Food News: The Good, the Bad, and the Debatable Revisited
I have received quite a bit of feedback about my previous blog, mostly with comments or added information. Many readers were happy to learn about the book A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William Sitwell, a copy of which was given away at the IMF's recent Support Group Leaders' Summit in Dallas. An especially helpful comment came from a reader named Jeannie, who cited a British study that indicates an especially low incidence of myeloma among vegetarians. But, it has also been noted, and I believe very importantly, that red meat can also be needed by myeloma patients from time to time--especially during recovery from a stem cell transplant when new red blood cell formation requires plenty of iron. Some myeloma patients also note that adding some red meat back into the diet can help improve neuropathy symptoms. So these are some good things!
Unfortunately, it seems there are always plenty of bad things to comment about in the world of food. Vitaminwater, a Coca-Cola product, has recently been in the news. As it turns out, there is less than 0.5% actual fruit juice in the dragon fruit, kiwi strawberry, and acai blueberry pomegranate varieties. But what there is plenty of in Vitamin water is sugar. Each 20-ounce bottle has about eight teaspoons of sugar (120 calories). So the recent attention has concerned marketing: is it really healthy? It appears to be just another source of unwanted calories plus unnamed chemicals.
Talking about unwanted chemicals, one to watch out for is arsenic. In a blog post for Discover magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Deborah Blum cites a study released last week "showing the first direct link between rice consumption and arsenic-induced genetic damage." It turns out rice contains unwanted arsenic, especially rice imported from China. This has been brought to the attention of the FDA and a ruling is awaited, which will probably be similar to the maximum allowable limit in water, for example. Be cautious.
And finally, there is a debatable update. Unfortunately, one has to be careful about pomegranate seeds. I mentioned my liking for fresh pomegranate juice plus sparkling water, which is fine. But it turns out that two types of frozen berry blends can contain hepatitis A in pomegranate seeds imported from Turkey. These have already been withdrawn from the market by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. So again, the safe and healthy answer is local, fresh, and organic, if possible.
The bottom line is that what you eat and drink can be hazardous to your health. Try to make healthy choices and enjoy!
Dr. 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®.