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Archive | April, 2011

In Thailand, Love of Food Carries Deadly Risks

In Thailand, Love of Food Carries Deadly Risks

Posted on 27 April 2011 by Nitin

The villagers in this poverty-stricken farming community are passionate about their food, especially the traditional varieties of fermented fish that one aficionado describes as tasting like heaven but smelling like hell.

It can be a fatal attraction, medical researchers say. The raw fish that is so avidly consumed in the stilt houses that sit among rice paddies and wetlands of the country’s northern provinces contain parasites that can accumulate in the liver and lead to a deadly cancer. Known as bile duct cancer, it is relatively uncommon in most parts of the world but represents the majority of the 70 liver cancer deaths a day in Thailand, according to Dr. Banchob Sripa, the head of the tropical disease research laboratory at nearby Khon Kaen University.

“It’s the most deadly and persistent cancer in the region,” Dr. Banchob said.

For the past three decades, he has led an unsuccessful campaign against the parasite, known as a liver fluke and which is also endemic in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, parts of China, the Korean Peninsula and Siberia.

Dr. Peter Hotez, the president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, a nonprofit organization in the United States that researches neglected tropical diseases, describes liver flukes as one of “the most important infectious causes of cancer that no one has ever heard of.”

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Everyday stuff that can cause serious health problems

Everyday stuff that can cause serious health problems

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Nitin

Nonstick pans, microwave popcorn bags, stain-resistant carpet, and breathable all-weather clothing: stuff all of us have some of at home. What of it? Perfluorocarbon, that’s what—it’s a chemical family that includes PFOA and PFOS, about which a recent study showed that the more of them found in your bloodstream, the likelier you are to have high cholesterol, says Best You friend Sarah Knox, an epidemiologist at West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Sarah and her colleagues now give us another reason to be leery of these chemicals. They did blood tests on women aged 42 and older—and found that those with higher levels of PFOA and PFOS were more likely to have experienced early menopause. Early menopause puts you at higher risk for cardiovascular disease like heart attacks and stroke. While it’s possible that women who go through early menopause are simply more likely to accumulate PFOA and PFOS in their blood, Sarah says their presence is still a red flag. “It means we need to investigate it more,” she says. “Personally, I avoid exposure to these chemicals when I can.”

To be safe, look for “PFOA-free” or “PFOS-free” labels on rain jackets before purchasing. Check that nonstick cookware you’ve been ogling, too—though nothing beats the original, your trusty iron skillet.

[SOURCE]

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Holistic heart health: Nutrition, herbs, and yoga

Holistic heart health: Nutrition, herbs, and yoga

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Nitin

It’s there, beating all the time … completely synchronized with every breath we take. It beats with each electrical impulse and does an enormous amount of work. Yet, even the most health-minded individual rarely, if ever thinks about the heart, an organ that serves the most important function in the body. Without it, nothing else works.

This is true in both the physical and energetic aspect. Physiologically, heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the U.S., and a major cause of disability.  From an energetic standpoint, heartbreak is the leading cause of grief, which in turn affects our ability to heal our emotional state.

Eat right, take Omega 3s and exercise and you’re off to a very good start. However, I challenge you to take a closer look at your heart health on all levels. We can usually exercise, medicate or supplement our way out of pain, disease, inflammation and most other ailments; but taking the time to be conscious of the role the heart plays in our lives is where the work begins.

Whether you’re a seasoned health-nut or a newbie, there are steps that you can take to drastically improve your heart health using the three-pronged approach of nutrition, herbs and yoga.

Nutrition:
The very first things you should do? Improve your diet and add necessary supplements. Think light! Stay away from foods that are too heavy and weigh you down, such as fried foods. If you’re a meat-eater, try leaning more toward vegetarian meals. Include more flax and avocados in your diet for heart healthy fats.

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Heavy beer drinking ups gastric cancer risk

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Heavy beer drinking ups gastric cancer risk

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Nitin

A new study has found that heavy beer drinkers who have a specific genetic variant in the cluster of three genes that metabolize alcohol are at significantly higher risk of developing non-cardia gastric cancer.

Study results also showed that the same risk is also elevated (but not as significantly) for heavy beer drinkers who do not have the variant, known as rs1230025, and for non-drinkers who have rs1230025 or rs283411.

“This is a classic gene-environment interaction,” said Eric Duell, senior epidemiologist in the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program at the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain. “Having both of these risks – heavy beer consumption and rs1230025 – appears to be worse in terms of gastric cancer risk than having just one or neither.”

Duell and colleagues conducted a comprehensive analysis of alcohol consumption and gastric cancer risk in the more than 521,000 people aged 35 to 70 years old who participated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study from 1992 through 1998.

The researchers evaluated the type of alcohol consumed (i.e. wine, beer or liquor) and the location and grade of cancer. Total consumption of 60 grams of pure ethanol/alcohol from all beverage types combined carried a 65 per cent increased risk. (One 12 ounce beer contains about 13 grams of pure alcohol/ethanol.)

However, this association was confined to beer. Results showed that drinking 30 grams of pure ethanol/alcohol or more a day from beer was linked to a 75 per cent increased risk of developing gastric cancer. Wine and liquor was not associated with gastric cancer risk, Duell said.

The research was presented at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, April 2-6.

[SOURCE]

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Drawing a line between imitation food and innovation

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Drawing a line between imitation food and innovation

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Nitin

‘I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter!’ When it comes to transparency you can’t get much clearer than Unilever’s famous exclamation-turned-margarine-brand. But new labelling rules to prevent one food masquerading as another should distinguish between intent to mislead and innovations that may benefit consumers.

The European Parliament’s Environment (ENVI) Committee has this week insisted that the new food labelling regulation include a provision that prevents foods being labelled in such a way as to create the impression they are a different food.

“Where an ingredient has been replaced, this should be clearly stated on the label,” said the Parliament’s post-vote statement.

Few would claim that dressing a food up and sending it off to market disguised as another, with no mention on the pack – front or back – would be a reasonable or responsible approach. For a start, allergy sufferers would be eating in the dark, completely unwitting to whether the next bite could be their last.

That’s why ingredient panels and allergen labelling rules exist, after all.

But rapporteur Renate Sommer, drew attention to an important point after the vote: One person’s imitation food is another’s innovation – and stigmatising products that are made with non-traditional ingredients risks putting the brakes on innovation, the driving force of the European food industry that gives it a competitive edge.

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Summer sickness returns with steam

Summer sickness returns with steam

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Nitin

NEW DELHI: The OPDs in Delhi hospitals are going houseful. With the summer season having started, doctors say, the number of cases of temperature-related illnesses such as typhoid and gastroenteritis have gone up significantly. According to them, sudden exposure to the sun after being in an air-conditioned environment must be avoided and people should increase fluid intake to avoid dehydration and illnesses associated with it.

“Food and water-borne diseases are a major problem. More than 50% patients visiting our hospital OPD these days are coming with problems like diarrhoea, gastroenteritis and food poisoning. Cases of jaundice have also increased,” said Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, head of the internal medicine department of Max Hospital, Saket.

He said that people should drink a lot of water and avoid eating outside food.

According to Dr Anoop Misra, chairman, the Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Obesity, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology (Fortis-C-DOC) at Fortis hospitals, those suffering from hypertension, heart disease and diabetes need to be extra careful.

“Hot weather leads to decrease in blood pressure and change of medication is required in such patients. Heat leads to sweating and decrease in body sodium, which can affect people with hypertension and diabetes who are on diuretic drugs,” said Misra.

He added that vomiting and nausea caused due to food and water-borne diseases lead to fluctuating blood pressure and sugar levels.

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Practise food safety, avoid Easter illness

Practise food safety, avoid Easter illness

Posted on 22 April 2011 by Nitin

No matter how you observe Easter, special meals are most likely part of your tradition.  Food-borne illness, also known as food poisoning,can occur if improper techniques are used when preparing and cooking food.

Following simple techniques can ensure your holiday dining is pleasurable and safe.
When purchasing food, shop for refrigerated items last and ensure all meat, including lamb and poultry, comes from an approved and federally or provincially inspected source.

When handling food, remember these four easy steps:
•  Wash hands frequently using liquid soap and running water. Keep cutting boards, dishes, utensils, counter tops and food preparation equipment clean.  Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under cool running water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten;
• Separate. Avoid cross-contamination of raw products and cooked products during transport, storage and preparation and use a separate cutting board for raw meats only;
• Cook food thoroughly and keep food out of the danger zone — temperatures between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F);

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Iron rich salt to fight malnutrition

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Iron rich salt to fight malnutrition

Posted on 22 April 2011 by Nitin

With high prevalence of anaemia in the country, the government has decided to promote iron fortified iodised salt as a measure to deal with malnutrition.

The decision was taken at a meeting held in the Prime Minister’s Office on promoting consumption of iron fortified iodised salt.

The meeting attended by various ministries called for the urgent measures to tackle anaemia in India’s population, particularly among adolescent girls, women and children.

Anaemia is caused by inadequate intake and poor absorption of iron. It can be prevented and cured by promoting consumption of iron rich foods and iron supplements.

The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, has developed technologies for the double fortification of salt with iodine and iron.

[SOURCE]

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Coffee prices reach highest point since 1977

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Coffee prices reach highest point since 1977

Posted on 22 April 2011 by Nitin

Speculative demand has pushed coffee prices up through the $3 a pound barrier, taking them to their highest level for over 30 years.

Arabica coffee prices for July delivery climbed to just over $3 a pound in New York – a price that has not been seen since a devastating frost took prices up to $3.34 in 1977.

Keith Flurry, senior commodity analyst at Rabobank, told BeverageDaily.com that prices broke the $3 mark in New York yesterday despite “no new fundamental information in the last couple of days.”

Market speculation

Speculative demand is therefore thought to have played a role in the latest spike. Flurry said: “Much of the gains past $3.00 were technical with investors seeing strength in the market and buying, which pushes prices higher.”

A weakening dollar encouraged the speculative push by reducing the relative price of coffee for international investors.

Nevertheless, the market analyst said the market had moved initially on more fundamental information.

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Subway slashes sodium in sandwich line

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Subway slashes sodium in sandwich line

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Nitin

The sandwich chain, which with 34,433 units has more locations globally than McDonald’s, today will announce plans for a significant reduction in sodium at its U.S. stores that could ultimately nudge much of the fast-food industry to follow.

Beginning today, sodium content in Subway’s “Fresh Fit” sandwich line in the U.S. will be cut 28% vs. 2009, when Subway first began to cut salt. And sodium in its overall sandwich line will be cut by 15%, compared with the same period.

Subway, whose sandwiches have sometimes been ridiculed as virtual sodium bombs, emerges as the first national fast-food chain to publicly announce such a sizable sodium reduction. The move comes at a time foodmakers and restaurant chains globally are facing increased pressure from lawmakers, advocacy groups and consumers to cut back on excess sodium — which is widely regarded as one of the root causes of America’s biggest killers, heart disease.

“It’s a huge deal,” says Lanette Kovachi, corporate dietician at Subway. “We’re the biggest in the industry and we’re saying that sodium reduction can be done.”

The sodium in a Subway Fresh Fit 6-inch sandwich will decline by 287 milligrams to 737 milligrams vs. 1,024 in 2009’s numbers. The sodium in its 6-inch ham sandwich will drop by 430 milligrams to 830 from 1,260 in 2009. These measurements exclude extras such as cheese, pickles, olives and dressing.

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Research into bitter beer taste could help increase shelf life

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Research into bitter beer taste could help increase shelf life

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Nitin

German scientists claim that new research into the main substances that cause beer to deteriorate over time could unlock secrets to extending shelf life.

Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Thomas Hofmann and colleagues at the Technical University of Munich sought to identify what causes the bitter, off-taste in old beer.

The research uncovered 56 substances that contribute to the bitter taste of beer. These are mostly “prenylated polyketides” derived from hops.

From this list, the study authors pinpointed five substances that appear to be largely responsible for the harsh taste of ageing beer.

The scientists claim that this is the first time that anyone has built up solid information about the bitter substances that form in beer as it ages. They claim that the knowledge could be a significant aid for brewers looking to make their products stay fresh for longer.

“The present study offers the scientific basis for a knowledge-based extension of the shelf life,” concluded the authors.

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What are Trans Fats?

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What are Trans Fats?

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Nitin

Trans fats (often listed as “partially hydrogenated oil”) almost never occur in nature; rather, they are created in factories by adding an extra hydrogen atom to vegetable oils. This makes them ideal for food production. But trans fats are even worse than saturated fat for your heart and all-around health.

Trans fats have been linked to type 2 diabetes, but their biggest threat is to your heart: They also raise LDL cholesterol, and cause a drop in “good” HDL cholesterol, while boosting levels of other toxic stuff in the blood that cause cardiovascular disease.

Animal research suggests trans fats might spark weight gain. Studies show that lab monkeys fed diets high in trans fat gain three times more weight than other monkeys given equal amounts of other foods. Even worse, much of that extra weight took the form of belly flab, which raises the risk for heart disease.

There has been a major backlash against trans fats over the past decade, and many food manufacturers and restaurants have quit using them. But you still need to be vigilant. Avoid all foods that include any part of partially hydrogenated oil in their ingredient list. Most people should consume no more than 2 grams of trans fat per day — and less is better.

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Remember food safety when decorating Easter eggs

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Remember food safety when decorating Easter eggs

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Nitin

Have you made your Easter Holiday plans yet? Are you ready to color dozens of hard boiled eggs? My family has been very busy so far this spring, but the talk turned to Easter Eggs last night. When will we be decorating our eggs or are we too old to do that were some of the questions. The answers were all over the board. I think the consensus was that we will decorate eggs again this year. While decorating Easter Eggs is a tradition that can bring enjoyment, decorators need to remember food safety too.

There are a number of other options for decorating eggs. Eggs can be decorated with magic markers, paint, glitter, or even sequins. And if you are dyeing the eggs, wash them in a mild detergent solution before decorating to give a light oil coating to help color adhere more evenly. But be sure to use a food-safe dye.

Commercial egg decorating dyes are food-safe, as is food coloring added to a water-vinegar mix. Organic dyes are another option. Tea or coffee will provide a tan or brownish shade. Beet or cranberry juice will produce red dye. For green, use the water from cooked spinach leaves, or for blue, use blueberry juice.

“The main concern when dealing with eggs is Salmonella,” said Karen Blakeslee, coordinator of the food safety Rapid Response Center at Kansas State University. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports 40,000 cases of Salmonella each year, and they estimate that up to 20 times that many go unreported.”

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Growing Sugarcane Shown to Have Cooling Effect on Climate Change

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Growing Sugarcane Shown to Have Cooling Effect on Climate Change

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Nitin

Brazilians are world leaders in using biofuels for gasoline. About a quarter of their automobile fuel consumption comes from sugarcane, which significantly reduces carbon dioxide emissions that otherwise would be emitted from using gasoline. Now scientists from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology have found that sugarcane has a double benefit. Expansion of the crop in areas previously occupied by other Brazilian crops cools the local climate. It does so by reflecting sunlight back into space and by lowering the temperature of the surrounding air as the plants “exhale” cooler water. The study is published in the 2nd issue of Nature Climate Change, posted on-line April 17.

The research team, led by Carnegie’s Scott Loarie, is the first to quantify the direct effects on the climate from sugarcane expansion in areas of existing crop and pastureland of the cerrado, in central Brazil.

The researchers used data from hundreds of satellite images over 733,000 square miles an area larger than the state of Alaska. They measured temperature, reflectivity (also called albedo), and evapotranspiration the water loss from the soil and from plants as they exhale water vapor.

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When a Salad Is Not a Salad: Why Are Dieters Easily Misled by Food Names?

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When a Salad Is Not a Salad: Why Are Dieters Easily Misled by Food Names?

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Nitin

Dieters are so involved with trying to eat virtuously that they are more likely than non-dieters to choose unhealthy foods that are labeled as healthy, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. It seems dieter focus on food names can work to their disadvantage.

“Keeping your weight-loss goal in mind as you scan the lunch menu at a café, you are careful to avoid pasta selections and instead order from the list of salad options,” write authors Caglar Irmak (University of South Carolina), Beth Vallen (Loyola University), and Stefanie Rosen Robinson (University of South Carolina). “But before you congratulate yourself for making a virtuous selection, you might want to consider whether your choice is a salad in name only.”

These days, restaurant salads can include ingredients that dieters would be likely to avoid (meats, cheeses, breads, and pasta). Potato chips are labeled “veggie chips,” milkshakes are called “smoothies,” and sugary drinks are named “flavored water.” Why are dieters, who are supposedly more attuned to healthy foods, likely to be confused by these labels?

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