Monday, December 10, 2007


An analysis of a number of studies reported in the Lancet Chronic Diseases Series revealed that reducing salt intake around the world by 15 per cent could prevent almost nine million deaths between 2006 and 2015 in 23 low- and middle-income countries. Having a genetic sensitivity to salt, I have a great deal of experience trying to obtain food that is salt-free or very low salt. I once was hospitalized because personnel at a New York restaurant assured me that they didn’t cook with salt. They did—a lot of it. Usually I can tell if a dish contains salt but with certain entrees with adornments, it is hard to tell.
While I was researching A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, I asked a scientist at a major food company why, when you leave out an additive such as salt, the product costs more? He explained: “We’ll, we have to stop the line with the regular product in order to keep from adding an ingredient and that is expensive.”
I don’t know whether that is true but I do know that restaurant personnel often say a dish will have “no salt” added but figure if you are a tourist, you won’t come back to complain.
As far as the supermarket, there are terms on packages that may be misleading. For example "unsalted", "processed without salt" or "no salt added" may signify that the producer didn't put any additional salt in during processing but the food may still be naturally high in sodium. For example, a low sodium soy sauce has 390 mg of sodium per teaspoon (and who can use only a teaspoon of soy sauce on a dish) and a popular tomato-vegetable drink with "no salt added" has 90 milligrams per 4.5 fluid ounces. Salt can also be listed under dozens of "sodium" designations such as monosodium glutamate and sodium caseinate adding additional salt to your diet. Sugar labeling, like salt, can be deceptive. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved labeling signifies “low sodium” as being 140 mg or less and “very low sodium” to be 35 mg.
ConAgra, a major American producer of packaged foods and meats, recently reported it has removed nearly three million pounds of sodium from a range of products without affecting taste. The firm said it will continue to look at ways of cutting down salt, and said it has already managed to remove up to 20 per cent from many of its popular lines. Exact details of what the firm has used as a replacement to sodium in its range of foods - which includes Kid Cuisine, Chef Boyardee and Marie Callender - have not yet been released. ConAgra also reveals it is working on a proprietary sodium technology that can cut 30 per cent of sodium in popcorn.
Salt is a vital nutrient and is necessary for the body to function, but campaigners for salt reduction, such as the Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) consider the average daily salt consumption in the western world, between 10 and 12g, far too high. Medical and consumer organizations want (FDA) to strengthen labeling and to change salt's current status from "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) to being controlled as a food additive.
Two sites you may want to check: and

Friday, November 16, 2007



The hot “new” category in the food industry is “functional foods”. We consumers are becoming convinced that by eating certain products can prevent or treat our ailments, according to presentations at a recent meeting of The Natural Marketing Institute's (NMI) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Steve French, executive vice president and managing partner of NMI, for example, cited Coca-Cola's opening of the Coca-Cola Research Center for Chinese Medicine at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing.
Rhona Applebaum, vice president, chief scientific and regulatory officer of Coca-Cola, said at the time of the facility’s opening last October:” This collaboration will ultimately help us bring the insights and benefits of traditional Chinese medicine to consumers all over the world…"As the world's largest beverage company, we can add global reach and world-class marketing skills to help promote Chinese wisdom in preventive holistic health through new and innovative beverages." NMI’s French says because very large food and beverage companies such as Coca-Cola tend to follow promising trends rather than set them, the link between healing and food looks to become further entrenched in the consumer’s mind.
Using foods to prevent and treat disease is not new, of course. Therapeutic uses of food dates back at least several thousand years to ancient Egypt where onions were recommended to induce sleep; almonds and cabbage to prevent hangovers; lemons to protect against the evil eye, and salt to stimulate passion. Who hasn’t heard that eating oysters will enhance one’s sexual desire and performance? This may be just a myth, but in fact oysters are rich in zinc and scientists have discovered that a zinc deficiency interferes with sexual function.
My husband, Dr. Arthur Winter, Director of New Jersey’s Neurological Institute, Livingston, NJ, and I wrote a book, Smart Food: Diet and Nutrition for Maximum Brain Power first published by St. Martin’s Press in 1988 and now back in print by ASJA Books. In it we point out that if your mother told you fish is brain food and she may have been right because fish contains compounds that can:
· Decrease blood pressure in persons with normal and moderately high blood pressure
· Decrease blood viscosity
· Decrease blood triglycerides
· Decrease vascular response to norepinephrine, a hormone that can stimulate anxiety
· Decrease irregular heartbeats
· Decrease cardiac toxicity of cardiac glycosides (sugars)
· Decrease stickiness of platelets, a type of blood cell that helps prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.
· Increase platelet survival.

Now new studies from New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Norway all suggest significant benefits of fish consumption, specifically the omega-3 fatty acid content, and cognitive health. Dutch researchers, led by Carla Dullemeijer from Wageningen University, used data from a trial, involving 807 men and women (average age 60). A cross-sectional analysis studied all 807 participants, while a longitudinal analysis only focused on the 404 participants in the placebo group. The researchers reported increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood were associated with a 69 percent less decline in reaction time and a 60 percent lower decline in complex cognition speed over three years. Since earlier studies have shown that fish intake is associated with better brain function, the researchers are now seeking what components in fish makes it good for the cognition besides Omega 3 fatty acids since fish contais a good supply of niacin and perhaps other factors that may benefit brain function.
Mercury and other pollutants that may adversely affect the brain can also be in fish so the complete picture of fish and the brain is still in deep water. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


An epidemic of thyroid disease among pet cats may be caused by toxic flame retardants that were widely found in household dust and some pet food, government scientists reported recently.

The often-lethal disease was rare in cats until the 1980s when it became widespread, especially in California Cats. That was at the same time industry stated using large volumes of brominated flame retardants in consumer products, including furniture cushions, electronics, mattresses and carpet padding.

One of our beloved cats died of kidney failure not long after we had the carpets professionally cleaned years ago. We suspected it was the cleaner used but couldn’t prove it. Never-the-less, we haven’t had the carpets cleaned again without using non-toxic, allergenic products.

Since then, I have researched the common chemical products used in the home, yard, and office. I gathered is common chemicals in my book, A Consumer’s Dictionary of Household, Yard and Office Chemicals. There are 82,000 chemicals in use in the United States and more than 700 new ones are introduced into commerce each year.

Why worry? The cats may be like the miner’s canaries—warning us of dangers around us. Budget cuts for government agencies and increasing pressure from industrial lobbyists have allowed products to enter or remain on the market that contain substances know to cause liver, kidney, central nervous system damage, birth defects and many other health ailments. Your knowledge, therefore, is your vital safeguard today.

Take a look around your home, yard, or office. Many of those innocent-looking, brightly packaged products you purchased at the supermarket, hardware, or office supply store and use so casually may cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, dizziness, loss of coordination or headaches. Some products have also been associated with heart and lung damage.

Check around your living and working areas. Do you have a product containing methylene chloride? It is widely used as a solvent, de-greaser, and paint and varnish thinner. It is in pesticide aerosols, refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, in cleansing creams, and in paint and varnish removers. Some paint strippers, as a matter of fact, are 80 percent methylene chloride. You may be more cautious about using products containing the chemical after you read the reported health effects under the listing for it in this book. They include liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage; it increases the carbon monoxide level in the blood and people with angina (chest pains) are extremely sensitive to the chemical; methylene chloride has been linked to heart attacks and cancer.
Do you have oven cleaners in your cleaning-supply closet? Many spray types are highly irritating to the skin and lungs, particularly those with methylene chloride, sodium and potassium hydroxide (lye), and petroleum distillates.
What about your carpets and cabinets? Detergent and pesticide residues can accumulate on carpeting and vaporize, causing respiratory symptoms.

Have you sprayed your pet with a product containing DDVP or hung a flea collar with it around your pet’s neck? A study performed by the national Toxicology Program of the Department of Health and Human Services revealed a significant leukemia hazard from this common household pesticide widely used in pet, house, and yard aerosol products since the 1950s, and the EPA reported the cancer risk for applying DDVP sprays ranged from one in a hundred to one in a hundred thousand. The generally accepted “significant” threshold is one cancer incidence in one million persons. The EPA, as this is being written, is moving to have DDVP banned as a pesticide for food packaging because it was found in animal tests to cause “more than a negligible risk.” It may take years to get it off the market as a food package pesticide, but what about the hundreds of other products that still contain DDVP? The EPA conducted a major study of nonoccupational exposure to pesticides and found indoor exposure to pesticides is widespread, with as many as ten different pesticides being detected in a single home.

We live in a sea of chemicals. In fact, our bodies are made of chemicals and we eat, breathe and slather chemicals on ourselves but how much do we really know about the chemicals in us, on us and around us? Surprisingly little.

Companies are not required by the US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to test new chemicals before they are submitted for the EPA’s review, and they generally do not voluntarily perform such testing. Because chemical companies claim data about their products are confidential business information, government agencies face challenges in obtaining the information necessary to assess chemical risks to the public. US Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced legislation coauthored with Senator James Jeffords (I-VT) in July 2005 to force chemical manufacturers to provide health and safety information on chemicals used in consumer products instead of presuming a substance is safe until proven dangerous.
“Every day, Americans use household products that contain hundreds of chemicals,” says Senator Lautenberg. “Most people assume that those chemicals have been proven safe for their families and children. Unfortunately, that assumption is wrong.”
Lautenberg says there are no laws that require analysis for the chemicals used in baby bottles, water bottles, food packages and thousands of other products. This is inexcusable.”It is really up to us. As consumers, we have to educate ourselves and use the chemicals in our homes, yards and offices with awareness of potential health effects and to substitute products that may be less hazardous.

Friday, July 13, 2007


The pressure to put restrictions on over-the-counter sale of vitamins may affect you if you have a marginal deficiency, according to Smart Food: Diet and Nutrition for Maximum Brain Power by Arthur Winter, MD and Ruth Winter, MS, just reissued by ASJA Press.

Marginal deficiency, by definition, is a state of gradual vitamin depletion in which there is evidence of personal lack of well being associated with impairment of certain chemical reactions in the body. The reactions impaired are those that depend on sufficient amounts of vitamins.

How do you know if you have a marginal deficiency?

One of the pioneers in the effects of this condition, Herman Baker, PhD of the University of Medicine of New Jersey, described the symptoms:

• You'll always feel tired.
• You may have insomnia
• You may a loss of appetite.
• A decreased ability to concentrate.
• Your brain does not function well.
• You complain to your physician, "I feel under the weather. I don't know what is
bothering me but I keep getting colds."

You doctor examines you and tells you he or she can find nothing wrong. So your doctor may say, 'take some vitamins!’ If you have an absorption problem or the liver cannot bind or store vitamins, you can take a ton of vitamins but you will just enrich the sewage system. You can take one tenth or three tenths of a milligram of vitamin B 12, and you won't absorb anymore than one tenth milligram since that is all your body can absorb at one time. The rest is wasted. But if you break the dose into three times a day, you can absorb a total of three tenths of a milligram of thiamine a day."

Vitamin B12, according to Dr. Winter, director of New Jersey Neurological Institute’s Memory Clinic, Livingston, NJ, is one vitamin which is vitally needed for the aging brain. It is known to be necessary normal growth, a healthy nervous system, and normal red blood cell formation. It can be found only in animal and dairy products. A B12 deficiency produces pernicious anemia, a severe anemia similar to that caused by a B6 deficiency. Vitamin B12, anemia is rarely the result of dietary deficiency, except in vegans (vegetarians who consume no animal food or dairy products), since the liver stores sufficient quantities to sustain the body's needs for three to five years. Vegetarians may obtain vitamin B12 by eating fermented foods such as tamari or tofu or who eat large amounts of raw food. It is believed that they can manufacture B12 in their own systems with the aid of friendly bacteria. Like the other B vitamins, a deficiency in this one can lead to brain and nerve damage. In most patients, the symptoms develop insidiously and progressively as the large liver stores of B 12, are depleted. As has been noted, as we grow older, there is less stomach acid to process B 12 and taking the vitamin by mouth is often ineffective. It must be given by injection about once a month.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency include:
• Loss of appetite,
• Intermittent constipation and diarrhea,
• Stomach pain.
• Fatigue
• Patchy, diffuse, and progressive nerve degeneration. There may be a loss of
Balance, numbness and weakness of the limbs
• Irritability,
• Mild depression
• paranoia, a condition known as megaloblastic madness.

Alcohol, estrogen, and sleeping pills can lower B 12 levels in the body. Vitamin C, however, does not destroy vitamin B 12, as some medical reports have proposed. Dr. Baker and associates tested Nobelist Linus Pauling, an advocate of massive doses of vitamin C, and Dr. Pauling's colleagues, all of whom had taken large amounts of vitamin C for years. Dr. Baker found that all of the vitamin C takers had normal levels of B 12.
The RDA's for B 12 are 6 micrograms for adults and 0.5 to 3 micrograms for infants and children.

Dr. Baker says taking vitamins with food will aid absorption, while mineral supplements are best absorbed when taken between meals. "Not only lay persons but physicians are often unaware of these simple facts," he maintains.

Vitamin deficiency is not something that occurs abruptly or acutely and it is very difficult to diagnose. There are four basic stages:

The preliminary stage. Body stores of a micronutrient are gradually depleted. When there is not enough of a particular vitamin to work for the body, the body's chemistry is impaired. In this preliminary stage, there is no indication of depletion in clinical terms of growth or appearance.

The physiological stage. These changes are ones that you might not associate with nutrient deficiencies for example, loss of appetite, depression, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, or sleepiness. The person is not sufficiently ill to seek medical care or go to the hospital, yet his or her general health is less than optimal. If the deficiency continues, symptoms of classic deficiency disease will appear.

The clinical stage. Something is obviously seriously wrong and if left untreated the person progresses to the next stage

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Do cowboys know something we don’t know? Bull semen is now attracting the attention of the hair care industry after a United Kingdom hair salon made a splash introducing it as a lead ingredient in a hair treament product. Hari’s Salon in London revealed to CosmeticDesign, a trade publication, that they chose bull’s semen because they discovered “the rich proteins it contains creates a shine to the hair other treatments could not.”

I don’t know who was the first to think about trying bull semen as an ingredient but Hari’s mixes the semen with a katria plant root extract. The treatment takes about 45 minutes and, according to Hari’s, the protein in the semen “actively compliments the protein contained in hair molecules”. The katria root make the compound almost odorless.

This is not the first time semen has been used as a cosmetic ingredient. A Norweigian based company, Maritex, uses Cod sperm. The company suggests that the sperm successfully binds water in body lotions and make-up. The company reportedly has sold seven tons of processed cod sperm for use in cosmetics in just one year.

Cosmetic manufacturers have tried to use hormones from cows but the side-effects have caused a ban on those products. Other natural estrogenlike ingredients, however, are being employed and just recently, lavendar used in hair products, which contains an estrogenlike substance, reportedly caused breast growth in young boys.

Placental extracts, prepared from the nourishing lining of the womb expelled at birth, is in many expensive anti-wrinkle skin creams. As an American Medical Association expert once pointed out about placental use:“then why are babies born with wrinkled skin?”

Stay tuned. We will have to see how much sperm is spread around in cosmetics.