Thursday, May 22, 2008

2010 Dietary Guidelines Committee

From Nutrition & Metabolism Society:

As you probably know, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shapes the contents of the food pyramid. They are currently in the process of developing plans for the 2010 Food Pyramid and selecting experts for the committee.

This panel should reasonably include scientists or nutritionists who have experience with diets low in carbohydrates and, understand their impact on health.

In the past, the USDA has not included such researchers on their panels.

We're reaching out to you to ask for your help in communicating to the USDA the importance of including viewpoints like Dr.'s Feinman, Volek, Westman and Lustig on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Your encouragement will help ensure that the Committee has a balanced view of diet and nutrition.

Following is a sample template letter to the USDA ( Please customize with your own personal story, (Be sure to cc: NMS and your Congressional Represenative and Senators). The dead line for nominations is May 23 so please take the time to do this now.

Personal stories about results of lowering carbohydrates in your diet will send a powerful message to the USDA. Let them know you have valuable input and a voice that will be heard.

For a list of qualified candidates, please consider NMS Scientific Board Members.

Thank you.


Sample Letter

Nutrition Promotion Staff Director
Co-Executive Secretary of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
US Department of Agriculture
3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1034
Alexandria, VA 22302

Dear Ms. Davis:

I am writing you about the recent announcement about the establishment of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the 2010 Food Pyramid. I understand that the selection process is currently underway to determine what voices will be part of the discussion about the framework for the American diet. Some aspects of the current food pyramid are not a reflection of the needs that most Americans like myself have in order to maintain health. I encourage you to ensure that researchers who have performed extensive studies on the benefits of adjusting variables in the diet, like Dr. ___________ be included on the panel.

I have many reasons for wanting to make sure that the panel includes experts on the science behind different kinds of diets, such as diets low in carbohydrates. [insert your own personal story - 1 or 2 paragraphs - about the results you have achieved by lowering the carbohydrates in your diet. Write about how these results have made you feel. What health effects have you seen?]

Facts about the science of low-carb diets are important to the discussion about the new food pyramid. I urge you to make sure the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee includes scientists who are well-informed about these issues.

[Your name]

(your senator)
(your congress person)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bragging Rights

Last week, on Friday, my husband was on the front page of our local newspaper, the Columbia Tribune!

In vitro treatment success rate soars at Columbia clinic

In vitro fertilization, once a long shot for couples unable to conceive naturally, is becoming a much better option thanks to new technology, but high costs still prevent some couples from pursuing the treatment.

During a recent interview, Gil Wilshire, endocrinologist at Mid Missouri Reproductive Medicine and Surgery Inc., practically jumped out of his seat when discussing the rate of IVF pregnancies, embryos that were successfully implanted.

"I can’t even believe I’m giving this to you," he said, sliding a piece of paper with his office’s statistics across the desk. "Last month I did five transfers, and four got pregnant. ... That’s incredible."

Last year, Wilshire said, his office broke all internal records. It saw a 44 percent success rate for patients between the ages of 38 and 40 years old and a 67 percent success rate for patients ages 35 to 37. Patients older than 40 were successful 17 percent of the time. Those numbers are significantly higher than the most recent national rates, which are also on the rise. Mid Missouri Reproductive performed 56 total IVF cycles in 2007.

The Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine and Fertility at Columbia Regional Hospital, the other large fertility clinic in town, had a slow year, with only two pregnancies out of nine IVF cycles. But the center has just completed a move into a $1.4 million renovated fertility clinic at Columbia Regional Hospital, and doctors say they’re expecting a big 2008 and 2009.

"We’ve been a two-site program for the last five or six years," said Danny Schust, one of two endocrinologists at the program. Schust said the laboratory was previously housed at University Hospital and the clinic was at Columbia Regional. "It was disjointed. It really makes no sense," he said. "So we’re excited to have it all together."

There are other reasons for optimism. In vitro fertilization has switched from a simple numbers game, where doctors tried to overwhelm long odds with large numbers of sperm and eggs, to a more precise science.

"Back in the early ’90s, when I did my fellowship in reproductive medicine and endocrinology, a good success rate was 14 percent," Wilshire said. "We were groping in the dark as a profession. We’d put a bunch of embryos up there and pray to God, hopefully the embryos would stick and you’d get a pregnancy in there."

If a couple decides to undergo the costly IVF treatment, doctors first prescribe a drug - gonadotropin - that stimulates ovulation to cause the woman’s body to release multiple eggs. They remove eggs from the woman and place them in a petri dish protected in an incubator. The doctor then has two choices: pour sperm over the egg in hopes that one will make its way in or, in cases of men with low sperm counts, use a "micro manipulator machine" to inject a single healthy sperm into the egg.

Then it’s time for the fertilized egg to grow. One of the most exciting advances of recent years is the "medium" used to replicate the fluid of the womb. This medium - made up of amino acids, sugars and nutrients - has been perfected by scientists to replicate conditions in the womb.

Whereas 10 years ago doctors would have to implant the embryo in the womb after one or two days in the petri dish, they now can wait five days, until the embryo has divided into eight cells and is well on its way to becoming a fetus. "The real advances are in the IVF lab. I wish I could say the doctors are getting better, but I think it’s the embryologists who are getting better," Schust said.

But the doctor’s skill comes next. After five days, he or she must remove one or two of the fertilized eggs and implant them near the top of the womb. Wilshire said when he began practicing, he would put in four or five embryos just to be sure one would take. Today, he says, he rarely puts in more than two.

Wilshire proudly wielded the "coaxial catheter," a thin, rotating pipette used to do the implantation.

"I liken it to fly fishing," he said. "When you’ve got crystal-clear water and you’ve got a big trout in the pool, if you even look in there or drop a stone, it scurries away - it’s very scared and skittish. However, if you’re a good fly fisherman, you’re way away and you cast just right, then the fly goes out and it goes ... down real lightly like a natural fly, and the trout comes up and gets hooked."

None of this is cheap, however. IVF cycles typically cost about $7,000 without medication. Once the medications are included, that figure can rise to $10,000 or more. In Missouri, group health insurance policies are not required to cover IVF, but a bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie, would mandate that all policies covering more than 25 employees cover the treatment.

Hodges said he got the idea for legislation after hearing the story of a New Madrid couple who needed help from family members to pay for IVF.

"For people who want a child that badly - and the procedure is fairly taxing, not counting the expense and emotion involved - I just thought, ‘We spend lots of money trying to save lives, why not spend some money trying to create one?’ " Hodges said. "I have a saying: ‘A good thing is always a good thing,’ and I think this is a good thing."

Monday, May 05, 2008

Roman Gladiators: Diet Made Them Fat

An interesting article in News in Science, Ancient Worlds - Roman Gladiators Were Fat Vegetarians - gives insight that their diet, heavy with carbohydrate, made them fat.

"Tests performed on bits of bone taken from the skeletons of some 70 gladiators buried at Ephesus seem to prove that they ate mainly barley, beans and dried fruit," said Dr Karl Grossschmidt, who took part in the study by the Austrian Archaeological Institute "This diet, which has been mentioned in the oral history, is rather sad but it gave the gladiators a lot of strength even if it made them fat," said Grossschmidt who is a member of the University of Vienna's Institute of Histology and Embryology." [emphasis mine]