Nutritional Medicine News

Posted 10/31/2007

Each week I read well over 100 medical articles, summaries, and abstracts of studies sifted from the thousands that are published. Most have nothing to do with nutritional medicine, but there are always a few. Here are some recent highlights:

Childhood asthma is reaching epidemic proportions. In certain school districts, up to 10% of children carry inhalers. All allergies–not only asthma, but hay fever, eczema, and hives–are on the rise. One newly published study showed that when pregnant women ate an apple a day and fish once a week throughout pregnancy, their children had a dramatically reduced rate for developing asthma and allergies. Once a week on the fish, mercury-wise, is okay (mercury is awful for the fetal brain), but I wouldn’t exceed that. Instead I recommend a mercury-free fish oil supplement, like Ortho-Omega, two capsules daily.

Adult onset (Type 2) diabetes is also on the rise, especially among Hispanics. After age 50, it’s estimated to affect up to one third of the population. Tracking 9,702 men and 15,365 women, two dietary interventions dramatically reduced the chances of developing diabetes. Adding cereal fiber (by eating whole-grain foods or, to keep it simple, 1½ cups of Kellogg’s All-Bran with skim milk every morning) reduced diabetes by 33%. Adding magnesium (easiest with a nutritional supplement like Magnesium glycinate) reduced diabetes by 23%. These steps are especially important if diabetes runs in your family.

Yet another study confirmed that Vitamin D and calcium reduce breast cancer risk, especially among premenopausal women. Investigators tracked 30,000 women in a long-term health study and found higher intakes of calcium and D afforded measurable protection from breast cancer. You can get both from good nutritional supplements (here’s our vitamin D product and our calcium), but remember, fat free yogurt and skim milk are great food sources for calcium, and the very best source of vitamin D is made by your own body when you expose your skin to sunlight. Women living in northern latitudes, however, are not able to get enough and should take 2000 IU of vitamin D every day.

Obesity is always in the news. I mentioned in an earlier health tip that a species of intestinal bacteria called firmicutes had been linked to obesity and that people with high amounts of firmicutes seemed to absorb more food and hold onto it. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine commented on the epidemic-like features of obesity and its spread via social ties–friends, families, cultures. Whether this is a purely cultural phenomenon or a bacterial infection is not known.

Regarding the last item, I finally located a laboratory whose complete stool analysis also includes a percentage reading of the firmicutes level in the intestines. This test could be worthwhile for a person who is chronically overweight. If your firmicutes levels are high, you can then start a detoxification and replenishment of healthy intestinal bacteria.

WholeHealth Chicago patients can call my nurse Lizz for a Metametrix Comprehensive Stool Analysis kit. No appointment with me is needed until the results are back.

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