Food Is Not Your Enemy

New Nutrition Facts Labels on the Way
February 27, 2014, 4:21 pm
Filed under: Dairy, food politics, Fruits, Sweets, weight loss | Tags: , , ,

Good news–over the next two years, the nutrition facts labels will change on our packaged foods. Most significantly, serving sizes will become more realistic, calorie counts will be larger and bolded, and added sugars will get their own category. You’ll now be able to see how much sugar in your yogurt, for instance, occurs naturally in the yogurt itself or the fruit added to it, and how much is added sweetener. Given that added sugars are a very large part of why our nation is suffering from an obesity crisis, this is a really positive change. You can read all about the new labels and see a graphic of what one will look like here.

Sugar, Not Fat, Causes Heart Attacks
February 11, 2014, 12:48 pm
Filed under: Chronic Disease, Eggs, food politics, Food/Health Blogs, Sweets | Tags: , , , , ,
I totally love the work done by Dr. Mark Hyman. He’s a firm believer in fixing the causes of our health problems, not just the symptoms. The latest newsletter from him said the following:

“It’s over. The debate is settled.

It’s sugar, not fat, that causes heart attacks.

Fifty years of doctors’ advice and government eating guidelines have been wrong. We’ve been told to swap eggs for Cheerios. But that recommendation is dead wrong. In fact, it’s very likely that this bad advice has killed millions of Americans.

A rigorously done new study shows that those with the highest sugar intake had a four-fold increase in their risk of heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intakes. That’s 400%!”

Eye-opening, right? But depressing that we’ve been led down a bad path by some specious government recommendations.

When in doubt, choose the whole, natural foods that humans have been eating for generations (like eggs). And question the “wisdom” that we’d be better off eating a food made in a factory.

Should You Bother Taking Vitamin Pills?
February 10, 2014, 12:28 pm
Filed under: Chronic Disease, Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: , ,

In the U.S., we love our pills. We often lean on pills as a crutch—if you don’t feel you can (or want to) improve your diet to lower cholesterol, you’re given a prescription for a statin drug. If you don’t exercise, manage stress, or lower your salt intake, you’re simply given some pills to bring down your blood pressure. Anxious? Here’s a pill. Can’t sleep? Don’t bother looking to see if your late-night eating or alcohol consumption are affecting your sleep, just take a pill.

In this spirit, we often turn to vitamin pills—why bother eating healthier food when you can just take the vitamins you need in pill form? But some new studies have shown that not only can vitamins be ineffective, they can also be downright harmful.

When you eat tomatoes, there are certain nutrients you can count on getting: vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, thiamin, niacin, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, potassium, and manganese. But the tomato also contains lots of fiber and micronutrients, many of which researchers acknowledge are not even yet identified. Our body efficiently absorbs the nutrients from a natural source like a tomato. One of the issues with vitamin pills is that the nutrients are isolated, removed from their natural delivery system that includes the fiber and micronutrients. And scientists are starting to find that we don’t absorb and use the vitamins from pills in the same way or as effectively as we would from real food containing those nutrients.

Despite their popularity, there is no evidence that multivitamins enhance health or prevent illness. Both the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and a National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference concluded that multivitamins do not offer protection against heart disease or cancer. On the other hand, studies have shown a strong link between vegetable consumption and the prevention of cancer.

Even more surprising was a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that showed that women who took multivitamins were 6 percent more likely to die than those not taking them! I had always been neutral about vitamins in the past; I felt that they weren’t necessary for the most part if you were eating a good diet, but that there was no real harm in taking them if you wanted to. But this kind of study really gives me pause.

So if you’re looking to up your intake of essential nutrients, eat more vegetables and fruits. Eat more beans. Eat more whole grains. Eat more eggs. And question all those vitamin bottles in your medicine cabinet.