The Latest Health Articles

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Latest Health Articles

200th Issue Celebration:  Highlights From the Past Two Years on Health, Nutrition, and Fitness

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

latest health articlesFor four years I have been providing you with the latest health articles on various health, nutrition, and fitness topics by publishing “Health Tips From The Professor.”  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 200th 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 some of the major stories I have covered in the past 100 issues.  I reviewed the highlights from the first 100 issues previously. There are lots of topics I could have covered, but I have chosen to focus on three types of articles:

  • Articles that have debunked long-standing myths about nutrition and health.
  • Articles that have corrected some of the misinformation that seems to show up on the internet on an almost daily basis.
  • Articles about the issues that most directly affect your health.

The Latest Health Articles on Weight Loss

Weight Loss Secrets

 

latest health articles weight lossOf the latest health articles and since this review is being written in January,  let’s start with some of the most insightful articles about healthy weight loss. For example, some assumptions people have about losing weight are just plain wrong. Even worse, they are counter-productive. They actually prevent you from losing weight if you accept them. The article “8 Weight Loss Myths” debunks those myths.

The article “8 Tips For Eating Less” gives you some useful “tricks” for controlling both food choices and portion sizes, based on the research of Dr. Brian Wansink. “Exercise and Weight Loss” gives you valuable information on how much exercise you need to be doing if you want to lose weight. Finally, “Lose Weight Without Counting Calories” highlights recent research showing that healthy food choices are more important for weight control than counting calories or fad diets.

The Latest Health Articles on Protein

How Much Protein Do We Need?

latest health articles proteinIn recent years, we have gained new appreciation for the importance of dietary protein in maintaining muscle mass. We have also learned that leucine, one of the essential amino acids, plays an important role in regulating the protein synthesis required to maintain or increase muscle mass.

The article “Are High Protein Diets Your Secret To Weight Loss?” summarized the latest research on how much dietary protein is required to maintain muscle mass when you are trying to lose weight. “Leucine and Muscle Gain” discusses the optimal protein and leucine levels for optimal muscle gain after a workout. Hint: The science-based amounts are more than the RDA but less than what many “muscle madness” websites claim.  When you are looking for the latest health articles, be sure your source is giving you all the information.

Most of us lose muscle mass when we age. In “Do Protein Needs Increase As We Age? I summarize the latest research on the amount of protein and leucine we need to maintain muscle mass in our golden years. Finally, In “How Much Protein Do You Need?” I point out the fallacies of a New York Times article proclaiming that most Americans get too much protein. However, I also summarize all of the latest research on the protein needs of individual groups. Many of you will find this a useful resource.

The Latest Health Articles on Food Nutrition

How Foods Affect Our Health In Surprising Ways

latest health articles food effectsMost Americans understand that the food choices we make can affect our weight and our health.  Although, we sometimes disagree on what foods are good for us. When we think about foods affecting our health, we are usually thinking about major diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. However, food choices can affect our health in some unexpected ways as well.

For example, in “Do Foods Make Them Fidget?” I discuss research showing that food allergies may be a major contributor to ADHD in children. In “Can Foods Affect Our Mood?” and “Does Diet Affect Depression In Women?” I discuss research showing that what we eat can affect our mood in some pretty significant ways.

In “Can What We Eat Affect Our Kids?” I explore some thought provoking research suggesting that what we eat prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy may influence our children’s health throughout their life. There is much more research to be done, but even the possibility of that occurring should serve as a wake-up call for everyone thinking of becoming a parent.

Finally, in “Is There A Simple Solution To Gas & Bloating?” I summarize some ground-breaking research into a new approach for identifying the foods that cause you digestive problems. If you’ve eliminated the most obvious problem foods from your diet and still have digestive issues, you will definitely want to read this article.

The Truth About Omega-3s

latest health articles omega3After years of unchallenged popularity, omega-3s have become controversial. Some doctors are claiming that they don’t really provide any health benefits and we get plenty in our diet. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In “Are Americans Deficient in Omega-3s?” I report on a recent survey showing that most Americans have very poor omega-3 nutritional status. In “The Good News About Omega-3s & Blood Pressure” I discuss recent research suggesting that omega-3s provide an effective natural approach for lowering blood pressure. In an upcoming issue, I will review a recent meta-analysis suggesting that omega-3s may reduce heart attack risk. I’m not suggesting throwing away your medications, but I would suggest a discussion with your doctor about including omega-3s as part of a holistic approach to lower blood pressure and heart disease risk.

Finally, there are a lot of claims in the marketplace that some forms of omega-3s are better utilized than others. In “Are Some Omega-3 Supplements Better Than Others?” I report on a recent study that debunks those claims so please check this out as a part of your latest health articles research.

The Truth About Calcium Supplements

latest health articles calciumWe have been told for years that calcium supplements are a safe and effective way to prevent osteoporosis. However, those assumptions have recently been called into question. There have been claims that calcium supplements increase heart attack risk, and that calcium supplements don’t prevent osteoporosis. I have written articles to put both of those claims into perspective.

After the study came out claiming that calcium supplementation does not prevent osteoporosis, I wrote a two-part review called “Do Calcium Supplements Prevent Bone Fractures?”. In Part 1  I pointed out the many shortcomings of the study. In Part 2 I discussed a holistic approach, including calcium supplementation, to build healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. Finally, in “Should We Take Calcium Supplements?” I reported on studies showing convincingly that calcium does not increase heart attack risk. It turns out the experts were right all along.

 

The Truth About Heart Disease

latest health articles heart diseaseIn today’s world doctors rely almost exclusively on drugs to prevent and treat heart disease. Unfortunately, those drugs have significant side effects. In “Do Statins Increase Diabetes Risk?” and “Do Statins Cause Memory Loss?” I highlight research on the side effects of statins. In “Do Blood Pressure Medications Cause Memory Loss?” I highlight research into a major side effect of blood pressure medications. Again, I am not recommending that you throw away medications your doctor has prescribed. I am suggesting you discuss holistic approaches with your doctor.

 

Unfortunately, most doctors believe that nutritional approaches don’t work. That is because some major clinical studies have been misinterpreted. In “Do B Vitamins Reduce Heart Disease Risk?” and “Does Vitamin E Reduce Heart Attack Risk?” I report on a more detailedevaluation of those studies by Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, who isa Professor in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. He agrees that B vitamins and vitamin E cannot be shown to influence heart attack risk in people who are low risk of having a heart attack. However, his analysis of the data shows that supplementation with both B vitamins and vitamin E reduces heart attack risk for high-risk populations. I will discuss the evidence that omega-3s decrease heart attack risk in an upcoming issue.

 

Children’s Nutrition

latest health articles child nurtritionDrugs for controlling ADHD have some fairly severe side effects, and many experts feel that they are over prescribed. In “Is Nutrition Better Than Drugs For ADHD Control?” I summarize a recent review by two pediatricians specializing in ADHD patients. The review evaluated the effectiveness of various natural approaches for controlling ADHD.

In “Do Bad Diets Begin In Infancy?” I reviewed a set of studies showing that what we feed our infants in their first year influences their diet and their health at age 6 – and perhaps for long after that.

These latest health articles are very important concerning kid’s health.

 

Nutrition During Pregnancy

latest health articles pregnancy nutritionMost pregnant moms are told that a prenatal supplement provides everything they need for a successful pregnancy. Is that true? Many prenatal supplements do not contain DHA, and only 15% of American women take supplements containing iodine.

In “DHA And Pregnancy” I report on a study showing that up to 75% of North American women aren’t getting enough DHA in their diet. I also discussed the still confusing research suggesting that DHA supplementation may be important for supporting optimal brain development during pregnancy. In “Should Pregnant Women Take A DHA Supplement?” I discuss recent research showing that DHA supplementation improved pregnancy outcomes. In “The Dangers Of Iodine Deficiency During Pregnancy” I discuss a study showing that 1/3 of pregnant women in this country are iodine deficient and studies showing the importance of iodine for a successful pregnancy.

 

The Latest Health Articles Concerning The “Dark Side” Of The Food Supplement Industry

 

latest health articles nutrition liesUnfortunately, the food supplement industry has a “dark side.” I do my best to expose as much of that as possible. In “Are Food Labels Deceptive?” I expose some of the ways that food and food supplement companies try to deceive us.

In “Are Herbal Supplements Bogus?” and “Do Your Supplements Contain Carcinogens?” I expose the quality control issues in the industry. In “The Fake Chocolate Study” I show just how easy it is to create a fake clinical study that supports their product.

 

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 Health Tips From the Professor and type the appropriate term in the search box.

In the coming year, you can look for more of my evaluation of the latest health articles.  My articles will debunk myths, expose lies and provide 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.

If you have other topics that you would like me to cover, please click on the link below 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 (1)

  • Merlena Cushing

    |

    I would like to get your masterful evaluation of this current craze cryolipolysis (or fat freezing). Proponents say it is quick, painless and requires no recovery or “downtime” but common sense tells me they are leaving a lot unsaid in order to rake in big bucks.
    https://www.yahoo.com/news/freezing-fat-whats-beauty-144511857.html

    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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