100th Issue Celebration: The Latest Developments in Health, Nutrition, and Fitness

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Uncategorized

Looking To The Future: The Next 100 Issues

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

100th issueIn the roughly year and a half that I have been publishing “Health Tips From The Professor” in its current form, I have tried to go behind the headlines to provide you with accurate, unbiased health information that you can trust and apply to your everyday life. The 100th issue of any publication is a major cause for celebration and reflection – and “Health Tips From The Professor” is no different.

I am dedicating this issue to reviewing what has been covered in the last year and a half and reflecting on the future direction of this publication. Let’s start by looking at some of the major issues that have been covered.

Environmental Toxins and Our Health

We live in an increasingly toxic world. Some of those toxins come from industrial pollution. Some come from agricultural pollution (pesticides and herbicides). Some come from household pollution (cleaning products and outgassing from carpet, drapery, etc.). And some come from the additives that BIG FOOD adds to the processed foods we eat.

I’ve covered the effects of a few of those toxins on our health in articles like “Do Toxic Homes Cause Asthma?” , “Are Toxic Chemicals Lowering Our IQ?” , and “Do Artificial Colors Cause Hyperactivity?”. Look for more information along those lines in future issues of “Health Tips From The Professor”.

Exercise and Our Health

exercise and healthMany of you exercise on a daily basis and would like more guidance on the best exercises and how you can best support your exercise nutritionally.

I have covered the benefits of exercise in articles like “Run Long and Prosper”. I have covered nutritional approaches that support exercise gains in articles like “Does Leucine Stimulate Muscle Growth?” and “Do Protein Needs Increase As We Age? “.  Finally, I have covered the dangers of many of the sports supplements on the market in articles like “Are Fat Burning Supplements Safe?”, “Are Sports Supplements Safe?”, and “Sports Supplements To Avoid”.

I plan to expand these topics in the coming year and perhaps bring in an expert who can advise you the best exercises for a long and healthy life.

Healthy Eating

Most of you have told me that you are very interested in healthy eating.

I have covered healthy eating in general with articles like “Can Diet Alter Your Genetic Destiny?” , “The Seventh Generation Revisited” and “Are Organic Foods Healthier?”.

I have talked about foods and eating patterns to avoid with articles like “Does Sugar Cause Heart Disease?”, “Do Sodas Cause Arthritis?” and “Do Grilled Meats Cause Prostate Cancer?”.

I have covered controversial areas with articles like “Are Saturated Fats Good For You?” and “When Is GMO not GMO?” and a webinar on “The Truth About Genetically Modified Foods”.

Look for more healthy eating articles like these in upcoming issues.

Obesity

obesityI don’t need to tell you that in today’s world obesity is a huge problem (pun intended).

I have covered some of the less known causes of obesity in articles like “Do Diet Sodas Make You Fat?”, and “Can Gut Bacteria Make You Fat?”.

I’ve covered the risks of obesity in articles like “Belly Fat Could Be Killing You?” and “Does Belly Fat Make You Dumb?”.

Finally, I’ve given you some useful tips on how to lose weight in articles like “What Is The Best Diet For Weight Loss?”, “Are High Protein Diets Your Secret to Weight Loss?”, “7 Easy Ways To Spot Fad Diets”, and “Do Diets Really Work?”.

Look for more informative articles like this in future issues.

Family Nutrition

I have had lots of requests for articles providing nutritional advice for young families.

I have written articles for women such as “Women’s Heart Health Begins At 20” () and “Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Decrease The Risk Of Depression In Women?” . I have written articles for children such as “Can DHA Help Johnny Read?” and “Do Foods Make Them Fidget?” (coming next month). I have written articles for men such as “A Big, Fat Problem With Testosterone”. I have even written articles about gender differences such as “Is Omega-3 Uptake Gender Specific?”.

Look for more articles like these in future issues.

Debunking The Nutrition Myths

mythsThere is a lot of misinformation on the internet, and some of that misinformation has been repeated so often that it has become generally accepted as true. It has become what I refer to as a “nutrition urban legend” or nutrition myth. I have done my best to shine the light of science on these myths and expose them as the untruths that they are.

For example, I have debunked the myths about soy in articles like “Does Soy Increase The Risk Of Breast Cancer Recurrence?”, “Should Women With Breast Cancer Avoid Soy?” and my video “The Truth About Soy”. I have debunked myths about antioxidants in articles like “Do Antioxidant Supplements Cause Cancer?” and “Do Selenium & Vitamin E Cause Prostate Cancer?”. I have debunked myths about omega-3 fatty acids in articles like “Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Cause Prostate Cancer?”. I have debunked the myths about calcium in articles like “Do Calcium Supplements Increase Heart Attack Risk?”.

However, debunking nutrition myths is a lot like the “Whack a Mole” game you see at state fairs. As soon as you debunk one myth, another one pops up somewhere else. For that reason I will continue to expose nutrition myths in future issues of “Health Tips From The Professor”.

Exposing The Lies

Unfortunately, there are a lot of charlatans in the food supplement industry, and some of their more sensational claims are popularized by doctors who should know better.

I have tried to expose the worst of these unsubstantiated claims in articles like “Can Chocolate Help You Lose Weight?”, “Water Is Water” and “Is Green Coffee Bean Extract Bogus?”.

Unfortunately, the charlatans truly believe that a “sucker is born every minute” so there will always be new products and new outrageous claims. I will do my best to protect you from products that drain your pocketbook but do not provide you with any substantiated benefits.

Telling The Truth About Supplementation

supplementationOn one hand you have experts who tell you that supplements are a waste of money. They don’t do any good. On the other hand, you have people who tout supplements as cure for whatever ails you. Neither extreme is accurate. I have done my best to bring balance and scientific rigor to this discussion with articles like “The Two Biggest Misconceptions About Supplementation”.

The Naysayers base their advice on studies of supplementation in healthy populations, something we scientists refer to as primary prevention studies. Because 95% or more of the healthy test population will never develop the disease being tested for within the time period of the study it is almost impossible to demonstrate a beneficial effect of supplementation in that kind of studies. I have illustrated that point by highlighting the difficulty in proving that statins provide any discernable effect on heart disease risk in healthy populations of people who have not experienced a prior heart attack in my book “The Myths of the Naysayers” and my article “Can An Apple A Day Keep Statins Away?”. If you can’t even show that statins prevent disease in healthy populations, why would you expect to be able to show that supplements prevent disease in those populations?

However when you look at the effects of supplementations in populations at high risk of developing disease (because of age, poor diet, increased need, genetics or pre-existing disease) supplementation does appear to be effective. I have highlighted these studies in articles like “Is Fish Oil Really Snake Oil?”, “Do B vitamins Slow Cognitive Decline?”, and “Do Vitamin D Genes Affect Mortality?”.

In future issues I will continue to highlight the benefits of supplementation. Unlike, the more sensational blogs, however, I will also be quite clear about which population groups are most likely to benefit.

Of course, I can’t cover all 100 issues in this one article. Suffice it to say that I have also provided you with information on nutritional breakthroughs that may dramatically decrease your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and much more. You can find many of these articles just by going to https://www.healthtipsfromtheprofessor.com and entering the appropriate term in the search box.

What Does the Future Hold?

I have just touched on a few of my most popular articles in the list I gave you above. You may want to scroll through that list to find articles of interest to you that you might have missed. If you don’t see what you are looking for, just go to https://www.healthtipsfromtheprofessor.com and type the appropriate term in the search box.

In the coming year you can look for more articles debunking myths, exposing lies and providing balance to the debate about those health topics that affect you directly. As always I pledge to provide you with scientifically accurate, balanced information that you can trust. I will continue to do my best to present this information in a clear and concise manner so that you can understand it and apply it to your life.

Based on input that I have received from many of you I will increase my coverage of exercise and topics of interest to young families. I will also be bringing back Julie Donnelly as a guest expert for a series of articles on how to relieve back pain. Julie is an expert on deep muscle massage therapy and her articles on self-treatment for muscle pain have been among the most popular over the last year and a half. I know you will be happy to have her back.

If you have other topics that you would like me to cover, please click on this link to enter your suggestions in the comment box.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Comments (2)

  • Merlena Cushing

    |

    Dr. Chaney, I want to give you a huge “shout out” for persevering in this formidable task. Your Health Tips from the Professor have been a tremendous asset to us – our family, friends and customers – for many years! You so effectively put the scientific data on the table – study to study – in an understandable manner… evaluating and then giving us the take away we need in The Bottom Line in each article. I truly wish I could send those who take as “gospel” the skewed information they find on most health websites/blogs over here to get the unbiased and truthful information that could enhance their health and might even save lives. What you don’t know can hurt you is SO true in this arena!

    SO continued blessings upon you and your efforts – you are a godsend!

    Merlena

    Reply

  • Sue

    |

    Congratulations on your 100th issue, Dr. Chaney!!!
    Thank you for this very valuable information!

    Sue

    Reply

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Latest Article

Can Plant-based Diets Be Unhealthy?

Posted September 10, 2019 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Do Plant-Based Diets Reduce Heart Disease Deaths?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

plant-based diets vegetablesPlant-based diets have become the “Golden Boys” of the diet world. They are the diets most often recommended by knowledgeable health and nutrition professionals. I’m not talking about all the “Dr. Strangeloves” who pitch weird diets in books and the internet. I am talking legitimate experts who have spent their life studying the impact of nutrition on our health.

Certainly, there is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting the claim that plant-based diets are healthy. Going on a plant-based diet can help you lower blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol and triglycerides. People who consume a plant-based diet for a lifetime weigh less and have decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

But, can a plant-based diet be unhealthy? Some people consider a plant-based diet to simply be the absence of meat and other animal foods. Is just replacing animal foods with plant-based foods enough to make a diet healthy?

Maybe not. After all, sugar and white flour are plant-based food ingredients. Fake meats of all kinds abound in our grocery stores. Some are very wholesome, but others are little more than vegetarian junk food. If you replace animal foods with plant-based sweets, desserts, and junk food, is your diet really healthier?

While the answer to that question seems obvious, very few studies have asked that question. Most studies on the benefits of plant-based diets have compared population groups that eat a strictly plant-based diet (Seventh-Day Adventists, vegans, or vegetarians) with the general public. They have not looked at variations in plant food consumption within the general public. Nor have they compared people who consume healthy and unhealthy plant foods.

This study (H Kim et al, Journal of the American Heart Association, 8:e012865, 2019) was designed to fill that void.

 

How Was The Study Done?

plant-based diets studyThis study used data collected from 12,168 middle aged adults in the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study between 1987 and 2016.

The participant’s usual intake of foods and beverages was assessed by trained interviewers using a food frequency questionnaire at the time of entry into the study and again 6 years later.

Participants were asked to indicate the frequency with which they consumed 66 foods and beverages of a defined serving size in the previous year. Visual guides were provided to help participants estimate portion sizes.

The participant’s adherence to a plant-based diet was assessed using four different well-established plant-based diet scores. For the sake of simplicity, I will include 3 of them in this review.

  • The PDI (Plant-Based Diet Index) categorizes foods as either plant foods or animal foods. A high PDI score means that the participant’s diet contains more plant foods than animal foods. A low PDI score means the participant’s diet contains more animal foods than plant foods.
  • The hPDI (healthy plant-based diet index) is based on the PDI but emphasizes “healthy” plant foods. A high hPDI score means that the participant’s diet is high in healthy plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, coffee and tea) and low in animal foods.
  • The uPDI (unhealthy plant-based diet index) is based on the PDI but emphasizes “unhealthy” plant foods. A high uPDI score means that the participant’s diet is high in unhealthy plant foods (refined grains, fruit juices, French fries and chips, sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts) and low in animal foods.

For statistical analysis the scores from the various plant-based diet indices were divided into 5 equal groups. In each case, the group with the highest score consumed the most plant foods and least animal foods. The group with the lowest score consumed the least plant foods and the most animal foods.

The health outcomes measured in this study were heart disease events, heart disease deaths, and all-cause deaths. Again, for the sake of simplicity, I will only include 2 of these outcomes (heart disease deaths and all-cause deaths) in this review. The data on deaths were obtained from state death records and the National Death Index. (Yes, your personal information is available on the web even after you die.)

 

Do Plant-Based Diets Reduce Heart Disease Deaths?

plant-based diets reduce heart deathsThe participants in this study were followed for an average of 25 years.

The investigators looked at heart disease deaths over the 25 years and compared people with the highest intake of plant foods to people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods. The results were:

  • People with the highest intake of plant foods and the highest intake of healthy plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, coffee and tea) had a 19-32% lower risk of dying from heart disease than people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.
  • People with the highest intake of unhealthy plant foods (refined grains, fruit juices, French fries and chips, sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts) had the same risk of dying from heart disease as people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.

When the investigators looked at all-cause deaths over the 25 years:

  • People with the highest intake of plant foods and the highest intake of healthy plant foods had an 11-25% lower risk of dying from any cause than people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.
  • People with the highest intake of unhealthy plant foods had the same risk of dying from heart disease as people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.

What Else Did The Study Show?

The investigators made a couple of other interesting observations:

  • The association of the overall diet with heart disease and all-cause deaths was stronger than the association of individual food components. This underscores the importance of looking at the effect of the whole diet on health outcomes rather than the “magic” foods you hear about on Dr. Strangelove’s Health Blog.
  • Diets with the highest amount of healthy plant foods were associated with higher intake of carbohydrates, plant protein, fiber, and micronutrients, including potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and lower intake of saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Diets with the highest amount of unhealthy plant foods were associated with higher intake of calories and carbohydrates and lower intake of fiber and micronutrients.

The last two observations may help explain some of the health benefits of plant-based diets.

 

Can Plant-Based Diets Be Unhealthy?

plant-based diets unhealthy cookiesNow, let’s return to the question I asked at the beginning of this article: “Can plant-based diets be unhealthy?” Although some previous studies have suggested that unhealthy plant-based diets might increase the risk of heart disease, this study did not show that.

What this study did show was that an unhealthy plant-based diet was no better for you than a diet containing lots of red meat and other animal foods.

If this were the only conclusion from this study, it might be considered a neutral result. However, this result clearly contrasts with the data from this study and many others showing that both plant-based diets in general and healthy plant-based diets reduce the risk of heart disease deaths and all-cause deaths compared to animal-based diets.

The main message from this study is clear.

  • Replacing red meat and other animal foods with plant foods can be a healthier choice, but only if they are whole, minimally processed plant foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, coffee and tea.
  • If the plant foods are refined grains, fruit juices, French fries and chips, sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, all bets are off. You may be just as unhealthy as if you kept eating a diet high in red meat and other animal foods.

There is one other subtle message from this study. This study did not compare vegans with the general public. Everyone in the study was the general public. Nobody in the study was consuming a 100% plant-based diet.

For example:

  • The group with the highest intake of plant foods consumed 9 servings per day of plant foods and 3.6 servings per day of animal foods.
  • The group with the lowest intake of plant foods consumed 5.4 servings per day of plant foods and 5.6 servings per day of animal foods.

In other words, you don’t need to be a vegan purist to experience health benefits from adding more whole, minimally processed plant foods to your diet.

 

The Bottom Line

A recent study analyzed the effect of consuming plant foods on heart disease deaths and all-cause deaths over a 25-year period.

When the investigators looked at heart disease deaths over the 25 years:

  • People with the highest intake of plant foods and the highest intake of healthy plant foods had a 19-32% lower risk of dying from heart disease than people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.
  • People with the highest intake of unhealthy plant foods had the same risk of dying from heart disease as people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.

When the investigators looked at all-cause deaths over the 25 years:

  • People with the highest intake of plant foods and the highest intake of healthy plant foods had an 11-25% lower risk of dying from any cause than people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.
  • People with the highest intake of unhealthy plant foods had the same risk of dying from heart disease as people with the highest intake of red meat and other animal foods.

The main message from this study is clear.

  • Replacing red meat and other animal foods with plant foods can be a healthier choice, but only if they are whole, minimally processed plant foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, coffee and tea.
  • If the plant foods are refined grains, fruit juices, French fries and chips, sugar sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages, sweets and desserts, all bets are off. You may be just as unhealthy as if you kept eating a diet high in red meat and other animal foods.

A more subtle message from the study is that you don’t need to be a vegan purist to experience health benefits from adding more whole, minimally processed plant foods to your diet. The people in this study were not following some special diet. The only difference was that some of the people in this study ate more plant foods and others more animal foods.

For more details on the study, read the article above.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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