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Archive for the ‘National Institutes of Health’ Category

I recently picked up a book titled ” The China Study”, which was published in 2006.  After having read it from cover to cover, I was flabbergasted – to say the least – and hope anyone who reads this post will read it as well. It’s an eye opener.

During the past two to three decades, we have acquired substantial evidence that most chronic diseases in America can be partially attributed to bad nutrition. Expert government panels have said it, the surgeon general has said it and academic scientists have said it. More people die because of the way they eat than by tobacco use, accidents or any other lifestyle or environmental factor. We know that the incidence of obesity and diabetes is skyrocketing and that the Americas’ health is slipping away, and we know what is to blame: diet. So shouldn’t the government be leading us to better nutrition? There is nothing better the government could do that would prevent more pain and suffering in the country than telling Americans unequivocally to east least animal products, less highly-refined plant products and more whole, plant-based foods. It is a message soundly based on the breadth and depth of scientific evidence, and the government could make this clear, as it did wit cigarettes. Cigarettes kill, and so do these bad foods. But instead of doing this, the government is saying that animal products, dairy and meat, refined sugar and fat in your diet are good for you.

The government is turning a blind eye to the evidence as well as to the millions of Americans who suffer from nutrition-related illness. The covenant of trust between the U.S. government and the American citizen has been broken. The Untied States government is not only failing to put out our fires, it is actively fanning the flames.

Dietary Ranges: The Latest Assault

The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), as part of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences, has the responsibility every five years or so to review and update the recommended consumption of individual nutrients. The FNB has been making nutrient recommendations since 1943 when it was established a plan for the U.S. Armed Forces wherein it recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for each individual nutrient.

In the most recent FNB report, published in 2002, nutrient recommendations are presented as rangers instead of single numbers, as was the practice until 2002. For good health, we are now advised to consume 45% to 65% of our calories as carbohydrates. There are ranges for fat and protein as well.

A few quotes from the news release announcing this massive 900+ page report say it all. Here is the first sentence in the news release.

To meet the body’s daily energy and nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, adults should get should get 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat and 10% to 35% from protein …

Further on, we find:

… added sugars should comprise no more that the 25% of total calories consumed … added sugars are those incorporated into foods and beverages during production and major sources include candy, soft drinks, fruit drinks, pastries and other sweets.

Let’s take a closer look. What are these recommendations really saying? Remember, the news release starts off by stating the report’s objective of  “minimizing the risk for chronic disease.” This report says that we can consume a diet contaning up to 35% of calories as fat; this is up from the 30% limit of previous reports. It also recommends that we can consume up to 35% of calories as protein; this number is far higher that the suggestion of any other responsible authority.

The last recommendations puts the frosting on the cake, so to speak. We can consume up to 25% of calories as added sugars. Remember, sugars are the most refined type of carbohydrates. In effect, although the report advises that we need a minimum of 45% calories as carbohydrates, more than half of this amount (i.e., 25%) can be the sugars present in candies, soft drinks and pastries. The critical assumption of this report is this:  the American diet is not only the best there is, , but you should now feel free to eat an even richer diet and still be confident that you are “minimizing risk for chronic disease.” Forget any words of caution you may find in this report – with such a range of possibilites, virtually any diet can be advocated as minimizing disease risk.

You may have trouble getting your mind around what these figures mean in everyday terms, so I have prepared the following menu plan that supplies nutrients in accordance with these guidelines.

Chart 16.1 – Sample Menu That Fits Into The Acceptable Nutrient Ranges

Meal                                                                                                    Foods

Breakfast                                                                                            1 cup Froot Loops

                                                                                                               1 cup skim milk

                                                                                                               1 package M&M milk chocolate candies

                                                                                                               Fiber and vitamin supplements

Lunch                                                                                                  Grilled cheddar cheeseburger

Dinner                                                                                                 3 slices pepperoni pizza, 1-160z. soda

                                                                                                                1 serving Archway sugar cookies

Chart 16.2 – Nutrient Profile Of Sample Menu And Report Recommedations

Nutrient                                                                          Sample Menu Content                                              Recommended

Total Calories                                                                          1800                                                                    Varies by height/weight

Protein (% of total calories)                                               18%                                                                               10-35%

Fat (% of total calories)                                                        31%                                                                               20-35%

Carbohydrates (% of total calories)                                 51%                                                                              45-65%

Sugars in Sweets, or Added Sugars                                  23%                                                                               Up to 25%                                     (% of total calories)

I’m not kidding – This disastrous menu plan fits the recommendations of the report and is supposedly consistent with “minimizing chronic disease.”

What’s amazing is that I could put together a variety of menus, all drenched in animal foods and added sugars, that conform to the recommended daily allowances. At this point in the book, I don’t need to you that when we eat a diet like this day in and day out, we will be not just marching , but sprinting into the arms of chronic disease. In sad fact, this is what a large portion o f our population already does.

Protein

Perhaps the most shocking figure is the upper limit on protein intake. Relative to total calorie intake, only 5-6% dietary protein is required to replace the protein regularly excreted by the the body (as amino acids). About 9-10% protein, however, is the amount that has been recommended for the past 50 years to be assured that most people at least get their 5-6% “requirement.”  This 9-10% recommendation is equivalent to the well-known recommended daily allowance, or RDA.

Almost all Americans exceed this 9-105 recommendation; we consume protein within the range of about 11-21%, within an average of about 15-16%. The relatively few people consuming more than 21% protein mostly are those who “pump iron,” recently joined by those on high-protein diets.

It is extremely puzzling that these new government-sponsored 2002 FNB recommendation now say that we should be able to consume protein up to the extraordinary level of 35% as means of minimizing chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. This is an unbelievable travesty, considering the scientific evidence. The evidence presented in this book shows that increasing dietary protein within the range of about 10-20% is associated with a broad array of health problems, especially when most of the protein is from animal sources.

Furthermore, the FNB panel had the audacity to say that this 10-35% recommendation range is the same as previous reports. Their press release clearly states, “protein intake recommendations are the same as previous reports.” I know of no report that has even remotely suggested a level as high as this.

When I initially saw this protein recommendation, I honestly though that it was a printing error. I know several of the people on the panel who wrote this report and decided to give them a ring. The first panel member, a long-time acquaintance, said this was the first time he had even heard about the 35% protein limit! He suggested that this protein recommendation might have been drafted in the last days of preparing the report. He also told me that there was little discussion of the evidence on protein, for or against a high consumption level, although he recollected there being some pro-Atkins sympathy on the committee. He had not worked in the protein area, so he did not know the literature. In any event, this important recommendation slipped through the panel without much notice and made the first sentence of the FNB release!

The second panel member, a long-time friend and colleague, was a subcommittee chair during the latter part of the panel’s existence. He is not a nutritional scientist and also was surprised to hear my concerns about the upper limit for protein. He did not recall much discussion on the topic either. When I reminded him of some of the evidence linking high-animal protein diets to chronic disease, he initially was a little defensive. But with a little mor persistence on my part about the evidence, he finally said, “Colin, you know that I really don’t know anything about nutrition.” How, the, was he a member – let alone the char – of this important subcommittee? And it gets worse. The chair of the standing committee on the evaluation of these recommendations left the panel shortly before its completion for a senior executive position in a very large food company – a company that will salivate over these new recommendations.

All of the above comes The China Study – except for my brief introduction.

Thank the author – T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II – for all of their work – and I hope that you get this book and read it word by word.

Wishing all of you the best of health.

 

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(Newswise) – Two major eye diseases and leading causes of blindness–age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy–can be reversed or even prevented by drugs that activate a protein found in blood vessel cells, researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine and several other institutions have announced in a new study.

Damage from both diseases was prevented and even reversed when the protein, Robo4, was activated in mice models that simulate age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy, according to Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the study published March 16 in Nature Medicine online.

Robo4 treated and prevented the diseases by inhibiting abnormal blood vessel growth and by stabilizing blood vessels to prevent leakage. Abnormal blood vessel growth and leakage are two primary factors in both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy. But the study’s ramifications go beyond eye diseases.

Serious infections such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), for example, kill people when an infection destabilizes blood vessels, allowing fluids to leak into the lungs. Tumors hijack blood vessel growth to feed on nutrients and grow. Although this study did not prove Robo4 would treat those diseases, Li believes it merits investigation.

“Many diseases are caused by injury or inflammation destabilizing blood vessels and causing them to leak fluid into adjacent tissues as well,” said Li, professor of internal medicine and an investigator with the University’s Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. “We found a natural pathway – the Robo4 pathway – that counterattacks this by stabilizing blood vessels.”

“This discovery has significant implications for developing drugs that activate Robo4 to treat AMD and diabetic retinopathy,” said Kang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center and an investigator with the University’s Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. Li and Zhang’s laboratories closely collaborated on the research, using the same animal models of AMD and diabetic retinopathy that are required for drug development. The collaboration means the time required to test the approach in people could be shortened, perhaps by years. Nonetheless, both Zhang and Li caution that getting new drugs to market still would take a number of years.

Randall J. Olson, M.D., director of the University’s John A. Moran Eye Center and professor and chair of ophthalmology and visual sciences, called Li’s finding historic.

“This is a major breakthrough in an area where the advances have been minimal,” Olson said. “We are excited about taking this opening and moving the frontier forward with real hope for patients who have but few, often disappointing, options.”

The discovery is a prime example of basic science research yielding a discovery with direct clinical applications, according to Hemin Chin, Ph.D., director of ocular genetics program at the National Eye Institute. “Given that vascular eye diseases, such as age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, are the number one cause of vision loss in the United States, the identification of new signaling pathways that prevent abnormal vessel growth and leakage in the eye represents a major scientific advancement,” said Chin.

Blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) is critical in human development and as a response to injury or disease. In earlier research, Li had shown that a family of proteins, netrins, induce blood vessel and nerve growth in mice, a discovery with important ramifications for potential therapies to help people with too few blood vessels. But when the body grows new blood vessels at the wrong time or place, these blood vessels are often unstable and weak, which causes them to leak and potentially lead to diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

In 2003, Li’s laboratory cloned Robo4 and showed it served the opposite function of netrins by inhibiting blood vessel growth and the destabilization that causes leakage. Robo4 is found only in cells in the interior surface of blood vessels and is activated by a protein called Slit. After being activated, Robo4 initiates a chain of biochemical events to stabilize blood vessels and prevent uncontrolled growth.

“Everything in biology has a yin (negative) and a yang (positive), and in the previous paper on netrins we brought attention to a new signaling pathway that induces vessels and nerves to grow,” Li said. “Robo4 is the yin to that process, preventing new vessel growth by stabilizing the integrity of mature blood vessels.”

Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of legal blindness in people age 65 or older and is expected to become an increasingly common and costly health issue as the number of older people in United States increases. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of legal blindness in working-age Americans. Currently, there are an estimated 21 million people with diabetes.

Li’s collaborators on the study from the University of Utah include co-first authors graduate student Christopher A. Jones and Nyall London, an M.D./Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Oncological Sciences and the Program in Human Molecular Biology and Genetics. Several other researchers from Li’s lab also contributed to the project. In addition, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and Harvard Medical School were part of the study.

The study was funded largely by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Eye Institute, both are part of the National Institutes of Health.

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THE FACTS

It is well known that too much soda can increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. But when it comes to kidney problems, is there a difference between colas and other kinds of soda?

Colas contain high levels of phosphoric acid, which has been linked to kidney stones and other renal problems.

Much of this conclusion stems from anecdotal and circumstantial evidence. So last year, a team of scientists at the National Institutes of Health took a closer look.

In a study published in the journal Epidemiology, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day — whether artificially sweetened or regular — was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease.

But drinking two or more noncola carbonated drinks a day, they found, did not increase the risk.

The authors of the study say more research is needed, but their findings support the long-held notion that something about cola — the phosphoric acid, for example, or the ability of cola to pull calcium from bones — seems to increase the risk of kidney stones, renal failure and other conditions affecting the kidneys.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There is good evidence that cola beverages can increase the risk of kidney problems, more so than noncola sodas.

Story from the NYT.

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