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

Omega-3 Benefits: Lower High Blood Pressure

Posted July 16, 2019 by Dr. Steve Chaney

What Does the FDA Say About Omega-3 Benefit Claims?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

 

Among omega-3 benefits is lower high blood pressure.  That claim can be made according to the FDA. 

lower high blood pressureHeart Disease is still the number 1 cause of death in this country. And, while deaths from heart disease have been declining in recent years, deaths due to high blood pressure have been increasing.  That is concerning because:

High blood pressure is a killer! It can kill you by causing heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, kidney failure and much more.

High blood pressure is a serial killer. It doesn’t just kill a few people. It kills lots of people. The American Heart Association estimates that high blood pressure directly or indirectly caused 410,000 deaths in 2014. That is almost 1 person every second and represents a 41% increase from 2000. It’s because high blood pressure is not a rare disease.

  • 32% of Americans have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, (defined as a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or more or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or more).
  • Another 33% of Americans have prehypertension (systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mm Hg).

That’s over 65% of Americans with abnormal blood pressure!

High blood pressure is a silent killer. That’s because it is a very insidious disease that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Systolic blood pressure increases 0.6 mm Hg/year for most adults over 50. By age 75 or above 76-80% of American adults will have high blood pressure.  Even worse, many people with high blood pressure have no symptoms, so they don’t even know that their blood pressure is elevated. For them the first symptom of high blood pressure is often sudden death.

Blood pressure medications can harm your quality of life. Blood pressure medications save lives. However, like most drugs, blood pressure medications have a plethora of side effects – including weakness, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, heartburn, depression, heart palpitations, and even memory loss. The many side effects associated with blood pressure medications lead to poor compliance, which is probably why only 46% of patients with high blood pressure are adequately controlled.

You do have natural options. By now you are probably wondering whether there are natural approaches for controlling your blood pressure that are both effective and lack side effects. The answer is a resounding YES! I’ll outline a holistic natural approach for keeping your blood pressure under control in a minute but let me start with the FDAs recent approval of what they call “qualified claims” that omega-3s lower blood pressure.

 

What Does the FDA Say About Omega-3 Benefits?

omega-3 benefitsIn my book “Slaying The Supplement Myths” I talk about the “dark side” of the supplement industry. There are far too many companies who try to dupe the public by making outrageous and unsubstantiated claims about their products.

Only the FDA stands between us and those unscrupulous companies, and they take their role very seriously. That is why it is big news whenever the FDA allows companies to make health claims about their products.

Even then, the FDA is very cautious. They allow what they call “qualified” health claims. Basically, that means they are saying there is enough evidence that the health claim is probably true, but not enough evidence to say it is proven.

Of course, if you understand the scientific method, you realize there will always be some studies on both sides of every issue. That is why the only health claims the FDA allows are qualified health claims.

With that background in mind, let’s look at the qualified health claims the FDA allows for omega-3 benefits.

  • Since 2004 the FDA has allowed the qualified claim “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
  • A few weeks ago, they added five qualified health claims about omega-3s and blood pressure. The 5 claims are very similar, so I will only list two below for the sake of brevity.
  • “Consuming EPA and DHA combined may reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension, a risk factor for CHD (coronary heart disease).”
  • Consuming EPA and DHA combined may reduce the risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) by lowering blood pressure.
  • Of course, they add the usual wording about the evidence being inconsistent and inconclusive.

 

Omega-3 Benefits?

measure omega-3 benefits levelWe’ve known for some time that omega-3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure, but two recent studies were instrumental in convincing the FDA to allow these qualified health claims. These studies have highlighted just how strong the effect of omega-3s on lowering blood pressure is.

The first study was a meta-analysis of 70 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials of long chain omega-3 (EPA + DHA) supplementation and blood pressure (Miller et al, American Journal of Hypertension, 27: 885-896, 2014 ).

This study showed:

  • In the group with normal blood pressure at the beginning of the study EPA + DHA supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure by 1.25 mm Hg.
  • Given that systolic blood pressure rises an average of 0.6 mm Hg/year in adults over 50, the authors estimated that omega-3 supplementation alone would delay the onset of age-related high blood pressure by 2 years.
  • In the group with elevated blood pressure not taking medication at the beginning of the study, EPA + DHA supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure by an impressive 4.51 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3.05 mm Hg.
  • The authors noted that this decrease in systolic blood pressure could “prevent an individual from requiring medication [with all its side effects] to control their hypertension” or decrease the amount of medication required.

However, the doses of omega-3s used in these studies ranged from 1 to over 4 grams/day (mean dose = 3.8 grams/day). That sparked a second study (Minihane et al, Journal of Nutrition, 146: 516-523, 2016) to see whether lower levels of omega-3s might be equally effective. This study was an 8-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study comparing the effects of 0.7 or 1.8 grams of EPA + DHA per day (versus an 8:2 ratio of palm and soybean oil as a placebo) on blood pressure.

This study showed:

  • In the group with normal blood pressure at the beginning of the study, EPA + DHA supplementation caused no significant decrease in blood pressure. This could be due to the smaller number of subjects or the lower doses of EPA + DHA used in this study.
  • In the group with elevated blood pressure not taking medication at the beginning of the study, EPA + DHA supplementation decreased systolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg and, the effect was essentially identical at 0.7 grams/day and 1.8 grams/day.
  • The authors concluded “Our data suggest that increased EPA + DHA intakes of only 0.7 grams/day may be an effective strategy for blood pressure control.”

 

A Holistic Approach to Lower High Blood Pressure

holistic approach to lower high blood pressureThe FDA’s allowed claims about omega-3s are good news indeed, but that’s not the only natural approach that lowers blood pressure. You have lots of other arrows in your quiver. For example:

  • The DASH diet (A diet that has lots of fresh fruits and vegetables; includes whole grains, low fat dairy, poultry, fish, beans, nuts and oils; and is low in sugar and red meats) reduces systolic blood pressure by 5-6 mm Hg. [Low fat, low carb and Mediterranean diets also lower blood pressure, but not by as much as the DASH diet].
  • Reducing sodium by about 1,150 mg/day reduces systolic blood pressure by 3-4 mm Hg.
  • Reducing excess weight by 5% reduces systolic blood pressure by 3 points.
  • Doing at least 40 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times/week reduces systolic blood pressure by 2-5 mm Hg.
  • Nitrates, whether derived from fresh fruits and vegetables or from supplements probably also reduce blood pressure, but we don’t yet know by how much.

If you’ve been keeping track, you’ve probably figured out that a holistic lifestyle that included at least 0.7 grams/day of long chain omega-3s (EPA + DHA) plus the other omega-3 benefits in the list above could reduce your systolic blood pressure by a whopping 18-22 mm Hg.  What

That’s significant because, the CDC estimates that reducing high systolic blood pressure by only 12-13 mm Hg could reduce your risk of:

  • Stroke by 37%.
  • Coronary heart disease by 21%.
  • Death from cardiovascular disease by 25%.
  • Death from all causes by 13%.

 

A Word of Caution

While holistic approaches have the potential to keep your blood pressure under control without the side effects of medications, it is important not to blindly rely on holistic approaches alone. There are also genetic and environmental risk factors involved in determining blood pressure. You could be doing everything right and still have high blood pressure. Plus, you need to remember that high blood pressure is a silent killer that often doesn’t have any detectable symptoms prior to that first heart attack or stroke.

My recommendations are:

  • Monitor your blood pressure on a regular basis.
  • If your blood pressure starts to become elevated, consult with your doctor about starting with natural approaches to bring your blood pressure back under control. Doctors are fully aware of the side effects of blood pressure medications, and most doctors are happy to encourage you to try natural approaches first.
  • Continue to monitor blood pressure as directed by your doctor. If natural approaches are insufficient to bring your blood pressure under control, they will prescribe the lowest dose of blood pressure medication possible to get your blood pressure where it needs to be.
  • Don’t stop making holistic lifestyle choices to reduce blood pressure just because you are on medication. The more you do to keep your blood pressure under control with a healthy diet and lifestyle, the less medication your doctor will need to use (That means fewer side effects).

 

The Bottom Line

Heart Disease is still the number 1 cause of death in this country. And, while deaths from heart disease have been declining in recent years, deaths due to high blood pressure have been increasing. That is why anything we can do lower blood pressure naturally is important. What does the FDA say about omega-3s and blood pressure?

  • Since 2004 the FDA has allowed the qualified claim “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
  • A few weeks ago, they added qualified health claims about omega-3s and blood pressure. For example, they now allow the following claims.
  • “Consuming EPA and DHA combined may reduce blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension, a risk factor for CHD (coronary heart disease).”
  • Consuming EPA and DHA combined may reduce the risk of CHD (coronary heart disease) by lowering blood pressure.

For more information on the studies that convinced the FDA to allow claims about omega-3s and blood pressure and for a discussion of holistic natural approaches for lowering blood pressure, 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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