Nutrition and Lifestyle

Talk about mixed messages. Vitamin B9, (aka, folic acid or folate) has been atop the "Bipolar News Nielsens" for the past two weeks. And it's all because of a silly scare about formaldehyde. I'll explain this later, but first, take a look at these headlines!

There are SO many stories about avocados (let's call this phenomenon "Avogadro's Number of Avocados")  because they are rich in folic acid, which is either good for you, bad for you, or neither, depending on what you read. Good luck sorting this out.

  1. Women with the faulty ‘Angelina Jolie’ breast cancer gene should cut back on trendy avocado breakfasts to lower their risk. (Daily Mail) (8/17)

This...

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Harvard’s outreach into complementary medicine recently announced a partnership where “three researchers associated with the Harvard Osher Center will each summarize a top recent publication from the burgeoning mind-body literature and provide commentary on why they chose to shine a light on it. Harvard is not alone in this effort. Just Tuesday Wolters Kluver announced “Ovid Insights, a current awareness service,” citing the exponentially expanding...

There's an old saying that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" and that skipping breakfast can be a cause of obesity. But research has failed to support either meme, as we've pointed out before. However, there apparently are some people for whom breakfast can be nutritionally important, according to recent work. Who? Kids.

Dr. Janine D. Coulthard from King's College, London, and colleagues used data from the...

Researchers have been working for years to find a means of treating peanut allergy with various degrees of success, as we wrote about here. Unlike allergy to milk and some other foods, peanut allergy doesn't usually disappear on its own as a child grows up. Peanut allergy represents a real risk to life if an allergic individual eats even traces of the allergen and goes into anaphylactic shock. Thus parents of such children face the task of not only eliminating all traces of peanuts from their homes, but also figuring out how to have their child be safe when at school or visitng others' homes.

But hope is on the horizon, as Australian researchers have followed up on their earlier...

Supposedly, you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Hard to know if that became a meme based on experience, or based on a lack of interest in learning new tricks. In either case, it’s probably been applied to older people without much justification. And some researchers set out to show that it isn’t applicable — at least concerning mobility in older folks.

Led by Dr. Jennifer S. Brach from the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a group of investigators tested the efficacy of timing and coordination exercises for improving walking in older, community-dwelling adults. These people lived in independent living facilities, or senior apartment buildings, or attended senior community centers. Their testing protocol focused on walking exercises designed to improve the...

Plant Based News [1], published an article entitled Impossible Foods CEO speaks Out Over Animal Testing Row: ‘It was an agonizing decision.’ Here is the first breathlessly sentence, “Impossible Foods boss Pat Brown has addressed the controversy of his company testing a product on animals - calling the move a difficult choice between 'the greater good and ideological purity.' [emphasis mine] It is time to unpack the statement.

We have before us an ethical dilemma. Impossible Burgers sells an entirely plant-based burger that differentiates itself by compounding it in a way that “it bleeds” so that the red juices we might...

Many American women (say 50 percent) report craving chocolate around the onset of menstruation. But that doesn't seem to be true for women in other countries. So, although cravings have been seen as biological urges, the question arises as to why the biology differs in different countries/cultures. Or does it?

Drs Julia M. Hormes and Martha A. Niemiec from the State University of New York at Albany investigated this question by having a diverse group of undergraduate women respond to a series of questionnaires about the frequency of their cravings for chocolate, and their level of acculturation.(1) The women were American (101), second generation American (93), or foreign-born (81). Those identified as "American" were born in the U.S. and English was their native language....

Whenever I hear the term "clean food" the image that springs to mind is of a raccoon supposedly "washing" its food before consuming it.  Next comes a litany of possible food contaminants, and means of reducing their presence on our consumables. But just as "organic" has taken on a meaning far from that used by chemists, "clean food" has little to do with either definition. What's come to be called 'orthorexia' is a preoccupation with food quality as defined as much by what it doesn't contain as with what it does. Although the experts have not agreed that orthorexia should be considered a separate type of eating disorder (as distinct from anorexia or...

Vitamin B3 is smack in the middle of the news because of a study showing that it may help prevent birth defects and miscarriages (See Julianna LeMieux's companion piece "Study Finds Vitamin B3 Prevents Birth Defects And Miscarriages"). Since there are certain aspects of B3 that are confusing, this is probably a good time for a primer about the vitamin:  

  • It has multiple names, which are similar and confusing
  • A bottle of vitamin B3 may consist of one of two closely-related chemicals. But only one of them is really B3
  • B3 is essential in all living cells 
  • Sometimes it's a vitamin and sometimes it's a drug (and a lousy one at that)...

We're so used to hearing advice about decreasing our sodium (and therefore salt) consumption that advice to do the opposite sounds like something the Onion might publish. But no, this is real advice, published in Gulf News. And the scientist who is giving this advice is Dr. James J. DiNicolantonio, a researcher at  Saint Luke’s MidAmerica Heart Institute, Kansas City, Missouri.

For years, Dr. DiNicolantonio has been questioning the advice made by numerous governmental and medical groups that we should all decrease our intake of sodium. For example, the American Heart...