“Robert Goldstein, a hedge fund manager in New York, was getting huge cravings for sweets when he came across a tropical plant called Gymnema sylvestre that works a little like methadone for heroin addicts.” What does that have to do with “big food”? Too much, I’m afraid.
The Japanese diet is one of the world’s lowest in fat. Other attributes include fish as a mainstay and soy foods. The Japanese also care about appearance and think of food as an art – resulting in more appetizing and satisfying foods. Do these characteristics contribute to the Japanese record of low rates of major chronic diseases and the fact that they boast the world’s highest life expectancy – age 76 for men and 82 for women?
In contrast, in 1980, 30 percent of U .S. adult population were affected by at least one chronic condition. Today it’s 60 percent. The percentage of those affected by two or more chronic diseases has grown from 16 percent to 42 percent. What and how do the Japanese eat? Often, it is Interesting to study lifestyles, in particular what and how other cultures eat to gain some insights as to what exactly is a healthy diet. No one expects the typical American to start munching on seaweed but the study indicates that what and how we eat can affect our overall health and longevity.
“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?
The following post expresses the views of a blog titled Doctor’s Digest and not necessarily the views of Food, Facts and Fads. However, in the field of nutrition, there are always many controversies and it is wise to keep these in mind when seeking diet advice. The following article presents some concepts that are not yet proven by research; however, the future of epigenetics may provide more insight into these hypotheses. The source was based on the book, You Are What Your Grandparents Ate that was sent to me by the authors for review. See the Source below.
In other words:
Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center. Big, undreamed-of things-the people on the edge see them first. Kurt Vonnegut
You Are What Your Grandparents Ate: What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics & the Origins of Chronic Disease. Judith Finlayson, 2019.
Foreword by Dr. Kent Thornburg, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center For Developmental Health at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute, and Director of the Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon.
“This book explains why we are suffering the largest health epidemic in human history, why we need better wholesome foods to buy, why we need better food policy and why we must pay careful attention to the health and nutrition of our young women and men as they prepare to bear the next generation.”
Diet and cancer research has been sparse for a number of reasons. One major reason is that reliable studies are not feasible to undertake with humans for obvious ethical reasons. Additionally, observational studies cannot show cause and effect. We are then left with animal studies that more than likely cannot be extrapolated to human cancers. In the past, only individual nutrients have been studied, i.e., vitamins, minerals, antioxidants). Studies with supplements have shown mixed results and doses are varied. Several studies using the antioxidant, beta carotene, resulted with more cases of lung cancer in smokers when compared with a placebo group. Diet patterns like the Mediterranean or vegetarian diets are difficult to conduct on large groups of human subjects due to cost.
Research on a flavonoid called sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables may be prudent, since these compounds called phytonutrients may hold the key to cancer prevention with diet. A study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that a high intake of broccoli greatly reduced the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Approximately 1.8 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and more than 600,000 will die from it. But there are ways to protect yourself. American Cancer Society researchers estimate that at least 42% of new cancer cases may be avoidable , with 18% being related to lifestyle factors like diet and physical activity.
Foods contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and phyto- chemicals that help prevent DNA damage or assist in its repair. These substances are particularly found in plant foods and appear to work together in ways that provide the protection from certain cancers.
Attempt to prevent cancer by giving large groups of people vitamin supplements or phytochemical extracts thought to account for the plants beneficial effects on cancer development have not been successful. In fact, a number of studies have noted that more harm than good results from the use of high amounts of individual supplements such as vitamin C, beta carotene, and vitamin E. Particular types of food clearly provide greater levels protection against cancer than supplements.
One major role plant foods play in reducing cancer risk appears to be related to the antioxidant function of certain vitamins and chemicals. These antioxidants in food neutralize reactive oxygen and other molecules to prevent them from damaging the DNA and also to repair DNA when necessary. Many brightly colored vegetables and fruits contain phyto – chemicals that act as antioxidants, and their consumption is being encouraged. Taking antioxidants as supplements have not been shown to have the same beneficial effects as those found in foods. It is thought that these chemicals work best synergistically.
There are other ways that some phytochemicals help to fight cancer formation. Vegetables from the cruciferous family for example broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, appear to turn off genes that help produce proteins that increase the ability of cancer cells to grow blood vessels that support the continued spread of cancer. Substances in food that reduce inflammation may also decrease cancer risk by reducing the number of oxidized particles in cells that can damage DNA.
Dietary patterns and lifestyles related to reduced cancer risk
- Consume a plant-based diet that includes five plus servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits daily, including those that are dark green, orange, and red.
- Consume 3 plus whole grain products daily.
- Regularly consume dried beans nuts and seeds.
- Include fish and seafood lean beef, chicken, pork and other meats.
- Avoid alcohol in excess.
- Include 30 minutes 5 plus days a week of physical activity.
- Maintain normal weight.
What does recent research say? From Eating Well Magazine, Nov. 2020
Consume more soy. Studies have shown that flavonoids in plants like soy can alter certain aspects of cells related to tumor growth. These flavonoids may protect against hormone related cancers like breast cancer. One recent analysis in the International Journal of Cancer looked at data from Chinese women enrolled in the Shanghai Women’s Health study and found that those who reported eating high amounts of soy in adulthood had a lower chance of both pre and post-menopausal breast cancer than those who rarely ate this nutrient packed legume.
Eat red and purple. The antioxidant called anthocyanin found in red, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables may also have anti cancer properties. One trial in Cancer Prevention Research had 25 colo rectal cancer patients ingest varying levels of anthocyanins before their surgery dates. The scientists found a 7% drop in tumor proliferation in patients with the higher anthocyanin consumption doses.
Increase the Fiber. A systematic review and meta analysis published earlier this year in the journal Cancer found that participants in the US who ate the most fiber had a 8% lower risk of breast cancer than those who consume the least. The researchers noted that fiber rich foods like whole grains, fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against the disease by leveling post meal blood glucose spikes and improving insulin sensitivity. Fiber also increases the activity of compounds that lower circulating estrogen levels in the body. Another reason is that the nutrient has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer.
More About Diet and Cancer Relationships
Specific characteristics of diets that have been linked to the development of cancer include low vegetable and fruits intake and a lack of variety of vegetables and fruits excess alcohol intake, or more than one drink a day by women 2 drinks a day by men is associated with the development of a number of cancers of the digestive system. Diets routinely low in whole grain products and fiber appear to promote the development of colorectal cancer. Regular intake of charred meats or the black charred outer parts of high fat meats cooked at high temperatures may also promote DNA damage and cancer development. Other major risk factors for many types of cancer include smoking, physical inactivity, and excess body fat.
Frequent consumption of certain types of foods is sometimes more strongly related to particular cancers than to other types. For example, regular consumption of tomato products is related in particular to decreased risk of prostate cancer, and regular intake of black and green tea appears to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Bogus cancer treatments
Unorthodox, purported cancer cures such as macro- biotic diets, hydrogen peroxide ingestion; laetrile tablets, vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, and animal gland therapy have not been shown to be effective treatments for cancer. Such remedies have been promoted since the early 1900s. They still exist, although not proven to work, they offer some cancer patients a last ray of hope. They should not be used as a substitute for conventional cancer treatments.
Do you feel guilty if you do not eat healthy foods? Most of us don’t but there are people who now comprise a group exhibiting a new eating disorder called orthorexia.
The following article by Mark Bittman may put this eating pattern in a reasonable perspective. The Bottom Line? Enjoy food but make healthy choices (most of the time). This philosophy as stated by Bittman is refreshing – Seems to resemble the traditional diet of the French – the Good Life Savored.
“Eating well is an integral part of their national heritage. To say the French know their food is an understatement and it has been said that even their children are serious “foodies” with two-hour multi course lunches (not uncommon in France)” – all this without guilt. Contrast that with the typical American with a quick drive-through grabbing a burger with fries and eating them in the car with some snacking throughout the day. The French also maintain their weight with little dieting, calorie counting or snacking.” They simply say: If you eat too much one day, cut back the next day. Pretty simple advice but it seems to work (at least for them).
Source: 30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines. by Steven Jonas, M.D, and Sandra Gordon.
Note: Obesity rates in France are among the lowest in Europe, but have been increasing steadily. The increase has been attributed to an increased adoption of the Western diet or Standard American Diet.
In France, almost 40% are overweight (including obese). You can contrast that with the U.S. at 70% (overweight and obese).
The New York World’s Fair: 1964
“In 1964, international cuisine was scarce in the United States , and few Americans had tasted Indian, Korean or Middle Eastern food. At the 1964 New York World’s Fair they got their chance. With 140 pavilions representing 37 countries on a concourse of nearly 650 acres, taking in the entire fare was difficult with 112 restaurants to choose from, deciding where to eat was even tougher. The exhibition boasted regional foods from Japan and Lebanon, Africa and Spain, Hawaii and Belgium. The Indian pavilion served tandoori and paratha; The Korean pavilion featured kimchi and other garlicky specialties. Jordan’s restaurant offered hummus and shwarma and the Hawaiian pavilion had a luau. Spain’s stunning pavilion complete with an art gallery displaying original works by Goya, Valezquez, El Greco, Miro and Picasso, offered authentic Spanish fare at three restaurants. the Belgium village had a 1500 seat beer Hall and a breakfast house that introduced the Belgium waffle to America. The fat, fluffy treat piled high with strawberries and whipped cream was, without a doubt, the fair’s biggest food sensation.” Bon Appetit, September, 1999.
‘Eggo waffles were invented in San Jose, California, by Frank Dorsa, who developed a process by which waffles could be cooked, frozen, and packaged for consumers. In 1953, Dorsa, along with younger brothers Anthony and Sam, introduced Eggo frozen waffles to supermarkets throughout the United States. Because of the egg flavor, customers called them “Eggos”. Eventually the name became synonymous with the product and, in 1955, the Dorsa brothers officially changed the name to “Eggo”. In 1968, as a means of diversification, the Kellogg Company purchased Eggo. Their advertising slogan—”L’eggo my Eggo”—developed by Leo Burnett in 1972 is well known through their television commercials.” WIkipedia
White House Style: The Kennedy Years
“From the moment Jacqueline and John F Kennedy moved into the White House in 1961, the world could see that a new generation had arrived. With their keen interest in history, literature, the arts, food and entertaining, the youthful, scholarly charismatic Kennedy’s roused stodgy Washington by setting new standards in everything from clothing to table decor and cuisine. The first lady, an avid recipe collector who loved French food, hired French chef Rene Verdon from New York’s Carlyle hotel to serve as executive chef at the mansion. The Kennedys hosted legendary dinners with dance, concerts, poetry readings, performances of Shakespeare, and other entertainment that showcased the best America had to offer.”
Bon Appetit, September, 1999.
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
Often wonder why some foods have a gender-specific connotation, e.g., “Real men don’t eat quiche” as well as the title of the following article. This and many other foodisms can be found in a book by Paul Freedman titled “American Cuisine: And How It Got That Way.” Enjoy!!!!