Monthly Archives: March 2015

Recommendations from the US Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee

Every 5 years, the federal government publishes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. You may wonder why the guidelines need to be updated every 5 years. The answer is that nutrition science is an evolving field, and as a result, recommendations change over time.

The process for publishing new guidelines starts with a scientific advisory committee that pores over the latest research in human health and nutrition. The committee analyzes this information and then publishes its recommendations. Before these recommendations are  adopted, there is a public comment period, during which individuals, but mostly lobbies and corporations try to influence the final recommendations. This period lasts about one year and, finally, the Dietary Guidelines for America are published.

Last week, 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee published its Scientific Report and it is now open to public comments. The recommendations are actually very good:

1. Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts.

2. Eat less red and processed meat. This is the first time a clear message to reduce red meat consumption has been heard. Will it be muffled by the time the actual guidelines are published?

3. Limit consumption of alcohol, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, and refined grains.

4. Eat more plant based foods and eat less animal based foods. It’s good for you AND the environment. This is the first time that the impact of food processing on the planet has been tackled in this forum.

5. Population health must become a national priority, in part by taking bold actions to change the food environment in America:

“individuals and organizations, private business, and communities work together to achieve a population-wide “culture of health” in which healthy lifestyle choices are easy, accessible, affordable, and normative.”

Some of the bold strategies that the committee is open to exploring include taxing sugary soft drinks, limiting junk food marketing to kids, and incentivizing SNAP (food stamps) receipients to purchase healthy foods.

6. Limit saturated fat. Despite many books and celebrities promoting the opposite, the most current scientific evidence (“strong and consistent”) still points to reduction of saturated fats and their replacement with unsaturated fats as a sound strategy to reduce heart disease. Total fat reduction does not decrease risk of disease. Replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates does increase the risk of disease.

7. Added sugars in the diet must be drastically reduced. The committee recommends added sugars stay below 10 percent of caloric intake. In a 2000 calorie diet, this works out to 200 calories, the equivalent of 50 grams of sugar, or 12 teaspoons of added sugar per day. One can of soda and you’re done!

8. Aspartame at the level consumed by the US public appears to be safe for most people but may cause cancer in some. The committee recommends additional research.

9. The committee is concerned about the growing consumption of highly caffeinated drinks by young people, which can lead to caffeine toxicity and cardiovascular events. The recommendation is to limited or no consumption.

10. Dietary cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern. For years, the recommendation was to limit intake of dietary cholesterol to no more than 300mg a day. A single egg has almost 200mg.

Lessons from the Lunchroom

What Do We Know About School Lunch and Kids’ Diet?

This is a guest post by Lindsey Haynes-Maslow.

This week was the release of my first co-authored report at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Lessons from the Lunchroom: Childhood Obesity, School Lunch, and the Way to a Healthier Future details the extent of America’s childhood obesity crisis and how school meals play a role in influencing diet.

Currently, 30% of children are overweight or obese, and while obesity rates have plateaued for some races and ethnicities, they continue to rise for others. Children with obesity are as much as 10 times more likely to become obese adults. This is especially worrisome since obesity is linked to dangerous, costly diseases including type II diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Research shows that the U.S. spends over $200 billion annually for obesity-related illnesses, and taxpayers foot some of the bill through public insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

But the costs of obesity are also borne by real people and families who suffer from the condition and related illnesses. Our analysis of national health data reveals that overweight and obese young adults (ages 18-25) with unhealthy diets already have medical costs one-third higher than those with healthy diets. The situation only worsens with time, as adults across all ages with unhealthy diets have medical costs 90% higher than those with healthy diets. If we do nothing, obesity-related medical costs are estimated to exceed $515 billion by 2030.

Overweight and obesity are linked with poor eating habits, and eating habits start when children are young. UCS looked at the impact of school lunch on children’s diets and health. The National School Lunch Program, which was created in the 1940s in response to the malnourishment of U.S. children, is supported by taxpayer dollars. It also includes funding for free- and reduced-price (FRP) lunches for low-income children. In 2010, a bipartisan Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act—which brought nutrition standards for schools into accord with federal dietary guidelines. This meant more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on kids’ plates. Congress is set to reauthorize this legislation during 2015, and our report recommends specific steps they should take to set kids on a healthier path.

To help inform Congress about the impact of school lunch, we used national data following the same group of kids from 5th until 8th grade. We looked at students who participated in the FRP lunch program and found that participating kids ate more fruits and vegetables than kids not in the program. Fifth grade FRP-meal participants ate 3 more servings of fruits and vegetables per week than non-participants. As FRP-meal participants aged, they continued to eat more fruits and vegetables than non-participants. However, FRP-meal participants also ate fast food and drank sugary drinks more often—and were more likely to be obese—than kids not in the program.

Based on our research on the free and reduced-price school lunch program, the bottom line is that the school lunch program is doing a good job—but it needs to do much more to overcome other unhealthy influences in kids’ lives. Therefore, we recommend that Congress:

Protect the gains made in 2010. Now is not the time to back down on nutrition standards—with the obesity crisis, we need more time to evaluate the gains made in 2010.
Prioritize fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are critically under-consumed by children. More can and should be done to reverse this trend.
Increase the federal reimbursement rate for healthy school meals. Less-healthy processed foods are often cheaper than whole-food ingredients. Schools need more flexibility to buy the healthiest foods possible.
Finance school cafeteria kitchen equipment. Outdated kitchen equipment creates barriers for cafeteria staff trying to prepare healthy meals. Schools need funding to help modernize their kitchens.

Improving nutrition education. Schools can complement efforts to provide children with healthier food by giving them the information they need to make healthier choices.
Increase funding for the Farm to School Grant Program. This program supports educational initiatives related to food production and nutrition. Given the overwhelming popularity and demonstrated success, schools should have increased funding for farm-to-school activities.

Not allow politics to trump science. Nutrition experts are the best sources for setting nutritional standards in schools. Use these experts for guidance on these standards.
What You Can Do: School lunch is an effective tool for increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, but school lunch alone is not strong enough to counteract unhealthy influences in kid’s lives and prevent obesity. I hope the report’s recommendations will serve as a foundation for renewed legislation that better sets kids up for a healthier future. And you can help. Send a letter to your members of Congress today!

Full article…    More on Children’s Health…

How Can Schools Get Kids to Eat Their Vegetables?

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Have them exercise first! (Do I hear “Duh!”?)

A survey of thousands of elementary-school kids came up with a simple way to get kids to eat their fruits and vegetables, one that doesn’t require any costly changes to the menu or even any extra education to teach kids the value of produce. Turns out, all the kids needed was a bit of exercise.

The National School Lunch Program, which provides free or low-cost meals to more than 100,000 public and non-profit schools across the country, has had a difficult time getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables. The program actually requires kids to pick out a fruit and a vegetable at lunchtime, thinking that if the fruits and veggies are on the tray, there’s a greater chance they’ll get eaten. But that’s no guarantee.

Researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a survey of elementary school and middle school kids, from first to sixth grade, getting a total of over 22,000 observations. They were trying to test a hypothesis based on observations from school staff. Most schools place lunch right before recess, giving the kids a chance to work off what they just ate. But in order to get to recess, the kids tend to rush through lunch, only eating what they want, and often throwing the good stuff (the healthy stuff) in the garbage. So what if we simply…switched the order of lunch and recess?

The researchers found what strikes us as a ridiculous increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten by kids at schools that placed recess first. Without the rush to get outside, and with the benefit of some extra appetite thanks to exercise, the kids demolished everything on their plates. These kids ate 54% more fruits and vegetables than before, and they saw a whopping 45% increase in the number of kids who ate at least one serving of produce.

The researchers recommend that every single school make the switch, and though this study only looked at kids of a certain age in one town in Utah, the results certainly seem promising enough to convince schools to try it. What’s the worst that could happen, after all?

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Child’s Diet Determines Heart Health In Adulthood

childs-heart-healthHow To Feed A Young Heart

In my blog this past week, we have been focused on children’s health – specifically how to get more veggies into our kids. So it’s timely that the results of a major study of almost 9,000 children have hit the headlines this week.

Children need to maintain a healthy diet to protect their adult heart. The way each child’s heart develops goes a long way to determining their health for the rest of their life. New research, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, outlines the American Heart Association’s new findings on the long-lasting health effects of a child’s diet.

“Our findings indicate that, in general, children start with pretty good blood pressure,” the study’s lead author Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, a professor and chair of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said in a press release. “But if they have a horrible diet, it will drive a worsening body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol levels. The better we can equip our children to make healthy choices, the more cardiovascular health will be preserved into adulthood. And those who preserve their heart health into middle age live much longer and are much healthier while they live.”

Researchers found most of us start out with a heart fit for a lifetime of activity, but it is in childhood that a heart’s health makes a turning point that will affect the person throughout adulthood. The team studied 8,961 children they examined between the ages of 2 to 11, looking at body mass index, diet, total cholesterol, and blood pressure, which represents four out of the seven components that determine one’s heart health. 

Baby boy preparing healthy food isolatedIn terms of their diet, less than 1% ate an “ideal, healthy diet”; fewer than 10 percent ate the recommended amount of fruit and vegetable, fish, and whole grains each day, while 90 percent of them ate more sodium and 50 percent ate more calories from sugar-sweetened beverages than recommended by the AHA. About 40 percent of children had moderate to poor cholesterol levels, and 30 percent of the children were obese or overweight (which isn’t far off from the general American children population).

We know from other studies that children as young as 12 years old show the beginning stages of hardening of the arteries.

“We really need better surveillance data, especially in children,” Lloyd-Jones said. “Information on physical activity, blood glucose, and smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke are not available for younger children. Without knowing how much physical activity a child is doing, and therefore how many calories are needed, we can’t scale the diet metrics to a child’s needs. So we used the adult metrics, but understand that it would be difficult for a 5-year-old to take in as many fruits and vegetables as an adult. The bottom line is that we need even better data, but what we do see is that we are losing an awful lot of our intrinsic cardiovascular health very early in life, which sets us up to be unhealthy adults.”

Experts recommend we eat 7-13 servings for fruit and vegetables daily. Did you know that the 13 is recommended for an active (not athletic) young male, and the 7 is for a 4 year old girl? So, children NEED to eat plenty of produce for health, especially to set them up for  life-long heart health.

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Juice Plus+ (in capsule and chewable forms) is proven to Bridge the Gap – what could be more important or valuable for the children in your life? We even offer Juice Plus+ FREE for children and students (even full time college students) through our Children’s Health Study.

More on Children’s Health… 

When the Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts…

Why Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Still Beat Dietary Supplements, by Julie Chen, MD

natural-vs-synthetic-700x402Much of the marketing that is used to sell dietary supplements comes from the logic that if something has a favorable effect on your health, then it’s base components must be the reason behind it all. Say for eample, scientists and doctors notice that green and yellow vegetables help decrease your risk of cancer. And it just so happens that these same green and yellow vegetables also have high levels of beta-carotene. Does this mean that beta-carotene is the magic ingredient responsible for lowering your risk of cancer?

Not necessarily.

Going back to our green and yellow veggie example. Yes, it’s true that there has been a noticeable inverse relationship between the consumption of vegetables high in beta-carotene and cancer. But studies focused on just beta-carotene supplements have been conflicted, with some concluding that the supplements had either no effect or a negative effect. So then what is it about these mysterious fruits and vegetables?

Whole Foods vs. Supplements

When you take a supplement, you’re basically taking a purified form of an element, such as iron, vitamin D, or calcium. When you eat an apple or an onion, however, you’re also ingesting thousands of phytochemicals (antioxidants are a form of phytochemical). Phytochemicals are bioactive non-nutrient plant compounds. It’s estimated that more than 5,000 have been identified, but a large percentage still remain unknown to us. More and more evidence is surfacing in support of their effect on reducing cancer.

In a 1992, an epidemiological review of around 200 studies that examined the link between fruit and vegetable intake and cancers of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, esophagus, oral cavity, stomach, bladder, pancreas, and ovary was conducted. Block et al found that out of 156 dietary studies, 128 showed that the consumption of fruit and vegetables had a significant protective effect. In addition, the risk of cancer for most cancer sites were twice as high in individuals with low intake of fruit and vegetables compared with those with high intake.

Manufacturing An Apple

Now you might be asking, why don’t the pharmaceutical companies just manufacture a pill that contains these phytochemicals? They would if it were that simple. First off, phytochemicals come in all sizes, shapes, polarity, and solubility, which may in return affect the bioavailability and distribution to all the different cells, organs, and tissues in your body. It would be near impossible to mimic this sort of interaction and complexity in a pill, even if we did have a full understanding of what these thousands of phytochemicals are and how they interact with one another and your body. An apple might seem simple to you, but its chemistry and make-up are far more complex than you can imagine.

To further support fresh fruits and vegetables as a preventative treatment for cancer, a study of 9,959 men and women (age 15-99 years) in Finland showed an inverse relationship between the intake of flavonoids and the incidence of all combined sites of cancer. And in 2003, a article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proposed that “the additive and synergistic effects of phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables are responsible for their potent antioxidant and anticancer activities, and that the benefit of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is attributed to the complex mixture of phytochemicals present in whole foods.” We might not know exactly how it works, but we know it works.

No Need To Worry About Dosing

When you take a supplement or multivitamin, dosing becomes very important. Even if something is good for you in small doses, a large dose may suddenly become toxic. But when you get your nutrients from food, it’s unlikely any negative side effects will occur. At the moment, the naturally low levels of phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables have a beneficial effect on humans, but what happens at higher doses? There is no set recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for phytochemicals at this point, and as such, It’s unclear whether the effects of phytochemicals at high levels is effective or even safe.

Whole Foods: The Best Kind Of Multivitamin

Another way to look at fruits and vegetables is by considering them as Mother Nature’s multivitamin, perfectly packaged and delicious. Instead of reaching for different bottles containing various nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins, find a way to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle full of fresh produce and a varied combination of fruits and vegetables. Sign up for a CSA box, go to a local farmer’s market and talk to the people growing your food, and be adventurous. Never had a rutabaga before? It’s never too late to try one.

If you have a history of cancer in your family or are going through treatment for cancer, it’s absolutely imperative you get your nutrients and antioxidants from whole foods. It’s also important to note that should you decide to use dietary supplements as a back-up, please clear it with your oncologist beforehand. Previous research has found that high levels of vitamin C can have pro-oxidant properties!

Supplements can be a great gap-filler for those who find it impossible to eat a balanced diet or have certain medical conditions, but the best option for both cancer patients and healthy individuals is a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables.

 Full article with references… 

Let’s not confuse Juice Plus+ with the supplements described in this article. Those supplements have a “Supplement Facts” label; Juice Plus+ products have “Nutrition Facts” labels because they are classified as ‘food’ – all our products are ‘whole-food based’. Juice Plus+ does ‘supplement’ our diet, but it does so by bridging the gap between the fruits and vegetables that we do eat and what we should eat for optimum health.

We also use the Tower Garden to grow our own produce on our back patio. Like Juice Plus+, Tower Garden is clinically proven to be the best way to get those fruits and veggies that we all need to eat more of.

How to get more veggies into your kids part 4

Neither we nor our young ones are getting the recommended 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables that we need every day. Did you know that even a 4 year-old girl needs 7 servings every day?!

To help address this problem, two “Mom’s on a Mission” have created Motherhood Mafia. Here is the fourth in their 4 part video series.

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pht-participate“Children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined. This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.” ~ Dr. David Katz, Yale University Medical Center

“Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition.” ~ Dr. Bill Sears

What is more important than the health of our children?

Here’s more on this important subject… 

How to get more veggies into your kids part 3

Neither we nor our young ones are getting the recommended 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables that we need every day. Did you know that even a 4 year-old girl needs 7 servings every day?!

To help address this problem, two “Mom’s on a Mission” have created Motherhood Mafia. Here is the third in their 4 part video series.

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pht-participate“Children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined. This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.” ~ Dr. David Katz, Yale University Medical Center

“Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition.” ~ Dr. Bill Sears

What is more important than the health of our children?

Here’s more on this important subject… 

How to get more veggies into your kids – part 2

pht-participateNeither we nor our young ones are getting the recommended 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables that we need every day. Did you know that even a 4 year-old girl needs 7 servings every day?!

To help address this problem, two “Mom’s on a Mission” have created Motherhood Mafia. Here is the second in their 4 part video series.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 10.55.21 AM“Children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined. This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.” ~ Dr. David Katz, Yale University Medical Center

“Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition.” ~ Dr. Bill Sears

What is more important than the health of our children?

Here’s more on this important subject… 

How to get more veggies into your kids

pht-participate“Children are more harmed by poor diet than by exposure to alcohol, drugs and tobacco combined. This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.” ~ Dr. David Katz, Yale University Medical Center

“Over 70% of disease is preventable through good nutrition.” ~ Dr. Bill Sears

What is more important than the health of our children?

Neither we nor our young ones are getting the recommended 7-13 servings of fruit and vegetables that we need every day. Did you know that even a 4 year-old girl needs 7 servings every day?!

To help address this problem, two “Mom’s on a Mission” have created Motherhood Mafia. Here is the first in their 4 part video series.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 10.54.55 AM
Here’s more on this important subject…