by Randy Hartnell
Last week, we were proud to once again serve Vital Choice wild salmon and seafood to attendees at Dr. Andrew Weil's annual Nutrition & Health Conference.
It was a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends, and to learn from experts like Sanjay Gupta, M.D., pictured here with yours truly.
This was the seventh time Dr. Weil has presented his serious, informative conference for doctors and other health professionals... this time in Atlanta.
As its name implies, the conference assembles top researchers and clinicians to discuss advances in knowlege and steps that attendees can take to improve the health of their patients and the general public.
Most of the presentations and panels focused on the nutritional needs of particular classes of patients or the health impacts of particular foods and nutrients.
Famed physicians address food addictions
The Conference’s one-day public session—titled “Where Is Nutrition in Health Care of the Future?”—featured three of America’s leading physicians in a discussion of how people become virtually addicted to junk foods.
Together, Andrew Weil, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta, and former FDA Commissioner David Kessler discussed the ways in which America's food makers and food habits undermine the fight against obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Perhaps the most interesting part came when Dr. Kessler outlined the compelling case made in his recent book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.
Dr. Kessler described how packaged and fast foods short-circuit the body’s self-regulating mechanisms, leaving many at the mercy of reward-driven compulsions to eat beyond the point of satiation.
He pointed to a growing body of persuasive evidence that appetite can be stimulated in the brain by combinations of excess salt, fat, and sugar in nutrient-poor packaged and fast foods… and deplored the practice of formulating foods for maximum “addictive” potential.
Presenters focus on fish and whole plant foods
The conference featured a stellar roster of leading researchers, who presented their latest findings on nutrition and health, and examined the implications for patient care and public health advocacy.
Most of them addressed the health value of specific foods, and many presentations centered around foods rich in omega-3s (fatty fish) and antioxidants with “nutrigenomic” benefits, found primarily in beans, whole grains, nuts, and colorful fruits and vegetables.
We'd like to think that the attendees’ positive attitude toward omega-3s and fish was enhanced by their enjoyment of Vital Choice wild salmon and seafood!
Experts express a few simple principles
After hearing many presentations and panels, it was clear that most of the experts agree on a set of simple principles … basic ideas articulated by NYU nutrition professor Marion Nestle, Ph.D., MPH in her 2006 book What to Eat and echoed in UC Berkeley professor Michael Pollan’s latest bestseller, Food Rules.
- Eat less overall: Consume fewer calories by avoiding packaged foods high in fat, salt, and sugar, and by preparing and serving smaller portions.
- Move more: Being more active is a no-brainer.
- Favor fruits and vegetables, and choose the most colorful ones.
- Go easy on junky foods high in calories, fat, salt and additives.
- Stay away from the center aisles of the supermarket, and avoid any food sold in a box.
- No cartoons or chemicals: If you do buy a food in a box, choose one with five ingredients or less, none you can't pronounce, and no cartoon characters.
- Avoid products that your grandma (or great-grandma) wouldn’t recognize as food.
The basic message we heard over the course of three enlightening days was that doctors need to educate themselves on the links between diet and disease, better inform their patients… and enter the political fray on behalf of us all!