High Vitamin D Level= High Testosterone Level

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Vitamin D is actually a hormone – one that regulates three percent of our genes. Among those genes are a few that are responsible for the production of testosterone in the Leydig cells. So vitamin D is an important vitamin, certainly once you realise that an overwhelming majority of the western population has too little vitamin D in their blood.

This is because our food contains too little vitamin D, so we have to rely mainly on the vitamin D that our body makes. When exposed to sunlight our skin cells convert cholesterol into vitamin D. But we get too little sunlight and are therefore unable to make enough vitamin D.

So does that mean that most men in the West therefore make too little testosterone?

This is the question that the Austrians set out to answer. So they examined the blood of 2300 men whose average age was just over sixty. Only eleven percent of them had sufficient vitamin D in their blood. And indeed: the more vitamin D the men had in their blood, the higher their testosterone levels and their concentration of free testosterone [FAI].

 

 

 

Now, the concentration of vitamin D in the blood fluctuates with the seasons. The vitamin D concentration is highest after the summer. And this is when the concentration of testosterone in men is highest, according to some studies.[Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2006 Aug;31(7):895-9.]The Austrians were able to confirm this relationship. The testosterone level and vitamin D level rise and fall in synch in the human body.

 

So if men make sure they have enough vitamin D in their blood, they’ll also make more testosterone. Vitamin D supplements are what come to mind: pretty strong supplements.

But although most multivitamin tablets contain vitamin D, most people who take these kind of supplements only have a slightly higher vitamin D level compared to people who do not take multivitamins. The Austrians also noticed this in their study. “Seventy-eight patients (2.4 per cent) reported taking vitamin supplements on a regular basis, which usually contained vitamin D3. Because 25(OH)D levels were only slightly higher in users of vitamin D preparations (mean 22.1 microg/l) compared with the remaining cohort (mean 17.2 microg/l), we decided to include these patients in the present analyses.”

If you look at the table above, you’ll see that the effect of multivitamins on the vitamin D level in the blood is too small to boost your testosterone level. You need to think of heavier vitamin D doses, between 400 and 1000 units per pill.

Fifty years ago German sports scientists discovered that power athletes made better progression in the season when they had high vitamin D levels in their blood. Maybe the Austrians have now discovered why.

 

Source:

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2009 Dec 29. [Epub ahead of print].

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Studies Support Testosterone Supplements For Older Men

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Studies Support Testosterone Supplements for Older Men

Low levels of the hormone could boost death risk, researchers say  Posted June 17, 2008, US News and World Reports

TUESDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) — Low testosterone levels put men at high risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and early death, but testosterone replacement therapy may help better the odds, according to new studies.

Some experts believe that low testosterone levels, which become more common with age, are linked to several health conditions. These include loss of bone and muscle mass, depression, decreased libido, and, most important, the metabolic syndrome — a cluster risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The studies, all of which were expected to be presented at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, in San Francisco, suggest that therapy to raise testosterone back to normal levels may have several positive effects.

One study showed that testosterone treatment significantly reduced abdominal fat, total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides and body mass index (a measure of body fat). It also helped raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

Researchers in a second study found that men older than 63 benefited as much as younger men.

“We conclude that if elderly men have a deficiency of testosterone, it is worthwhile to treat them with testosterone,” co-author of both studies, Farid Saad of Berlin-headquartered Bayer Schering Pharma — a drug company that makes a form of testosterone therapy — said in a prepared interview.

A third study added to previous evidence that low testosterone increases one’s chance of early death from any cause in the long run.

In the study, funded in part by drug maker Novo Nordisc, researchers looked the causes of death in almost 2,000 German men aged 20 to 79 years. The men with low testosterone at the start of study, which had an average follow up period of 7 years, had a more than 2.5 times greater risk of dying during the next 10 years compared with men with higher testosterone. These men tended to be older, fatter and had a greater prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure than the men with higher testosterone levels, Haring said.

This difference was not explained by age, smoking, alcohol intake, level of physical activity or increased waist circumference (a risk factor for diabetes and heart disease), according to researcher author Robin Haring, a Ph.D. student from Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald, Institute for Community Medicine.

Low testosterone levels predicted increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer but not death of any other single cause, the study found.

 

 

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By Dr. Mercola – http://articles.mercola.com

In the early 1990’s, soy and soy products exploded onto the supermarket scene with promises of bountiful health benefits.

This “new miracle food,” soy, was supposed to lower cholesterol, take the heat out of hot flashes, protect against breast and prostate cancer and offer a filling alternative to earth-loving vegetarians.

The problem with these claims?

Most of them are false.

Sadly, most of what you have been led to believe by the media about soy is simply untrue.

The sudden upsurge in the recommendation of soy as a health food has been nothing more than a clever marketing gimmick to further reduce the cost and nutritional content of your food.

For you vegetarians out there staring at the screen in open-mouthed shock, fear not.

There are plenty of other healthy vegetarian alternatives, which I will discuss later in this article.

What was once considered a minor industrial crop back in 1913 now covers over 72 million acres of farmland.

But first, let’s examine the dangers and side effects of soy protein isolate and GMO foods.

Soy Protein Isolate — What is It, and How is it Getting in My Food?

The Soyfoods Association of America has a soy protein “fact sheet” defining soy protein isolate as the following:

“Soy protein isolate is a dry powder food ingredient that has been separated or isolated from the other components of the soybean, making it 90 to 95 percent protein and nearly carbohydrate and fat-free.”

Soy protein isolate can be found in protein bars, meal replacement shakes, bottled fruit drinks, soups and sauces, meat analogs, baked goods, breakfast cereals and some dietary supplements.

Bodybuilders beware: because many weight gainer powders, bars and shakes contain this dangerous ingredient and it can cause troubling side effects such as diminished libido and erectile dysfunction — and this is just the start. You’ll find out more about these disturbing health effects later on in this article.

Even if you are not a vegetarian and do not use soymilk or tofu, it is important to become a label reader. There are so many different names for soy additives, you could be bringing home a genetically modified soy-based product without even realizing it. Dr. Daniel offers a free Special Report, “Where the Soys Are,” on her Web site. It lists the many “aliases” that soy might be hiding under in ingredient lists — words like “boullion,” “natural flavor” and “textured plant protein.”

Here are a few other names soy tends to hide under:

  • Mono-diglyceride
  • Soya, Soja or Yuba
  • TSF (textured soy flour) or TSP (textured soy protein)
  • TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • Lecithin
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)

Not all textured vegetable protein is made from soy, but a great deal of it is. Lecithin can be made from soy, eggs, sunflower or corn. Be sure to contact the manufacturer to find out which is in your product if the label doesn’t reveal this information.

GMO — Making Soy Even Worse

One of the worst problems with soy comes from the fact that 90 to 95 percent of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified (GM), and these are used to create soy protein isolate.

Why the genetic tinkering?

Genetically modified soybeans are designed to be “Roundup ready.” That’s right, they are chemically engineered to withstand heavy doses of herbicides without killing the plant! What does this mean for your health and the health of your unborn or yet-to-be-conceived children? Read on.

GM Soy Can Lead to Hormonal Disruption and Miscarriages

The active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is called glyphosate, which is responsible for the disruption of the delicate hormonal balance of the female reproductive cycle.

“It’s an endocrine buster,” says UK pathologist Stanley Ewen, “that interferes with aromatase, which produces estrogen.”

What’s more, glyphosate is toxic to the placenta, which is responsible for delivering vital nutrients from mother to child, and eliminating waste products. Once the placenta has been damaged or destroyed, the result can be miscarriage. In those children born to mothers who have been exposed to even a small amount of glyphosate, serious birth defects can result.

In an excellent summary of glyphosate-related effects by the Pesticide Action Network, Dr. Andreas Carrasco of the Embryology Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine in Buenos Aires, simply and expertly explains the serious risks for unborn children exposed to Roundup-laden GMO soy products.

Amphibian embryos were exposed to a tiny concentration of glyphosate (diluted 5000 fold) and showed the following effects:

“Effects included reduced head size, genetic alterations in the central nervous system, increased death of cells that help form the skull, deformed cartilage, eye defects, and undeveloped kidneys. Carrasco also stated that the glyphosate was not breaking down in the cells, but was accumulating.

The findings lend weight to claims that abnormally high levels of cancer, birth defects, neonatal mortality, lupus, kidney disease, and skin and respiratory problems in populations near Argentina’s soybean fields may be linked to the aerial spraying of Roundup.”

The long-term effects of the human consumption of genetically modified soy and soy-based products are staggering.

In April 2010, researchers at Russia’s Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security found that after feeding hamsters GM soy for two years over three generations, by the third generation, most lost the ability to have babies!  Now, let’s take a close look at some of the health risks to YOU as a result of eating genetically modified soy.

Infertility in Women

Do you want to start a family? Have you had any trouble conceiving, perhaps due to irregular menstrual cycles or endometriosis? Have you ever experienced a miscarriage?

If so, what you’re about to read will shock you.

Brazilian study published in 2009 looked at the impact of soy on the reproductive system of female rats. Female rats fed GM soy for 15 months showed significant changes in their uterus and reproductive cycles, compared to rats fed organic soy or no soy.

Extrapolating the findings to people, women who eat genetically modified soy products, such as the soy protein isolate in processed vegetarian fare, may be more likely to experience severe hormonal disruptions, including an overabundance of estrogen, a hair-growth stimulating hormone, and damage to the pituitary gland.

According to Dr. Stanley Ewen, the female rats fed GM soy probably had an increase in progesterone, which could cause an increase in the number of eggs released during each ovulation cycle.

You might think this would lead to an increase in fertility. However, as discussed in an article by Jeffrey Smith, women who consume genetically modified soy products are at increased risk for developing retrograde menstruation (the menstrual cycle backs up into the body instead of outward), causing endometriosis, which can lead to infertility.

The consumption of soy protein isolate and other soy-based products can also lead to abnormally heavy or longer menstrual periods. This is called menorrhagia and, ironically, some commercials have been popping up with a new pill that supposedly offers the “cure” for this “mystery syndrome.”

When in reality the real cure for some women is as simple as removing soy and soy-based products from the diet. The negative effects of soy are not restricted to women, however.

Loss of Libido & Erectile Dysfunction in Men

Guys, do you enjoy protein bars or use a weight gainer shake? If so, be sure to read the label to see if the products you use contain any soy ingredients. Did you know that celibate monks living in monasteries and leading a vegetarian lifestyle find soy foods quite helpful for dampening libido?

Another drawback: Soy has also been linked to erectile dysfunction. The two natural drugs found in soy, genistein and daidzein, mimic estrogen so well that they have been known to cause a variety of alarming side effects in men:

  • Breast enlargement (gynecomastia)
  • Decreased facial and body hair growth
  • Decreased libido
  • Mood swings and frequent crying jags
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Lowered sperm count

For example, one recent study documented a case of gynecomastia in a 60-year-old man as a result of his soy consumption. Another study showed that juvenile rats exposed to daidzein showed impaired erectile function at maturity.

Men, if you’ve experienced one or any of these symptoms, soy could be the culprit. Remove it from your diet, but be sure to consult a trusted physician if your symptoms do not improve or get worse as this could be a sign of another serious condition.

The Healthy Aspects of Soy: Fermented vs. Unfermented

In order to back up the claim that soy is a health food, privately funded “researchers” have been quick to point out that Asians, who consume a diet high in soy, have less risk of breast, uterine and prostate cancer. Unfortunately, they leave out two very important
points:

The reason Asians have an increased risk for some cancers is the same reason they do not develop others: unfermented soy. The soy marketing and promotion gurus left out this critical piece of information. Would you rather have one cancer over another? Isn’t that like asking whether or not you’d like to be whacked in the head with a two-by-four vs. a wooden stick?

You might be asking yourself what the big difference is between consuming a fermented soy product such as, say, tempeh, vs. tofu or a veggie burger. I’m here to tell you, the difference is night and day.

Unfermented AND fermented soy contains hormonal mimics in the form of isoflavones which can not only disrupt delicate hormone systems in your body, but also act as goitrogens, substances that suppress your thyroid function. When the thyroid is suppressed, a host of health problems result, namely:

  • Anxiety and mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Difficulty conceiving children
  • Digestive problems
  • Food allergies

And so much more. No wonder soy can lead to thyroid, esophagus and stomach cancer! Unfermented soy is also chock full of phytic acid, an “antinutrient” responsible for leeching vital nutrients from your body. Phytic acid also blocks the uptake of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc especially.

Now, fermented soy products do provide health benefits.

As I mentioned in my previous article, some examples of healthful fermented soyproducts are as follows:

  • Tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
  • Miso, a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture (commonly used in miso soup).
  • Natto, fermented soybeans with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.
  • Soy sauce, which is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt and enzymes; be wary because many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.

For those of you who enjoy tofu, I’m sorry to say it didn’t make this list because tofu is an unfermented soy product.

So, What Are The Health Benefits of Fermented Soy Products?

The claim that soy products can prevent osteoporosis, decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia and protect you from cancer of the prostate, lung and liver is actually true, but ONLY if the soy is fermented.

How?

The process of fermenting soy destroys the above-mentioned dangerous substances, thereby making it fit for consumption. Also, fermented soy products such as those listed above are a rich source of vitamin K2, a vitamin that works in harmony with vitamin D to keep you healthy. Vitamin K regulates your body’s blood clotting ability and helps prevent cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. Andvitamin D is essential to the function of every system in your body.

Warning to Vegetarians about the Risk of Mineral Deficiency

Since phytic acid or phytates sap the nutrients from your body, if you’re eating a vegetarian diet that has replaced meat with mostly unfermented soy such as veggie burgers containing GMO soy protein isolate, you are at risk for severe mineral deficiency.

In addition to this nutrient loss, many processed veggie burgers and the like are packed with harmful artificial flavorings, particularly MSG and textured vegetable protein products to give them their strong “meat” flavor.

What’s even worse is the process soy has to go through to become soy protein isolate. Acid washing in aluminum tanks, which is designed to remove some of the antinutrients (but the results often vary widely), leeches aluminum into the final product. Aluminum can have adverse effects on brain development and cause symptoms such as:

  • Antisocial behavior
  • Learning disabilities
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

As I mentioned in a previous article about soy, this makes processed vegetarian fare more palatable, but far from nutritious. Vegetarians have plenty of options for well-rounded, nutritious meals without needing to eat soy or soy-based products.

  • Beans are an inexpensive, protein-rich food that can be eaten alone, added to salads or served as a side dish. Be sure to purchase organic dried beans and cook them at home to avoid the adverse health effects of eating canned food. Ideally is it also best to soak them for at least 12 hours before cooking them.
  • Nuts are also an excellent source of protein. For optimal health benefits, reach for organic nuts such as almonds or walnuts, instead of overly processed mixed nuts.
  • Quinoa is a gluten free grain that can be enjoyed as a cereal, side dish or added to homemade vegetable stews as a thickener.
  • Flaxseed, which is rich in essential omega 3 fats like ALA, is an excellent source of protein. Add it to salads or sprinkle it over yogurt to infuse your meal with vital nutrients. However, it is important to grind flax seeds just prior to eating them because100 percent of commercially ground flaxseeds are rancid. Hemp seeds are also an excellent source of protein.

Hope for the Lactose Intolerant

If you suffer from lactose intolerance and have been replacing milk with soy, you have three more healthful options: Almond milk, and now hemp milk. All are nutritious alternatives to soy, and almond milk has a richer, heartier flavor. Hemp milk is a very creamy, high protein alternative to soymilk, and it’s easy to blend your own by whizzing up hemp seeds and water in a high-speed blender.

Babies — Birth Control in a Bottle

As stated in a number of previous articles, soy formula is one of the most dangerous foods you can feed your baby!

“In 1998, investigators reported that the daily exposure of infants to isoflavones in soy infant formula is 6 to11 times higher on a body-weight basis than the dose that has hormonal effects in adults consuming soy foods. Circulating concentrations of isoflavones in infants fed soy-based formula were 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than plasma estradiol concentrations in infants on cow’s milk formula.”

What does this mean? Feeding your infant soy-based formula can cause a host of health problems including:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Food allergies and digestive distress
  • Early puberty and fertility problems (including the inability to menstruate)
  • Asthma
  • Precocious puberty for girls and gynecomastia (man boobs) for boys
  • Thyroid disease
  • Cancer

As I concluded in my article on infant formula, babies who are fed exclusively from the breast from birth to six months enjoy health benefits such as:

  • Lower risk of respiratory tract and middle ear infections
  • Lower risk of eczema
  • Lower risk of obesity
  • Added protection against heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and allergies
  • Improved brain function and immune system function

Soy formula is also laden with toxic chemicals such as aluminum and manganese, which can cause both physical and mental health problems, learning disabilities, brain damage and behavioral problems. If, for some reason, you are unable to breastfeed or have adopted a baby, look into these recipes for homemade infant formula.

School Lunch — Children’s Nutrition Left Behind

In order to comply with new US Government standards, soy products are now being used to replace whole, nutritious foods in school lunches. Due to the decreased fat content of soy, it is touted as a healthful alternative to the meat and dairy of yesterday’s hot meal.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Soy added to your child’s hot lunch depletes the necessary nutrients needed for healthy growth and has been linked to learning disabilities. I encourage you to watch this sobering video to learn more about the dangers in your child’s school lunch. Do your children a favor and send them to school with a healthy, home-packed meal.

Senior Citizens — Aging Less Gracefully

According to a study done by Dr. Lon White of the Hawaii Center for Health Research, senior citizens who consumed a lot of tofu in mid-life were more likely to experience accelerated brain aging and a more pronounced loss of cognitive function.

“What’s more,” said Dr White, “those who ate a lot of tofu, by the time they were 75 or 80, looked five years older.”

If you’re heading toward your golden years and are looking to avoid soy protein, become a label reader. Meal replacement drinks like Ensure are filled with soy protein and are best avoided. As you can see, unfermented soy is anything but a health food.

Do your own research, try eliminating it from your family’s diet and judge the results for yourself. Remember, an educated consumer is an armed consumer. Big companies can only produce and sell these harmful products as long as you’re buying them.

Vote with your wallet by spending your money on healthier alternatives!

Fatty Foods Addictive as Cocaine in Growing Body of Science

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By Robert Langreth and Duane D. Stanford – Nov 2, 2011 12:01 AM ET on http://www.bloomberg.com

 

Cupcakes may be addictive, just like cocaine.

A growing body of medical research at leading universities and government laboratories suggests that processed foods and sugary drinks made by the likes of PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT)aren’t simply unhealthy. They can hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to cocaine, nicotine and other drugs.

“The data is so overwhelming the field has to accept it,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.”

The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists’ radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Twenty-eight scientific studies and papers on food addiction have been published this year, according to a National Library of Medicine database. As the evidence expands, the science of addiction could become a game changer for the $1 trillion food and beverage industries.

If fatty foods and snacks and drinks sweetened with sugar and high fructose corn syrup are proven to be addictive, food companies may face the most drawn-out consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking movement took on the tobacco industry a generation ago.

‘Fun-for-You’

“This could change the legal landscape,” said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity and a proponent of anti-obesity regulation. “People knew for a long time cigarettes were killing people, but it was only later they learned about nicotine and the intentional manipulation of it.”

Food company executives and lobbyists are quick to counter that nothing has been proven, that nothing is wrong with what PepsiCo Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi calls “fun-for- you” foods, if eaten in moderation. In fact, the companies say they’re making big strides toward offering consumers a wide range of healthier snacking options. Nooyi, for one, is as well known for calling attention to PepsiCo’s progress offering healthier fare as she is for driving sales.

Coca-Cola Co. (KO), PepsiCo, Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft and Kellogg Co. of Battle Creek,Michigan, declined to grant interviews with their scientists.

No one disputes that obesity is a fast growing global problem. In the U.S., a third of adults and 17 percent of teens and children are obese, and those numbers are increasing. Across the globe, from Latin America, to Europe to Pacific Island nations, obesity rates are also climbing.

Cost to Society

The cost to society is enormous. A 2009 study of 900,000 people, published in The Lancet, found that moderate obesity reduces life expectancy by two to four years, while severe obesity shortens life expectancy by as much as 10 years. Obesity has been shown to boost the risk ofheart disease, diabetes, some cancers, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and stroke, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention. The costs of treating illness associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion in 2008, according to a 2009 study in Health Affairs.

Sugars and fats, of course, have always been present in the human diet and our bodies are programmed to crave them. What has changed is modern processing that creates food with concentrated levels of sugars, unhealthy fats and refined flour, without redeeming levels of fiber or nutrients, obesity experts said. Consumption of large quantities of those processed foods may be changing the way the brain is wired.

A Lot Like Addiction

Those changes look a lot like addiction to some experts. Addiction “is a loaded term, but there are aspects of the modern diet that can elicit behavior that resembles addiction,” said David Ludwig, a Harvard researcher and director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Children’s Hospital Boston. Highly processed foods may cause rapid spikes and declines in blood sugar, increasing cravings, his research has found.

Education, diets and drugs to treat obesity have proven largely ineffective and the new science of obesity may explain why, proponents say. Constant stimulation with tasty, calorie- laden foods may desensitize the brain’s circuitry, leading people to consume greater quantities of junk food to maintain a constant state of pleasure.

In one 2010 study, scientists at Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, fed rats an array of fatty and sugary products including Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL) bacon, Sara Lee Corp. (SLE)pound cake, The Cheesecake Factory Inc. (CAKE) cheesecake and Pillsbury Co. Creamy Supreme cake frosting. The study measured activity in regions of the brain involved in registering reward and pleasure through electrodes implanted in the rats.

Binge-Eating Rats

The rats that had access to these foods for one hour a day started binge eating, even when more nutritious food was available all day long. Other groups of rats that had access to the sweets and fatty foods for 18 to 23 hours per day became obese, Paul Kenny, the Scripps scientist heading the study wrote in the journal Nature Neuroscience. The results produced the same brain pattern that occurs with escalating intake of cocaine, he wrote.

“To see food do the same thing was mind-boggling,” Kenny later said in an interview.

Researchers are finding that damage to the brain’s reward centers may occur when people eat excessive quantities of food.

Sweet Rewards

In one 2010 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas in Austin and the Oregon Research Institute, a nonprofit group that studies human behavior, 26 overweight young women were given magnetic resonance imaging scans as they got sips of a milkshake made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Hershey Co. (HSY)’s chocolate syrup.

The same women got repeat MRI scans six months later. Those who had gained weight showed reduced activity in the striatum, a region of the brain that registers reward, when they sipped milkshakes the second time, according to the study results, published last year in the Journal of Neuroscience.

“A career of overeating causes blunted reward receipt, and this is exactly what you see with chronic drug abuse,” said Eric Stice, a researcher at the Oregon Research Institute.

Scientists studying food addiction have had to overcome skepticism, even from their peers. In the late 1990s, NIDA’s Volkow, then a drug addiction researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, applied for a National Institutes of Health grant to scan obese people to see whether their brain reward centers were affected. Her grant proposal was turned down.

Finding Evidence

“I couldn’t get it funded,” she said in an interview. “The response was, there is no evidence that food produces addictive-like behaviors in the brain.”

Volkow, working with Brookhaven researcher Gene-Jack Wang, cobbled together funding from another government agency to conduct a study using a brain scanning device capable of measuring chemical activity inside the body using radioactive tracers.

Researchers were able to map dopamine receptor levels in the brains of 10 obese volunteers. Dopamine is a chemical produced in the brain that signals reward. Natural boosters of dopamine include exercise and sexual activity, but drugs such as cocaine and heroin also stimulate the chemical in large quantities.

In drug abusers, brain receptors that receive the dopamine signal may become unresponsive with increased drug usage, causing drug abusers to steadily increase their dosage in search of the same high. The Brookhaven study found that the obese people also had lowered levels of dopamine receptors compared with a lean control group.

Addicted to Sugar

The same year, psychologists at Princeton University began studying whether lab rats could become addicted to a 10 percent solution of sugar water, about the same percentage of sugar contained in most soft drinks.

An occasional drink caused no problems for the lab animals. Yet the researchers found dramatic effects when the rats were allowed to drink sugar-water every day. Over time they drank “more and more and more” while eating less of their usual diet, said Nicole Avena, who began the work as a graduate student at Princeton and is now a neuroscientist at the University of Florida.

The animals also showed withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, shakes and tremors, when the effect of the sugar was blocked with a drug. The scientists, moreover, were able to determine changes in the levels of dopamine in the brain, similar to those seen in animals on addictive drugs.

Similar Behavior

“We consistently found that the changes we were observing in the rats binging on sugar were like what we would see if the animals were addicted to drugs,” said Avena, who for years worked closely with the late Princeton psychologist, Bartley Hoebel, who died this year.

While the animals didn’t become obese on sugar water alone, they became overweight when Avena and her colleagues offered them water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.

A 2007 French experiment stunned researchers when it showed that rats prefer water sweetened with saccharine or sugar to hits of cocaine — exactly the opposite of what existing dogma would have suggested.

“It was a big surprise,” said Serge Ahmed, a neuroscientist who led the research for the French National Research Council at the University of Bordeaux.

Yale’s Brownell helped organize one of the first conferences on food addiction in 2007. Since then, a protégé, Ashley Gearhardt, devised a 25-question survey to help researchers spot people with eating habits that resemble addictive behavior.

Pictures of Milkshakes

She and her colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain activity of women scoring high on the survey. Pictures of milkshakes lit up the same brain regions that become hyperactive in alcoholics anticipating a drink, according to results published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in April.

Food addiction research may reinvigorate the search for effective obesity drugs, said Mark Gold, who chairs the psychiatry department at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Gold said the treatments he is working on seek to alter food preferences without suppressing overall appetite.

Developing Treatments

“We are trying to develop treatments that interfere with pathological food preferences,” he said. “Let’s say you are addicted to ice cream, you might come up with a treatment that blocked your interest in ice cream, but doesn’t affect your interest in meat.”

In related work, Shire Plc (SHP), a Dublin-based drugmaker, is testing its Vyvanse hyperactivity drug in patients with binge- eating problems.

Not everyone is convinced. Swansea University psychologist David Benton recently published a 16-page rebuttal to sugar addiction studies. The paper, partly funded by the World Sugar Research Organization, which includes Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft-drink maker, argues that food doesn’t produce the same kind of intense dopamine release seen with drugs and that blocking certain brain receptors doesn’t produce withdrawal symptoms in binge-eaters as it does in drug abusers.

Industry Response

What’s still unknown is whether the science of food addition has begun to change the thinking among food and beverage companies, which are, after all, primarily in the business of selling the Doritos, Twinkies and other fare people crave.

About 80 percent of Purchase, New York-based PepsiCo’s marketing budget, for instance, is directed toward pushing salty snacks and sodas. Although companies are quick to point to their healthier offerings, their top executives are constantly called upon to reassure investors those sales of snack foods and sodas are showing steady growth.

“We want to see profit growth and revenue growth,” said Tim Hoyle, director of research at Haverford Trust Co. in Radnor, Pennsylvania, an investor in PepsiCo, the world’s largest snack-food maker. “The health foods are good for headlines but when it gets down to it, the growth drivers are the comfort foods, the Tostitos and the Pepsi-Cola.”

Little wonder that the food industry is pushing hard on the idea that the best way to get a handle on obesity is through voluntary measures and by offering healthier choices. The same tactic worked for awhile, decades ago, for the tobacco industry, which deflected attention from the health risks and addictive nature of cigarettes with “low tar and nicotine” marketing.

Food industry lobbyists don’t buy that argument — or even the idea that food addiction may exist. Said Richard Adamson, a pharmacologist and consultant for the American Beverage Association: “I have never heard of anyone robbing a bank to get money to buy a candy bar or ice cream or pop.”

 

 

 

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Langreth in New York atrlangreth@bloomberg.net; Duane D. Stanford in Atlanta at dstanford2@bloomberg.net

7 Foods You Should Never Eat

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Food scientists are shedding light on items loaded with toxins and chemicals–and simple swaps for a cleaner diet and supersized health.

Clean eating means choosing fruits, vegetables, and meats that are raised, grown, and sold with minimal processing. Often they’re organic, and rarely (if ever) should they contain additives. But in some cases, the methods of today’s food producers are neither clean nor sustainable. The result is damage to our health, the environment, or both. So we decided to take a fresh look at food through the eyes of the people who spend their lives uncovering what’s safe–or not–to eat. We asked them a simple question: “What foods do you avoid?” Their answers don’t necessarily make up a “banned foods” list. But reaching for the suggested alternatives might bring you better health–and peace of mind.

1. The Endocrinologist Won’t Eat: Canned Tomatoes
Fredrick Vom Saal, is an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A.

The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.

Budget tip: If your recipe allows, substitute bottled pasta sauce for canned tomatoes. Look for pasta sauces with low sodium and few added ingredients, or you may have to adjust the recipe.

Pile Your Plate with These 25 Nutrition Superstars

2. The Farmer Won’t Eat: Corn-Fed Beef
Joel Salatin is co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming.

The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. But more money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. “We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure,” says Salatin.

The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers’ markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It’s usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don’t see it, ask your butcher.

Budget tip: Cuts on the bone are cheaper because processors charge extra for deboning. You can also buy direct from a local farmer, which can be as cheap as $5 per pound. To find a farmer near you, search eatwild.com.

20 Ways to Save At The Supermarket

3. The Toxicologist Won’t Eat: Microwave Popcorn
Olga Naidenko, is a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group.

The problem: 
Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize–and migrate into your popcorn. “They stay in your body for years and accumulate there,” says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.

The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

Budget tip: Popping your own popcorn is dirt cheap

Top 10 Food Mistakes Your Making

4. The Farm Director Won’t Eat: Nonorganic Potatoes
Jeffrey Moyer is the chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

The problem:
 Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes–the nation’s most popular vegetable–they’re treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they’re dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. “Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won’t,” says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher of Prevention). “I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.”

The solution: 
Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn’t good enough if you’re trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

Budget tip: Organic potatoes are only $1 to $2 a pound, slightly more expensive than conventional spuds.

What to Really Look for on a Nutrition Label

5. The Fisheries Expert Won’t Eat: Farmed Salmon
Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, published a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.

The problem: Nature didn’t intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. “You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer,” says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. “It’s that bad.” Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.

The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it’s farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

Budget tip: 
Canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.

6. The Cancer Researcher Won’t Drink: Milk Produced With Artificial Hormones
Rick North is project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society.

The problem:
 Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. “When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract,” says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. “There’s not 100 percent proof that this is increasing cancer in humans,” admits North. “However, it’s banned in most industrialized countries.”

The solution: Check labels for rBGH-free, rBST-free, produced without artificial hormones, or organic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

Budget tip: Try Wal-Mart’s Great Value label, which does not use rBGH.

7. The Organic-Foods Expert Won’t Eat: Conventional Apples
Mark Kastel, a former executive for agribusiness, is codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods.

The problem: If fall fruits held a “most doused in pesticides contest,” apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don’t develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it’s just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. “Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers,” he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson’s disease.

The solution: Buy organic apples.

Budget tip: If you can’t afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them. But Kastel personally refuses to compromise. “I would rather see the trade-off being that I don’t buy that expensive electronic gadget,” he says. “Just a few of these decisions will accommodate an organic diet for a family.”
via Fox News
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/01/7-foods-should-never-eat/#ixzz1fm5VXxSp

Food Cravings? Here Is What Your Body Really Wants

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If you crave this…What you really need is…And here are healthy foods that have it:

  • Chocolate = Magnesium: Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits
  • Sweets = Chromium: Broccoli, grapes, cheese, dried beans, calves liver, chicken Carbon Fresh fruits Phosphorus Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, grains Sulfur Cranberries, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage Tryptophan Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
  • Bread, toast = Nitrogen: High protein foods: fish, meat, nuts, beans
  • Oily snacks, fatty foods = Calcium:   Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
  • Coffee or tea = Phosphorous: Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes Sulfur Egg yolks, red peppers, muscle protein, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables NaCl (salt) Sea salt, apple cider vinegar (on salad) Iron Meat, fish and poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries
  • Alcohol, recreational drugs = Protein:  Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, nuts Avenin Granola, oatmeal Calcium Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame Glutamine Supplement glutamine powder for withdrawal, raw cabbage juice Potassium Sun-dried black olives, potato peel broth, seaweed, bitter greens
  • Chewing ice = Iron:  Meat, fish, poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries
  • Burned food = Carbon: Fresh fruits
  • Soda and other carbonated drinks = Calcium:   Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
  • Salty foods = Chloride:  Raw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt
  • Acid foods = Magnesium: Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits
  • Preference for liquids rather than solids = Water:  Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.
  • Preference for solids rather than liquids = Water: You have been so dehydrated for so long that you have lost your thirst. Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.
  • Cool drinks = Manganese: Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries
  • Pre-menstrual cravings = Zinc:   Red meats (especially organ meats), seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables
  • General overeating = Silicon:   Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches Tryptophan Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach Tyrosine Vitamin C supplements or orange, green, red fruits and vegetables
  • Lack of appetite = Vitamin B1:  Nuts, seeds, beans, liver and other organ meats. Vitamin B3:Tuna, halibut, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, seeds and legumes Manganese Walnuts,       almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries Chloride Raw goat milk, unrefined sea salt
  • Tobacco = Silicon:   Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches Tyrosine Vitamin C supplements or orange, green and red fruits and vegetables

Via naturopathyworks.com

Boston Men Show Decline in Testosterone (Male Hormone) Levels

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A recently published study confirms what has been suspected for some time, which is that men in the Boston area over the past two decades are showing declining levels of testosterone (male hormone), in their blood. Over twenty years the average testosterone level in these men dropped from 501 to 391. Many experts regard a testosterone lower than 300 to be abnormally low and possibly needing testosterone replacement treatment. One of the scientists on the study, Dr. Thomas Travison states that when comparing testosterone levels in Boston men from 1987 to 2005 a decline in the testosterone level in every adult age group was found over this time. The researcher stated that the speed with which the levels of male hormone declined over the twenty years and the uniformity of the decline in all age groups was cause for concern.

It is known that testosterone levels decline slowly as men age. Declining male hormone levels were found even in the 45 to 71 year age range, however. Other known causes of declining testosterone levels, the growing incidence of obesity and sedentary life style in Boston men, did not explain the findings, say the researchers.

Could other factors be at work here? Alcohol has a powerful effect on male hormone levels for many reasons. Some alcohol products like bourbon and beer may have estrogen (female hormone) like plant products in them. Liver disease from excess alcohol consumption can also reduce the level of male hormone. Other drugs may have a negative effect on male hormone production such as cannabis (marijuana, Mary Jane, pot, herb, weed, splif, ganja, the bomb, the shit etc.). Although not nearly as wide spread in its use are the opiate type drugs, heroine, methadone, opium, codeine, hydrocodone etc. which can severely depress male hormone levels.

Environmental pollutants are known to cause adverse hormonal effects in men. Pollutants such as PCB’s and DDT act like female hormone and could reduce a man’s testicular function (the testicle is the site of testosterone and sperm production in men). Even herbal products can have anti-male hormone effect such as soy, black cohosh, and white clover. Perhaps the Boston men are being exposed to these influences more now then in the past and the result is sinking male hormone levels.

Before concluding that Boston men are simply pot smoking, beer drinking, soy eating effeminate couch potatoes, the authors of the recent study call for additional research into the possible origins of this serious loss of virility hormone in the Boston area.

Gary Pepper M.D.