Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Courtesy of Naturally Savvy | By Andrea Donsky on September 09, 2014
If you don't know whether or not you're eating genetically modified organisms, you're not alone—at least in the U.S. Despite the many petitions and appeals for state or federal regulations on labeling foods that contain GMOs, none have passed. And that means companies still don't have to disclose whether or not a product includes genetically modified organisms. What's the big deal, you ask?
More than 60 countries require GMO labeling (or ban GMOs altogether) for a number of reasons. While there are many, these are some of the most common concerns:
1. Are they safe? Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow—they'll all tell you their GMO products have met safety requirements, but the truth is, long term studies haven't been done on their impact to the human body. USDA approval requires several processes that prove safety, but GMOs have only been in our diet since the mid-'90s, so it's difficult to know what the long-term health impacts truly are.
2. Known health risks: What we do know is that when genetic modification happens, genes are forced to express certain traits (including pesticides). To do this, the scientists "turn on" all the gene's components, which can mean releasing allergens that would normally not be expressed in a non-GMO variety. Experts like Jeffrey Smith suggest this is directly related to the rise in health issues.
3. Heavy use of toxic pesticides and herbicides: By design, genetically modified seeds require pesticides and herbicides. While some manufacturers have claimed the pesticide use would decrease over time, it's only increased, according to a peer-reviewed 2012 study.
4. Pesticides and digestive health: The main function of herbicides and pesticides is to kill unwanted plants and insects. Glyphosate—the most common herbicide used on GMO crops—has been shown to negatively impact the gut bacteria of humans. Jeffrey Smith's recent film Genetic Roulette highlights the parallel of GMOs in our diet and the rise in digestive health issues and food allergies.
5. Cancer: Both pesticides and GMOs have been connected with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. There are additonal health concerns too including reproductive issues, autism and even heart disease.
6. Environmental impact: GMO crops and their companion pesticides and herbicides wreak havoc on the environment including polluting air, water and soil. Glyphosate—marketed by Monsanto as the herbicide Roundup—is in effect, an antibiotic, which can destroy soil quality and thus impair the plant's nutritional value as well. Cross-polination between GMO and non-GMO crops is common as well, and can destroy natural plant varieties in the wild.
7. Superbugs and superweeds: Despite the claims that pesticides and GMO crops can relieve farmers of crop-destroying insects and plants, the opposite is showing to be true. Farmers in the Midwest are now battling superbugs and superweeds resistant to pesticides. They're damaging crops and farm equipment and costing the farmers more money in having to apply heavier doses of toxic pesticides.
8. Patent issues: At the core of the GMO industry is the corporate ownership of seed and seed patents. Companies like Monsanto are notorious for suing small farmers for saving seeds or if GMO crop drift pollinates on their land.
9. Corporate protection: Earlier this year, the U.S. government passed a bill nicknamed the "Monsanto Protection Act." In essence, it grants biotech companies immunity from the courts, even if a judge determines it's unlawful to plant GMO crops, the companies can do it anyway.
10. Prolific presence: Whether or not GMOs are safe has yet to be determined, yet every day, millions of Americans eat them unknowingly due to the lack of labeling requirements. Are you a lab rat? Don't you at least have the right to know what you're eating?
Monday, June 22, 2015
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
IMMUNE CELLS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS
HOW THE IMMUNE SYSTEM IS CONNECTED TO THE GUT & INFLAMMATION
STEPS FOR DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
DOES IT MATTER?
Friday, March 27, 2015
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Nowadays, when people meet me and hear that I'm a dietitian, the first thing they want to know is: What's the deal with sugar? No doubt, sugar is the diet villain du jour. You've probably seen some scary headlines calling sugar toxic and pointing to it as the source of all our health woes. But the real story is far more complex.
Sugar in large quantities is, in fact, a big threat to your health. For years, experts have been saying that eating too much of any food can up your diabetes risk because overeating leads to obesity, which is the real culprit behind skyrocketing rates of the disease. But recent research suggests that the sweet stuff may have a more direct impact: For every additional 150 calories of added sugar downed per person per day, the prevalence of diabetes rose by 1 percent, even after controlling for obesity, physical activity and calories from other foods, according to a large study looking at international data. When it comes to heart health, excess sugar is also suspect. People who ate the most added sugar more than doubled their risk of death from heart disease, a JAMA Internal Medicine study found.
Adding to the problem, sugar is hiding in many surprising products, such as oatmeal and peanut butter, and confusing food labels make it hard to know how much of it you're getting. So what's a girl to do?
Before you swear off everything from ice cream to strawberries, read my ground rules to satisfying your sweet tooth in the safest way possible.
Truth #1: Some kinds are better than othersIt's key to know the difference between the two main types of sugar.
Naturally occurring sugar is found in whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products. These foods tend to be better for you because they deliver fiber (in the case of produce), as well as protein and calcium (in dairy) and other important vitamins and minerals.
Added sugars are anything sweet put into a food for flavor, from the sugar in store-bought ketchup to the honey you spoon into your tea. (Yes, "natural" sweeteners count.) These sugars are concentrated and mostly devoid of nutrients. Although honey, maple syrup and the like have some healthful antioxidants and minerals, they still pack hefty doses of sweetener per spoonful. This means you get a lot of pure sugar—and calories—in a small portion, making it easy to go overboard and cause big problems. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), increases in sugar intake over the past four decades parallel our expanding waistlines, and studies have connected added sugar, not the naturally occurring kind, to heart disease and diabetes.
Truth #2: You have to read labels carefullyA lot of packaged foods contain both naturally occurring and added sugars. But the Nutrition Facts label lumps both kinds together, giving you one combined total. Last year, the FDA proposed separating the two to make it clearer how much of each type you're getting, but until those changes take effect, the easiest way to tell if sugar has been added is to scan the actual ingredients list. If you see sugar grams but no sweeteners listed, then none were added. If you do see any type of sweetener—including brown sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, maltose or fructose—make sure it's not the first thing listed. By law, ingredients must be in descending order of weight, so the higher up the added sugar, the more there is per bite. Also check for multiple types of sugar, which is a sneaky way food companies make something supersweet without telegraphing it on the ingredients list.
But you can automatically slash your sugar load by ditching sweetened drinks, eating mostly whole foods instead of sugary snacks and buying more unsweetened versions of packaged foods.
Truth #3: The limits are low but doableAccording to the AHA, women should have no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons). Yet the average woman gets 18 teaspoons a day! Most of our added sugar comes from sweetened drinks and packaged foods, and the Nutrition Facts label lists sugar in grams, not calories or teaspoons, so it's easy to lose track. Fortunately, there's a simple formula for counting up sugar from any source: Just remember that 1 teaspoon equals about 4 grams of added sugar. So if you add a teaspoon to your morning joe and later have a chocolate protein bar with 12 grams (3 teaspoons) of sugar, you have 2 teaspoons (8 grams) left for the day.
Truth #4: Natural doesn't mean free-for-allHardly any of us are inhaling too many servings of whole fruits and vegetables. But juices, smoothies and dried fruits are another story. Recently, a client was confused when I pointed out that her 15-ounce bottle of green juice contained more than 53 grams of sugar (and nearly 270 calories!). It's all fruits and veggies, she reasoned, so why care? One problem when you gulp your produce is that you're getting natural sugar without fiber (and it's fiber in fruit that slows down digestion and gives your body time to metabolize the sugar). As a result, you store the excess calories as fat. Fiber also prevents blood sugar spikes that can raise your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Dried fruit can be tricky, too; without water, the natural sugars become more concentrated. You can still enjoy it, but right-size your portion: One cup of fresh fruit equals 1/2 cup of 100 percent juice equals 1/4 cup of unsweetened dried fruit. Now you're in control of your sugar calories.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.
This article originally appeared on Health.com.