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

A Low Carb Diet and Weight Loss

Posted January 15, 2019 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Do Low-Carb Diets Help Maintain Weight Loss?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

low carb dietTraditional diets have been based on counting calories, but are all calories equal? Low-carb enthusiasts have long claimed that diets high in sugar and refined carbs cause obesity. Their hypothesis is based on the fact that high blood sugar levels cause a spike in insulin levels, and insulin promotes fat storage.

The problem is that there has been scant evidence to support that hypothesis. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of 32 published clinical studies (KD Hall and J Guo, Gastroenterology, 152: 1718-1727, 2017 ) concluded that low-fat diets resulted in a higher metabolic rate and greater fat loss than isocaloric low-carbohydrate diets.

However, low-carb enthusiasts persisted. They argued that the studies included in the meta-analysis were too short to adequately measure the metabolic effects of a low-carb diet. Recently, a study has been published in the British Medical Journal (CB Ebbeling et al, BMJ 2018, 363:k4583 ) that appears to vindicate their position.

Are low carb diets best for long term weight loss?

Low-carb enthusiasts claim the study conclusively shows that low-carb diets are best for losing weight and for keeping it off once you have lost it. They are saying that it is time to shift away from counting calories and from promoting low-fat diets and focus on low-carb diets instead if we wish to solve the obesity epidemic. In this article I will focus on three issues:

  • How good was the study?
  • What were its limitations?
  • Are the claims justified?

 

How Was The Study Designed?

low carb diet studyThe investigators started with 234 overweight adults (30% male, 78% white, average age 40, BMI 32) recruited from the campus of Framingham State University in Massachusetts. All participants were put on a diet that restricted calories to 60% of estimated needs for 10 weeks. The diet consisted of 45% of calories from carbohydrate, 30% from fat, and 25% from protein. [So much for the claim that the study showed low-carb diets were more effective for weight loss. The diet used for the weight loss portion of the diet was not low-carb.]

During the initial phase of the study 161 of the participants achieved 10% weight loss. These participants were randomly divided into 3 groups for the weight maintenance phase of the study.

  • The diet composition of the high-carb group was 60% carbohydrate, 20% fat, and 20% protein.
  • The diet composition of the moderate-carb group was 40% carbohydrate, 40% fat, and 20% protein.
  • The diet composition of the low-carb group was 20% carbohydrate, 60% fat, and 20% protein.

Other important characteristics of the study were:

  • The weight maintenance portion of the study lasted 5 months – much longer than any previous study.
  • All meals were designed by dietitians and prepared by a commercial food service. The meals were either served in a cafeteria or packaged to be taken home by the participants.
  • The caloric content of the meals was individually adjusted on a weekly basis so that weight was kept within a ± 4-pound range during the 5-month maintenance phase.
  • Sugar, saturated fat, and sodium were limited and kept relatively constant among the 3 diets.

120 participants made it through the 5-month maintenance phase.

 

Do Low-Carb Diets Help Maintain Weight Loss?

low carb diet maintain weight lossThe results were striking:

  • The low-carb group burned an additional 278 calories/day compared to the high-carb group and 131 calories/day more than the moderate-carbohydrate group.
  • These differences were even higher for those individuals with higher insulin secretion at the beginning of the maintenance phase of the study.
  • These differences lead the authors to hypothesize that low-carb diets might be more effective for weight maintenance than other diets.

 

What Are The Pros And Cons Of This Study?

low carb diet pros and consThis was a very well-done study. In fact, it is the most ambitious and well-controlled study of its kind. However, like any other clinical study, it has its limitations. It also needs to be repeated.

The pros of the study are obvious. It was a long study and the dietary intake of the participants was tightly controlled.

As for cons, here are the three limitations of the study listed by the authors:

#1: Potential Measurement Error: This section of the paper was a highly technical consideration of the method used to measure energy expenditure. Suffice it to say that the method they used to measure calories burned per day may overestimate calories burned in the low-carb group. That, of course, would invalidate the major findings of the study. It is unlikely, but it is why the study needs to be repeated using a different measure of energy expenditure.

#2: Compliance: Although the participants were provided with all their meals, there was no way of being sure they ate them. There was also no way of knowing whether they may have eaten other foods in addition to the food they were provided. Again, this is unlikely, but cannot be eliminated from consideration.

#3: Generalizability: This is simply an acknowledgement that the greatest strength of this study is also its greatest weakness. The authors acknowledged that their study was conducted in such a tightly controlled manner it is difficult to translate their findings to the real world. For example:

  • Sugar and saturated fat were restricted and were at very similar levels in all 3 diets. In the real world, people consuming a high-carb diet are likely to consume more sugar than people in the other diet groups. Similarly, people consuming the low-carb diet are likely to consume more saturated fat than people in the other diet groups.
  • Weight was kept constant in the weight maintenance phase by constantly adjusting caloric intake. Unfortunately, this seldom happens in the real world. Most people gain weight once they go off their diet – and this is just as true with low-carb diets as with other diets.
  • The participants had access to dietitian-designed prepared meals 3 times a day for 5 months. This almost never happens in the real world. The authors said “…these results [their data] must be reconciled with the long-term weight loss trials relying on nutrition education and behavioral counseling that find only a small advantage for low carbohydrate compared with low fat diets according to several recent meta-analyses.” [I would add that in the real world, people do not even have access to nutritional education and behavioral modification.]

 

low carb diet and youWhat Does This Study Mean For You?

  • This study shows that under very tightly controlled conditions (dietitian-prepared meals, sugar and saturated fat limited to healthy levels, calories continually adjusted so that weight remains constant) a low-carb diet burns more calories per day than a moderate-carb or high-carb diet. These findings show that it is theoretically possible to increase your metabolic weight and successfully maintain a healthy weight on a low-carb diet. These are the headlines you probably saw. However, a careful reading of the study provides a much more nuanced viewpoint. For example, the fact that the study conditions were so tightly controlled makes it difficult to translate these findings to the real world.
  • In fact, the authors of the study acknowledged that multiple clinical studies show this almost never happens in the real world. These studies show that most people regain the weight they have lost on low-carb diets. More importantly, the rate of weight regain is virtually identical on low-carb and low-fat diets. Consequently, the authors of the current study concluded “…translation [of their results to the real world] requires exploration in future mechanistic oriented research.” Simply put, the authors are saying that more research is needed to provide a mechanistic explanation for this discrepancy before one can make recommendations that are relevant to weight loss and weight maintenance in the real world.
  • The authors also discussed the results of their study in light of a recent, well-designed 12-month study (CD Gardener et al, JAMA, 319: 667-669, 2018 ) that showed no difference in weight change between a healthy low-fat versus a healthy low-carbohydrate diet. That study also reported that the results were unaffected by insulin secretion at baseline. The authors of the current study noted that “…[in the previous study] participants were instructed to minimize or eliminate refined grains and added sugars and maximize intake of vegetables. Probably for this reason, the reported glycemic load [effect of the diet on blood sugar levels] of the low-fat diet was very low…and similar to [the low-carb diet].” In short, the authors of the current study were acknowledging that diets which focus on healthy, plant-based carbohydrates and eliminate sugar, refined grains, and processed foods may be as effective as low-carb diets for helping maintain a healthy weight.
  • This would also be consistent with previous studies showing that primarily plant-based, low-carb diets are more effective at maintaining a healthy weight and better health outcomes long-term than the typical American version of the low-fat diet, which is high in sugar and refined grains. In contrast, meat-based, low-carb diets are no more effective than the American version of the low-fat diet at preventing weight gain and poor health outcomes. I have covered these studies in detail in my book “Slaying The Food Myths.”

Consequently, the lead author of the most recent study has said: “The findings [of this study] do not impugn whole fruits, beans and other unprocessed carbohydrates. Rather, the study suggests that reducing foods with added sugar, flour, and other refined carbohydrates could help people maintain weight loss….” This is something we all can agree on, but strangely this is not reflected in the headlines you may have seen in the media.

The Bottom Line

 

  • A recent study compared the calories burned per day on a low-carb, moderate-carb, and high-carb diet. The study concluded that the low-carb diet burned significantly more calories per day than the other two diets and might be suitable for long-term weight control. If confirmed by subsequent studies, this would be the first real evidence that low-carb diets are superior for maintaining a healthy weight.
  • However, the study has some major limitations. For example, it used a methodology that may overestimate the benefits of a low-carb diet, and it was performed under tightly controlled conditions that can never be duplicated in the real world. As acknowledged by the authors, this study is also contradicted by multiple previous studies. Further studies will be required to confirm the results of this study and show how it can be applied in the real world.
  • In addition, the kind of carbohydrate in the diet is every bit as important as the amount of carbohydrate. The authors acknowledge that the differences seen in their study apply mainly to carbohydrates from sugar, refined grains, and processed foods. They advocate diets with low glycemic load (small effects on blood sugar and insulin levels) and acknowledge this can also be achieved by incorporating low-glycemic load, plant-based carbohydrates into your diet. This is something we all can agree on, but strangely this is not reflected in the headlines you may have seen in the media.
  • Finally, clinical studies report averages, but none of us are average. When you examine the data from the current study, it is evident that some participants burned more calories per hour on the high-carb diet than other participants did on the low carb diet. That reinforces the observation that some people lose weight more effectively on low-carb diets while others lose weight more effectively on low-fat diets. If you are someone who does better on a low-carb diet, the best available evidence suggests you will have better long-term health outcomes on a primarily plant-based, low-carb diet such as the low-carb version of the Mediterranean diet.

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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