Category Archives: diet

What girls eat today could influence their risk of breast cancer tomorrow

mailThere are many women for whom breast cancer is part of their family tree. Heredity can play an important role in the development of this devastating disease. But there are other women with no family history of breast cancer who are diagnosed every year having no idea how this could have happened to them.

But new research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that what some of those women ate years ago as a teenager may have played a role.

“We know from lots of other data that that period of life is a critical period,” said Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the Nutrition Department at the Harvard School of Public Health. “And the one thing that has been seen most clearly is consumption of red meat — both fresh meat and processed meat — during adolescence is related to higher risk of breast cancer.”

Researcher Maryam Farvid reviewed the data from nearly 45,000 women. She said girls don’t have to become vegetarians.

“If you just go from having red meat once a day to once a week, you can eliminate most of the risk,” Farvid said.

Researchers recommend choosing other forms of protein like nuts, beans, poultry and fish.

“That is the one thing that parents can steer their children towards to reduce their risk of breast cancer in the long run,” Willett said.

As for weight gain, research shows women increase their risk when they add pounds after menopause.

But as teenagers, it’s complicated.

“We actually see that the leaner girls have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life,” Willet said. “It’s quite a puzzle. It’s opposite to what everyone expected.”

Figuring out these connections between diet and risk could be key to preventing breast cancer in the next generation.

But one large-scale nutrition study — funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation — will take time.

The Growing Up Today Study has been tracking thousands of kids closely since 1996, but the oldest ones just turned 30.

“The participants have not really been old enough to start developing breast cancer yet, but within a decade or two, they will be.”

FoodFacts.com knows that everyone in our community works hard to make sure that their children are consuming nutritious, balanced diets. When it comes to breast cancer, nutritional awareness should take a front row seat in the educational process that can help us lower not only our own risk, but our daughters’ as well.

Read more:http://www.wcvb.com/health/leaner-girls-have-higher-risk-of-developing-breast-cancer-later-researchers-say/29014540#ixzz3HIapYaWu

Americans definition of dieting evolves to include more than calories

Americans Redefine Diet FoodsA long time ago here in the U.S., foods were cooked in home kitchens. Snacks didn’t come out of bags, rice wasn’t a pre-flavored, pre-packaged side dish and pasta sauce didn’t come out of a jar. When folks went on a diet, they counted calories differently than Americans have become used to doing over the past few decades. People actually replaced higher calorie foods with lower calorie foods, ate more vegetables and fruit and cut down on fattier meats with the addition of leaner proteins. None of it was rocket science. It was simply common sense. It did require some work, however.

As the concept of convenience infiltrated our culture, manufacturers removed that work for us, providing us with easy solutions to dieting. It does appear, though, that Americans are managing to redefine that pre-packaged definition of dieting.

The calorie counting that defined dieting for so long is giving way to other considerations, like the promise of more fiber or natural ingredients. That is chipping away at the popularity of products like Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine and Special K, which became weight-watching staples primarily by stripping calories from people’s favorite foods.

Part of the problem: “Low-calorie” foods make people feel deprived. Now, people want to lose weight while still feeling satisfied. And they want to do it without foods they consider processed.

Kelly Pill has been dieting since her son was born in 1990. But the 54-year-old resident of Covina, Calif., made changes to her approach in recent years. She doesn’t eat Lean Cuisine microwavable meals as often because she doesn’t find them that filling. She also switched to Greek yogurt last year to get more protein.

“Regular yogurt is really thin,” Pill said. “It was low in calories, but it wasn’t filling.”
It’s not that people don’t care about calories anymore. Nutrition experts still say weight loss comes down to burning more calories than you eat.

But dieters are sick of foods that provide only fleeting satisfaction and seem to make them hungrier. The new thinking is that eating foods with more protein or fat keeps will make dieters less likely to binge later, even if they’re higher in calories.

“People are recognizing that it’s not enough to just go on a diet and lose weight. Nutrition comes more into play,” said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group.

The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. Sales of Special K cereals are down 7 percent in the last two years, according to IRI, a market research firm based in Chicago. Lean Cuisine saw a 27 percent drop in sales over the last four years. Both Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi saw sales volume fall by nearly 7 percent last year, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest. That was steeper than declines for their full-calorie counterparts. Executives at Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. blame customers’ move away from artificial sweeteners and say they’re working on sodas using natural low-calorie sweeteners. The drinks are likely to have more calories than traditional diet sodas, but the thinking is that people will accept the tradeoff to avoid artificial ingredients.

Perhaps most emblematic of calorie counts as a marketing gimmick are the 100-calorie snacks that flooded the market a decade ago. Some food companies are retreating from the strategy.

In the past four years, sales of 100-calorie snack packs of Oreos have plummeted 72 percent, according to IRI. Parent company Mondelez International Inc. also has pruned varieties from its 100-calorie lineup and now offers only four.

Mondelez spokesman Richard Buino said the company is focusing on healthy snacks that are about “more than an arbitrary calorie amount.”

Frito-Lay also made its last shipment of 100-calorie pack Cheetos and Doritos this past summer. The chip maker’s new “ready-to-go” packs still have about 100 calories, but the trait is no longer advertised on the bag’s front.

We’re on the right track. FoodFacts.com doesn’t think we need to remind anyone that obesity rates have skyrocketed in the last few decades, during a time when convenience and “diet” foods have infiltrated our grocery shelves. We’ve learned that artificial sweeteners can actually have an effect on weight gain, instead of weight loss. We know that diet entrees can leave us hungry and lead us to eat more. Real food doesn’t need to be replaced when we’re dieting. All we have to do is adjust our habits. No one ever needed help from food manufacturers to do that.

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/254730531.html?page=2&c=y

Lower your risk of memory loss, commit to a healthy lifestyle

FoodFacts.com’s mission is to educate consumers about what’s really in the food products available on our grocery shelves. We take great care to inform our visitors about ingredients that may actually be harmful to our health and the real benefits of eating a healthful diet and committing to a healthy lifestyle.

Today we read about a new study out of UCLA that shows a clear and valuable benefit to adapting a healthy lifestyle and sticking with it. It appears that folks with healthy habits are at a reduced risk for memory loss than those whose habits aren’t as healthful.

UCLA researchers teamed up with the Gallup organization for a national poll of over 18,000 people. The survey asked participants questions about their memory as well as their lifestyle.  The researchers then reviewed the results to see if there was any link between healthy behaviors and memory throughout adult life.

Participants were asked five very simple questions:

• Do you smoke?
• Did you eat healthy all day yesterday?
• In the last seven days, on how many days did you have five or more servings of vegetables and fruits?
• In the last seven days, on how many days did you exercise for 30 minutes or more?
• Do you have any problems with your memory?

Of course, the memory question relied on the participant’s own perception of his or her cognitive abilities. The survey showed that healthy eating, not smoking and regular exercise were linked to better memory among the participants.

Those between the ages of 18 and 39 were less likely to report healthy behaviors than those older adults over 60 years of age. Those who reported the healthiest habits were the least likely to report problems with their memory. People who only engaged in one healthy behavior were 21 percent less likely to report memory problems, those who engaged in two were 45 percent less likely, and adults who engaged in more than three positive behaviors were far less likely to report memory problems. Seventy percent of the older adults engaged in at least one healthy behavior compared to only 61 percent of middle-aged adults and 58 percent of younger adults.

It was noted that young adults participating in the survey were the most likely to engage in unhealthy habits. 25% of middle-aged adults participating were smokers compared with only 12 percent of those over the age of 60. Younger adults also reported eating less fruits and vegetables than the older survey participants.

Memory issues were reported from 26 percent of the older adults and 22 percent of the middle-aged adults. The researchers said these figures were expected among adults of these age groups, however, they said they were surprised that 14 percent of young adults reported memory problems too.

Researchers noted that it’s possible that older adults are engaging in healthier behaviors because they are more likely to listen to their doctors’ advice. They also noted that this survey speaks to the need for further research to potentially aid and enhance cognitive function throughout a lifespan.

Fruits. Vegetables. Exercise. No smoking. FoodFacts.com can get on board with these healthy habits at every age. And as we age, we’d all like to envision ourselves as fully functioning, active older adults. Let’s commit to that healthy lifestyle every single day.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/261358.php

Possible relationship between diet and depression

Everyone in our community knows that FoodFacts.com is always on the lookout for information that suggests how our dietary habits can improve not only our general health, but diseases and chronic health problems as well. So we wanted to be sure to share this information with you.

Researchers published an opinion article in BioMedCentral’s journal BMC Medicine this week. The authors of the article have reviewed existing evidence for the links between diet and depression. They claim that depression is very similar to heart disease. Both conditions are associated with low levels of inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (the endothelium is the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels) and lipid profiles (tests that assess coronary risk factors). They believe that these specifics may suggest that the underlying causes for both conditions can, in fact, be the same. Food ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils which are trans fats are related to heart disease and may be related to depression as well.

In the past, FoodFacts.com has brought your attention to studies that link the consumption of fast food to the risk of depression. Most of these studies do not show a definitive cause and effect relationship. There’s always been a conundrum … is food choice the reason for depression, or do people suffering from depression make bad food choices, seeing unhealthy food items as a source of comfort? In the previous studies, other possible influences on depression are often taken into account as well, including things like existing medical conditions, alcohol usage, tobacco usage, exercise habits and heredity.

These researchers are addressing the need for longer-term studies that are conducted in the same manner as those that have been implemented for the effects of diet on the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies conducted in this manner will help the medical community ascertain the real connection between diet and depression.

FoodFacts.com has always been a strong advocate of staying away from junk food altogether and purchasing any prepared food as carefully as possible by reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists. As we await further study into the correlation between diet and depression, we encourage our community to be as vigilant as ever about making the healthiest food choices for yourself and your family.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130102205517.htm

Research links the reoccurrence of colon cancer to high-carb diets

FoodFacts.com wanted to share this research information with our community regarding the reoccurrence of colon cancer and a possible link to eating a diet high in carbs. There’s been plenty of back and forth opinion in the last few years regarding the value of a low-carb diet. So we thought this information was particularly noteworthy.

A new study was conducted on over 1,000 adults 60 and over who had undergone surgery and chemotherapy for Stage 3 colon cancer. In Stage 3, the cancer had already spread to the lymph nodes in the area surrounding the colon but had not moved to other parts of the body. Over a seven year period, the cancer reoccurred in 343 people. 262 of them died (and so did 43 others who did not have their cancer reoccur). Of these people, those who ate the most carb-rich diet were 80 percent more likely to have their colon cancer return. And among those who were overweight, high carb consumption more than doubled their risk for the recurrence of their cancer.

Colorectal cancer affects nearly 144,000 people in the U.S. every year. Most of those are over 50. This cancer ranks second in cancer deaths and affects both men and women.
It’s important to note that the dietary information reviewed in the study came directly from the participants’ responses to questionnaires that they were required to fill out periodically. Because of this the evidence is inconclusive. While the results to suggest a link between cancer recurrence and high-carb diets, it cannot prove that those diets are the cause of the cancer’s return.

So, as with most studies, more research will be required to confirm the association found between high carbohydrate intake and colon cancer reoccurrence. FoodFacts.com, however, is encouraged to learn that we may possibly have an answer in the future to making sure this disease stays in remission for the people who are sadly affected by it every year. Small steps are good steps when it comes to nutritional help for disease.

We invite you to read more:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-high-carb-diet-may-increase-odds-of-colon-cancer-recurrence-study-says/2012/11/17/10bd405c-6a25-11e1-acc6-32fefc7ccd67_story.html

An unhealthy recipe revealed: the immediate effects of junk food on arterial health

There are some subjects that FoodFacts.com has always been aware of … and the subject matter here is one of them. We’ve been strong advocates of the “no junk food diet” – understanding that the controversial ingredients contained in junk food combined with their saturated fat content creates a recipe for poor health. New research coming from the EPIC Center for the Montreal Heart Institute makes a clear point regarding the effects of consuming just one meal of junk food.

The study focused on a comparison between the effects of junk food and a typical Mediterranean meal on the inner lining of blood vessels. This is called endothelial function and measuring it actually determines how the arteries dilate after eating. The dilation of arteries is linked to the risk of the development of coronary artery disease.
28 non-smoking men participated in the study. Prior to beginning, each participant had an ultrasound of a specific artery at the elbow crease after fasting for 12 hours. This reading was used to assess a baseline for endothelial function.

The first week, each of the men consumed a Mediterranean-style meal. This meal included salmon, almonds and vegetables cooked in olive oil. 51% of the total calories of the meal came from fat that was either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. At two hours and four hours after meal consumption, the mean received an ultrasound to determine the effect of the meal on their endothelial function.

The following week, the men consumed a different meal. This time it was a breakfast sandwich with an egg, sausage, a slice of cheese and three hash browns. This meal contained a total of 58% of calories from fat and was high in saturated fats. Again, they each underwent ultrasounds at two and four hours after meal consumption.

It was discovered that after consuming the meal high in saturated fats, the arteries of the study participants dilated 24% less than they did when fasting. After consuming the Mediterranean meal that was high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, the participants arteries dilated normally.

The study clearly indicates that junk food containing high levels of saturated fats is bad for your health no matter how infrequently you’re eating it. The effect is immediate and noticeable by your body. FoodFacts.com understands the importance of this detailed research that can plainly communicate the dangers of junk food consumption to our health and mark the differences that take place in our bodies immediately after eating different types of fats.

Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121030062007.htm

Sugar consumption might be responsible for more than obesity problems … Alzheimer’s and our diet

With all of the recent controversy surrounding sugar-sweetened beverages, FoodFacts.com has been busy looking at some of the other information available to us regarding sugar intake in our diets. We found some recent information that revisits an extremely important topic that’s certainly worth showcasing here.

Since 2005 there have been studies done that reflect on the connection between Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes. It appears the disease may actually be a form of diabetes that could well be brought on by diet.

The studies that have been done focus on insulin. Insulin is released by the body to help cells absorb glucose that’s needed for energy. Our cells can hold a certain amount of sugar and the excess is converted to fat. Blood sugar (glucose) comes from sugar and carbohydrates. Insulin helps to keep our blood vessels healthy and also helps the neurons in our brains to absorb glucose, which strengthens the neurons.

While Type 1 diabetes results from an immune system response that destroys insulin producing cells, Type 2 diabetes results from environmental factors. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about ten percent of diabetic cases – Type 2 accounts for the remainder. Environmental factors are code words here for our diet.

Insulin resistance occurs when a diabetic’s cells don’t respond to the insulin in their bodies. So when the insulin notifies the cells to pick up the glucose in the blood stream, the cells ignore it. The insulin repeatedly notifies the cells when sugary foods are eaten and overloads them with “messages”. The cells become resistant and the process that insulin is responsible for can’t occur. Notably insulin-resistance can cause a diabetic to become disoriented and even lose memories. The neuropathologist whom Alzheimer’s is named for discovered the formation of protein plaques in the brain, replacing normal brain cells. What is being found now, though, is that lack of insulin and insulin resistance is linked to the formation of the plaques found with the disease. Experiments have been performed on rats that blocked the insulin to their brains. The result was that they began exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

It has been shown that diabetics are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. While diabetes isn’t thought to actually cause the debilitating disease, its presence seems to be connected to its development. Type 2 diabetes is a disease people can be genetically predisposed to (as are most diseases that are caused by environmental factors). Since diet is such a powerful influence on their development of Type 2 diabetes, it stands to reason that it is also a powerful influence on the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sugar is being implicated as a culprit in the current war against obesity. But that seems to be only one of the problems being associated with its over-consumption. It’s not only sugary beverages we need to be concerned with – our food supply is saturated with processed products that contain added sugars. Perhaps greater research and publicity around this issue will capture the attention of consumers and cause real changes to the American diet.

FoodFacts.com invites you to read more:
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/bittman-is-alzheimers-type-3-diabetes/
http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/alzheimers-diabetes-brain
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528801.100-brain-diabetes-the-ultimate-food-scare.html

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

A must read for the FoodFacts community

Recently, FoodFacts came across the book, “I’m Fat, Help Me”, written by Laura Michina. We were so excited about the straight forward, no-nonsense approach the book takes to losing weight, eating well, and improving lifestyle habits, we just had to share the information with our community.

Laura Michina’s important book is written as a handbook for those who are trying to lose weight. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and are looking for a way out of their problems. Most, however, will turn to traditional diets for their solutions. Sadly, it’s proven that those diets, while they may have an initial effect, do nothing to alter the long-term outcome of most dieters.

This book can help those who are looking to make the changes in their diets and lifestyles that will result in weight loss and a return to better health. If you’re looking to lose 15 pounds or over a hundred, this is the book that can help you accomplish your goals. It’s honest, straight-forward and is not at all politically correct. So you’ll have to make sure that you can handle the advice. But, if you can, it will help you make the significant changes that will stay with you for a lifetime. Laura also includes FoodFacts.com in the book and cites our database information in several topic areas.

Laura has it all covered — from why diets don’t work, to making sure you exercise, to the ingredients your body doesn’t need and aren’t good for you. It’s a real and fresh approach to an age-old subject … one that you won’t find in every book on dieting written, and, more importantly, one that can truly help the committed re-establish the healthy relationship with food that can last a lifetime.

Thanks for the mentions, Laura! We’re happy to know that FoodFacts.com can help people achieve their healthy lifestyle goals.

And for anyone who’s interested, you can visit the I’m Fat, Help Me website here.

The scoop on diet frozen meals

Every day, FoodFacts.com looks into the benefits and drawbacks of hundreds of different food products in our database. Sometimes we surprise even ourselves with the information. And sometimes, we know that the measure of nutritional value of a food product is really determined by the lens through which it’s being observed.

For instance, when it comes to frozen diet meals, there are a few different ways to observe nutrition. You might say that would be a simple matter of calories and fat — and then all the brands would qualify as healthy options for those seeking to reduce their weight. But there are a few other manners in which to look at these frozen meals and determine whether or not they should be part of a diet plan at all.

FoodFacts.com has a “rule of thumb” — that is to be wary of any food product with a long list of ingredients. Generally speaking, the longer the list, the more likely you are to find ingredients you don’t recognize and that may, in fact, be controversial. And generally speaking, in most cases, frozen diet meals feature these long ingredient lists. There are certainly exceptions, but the majority of frozen diet meals contain ingredients that you wouldn’t find in your fridge or your pantry. We thought we’d take a look at four common ingredient concerns for these meals.

Sodium
The recommended daily allowance for sodium for adults is about 2300 milligrams. That’s about a teaspoon. You’ll find that most diet frozen meals contain about 30% of the RDA for a 2000 calorie per day diet. That’s a lot of salt — especially when you consider the portion sizes of the diet meals This can vary slightly up or down depending on meal content and brand. Excessive sodium consumption can lead to high blood pressure, or hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
BHT is an antioxidant that is used as a preservative, keeping foods from oxidizing and spoiling. You’ll find BHT in a wide variety of processed foods. It is popularly used in frozen foods. BHT may be carcinogenic. Other side effects of this food additive include elevated cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, infertility, sterility, immune disorders, increased susceptibility to carcinogens, and behavioral problems. While BHT isn’t present in every frozen diet meal, it’s not an uncommon additive and something you may want to carefully watch out for.

Sodium Benzoate
Manufacturers have used sodium benzoate for a century to prevent the growth of microorganisms in acidic foods. The substances occur naturally in many plants and animals. Sodium Benzoate can cause hives, asthma, or other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Again, not every frozen diet meal contains sodium benzoate, but it’s a fairly common ingredient and one you want to keep an eye out for.

Disodium Inosinate
An expensive flavor enhancer usually used with the cheaper Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) alternative. It comes from the nucleotide Inosine monophosphate (IMP) commonly found in mushrooms and meats. Nucleotides are information-carrying molecules (seen in DNA) and help with the body’s metabolic processes. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration but like MSG, is associated with certain allergic reactions after consumption. Again, if you’re purchasing diet frozen meals, read the labels carefully – this is not an unusual ingredient.

While it’s certainly tempting to go the route of frozen diet meals while trying to lose weight, we all need to keep in mind that it would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to cook lasagna with meat sauce for 270 calories per serving. Even if you use skim-milk cheeses and 97% lean ground beef, you’ll have a problem bringing it in at under 300 calories. The point is it’s not diet food. Most of the food featured in frozen diet meals, regardless of brand, isn’t meant to be diet food. Hence, the food additives and ingredients you can’t pronounce and the high levels of sodium. They have to add to the food to make it appetizing.

So if you’re trying to lose weight, the healthiest option would be to stick to foods that will work within your diet goals. Grilled chicken and turkey, fish, and lots and lots of fresh vegetables will fill you up, nourish your body and help you to reduce your caloric intake. The additives you’ll find in diet frozen meals won’t do any of that for you.