Author: VWheelock

38. The Health Benefits of Milk and Milk Products

Traditionally milk has been regarded as important with respect to nutrition because it is a source of calcium and several vitamins. However liquid milk consumption has suffered because of the competition other beverages such as sugar sweetened soft drinks and various forms of bottled water. In addition milk and/or milk products contain saturated fat, which according to the official dietary advice should only be consumed in limited quantity. As a consequence the fat is often removed to produce “low fat” versions. In many of these products the fat has been replaced by sugar. It is extremely difficult to relate milk and or individual milk products to any aspect of health or disease. Epidemiological studies which monitor what different populations consume and attempt to relate to the incidence or death rate of a specific disease are subject to all sorts of errors and misinterpretations. How reliable is the information collected on the dietary patterns? Even if this information is reasonably accurate can we be sure it is representative of the whole population being studied? Are diagnoses of diseases accurate? Even the causes of death shown on death certificates are notoriously unreliable. The famous Seven Countries Study which is the basis of the relationships between saturated fat (SFA), cholesterol in blood (TC) and the death rates due to Coronary Heart Disease(CHD) has been totally discredited because the conclusions are based on...

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37. Genetically Modified (GM) Crops: a Note of Caution (Continued)

SAFETY Owen Paterson accepts that public and environmental safety is paramount and that GMOs “…. are subject to extensive testing and development in tightly controlled conditions – progressing from laboratory, to glasshouse, to field trials only when it’s safe to do so.After all of the pre-commercial testing, marketing applications for GM products must undergo a comprehensive case-by-case scientific risk assessment. This is undertaken by independent scientists in the European Food Safety Authority. In the UK, we also receive independent advice from committees of world-leading scientific experts.” However there are many scientists who do not accept this rosy state of events. For example last autumn a research team led by Prof. Gilles-Eric Seralini at the University of Caen in France reported serious health problems in rats that had been fed a maize genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup,as well as in rats just fed low doses of the herbicide itself. In both cases the rats fed with the GM maize and/or minute amounts of the herbicide in water were several times more likely to develop lethal tumours and suffer severe liver and kidney damage when compared to the controls (1). This paper was subjected vitriolic criticisms primarily from the biotechnology industry and academics who were supported by the industry. The authors have responded in detail to their critics (2). Anyone who is interested should read the debate...

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36. Genetically Modified (GM) Crops: a Note of Caution

  According to Owen Paterson, the Minister in charge of DEFRA, GM foods are the best thing since sliced bread(1). He claims that Europe is missing out because less than 0.1% of the global cultivation of GM crops is grown in the EU. He argues that Europe is missing out while the rest of the world is forging ahead and benefitting from the GM technology. His ambition is that the UK should play a leading role in pushing ahead with the technology in Europe. Therefore it is extremely relevant that a study conducted in New Zealand at the University of Canterbury has compared crop production in the USA where there is extensive use of GM crops with Europe where as Paterson has emphasised there is negligible use of the technology (2). The research team set out to answer the following questions: Is the the biotechnology chosen by the American farmer successful in optimizing yield? Is the American agro ecosystem achieving greater outcomes in lessening its impact on the environment, as might be indicated in reducing use of inputs such as pesticides? Is the social context created through policies on innovation and intellectual property (IP), and government subsidy programmes delivering greater resilience? Are the prevailing policies adequate to meet future human resource needs? In North America, the adoption of GM soybeans, maize, rapeseed and cotton has almost reached saturation. According...

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35. Is Sugar Toxic?

Dr Robert Lustig is a leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco. He has constructed a formidable comprehensive case that explains why diet is primarily responsible for the development of a range of diseases/conditions which are now referred to as Metabolic Syndrome. These include obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease all of which are closely related and probably have a common cause. In particular he identifies the fructose which makes up about half of both ordinary table sugar and the High Fructose Corn Syrup(HFCS) that is widely used in the USA as the specific critical factor. Lustig’s rationale has been spelled out in a YouTube video entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” which was uploaded on 30 July 2009 and has already been viewed by almost 3.5 million times(1). Clearly it has stimulated enormous interest. Inevitably there has been criticism which is only to be expected (not least from the industrial organisations which produce sugar and HFCS). Nevertheless he is definitely striking a chord with many people and has undoubtedly delivered a series of arguments that merits detailed consideration. The key point Lustig makes is that the glucose and fructose, which are released from sugar and HFCS, are metabolised in different ways and therefore have totally different effects in the body. The glucose can be utilised by every cell in the body whereas the fructose...

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34. Will They Never Learn?

According to recent press reports , the Department of Health (DoH) is cock-a-hoop because the main supermarkets and some of the major food manufacturers have agreed on a system of nutritional labels which will appear on the front of food packaging. It is claimed that this will remove confusion and enable shoppers to choose so-called “healthier options”. Information will be provided on calories, sugar, salt, total fat and saturated fat. In addition there will be traffic light colour coding which indicate whether the amounts of the individual nutrients are “high”, “medium” or “low”. It is evident that the official advice continues to focus on saturated fat (SFA) as one of the factors so consumers generally are advised to reduce their intake of this particular nutrient. The original case for reducing SFA was totally dependent on the “cholesterol theory”. Essentially this is based on the “fact” that the cholesterol level in the blood (TC) is a risk factor for heart disease. Because it was claimed that SFA increased TC (and therefore increased the risk of heart disease) it would follow that reducing SFA would reduce the risk of heart disease. THIS ARGUEMENT HAS BEEN TOTALLY DISCREDITED (See Blogs 6 and 8). For anyone interested in the skulduggery which resulted in the vilification SFA it is extremely instructive to read “the Oiling of America” by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon (1)....

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