Heart disease. Stroke. Diabetes. Asthma. Osteoporosis. These common scourges are often pegged to genes, pollution, or the wear and tear caused by personal choices like a poor diet, smoking, or too little exercise. David Barker, a British physician and epidemiologist, has a different and compelling idea: these and other conditions stem from a developing baby’s environment, mainly the womb and the placenta.
Barker was the invited speaker at this year’s Stare-Hegsted Lecture, which is a big deal at the Harvard School of Public Health. In just over an hour, he covered the basics of what the British Medical Journal used to call the Barker hypothesis. It has since come to be known as the developmental origins of chronic disease. (You can watch the entire talk here.)
It goes like this: During the first thousand days of development, from conception to age 2, the body’s tissues, organs, and systems are exquisitely sensitive to conditions in their environment during various windows of time. A lack of nutrients or an overabundance of them during these windows programs a child’s development and sets the stage for health or disease. Barker and others use low body weight at term birth is a marker for poor fetal nutrition.
When a fetus is faced with a poor food supply, it Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
In my recent phone chat with the Boys & Girls Clubs participants of the Fit Family Challenge, one of the callers confided in me that she works long hours and struggles to find time to cook healthy meals for her family. This is a very common problem, though there are tricks to make meal preparation fast and affordable. I decided to take the challenge myself, cooking a pork chop dinner for three, with only 9 ingredients in 9 minutes. I took a photo of the starting ingredients here. The total cost of the used portions (I’m not counting all the PAM, and apple sauce that I didn’t use for example) was about $9. That’s only $3 per person, less than most fast food meals! (I served ice water with the meal, but a glass of skim milk would have been fine too.)
My ingredients include:
1. Quick-fry pork chops, seared in a pan coated with PAM cooking spray. I chose pork chops with very little fat, and cooked them for 4 minutes on each side. Read more »
The Institute of Medicine has just released it’s recommendation that all foods be rated with an ‘energy star’ system: three stars = good, zero stars = bad:
The Energy Star system is a model because it’s simple and easy to use, and also because it’s gained traction with industry, which now develops products with the rating in mind, committee members said.
Except that this rating system hasn’t gained traction with industry:
But the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute announced their own front-of-the-pack system, called Facts Up Front, in January. It gives information on calories, saturated fat, sodium and added sugars but doesn’t rate foods according to those components.
In a statement today, the GMA said it has “concerns about Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*
As I’ve been coaching the families in the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Triple Play Fit Family Challenge I’ve received some excellent questions about how to modify food preparation to make meals more healthful. I thought I’d share some of my nutrition tips on my blog – and feel free to chime in as well in the comments section! (Please note that I have no relationship with the manufacturers of the products I mention below. I happen to like and use them, but I’m sure there are many others that are good.) Here’s what I told one of the families:
At first it’s hard to make the switch to “healthy” cooking because let’s face it, fat and sugar taste so good. However, there are ways to substitute healthier choices that are delicious too. And over the long haul, you can actually change your taste buds so that they LIKE lower-fat options. It seems unbelievable, but honestly – I have learned to prefer sugar-free peanut butter, whole grain bread, and skinless chicken to the regular stuff. One thing I will say, though, is that as long as no one has any high blood pressure or kidney problems – salt is ok. I think too much has been made about the “dangers” of salt. Healthy bodies can easily get rid of extra salt… so no need to torture yourself with a low salt diet. If you cut out junk food and fast food, your salt intake will likely fall to healthy levels.
Here are general tips for healthy eating:
Read more »
The new book is out about Steve Jobs. You may have already heard that he regretted delaying surgery for months for a type of pancreatic cancer and explored alternatives, including dietary changes. He told his biographer he later came to the conclusion that it was the wrong personal health decision.
If you check out social media conversations about health, the value of dietary changes is always a hot topic. Can becoming a vegetarian, for example, arrest the development of cancer or prevent its recurrence?
This week I will participate in a webinar on social media and breast cancer. One other panelists helps run a patient advocacy group. The other is a respected nurse who helps run the breast center at Johns Hopkins. In a preliminary discussion they each noted that Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*