Fast food: unfriendly and unhealthy.

September 10, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Nutrients, Science

fastfoodFood for thought before entering the drive through line at the fast food restaurant, is this a good choice?

Although nutrition experts might be able to navigate the menus of fast-food restaurant chains, and based on the nutritional information, compose apparently ‘healthy’ meals, there are still many reasons why frequent fast-food consumption at most chains is unhealthy and contributes to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Fast food generally has a high-energy density, which, together with large portion sizes, induces over consumption of calories. In addition, we have found it to be a myth that the typical fast-food meal is the same worldwide. Chemical analyses of 74 samples of fast-food menus consisting of French fries and fried chicken (nuggets/hot wings) bought in McDonalds and KFC outlets in 35 countries in 2005-2006 showed that the total fat content of the same menu varies from 41 to 65 g at McDonalds and from 42 to 74 g at KFC. In addition, fast food from major chains in most countries still contains unacceptably high levels of industrially produced trans-fatty acids (IP-TFA). IP-TFA have powerful biological effects and may contribute to increased weight gain, abdominal obesity, type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. The food quality and portion size need to be improved before it is safe to eat frequently at most fast-food chains.

PMID: 17452996 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Jun;31(6):887-90. Epub 2007 Apr 24.

Breastfeeding and maternal and infant iodine nutrition.

September 10, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Nutrients, Science

Mothers and babies smThe following review gives valuable information for pregnant women and new mothers concerning the appropriate levels of iodine content in breast milk.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this review is to explore information available regarding iodine secretion in milk, both mothers and infants iodine nutrition during breastfeeding and to make recommendations for appropriate iodine supplementation during lactation. DESIGN: MEDLINE was queried for studies between 1960 and 2007 that included lactation and breastfeeding with iodine and iodine deficiency. Studies were selected if they studied (i) Secretion of iodine in breast milk; (ii) breastfeeding and iodine nutrition; (iii) factors affecting maternal iodine metabolism and (iv) recommendations for iodine supplementation during breastfeeding. RESULTS: Thirty-six articles met the selection criteria. The iodine content of breast milk varies with dietary iodine intake, being lowest in areas of iodine deficiency with high prevalence of goitre. Milk iodine levels are correspondingly higher when programs of iodine prophylaxis such as salt iodization or administration of iodized oil have been introduced. The small iodine pool of the neonatal thyroid turns over very rapidly and is highly sensitive to variations in dietary iodine intake. Expression of the sodium iodide symporter is up-regulated in the lactating mammary gland which results in preferential uptake of iodide. In areas of iodine sufficiency breast milk iodine concentration should be in the range of 100-150 microg/dl. Studies from France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Thailand and Zaire have shown breast milk concentrations of < 100 microg/l. Adequate levels of iodine in breast milk have been reported from Iran, China, USA and some parts of Europe. CONCLUSIONS: Adequate concentration of iodine in breast milk is essential to provide for optimal neonatal thyroid hormone stores and to prevent impaired neurological development in breast-fed neonates. In many countries of the world, low iodine content of the breast milk indicates less than optimum maternal and infant iodine nutrition. The current WHO/ICCIDD/UNICEF recommendation for daily iodine intake (250 microg for lactating mothers) has been selected to ensure that iodine deficiency dose not occur in the postpartum period and that the iodine content of the milk is sufficient for the infant’s iodine requirement.

PMID: 19178515 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2009 May;70(5):803-9. Epub 2008 Oct 6.

Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations.

August 26, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Nutrients, Science

coldflu

The school season has started therefore the cold and flu season is upon us.  The following information on herbs and vitamins is worth reviewing for the prevention of winter illnesses.

The common cold is the leading cause of doctor visits in the United States and annually results in 189 million lost school days. In the course of one year the U.S. population contracts approximately 1 billion colds. Influenza infection is still a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, accounting for 20-25 million doctor visits and 36,000 deaths per year in the United States. Conventional therapies for colds and flu focus primarily on temporary symptom relief and include over-the-counter antipyretics, anti-inflammatories, and decongestants. Treatment for influenza also includes prescription antiviral agents and vaccines for prevention. This article reviews the common cold and influenza viruses, presents the conventional treatment options, and highlights select botanicals (Echinacea spp., Sambucus nigra, larch arabinogalactan, Astragalus membranaceous, Baptisia tinctoria, Allium sativa, Panax quinquefolium, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Andrographis paniculata, olive leaf extract, and Isatis tinctoria) and nutritional considerations (vitamins A and C, zinc, high lactoferrin whey protein, N-acetylcysteine, and DHEA) that may help in the prevention and treatment of these conditions.

Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):25-48.

Soldiering on With Herbs

August 19, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Nutrients, Science

File:US 3rd Infantry regiment drill team.jpg

A new book based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health explores the use of dietary supplements by military personnel. One of the best things about this book? It’s available online in its entirety, HERE. It reports on research conducted by a committee chosen to “identify those that may be of benefit or might pose serious hazards.” the committee selected supplements to review “based on their frequency of use, potential for adverse events, and interest for the military.” The supplements considered in the book are caffeine, chromium, creatine, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), Ephedra, garlic, Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB), melatonin, quercetin, sports bars, sports drinks, tyrosine, and valerian. Overall, the book takes a skeptical view of these supplements, mostly because of insufficient high quality research. Here are some highlights: Read more

Vitamin D and the control of the skin’s immune response

August 6, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Herbs, Nutrients, Science

Vt. DThis article illustrates the possible importance of Vitamin D in the management of infectious and inflammatory skin diseases.

Schauber J, Gallo RL.

Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany. juergen.schauber@med.uni-muenchen.de

The surface of our skin is constantly challenged by a wide variety of microbial pathogens, still cutaneous infections are relatively rare. Within cutaneous innate immunity the production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is a primary system for protection against infection. Many AMPs can be found on the skin, and these include molecules that were discovered for their antimicrobial properties, and other peptides and proteins first known for activity as chemokines, enzymes, enzyme inhibitors and neuropeptides. Cathelicidins were among the first families of AMPs discovered on the skin. They are now known to have two distinct functions; they have direct antimicrobial activity and will initiate a host cellular response resulting in cytokine release, inflammation and angiogenesis. Dysfunction of cathelicidin is relevant in the pathogenesis of several cutaneous diseases including atopic dermatitis where cathelicidin induction is suppressed, rosacea, where cathelicidin peptides are abnormally processed to forms that induce cutaneous inflammation and a vascular response, and psoriasis, where a cathelicidin peptide can convert self-DNA to a potent stimulus of an autoinflammatory cascade. Recent work has unexpectedly identified vitamin D3 as a major factor involved in the regulation of cathelicidin expression. Therapies targeting the vitamin D3 pathway and thereby cathelicidin may provide new treatment modalities in the management of infectious and inflammatory skin diseases.

Exp Dermatol. 2008 Aug;17(8):633-9. Epub 2008 Jun 28.

Schauber J, Gallo RL.

Department of Dermatology and Allergology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany. juergen.schauber@med.uni-muenchen.de

The surface of our skin is constantly challenged by a wide variety of microbial pathogens, still cutaneous infections are relatively rare. Within cutaneous innate immunity the production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) is a primary system for protection against infection. Many AMPs can be found on the skin, and these include molecules that were discovered for their antimicrobial properties, and other peptides and proteins first known for activity as chemokines, enzymes, enzyme inhibitors and neuropeptides. Cathelicidins were among the first families of AMPs discovered on the skin. They are now known to have two distinct functions; they have direct antimicrobial activity and will initiate a host cellular response resulting in cytokine release, inflammation and angiogenesis. Dysfunction of cathelicidin is relevant in the pathogenesis of several cutaneous diseases including atopic dermatitis where cathelicidin induction is suppressed, rosacea, where cathelicidin peptides are abnormally processed to forms that induce cutaneous inflammation and a vascular response, and psoriasis, where a cathelicidin peptide can convert self-DNA to a potent stimulus of an autoinflammatory cascade. Recent work has unexpectedly identified vitamin D3 as a major factor involved in the regulation of cathelicidin expression. Therapies targeting the vitamin D3 pathway and thereby cathelicidin may provide new treatment modalities in the management of infectious and inflammatory skin diseases.

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