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

Should We Use Supplements For Cardiovascular Health?

Posted July 10, 2018 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Are You Just Wasting Your Money On Supplements?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

supplements for cardiovascular health wast moneyYou’ve seen the headlines. “Recent Study Finds Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Don’t Lower Heart Disease Risk.”  You are being told that supplements are of no benefit to you. They are a waste of money. You should follow a healthy diet instead. Is all of this true?

If I were like most bloggers, I would give you a simple yes or no answer that would be only partially correct. Instead, I am going to put the study behind these headlines into perspective. I am going to give you a deeper understanding of supplementation, so you can make better choices for your health.

 Should we use supplements for cardiovascular health?

In today’s article I will give you a brief overview of the subject. Here are the topics I will cover today:

  • Is this fake news?
  • Did the study ask the right questions?
  • Is this a question of “Garbage In – Garbage Out?
  • Reducing Heart Disease Risk. What you need to know.

All these topics are covered in much more detail (with references) in my book “Slaying The Supplement Myths”, which will be published this fall.

 

How Was This Study Done?

supplements for cardiovascular healthThis study (D.J.A. Jenkins et al, Journal of the American College Of Cardiology, 71: 2540-2584, 2018 ) was a meta-analysis. Simply put, that means the authors combined the results of many previous studies into a single database to increase the statistical power of their conclusions. This study included 127 randomized control trials published between 2012 and December 2017. These were all studies that included supplementation and looked at cardiovascular end points, cancer end points or overall mortality.

Before looking at the results, it is instructive to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Rather than giving you my interpretation, let me summarize what the authors said about strengths and weaknesses of their own study.

The strengths are obvious. Randomized control trials are considered the gold standard of evidence-based medicine, but they have their weaknesses. Here is what the authors said about the limitations of their study:

  • “Randomized control trials are of shorter duration, whereas longer duration studies might be required to fully capture chronic disease risk.”
  • “Dose-response data were not usually available [from the randomized control studies included in their analysis]. However, larger studies would allow the effect of dose to be assessed.”

There are some other limitations of this study, which I will point out below.

Is This Fake News?

supplements for cardiovascular health fake newsWhen I talk about “fake news” I am referring to the headlines, not to the study behind the headlines. The headlines were definitive: “Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Don’t Lower Heart Disease Risk.” However, when you read the study the reality is quite different:

  • In contrast to the negative headlines, the study reported:
    • Folic acid supplementation decreased stroke risk by 20% and overall heart disease risk by 17%.
    • B complex supplements containing folic acid, B6, and B12 decreased stroke risk by 10%.
    • That’s a big deal, but somehow the headlines forgot to mention it.
  • The supplements that had no significant effect on heart disease risk (multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C) were ones that would not be expected to lower heart disease risk. There was little evidence from previous studies of decreased risk. Furthermore, there is no plausible mechanism for supposing they might decrease heart disease risk.
  • The study did not include vitamin E or omega-3 supplements, which are the ones most likely to prove effective in decreasing heart disease risk when the studies are done properly (see below).

Did The Study Ask The Right Question?

Most of the studies included in this meta-analysis were asking whether a supplement decreased heart disease risk or mortality for everyone. Simply put, the studies started with a group of generally healthy Americans and asked whether supplementation had a significant effect on disease risk for everyone in that population.

That is the wrong question. We should not expect supplementation to benefit everyone equally. Instead, we should be asking who is most likely to benefit from supplementation and design our clinical studies to test whether those people benefit from supplementation.

supplements for cardiovascular health diagramI have created the graphic on the right as a guide to help answer the question of “Who is most likely to benefit from supplementation?”. Let me summarize each of the points using folic acid as the example.

 

Poor Diet: It only makes sense that those people who are deficient in folate from foods are the most likely to benefit from folic acid supplementation. Think about it for a minute. Would you really expect people who are already getting plenty of folate from their diet to obtain additional benefits from folic acid supplementation?

The NIH estimates that around 20% of US women of childbearing age are deficient in folic acid. For other segments of our population, dietary folate insufficiency ranges from 5-10%. Yet, most studies of folic acid supplementation lump everyone together – even though 80-95% of the US population is already getting enough folate through foods, food fortification, and supplementation. It is no wonder most studies fail to find a beneficial effect of folic acid supplementation.

The authors of the meta-analysis I discussed above said that the beneficial effects of folic acid they saw might have been influenced by a very large Chinese study, because a much higher percentage of Chinese are deficient in folic acid. They went on to say that the Chinese study needed to be repeated in this country.

In fact, the US study has already been done. A large study called “The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation (HOPE)” study reported that folic acid supplementation did not reduce heart disease risk in the whole population. However, when the study focused on the subgroup of subjects who were folate-deficient at the beginning of the study, folic acid supplementation significantly decreased their risk of heart attack and cardiovascular death.  This would seem to suggest using supplements for cardiovascular health is a good idea.

Increased Need: There are many factors that increase the need for certain nutrients. However, for the sake of simplicity, let’s only focus on medications. Medications that interfere with folic acid metabolism include anticonvulsants, metformin (used to treat diabetes), methotrexate and sulfasalazine (used to treat severe inflammation), birth control pills, and some diuretics. Use of these medications is not a concern when the diet is adequate. However, when you combine medication use with a folate-deficient diet, health risks are increased and supplementation with folic acid is more likely to be beneficial.

Genetic Predisposition: The best known genetic defect affecting folic acid metabolism is MTHFR. MTHFR deficiency does not mean you have a specific need for methylfolate. However, it does increase your need for folic acid. Again, this is not a concern when the diet is adequate. However, when you combine MTHFR deficiency with a folate-deficient diet, health risks are increased and supplementation with folic acid is more likely to be beneficial. I cover this topic in great detail in my upcoming book, “Slaying The Supplement Myths”. In the meantime, you might wish to view my video, “The Truth About Methyl Folate.”

Diseases: An underlying disease or predisposition to disease often increases the need for one or more nutrients that help reduce disease risk. The best examples of this are two major studies on the effect of vitamin E on heart disease risk in women. Both studies found no effect of vitamin E on heart disease risk in the whole population. However, one study reported that vitamin E reduced heart disease risk in the subgroup of women who were post-menopausal (when the risk of heart disease skyrockets). The other study found that vitamin E reduced heart attack risk in the subgroup of women who had pre-existing heart disease at the beginning of the study.

Finally, if you look at the diagram closely, you will notice a red circle in the middle. When two or three of these factors overlap, that is the “sweet spot” where supplementation is almost certain to make a difference and it may be a good idea to use supplements for cardiovascular health.

Is This A Question Of “Garbage In, Garbage Out”?

supplements for cardiovascular health garbage in outUnfortunately, most clinical studies focus on the “Does everyone benefit from supplementation question?” rather than the “Who benefits from supplementation?” question.

In addition, most clinical studies of supplementation are based on the drug model. They are studying supplementation with a single vitamin or mineral, as if it were a drug. That’s unfortunate, because vitamins and minerals work together synergistically. What we need are more studies of holistic supplementation approaches.

Until these two things change, most supplement studies are doomed to failure. They are doomed to give negative results. In addition, meta-analyses based on these faulty supplement studies will fall victim to what computer programmers refer to as “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. If the data going into the analysis is faulty, the data coming out of the study will be equally faulty. It won’t be worth the paper it is written on. If you are looking for personal guidance on supplementation, this study falls into that category.

 

Should We Use Supplements For Cardiovascular Health?

 

If you want to know whether supplements decrease heart disease risk for everyone, this meta-analysis is clear. Folic acid may decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease. A B complex supplement may decrease the risk of stroke. All the other supplements they included in their analysis did not decrease heart disease risk, but the analysis did not include vitamin E and/or omega-3s.

However, if you want to know whether supplements decrease heart disease risk for you, this study provides no guidance. It did not ask the right questions.

I would be remiss, however, if I failed to point out that we know healthy diets can decrease heart disease risk. In the words of the authors: “The recent science-based report of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, also concerned with [heart disease] risk reduction, recommended 3 dietary patterns: 1) a healthy American diet low in saturated fat, trans fat, and meat, but high in fruits and vegetables; 2) a Mediterranean diet; and 3) a vegetarian diet. These diets, with their accompanying recommendations, continue the move towards more plant-based diets…” I cover the effect of diet on heart disease risk in detail in my book, “Slaying The Food Myths”.

 

The Bottom Line

 

You have probably seen the recent headlines proclaiming: “Vitamin and Mineral Supplements Don’t Lower Heart Disease Risk.” The study behind the headlines was a meta-analysis of 127 randomized control trials looking at the effect of supplementation on heart disease risk and mortality.

  • The headlines qualify as “fake news” because:
    • The study found that folic acid decreased stroke and heart disease risk, and B vitamins decreased stroke risk. Somehow the headlines forgot to mention that.
    • The study found that multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin C had no effect on heart disease risk. These are nutrients that were unlikely to decrease heart disease risk to begin with.
    • The study did not include vitamin E and omega-3s. These are nutrients that are likely to decrease heart disease risk when the studies are done properly.
  • The authors of the study stated that a major weakness of their study was that that randomized control studies included in their analysis were short term, whereas longer duration studies might be required to fully capture chronic disease risk.
  • The study behind the headlines is of little use for you as an individual because it asked the wrong question.
  • Most clinical studies focus on the “Does everyone benefit from supplementation question?” That is the wrong question. Instead we need more clinical studies focused on the “Who benefits from supplementation?” question. I discuss that question in more detail in the article above.
  • In addition, most clinical studies of supplementation are based on the drug model. They are studying supplementation with a single vitamin or mineral, as if it were a drug. That’s unfortunate, because vitamins and minerals work together synergistically. What we need are more studies of holistic supplementation approaches.
  • Until these two things change, most supplement studies are doomed to failure. They are doomed to give negative results. In addition, meta-analyses based on these faulty supplement studies will fall victim to what computer programmers refer to as “Garbage In, Garbage Out”. If the data going into the analysis is faulty, the data coming out of the study will be equally faulty. It won’t be worth the paper it is written on. If you are looking for personal guidance on supplementation, this study falls into that category.
  • If you want to know whether supplements decrease heart disease risk for everyone, this study is clear. Folic acid may decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease. A B-complex supplement may decrease the risk of stroke. All the other supplements they included in their analysis did not decrease heart disease risk, but they did not include vitamin E and/or omega-3s in their analysis.
  • If you want to know whether supplements decrease heart disease risk for you, this study provides no guidance. It did not ask the right questions.
  • However, we do know that healthy, plant-based diets can decrease heart disease risk. I cover heart healthy diets in detail in my book, “Slaying The Food Myths.”

 

For more details, 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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