WWB WATCH: From Sizzle to Fizzle, New PURE Nutrition Study is Challenged by the Medical Community and Health Journalist. Why the Questions Raised Matters More than the Actual Study…

Sep 17, 2017 by

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While two deadly hurricanes captured our attention in the last tree weeks, there was a nutrition study called PURE stirring up an argument in the health and wellness community. To really get a good understanding of the study, you would have to read the study and the findings carefully, which most average working people don’t have the time to do, and are not trained to assess. This goes for the educated and the uneducated. Unless you are a nutritionist, doctor or scientist, you are not likely to immediately see the problems with a study of any kind.

Doctors, nutritionist and health journalist however, do take time to review new studies. What happens though, is the general media runs with the narrative the researchers provide, and create headlines that are provocative and at the same time misleading. The Pure Study came out of the gates with a very clear narrative, which was to challenge the definition of a healthy diet, and counter argue the wisdom of a primarily plant based driven diet. It is a complex study and this is a challenge when it gets released to the general public. I write all the time about the 3 minute news headlines that we see on the six o’clock news.  By the time this particular study was widely distributed, the headlines became “New Nutrition Study finds more fat in our diets maybe healthier for us.”.  What gets translated to an already obese society in the US and other western cultures is ” Yay, more cheese, butter and fat please!” If it sounds too good to be true, it is probably because it is not quite true!

Thankfully there are medical and nutrition experts out there, dissecting the data and research, and they remind us to ask the right questions. One of them is Dr. David Katz, the author of ‘Disease Proof’ and founder of the True Health Initiative. He tirelessly works to make sure we are understanding health research data that is often misconstrued and misrepresented. He also works hard to make sure we can find sound science based health wisdom, through his educational True Health Initiative non-profit. When you read his essays, you will have to wade through some of the academic language, but when you stick with him, you learn how to step back from a study, and have that ‘aha skeptical moment’ and realize the importance of ‘variables’ used in study methodologies. His review of the Pure Study is here.

“What, then, accounts for the strange reporting, implying that everything we’ve been told about vegetables, fruits, and beans is wrong? These benefits were “adjusted away” in multivariable models. When this method of statistical analysis was applied, the health benefit expressly attributable to VFL seemed to peak at about 3 servings per day. That, however, is fundamentally misleading- and the headlines, quite simply, were written by people who don’t have a clue what it really means.” ~Dr. David Katz

Beyond the actual raw data Dr. Katz  shares with us, you will also learn to ask the right questions. If you read along with Dt. Katz he will bring us back to a simple idea. There is enough science already pointing clearly to lifestyle habits and diets like the Mediterranean Diet ( already proven and thoroughly researched) to help support healthy living and improve longevity odds. More importantly, however different we may be as bio-individuals, most of the current lifestyle as medicine prescriptions available to us, can be practiced by many with personal tweaks based on their current health condition.

Another good analysis of the PURE study was made by Marion Nestle, author of many best-selling books like ‘What to Eat’. Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor, of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she retired in September 2017. You can learn a lot about Food Politics at her website by the same name. Again, many of us don’t have time to read all of this, but it doesn’t hurt to seek out good objective sources when you are considering your health, diet and wellness lifestyle. It just might take more than a 3 minutes news clip on the news or a small paragraph in a magazine on the news stand.  Marion Nestle concluded her overview of the study with these thoughts…

“This study confirms that the single most important risk factor for poor health is poverty. The study results are consistent with the idea that largely plant-based diets are good for health. No single study can settle the fat vs. carbohydrate debate because people eat complicated combinations of foods and diets containing those nutrients. What we really need are well designed studies of dietary patterns—the ones done to date suggest that largely plant-based diets are associated with excellent health and longevity. ~Marion Nestle

James Hamblin who is an MD and writer for the Atlantic also wrote a very good piece on the PURE STUDY  and reminds us of the huge ‘system’ we are caught up in today, when it comes to coverage of medical and nutrition research and our voracious appetite for new information. His headline was “New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing”.

“Neophilia is a problem for science, though. And especially the sort of science pertaining to nutrition. Demand for newness leads writers and publishers to focus on narratives that upend conventional wisdom. If new research doesn’t change or challenge the way readers think about the world, why is it a story worth publishing? Eggs are in, and now they’re gone. Butter? It’s back. Every six weeks, The New York Times is legally obligated to tell us either that breakfast isn’t important or that skipping it causes death.”~James Hamblin, MD

Finally if you would like a simple overview of the study, and a grounded response anchored in common sense and wellness wisdom, it would be worth reading the article shared at Oldways a nonprofit Inspiring Good Health Through Cultural Food Traditions.

“Once again, we’re back on the nutrition roller coaster, being told that a new study has suddenly reversed everything we thought we knew about healthy eating. But has it? To help you escape that queasy roller-coaster ride, Oldways looked behind the sensationalist headlines and scrutinized the actual findings of this study. Given those anti-carb headlines, what we found may surprise you!” ~Oldways

Oldways went on to share these 3 wise takeaways:

The bottom line is that what we knew to be true about healthy eating yesterday is still true today, so we’ll leave you with three pieces of advice:

  1. The experts still agree. In November 2015, Oldways brought together leading nutrition experts representing views from Paleo to Vegan at our Finding Common Ground conference. They all agreed that focusing on quality and variety is the key to eating well. This means choosing high-quality meat, fish, and/or beans and other protein sources instead of living on bologna and bacon; eating whole grains (especially intact grains) instead of refined grains and added sugars; enjoying a range of fruits and vegetables; and favoring the heathy fats found in nuts, avocados, fish, olive oil, and other foods.
  2. Use Carb Common Sense. Everybody needs carbohydrates. Avoiding carbs makes no sense – especially when you remember that fruits and vegetables are also made up primarily of carbohydrates. Check out the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s easy guide to Carb Common Sense, to steer smoothly through your carb choices.
  3. Eating should be a pleasure, not a math exam. We used charts and numbers to prove a point today, but we are not recommending you count grams of this or percents of that as you pick the foods you eat. Traditional diets, like those Oldways champions, can vary widely in their makeup and still support good health. Look for the highest quality you can afford (see #1 and #2), and the numbers will take care of themselves.

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Now for the Sobering Reality …Why the Questions Raised Matters More than the Pure Study

As for my headline, “Why the questions raised matters more than the study’, I believe we are becoming entrenched in an argument about diet that distracts us from a bigger conversation we need to be having about food. If all of this data I shared isn’t enough motivation to lean toward a conscious value driven diet (mostly plants) for your health, then maybe you haven’t been reading enough about the environmental crisis we are headed for if we don’t begin to look at sustainable ways of living. As Albert Einstein famously said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

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What I find here at World Wise Beauty talking to experts from around the world, is everything is connected. The obesity crisis isn’t only related to our consumption of too much carbs, fat and protein. The health crisis has been accelerated by an industry of fast food, industrialized food manufacturing, and chemical laden ingredients that effect our chemistry and metabolism. The reason we are so obsessed about food, is because our supermarkets have been filled with ‘boxes’ of  food like ingredients and currently marketing themselves as low-fat, low carb, low sodium, sugar free and gluten free. In other words ‘health products’. Really? Yes.

But we can’t just isolate the processed food manufacturers, we also have to look at the social cultural context. We have to look at the cultural narrative in which marketers of processed food  and pharmaceutical drugs can thrive and exploit. Look at a basic commercial for arthritis pain depicting the hard-working man who does physical work and has to power through his day with a NSAID pill. He needs the quick fix. Also, look at the hard working couples who are raising several kids, and are barely making it on two salaries. They don’t necessarily have time to cook for their kids, so the inexpensive box of cereal or frozen food entree filled with either too much sugar of too much salt and a good dose of unrecognizable chemicals is the quick fix for their lifestyle. The ads for these products are feel good messages that make everyone from the parents to the kids feel good about their choices. These are all real examples of what a culture can manifest. Our culture is collective of values, (based on a number of socio-economic conditions) and maybe the hard bite to swallow, is we have been ‘buying into’ a ‘lifestyle’ that’s not sustainable for our health, our families and our planet.

As I write this piece, there was a front page NYT headline this weekend “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food”. Sub header is ‘Planet Fat’ Nestle goes door to door.

“The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished. “The prevailing story is that this is the best of all possible worlds — cheap food, widely available. If you don’t think about it too hard, it makes sense,” said Anthony Winson, who studies the political economics of nutrition at the University of Guelph in Ontario. A closer look, however, reveals a much different story, he said. “To put it in stark terms: The diet is killing us.” ~NYT Article

When we think of Nestle we think of ‘cozy hot chocolate’ or chocolate chips for our homemade cookies. We also think about the nice, hard working people that work for these companies. We think about the philanthropy of these large corporations who give to various foundations ironically sometimes funding cancer research and diabetes ( an epidemic in our country). It is so hard to to question an industry and corporation that has been in our food culture for half a century. Yet, that old-fashioned company called Nestle is now a multi-national corporation and like any corporation their first priority is to please the shareholders. In order to do this,  their commitment is to sell more product, and this is regardless of the harm it may be causing. This is where our personal values come in. Is this okay? Are you okay with that?

Another example of ‘industry before health’ and particularly targeting women in our culture, is the cosmetic and personal care industries. The manufacture and safety of cosmetics and personal care products is regulated in many countries. In the European Union (EU) certain natural and synthetic cosmetic ingredients require approval of their safety. Banned substances are listed in the EU regulation No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products (effective in 07/2013), which does also include the ban of animal testing for cosmetic ingredients and finished products too. We have no such safety standard here in the U.S. Just another illustration of where our values are at. So they keep manufacturing makeup made of chemicals that can contribute and cause some cancers, and we keep using them, mostly because many of us are unaware.

“Does this mean that to be for health and wellness of our people we have to be against capitalism? Of course not! Just look at the millennials creating new businesses today. They are creating companies with sustainable practice and philosophy baked into their business modalities.” ~Laura Connolly, Founder of World Wise Beauty & Rise of Wise presents

I recommend you read the NYT article so you can step back objectively, and look at what has happened to our culture, and why we have such a health crisis on our hands today. I would also remind you that demonizing one company is not the point. I think we have to re-imagine food systems, and change the cultural narrative of “industry before the health of a society and the planet”. If you keep hearing experts say “it’s not sustainable’ it’s because it is not. We are left with a health crisis in our society and a health crisis of our planet because the fast cheap food systems ( among other things) is harming the soil, air and water we rely on to LIVE. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s not about being a capitalist or a socialist which is a narrative deliberately spread, so we don’t focus on what matters,–the health and well-being of our families.

So maybe the first question we all ask ourselves is ‘What matters?’ Maybe if we started out with a value driven business idea, before an ethically challenged profit motivated premise for a business, we can begin to build a true wellness culture. Label it whatever you like, but ethics and values do matter, and there is no amount of wealth to sugar coat the damage and harm a corporation can do to a culture, when there is no value system but ‘more profit’ at the center of it’s reason for being.

To leave you with an encouraging thought, here is a wise bite from another important respected voice in wellness culture Paul Hawken

“If you look at the science and you’re not pessimistic, in a sense you don’t understand it,” Hawken says in a slow, unwavering voice. “But if you look at the people who are addressing the problem at hand and don’t feel hopeful, then you don’t have a pulse.”~Paul Hawken, talking to MindBodyGreen

 

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WWB WATCH: May, Could, Might? Why Recent Research on Coffee & Media Headlines Confuse Us…

Jul 13, 2017 by

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Did you hear about the latest research on coffee? How did you miss it? It was the perfect story for all media outlets to cover this week and boy did we need some uplifting news this week in our country! Look at all the coffee buzz in the media in just two days…

  • Coffee May Help You Live Longer, Study Finds. New research from the largest study of its kind shows that coffee may help you live longer
  • Coffee drinkers live longer, according to two large-scale studies released Monday that add to extensive research indicating coffee consumption
  • Put the kettle on – two new studies have indicted that drinking coffee helps … This latest research is just the latest in a slew of reports about the
  • Pour another cup–coffee lowers disease risk
  • Coffee drinkers are waking up to some good news Tuesday after new research suggests that a cup of joe a day could keep the doctor away

I left out the media sources because I am not here to pick on individual media companies. This is breaking research news and it’s about the fuel that probably 80% of us drink to get our engines going in the morning. Coffee and the caffeine in it, is our legal drug, and like wine it is steeped in cultural rituals for so many of us. So this research about coffee is not just news, it’s happy news! But we still need to think and pause…

This research story is yet another example of how we get tangled up in the complicated ‘web’ of health studies. Butter is bad, now it’s good! Coffee is bad and may contribute to heart disease, now it may contribute to longevity and lower disease risk?  I’m not a doctor and I am not going to challenge the research from a medical perspective. I can tell you I read a lot of these research findings reports and consume quite a bit of health news. Here is what I see time and time again, and it’s important to point it out these three encouraging but also dangerous words…may, could and might.
The story I personally read on the coffee research this week came from Medical Daily. Their headline read “Your Daily Coffee Could Help You Live Longer.” I mention MD only because I am focusing on language used by the research authors and the publication’s copy. Many of the other media outlets used the same language.
Here is the sub-header following their big headline…”If you’re a regular coffee drinker, a new study might brighten your day. Researchers have found that consuming the popular beverage may increase longevity, and it doesn’t even need to be caffeinated.”

 

The lead photo for this story was this one, with a tagline that read “Researchers say that drinking one cup of coffee per day could lower the risk of death…

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Now that’s a happy story! One cup of coffee a day may save you from the risk of death! Wow, very powerful! Let’s not only drink more coffee, but also invest in Starbuck’s stock if we haven’t already!

This Medical Daily report does highlight the benefits and risks of drinking coffee and points to previous negative research about coffee. There is balance, which I always seek when reading reports on research findings. Throughout the piece you will find…yes, three words–may, could and might buried in the headlines and the happy picture of coffee. These important words get lost. If we all took the time to read the entire story we would would also find this interesting statement from the lead study author…

“Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this ‘elixir effect,’ it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

There’s that word ‘may’ again. I hate to break it to the researchers, but centuries of human culture has shown us that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle in moderation. What they didn’t know back then scientifically is that it can have adverse side effects for some people. Which brings me back to the concept of bio-individuality. Some people can eat loads of fat their entire lives and live to be 100, and others can’t and drop dead sooner. In comparison, some people can drink coffee at 10pm and go right to sleep, while others can’t drink it past 2pm without being up all night. With regards to the people eating lots of fat, what is often overlooked is the poor quality of life of people who are obese because of their diet and bad lifestyle habits. Everything gluttonous or in excess pays a price in health. We all seem to know this intuitively but just conveniently forget it.

The healers and philosophers of  ancient Greece knew that moderation was the prescription for  good health, and they also knew good sleep and regular exercise is important to longevity. It doesn’t get more simple than this, but we still look for a ‘magic elixir’ and hope it makes up for our neglect in one area or another. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in Super-Foods ( like coffee), because every culture has them and in some ways they compensate for other nutrients missing in their diets because of  factors like climate. I did a Q&A with the author of 30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines a few years ago, and the big takeaway is each of the world’s healthiest cuisines have a super-food and very specific lifestyle habits that contribute to their longevity. This book was published long before the Blue Zones Solution, which is also a good book on how many various lifestyle factors contribute to health and longevity. Both books confirm lifestyle matters my friends, and our diet is one very big part of our lifestyle.

So let’s be real about the research this week. We don’t know why coffee may help us live longer. We can however, identify healthy antioxidants and phenolic compounds in coffee, that we know can be good for preventing cancer. Avoiding cancer is one very effective way to achieve longevity!

It’s not that research shouldn’t be done, it’s not that we shouldn’t learn about the research findings, it’s just how we share the research, interpret the research, and use the research. The last paragraph of the Medical Daily story this week summed up the coffee research with this statement…

“Further studies are needed to gain a better understanding of how coffee might increase mortality. In the meantime, the researchers say that we should enjoy our daily cup of joe; it could be doing us the world of good.”

From everything I have read, the facts are, in moderation and in combination with other good lifestyle habits, coffee can’t hurt us, and it’s definitely a good jump starter in the morning for most of us.  It can hurt some of us with certain heart conditions, and for some it can also disturb chemistry, stomach linings, and our sleep. This much science has established. Does it contribute to living longer? May, could or might…

 

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WWB WATCH: Food As Medicine Rising Worldwide and International Conference ‘Food Values’ in Italy Sets the Stage…

Jan 10, 2017 by

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It is no accident that there are ancient health truths that still apply to modern day lifestyle and culture, because they are supportive of the sound fundamentals of human health and well-being. When you take away commercialism of wellness, you are left with ‘What Matters’. With all the diet trends going in and out of style, what if there was one ancient diet that most people around the world could live on? What if there was one diet that has been scientifically proven ( worldwide) to reduce heart disease and many cancers? Well guess what? There is one and it’s called the Mediterranean Diet. The science hasn’t gone away but perhaps the wisdom has…

If you have been paying attention to health and wellness news the last couple of years, you might be aware that we are having a health crisis. Yes, amongst other very important urgent issues in the world, health, diet and chronic disease is becoming a global challenge. Most of the challenges could be prevented with diet, and all them come back to cultural values that have somehow been thrown under the bus for the sake of industry. The good news is, there are a lot of value driven experts around the world who are scientist, doctors, and chefs coming together with a BIG mission.  The BIG mission is essentially to enlighten governments and people around the world with ideal ‘Food Values’. What are their ideal ‘Food Values’? Simply answered, they are centered around traditional healthy plant based diets. What does that sound like? Yes, it’s the Mediterranean Diet!  The Mediterranean diet has significantly reduced the increasing burden of chronic diseases associated with modern industrialized patterns of food production and consumption. Enter the worldwide WISE mission and an important conference to address our food and health crisis with real applicable solutions…

 

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International Conference ‘Food Values’ 

The Renaissance of the Mediterranean Diet and Significance for a 21st Century World
Casina Pio IV, Vatican City–14th February, 2017

World leading experts in nutrition, health and sustainability will gather under the patronage of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences next month to debate the urgent need for policies to be adopted which encourage more traditional diets.

 

Mons. Marcelo SANCHEZ SORONDO, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City

 

Scientific committee

Dr. Simon POOLE, MD – Author and Commentator, Cambridge, UK

Dr. Paolo PASQUALI – Mugello Cradle of the Renaissance, Vicchio, Florence, Italy

Prof. Francesco SOFI, MD, PhD – University of Florence, Italy

Organizing committee

Dr. Monica DINU, MSc – University of Florence, Italy

Dr. Giuditta PAGLIAI, MSc – University of Florence, Italy

Prof. Francesco SOFI, MD, PhD – University of Florence, Italy

Mons. Marcelo SANCHEZ SORONDO, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City

 

casinopio4Professor Francesco Sofi, one of the organizers from the University of Florence stated ” We are privileged to host in such auspicious surroundings luminaries including Dr. David Katz of Yale University and the True Health InitiativeGreg Descher of the Culinary Institute of America, world famous London based patron Giorgio Locatelli and other representatives if scientific institutions and NGOs with particular interests in the environment and in nutritional education.

The guests attending the conference will comprise politicians and representatives of the world of science, food and the media”

 

 

dkatz-380x250” There are real fundamentals truths about a dietary pattern that is pleasurable, healthful, and sustainable, relevant all around the world.” said Dr. David Katz speaking at the conference as President of the True Health Intiative. “It is a great privaledge to deliver the details of that message at such a rarified gathering.”

 

 

Now maybe you can’t attend the conference in Vatican City but you can access the science and values via the True Health Initiative and the many experts around the world who have tirelessly been working on getting this message to you. Their mission is “Lifestyle is Medicine’, and they are are a coalition of health experts from around the world, committed to educating on the proven principles of lifestyle as medicine. In other words you can prevent chronic disease with good sound healthy habits and there is rock hard science to prove it. Food is a big part of your lifestyle and we don’t have to be in a crisis if we listen to wisdom that has history going back to the beginning of time. We have the wisdom but the question is… do we respect ourselves and value our health enough to listen to it?

 

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Dr. Simon Poole, a cambridge based physician and part of the scientific committee said of the conference…

 

simon “We must re-evaluate the value we place on our food, recognise the appalling cost of convenience and the effect it is having on levels of obesity and ill health, and rediscover our cultural links with food production and consumption.

The conference will seek to produce an action plan for governments to educate, promote and if necessary legislate to change the paradigm of diet and nutrition in the 21st Century, aligning policies with food literacy and health in a sustainable environment”

 

What Matters? Your health and the health of the planet. This important conference will hopefully accelerate the urgent idea that wellness values and culture matter. And food is the perfect place to start…

 

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WWB WATCH: ‘Healthy’ Food in a Package? The FDA Wants Labels to Catch Up With the Real Science…

Oct 3, 2016 by

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Last year, the Food and Drug Administration told the maker of Kind bars that some of its nut-filled snacks couldn’t be labeled as “healthy.” Now the agency is rethinking what healthy means, amid evolving science on fat and sugar. Ryan Kellman/NPR

 

WWB WATCH: HEALTH FOODS & LABELS

 

Better late than never right? Nobody wants to be Debbie Downer, but I share this information because I have been a human guinea pig just like you at different times in my life. When I first became a vegetarian over 25 years ago, I experimented with all kinds of foods found in the health food store. There was no Whole Foods yet, and your local health food store was a mini-version of Whole Foods. One of the uninformed mistakes I made, but learned from pretty quickly, was embracing fruit juices and granola snack bars and believing they were healthy. I quickly discovered that many products in the health food store have ingredients that were just as worrisome ( example cane sugar vs high-fructose syrup) as other processed foods in regular supermarkets. High amounts of sugar is a problem, no matter what label is on the product and no matter what store you find it in. As I am not a nutritionist or doctor, I won’t get into it in detail here. I interview many experts in wellness, so you are sure to learn from them if you follow my blog.

Below is the excerpt from NPR, and I’m happy to see they have quoted one of WWB’s respected experts Marion Nestle. See my Q&A with her here, and follow Marion at Food Politics.

The key takeaway today is, ultimately it’s really hard to eat healthy when you are consuming packaged, processed food. I know this is pretty frustrating, because our ‘culture’ runs on fast-food living and we are constantly looking for ‘fuel’ on the go. So to be realistic, if you are going to eat a snack bar because you are starving and have to eat something, then go for it. But just know that it is not necessarily a ‘healthy’ choice. Real fruit like apples, and real nuts, can hold you over much better and also can prevent a host of diseases and chronic illnesses. Even eating a small piece of 70% dark chocolate is a better choice than some processed snacks. I bet that little tidbit lifted your spirits! Just don’t eat an entire bar in one sitting okay!

If the snack bar is your only option, then eat it, but it really shouldn’t be considered a healthy meal replacement. I’m not here to pick on snack bars. I only want to bring to light some commonsense knowledge about the food you are eating. Processed food of any kind has two big challenges. First challenge is to make it tasty to eat. How do they do that? Usually with either generous amounts of salt and sugar or ‘like’ substances. The second challenge is keeping it fresh, which involves additives and preservatives your body doesn’t necessarily need or digest well.  Again, sometimes you have to do what you have to do, but for your own health,  packaged and processed food shouldn’t be a regular part of your diet. Research from around the world has proven this and our country is just catching up with the latest research. The following story from NPR on the FDA’s updates is a good piece on why packaged foods need to update or remove their claims. As a consumer, I understand the culture I am living in. Just sell me things for what they are. Convenient yes. Treat maybe. Health Food? Not so much!

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Excerpt NPR’s The Salt

FDA Is Redefining The Term ‘Healthy’ On Food Labels

So, you’re looking for a quick grab-and-go snack, and there’s a row of energy bars at the checkout counter. Are they a healthy option?

The maker of Kind bars thinks so. The company has used the phrase “healthy and tasty” on some of its products that contain lots of nuts. But, here’s the issue: The bars contained too much fat to meet the Food and Drug Administration’s strict low-fat definition of healthy. So, as we reported last May, the company helped launch a petition to challenge the status quo.

Now the FDA has begun the process of redefining the term “healthy” on food labels. Policymakers are looking for input from food makers, health experts and the public. You can weigh in with your ideas about what factors and criteria should be used for the new definition. (Submit electronic comments directly to the FDA).

“As our understanding about nutrition has evolved, we need to make sure the definition for the ‘healthy’ labeling claim stays up to date,” writes Douglas Balentine, who directs the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

So, how has nutrition science — and the thinking about what’s healthful — evolved?

Let’s start with fat. The fat-free era has come and gone. “The most recent public health recommendations now focus on type of fat, rather than amount of fat,” Balentine writes in a blog post for the FDA.

For instance, the type of fats found in avocados and nuts are considered healthful fats. We’re encouraged to eat more plant-based fats and omega-3s from fatty fish, whereas the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting saturated fats — the type of fat found in meat and other animal products — to less than 10 percent of your total daily calorie intake.

The modernized definition of “healthy” will also likely address sugar content. The FDA is taking into account all of the newer evidence linking excessive sugar intake to heart disease and obesity.

“Our thinking about sugars has changed,” Balentine told us, “so I would think the amount of sugar in products is something we [will] take into account.”

In an ideal world, people wouldn’t need labels to signal which food choices are healthful. As nutrition guru Marion Nestle of New York University, tells us, “if people want to eat healthfully, we know how to do that. That’s eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.” And she says we should eat packaged and processed foods in much smaller amounts.

“I don’t think we should have health claims [on food packages] at all,” Nestle tells us. “They’re inherently misleading,” because food companies use them as a marketing tool.

But the FDA’s Douglas Balentine pushes back, pointing out that Americans are looking for information on food packages to help them make better decisions.

“The typical consumer makes a purchase decision in three to five seconds. They don’t have a lot of time,” Balentine says. So, he says, an up-to-date “healthy” label will give people a quick way to identify better-for-you options. “We want to give consumers the best tools and information about the foods they choose.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WWB WATCH: The Center for Science in the Public Interest Has an Important Health Update For You…and How Sweet it is Not!

Sep 13, 2016 by

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If you missed the NYT article this Sunday on how the sugar industry manipulated research findings to downplay sugars role in heart disease, you can find the links here. Before you do, below is a quick but important message from the Center of Science in the Public Interest worthwhile reading. Their wise advice is echoed by the best experts and doctors from around the world.

I think the biggest challenge we face is the conflicting cultural dichotomy we live in. Wellness experts have been trying to warn us for the last twenty years about the dangers of a diet filled with sugar and fat, and yet our ‘pop culture’ which is everything from marketing promotion and traditional supermarkets, are peddling processed food to us ‘as if’ none of this wisdom and research was out there. I will acknowledge, some supermarkets are getting better with attuning to our health needs, but we still have a long way to go. For now, the best takeaway from WWB is ‘just because they are selling it, doesn’t mean we should buy it.’ If you leave your health and family’s health in the hands of marketers, you will not be able to send them the medical bills. Choose wisely and remember…

 

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FROM THE CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

 

New research from the University of California San Francisco finds that in the 1960s, Big Sugar paid scientists to downplay sugar’s role in heart disease: http://ow.ly/H5Pc3048OTB These findings provide one more reason why scientific journals should disclose all potential conflicts of interest in study abstracts.

But just because Big Sugar blamed saturated fat for heart disease doesn’t mean saturated fat is blameless. Both saturated fat and sugar promote heart disease. Major health authorities like the American Heart Association recommend that a healthy diet should limit added sugars (especially from sugary drinks) and replace foods rich in saturated fats (like meat, butter, and cheese) with foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (like fish, oils, and nuts). Read more: http://ow.ly/DRay3048IUC

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WWB WATCH: ‘It’s Complicated’ –Three Important Articles and Why We Don’t Have to Be So Dazed, Confused, & Clueless About Our Health

Aug 20, 2016 by

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I love connecting the dots and sharing with you! In the last week I came across three high profile health articles I thought were very interesting, conflicting and ultimately illuminating for us. ‘Here at ‘The Watch’ I aim to raise awareness about important developments in wellness culture that matter. I think sifting through these three articles is worth your while and below I share my takeaway on what I believe matters. The reason I share these particular articles, is because they are all inter-connected and expose the challenges we are confronting today. Each of them also offers wisdom on how to navigate in an increasingly over-loaded information highway on health and wellness.

 

IT’S COMPLICATED! 

 

1- Gina Kolata wrote an article in the New York Times entitled ‘We’re So Confused, The Problems with Food & Exercise Studies”. She put a spotlight on the conflicting data researchers present focused on lifestyle prescriptions, and quotes doctors who conclude the data is inconclusive, and that we don’t know how to measure diet and exercise. It is worth your time reading this article, simply because it shows us just how complicated research is. The research itself is complicated ( size, how rigorous it is and who is supporting the research). The NYT writer does remind us there are some pretty large federally funded research studies that are taken seriously. Yet in other cases there are so many studies that conflict with each other. These studies are released to the public and are deciphered by health media and biased organizations, and often in sound bites. The result as one doctor interviewed points out is ‘whipsaw literature’ and news. One week coffee is good for you and the next week it it is not.

WWB TAKEAWAY:  It doesn’t matter whether coffee is good or not. It does matter whether it is good for you personally. This article needed to be written, because it is exposing two major issues concerning research and interpretation. What it doesn’t focus on enough is how ‘industry’ gets a hold of research and further muddies the water. We all know that many supposed ‘health websites’ are created by and supported by certain industries. We can’t get away from it. Does it mean you can’t trust any study? No, I don’t think so. It does mean we have to be savvy and conservative about embracing the results of new studies released, because they may not apply to you at all. We also have to connect the dots. Who is funding the research, how rigorous was it and who is interpreting the research? It’s complicated! We need research to uncover important health findings, yet we now know that bio-individuality is really all that matters. Some can drink coffee all day and others can not. This is a simple example of bio-individuality but serves the point. Who cares what the study finds if you feel okay! If you are 65 and have been drinking coffee in the morning all your life, it’s safe to say it’s not all that harmful, unless you develop a new health condition that may be adversely affected by the caffeine in coffee. Do you see how it gets tricky? Yes it’s complicated!

You will find me coming back to this one central idea in wellness over and over. The idea… is we are all unique bio-individuals and epigenetics matters. Therefore our interaction with environment, food and substances are always going affect us differently. We have to know our own bodies. The only thing we really have across the board in health and wellness, is common sense. Which leads me to my next article, shared by a well respected expert and nutritionist Marion Nestle, in response to the article by Gina Kolata.  Marion is full of wisdom and is always reminding us to use our common sense! Her perspective is decidedly more optimistic about research.  I agree with Marion Nestle but also see the larger context, which is ultimately a funnel of information spinning around, vulnerable to industries work of marketing distortion. Making us…

 

DAZED, CONFUSED & CLUELESS? WELL MAYBE!

 

2- Marion Nestle’s (Founder of Food Politics) article was entitled “Confused About Diet? Oh Please! She was exasperated by Gina’s NYT article and felt that it only created more confusion for us. Marion believes quote, ” Nutrition advice could not be easier to understand.  Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits; balance calories; don’t eat too much junk food.”.

Good, wise common sense. What part aren’t we getting? Her website ‘FOOD POLITICS’ actually explains a lot.

She is right,  but oddly enough she has an entire website devoted to educating us on the politics of the food industry. She is always trying to keep them honest. We are thankful to have her guiding us and informing us. Her prescription of common sense is so important, but Marion herself recognizes the ‘culture’ of marketing and the power of industry can certainly lead us astray. Or at the very least tempt us. I will get to the ‘culture’ challenge in the next article below. Marion emphatically reminds us quote, “A global consensus of expert judgment concurs… Routine physical activity and a diet of mostly minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and water when thirsty redounds consistently to the advantage of human health. It offers benefits to the planet as well.”.

WWB TAKEAWAY: Marion is spot on in my book, but our culture in the last thirty years and two major industries ( food and pharma) have slowly and methodically conditioned us to approach our diets and our illnesses very differently from the stance of ‘common sense’. What we are left with after a forty year infiltration of marketing is a culture of illness and dare I say, perhaps ignorance. You live and you learn, and in our case we have to re-learn what would seem to be easy common sense. I think what we need is a social/cultural anthropologist ( which is me without the degree!) to give us contextual understanding of how culture shapes us and can mislead us. Oops! I now need an historian to illustrate just how off the grid we have gone taking care of our health and wellness. I will get to this with my closing. Marion shared another link to an article written by Dr. David L. Katz who is a renowned expert in Preventive Medicine and Public Health and a driving force in the practice of lifestyle medicine. His article was entitled ‘Diets, Doubts and Doughnuts: Are We Truly Clueless?  He pretty much makes the case that Marion is strongly advocating. He absolutely believes we are not clueless. He ends his article with this statement “I recommend that you leave your eyebrow just where it is, and lift instead your feet, and your fork, accordingly.”

Hopefully you are following me! Let’s move on to the last article but equally as enlightening as the others.  Like Marion’s, this article reminds us of another expert’s ( Michael Pollan) sage advice ” ‘Eat food, mostly plants and not too much’. The writer for the Atlantic plays with that wisdom and applies it to our exercise conundrum. Please read on…

 

 

DO WHAT YOU CAN & SIT AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

3- James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk  and wrote a recent article entitled  ‘The Futility of the WorkOut-Sit Cycle–Exercise Can’t Undo Sitting’. Here we go! Is it all for naught? Are we doomed to obesity and illness? Nah, not at all. This is ultimately another article that ultimately reminds us of…there’s that word again, COMMON SENSE. Before he gets to this, he covers all the complicated research and also uses excellent real world examples of how the conclusions and the prescriptions born out of the research, may not be ideal for getting most of us moving and taking care of ourselves. It’s complicated and he also reminds us how many people have different health profiles ( someone with a disability, or diabetes) and different lifestyles because of their individual conditions. Yes we are all different.

I can personally add to this particular conversation because my mother suffered from severe Rheumatoid Arthritis and limited mobility but always made it a point to move. She walked slowly when able, and sometimes just around her home. I also might add through good conscious diet, she showed no signs of heart disease, but ultimately died of cancer. We all die one way or another and sometimes of things that are out of our control. That’s another discussion, let’s get back to Hamblin’s article. In his article he walks us through all the confusing research regarding exercise and fitness. He quotes another expert with this conclusion:

“In a press statement, the chair of the group, Deborah Rohm Young, the director of behavioral research at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, put it this way: “Regardless of how much physical activity someone gets, prolonged sedentary time could negatively impact the health of your heart and blood vessels.”

Or, as Hamblin puts it you can’t undo sitting! This might sound futile but it’s not, because I am here to remind you that bio-individuality matters and so does the WHOLE picture of your overall lifestyle. It’s great to isolate food and nutrition, or exercise and fitness for research purposes, but health and wellness is dependent on a whole host of considerations which includes yes our genes, but also our social connections, emotional/spiritual well-being, and mental health too. It’s complicated! He concludes in his very good article that maybe we need a similar mantra for exercise as Michael Pollan’s for eating. Sit Less…Move More. Once again we hear, sound, wise, common sense.  My closing and takeaway follows here. I connect the dots and find our ‘culture’ to be at the core of all this.

 

OUR HEALTH & WELLBEING IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE CULTURE WE LIVE IN

 

All of these articles create the sense of urgency we need to have about health and well-being. There wouldn’t be experts writing about this so much if there wasn’t such a crisis. What I often feel is missing in the conversation about wellness is how our collective values can create a healthy society and a sick society. Connecting the dots matters. Whether it be the food industry, or the pharma industry or any industry, they can’t be successful without our buy in. Am I blaming the industry? Am I blaming us? No to both. Because it takes two to tango, and the buy in happens insidiously through cultural shifts and trends. For example, back in the 80’s we discovered that the Japanese were surpassing us as an economy and superpower. What came out of that fear and discovery was a cultural shift. We learned that they worked much longer hours, and this knowledge led us down the ‘workaholic is good’ path. This shift lead to other ‘stressors’ on family, health and diets. Each area became neglected. Fast food and frozen dinners could never be successful without the culture cooperating. The culture’s values changed and wellness was not part of the new ‘value system’.  We got swept up in a culture that systematically affected our overall health and wellness through a span of forty years. It happened slowly and not because we are clueless, but because we shifted our attention to one value superseding all others. You can connect the dots for yourself!

The mission at World Wise Beauty is to advance and celebrate wellness culture, and the word ‘culture’ is extremely important because values create culture. When I share the WWB Watch I am shining a light on all the little things that matter and add up. They illuminate our values and sometimes illuminate our blindspots. Let’s focus on what matters because wellness or the lack thereof affects every aspect of our lives. As Ancient Rome’s greatest poet ‘Virgil’ said, “The greatest wealth is health”. Paying attention really matters, and we don’t have to be dazed, confused, or clueless when we are clear on our values.

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