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Politics and your children's school lunch

Brad Farra - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Here is a follow up video to my post from yesterday. Politicians in your local school cafeteria are not looking out for your child's nutrition.

6 Tests School Cafeterias Fail

Brad Farra - Monday, October 26, 2009

Take the time to pack your child's lunch.

The National Institute of Medicine (IOM) takes issue with 16-year-old rules that dictate nutrition in your kid's school lunch.

How old are federal school lunch guidelines?

So old that there is no requirement to include whole grains. So old that there is no standard at all for sodium content. So old that -- get this -- school lunches must deliver a minimum number of calories, with no upper limit.

It's been at least 16 years since the federal government last updated the guidelines school cafeterias must follow when preparing school lunches and breakfasts (30 years by some counts); since the programs began, 219 billion lunches have been served -- with few of them meeting nutritional requirements many parents consider healthy. The National Institute of Medicine has distilled the problems with the outdated system into six basic recommendations:

  1. Fruits: Whereas schools can now make fruit available to qualify for funding, the IOM recommends fruit be made a required part of every breakfast served.
  2. Vegetables: Whereas schools can now offer fruits or vegetables to meet federal guidelines, the IOM recommends that schools provide two servings of vegetables daily, and that the offerings must include dark green and bright orange vegetables and legumes -- presumably to counteract the tendency to offer America's favorite vegetable, the potato, too often.
  3. Grains and Breads: Whereas schools can now offer any kind of grains, the IOM recommends that at least half of grains served be whole grains.
  4. Milk: Whereas milk is now available with a variety of fat-contents and in a variety of flavors, the IOM recommends that only fat-free and low-fat milks be served, and that the only flavored varieties be fat-free.
  5. Calories: Whereas now school lunches and breakfasts must meet a minimum calorie level, the IOM recommends that offerings deliver calories within a range that includes both a minimum and a maximum level. Saturated fat content should also be minimized.
  6. Sodium: Whereas there is now no specific recommendation about sodium content, the IOM recommends that school cafeterias dramatically decrease sodium content to a new low level by 2020.

These guidelines spell out how low-income children should be fed, because the federal government subsidizes the lunches for 30.5 million children and breakfasts for 10.5 million. But these guidelines also set the benchmark for all food served in school lunch cafeterias, so the guidelines affect the nutrition available to children of all income levels.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers these school meal nutrition programs, seems to have endorsed the IOM's findings, noting that "this trend unfortunately puts children at increased risk for a variety of obesity-related conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure." The nutritional guidelines are up for Congressional review.

By Dan Shapley of the Daily Green

Chiropractic Management of Fibromyalgia

Brad Farra - Saturday, October 17, 2009

The prescription drug ads you see on TV are not your only option for treating fibromyalgia. Chiropractors are specialists in treating pain, specifically the pain associated with the neuromusculoskeletal system. Fibromyalgia is a condition marked primarily by widespread muscle pain often accompanied by fatigue, sleep disorders, irritable bowel, and other symptoms. Fibromyalgia is treated by Chiropractors using therapeutic exercises, vitamins, herbs, dietary modification, and Chiropractic adjusting if indicated. There is strong evidence supporting the use of aerobic exercise in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Massage, muscle strength training, and Chiropractic adjusting can also be helpful. The best approach to treating fibromyalgia is a combination approach. Using all conservative treatments available and seeing what works for the individual. The prescription drugs should be a last resort.

Aging and Telomere Testing

Brad Farra - Monday, October 12, 2009

There is a new lab test available that tests sections of DNA called telomeres. Telomeres are present to take damage when the cell replicates instead of the DNA itself taking the damage. With aging the telomere becomes shorter and shorter eventually becoming so short the cell can not replicate. Testing can now determine the length of a person's telomeres in relation to age. It's important to know that regardless of your age according to the length of your telomeres you can do a lot to slow the damage to these telomeres and thus the aging process. I will touch briefly on the nutritional and lifestyle modifications that can be made to slow the loss of telomere length (aging).

Many things in our diet increase oxidative stress on our bodies and thus shortens telomeres: refined carbohydrates, fast foods, processed foods, soda, artificial sweetener, trans fats, and saturated fats. If you steer clear of these items you are a step ahead of most. A healthy diet would include "antioxidants" to defend against this same oxidative stress. Fruits, vegetables, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, beans, and nuts are all important components of your anti-aging diet. Other important lifestyle modifications important for slowing the aging process includes weight management and a regular exercise program. Decreasing visceral fat and increasing regular aerobic exercise are both very important. Sleep 8 hours per night, use stress reduction techniques, and eliminate use of all Tobacco products. The final recommendations involve supplements. There are many supplements that can provide support to slow aging. Antioxidants can be taken in supplement form, but the best way to get them is in the food itself. A multi-vitamin is a key supplement for anti-aging, and vitamin D is also crucial.

So, don't feel like you have to go have your telomeres tested, but do all these things to achieve optimum health and longevity.

Fracture Healing

Brad Farra - Saturday, October 10, 2009

I'm posting this in response to a recent question.

When you have fractured a bone it's important to follow the rehab. instructions of your physician and physical therapist. There are things you can to to ensure an optimal healing process. Be sure to have top notch nutrition during the healing process. A well balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy sources of fats and protein. Be sure you are getting in enough dietary protein as your body will consume more as the fracture is healing. Supplements that can ensure optimal healing time include a multi-vitamin and or calcium, vitamin D., phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium to achieve 100% RDA levels. A supplement called microcrystalline hydroxyapatite is a good way to get many of these nutrients.

Cancer: "Single Cause" Fallacy

Brad Farra - Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I thought this was an excellent piece by a nutrition reporter:

"One of the foundations of modern medicine is that each disease has a single cause - identify the cause and a drug treatment will follow. The idea certainly helps with the marketing and sales of drugs, but it denies the complexity of most disease processes.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared that cancer would be cured by 1976. Over the years, we've read hundreds (if not thousands) of promising news releases and scientific papers suggesting that the "latest" discovery could very well lead to a cure, or at least to effective treatments, for cancer. Despite all of the research - hundreds of billion dollars of funding - the death rate from cancer between 1950 and 2005 has decreased by only 5 percent. In contrast, deaths from heart disease decreased by 64 percent during this time.

Although all types of cancer share many features, such as the proliferation of abnormal cells, cancers can have many different causes. Alterations in gene function are at the root of cancer, but they can result from any number of factors, including poor nutrition, elevated hormone levels, and environmental toxins.

Damage to some individual genes, such as the p53 and BRCA, certainly increase the risk of cancer. But the research increasingly shows that cancers don't develop because of one or two genes that go bad. Rather, cancers are the consequence of a lot going wrong and going out of control. An analogy: instead of one musician hitting a bad note, cancer is more like all of the musicians hitting a bad note, cancer is more like all of the musicians in an orchestra repeatedly hitting the wrong notes.

So if cancer does not have a single cause, what's the best way to tackle the disease? The only sensible approach is to emphasize prevention - eating better diets, taking some nutritional supplements, exercising,and creating an environment with fewer environmental toxins. I don't think we'll ever eliminate cancer or identify a "cure," but through mindful living we can certainly reduce the risk of cancer and the number of people who must undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation - treatments that often produce as much suffering as the disease itself."

-Jack Challem (Nutrition Reporter, June 2009, Vol. 20, No. 6)

Low Carbohydrate Diets

Brad Farra - Friday, May 15, 2009

As a Chiropractor in Portland I provide holistic care, which means I treat the whole person and not an isolated complaint. Nutrition can be an important component of an individual's treatment. Sometimes proper nutrition can optimize the healing process, and other times nutritional advice is aimed at weight loss to improve overall health. I inevitably answer the question about "low carb diets" when weight loss is a goal. I am posting this as a resource for those wanting to lose weight and considering a low carbohydrate diet. Here's why they are wrong and should not be used for weight loss. The most important thing to point out is that the low carb diets are not a long term solution to better health. It's important to start a weight loss plan that you can stick with for the long term. Nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle management are the key factors in a successful weight loss program. I will briefly cover the negative aspects of the low carb diets.

The human body is equipped to burn carbohydrates as a fuel source. Many health concerns arise when the body does not have a source of carbs. When the body does not have a dietary supply of carbs the brain uses ketones for fuel instead of glucose (a simple carbohydrate). This can cause headaches, light-headedness, nausea, and other symptoms.

When you replace carbs in your diet with fat and protein several health concerns arise. With excessive protein you put yourself at a higher risk for gout, a type of arthritis that arises due to uric acid crystals forming in joints. Another type of crystal that forms due to the excessive protein intake of a low carb diet causes kidney stones. The low carb diet is low in fiber and combined with crystal formation this is linked to a higher risk of kidney stones. The low fiber diet causes a cascade of other problems that put you at risk for poor intestinal health and conditions including: constipation, certain colon cancers, poor nutrient absorption, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, and others. If that isn't enough to keep you away...

The high protein, high fat, and low fiber portions of the low carb diet combine to raise cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. Furthermore, high protein intake is linked to osteoporosis because the body leaches calcium out of bone as a buffer to avoid acidity.

Exercise is an important component to weight loss. On a low carb diet you won't feel like exercising. A lack of carbohydrate will decrease muscle performance and limit the amount and the intensity of exercise. Without exercise helping you lose weight you run the risk of losing lean muscle mass. A loss of lean muscle mass will directly contribute to decreasing your metabolic rate.

So, if you want to lose weight don't put yourself through a diet that you won't be able to stick with and that will only make you more unhealthy. Choose a long term solution that includes a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fat and protein sources.

I would be happy to discuss any details with you, and remember...

Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.