April News:

Storm in the Milk Cup

Toddlers and Academic Excellence

Walnuts

Tangerines and Oranges

 

 

Storm in the Milk Cup:

Recently, Maneka Gandhi, an environmentalist and Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment, of the Indian Union, has stirred a hornetís nest with her campaign against milk.Indians drink a lot of milk and love to eat sweets made of milk and yogurt.†† No wonder, religious leaders have openly come out to contradict her.  However, there is plenty of evidence against milk and milk products:

Shaper and Jones published a report comparing coronary heart disease and serum-cholesterol in native Africans living in Kampala, Uganda and migrant Asian Indians living in the same community. The first few sentences of that publication state: 'In the African population of Uganda coronary heart disease is almost non-existent. In the Asian community, on the other hand, coronary heart disease is a major problem.' Sharper & Jones, Serum Cholesterol, Diet and Coronary Heart Disease, The Lancet, I:534-537, 1959.

Davies showed that more patients who had suffered a myocardial infarction had elevated levels of antibodies against milk proteins than was found in a comparable group of patients without coronary heart disease. Davies, Antibodies and Myocardial Infarction, The Lancet, ii: 205-207, 1980.

†††††††††† A large study raises the possibility that consuming lots of milk and other dairy products may raise the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers note that a few other studies have found similar results, and together they suggest a need for more rigorous examination of calcium's effects on health.June M. Chan, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health presented the results Tuesday in San Francisco at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.The researchers found that men who consumed at least 2 and a half servings of dairy food daily were about 30 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than were those who averaged less than half a serving a day. Earlier research from the same team found an even stronger link. That work, called the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, found that men who consumed high amounts of dairy products had a 70 percent increased risk of prostate cancer. Those who also took calcium supplements had about a threefold increase.

Avoiding all animal-based food including dairy products and eggs - known as a vegan diet - may reduce blood levels of an amino acid linked with heart disease, according to a report.In a study, researchers found that in just one week, blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine dropped by 13% in people who tried the strict vegetarian diet. High blood levels of homocysteine have been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.The diet was also low-fat, deriving no more than 20% of calories from fat, and the study subjects took part in moderate exercise, stress management and avoided tobacco, alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated beverages. The 40 study subjects also participated in "spirituality enhancement sessions," the Dr. David J. DeRose and colleagues from the Lifestyle Center of America in Sulphur, Oklahoma, report in the journal Preventive Medicine 2000;30:225-233. The findings suggest - but do not prove - that a vegan diet may help reduce heart risk factors, said study co-author Joshua Muscat in an interview with Reuters Health."It indicates that a vegan diet may be helpful in lowering homocysteine levels, which is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, but it's not a controlled clinical trial in any sense," said Muscat, a research scientist at the American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York .

Premenopausal women may be able to dramatically lower their cholesterol levels by eating a low-fat, vegetarian diet, new research suggests. In just 2 months of restricting their intake of fat to 10% of their total caloric intake and avoiding animal products, 35 young women reduced their LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels by nearly 17% and total cholesterol by 13%, according to the recent study by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Their report is published in the April 15th issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.Based on these findings, everyone should consider reducing their consumption of fat and avoid animal products, advised Dr. Donna Hurlock, one of the authors of the study. "The bottom line is humans were designed a lot like gorillas and gorillas are vegetarians," she told Reuters Health.The low-fat diet was also found to reduce menstrual cramps in premenopausal women, a factor that motivated many of them, Hurlock noted.The 6-month study was based on a low-fat, vegetarian diet consisting of grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits, but absolutely no animal products - the only source of dietary cholesterol.

If you want to avoid milk, you need to get your calcium from other sources. Include some calcium-rich foods in a balanced diet: 35 peanuts (15 milligrams) 24 almonds (74 milligrams) 1/3 cup raisins (25 milligrams) 5 dried figs (135 milligrams) 1 peach (4 milligrams) 1 navel orange (52 milligrams) 1/2 cup cooked green cabbage/ cooked Chinese cabbage (12 milligramsmg/79 milligrams) - and if you aren't getting enough, consider adding a daily calcium supplement!

 

Toddlers

Not only balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits helps prevent cancers, but also helps improve test scores!Toddlers fed a wide variety of foods may have a long-term academic edge over children fed more restricted diets. Eating a varied diet at age two "really did have a strong effect on children's performance on tests ó both achievement and cognitive tests" at age 11, said researcher Michelle Mendez, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in an interview with Reuters. She presented the findings at the Experimental Biology 2000 conference held in San Diego last week."There are strong effects of certain micronutrients on brain development," Mendez explained, and insufficient levels of these micronutrients during infancy or the preschool years can have "direct effects on brain growth."She found a "quite substantial" gap between the academic and intellectual performance of 11-year-old children fed high-energy, high-variety diets as toddlers, and children fed low-energy, low-variety diets. Children who grew up on restricted diets (usually fish, rice and corn) had academic scores well below the average, Mendez explained, while youngsters provided with a higher variety of foods (including more fruits and vegetables) scored slightly above average.

 

Walnuts

The traditional Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and olive oil, but steers clear of too many meats and dairy products, is known to lower levels of harmful cholesterol.Now researchers in Spain report in the Annals of Internal Medicine 2000; 132:538-546, that incorporating walnuts into this diet can lower cholesterol even more.†† Walnuts, which are rich in polyunsaturated fats, have been shown to reduce levels of harmful LDL cholesterol, but previous research was conducted in healthy young men who did not have high cholesterol. In the current study, Dr. Daniel Zambon, of the Hospital Clinic Provincial in Barcelona, compared the cholesterol-lowering effects of two diets, a normal Mediterranean diet and a modified version in which walnuts were partially substituted for olive oil and other fatty foods. The diet included eight to 11 walnuts a day, which composed about 18% of total calories and 35% of fat calories. Forty-nine men and women with high LDL cholesterol levels completed the study, sticking to each diet for six weeks."Our investigation adds further weight to the accumulating evidence that regular intake of nuts has a cholesterol-lowering effect," the authors write.If substituting walnuts for some of the fats in the Mediterranean diet, which contains fewer saturated animal fats than the typical western diet, lowers LDL cholesterol levels, replacing some fats in the western diet with walnuts might provide even greater benefits, the researchers conclude.

 

Tangerines and Oranges

Naturally occurring substances in tangerine and orange juices, called flavonoids, appear to inhibit proliferation of human prostate, lung, melanoma and colon cancer cells grown in the laboratory.The most active of the 22 flavonoids studied was tangeretin from tangerine juice, said Dr. Najla Guthrie, biochemist and president of KGK Synergize, Inc., a for-profit medical research and development firm in London, Ontario, Canada.Tangeretin showed activity against all cell lines, and was the single most effective substance against prostate, melanoma and colon cell proliferation."The juices inhibited tumor incidence by more than 50%, but constituent flavonoids really had no effect" in the animals, Guthrie said at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.Taken together, these observations may suggest that flavonoids are most potent when acting in concert, or in the presence of vitamin C or other compounds, owing to some synergistic effect, Guthrie told Reuters Health.

An orange a day could keep the gallbladder doctor away. A new study of 13,130 men and women suggests that women who don't get enough vitamin C may be prone to gallbladder disease.Though the study doesn't say vitamin C can prevent gallbladder disease, it "supports that hypothesis," said Dr. Joel Simon, the lead author and an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California-San Francisco.

 

Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, April 26, 2000

 

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