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July 30, 2009

Food News

It's food day on the article circuit. I found several articles that may be of interest to those who are interested their health in relation to food.

First is an article about food allergies. I found this article interesting because it links common food allergies to geography. It's not just cultural food habits that determine what people likely will be allergic to, but also what grows around them. Certain plant pollens mimic proteins in fruits and vegetables. So, for example, if you're allergic to birch pollen, you may be more susceptible to apple allergies.

Second is a report on Reuters from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine that claims that organic food is no healthier than regular food. That may be true if you consider the chemical content of the soil that food is grown in. However, many imported non-organic foods contain pesticides on their skins. If you can, grow your own food and fertilize with natural organic materials such as fish, manure, and recycled compost from your own kitchen. Oh, and wash your fruits and veges before you eat them.

Third is a blog post from Margaret Furtado, M.S., R.D., from Johns Hopkins University. According to a study at the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, MSG may be a hidden ingredient in processed foods that encourage weight gain.

MSG is considered an "excitotoxin," since its action in the body is to excite neurotransmitters (important brain chemicals), causing nerve cells to discharge and also exciting nerves related to taste. Perhaps this ability to excite these nerves is a factor in an association between increased MSG usage and weight gain.

She suggests we ditch processed foods (but we knew to do that already, right?), especially those that list MSG in the ingredient label. Cook more from scratch -- and watch out for those prepackaged spices . . . they may sneak that MSG in there. I know from experience that I have a sensitivity to MSG. I usually get a reaction when I'm eating out, am really hungry and have a soup as an appetizer. My ears start to buzz, my face turns really read (flares up my rosacea), I may get dizzy or may get a migraine. If you're sensitive to MSG also, watch out for restaurants that have buffets.

Finally, some good news about food additives. You know those blue M&Ms we've been eating for years? Well, Blue dye no. 1, also known as brilliant blue G, may help reduce swelling in people with acute spinal cord injury.

When nerve cells in the brain or spine are damaged, they often release a spurt of chemicals that causes nearby cells to die. No one is sure why, and stopping this process is key to preventing the damage that continues to build after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

Of course, that doesn't mean you should go out and eat a pound of M&Ms. The blue dye must cross into the spinal fluid in order to have an effect, and studies have only been done on mice so far.

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Posted by linda at July 30, 2009 4:15 PM

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