A Year After Outbreak Of Contaminated Peanut Products, Congress Has Yet To Pass Food-Safety Legislation
Victims and families of those who were sickened and in some cases died due to an early 2009 foodborne-illness outbreak are calling on congressional lawmakers to keep their promise to implement food-safety reform. The group representing 27 victims who fell ill as a result of contaminated peanut products is seeking a Senate floor vote on legislation that would boost the food-safety authority under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and help limit future outbreaks. "Americans cannot afford to wait for another outbreak for Congress to pass food safety legislation that protects families from facing the same hardships we have faced, " said Jill Summers, the mother of Makayla Stephens, a victim from Quapaw, Oklahoma. "It took over a month after Makayla first got sick for there to even be a recall on the products. No one in America should have to worry whether the food they eat and feed their families will make them sick." The January 14 letter from the victims and family members from 22 states notes the need for a strong, comprehensive food-safety reform law.
Pioneering research combining plant breeding and high-intensity x-rays is being used by scientists funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to explore the possibility of developing wheat which could be used to make potentially life-saving mineral enriched flour. The research is highlighted in the latest issue of Business, the quarterly highlights magazine of BBSRC. Scientists from Rothamsted Research, an institute of BBSRC, are using high powered x-rays from the world famous Diamond Light Source, a third generation synchrotron in Oxfordshire to carry out fluorescence analysis in favour of traditional staining techniques to identify new wheat varieties with added health benefits. This rapid approach not only locates several different minerals simultaneously, but also provides information about their chemistry and digestibility. Dr Andrew Neal who leads the project explains: "Essentially we are looking for new healthier grain. Diet deficiency is a big global issue;
There may well be another important reason for giving your sweetheart sweets for Valentine's Day besides the traditional romantic one: The "chocolate cure" for emotional stress is now getting new support from a clinical trial published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research. It found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Everyone's favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances. Sunil Kochhar and colleagues note growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other physical conditions. Studies also suggest that chocolate may ease emotional stress. Until now, however, there was little evidence from research in humans on exactly how chocolate might have those stress-busting effects. In the study, scientists identified reductions in stress hormones and other stress-related biochemical changes in volunteers who rated themselves as highly stressed and ate dark chocolate for two weeks.
For people with hypertension, the damage of unhealthy eating can have particularly negative consequences. About one in four Americans has hypertension, a disease that elevates blood pressure and can lead to a host of serious problems including heart attacks and strokes. "I tell patients to allow themselves one special meal occasionally, but not to continue unhealthy eating habits for several days or weeks, " said Dr. Shawna Nesbitt, hypertension specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. People with hypertension also need to remember to take prescribed medication, and not skip doses. "Life is about tradeoffs. If you know you're going to have an ample dinner with a lot of salt, you need to have a very low-sodium breakfast and lunch, " Dr. Nesbitt said. "And be sure you don't go over your daily salt limit." Those with hypertension should eat no more than about 1, 500 milligrams of salt each day. Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center
As a growing number of fast food and chain restaurants display the calorie content of their dishes on websites and menus, a study suggests some of this information may be unreliable. Researchers at Tufts University analyzed the calorie content of 18 side dishes and entrees from national sit-down chain restaurants, 11 side dishes and entrees from national fast food restaurants and 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets. They compared their results to the calorie content information provided to the public by the restaurants and food companies. "Because we analyzed a relatively small sample of food, additional research testing more foods will be needed to see if this is a nation-wide problem, " says senior author Susan B. Roberts, PhD, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. On average, the calorie content information provided by the restaurants was 18 percent less than the researcher's calorie content analysis. Two side dishes exceeded the restaurant's reported calorie information by nearly 200 percent.
When your New Year's resolution to lose weight crumbles as fast as the cookie touching your lips, it's time to admit that diets don't work. More successful is a holistic approach to losing weight that lets you feel good about feeding your body the nourishment it craves. "By understanding the whole person, including emotional reasons for eating, stress triggers, medical history and physiological factors, we help each individual approach food in a whole new way, " said Henri Roca, MD, medical director of Greenwich Hospital's Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Roca, board-certified in Family Medicine and Holistic Medicine, works with the Center of Integrative Medicine's registered dietitian and epigenetic nutritionist to help people understand why they eat what they do. "We look at the emotional aspects of eating and the habits an individual creates surrounding their relationship with food, " said Roca, who points to genetics, metabolism, hormones and physiological factors as potential stumbling blocks to successful long-term weight management.
'Accelerated Progress' Required To Meet Child Mortality MDG By 2015 A Lancet Comment examines the "grossly insufficient" progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing under-5 child mortality. "Accelerated progress can be achieved, even in the poorest environments, through: integrated, evidence-driven, and community-based programmes that focus on addressing the major causes of death, including pneumonia, diarrhoea, newborn disorders, malaria, HIV, and undernutrition; reaching the unreached with a basic package of interventions at large scale and achieving coverage with equity; and using data for action and advocacy, " the comment concludes (You et al., 1/9). Lancet Editorial Examines Treatments For Sleeping Sickness A Lancet Editorial traces the history of treatment options for African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness. Though "[t]he continuing story of implementing effective and practical treatment for sleeping sickness is encouraging в [t]he account of this uphill struggle is a tribute to the determination of all those involved to overcome every problem hampering progress, " the editorial writes.
Blocking the function of an enzyme in the brain with a specific kind of vitamin E can prevent nerve cells from dying after a stroke, new research suggests. In a study using mouse brain cells, scientists found that the tocotrienol form of vitamin E, an alternative to the popular drugstore supplement, stopped the enzyme from releasing fatty acids that eventually kill neurons. The Ohio State University researchers have been studying how this form of vitamin E protects the brain in animal and cell models for a decade, and intend to pursue tests of its potential to both prevent and treat strokes in humans. "Our research suggests that the different forms of natural vitamin E have distinct functions. The relatively poorly studied tocotrienol form of natural vitamin E targets specific pathways to protect against neural cell death and rescues the brain after stroke injury, " said Chandan Sen, professor and vice chair for research in Ohio State's Department of Surgery and senior author of the study.
For adults and children diagnosed with celiac disease, the only treatment is a gluten-free diet, which can be very challenging. Gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center are conducting a new study to see if mind/body techniques could help patients with celiac disease adhere to the very strict diet. Celiac disease is a lifelong digestive disease affecting children and adults. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in almost all food products as well as medicines, vitamins and lip balms. Gluten can damage the small intestine and interfere with absorption of nutrients from food. "Eating even a small amount of gluten can damage the small intestine, " said Dr. Ali Keshavarzian, vice chairman of medicine and gastroenterologist at Rush. "The damage will occur in anyone with the disease, including people without noticeable symptoms." Hidden sources of gluten are sometimes additives such as modified food starch, preservatives and stabilizers made with wheat.
Low Levels of Vitamin D Increase Risk of Heart Disease and Death and May Account for Higher Cardiovascular Risk Among Blacks Fiscella and Franks add to the increasing evidence that a low level of vitamin D is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. And they show that the higher cardiovascular risk observed among blacks may be partly related to lower vitamin D levels, which the researchers point out are very prevalent among blacks because of lower absorption of vitamin D due to darker skin, lower dietary intake, and decreased sun exposure. Analyzing nationally representative data on more than 15, 000 U.S. adults, researchers found that those with serum vitamin D, specifically 25 hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, levels in the lowest quartile compared with those in the three higher quartiles had a 40 percent adjusted higher cardiovascular risk for death after accounting for other factors. Notably, they also found that the 38 percent higher cardiovascular mortality observed in blacks versus whites was attenuated by accounting for differences in 25(OH)D levels and fully eliminated with further adjustment for lower income.