Category Archives: Health and Nutrition

More Milk, More Problems

milk-fracture

Science Contradicts Milk Marketing

This week, another study has illustrated that milk actually has a negative effect on bone health. Researchers in Sweden published findings in the British Medical Journal showing that women who drink milk have a higher incidence of bone fractures—and an increased risk of mortality from heart disease and cancer.

According to the study, women who consume three or more glasses of milk per day have a 60 percent increased risk of developing a hip fracture and a 93 percent increased risk of death. And each glass of milk increases mortality risk by 15 percent.

However, this news should not come as a shock to anyone outside of the dairy industry’s advertising department. A 2005 review in Pediatrics showed that milk has no effect on preventing stress fractures in girls. In fact, the research linked higher milk consumption with higher fracture risk.

For strong, healthy bones, it’s important to have enough calcium and vitamin D. However, animal products tend to leech calcium from bones, yet plant foods do not have this effect. One cup of collards has 268 mg of calcium. Spinach has 245 mg in a single cup, while a cup of soybeans has 261 mg. When you take fortified orange juice and fortified tofu into account, it’s easy to obtain more than the daily calcium recommendation of 1,000 mg.

Regardless of what milk marketers would have you believe, vitamin D is not naturally occurring in dairy milk. Last week, we examined a recent Canadian study suggesting that children who consumed dairy milk had higher levels of vitamin D. After reviewing the research, we learned that the dairy milk was fortified—while the plant milks were not. Any fortified non-dairy beverage can provide the necessary nutrients, without the cholesterol and saturated fat found in milk.

The science is there: milk does a body bad. Let’s wipe off the milk mustaches and remove milk from the school lunch line. To learn how you can help get milk out of schools, visit www.HealthySchoolLunches.org.

Rigor Mortis or Rigatoni? Food for Thought on Halloween

One of these a day can keep the doctor away!

One of these a day can keep the doctor away!

Planning your Halloween menu? Here are some facts you might share with your friends:

Rigor mortis, the stiffening of a corpse shortly after death, is a key aspect of the meat industry. Yes, meat comes from a corpse, and dead cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals develop rigor mortis, just as dead humans do. Meat scientists actually measure rigor mortis with a device aptly named a rigorometer, which quantifies the stiffness of muscle tissues in the hours after death.

Rigor mortis makes meat tough. So, to soften stiffening corpses, many slaughterhouses, especially those slaughtering cows and lambs, apply electrical current, causing the muscles to repeatedly contract and relax, which prevents the shortening of the muscle fibers. That way, corpses are easier to eat.

If that image is off-putting, the good news is that certain foods never get rigor mortis. Instead of chicken fingers, leg of lamb, and baby back ribs for your Halloween buffet, how about serving butternut soup, chunky vegetable chili, and rigatoni with vegetables. These are treats without the tricks!

10th Anniversary of the Golden Carrot Award

golden-carrot-award-10th-anniversaryThe Physicians Committee’s Golden Carrot Award is celebrating its 10th Anniversary! Since 2004, the Golden Carrot Award has acknowledged schools and food service directors who work to create programs that encourage students to eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, and plant-based meals for improved health and disease prevention. Every year, school food service directors submit applications detailing their menus, and Physicians Committee doctors and dietitians declare the winners based on which schools provide the best nutrition environments for students.

I’m excited to announce the 2014 Golden Carrot Award winners:
MUSE School CA, based in Calabasas, Calif.
Desert Garden Montessori School in Phoenix, Ariz.
Lincoln Public School District in Lincoln, Neb.

Over the past decade, the Golden Carrot Award has celebrated dozens of delicious plant-based lunches, Meatless Mondays, school gardens, and an all-vegetarian cafeteria! The Golden Carrot Award predates Let’s Move, the Smart Snacks in Schools program, and even the school soda bans.

While we are excited to see many school menus improve, we need to continue look beyond soda and potato chips to the main culprits of childhood obesity: meat and dairy. Cheese is the top source of saturated fat in the American diet, and a cup of nonfat milk has more sugar than a serving of Frosted Flakes. Milk is also linked to both prostate and ovarian cancers. When it comes to red and processed meat, just one serving per day increases the risk of death from cancer and heart disease. With these risks, it’s hard to believe that some schools still serve pepperoni pizza and ham sandwiches.

But by moving plant-based fare to the center of the tray, we can conquer these statistics by helping students crave delicious disease-fighting foods. Children love fruits and vegetables, when you give them the chance. Carrot coins, filled with nutritious beta-carotene, went as fast as Halloween candy at a recent nutrition lecture with more than 100 students in Montgomery County Public Schools.

After 10 years, what we know for sure is teaching students about preventive nutrition is a community effort. I encourage parents, doctors, and teachers to continue to team up to shape the future health of our next generation.

Fortunately, our Golden Carrot Award winners are leading the way. I’m looking forward to the next 10 years of award applicants and seeing firsthand how more and more schools are shifting toward nutritious, plant-based fare!

Students at Desert Garden Montessori eating lunch.

Students at Desert Garden Montessori eating lunch.

For information and resources, please visit www.HealthySchoolLunches.org .

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