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Archive for March, 2010

AKA disappointed to read this morning that the US government fails to understand the basic definition of ‘preventive health’. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that, according to today’s New York Times, “with the government’s blessing, a drug giant is about to expand the market for its blockbuster cholesterol medication. Crestor to a new category of consumers: as a preventive measure for millions of people who do not have cholesterol problems.” That this is the government’s idea of “prevention” makes sense (or should I say “cents” or “dollars”) in a country where my services (as a dietitian) and other truly preventive health efforts are rarely covered by insurance, yet where surgeries and treatments for actualized disease almost always are, and where company’s at risk of losing billions when the patent for their drug expires look for new markets to prevent against such loss. One has to ask, is this similar to cigarette or fast food companies targeting low income consumers or specific races when their previous client base has learned of the negative health consequences of these products and thus moved on. Now to say a statin is a cigarette or fast food is perhaps too harsh. However, what we do know is that cholesterol is a necessary molecule in the body – that it acts as carrier for coenzyme q10, a potent antioxidant and electron donor, and that cholesterol links to testosterone production, among other things. I’ve already worked with patients who were put on Viagara to address erectile dysfunction levels and who were on statins where the LDL had, much to their MDs support and pleasure, gone as low as 60 or 80. When we reduced the statin dose, the ED remedied without medication. Or how about patients suffering the muscle pain often associated with statins – whose telling them to take CoQ10 and to make sure they take it far away from their statin. These are ‘preventive health’ recommendations… And so by the way is eating an apple, an organic apple, daily. So yes we have new healthcare law, but we also have a long way to go in the health education of our government.

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I came across the following last week and wanted to add my AKA two cents to these study findings. In addition to the benefits of magnesium intake, I think this study shows the importance of getting to a better balance of calcium and magnesium intakes.  The Japanese diet is one rich in calcium (a mineral that has shown to be favorable as well in the prevention of colon cancer) – but what I took from this study is that the effects of increasing magnesium to make it closer to calcium consumption is really where we need to be for optimal health. I write a lot about the benefits of magnesium and my concern is that we’ve created a “conditional deficiency” of magnesium with a) higher dietary intake of calcium (fortified and calcium-rich foods) b) decrease in magnesium due to food processing (white flour has 60-80% less magnesium than whole wheat grain) c) decrease in magnesium due to avoidance of “carbs” which are magnesium-rich, d) calcium supplementation without or with minimal magnesium and d) decreasing content of minerals in our soil due to chemical-farming versus organic. Thus, to address this issue I recommend consuming magnesium-rich foods (Whole grains, artichoke, beans, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens, and even some chocolate 🙂 ), monitoring one’s intake of calcium-rich foods (if I’m having dairy several times a day do I need calcium-fortified foods?), eating organic foods, and choosing forms of calcium and magnesium that are highly absorbable and balanced (I like Peter Gillham’s OsteoCalm, Natural Calm and Natural Calm + Calcium as well as New Chapter’s Bone Strength products).

Higher magnesium intake reduces colon cancer risk in men – A study of Japanese men and women found that men who consumed at least 327 milligrams of magnesium daily were 52% less likely to develop colon cancer than those who ingested less than 238 milligrams. The eight-year study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, did not find the same benefit for women. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (3/16)

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Originally published on The Huffington Post.

What a weekend it was last week as over 7000 brands got together to show-off their wares at the Natural Products Expo West. For the first time, food didn’t dominate (although you wouldn’t know it from the many food aisles exhibiting new and favorites foods). This gathering attracts the media, retailers, and also speakers for interactive discussions on the latest health trends. The following provides an overview of my finds as I scoured Expo to see what’s new, what’s different, what’s worthy, all along the way asking the questions that you, the potential consumer or healthcare practitioner would want to know.

Get Smart?  There were a lot of food products and beverages vying for our attention in the name of ‘smart’ – Octain Brain Bar, TonIQ, and Nawgan – as well as Omega 3 fatty acid supplements for adults, kids and babies. AKA take: What’s really smart? Vegetarian sources of omega 3 fatty acids (Salba Smart, Ascenta’s NutraVege, Barlean’s vegan Omega Swirl), wild salmon (I like Organic Bistro’s frozen meals and New Chapter’s WholeOmega),

and eating ORGANIC apples – (Earthbound Farm, YogaVive). A win-win for babies – HappyBaby provides organic and uses Salba Smart in their formula.

And being Smart didn’t just apply to the foods. (more…)

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Sweet Sixteen

In honor of the NCAA tournament thought I’d share the AKA top 16 sweet choices:

  1. Organic Blueberries – go Blue Devils!
  2. Cinnamon ‘sugar’ sweet potato sandies – sweet potato slices, Nuttzo or Artisana or Justin nut butters, cinnamon, NOW stevia / Truvia / PureVia
  3. Grape Ultima – make it into a popsicle!
  4. Living intentions white chocolate nuts
  5. Chocolate Milk or Hot Cocoa – plain organic almond milk, 100 percent cocoa, stevia (see brands in #2)
  6. Apple Pie – baked organic apples, cinnamon, walnuts,
  7. Kaia fruit leathers
  8. Coconut water
  9. Nature’s Path Gorilla Munch + unsweetened coconut pieces + cacao nibs + hemp seeds
  10. Barlean’s omega (vegan) swirl
  11. Sea’s Gift seaweed (sweet)
  12. Frozen organic fruit added to herbal tea
  13. Peter Gilham’s Natural Calm – raspberry flavor
  14. Dessert wine
  15. Raw honey + manchego
  16. 1/2 banana + Justin’s chocolate almond or hazelnut butter (1 packet) – freeze and enjoy

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Pepsi announced today its altered salt crystal size so they don’t have to sacrifice flavor but can reduce sodium content (see below for WSJ article). AKA doesn’t agree with this ‘solution’. I don’t think ‘altering’ the size of salt crystals instead of reducing the amount of salt is the right answer Pepsi. ‘Alteration’ is how we got Splenda, Trans Fats (partially hydrogeanted oils), and Olestra (remember this on? Comes with risk of anal leakage) many other artificial ingredients that have shown to be negative to our health (because the body doesn’t recognize these ‘altered’ substances as easily or without side effects). Perhaps, in this case, the only ‘alteration’ is the grinding of the particle to make it into a smaller size – AKA is on the case to find out – stay tuned. When it comes to compliance with health suggestions / regulations, AKA would like to remind Pepsi that they don’t have to work so hard to create new  particle-sizes – just use less salt and better quality ingredients. For example, if you start with real potatoes and use less salt you have the optimal balance as potatoes are naturally rich in potassium (which works in opposition to sodium for intracellular hydration and heart health).

PepsiCo alters salt crystal size and shape for sodium reduction
PepsiCo has created a salt with an altered crystal size and shape, aimed at reducing the amount of sodium in its products without harming taste. The salt, which is being tested with consumers, will be used to cut sodium levels 25% on Lay’s Classic potato chips and could be used in other products – The Wall Street Journal (3/22) – Reuters (3/21)

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In honor of National Nutrition month, I’m answering the most popular question (and running a contest – see the end) I get asked: “what’s a snack that I can grab and take with me or get when I’m out that will taste great and satisfy.” Here are some ideas: Real Food for Real People.

Are You a “Real People?”

Let’s start with the “Real People” part as lesson number one. Who are Real People?  I use this term to distinguish from the people you might see on TV or read about in a magazine, who either for their job, or for a contest, are getting their food provided to them daily – while their daily meal plan may work for you too, if you don’t have someone bringing you food daily or hourly, then access may prove a real challenge.   (more…)

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Probiotic Added Yogurts – yeah or ney? Just because Jamie Lee says they work for your digestive issues, should you go out and buy it, should you believe it? Well in a settlement recently announced, Dannon opted to pay out to consumers who felt the claims the ads were making were not backed up by actual results (see report below). I’m not surprised as I have gone on record not approving these yogurts as I had my own questions – is the probiotic content viable? is it enough dosage-wise? and as a QUALITARIAN are these yogurts the best out there – are they worthy of AKA? I didn’t have the proof I needed, and I knew these weren’t organic and in many cases contained added sugar and / or preservatives so I said no, they are not AKA. I blame the companies some, but I also want to remind consumers that maybe when seeking advice for how to resolve digestive issues, celebrities who have suffered similar conditions may not be the best person to give such advice (Sally Field for Bone Density, Brooke Shields for longer lashes etc).
(more…)

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