December 20, 2010
Celeb Rumors Are Not All True?
According to many mainstream media sources, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen is a devotee of the Dukan Diet. Except that it turns out that she's not. Regarding a blog post about the Dukan Diet that mentioned Ms. Bundchen, Ms. Bundchen's representative (and twin sister) Patricia Bundchen contacted CalorieLab asserting that "Gisele has never done this diet or any other diet. She has a very healthy and natural alimentation." Since an association with a celebrity can help a diet get traction in the market, most diet promoters don't go out of their way to deny celebrity rumors. And occasionally, as in the case of the Kimkins Diet creator Heidi Diaz, who recently lost a $1.8 million class action fraud lawsuit, diet creators make up or knowingly pass along false celebrity rumors.
Fats Get a Pass
Many nutritional scientists now say that carbs, and not fat, are to blame for rising obesity rates. "Fat is not the problem. If [we] could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes," says Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard School of Public Health. Carbs account for about 55 % of Americans’ daily caloric intake when half that amount is recommended. Some experts blame the 30-year old, government-mandated message to cut fat from diets when carbs are really to blame. “... based on what we know,” adds Willett, "almost everyone can avoid Type 2 diabetes” by cutting carbs. Not all are onboard with this message, however, and say extreme dietary measures don’t promote health.
How to Tell
Americans eat too many carbs which contribute to obesity, say some nutritional scientists. Food scientists divide carbs into categories of good and bad. Good, or complex carbs, such as whole grains and legumes, don’t raise blood sugar quickly; bad, or simple carbs, such as refined breads and pastas, do. How can you tell good from bad? Read food labels and look for high fiber content. Also look at the glycemic index of the foods you eat, says Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard School of Public Health. Glycemic index, ranked on a scale of 1 to 100, is based on how fast blood sugar rises after the food is eaten. Foods with a glycemic index below 55 are considered optimal. Another word of expert advice: Avoid processed foods that, in general, have high glycemic levels and low fiber.
Can Supplements Slow Aging?
The science of aging focuses on telomeres, protective strands of DNA that become shorter when a healthy cell divides. Studies say much can be learned about longevity from the length of a person’s telomeres and that, with a healthy lifestyle, telomeres can stay relatively long for a longer time. Not surprisingly, supplements that supposedly stimulate telomerase, a natural enzyme that restores telomeres when a cell divides, are appearing on the market. They can be pricey, costing from $250 to $4000 for a six-month supply and, while everyone would love to drink from the fountain of youth, experts say beware. Benefits are unclear and there’s the possibility of side effects, warn some who believe the supplements should be classified as drugs if they do, in fact, affect chromosomes.
Salad Bars and Buffets at Risk
Terrorists may try to use poisons, such as ricin and cyanide, to launch simultaneous attacks at hotels and restaurants over a single weekend, reports CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian. In the exclusive story, CBS News has said that "a key Intelligence source" confirmed that the poison threat to Americans by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is credible. The terror attacks may be mistaken for food poisoning and will focus on restaurant buffets and salad bars. Officials from the FDA, Department of Agriculture and Department of Homeland Security have briefed a small group of corporate security officers working in the hotel and restaurant industries.
Maybe It Works, a Little
Echinacea, also called purple coneflower, may shave a half-day off of a weeklong cold and make symptoms slightly milder, say researchers at the University of Wisconsin. The slight improvements seen in those taking echinacea weren't statistically significant, meaning they may have occurred by chance, reports MSNBC. The government-funded study involved more than 700 adults and children ages 12 to 80. Participants received either 10 grams of dried echinacea root the first day and 5 grams the next four days, a placebo or no treatment. Researchers noted that the small potential benefits gained from taking echinacea supplements for a cold probably aren't worth the financial cost for most people. Study findings were published today by the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Erin Brockovich, Help!
The harmful chemical hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) may be lurking in the tap water in 31 cities, claims the Environmental Working Group. CNN reports that chromium-6 is the chemical Erin Brockovich tackled in a lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric. The 31 cities are Norman, Okla.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Riverside, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; San Jose, Calif.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Omaha, Neb.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Bend, Ore.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Atlanta, Ga.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Bethesda, Md.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Ill.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Villanova, Pa.; Sacramento, Calif.; Louisville, Ky.; Syracuse, N.Y.; New Haven, Conn.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Las Vegas, Nev.; New York, N.Y.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Miami, Fla.; Boston, Mass.; and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Probable Carcinogen Lurking
Hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen, was found in the drinking water of 31 of 35 cities tested by the Environmental Working Group, reports Washington Post. Hexavalent chromium is a metal that has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats. The newly released study is the first nationwide analysis of hexavalent chromium to be made available to the public. The EPA is considering adding a limit to the amount of hexavalent chromium allowed in tap water, and California may be the first state to set a limit (0.06 parts per billion) for safe levels in drinking water. The potentially cancer-causing chemical was the focus of a film called "Erin Brockovich."
Combination Works Best
Shakes, bars, and packaged entrees may help teens jump-start their weight loss efforts, but in the end, they are statistically no more effective than a standard low-calorie diet for helping obese younger people reach their goals. Dr. Robert L. Berkowitz of the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia randomly assigned 113 obese teens and their families to one of three weight loss regimens: a 1300-1500 calorie diet for one year, 4 months of meal replacements (Slim-Fast) followed by 8 months of a low-calorie diet, or a full year of meal replacement products. While those on meal replacements lost more weight during the first four months, by the end of one year, the average BMI reduction for those on the low-cal diet was 2.8 percent versus 3.4 percent for the meal-replacement only group.
Alcohol Affects the Heart
With all of the holiday parties scheduled this season, it is easy to overdo it when it comes to alcohol consumption. A Cleveland Clinic cardiologist warns that too many nights of heavy drinking can lead to “holiday heart syndrome”, or episodes of atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation, even in those without a known history of heart disease. Dr. Curtis Rimmerman warns in the Heart Advisor Newsletter that if such an episode lasts for longer than five minutes and if you have never experienced rapid heart beating before, you should see a doctor. He also warns heart patients to talk to their physicians about additional medication during holiday festivities. Dr. Rimmerman also reminds us that excess salt intake can also increase blood pressure and affects circulation.
Green Issues at Top
Republican Senator Tom Coburn has drafted a “Wastebook” guide of the top 100 examples of wasteful government spending in 2010. The list includes the spending of $700,000 by the Department of Agriculture for the study of methane gas emissions from dairy cows, over $200,000 by the National Science Foundation to study politicians’ use of “ambiguous statements”, and The Census Bureau’s 30-second Super Bowl ad which cost $2.5 million. Coburn says that there are hundreds of billions of dollars each year that are wasted due to “lack of attentiveness and lack of structured decision making.” Coburn also notes that the government spends $28 million to print “The Congressional Record” which is likely read by “One, maybe two” people.
Suggests Asthma More Prevelant
A study conducted at the Sahlgrenska Academy's Krefting Research Centre in West Sweden in which 30,000 individuals were asked about their health suggests that nasal problems may be a sign of severe asthma, making the condition more common than many scientists thought. Based on this study, researchers believe 2 percent of West Sweden is showing signs linked to severe asthma. The symptoms include chronic nasal congestion and a runny nose. This study suggests that people who complain of nasal problems in addition to symptoms involving the lower respiratory should be screened for asthma. Researchers also believe that treating these problems may decrease the risk of a person developing asthma. More research is needed to understand the link and how this could lead to preventing asthma.
Mom’s Shot Protects Infants
A three-year study conducted at Yale School of Medicine showed that women who got the influenza vaccine when pregnant were 91.5 percent effective at keeping their infants from being hospitalized due to the virus. Researchers looked at infants with influenza hospitalized at Yale-New Haven Hospital and compared them to a matched group of infants that did not have the virus. There is no vaccine for infants under 6 months old, so these results are great news to researchers looking for ways to protect them. Influenza can be very serious in pregnant women and this study demonstrated another benefit of vaccinating pregnant women. The complete study can be found in the December 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.
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