Lactation consultants and midwives report to us that more and more women are having trouble breastfeeding. A new study throws light on one of the reasons. Researchers have found that milk-producing glands become highly sensitive to insulin during lactation, with downstream signals for producing proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the biofactory called the breast. Mothers who have poor glucose metabolism, such as being overweight, older or having a large baby, who are diabetic or pre-diabetic, or have a poor diet in general, may have insulin resistance. The result is that they take longer to begin producing milk, or may have trouble producing enough (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_138459.html). So a diet high in refined carbohydrates may seriously hamper breast milk production. Interestingly, soaked grains seem to enhance breastmilk production.
CHEESE AND TOOTH DECAY
Researchers have found that babies born to women who consume cheese during pregnancy are likely to have better dental health than babies born to noncheese- consumers. Researchers at the Fukuoka University, University of Tokyo and Osaka City University looked at the long-term effects of prenatal cheese and dairy consumption on an infant’s tooth development, tracking three hundred fifteen Japanese mother-and-child pairs, recording prenatal diets and performing dental examinations of children between forty-one and fifty months of age. The study found a strong connection between cheese consumption during pregnancy and decreased risk of childhood dental caries, such as tooth decay and cavities (Nutrition Journal 2012 May 17;11:33). Ironically, the results did not seem to be related to calcium intake. “Components of cheese other than calcium might be responsible for the protective effects of maternal cheese intake against dental caries in children,” the researchers said. In fact, cheese is a perfect food for developing strong teeth (and bones) with its content of vitamins A, D and K, along with calcium, phosphorus and other minerals. There was no evident relationship between maternal milk intake and the risk of childhood dental caries, suggesting that cheese from pasteurized milk is a better choice for pregnant moms than pasteurized milk.
Pearl Cantrell, age one hundred five, worked a life of physical labor and raised seven children. She credits her longevity to. . . bacon! “I love bacon, I eat it everyday,” says Cantrel. Meanwhile, in Peru, Carmelo Flores Luara, the oldest living person ever documented, turned one hundred twenty-three a month ago. The native lives in a strawroofed hut with a dirt floor near Lake Titicaca at over thirteen thousand feet. Flores is toothless and has poor vision, but still walks without a cane. Like all the natives living at that height, he chews on coca leaf, a mild stimulant. Flores avoids noodles and rice, but consumes barley and chuno (dehydrated potatoes). The water he drinks originates on a snow-capped mountain peak. For meat, he mostly eats mutton, which means he eats all parts of the animal as is the custom in Latin America.
BUTTER VINDICATED. . . . AGAIN!
Dietary questionnaires do not provide an accurate indication of what people actually eat, so researchers often look at clues in the blood. A just-published study looked for markers of “dairy fat” (that is, butter) in the blood of twenty-eight hundred U.S. adults and correlated the findings with heart disease. Presence of a fifteen-carbon saturated fatty acid (15:0) found in butter had the strongest association with self-reported whole-fat dairy and butter intake, and was inversely associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. No association of cardiovascular or heart disease was found with palmitic acid (14:0) and a natural trans fat (trans-16:1n-7), both prevalent in butter (J Am Heart Assoc 2013 Jul 18;2(4):e000092). The finding that palmitic acid is not associated with the prevalence of heart disease is especially interesting because in the absence of dietary saturated fat, the body transforms carbohydrates into saturated palmitic acid. This is given as a reason to avoid grains, potatoes and other starchy foods by paleo dieters, who claim that palmitic acid causes heart disease.
COPPER AND HEART DISEASE
In these pages, we have published articles on the dangers of copper overload; but we shouldn’t forget that copper is an essential mineral, especially important for cardiovascular function. In new research involving mice, copper supplements restored normal cardiac function in rodents with enlarged hearts, otherwise known as hypertrophy. Researchers attributed the beneficial effects to increased production of cardiac blood vessels and to improved function of vascular endothelial growth factor, a molecule involved in function of the delicate lining of those blood vessels (JEM vol. 204 no. 3 455a). While the research may lead to an increase in use of copper supplements, copper expert Dr. Leslie M. Klevay notes that supplements don’t work well. One reason is that copper needs iron for efficient assimilation. Klevay recommends food sources such as grains and nuts, liver and peanut butter.
LOW CHOLESTEROL DANGER IN BABIES
A new genetic study suggests that the most common form of gastrointestinal obstruction in infants might be linked to low cholesterol levels. Infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis (IHPS) occurs in one to three per one thousand live births in Western countries and is the leading cause of gastrointestinal obstruction in babies. The condition is considered genetic and is commonly treated with surgery. (JAMA, August 21, 2013, Vol 310, No. 7). Researchers measured plasma levels of total, low-density lipoprotein, and HDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides in prospectively collected umbilical cord blood from forty-six IHPS cases and one hundred eightynine controls. On average, the total cholesterol level for the cases and controls was 65.2 and 75.2 milligrams per deciliter, respectively. The risk of IHPS was inversely and significantly associated with total cholesterol. No doubt researchers will continue down the path of genetic research, and doctors will perform more surgeries for this tragic condition, but this research suggests that the solution lies in giving better dietary advice to pregnant women. Pregnant women need plenty of cholesterol-rich animal fats and organ meats to prevent IHPS in their offspring, not the lowfat diet that is currently recommended.
MORE DANGERS OF STATIN DRUGS
We recently reported that some statins, such as Lipitor and Zocor, can raise a patient’s risk for diabetes by as much as 22 percent (BMJ 2013;346:f2610), although the medical establishment continues to insist that the benefits of cholesterol lowering outweigh the risks of raising blood sugar. Other dangers continue to emerge. A new study found that women taking cholesterol-lowering drugs for more than ten years doubled their chances of the most common type of breast cancer. The explanation is that statins affect hormone regulation in the body, resulting in more cases of estrogen-dependent breast cancer (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Aug 21). As there is no benefit from cholesterol-lowering in women whatsoever, it is hard to argue that the benefits of statins outweigh the risks. Another study has found that statin use is associated with a higher risk of multiple organ failure after injury (Trauma, September 2009 67(3):476-484)—cholesterol is needed for healing, after all. Finally, when patients on statins are given antibiotics, there is a greater risk of patient hospitalization for muscle breakdown, kidney injury and death (Ann Intern Med. 2013;158(12):869-876). What a deal!
DELAYING DELAYED CORD CLAMPING
Pleas to delay cord clamping of neonates began in the early 1970s with the work of obstetrician George Malcolm Morley, MD, ChB, FACOG, who called for an end to immediate cord clamping, noting that the extra blood from the umbilical cord protects the baby against asphyxiation and also anemia during the first few months. But the medical establishment has been remarkably reluctant to give babies that extra minute or two of cord blood, citing a risk of jaundice. A new analysis makes this recalcitrance indefensible. The research found that newborns with later clamping had higher hemoglobin levels postpartum and were less likely to suffer iron deficiency three to six months after birth compared to babies who had immediate cord clamping. Birth weight was also significantly higher on average in the late clamping group, in part because the babies received more blood from their mothers. Most importantly, delayed clamping did not increase the risk of severe postpartum hemorrhage, blood loss or reduced hemoglobin levels in the mothers. There was a 2 percent increase in jaundice among babies who got delayed cord clamping, a mild inconvenience compared to the long-term neurological benefit. The World Health Organization recommends delayed clamping because it “improves the iron status of the infant,”but the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reviewed the evidence used in the new analysis and found it “insufficient to confirm or refute the potential for benefits from delayed umbilical cord clamping in term infants . . . ” Fortunately, more mothers are insisting on delayed clamping, and more obstetricians and midwives are coming around. “The implications [of the report] are huge,” says Dr. Eileen Hutton, a midwife who teaches obstetrics at McMaster University in Ontario. “We are talking about depriving babies of 30 to 40 percent of their blood at birth—and just because we’ve learned a practice that’s bad” (New York Times, July 10, 2013).
ANEMIA AND PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS
The subject of delayed cord clamping takes on additional relevance in light of research showing a possible link between iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and psychiatric disorders in children, including the conditions of depression, bipolar, anxiety disorder and autism. Dr. Ya-Mei Bai and her team of researchers looked at data from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Database. They identified nearly three thousand children who had been diagnosed with IDA and compared them to nearly twelve thousand healthy controls matched for age and sex. Kids with iron deficiency had higher prevalence of multiple psychiatric disorders, as well as delayed development and mental retardation. Iron plays a key role in brain development as well as regulation of neurotransmitter systems (BMC Psychiatry 2013 Jun 4;13:161). An imbalance of brain chemicals is thought to be the cause of many psychiatric problems.
FLUORIDE REDUCES IQ
For years health experts have been unable to agree on whether fluoride in the drinking water is toxic to the developing human brain. Extremely high levels of fluoride are known to cause neurotoxicity in adults, and negative impacts on memory and learning have been reported in rodent studies, but little is known about the substance’s impact on children’s neurodevelopment. In a meta-analysis, researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and China Medical University in Shenyang for the first time combined twenty-seven studies and found strong indications that fluoride may adversely affect cognitive development in children (Environ Health Perspect 2012 October; 120(10): 1362–1368). The average loss was equivalent to seven IQ points. Based on the findings, the authors say that this risk should not be ignored, and that more research on fluoride’s impact on the developing brain is warranted. In a related development, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled an end to fluoridation in Israel, citing health concerns.
FISH OILS NOT SO WISE
Recommended in many diet plans, including the Paleo Diet Solution, fish oil is today’s most popular supplement. Made by boiling fish oil at 230 degrees for hours, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can hardly be beneficial, and are most likely completely rancid and likely to cause oxidative damage in the body. (WAPF has never recommended fish oil, only fish liver oils, preferably processed at low temperatures.) A new study from the National Cancer Institute showed that those with high concentrations of elongated omega-3s (the kind found in fish oil) in their blood had a 43 percent higher risk of developing cancer than those with the lowest levels (J Natl Cancer Inst 2013 Aug 7;105(15):1132-1141). While most of the participants did not take fish oil supplements, the study serves as a warning to avoid them. The recommended dose of fish oil contains 30-60 percent of the marine fatty acids in a serving of fish, and many people take more, and take it every day. In addition, few make a point of eating butter or other saturated fat, which can protect against oxidative damage.
LISTERIA IN PASTEURIZED CHEESE
Whole Foods Market has recalled Crave Brothers Les Frères cheese in response to an outbreak of listeria that has sickened people in several states and resulted in at least one death. The cheese is made from pasteurized milk. The recalled Crave Brothers Les Frères cheese was cut and packaged in clear plastic wrap and sold with Whole Foods Market scale labels. FDA has issued a recall notice dated July 5, 2013 (www.fda. gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm359697.htm) but where is the outcry to avoid that dangerous food item—pasteurized cheese?