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Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen, annotated

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This is almost certainly one of those posts that I will continue to revise over time. I have arranged these by the number of daily servings, where ☐ = 1 serving. I list the foods I mostly eat just to stimulate thought. I believe in cooking a batch of food and refrigerating it, and then take a portion from each batch (grain, beans, greens, vegetables) to make a meal, adding nuts/seeds, and flaxseeds as desired. Fruit I generally eat between meals, with berries as a dessert.

Beverages — ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐
Serving: 12 ounces water, sparkling water, flavored unsweetened water (for example, La Croix water), tea (black, green, or white — for me mostly white), coffee. If your sweeten the beverage, use erythritol, not refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. I mostly drink unsweetened iced tea, either white tea or hibiscus tea, though I start the day with a pint of hot tea, usually a black tea or a black-and-green combination (for example, Murchie’s No. 10 blend).

Beans — ☐ ☐ ☐
Serving: 1/4 cup hummus; or 1/2 cup cooked beans (black, pinto, chickpea, soy, kidney, navy, Lima, red, and others, including mixed beans), split peas, lentils, edamame, tempeh, or tofu. A bowl of split-pea soup would be a serving.

Whole grains — ☐ ☐ ☐
Serving: 1/2 cup cooked intact whole grain: oat groats, hulled barley, wheat berries, whole rye, kamut, spelt, emmer, farro, einkorn, red fife, etc.; or pseudograins like amaranth, buckwheat groats, quinoa, or chia seed. I avoid grain that has been cut (steel-cut oats, pot barley) or polished (pearled barley, white rice) or smashed (rolled oats, barley flakes) or pulverized (foods made from flour such as bread, pasta, bagels, English muffins, pancakes, tortillas, boxed cereals, and so on). I do not eat rice or corn in any form (steamed, chips, popped, cakes, etc.). I cook a batch of intact whole grain and refrigerate it to make the starch resistant and not so quickly digested. I generally use 1/3 cup for a serving.

Fruit Other Than Berries — ☐ ☐ ☐
Serving: 1 medium fruit or 1 cup cut-up fruit or 1/4 cup dried fruit. Key is to keep a good selection of fruit on hand. I keep a fruit bowl filled with apples, citrus (navel oranges, tangerines, lemons), pears, and in season persimmons, peaches, plums, nectarines, and others. Watermelon is a good source of lycopene. Cantaloupe, musk melon. Never bananas or grapes. (It’s easy to make a fruit-fly trap to stop that nuisance.)

Greens — ☐ ☐
Serving: 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked greens, either a single green or a combination of greens: cabbage (green, red, savoy, or Napa), kale, collards, spinach, chard, dandelion greens, mustard greens, tung ho, bok choy, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, romaine, leaf lettuce, watercress, endive, radicchio, chicory. Note that many of these count both as a green and as a cruciferous vegetable.

Other Vegetables — ☐ ☐
Serving: 1 cup raw leafy vegetable; or 1/2 cup raw or cooked non-leafy vegetables, which can be one vegetable or a mix of vegetables. I usually cook a batch of mixed vegetables, always with allium (garlic, leeks (including leaves), spring onions (including leaves), scallions (including leaves), shallots, red or yellow onion, sweet onion), raw/cooked beets, cooked tomatoes, tomato paste (no salt added), asparagus, eggplant (Japanese, Italian, Indian), carrots, celery, green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas, red/yellow/orange bell pepper, chiles (jalapeño, habanero, serrano, Anaheim, poblano, banana, Thai (green or red), New Mexico green chiles), mushrooms (white, crimini, oyster), bitter melon, summer squash, zucchini, chayote squash, winter squash (delicata, kombucha, butternut, buttercup, ambercup, acorn, carnival, spaghetti). I avoid potatoes in all forms (chips, baked, hash browns, french fries, etc.) I usually cook a batch of mixed vegetables, and cook them just al dente — it’s not as though I’m cooking pork.

Cruciferous Vegetables — ☐
Serving: 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked broccoli, broccolini, rapini (broccoli rabe), romanesco broccoli, Chinese broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (red, green, savoy, Napa), Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, bok choy (also: baby bok choy, Shaghai bok choy), turnip, rutabaga (Swedes), turnip greens, watercress, mustard greens, mustard seed, kohlrabi, arugula (rocket), watercress, radish, daikon; or 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish from the refrigerated section. I often use 1-2 tablespoons horseradish to ensure I’m getting three servings of cruciferous vegetables, adding it to vegetables or greens.

Berries — ☐
Serving: 1/2 cup fresh or frozen. I usually buy frozen mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries).

Flaxseeds — ☐
Serving: 1 tablespoon, ground

Nuts/seeds — ☐
Serving: 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pepitas, sunflower seed, hempseed; or 2 tablespoons nut butter (raw, unsalted, no sugar, salt, or other additives). I eat these by themselves or mixed with berries or vegetables or greens or grain.

Spices — ☐
Serving: 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (always) plus other salt-free herbs and spices: minced fresh turmeric, minced ginger root, dried mint, Ceylon cinnamon (never cassia cinnamon), ground cloves, oregano, Mexican oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, dried basil, curry powder, ground chiles (ancho, chipotle, chimayo, cayenne), ground cumin, amla powder, and others. I add no salt  to food during or after cooking, and I eat no salty foods (such as sauerkraut, pickles, capers, olives, and so on). I use pepper sauce, but pick brands with low sodium content.

Exercise — ☐
Serving: 90 minutes moderate activity or 40 minutes vigorous activity. Nordic walking is my choice. Strength-training exercise is also advisable.

Typical meals for me

The following meals check all the boxes. Generally I get “extra credit” because (for example) the greens might be kale (2 servings = 2 checks for cruciferous vegetables plus 2 checks for greens), plus I usually mix 1 tablespoon horseradish into a meal (another check for cruciferous vegetables).

Before breakfast
1 pint hot tea

1 serving beans,
1 serving grain,
1 serving other vegetables,
1 serving greens,
1 serving ground flaxseed,
1 serving ground turmeric,
1 serving unsalted nuts or unsalted pepitas,
1 serving beverage (unsweetened oat milk)

1 piece fruit

1 serving beans,
1 serving grain,
1 serving greens,
1 tablespoon horseradish (cruciferous vegetable)
1 piece fruit

1 piece fruit

1 serving beans,
1 serving grain,
1 serving other vegetables,
1 serving berries

During afternoon and even I consume multiples glasses of iced tea (white or hibiscus)

Nordic walking, and I use GPS Odometer, a smartphone app, to measure the walk in terms of time, distance, and speed. Example from today: 1.89 miles at 3.16mph, duration 00:35:54.

I’ve started a spreadsheet to keep a lot of the stats.

As you can see, the basic meal pattern is beans+grain and then either greens or other vegetables, except breakfast is loaded: greens and other vegetables, along with flaxseed, nuts/seeds, and spices. Thus my big meal is breakfast.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 February 2020 at 1:11 pm

Flexibility: Not that big a deal — The Case Against Stretching

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Alex Hutchinson writes in Outside:

To be honest, writing another “stretching is useless” article feels a little bit like spiking the football. A decade ago, whenever I wrote about evidence suggesting that traditional static stretching doesn’t have any obvious benefits and might even impair performance, I’d get a stream of angry messages upbraiding me for my ignorance. These days, the battle is over. No one is obsessed with touching their toes anymore.

Or so I thought. But when I saw a new opinion piece in Sports Medicine titled “The Case for Retiring Flexibility as a Major Component of Physical Fitness,” I couldn’t resist giving it a look. And one of the stats in the article caught my eye. According to a 2016 study of 605 personal trainers in the U.S.—virtually all of whom had certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Strength and Conditioning Association—80 percent of them still prescribed traditional static stretching to their clients. The battle’s not over after all.

The main spur for the Sports Medicine article, by exercise scientist James Nuzzo, is the fact that flexibility is still pegged as one of the five “major components” of physical fitness, alongside body composition, cardiovascular endurance, muscle endurance, and muscle strength, by the ACSM. The 2018 edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, from the Department of Health and Human Services, also lists flexibility among its big five (this time alongside cardiorespiratory fitness, musculoskeletal fitness, balance, and speed).

If you actually flip through these documents, you’ll experience a bizarre cognitive dissonance. The Guidelines state repeatedly that “flexibility activities are an appropriate part of a physical activity program, even though their health benefits are unknown and it is unclear whether they reduce risk of injury.” Um… then why are we recommending them? That’s the question Nuzzo attempts to answer in a detailed review that cites over 300 references.

Let’s start with a definition: the paper focuses on static flexibility, as exemplified by the sit-and-reach test, in which you see how close you can come to touching your toes (or how far beyond them you can reach) while sitting on the floor with legs outstretched. The best way to improve static flexibility is with static stretching, which involves pushing to the edge of your range of motion and holding a position for, say, 20 to 30 seconds. This is quite different from dynamic stretching, which is more like a form of calisthenics that involves moving muscles through their typical range of motion.

So what does being flexible do for you? According to the research Nuzzo summarizes, greater flexibility as measured by the sit-and-reach test isn’t associated with longer life—unlike the ACSM’s other four “major components” of physical fitness. It also doesn’t predict more successful aging (like avoiding falls), except in ways that are better predicted by muscle strength.

Contrary to a half-century of locker-room wisdom, being flexible doesn’t seem to protect you from injury either. This topic is the focus of hundreds of studies, and there are admittedly a few that do find benefits. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a few that find that being too flexible is also associated with injury. But overall, it just doesn’t seem to make much difference. It’s also not associated with non-sports-related problems like low-back pain.

And finally, being flexible doesn’t improve your sports performance—unless you’re doing something where range of motion has a direct impact. If you’re a gymnast or a ballerina or a hockey goaltender, you’d better be flexible. Even as a cyclist, you need enough flexibility to be able to get into an aerodynamic riding position and still pedal comfortably. If you’re a runner, on the other hand, you’re highly unlikely to sustain an injury that has any connection to your inability to touch your toes. In fact, there’s some evidence that greater flexibility makes you a less efficient runner, presumably because having tight “springs” in your legs allows you to store and return more energy with each stride.

So flexibility itself doesn’t seem to be a big deal. Is there still a role for stretching as part of a warm-up or warm-down? A Cochrane Review back in 2007 concluded that stretching before, during, or after a workout doesn’t do anything to prevent subsequent muscle soreness. It doesn’t seem to reduce injury risk either.

I’ll acknowledge a caveat here. Most of these studies involve assigning an identical stretching program to a group of people, regardless of their initial level of flexibility and their individual idiosyncrasies and imbalances. That doesn’t seem to work. But what if you, personally, have an unusually tight left IT band, or a chronically tight calves? Could targeted stretching of your identified weak spots reduce your risk of injury or help rehab an existing injury? Here, too, the evidence is slim at best—but this is a hard question to study, so I’d leave it in the “plausible” category.

As for performance, there’s solid evidence that holding a stretch for a minute or more temporarily decreases strength and speed for up to an hour, likely due to changes in the neuromuscular signaling from brain to muscle. That’s a pretty harsh irony: all the stretching that I did religiously before every race in the 1990s and early 2000s might have actually dulled my edge.

To be fair, I’m glossing over some details here. We could  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 February 2020 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Fitness, Health, Science

Are ancient grains better for your health?

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I have found that building my diet on Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen (see chart at the bottom of this post) has worked well and lets me freely improvise meals during the day while making sure the boxes are checked.

I cook and eat intact whole grain (though not rice: intact whole-grain rice is brown rice, and even that spikes my blood glucose, just like potatoes), and KAMUT®, a registered trademark for khorosan wheat (and often written simply “kamut” — pronounced “kah-MOOT”), is a favorite, though right now I have a tub of cooked intact whole-grain spelt in the fridge.

Based on the Daily Dozen I eat a serving of grain and a serving of beans at each meal, and yesterday I cooked up a big batch of collards following (more or less) this recipe, but adding half a yellow bell pepper I had on hand and one bunch of lacinato kale (with two bunches of collards) and — now that they’re here again — half a dozen spring onions instead of the red onion in the recipe. I do rinse the collards well — though they don’t have much visible dirt, they do carry a lot of fine dust, which you can feel in the bottom of the container in which you rinse them.

A serving of these greens with a serving of grain and a serving beans serves as the basis for a good meal. I add 1/4 cup walnuts, 1 tablespoon flaxseed, ground, and 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, and I’ve checked off several boxes. I added 1 teaspoon amla powder and 1 teaspoon dried mint for extra credit. 🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2020 at 10:20 am

Consider the evidence when you make life-or-death decisions

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Dr. Michael Greger writes at

In the 1940s and ’50s, the American Medical Association was not only saying that “smoking in moderation” wasn’t a problem, but that, on balance, it may even be beneficial. After all, most physicians themselves smoked, so how bad could it be? With such a position taken by one of the country’s leading medical groups, where could you turn if you just wanted the facts?

According to one tobacco company ad, “science advances new data that may completely change your idea of cigarettes!” And what might those new data tell us? “She was too tired for fun…and then she smoked a Camel.” (You can see the unbelievable ads in my video Evidence-Based Eating, starting at 0:29). In another ad, baseball legend Babe Ruth told us, “Now! Medical science offers proof positive!” that the brand he was hawking is the safest to smoke of all the leading cigarettes—well, he told us, that is, when he still could talk, before he died of throat cancer.

Now, some of the science-based evidence did leak out, causing a dip from an average of 11 or so cigarettes a day per person down to 10, as you can see at 0:50 in my video, but those who got scared of possible health risks from smoking could always choose “[t]he cigarette that takes the FEAR out of smoking!” Even better, why not choose the cigarette that “gives you the greatest health protection?”

Had a website existed during the time of these outrageous ads making such outrageous claims—a site that delivered the science directly to the people, bypassing commercially corruptible institutional filters—it would have featured a study of Seventh-day Adventists in California in 1958 that showed that nonsmokers may have at least 90 percent less lung cancer than smokers. With so much money and personal habit at stake, there will always be “dissenters.” Given the seriousness of these diseases and the sum total of evidence, though, we shouldn’t wait to put preventive measures in place.

If you’re a smoker in the 1950s in the know and privy to the science-based realities of smoking, you realize the best available balance of evidence suggests your smoking habit is probably not good for you. So, what do you do? Do you change your smoking habits, or do you wait? If you wait until your physician tells you—between puffs—to quit, you could have cancer by then. If you wait until the powers that be officially recognize it, like the Surgeon General did in the subsequent decade, you could be dead by then.

It took more than 7,000 studies and the deaths of countless smokers before the first Surgeon General report against smoking was finally released in the 1960s. Wouldn’t you think that after the first 6,000 studies or so, they could have given people a heads up? One wonders how many people are suffering needlessly right now from dietary diseases.

Let’s fast-forward 55 years to a new Adventist study out of California warning Americans about the risks of something else they may be putting in their mouths: “Vegetarian diets are associated with lower all-cause mortality.” It’s not just one study either. According to a recent review, a total sum of evidence suggests that mortality from all causes put together, including many of our dreaded diseases were significantly lower in those eating more plant-based diets. As well, “[c]ompared with omnivores, the incidence of cancer and type 2 diabetes was also significantly lower in vegetarians.”

So, instead of someone going along with America’s smoking habits in the 1950s, imagine you or someone you know is going along with America’s eating habits today. With access to the science, you realize the best available balance of evidence suggests your eating habits are  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 February 2020 at 10:57 am

How Not to Die, According to Harvard Researchers

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Nicholas Knock had an interesting article in Thrillist in May 2016:

For 75 years (and counting), researchers have been following the same 600+ people to determine what makes a long, healthy, and happy life. These studies, titled the Grant and Glueck Studies, are two of the longest longitudinal studies on health and happiness ever conducted, containing tens of thousands of pages of participant questionnaires, health records, brain scans, blood samples, journals, interviews with friends and families, and, of course, scrotum measurements.

With study participants now in their 80s and 90s, and many having passed away, the Harvard researchers have identified seven key factors to living as long as you possibly can (while not being a miserable prick the whole time). Sure, “seven secrets to a long life” might sound like a garbage “health” blog post. But unlike most “secrets,” these have 75 years of Harvard research to back them up, so you might want to pay attention.

Keep learning

You might feel like studying for that econ exam is giving you a heart attack. It’s actually having the opposite effect. On average, the mortality rates of the inner-city participants (Glueck) at ages 68 to 70 resembled the Harvard participants (Grant) at 78 to 80. The exceptions? Glueck participants who graduated from college (only about 6%) were just as healthy as the Grant participants, even in old age. Meaning within these studies, a lack of education could shorten someone’s life by as much as 10 years.

Multiple studies have confirmed the protective health benefits of education. And if you’re way beyond your college years, continued intellectual stimulation at any age can prevent your mind and body from deteriorating. So yes, Pink Floyd, when it comes to aging well, you’re absolutely right: we don’t need no education (think about it).

Don’t smoke

It’s not like you’re completely unaware of the laundry list of smoking risks, so there’s no point in dwelling on it. Aside from alcohol abuse (we’ll get there soon, don’t worry), smoking cigarettes was the single greatest contributor to disease and early death for participants of both studies.

This might not mean much if it weren’t for the fact that during the 1950s, Philip Morris (aka America’s No. 1 tobacco company) was a major funder for the Grant Study. During those years, the participant questionnaires contained questions like, “If you never smoked, why didn’t you?” So, you know: just a wee bit leading/condescending for non-smokers. Yet despite this sly subliminal marketing and funding power, the study’s leads couldn’t ignore the consequences and fatalities of smoking. Needless to say, Philip Morris hasn’t been a study sponsor for a while now…

Don’t abuse alcohol

Just passing along the findings, so don’t shoot the messenger! For the participants of both studies, alcohol abuse extends well beyond just the health consequences (note: moderation ≠ abuse). And that’s saying something considering alcohol abuse is the No. 1 contributor to disease and early death among participants.

In recent years, study researchers discovered that alcoholism was involved in 57% of all participant divorces. You might assume that bad relationships lead to drinking, but at least in this not-so-tiny study, very few bad marriages actually led to alcoholism. Instead, participants developed an alcohol problem, which then sabotaged their relationships. The Grant Study’s lead investigator, Dr. George Vaillant, even concluded that, “alcohol is a cause, rather than a result, of life’s problems.” Just a few of these problems being depression and neurosis, which tended to follow alcohol abuse, rather than precede it.

And as if depression weren’t depressing enough, for participants diagnosed with depression at age 50, a whopping 70% were either . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 February 2020 at 8:28 am

The hunt for a healthy microbiome

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Michael Eisenstein writes in Nature:

What does a healthy forest look like? A seemingly thriving, verdant wilderness can conceal signs of pollution, disease or invasive species. Only an ecologist can spot problems that could jeopardize the long-term well-being of the entire ecosystem.

Microbiome researchers grapple with the same problem. Disruptions to the community of microbes living in the human gut can contribute to the risk and severity of a host of medical conditions. Accordingly, many scientists have become accomplished bacterial naturalists, labouring to catalogue the startling diversity of these commensal communities. Some 500–1,000 bacterial species reside in each person’s intestinal tract, alongside an undetermined number of viruses, fungi and other microbes.

Rapid advances in DNA sequencing technology have accelerated the identification of these bacteria, allowing researchers to create ‘field guides’ to the species in the human gut. “We’re starting to get a feeling of who the players are,” says Jeroen Raes, a bioinformatician at VIB, a life-sciences institute in Ghent, Belgium. “But there is still considerable ‘dark matter’.”

Currently, these field guides are of limited use in distinguishing a healthy microbiome from an unhealthy one. Part of the problem is the potentially vast differences between the microbiomes of apparently healthy people. These differences arise through a complex combination of environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors. This means that relatively subtle differences can have a disproportionate role in determining whether an individual is relatively healthy or at increased risk of developing disorders such as diabetes. Understanding the clinical implications of those differences is also a challenge, given the extensive interactions between these microbes, and with their host, as well as the conditions in which that individual lives. “One person’s healthy microbiome might not be healthy in another context — it’s a tricky concept,” says Ruth Ley, a microbial ecologist at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany.

Researchers such as Ley are trying to better understand the forces that shape the human gut microbiome — both in the modern era, and across evolutionary history. The emerging picture indicates that even if there is no one healthy microbiome, there are ample opportunities for our lifestyle to interfere with the proper function of these complex commensal communities. And to understand how the breakdown of these ecosystems drives disease, researchers will need to move beyond microbial field guides and begin dissecting how these species interact with their hosts and with each other.

A mother’s first gift to her newborn is a healthy smattering of microbes. Some are passed along through breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, but many microbes are acquired during passage through the birth canal. This means that if the baby is delivered by caesarean section, they might miss out on a valuable bacterial starter kit. Because a child’s earliest years generally establish the composition of a gut community that will persist throughout adulthood, the resulting disruptions can have serious long-term health consequences. “As these infants grow, they have higher risk of obesity, and of modern plagues like diabetes, allergies and asthma,” says Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, a microbiologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. In a small clinical study, her team found that swabbing newborns delivered by c-section with fluids from their mother’s birth canal could help to mitigate some of the lost microbial diversity1. Several larger trials are under way to assess the longer-term health benefits.

Environmental exposures early in life also strongly affect a child’s microbiome. Susan Lynch, a microbiome researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, has been exploring links between environmental factors during childhood and the subsequent risk of developing allergies and asthma. Her findings indicate that new parents shouldn’t be afraid of a little dirt — or fur. After monitoring a cohort of nearly 1,200 infants, Lynch and her colleagues found that a dog might be a baby’s best friend when it comes to avoiding respiratory disorders2. “The only factor that discriminated high- from low-risk groups was dog ownership,” says Lynch. She says that dogs (and, to a lesser extent, cats) “increase the diversity of bacteria and lower the diversity of fungi in the houses where these babies are raised”. This finding aligns with other research showing that a rural upbringing or growing up on a farm might yield a richer gut microbiome that reduces the risk of inflammatory respiratory diseases relative to children raised in more urban environments.

At a certain point during childhood, the composition of the gut microbiome generally stops changing — although precisely when is unclear. A study in 2012 surveyed gut microbes from individuals in Malawi, Venezuela and the United States, and found a striking pattern3. “By three, you can no longer tell the babies from the adults,” says Dominguez-Bello, who was a co-author on the paper. However, she notes that there is also evidence that the microbiome remains somewhat mutable beyond this point. What is clear is that by adulthood, this ecosystem reaches a state of equilibrium. “It’s very stable,” says Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. “We see changes, but you will still look mostly similar, even over many years.”

Some of the changes seen in adulthood are driven by environment and lifestyle. In a 2018 study of 1,046 ethnically diverse adults living in Israel, Segal demonstrated microbial differences that had little to do with ethnicity4. “Environmental inputs could account for 20–25% of the variability in the microbiome,” says Segal. Drugs are an obvious source of disruption, and antibiotics — taken either deliberately to fight infection or unwittingly in processed foods — can profoundly affect the microbiota. Even drugs with no clear role in controlling bacteria can cause perturbations. Raes notes that one major European microbiome study was confounded by unexpected effects from the diabetes drug metformin5.

Diet is also a powerful external influence, even if the precise mechanisms by which it exerts its effects remain unclear. One study in 2018 found that immigrants to the United States from Thailand experienced a striking ‘westernization’ of their gut flora — a transformation that could be, at least in part, attributed to adopting a US diet6.

Mismatched to modernity

The changes observed in immigrants from Thailand were accompanied by increased risk of obesity. The study did not establish a causal link, but the results are consistent with an increasingly popular hypothesis that urbanization — and modern life in general — might be highly disruptive to the tight-knit relationship that has evolved between humans and their microbes. “We have made the assumption that the

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2020 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

The Ominous Rise of Toddler Milk

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Corporate amorality and total lack of care and concern for consumers (compared to  the obsessive attention given to increasing profits) is blatantly obvious. Olga Khazan writes in the Atlantic:

The next move after a child is done with infant formula, according to nutrition experts, is to give them water or cow’s milk. But according to formula manufacturers, it’s to give them toddler milk. This is a powdered drink that is supposed to provide 1-to-3-year-olds with extra nutrients between the bites of broccoli they might be tentatively trying. And as infant-formula sales have slumped in recent years, baby-formula companies are starting to see toddler milk as their next move as well.

Toddler milk is the fastest-growing category of breast-milk substitutes, according to the World Health Organization, and is now available at grocery stores and on websites such as Amazon. But child-nutrition experts say this type of milk is expensive, unnecessary, and possibly even unhealthy. Although toddler milk can cost four times the price of cow’s milk, the drink consists mainly of powdered milk, corn syrup, and vegetable oil. As a result, it contains less protein per serving than cow’s milk does, researchers say, along with added sugar that cow’s milk lacks.

Evidence shows that American toddlers already drink too many sugar-sweetened beverages; the recommended level is none. And the claims that formula companies make about toddler milk—that it promotes healthy brain growth or supports digestive health—are dubious at best, experts argue. In a commercial for Enfagrow Toddler Next Step, for instance, a soothing voice-over says, “Enfagrow Toddler nourishes healthy brain growth because it has DHA,” as a toddler chugs happily from a red sippy cup. But nutrition experts say there’s no evidence that toddlers aren’t getting these nutrients already. “These companies are making claims that are lies,” says Blythe Thomas, the chief strategy officer at 1,000 Days, an organization that promotes child nutrition. “It’s not okay to lie to moms.”

In a study published today in the journal Public Health Nutrition, Yoon Choi, Alexis Ludwig, and Jennifer Harris, all from the University of Connecticut, found that as public-health organizations have promoted breastfeeding over infant formula, formula manufacturers have invested more of their advertising dollars in toddler milk. The study authors used data from Nielsen to analyze toddler-milk and infant-formula sales and advertising from 2006 to 2015. They found that sales of toddler milk more than doubled in the study period, from $39 million in 2006 to $92 million in 2015. In the same time period, TV, print, and online advertising spending for toddler milk increased from less than $5 million annually to more than $20 million annually, while advertising spending for infant formula declined.

Sales were especially high for the brands that had contracts to provide infant formula to participants in WIC—the food program for low-income women, infants, and children. The reason is there might be “some sort of loyalty to the brand because you’re using the infant formula for your baby,” says Fran Fleming-Milici, the director of marketing initiatives at the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, who was not an author of the study.

To the study authors, and to other child-health advocates, the rise of toddler milk suggests that there should be more restrictions on how aggressively the product can be marketed to mothers. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that infant-formula sales and advertising decreased at the same time that toddler-milk sales increased,” Choi told me.

Buying toddler milk instead of regular milk could have real consequences for a child’s development. Choi and her co-authors write that toddler milk might train children’s palates to prefer more sugary beverages, which could be harmful to their long-term health. The packaging of toddler milk is also similar to that of infant formula, the authors say, which might lead mothers to accidentally serve the product to infants. Toddler milk does not contain the same nutrients as infant formula, so in large quantities it could leave infants malnourished. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 February 2020 at 2:43 pm

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