God made a farmer

February 9, 2013

Dr. William Davis, author of the NY Times bestseller, Wheat Belly, recently attended a conference in which Dr. Alessio Fasano spoke. Dr. Fasano is a noted celiac disease investigator who has dissected out the details of bowel “leakiness” characteristic of the disease.

Among the issues he highlighted was the fact that Homo sapiens have a gene that no other species possesses, a gene for a modified form of the protein haptoglobin. Ordinarily, haptoglobin is responsible for “cleaning up” free hemoglobin in the bloodstream. Hemoglobin is contained within red blood cells but, when damaged, free hemoglobin is released which is toxic; haptoglobin then “cleans” up the hemoglobin for disposal.

Humans are the only species with a modified form of haptoglobin, programmed by a gene acquired after human predecessors, Australopithecus, diverged from “Pan” apes, chimpanzees and bonobos, and transitioned towards ancestral Homo species. This protein is haptoglobin 2. The functions of this protein are distinct from haptoglobin’s role of hemoglobin scavenging.

Haptoglobin-2 has another name: zonulin. Zonulin proteins are found within intestinal cells, or enterocytes, with production/release triggered by various foreign bacteria, such as strains of E. coli and Salmonella Once triggered by bacteria, zonulin is responsible for creating bowel “leakiness,” allowing water to leak into the bowel: diarrhea, an adaptive response that develops in response to foreign invaders to flush them out. (Cholera toxin is the penultimate example of this effect, resulting in gallons of watery diarrhea.)

By a quirk of nature, the wheat protein, gliadin, mimics the effects of foreign bacteria and it, too, triggers zonulin. But this function is flawed in that it generates a two-way response: Not only can water exit, but intestinal contents are able to gain entry in the opposite direction: into the bloodstream.

Among the most fascinating findings of Dr. Fasano’s work: The gliadin-zonulin leak effect occurs not just in people with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity; it occurs in everybody. The effect is longer and more pronounced (5-fold greater) in the enterocytes of people with celiac disease, but the effect of increased two-way leakiness spares nobody.

Only humans have the gene for haptoglobin-2 or zonulin. Chimpanzees and other primates do not have this gene. Interestingly, humans experience 75 different forms of autoimmune disease, while chimps experience none. Dr. Fasano presented compelling evidence, including increased zonulin blood levels, that this mechanism of intestinal leakiness underlies multiple inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Fasano was reluctant to declare that, based on his findings, bowel leakiness induced by wheat gliadin was sufficient reason to banish all wheat from the human diet, as he is a very careful scientist who feels he has to further explore this avenue and chart out all the details before making such a bold pronouncement. But I have no such qualms. And, besides, the potential for bowel leakiness is only one among many reasons to lose the wheat.

Lose the wheat, lose the zonulin-triggered bowel leakiness that can lead to the myriad forms of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Learn more at http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/

Poultry Products Rarely Tested for Contamination, Cause 1.5 Million Illnesses a Year

Nearly half the chicken products marketed by national brands and sold in supermarkets are contaminated with feces, according to laboratory test results of chicken samples from 15 grocery store chains in 10 major U.S. cities. The testing was conducted by an independent analytical testing laboratory at the request of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

PCRM investigated chickens from Perdue, Pilgrim’s, and Sanderson Farms, as well as 22 other popular brands. Testing revealed that 48 percent of the chicken samples tested positive for fecal contamination, indicated by the presence of coliform bacteria commonly found in chicken dung. The bacterial species E. coli is a type of coliform bacteria and a specific indicator used by slaughter and processing plants to check for fecal contamination of food products and water.

Chicken samples from every city and every grocery store chain tested positive. In Dallas, 100 percent of the chicken bought at the Kroger’s store tested positive for fecal matter. In Washington, D.C., 83 percent of the chicken bought at a Giant store and 67 percent of the chicken bought at a Safeway tested positive. Samples were also tested in Charleston, S.C., Milwaukee, Phoenix, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Miami, and San Diego.

“One in every two supermarket chickens is contaminated with feces,” says PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. “Meat packers can’t avoid contaminating poultry products during production, and consumers are cooking and eating chicken feces in about half the cases.”

Skinless chicken breast was particularly likely to have fecal traces, and both “organically produced” and “conventional” products were frequently contaminated.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is now considering privatizing poultry inspection. The proposal would reduce the time poultry workers have to inspect each carcass for feces and could result in more contaminated chicken products reaching supermarket shelves.

The results of independent lab tests were as follows:

Fecal Contamination of Chicken Products in 10 U.S. Cities
City Grocery Store Chicken Products with Fecal Contamination
Charleston, S.C.
Harris Teeter
Chicago, Ill.
Dallas, Texas Albertsons
Denver, Colo.
Houston, Texas
Miami, Fla.
Milwaukee, Wis.
Pic ‘n Save
Piggly Wiggly
Phoenix, Ariz.
San Diego, Calif.
Washington, D.C.
* Indicates a store where retesting was performed; retesting found that 60 percent of the samples were positive for fecal contamination.

A 2009 USDA study found that 87 percent of chicken carcasses tested positive for E. coli after chilling and just prior to packaging. Every year, contaminated poultry products cause approximately 1.5 million illnesses, 12,000 hospitalizations, and 180 deaths. However, most people eating cooked chicken feces have no symptoms and are unaware of what they have ingested.



Chili’s Molten Lava Cake – 1,070 calories, 51 g fat, (26 g saturated), 143 carbs

And no wonder restaurants don’t want to post the nutritional info on their menus.

These aren’t the worst offenders–but here’s a sampling of some of the meals that even health-conscious folks might consider ordering.

Marie Callender’s Spanish Omelette:  1,550 calories, 78 g fat (25 g saturated), 2,980 mg sodium

Baja Fresh Chips and Gaucamole:  1,340 calories, 83 g fat (8 g saturated), 950 mg sodium

California Pizza Kitchen Tuscan Hummus with pita:  861 calories, 4 g satuated fat, 1,562 mg sodium

Ruby Tuesday Buffalo Shrimp Quesadilla:  1,465 calories, 89 g fat, 3,528 mg sodium

Houlihan’s Fire Grilled BBQ Salmon Salad:  1,182 calories, 61 g fat (9 g saturated), 1,719 mg sodium

T.G.I. Friday’s Santa Fe Chopped Salad:  1,800 calories

Panera Bread Tuna Salad on Honey Wheat Sandwich: 750 calories, 47 g fat (9 g saturated), 1,130 mg sodium

Chipotle Grilled Chicken Fajita Burrito:  870 calories, 30 g fat (13 g saturated), 1,940 sodium

Thank you to the Healthy Librarian at:


Food contamination

October 3, 2011

This photo illustration shows a range of food that can easily be contaminated. Illustration by Brandon Quester/News21




September 29, 2011

The average American is 36.6 years old and eats 1,996.3 lbs. of food per year. The average man is 5’9” and weighs 190 lbs. The average woman is 5’4” and weighs 164 lbs.

Each year, Americans eat 85.5 lbs. of fats and oils. They eat 110 lbs. of red meat, including 62.4 lbs. of beef and 46.5 lbs. of pork. Americans eat 73.6 lbs. of poultry, including 60.4 lbs. of chicken. They eat 16.1 lbs. of fish and shellfish and 32.7 lbs. of eggs.

Americans eat 31.4 lbs. of cheese each year and 600.5 lbs. of non-cheese dairy products. They drink 181 lbs. of beverage milks. Americans eat 192.3 lbs. of flour and cereal products, including 134.1 lbs. of wheat flour. They eat 141.6 lbs. of caloric sweeteners, including 42 lbs. of corn syrup. Americans consume 56 lbs. of corn each year and eat 415.4 lbs. of vegetables. Every year, Americans eat 24 lbs. of coffee, cocoa and nuts. Americans eat 273.2 lbs. of fruit each year.

These foods include 29 lbs. of French fries, 23 lbs. of pizza and 24 lbs. of ice cream. Americans drink 53 gallons of soda each year, averaging about one gallon each week. Americanseat 24 lbs. of artificial sweeteners each year. They eat 2.736 lbs. of sodium, which is 47 percent more than recommended. Americans consume 0.2 lbs. of caffeine each year, about 90,700 mg. In total, Americans eat an average of 2,700 calories each day.

The Salmonella strain that sickened 12 people in 10 states and triggered last week’s recall of 54,960 pounds of Jennie-O turkey burgers may be resistant to antibiotics, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced April 4.

According to the CDC, Salmonella Hadar is resistant to many commonly prescribed antibiotics, including ampicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, cephalothin and tetracycline, which may increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals.

On April 1, Jennie-O Turkey Store announced a nationwide recall of 4-pound boxes of frozen Jennie-O Turkey Store® “All Natural Turkey Burgers with seasonings Lean White Meat” containing 12 individually wrapped 1/3-pound burgers after they were linked to 12 confirmed cases of Salmonella Hadar in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin, with illnesses occurring between December 2010 and March 2011. Three of the patients in Colorado, Ohio and Wisconsin specifically reported eating this product prior to illness onset and hospitalization; the last of these illnesses was reported on March 14, 2011.

Advice to consumers:

  • Recalled turkey burgers may still be in grocery stores and in consumers’ homes, including in the freezer. Consumer should not eat recalled turkey burgers and food service operators should not serve them.
  • The recalling firm is asking customers to return the product to the place of purchase for a refund.  Individuals choosing not to return the product should dispose of the recalled turkey burgers in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating them.
  • Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry. Then, disinfect the food contact surfaces using a sanitizing agent, such as bleach, following label instructions.
  • Cook poultry thoroughly. Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly, and the immune-compromised.
  • If served undercooked poultry in a restaurant, send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
  • Cross-contamination of foods should be avoided. Uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods. Hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils should be washed thoroughly after touching uncooked foods. Hands should be washed before handling food, and between handling different food items.
  • Persons who think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated turkey burgers should consult their health care providers. Infants, elderly persons, and persons with impaired immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/hadar0411/040411/index.html


Today the FDA launched a new and improved web search tool for consumers to use during recalls.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed into law in January by President Obama called for a more consumer-friendly recall search engine.

How does the new site work? Search results provide data from news releases and other recall announcements in the form of a table. That table organizes information from news releases on recalls since 2009 by date, product brand name, product description, reason for the recall and  the recalling. The table also provides a link to the news release on each recall for more detailed information.

A quick look at the new site showed some favorites – Skippy, Teavanna and DelMonte (cantaloupes) all listed as recalled because of  salmonella.

Under FSMA, FDA was required to provide a consumer-friendly recall search engine 90 days after the law went into effect.  The  law also requires that recalls conducted under FSMA indicate whether the recall is ongoing or completed. Believe it or not, prior to passage of FSMA, FDA did not have mandatory recall authority for food and feed products other than infant formula.

And while this is a good thing, don’t look for your turkey, beef or chicken recalls at this site. That’s all handled by the USDA, not the FDA. Getting better but still confusing for sure.

Check FDA’s new recall site at:  Recalls & Safety Alerts, USDA at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fsis%5FRecalls/

Obesity: We’re #1!

April 4, 2011

 Rank   Country     Amount   
# 1    United States: 30.6%  
# 2    Mexico: 24.2%  
# 3    United Kingdom: 23%  
# 4    Slovakia: 22.4%  
# 5    Greece: 21.9%  
# 6    Australia: 21.7%  
# 7    New Zealand: 20.9%  
# 8    Hungary: 18.8%  
# 9    Luxembourg: 18.4%  
# 10    Czech Republic: 14.8%  
# 11    Canada: 14.3%  
# 12    Spain: 13.1%  
# 13    Ireland: 13%  
# 14    Germany: 12.9%  
= 15    Portugal: 12.8%  
= 15    Finland: 12.8%  
# 17    Iceland: 12.4%  
# 18    Turkey: 12%  
# 19    Belgium: 11.7%  
# 20    Netherlands: 10%  
# 21    Sweden: 9.7%  
# 22    Denmark: 9.5%  
# 23    France: 9.4%  
# 24    Austria: 9.1%  
# 25    Italy: 8.5%  
# 26    Norway: 8.3%  
# 27    Switzerland: 7.7%  
= 28    Japan: 3.2%  
= 28    Korea, South: 3.2%  
 Weighted average: 14.1%   

DEFINITION: Percentage of total population who have a BMI (body mass index) greater than 30 Kg/sq.meters Obesity rates are defined as the percentage of the population with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30. The BMI is a single number that evaluates an individual’s weight status in relation to height (weight/height2, with weight in kilograms and height in metres). For Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, figures are based on health examinations, rather than self-reported information. Obesity estimates derived from health examinations are generally higher and more reliable than those coming from self-reports, because they preclude any misreporting of people’s height and weight. However, health examinations are only conducted regularly in a few countries (OECD).

SOURCE: OECD Health Data 2005