October 2009

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*October 2009*

Gee! If I don’t get this newsletter uploaded soon I’ll have to call it the November 2009 Newsletter! For those of you who have so kindly enquired, I’m glad to be able to report that we have had some rain in our area. Nothing to put water in the dams yet but at least enough to get the grass to start growing and most comforting of all, it’s confirmation that it can still rain here. However the fundis are still telling us not to get excited as we cannot expect any worthwhile rains until February. I have just returned from the AGM for the SA Association for Nutritional Therapy in Cape Town, where I was re-elected onto Council. You can read more about this organisation at http://www.saant.org.za/. We are a new and small association trying hard to swell our numbers, so if you should know of anyone who meets the requirements of membership in any of the given categories or is interested in studying to become a Nutritional Therapist, please do get them to contact me at membership@saant.org.za. After 2 days of excellent presentations given by experts in the field of health hazards of the toxins we face in our every day lives, I have returned with brain cells (that I was sure were long-dead) resuscitated, and batteries recharged. What was well-hammered home is the fact that it is sadly a toxic world we live in and we clearly need to be vigilant and try our best to avoid toxins where we can: especially for the sake of new born babies and infants, who are the most vulnerable. Topics this month:
  • The Margarine Hoax
  • DHA is brain food
  • Good advice from First Lady Obama
  • Glyconutrients

THE MARGARINE HOAX

Recently on BBC Radio, Professor Jack Winkler, Professor of Nutrition Policy at London Metropolitan University made the claim that some margarine manufacturers are misleading us by trumpeting the fact that their products contain 'heart-healthy' omega-3. Professor Winkler pointed out that although fish-derived omega-3 fats have proven cardiovascular benefits these do not extend to plant-derived omega-3 and margarine manufacturers are using the cheaper plant-derived omega-3 fats. You’ve no doubt seen the ads and I can only hope you haven’t fallen for them, because there is not one study showing that omega-3 from seeds or plants bestows much in the way of heart benefits. Food manufacturers have one purpose and one purpose only: to sell food and make a profit, and as large a profit as possible. Margarine manufacturers are one of the biggest culprits. Perhaps its time to remind you just how margarine is made and let you decide whether this is a food or not. The major constituents of margarine are ‘vegetable’ oils, obtained from foods such as sunflower seeds, rapeseed or soya beans. These oils are usually extracted using the application of pressure and heat, a process that can damage the fats, making them a hazard to health. The oil may then be treated with sodium hydroxide to ‘neutralise’ certain fats in the oil that are unstable. The blackened oil is now bleached to produce what is essentially a colourless, flavourless liquid. Chemical processes such as interesterifcation or hydrogenation are used to ‘harden’ the liquid oil. Interestification involves the use of high temperature and pressure, along with enzymes or acids. In hydrogenation, hydrogen is bubbled through the oil at high temperature. The ‘partially-hydrogenated’ fats so produced can be tainted with trans fats that are strongly linked with heart disease. Now the solidified fat needs to be both coloured and flavoured and the end result is extruded into a plastic tub. While this so-called ‘food’ is passed off as something generally healthy, it is in my view a highly-processed, chemicalised food that does not deserve the title of ‘food’ at all. Is there any evidence for the other nutritional attributes claimed by the manufacturers? It was originally sold to us on the basis that it is low in saturated fat, and therefore a healthy alternative to butter. However, hard as one looks, there is really no good evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease. One study in the scientific literature examined the association between butter and margarine consumption and risk of heart disease in men and concluded that butter consumption was not associated with heart disease risk. On the other hand, margarine consumption was associated with an increased risk of heart disease: in the long term, for each teaspoon of margarine consumed each day, risk of heart disease was found to be raised by 10 per cent. Then we have margarine’s cholesterol-reducing properties. This raises the question: Is something that reduces cholesterol necessarily healthy? If a known poison was found to reduce cholesterol, would that somehow make it ‘healthy’? What is critically important is not the impact of a food (or anything else) on cholesterol levels, but its impact on health. If you’re looking for something that will truly provide a broad array of cardiovascular benefits, then take a pharmaceutical grade omega-3 fish oil supplement. These Omega-3s benefit the cardiovascular system by helping to prevent erratic heart rhythms, making blood less likely to clot inside arteries (which is the ultimate cause of most heart attacks), and reducing inflammation, which is a key component in the processes that turn cholesterol into artery-clogging plaques.

DHA FOR THE BRAIN

While we’re on the subject of fish oil, let’s take a look at the brain-building fat in fish oil. Dr Barry Sears, author of The NDD Book (NDD meaning Nutrient Deficient Disorder) explains how it is the DHA essential fatty acid in fish oil that is so important for brain development and support. This is why it is so important for women to start supplementing with a fish oil high in DHA even in the months prior to conception, and to continue throughout the gestation and lactation periods. Sears explains that the most rapid brain growth occurs during the first year of life, with the infant's brain tripling in size by the first birthday. During this stage of rapid central nervous system growth, the brain uses sixty percent of the total energy consumed by the infant, and the brain itself is sixty percent fat. So, it makes sense that getting enough fat and the right kinds of fat can greatly affect brain development and performance. Children with learning, behaviour and motor skills problems will also benefit from a DHA supplement. School and university students will also benefit, especially those struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder. Finally adults at risk of developing brain and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or MS will do well to supplement with high dose DHA. My newest import from Canada, See Yourself Well DHA Essentials, which has a high ratio of DHA but also contains EPA and the Omega-6 fatty acid GLA from borage oil, may benefit:

  • pregnant and lactating women
  • newborn infants
  • children with learning, behaviour or motor skills problems
  • ADD and ADHD sufferers
  • adults at risk of developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s
  • dyslexic and dyspraxic adults or children

GOOD ADVICE FROM FIRST LADY OBAMA

In a recent interview with First Lady Michelle Obama in Children’s Health, she talks about small changes she has made in her family’s diet. These included “eliminating processed foods, cutting back on sugary drinks, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, eating together more as a family and teaching her daughters how to read food labels.” She continued, “But health and fitness and how we eat and thinking about it has become part of our lives, because of our kids. We are their primary role models. And if they see me exercising and thinking about what I’m eating, if they see their father, as busy as he is, getting to the gym and playing sports, when they grow up they’ll understand that this is a natural part of being an adult.” I think we have to admit that is great advice indeed and just think how much medical costs would decrease if everyone followed it!

GLYCONUTRIENTS

Strange how I am being asked on an ever-increasing basis my opinion on Glyconutrients/ Ambrotose/Mannatech. Of course I encourage people to question and do their own research so that they can come to an informed decision.

Is it a scam? I cannot say. Do glyconutrients work? I cannot say. But what I do know is that I prefer to distance myself from an MLM company that is shrouded in controversy and suspicion. One just needs to Google “Mannatech scam” to see how unhappy some people are with this company. It appears that unsubstantiated claims made by Mannatech salesmen have gotten the company into a lot of trouble. One of the claims made by Mannatech distributors is that the products are based on good scientific research, and that Nobel Prizes have been awarded for this research. The most common is to refer to Dr Günter Blobel, who won the Physiology or Medicine Prize in 1999 "for the discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell". His research has nothing whatsoever to do with glyconutrients, a term coined by Mannatech. Dr Blobel issued a cease and desist request against Mannatech in 2004 and he has now been joined by two other Physiology or Medicine laureates, Dr Paul Greengard and Sir Paul Nurse. You can read about their campaign to disassociate themselves from these claims here.

A "20/20" investigation found that some of Mannatech's sales force was touting Ambrotose as a miracle cure that could fix a broad range of diseases from cancer to multiple sclerosis and AIDS. Hey! Don’t shoot me! I’m just the messenger! All I know is that to make claims that a simple sugar can CURE or treat degenerative diseases is very likely to stir up a hornet’s nest … and it has.

For a more scientific look at this issue see: http://glycob.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/18/9/652 and http://www.raysahelian.com/glyconutrients.html

Have a look at these and then you make the informed choice.

Well folks that’s all from me for now. Now I sit back and look forward to hearing from you.

 

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