Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Too much Arsenic in bottled water?

Bottled water has always seemed to me to be just that -- water in a bottle.

Apparently, I was wrong. Sometimes, even I feel naive about some of the products circulating out there in our world. Check out this News article from BeverageDaily posted last Saturday:

Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned that Zam Zam water, which is sacred to Muslims, is being fraudulently sold with almost three times the permitted level of arsenic – thought to be a cancer-causing substance.

The batches were seized in London's Borough of Westminster, but the FSA said that “other brands of Zam Zam water are thought to be on sale in the UK and could be contaminated”.

It is illegal to export Zam Zam water from its native Saudi Arabia for commercial sale, although it can be brought into the UK by returning pilgrims for personal use.

The local authorities in Westminster have now ordered the importer, Amazon Communicate, to stop importing its Natural Zam Zam water.

Yes, I'll be doing more digging into this story, as well as the bottled water industry, to find out what is really going on.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

All About Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

A few fun facts on Vitamin C of which you may not be aware.

  • Is your vitamin C made in China?

  • How is vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) made?

  • What is vitamin C and what are the Health Benefits of vitamin C?

  • What are some natural food sources of vitamin C?

  • What food products normally contain vitamin C additives? (Enriched/Fortified)

  • How can you preserve vitamin C content in your fruits and vegetables?

All of the above questions and more are answered in our NEW article: All About Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

Fish Oils - Hidden Dangers

Most of our regular readers already know the background on Goji Juice and why it took Dr. Earl Mindell so long to bring it to the world. The key holdup was a small (read HUGE) thing called: STANDARIZING

In other words, until Dr. Mindell could be 100% certain every single bottle of his Himalayan Goji Juice contained all 4 master molecules in the right balance from the original bloodline of goji berry quoted in Ancient text, he refused to produce the final product.

It took years of research, some very special tools and highly unique manufacturing practices before success resulted in a fully STANDARDIZED juice.

Well, scientists are now reporting how extremely important the little thing called STANDARDIZING can be in manufacturing health supplements -- particularly in the area of fish oil supplements.

Fish oil is easily oxidised -- and when this takes place, potentially toxic oxidation byproducts can be the result.

In other words, some fish oil supplements could be doing more harm than good.

Dr. Carlene McLean, New Zealand's Crop & Food Research institute's oils expert, says that she has tested many fish oil samples from the UK and Asian markets and found them to contain oxidation byproducts, despite being within the sell-by date.

"Oxidised oils and fats of other types have been shown to increase the risk of atherosclerosis and thrombosis in a small number of human trials. These effects have been seen with relatively low levels of oxidised product – similar to a regular dose of fish oil capsules," said scientist Rufus Turner.

Fish oil at a late stage of oxidization will smell rancid but the initial breakdown products, which are still harmful, have little aroma, according to the researcher.

"It is very worrying because nobody has really put this together yet they are doing large trials using high dose supplements," added Dr Carlene McLean, the institute's oils expert. "But they don't consider the level of oxidation in the supplements."

Fish oil is a highly unstable product and as soon as it is extracted from fish, and exposed to oxygen, metals, light and heat, it begins to oxidise. Most fish oil producers remove many of the oxidation products during the purifying process but this is not enough, says McLean.

"Many fish oil supplements have a best-before date of three to four years. But fish oil starts to go off within days," according to McLean.

Additionally, the products are often encapsulated in a gelatine shell making it difficult for the consumer to notice.

Some manufacturers of fish oil supplements may also add vitamin E, an antioxidant, to prevent further oxidation but many producers use the more readily available form, alpha-tocopherol, which is not such a potent antioxidant as another more expensive form, gamma-tocopherol.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Sure -- you can go out there and purchase your supplements based on the lowest cost -- but this example reveals clearly that you could be doing more harm to your health than good.

My advice, make sure you know the quality of all supplements you are taking -- and equally important -- let your health care provider know what you are taking. Not all supplements are created equal, but I'm betting you already know that, right?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Polio Rises Up Again

Just when you think it's gone for good -- new outbreaks of polio show up.

Reported in the London Free Press:

"Minnesota health officials announced last week that four children, members of an Amish community, had the polio virus. Two weeks earlier, a seven-month-old infant from the community was diagnosed with polio, the first such case in the U.S. in five years."

Canada was declared polio-free in 1994, however Canadian authorities were alerted because Ontario is home to several Amish communities. Travel back and forth from Amish communities in the U.S. is common.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (in Canada) found some Amish members in Middlesex had travelled to central Minnesota, the area with the polio cases, and are now on heightened aleart.

Bariatric Surgery Studies Highlight Dangers

Several new studies in the Oct. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association point out some of the real risks associated with bariatric surgery.

We wrote about some of the dangers in our first article on the subject a couple years back, in our article: "The Dangers of W-eight L-oss Surgery"

In fact, shortly after writing and posting the above article, a friend of mine had stopped by for coffee and related a story about how one of her own co-workers had died following bariatric surgery.

At the time of writing the article, death rates on the operating table were high -- estimated at 1% ...but I didn't have estimates for death rates FOLLOWING the operation. Now, in the recent studies that have come out, as reported by Forbes.com it appears the estimate is almost 5% for medicare recipient patients ...meaning approx. 5 in every 100 patients will die??

Whew! That's a very high number when talking about fatalaty rates relating to any medical procedure.

Here is a sampling of the list of dangers, as reported in Forbes.com's article -- "Studies Highlight Risks of Bariatric Surgery":

1. One study found rehospitalization rates within a year following the surgery were as high as 19 percent.

2. And another study looked at death rates for Medicare recipients following gastric-bypass surgery, and discovered the mortality rate was almost 5 percent after a year. (see below)

3. A third study examined trends in bariatric surgery, and found the number of bariatric surgeries have increased dramatically, from 13,365 in 1998 to an estimated 102,794 in 2003.

Regarding item 2 above, among those with public insurance and the mortality rates for those on Medicare who undergo bariatric surgery:

"They found the death rate after 30 days was 2 percent for Medicare recipients. After 90 days, that rate was 2.8 percent and after a year, the death rate for bariatric surgery patients receiving Medicare benefits was 4.6 percent. This study also found the death rate was 1.6 times higher when done by a surgeon who performed a low volume of bariatric surgeries."

Considering it's "predicted that more than 100,000 people will soon have the procedure annually" --- it begs the question: Isn't there a better way??

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

New FDA Ruling Has Food Makers Scrambling

Beginning 1 January 2006, the FDA will require all food companies to label the amount of trans-fat in their products allowing consumers to have additional information to make healthier food choices that could lower their intake of trans fat as part of a heart-healthy diet.

And according to ACNeilson, US citizens have already woken up to the health dangers trans fats present. US sales of products already labeled "no trans fat" increased 12 percent to $6.4 billion for the 52 weeks ended October 2, 2004, compared with the previous 52-week period.

Trans-fats have been negatively linked to raising blood cholesterol levels and promoting heart disease, and food companies have been looking for ways of reducing trans-fat content without affecting taste.

Cargill has already indicated that they intend to ramp up production of Vistive, a low-linolenic soybean-based oil, following the growing interest in trans-fat reduced products. According to the company, low-linolenic soybeans will reduce the need for partial hydrogenation of soybean oil, helping food companies reduce the presence of trans fatty acids (trans fats) in their products.

Another small manufacturer in North Carolina has taken it one GIANT step further in a very positive direction...

Carolina Soy Products have patented a new process which they claim is also environmentally friendly (in that it does not use Hexane gas to produce soy-based oil), a process that also retains the nutritional benefits of soy in a pure, culinary grade cooking oil. Their "Whole Harvest" products contain all naturally occurring Omega-3 fatty acids, are cholesterol free and contain no Trans Fatty acids!

I give Carolina Soy Products the big KUDOS this month.

Isn't it nice to see the little guy win for a change?

Stay tuned, as I'm sure the trans-fats oil scene will be heating up in the months ahead.

P.S. Click to learn more about the benefits of soy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

PAH - Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of over 100 different chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas, garbage, or other organic substances like tobacco or charbroiled meat. PAHs are usually found as a mixture containing two or more of these compounds, such as soot.

Some PAHs are manufactured. These pure PAHs usually exist as colorless, white, or pale yellow-green solids. PAHs are found in coal tar, crude oil, creosote, and roofing tar, but a few are used in medicines or to make dyes, plastics, and pesticides.

However, you also might be exposed to PAHs by eating grilled or charred meats, contaminated cereals, flour, bread, vegetables, fruits, meats as well as processed or pickled foods, and drinking contaminated water or cow's milk... to name just a few.

Longterm or delayed health effects include:
1) This chemical is likely to cause cancer. It is considered a Probable Carcinogen.
2) Reproductive Toxicant = Can harm reproductive system
3) Development Toxicant = Can interfere with normal development of a fetus or child
4) Suspected Endocrine Disruptor = May interfere with, mimic or block hormones

And this is why Europe's food agency is calling on scientists across the food industry to contribute data on the potentially carcinogenic compounds, because they have been increasingly pinpointed by consumer organisations as a food safety issue in the food chain.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 466/2001 as amended by Regulation 208/2005 sets maximum levels for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), specifically benzo[a]pyrene, in certain foods. But in view of remaining uncertainties on levels of carcinogenic PAH in foods, especially on those PAHs identified by the former EC Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) to possess both genotoxic and carcinogenic properties, the rules have provided for a review by April 1, 2007.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has developed a database, on the Commission's recommendation 2005/108/EC, to investigate the levels of PAHs in certain foods.

"Data from all kind of laboratories are needed; official food control, research, and the food industry," says EFSA.

I'm certain we will be hearing more on this subject in future.


1. Agency For Toxic Substances And Disease Registry
2. Europe's food agency investigates harmful PAHs in food
3. CHEC's Health House - Chemical Summary PAH
4. Department of Health and Family Services - Wisconsin

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Nobel Prize Winners May Help Stamp Out Stomach Ulcers

Over 25 million Americans will suffer from an ulcer at some point during their lifetime, according to the Center for Disease Control.

If you think, like many medical experts once thought, that bacterium cannot live in the acidic juices of the stomach, think again.

Drs. Barry Marshall and Robin Warren of Australia discovered that helicobacter pylori could actually survive, and thrive, in the lining of the stomach as well as the upper duodenum... and more important, this tiny bacteria could be the "trigger" for an ulcer -- not stress, anxiety, low immune system or diet as once believed by the medical community.

After much ridicule from the scientific and medical community, both doctors perservered in proving their findings and have finally received the top award -- the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Their work has stimulated research into microbes as possible reasons for other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis, the Nobel assembly said in its citation.

What Is Helicobacter Pylori?

Here is some general information from the Helicobacter Foundation Website

Helicobacter pylori is a spiral shaped bacterium that lives in the stomach and duodenum (section of intestine just below stomach). It has a unique way of adapting in the harsh environment of the stomach.

The inside of the stomach is bathed in about half a gallon of gastric juice every day. Gastric juice is composed of digestive enzymes and concentrated hydrochloric acid, which can readily tear apart the toughest food or microorganism. Bacteria, viruses, and yesterdays steak dinner are all consumed in this deadly bath of chemicals. It used to be thought that the stomach contained no bacteria and was actually sterile, but Helicobacter pylori changed that.

The stomach is protected from its own gastric juice by a thick layer of mucus that covers the stomach lining. Helicobacter pylori takes advantage of this protection by living in the mucus lining.

Urea hydrolysis: urea is broken down to ammonia and carbon dioxide

Once H. pylori is safely ensconced in the mucus, it is able to fight the stomach acid that does reach it with an enzyme it possesses called urease. Urease converts urea, of which there is an abundant supply in the stomach (from saliva and gastric juices), into bicarbonate and ammonia, which are strong bases. This creates a cloud of acid neutralizing chemicals around the H. pylori, protecting it from the acid in the stomach. The reaction of urea hydrolysis is important for diagnosis of H.pylori by the breath test.

Gram stain of H. Pylori

Another defense H. pylori has is that the body's natural defenses cannot reach the bacterium in the mucus lining of the stomach. The immune system will respond to an H. pylori infection by sending white cells, killer T cells, and other infection fighting agents. However, these potential H. pylori eradicators cannot reach the infection, because they cannot easily get through stomach lining. They do not go away either, though, and the immune response grows and grows. Polymorphs die, and spill their destructive compounds (superoxide radicals) on stomach lining cells. Extra nutrients are sent to reinforce the white cells, and the H. pylori can feed on this. within a few days, gastritis and perhaps eventually a peptic ulcer results. It may not be H. pylori itself which causes peptic ulcer, but the inflammation of the stomach lining; i.e. the response to H. pylori.

H. Pylori causing a neutrophil reaction (active chronic gastritis) in the lining (mucosa) of the stomach

H. pylori is believed to be transmitted orally. Many researchers think that H, pylori is transmitted orally by means of fecal matter through the ingestion of waste tainted food or water. In addition, it is possible that H. pylori could be transmitted from the stomach to the mouth through gastro-esophagal reflux (in which a small amount of the stomach's contents is involuntarily forced up the esophagus) or belching, common symptoms of gastritis. The bacterium could then be transmitted through oral contact.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Food Recall Alerts

Three food recalls top the list this month, as follows:

USA - Minnesota - Ready-Made Dole Salad Packs (3 types)

A potential outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Minnesota has resulted in three of the popular Dole Salads landing on the food recall list -- Classic Romaine, American Blend and Greener Selection, all of which contained three common ingredients: romaine lettuce, carrots and red cabbage.

And in the UK - Two Confectionary Products

Bassett's was forced to recall all of its milky babies confectionery range after small pieces of plastic were found in some packs. With the product being aimed at young children, the company saw no option other than a total recall due to the potential choking hazard. (This recall does not affect other Bassett's products.)

Meanwhile, Sainsburys is recalling its Basics plain chocolate owing to undeclared milk proteins that were found. The recall was essential because of the risk to anyone allergic or intolerant to milk who might have inadvertently bought the chocolate.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nutrition News - brain food, learning power, tasty food wraps and more

It's time for some great news on the nutrition front. Here's a short collection of news items that have surfaced recently in areas of nutrition:

Keeping Our Brains Sharp Through Aging
Friedman Nutrition Notes - September/October 2005:

According to a recent report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, folate, a B vitamin found in foods like leafy green vegetables and citrus fruit, may protect against cognitive decline in older adults. The research team, led by Katherine L. Tucker, PhD, was conducted by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

Tucker and her colleagues found that men who obtained more folate in their diets showed significantly less of a decline in verbal fluency skills over the course of three years than did men with lower dietary folate intake. High folate levels, both in the diet and in the blood, also appeared to be protective against declines in another category of cognitive skills known as spatial copying.

Enhance Your Learning Power With -- Breakfast!
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, September 9, 2005:

What simple practice seems to have one of the greatest effects on how well children do in school? The answer is: Eating breakfast.

Study after study has shown that children and adult students who eat breakfast do more and better work in school than those who don't. Those who don't eat breakfast tend to tire more quickly, be more irritable and react less quickly than those who do eat breakfast.

In a recent study conducted in the United Kingdom, school children were randomly given one or four breakfasts on four consecutive days, then tested for cognitive skills (attention, working memory and episodic memory) throughout the morning. The breakfasts consisted of wheat cereal and milk, oat cereal and milk, a sugar-based beverage or nothing at all. The children scored significantly better on the days following the two cereal-based breakfasts than when they had no breakfast or only a sugar-based beverage for breakfast.

USDA Adding New Zing To Sushi-Style Delicacies?
USDA Website - July 2005 News

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at Albany, Calif., and research partner Origami Foods, LLC, based in Pleasanton, Calif., are experimenting with dozens of delicious, attractively colored wraps made from familiar vegetables and fruits. For example, they've tested a bright-orange carrot-based wrap to encircle a cucumber, garlic and rice filling, and a deep-red tomato and basil wrap to hold a spicy tuna and rice filling.

Wholesome, colorful sushi wraps made from vegetables, fruits and spices enhance the flavor of traditional and novel sushi fillings, according to Origami Foods and ARS. In addition to two spinach sushi-style wraps, nine others were being tested in July of this year, including: apple-cinnamon, red bell pepper, mango-orange, carrot-ginger, tomato-basil, broccoli, soybean, strawberry and peach.


It's Pumpkin Season -- And Check Out How GREAT They Are!
Pumpkin Power! Calculating the Carotenoids in a Fall Favorite - ARS Oct. 2005

With the exception of pure juice made from a certain strain of goji berry (believed to be the most dense source of carotenoids on the planet) -- those cans of cooked, pureed pumpkin on your pantry shelf probably have more of a healthful phytonutrient called beta-carotene than any other food in your cupboard.

Our bodies can convert beta-carotene, a carotenoid and antioxidant, into vitamin A -- a nutrient essential for good eyesight and proper growth, according to ARS. Until now, there hasn’t been a fast, simple, and environmentally friendly way to precisely measure the beta-carotene and other carotenoids in pumpkin, but a new study may change this.

Why do we need to measure carotenoids more precisely?

These natural plant compounds, responsible for the orange hues of pumpkins and carrots and the deep reds of tomatoes, continue to capture the attention of nutrition and public health researchers worldwide. That's because these specialists are eager to discover more about carotenoids' health benefits.

"Some carotenoids are thought to help reduce incidence of cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and particular kinds of cancer," explains ARS chemist Betty J. Burri. And although beta-carotene is still the most studied type, the importance of other carotenoids, such as cryptoxanthin, lutein, and lycopene -- and the amounts in which they occur -- may become clear as more is learned about them.

Today, the exact sequence of steps that our bodies use to take up beta-carotene and convert it to vitamin A remains mostly mysterious. But it's thought that other carotenoids may play a role.

Besides being the star of that traditional pie dessert favored by many at Thanksgiving dinners, pumpkin can add a pleasing taste and texture to everything from appetizers to soups, stews, and even chili.

Enjoy it with zest, knowing how much it could be doing for YOU!