Thursday, December 29, 2011

Will the Mayans Get Us?

The year 2012 is finally here. My guess is that a certain percentage of people reading Integrative (alternative) blogs like this one may also be exposed to disparate ideas and predictions about this much-anticipated point in time. Starting with the understanding that no one can responsibly claim to know the future, I herein venture my own opinion on 2012, because our beliefs about it may greatly impact our health.

In a nutshell, I don’t believe we will see the end of the world. Doomsayers have a poor track record, even though one big asteroid or CME from the Sun and we could be toast any day. But, I so believe we will see the end of world as we know it, that is, more sustainable practices will consolidate themselves to bring us a better way of life, closer to our loved ones and the soil. Our intuitive feeling that “business as usual,” driven by whim, egotism and materialism have never been characteristic of an enlightened society has been proven correct in the last 3 years. The financial deck of cards built on those philosophies is crumbling. No change for the better comes without pain. After centuries of unsustainable practices, any adjustment is bound to trigger spasms of realignments. This is the grain of truth in the apocalyptic visions of some.

Interestingly, “Apocalypse” means “enlightenment” or “seeing clearly.” Also worth remembering is that the Chinese symbol for “catastrophe” also includes the symbol for “opportunity.” I am betting there will be more pain, in addition to what we have already seen; but, I hope we take advantage of the upheaval to become less materialistic, more self sufficient, and that we adopt a more communal and less materialistic life style. In short, I wish for all of you to turn inward to recommit to spiritual values most of us have already embraced and that we turn outward to live closer to our loved ones and friends.

Happy New Year, my friends, HR

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Don't Cry Over Hyped Milk

I know going after milk is foolish and similar to questioning a sacred cow. But, when the weight of evidence compels the New England Journal of Medicine to opine on this matter it is time to listen. Yet, the goodness of milk is so entrenched in our society that merely reading about the evidence that recommends de-throning milk from its pedestal is not going to be enough to convince the faithful. I will never forget reporters interviewing young mothers in the streets of Salt Lake City after a landmark article on milk appeared in the Journal Pediatrics. Despite the evidence that refuted the claims of the dairy industry that milk strengthens bones [1], mothers pledged their undying belief in milk; they pledged to continue giving it to their children and damn the infidels who dared attack their Holy nutrient.

So, let me get out of the way to only provide the quotes from the NEJM and other reputable journals:

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines — The Best Recipe for Health? NEJM 2011;365:1563

The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines were issued earlier this year, though they received little notice in the press. The lack of attention is troubling in a country in the throes of a nutritional crisis manifested most conspicuously in the form of an obesity epidemic that threatens to reverse recent gains in life expectancy. The guidelines' development was carefully watched by agro-industrial interests that stand to gain or lose from their implementation.

Unfortunately, several components of the new guidelines lack scientific foundation and hinder progress. The 35% limit on calories from fat, which remains embedded deep within the document, may inadvertently undermine the quality of federally funded nutrition programs…. However, [the fat-obesity] relationship has since been refuted in many well-controlled, prospective, observational studies and clinical trials that show little independent effect of dietary fat on body weight. Nevertheless, the diets of millions of Americans who participate in school-lunch and nutrition-assistance programs remain loaded with refined carbohydrates in an effort to reduce fat as a proportion of total calories, whereas the focus should be on replacing trans and saturated fats with healthier fat.

The guidelines continue to recommend three daily servings of dairy products, despite a lack of evidence that dairy intake protects against bone fractures1 and probable or possible links to prostate and ovarian cancers. In addition, the recommendation to consume large amounts of dairy products follows from IOM-inspired goals for nutrient intake that may be fundamentally flawed. For example, the calcium DRI is based on measurements of calcium intake and losses in feces and urine over periods of less than 14 days, which probably don't reflect bones' long-term calcium content.

High milk consumption has consistently not been associated with lower risk of fractures in large prospective studies, whereas increased risks of advanced or fatal prostate cancer have been observed in many studies.” Am J. Preventive Medicine 2005;29:320 & British J. Nutrition 2006;95:539

There are many other studies questioning the dairy industry’s claim that “milk does a body good.” But, it is futile to include them herein. If you are in love with milk and you believe in the “white-washed” propaganda, you will not be convinced no matter what you read.

[1] “Calcium, dairy products, and bone health in children and young adults,” J. Pediatrics 2005;115:736