New Under the Sun:
Volume 2, Issue 6
Greetings!! The peak rate of marriage occurs during the month of June. In the traditional service, health and sickness of the spouse are mentioned. Each spouse vows to remain loyal to the other even if the other becomes quite ill. While that is a laudable goal, each individual should also promise to do all he/she can to make sure that both individuals obtain and maintain optimal health throughout the course of the marriage. Naturally, this holds true for anyone involved in any relationship. One of the most important “gifts” we can give to ourselves and to those we love is optimal health and well being.
Fetal Recognition of Mother’s Voice: Research in a joint study conducted in Canada and China on 60 full-term (in utero) fetuses found out something that most mothers already suspected: the fetus recognizes and responds to its mother’s voice. Two-minute tape recordings of their mother’s and a female stranger’s voices were made. The pregnant women were divided into two groups. For one, the recording of the mother’s voice was played through a loud speaker to the fetus; for the other group, the recording of the stranger’s voice was played to the fetus. Prior to and after playing the recording, there was a two-minute period of silence. A fetal heart rate monitor showed that when the fetus heard its mother’s voice, heart rate increased. However, when the strange female voice was played, heart rate slowed. This research shows that a fetus not only responds to voices, but can distinguish between known and unknown voices with the response to the known (mother’s) voice being much stronger. Prior to this study, the research team had determined that a fetus can distinguish between English and Mandarin. Their next study will study whether the fetus can distinguish its father’s voice from an unknown male. The conclusion of the researchers is that language ability is already forming in the last trimester of pregnancy. Kisilevsky BS, Hains SM, Lee K, Xie X, Huang H, Ye HH, Zhang K, Wang Z. Effects of experience on fetal voice recognition. Psychol Sci 2003 May;14(3):220-4.
Comment: Since a third trimester fetus can hear and recognize voices, it is probably a good idea for both the mother and father to be aware of this when they converse with each other and the fetus. Their tone of voice, perhaps even what is said, may well have an impact on fetal development and how the newborn infant responds to his/her parents.
Medical Costs of Obesity Rival those for Smoking: It is common knowledge that smoking has a strongly negative impact on health resulting in high medical costs. The cost is so high that medical insurers charge higher prices for health insurance to smokers, and help pay for smoking cessation programs. What is less common knowledge is that the medical costs associated with obesity are now about equal to those associated with smoking, yet insurers do not charge higher rates for the obese, nor pay for weight reduction programs. This is surprising since 23% of Americans are classified as obese while “only” 19% of Americans are classified as daily smokers. Furthermore, chronic medical problems are 30 – 50% more probable among the obese than among heavy smokers. Results of a national survey found that Medicare and Medicaid patients had the highest rates of overweight and obese individuals and that costs related to these conditions were also highest among these patients. As concern about obesity becomes more widespread in the healthcare community, it is probable that lessons will be learned from efforts aimed at smoking cessation. This will result in higher insurance costs for the obese while efforts aimed at getting the obese to reduce their weight will become more strenuous. Eric A. Finkelstein, Ian C. Fiebelkorn, and Guijing Wang. National Medical Spending Attributable To Overweight And Obesity: How Much, And Who’s Paying? Health Affairs 2003, May 12: W3-219 – W3-226.
Preventing Obesity The AnthroHealth Way: Walk 2 – 3 miles each day. Eliminate dairy products and refined grains from the diet. Eat 8 – 10 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. For snacks, eat tree nuts. See below for more on tree nuts. For protein, eat fish, shellfish, eggs, and small amounts of fowl and meat. Drink water as the primary beverage.
Preserving Vision: Papers presented in May, 2003 at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology provide new insight into diet and the preservation of eyesight. One study found that individuals (who were between the ages of 60 and 80 when the study began) who ate fatty fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids at least two times per week had a reduced incidence of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) compared to those who ate no fatty fish. Another study of male physicians which began in 1982 found that those who took beta-carotene supplements for 12 years had no difference in the incidence of AMD compared to a placebo group. This was a surprise since beta-carotene, which is found in carrots, has long been associated with good eyesight. It may be that it does have benefits with other aspects of eyesight, but not with AMD. A final study again assessed the effect of omega 3 fatty acids on eyesight. This study found that a diet high in fatty fish resulted in a significantly reduced rate of dry eye syndrome compared to a diet lacking fatty fish. ARVO 2003 Annual Meeting: Abstract 811/B786, presented May 4, 2003; abstracts 2111 and 2112, presented May 6, 2003.
Protecting Vision The AnthroHealth Way: Eat those sardines!! If not sardines, then salmon or mackerel will do. Walnuts also contain omega 3 fatty acids.
Book Review: Next time someone says, “You are nuts!!” say, “Thank you!” in reply because tree nuts are one of the best foods we can eat. That is the message of Healthy Nuts: Your Guide to the Healthful Benefits of Nuts by Gene Spiller, PhD. This slim volume packs a powerful nutritional punch.
Spiller provides a brief history of the use of tree nuts among populations throughout time and throughout the world. Beyond what Spiller discusses, archaeological research has shown that pre-agricultural populations relied heavily on tree nuts as their dietary staple. This remains true for foraging groups in tropical and sub-tropical regions who use few or no agricultural products. Analysis of the skeletal remains of pre-agricultural populations (those reliant on tree nuts) compared to early agricultural populations (those whose diet was primarily grain based) shows that the populations whose diet was based on tree nuts (but also included a wide variety of vegetation, fish, shellfish, and game) were much healthier than those populations whose diet was much more limited in its variety and based on grains.
The chapter “Nuts in Disease Prevention” presents the results of several research studies on the benefits of tree nuts in the diet including reductions in heart disease primarily through improving the proportion of bad cholesterol to good cholesterol. There are also indications that cashews, which are an important part of the diet in India, may be related to lower levels of colon cancer; while nut eaters in Japan appear to have reduced rates of stomach cancer.
The most intriguing section of the book is Part II where each type of tree nut is discussed in detail. For instance, we find out that almonds are a member of the rose family as are apples, pears, prunes, and apricots. Brazil nuts are unusual in that growers have been unable to successfully transplant them from their home in Brazil. Most other nut trees are much more adaptable.
The one caveat I have with the book is that Spiller implies that a vegetarian diet based on tree nuts is fully adequate; that no meat protein is necessary. While a vegan diet based on tree nuts is certainly healthier than one based on grains, it is still deficient in the high quality protein and other nutrients needed for optimal brain growth and development provided by fish, shellfish, eggs, and moderate amounts of fowl and red meat. Substituting tree nuts for meat would be fine so long as fish, shellfish, and eggs remain in the diet. Other than that, Healthy Nuts is an enjoyable, informative read.
AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: This month we take our tip from Healthy Nuts and suggest that you add at least a handful of tree nuts to your daily diet to help improve your cholesterol ratio and heart health. Almonds are a particularly good choice since they include 266 mg of calcium for every 100 gms (3.5 oz) of nuts. Walnuts combine well with almonds and help balance the nutrient benefits. A good snack or on-the-go breakfast is to combine almonds, walnuts, raisins, and dried cranberries. Eat, enjoy, get healthy!!
© 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.