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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News About Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements

As with so many diet supplements, again food sources may win out over pills.  Check with your doctor for this one and determine whether these supplements are needed based on your risk.  Meanwhile, it may be helpful to know some factors affecting the risk of osteoporosis to share with your doctor.

Gender: Fractures from osteoporosis are about twice as common in women as in men.

Age: Bone loss is a normal part of aging and the  risk increases with age.

Race: African Americans have denser bones than do Caucasians and Southeast Asians, so their risk is lower.

Family History: Having a genetic tendency obviously increases risk.

Body Size: Individuals who are thin have increased risk because they have less bone matrix.

Smoking: Tobacco use weakens bones.

Exercise: Weight-bearing exercise (walking and jogging) strengthens bones.

Alcohol Abuse: Long term abuse reduces bone formation and interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Diet: Low calcium intake during the early years (when bones are forming) results in a lower peak bone mass.

FYI: Major food sources include dairy products, fish consumed with bones, leafy green vegetables, fortified foods.

The recommended intake for adults is 1000 – 1200 mg/day. The Upper Tolerance Level is 2000-2500 mg day from food and supplements.

Bottom Line: Again, supplements may not be the answer for correcting dietary deficiencies of calcium and/or vitamin D.  Food sources as well as fortified foods and getting some sunshine each day may be prudent. However, if you have  been diagnosed with osteoporosis, please check with your doctor before you change your diet or supplement use.


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Eating “Sealess” Seafood ?

You may have heard of the “impossible burger”, but now what about the “impossible fish”?

In the future, will we be eating “seafood” that never had a fin or tail or ever swam in the sea?

Maybe if some start-up food producers can pull it off. we will.  Here is an Interesting article on what to do about our over-fishing problem and providing enough protein to feed the world.


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The Keto Diet: Update?

The keto diet is one of the most restrictive diet on the scene these days and is very difficult to follow as are all restrictive diets. The same can be said for the very low fat diet – when it was the popular diet of a few decades ago, many people complained that is was difficult to sustain for long. Let’s face it, our nutrient needs are not  totally met when we remove entire food groups like fats and carbs from our menus and our bodies tell us so.


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All About Your Microbiome


Went to a fantastic lecture today called Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease presented by a local physician. Look for future posts based on this complex system we all acquire immediately during and soon after birth and how it affects us for a lifetime.

There is much to learn about this association and the jury is still out on many claimed aspects of this relationship. Hopefully, future research may fill in some of the gaps that still exist, especially the role it may play in membrane permeability issues (allergies, food intolerance and autoimmune disease.) One disclaimer and takeaway from the lecture: It was suggested to not take any probiotic supplement unless it is prescribed by a knowledgeable physician for a specific clinical condition. This does not include feeding the microbiome by consuming prebiotic foods to be discussed in a future post.


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Intermittent Fasting: Is It Helpful or Harmful?


There is a lot of confusing advice about whether intermittent fasting is a healthy eating pattern. The following article presents a common sense approach.  Other articles on this blog can be found by using SEARCH THIS SITE for “intermittent fasting” for more comprehensive information on this highly debatable topic.

One thing is becoming certain. We eat too much and finding safe and healthy ways to combat this trend would seem practical.