Archive for October, 2014

New White Paper Makes the Case Against GMOs

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Portfolio 21, an investment management group based in Portland, OR, recently released a 20-page white paper entitled The Case Against GMOs: An Environmental Investor’s View of the Threat to our Global Food Systems.

The White Paper provides an overview of the history and context for the development of Genetically Modified crops, the aggressive, long-term strategy of Monsanto for dominating the regulatory environment, and Monsanto’s strategy for targeting markets in primarily developing economies in South America, India, and Africa.

“All things considered, the risks associated with GM agriculture outweigh the benefits,” the white paper concludes, adding, “while genetic modification as a tool is neither inherently negative nor positive, the history of its use indicates that the GM product is largely deployed to increase short-term profits for agricultural biotech corporations at the expense of consumers, small farmers, and the environment.”

Environmentally, “GM agriculture and its systemic effects reinforce many of the most damaging aspects of monoculture and mechanization. These include biodiversity loss, agro-chemical use, and accelerated soil exhaustion. Additionally, the foreign genetic material can spread beyond its intended area through cross-pollination and interbreeding, as well potentially migrate across species.” Socially, “the demographic shifts that have accompanied the marketing and adoption of GMOs show disturbing patterns, especially in developing countries. Small farmers often become trapped by seed licensing fees and other rising input costs. Furthermore, the switch to crops that then get exported for processing can exacerbate local food supply and quality issues.” From the perspective of governance and regulation, “the intellectual property system allowing for corporate patents on organisms opens the door for a range of ethically problematic business practices. Also, agricultural biotech companies have repeatedly used their undue influence on regulators to gain product approval, circumvent regulations, and suppress dissenting independent studies.”

Taken in totality, the reputational and financial risks are that “consumers are becoming increasingly educated on their eating habits and the consequences of these choices. In addition to raising questions concerning the health effects of consuming GMOs, the spread of this information builds up negative perceptions of the agricultural biotech corporations and the industry as a whole. Given the information and the choice, an increasing number of consumers (and the companies that cater to them) are becoming less accepting of GMOs. The market, especially among consumers in wealthy countries, has pushed GM crops to the low end of the market, where they are now a cheap choice for animal feed, biofuel feedstock, and heavily processed food. Additionally agricultural biotech companies must contend with litigation costs, settlements, and “restructuring charges” arising from failed deployments.”

New Study Shows Sustained Improvement in Child Behavior with Omega-3 Supplementation

Friday, October 17th, 2014

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reported that daily supplementation of an omega-3 blend improved antisocial and aggressive behavior in children between the ages of eight and sixteen. Furthermore, daily supplementation of an omega-3 blend over a six month period reduced behavioral problems in children both at the end of treatment and for six months thereafter.

It is worth noting this study used a blend of omega-3 for supplementation and not just fish oils, which are high in EPA and DHA. Currently, some individuals (e.g., Dr. Mercola, Dr. Murray) are virtually dogmatic about fish oils as the ONLY legitimate source of omega-3, as if the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flax and chia seed serves no nutritional benefit. This generalization has led some in the blogosphere to circulate the idea that flax oil is “bad” because of its ALA content, which is categorically incorrect unless it’s rancid.

426 highHistorically, flax oil was promoted over fish oils in part because of very low quality, rancid fish oils in capsules that did more harm than good. Now high quality liquid sources are available (e.g., Carlson’s, Nordic Naturals) so more emphasis is being placed on consuming cod liver oil, and for good reason since not everyone converts ALA to EPA and DHA. However, there are also several studies that show ALA consumption is critical for optimal absorption of specifically DHA.

As one might expect, omega-3 supplementation is not about taking one type of omega-3 over another. Omega-3 supplementation is about combining omega-3 into one’s diet, such as eating one tsp of Carlson’s lemon-flavored cod liver with your morning toast with MELT® Organic (which contains 425 mg ALA per serving). Or, grinding one to two tbsp of flax or chia seed and adding it to your favorite yogurt in addition to one tsp of cod liver oil.

Methods and Results

A community sample of 8 to 16 year old children were randomized into a treatment group (100 subjects total) and a placebo-control group (100 subjects total) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, stratified, parallel-group trial. Supplementation consisted of a fruit drink containing 1000 mg/day of an omega-3 blend or a placebo consisting of the same fruit drink without omega-3. The omega-3 blend included 300 mg DHA, 200 mg EPA, 400 mg ALA, and 100 mg of docosapentaenoic acid [DPA]. Treatment lasted for 6 months, and all participants were followed for another 6 months after discontinuation of treatment. Changes in behavior problems were reported by both the child subjects and their caregivers.

Primary outcome measures were externalizing behavior problems that included acting out, being aggressive, and reactive. Secondary outcome measures looked at the impact on internalizing behavior (social withdrawal, feelings of loneliness or guilt, fearfulness, etc.). The children were assessed by the parents and researchers, as well as through a self-assessment questionnaire. The parents also completed a self-assessment questionnaire.

While the children themselves did not report improvement, the parents reported a significant improvement in children’s behavior in the treatment group for all behavioral issues. Specifically, omega-3 supplementation for 6 months resulted in a 41.6% reduction in parent-rated child externalizing behavior compared to the placebo group. This effect persisted 6 months after the treatment period had ended. An even larger reduction of 68.4% was seen for internalizing behavior.

Findings provide evidence that omega-3 supplementation can produce sustained reductions in externalizing and internalizing behavior problems in children between eight and sixteen years old.

Reference

Raine A, Portnoy J, Liu J, Mahoomed T, Hibbeln J. 2014. Reduction in behavior problems with omega-3 supplementation in children aged 8-16 years: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, stratified, parallel-group trial. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12314. [Epub ahead of print]

Barceló-Coblijn G, Murphy EJ. 2009. Review: Alpha-linolenic acid and its conversion to longer chain n-3 fatty acids: Benefits for human health and a role in maintaining tissue n-3 fatty acid levels. Progress in Lipid Research 48:355–374.

 

 

 

Baked Vegetable Marinara

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Fall is upon us and with it comes the desire for comfort food! Reminiscent of baked spaghetti, cooked spaghetti squash is used in place of pasta for a completely vegetable-based dish. This dish can be taken to the next level by including crumbled Italian sausage. Inspired by the Detoxinista, this dish serves 4 to 6.

IMG_0365

Ingredients

1-3lb spaghetti squash, baked with strands cooped out

1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil

2 tablespoons MELT® Organic

1 smallish onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups broccoli florets

1 zucchini, chopped

2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

2 cups marinara sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Grated cheese of choice (e.g., parmesan, cheddar, romano)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the spaghetti squash lengthwise and place with the cut-side-down on a baking sheet or Pyrex dish. Bake until a fork can easily pierce the shell of the squash, about 1 hour.
  • Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat in coconut oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, zucchini, and toss in the MELT Organic. Allow the vegetables to cook until tender, making sure any liquid has evaporated.
  • Stir in the marinara sauce, spinach, and spaghetti strands and cook until the spinach has wilted and the marinara sauce is heated through.
  • Place the vegetable marinara in a casserole dish, and generously sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
  • Place the casserole dish in the oven on broil until the cheese bubbles and melts, about 2 to 3 minutes. Before the cheese topping burns, remove from the oven and serve warm.

 

Honey MELT® Gluten-Free Pumpkin Poppers

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Looking for a healthy, delicious after-school snack that is a snap to make? These gluten-free Pumpkin Poppers made with Honey MELT® fill the bill without added sugar.

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Ingredients

½ cup coconut flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

3 eggs

1 cup cooked pumpkin, or ½ cup cooked pumpkin and ½ cup cooked carrot

2/3 cup Honey MELT, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Sift together all dry ingredients is a large mixing bowl.
  • In a food processor, place 3 eggs and the pumpkin/ pumpkin-carrot and blend until smooth.
  • Add the softened Honey MELT to the food processor and blend again until smooth.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon or hand mixer until completely mixed. As the coconut flour absorbs the liquids the mixture will change from a runny consistency to a thicker one.
  • Allow the batter to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Use coconut oil to grease a mini muffin tin and lightly sprinkle with coconut flour (to prevent Pumpkin Poppers from sticking).
  • Measure 2 tablespoons of batter and roll into a ball in the palms of your hands.
  • Drop each batter ball into the muffin tins.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and move from the muffin tin to a serving plate.
  • In a Pyrex measuring cup, soften a couple of spoonfuls of Honey MELT with a little honey (optional) and drizzle over the Pumpkin Poppers. Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on top. The topping will melt into the poppers and spill down and soak into the bottom.
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