Monthly Archives: July 2007

The evolution of fat guidelines

Since taking DC’s evidence-based decision-making course, I have become very selective about my background reading and if I do have some time to scan journals, articles and summaries, I focus on the areas where I practice — e.g, brain injury, stroke, dysphagia. One gem of a newsletter I regularly read is Heart Headlines.  (I always mentally insert “& Stroke” after heart because nutrition advice for health of the organ in our chest also applies to the one in our head.)

The Summer 2007 issue, which I received in the mail today but is also available online, features an interesting review article on how and why dietary fat guidelines evolved to the statements in the 2007 Food Guide.

Marion Nestle’s blog

Usually I add items to my blogroll without comment but today I want to point out the latest addition so you won’t miss out.  The new link is What to Eat, Marion Nestle’s blog where she is commenting on current events, answering questions, and responding to comments.

Here is a sample post that shows Dr. Nestle’s conversational, direct and intelligent writing:

Do Fruits and Vegetables Prevent Cancer Recurrence? 
July 19, 2007

Oh that nutrition and health were that simple. The The WHEL trial results appeared yesterday in JAMA. The sadly disappointing results of that trial showed no difference in rates of breast cancer recurrence among women who typically ate 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day as compared to those who ate nearly twice that amount. I served on the data management committee for this trial and was involved with it for more than 10 years–a fascinating experience and a long saga.  I thought the trial was exceptionally well done. The investigators monitored fruit and vegetable intake by measuring the amounts of carotenes and other nutrients in the blood of the participants. Although there was some convergence of dietary patterns over the 8 years of study, the patterns were distinct enough to show benefits from eating more fruits and vegetables if that had been the case. An accompanying editorial explains why sorting out diet and cancer risk is so complicated. In the meantime, what to do? We know that people who habitually eat fruits and vegetables are healthier than those who don’t. The old “five-a-day” is a reasonable goal and it’s too bad that the promoters of that message messed it up by turning it into “fruits & vegetables: more matters.” As with most things in nutrition, enough is enough and more is not necessarily better.

What to Eat is also the title of Marion Nestle’s latest book. It sits on my bookshelf  between the Omnivore’s Dilemma and 10 Steps to Healthy Eating and is third on my September reading list, to be enjoyed, studied and digested after Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and the 100 Mile Diet.  However, I think I may read all three concurrently and may write a “compare and contrast” essay or series of posts about them for this blog.

Link to Marion Nestle’s home page: Foodpolitics.com
Link to Marion Nestle’s blog: What to Eat

The ethics of eating (American Public Media interview with Barbara Kingsolver)

One of the first books I want to read on my “summer” (that does not begin until September, sigh) vacation is Barbara Kingsolver‘s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. My book choice is partly because I’m a dietitian but mostly because I’m a persevering urban gardener who wants to become more of a locavore.

Until today, this book was further down the “to read” list but it moved to the top after I listened to an engaging interview with Ms. Kingsolver on American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith.

Here is the link to the web page with all your listening and reading options. I downloaded this podcast and listened to it on my ipod. It’s a keeper and one I will be replaying.

Cochrane Review (2006): Nutritional Support for Head-Injured Patients

I have uploaded another Cochrane review on nutrition for neurosciences patients. This one is Nutritional Support for Head-Injured Patients.

The reviewers concluded:

…[T]here have been few trials into nutritional support following head injury, which makes it hard for the clinician to make an evidence-based decision about nutritional support in head-injured patients. Overall the quality of the trials was poor (page 8).

Vancouver Coastal Health’s Food Security Web Page

Kudos to Vancouver Coastal Health for creating this Web page that explains food security and provides links to resources such as farmers’ markets in Vancouver and the rest of BC, community gardens and community kitchens in Vancouver, and food action reports from Bella Bella to Richmond and places in-between.

:: Vancouver Coastal Health Food Security Web page

Fluid & Electrolyte Metabolism

Writing this blog motivates me to regularly prune and update my collection of basic tools, and if they are in a book, see if there is a web-based version of the same or better quality.

Today as I was recording lab values for my tube feeding patients, I decided to look for online interpretation tools. I really like the Merck Manual‘s chapter on Fluid and Electrolyte Metabolism. The information is well-organized and explained clearly and concisely.

Here is the link to the Introduction. You can navigate to other pages by clicking on the topics (e.g., water and sodium balance)  listed at the top of each web page.

This guide on converting conventional units to Système International d’Unités (SI) or international units (IU) also would be useful to refer to when reading the literature.

Nutrition Podcasts

Today, when one of my colleagues asked me to define podcast, I began to wonder what food and nutrition podcasts are currently available, particularly for dietetics students and practicing dietitians who might want to design their own summer school curriculum. One of the benefits of a podcast is you can download the course or show to your iPod or other MP3 player and listen to it while you run, cycle, hike or just lie on a blanket under a shady tree.

 Here is a beginning list I put together after doing a quick selective Google search.

Introduction to Human Nutrition (UC Berkeley)

Food, Ethics and the Environment – This five-part conference held at Princeton University in 2006 featured Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser as speakers.

All You Can Eat, the podcast of journalist and foodie Don Genova, whom you may already know from his CBC Radio features.