Reading List: Alli Linked to Liver Failure, New Sugar Guidelines & Becoming a Locavore

by in Food News, Grocery Shopping, August 28, 2009

From this week’s headlines: new reports show that Americans are drowning in sugar, the danger of supplements and the weight loss pill Alli might cause liver failure.

Does Alli Hurt Your Liver?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a magic weight loss pill, and those who have turned to the popular weight loss drug Alli (a.k.a. Orlistat) are starting to learn the hard way. Besides causing extreme discomfort (even the pill’s instructions tell you to stick close to the bathroom after eating), the pill is now under investigation by the FDA on whether it may cause liver failure. Until there is clearer evidence, the FDA advises anyone users who experience stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, light-colored stool, itching or loss of appetite to consult their doctor before continuing to use the product. Folks can report their symptoms by calling (800) FDA-1088 or filing an online report.

Finally Some Sugar Guidelines!
For years there have never been clear guidelines on how much added sugar (this excludes naturally occurring sugar in fruits and dairy) we should getting everyday. By now, most of us know we shouldn’t be overloading on sugar, but studies reveal that the average person guzzles down about 22 teaspoons daily. That’s about as much as is in two cans of soda or a candy bar. You might think: “A candy bar? That’s it?” Well, this past week the American Heart Association released their daily recommendations — 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men maximum a day. So at 22 teaspoons daily (and many teens are at 34!), we get almost four times more than the recommendation.

Harmful Supplements: Know the Facts
We spend millions of dollars every year on vitamins, herbs and various supplements. Make sure you know the facts before taking them — especially if you’re using large doses on a regular basis. Many of my clients take vitamins or other supplements because a friend suggests it, and many don’t tell me about it until I ask several times. I’ve discovered clients with heart problems unknowingly taking supplements that speed up their heart rate! If you’re taking supplements, whether they’re vitamins or herbs, let your medical practitioner and registered dietitian know. This helpful CNN article reviews several common supplements that can cause harm if taken the wrong way, including fish oils, St. John’s Wort and Kava. Do your research!

The First State To Mandate Menu Labeling
I love visiting my cousin in California. When we go out to eat, I find that the menu options always seem healthier, even at the outdoor mall. So it’s to no surprise that California became the first state to require food labels on chain restaurant menus. Most chain places post their nutrition info online, but if you haven’t looked into it, you might be in for a shocker. Some dishes might contain upwards of 2,000 calories! Perhaps now that they’re required to post the details, restaurants might drop menu items that are ridiculously high in calories or modify portion sizes and ingredients. Would you like to see your state mandating menu labeling?

Are You A “Locavore”?
Dana is a great example of a “locavore” because she, like many others, tries to eat food grown as close to home as possible. I’m working more towards it myself by going to my farmers’ market weekly, and I just learned to preserve local produce. But some of the folks interviewed in this article get about 60% of their food locally. Even if you can’t go all out, learning where your foods comes from, teaching your children and even trying to grow a box of herbs are steps in the right direction.

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