What’s for Dinner?

4-course Set Dinner at Cafe Russia in Musashino City, Japan

The Menu

Salad of Cabbage and Carrot

Borscht

Beef Stroganoff

Dessert – Cake with Fresh Cheese Cream

The price of the dinner is 1,380 yen (tax included).

The Restaurant

Mediterranean-style Stuffed Eggplants

Ingredients

4 eggplants
1 onion
1 green pepper
1 chili
6-1/2 oz ground beef
6-1/2 oz feta cheese
1 clove garlic
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
cayenne pepper
olive oil

Method

  1. Halve and hollow out the eggplants and dice 3-1/2 oz of the hollowed-out eggplant flesh.
  2. Finely dice the onion and the green pepper.
  3. Finely chop the chili and garlic.
  4. Dice the feta cheese and mix with the beef and the vegetables. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
  5. Stuff the aubergines with the mixture. Place in an oiled baking dish, pour a little olive oil and bake in a preheated oven 350°F (180°C) for about 35 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Mediterranean Cuisine

Effects of Aging on the Endocrine System

John E. Morley wrote . . . . . . . . .

The endocrine system consists of a group of glands and organs that regulate and control various body functions by producing and secreting hormones. Hormones are chemical substances that affect the activity of another part of the body. In essence, hormones serve as messengers, controlling and coordinating activities throughout the body. (See also Endocrine Glands.)

Levels of most hormones decrease with aging, but some hormones remain at levels typical of those in younger adults, and some even increase. Even when hormone levels do not decline, endocrine function generally declines with age because hormone receptors become less sensitive.

Some hormones that decrease include

  • Estrogen (in women)
  • Testosterone (in men)
  • Growth hormone
  • Melatonin

In women, the decline in estrogen levels leads to menopause. In men, testosterone levels usually decrease gradually. Decreased levels of growth hormone may lead to decreased muscle mass and strength. Decreased melatonin levels may play an important role in the loss of normal sleep-wake cycles (circadian rhythms) with aging.

Hormones that usually remain unchanged or only slightly decrease include

  • Cortisol
  • Insulin
  • Thyroid hormones

Hormones that may increase include

  • Follicle-stimulating hormone
  • Luteinizing hormone
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine, in the very old
  • Parathyroid hormone

Source: Merck Manual

Opinion: Canada Diverges from U.S. on Sugar Substitutes in New Food Guide

Christy Brissette wrote . . . . . . . . .

As a Canadian dietitian who works and lives in the United States, I like to keep up with health policy in both countries. So, I was quite interested to see Health Canada, the governmental agency responsible for public health, is charting a new course when it comes to dietary advice, particularly in the area of sugar substitutes. It’s a track that sharply diverges from the U.S.

In a significant departure from the past as well as from the U.S. approach, Canada’s new food and dietary guidelines, released this year, say zerocalorie or low-calorie sugar substitutes are not necessary or helpful. “Sugar substitutes do not need to be consumed to reduce the intake of free sugars,” the guidelines say, adding that because “there are no well-established health benefits associated with the intake of sweeteners, nutritious foods and beverages that are unsweetened should be promoted instead.”

In contrast, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), issued by the U.S. Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments, suggest sugar substitutes may have a place in helping people consume fewer calories, at least in the short term, though “questions remain about their effectiveness as a long-term weight-management strategy.” The guidelines neither encourage nor discourage usage.

The differences may seem subtle, but dietary guidelines in each country are used to shape what is served at public institutions such as schools and are what many health-care professionals base their recommendations on. Language matters. But before we try to explain the difference in advice, let’s have a quick primer on sugar substitutes.

Sugar substitutes include many categories, such as high-intensity sweeteners at least 100 times as sweet as sugar. They can be “artificial,” such as aspartame and saccharin, or “natural,” such as stevia and monk fruit. They can contain a negligible number of calories or be classified as low-calorie sweeteners, such as sugar alcohols.

In much of the research and in most policy documents, sugar substitutes are often discussed as a single category rather than a heterogenous group of compounds. This makes it challenging to know whether certain types are preferable.

Most concern seems to focus on artificial sweeteners. Six are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as ingredients in foods and drinks and as table sweeteners people can add themselves. You’ll find artificial sweeteners in a range of foods and drinks, including light yogurt, diet sodas, protein bars and chewing gum, as well as baked goods and frozen desserts. Carbonated drinks are the top source of artificial sweeteners in the American diet.

Research suggests stevia and monk fruit, the natural sugar substitutes, are safe for human consumption, though it’s not clear they lead to weight loss. There has been conflicting research, however, about the safety of artificial sweeteners. Some studies have suggested artificial sweeteners could increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and cancer, and may have a negative influence on the microbiome and mental health.

For example, research based on data from 37,716 men from the Health Professional’s Follow-up study and 80,647 women from the Nurses’ Health study published in Circulation last month found consuming artificially sweetened beverages is associated with a greater risk of death as well as death from heart disease. The risk was found specifically for women consuming four or more servings of artificially sweetened beverages a day. The authors say this finding needs to be confirmed by future research, but it does raise questions about whether artificial sweeteners are necessary — or should be recommended at all. As for the U.S. contention sugar substitutes might help people cut back on calories and sugar to improve their health or lose weight — that seems doubtful. A review by the non-profit research foundation Cochrane, conducted for the World Health Organization, examined 56 studies into the effects

of sugar substitutes on health. It found there is no evidence sugar substitutes provide any benefit — and may even have some risks. An analysis of U.S. dietary intake from 2003 to 2004 shows people tend to add artificial sweeteners to their diets rather than replacing sugary foods and beverages with them.

The same seems to be true for children. This month, research published in the Pediatric Obesity journal revealed in U.S. children, drinking artificially sweetened beverages is associated with consuming more calories and sugar.

U.S. and Canadian health officials are looking at the same research and have populations with similar health issues. So, why the difference in guidelines regarding sugar substitutes?

The new Canadian approach seems to be if a food or beverage doesn’t have a demonstrated health benefit, it doesn’t belong. Their 2019 guidelines suggest people’s tastebuds will adapt to lesssweet tastes when they reduce their consumption of sweetened foods and beverages — and using high-intensity sweeteners delays that process.

This is a marked change from Canada’s last dietary guidelines, released in 2007, which advised the general population to consume sugar substitutes in moderation and to cut back on them if they noticed any digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.

The new Canadian recommendations may seem tougher, but I see them as being clearer and something for people to aspire to. The U.S. view seems to be focused on encouraging health behaviours thought to be more achievable.

Alice H. Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University and member of the 2015-2020 DGA committee, seems skeptical of an all-or-nothing approach to sugar substitutes. She expressed her stance in an editorial in Circulation, responding to the study that said consuming artificially sweetened beverages is associated with a greater risk of death. “To a certain extent, as a community, we can take the high road about beverage recommendations: drink water (or flavoured water) in place of (sugar-sweetened beverages). However, continuing this simple approach would be disingenuous because we know that it has not worked well in the past and there is little reason to expect that it will work well in the future.”

A 2018 advisory from the American Heart Association also takes a more middle-ground approach to sugar substitutes than Canada’s, stating they can play a role in helping people to reduce the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages they’re drinking. The advisory also says beverages containing low-calorie sweeteners could be especially useful for people who are used to sweetness and find water unappealing at first.

I found one hint the viewpoint in the United States might be changing. Last month, the American Diabetes Association released a nutrition consensus report that recommends water replace sugar-sweetened beverages. If sugar substitutes are used, the report says, people should receive nutrition counselling to help them avoid replacing the calories and carbohydrates with food.

The authors also note any proposed advantages to sugar substitutes haven’t been proven, and there could be potential adverse effects.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

CBD — It’s Everywhere, But Does It Work?

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

You would have to be living in a cave to have missed the CBD craze that is sweeping across America: New products are cramming store shelves as the market explodes for what many Americans believe to be a miracle cure-all.

Everything from oils to gummies to pills, creams and ointments are now for sale at supermarkets and specialty chains. You can even get massages infused with CBD, or cosmetics laced with the drug.

All of these products contain cannabidiol but not THC, the ingredient in pot that provides a “high.” But what do scientists really know about the health benefits and risks of CBD?

Precious little, experts say, and consumers should take care that they aren’t wasting their money.

“You have a flood of CBD products that are coming from hemp that are going out onto the market, and you’ve got all sorts of claims being made about those from people are trying to sell them,” said Timothy Welty, chair of the department of clinical sciences at Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in Des Moines, Iowa.

The flood of CBD products has become so overwhelming that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently stepped into the fray.

The agency has whipped out a flurry of warning letters to companies marketing CBD products, telling them to stop making unfounded health claims for the substance.

Companies have falsely claimed that CBD can stop cancer cells, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, ease nerve pain and fibromyalgia, and curb withdrawal symptoms for people undergoing substance abuse treatment, the FDA letters state.

What started the craze?

The agency will hold a public hearing on May 31 regarding CBD products and their safety, and it has formed a working group to consider new laws and regulations to govern this Wild West market.

CBD products have swamped the market not because of any new medical evidence, but because of a change in federal law, Welty noted.

Late last year, Congress passed a farm bill that lifted a decades-old ban on growing hemp. As long as the plant contains less than 0.3% THC, hemp can be grown legally anywhere in the United States by licensed farmers.

The bill specifically said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency cannot regulate hemp products like CBD, Welty said. So, it’s now up to the FDA to regulate the CBD craze.

The body contains a system of receptors that respond to the compounds in marijuana, including both THC and CBD, noted Dr. David Copenhaver, director of cancer pain management and supportive care for the University of California, Davis Health Center.

Because of this, researchers have been highly interested in the potential benefits of CBD regarding a number of different health problems.

Little evidence of medical benefits

To date, there’s only one use for CBD that has significant scientific evidence behind it — curbing the symptoms of rare forms of epilepsy.

The FDA last year approved the drug Epidiolex to treat two forms of childhood epilepsy. The medical evidence has shown that the highly purified CBD in Epidiolex can ease seizures.

For the rest of CBD’s potential uses, there is simply too little evidence to make a firm conclusion.

The next potential medical use for CBD could be for the symptoms of anxiety disorder, said Welty and Yasmin Hurd, chair of translational neuroscience and director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai.

Clinical trials suggest that CBD could help treat anxiety, but Welty feels there needs to be more study. Hurd is slightly more convinced, but agrees more study is needed.

“There is published evidence that CBD does decrease anxiety,” Hurd said. “That’s another indication where I can say I can believe the data; however, we still don’t know the dosing regimen that would be effective for anxiety. Those are studies that are ongoing.”

Other uses — as an anti-inflammatory, an aid for substance withdrawal, a sleep aid, a pain reliever — haven’t been conclusively proven.

In some cases, the evidence runs counter to what people might suspect.

There’s not much reason to believe CBD would be an effective means of pain relief, said Dr. Ajay Wasan, vice chair for pain medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“If you think of it as a medicine, it would be a weak analgesic,” Wasan said. “It’s really the THC component of medical marijuana which is the compound that gives you pain relief.”

Possibility of harm

CBD might actually make the eye disease glaucoma worse, according to a study published last December in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science.

Researchers found that CBD eye drops increased ocular pressure in mice, even as THC appeared to reduce pressure — which might explain why medical marijuana has had mixed results when it comes to studies on glaucoma treatment.

“I’ve been surprised how much CBD has taken off and exploded with very little data,” Wasan said. “Most of the other herbal supplements, there are at least some studies on it before it becomes really popular. But for this, I haven’t seen anything.”

The bottom line, researchers said, is that people who want to try CBD for one reason or another should talk with their doctor first. Welty noted that Epidiolex can be put to “off-label” use for other conditions if a doctor feels it might work.

Besides that, consumers might consider buying CBD products from a state-run program. Some states like Iowa have established such programs to make CBD available medicinally, Welty said.

“Those products are more reliable, because they have a system to monitor the purity of content,” Welty said. “You’re a little more sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for.”

Many unregulated products

Welty is much less sure of the “artisanal products” containing CBD that are available in stores and dispensaries, and for good reason — studies have shown that most of these products fail tests for content and purity.

A 2017 study concluded that nearly 7 of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the amount of cannabidiol promised on the label, according to findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Nearly 43% of the products contained too little CBD, while about 26% contained too much. Worse, about 1 in 5 CBD products contained the intoxicating pot chemical THC.

“The CBD products that come through that route, there’s essentially no control, and you as a consumer have no way to know what you’re getting,” Welty said.

Copenhaver believes other legitimate uses for CBD could be found, but it will require a more extensive knowledge of the way the human body responds to marijuana’s different compounds.

People might do best to wait until the dust settles regarding the medical evidence, rather than being caught up in the CBD craze, Hurd said.

“It’s like we do this every 30 years or so,” Hurd said. “We romanticize something, that this is going to be the cure-all for every disorder. We’ve never found that.”

Source: HealthDay


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