In the News
June 17, 2007
Foie gras could be tasty way to get Alzheimer's
FOIE GRAS, enjoyed as a luxury since ancient Egyptian times, may be linked to the onset of diseases including Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, researchers have suggested.
The scientists who carried out the study say those with a family history of such illnesses should consider avoiding foie gras.
The possible risk comes from "amyloid" proteins found in the delicacy, which is made from the swollen livers of force-fed geese and ducks. The proteins have been linked to the onset of all these conditions.
In their study, the researchers found mice fed on foie gras started growing amyloid proteins in various organs. They observed a similar result when extract of foie gras was injected into the rodents' bloodstream.
"It may be hazardous for individuals who are prone to develop other types of amyloid-related disorders such as Alzheimer's or type 2 diabetes to consume such products," said Alan Solomon, an expert in amyloid diseases at the University of Tennessee medical school, who led the research.
Foie gras has long been controversial because of the way food is forced down the birds' throats.
In Britain it fetches premium prices with Fortnum and Mason offering a 310g goose liver - enough to make starters for four or five people - for 60 pounds.
But one department store chain, House of Fraser, recently announced it would stop stocking foie gras.
Amyloid disease occurs when proteins that would normally be soluble undergo a change in shape.
This makes them form insoluble clumps in organs that damages the way they work. Such abnormal behaviour by proteins seems to play a role in many diseases, including BSE, Alzheimer's, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
March 27, 2007
Beef diet 'damages sons' sperm'
Growth promoters are banned in EuropeRead more...
Scientists have produced evidence to suggest that Europe was right to ban the beef industry from using growth promoters to increase yield.
A US study has linked use of the chemicals to damage to human sperm.
The University of Rochester found men whose mothers ate a lot of beef during pregnancy had lower sperm counts.
The Human Reproduction study found they were three times more likely to have a sperm count so low they could be classified as sub-fertile.
The use of growth promoting chemicals was banned in Europe in 1988.
But although the US banned the use of some growth promoters in 1979, others, such as the sex hormones testosterone and progesterone, are still in use in the beef industry.
February 13, 2007
Look to the Japanese for Tips on Longevity and Health
"Thanks to the relatively healthier Japanese diet and lifestyle, Japanese women and men live longer and healthier than everyone else on Earth," Moriyama tells WebMD. Not only can they expect to live 86 and 79 years respectively (compared to 80 and 75 years for Americans), but they can also anticipate an average of 75 years lived healthy and disability-free, the World Health Organization reports. On top of that, Japanese people enjoy the No. 1 lowest obesity rate in the developed world -- 3% -- versus 11% for the French and 32% for Americans, according to the International Obesity TaskForce. "You might think it's all in our genes," Moriyama says. "But when Japanese people adopt a Western-style diet, they put on weight quickly."
Small portions. In Japan, food is served on separate small plates and bowls instead of on one big plate. Diners take turns having little tastes of everything, Moriyama says. Serving smaller portions may be one of the best secrets for eating healthfully and losing weight. Research shows that when we're served more, we tend to eat it -- whether we planned to and were hungry for it or not.
A rice foundation. The Japanese diet includes huge amounts of rice -- six times more per person than the average American's diet, Moriyama tells WebMD. A small bowl is served with almost every meal, including breakfast. A low-fat, complex carbohydrate, rice helps fill you up on fewer calories, leaving less room in your belly for fattening foods like packaged cookies and pastries, which can contain heart-damaging trans fats. For extra health benefits, serve rice the Japanese way, cooked and eaten with no butter or oil.
Veggie delight. " Japan is kind of a vegetable-crazed nation," Moriyama says. When Japanese women were asked which home-cooked meals they most loved to prepare for their families, "mixed vegetables simmered in seasoned broth" received the highest ranking. Red bell peppers, green beans, zucchini, eggplant, onions, burdock, tomatoes, green peppers, lettuce, carrots, spinach, bamboo shoots, beets, lotus root, turnips, daikon (or giant white radish), shiitake mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and seaweed (or sea vegetables), such as kombu, nori, and wakame all have a place in the Japanese diet.
As many as four or five different varieties are served in a single meal -- and no one thinks it odd to have vegetable soup or a salad for breakfast. Veggies are served simmered in seasoned broth, stir-fried in a small bit of canola oil, or lightly steamed -- all methods that maintain a maximum amount of nutrients.
A good catch. Fish, especially fatty fish -- like Japanese favorites salmon and fresh tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring -- are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their heart-health and mood-boosting benefits, Moriyama tells WebMD. And though Japan accounts for only 2% of the world's population, its people eat 10% of the world's fish. The flipside of Japan's fish craze means the Japanese eat less red meat, which contains artery-clogging saturated fat that, if eaten to excess, can lead to obesity and heart disease.
Soy good. When consumed in moderation, natural soy products like tofu and edamame beans are a great protein alternative to red meat because they have little or no saturated fat, says Moriyama. Japanese meals often include more than one soy-based dish, like miso soup (miso is fermented soy beans) and chunks of tofu.
Japanese cooking methods here.
<<< Older stories ---
Newer stories >>>
PCRM Fact Sheets
VVF Fact Sheets (in PDF format)
Why Plant Iron is Best
Boning Up on Calcium
Message in a Bottle (article on milk)
Joel Fuhrman, MD
John McDougall, MD
Michael A. Klaper, MD
Neal D. Barnard, MD