Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"All Natural" Not Always Better

by guest blogger Jody Perrecone

While at the grocery store the other day, I saw many products on the shelves labeled “all natural.”  I wondered how they could be labeled “all natural” since all of these products were processed foods and were in packaged in boxes, bags, and jars. 

Looking into this further, with the exception of meat and poultry, I found the FDA does not regulate these words on food packaging. Without any regulation, “all natural” labeling is like the Wild West.  I saw a bag of veggie crisps labeled “all natural.”  These are potato chip-like snacks. Eight ingredients were listed on the ingredient list including beet powder. Cruising the grocery aisles, I saw bottled salad dressing with 14ingredients listed including lecithin - a processed soy product that keeps the dressing from separating.  “All natural” was also on bottled green tea.  The label said it had “no preservatives, no artificial flavor, no artificial color.”  True, but it did list high fructose corn syrup and “natural flavors” on the ingredient label.   Fruit chews are snacks that are similar to juju beans. They too are “all natural” and “made with real fruit juice.”  One serving had the equivalent of nearly four teaspoons of sweeteners corn syrup and sugar in addition to carnauba wax. Made from leaves of the copernicia prunifera palm found only in Brazil, carnauba wax is also used in shoe polish and car wax but is food safe. The ingredient list of an “all natural” chicken flavored soup base didn’t contain any chicken, but did include maltodexrin and autolyzed yeast extract. A colorful breakfast cereal had “natural fruit flavors” advertised on the front of the box.  The ingredient list had sugar as the first ingredient and no fruit mentioned. One cup of this cereal contains 3 teaspoons of sugar.  Also listed were blue dye #2 and yellow dye #6 which studies have shown to cause tumors in animals.  What a way to start the day!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Missing Piece Of The American Health Care Conversation

It's an all to often occurrence in my line of work as a hospital pharmacist to hear other healthcare professionals talking to patients about how they can treat their ailments. This almost always involves a reference to the latest procedure or newly released blockbuster drug. While some rare occasions may indeed call for such action, many do not. We have a pill for everything in this country and a high tech procedure for everything else. 

Many of the conversations I hear go a little something like this:

Patient: "How'd my cholesterol test come back?"
Nurse: "It's higher than we'd like it to be, but the doctor just ordered this drug called Lipitor for you..."

Patient: "The chest pain was almost unbearable at times doc."
Doctor: "You're going to be ok. You're actually a really good candidate for a procedure called a cardiac cath. What happens is we'll insert a stent into your coronary artery..."

Patient: "This indigestion is killing me. It's been going on for days. I can't sleep at night it's so bad."
Doctor: "I'm sorry. It has to be difficult to get any rest when your chest feels like it's on fire. There's this medication called Nexium we can try on you. It's the purple pill. You may have heard of it before. Also, I can give you a sleeping pill called Ambien..."

Patient: "So what's the verdict from my fall? Is anything broken? I'm really in a lot of pain."
Doctor: "Unfortunately, you broke your hip. You have osteoporosis which is a major contributor to this. We need to consult an orthopedic specialist to see if surgery is necessary for you. Also, there's this drug called Fosamax I'd like to start you on once you leave the hospital..."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Defend Yourself!

by guest blogger Jody Perrecone

We use a variety of gear to prevent injury. A motorcyclist wears glasses and a helmet to protect their eyes and head. Construction workers wear steel-toe shoes and hard hats. Potholders are used in the kitchen to grab something hot. What is needed within our bodies to protect us from disease?

Plants.  Yes, that’s correct.  Amazingly, nature has built into plants the ability for them to produce compounds for them to fight disease.  When we eat the plants – vegetables and fruits – the same plant compounds fight disease in us.