Video: How Your Sandwich Changed The World

What if you could go back in time and follow your food from the farm to your plate? What if you could see each step of your meal’s journey — every ingredient that went into its creation, and every footprint it left behind?

Back in February, The Salt reported on English researchers who did just that: They rigorously investigated the origin of a single loaf of bread, from wheat field to supermarket. Their report is full of incredible detail. How big a field would you need to grow enough wheat for a loaf of bread? Seven square feet. How much fertilizer? About a third of a cup. How much greenhouse gas is released in the creation of a loaf? The equivalent of 1.7 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Now, NPR’s science YouTube channel Skunk Bear has tackled a BLT in the same way. The latest video walks through the myriad steps involved in creating this simple sandwich, drawing on research into the production of bacon, the lettuce, the tomato and the mayonnaise. Scientists have estimated the carbon footprint for each ingredient.

The video is a reminder that every product we buy or consume has traveled a long way before it enters our lives. By understanding those journeys, and the impact each step has on carbon emissions, we can figure out how to change our own impact on the world.

Watch video at You Tube (3:05 minutes) . . . . .

Dairy: Is It Good or Bad for You?

Hannah Nichols wrote

Dairy is a controversial and confusing food group. Health organizations promote dairy as vital for improved bone health, yet other experts disagree and hail dairy as detrimental to health. Who is correct? Is dairy good or bad for your health? We examine the facts.

What do government health guidelines say? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food MyPlate guidelines, to get all the nutrients you need from your diet, healthy food and beverage choices should be made from all five food groups, including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy.

The dairy food group consists of all fluid milk products and many foods that are made from milk. The USDA recommend that food choices from the dairy group should retain their calcium content and be low-fat or fat-free. Fat in milk, yogurt, and cheese that is not low-fat or fat-free will count toward your limit of calories from saturated fats.

While calcium-fortified soymilk is included as part of the dairy group, food products such as butter, cream, sour cream, and cream cheese are not included due to their low calcium content.

Daily dairy recommendations depend on your age. Children 2-3 years old require two cups of dairy per day, 4-8 year-olds need 2.5 cups per day, and three cups per day are recommended for age 9 and upward.

For people who do not consume dairy products, the USDA mention the following foods to contribute toward calcium intake: kale leaves, calcium-fortified juices, breads, cereals, rice or almond milk, canned fish, soybeans, other soy foods, such as tofu, soy yogurt, and tempeh, and some leafy greens including collard and turnip greens, kale, and bok choy.

They point out that the amount of calcium that is absorbed from these foods varies.

MyPlate vs. Healthy Eating Plate

The USDA developed the MyPlate nutrition guide in 2011 as a replacement for their MyPyramid that was used for 19 years.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health state that while the USDA MyPlate has been revised to reflect some key findings in nutritional scientific research, it does not offer a complete picture of basic nutrition advice.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health created the Healthy Eating Plate to address the deficiencies they identified in the USDA’s MyPlate.

One major alteration to the Healthy Eating Plate compared with MyPlate is the replacement of the dairy glass with a glass of water. The Healthy Eating Plate recommends drinking water, tea, or coffee and limiting dairy to one to two servings per day, since they say that high intakes are associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer.

MyPlate recommends dairy with every meal to protect against osteoporosis. However, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health report that there is little to no evidence to support this statement and considerable evidence that too high an intake of dairy can be harmful.

Nutrients in milk

Milk is a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.

The USDA report that dairy products are the primary source of calcium in the American diet. They also say that calcium helps to build bones and teeth, maintain bone mass, improve bone health, decrease the risk of osteoporosis and, what is more, diets that have an intake of three cups of dairy products per day can improve bone mass.

Furthermore, they note that dairy intake is particularly important to bone health during childhood and adolescence – a time when bone mass is being built.

Potassium in milk may help with maintaining blood pressure. Vitamin D helps the body maintain the correct calcium and phosphorous levels, which, in turn, contributes to building and maintaining bones. Dairy intake is also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and lower blood pressure.

The USDA highlight that it is important to choose low-fat or fat-free foods from the dairy group because foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol have adverse health implications. They say that diets high in saturated fats raise “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. High LDL cholesterol increases the risk for coronary heart disease. Whole milk and many dairy products are high in saturated fat.

To help keep blood cholesterol levels healthy, the USDA recommend limiting the intake of foods high in saturated fat.

In summary, government guidelines say that milk is rich in nutrients. Calcium-rich low-fat or fat-free dairy products are essential for bone health, heart health, and type 2 diabetes, but full-fat dairy increases the risk for coronary heart disease. All sounds simple enough. So where does the controversy come in?

Is eating dairy ‘natural’?

It is often argued that dairy products should not be consumed since it is not “natural” to do so.

Cow’s milk is designed to provide all the protein, micronutrients, and fatty acids that calves need to grow in the same way that breast milk is designed to nurture human babies.

Not only are humans the only species that consumes milk as adults, but we are also the only species that drinks milk from other animals. Humans are not calves, and they have no need to grow, so why drink milk? Quite a convincing argument.

Dairy does not appear to be essential for humans from an evolutionary perspective and was not consumed until after the agricultural revolution. However, in some parts of the world, dairy has been consumed for thousands of years, and research has shown that genes have altered in humans to accommodate dairy consumption.

While consuming dairy may not have once been natural for humans, the evidence that shows that we have genetically adapted to eat dairy indicates that it may now be natural for us to eat and drink it.

Lactose intolerance

Another argument against dairy consumption is that around 75 percent of the world’s population and about 25 percent of the people in the U.S. lose their ability to produce digestive lactase enzymes sometime after weaning.

Lactase enzymes are present in infants and young children to help them break down and digest lactose – a sugar present in milk. A lack of lactase enzymes means that lactose cannot be split into glucose and galactose for absorption into the bloodstream, which results in lactose intolerance.

After eating lactose-containing dairy products, people who are lactose intolerant experience abdominal bloating, pain, nausea, flatulence, and diarrhea. Some lactose intolerant individuals can eat fermented dairy, such as yogurt, or high-fat, dairy like butter.

Most people of Northern European ancestry can digest lactose with no problems whatsoever.

Full-fat dairy and cardiovascular disease

The USDA guidelines and conventional wisdom dictate that full-fat dairy increases the risk of heart disease due to its high saturated fat content.

The theory behind this idea is that saturated fat raises levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, LDL cholesterol then lodges in the arteries, which causes atherosclerosis and eventually, heart disease. However, despite it being a dietary recommendation, this theory has never been proven and has been debunked in recent years.

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and a meta-analysis published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no link between dietary saturated fat and an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.

A study that used data from the Nurses’ Health Study – a long-term epidemiological study in the U.S. examining risk factors for major chronic disease in women – found that high intake of dairy fat is connected with a greater risk of coronary heart disease.

However, other studies have shown that full-fat dairy may protect against heart disease and stroke.

For example, research examining 10 studies that included full-fat dairy consumption showed that drinking milk might be associated with “a small but worthwhile reduction in heart disease and stroke risk.”

In grass-fed cows, full-fat dairy has been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. One study indicated that people who consumed the most full-fat dairy had a 69 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death than individuals who consumed the least.

Research examining the role of dairy in heart disease is conflicting. However, heart disease risk seems to be significantly lower when consuming full-fat dairy in countries with grass-fed cows.

Does dairy benefit bone health?

Most health organization guidelines recommend an intake of two to three servings of dairy every day to ensure adequate calcium for bone health.

Some experts disagree with these guidelines because countries with higher dairy consumption have higher rates of osteoporosis than countries with lower intakes of dairy. However, it has to be noted that dairy consumption is not the only difference between these countries and does not conclude that dairy causes osteoporosis.

Two observational studies are often cited in the argument against consuming milk for bone health. The first study suggests that consumption of dairy products – particularly at the age of 20 years – is associated with a greater risk of hip fracture in old age. The second study found no evidence that intake of milk or calcium protects against hip or forearm fractures.

However, numerous studies support the benefits of dairy consumption for bone health. Research indicates that consuming dairy increases bone density and may prevent age-related bone loss and osteoporosis.

Randomized controlled trials are considered to be more reliable than observational studies and have shown in every age group that dairy improves bone health.

Dairy and calcium consumption leads to increased bone growth in children, decreases bone loss in adults, and improves bone density and lowers fracture risk in seniors.

Other than calcium, dairy provides other nutrients that are beneficial to bone health, such as protein and phosphorous, and Vitamin K-2 in full-fat dairy from grass-fed cows. Vitamin K-2 is a fat-soluble vitamin and is not present in low-fat and fat-free varieties of dairy products. Vitamin K-2 helps to regulate calcium metabolism, is vital for bone health, and may prevent heart disease.

Other conditions associated with dairy

Dairy has been linked to the development and prevention of many conditions and appears to cause and cure various diseases simultaneously. We check out the evidence behind these claims.

Obesity

Dairy products, and full-fat dairy products in particular, might be avoided due to concerns that these foods are fattening and may lead to obesity.

However, a study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition determined that children who drink whole milk are leaner and have higher levels of vitamin D than those who drink the low-fat or skimmed varieties.

Type 2 diabetes

While flavored milk should be avoided with diabetes, there is no reason that people with diabetes should not consume dairy products.

In fact, research by Dr. Ulrika Ericson, of the Lund University Diabetes Center in Malmö, Sweden, and colleagues found that people who consumed the highest amounts of high-fat dairy products had a 23 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than individuals who consumed the least amount of dairy per day.

Harvard University found that teenagers who drink milk are 43 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes as adults compared with non-milk drinkers.

Prostate cancer

Some studies have found that a high dairy intake is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. One study reported that having higher intake of dairy increased the risk of prostate cancer by 32 percent. This greater risk may be linked to calcium levels.

In contrast, a study published in the British Journal of Cancer does not support the theory that high calcium intake increases the risk of prostate cancer.

Parkinson’s disease

Katherine C. Hughes, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and collaborators have found an association between consuming at least three servings of low-fat dairy a day and risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

“The results provide evidence of a modest increased risk of Parkinson’s with greater consumption of low-fat dairy products. Such dairy products, which are widely consumed, could potentially be a modifiable risk factor for the disease,” said Hughes.

The study authors stress that the findings do not mean that dairy products cause Parkinson’s disease, they just show a link between the two.

Depression

Opting for low-fat dairy rather than full-fat dairy reduces the risk of depression, according to Prof. Ryoichi Nagatomi, of Tohoku University in Japan, and team.

Adults who consumed low-fat milk and yogurt between one and four times per week were less likely to experience depression symptoms than those who reported no dairy consumption.

Brain health

People with higher intakes of dairy products have been shown to score significantly higher on memory and brain function tests than individuals who drink little or no milk.

The A2 type of beta-casein protein contained in cow’s milk is suggested to increase the body’s defenses against neurodegenerative diseases, pancreatitis, and cancer by raising an essential antioxidant in the body.

The jury is out on whether dairy is good or bad for you; the arguments for and against are ongoing, and the health effects vary between individuals. However, for the most part, evidence shows that dairy consumption has many benefits.

Source: Medical News Today

Soup with Chicken, Vegetables, Quina and Flaxseed Oil

Ingredients

6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 bone-in, skinless organic chicken breast
6 radishes, halved
2 carrots, cut into thin rounds
1 leek, well washed and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup sugar snap peas, halved
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp flaxseed oil

Method

  1. Add all ingredients except peas, dill, lemon juice, and oil to large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, until chicken and quinoa are cooked through.
  2. Remove chicken from pot and shred. Discard bone and divide meat among 4 serving bowls.
  3. Stir remaining ingredients into pot and cook for about 3 minutes.
  4. Ladle broth, vegetables, and quinoa over chicken. Top with additional dill, if desired. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Alive magazine

The Tick that Makes People Allergic to Red Meat with One Bite Seems to be Spreading

The Lone Star tick, in the middle here between a deer tick and a dog tick, is the one that can spread the meat allergy.

Kevin Loria wrote . . . . . . .

With most food allergies, it only takes 15 or 20 minutes after being exposed before severe reactions occur. A bite of shrimp or lobster and before long, a person’s throat starts to close and parts of their body begin to swell. It’s scary and potentially life-threatening, but they can usually seek immediate treatment and pinpoint the food that caused the problem.

The allergy to mammalian meat like beef, pork, and lamb that’s spread by a bite from a lone star tick is different.

“The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions,” said Dr. Ronald Saff, an allergist in Tallahassee, Florida, and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Florida State University College of Medicine.

The symptoms are often severe. Hives and shortness of breath are common, and a dangerous anaphylactic reaction is possible, but these reactions seem to appear out of the blue — often the night after a burger or a steak. “They’re sleeping and they have no idea what they could be allergic to because the symptoms occurred so many hours after going to bed,” Saff said.

The ticks are spreading to new locations, where they’re making people allergic to even a single bite of meat. But since this allergy is still relatively new and not well known, especially outside the Southeast, it’s hard to say exactly how common it is so far.

It’s new enough that states aren’t required to report it to the CDC yet, but Saff says he’s now seeing a couple of patients every week who have been bitten by ticks and developed this allergy, known as an alpha-galactose or alpha-gal allergy.

One single bite

The tick that spreads this allergy is called the lone star tick, named for the white splotch on the back of adult females. It’s a species that bites humans at all stages of life and can be “quite aggressive,” according to the CDC. Even larvae bite humans, something no other American tick does. The tick also feeds on and may catch a ride on cats and dogs.

The lone star tick is most common in the Southeast, where Saff practices, but in recent years it has spread up the East Coast and into the Midwest, with large numbers being reported all the way up in Maine. Within the last year, outbreaks of alpha-gal allergy have occurred in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and out on the tip of Long Island.

Up to this point, much about the lone star tick and alpha-gal is a mystery. We know something in the tick bite causes changes in people that make them sensitive to a sugar compound (alpha-galactose) that exists in meat from mammals. Some people develop more sensitivity than others and a few can tolerate small amounts of meat, but some become so allergic that they can’t even consume meat products like dairy milk. No one knows for sure whether the allergy goes away with time or not. That may be the case, but scientists do think additional tick bites and meat consumption might both worsen the condition.

The distribution, range, and abundance of lone star ticks are all on the rise. And warmer summers could make that situation even worse.

“We expect with warming temperatures, the tick is going to slowly make its way northwards and westward and cause more problems than they’re already causing,” Saff said.

Source: Business Insider

Study Hints at Link Between Some Statins, Parkinson’s Risk

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . .

People on cholesterol-lowering statins may have a slightly increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers said the finding doesn’t prove statins are to blame. But, they added, the findings undercut the notion that statins might help protect against Parkinson’s.

Where does that idea come from? Past research has shown that people with high cholesterol tend to have a lower risk of Parkinson’s, explained Dr. Xuemei Huang, a professor of neurology at Penn State College of Medicine.

Since many of those people are treated with statins, that led to speculation that the drugs — rather than high cholesterol itself — might be protective.

But so far, studies have come to mixed conclusions, according to Huang. Some have tied statins to a lower Parkinson’s risk, while others have found either no connection or an increased risk.

Enter the new study. Using medical records from over 4,600 U.S. adults — with and without Parkinson’s — Huang’s team found that statin users had a higher risk of being diagnosed with the neurological disease.

When the researchers dug deeper, they found that certain statins — those that are fat-soluble, rather than water-soluble — were tied to Parkinson’s risk.

That’s notable, according to Huang, because only fat-soluble statins can cross from the blood into the brain. Fat-soluble statins include drugs such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol) and simvastatin (Zocor).

“This doesn’t mean that statins are causing Parkinson’s,” Huang noted.

She stressed that people who are taking the drugs to cut their risk of heart attack and stroke should not stop.

But, Huang said, the findings raise an important question: Could some statins hasten the progression of someone who is in the early, symptom-free stages of Parkinson’s?

The study uncovered hints that could be the case, according to Huang. People on statins faced an increased risk of a Parkinson’s diagnosis within 2.5 years of starting the drugs, but those odds dipped thereafter.

A neurologist who was not involved in the study said the connection between statins and Parkinson’s has been controversial.

“We can’t really make any conclusions,” said Dr. Olga Waln, who specializes in treating movement disorders at Houston Methodist, in Texas.

“I would not encourage anyone to stop taking a statin that they’re using to prevent cardiovascular disease,” Waln said. “I also wouldn’t encourage anyone to use a statin to help prevent Parkinson’s.”

Parkinson’s is a movement disorder that affects nearly 1 million people in the United States alone, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.

The root cause is unclear, but as the disease progresses, the brain loses cells that produce dopamine — a chemical that regulates movement. As a result, people suffer symptoms such as tremors, stiff limbs, and balance and coordination problems that gradually worsen over time.

High cholesterol has been tied to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s, but no one yet knows why, Huang said.

The current findings are based on records from a large health insurance claims database. Huang’s team focused on more than 2,300 patients recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s; they compared each with a patient the same age and gender who didn’t have the disorder.

Overall, the study found, there was a connection between past statin use and a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Specifically, people who’d used a fat-soluble statin had 58 percent higher odds, versus people who’d never used a statin.

There was no statistical link between Parkinson’s and water-soluble statins, which include pravastatin (Pravachol) and rosuvastatin (Crestor).

Waln said the findings on fat-soluble statins are “very interesting,” since the drugs can cross the blood-brain barrier.

“This warrants further investigation,” she said.

What’s needed, according to Waln, are “prospective” studies — which follow a group of people over time, rather than reviewing medical records.

Huang said she could only speculate as to how statins might hasten Parkinson’s progression — if that is, in fact, the case. But she noted that statins may lower not only cholesterol, but also a compound called coenzyme Q10. This compound produces energy for cells, and there is evidence it may help protect nerve cells.

For now, Huang said, “Heart disease and stroke prevention are the priority.”

So, people at increased risk of those common, potentially deadly diseases should stick with their statins, she said.

However, Huang added, people who worry about Parkinson’s because of a family history might want to ask their doctor some questions.

“Let’s say your mom and grandmother had Parkinson’s, but you don’t have a family history of heart attack or stroke,” Huang said. “You might ask more questions about the benefits and risks of taking a statin.”

The findings were published in June issue of the journal Movement Disorders.

Source: HealthyDay


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