Better Diet Data Via Tooth-Mounted Sensors

In First World countries, where famine is unheard of, people are instead eating themselves to death.

Oftentimes, diet studies rely on self-reported surveys and journals that are hostage to the whims of each participant. People forget. People feel self-conscious about their food choices and may fudge (pun intended) the data. However, a new sensor that fits on a person’s tooth could cut out this unpredictable variable—human nature— altogether.

Researchers from Tufts University School of Engineering designed a tiny sensor that, when stuck to a tooth, can wirelessly relay precise information about glucose, alcohol and salt intake. When the device comes in contact with salt, for example, its electrical properties shift, causing its other components to absorb and transmit different radiofrequency wavelengths unique to each chemical or nutrient. That information is then beamed to a mobile device for recording.

“In theory we can modify the bioresponsive layer in these sensors to target other chemicals – we are really limited only by our creativity,” says Fiorenzo Omenetto, an author on the study, which was published recently in the journal Advanced Materials. If you can put it in your mouth, it appears Omenetto and his team can measure it.

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A Diet High In Fat Is Best – With The Right Kind Of Fat

This is the time of year we tend to consider a change in diet. There has been a lot of confusion in recent years about what constitutes a healthy diet, with many people advocating and espousing a ketogenic diet, similar to the Atkins diet: a low-carbohydrate, high-fat/high-cholesterol diet (HF/HC). Since most North Americans will die of a heart attack or stroke if they don’t die young from another cause, this is a big mistake.

In 2016, there were large headlines trumpeting that “we can eat cholesterol now; the new U.S. guideline says so.” But that’s not what the guideline said. It said that there were insufficient data on which to base a specific limit to daily cholesterol intake, as in the past, but the intake of cholesterol should be as low as possible within the recommended eating pattern.

A study that clarifies what is the best diet for weight loss and diabetes was done among overweight residents of a nuclear facility in Israel, who were randomized to a low-fat versus a low-carb HF/HC (Atkins) diet, versus the Mediterranean diet. Weight loss was identical on the Mediterranean diet and the low-carb HF/HC diet, and both were better than the low-fat diet. The key finding, though, was that the Mediterranean diet was clearly the best for lowering blood sugar, fasting insulin levels and something called insulin resistance (a pre-diabetic state).

So the healthiest diet is the Mediterranean diet – a high-fat/low-glycemic index diet. This is why recent guidelines – the 2016 U.S. guideline, and the Canadian guideline now in development – are moving toward a more plant-based pattern of eating. We should limit red meat, avoid egg yolks and have three vegetarian days a week.

Read the full article at The Globe and Mail

Is GMO Opposition Immoral?

Evaluation of GMO crops that emphasizes independent science — rather than nonpublic research by pesticide companies — reflects that in 2015, the research arm of the World Health Organization analyzed all published glyphosate studies and determined the pesticide was a probable carcinogen. That finding prompted California to add glyphosate to its list of cancer-causing chemicals.

Escalating use of GMO crops and glyphosate has triggered the growth of glyphosate-resistant superweeds across nearly 100 million acres in 36 states. To combat that, pesticide companies are now pushing the use of the highly toxic, drift-prone pesticide dicamba on a new generation of GMO crops that tolerate both dicamba and glyphosate.

I have long been perplexed that so many people continue to condemn foods made from genetically modified organisms that have been consumed by Americans and others for decades with no deleterious effects.

Mitch Daniels rightly framed as “immoral” the scientifically baseless yet “concerted, deep-pockets campaign” to persuade “a high percentage of Americans and Europeans to avoid GMO products” and “inflict their superstitions” on the world’s poor and hungry.

Apparently, winning market share and lawsuits is more important to some people than feeding a hungry planet.

Read the full article in The Washington Post

Popularity of Botanical in the U.S. Market

Botanical dietary supplements continue to be popular in the United States. The American Botanical Council (ABC) recently published the Herb Market Report 2016, which listed a number of reasons behind the current interest by consumers.

Botanicals that are believed to be beneficial for overall health—rather than a specific health condition—showed greater increases in sales. In alignment with this is the uptick in sales of a number of adaptogens–substances that allow the body to better resist various stress factors. Plants in this category include ashwagandha, Asian ginseng, mushrooms and Rhodiola.

The increased interest in herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine has also been obvious by the fact that Boswellia, turmeric, and fenugreek posted some of the largest gains in 2016. But the success of these herbs is not only based on an increased interest in Ayurvedic medicine, but also due to the fact that these herbs have a large body of scientific data supporting their health benefits.

In addition, inflammatory conditions are very common in our society; thus, ingredients with sound data that may be used to alleviate the symptoms of some of these conditions, e.g., turmeric and Boswellia, have a large pool of potential consumers.

Read more at Natural Products Insider

Botanical Transparency: How DNA Technology Can Complement Traditional Identity Tests

There has been a great deal of focus on transparency both in finished products and raw materials at the worldwide level. This debate followed actions by the New York Attorney General’s, who after an agency investigation found four out of five tested herbal products did not contain any of the herbs promised in their labels, called for the producers to conduct advanced genetic testing.

These tests are intended to ensure the herbal products actually contain the ingredients promised on the label.

For plants, there is no universal DNA testing methodology and the choice of a particular technique is often a compromise that depends on a number of factors.

Each plant needs a dedicated method, developed on its own genome. DNA sequencing-based tests are emerging as highly reliable and powerful tools to authenticate botanicals to complement other available tests. They can even be used to identify new species and to create herbal products.

Accordingly, they have to be part of a complete quality testing toolbox, which constitutes a reliable authentication platform.

Read more at Nutra Ingredients

Drinking Kava Becoming Popular with Tongan Women

For Tongan women drinking kava with others is becoming more popular, but does require them to break with tradition.

For Ikanamoe Ma’u, that is exactly what she has been doing for almost two decades.

She proudly calls herself a heavy kava drinker.

“I can drink kava all night and drink more cups than men,” she says proudly.

Now living in Aotearoa, it was a pleasant surprise to notice a shift in female kava consumption on a recent trip back to Tonga, she said.

“I went home and was surprised to see a lot of young females as kava consumers and they do drink the kava.”

She said when she started drinking kava heavily in the late 1990s, she hadn’t heard of any other Tongan women who also did it.

By tradition, the Tongan fai kava or practise of drinking kava is usually done with men sitting around the kava bowl circle and a woman serving kava to the men is known as a tou’a.

Read the rest of the story here.

Southeast Asia’s Kratom Leaf Draws Controversy

Throughout the course of botanical history, there have been two distinct types of people: those who want to ingest plants for their medicinal and psychoactive properties, and those who want to make those plants illegal. Most recently, the debate has centered on the Southeast Asian leaf Kratom, a natural painkiller ingested to treat chronic illness. But the plant, which comes from a tropical evergreen tree, also has several recreational benefits.

In low doses Kratom can act as a stimulant. At high doses it can act as a sedative, similar to a narcotic. The substance, which many say is more “subtle” than marijuana, is banned by the military and is illegal in six states. In 2014, the FDA began seizing Kratom coming into the U.S., and in 2016 the DEA announced its intentions to regulate the plant, receiving protest from users. Still, many enjoy its effects, often mixing the soluble ground powder in chocolate milk shakes, grapefruit juice or tea, while others take it in pill form.

Read more about kratom over at Dope Magazine.

Could Oregon ban the herbal supplement Kratom?

More than a dozen bills have already been proposed in the upcoming Oregon Legislature dealing with marijuana, but there is also one bill about a lesser-known herb unheard of by many, fiercely adored by some and almost banned by the DEA.

For millennia, people in Southeast Asia used the leaves from the tree Mitragyna speciosa — more commonly known as kratom — to combat fatigue and as a traditional medicine. This herb is often sold as a kratom powder or extract.

The herb’s modern proponents claim it can help with opioid withdrawal, pain, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Its detractors decry it as an “imminent hazard to public safety,” citing 15 kratom-related deaths in the United States during a two-year period.

Read the full story on Statesman Journal

Health Benefits of Herbs and Botanicals

According to the National Health Statistics Report, shoppers are turning to alternative medicine, not only as a complement to conventional care but also as a sole means to help relieve pain from conditions that are impairing their health. But with so many choices, how will shoppers know how to make sense of it all? Here, we explore up and coming herbs and their many health benefits.

Black Cohosh
First used for medical purposes by Native American Indians for colds, coughs and kidney disorders, the root of the black cohosh plant, Actaea racemose, is most commonly used today to help treat acne, menstrual cramps and by some midwives to induce labor in pregnant women.

Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle, a member of the Asteraceae family that also includes daisies and sunflowers, is native to the Mediterranean region and is used for the support of liver, kidney and gallbladder problems.

Feverfew
Once used to treat fevers, Feverfew, a short perennial that gives off a strong and bitter odor, is now used to help with migraine headaches.

Ginkgo
One of the oldest living tree species, Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is used in support of memory loss and also in improving blood circulation.

Echinacea
During the 18th and 19th century, echinacea was a popular herb used to treat malaria, syphilis and scarlet fever. Today the prickly, scaled herb with a conical seed head is used to ease fevers, sore throats, the common cold and the flu.

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What happens if kratom becomes illegal?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has received thousands of comments on whether it should make a psychoactive painkiller called kratom illegal because some say it could be key to battling the country’s opioid epidemic.

The DEA announced in August that it would list kratom, which is typically sold as a powder in capsules or for tea and can produce both a narcotic and a stimulant effect, as a Schedule 1 drug — along with heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Schedule 1 drugs are illegal because they have a “high potential for abuse” and there is no existing research that would make it acceptable for medical use.

Read the full story here.