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The Guide to Eating Well & Living Better

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The Limits of Antidepressants: Exploring the Alternatives

January 21, 2013

In 2008, we learned that the benefits of antidepressants had been greatly overstated. [1] Former FDA psychiatrist Erick H. Turner, M.D. uncovered some startling information about Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. In reviewing all the medical literature, he learned that 94 percent of the reports showing the therapeutic benefits of SSRIs were published compared to only 14 percent of the reports showing either no benefits or inconclusive results (of taking SSRIs were published). When he weighed all the literature, Dr. Turner determined that SSRIs were no more effective than a placebo for treating most depressive patients. Those with severe depression were helped, sometimes greatly, but those with mild to moderate depression, the majority of cases, received little relief. British researchers using the Freedom of Information Act uncovered identical findings. [2]

In January 2010, another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) confirms these findings. The newest study also evaluated another class of antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants. Again, researchers determined that the typical patient, one with mild to moderate depression, gets the same amount of relief from a placebo as from an antidepressant. [3][4] The first author of the study, Jay C. Fournier, MA, told Medscape, “I think the most surprising part of the findings was how severe depression has to be in order to see this clinically meaningful difference emerge between medication and placebo, and that the majority of depressed patients presenting for treatment do not fall into that very severe category.”

The New York Times reported that the co-author of the study, Robert J. DeRubeis, shared this important insight: “The message for patients with mild to moderate depression is ‘Look, medications are always an option, but there’s little evidence that they add to other efforts to shake depression–whether it’s exercise, seeing the doctor, reading about the disorder or going for psychotherapy.'”

To get over it, you must be willing to make some changes that will support healthy brain biochemistry. Otherwise, depression is likely to recur. As studies have shown, antidepressant medication and getting help are associated with a very significant placebo effect. When you feel you are getting help, your body naturally gets better. This is why I have never prescribed antidepressants of any kind unless my patient was also willing to enter some kind of therapeutic relationship with a counselor to help her sort out the aspects of her life that needed improvement. In other words, we, as a society and as individuals, need to understand that getting on the right medication does not guarantee a cure for depression.

One of the best ways to support health brain chemistry is by taking fish oil. Fish oil has been shown time an again to relieve mild to moderate depression. The omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health and, according to Capt. Joe Hibbeln, M.D., these important fats support the serotonin system, may help reduce stress and lower your risk of all kinds of mental illness. Dr. Hibbeln, Chief of Outpatient Services for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is one of the world’s leading researchers on omega-3 fats. His findings have been compelling and encouraging. He recently helped organize and spoke at a conference on “Nutritional Armor for the Warfighter” held by the Samueli Group where presenters discussed the role that omega-3 fats may play in stress resilience, wellness and military performance.

via Christiane Northrup, MD: The Limits of Antidepressants: Exploring the Alternatives.

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Cheesecake Factory pasta on list of caloric food porn | Reuters

January 19, 2013

A Cheesecake Factory pasta dish with more than 3,000 calories – or more than a day and a half of the recommended caloric intake for an average adult – is among the headliners on this year’s Xtreme Eating list of the most unhealthy dishes at U.S. chain restaurants.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer-focused nonprofit group that promotes healthier eating, compiles an annual list of “food porn” to alert consumers to menu items with eye-popping levels of calories, saturated fat, sugar and/or sodium.

“You’d think that the size of their profits depended on their increasing the size of your pants,” CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said of the industry’s Xtreme Eating winners. The list was released on Wednesday.

via Cheesecake Factory pasta on list of caloric food porn | Reuters.

Genetically Modified Salmon Should Be Headed to a Plate Near You | Smart News

December 28, 2012

The AquAdvantage salmon—known to some as “Frankenfish”—is a genetically modified version of the Atlantic salmon that may soon be brought to market by the folks at AquaBounty Technologies. Designed to pack on the pounds and grow more quickly than a regular Atlantic salmon, the genetically-tweaked fish could be on the way to a table near you in the near future. The Associated Press:

The Food and Drug Administration on [this past] Friday released its environmental assessment of the AquaAdvantage salmon, a faster-growing fish which has been subject to a contentious, yearslong debate at the agency. The document concludes that the fish “will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States.” Regulators also said that the fish is unlikely to harm populations of natural salmon, a key concern for environmental activists.

The fish species, first developed in 1989 by researchers at Memorial University, has been undergoing review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1996. According to New York University bioethicist Art Caplan writing for NBC News,

The genetically altered “AquAdvantage” salmon is Atlantic salmon made from an egg, which has been injected with a gene from a Chinook salmon. That gene, which is stuck to a bit of DNA from another fish—the ocean pout, carries instructions for making more growth hormone than an Atlantic salmon ordinarily makes. More growth hormone means faster growth and, thus, more salmon to eat much more quickly.

This genetic concoction was first used in 1989, to create a “founder” genetically modified (GM) salmon. The GM salmon is now in its tenth generation. Many people have eaten it. No nasty side-effects have been observed.

According to the AP, if the FDA moves to give the modified salmon the go-ahead for human consumption, it will be “the first scientifically altered animal approved for food anywhere in the world.”

One of the main worries with the Frankenfish is that should one escape from captivity and breed with wild salmon, it could pass on its new-found genes, forever changing the wild population.
via Genetically Modified Salmon Should Be Headed to a Plate Near You | Smart News.

Good Cholesterol Goes Bad – Forbes.com

December 20, 2012

Note:� Uh oh.� Time to invent more pharma solutions to diet problems. – HT

Drugs that lower cholesterol, like Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor, have long been the pharma industry’s biggest moneymaker, generating cumulative sales well in excess of $200 billion over two decades. They have saved untold thousands of people from heart attacks and strokes. But the reign of these medical monoliths is coming to an end. Three once lucrative cholesterol-cutters have already lost patent protection

Which underscores why the drug industry is on an urgent hunt for a savior.
For a few years it thought it had one: good cholesterol, also known as
high-density lipoprotein.

The mysterious HDL is thought to unclog arteries gunked up by too many french  fries. People with high levels of good cholesterol appear to be somewhat  protected against heart disease, even if their bad cholesterol levels are high.  Over the last decade Pfizer and other drug companies have invested billions to  concoct and test drugs to boost HDL.

Now the results of the first big trials of HDL-raising drugs are in, and they
are a disaster. In December Pfizer stopped testing its experimental
good-cholesterol drug, torcetrapib, after it boosted the death rate in a
15,000-patient trial–even though it raised good cholesterol by 60% in past
studies.

via Good Cholesterol Goes Bad – Forbes.com.

via Good Cholesterol Goes Bad – Forbes.com.

Intensive Diabetes Intervention May Lead to Remission

December 19, 2012

An intensive lifestyle intervention appears to be associated with a greater likelihood of achieving a partial remission of diabetes than standard support and education, according to the findings of an observational analysis.

Edward W. Gregg, PhD, from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and colleagues published their findings in the December 19 issue of JAMA.

The authors mention that although diabetes is considered a progressive, incurable disease, there is some evidence that it is reversible. “[The] notion that type 2 diabetes is irreversible is supported by the strong association with genetics and family history, the high prevalence of microvascular complications, and the loss of beta cell mass and function frequently

already present at diagnosis,” the authors write. “Despite these observations, 16% of US adults who report a previous diabetes diagnosis take no hypoglycemic medications, and studies of bariatric surgery suggest that many diabetes cases among obese patients can indeed resolve.”

 

via Intensive Diabetes Intervention May Lead to Remission.

via Intensive Diabetes Intervention May Lead to Remission.

`Ketogenic diet` can ward off ageing: Study

December 7, 2012

Washington: A type of low-carb, low-calorie diet called “ketogenic diet” is rich in a compound that could delay the effects of ageing, scientists say.

Researchers in the laboratory of Gladstone Senior Investigator Eric Verdin, have identified the role that a chemical compound in the human body plays in the ageing process.

The mechanism may be key to new therapies for treating or preventing a variety of age-related diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer`s and many forms of cancer.

Researchers examined the role of the compound beta-hydroxybutyrate (beta-OHB), a so-called “ketone body” produced during a prolonged low-calorie or ketogenic diet.

While ketone bodies such as beta-OHB can be toxic when present at very high concentrations in people with diseases such as Type I diabetes, researchers found that at lower concentrations, beta-OHB helps protect cells from “oxidative stress” ? which occurs as certain molecules build to toxic levels in the body and contributes to the ageing process.

“Here, we find that beta-OHB – the body`s major source of energy during exercise or fasting – blocks a class of enzymes that would otherwise promote oxidative stress, thus protecting cells from ageing,” Verdin said in a statement.

Oxidative stress occurs as cells use oxygen to produce energy, but this activity also releases other potentially toxic molecules, known as free radicals.

As cells age, they become less effective in clearing these free radicals ? leading to cell damage, oxidative stress and the effects of ageing. Researchers found that beta-OHB might actually help delay this process.

via `Ketogenic diet` can ward off ageing: Study.

Common diabetes drug could fight ovarian cancer | Fox News

December 3, 2012

Note:  Any thoughts on the dietary pathways here??? – HT

The commonly prescribed diabetes drug metformin could potentially double as an effective form of ovarian cancer treatment, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that ovarian cancer patients – who also had diabetes – lived longer than other ovarian cancer patients when they were taking metformin. According to the scientists, they had been researching the link between metformin and its potential anti-cancer properties for many years.

“We had a pretty good idea that metformin has anti-cancer activity, because a lot of people around the world have been reporting the link between metformin intake and a protective effect against cancer for a number of years now,” Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, a Mayo Clinic gynecologic oncology fellow, told FoxNews.com. “[Viji Shridhar, one of the study’s co-authors,] has been conducting a lot of experiments in her lab and has published extensively in the area, so we had a lot of cell data, mice data – and then we decided to test our hypothesis in humans.”

via Common diabetes drug could fight ovarian cancer | Fox News.