Monthly Archives: July 2009

Hey, Where's the toast & cheese??!!

From Forbes Magazine comes a list of the world’s most healthy foods:

The Healthiest Foods On Earth

What is the best diet for human beings?

Vegetarian? Vegan? High-protein? Low-fat? Dairy-Free?

Hold on to your shopping carts: There is no perfect diet for human beings. At least not one that’s based on how much protein, fat or carbohydrates you eat.

. . .

The only thing these diets have in common is that they’re all based on whole foods with minimum processing. Nuts, berries, beans, raw milk, grass-fed meat. Whole, real, unprocessed food is almost always healthy, regardless of how many grams of carbs, protein or fat it contains.

All these healthy diets have in common the fact that they are absent foods with bar codes. They are also extremely low in sugar. In fact, the number of modern or ancient societies known for health and longevity that have consumed a diet high in sugar would be … let’s see … zero.

Truth be told, what you eat probably matters less than how much processing it’s undergone. Real food–whole food with minimal processing–contains a virtual pharmacy of nutrients, phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and healthful fats, and can easily keep you alive and thriving into your 10th decade.


And exhaustion aside, what’s so bad about being fat?

Obesity health risk cause ‘found’
Scientists believe they may have uncovered a key reason why obese people have a raised risk of health complications such as type 2 diabetes.

They blame a specific protein – pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) – which is secreted by fat cells.

In tests on obese mice, the researchers found that treatments designed to block the action of PEDF lowered the animals’ blood fat level and reversed some of their insulin resistance.

Fat cells are known to play an important role in regulating the body’s metabolism by releasing hormones and other chemicals.

. . .

The researchers took particular interest in PEDF because it was already known that levels of the protein were raised in people with type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome – a collection of risk factors including too much belly fat, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

They found that of all the molecules secreted by fat cells PEDF was among the most abundant.

They also showed that PEDF levels fell in obese mice when they lost weight, either by using diet or drugs.

When lean mice were injected with PEDF they showed signs of developing insulin resistance and inflammation in both muscle and liver.

. . .

But when obese mice were given treatment to neutralise PEDF their sensitivity to insulin improved, reducing their risk of diabetes, and the level of fats in their blood fell.

Researcher Dr Matthew Watt, from Monash University in Australia, said: “In light of our findings, we believe that blocking PEDF will ameliorate several obesity-related complications.”

. . . Still (thinking of my knees and chin), it’s probably better to just lose the weight. :)


I’ve been thinking about Health Care Reform – specifically, What will it cost ME and what will I get? – And from the Washington Post here’s a (possibly) helpful summary of the current state of thought:

What will I get? Click on image to see the details

What will I get? Click on image to see the details

The interesting thing is that ALL the options seem to include out-of-pocket-caps on annual health care expenses. And that’s new to me — I haven’t seen such caps mentioned in any summary (and I’ve looked for ‘em) More information on THAT would be gratefully appreciated!

Sad but true food facts

pizzaHow many times have you said it, “Yum, it makes me hungry just to look at that?”  Well, it turns out that’s actually true according to this story in the LA Times:

An interesting idea to help us stay (or get) thin

“When you see or smell food, you have an insulin surge, which drops your blood glucose,” she said. “Your stomach relaxes, so it gets bigger and you need more food just to feel full.”

It’s thought (according to this story) that the increase in food advertising is responsible for the fact that Americans eat an average of 500 more calories a day than they did a generation or two ago.  Now the people interviewed here skip over the “need more food just to feel full” bit to talk about how to get restaurants to reduce portion sizes.  And that’s certainly a worthy goal.

But, what about the part where a relaxed stomach makes you want to eat more to feel full?

Maybe we should dig those skinny jeans out of the closet — if only at dinner time.  That’ll tighten up the tummy!

Calorie Labeling and your weekend dinner plans

I am constantly struggling with my weight. If I don’t walk about 5 miles a day I gain weight — and if I eat out with any regularity at all I gain weight. The switch that makes my brain relate what I’m eating to my weight and health just shuts off when I’m at a restaurant. And without that switch — I’m out of control.

Ezra Klein is discussing that experience in his post, Calorie Labeling In Action, today

All quite delicious. When I got back to the office, though, I decided to see what it added up to. First, I looked up the cookie. A solid 450 calories, with 19 grams of fat. Yikes. But what might have actually changed my purchase was knowing the content of my sandwich: According to the nutrition calculator, 525 calories.

The calories in the cookie weren’t startling. But their calories relative to my sandwich proved a bit off-putting. I could pretty much have ordered a second sandwich for the caloric cost. Buying them without the information, it was easy enough to just consider them a side dish. As it happened, the cookie was more like a second lunch. I wouldn’t have ordered a second lunch. Good to know.

I had that EXACT experience with a Subway sandwich and a cookie a few years ago. Their cookies are only in the 200 calorie range but, they’re puny. I got two that day (440 calories) and NEVER did it again.

When it comes to calories knowledge isn’t just power — it’s control. And it’s not just me:

The following table comes from a Health Impact Assessment prepared by the County of Los Angeles on calorie labeling laws. It shows how much of the whole county’s projected weight gain would be averted if calorie labeling got X percent of restaurant patrons to make average decisions that were Y calories smaller

Follow the links and take a look (Ezra has a link to a graph) — it’s pretty impressive! And since it’s likely you won’t find the label on the menu at your favorite restaurant, spend a couple of minutes looking at the nutrition information on their website before you go.

How much will it cost ME and what will I get?

This idea doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and I’m getting dizzy trying to decide (like my opinion matters) if I should support a “strong public plan” in the absence of real reform with a single-payer plan. And then I realized that there are two questions that hover in the back of my mind whenever I read an update about the health reform issue – how much will it cost ME and what will I get?

And boy-oh-boy no one is letting that information leak out!

How much will it cost me?

Then (from TNR, believe it or not) comes THIS idea:

A Moneyball Approach to Health Reform

Every time we mention the impact of a health reform proposal on the federal budget with a CBO score, we should also give an estimate of how the proposal impacts a family budget. Call it the Consumer Budget Impact–the CBI. It would indicate how a family’s premiums would go up or down–and how much their exposure to significant medical debt would decline.

True, no single number can capture this. So we may need to come up with a set of numbers and perhaps compile them into an index, the way Dow Jones uses a mix of stocks to demonstrate the performance of the market as a whole. Elected officials should know if John’s family at just over the federal poverty level will be able to get coverage–and if we are expecting too much for Alice the 60-year old who is around 400 percent of the poverty level.

Remember, the subsidies in health reform don’t simply help the uninsured get coverage; they also help people who already have coverage but are struggling to pay for it. Think of the early retiree who spends over $1,000 a month, and thus over a third of his or her limited income, to keep coverage. Or the underinsured young adult who can only afford the bare-bones, high-deductible health plan. Or the workers who would lose coverage if not for the assistance and new affordable options their employer is being offered.

All of these people are insured, but in a way that is inadvisable and/or unsustainable. Depending on their income, they and millions of others will get help, so they don’t have to pay over a certain percentage of their income for premiums to get a standard package of benefits.

And while we’re at it let’s Tell Rangel to Score HR 676 so we can properly evaluate the Consumer Budget Impact of that along with all the rest.

And what will I get?

Yesterday commenter Masslib at The Confluence said:

I guess I’m just not interested in access. I’m interested in actual high quality health administered health care.

And THAT’s a pretty good start.