How America became the plump nation

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Americans should eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while cutting back on added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat, according to new dietary guidelines published by the federal government Thursday. The guidelines, which influence school lunch menus and federal nutrition policy, also recommend eating more seafood in place of other proteins like meat, poultry, and eggs.

Our poor nutrition has contributed to a generations-long national weight gain. Today two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Half are afflicted with chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure that can often be prevented with better diets.

We didn’t get this way overnight. The average calories available to the average American increased 25 percent, to more than 2500, between 1970 and 2010, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s not like we added an extra meal to the day: Rather, an evolution in the type of foods we eat led to steady growth in calories.

Added fats and grains account for a growing share of total caloric intake. These two categories, which include oils and fats in processed foods and flour in cereals and breads, made up about 37 percent of our diet in 1970. By 2010, they were 46 percent—a larger share of the growing pie.

RTFA. Some of the silliness, some of the brainwashed response to advertising has diminished. I don’t know if that’s generational or if the population as a whole is starting to realize how we’ve been hustled. But, it is happening.

For example, sugar consumption from soft drinks peaked 17 years ago. I doubt we’ll be returning to that high.

The Impossible Burger interview

Angie Lau & Patrick Brown
Click for the interview [after a brief commercial]

Impossible Foods CEO and Co-Founder Patrick Brown discusses his company’s products which are made entirely from plants, creating a sustainable source of food and why he says his products are made a better way — with Bloomberg’s Angie Lau on “First Up.”

Amazing what computational analysis and genetic engineering are getting ready to make possible. I have a couple of old acquaintances – retired molecular biologists – who probably would like to start all over again.

New DNA test can beef up dairy and meat quality

A genomics technique developed at Cornell to improve corn can now be used to improve the quality of milk and meat…

A team led by Ikhide Imumorin, Cornell assistant professor of animal science, is the first to apply a new, inexpensive yet powerful genomics technique to cattle called genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS). The protocol contains only four basic steps from DNA to data, and Imumorin’s work demonstrated it generates enough markers to put cattle genomics on the fast track.

“Breeders are interested in cattle with traits such as high meat or milk quality, disease resistance and heat tolerance, but identifying the best animals means sorting through thousands of unique gene variants in the genome,” said Imumorin. “Until recently, the cost of genomics techniques has set too high a bar for breeders, and many cattle species, particularly those outside the United States and Europe found in Africa and Asia, were excluded from the genomics revolution.”

Using samples from 47 cattle from six breeds from the United States and Nigeria, Imumorin’s team used GBS to identify more than 50,000 genetic markers for genetic profiling…The team’s analysis showed the markers were preferentially located in or near the gene-rich regions in the arms of the chromosome, making them well sited for tagging genes in genetic studies. The researchers also demonstrated that the markers accurately detect the relationships among the breeds.

“GBS democratizes genetic profiling, and our work shows its usefulness in livestock,” said Imumorin. “While a genetic profile could run $70 to $150 per individual using commercially available methods, GBS brings the cost down to around $40 a sample or less. It’s a very exciting time.”

Imumorin predicts that GBS will be deployed by breeders and geneticists scanning herds for superior breeding stock. He cited the example of how selection of bulls for use in breeding programs will be streamlined through GBS-driven genome analysis around the world without the steep cost of commercial SNP chips, the standard tool based on gene variants discovered in European cattle breeds and made into off-the-shelf genotyping chips.

“For example, a bull can have genes for superior milk production, but the only way to test that is to evaluate milk production in his daughters,” said Imumorin. “A bull will be at least five years old before two generations of his offspring can be evaluated, and that’s a long time for breeders to take care of a bull that may not make the final cut. These techniques hasten the day when a bull’s value can be assessed using genetics on its day of birth more cheaply than we can do now.”

Bravo. Cost-savings and accelerated genetic development are always welcome in cattle-breeding.

Pictures of the day


Click on the photo for larger

A dairy farm has painted QR codes onto their cows. People passing Southfields farm in Somerby, Leicestershire, can scan the QR code using an app on a smartphone and get quick access to a website which contains information about the farm’s 100-strong herd of dairy cows. The farm is testing the idea out on their cow, Lady Shamrock, and scanners will be instantly directed to http://www.thisisdairyfarming.com to find out more about her.

For more photos, just click and go here.

Swapping nuts for red meat will lower your risk of diabetes

A new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers finds a strong association between the consumption of red meat — particularly when the meat is processed — and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The study also shows that replacing red meat with healthier proteins, such as low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains, can significantly lower the risk…

…Researchers found a daily 100-gram serving of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 19 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

They also found that one daily serving of half that quantity of processed meat — 50 grams (for example, one hot dog or sausage or two slices of bacon) — was associated with a 51 percent increased risk.

“Clearly, the results from this study have huge public health implications given the rising type 2 diabetes epidemic and increasing consumption of red meats worldwide,” said Frank Hu. “The good news is that such troubling risk factors can be offset by swapping red meat for a healthier protein.”

The researchers found that, for an individual who eats one daily serving of red meat, substituting a serving of nuts per day resulted in a 21 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes; substituting low-fat dairy, a 17 percent lower risk; and substituting whole grains, a 23 percent lower risk…

Red meat, they add, should be replaced with healthier choices, such as nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish or beans.

Mind you – I’m talking about balance not complete replacement.

I love beans. I like whole grain pasta. I love beans. I love Mediterranean-style yoghurts. I like beans. I finally got back to enjoying fish – after surviving a childhood of subsistence fishing and eating critters from coastal waters 5 days a week minimum.

Did I mention I love beans?

China’s supermarkets will carry “human” milk from cows

Genetically modified dairy products that are similar to human milk will appear on the Chinese market in two years, an expert in biotechnology has predicted.

Li Ning, a scientist from the Chinese Academy of Engineering and director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at China Agricultural University, said progress in the field is well under way.

Li said Chinese scientists have successfully created a herd of more than 200 cows that is capable of producing milk that contains the characteristics of human milk.

He said the technology is at the cutting edge worldwide and will ensure “healthy protein contained in human milk is affordable for ordinary consumers”…

Human milk contains two kinds of nutrition that can help improve the immune systems and the central nervous systems of children. The components are not available in milk produced by goats or cows.

Li said the scientific world had not previously found a way to mass-produce those ingredients. The GM milk will be as safe to drink as that of the ordinary cows, he added.

The Ministry of Agriculture issued bio-safety examination certificates for the GM herd in March 2010, giving the scientific team a 22-month period during which the technology can be tested in laboratories.

The ministry will then evaluate the results of the tests before deciding whether to allow the milk to be sold.

Interesting. I’d find it more interesting if I drank milk.

I wonder if those of us who are lactose intolerant might not have a problem with the modified stuff.

WWSPE?

Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, probably ate fare similar to today’s pricey health foods such as cereal, fish and seaweed, according to a researcher who has studied the country’s 5th century diet.

Food historian Regina Sexton said records kept by monks showed that Patrick, who is credited with ridding Ireland of snakes and spreading the Christian message, most likely drew his sustenance from cereals and dairy produce such as sour milk, flavored curd mixtures and a variety of soft and hard cheeses.

It is safe to say that obesity was not a problem in those days, and that the fare was seasonal, wholesome and modest by today’s standards,” said Sexton of University College Cork.

A corresponding factor in reduced obesity had to be the hard work. Field hands back then often ate 2 lbs. of cheese per day. But, they used up more than four thousand calories at work.

Having arrived in Ireland as a slave after what was probably a cold and hungry journey from Britain, the future saint most likely snacked on wet preparations like porridge, gruel and meal pastes.

Other culinary delights he could choose from included hen and goose eggs, honey, curds, seaweeds and apples, which he could garnish with a dash of wild garlic or watercress.

Fish like salmon, trout and eel or meats like hand-cured pork were also on 5th century Irish menus, while flat breads made from oats, barley, a little rye and some of the altogether more exclusive wheat, added some bulk.

“Ironically, much of the food available then is what we call ‘health food’ now, which comes of course, at a premium price,” Sexton said.

I’ll forgive him converting Ireland to Christianity.

As for the “health food” comparison – a great deal of what the article discusses is Ireland’s answer to a Mediterannean Diet. The only goodies that get expensive are some of the seafood if you live in the Southern Rockies as I do. Otherwise, I grew up with most of the same foodstuffs in New England. Maybe a bit more white bread and beef – my family back in the Outer Hebrides were cattle drovers for centuries. No doubt they got a bit of beef, once in a while.