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Mon, 09 Dec 2019
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Health & Wellness


Permissible additives: There are 2,000 untested chemicals in packaged foods — and it's legal

packaged foods
© Pixabay
The only way to minimize your exposure to dangerous chemicals that are currently allowed in packaged foods is to purchase products that are certified organic.
A major but largely glossed over report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental and public health nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., shows that thousands of untested chemicals (an estimated 2,000, to be exact) are found in conventional packaged foods purchasable in U.S. supermarkets. And yes, all of them are legal.

The extensive collection of permissible additives includes several known or suspected carcinogens, such as synthetic sodium nitrate, found in processed meats and considered probably carcinogenic by the World Health Organization, and butylated hydroxyanisole, also known as BHA, a chemical listed as a cancer-causing chemical by the state of California and found in commonplace items like frozen pepperoni pizza. Other unappealing chemicals are commonly found in our food packaging, such as polypropylene, sulfuric acid and bisphenol A — all of which can have impacts on human health and the environment.

Comment: We Interact with 100,000 + Chemicals, and the Dangers Are Barely Understood
As for long-term testing, only about 900 chemicals have been studied for cancer effects with enough depth to be assessed by the major cancer-research agencies, and about 300 chemicals have been assessed for reproductive and developmental effects and birth defects.

Obviously, we can't assume that majority of the 140,000 or even the 50 million chemicals are nontoxic. There are probably 140,000 surprises out there for us. We are really clueless about this swamp of chemicals through which we slog.

The advertising from most manufacturers leaves consumers with the assumption that all of the ingredients they use in their products have been tested for all kinds of toxic effects, including cancer.

Bacon n Eggs

Why it is so hard to figure out what to eat

cartoon eating weight control diet
© Benoit Tardif
Most diet trials in the best journals fail even the most basic of quality control measures. That's the finding of a study by us published today on JAMA Network Open.

Investigators receiving funding for any clinical trial from the National Institutes of Health must register in advance what they plan to test, among other design features, to ensure that the data are fairly analyzed. Comparing the original registries with the final published studies, we found that diet trials in the past decade were about four times as likely as drug trials to have a discrepancy in the main outcome or measurement — raising concern for bias.

This quality-control problem of diet trials in comparison to ones on pharmaceuticals leads to a bigger issue: underinvestment in nutrition research and in how we tackle the mysteries of a healthy diet.

Comment: As Mark Sisson points out here, waiting for a top down approach to solve the problems of diet-caused disease means waiting forever. It isn't going to happen (it's really a fool's errand anyway - trying to find a one-size fits all diet for a diverse population with different needs is like trying to find the one size of shoe that will fit everyone). Far better to do one's own research, experiment and find out what foods suit your needs. It may take a lot of trial and error, but it's better than listening to "the experts" who have repeatedly illustrated that they don't know what they're talking about.

See also:

Microscope 1

Lab tests show that some traditional soup broths have antimalarial properties

soup broth
Some traditional vegetable and meat soup broths can interrupt the life cycle of the most deadly of the malarial parasites, Plasmodium falciparum, reveal the results of lab tests, in what is thought to be the first study of its kind, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Given that malaria poses a risk to half the world's population, and that resistance to the drugs used to treat it continues to emerge, there may be other natural resources worth tapping to fight this scourge, say the researchers.

In light of the development of the antimalarial artemesin, which originates from qinghao, used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine to treat fever, the researchers wanted to see if other 'natural' remedies might also have antimalarial properties.

Comment: While it makes sense from a scientific perspective to try to isolate the specific ingredient in the soups that are providing the antimalarial compounds, from a layperson perspective, maybe it's enough just to keep on eating grandma's soup.

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What we get wrong about childhood obesity

obese children
Weight Watchers (recently rebranded to WW) put out an app for kids and teens who want to lose weight a few months ago. It's called Kurbo, and it assigns "traffic light" color codes to different foods. Green foods like fruits and vegetables can be eaten freely, yellow foods like low-fat dairy, lean meat, and bread can be eaten in moderation, and red foods like full-fat dairy and sweets should be eaten sparingly or "planned for." Kids under 13 need to sign up with a parent, while older kids can sign up on their own. Online coaching is available for an extra fee. Users are urged to track their food intake and body weight, even if they choose a goal like "Have more energy."

Critics hit back. The Atlantic claimed that using apps like Kurbo won't make a difference for the kids who need it most — those living in "food deserts," those exposed to junk food marketing, those whose parents can't afford healthy food and haven't the time to fix healthy meals. Outside Online warned against the potential for Kurbo to create unhealthy fixations on food and "clean eating" in kids, setting the stage for eating disorders that can increase the risk of mortality, depression, and anxiety later in life. They called for an overhaul of "food policy" instead.

It's wrong. They're all wrong.

Comment: See also:

Wine n Glass

Brain circuit that controls compulsive drinking has been discovered in mice, offering hope of a cure for alcoholism

mouse alcohol
© Shutterstock
A brain circuit that controls the compulsive drinking of alcohol has been discovered in mice, offering a hope of one day finding a cure for alcoholism in humans
Scientists have long sought to understand why some people are prone to develop drinking problems while others are not.

The team's discovery in mice, if translated to humans, may provide doctors a way to reveal whether someone is likely to become a compulsive drinking later in life.

Alcoholism is a chronic brain disease in which an individual drinks compulsively — often accompanied by negative emotions.

Whereas previous studies have focused on examining the brain after a drinking disorder develops, the researchers from the Salk Institute in California set out to prove that brain circuits can make some people more likely to be alcoholics.

'We've found for the first time a brain circuit that can accurately predict which mice will develop compulsive drinking — weeks before the behaviour starts,' said lead researcher and neuroscientist Kay Tye.

Comment: Researchers test Ecstasy as possible treatment for alcoholism

Can zapping the brain with lasers cure alcoholism? Scripps scientists think so

Alcoholism: LSD is Possible Viable Treatment Researchers Say


The benefits of fasted exercise

exercise stretching
If you're in the habit of eating breakfast before exercising in the morning, you may want to reconsider the order in which you start your day as there are significant benefits to exercising in a fasted state.

A common belief is that you need to eat breakfast to optimize exercise performance. While there's evidence to support this stance,1 other evidence suggests you can reap important health benefits by exercising in a fasted state.

Fasted Exercise Curbs Food Intake and Improves Cognition

Research2,3 published in the August 2019 issue of The Journal of Nutrition found that skipping breakfast before exercise helps curb food intake for the remainder of the day, resulting in an overall energy deficit — in this case averaging 400 calories per day.

Earlier research,4 published in 2015, found that women who skipped breakfast and worked out on an empty stomach had better working memory in the mid-afternoon and reported less mental fatigue and tension later in the day than those who ate breakfast (in this case a cereal-based meal) before exercising.

Comment: Some of us SOTT crew have started exercising regularly first thing in the day. It's been great!


Adventists say Bible favors vegetarianism, but Mayo paper on dairy and prostate cancer raises question of religious bias in nutrition research

vegetarian bowl
© James Sutton/Stocksnap
If you are a doctor and devout person of faith, and if your religion says vegetarianism is the diet endorsed by the Bible, can you be expected to study the science of food and health without bias?

It's an emerging question for the communities waging battle over methodological weaknesses in the dietary sciences, one highlighted by a recent, widely reported Mayo Clinic clinician-authored paper on the association between diet and prostate cancer.

The publication, a Journal of the American Osteopathic Association study by the Mayo oncology and hematology fellow Dr. John Shin and four Mayo Clinic Scottsdale colleagues, reviewed 47 studies dating back 11 years. It rendered a timely, vegan-friendly conclusion that diets high in dairy products "may be associated" with increased prostate cancer risk, and diets high in plant-based foods "may be associated" with decreased prostate cancer risk. The study was reported in new outlets across the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Comment: An interesting question with a rather obvious answer. As stated in the comment above, any studies should include a full disclosure of who it is doing the research and what is informing their worldview. This of course goes for nutritional studies, but also any other scientific research. The 7th Day Adventist church has had an enormous influence on shaping worldwide government dietary guidelines, pushing them further and further toward a plant-based recommendation. People have the right to know that the dietary advice that they're receiving comes from a religious sect of dubious origins.

See also:


Millennials 'are seeing their health decline faster' than Gen X, worrying experts

millennials health sick
© BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images
Millennials are getting sicker.
The declining health of the millennial generation could have a serious impact on the U.S. health care system, according to experts.

"Millennials are seeing their health decline faster than the previous generation as they age," a Moody's Analytics report analyzing Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index data stated. "Without intervention, millennials could feasibly see mortality rates climb up by more than 40% compared to Gen-Xers at the same age." (Pew Research defines millennials as Americans born between 1981 and 1996.)

These declines will lead to greater demand for treatment, which could have a serious financial impact on the cost of health care.

Comment: See also:

Evil Rays

WiFi and EMF exposure causes DNA damage through peroxynitrite production in the body

laptop wireless
A thorough review of the available published science on wireless (WiFi) and electromagnetic frequency (EMF) exposure has identified at least seven different ways that WiFi and EMF microwave pollution actively harms the human body.

Published in the journal Environmental Research, the peer-reviewed paper explains that exposure to WiFi signals, which are everywhere these days, can lead to: oxidative stress, sperm and testicular damage, neuropsychiatric effects including EEG (electroencephalogram) changes, apoptosis (programmed cell death), cellular DNA damage, endocrine changes, and calcium overload.

As many as 16 different reviews also show that exposure to other microwave EMFs is directly associated with these same effects as well as others, proving that living in the wireless age isn't nearly as safe as health authorities in collusion with the telecommunications industry would have us all believe.

Comment: Despite the constant reassurances from government agencies and the telecom industry, it is clear that Wi-Fi and other wireless communication signal exposures have a detrimental effect on the proper functioning of the body. Eat as many goji berries as you like, the best course of action is to limit exposure as much as possible.

See also:

Magic Wand

Cells that 'taste' danger set off immune responses

Taste and smell receptors in unexpected organs monitor the state of the body's natural microbial health and raise an alarm over invading parasites.
lungs with tongues
© RenderBurger for Quanta Magazine
Cells with taste receptors sometimes develop inside the lungs of animals infected with influenza. By “tasting” the presence of certain pathogens, these cells may act as sentinels for the immune system.
When the immunologist De'Broski Herbert at the University of Pennsylvania looked deep inside the lungs of mice infected with influenza, he thought he was seeing things. He had found a strange-looking cell with a distinctive thatch of projections like dreadlocks atop a pear-shaped body, and it was studded with taste receptors. He recalled that it looked just like a tuft cell — a cell type most often associated with the lining of the intestines.

But what would a cell covered with taste receptors be doing in the lungs? And why did it only appear there in response to a severe bout of influenza?

Herbert wasn't alone in his puzzlement over this mysterious and little-studied group of cells that keep turning up in unexpected places, from the thymus (a small gland in the chest where pathogen-fighting T cells mature) to the pancreas. Scientists are only just beginning to understand them, but it is gradually becoming clear that tuft cells are an important hub for the body's defenses precisely because they can communicate with the immune system and other sets of tissues, and because their taste receptors allow them to identify threats that are still invisible to other immune cells.