Don’t Be Faked Out By Food Labeling Tricks, Part II Trans Fat & Decaf

What you eat defines you or at least your health! This week I will share hidden trans fats in our foods. Despite deemed no longer safe to consume, it still is very much present in our food supply. Read how again we are faked out when it comes to trans fat and ‘decaf’.

Hidden trans fats

Back in the day, the food industry said trans fat was a healthy alternative to butter and lard. The FDA declared them no longer safe to consume, which greatly reduced their use. But the partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs)—found in foods like margarine, coffee creamer, chips, and more—are loaded in dangerous trans fatty acids. Medically they raise LDL (bad cholesterol), lower HDL (healthy cholesterol) levels, so therefore we are left with an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Sadly in the US, they’re not gone from the food supply. FDA spokesperson Dani Schor explained in an interview with MDLinx that some PHOs are approved as food additives, and food manufacturers may still obtain approval for certain uses of PHOs in foods. On top of that foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving are listed on the nutrition label as “trans fat, 0 grams.”

Furthermore, all liquid vegetable oils that have been “deodorized” during the refining process—to give them their bland taste that consumers want—contain some trans fat, according to a blogpost by Guy Crosby, Ph.D., a food chemistry researcher and adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan’s School of Public Health. Another fake out these trans fats is not included in the product’s labeling. These oils include the four most popular ones consumed in the United States—soybean, corn, canola, and palm.

Eating foods with even small amounts of trans fat regularly can add up to a dangerous amount with time. So what to do? 

Don’t be faked out choose oils, select extra virgin, first cold-pressed oils from reputable, high-quality sources. Scan ingredient lists for the words “shortening,” or “hydrogenated” oils. If you are eating out avoid deep-fried foods.

Need to pay special attention to the ingredients lists and labels for PHOs when it comes to: 

  • Shortening/margarine
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Packaged snacks like chips
  • Baked goods or doughnuts
  • Ready-to-use dough or frozen pizza
  • Fried foods, including french fries and chicken
  • Coffee creamer

There are some ‘good fats’ take time when you can to check out this article.

The lie of ‘decaf’

Believe me when I say the food industry is not required to clearly list the amount of caffeine per serving on the nutrition label. Yes, the most used drug in the world is not ‘controlled’. And you are correct coffee is the most common way it gets into our bodies. The debate of is caffeine good or bad for your health has been going on for decades. Read my blog on bladder cancer and caffeine. Forgetting about the add ons, sugar, cream mocha – by the numbers Mayo Clinic says, up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is safe for most adults—that’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four 8 oz cups of brewed coffee or about 8 cups of black tea. My rough estimate is about 100 mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee and 50 mg per cup of black tea.

Caffeine is contraindicated for patients taking certain medications, have certain heart irregularities to the rhythm. Also, the National Institute of Health ( NIH) advising pregnant women to limit or skip even moderate caffeine consumption. Yes, this comes out of a recent study published in JAMA which found that consuming even small amounts of caffeine—equivalent to half a cup of coffee per day—was associated with lower birth weight. And as you know the present-day rage is adding caffeine to many popular foods and soft drinks. Many thankfully list the amount of caffeine. Red Bull seems early on (1987, Austria) to jump-start one’s energy with 111 mg of caffeine per can (12 oz.). Check out a past blog on the cardiac effects of caffeinated drinks. The most caffeinated drink on the market is ‘Spike‘ coming in at 350 mg caffeine in a 16 oz can. For more on the top ten caffeine drinks check out this article. Don't Be Faked Out By Food Labeling Tricks Part II

“Decaf” doesn’t mean caffeine-free and cups can quickly add up. The Starbuck website lists the caffeine content of its decaf coffee at 25 mg per 16 oz cup. Espresso drinks, even if a  decaf “shot” can contain up to 16 mg of caffeine, according to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology. Most espresso drinks use at least 2 shots, meaning a decaf espresso drink can have as much caffeine as a can of regular Coca-Cola (34 mg for a 12-ounce can). And don’t think the Mocha syrup, does not add more caffeine – it does!

The best way to avoid caffeine? Choose iced or hot herbal tea. 

Don’t Be Faked Out By Food Labeling

Naturally, if you are anything like me you rely on the veracity and hence accuracy of food labeling. Is there truth in labeling? We know there isn’t in advertising. Companies have discovered the right buzzword or phrase on the face of the product allows for a fake-out. Front-of-package nutrition labeling seems consumer-friendly but can imply incorrectly it is a healthier choice.

I want to mention, in this blog, a few tricks that make some products sound healthy than they really are. 

FIBER FAKE OUT

Don't Be Faked Out By Food Labeling TricksThe most common ‘fake out’ deals with the fiber content in a product. The minimum recommended adult daily allowance for dietary fiber is 28 grams a day for a 2,000 calorie diet. But increasing intake of dietary fiber helps your heart, lower blood pressure, glucose (sugar), and cholesterol levels; never mind the aid our bowels functioning properly. The bonus is the sense of satiety, which leads to eating less and weighing less!

New labeling allows a blur between fiber and sugar as defined by FDA. Manufacturers can now count a slew of additives known as synthetic or isolated nondigestible carbohydrates as part of a food’s total fiber count. Examples are these additives: alginate, guar gum, polydextrose, phosphorylated starch, and even something called hydroxypropyl methylcellulose.

Dress up junk food with these additives and it can be made to sound health. Not really contributing to the benefit of fiber.

My solution is always to get fiber from natural sources and that includes whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, or vegetables and fruit.

WHOLE GRAINS FAKE OUT

Next is whole grains ( bran, germ, and endosperm of a whole grain kernel) well Whole Grainsassociated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and digestive problems. So yes, we need this in our daily diets.  Additives like molasses or colorants and other grain products make it sound like ‘multigrain’. And you might see this on the front of the packaging. Use of several different grains, all of which may be fully refined and stripped of their health benefits might also be included. So if you read ‘made with whole grain’ it can in reality be a very small amount of whole grains compared to the amount of refined grain. Eva Greenthal, MS, MPH, senior science policy associate with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), says “Don’t be fooled by the words ‘wheat flour.’ Look for 100% whole wheat bread. The word ‘whole’ is key.” 

Next week we will discuss the hidden trans fats even though deemed no longer safe to consume, it still is very much present in our food supply.

Astonishing Medical News – Mushrooms, HIV, Depression

Prostate Saving Ingredient – White Capped Mushroomsastonishing medical news

Recently found that prostate cancer cells mixed with white button mushroom extract suppressed androgen receptor activity

The chemicals present in white button mushrooms may slow the progression of prostate cancer, Androgens, a type of male sex hormone, promote the growth of prostate cancer cells by binding to and activating the androgen receptor, a protein that is expressed in prostate cells,” the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, a comprehensive cancer center in Duarte, Calif

The original investigational study was done in mice.

Now a phase one clinical trial of white button mushroom powder for patients with recurrent prostate cancer is finding that the mushrooms reduced levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood, with minimal side effects.

HIV Vaccine -First Human Trialsastonishing medical news

HIV affects more than 38 million people globally, and other than a multidrug regimen, no vaccine has been in the cards till now. The clinical trial, IAVI G001, took place at two sites: George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, enrolling 48 healthy adult volunteers. Participants received either a placebo or two doses of the vaccine compound, eOD-GT8 60mer, along with an adjuvant developed by the pharmaceutical company GSK. Funded by Bill Gates foundation and grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

The idea behind this novel approach is to aim to trigger the right ‘B’ cells—cells that have special properties giving them the potential to develop into broadly neutralizing antibodies (bnAb-secreting cells).

The vaccine showed success in stimulating the production of the rare immune cells needed to generate antibodies against the fast-mutating virus—and the targeted response was detected in 97 percent of participants who received the vaccine. Yes a small study group, and yes phase 1 but this might be just what it will take to protect from this devasting virus.

Depression In Your Blood

Worldwide, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a depressive episode in their lifetime. At present, the diagnosis of depression and its treatment are hit or miss. A ‘breakthrough’ study opens new light on many mood disorders by offering a promising blood test aimed at a precision approach to medical care.*

Young people — specifically those ages 18 to 24 — were mentally hit the hardest during the pandemic. Hard to study the brain of this population for mood disorders you can cut into it. So this blood identification of a biomarker is very helpful. The study of over four years of 300 participants used a four-step approach of discovery, prioritization, validation, and testing. each point when mood disorder was noted blood was drawn and studied for RNA biomarkers. The team also found that mood disorders are underlined by circadian clock genes — that is we have genes that regulate seasonal, day-night, and sleep-wake cycles.

This is the work of Alexander B. Niculescu, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at IU School of Medicine, who worked on finding blood biomarkers that track suicidality as well as pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Health Help for Consumers

consumer labA week does not go by without someone asking me what is the ‘best vitamin C to get?’ That question could end with calcium or zinc and the possibilities go on. Would it not be great if there was an FDA-type organization for over-the-counter  (OTC) health products?  Good news, it does exist – ConsumerLab.com and I have been using it for decades. Although there is a yearly membership fee it is well worth knowing the supplement you paid for is truly worthwhile. At this publishing, fees are $3.25/month for 2 years (billed at $78.00) or  $3.95/month for 1 year (billed at $47.40).

Over 1300 hundred health products from such major brands as Walmart’s, GNC, and Walgreens are tested and reviewed.

Categories beyond product reviews, include Save money read warnings and clinical findings from experts. You can stay informed with their e-newsletter. Site major sections are Health conditions, Brands, Warnings, and News. You can get answers to your questions. A recent one answered by an MD was ‘Which vitamins and minerals should someone over 70 take?’

You can find a reliable resource for such Unique reviews include olive oil,  Masks, avocado oil, spices, and much more.  Pediatric and pet health products are also reviewed!

Check it out and decide for yourself. As always trying to empower you to better health.

Grief Shared Is Grief Lessened

Grief Shared Grief LessenedExperiencing the emotion  ‘grief’  from death is a natural reaction for humans. No matter if it’s the death of a loved one, an acquaintance, or a co-worker,  the sorrow of the loss of life is deep.

I chose this topic as more than ever given the pandemic the passage of life is minimally noted. It is sparse. Pre pandemic there was sharing, hugs support, comfort, meal sharing bolstering each other. Assuring the dying individuals’ words of love, intimate, meaningful kind. Then a coming together of those left behind -the funeral a celebration honoring and praying.

Grief  Lessened

At present no visitors in hospitals, no loved ones present at the hospital bedside, no hugs, kind words. The nurses don’t know your favorite music you might wish was playing as life slips away. A favorite of mine is C.P.Cavafy’s poem ‘Ithaca’, recited by Sir Sean Connery and with music specially composed by Vangelis. Others enjoy hearing the “Ave Maria” sang. If you don’t already know the preferences for the enjoyment of an ill person find out and inform the caregivers.

Almost everyone knows of someone who has died from COVID-19. Deaths from other causes have been solo due to this pandemic. Also, those without the deadly virus who are in medical settings like nursing homes and inpatient hospice must go alone.

It has long been known that healing comes from togetherness and virtual funeral services don’t offer much comfort to survivors. Several years ago in this blog I wrote about Death Cafes -started in the UK and growing in NYC at that time.

Silent Grief Remains

The medical literature describes a new phenomenon  “the silent epidemic of grief” – with emphasis on “silent.” It stems from an epidemic of pain being experienced by survivors who are made to feel alone in their grief. It is very difficult if not prohibited to connect with others given the pandemic, and who need love and supports more now than ever before.

Sharing with others a loss brings healing as well as comfort to an area inhabited by hurt and pain.

Mind-Blowing, Dementia Associated with Processed Meats

Worldwide Dementia incidence is catapulting! A health condition that affects 5%-8% of those over the 60s worldwide.

Processed meat vs unprocessed meats, the difference, processed meats are modified in order either to improve their taste or to extend their Dementia Associated with diet of processed meatsshelf life.

A growing body of evidence linking processed meat consumption to poor health is now found in medical journals. Long known that red meat is bad for one’s heart and that processed meats can increase the risk for cancer but now a shift to researching what other risks are there from such a diet. The Brits are the first to study this matter over several years.

An  8 years study clearly ID’ed a link between specific meat types and amounts, and the risk of developing the disease. A study of 493,888 UK Biobank participants is published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Can’t argue as to the number of participants from whom to glean data. UK Biobank, a database containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants aged 40 to 69, investigated the associations between consuming different types of meat and the risk of developing dementia.

But their findings also show eating a small amount – some – unprocessed red meat, such as beef, pork, or veal, could be protective, as people who consumed 50g a day were 19% less likely to develop dementia.

There is a message for us all, the diet should be in moderation and balanced fish plant protein must also be included. Have a review of my blog on MIND diet from Jan. of this year addressing ‘BEST DIETS’.

 

Incredible COVID-19 Numbers, Variants, & Vaccine Failure

Incredible COVID-19 Numbers Need to unleash numbers to give perspective & Vaccine FailureNeed to unleash these numbers as of 4/16/21. A summary.

-More than 150,000,000 shots have been administered in the U.S. so far.

0.005% may have resulted in a serious side effect.

– fewer than 1 in every 13,000 vaccinations were infected post-vaccine.

  • Of those breakthrough cases, 29 percent were asymptomatic and 7 percent required hospitalizations. 

  • CDC releases that 74 of those vaccine recipients who had breakthrough infections died.

Six reported cases of blood clots in women following a Johnson & Johnson vaccination prompted the CDC this week to recommend a pause in the single-dose vaccine. More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S., adverse reactions from vaccines are rare 

At least 550,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, a rate of 1,700 deaths per 1 million residents. More than 2 million Americans have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since August. That’s over 6,200 patients per million.

Washington state reported 4/14/21– 217 people among the 1.7 million fully vaccinated there have had breakthrough infections. Five deaths among patients ranging in age from 67 to 94, all with multiple underlying conditions, are under investigation there. 

New Variants have been numbered, that is their names. These causing a dramatic increase in cases due to multiple changes in the genome from the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. Previous variants only had one area of genome change.

B.1.617, first identified in India

B.1.526/ B.1.525, first identified in New York

B.1.427/B.1.429, first identified in California – more infectious 

Vaccine Failure

Please take a few minutes listening to my latest podcast then read on. “Primary vaccine failure” is when the body doesn’t mount a robust immune response. That could be caused by poor health, age, medication, or something wrong with the vaccine. “Secondary vaccine failure” is when immunity fades over time, or if the person is exposed to a different virus strain.

Bottom Line

The shots are safe. Even incomplete defense is better than none. And the small chance of experiencing a serious side effect from the vaccine is far outweighed by the danger of COVID-19.

PLEASE REMEMBER – If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, get tested as soon as possible — monoclonal antibodies must be given within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. they provide a defense till your body can make it’s own antibodies

Vaccine Failure

Please take a few minutes listening to my latest podcast then read on. “Primary vaccine failure” is when the body doesn’t mount a robust immune response. That could be caused by poor health, age, medication, or something wrong with the vaccine. “Secondary vaccine failure” is when immunity fades over time, or if the person is exposed to a different virus strain.

 

 

Self – Testing Revolution & Insights

Did You Know

Let me start by saying I believe there are situations where you should order a test online. You may already be familiar with in-home testing if you’ve used a Home Pregnancy test or your doctor has ordered an in-home colon cancer screening test that is mailed to a lab.   Not all tests require a blood sample. Most online ordering goes through either LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics, the two major testing companies. However, in certain states, you are unable to order online and must get a provider order for the test. Labs are prohibited from operating on behalf of patient ordering in the following states:  LabCorp in NY, NJ, RI, MA, MD  & Quest Diagnostics in NY, NJ, RI.

COVID-19

In this pandemic time, at-home testing is booming. Want to know whether you are carrying the antigen for the SARS-CoV-2 virus-infected, simply order the test! Wonder if you have antibodies to the virus, order a different test. There is a particularly growing number of COVID-19 self-testing resources.

Self-testing positive versus negative

Positive(L) – Negative (R) images

A new layperson self-test from Siemens won approval in February for use in Germany. The CLINITEST Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test takes a nasal swab and examines for antigen. Direction on the box: “Wash swab in a reagent, dissolving a specific protein from the surface of the virus. This liquid is dropped into a well in the test cassette. Within 15 minutes, the test sample flows into the field of view of the cassette and becomes visible by a dash. The position and number of lines indicate whether the test result is positive or negative, or whether something was done incorrectly during the test procedure and the test must be repeated”. See image.

General Testing

Other situations for patient’s online ordering of tests might include one of the following scenarios. What if you do not want your insurance company to know that you have high cholesterol or a sexually transmitted disease?   You may bypass going to a physician and order the test online. Often lack of insurance and lack of a medical caregiver could prompt someone who is suspicious of recurrent urinary tract infection to go online and order a urine analysis and culture.

At this time insurance companies do not pay for patient-ordered online tests but will be told by the lab ‘you may still want to submit the charge’. 

Doc’s Insights

I don’t have a specific site that I would recommend, but based on your need and location, you may find the URLs I’ve listed below helpful in finding an online lab.  I also encourage you to consult your physician to see what’s available in your community. It’s worth comparing if you don’t already have a go-to resource.

https://www.labwork365.com

https://www.health-tests-direct.com

https://www.testing.com

https://www.walkinlab.com/why-walk-in-lab

https://selfdiagnostics.com – antigen test for SARS-CoV-2 only

http://www.healthlabs.com

 

 

 

 

 

Follow The Science – Fruits and Vegetables Rule

fruitDo you stop at an apple a day to keep a doctor away? Follow the science – studies that asked what is the Magic Number for Daily Fruit and Vegetable Intake found the 5 a day rule works. 

Reveal

Two servings per day of fruit and three vegetables conferred the greatest benefit; eating more servings did not yield additional mortality risk reduction, published in Circulation. That’s 5 a day! They also found that eating more will not increase your longevity.

Follow The Science

In two well-known prospective studies over 30 years with more than 100,000 participants discovered that five-a-day” was, in fact, better than two servings per day in terms of lower risk of death from any cause (13%), a lower risk of death from heart disease (12%), lower risk of death from cancer (10%) and lower risk of death from respiratory disease (35%).fruits and vegtables

Noted was that starchy vegetables (e.g., peas, corn), fruit juices, and potatoes, were not associated with decreased mortality over 3 decades of follow-up.
Read the previous blog on diet.

If you have high blood pressure also consider the MIND diet, read a recent blog on this.