After the teleconference on "10 Steps To Better Nutrition," numerous comments, questions, and helpful suggestions came into the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF). It is clear that many details about food and drinks are of great interest. So I will start with some of the recurring themes.

Are some cookies okay?

The answer is yes! It is important to understand about acrylamide and some other aspects of cookies. Let me again refer you to the Mayo Clinic nutrition article plus the National Cancer Institute's "Fact Sheet: Acrylamide in Food and Cancer Risk." Acrylamide is a toxic chemical which is produced by high temperature cooking (above 248C) when asparagine, an amino acid (in proteins), binds with sugars in whatever is being cooked. So keep temperatures low and avoid excessive browning or burning: these are key to keep acrylamide low. Preparative pre-cooking can also be important, such as the use of coating with olive oil before cooking meat. Likewise blanching potatoes before frying can be helpful in reducing acrylamide. So what about cookies? It is definitely possible to have cookies with low acrylamide. For example, lightly baked, fully organic oatmeal cookies or shortbread cookies can be options. Obviously, one needs to separately consider the sugar content and calories: nothing is simple these days!

Talking about sugars, let me switch to the number one area of questions and comments:

What about sodas? Are there some safe options there?

On the teleconference call on Thursday, October 11th, I cautioned that quite a number of processed and packaged foods and drinks can contain toxic chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, and some can even contain dangerous fungus or bacteria.

So what can one do to stay healthy? My strong recommendation is to eat "Real Food" and carefully selected drinks. I also recommended that you stay above the fray of the often confusing and controversial discussions about which chemical or hormone is toxic or not. Just do your best to avoid chemicals or processes which are in dispute and potentially dangerous. Read labels and make a commitment to maximize the amount of "Real Food" in your diet. If you can't go to a Farmer's Market or don't have one close by, check at your local store- many are now stocking organic food (Time Magazine, October 2012). Another option is to see if fresh, local, organic produce can be delivered (Fresh Direct) or perhaps friends or neighbors can help.

What is best with regard to sodas?

The main point is to do your best to avoid:

A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine (this and another article are linked as references from the teleconference page) highlights the need to restrict soda intake, because of the high-fructose corn syrup, to reduce the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and/or a range of other ailments.

A useful website source is "Rodale" (Where Health Meets Life), which highlights 8 healthy sodas. Go to the site to get full details. The sodas and healthy drinks are:

  • Fizzy Lizzy, a carbonated fruit juice drink
  • Reed's Light extra ginger brew
  • Virgil's Root Beer
  • Bionade, which comes in a range of fruit flavors
  • Oogave, a certified organic soda with multiple flavors
  • Kombucha fermented tea
  • Hot Lips cranberry or pear soda
  • Steaz sparkling green tea

These are options if you feel like having a soda or a healthy drink! Another option, in response to a question posed, is simply to add some natural pomegranate juice into sparkling water, which can produce quite a delicious drink. Pomegranate is an ancient and healthy fruit, which contains many active ingredients, such as antioxidants and polyphenols. Claims have been made that it is helpful for a variety of medical conditions and have been taken seriously enough to lead to several ongoing trials. Pomegranate is a good fruit- just how good, we don't know yet!

So this is perhaps enough information for now. I will be back again soon to discuss additional topics of particular interest or concern. In the meantime, don't forget to read the labels!

Image of Dr. Brian G.M. DurieDr. Brian G.M. Durie serves as Chairman of the International Myeloma Foundation and serves on its Scientific Advisory Board. Additionally, he is Chairman of the IMF's International Myeloma Working Group, a consortium of nearly 200 myeloma experts from around the world. Dr. Durie also leads the IMF’s Black Swan Research Initiative®.

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