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Misinterpreting Research to Reassure the Public – an Object Lesson

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
October 7, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Natural Health, Nutrition, Uncategorized

A new study published in the journal Toxicological Sciences looked at the concentrations of a toxin called bisphenol A (BPA) in the blood and urine after a single-day moderate dietary exposure. The authors found that people eating three meals per day from cans lined with BPA had large spikes in their urinary output of the chemical, but that very little BPA was found in the blood stream.

An industry group quickly released a statement suggesting that this article was definitive evidence of the safety of BPA exposure from cans. It is in fact no such thing.

First of all, the study provides definitive proof that BPA from cans leads to spikes in urinary output, a finding that would be impossible if it were not absorbed. Second, this study included no measures of safety, only measuring some of the ways BPA travels through the body (a study called pharmacokinetics).

…read more of Misinterpreting Research to Reassure the Public – an Object Lesson here

 
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America’s Potassium Problem

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
September 9, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Natural Health, Nutrition

America’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is truly a masterpiece of nutritional science.

Once a decade, NHANES publishes a comprehensive guide to what Americans eat, broken down by age, gender, race, and geographical location. This data helps guide public policy and research agendas over the upcoming decade.

The newest NHANES data, gathered from 2003 to 2006, are just starting to seep out into the research world, and if you are an advocate for food-as-medicine, the results aren’t pretty. …read more of America’s Potassium Problem here

 
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Poor Food Safety Practices: Do They Put School Children At Risk?

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
August 9, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Nutrition

Do you think you are making a healthy choice by preparing your child’s lunch ahead of time, and sending it with them to school? Think again, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

It turns out that over 90% of the lunches tested reached temperatures that would potentially foster the growth of bacteria responsible for food-borne illness. And since the temperatures were measured an hour and a half before lunch, foods were potentially sitting at these temperatures for a long time.

Do you think that cold pack you included in the lunch will prevent this issue? Wrong again. …read more of Poor Food Safety Practices: Do They Put School Children At Risk? here

 
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If They Won’t Believe the Scientists, Maybe They’ll Believe the Actresses

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
August 1, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention

Actress Amanda Peet is in the news this week promoting the Every Child By Two vaccination campaign. In this news article, she talks about a scary experience she had last year when her daughter contracted pertussis (whooping cough), a serious disease that has been making a comeback as vaccination rates drop.

This is not the first time Ms. Peet has been in the news for her pro-vaccine statements. In 2008, she stirred up a hornets nest of anti-vaccine sentiment when she referred to parents who don’t vaccinate their children as “parasites.” Ironic, then, that two years later her daughter (who was too young to have completed the vaccine schedule) contracted the condition that is the center of the firestorm.

My intention here is not to rehash the evidence in favor of vaccinations. It has been done more thoroughly and snarkily than I could manage to do it on such a tight deadline. Rather, my concern is about what has happened to our trust for science in this country. …read more of If They Won’t Believe the Scientists, Maybe They’ll Believe the Actresses here

 
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Want to Make a Difference? Here’s Your Chance!

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
May 3, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Nutrition, Sustainable Food

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Yesterday, a working group comprised of representatives from four federal agencies released a call for commentary on a proposed new set of limitations on food advertising aimed at children aged 2 to 17. The group included representatives from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This new guideline asks that foods marketed on to children meet two standards. The first is that foods should contain more than 50% by weight of one or more of the food groups (meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable). This may not sound like much – why only 50%? – but it will eliminate a number of pretty nutrient-free snacks and beverages.

The second standard establishes upper limits for content of saturated fats, trans fats, sodium, and added sugars in foods marketed toward children. These guidelines would make it difficult for most any fast food establishment, for instance, to meet without making some pretty significant recipe changes. …read more of Want to Make a Difference? Here’s Your Chance! here

 
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Children: New Evidence for the Toxicity of Organophosphate Pesticides on their Development

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
April 28, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Health Concerns, Natural Health, Nutrition

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The presses are hot this month at the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, (a free and peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)..or at least their servers are. Three new articles were released related to the use of organophosphate (OP) pesticides and how they impact children’s neurological and cognitive development.

This class of pesticides has a long list of problems associated with its use, and that list continues to grow. It now includes a lower IQ, a poorer memory, and learning difficulties, as well as specific deficits, e.g. impaired perceptual reasoning.

I’ll get to what these studies found below… But I should also mention that this is not the first study to document significant harm from these substances. …read more of Children: New Evidence for the Toxicity of Organophosphate Pesticides on their Development here

 
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Is There an Optimal Window for Solid Food Introduction to Infants?

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
March 22, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Food Allergies, Health Concerns, Nutrition

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Having a daughter who just turned 2, I’m still fascinated by anything related to children’s health and well-being. Although we’re well past the “food introduction” process, a very interesting study was just published in the journal Pediatrics that caught my attention. Let me frame the topic a bit:

The optimal time to introduce solid foods (i.e. something other than breastmilk or formula) into an infant’s diet is still a matter of debate.  On the one hand, solid foods are necessary at some point to provide key nutrients that may be hard to get sufficient amounts of otherwise, such as iron and zinc. But introducing foods too early may have its own drawbacks – an undeveloped gastrointestinal system and kidneys may be not be ready for solid foods, increasing the risk for chronic disease, such as type 1 diabetes, obesity, eczema, celiac disease, as well as diarrhea.

Food allergies are important here too – earlier introduction of foods (but not too early) might help the immune system recognize certain foods as safe, rather than mounting an immune response against them. So the evidence suggests that there may be an optimal window, sort of a “not-too-hot, and not-too-cold” time to introduce solids.

But this issue is complicated a bit by 2 factors – 1 is the actual timing of the introduction of solid foods, but the other is the duration of breastfeeding. For example, babies that are breastfed longer clearly have more benefits. But these same babies tend to have solid foods introduced later – so it’s dificult to determine if the benefits are due to longer breastfeeding, or if they’re due to a later introduction of solid foods…

So what did the new study add to the current thinking? …read more of Is There an Optimal Window for Solid Food Introduction to Infants? here

 
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Treating and preventing the common cold with zinc

By Joseph Katzinger ecomii.com
February 18, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Supplements

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As I write this blog, my entire family is getting over a cold, so in between coughs and sneezes I’m paying close attention to any research that might help speed up the process. As luck would have it, the Cochrane Collaboration (an international independent network which reviews health-care related issues) has just released their latest review of over 15 randomized trials of zinc for both the prevention and treatment of the common cold.

While it may seem like a minor inconvenience, the authors of the review point out that the common cold costs the US economy at least $20 billion for cold-related work loss, as well as billions more for doctors’ visits and symptomatic treatments. It also can lead to more serious complications, such as ear, sinus, and lower respiratory tract infections. Before I dive into their conclusions, I think it’s important to note that Cochrane reviews are usually fairly conservative, often concluding that it is difficult to confirm or deny benefit for the treatment in question. Also, no single treatment has found wide acceptance as a proven treatment for the common cold (despite a plethora of cold remedies on the market), so a positive finding is really quite a big deal.

What was the conclusion of this review?  …read more of Treating and preventing the common cold with zinc here

 
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Do Foods Trigger ADHD?

By Matt Brignall ecomii.com
February 16, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Food Allergies, Health Concerns, Natural Health, Nutrition

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A new study published this month in the Lancet asked a question that has troubled parents and doctors for many years – do foods trigger the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? The way the researchers went about trying to answer the question, however, leaves us almost as confused as we were before.

In this research trial, 100 children in the Netherlands were scored on measures of hyperactivity, impulse control, and other measures of ADHD. After this, half of them were placed on a restricted elimination diet for a period of five weeks, while the other half received instruction on healthy eating with no food restrictions. At the end of this five week period, the children on the elimination protocol were scored to see if their symptoms got better.

According to the scoring used, 64% of the children derived benefit from the elimination diet. These children who appeared to benefit then underwent blood tests looking for antibody markers of allergy to over 200 particular foods. Then, the researchers tracked symptoms as foods with high or low levels of allergic antibodies were reintroduced into the diet. …read more of Do Foods Trigger ADHD? here

 
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