Glucometer measuring a diabetic level of glucose in the blood.
The International Diabetes Federation met two weeks ago to document current cases of diabetes and what unified proposals they agreed upon to recommend to last week's UN meeting. This federation represents associations from 160 countries, all of whom are finding ever more increasing and concerning numbers of diabetics in their healthcare systems (information from their symposium may be found here).
So what's the current picture? There are now an estimated 366 million people with diabetes (data combines types 1 and 2). Their total estimated yearly financial impact on healthcare systems is $465 billion. Annually. That's a huge number of people and a huge financial impact- both on larger systems and on a personal level.
To put this number into perspective, there are 54 million more diabetics in the world than the entire U.S. population combined. Although this is far from an American problem, many chronic non-communicable diseases rise in countries in proportion to their adoption of industrialized (American) culture and food (diabetes, heart disease and cancer are a few).
Type 2 diabetes has been around for some time but has been rapidly growing from the 174 million diabetics estimated worldwide 30 years ago. What was at one time termed "Adult Onset Diabetes" can now be found affecting grade-school children. Type 1 or "Juvenile Onset Diabetes" was a rare disease to my knowledge as a child, and I knew of no children with Type 2. I'm thinking that this is not the case with today's children.
So where does this all end? Personal choices, government choices and companies' influence impacts all our lives. Whether it's diabetes, cancer, lung disease, an autoimmune disease or some other chronic non-communicable disease, it's a long and difficult path towards continual improvement of one's health. Our modern medical establishment it not set up to optimally serve people in a preventative and health-supporting manner, so check out what the Naturopathic profession can do for you if you have one of these or a similar concern.
Spray being applied to crops.
Research just published this summer (article found here), links Monsanto's popular brand of herbicide, Roundup, to an increase in birth defects.
One of the chemical perpetrators, glyphosate, has been shown for decades to cause birth defects in both animals and humans. Way back in 2002, the EU published a report from its DG SANCO division outlining these connections.
This information follows on the heels of a past article written mid July, titled "Pesticides & Pregnancy: A Recipe for Lower IQ?" Both pesticides applied to conventionally grown produce and herbicides commonly applied to weeds and other unwanted garden plants are bad for the developing fetus. One is linked to lower IQ, one is linked to birth defects.
So the take home information here is that some chemicals we commonly use or unknowingly ingest are of real health concerns. With so many chemicals being found with serious health risk implications, why isn't there more consumer protection? I don't think Monsanto will be adjusting their formulas any time soon, so it's up to the consumer to be informed about ingredients and their potential harm.
Check back here to get more up to date information about health and the world around us. Thank you for reading, and please feel welcome to comment or suggest a topic.
So many choices, so many half-truth health claims.
Boosts your immunity. Good for digestion. Improves attention. These are some of the common claims made by major food companies to market their "functional food."
This phenomena has been explained by a recent NY Times article (5/14/11).
But how healthful are they? Is there actually science behind these claims?
Usually there is at least one scientific study which the companies use as a marketing springboard for their "functional food" product. But as far as how healthy the food item may be, the "for your health" advertising is often misleading and incomplete.
One such example is American Heart Association-approved Welches Grape Juice. It is approved because it is fat free (as opposed to those lard-laden juices?). Welches Grape Juice earns the AHA red "Healthy Heart" logo on the front of the juice containers, even though it contains 36 grams of sugar per serving (eight ounces). This amount of sugar falls somewhere between a Mountain Dew and a Pepsi- not what I'd call healthy, and probably not the best for your cardiovascular system.
In another particularly egregious use of research to promote "functional foods," Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats was marketing their cereal as improving children's attentiveness. These results were obtained by comparing children's attentiveness in the morning before their breakfast and after three hours. The control group got water for breakfast. Only half of the Mini Wheats kids showed better attentiveness than the water-fasted kids.
So it doesn't appear that concerned parents should be loading their kids up on those sugar bombs just quite yet. After whole wheat, the three remaining primary ingredients in Frosted Mini Wheats are sugar, high fructose corn syrup and gelatin. I can think of just a few better ideas for improving a child's attention than those food items.
So, how to tell what's what when grocery store items are being branded and sponsored by national disease associations faster than NASCAR drivers? First take a look at the ingredients, and turn a discerning eye to those which are "enriched" or include ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring (like red # 40). If the food has a longer ingredient list than you have an attention span for reading, the processed nature probably outweighs the health benefits.
Lastly, if the brand is a billion-dollar international company, they're probably not too concerned for your digestive health. Just look to that food critic in you to sift the food that's actually good for you from the bright colors and cartoon figures promising health benefits.
Thanks for reading!
Paleolithic people ate ten times more fiber than we do now.
An anti-Paleolithic Diet article in last week's Chicago Tribune is the latest to turn a skeptical eye to a diet shunning the great American food pillars: bread and dairy. The nutritionist they profiled, Dr. Keith Ayoob, has quite a few bones to pick with this diet, which focuses on produce, nuts, seeds and lean meats (the diet likely consumed by paleolithic people).
His major contentions are that this diet must be deficient in vitamins and minerals because it does not include grains and dairy, and is (in his view) too expensive to feed a teenage boy. That was actually a real argument on his part.
Those nutrients which are found in fortified grains (bread, pasta, rice) and dairy are found in much lower levels compared to the wide spectrum of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds your typical "paleolithic dieter" consumes.
Have questions as to whether you're getting the necessary amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from your diet? Consult a Naturopathic doctor- a doctor who's also an expert in nutrition! You deserve the best information and guidance, it's your health we're talking about here!
Thank you for reading, please contact me with questions, comments and feedback!
What was your favorite school lunch item?
I'll admit mine was the chocolate milk; less than healthy choices such as mine may soon be a thing of the past.
School lunches are in the cross-hairs of the current legislative activity aimed at improving children's nutrition. Last year, Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act, showing how concerning our children's lunchtime food choices are (even the presidents getting involved here!).
Today's Washington Post featured an article titled, "School lunch debates heat up," where author Jennifer LaRue Huget asks:
"...whose responsibility it is to decide what to feed America’s schoolchildren, who should determine what’s healthful and what’s not, and what role [do] parents play in that decision-making process. We also have to consider whether serving nutritionally sound meals at school is itself part of the curriculum; teaching kids what foods are best for their bodies by offering such foods at lunchtime."
Don't let me eat it if you're scared to look at the ingredients.
So whose responsibility is it that kids eat healthy lunches?
Shouldn't it be everyone's?
If healthy meal choices are made at home, then children will (by extension) bring healthy lunches to school. And for those who are provided meals at school (for parental convenience and/or reduced-price), then shouldn't this be where the schools step in with healthy choices?
If childhood (and adult) epidemic levels of obesity and diabetes are to be reversed, we need to take what kids eat seriously.
When nutrition becomes a value that we as a society act upon, only then will children benefit and chronic disease stats decline. Until that time, Lunchables will continue to be the top lunchtime trading commodity, and our following generations will grow evermore unhealthy and overweight.
I love to hear all of your comments, questions, and suggestions for upcoming articles. Feel free to contact me any time!
Thanks for reading!
Every meal is a choice; please consider choosing wisely.
Food and Health. The two are inextricably linked. A significant aspect of the disease epidemics currently plaguing our society is born from a lack of appreciation for the basics that sustain and nurture us: good food, clean air, exercise and love.
Treat each meal like a wine connoisseur does wine: take your time to know its source, recognize those who made the product and savor all the complexity of our meals. Wine connoisseurs study, appreciate and savor wines over the course of years and decades, just to gain a deeper and richer understanding for what amounts to an alcoholic beverage made of grapes. Doesn't our food merit the same level of appreciation?
How many meals to you eat each year? Maybe around 1,000? And how much time have you spent trying to get the best possible quality for that which, at the most basic level, is the components from which our body creates each and every cell, enzyme and metabolic process? Isn't your body worth the effort?
I say that we all could use more attention to detail when it comes to our food. After all, aren't you worth it? I should think so. Eat like your life depends on it!
I welcome all of your comments, questions and perspectives on what I write here, and about the larger subject of natural medicine as well. Please write a quick note on the Contact page, I look forward to hearing from you!