Response to Eggs And Cigarettes Study

Eggs have been given a bad name. Recently a study compared eating eggs with the effects of smoking. The study was flawed, but the media ran with the dramatic statement. In the study researches went to the vascular clinic of Ontario’s Western University Hospital. They asked patients there a few questions, and then tallied results. They asked about how many eggs they eat, and about their smoking habits. This information was used to come to the conclusion that eggs cause plaque to build up in the arteries at 2/3 the rate of smoking. The problem with this is that many variables were not accounted for.

Let’s play a little game of fill in the blank. If I say _______ and eggs, what is the first word that you think of? The top answer is bacon, and ham is also popular. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that the people who reported eating more eggs also ate more processed meat. But we don’t know. We also don’t know any of their other lifestyle choices that could lead to plaque build up and heart trouble. How active were they? Did they exercise? Were they overweight? Were many of them diabetic? All of these questions could change how we interpret the results of the study. All the study does in point out a correlation. In this sample of people, those who ate more eggs had more cholesterol build up in their arteries. However, correlation is not causation. The fact that these thing happened in the same people does not mean that the eggs were the cause. We can not say this without accounting for all the other variables.

If you have an expected answer to a question then the chance that you will find evidence to support it is much more likely. This little story is somewhat silly (and possibly gross and a little cruel), but it illustrates the point nicely:

The scientist yells “JUMP!” at the frog and the frog jumps one meter.
Then he cuts off one of the frog’s legs, yells “JUMP!” and the frog jumps half a meter.
Then he cuts off another of the frog’s legs, yells “JUMP!” and the frog jumps a fifth of a meter.
Then he cuts off a third leg, yells “JUMP!” and the frog does not jump. He yells “JUMP!” again, and the frog does not jump.
“Aha!” he says. “I have my result!” So he carefully writes in his lab book: “When three legs are removed, a frog becomes deaf.”

I know this is a bit of an extreme example, but you get the idea. Now, Dr David Spence was one of the leaders of this study. His record shows that he believes dietary cholesterol to be bad for the heart, despite many new studies that suggest otherwise. Since that was what he believes to be true he went looking for evidence to support it and found what he was looking for. Dr. David Jenkins was another lead researcher, he just happens to be an ethical vegan, meaning he believes eating eggs to be morally wrong. It is possible he was also looking for a certain outcome.

This research was a type of study called an observational study. It was based on self-reporting, which the scientific community agrees is not a very accurate way to gather information. Unless I was to go look at my old meal plan, I can’t tell you what I ate this past month and certainly not how much. That is one reason why this style of study is not used to determine cause and effect. The type of study that does is called an intervention study. In this type one group of people is told to make certain lifestyle changes such as eat x number of eggs for breakfast, while another group is told to eat x amount of oatmeal. They are also to report exercise levels and other information so the researchers can factor those variables in to the study. In this more controlled manner it is possible to find cause-effect relationships. Two examples of such studies, found here and here, show that eating eggs does not harm your heart. There are many more.

So, the lesson here? Don’t believe every news article you read. Do your own research and ask trusted experts. Eggs have absolutely nothing in common with cigarettes. In fact, eggs are full of good nutrients, especially if they are from pastured hens. But for brevity’s sake, that’s another post.

*No frogs were harmed in the making of this post*

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-checkup/post/what-do-egg-yolks-and-cigarettes-have-in-common/2012/08/15/f5053b7a-e71b-11e1-9739-eef99c5fb285_blog.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/eggs-health_b_1818209.html

http://frobinett.edublogs.org/2010/11/12/a-couple-of-interesting-examples-of-bias/

 

Avocados The Super-est Super Food

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avocado

In my opinion avocados are the most super of all super foods. I wasn’t introduced to them until college, and I’m glad I didn’t know what I was missing. The world would be a darker place without avocados…. ok, I exaggerate.

Anyway, they are really packed with essential nutrients, including Vitamins B5, B6, C, E and K, potassium, riboflavin, folic acid, niacin, fiber, and good fats like omega-3’s. Not only are they full of good stuff themselves, they bring out the goodness in what’s around them. Avocados contain a lot of oleic acid which helps our body absorb fat-soluble nutrients. For example, one study found that adding a cup of avocado to a salad with romaine, spinach and carrots increased carotenoid absorption 200-400%!

But, but, high in fats, isn’t that bad? Nope! Many fats are good. The one fat you really want to avoid is trans-fat, and saturated fats should be taken in “moderation”. In other words, just don’t pig out on them every day. Only 10% of an avocado’s fat content is saturated, and it contains no trans-fats. Monounsaturated fat (70% of the fat) is actually GOOD for your heart. Avocados are also anti-inflammatory thanks to two more fats; PFA’s (polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols, usually only in ocean plants) and phytosterols. These are particularly good for those with arthritis. Then there are the well known omega 3’s (another fat) that actually lower your blood cholesterol.

And listen to this: new research shows avocados target and kill cancer cells. Sounds too crazy to believe right? I thought so too, so I looked into it a little more. Avocados contain antioxidants, which is this great word we throw around a lot that I knew was good but wasn’t quite sure why. Free oxygen radicals damage cell tissue and DNA and cause aging. They are a natural waste product of our metabolism, but we make more around things like cigarette smoke, radiation, and pollution. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals. Somehow the avocado is able to target cancer cells. It seems to increase the damage caused by the free oxygen radicals in the cancer cells while antioxidizing (new word?) the healthy cells. I knew when I started researching this post that avocados were awesome, but I never expected this.

In summary: avocados are full of good nutrients and make healthy food we eat with them even healthier, they are good for your heart, anti-inflammatory, lower cholesterol, and they kill cancer. Oh, I almost forgot, they’re delicious too. I say avocados are the super-est super food. Who’s with me?

 

 

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5

http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/8-healthy-facts-about-avocados

http://www.avocados.org

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9220272/Avocados-could-protect-against-cancer.html

http://einron.hubpages.com/hub/avocadocuresprostateoralcancer

Creamy Salsa-mole

Story Time!

Shortly after I went non-dairy, a craving struck. I needed something creamy, but not necessarily sweet, and I needed it right away. Okay, so what foods are creamy? I had recently been introduced to avocados, and they are kind of creamy, but I needed REALLY creamy. So, I decided to add some mayonnaise. Right. So then I had this messy green goo, that’s kind of bland and, well, green. I needed to add some kick to it somehow. I opened the fridge, and my eyes fell on the jar of salsa. Just the thing. So I stir in some of that, and now I have a messy green goo with red in it. Well, at least it didn’t look boring anymore, but I didn’t really want to just eat this stuff with a spoon…. so… lets pretend its a dip. I grabbed some crackers and dug in. And WOW this stuff actually tasted really good…. not sure how that happened. Out of a craving a recipe was born.

Creamy Salsa-Mole

1 medium avocado

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use Spectrum brand)

2 tablespoons salsa

lime or lemon juice (optional)

  1. Chop up an avocado and toss it in a bowl. Not sure how? Check out this video.
  2. Add 2 tbs of mayonnaise. Using a fork, mush the avocado and mayonnaise together against the side of the bowl
  3. Mix in 2 tbs of salsa

Serve with your favorite gluten free cracker. I like using Sesmark’s original rice thins for this, though I love Mary’s Gone Crackers. If you’re not going to be eating this right away, add a splash of lime juice (if you don’t have that lemon works too) to keep the avocado from turning brown. Feel free to add more salsa if you like more kick. I’m not big into spicy.

 

Dirty Dozen And Clean Fifteen

If you want to start buying organic food but are a little overwhelmed, start here. The Environmental Working Group independently tests fruits and vegetables to find the ones that have the highest amount of pesticide residue. As I mention in a previous post on why you should eat organic food, pesticides are dangerous; they cause cancer and other problems. Each year they put out a list of the top 12. While I suggest buying as much of your food organic as you can, these are the most important.

Dirty Dozen

1. Apples

2. Celery

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Peaches

5. Strawberries

6. Imported nectarines

7. Grapes

8. Spinach

9. Lettuce

10. Cucumbers

11. Domestic blueberries

12. Potatoes

New Category: Dirty dozen plus.

While these foods don’t contain the most pesticides, they often have organophosphate based pesticides, which are nuerotoxins.  They should also be avoided.

Kale/Collards and Green Beans

The group also lists the fruit and veggies with the least amount of pesticide residue. These are commonly referred to as the clean 15. If you just can’t find organic versions of these, or you haven’t found a way yet to cushion the blow to your pocket book, then these are what you could buy conventionally grown and not worry about as much. A little poison is never a good thing, but we all have to start somewhere.

Clean 15

1. Onions

2. Sweet corn

3. Pineapples

4. Avocado

5. Cabbage

6. Sweet peas

7. Asparagus

8. Mangoes

9. Eggplant

10. Kiwi

11. Domestic cantaloupe

12. Sweet potatoes

13. Grapefruit

14. Watermelon

15. Mushrooms

Why Organic

organic label 2So what’s the big deal about eating organic? Its becoming more and more popular for many reasons. Are you wondering if its a good idea for you and your family? Read on to find out.

  • No Poisons

    A Harvard study says that 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30 percent of insecticides could cause cancer.. A study among farm workers showed exposure to pesticides increased the risk of Parkinson’s Disease by 70%. Like apples? If you eat a conventionally-grown apple, even if you washed it, you eat 20-30 different kinds of poisons.

  • No Hormones

     Six different kinds of hormones are put into meat, and rBGH is in milk. There have been no studies to determine if they have an effect on the hormone balance in the humans who consume the meat. The European Union has decided this is unacceptable, and has banned the importation of U.S. grown beef due to questions about its safety. We however continue to eat it. The rBGH, or bovine growth hormone, in milk is linked to infection, sores, and disease in cows. And high levels if IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor) have been found in the milk of cows treated with the growth hormone. IGF-1 has been linked to colon and breast cancer.

  • No Antibiotics

    Animals used for the food industry receive a cocktail of antibiotics to prevent infections that they would get due to other chemicals put in their systems combined with unsanitary quarters. The widespread use of antibiotics is causing bacteria to evolve and become more resistant to these drugs. This means that when we get sick the antibiotics no longer kill the bacteria. For example, MRSA is a term for a specific type of resistant bacteria. In 2000 the average resistance level in the US was 29.6%. By 2009 that number has jumped to 52%. This means that the drugs we have that can save our lives are slowly no longer working. This is partly due to overuse in agriculture. To watch the spread of the resistance go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov3G9GQo0fg .

  • Not Genetically Modified

    Organic foods cannot contain GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). The number of problems potentially caused by GMO’s is shocking. Food allergies, autism, gut and bowel issues, high blood pressure, the list goes on and on. However the companies that make and sell them have been given top positions in the FDA. The agency that is supposed to keep food safe is run by people high up in companies who sell possibly toxic food. Because of this it is hard for studies to be done. There has been a study in Canada showing that the toxins in GMO’s are in the blood of pregnant women and their fetuses. This toxin breaks open the stomachs of bugs, killing them. It is likely eroding the lining of our stomachs, causing disease.

  • Better for the Environment

    Chemicals used in agriculture enter the water table. Hormones in the manure of animals enters lakes and streams where they alter the reproductive cycles of fish. According to the EPA half of Americans drinking water supply has been contaminated with pesticides. We our poisoning our own water.

  • No Additives, Preservatives, Flavorings

    Various additives in our food have been linked to things like food allergies, asthma, hyperactivity, high cholesterol, liver and kidney damage, heart defects, cancers, birth defects, vitamin deficiency, heart attack, and stroke.

  • Safer for Children

    If you have kids you have an even stronger incentive to eat organic. Children are more sensitive to toxins. Since they are smaller the toxins in their bodies are more concentrated. A small amount that my barely affect an adult can wreak havoc on a child. They are still developing so their bodies are more susceptible to damage. Exposure to pesticides doubles a child’s risk of developing ADHD.

So, have I convinced you yet? Organic food is not just a passing fad. It is not an attempt to cheat you of your money. Eating organic is necessary for the health of ourselves, our children, and for future generations.

Sources:

http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com/issue-1/why-eat-organic.php

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/15-reasons-to-eat-organic-food.html?page=1

http://www.organicconsumers.org/organlink.cfm

http://www.naturalnews.com/z022264.html

http://www.toxicsaction.org/problems-and-solutions/pesticides

http://www.sustainabletable.org/issues/hormones/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov3G9GQo0fg

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/dangers-of-food-additives-and-preservatives.html