Is Folate (Folic Acid) Safe?

Folate is a water-soluble vitamin (not stored in the body) and primary food sources include: Fortified, refined grain products (cereals, bread, and pasta), dark green vegetables like collards and romaine, dried beans.

Folate plays key roles during pregnancy in the synthesis of proteins needed for the normal development of fetal tissues including the spinal cord and brain. It also promotes the normal formation of red blood cells. Folate is the form found in foods whereas folic acid is used in vitamin supplements and fortified foods.

The consequences of a deficiency include megaloblastic anemia (abnormally large red blood cells with reduced oxygen capability,) increased rise of neural tube defects, preterm delivery, and elevated levels of homocysteine (associated with heart and brain health). It may mask signs of vitamin B12 deficiency (pernicious anemia).

Until the late 1990’s, neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly affected approximately 3900 pregnancies in the U. S. each year.Today, public health policies mandate the fortification of certain food with folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, preventing birth defects in thousands of babies.

Research had previously shown that high doses of folate (folic acid) was associated with certain types of cancer.

“The success of the fortification of folic acid program can be seen in the decline in the estimated number of neural tube affected pregnancies that has occurred since the fortification of grains and grain products. In 1994, there were 1.6 cases per 1000 births; in 2001, about 0.9 cases per 1000. Americans were consuming more folate, in the form of folic acid, through food and supplements, causing concern among scientists about possible increased cancer rates, especially for colorectal cancer.” However, is folate safe? Current research says “yes”. Read on:

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All About Probiotics

SHOULD YOU TAKE A PROBIOTIC?

Lately there’s a lot of buzz about taking probiotics that is becoming a household word on food labels; everyone wants to get in on the claims made to benefit them and the microbiome with a simple pill.

First of all what is the microbiome ? Everyone has one that is individual to them. It refers to our personal colony of micro -organisms, mostly bacteria, in our body that outnumbers our human cells. It is crucial to our digestion and integrity of the intestinal lining; it determines how and when and where things are absorbed into the bloodstream, participates in our metabolism and plays a role in our immune defenses. In the gastrointestinal tract the bacteria in the microbiome digest things we couldn’t digest otherwise like high fiber foods.

Mark Bittman and David L. Katz, MD – How to Eat: All Your Food and Diet Questions Answered. 2020 

Eat probiotic foods along with prebiotic foods since rebiotics are the food that bacteria eat and what sustains good bacteria long-term. They include foods like oatmeal, bananas, berries, asparagus and beans.

Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, Ph.D, M.P.H., a nutritional epidemiologist at MD Anderson who studies diet and the microbiome says:

“Unless your doctor is prescribing probiotics for a specific person purpose, stick to getting them from foods like yogurt that may have other nutrients like calcium.”

In some cases, probiotics from food or supplements may help individuals with irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. There is also potential for harm if used improperly or in combination with other medications. Your doctor or a certified nutritionist can help you find the one that’s right for you. Sometimes the probiotic could even disrupt or displaced some of the good bacteria you already have. McDougall says.

FYI: What does certified organic actually mean?

Organic Foods– From the USDA

Organically grown and produced foods can be labeled four ways:

“100% Organic” if they contain entirely organic produced ingredients.

“Organic” if they contain at least 93% organic ingredients.

“Made with organic ingredients” if they contain at least 70% organic ingredients.

“Some Organic ingredients” if the products contain less than 70% organic ingredients.

What does any label that says “organic” mean? What are the criteria for organic certification?

USDA rules for qualifying as organic. 

Plants:

Must be grown in soils not treated with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides for at least three years

Cannot be fertilized with sewer sludge

Cannot be treated with radiation

Cannot be grown from genetically modified seeds or contain genetic modified ingredients

Animals:

 Cannot be raised in “factory-like” confinement conditions

Cannot be given antibiotics or hormones to prevent disease or promote growth.

Must be given feed products that are 100% organic.

Or you can make your own sign - not recommended.
Or you can make your own sign – not recommended

Your Brain on Processed Food

https://eladsi.medium.com/ultra-processed-food-is-messing-with-your-brain-2da37c98a09e

A real-life experiment -that speaks for itself. There is a great need for studies that attempt to measure the actual effects of the Standard American Diet (SAD) on the body. This study is not a clinical trial, and the results are somewhat subjective. It was only one subject but maybe more effective to everyone than obtaining food records from study participants relying on memory. The best way would be to measure metabolic parameters like LDL or HDL cholesterol, liver enzymes, hormones, blood pressure, e.g. This study did rely on brain scans and some lab work.

Many studies are often funded by the industry and the results are only for Big Food promotion of their own products. “Without understanding who paid for the research, it’s hard for anyone to know what dietary advice to follow.” Source: Marion Nestle, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat, 2018.

Neverthless, I find the above study interesting and worth a read. (my opinion, SJF)

Do you remember what you ate last Tuesday?

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IVERMECTIN: FACT OR FAD?

With so much information available on the Internet, it’s difficult to know what to do when we hear or read something about a medical “breakthrough” that may benefit us personally or perhaps help a friend or relative. How can you separate the sound information from the highly questionable?

Many people believe what they want to hear.

The products offer solutions to important problems that have few or no solutions in orthodox health care.

We all hope that these solutions will be the “one” that provides positive “cures” of the medical condition in question. In other words, we’re constantly searching for the “magic bullet”. Covid-19, fraught with controversy is no exception.

Ivermectin is a drug used to treat parasitic infections in animals and also is used to treat scabies and lice infestations in humans. Needless to say, it is questionable to use it as a treatment for Covid-19 infections.

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Food Additives and Obesity

“Artificial preservatives used in many processed foods could increase the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases and metabolic disorders, according to research published on 25 February in Nature1. In a study done in mice, chemicals known as emulsifiers were found to alter the make-up of bacteria in the colon — the first time that these additives have been shown to affect health directly.”

The search continues for what factors in the Standard American diet (SAD) can be implicated beyond the amount alone that people consume, that are causative of the current obesity/diabesity epidemic.

Researchers continue to look at the lengthy ingredient lists on ultra-processed foods. As Western-type diet are utilized more and more globally, their obesity rates continue to rise. Is there a connection?

CLICK HERE.

UNHEALTHY PROCESSED FOOD AND SNACKS CAN LEAD TO OBESITY

Plastics in our Food?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Some sensible, reasonable advice to help to avoid a growing problem of  food contamination from the packaging of mainly processed foods. The main article below particularly points to the ever-growing problem of micro-plastics in our oceans.

6 Ways to Use Less Plastic

Source: Consumer Reports

While it’s practically impossible to eliminate plastic from modern life, there are a number of steps you can take right now to cut back.

Do: Drink tap water.
Don’t: Rely on bottled water.

Water from plastic bottles has about double the microplastic level of tap water on average, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Chemistry. So unless your tap water is contaminated with unsafe elements, such as lead, it’s probably best to drink tap. Fill up a metal reusable bottle for when you go out. You can always filter your tap water. Depending on the filter, that may further reduce microplastic levels. (Check CR’s ratings of water filters.)

Do: Heat food in or on the stove, or by microwaving in glass.
Don’t: Microwave in plastic.

Some heated plastics have long been known to leach chemicals into food. So if you’re warming up food, use a pan in the oven or on the stove, or if you’re microwaving, use a glass container. Also, avoid putting plastics in the dishwasher because of the high heat involved in cleaning.

Do: Buy and store food in glass, silicone, or foil.
Don’t: Store food in plastic, especially plastic that may contain harmful chemicals.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that plastic food containers with the recycling codes 3, 6, and 7 may contain potentially harmful chemicals, unless they’re labeled “biobased” or “greenware.” Don’t store food in these types of containers. Instead, use containers made of glass or silicone, or wrap your food in aluminum foil. If you’re storing food in or eating food out of plastic containers, know that plastics with recycling codes 1 and 2 are more likely to be recyclable—though they are usually recycled into lower-quality plastics. And there still may be harmful or unknown chemicals in any type of plastic.

Do: Eat fresh food as much as possible.
Don’t: Rely on processed food wrapped in plastic.

The more processed or packaged a food is, the higher the risk that it contains worrisome chemicals. Food cans are often lined with bisphenol A (or similar compounds). Buy fresh food from the supermarket, and—as much as possible—try to use refillable containers if your market allows. (Of course, with shopping made difficult by the coronavirus pandemic, prioritize your health and shop however is most feasible and safest.) Certain markets let you fill up cardboard or reusable containers with bulk items and weigh them, or you can use your own mesh bags for produce. Raw meat and fish need to be kept separate for safety reasons, but ask the store fishmonger or butcher to wrap these foods in wax paper instead of plastic. Take cloth—not plastic—reusable bags to the store to take your groceries home.

Do: Vacuum regularly.
Don’t: Allow household surfaces to get dusty.

The dust in your house could be loaded with microplastics and chemicals that are found in plastic, such as phthalates. Cleaning up dust may help reduce the amount of plastics you inhale, especially if you are stuck inside for long periods of time during a period of social distancing. CR recommends vacuuming regularly with a HEPA filter, which is best for trapping dust. (Check CR’s ratings of vacuums.)

Do: Work with your community.
Don’t: Assume your impact is limited to what you do in your personal life.

Legislation to limit the use of single-use plastics and plastic production may pull the biggest levers, but joining forces with community-level recycling groups can truly make a difference. Look for so-called zero-waste groups, which can offer guidelines for how to recycle or compost all your garbage—and which lobby for local rules that can restrict throwaway items. When possible, shop at markets that source goods locally, so they don’t require as much packaging and shipping. Seek out groups such as Upstream, a nonprofit working to create reusable takeout packaging for restaurants. And when possible, educate yourself about and support any city, county, and state legislation limiting single-use plastic

CLICK HERE for the main article.

 

How Safe are Salad Bars?

I may be paranoid but salad bars have never been appealing to me. The lettuce alone sits there sometimes for long periods of time and the temperature is almost impossible to maintain to be constant at less than 40 degrees. F. Anything above that for cold foods is called the danger zone for microbe growth. That zone is so important in practicing food safety principles and your health.

Note: The coronovirus itself has never been implicated in any food safety issue to my knowledge. However, until it is determined what its modes of transmission are beyond any doubt, food safety is a good idea for general healthy principles anyway.

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The Rise in Comfort Foods

Interesting observation on what type of foods we choose when in a state of crisis – makes common sense. The focus on healthy eating for now may have to take a backseat for awhile due to the restrictions from the coronvirus invasion.

Keep safe – to keep your immune system “healthy” get plenty of sleep, eat as well as you can, stay hydrated and most of all stay away from crowds. Wash hands often and after bringing in merchandise from outside, e.g. grocery bags, disinfect your kitchen counters, handles, and knobs on appliances with antiseptic wipes, bleach solutions or disinfectant sprays. It all can help.

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What Do Microbiologists Eat? Or Not Eat?

During my teaching days, I taught a course in infectious disease for several years. As part of our lab sessions, we  did some sampling to test  some common areas in the cafeteria as well as some local food samples from a few local restaurants (salads) and other produce from the supermarket.

As a result in our lab, we found E.coli growing in the ice tea spouts in the cafeteria and growing in the alfalfa sprouts at the local supermarket. The presence of these types of bacteria suggest  fecal contamination – need I say more?  Raw sprout contamination is not new. Raw sprouts are not recommended for pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems, or the  elderly. Keep in mind that the species of E. coli can range from “friendly bacteria” to dangerous pathogens (E. coli 157:H7.)

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