From the Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest by Dan Buettner, page xxii. “Scientific studies suggest that only about 25% of how long we live is dictated by genes, according to famous studies of Danish twins. The other 75% is determined by our lifestyles and the everyday choices we make.” What we drink is only one of them.
Adding more olive oil to your diet may help prevent an early death.
A recent study from the researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was published online Jan. 10, 2022 by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Data from 90,000 men and women, free of cardiovascular disease and cancer were asked to complete a dietary questionnaire every four years. At the end of the data collecting, 36,856 of the participants had died.
From the diet questionnaires, it was found that those who routinely consumed the most olive oil – averaging more than one half a tablespoon a day – had the lowest risk of dying during the 28 – year old follow-up period compared with people who rarely or never consumed olive oil.
Olive oil consumers had :
A 19% lower overall risk of death
A 19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease
A 17% lower risk of cancer-related disease
A 29% lower risk of death related to a neurodegenerative condition
A 18% lower risk of death related to a respiratory disease
This may explain why olive oil as a major component of the Mediterranean diet has consistently shown health benefits in numerous studies. The results also suggest that when used as a substitute for products containing animal fat such as butter, we see the same healthy benefits. Bon appetit!!
Michael Pollan started it – “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
Many people are taking more of an interest in plant-based diets. People are switching for various reasons – weight control, sustainability, the environment in general, health reasons, media hype. Food companies load their products fortified with grams and grams of protein in order to “make up” for an alleged protein deficit – however, there are plenty of non-meat sources of protein found in plant foods. Most Americans get enough protein. “Protein is not the key for weight loss and animal protein is not the healthiest food we can eat. Carbs are not the enemy – they are a source of energy, and are staples in the diets of the longest-living people in the world.” Garth Davis, M.D. Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It. 2015
High amounts of protein are not needed by most consumers unless there is a medical reason. The adult RDA or Daily Value is about 50 grams for most adults. That amount can be found in only 3-4 ounces of most meats – or a portion about the size of a deck of cards.
People have tried a number of diets – Paleo and Keto are of the low carb genre resulting in high protein and high fat diets. Since then, weight gain has taken over with an obesity rate higher than ever along with its companion- diabetes type 2.
Michael Pollan refers to the American diet as ‘the “American paradox” – the more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become”.
We’re Number One: In Morbidity, Mortality, and Expense
“U.S. has the best doctors, hospitals, and medical technologies, the most innovative surgery, the newest drugs and spends the most per capita on healthcare of all the countries on the globe.”
Are Americans healthier? Do we enjoy better healthcare? Do we live longer? The answer to each of these questions is an unequivocal NO. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Americans have the worst health out comes of any country of the 37 richest countries – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In several of the most lethal chronic diseases, Americans rank amount the worst of the developed countries in the world: #1 in diabetes, #2 in Alzheimer’s disease, #5 in cancer, and #6 in cardiovascular disease.
What is metabolic (met) syndrome?
It started to “rear” its head in the 1980’s – every one is at risk for three noncommunicable diseases associated with the met syndrome – hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are due to abnormal metabolism in different cells in different organs.
For example: What about diabetes –in 1976, diabetes was rare; only 5% of people in the US over age 65 had it, and the prevalence in the general population was 2.5%. By 2000, estimates said 151 million diabetics were walking the planet and the prediction was, by 2010, there would be 221 million. In fact there were 285 million. By 2014, 422 million, 2019, 463 million- predictions 568 million by 2030.
Lustig, Robert, MD, MSL Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine, 2021
How are we doing? Not so well. Metabolical is a wonderful book to begin to understand why diet with its predominance on processed foods makes a difference in our quest for heath.
5 Minutes by foodworksblog
Author: Sally J. Feltner, M.S.,PhD
An Attack on Gastronomy
The 1950’s brought a renewed hope for the country after two decades of Depression and War. However, food historians deplore the state of the cuisine during this period – it mainly consisted of processed foods which many blame for this anti-gastronomic desert. In addition, the rise of the fast food industry, i.e. hamburger chains that sprouted up along side the newly build national highway system did not offer any better fare. Freeing Mom from the kitchen seemed to be the dominant theme as appliances and prepared foods became the ‘norm”.
After WWII, America’s economy boomed, women entered the workforce as never before and food got a little strange. Housewives spent less time in the kitchen, so food companies came to the rescue with a buffet of processed foods. Foods were purchased in a can, package or pouch. Soups were available as liquids or in dry form. Tang landed on supermarket shelves and frozen dinners laid on trays in front of TV sets. TV dinners were introduced in 1953 by Swanson and with a flick of a wrist you could turn back the foil to display turkey in gravy, dressing, sweet potatoes and peas ready in about 30 minutes – all with no dishes to wash.
Better Living Through Chemistry
“Better Living through Chemistry” was the slogan of the times along with “I like Ike” referring to the popular Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 5-star general from WWII winning the U.S presidency from 1953 to 1961.
This change in processing came from the demand of the Army during WWII to provide needed ready-to-eat meals. The food industry responded by ramping up new technologies in canning and freeze-drying to feed the troops. The marketing of these foods presented a challenge, however. At first, many of them were less than palatable, so food companies hired home economists to develop fancy recipes and flooded magazines, newspapers and TV with ads to broadcast their virtues. Actually the first cake mix was available in 1931, but was met with disdain due to the use of dehydrated eggs, e.g. Women later would respond more favorably if they could crack their own eggs into the batter so they would feel like they were doing something positive in the kitchen.
People rushed to buy appliances, houses, cars, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and backyard barbecue grills and new home freezers. They also bought television sets in record numbers and watched shows that represented their new idealized lives like Ozzie and Harriet and Leave It to Beaver. Beaver’s mother, June Cleaver was depicted as a housewife freed from household chores and often was serene and perfectly dressed with pearls and high heels pushing a vacuum cleaner and putting meals on the family table, all before solving the family problems.
Fast Food Nation
The birth rate soared and created what is known as the Baby Boomer Generation. Fifty million babies were born from 1945 to 1960. Food marketing shifted to kids with Tony the Tiger and fish sticks leading the campaign. Fast food had its beginnings strengthened in 1955 when Ray Kroc bought a hamburger stand from the McDonald’s brothers in San Bernadino, California. Disneyland opened in 1955 and was so popular they ran out of food on the first day.
The Seven Countries Study
In 1958, the American scientist, Ancel Keys started a study called the Seven Countries Study, which attempted to establish the association between diet and cardiovascular disease in different countries. The study results indicated that in the countries where fat consumption was the highest also had the most heart disease. This suggested the idea that dietary fat caused heart disease. He initially studied 22 countries, but reported on only seven: Finland, Greece, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, United States, and Yugoslavia.
The problem was that he left out:
- Countries where people eat a lot of fat but have little heart disease, such as Holland and Norway and France.
- Countries where fat consumption is low but the rate of heart disease is high, such as Chile.
Basically, he only used data from the countries that supported his theory.
This flawed observational study gained massive media attention and had a major influence on the dietary guidelines of the next few decades, i.e. cut the fat out of our diets.
The First Artificial Sweetener
In the diet world, Saccharin was manufactured in granules and became a popular sugar substitute for dieters. It was first produced in 1878 by a chemist at Johns Hopkins University, but became popular after sugar shortages in WWI and WWII. In the United States, saccharin is often found in restaurants in pink packets as “Sweet’n Low”. It was banned later but it remains on the market today. The basis for the proposed ban was a study that documented an increase in cancer in rats being fed saccharin. The “Delaney clause” of the Food Additive Amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act states that no substance can be deemed safe if it causes cancer in humans or animals. In suspending the proposed saccharin ban, Congress ordered that products containing the popular sweetener must carry a warning about its potential to cause cancer. The FDA formally lifted its proposal to ban the sweetener in 1991 based on new studies, and the requirement for a label warning was eliminated by the Saccharin Notice Repeal Act in 1996.
1951 I Love Lucy debuts on CBS.
1952 The Lipton food company rolls out its dehydrated onion soup that will earn it fame as a base for onion soup mix: 2 envelopes of mix plus 1 cup of sour cream. Lipton eventually prints the recipe, “California Dip” on the package.
1953 Eggo Frozen Waffles are introduced.
1954 Employee Gerry Thomas from the C.A. Swanson Co, has an idea (although fellow workers nearly laughed him out of the Omaha plant): package the left-over turkey, along with some dressing, gravy, cornbread, peas and sweet potatoes into a partitioned metal tray, sell it frozen, and consumers could heat it up for dinner. His name for the leftover meal: TV Dinner.
1954 The first Burger King opens in Miami. A burger is 18 cents, as is a milkshake. The Whopper is introduced in 1957 and sells for 37 cents.
1955 Milkshake-machine salesman, Roy Kroc tries to persuade Dick and Mac McDonald (owner of the original McDonalds in California) to franchise their concept. They aren’t interested but tell Kroc to go ahead and try his hand. Kroc opens his first restaurant in Des Plains, ILL., and eventually buys out the McDonalds.
1956 Jif Peanut Butter is introduced.
1956 More than 80 percent of U.S. households have refrigerators. By contrast, only 8 percent of British households have refrigerators.
1957 Better Homes and Gardens prints its first microwave-cooking article.
1957 Margarine sales take the lead over butter.
1958 Eighteen- year-old Frank Carney sees a story in the Saturday Evening Post about the pizza fad among teenagers and college students. With $600 borrowed from his mother, he and his fellow Wichita State classmate, opens the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, KS.
Cancer, Diet and Lifestyle
Lifestyles can interact with the epigenome, defined as the network of compounds around our genes that are capable of altering gene expression in response to environmental influences. The ultimate action can result in cancer prevention.
The general risk factors of cancer include obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption and/or poor nutrition. These factors have the potential to determine if a cancer will result or in the opposite case, be suppressed.
Consume a nutrient dense, whole-foods diet that predominantly includes plant foods. As Michael Pollan puts it, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Plant foods are rich in nutrients and phytochemicals that work synergistically to prevent many chronic diseases, primarily heart disease and cancer. Evidence exists that up to 45% of colon cancer cases could be avoided through diet and lifestyle changes alone.
Limit your consumption of high-calorie foods, primarily in the form of ultra-processed foods that are major contributors to weight gain leading to type 2 diabetes, or insulin resistance.
Cancers of the liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon, rectum, breast, and bladder are at higher risks for developing in obesity. Being overweight also raises the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and gallbladder, liver, cervical, ovarian, and aggressive prostate cancers.
Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight. It may be helpful to be able to calculate your own weight status by using the Body Mass Index (BMI).
You simply divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared X 703.
For example: BMI =140 pounds divided by 64 inches squared (4096) X 703 = 24.0. A healthy BMI is 20 – 24. Being underweight is considered a BMI of less than 19.0.
Limit your consumption of red meat (including beef, pork and lamb). There are several reasons:
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies red meat as a “probably carcinogen”. You don’t need to give up meat; however, an intake of up to 18 ounces a week can be safely consumed without too much concern. BTW, 4 oz. is about the size of a deck of cards.
Another factor that raises cancer risk is the overcooking of red meat that produces charred areas of the meat – goodbye grill marks?). These create carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that have been linked to pancreatic and colon cancers.
Another carcinogenic compound comes from burning the fat from meat when grilling that produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), linked to stomach cancer.
Hint: Both compounds can be lessened by using a marinade on the meat.
Highly processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and lunch meats are known for their nitrite and nitrate content used as preservatives. Smoking meats can lead to the formation of N-nitroso compounds which are considered carcinogenic.
Avoid deep-fried foods. When cooked in this manner, foods are exposed to a chemical called acrylamide that increases the risk of prostate cancer.
There are other lifestyle factors that can influence epigenetically the risk of any chronic disease. Alcohol intake, for example is important due to the carcinogenic effects of alcohol itself.
“Chronic inflammation, which is strongly associated with being overweight, can increase the risk of developing cancer. Excess belly fat produces hormones that can raise levels of insulin, estrogen and leptin, all of which have been linked to cancer development.” (Finlayson, 2019).
The interconnected factors that trigger chronic diseases are vast and subject to manipulation by the body as well as our microbial environment. It would be wise to attempt to take the best care of your body as you possibly can and begin at an early age. Aging as you know itself becomes a central factor in the development of any chronic disease. In 1980, Dr. James Fries, Professor of Medicine, Stanford University introduced the compression of morbidity theory. This theory states that “most illness was chronic and occurred in later life and postulated that the lifetime burden of illness could be reduced if the onset of chronic illness could be postponed and if this postponement could be greater than increases in life expectancy.” That theory tells it all. (Unknown source). SJF
Source: Judith Finlayson. You Are What Your Grandparents Ate: What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics & the Origins of Chronic Disease, 2019
Our Health is Declining.
The statistics are alarming. In 1960, one person in a hundred had diabetes, today it’s one in eight. It is now predicted that by 2050, one person in three will suffer from the condition if the trend continues. Even worse, 70 percent of people who get diabetes will develop heart disease.
So much of the time we hear about our Standard American Diet or SAD Diet. And a sad diet it is. I have borrowed a description of a fictional victim of the SAD food culture from an interesting book titled: The End of Alzheimer”s: the First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale E Bredesen, MD, MSL, Professor and Founding President, Buck Institute, Professor, UCLA. Quotes cited by Dr. Bredesen.
Our fictional consumer begins early in the morning as “ he grabs a typical America breakfast – a sweet roll or doughnut, a large glass of orange juice, a big slug of low-fat milk in his coffee.” His high refined carbohydrate diet sets him up immediately toward insulin resistance with an increased stress level brought about by the “stress hormone, cortisol.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney. When released into the bloodstream, cortisol can act on many different parts of the body and can help:
- the body respond to stress or danger
- increase the body’s metabolism of glucose
- control blood pressure
- reduce inflammation
Cortisol is also needed for the fight or flight response, which is a healthy, natural response to perceived threats. The amount of cortisol produced is highly regulated by your body to ensure the balance is correct.
In order to prevent gastric reflux, he takes his daily proton pump supplement after he swallows his statin his doctor prescribes to prevent a rise in his cholesterol and heart disease risk.
“When his blood sugar crashes around mid-day, he visits the office pantry, where a colleague has left a thoughtful box of chocolate chip muffins.” But he realizes that it’s almost time for lunch, so he proudly skips the muffins, declaring he’s starting to eat “healthy.”
“There’s no time for much of anything except a sandwich from the deli on refined white bread and spongy saline-injected turkey with hormones and full of antibiotics or how about a mercury-laden tuna sandwich. Either way he can wash it all down with a diet soda.”
“Sugar from the candy machine has helped to fuel his “exercise today ( and every day) – who has time to get up and move around frequently? Finally, it’s time to hit the freeway, so he grabs a bag of Doritos to snack on to get him home. “He is soon heading home while screaming at the idiot riding his brakes in front of us, keeping his blood pressure up and making his blood-brain barrier as porous as the colander we plan to use for tonight’s gluten -filled pasta dinner.” Bredesen, M.D 2017.
“On second thought, he thinks he prefers something from the drive-thru. Start with large fries loaded with trans fats, oxidized reheated oils with little vitamin E .” Add the burger from corn and not grass-fed beef, high in omega-6 fats and low in omega-3s, slathered in high-fructose corn syrup ketchup, on a bun packed with gluten.” Now he has had a perfect inflammatory day. No wonder so many of the conditions that increase our risk of chronic disease (cardio, brain health, diabetes, and obesity) are becoming so prevalent even at younger ages). Are they the result of what we eat and exercise.” Research is beginning to say “yes”. Bredesen, 2017.
Dr. Robert H. Lustig MD writes in his current book, Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine, “Are Americans healthier? Do we enjoy better healthcare? Do we live longer? The answer is an unequivocal and emphatic no. Americans have the worst health outcomes of any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); the thirty – seven richest countries. Americans have the worst rating of the developed countries of the world: #1 in diabetes, #2 in Alzheimer’s disease, #5 in cancer, and #6 in cardiovascular disease (CVD)”
“No doubt, of all the OECD countries, the U.S. is the sickest along with expensive drugs and expensive doctors. Lustig says: “America spends the most but gets the least.”
“The holy grail of Modern Medicine is you can’t fix healthcare until you fix health; and you can’t fix health until you fix the food. Everyone is talking about healthcare, few people are talking about health, and nobody is talking about food.” Lustig, Metabolical, 2021., p 25.
“What can you do today? You have the vote in the form of not only a ballot box but with your fork.”
The next wave of the food revolution is long overdue. We have to make food a voting issue” Robert H. Lustig, MD 2021, page 375. Food, Facts and Fads agrees. (SJF)
The Other Pandemic: ObesityApril 14, 2021In “Diet and Health”
The Pima Indians: A Study of Lifestyle and ObesityJune 25, 2020In “Diet and Health”
Diet and Aging: Can We Eat Meat?January 26, 2022In “Aging and Lifestyle”Edit “A Day in the Life of the Standard American Diet (SAD)”
Published by Sally Feltner MS, PhD
View all posts by Sally Feltner MS, PhD Published November 30, 2021
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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.
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
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.
“It was the 1980’s. The average weight of Americans increased by fifteen to 20 pounds between 1980 and 2000. Clothing sizes grew bigger to accommodate bigger people: waistbands became elastic. How did this happen? The following article discusses the health implications of the “other epidemic” – that resulted by the time COVID struck an obese population in 2020.
Marion Nestle in Let’s Ask Marion: What you need to know about politics of Food, Nutrition and Health. 2020..