Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

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Diet and Cancer: What We Know?


The association between diet and cancer has a long history. Back in the 1980’s, it was a “hot” topic but at that time it mostly involved the role of single nutrients, namely dietary fat and cancer risks.  In fact, my PhD dissertation investigated the difference in tumor incidence in the intake of two polyunsaturated fats on breast cancer in animals.

The results of this study and a subsequent follow-up study, showed that there were no significant differences in tumor formation in rats fed either corn oil (an omega-6 fat) or fish oil (menhaden oil), an omega-3 fat). Since then, further research has supported these findings.

Recently the research has centered more on the effects of dietary patterns (e.g. more fruits and vegetables and/or plant-based) on cancer incidence in human and animal studies. Some specific foods and factors have emerged as having an association (not causative) with cancer incidence.

The following article brings us up to date on what we actually know about the complex issues of diet and cancer at the present time.


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Binge Eating?

Binge-eating disorder is probably the most prevalent eating disorder that affects about 3.3% of women and 2.0% of men. It is estimated that 10 to 15% of people enrolled in commercial weight loss programs suffer from this disorder.  I would suppose that  there are many others that have never been diagnosed or are not even aware that they may suffer from this insidious condition or occasionally fall victim to its effects on weight. The condition may result in a lifetime of weight gain leading to obesity. There is an established diagnostic account of the binge-eating disorder based on the following criteria:

  • Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry.
  • Eating more rapidly than normal.
  • Eating alone due to embarrassment of how much you are eating.
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating.
  • The behaviors occur, on average, at least two days a week for six months.

Smolin and Grosvenor, Nutrition: Science and Applications, Third Edition.

The treatment focuses on the underlying psychological issues. Persons with this disorder will often be asked to record their food intake and note feelings and circumstances that prompt this behavior. The treatment can also include individual or group therapy and provide nutrition counseling on mindful eating. This approach can include paying attention to hunger and satiety cues, and slowing down the pace of eating to identify the triggers to this eating behavior. Sometimes it’s as simple as realizing that very restrictive eating and hunger is a contributor.

Judith E. Brown, Nutrition Now, 7th Edition


The article is a first-hand account of a dieter and her journey with an eating disorder as well as the complexities associated with weight control.

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The Spread of Global Obesity

There is so much speculation about the causes of obesity?  The following article makes it pretty simple. Consider affordability, convenience, palatability and prosperity. It all adds up to increased consumption of fast foods and/or processed foods.


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Confused by Food Safety Labels?

Food waste is a tremendous problem in the United States. In most developed countries, over half of all food waste takes place in the home. Add up what we throw at home, with what restaurants and grocery stores get rid of, and about FORTY PERCENT of everything we are supposed to be eating, we wind up throwing out instead.

Part of the problem in the home setting is that many foods display either a sell by or use by date, which most people consider to mean that the food will not be safe to eat after that designated time.  The reality is that this date has no clear meaning and may often refer only  to the quality of the food. The date is determined by the food manufacturer and what standards there are varies among the states.

It’s time for some clarification standards concerning the meaning or wording of these labels  discussed in the following article.