High Oil Prices Lead to Improved Health?

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Annual Nutrition and Health Forum

You should pay your farmer, not your doctor.

A gathering of the nutrition industry’s heavyweights took place on a sun drenched day under the April Manhattan skyline. The Grand Ballroom of the Marriot Marquis welcomed a diverse compendium of health and nutrition enthusiasts.

On their plate was an in depth discussion on the “hot” topics in the health and nutrition arena. Misleading manufacturer labeling, rampant misuse of corn related products, and poor endorsement choices by the American Heart Association, were just a few of the scores of topics covered this day.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Marion Nestle, M.P.H. PhD, as well as the author of Food Politics began with harsh criticism of the cereal manufacturers. She prepared a PowerPoint presentation which highlighted the cereal group as nutritionally reckless profiteers out to mass market their products to helpless children. She said “children should have a diet of healthy adult food.” She also detailed the abundance of sugar in cereal as well as a cereal that contained splenda of all things.

Equally startling was her appraisal of the confidence in our food supply. She feels Americans are phobic over mad cow disease yet don’t realize that 5,000 Americans each year die from food poisoning, 300,000 are hospitalized, and 70 million Americans have documented symptoms directly related to food born illness. Her opinion of our level of trust in the food supply needs dramatic rethinking.

Ms. Nestle also detailed the extensive red tape, and political undercurrent which interferes with good health and the food supply. Her opinions were echoed by Dan Barber Executive Chef of Blue Hill Restaurant. Dan’s comments were both insightful and provocative as he strongly recommended local produce, and pushing the envelope on home growing as well.

Both Ms. Nestle and Mr. barber attacked the large behemoths, like Wal-Mart and Horizon milk for putting profits over people. Not even Marriot was safe in their own hotel as Dr. Weil harshly criticized their food service for serving his dad a pastrami sandwich immediately after recovering from heart surgery.

The milk debate roared on as the panel spoke of their unsuccessful efforts to have the milk industry label milk that was produced with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), a genetically engineered hormone manufactured by Monsanto, Referred to as Bovine Somatotropin (rBST), the bioengineered hormone is injected in the cows every other week to force the cows to produce more milk than their bodies normally would. rBGH is similar, although not identical, to a hormone that the cow naturally produces. Increasing levels of this hormone boosts milk production, causing a number of problems with the milk.

When Ms. Nestle and Ms. Barber challenged the dairy industry to disclose which milk had rBGH they just switched them to a committee where they were easily outnumbered and out voted.

Supplements also found themselves staring down the barrel of the forums rifle. Dr. Weil defended the need for vitamins and supplements as each person has deficiencies based on geographic habitat, personal diet, and genetics.

He also stated that people should know what they were getting. In the audience was Stephen Kieth, one of the founders of HotSoupOnline.com

A Westhampton based company that makes nutricuetical all natural products. Kieth stated Dr. Weil was absolutely right and his company does DNA fingerprinting of their raw materials. Kieth said “just like with the food supply, it is important to know what’s in your vitamin tablet. Without F.D.A. regulations and checking, you might not be getting the dosage or the vitamins you are paying for.

HotSoupOnline.Com is paving the way as a good guy in the supplement industry. They do DNA fingerprinting of their raw materials and guarantee their dosages. Although the company is an upstart, they have already forged a great relationships with a local charity, The Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch.

Along with helping the ranch, they also are a partner in the Shelter Island 10-k Run. Kieth is bringing his entire team to the conference next year, and hopes to speak one day on his views of nutrition and the importance of vitamins.

“This conference should be standing room only, people can protect their health and fight childhood obesity by eating right, and asking tough questions behind the questions. There is a lot the big food companies and government don’t want you to know.”

Mr. Barber along with passing on some friendly antidotes of

happenings in his kitchen, passed along sharp criticism of the meat packers that do not let their cows ever see grass.

Their bad habits have actually changed peopled tastes to prefer the less quality beef which is both higher in fat and easier to chew.

By eating healthier and increasing your fruit and vegetable intake, Barber stated “You should pay your farmer, not your doctor.”

The feeling of the entire group was that Americans were on a suicide mission as a direct result of fast food and dietary choices. Disease’s and widespread pharmaceutical needs were a direct result of not eating healthy,

and lacking key vitamins and minerals.

Weil stated the fast food craze could be curtailed if we voted with our forks! Weil pointed to the low mortality rate in Okinawa as a prime example of diets role in life expectancy.

Elderly Okinawans have among the lowest mortality rates in the world from a multitude of chronic diseases of aging and as a result enjoy not only what may be the world's longest life expectancy but the world's longest health expectancy. Centenarians, in particular, have a history of aging slowly and delaying or sometimes escaping the chronic diseases of aging including dementia, cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease and stroke) and cancer.

However Dr. Weil pointed out, since the McDonalds cheeseburger has hit the Japanese soil, that number has already inched downward.

Oil was not exempt from entering the nutrition debate.

High oil prices can lead to better nutrition?

Absolutely said the expert board, as the large supermarket corporations will revisit buying higher quality local produce rather than pay exorbitant shipping prices. Many companies including Wal-Mart will try to shorten

the supply line to bringing produce to there stores.

So in fact high oil does lead to better nutrition.

Fish vs. fish oil was also a hot topic as dangerous mercury levels have disparaged the fish supply. Dr. Weil took this one on as saying valuable Omega-3 found in fish oil and walnuts. Fish, and fish oils have been studied with evidence of lowering coronary heart disease.

In closing with a lively Q and A with the audience, the so called joy of soy, a nutritional darling in the 90’s was thrown under the bus by the panel.

Does Soy increases cancer risk, does soy hurt protein utilization?

It seems soy was an area that nobody could agree on and the group wanted to revisit with further clinical testing.

For this writer, the Nutrition and Health public forum is a must see. Next year see this group instead of your doctor for your annual physical.

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Eric Levine
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