Category Archives: Diet

How to detect misleading ads

(Source: http://green.yahoo.com/blog/the_conscious_consumer/79/how-to-detect-misleading-ads.html)

By Lori Bongiorno

Posted Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:33am PDT

How do you know if an ad is telling the truth? It’s not always easy, but there are certain clues you can look for to determine if the claims an ad is making are legit or if a marketer is purposely trying to mislead you into thinking a product is healthier, safer, or greener than it truly is.

Here are some ways to determine if advertising claims are fact or fiction…

Words matter. Look for specific rather than general claims. The following words are essentially meaningless because they are too vague and/or there aren’t any standard definitions for them:

  • Natural
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Nontoxic
  • Fragrance-free or unscented
  • Free range
  • Hormone-free
  • Antibiotic-free
  • Eco-friendly, environmentally preferable, or eco-safe
  • Green

Meaningless claims are ubiquitous in the marketplace. For instance, about 33 percent of food and beverage products launched last year made some kind of “natural” claim. When shopping, it’s safer to look for specific attributes, but there are no guarantees because in many cases there’s no one verifying the manufacturers claims.

Some examples of specific claims:

  • Made from post-consumer recycled paper
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • No additives
  • No animal byproducts
  • No parabens
  • Phosphate-free

Visit Consumer Reports’ Eco-labels center to find out which labels and terms you can trust.

Look for proof. Choose products with claims that can be verified or that have been certified by a third party. These products have been vetted by an independent agency to ensure that they meet certain standards. Some credible logos to look for include USDA Organic, Energy Star, Forest Stewardship Council certified, Rainforest Alliance certified, and Green Seal.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently charged K-Mart and other companies with making deceptive and unsubstantiated biodegradable claims on some paper products. The FTC is expected to update its outdated regulations for green advertising claims sometime this year. Hopefully consumers won’t have to read between the lines quite as much if the government cracks down on misleading claims.

Rely on experts. These websites do the homework for you…[see original article for list of websites]:
http://green.yahoo.com/blog/the_conscious_consumer/79/how-to-detect-misleading-ads.html

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Breastfeeding Duration and Weaning Diet May Shape Child’s Body Composition

Modern studies continue to support principals of Chinese Medicine.  This time in the area of pediatrics.

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(source: Eurikalert.com)

Chevy Chase, MD—Variations in both milk feeding and in the weaning diet are linked to differences in growth and development, and they have independent influences on body composition in early childhood, according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Previous studies suggest that the early environment may be a significant factor in childhood obesity. This study used dual x-ray absorptiometry to make direct measures of body composition in children at four years of age whose diets had been assessed when they were infants. The findings showed that children who had been breastfed longer had a lower fat mass which could not be explained by differences in family background or the child’s height.

“Most studies linking infant feeding to later body composition focus on differences in milk feeding, but our study also considered the influence of the weaning diet,” said Dr. Siân Robinson, PhD, of the MRC Epidemiology Resource Centre, University of Southampton in the United Kingdom and lead author of the study. “We found that, independent of the duration of breastfeeding, children with higher quality weaning diets including fruits, vegetables, and home-prepared foods had a greater lean mass at four years of age.”

In this study, researchers assessed the diets of 536 children at six and 12 months of age. Diet was assessed using…(read the original report.)

Why bottle-fed babies grow faster

(Source: Newspost Online)

London, Apr 24 (ANI): Breast milk has less protein than formula, a new study has claimed.

It has been believed that formula-fed babies, who tend to be bigger, are “programmed” to store fat and so have a higher risk of childhood obesity.

Now, an international study of 1,000 babies, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has suggested that protein levels in formula should fall.

The study, which was carried out in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain, included babies born between 2002 and 2004.

Parents were recruited to take part in the first few weeks of their babies” lives, reports The BBC.

To reach the conclusion, a third were given a low protein content formula milk, a third had a formula with a higher level of protein, while the rest were breast-fed during their first year.

In order to qualify as breast-fed, kids had to be either exclusively given breast milk, or have a maximum of three bottles per week.

Then the infants were followed up to the age of two with regular weight, height and body mass index measurements taken.

At the age of two, there was no difference in height between the groups, but the high protein group were the heaviest.

The researchers suggest lower protein intakes in infancy might protect against later obesity.

The children are being followed up further to see whether those given the lower protein formulas have a reduced risk of obesity later on.
… continue reading full article:
http://www.newspostonline.com/world-news/why-bottle-fed-babies-grow-faster-2009042451786

Green tea compound may prevent diabetes: study

Reuters –  November 6, 2008

Green tea compound may prevent diabetes: study

A compound found in green tea could slow or even prevent the development of…

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A compound found in green tea could slow or even prevent the development of type 1 diabetes, new research in mice suggests.

Green tea contains several antioxidants that have been shown to curb inflammation, prevent cell death, and possibly even ward off cancer.

In the current study, Dr. Stephen D. Hsu of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and colleagues tested the effects of green tea’s predominate antioxidant known as EGCG in laboratory mice with type 1 diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome, which damages moisture-producing glands causing dry mouth and eyes.

They fed the mice plain water or water spiked with 0.2 percent EGCG.

EGCG, the investigators found, reduced the severity and delayed the onset of salivary gland damage associated with Sjogren’s syndrome — a condition with no known cure.

EGCG also dramatically slowed the development of type 1 diabetes in the rodents. At 16 weeks, they found, 25 percent of the mice given the green tea compound had developed diabetes, compared to 67 percent of the mice given water. At 22 weeks, 45 percent of the EGCG group had diabetes, while 78 percent of the control group did.

“Our study focused on Sjogren’s syndrome, so learning that EGCG also can prevent and delay insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes was a big surprise,” Hsu said in a statement.

Both type 1 diabetes and Sjogren’s syndrome are autoimmune diseases, which cause the body to attack itself.

Hsu and his team also found that the salivary gland cells that were under autoimmune attack were actually multiplying, but EGCG slowed this proliferation. Such rapid cell division has also been shown to occur in psoriasis.

The current study supports earlier research showing EGCG’s impact on helping prevent autoimmune disease, the researchers conclude.

SOURCE: Life Sciences, October 24, 2008.

10 Things the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

Two nutrition experts argue that you can’t take marketing campaigns at face value

With America’s obesity problem among kids reaching crisis proportions, even junk food makers have started to claim they want to steer children toward more healthful choices. In a study released earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 32 percent of children were overweight but not obese, 16 percent were obese, and 11 percent were extremely obese. Food giant PepsiCo, for example, points out on its website that “we can play an important role in helping kids lead healthier lives by offering healthy product choices in schools.” The company highlights what it considers its healthier products within various food categories through a “Smart Spot” marketing campaign that features green symbols on packaging. PepsiCo‘s inclusive criteria–explained here–award spots to foods of dubious nutritional value such as Diet Pepsi, Cap’n Crunch cereal, reduced-fat Doritos, and Cheetos, as well as to more nutritious products such as Quaker Oatmeal and Tropicana Orange Juice.

But are wellness initiatives like Smart Spot just marketing ploys? Such moves by the food industry may seem to be a step in the right direction, but ultimately makers of popular junk foods have an obligation to stockholders to encourage kids to eat more–not less–of the foods that fuel their profits, says David Ludwig, a pediatrician and the co-author of a commentary published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association that raises questions about whether big food companies can be trusted to help combat obesity. Ludwig and article co-author Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, both of whom have long histories of tracking the food industry, spoke with U.S. News and highlighted 10 things that junk food makers don’t want you to know about their products and how they promote them.

1. Junk food makers spend billions advertising unhealthy foods to kids.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, food makers spend some $1.6 billion annually to reach children through the traditional media as well the Internet, in-store advertising, and sweepstakes. An article published in 2006 in the Journal of Public Health Policy puts the number as high as $10 billion annually. Promotions often use cartoon characters or free giveaways to entice kids into the junk food fold. PepsiCo has pledged that it will advertise only “Smart Spot” products to children under 12.

2. The studies that food producers support tend to minimize health concerns associated with their products.
In fact, according to a review led by Ludwig of hundreds of studies that looked at the health effects of milk, juice, and soda, the likelihood of conclusions favorable to the industry was several times higher among industry-sponsored research than studies that received no industry funding. “If a study is funded by the industry, it may be closer to advertising than science,” he says.

3. Junk food makers donate large sums of money to professional nutrition associations.
The American Dietetic Association, for example, accepts money from companies such as Coca-Cola, which get access to decision makers in the food and nutrition marketplace via ADA events and programs, as this release explains. As Nestle notes in her blog and discusses at length in her book Food Politics, the group even distributes nutritional fact sheets that are directly sponsored by specific industry groups. This one, for example, which is sponsored by an industry group that promotes lamb, rather unsurprisingly touts the nutritional benefits of lamb. The ADA’s reasoning: “These collaborations take place with the understanding that ADA does not support any program or message that does not correspond with ADA’s science-based healthful-eating messages and positions,” according to the group’s president, dietitian Martin Yadrick. “In fact, we think it’s important for us to be at the same table with food companies because of the positive influence that we can have on them.”

4. More processing means more profits, but typically makes the food less healthy.
Minimally processed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables obviously aren’t where food companies look for profits. The big bucks stem from turning government-subsidized commodity crops–mainly corn, wheat, and soybeans–into fast foods, snack foods, and beverages. High-profit products derived from these commodity crops are generally high in calories and low in nutritional value.

5. Less-processed foods are generally more satiating than their highly processed counterparts.
Fresh apples have an abundance of fiber and nutrients that are lost when they are processed into applesauce. And the added sugar or other sweeteners increase the number of calories without necessarily making the applesauce any more filling. Apple juice, which is even more processed, has had almost all of the fiber and nutrients stripped out. This same stripping out of nutrients, says Ludwig, happens with highly refined white bread compared with stone-ground whole wheat bread.

6. Many supposedly healthy replacement foods are hardly healthier than the foods they replace.
In 2006, for example, major beverage makers agreed to remove sugary sodas from school vending machines. But the industry mounted an intense lobbying effort that persuaded lawmakers to allow sports drinks and vitamin waters that–despite their slightly healthier reputations–still can be packed with sugar and calories.

7. A health claim on the label doesn’t necessarily make a food healthy.
Health claims such as “zero trans fats” or “contains whole wheat” may create the false impression that a product is healthy when it’s not. While the claims may be true, a product is not going to benefit your kid’s health if it’s also loaded with salt and sugar or saturated fat, say, and lacks fiber or other nutrients. “These claims are calorie distracters,” adds Nestle. “They make people forget about the calories.” Dave DeCecco, a spokesperson for PepsiCo, counters that the intent of a labeling program such as Smart Spot is simply to help consumers pick a healthier choice within a category. “We’re not trying to tell people that a bag of Doritos is healthier than asparagus. But, if you’re buying chips, and you’re busy, and you don’t have a lot of time to read every part of the label, it’s an easy way to make a smarter choice,” he says.

8. Food industry pressure has made nutritional guidelines confusing.
As Nestle explained in Food Politics, the food industry has a history of preferring scientific jargon to straight talk. As far back as 1977, public health officials attempted to include the advice “reduce consumption of meat” in an important report called Dietary Goals for the United States. The report’s authors capitulated to intense pushback from the cattle industry and used this less-direct and more ambiguous advice: “Choose meats, poultry, and fish which will reduce saturated fat intake.” Overall, says Nestle, the government has a hard time suggesting that people eat less of anything.

9. The food industry funds front groups that fight antiobesity public health initiatives.
Unless you follow politics closely, you wouldn’t necessarily realize that a group with a name like the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has anything to do with the food industry. In fact,Ludwig and Nestle point out, this group lobbies aggressively against obesity-related public health campaigns–such as the one directed at removing junk food from schools–and is funded, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, primarily through donations from big food companies such as Coca-Cola, Cargill, Tyson Foods, and Wendy’s.

10. The food industry works aggressively to discredit its critics.
According to the new JAMA article, the Center for Consumer Freedom boasts that “[our strategy] is to shoot the messenger. We’ve got to attack [activists’] credibility as spokespersons.” Here’s the group’s entry on Marion Nestle.

Apples: The Long Life Fruit

(Source:http://acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_oct08/apples.htm)

By Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., Ph.D.

The beginning of autumn means that we’re entering apple season, which will be a time of cider, desserts, and the crisp, wholesome goodness of the fruit freshly picked from your local orchard. Apples have been a staple of healthy eating for many years, and the often-repeated line of an apple a day keeping the doctor away is far from a myth. Apples really do have a wonderful variety of nutritional benefits, and are a tasty addition to any diet of good health and longevity.

Of all of the fruits we eat, apples are the best source of pectin, a natural fiber that has several health benefits. Apples also contain phytochemicals, quercetin, tannins, and antioxidants, all of which have different healthy properties. Below is a list of the top five benefits of making apples a standard part of your daily diet.

1. Apples improve the bowels. Pectin is a source of dietary fiber and a very handy nutrient to have in one’s diet. While it is also found in citrus fruits, plums, and other fruits, apples have the highest concentration of them all. Pectin works to increase the stool’s volume and resistance of fluids and is therefore helpful in treating constipation, diarrhea, and generally improving the health of the bowels. Studies have also found that apple pectin reduces the incidence of colon tumors, and that has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

2. Apples lower cholesterol. A study on nutrition and heart disease found that eating three apples a day for three months can help you to drop your cholesterol by at least 20 points. How does this happen? Apple pectin, that miraculous source of dietary fiber, helps to draw bad LDL cholesterol out of the system. Not only that, but the antioxidant quercetin that is found in apples inhibits the LDL cholesterol from even accumulating in the body’s bloodstream. When it comes to lowering one’s cholesterol, apples provide a cocktail of nutritional benefits that are hard to pass up.

3. Apples reduce the risk of cancer. Apples do not stop at merely preventing colon cancer. The high amounts of quercetin, other flavonoids, and phytochemicals found in this fruit deliver potent antioxidant activity to all who eat an apple, and with that inhibit the actions of free radicals. In addition, the phytochemicals may act against carcinogens, which will likewise help to prevent cancer. This means that apple eating prevents cancer of the prostate and lung, as well as other parts of the body.

[Whether cholesterol is really the source of illness is now being reconsidered.  See Thincs for a long list of Medical Doctors and Researchers who are “cholesterol skeptics.” – Daniel]

4. Apples slow the aging process. There may have been many generations of explorers that sought the fountain of youth, but all they had to do was fight the daily stresses of life with a tasty apple! The phytochemicals that come from the bright colors you find in the skins of your favorite apple variety, along with aiding the apple’s ability to lower cholesterol and fight cancer, also inhibits the onset of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other conditions that lead to potentially debilitating situations in old age.

5. Apples help to prevent hair loss. If keeping a full head of hair will help you to age more gracefully, then chow down on some apples. Chinese medicine considers hair loss to be a sign of a depleted kidney essence, and apples are on the list of fruits and vegetables that will help you to restore this essence and nourish the blood that flows to your hair follicles.

I hope you eat your apples, and that you really do keep the doctors away. As always, I encourage you to share your own favorite longevity foods and other tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

-Dr. Mao


Dr. Maoshing Ni, L.AC., D.O.M., PH.D., DIPL. C.H., DIPL. ABAAP

Dr. Mao is a Licensed Acupuncturist, a Diplomat of Chinese Herbology and a Diplomat in Anti-Aging. He is currently in general practice with special interest in immune, hormonal and aging related conditions. He was awarded the Outstanding Acupuncturist of the Year Award in 1987. Dr. Mao along with Dr. Dao, his brother and father, founded Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Santa Monica, California. He is currently director and a professor of Chinese medicine at Yo San University. Dr. Mao is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, the AOM ALLIANCE, American Society of Acupuncturist, the American Association of Acupuncturist & Oriental Medicine and National certification Commission for Acupuncturist & Oriental Medicine Diplomat in Chinese Herbology.