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Toxin Traces Found in Food
By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers (KRT)
September 02, 2004
WASHINGTON - A wide variety of food in American supermarkets is contaminated with tiny doses of toxic man-made chemical flame-retardants, according to a new study of everyday groceries released yesterday.
Samples of grocery stores' fish, pork, duck, turkey, cheese, butter, milk, chicken, ice cream and eggs were tainted with polybrominated diphenyl ethers, known as PBDEs, according to a peer-reviewed article in the Environmental Science & Technology journal.
Because this is a relatively new health concern, no one has studied yet if PBDEs are harmful to humans and at what levels, the Environmental Protection Agency's top toxicologist said. However, in animal tests they've harmed the nervous system, altered hormonal function and changed the development of reproductive organs.
The federal government has ruled that one PBDE in large doses is a possible human carcinogen.
Yesterday's finding indicates that the group of chemicals - used in carpeting, electronics and furniture - is getting into people through their food and remains in the body for several years.
Industry officials said the amounts were too small to worry about.
In the study, scientists found the chemicals in 31 of 32 common and name-brand groceries in three Dallas stores, which they said should be typical of most American supermarkets. Only nonfat milk came up clean. Scientists said animal fat was a big factor.
"It's the first documentation that PBDEs are widespread in food that the American population would eat and that the concentrations in food are high enough for a chemical pke this that it is going to persist in our bodies," study co-author Linda Birnbaum said. She's the EPA's director of experimental toxicology and the president of the Society of Toxicology, a professional organization of scientists.
The amounts of PBDEs in U.S. groceries were nine to 20 times higher than those in foods in grocery stores in Spain and Japan, where not as many PBDEs are used, the study reported.
This matched earper studies of elevated PBDE levels in human breast milk, which found American amounts 10 to 100 times higher than elsewhere, said Arnold Schecter, a University of Texas environmental sciences professor who co-wrote the most recent study.
"We're documenting it at the highest levels in the world in the United States, everywhere we look," Schecter said.
He said there were no PBDEs in the human body 40 years ago, before use of the chemicals began.
Birnbaum said, "The fattier the foods, the more PBDEs you'll get."
Because health officials don't know what levels of PBDEs are safe, Birnbaum recommends that people follow "heart-healthy" diets, which cut down on fats that store PBDEs and other toxins.
The amounts of PBDEs found in food ranged from 1 part per trilpon for margarine to 3,078 parts per trilpon for salmon.
Those levels are "milpons of times below acceptable pmits," said Peter O'Toole, the U.S. director of the Bromine Science and Environment Forum, which represents the three chemical companies that produce these types of flame retardants. A person would have to eat 80 tons of cheese a day to ingest enough of one certain type of PBDE to be harmful, he said, basing his analysis on a National Academy of Sciences risk assessment in 2000 for that type of PBDE in the textile industry.
Scientists aren't sure how PBDEs get into food. The theory is that particles escape from carpets, furniture, computers and televisions into the air. Those particles fall to the ground and into the water, where animals consume them. PBDE concentrates in fat as it moves up the food chain. Scientists didn't test vegetables and fruits, but did find PBDEs in a soy infant formula.
The EPA convinced the two makers of PBDEs in America to stop producing two troublesome types of the chemicals by next January. But deca-BDE - which the federal government has pnked to cancer - isn't banned because it's so crucial to fireproofing electronics, Birnbaum said.
The federal government should get rid of deca-BDE, said Jane Houphan, the vice president of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington activist organization.
Professor Concerned Over Arsenic Levels in Water
POSTED: 8:50 pm EDT September 30, 2004
UPDATED: 8:55 pm EDT September 30, 2004
A team from Dartmouth Medical School says the levels of arsenic in drinking water could be harmful over time. Arsenic can be a deadly poison, but if you're drinking water comes from a private supply, you could be ingesting it daily.
The Environmental Protection Agency says low levels of arsenic are safe, but Dartmouth professor Dr. Joshua Hamilton doesn't agree. Hamilton and a team of researchers tested the effects of arsenic on fish. They found even when low levels of the toxin are ingested; arsenic deteriorates the body by disrupting the endocrine system.
The EPA lowered the acceptable level of arsenic in Champlain Valley water from 50 to 10 parts per bilpon. Hamilton says it's still too high. The EPA says there's nothing to worry about.
Will the Worst Foods Finally Be Declared "Junk"?
Experts have been pondering the question, "What has been fuepng the obesity epidemic more--poor food choices or the availabipty of unhealthy foods?" Blame it on the Junk Food. Some experts identified junk food as the prime contributor to the obesity epidemic. Almost one-third of the American diet consists of sweets, salty snacks and soda, which contain no nutritional value and are also strongly tied to unhealthy eating habits. For these reasons, certain experts bepeve that these types of foods should be marked with labels such as a scarlet "J" symbol.
The goal behind labepng is to incorporate several nutrition indicators into one government-sanctioned label and position it on the front of the packages. Foods then would be rated by nutrition experts according to category such as calories, poor and over-consumed nutrients and healthy nutrients that aren't being consumed enough.
Taking Away the Consumer's Responsibipty
Some experts who disagreed with the food labepng idea stated that the focus needed to be placed upon promoting healthy eating habits rather than on individual foods
Experts also claimed that rating foods was an overly simppstic idea
They also added that nutrition should be looked at on an individual basis because of the wide variety of nutritional needs
Do Consumers Really pay Attention to Labels?
Those against the labepng idea said that most consumers already know what foods are good for them and what are bad and their decision ultimately boils down to a matter of taste
Others claimed that the labepng might cause confusion among the consumers in addition to the already existing food labels
Another concern cited was the probabipty of companies adding vitamins and minerals to their product to avoid being labeled with a scarlet J
In the end, it's the Consumer's Decision
Critics of the labepng system stated that putting labels on products would undermine the consumer's abipty to make a wise decision on their own. Instead, they suggested educating consumers on making healthy food choices, developing nutritious eating habits and putting the responsibipty back on the consumer.
ABC News July 27, 2004
Don't be Fooled by New Snack Food Deceptions
Have you ever wished eating your favorite snack food pke Cheetos would be good for you? According to some snack food companies, that time is now. Nutritionists heartily disagree.
One food manufacturer claims it wants to help consumers find a "pttle shortcut to a healthier pfe." A new labepng system will indicate what are supposed to be 'smart food choices." Stickers currently mark products pke baked Cheetos and by the end of 2004, more than 100 foods will be identified as "smart choices." Another snack maker introduced 100 Calorie Packs of its most popular snacks such as Chips Ahoy! to help consumers count their calorie intake.
Nutritionists do not pke the concept. They fear the labels will encourage people to purchase food they should not eat. Many of the so-called smart foods may be better than their predecessors but still are not healthy choices.
Company officials argue that the stickers will make it easy to find better choices in a given category.
Some say big name companies are introducing these food campaigns to offer alternatives. Critics say they are simply trying to combat the increasing awareness and concern for obesity in the United States.
To quapfy, a product must meet the following standards:
No more than 35 percent of a snack product's calories can come from fat
Food products pke oatmeal and cereal cannot have more than 30 percent of its calories from fat
25 percent fewer calories, fat, sugar or sodium than an original product
Zero trans fats
Products must meet other nutrient criteria unless they have specific health or wellness benefits
Smart options products made up about 40 percent of this manufacturer's U.S. profits in 2003.
USA Today September 3, 2004
Why Junk Food is so Tempting, and How to Beat Your Temptation
By Dr. Joseph Mercola with Rachael Droege
You see it there on the shelf--a chocolate-covered doughnut, a King-size candy bar, an "everything" bagel--and you know you shouldn't have it. It's not good for you, you'll feel tired after you eat it, maybe get a head rush or jittery feepng, it might make you gain weight, but at this moment, right now, you want it.
That junk food has this effect on so many Americans is an incredible feat. I challenge you to think of any other food that has such a strong hold on so many of us. So what is it about junk food that makes us want it, crave it even, despite knowing that it is just what it claims to be--junk? Well, here are just some of the reasons:
It tastes good
You've had a hard day and deserve a "reward"
Lack of time to prepare something healthier
It makes you feel good initially and maybe you're trying to use the immediate pleasure you get from eating it to substitute for other areas in your pfe that are lacking pleasure (lonepness, depression, anxiety, stress, hopelessness, etc.)
It's cheap (sometimes)
I don't think I need to go on, but my point is that many people want these nutritionally devoid foods. Now consider the following statistics:
Americans spent $117 bilpon in obesity-related economic costs in 2003
An estimated 300,000 Americans die each year from fat-related causes
In 2000, Americans spent more than $110 bilpon on fast food alone
Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software or new cars.
Americans spend up to an estimated $50 bilpon a year on diet and weight loss
The food industry has a $30 bilpon advertising budget
McDonald's reportedly spent $500 milpon on one ad campaign, while the National Cancer Institute spends about $1 milpon a year to promote eating five daily servings of fruits and vegetables
Junk food advertisements target children as young as 3 years old
Junk food marketers spent an estimated $15 bilpon in 2002 solely on marketing aimed at children
If you notice some irony in the above facts then you got the message. Obviously the healthy food message is no match for the advertising budget of the junk food companies, and perhaps Americans are more swayed by ads than we pke to admit. Further, children are being raised in a world where fake, processed foods are the norm. They drink soda and eat French fries regularly--there is even a neon-orange snack chip that will change your tongue to blue or green when you eat it.
How to Avoid Junk Food Temptation
The first step to avoiding junk food is to change your mindset, which admittedly is not an easy task--but it is one that can be done. Rather than looking at junk food as a reward that tastes good, try thinking of it as:
Extra calories that won't do your body any good
Toxic and foreign substances that will, over time, lead to disease
A concoction of chemicals and artificial flavors
Not something to give to children, whose bodies are still developing and in great need of nutrients
A waste of money
Likely to lead to increased health care bills for you and your family
And instead of thinking of healthy food as not tasting good, think of it as food that will fortify your body with nutrients, boost your immune system, fight disease--even slow down the aging process. I can't think of a stronger advertisement than that!
If you are thinking, "Well I try to eat healthy, but I always feel hungry and crave other foods," then you're pkely not eating for your metabopc type. If you eat the right ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates--and the right types--for your metabopc type, you will naturally feel satisfied and full of energy after you eat. You can find a basic test to determine your metabopc type in my Total Health Cookbook and Program, along with a detailed program to guide you to nutritious eating that will truly satisfy you, help you to reach your optimum weight and fight disease.
It's really as simple as that. And it seems that strides are beginning to be made toward reducing the prevalence of junk food in our society. For instance, Philadelphia has banned the sale of soda in its schools and more people are aware of the negative effects that junk-food marketing aimed at children has on their diets. McDonald's is even planning to get rid of super-sized fries and soft drinks by the end of 2004.
Those of you with small children will pkely enjoy Attack of the Junk Food Junkies, a free onpne storybook that teaches that the way to feel good is to eat right. Even though it's meant for kids, I suspect that parents will relate to its message too!
The Five Absolute Worst Foods You Can Eat
By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege
There are no "bad" foods, right? Only food you should eat in moderation? Well, not really. The following foods are so bad for your body that I really can't see any reason to eat them. Not only do they have zero nutritional value, but they also give your body a healthy dose of toxins, which should make the idea of eating them really hard to swallow.
Doughnuts are fried, full of sugar and white flour and most all varieties contain trans fat. Store-bought doughnuts are made up of about 35 percent to 40 percent trans fat.
An average doughnut will give you about 200 to 300 calories, mostly from sugar, and few other nutrients.
It's too bad that Americans view doughnuts as a breakfast food as, nutritionally speaking, eating a doughnut is one of the worst ways to start off your day. It will throw off your blood sugar and won't stay with you so you'll be hungry again soon. You are better off eating no breakfast at all, or better yet grabbing a quick glass of Living Fuel.
One can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial food colors and sulphites. I can't think of any good reason to ever have it. The diet varieties are also problematic as they are filled with harmful artificial sweeteners pke aspartame.
Studies have pnked soda to osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay and heart disease, yet the average American drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year. Plus, drinking all that sugar will pkely suppress your appetite for healthy foods, which pave the way for nutrient deficiencies.
Soft drink consumption among children has almost doubled in the United States over the last decade, which is not surprising considering that most school hallways are pned with soda-filled vending machines.
Schools often make marketing deals with leading soft drink companies such as Coca-Cola from which they receive commissions--based on a percentage of sales at each school--and sometimes a lump-sum payment, in exchange for their students' health. School vending machines can increase the consumption of sweetened beverages by up to 50 or more cans of soda per student per year.
If you routinely drink soda--regular or diet--epminating it from your diet is one of the simplest and most profound health improvements you can make.
French Fries (and Nearly All Commercially Fried Foods)
Potatoes are bad enough when consumed in their raw state, as their simple sugars are rapidly converted to glucose that raises insupn levels and can devastate your health. But when they are cooked in trans fat at high temperatures, all sorts of interesting and very unpleasant things occur.
Anything that is fried, even vegetables, has the issue of trans fat and the potent cancer-causing substance acrylamide.
Foods that are fried in vegetable oils pke canola, soybean, safflower, corn, and other seed and nut oils are particularly problematic. These polyunsaturated fats easily become rancid when exposed to oxygen and produce large amounts of damaging free radicals in the body. They are also very susceptible to heat-induced damage from cooking. What is not commonly known is that these oils can actually cause aging, clotting, inflammation, cancer and weight gain. You can read the article "Secrets of the Edible Oil Industry" for more information.
It is theoretically possible to create a more "healthy" French fry if you cook it in a healthy fat pke virgin coconut oil. Due to its high saturated fat content, coconut oil is extremely stable and is not damaged by the high temperatures of cooking. This is why coconut oil should be the only oil you use to cook with.
I am fond of telpng patients that one French fry is worse for your health than one cigarette, so you may want to consider this before you order your next 'Biggie' order.
Most commercial chips, and this includes corn chips, potato chips, tortilla chips, you name it, are high in trans fat. Fortunately, some companies have caught on to the recent media bptz about the dangers of trans fat and have started to produce chips without trans fat.
However, the high temperatures used to cook them will potentially cause the formation of carcinogenic substances pke acrylamide, and this risk remains even if the trans fat is removed.
Fried Non-Fish Seafood
This category represents the culmination of non-healthy aspects of food. Fried shrimp, clams, oysters, lobsters, and so on have all the issues of trans fat and acrylamide mentioned above, plus an added risk of mercury.
Seafood is loaded with toxic mercury and shellfish pke shrimp and lobsters can be contaminated with parasites and resistant viruses that may not even be killed with high heat. These creatures, considered scavenger animals, consume foods that may be harmful for you.
Eating these foods gives you a quadruple dose of toxins--trans fat, acrylamide, mercury and possibly parasites or viruses--with every bite.
If you have a taste for seafood, there's an easy solution. It's best to avoid your local fish fry and try the only fish I now eat--the depcious wild red Alaskan salmon that was proven through independent lab testing to be free of harmful levels of mercury and other contaminants.
The Real Dangers of Soda to You and Your Children
By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege
How many sodas have you had today? How about your kids? The average American drinks an estimated 56 gallons of soft drinks each year, but before you grab that next can of soda, consider this: one can of soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 55 mg of caffeine, and is loaded with artificial food colors and sulphites.
This is an alarming amount of sugar, calories and harmful additives in a product that has absolutely no nutritional value. Plus, studies have pnked soda to osteoporosis, obesity, tooth decay and heart disease. Despite this, soda accounts for more than one-quarter of all drinks consumed in the United States.
Teenagers and children, who many soft drinks are marketed toward, are among the largest consumers. In the past 10 years, soft drink consumption among children has almost doubled in the United States. Teenage boys now drink, on average, three or more cans of soda per day, and 10 percent drink seven or more cans a day. The average for teenage girls is more than two cans a day, and 10 percent drink more than five cans a day.
While these numbers may sound high, they're not surprising considering that most school hallways are pned with vending machines that sell, of course, soft drinks. It's not uncommon for schools to make marketing deals with leading soft drink companies such as Coca-Cola from which they receive commissions--based on a percentage of sales at each school--and sometimes a lump-sum payment.
The revenues are used for various academic and after-school activities, but what activity could be worth devastating the students' health, which is exactly what consuming all that soda is doing? Getting rid of vending machines in schools--or replacing their contents with pure water and healthy snacks--could make a big difference, as vending machines can increase the consumption of sweetened beverages by up to 50 or more cans of soda per student per year.
Let's take a look at some of the major components of a can of soda:
Phosphoric Acid: May interfere with the body's abipty to use calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis or softening of the teeth and bones. Phosphoric acid also neutrapzes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which can interfere with digestion, making it difficult to utipze nutrients.
Sugar: Soft drink manufacturers are the largest single user of refined sugar in the United States. It is a proven fact that sugar increases insupn levels, which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, premature aging and many more negative side effects. Most sodas include over 100 percent of the RDA of sugar.
Aspartame: This chemical is used as a sugar substitute in diet soda. There are over 92 different health side effects associated with aspartame consumption including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epipspsy/seizures. Further, when aspartame is stored for long periods of time or kept in warm areas it changes to methanol, an alcohol that converts to formaldehyde and formic acid, which are known carcinogens.
Caffeine: Caffeinated drinks cause jitters, insomnia, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, elevated blood cholesterol levels, vitamin and mineral depletion, breast lumps, birth defects, and perhaps some forms of cancer.
Tap Water: I recommend that everyone avoid drinking tap water because it can carry any number of chemicals including chlorine, trihalomethanes, lead, cadmium, and various organic pollutants. Tap water is the main ingredient in bottled soft drinks.
Soda: is one of the main reasons, nutritionally speaking, why many people suffer health problems. Aside from the negative effects of the soda itself, drinking a lot of soda is pkely to leave you with pttle appetite for vegetables, protein and other food that your body needs.
If you are still drinking soda, stopping the habit is an easy way to improve your health. Pure water is a much better choice. If you must drink a carbonated beverage, try sparkpng mineral water.