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Step away from the burger: Why a ‘Western’ diet is bad for your health

Vital Signs is a monthly program bringing viewers health stories from around the world.

(CNN)The developing world is seeing rapid urbanization, with more than half of the world’s population now living in cities and this figure expected to reach 70% by 2050.

But with this progression comes an urban lifestyle — often meaning less physical activity and the consumption of a “Western” diet.

“[There’s a] nutrition transition occurring around the world,” says David Tilman, professor of Ecology at the University of Minnesota. In a recent study, Tilman explored global trends in diet choices and the link between these diets and health.

“People around the world, as incomes go up, choose more calories and meat in their diet,” says Tilman. The result? Potentially disastrous consequences on health and an increased risk of disease.

“We have a whole new group of people who are malnourished because they eat foods that are no good for them, that have no nutritional benefit,” says Tilman. The trend contradicts the more traditional causes of malnutrition.

Also on the rise is access to, and consumption of, processed foods.

    “Processed foods have low nutritional value,” says Tilman, who describes processed food as having empty calories. “Diets low in fruit and vegetables have a strong negative health impact,” he says.

    And a diet high in processed foods — and generally a modern “Western” diet — is even worse.

    What is a Western diet?

    “The biggest features [of a Western diet] are overconsumption of over-refined sugars, highly refined and saturated fats, animal protein and a reduced intake of plant-based fibers,” says Ian Myles, from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. This translates to a diet high in fat, red meat, salt and sugars, and low in fiber.

    “Too many calories in general,” says Myles — a trend aided by the move towards a culture of fast food.

    But what impact can this diet have on your health?

    Increasing your risk of infection

    According to Myles, highly processed and refined foods, common to Western meals, are disliked by the body. “It throws your immune system off kilter,” he says.

    The biggest culprits in Myles’ eyes are foods containing fructose and palmitic acid — ingredients found commonly in candy bars — which can kick-start an immune reaction.

    “[Palmitic acid] can be confused by the body with bacteria like E.Coli,” says Myles. The body then starts an immune attack against the supposed bacteria, which results in a low level of inflammation.

    Distracting the immune system in this way means immune cells won’t be as ready to attack when facing a real infection. “It throws off the way your body responds…and by the time you recognize it, it will have gotten worse,” says Myles.

    However, the effect is reversible.

    A change in diet to remove exposure to these food components can restore immune activity back to its normal state, according to Myles. “That low-grade inflammation will change,” he says.

    Changing your gut bacteria

    Your gut microbes play a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of not only your gut, but your whole body.

    “Every person carries about 1kg of microbes inside them,” says Jeremy Nicholson, head of the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London. According to Nicholson, the body’s gut microbes are heavily connected with the control of the immune system, which in turn controls inflammation.

    Eating processed foods can cause the good bacteria in your gut to be pushed out — leaving you more exposed to the bad ones. “The good bacteria don’t survive as well,” says Myles.

    Obesity and diabetes

    The global increase in diets high in fat and calories is seeing rates of obesity and diabetes rise rapidly across the world. “There is soaring obesity,” says Nicholson.

    In 2014, more than 600 million adults were obese globally, and almost 2 billion adults were overweight, according to the World Health Organization.

    “Obesity predisposes you to disease,” says Nicholson. Inflammation within the body is also high in obese individuals, increasing their risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and joint conditions such as arthritis. “All of these are inflammatory conditions,” says Nicholson.

    Increased obesity levels are also thought to contribute to a rise in cases of joint conditions and replacements, due to the extra pressure and wear placed on the joints. “Obese people need hip and knee replacement much earlier in their lives,” says Nicholson.

    Linked to obesity, another disease with rates now soaring globally is diabetes, affecting 374 million people in 2014. The development of Type II diabetes is linked with diet and numbers are rising in every country, according to the IDF diabetes atlas.

    Cancer risk

    Recent studies have linked Western diets with increased risks of colon and prostate cancer. Men eating mostly a Western diet were found to have 2.5 times the risk of dying from prostate cancer whilst the risks associated with colon cancer again linked back to inflammation and a change in the activities of gut bacteria.

    “In obese individuals you get different microbial compositions to produce something that can impact cancer,” says Nicholson, who led the recent research exploring risks of colon cancer. In his study, he compared the impact of diet in a group of South Africans and African Americans and found the African Americans to have 50 times more risk of developing colon cancer. “The implications is that … this is related to their Western diet,” he says. By working with African Americans, the team reduced the impact of genetic variation which also plays a role in disease development.

    Increased inflammation levels can also damage cells in the region affected — such as the colon — causing higher turnover of cells. The more cells replicate, the more chances there are for mutations in the genes they contain — which increases the risk of cancer.

    “Cancer arrives more readily in cells with relatively high turnover,” explains Nicholson.

    But Nicholson warns that cancer is not a simple disease: “Hundreds of genes are involved,” he says. “Your microbes are part of the process but not entirely the cause.”

    Choices

    Clearly, diet plays a large role in the health of a population and when it comes to improving personal health, experts stress the need for people to take more note of what they are eating.

    “This is going to have to be voluntary choices people make,” says Tilman.

    What will you choose?

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Big gains for doctors in diet clinics




NEW YORK — Dr. Michael Kaplan looked across his desk at a woman who had sought out his Long Island Weight Loss Institute and asked the question he often poses to new patients: “Where do you think you go wrong with food?”

The 38-year-old patient was about 20 pounds overweight and, as she described it, desperate. Weight Watchers, nutritionists — she had tried them all in vain. A physician such as Kaplan, she reasoned, might be the only one left who could help her. “I’m really tired of it,” the woman said one recent afternoon, declining to give her name to a reporter. “I feel like something is off with me.”

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Kaplan, a leader in the medical weight loss industry, nodded sympathetically, interjecting questions that ranged from what she typically ate for breakfast (protein shake) to whether she felt depressed (sometimes). By the end of the 50-minute session, the woman had chosen Kaplan’s most expensive weight loss plan: $1,199 for six weeks’ worth of meal-replacement products, counseling, and vitamin supplements.

Then he delivered some good news: Her insurance would probably reimburse her for at least a small portion of the bill, thanks to a provision in the federal health care law that requires insurers to pay for nutrition and obesity screening.

The news was pleasing to the patient. But it has also created a financial opportunity for a corner of the diet industry that has often operated on the fringe of the medical establishment: for-profit diet clinics overseen by doctors.

“It’s really a game changer,” said John LaRosa, research director at Marketdata Enterprises, who has studied the weight loss industry for over 20 years.

LaRosa estimates that medical weight loss programs, which include those run by hospitals as well as clinics, bring in $1 billion annually and that the market will grow about 5 percent a year through 2019.

The prospects are so lucrative that in March, LaRosa sponsored a seminar advising entrepreneurs how to open their own weight loss clinics to take advantage of the new stream of insurance coverage.

And Kaplan recently started a consulting business to teach primary care doctors how to bill insurers for obesity treatments.

“We’ve been in a rapid expansion mode as a result of the insurance companies covering obesity treatment,” Kaplan said. He estimated that a doctor could earn as much as $3,000 more a year for each obese patient, according to promotional materials for his new company, Obesity Management Systems.

But the prospect of rapid growth in the diet clinic industry, fed by insurance payments, has exposed deep philosophical differences on the best ways to help patients lose weight.

Obesity specialists at major medical centers say the proprietors of diet clinics often employ unproven tactics — including vitamin injections, costly supplements, and extreme diet plans — that lure customers but do not lead to lasting results. Diet clinic owners contend they are filling a needed role because the mainstream medical establishment pays little attention to patients’ struggles with weight.

Beyond the federal requirement that insurers cover obesity screening, many states go further, requiring coverage that ranges from basic counseling to weight loss surgery.

Sustained weight loss is notoriously difficult to achieve. Lasting results require long-term care and follow-up, said Michael D. Jensen, the director of the obesity treatment research program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who has studied the effectiveness of weight loss programs.

Dr. Pieter A. Cohen, a primary care doctor at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Massachusetts and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, said several of his patients had used such clinics, only to return to him in frustration. “My clinical experience is that at least 9 out of 10 patients who do these kinds of diets don’t just regain the weight, but go up again,” he said.

Few clinics follow patients long enough to demonstrate their programs’ effectiveness, although they point to individual success stories and say they do offer comprehensive behavioral counseling. Some are trying to improve treatment standards by employing doctors with backgrounds in obesity and certified nutritionists, while recommending only evidence-based treatments. And they say they offer real options to patients who have been shunned by mainstream medical providers.

“Doctors — even my own doctor — they would just say, ‘Stay under X calories and get lots of sleep and get lots of water,’” said Cris Cawley, chief executive of Thinique, a small medical weight-loss chain based in Texas. “But that’s really difficult.”

But often the clinics are overseen by doctors who have left other practices they found unprofitable. In many cases, the physician oversight amounts to little more than reading patients’ charts from afar, while the real weight-loss counseling is left to assistants with little training in the field.

One recent job posting for a medical director of a Medi-Weightloss clinic in Connecticut described the position’s hours as “not very demanding” and said the doctor would mainly be reviewing patient records remotely.

“This may be the opportunity you have been looking for,” the posting said. “There are no set hours and you will have no emergency calls.”

Dr. Edward Zbella, the chief medical officer at Medi-Weightloss, which has 76 locations around the country, said the requirements for clinic medical directors vary greatly from state to state, and in some places — like Connecticut — they supervise the work of nurse practitioners or physician assistants, who are the ones seeing patients.

How each clinic will benefit from the new law depends on where they operate as well as their business model. Under the Affordable Care Act, basic obesity screening must be covered by insurance, and some obese patients may quality for additional counseling. Twenty-three states require some type of coverage for nutritional and obesity therapy, which can include weight-loss programs. In 23 states, insurers must cover weight-loss surgery, according to an analysis in 2014 by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Revenue has grown substantially at the three clinics in North Carolina where Medi-Weightloss recently began accepting insurance as an in-network provider, according to Edward Kaloust, the chief executive and founder, although he declined to provide specific figures.

But Dr. John Morton, chief of bariatric surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, said diet clinics should not be the focus of expanded obesity coverage. “Those clinics exist all over the country, and my point about it is we need something better than that,” he said.

Even with attentive doctors at the helm, these clinics often employ techniques that are unproven and even some that have been discredited.

One example is the very-low-calorie diet, where patients eat as few as 800 calories a day, which leads to a rapid initial weight loss. Proponents, like the Medi-Weightloss clinic, say it gives patients an early increase in confidence that allows them to meet their goals. “A lot of people give up when you start out with a slow weight loss,” Zbella said. “It’s just not worth their while.”

Many clinics also sell patients a three- or six-month program that consists of some combination of diet supplements, nutritional counseling, and medication. Many of the supplements, like injections of B-12 and other vitamins, are backed by little, if any, scientific evidence for promoting weight loss. A sign in the bathroom at Kaplan’s Long Island Weight Loss Institute advertises vitamin injections for $40, saying the procedure “naturally increases your metabolism and energy levels.”

Kaplan acknowledged that the treatments are not scientifically proven, but he said they do not hurt, and patients have come to expect them as an option.

Others say such tactics, like extreme diets and unproven supplements, are misleading at best and fraudulent at worst. Jensen, the Mayo Clinic obesity researcher, studied the effectiveness of weight-loss programs and found that patients who used short-term treatments were not able to keep the weight off.

“Essentially, if you didn’t have a year in the program, the results were horrible,” Jensen said. If a patient is hoping for long-term results, “a three- to six-month program is almost as effective as no program.”

Many clinics make a profit from selling products to patients, as well as prescription weight-loss drugs like phentermine, which is widely prescribed in diet clinics.

Some doctors include the cost of phentermine in their program fees. JumpstartMD, a group of medical weight-loss clinics based in California, charges $388 a month for a program that includes weekly counseling and medication, if the doctor prescribes it, according to Dr. Sean E. Bourke, the chief executive and a co-founder.

But selling medication at a for-profit clinic, whether as part of a package or on its own, still raises red flags for obesity specialists like Jensen.

“Clearly, if they’re making money off of it, that’s a conflict of interest,” he said.

Kaplan said that while he does prescribe weight-loss drugs, he does not sell them directly. And Bourke, Kaplan and others in the commercial weight-loss industry emphasized that medication was just one part of the plans they offered.

“The last thing that we want to be known for is just handing out pills to patients,” said Kaplan, who is a credentialed specialist in obesity. “The backbone of everything that I recommend that doctors do is lifestyle.”

And while his new consulting business is focused on helping doctors increase their profits, he said patients will benefit, too. “I think that what we’re doing will help get more providers to focus on obesity,” he said.

Back at his office, Kaplan’s 38-year-old patient stepped on a scale facing advertisements for Botox and other cosmetic procedures. Sounding slightly disappointed, Kaplan informed her that at 5-foot-7 and 170.5 pounds, she was not quite heavy enough to get insurance to pay for a larger chunk of the program’s $1,199 price tag.

But the patient didn’t seem to mind. “I didn’t even expect to cover anything,” she said. “So that’s fine.”

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Diabetes Drug Injection Helps Obese People Lose Weight And Keep It Off

By: Anne Harding
Published: July 01, 2015 05:27pm ET on LiveScience.

The diabetes drug liraglutide can help obese people who don’t have diabetes lose weight and keep it off, new findings confirm.

Researchers found that 63 percent of study participants given liraglutide for 56 weeks lost at least 5 percent of their body weight — the amount experts agree is needed to make a difference in obesity-related health problems — whereas just 27 percent of the placebo group lost that much.

“It is a very effective drug. It seems to be as good as any of the others on the market, so it adds another possibility for doctors to treat patients who are having trouble either losing weight or maintaining weight loss once they get the weight off,” said Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, a professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and first author of the new study published today (July 1) in the New England Journal of Medicine. The company Novo Nordisk, the maker of liraglutide, funded the research.

Liraglutide has been available in the United States for treating people with diabetes since 2010. The drug mimics a naturally occurring hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1, which is released in the human intestine and reduces hunger, increases satiety and slows the rate at which the stomach empties its contents into the small intestine. The Food and Drug Administration approved liraglutide (at a higher dose than is used for diabetes) for treating obesity in December 2014.

In the new study, Pi-Sunyer and his colleagues randomly assigned 3,731 men and women with a body mass index of at least 30, or a BMI of at least 27 if they also had high cholesterol or high blood pressure, to receive a 3.0-milligram dose of liraglutide daily, or a placebo shot. Study participants also received counseling on ways to change their lifestyle to promote weight loss. About 2,500 patients in the study were given liraglutide, and about 1,200 were given the placebo injections.

After 56 weeks, the participants on liraglutide lost an average of 18.5 pounds, compared with 6.4 pounds for the people on the placebo. Among the patients on liraglutide, 33 percent lost at least 10 percent of their body weight, whereas just 11 percent of the placebo group lost that much. [7 Biggest Diet Myths]

The most common side effects of the drug were nausea and diarrhea. Patients on the medication were also at increased risk of gallbladder-related problems, which, the authors noted, could have been due to their above-average weight loss.

Starting patients at a lower dose and then increasing it gradually helps reduce gastrointestinal side effects, Pi-Sunyer said. For most patients, the nausea went away after they had been on the drug for four to six weeks, he added.

Drawbacks to the medication include its high cost — about $1,000 for a month of treatment — and the fact that it must be given by injection. Currently, most insurers don’t cover liraglutide for treating obesity. Also, Pi-Sunyer said, patients will probably have to be on the drug indefinitely to maintain weight loss.

Nevertheless, “every tool we discover for obesity is good news,” said Dr. Elias Siraj, a professor of medicine at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, who was not involved in the new study but co-authored an editorial accompanying it in the journal. “The reason is, we are in the midst of a huge global obesity epidemic, and there’s no question it has not been easy to manage obesity.”

Many of the people in the study who lost weight on liraglutide remained obese, Siraj said, although this doesn’t mean they didn’t benefit from losing weight. “Previous studies have shown if you lose more than 5 percent of your body weight, it may not make a difference in how you look from outside, but it does make a difference in terms of metabolic parameters and cardiovascular risk factors,” he said.

The patients who will likely benefit the most from liraglutide are those with diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and other obesity-related problems, he added. “You can’t make a blanket recommendation that everyone should be on it,” he said. “Cost is going to be an issue initially, but hopefully down the road the cost will get better.”

The increased risk of gallstones and other problems associated with liraglutide should be investigated further, Siraj said. “There is always room for caution until we have long-term data.”

“While there’s room for options, we also have to note that this is not a cure,” he told Live Science. “Fundamentally, obesity is a disease of lifestyle — diet and exercise — and therefore lifestyle modification has to be the core, no matter what you do. Medications alone are not going to do it.”

Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Salesman Brown pursues a weight-loss constituency




It was not the sight of their former senator bare-chested that shocked Scott Brown’s Facebook followers.

They were used to that.

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It was the sales pitch accompanying the before-and-after photos of his physique, crediting his recent, dramatic weight loss to a commercial nutrition and fitness plan.

Brown’s testament to the merits of AdvoCare’s “24-day challenge” was met with so many guffaws that within two hours, he posted another note, saying he is not a paid spokesman for the supplement company.

What he didn’t explain is that he’s a salesman.


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On Thursday, an AdvoCare spokeswoman confirmed that the former US senator is one of the company’s 580,000 independent distributors. Another reporter, writing for The Daily Beast, tried to contact Brown about his involvement and received a sales pitch in reply; she could save 20 to 40 percent off AdvoCare products if she, too, became a distributor, Brown told her.

Brown did not respond to requests for comment. But there was plenty of reaction from political observers. Suffice it to say, there hasn’t been this much intrigue about Brown’s online activity since he blamed his pocket for an errant tweet in 2013. (“Bqhatevwr.”)

His Facebook post last week on his weight loss success was “liked” by 1,718 people and shared by 192, congratulated by many, and greeted cynically or with outright denial by some. (One woman repeatedly questioned whether his account had been hacked.)

Loyalists asserted Brown was merely spreading the word about a product that had helped him get in shape — what was wrong with promoting fitness? some asked — while others attacked him for trying to sell “snake oil” and suggested he eat organic instead.

When he lost his Senate seat to Elizabeth Warren in 2013, Brown got back on a more traditional path for politicians: He returned to work as a lawyer for a high-powered Boston firm, got paid for speaking engagements, and set his sights on his next political conquest. He even got a gig as a contributor to Fox News, earning him $136,000 between campaigns.

But this latest gambit, which follows his move to New Hampshire and his unsuccessful 2014 bid for Senate, is seen by some as unbearably unglamorous, even for a guy who appealed to voters as an Everyman.

“I appreciate you are human, that is part of your charm,” one Brown supporter wrote in response to Brown’s post. “But, is this what you have reduced yourself to? Product promotion on Facebook? Disappointing.”

Many were surprised Brown made such a detour from politics, where he has remained active on the periphery. Brown returned to Fox News as a contributor; last week, he authored a fund-raising e-mail for the New Hampshire Republican Party to benefit Senator Kelly Ayotte.

Still, Brown’s options have become limited by the political landscape in his new state, said Dante Scala, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire. Brown last year lost the Senate race to the Democratic incumbent, Jeanne Shaheen. With Ayotte running for reelection to the other seat, he is locked out of Senate contention for years to come.

To run for governor or the state Senate, Brown would have to live in New Hampshire for seven years, under the state’s election law, making him ineligible for those offices until at least 2020.

In joining AdvoCare, Brown enlisted with a multi-level marketer whose success relies on recruitment of new salespeople.

The company has been targeted in several high-profile lawsuits in recent years. In one, AdvoCare was ordered to pay $1.8 million for canceling its distribution deal with a couple who had recruited more than 1,000 people and brought in $50 million in sales. The couple claimed they were cut for being too successful.

AdvoCare also settled a suit with Olympic swimmer Jessica Hardy, who blamed her disqualification from the 2008 Olympics on an AdvoCare energy drink that she contended was contaminated by a performance-enhancing drug.

Brown, a basketball player in his youth who became an avid bicyclist and competitive triathlete, has long been known as a fitness enthusiast.

But in his Facebook post, he said his wife and a friend had been goading him to get him in better shape and that his son-in-law turned him on to AdvoCare. Its “24-Day Challenge” uses an herbal cleanse, probiotics, Omega-3 fatty acids, sugar-free energy drinks, and meal-replacement shakes.

Brown said AdvoCare helped him lose 42 pounds and made him “extremely competitive” in triathlons. He even posted his e-mail address, inviting people to contact him.

It wasn’t the first time Brown was faulted for promoting an unorthodox medical treatment. Last year, after he rented out his e-mail list, thousands of his followers got messages listing “5 Signs You’ll Get Alzheimer’s Disease” and a doctor’s warnings about flu vaccines and fluoridated water.

It also wasn’t the first time the public has seen more of Brown than expected. His youthful work as a model and a naked 1982 photo shoot as Cosmopolitan’s “America’s Sexiest Man” became familiar fodder for critics during his campaigns.

Last year, he appeared shirtless on the front page of the New Hampshire Union Leader before a wintry plunge into the ocean for charity.

But what made some cringe recently was not Brown’s undated “before” picture, which showed him looking uncharacteristically bloated on a beach in Jamaica, but his seeming transformation from a would-be statesman to salesman.

“… You held one of the highest elected offices in our nation,” one follower wrote on Brown’s Facebook page. “It is quite peculiar to see a weight loss program being pushed by a US Senator.”

Plenty of politicians before Brown have lent their famous names to commercial advertisements, Scala noted.

Bob Dole promoted
Viagra. Fred Thompson, the former US senator, presidential candidate, and actor, advertised reverse mortgages for American Advisors Group. Former speaker of the House Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill appeared in a Miller Lite TV ad and stepped out of a suitcase on spots for Quality Inns hotels.

And former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee has shown that a candidate’s commercial involvement doesn’t preclude a return to politics, Scala noted. Huckabee is running for president again, after hawking his “Diabetes Solution Kit.”

“The line,” Scala said, “can get a little blurry.”

Read Scott Brown’s Facebook post below:

James Pindell of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at Stephanie.Ebbert@
globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieEbbert

Paleo and ‘gut’ diets push up bone demand as more people make bone broth

Updated

July 07, 2015 16:01:48


Photo:

Demand for bones has increased as more people make bone broth. ((Flikr:
I believe I can fry))

People subscribing to Paleo diets have pushed up demand for bones.

The diet, with a heavy focus on meat, has become trendy.

Bone broth calls for animal bones, the likes of marrow bones and pork trotters, to be boiled for about 48 hours.

Devotees say the broth is part of a healthy lifestyle, with many benefits.

Online shop Cherry Tree Organics manager Kate Blundy said bones were her second most popular product in the last three months, second only to mince.

Her family has a beef farm at Tarwin Lower, in Victoria’s South Gippsland, where they source their bones.

“The main reason is that people are following the GAPs (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and Paleo diets,” Ms Blundy said.

“The Paleo diet essentially involves eating what a caveman would eat.”

It has not all been smooth sailing for those interested in bone broth.

A cookbook, written by celebrity chef Pete Evans, along with blogger Charlotte Carr and naturopath Helen Padarin, included a recipe for broth for babies.

The publisher withdrew the book, under much criticism, but it has since been published as an e-book.

There are bone broth bars popping up in the United States where instead of going and getting your morning coffee, you’ll go in and get your cup of broth.

Whether you are into bone broth or not, butchers and organic beef producers have noticed an increased demand for the product.

Traralgon butcher Kerin Ambler, from Campbell’s Quality Meats, said more people had started sourcing bones for broth in the last 12 months.

“We don’t throw one bone out in the shop. It all gets sold for dog food or we have people coming in for the bone broth,” he said.

“A lot of the time we don’t have enough [bones].”

Mrs Ambler subscribed to the bone broth theory, saying it made her feel better.

“I was sick and I Googled a few things and I came across healing the gut and that was one of them, the bone broth,” she said.

Search for bone broth on Twitter, and it is clear that there are many people interested.

There are many artistic broth photographs on Instagram, as well as many blog posts about making broth.

In the United States there are bone suppliers just targeting Paleo consumers.

Ms Blundy forecast the broth trend was here to stay.

“There are bone broth bars popping up in the United States where instead of going and getting your morning coffee, you’ll go in and get your cup of broth,” she said.


Photo:

Traralgon butcher Kerin Ambler has seen an increase demand for bones. (Laura Poole)

Topics:

livestock,

food-and-beverage,

traralgon-3844

First posted

July 07, 2015 08:00:09



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stories from Victoria

A diet to live for – The Virginian

Aretha Hammonds found so much personal success with the Passport to Health program she decided to facilitate a group and help others.

Hammonds and her husband, Rodney, pastors at New Life Christian Center in East Ocean View, went through the six-month health and wellness improvement program, which is sponsored by Bon Secours Hampton Roads Health System, last year.

Aretha Hammonds, who started the program weighing 220 pounds, shed 60 of those pounds, dropped several sizes, and completely changed her way of cooking and eating.

“It’s been a blessing,” said Hammonds who is not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

“We want you to meet your goals,” she said after a moment of prayer.

During a recent session, Nancy Gerry, who is the lead pastor with her husband, Ken, demonstrated how to make a sauce that could be turned into minestrone soup.

“This is amazing and the calories are like nil,” Gerry said as she passed around samples for the attendees. “Food is more than just about dropping something onto a plate.”

Then they broke into teams for a challenge to create a variety of salads and dressings that were judged on presentation, creativity and taste.

Bon Secours selected the East Ocean View area, which is one Norfolk’s most crime-ridden and impoverished communities, in an effort to help people there adopt healthy eating and exercise habits.

Started in 2013, the program has officially helped 76 families, including the group of 42 families, ranging from toddlers to seniors, who started in March.

“I am encouraged by the growing community interest in Passport to Health, as well as growth in the program’s offerings,” said Joanne Merinar, community outreach and wellness lead for Bon Secours. “It’s gratifying to see the effects of this program transforming lives in East Ocean View.”

Merinar was excited the program was not only growing in participation, but also in partnerships with The Storehouse, East Ocean View Community Center, Five Points Market and others.

In the church’s sanctuary every other Tuesday night for an hour, the health class included seeing the need for change, simple and easy cooking tips, understanding cravings and triggers, the importance of exercise, healthy eating and hydration.

Participants made a commitment to the free program to help put their newly-learned simple, but healthy recipes into action at home. Classes included speakers, activities, exercises, health screenings and grocery bags filled with fresh fruit and vegetables.

That was one aspect that Sarah Scott likes about the program.

The 24-year-old signed up with her husband, Tauren, and their 3-year-old daughter, Grace, at the urging of her parents who completed the program two years ago.

“I feel like I can’t live without something green on my plate now,” said Scott who admits she was a picky eater before.

Scott said the program has taught her so many different things and she enjoys incorporating them into her family’s lives, which she stressed is key.

“You can’t just come here and eat the sample plates,” she said. “You have to incorporate it into your life.”

In three months, Scott has lost 30 pounds and dropped from a size 16 to a 12.

“My energy is back,” said Scott who is eager to start Grace off on the right track to healthy eating and living.

Younger children such as Grace are also involved in the program – they do coloring activities relating to the vegetable of the week.

Gabrielle Rountree, 26, has watched her blood pressure drop since she started Passport to Health.

“I gave up a lot of foods, but now I eat turkey burgers, egg whites, homemade smoothies with kale, bananas and yogurt, and I use Splenda instead of real sugar,” Rountree said.

Jessica Brezina, 28, felt she let her weight get out of hand after she got married five years ago and had two babies.

Twenty pounds lighter, Brezina said the best part of the program has been the support from fellow members.

“It’s easy to decide on your own to lose weight, diet, etc., but when other people are holding you accountable and cheering you on, it’s another,” said Brezina who is signing up again – this time to be a team leader and encourage others.

Sandra J. Pennecke, [email protected]

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