The Science Based Arms Race For The Consumer’s Trust

Tart Cherry Juice Lowers Blood Pressure
Tart Cherry Juice Lowers Blood Pressure
Tart Cherry Juice Lowers Blood Pressure
Tart Cherry Juice Lowers Blood Pressure

Ask Your Doctor If Good Nutrition Is Right For You

Consumer Confusion Over Supplements Calls For Clarity

When the natural products industry began to mature and started using science based claims for their ingredients, formulations and products, they gave up a very big advantage they had.

That advantage was in the obvious connection between good food and good health. Food was cool back in 431 BC when Hippocrates allegedly admonished us to make food our medicine and medicine our food. This food as medicine connection has been deeply rooted throughout human history. Food and nutrition were the at the root so to speak, of ‘natural’ products. This was somewhat of a backlash against large scale processed foods that started taking on forms that were unrecognizable, yet immensely compelling from the standpoint of convenience and taste.

As the market grew, it became necessary to address convenience, efficacy and safety factors. Distinguishing natural remedies as ‘just as good as’ or ‘better’ than pharmaceuticals, the need for scientific validation for the claims to good health became more important than the common sense experiences traditionally associated or attributed to their use.

The results have been mixed. We have a treasure trove of existing and ongoing science supporting food as medicine. Yet we can’t say so for fear of running afoul of some Federal regulation or monopolistic protection.

Drug companies buy up nearly every inch of ad space in scientific journals, so the argument persists that there’s little scientific basis for natural product claims. If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it . . .

We have good manufacturing practices and we have dozens of third party certification organizations. The message to the consumer is that there must be a problem with food standards somewhere.

In the meantime, we’ve seen a proliferation of new ingredients, formulations and products clamoring for shelf space. Consumers have never had so many choices, yet confusion has never been greater.

They don’t understand the reason behind pricing for the same item from different manufacturers. The whole shopping experience can be overwhelming and intimidating.

Most of this confusion could have been avoided. If the industry had led with nature as the gold standard, we could have more easily validated our claims to efficacy and safety. Instead of copying big pharma’s model, we could have copied nature’s.

Many pharmaceuticals were derived from plants from nature. We could have framed big phama as copying  nature and following those of us with a food and nutrition based approach to health instead of playing the never-catch-up with their marketing and budgets game. .

Now we have an arms race to invent and patent more and more products designed for a specific effects. We pile on tons of scientific evidence and expect consumers to feel secure in their purchases.

We can’t say ‘ask your doctor’ if product ‘X’ is right for you because there are too few doctors who know what to answer. Based on the amount of nutrition education they were exposed to in medical school, most doctors look like a deer in the headlights when a patient asks a nutritional question.

It’s no wonder we’re in such a sorry state of health. Don’t despair. It’s not as difficult as it seems. Self education is the first step to understanding how food and nutrition are essential to optimal health. After all, they don’t call them “vitamins” for nothing.

Fortunately, consumer awareness about the medicinal benefits of knowing about food and how to best use it for our optimal health, is a secret that’s no longer so secret. Despite attempts to separate us from food’s full story, consumers are causing a major upheaval in the food and consumer packaged goods sector. This is good news for food and nutritional supplement manufacturers. There’s a pretty compelling story to tell about their products. The more the good food story is told and circulated, the faster new shelf space will appear. In the stores, on the web and ultimately on consumers pantry shelves.

 

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Three “Hands On” Nutrition Classes – Enough to Impact Health Behaviors in Lower Income Women

According to New Study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

The knowledge and skills required to change poor nutrition and health behavior choices are often unavailable to those living with financial limitations. Competing demands on time and resources may pose obstacles to their achieving better diets.

Woman choosing produceHowever, two researchers at the University of Minnesota recently completed a study that looked at the effects that three educational sessions might have on knowledge and behaviors of 118 low-income women of ethnically diverse backgrounds.

“Our research shows that with the right teaching experiences, having more classes may not be needed to reach our lower income population,” says Chery Smith, PhD, MPH, RD, Professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota. “This is really important for a group that is hard to reach, has transportation difficulties, and is extremely mobile due to work and housing changes.”

Dr. Smith and former student Claire Rustad developed and taught three classes to lower income women of predominantly American Indian, African American, and white ethnicities. They used a holistic approach and experiential learning, as well as providing clear sets of instructions. The first class covered the “nuts and bolts” of nutrition, including shopping, budgeting, and basics of macro- and micro-nutrients. In the second class, cooking techniques were emphasized, and in the third, participants learned about resources to increase food security, which included gardening.

After participating in the three classes, the women had increased vegetable intake, decreased fast food intake, and read labels more often. Data indicated that there were nine behaviors that improved after the session, as well as measures of knowledge.  Increased knowledge and behavioral changes in a low-income population of women may help narrow inequalities in health, based on socioeconomic status.

“Ultimately, this study points to the efficacy of experiential learning in promoting knowledge acquisition and behavioral changes after education on a spectrum of nutrition topics in a short time frame, because it promotes immediate processing of information via stimulation of the senses,” comments Dr. Smith.

Although the investigators demonstrated positive effects, Dr. Smith acknowledges that they do not know if the results will be sustained.  However, she believes that using a comprehensive but short intervention is worthy of expanded research interest.

29 Films Every Food Activist Must Watch

Thanks to by Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Work for sharing this list.

In addition, check out Genetic Roulette, Seeds of Destruction and Fast Food Nation.

Films and short videos are a powerful way of increasing awareness of and interest in the food system. With equal parts technology and artistry, filmmakers can bring an audience to a vegetable garden in Uganda, a fast food workers’ rights protest in New York City, or an urban farm in Singapore. And animation can help paint a picture of what a sustainable, just, and fair food system might look like. Film is an incredible tool for effecting change through transforming behaviors and ways of thinking.

There are many incredible films educating audiences about changes being made – or that need to be made – in the food system.

Food Myth BustersAnna Lappé and Food Mythbusters, for example, just released a new animated short film on how “Big Food” marketing targets children and teenagers, filling their diets with unhealthy processed food products – and what parents, teachers, and communities can do to combat it.

In addition to Lappé’s timely and compelling call to action, Food Tank has selected 26 films – both long and short – to share with you. From the importance of land rights for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to the insidious dominance of fast food in an urban community in California, each of these films can inform and inspire eaters all over the world. We ask that you, in turn, share this list with your networks in order that they may reach an even wider audience.

A Farmer in Africa: Property Rights1. A Farmer in Africa: Property Rights: The lack of property rights and rental agreements create problems for smallholder farmers in many developing countries. Sometimes governments or corporations engage in land-grabs, pushing farmers off the land, or regulate land use, keeping farmers from being able to cultivate their land. This short from the World Resources Institute explains the difficulty of balancing individual citizens’ rights to farm with the public good in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

A Place At The Table2. A Place at the Table: Hunger, especially in the United States, is often not the result poverty, not food shortages. A Place at the Table profiles three of the 50 million Americans who live with hunger every day, and describes the challenges they face between staying full and eating healthy food.

3. Cooking by Heart: Domi et Cyril Sarthe’s Gnocchi with Spinach Sauce: Cooking by Heart’s short film is more than a lesson in how to make dumplings: it’s an examination of how simple and delicious a meal can be when the ingredients are grown right in one’s backyard.

4. Fast Food: Did you know the potato is the most-consumed vegetable in the United States? Or that the customers who visit McDonald’s ten times a month make up 75 percent of its business? The Infographics Show packages fast food facts into easily digestible, pardon the pun, graphics.

5. Food Chains: Award-winning filmmaker Sanjay Rawal’s upcoming film sheds light on the human rights violations that occur to farm workers who pick 125 million kilograms (280 million pounds) of fresh fruits and vegetables each day across the United States. The movie discusses how big food companies ensure unfair wages exist, but also how some companies are using their weight in the market to push for labor justice.

Food Fight6. Food Fight: Earth Amplified’s music video creates a world in which processed food is literally deadly. The Oakland-based hip-hop group makes more than music: through SOS Juice, they also host community food justice workshops and serve fresh juice.

7. Food Speculation: In 2007 and 2008, food prices rose dramatically, resulting in food riots across the developing world. These riots re-occurred in 2010 and 2011. World Economy, Ecology & Development (WEED) outlines how speculation on food futures causes dangerous fluctuation in food prices.

8. Forks Over Knives: This film takes a look at degenerative diseases that are plaguing the United States, linking them to America’s consumption of processed food and animal products, and suggests eating a more plant-based diet.

9. FRESH, the Movie: This film celebrates farmers who are innovating and re-inventing the food system by confronting issues such as pollution, obesity, and depletion of natural resources.

The Hidden Cost of Hamburgers10. The Hidden Cost of Hamburgers: On average, residents of the United States eat three hamburgers a week, which means the United States raises a lot of cows. This short from the Center for Investigative Reporting spells out the costs of conventionally raised beef.

11. How to Feed the World?: Created for the Bon Appétit exhibition at Paris’ Cité des Sciences in 2010, this short film profiles various ways of interacting with the global food system, from eating locally to to subsistence farming. It provides the viewer with a global perspective on food production and distribution, along with guidance on how to eat more sustainably.

12. La Cosecha/The Harvest: This 2010 documentary follows the lives of three migrant fieldworkers–all of them under the age of 18. These are just three of the estimated 400,000 children who work picking crops in the United States.

King Corn13. King Corn: Two East Coast documentarians move to the American heartland and plant a one-acre crop of corn, and discover how much of the American diet corn infiltrates.

14. Myth of Choice: Is junk food what we really crave?: Do kids want to eat processed food products devoid of nutritional value because they simply like them better than healthier, more nourishing food – or does junk food marketing target youth very aggressively? Food Mythbusters’ newest short film is dedicated to answering this question.

15. Nokia, HK Honey: Hidden in the cityscape of Hong Kong, there is a community of beekeepers who are providing residents with access to local honey and helping bring urban dwellers closer to their food.

16. Our Daily Bread: This film offers a shocking look at how food is produced and how food production companies use technology to maximize efficiency and profit. Without using words, the film allows the viewer to form their own opinions through the use of sounds of machinery, conveyor belts at a chicken factory, and the motor of a plane spraying pesticides.

17. Planning for a Sustainable Local Food System: Ideally, city planning also includes planning for a sustainable food system. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)’s GOTO2040 program calls for a stronger regional food system in the Chicago area, created through better financing and infrastructure.

18. Soil: Our Climate Ally Underfoot: The Center for Food Safety recently released a short video on the importance of improving and preserving the health of damaged soils. In the words of conservationist Richard King, interviewed in the video: “It’s critical to [future generations] that we develop a regenerative agriculture – and to do that, we have to start with building soil health.”

19. Soil Matters on the Farm: Gabe Smith doesn’t till his North Dakota farmland and he grows some crops not for food or for sale, but as cover crops. Smith’s goal is to improve the quality of soil – and, consequently, the nutritional value of his crops. His rejuvenated soil holds larger amounts of water and his farm is more drought-resistant. Because of his holistic approach, he no longer needs to use chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Sustainable Agriculture: Where Do We Go From Here?20. Sustainable Agriculture: Where Do We Go From Here?: Large-scale agriculture is doing more harm than good, and the current patterns of population growth and agriculture will lead to more destruction of the planet’s resources. The Nature Conservancy argues for smaller-scale, environmentally sustainable agriculture.

21. The Garden: This Academy Award-nominated documentary tells the story of a South Central Los Angeles community of farmers and their urban garden that rose up, despite facing numerous obstacles, such as claims of eminent domain by the garden site’s previous owners.

22. The Meatrix: In 2003, GRACE’s Sustainable Table produced The Meatrix, an award-winning short about factory farming. The Eat Well Guide was released with the movie, offering viewers information about more sustainable food choices.

23. The Price of Sugar: This poignant film examines the working conditions and treatment of Haitian sugarcane farmers, exposing their struggle for basic human rights as they work to bring consumers an ubiquitous kitchen staple.

24. The Scarecrow: Tex-Mex restaurant corporation Chipotle’s new video is a beautifully made short about one scarecrow’s quest to free his local food system from unsustainable, processed foods.

Taste the Waste25. Taste the Waste: German documentary filmmaker Valentin Thurn focuses his lens on food waste. Taste the Waste won Best Film of 2011 in Germany’s Atlantis Environment and Nature Film Festival and a Documentary Film Award at EKOFILM International Film Festival in the Czech Republic.

26. WASTE: Wasting food has greater costs than just what the consumer pays: it also wastes fossil fuels, water, and other crucial environmental resources. From the makers of Taste the Waste, Food Waste TV sheds light on the larger effects of food waste.

Low Quality Of Life And Depressive Symptoms Connected With Unhealthy Lifestyle

Girl Blowing Bubbles

October is national depression screening month.

Screening for Mental Health offers National Depression Screening Day programs for the military, colleges and universities, community-based organizations and businesses.

Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) raises awareness and screens people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders.

NDSD is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that provides referral information for treatment. Through the program, more than half a million people each year have been screened for depression since 1991.  Take an anonymous depression screening at www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org

In a  recent Finnish study,  subjects with the worst health habits were also the most depressed. Perhaps not surprising,  lifestyle evaluations in countries with well established public health services provide a baseline for intervention and corrective action.

Health is our birthright. Health care should also be part of any society’s organizing principles if for no other reason than it works.

Abstract

Background: The Lapinlahti 2005 study was carried out to explore cardiovascular disease risk factors, lifestyle and quality of life in Lapinlahti residents in eastern Finland. Our aim was to study the association between lifestyle and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in the community.

Subjects and methods: The present study is based on the baseline data of the followed up (2005–2010) population-based cohort (N = 376, n of males = 184). A trained research nurse measured weight, height, waist circumference and blood pressure. Self-reported HRQoL was measured using a 15D questionnaire. A BDI-21 inventory was used to assess the presence of self-reported depressive symptoms.

Lifestyle factors (nutrition, exercise, smoking and alcohol use) were examined with a structured questionnaire. Each lifestyle item was valued as −1, 0 or 1, depending on how well it corresponded to the recommendations. Based on the index the participants were divided into three lifestyle sum tertiles: I = unhealthy, II = neutral and III = healthy. The age- and sex-adjusted linear trend between the tertiles was tested.

Results: The 15D score had a positive linear relationship with the lifestyle tertiles (P = .0048 for linearity, age- and sex-adjusted). Respectively, self-reported depressive symptoms were less frequent among subjects with a healthier lifestyle (P = .038).

Conclusions: People who are expected to strive most to change their lifestyle have the lowest quality of life and psychological welfare, which should be taken into account in both clinical work and health promotion.

Scand J Public Health 1403494813504837, first published on September 18, 2013 as doi:10.1177/1403494813504837.

  1. Jorma Savolainen1,2
  2. Hannu Kautiainen6
  3. Juhani Miettola1
  4. Leo Niskanen3,4
  5. Pekka Mäntyselkä5,6

  1. 1Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, Primary Health Care, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

  2. 2Primary Health Care Unit, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland

  3. 3University of Eastern Finland, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, Kuopio, Finland

  4. 4Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea

  5. 5Institute of Clinical Medicine, General Practice, University of Turku, Finland

  6. 6Unit of Primary Health Care, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
  1. Jorma Savolainen, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, Primary Health Care, School of Medicine, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland. E-mail: jorma.savolainen@uef.fi

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Also Reduces Cancer Risk

Following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 steps to reduce your risk for heart disease can also help prevent cancer, according to new research in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation.

“We were gratified to know adherence to the Life’s Simple 7 goals was also associated with reduced incidence of cancer,” said Laura J. Rasmussen-Torvik, an assistant professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and lead author of the study. “This can help health professionals provide a clear, consistent message about the most important things people can do to protect their health and lower their overall risk for chronic diseases.”

Adhering to six or seven of the factors reduced the risk of cancer by 51 percent, compared with participants who met none of the factors. Meeting four factors led to a 33 percent risk reduction and one or two 21 percent.

Incredible and obvious results. Do we really need another reminder of what a healthy lifestyle looks like? Apparently so. Take a look and see where you stand in playing the “Is It Healthy?” Game.

Life’s Simple 7 is part of the association’s My Life Check campaign that advises Americans to adhere to seven factors for a healthy heart:

  • Being physically active
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels
  • Keeping blood pressure down
  • Regulating blood sugar levels
  • Not smoking

When smoking status was not considered, participants who met five or six of the remaining six factors had a 25 percent lower cancer risk than those who met none.

“We’re trying to help promote a comprehensive health message,” Rasmussen-Torvik said.  “Quitting smoking is very important, but there are other factors you need to be aware of if you want to live a healthy life.”

Participants included 13,253 white and African-American men and women in the ongoing Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, launched in 1987 in four U.S. communities. Participants were interviewed and examined at the start of the study to determine which health factors they met or followed.

About 20 years later, the researchers reviewed cancer registries and hospital records and determined that 2,880 of the participants ended up with cancer, primarily of the lung, colon or rectum, prostate and breast.

Non-melanoma skin cancers were not considered, and researchers didn’t look at cancer risk factor changes over time.

“This adds to the strong body of literature suggesting that it’s never too late to change, and that if you make changes like quitting smoking and improving your diet, you can reduce your risk for both cardiovascular disease and cancer,” Rasmussen-Torvik said.

Co-authors are: Christina M. Shay, Ph.D., M.A.; Judith G. Abramson, M.D., M.S.C.I.; Christopher A. Friedrich, M.D., Ph.D.; Jennifer A. Nettleton, Ph.D.; Anna E. Prizment, Ph.D., M.P.H.; and Aaron R. Folsom, M.D., M.P.H.

To find out where you stand with Life’s Simple 7, take the My Life Check assessment.

Everyday Choices, a collaborative effort of the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association, has information and resources to help you make healthier choices to reduce your risk of these chronic diseases.

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