This month's Bulletin begins with a new effort to offer consumers better information about the relative health value of different foods.
Next, we'll look at a study that suggests that people may not naturally be optimistic. We'll break down why that matters for maintaining strong bones.
Finally, we bring you information that will make you think twice when deciding where to eat out.
A Compass That Points To Healthy Foods
Nutrition labels can be confusing. So a group of researchers have developed a new system that considers a wide range of factors to calculate a single simple measure of how healthy a food is.
They're calling this ranking system the Food Compass. It's a proposal for a new form of food product labeling that would make it easy to compare the relative healthfulness of different foods.
“We scored 54 attributes across 9 health-relevant domains: nutrient ratios, vitamins, minerals, food ingredients, additives, processing, specific lipids, fibre and protein, and phytochemicals. The domain scores were summed into a final Food Compass Score (FCS) ranging from 1 (least healthy) to 100 (most healthy) for all foods and beverages.”1
This new tool would help consumers to cut through the competing claims that processed food manufacturers make on their labels. Instead of wondering which individual part of a complex nutrient fact table is the most important, they could simply pick foods with the highest scores on the compass.
As Savers could easily predict, the highest-scoring foods are Foundation Foods, chock-full of bone-building nutrients.
Taking the average of different food categories revealed that the highest scoring categories were vegetables (69.1), fruits (73.9), and legumes, nuts, and seeds (78.6). Unsurprisingly the worst scoring foods were highly processed salty snacks and sweets, ranging from 16.4 to 17.7.1
Researchers have developed a new system for labeling foods that will make it easier to tell how healthy foods are, relative to each other. The scale of 1 to 100 considers 54 attributes of foods. Unsurprisingly, veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds are the highest-scoring food groups.
Are People Inherently Optimistic?
There is a widely held theory that people have a bias toward optimism. That theory is based on experiments that found that overall, people are likely to hold an optimistic expectation, even when there is no rational reason to be optimistic.
But brand new research out of the University of Bath, University College London, and Birkbeck-University of London has cast doubt on that theory.
““Our experiments show that the method commonly used to evidence such optimism is flawed, giving rise to ‘optimistic’ belief updating where optimism is not possible. This is not to say that optimism bias cannot exist in the real world, but that new improved methods are needed. Essentially, current methods return false positives,” says lead researcher Jason Burton from Birkbeck in a university release.
“There is of course evidence for optimism in certain situations, but that is not to say that humans are generally optimistic. Researchers and policy makers have made careers based on the idea of optimism bias, but it is time to reconsider evidence for this psychological phenomenon,” adds co-researcher Punit Shah, Associate Professor from Bath’s department of Psychology.”2
Regardless of whether people have a bias toward optimism, a positive outlook has proven benefits. A study published in the Health Psychology Journal, found that people who displayed optimism had reduced levels of cortisol secretion. As it relates to bone health, cortisol, the stress hormone, acidifies the serum pH, damages bone, and interrupts the bone remodeling process.3
A few easy strategies for cultivating optimism include:
New research has undermined previously published evidence that most people have a bias toward optimism. While the research doesn't prove or disprove that humans tend to be optimistic, it suggests the previous findings were most likely flawed. However, we do know that optimistic people have lower levels of the bone-damaging stress hormone cortisol.
Phthalates In Fast Food Cause Health Problems
A study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology has found that common fast foods in the United States contain harmful compounds called phthalates.4
Phthalates are a group of synthetic chemicals used in plastics. They're found in a wide variety of plastic objects from toys to tools to food packaging. These compounds are easily absorbed by the human body, and have been linked to disruptions of the endocrine systems.4
This happens because phthalates are similar enough to hormones that they can block or activate hormone receptors. This hormone disrupting action has been linked to impaired brain development, diabetes, and cancer.4
“The researchers collected 64 fast food items—including hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, chicken burritos, cheese pizza—from six popular fast food chains (McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino's Pizza, Taco Bell, and Chipotle) in San Antonio, Texas as well as three pairs of gloves used to handle these foods from three of the restaurants and tested them for eight common phthalates (DEHP, DnBP, BBzP, DMP, DiBP, DnOP, DiNP, and DEP). Additionally, they looked at levels of three replacement plasticizers, chemicals used to substitute banned phthalates, in the foods and gloves collected.
Among the 67 food and glove samples analyzed in this study, all eight phthalates except DMP were detected. Specifically, 52 (81%) of the samples contained a phthalate called DnBP while 45 (70%) contained DEHP. Mounting scientific evidence has linked both chemicals to fertility and reproductive problems in humans as well as increased risks for learning, attention, and behavioral disorders in childhood.”4
Clearly, these are not risks worth taking. Especially for foods that do not offer nutritional value. Because we come into contact with phthalates so frequently in the modern world, it's important to avoid foods that are so heavily contaminated.
A study has found that common fast foods in the United States contain harmful compounds called phthalates. These compounds, used in plastics, disrupt hormone function and have been linked to impaired brain development, diabetes, and cancer. This is yet another reason to avoid unhealthy fast-food products.
What This Means To You
Exercise care with the choices you make. And try to stay optimistic while you do it!
There's plenty to feel positive about, like the abundance of healthy ingredients that you can get at your local grocery store. Preparing your own meals from whole foods is a great way to avoid the phthalates that wind up in highly processed fast-food.
Of course, you can't avoid plastics entirely. But you can help your body to recover from the exposures of modern life with the Osteoporosis Fresh Start Cleanse. This 7 day cleanse consists of six simple steps that “fast track” your body's ability to heal itself and grow stronger bones. It's included as part of Save Institute's “All Access Bundle” which has everything you need to rebuild strong and healthy bones.