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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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, 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.
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.
One of the oldest living tree species, Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is used in support of memory loss and also in improving blood circulation.
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.
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.
You may not be familiar with the drug kratom, but many Americans are. Kratom is known to relieve pain and anxiety, and has often been used to ease the challenges of getting off of more harmful drugs, namely opioids. The DEA was slated to ban kratom until late September, when an outpouring of public activism by kratom users led to an indefinite delay on such a ban.
Earlier this year, the DEA announced its intent to place kratom on the list of Schedule I drugs. This is the most restrictive category of banned substances that includes drugs like heroin and LSD. The DEA describes a Schedule I like so: “Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” Kratom users have used the drug to help them kick their OxyContin habit. Despite being a far more addictive substance, OxyContin is a Schedule II drug. Advocates for kratom compare the drug’s addictive power to coffee. No deaths have been linked to the drug.
Read the full story on Merry Jane.