMO ingredients a federal requirement).

A ballot initiative that would have required the labeling of GMO ingredients in California was defeated last year. There was a lot of money spent accomplishing the defeat of that proposition. Since that time though, many states have been considering a bill like the one that just passed the house in Vermont. The legislation of GMO ingredient labeling isn’t dying. Most of the corn, soy, and sugar beets grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. These ingredients are used commonly in the processed foods on our grocery shelves. But consumers can’t know that since they aren’t labeled as such. The labeling requirement would allow consumers a much-needed choice in the products they purchase.

64 different countries – the European Union nations, China and Russia included – have GMO-labeling laws. If this bill passes in Vermont and is signed into law, a new trend may begin here in America. FoodFacts.com is excited to see that new trend begin! We’ll keep following this news and bring you the results as soon as we have them!

http://grist.org/news/vermont-house-approves-gmo-labeling-law/