Thistle Dew Nutrition

Ramblings from a "Simpler" and perpertual student of natural health, with a strong focus on how to eat well to prevent chronic diseases.

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Location: Saugatuck, Michigan, United States


Friday, November 10, 2006

The real reason for the poor economy

I got Ron one of those big back-pack leaf blowers for his birthday last spring, and I love it! I think he's used it twice, and I use it all the time. I cleaned out the gutters last Sunday, then I "raked" the leaves off the deck, patio (under the deck), and all around the house in about 3 hours. It used to take me 3 weekends! When I was done all I could think about is how we are loosing jobs NOT because of outsourcing, but because of gadgets like this leaf blower. I imgined that when I'm old I'll probably still be using it instead of hiring a couple of neighbor boys to rake for me. Then I thought about how that stinking leaf blower is also probably the cause of the obesity problems we Americans are having. Blame everything on the leaf blowers!

Don't get me started on the ozone layer...

I crack myself up.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Transparency in science refers to proving that scientific studies are not paid for by companies that would benefit from the studies leaning towards their own gain. I know this is a long article, but it should be common knowledge and it isn’t. I have highlighted some of the most important notes.

11/6/2006 - In the food and nutrition world, science is king. So when journals do not force scientists to fully disclose financial support and potential conflicts of interest, they are not helping anyone.Science is an open-ended pursuit with hypotheses gaining or losing credence based on additional studies. But when journals publish articles from researchers who do not divulge potential conflicts, they are complicit in distorting the evidence and affecting the reader's ability to judge the reliability of science overall.

The seed for this comment was planted months ago at the announcement from the Journal of the Medical Association (JAMA) that all authors submitting manuscripts to JAMA are now required to report all potential conflicts. Such measures were already in place at JAMA since the early 1980s, but some researchers were not disclosing every little bit of information because they didn't think that their past and present funding from big business represented a conflict.
One such example that prompted Catherine DeAngelis, JAMA's editor-in-chief, to act was when researchers reporting on a potential link between migraines and cardiovascular disease (CVD) failed to mention they had received money from big pain-killer makers.

The authors, from Harvard no less, felt that previous relationships with manufacturers of products that are used in the control and management of migraines or CVD did not constitute a conflict of interest. DeAngelis rightly disagreed and the Harvard authors subsequently disclosed all non-federal relationships, which read like a who's who of the world's biggest chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

Such situations are also found in the food and dietary supplements industries.
Take the glucosamine/chondroitin sulphate study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in March that reported the supplements were effective for moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis pain, a point that was down-played by the authors and in an independent editorial by Dr. Marc Hochberg from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
NEJM requires full disclosure and we discover in the small print that both the authors and Dr. Hochberg have received money from pharmaceutical companies who produced anti-arthritis drugs. Is it any wonder that the findings that were played up were pharma-centric?
The other journals must now follow the full disclosure lead of these big journals and introduce such measures. Many already do, but many others do not.

Recently the Journal of the American College of Nutrition published a supplement on salt intake, with many of the articles down-playing the risk of excessive salt consumption. Supplements to this journal, we later found out, do not undergo normal peer-review proceedings. No conflict of interest disclosures were presented by the authors, although it turned out later that some have been or still are consultants to the salt industry.

No disclosure - Why?

It is outrageous that after all the knocks that peer-review has suffered in recent years - from made up results in The Lancet to fake cloning in Science - that the journals are not demanding full disclosure, whether they are in a regular issue or a supplement - they're still published under the name of the journal and therefore benefit from its reputation.

With so much research now funded by for-profit companies, industry has a key role to play in ensuring the integrity of publications, but the push itself, particularly when research in not funded by companies whose products are being tested, must come from the journals themselves.

Industry can help by suggesting that researchers presenting research funded by companies should be published in journals that demand full disclosure, or insist on full disclosure in other, less stringent, journals.

But transparency does go beyond the journals. Companies should also refrain from publicizing unpublished research, which undermines their credibility - why hasn't it been published in a peer-review journal? What's wrong with letting some other experts take a look at the data?
A survey released in July by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which found that one in six of the nearly 1,000 FDA scientists who responded said they had their work manipulated or suppressed in favour of industry. This is a massive problem and until it is addressed on a worldwide scale, the seriousness of some journals will remain questionable. It's time that everyone started cleaning up their act.

If science is king, then transparency is the key to the kingdom.

Stephen Daniells is the Food Science Reporter for and He has a PhD in Chemistry from Queen's University Belfast and has worked in research in the Netherlands and France.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Diet is "Die" with a "T"

Monday, two days ago, I found some health notes whilst perusing through my old Franklin Planner. I noticed that I weighed exactly 22 pounds less 10 years ago than I do today. Twenty two pounds! That’s a nice tidy 2.2 pounds per year average growth. I was not happy.

So yesterday I decide to go on a diet, and I’ve decided to slightly limit my carbohydrates and begin a serious exercise program. You-all must realize how much I hate to exercise. Truly. I hate going to gyms, mostly because it takes longer to change my clothes before and after working out than it take me to work out. Why do people do that? Also, I don’t ever want to spend $250 on a matching spandex outfit just to feel “in”.

I do have about $500 worth of equipment in a storage room in my basement, including Weider Universal Gym, a used punching bag, a stepping machine that I bought for $75 and isn’t worth $10 because I HATE IT but I refuse to buy a “good” one for $1000, and a Gazelle™ kinda-running machine that I actually like to use. I have one old paint-spattered radio with tape-to-tape recording capabilities that I listen to the local “old time” rock station on (read 70’s and 80’s, and even some 90’s rock). I keep thinking that if I put an old TV down there it would help, but I know it won’t.

Labor Day I did start climbing the 282 steps up a forested sand dune in a local park (Mt. Baldy to you locals) and it went great: I went at least 2 times a week for about 6 weeks. Then it stopped due to some consistently rainy weather. I felt great while I was doing it though.

If anyone has any helpful suggestions for exercise motivation I’m open to them all!

I probably should also confess that I have had no less than 4 meals today, and it’s only 2:00. I had cereal for breakfast (carbs), we had guests in the office today and they brought bagels (carbs), a baked potato and chili for lunch (carbs), and I’m eating yet another bagel as I type this (carbs). How am I doing? Don’t you dare answer that!