Monday, December 21, 2015

ADHD Diagnoses Soar 43 Percent in United States

This article came from AFP, and addresses the growing trend of diagnosing children and the pre-disposition for medical professionals to only look at treating children with the ADHD label with prescription drugs which can have negative side effects.  It is a damn shame that these children are not first treated as having nutritional deficiencies before these drugs are considered. I have several friends and acquaintances who were told their children had ADHD and those kid's did much, much better after addressing daily nutrients with a quality nutritional supplement and including Omega 3 essential fatty acid into the diet as well.    

The prevalence of ADHD diagnoses soared 43 percent in the United States in the first decade of the century, with more than one in 10 youths now diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, researchers said Tuesday.  ADHD is the most commonly identified mental disorder in the United States, often treated with psychological therapy and prescription stimulants like Ritalin to improve behavior and focus.

Its precise causes are unknown, though some research has pointed to difficulties during pregnancy, exposure to toxins and family history as playing a role.

The findings in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry show that 12 percent of American children and teens had ADHD in 2011, a significant rise over the 8.4 percent reported by parents in the same survey taken in 2003.

When researchers looked specifically at teenagers, they found the diagnoses had risen 52 percent since 2003.  “This analysis suggests that 5.8 million US children ages five to 17 now have this diagnosis, which can cause inattention and behavioral difficulties,” said lead researcher Sean Cleary, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

While ADHD has traditionally been more common among boys than girls, researchers found that parent-reported prevalence for girls diagnosed with ADHD rose 55 percent in eight years – from 4.3 percent in 2003 to 7.3 percent in 2011.  Among boys, it rose 40 percent.  The data for the study came from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, a part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We found rising rates of ADHD overall and very sharp jumps in certain subgroups,” Cleary said.
Hispanics in particular reported an 83 percent rise in ADHD diagnosis during the eight-year study period.  The rate of ADHD rose 107 percent among non-English speakers, and 71 percent among children with parents in so-called “other” parent marital situations – such as living with a single father, legal guardian, or grandparent, the study found.

Study authors said their research was not designed to look for the underlying reasons for changes in prevalence. However, past studies have suggested the recent rise in US prevalence of ADHD may include changes in special-education policy or increased public awareness of ADHD.

Other studies have suggested that there has been no objective rise in ADHD since the 1960s, but rather changes in definition and diagnosis that account for more cases being recognized.
According to Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, the latest data is “not surprising” and “supports the general impression that more children and adolescents are being diagnosed with ADHD.”  However, Adesman – who was not involved in the study – said that while the statistics are convincing, “it does not help us understand why these increases are being observed.”

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Detoxing Your Liver

This article, originally titled "15 Tips for Detoxing Your Liver", is from Healthy Diet Base. I am a believing in doing what you can for liver health, after all you only have one liver and you need it to live. I have a friend who was infected with Hep C after a blood transfusion in Europe following a car accident. Later on in his mid 50's he started drinking quite a bit and his monthly liver function tests starting getting even worse. He asked me what he could do, beside quit drinking (Ha! the power of our addictions!). I had him take the same supplement that I take for my liver, which is a combination of many of the ingredients listed below. His liver function tests started getting better and importantly he started feeling better - I remember thinking if only I can get him to cut way back on drinking.

I take the Liver De-Tox supplement because of my abuse of Motrin over decades from knee and back pain. In my daily does of this liver de-tox supplement, I am getting 225 micrograms of Biotin, 375 mg of Choline Bitartitrate, 240 mg of Milk Thistle, 225 mg of N-Acetyl L-Cysteine, 200 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid, 75mg of Broccoli Concentrate, and 45mg each of Green Tea extract, Olive Oil extract and Turmeric extract.   

 I still remember the first week I started talking the liver health supplement as I felt better and had more energy. I had no reason to believe it was from anything but that product. So the Motrin is bad history with me and I was and am concerned with the damage I did to my liver. Today, I do not take anything stronger than Aspirin and then only for headaches. If people could incorporate some of the foods below into their diet I think they would feel better overall and feel better about optimizing the health of their liver.

The liver is an essential organ that helps to keep the human body free of toxins. It performs important functions in almost every part of your body, from balancing your cholesterol levels to filtering your blood. Painkillers, prescription medications, alcohol, and other toxins can overload the liver and reduce its ability to function. Detoxing your liver helps to flush out toxins and improve the health of your liver. Here are 15 tips for detoxing your liver.

1. Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a plant that has been used for centuries to treat diseases of the liver and gall bladder. It’s been used by Europeans to heal various liver-related ailments as far back as 2,000 years ago! The plant got its name from the milky fluid that oozes from the leaves when they are crushed.

One of milk thistle’s active compounds is called, silymarin, a potent antioxidant that is several times more effective than vitamin C and vitamin E. It is used to reduce inflammation, inhibit the production of toxins, and prevent further damage to the liver. Of all the silymarins found in milk thistle, silybin has been found to be the most effective in the promotion of liver health. This is why milk thistle supplements contain high doses of silybin.

Milk thistle’s detoxifying and cleansing properties are so potent that it’s even believed to slow down the progression of severe liver damage or liver cirrhosis. Apart from acting as a detoxifier to the liver and preventing alcohol-related liver diseases, milk thistle is also used to treat other conditions that affect the liver including chronic hepatitis, acute viral hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis, as well as hepatic toxicity due to frequent steroid usage.

Milk thistle is available as a tincture that can be used to aid the process of liver detoxification. It is also available in extract form as supplements. In general, the more silymarin it contains, the better the supplement. Recommended doses for milk thistle supplementation vary among individuals, but are usually between 140 mg and 300 mg taken 2 to 3 times daily.

If the supplement contains phosphatidylcholine complex, less of it may be consumed since it promotes better absorption of these liver-detoxifying agents. In which case, you only have to take 100-200 mg once or twice a day. The presence of artichoke, boldo, dandelion, licorice, and turmeric decreases the recommended dosage to 100-140 mg which should be taken 2 to 3 times daily.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has been used for thousands of years to treat various ailments and illnesses. It is thought to improve the function of the stomach, colon, liver, bladder, and kidneys. Make your own apple cider vinegar by crushing some fresh apples and filtering the liquid, before allowing it to cure into vinegar. Alternatively, you can buy bottled apple cider vinegar at most health food stores and supermarkets. Use the vinegar to make a warm cleansing drink for your liver by adding 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey to a cup of warm water.

Here’s another recipe you might want to try. You will need:

•Apple cider vinegar
•1 quart filtered water
•½ pc. lemon, thinly sliced
•¼ pc. cucumber, thinly sliced
•2 sprigs mint

Place the mint leaves and slices of lemon and cucumber in a quart-sized bottle or mason jar. Fill the jar with water, and leave enough room for 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Place the vinegar last and if you like, add more to taste. Seal the jar, refrigerate it overnight, and you have a detox drink you can consume the next day!

While apple cider vinegar is usually easy and safe to use, there might be some things you’ll want to keep in mind. Since undiluted apple cider vinegar can be harmful to the esophagus and other parts of the digestive tract, you’ll want to be sure to dilute the vinegar. Try to keep your apple cider consumption to under eight ounces a day as anything over that could potentially decrease your potassium levels. Also, if you are allergic to apples, you will not want to use apple cider vinegar to detoxify your liver.

If you have been prescribed certain medications, especially drugs like cardiac glycosides, diuretics, insulin laxatives, and diabetes or blood pressure medications, you will want to be careful when using apple cider vinegar for detoxification. If you are taking these types of medications, it is always a good idea to check with your health care provide before beginning a regimen that could potentially have harmful effects. Even though apple cider vinegar is made from natural sources, it could still interfere with these types of medications.

3. Garlic

Garlic contains nutrients and Allicin, a compound that helps to aid the process of liver detoxification. Garlic helps to flush heavy metals, nitrogen, and excess hormones from the liver. Cooking garlic can reduce the potency of the nutrients, but the strong flavor of raw garlic can be off-putting for many people. One solution is to try taking garlic capsules, preferably 2-3 times a day while you are performing your liver detox.

When ingesting the garlic capsules, it is best that they are coated so they have a less chance of upsetting your stomach. If your stomach still gets upset when taking a capsule, you can try to take an antacid along with it.

Garlic which is an herb, is normally completely fine for you to use in your detoxification process. However, as with other herbs, there may be some things to keep in mind when using garlic. Although it is not very common, some people have been known to have had an allergic reaction to garlic.

You might want to double check with your health care provider if you are taking certain medications especially for tuberculosis (TB) or HIV/AIDS as garlic can interfere with the absorption of certain kinds of medications specifically for these illnesses. Also for women taking birth control pills, garlic may actually decrease the effectiveness of the pill.

4. Grapefruit seed extract

Grapefruit seed extract contains powerful antioxidants that help to flush toxins from the body, including the liver. Grapefruit seed extract can be expensive, but you only need a few drops 2-3 times a day. If you don’t want to spend money on grapefruit seed extract, try eating a couple of whole grapefruits every day during your liver detox. The results may not be as powerful as using the extract, but grapefruits contain antioxidants that can help to cleanse your liver.

Grapefruit seed extract is processed from grapefruit seeds and pulp and is a byproduct of producing grapefruit juice. In order to reduce the acidity and bitterness of grapefruit juice and extract, vegetable glycerin is added to the final product.

Grapefruit has long been known to interfere with certain medications so it is good to use caution when taking grapefruit seed extract in the detoxification process of your liver. Grapefruit juice has been known to decrease how quickly certain medications are broken down by the liver which can actually increase the side effects of certain medications. You’ll want to be especially cautious if you are taking medications for the following conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, erectile dysfunction and also if you are taking any kinds of sedatives. Other kinds of medications that may have an altered effect when taken with grapefruit are blood thinners such as Coumadin and also medications that contain caffeine.

5. Dandelion Root

Dandelions are flowering weeds with a wide range of medicinal uses. The roots and leaves of dandelion plants have long been used to make herbal remedies, tinctures and tonics to help cleanse the liver, improve digestion and purify the blood. Dandelions are packed with important nutrients, including calcium, potassium and a variety of vitamins. Dandelion root contains properties that increase the production of bile, which helps to eliminate toxins from the liver.

Dandelion root is available as a tea, tincture, supplement and powdered extract. You can also buy dried dandelion root, which can be prepared in a similar way to fresh coffee. As dandelion root is a powerful diuretic, you must drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. Dandelion root can also produce a mild laxative effect, making it ideal for flushing out your whole system.

6. Turmeric

Turmeric is a popular spice that gives curried dishes their striking yellow color. Turmeric is also commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a wide range of health conditions including coughs, colds, viruses, infections, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, high cholesterol levels, excess mucous, nasal congestion, and various skin complaints. Turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, as well as several health-enhancing nutrients including iron, copper, potassium, manganese, vitamin B6 and fiber. These powerful properties combine to improve liver function, protect and regenerate liver tissue, aid digestion, reduce digestive gas, reduce cholesterol, boost the immune system, improve circulation, and purify the blood.

Turmeric is also an effective aid for detoxing the liver. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have made it to this list! Curcumin, the very thing that gives turmeric its bright yellow color, is a phytochemical responsible for its detoxifying effects. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile, which helps to eliminate liver toxins and repair damaged liver cells. Liver detox is made more effective when turmeric is combined with ginger, which helps to boost circulation and reduce congestion.

Turmeric is available as a supplement, extract, or tea. To make turmeric tea, you need:
•2 tsp. fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated
•1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
•½ to ¾ tsp. powdered cinnamon
•1 pinch powdered black pepper
•½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
•1 tsp. pure raw honey or preferred sweetener
•¼ cup coconut milk or preferred milk

Boil some water and use it to fill a mug halfway. Add the turmeric and ginger and allow it to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, add the cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla extract, and honey and stir. Fill up the rest of the mug with coconut milk and stir. Now you have a tasty turmeric tea to cleanse your liver!

What makes this tea great is that many of ingredients aid in liver detoxification. Black pepper and coconut milk allow the body to better absorb the turmeric. Cinnamon is a known anti-inflammatory. And lastly, raw honey is rich in antioxidants that promote digestive health.

7. Lemon

Lemons are packed with vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, phosphorous, thiamin, riboflavin, copper, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. The juice, fruit, and peel of lemons are often used in natural remedies and herbal infusions due to their potent antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Lemon is commonly used to treat sore throats, tickly coughs, fever, colds, blocked sinuses, indigestion, constipation, tinnitus, and rheumatism. Lemon is also thought to help prevent kidney stones, high blood pressure, and chronic stomach problems.

Lemons contain powerful antioxidants, known as bioflavonoids, which help to cleanse the liver, purify the blood, and strengthen the immune system. Adding the juice of half a lemon to a cup of warm or cold water gives you a cleansing drink to help flush toxins from your liver and digestive system. Have a glass of this every day to keep your liver happy. Below is a more effective way of preparing lemon water for liver detoxification. For this you will need:

•1 pc. lemon, preferably organic
•¼ liter hot water
•¾ liter cold water

Juice the lemon in a large glass jar. Chop the remains of the lemon into quarters and add to the jar. Fill the jar with water and salt to taste then let it soak for 10 minutes. Leave the lemon slices to increase the potency of the drink, but be aware that the longer it soaks, the more bitter it will be. You can also add raw honey to sweeten the lemon water. Alternatively, you can buy lemon tea or dried lemons to make a refreshing drink.

8. Green Tea

Lauded as one of the world’s healthiest beverages by both nutritionists and research scientists, green tea is also helpful for detoxing the liver. Green tea originated in China and has long been known in Asia for its many health benefits. Green tea comes from the leaves of the plant called Camellia sinensis. The leaves of the plant are not fermented when being made into green tea which leaves the antioxidant chemicals called polyphenols completely intact. Because green tea is one of the least processed beverages, all of its amazing antioxidants called catechins are nearly poured right into your cup. These catechins which are crucial components when it comes to protecting cells from damage, are also helpful in assisting the liver with the detoxification process.

When you use green tea to detoxify your liver, it is recommended that you drink four to five cups a day. Some people don’t like the taste of green tea and if you still want to experience the powerful detoxification effects of the beverage, you can opt for capsules or liquid supplements. Something to keep in mind regarding green tea is that it does contain caffeine. If you are trying to detox your body from caffeine, you can try drinking decaffeinated green tea. Also, if you take the capsules or supplements, they contain caffeine. It is always best to get the capsules or supplements from a reputable source and you might want to check with your health care provider to ensure they are safe for you to take.

9. Avocados

Considered a super-food, avocados are rich in nutrients and help the body to produce a compound called glutathione which is necessary for the liver to get rid of harmful toxins in the body. If you have chronic liver disease, your body is probably low on glutathione. Eating avocados can help increase this important compound and help to heal the liver.

Avocados, which are technically a fruit since they grow on a tree and reproduce with a seed, may get a bad rap at times because of their high fat content. However, the fat contained in avocados is monounsaturated and is the healthy fat good for maintaining health cholesterol levels. Avocados also provide about 20 vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimum health. If you consume avocados, you are also helping your body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients. Avocados are a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin E and antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals in the liver which can further protect liver cells and keep this vital organ free from harm.

Avocados are eaten in a variety of ways and can replace foods that aren’t so good for you like mayonnaise, sour cream and butter. They taste great on sandwiches, in salads or topped with fresh salsa. Whether you mash them, whip them, slice or dice them, avocados are a great food to eat during the liver detoxification process. They are one food you will want to keep on eating after your detox to help protect and heal the liver.

10. Cabbage

Eating cabbage, which is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, contains glucosinolate that helps to stimulate the activation of important detoxifying enzymes known to flush out toxins from the liver. There are many foods in the cabbage family including Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower that can also be good when detoxing the liver. These foods contain sulfur which is known as a cleansing mineral. More importantly, cabbage and the other foods in its family are full of sulfur-containing amino acids. These amino acids, including taurine, methionine and cysteine are essential when it comes to clearing the pathways during a liver detox. If you are eating a lot of cabbage and other vegetables that contain sulfur, you may want to note that eating a lot of fruit might cancel out those benefits since eating fruit can interfere with sulfur metabolism.

While a variety of cabbage can be eaten during a liver detox, only green cabbage contains high amounts of chlorophyll which is known to be important for strengthening the liver. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable which also contains Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate and Omega 3 fatty acids which are all beneficial for optimum health. In order to get the best benefit, be sure to eat organic, raw cabbage. You can also drink raw cabbage juice as a way to detox your liver. If you juice the cabbage yourself, you will want to be sure to drink the juice right away or else it will lose pertinent vitamin content.

11. Walnuts

You might not think of eating nuts as a way to help detox your liver but they contain high density lipoproteins that help to protect against fatty liver disease. These lipoproteins also reduce levels of C-reactive protein that helps to lower inflammation in the liver. This is important because inflammation of the liver is often a precursor to liver damage.

Some nuts, especially walnuts, contain large amounts of the amino acid known as arginine which help to rid the liver of harmful toxins like ammonia. Walnuts also contain high amounts of glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids which are both necessary for effectively detoxifying the liver. One important thing to remember about eating walnuts during a detox is that you want to chew them well, turning them into liquid before swallowing. Because walnuts are a food with low levels of toxicity, extracts from the hulls of walnuts are often used in special formulas made to cleanse the liver from toxins. Protein, antioxidants and healthy unsaturated fats can also be found in walnuts and are all essential for liver health and function. Unsaturated fats are especially important as they help to protect the liver against fat accumulation and aid in building healthy cell membranes around liver cells.

Other nuts that can be healthy for the liver include Brazil nuts, pecans and almonds. Peanuts are usually not a good food when it comes to liver health. When eating nuts for health benefits, make sure to only eat them unsalted and in their rawest form.

12. Seaweed

If you think seaweed is strictly reserved for dieters or health nuts, then you will never look at this superfood the same way again. Not only is seaweed high in nutrients and low in calories, it also contains hardcore detox properties that cleanses the liver. In fact, a study from McGill University concluded that seaweed is an effective detox agent against radioactive chemicals like strontium. Seaweed, kelp, in particular, contains a high concentration of algin, which helps rid the body of radioactive particles in the body.

Of course, unless you live near a melted down nuclear power plant, seaweed’s radioactive detox properties is useless. But the goodness of seaweed doesn’t stop there. Seaweed is also helps flush out heavy metals like cadmium and lead in the body. Green seaweed is rich in chlorophyll, one of nature’s most potent detoxifier. Chlorophyll contains a special kind of fiber that binds and flushes out toxic chemicals from the body, especially unwanted substances in the liver. To round up, seaweed is the only food that contains the broadest range of minerals, around 10 or 20 times more than any vegetable.

But before you go and start hoarding seaweed from the local grocer, make sure you’re getting the highest quality seaweed from a reputable source so you can take full advantage of its detoxifying properties.

13. Onions

The liver is without a doubt one of the most abused organs in the body. The liver filters out all the unwanted substances in the body so if you’re serious about taking care of it, then you might want to start adding more onions to your diet. You see, apart from containing a long list of essential vitamins and minerals that protect the body from free radicals, onions also contains sulphur, a compound that not only purifies the liver from toxic chemicals and environmental toxins, but also helps flush out a wide range of poisons ranging from pesticides to alcohol.

Onions are also one of the best sources of anticancer compounds including phenolics and flavonoids. Research shows that shallots, yellow onion, and Northern red onions inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the body. Onions are believed to cut the risks of developing colon and liver cancer. It also contains a higher level of special antioxidants that protect the body from certain types of cancers. That said, not all onions offer the same level of anticancer and liver-detoxifying properties. Western Yellow onions contain 11 times more antioxidants than the Western White so it’s important to research which varieties offer the highest anticancer properties.

There are several ways to incorporate onions into your diet. Onions are quite versatile and can be a part of any meal. You can caramelize them in low to medium heat and add them to omelets, salads, sandwiches, and pretty much any vegetable ditch. Chopped raw onions can be combined with tomatoes, cucumber, and toasted pita bread to create a Mediterranean salad. Don’t forget to drizzle it with olive oil and lemon juice! You can also make an Italian salad by mixing sliced onions, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Finish it off by drizzling it with olive oil. Maximize the detoxifying properties of onions by using garlic-infused olive oils when preparing salads.

14. Artichoke

Another of nature’s heavy-duty liver detoxifier is artichoke. Artichoke is known to boost bile production in the liver. This in turn helps normalize health and digestive function and prevent the development of certain types of cancer.

Artichoke as a liver-friendly detoxifier is actually old news. In Europe, most doctors prescribe artichoke extracts to those suffering from liver-related diseases since the 18th century. Most holistic practitioners are also turning to artichoke to cleanse the liver from toxic chemicals.

Recent studies prove the benefits of artichoke on liver health. In 2010, a study featured in the Biological Trace Element Research links consumption of artichoke leaf extract with reduced fat and cholesterol levels in liver. An earlier study that appeared in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology shows that consuming artichoke extract before being exposed to liver-damaging toxins prevent injury to the liver. An Italian research published in Nutrition and Cancer revealed that artichoke extract demonstrated a capability to protect liver cells from damage, mainly due to their antioxidant effects. They also discovered that artichoke extract prevented the growth of cancerous cells in the liver.

Artichoke belongs to the milk thistle family. Apart from being a hardcore liver detoxifier, artichoke also helps stabilize blood sugar levels and is rich in phelonic acid compound known as cynarin. Cynarin is believed to be responsible for artichoke’s cholagogue and choleretic properties. Cholagogue is a substance that promotes the discharge of bile from the system while choleretic stimulates the liver’s bile production.

Cholagogue and choleretic are extremely important in the overall health of the liver. How? People suffering from liver problems tend to excrete inadequate amounts of bile and most times, the bile is not properly transported to the gallbladder. This causes an increased risk of liver damage. By adding more artichoke to your diet, you supply the body with helpful compounds that repairs, reinvigorate and detoxifies the liver.

15. Fennel and Fennel Seeds

Fennel for better liver health? You better believe it! Fennel and fennel seeds are not only high in essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, they are also used traditionally to detox the liver from harmful chemicals.

Fennel is used to treat a wide range of health problems ranging from a simple case of indigestion to chronic flatulence. It also helps dissolve kidney stones and neutralize uric acid in the tissues, making it a great herbal treatment for those suffering from gout or arthritis. This carminative herb helps aid in removing mucus and phlegm buildup in the lungs, and even removes mucus from the intestinal tract. It contains natural cleansing properties for the colon, liver, and gallbladder. It’s one hardworking superfood if we ever saw one!

Fennel seeds, on the other hand, have been used for decades to treat a wide range of liver diseases. In fact, fennel seeds are often taken as tea because it helps disengage any blockages in the liver, spleen, and biliary bladder. Fennel seeds are not only potent liver detoxifiers but they also dissolve kidney stones.

Fennels contain a multitude of phytonutrients that give it its antioxidant properties. Perhaps the most important of these when it comes to liver health is anethole. Anethole has been shown in many studies to prevent cancer and protect the liver from injury. The fennel bulb, which is rich in fiber, can decrease cholesterol levels and removes cancer-causing toxins from the colon, which reduces your risk for colon cancer.

Fennel and fennel tea are used to treat jaundice and reverse the ill effects of alcohol consumption on the liver. And to wrap up the amazing, wonderful nutritional value of fennel and fennel seeds, they prevent water retention and improve the body’s metabolic rate leading to… you guessed it – weight loss!

You can use all parts of the fennel including its base, stalk, and leaves to detoxify your liver. Here are some ideas on how to prepare it:

•Sauté fennel and onions and serve as a side dish
•Toss fennel with avocados and orange slices for a fresh salad
•Braise fennel and eat them with scallops
•Add slices of fennel into your sandwiches

Prepare plain yogurt with mint leaves and top with thin slices of fennel.

BTW - I recently re-connected with my heavy drinking, Hep C friend.  He is now 62 years old and a new Grandpa. He has quit drinking and been sober for that last two years, but still takes his supplements. 

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

GNC and Military Base Exchanges stop selling USPlabs products

GNC has ordered its 5,000 retail stores, including those located on military bases, to stop selling products made by USPlabs after the Dallas-based company’s executives were charged with allegedly lying to government regulators and the public about ingredients of at least two products.

GNC officials said Nov. 19 that while the criminal charges are not related to current products on the market, they were suspending sales of all products made by UPSlabs “in the best interest of our customers."

“While ... we have no reason to believe there are any health and safety issues with respect to any USPlabs products currently sold by GNC, it is in our best interest … to suspend the sale of the company’s products pending further review,” Michael Archbold, CEO of GNC, said in a news release.

After GNC made the announcement, the Marine Corps Exchange stopped selling a reformulated version of the workout booster Jack3d, according to a spokesman from the Marine Corps Non-Appropriated Funds Business and Support Services Division.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which carries the USPlabs workout supplement Jack3d Micro, is “evaluating the situation and will decide soon on whether the product will continue to be stocked," a spokeswoman said.

Navy Exchange spokeswoman Kristine Sturkie said USPlabs products were carried by GNC stores and not sold in the service's exchanges.

USPlabs and its top executives face criminal charges following a Justice Department investigation that alleges key ingredients in workout boosters such as Jack3d and OxyElite Pro are synthetic stimulants rather than natural ingredients as claimed.

An 11-count indictment handed down in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in mid-November charges USPlabs, S.K. Laboratory and five company executives with unlawful sale of dietary supplements, conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstructing an FDA proceeding, wire fraud and food mislabeling.

The supplements Jack3d and OxyElite Pro contained 1,3 dimethylamylamine, or DMAA, or other ingredients the company claimed were naturally derived from plants, including geraniums or bael, a fruit common in India.

But the Justice Department said the two companies conspired with Chinese manufacturers to create a paper trail claiming the ingredients were natural in an effort to ensure U.S. retailers would sell the products, while the substances actually were synthesized chemical compounds.

The Defense Department removed products containing DMAA, including Jack3d, from base stores and on-base GNCs in 2013 after the supplements were implicated in the deaths of at least two soldiers who suffered heart attacks during physical training.

A follow-on investigation found insufficient evidence to prove the supplements caused the deaths, but investigators still decided that the ingredient posed enough of a health risk to keep it off the shelves of military stores.

In 2012, the FDA told companies selling products containing DMAA to stop using the ingredient.

USPlabs voluntarily destroyed $8 million worth of Jack3d and OxyElite Pro after the FDA move, but then reformulated the products, which made their way back to store shelves.v According court documents, the reformulated OxyElite Pro contained aegeline, which the company claimed was a natural extract but investigators allege is also a synthetic stimulant.

The company also added another ingredient, labeled as cynanchum auriculatum root extract, to OxyElite Pro to promote weight loss.

When the new formula went on the market in October 2013, more than 50 residents of Hawaii, including some military family members, developed acute hepatitis and liver failure. At least one person died and three required liver transplants.

According to the Justice Department, four defendants were arrested Nov. 17 and two agreed to self-surrender.

Article from Military Times

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Metabolism - Are you Helping or Hurting Yours?

Good article from Eat This, Not That! titled "25 Things You Did Today That Ruined Your Metabolism" that gives your a checklist to ensure your are not disabling or degrading your metabolism which not only affects your immune system, but ability to control your weight. Twenty pounds or so that you don't need surely affects your joints, especially the knees, so take note!

Metabolism. It’s the set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms. It’s such a big concept that you might believe you’re at the mercy of it. Well, you are! It’s thermodynamics at work, after all. But there are a bunch of simple — even easy — things you can do to boost your metabolism and make your body run more efficiently. Make tomorrow a great day by learning from the common metabolism mistakes you probably made today.

1. You didn’t get a good night’s sleep If you're chronically sleep deprived, don’t be surprised if you gain a few pounds without eating a morsel of extra food. “A lack of sleep can cause several metabolic problems,” says nutritionist Seth Santoro. “It can cause you to burn fewer calories, lack appetite control and experience an increase in cortisol levels, which stores fat.” Lack of sufficient sleep — which experts say is 7 to 9 hours a night for most people — also leads to impaired glucose tolerance, a.k.a. your body's ability to utilize sugar for fuel. “We all have those less-than-adequate nights of sleep,” says nutritionist Lisa Jubilee. “But if it's a regular thing, you're better off lengthening your night's sleep than working out, if fat loss or weight maintenance is your goal.”

2. You started your day dehyrated For Jubilee, one of the best and cheapest ways to give your metabolism a jolt is to drink water (she suggests 20 to 32 ounces) shortly after waking. Why? During sleep, your body’s metabolic function slowed, and unless you woke up in the middle of the night to swig some water, it didn’t receive any fluids. Jubilee suggests completely rehydrating before stressing your body with any other food or drink. “My clients who have implemented this report less bloating, more energy and a smaller appetite,” she says. Her motto for getting your inner furnace stoked and ready for the day: “Rehydrate, then caffeinate!”

3. You drank too much caffeine Plenty of studies indicate that caffeine can boost your metabolism in the AM. But nutritionist Amy Shapiro says that guzzling coffee and other caffeinated drinks all day could actually work against you. Caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant. If you’re constantly consuming it, you may not eat much — or realize how hungry you really are — until you get home for dinner. “Not eating enough throughout the day can make your metabolism sluggish,” she says. “By the time you eat dinner, instead of immediately using that food for energy, your body is aggressively storing it as fat, just in case it will be deprived again.”

4. You sit too much Ideally, we sleep about eight hours for every 24. Most people spend another seven to ten hours sitting at their desk. That means most of us spend the overwhelming majority of our time sedentary. Our bodies weren't designed for this level of inactivity — most of humans’ evolutionary history involved being active, searching for food and fuel. Jubilee says that one way to burn more calories daily is to stand more and sit less. She cites a British study which found that standing at work burned 50 more calories per hour than sitting. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, consider this: If you stand for just three hours of your day, in one year you’d expend more than 30,000 extra calories — which amounts to about 8 lbs of fat! Another good office habit: Set a phone timer to remind you get up every hour and walk around, even for a few minutes, says Jubilee.

5. You didn’t eat organic “Hormones dictate how our body utilizes the energy we give it,” says Jubilee. “Between our reproductive, thyroid and growth hormones, appetite, insulin and hunger hormones — leptin and ghrelin — our bodies have to perform a tricky balancing act to keep us lean, energized and viable reproductive beings.” Those tasks have become much more difficult because of the hormone residues we consume via cage-raised foods. If you want to give your metabolism a leg up, Jubilee says, switch to organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised beef, eggs and dairy products, thereby avoiding those nasty hormones at mealtime.

6. You ate too many calories too late in the day “Not eating enough calories in a day is an easy way to slow your metabolism,” says Santoro. “It’s a common mistake people make.” When you don’t consume enough calories, your body switches into starvation mode, and your brain tells your body to store fat. This can increase cortisol levels, leading to belly-fat storage, which comes with health risks. “Eating a large dinner, especially too close to bedtime, can be detrimental to your metabolism,” says Shapiro. “It’s likely to throw off your inner clock and make you not hungry in the morning, which can ultimately lead to weight gain.” It’s at this point in the day that people are more likely to have an alcoholic beverage, which can bedevil your metabolism even more. “When a person drinks, acetate is formed,” says Santoro. “The body spends time trying to detoxify itself rather than burn calories.” He adds that drinking alcohol can impair protein synthesis and anabolic (muscle-building) hormones. Shapiro suggests that you prepare for busy or unpredictable days by packing healthy snacks to keep you from overeating or making unhealthful food choices.

7. You sprinkle food with sea salt Sea salt has cachet, especially when paired with chocolate or caramel. What it doesn’t have is iodine, a key element that gives your thyroid gland what it needs to get the job done. The thyroid gland helps to regulate your metabolism. If you don’t have enough iodine, it’s unable to produce thyroid hormones, and your metabolism can grind to a screeching halt. Most table salt is iodized; just a half-teaspoon will provide 100% of your RDA for iodine. You can also eat seaweed, cod, shrimp, and eggs, all of which are great sources of iodine.

8. Your home or workplace is too warm If you’re reading this, you’re almost certainly a mammal. It follows that you’re also an endotherm. This means that you can set heat free from within your own body to regulate your body temperature, rather than relying solely on the ambient temperature. It’s not just a neat trick common to both mammals and birds — it also burns calories. So turn down your thermostat and let your body do the heavy lifting. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that participants who slept in bedrooms cooled to 66°F for a month doubled the amount of brown adipose tissue they burned. Brown adipose tissue is a type of fat that burns calories rather than stores them. "Brown fat becomes more active in cooler temperatures to help keep us warm," explains Aaron Cypess, MD, an endocrinologist at the NIH. The take-home? Turning down your heat, sleeping in cooler temps, and spending time outdoors is going to help to stoke your metabolism, so chill out to get lean.

9. You've nixed carbs completely Although it’s true that eating too many refined carbs can get in the way of your health and weight-loss goals, eating too few can have a similar effect. That’s because when we exercise, our muscles need carbohydrates’ stores of glycogen for energy; if they don’t get enough, they can’t grow. That’s bad because the more muscle you can get and keep, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. But that’s not all. With your muscles starved of energy, you won’t be able to exercise as intensely as you otherwise would. That means fewer calories burned while active. Have a serving (about the size of once cupped palm) of oatmeal, sweet potato or brown rice prior to working out.

10. Your entire focus is on lifting weights, not lowering them It feels great to work out in an efficient amount of time, but when it comes to cranking your metabolism, haste makes waste. That’s because there are big metabolism-boosting benefits that come from the eccentric (a.k.a. lowering) aspects of these movements. Eccentric movements damage muscles more than the act of lifting them. They require more effort from your body to repair and demand more caloric energy to do so. Greek researchers demonstrated that women who performed one weekly strength workout that focused on eccentric movement increased their resting energy expenditure and fat burning by 5 and 9%, respectively, over a period of eight weeks.

11. You don't snack like a nut A review of research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly those contained in walnuts, could enhance the activity of certain genes that control fat burning, meaning that a nutty snacker may burn more calories throughout the day than one who grabs another type of lower cal snack. One to 1.5 ounces amounts to a small handful of walnuts. Have a snack of this size once daily for better burning.

12. You're not being intense Researchers in Australia found that when women performed a 20-minute HIIT workout three times per week, they shed nearly 6 pounds more than those who exercised for 40 minutes three times a week at a steady pace. Why? Researchers explain that while high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is of shorter duration than a regular cardio workout, it results in greater post-exercise oxygen consumption, meaning that you continue burning calories for a period of time afterward.

13. You're working out at the wrong time Northwestern University scientists have suggested that getting out and about in the early morning sunlight could help to regulate your circadian rhythm. That controls the many functions your body performs, including how much and well you sleep, how much you eat, and how much energy you burn. Try stepping outside for a jog or walk first thing in the a.m. Studies have shown that people who are up-and-at-’em first thing have a lower BMI compared to those who take their sunshine later in the day.

14. You’re eating inconsistent amounts at irregular times Ready to do some simple math? Figure out how many calories you need to achieve your desired weight and evenly divide that number by the 3, 4 or 5 meals and snacks you eat per day. Aim for each of your meals to be roughly this size. Why? Research from John Moores University in Liverpool found that women who fluctuated between eating low- and high-calorie meals were less happy with their bodies than those whose plates contained a similar number of calories from meal to meal. But it's not just a fluctuating size that can derail your weight-loss goals. A Hebrew University study from 2012 found that mice that were fed high-fat foods sporadically gained more weight than mice that ate a similar diet on a regular schedule. Experts suspect that eating at the same times every day trains the body to burn more calories between meals.

15. You’re consuming too many pesticides A Canadian study has found that chemicals in pesticides called organochlorines can mess with your body's energy-burning process and make it more difficult to lose weight. The researchers found that dieters who ate the most toxins experienced a greater-than-normal dip in metabolism and had a harder time losing weight. Dr. Whitney S. Goldner of the University of Nebraska Medical Center has noted that there is growing evidence for a link between exposure to pesticides and thyroid problems. Your move is to buy organic fruits and veggies whenever possible.

16. You’re consuming dietary toxins in processed foods Studies have shown that mice that have had sustained exposure to chemical preservatives develop significant abdominal weight gain, early insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Limiting your exposure to dietary toxins, sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed foods will help keep your metabolism revved.

17. You’re Drinking Water Containing Fluoride and Chlorine If your thyroid is dragging, your metabolism will slow down and may even become dysfunctional. Drinking fluoridated and chlorinated water supplies have been linked to dysfunction in metabolic processes — both chemicals interfere with normal thyroid function. Drink filtered water whenever possible.

18. You’re taking unnecessary meds We’ve come to rely on various medications to deal with lifestyle diseases. For many people, these medications do for them what bold lifestyle changes have not. For others, drugs for diabetes, cholesterols and high blood pressure have been taken too soon and for too long. That’s bad because in they can interfere with critical metabolic processes, which dramatically reduce the expenditure of energy. It’s well worth talking to your doctor about what can be achieved with non-pharmaceutical interventions, such diet, exercise and meditation.

19. You’re eating too little This one sounds counterintuitive, but bear with us. When you don’t sufficiently fuel your body, it can switch into starvation mode. In effect, your metabolic rate slows and your body clings to the remaining fuel. That’s because in our evolutionary past — before the advent of agriculture — food was often scarce and the body adapted to conserve fuel. Even if you’re cutting calories and creating a calorie deficit, your best move is to eat often and in a way that enables you to be active without getting exhausted.

20. You’re not eating enough protein Protein is a one-stop metabolism shop. It fills you up, making you less likely to forage for less metabolism-boosting food. It can rev post-meal calorie burn by as much as 35%, according to research, and it helps you grow muscle, which is like a calorie-incinerating body cloak that’s hard at work blasting calories while you’re at rest. It ought to be a component in every meal. Eat protein-rich foods such as fish, egg whites, lean meat or nuts daily.

21. You're not catching enough D Vitamin D. Wild salmon has plenty of it. In fact, you can get 90% of your recommended daily value (400 IU) in a 3.5-ounce serving of this delicious fish. Don’t have a taste for salmon? That’s alright, alright, alright: Go all McConaughey and take your shirt off. Exposing your full torso to the sun for at least 30 minutes will produce approximately 10,000 IU.

22. You’re not getting enough calcium Calcium plays a key role in regulating the way your body metabolizes. Specifically, it determines whether you burn calories or sport them as a tire. According to research conducted at the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, a diet that's high in calcium could help you burn more fat. Consume dairy, Greek yogurt and these calcium-rich foods.

23. You’re eating refined carbohydrates When a carb is complex, the body has to work a little harder to break it down. White bread, pasta and rice are broken down more easily because the complex carbohydrates have been taken out of them and their carb content has been refined. The result? A slower metabolism. Refined carbs don't offer much nutritional value in the first place, so you’re way better off choosing whole-wheat breads, pasta and brown rice.

24. You’re eating too many sweets Avoiding sugary foods is a great idea. Why? Sugar creates a spike in blood glucose levels and is very quickly absorbed into your system. Both of these mechanisms are putting the brakes on your metabolism. Replace candy, chocolate and ice cream with fresh fruit for weight loss. It will help to satisfy your sweet tooth without causing a spike in your glucose levels.

25. You're drinking too much alcohol Sad news, folks: When you have an alcoholic drink, you burn less fat. What fat you do burn, you burn more slowly than usual. That’s because the alcohol is used as fuel instead. Quaffing a couple of martinis can reduce your body's fat-burning ability by up to 73%! That’s a scientific finding that should leave you shaken and stirred.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The 9 Most Nutritious Foods You Can Eat Right Now

I always like these little articles that point out decent foods and snacks that can have a positive effect on your health. This article was written by Josh Axe and published on Yahoo! Health.

The 9 Most Nutritious Foods You Can Eat Right Now

The word “superfood” has gained popularity in recent years, as people are more in pursuit of optimal health and longevity than ever. Superfoods, described as nutritionally rich foods that provide solid overall health benefits, are characterized by having high levels of vitamins and minerals as well as other beneficial nutrients like antioxidants, protein, fiber, and healthy fats — all of which boost health and are thought to ward off illness. Additionally, superfoods are typically plant-based and notoriously versatile, meaning they can be consumed in a number of ways. And given that the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms that people who consume more fresh fruits and veggies are less likely to struggle with chronic disease, there are ever more reasons to start eating some popular superfoods.

But it’s not enough to grab just any superfood and plop it on your plate. Those that are in season provide even greater nutritional bang for your bite, as they are more likely to be produced locally — not picked well before their peak and subjected to chemical processing in order to withstand a lengthy transit to your local grocery store. And they’re tastier and easier on your wallet too.

So, now that the weather is cooler and the leaves are changing color, it’s time to take advantage of some of the best superfoods that are either in season now or that pair beautifully with autumnal dishes. Check them out below.

A cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is rapidly rising in the superfood ranks, both for its versatility and its broad range of health benefits. Rich in vitamins and minerals, this colorless cousin of broccoli provides an excellent source of fiber and omega-3s and brings with it countless health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it’s thought to have properties that combat or prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. Not a fan of cauliflower? You’re in luck! Its mild flavor means it can be combined with other foods and slipped into the diet in any number of ways, like in this macaroni and cheese.

In addition to making a delicious accompaniment to the standard Thanksgiving dinner, cranberries are a superfood that provide an impressive amount of health benefits. Most widely known for their role in fighting urinary tract infections, cranberries are also rich in antioxidants and play important roles in promoting heart health and, thanks to their high fiber content, digestive health.

Turmeric is thought to be highly effective as an anti-inflammatory agent, helping ease the pain of those who suffer from arthritis or other joint issues. But its reputation doesn’t stop there. In fact, benefit-rich turmeric has been found to help calm heartburn and nausea (though that could also be due to its anti-inflammatory values). Find it in pill form, or grab a jar from the spice aisle of your grocery store and sprinkle it into recipes to enjoy its benefits. The rich spice is delicious in all of fall’s savory soups and stews, or you can sip on this healing turmeric tea to stay warm on cool evenings.

When it comes to superfood lists, people tend to gravitate to more exotic offerings, and the humble apple rarely gets its due. But when it comes to all-around benefit, few foods are as nutritious as apples. Apples are a close runner-up to berries in antioxidant power, and their high fiber content helps heal digestion issues. That fiber also helps lower cholesterol, fight diabetes, and maintain healthy weight. The secret to reaping all of the apple’s health rewards is to eat the whole fruit — most of its nutrients are in the peel.

The new supernut on the block is the nutrition-loaded walnut, a tree nut that has countless health benefits. Its omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in maintaining heart health and aiding in the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. And walnuts are a jackpot source of fiber, protein, vitamin E, magnesium, folate, copper, and the ever-beneficial antioxidants.

Butternut squash
Fall is the season of the gourd, and for butternut squash fans, every autumn brings the welcome return of this delicious superfood. Butternut squash is orange in color, meaning it is naturally rich in carotenoids, which are known for their cancer-preventing properties as well as their role in promoting eye health. Additionally, butternut squash plays an important role in heart health, as it’s another plant-based source of omega-3s. Need ideas for how to prepare this super-versatile superfood? These recipes should keep you satisfied for a bit.

If you’re looking for an alternative to quinoa to satisfy your gluten-free needs, meet amaranth. A native crop of Peru, it’s cooked in a similar fashion to quinoa and can stand in for rice in most dishes. Amaranth is highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it is also high in protein, iron, phosphorus, and carotenoids, making it a versatile superfood that aids in digestion while also benefitting heart and bone health. As the weather cools, we typically reach for heavier, more filling meals. Amaranth is the perfect grain-free addition (it’s actually a seed) to fall’s comforting dishes.

Sweet potatoes
I don’t encourage people to eat a diet that’s high in potatoes — white potatoes, that is. But while standard russets are high in starch and a key contributor to weight gain when eaten is excess, sweet potatoes are the exact opposite. In addition to offering a lower glycemic load, sweet potatoes are full of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. That makes them great for weight loss, skin health, prostate health, and even preventing and fighting cancer.

Pumpkin seeds
After you finish carving the jack-o’-lantern for your front porch, make sure to hold on to those pumpkin seeds. Packed with magnesium, iron, protein, and zinc, pumpkin seeds are as tasty as they are nutritious. By saving them from the trash bin and incorporating them into your diet, you’ll maximize bone health and stabilize blood pressure.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Information on Blood Pressure

A new study about blood pressure will change the way doctors practice medicine. A single study will change the way I practice medicine, with guidelines from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health soon to follow, says Marc Siegel in an article written for Slate and posted on Business Insider. Marc Siegel, M.D., is a professor of medicine and medical director of Doctor Radio at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

It's easy to get confused by the overly dramatic daily news about health and medicine. One day coffee is great for you; the next day it interferes with sleep and leads to illness.

One day the plague is back; the next day it's Ebola or West Nile virus that is capturing attention. Healthcare stories ebb and flow as seen through the skewed eye of TV news.

But every now and then, a story comes along that literally changes the way I and other doctors practice medicine. It is difficult to overstate the importance of such a story.

One of the clues that we are in the medical-research big leagues is when a study is stopped early for dramatic, clear findings. That is what occurred this past week with the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or Sprint.

Another clue is when the study is prospective (studying patient outcomes looking forward rather than looking backward at past behavior), successfully divides participants into two distinct groups, and provides an important answer to a lifesaving health question.

In this case the question is: What is a healthy blood-pressure goal? Doctors and their patients have long wondered what the magic number is for people at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Convention as well as guidelines have always been to keep a patient's blood pressure below 140 millimeters of mercury systolic.

By systolic I mean that first jet of blood pressure that shoots into the elastic arteries when the heart pumps; it's the first number given of a pair when blood pressure is measured. The diastolic blood pressure, or the lower number, is a measurement of the pressure left in the arteries when the heart rests.

One-third of all Americans suffer from high blood pressure, and everyone has a loved one with high blood pressure, so this concern is relevant to the entire country. Just half of those who are diagnosed with high blood pressure have it under control. Now we are redefining what "under control" means.

The Sprint study looked at more than 9,000 patients in 30 medical centers around the country from 2010 to 2013. When blood pressure was lowered to below 120 systolic as opposed to 140 systolic, there was a 30% decrease in heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes as well as a 25% decrease in death.

The study included the elderly, with an average age of 68. Fortunately, even with aggressive blood-pressure management, side effects did not increase.

In my experience, fear of side effects such as dizziness, impotence, and fatigue keeps many high-blood-pressure sufferers from maximizing their treatment options. Targeted diet, exercise, and weight loss are good first-line approaches, but many people require medication as well.

Now that I know there is a dramatic difference between a systolic blood pressure of 140 and 120 in those I treat, I will be much more proactive in trying to persuade my patients to target the lower number.

A single study will change the way I practice medicine, with guidelines from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health soon to follow.

That's a pretty good day for a new health report in the media. It's also a solid reminder to me and other medical reporters not to hype the next diet or vitamin study. When a medical home run like this one comes along, I want to be taken seriously when I get excited.

MyAchingKnees comment: My blood pressure was always around 138/96 for the almost 30 years I would get routine checkups. I was routinely flagged for week long BP measurements and tracking. Eleven years ago I started taking high quality nutritinal supplements. My routine BP has always been around 122/82 since then. In fact, nurses taking my BP during vitals triage for medical and dental appointments always remark that I have good BP. Wasn't always that way. If people out there have high BP, I would suggest finding and taking a high quality nutritional supplement to see if they can obtain the same results.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

DMAA Warning for Workout Supplements

The Defense Department’s Human Performance Resource Center is warning troops that DMAA, an ingredient found in some workout supplements banned by federal regulators in 2013, remains widely available online.

Nearly 40 supplements containing 1,3 dimethlyamylamine, sometimes called “geranium extract,” can be purchased through online retailers, according to the center. Go to the list of supplements here:

Roughly a quarter of those products are made by Georgia-based Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, which has filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration, alleging it illegally seized products containing DMAA in 2013 and failed to take the legal steps required to restrict the substance.

The government contends that DMAA is an unapproved food additive, and because the FDA considers it unsafe, the agency acted legally in banning it and confiscating products containing the ingredient, since those products are considered “adulterated.”

While the suit makes its way through the judicial system — a judge in April denied the government’s motion to dismiss — some DMAA products remain available online.

"Many [products with DMAA] are still being produced (or produced again), and some are even new," HPRC officials stated in a news release. "That means it’s very important to read dietary supplement product labels carefully to make sure yours doesn’t contain this potentially dangerous ingredient."

Originally developed and sold as a nasal decongestant, DMAA is advertised as a fat-burner or body-sculpting product. It is known to elevate blood pressure and can cause health problems ranging from heart attacks to shortness of breath, the FDA says.

Before it sent warning letters requiring manufacturers to remove DMAA products from the market, the FDA had received 86 reports of illnesses or death associated with the substance.

However, these "adverse event reports” indicate only that a patient either developed symptoms or died after or while using the product — and does not necessarily mean the ingredient was responsible for the illness or injury.

The Defense Department removed DMAA products from military exchanges and on-base GNC stores out of concern it may have contributed to the deaths of at least two soldiers who suffered heart attacks during physical training.

After the deaths and several other incidents involving DMAA, defense officials launched a two-year review of the ingredient that concluded there was insufficient evidence to prove it caused the service members’ deaths.

But the authors of the review also agreed that the ingredient posed enough of a health risk to keep it off the shelves of military stores.

DMAA is banned by the World Doping Agency and its use is strongly discouraged among service members.

According to the HRPC website, the FDA's declaration of DMAA as illegal for use as a dietary supplement ingredient specifically means “service members should not use dietary supplement products that contain it.”

The families of the two troops who died, Pvt. Michael Sparling and Sgt. Demekia Cola, filed lawsuits against GNC and USPLabs, the manufacturer of Jack3d, OxyElite Pro and other products containing DMAA. A jury trial has been postponed in the Sparling case until 2016; the mother of Demekia Cola reached a settlement with USPLabs on July 13.

Muhammed Islam, CEO of Total Body Nutrition, marketers for 1,3 D Bomb, a product that hails itself as the “most potent 1,3 dimethylamylamine available,” said he is breaking no laws by selling a pure DMAA powder online, because "it is pure and not actually 'adulterating' any product."

He said that as with any substance that is ingested, it should be consumed with caution.

“If you consume a lot of anything, you can get sick. If you eat too much chicken, you would be sick,” Islam said. “I can see people in the military thinking, 'I’m in the military, I can handle it.' But it must be taken carefully."

But HPRC officials say troops should steer clear of DMAA altogether, since the FDA considers it illegal and "DoD follows federal policy with regard to the use and possession of substances and products considered illegal."

“Not only could it be dangerous to your health, it could also be dangerous to your military career,” HPRC officials wrote on their website. “Keep in mind, though, that pre-workout, weight-loss or other performance dietary supplements without DMAA also may not be safe for your health.”

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Friday, October 16, 2015

10 Foods You Love to Eat That Are Surprisingly Healthy

If nutritionists are to be believed, eating healthy isn’t that much of a challenge. All you need to do is deny yourself any sensations of pleasure, all the time, every day, until you’re whisked away by the sweet relief of death.

But maybe a diet of water, quinoa, and chronic dissatisfaction doesn’t sound all that exciting to you. In that case, here’s permission to start enjoying life again. These surprisingly healthy foods manage to taste good without cutting your life span short, and some are actually pretty good for you.

Dark chocolate
Augustus Gloop may have been on to something. While overindulging in chocolate isn’t the best idea ever, dark chocolate does appear to have antioxidant effects. It can also lower blood pressure, improve vascular function, and comfort your soul the night after a break-up.

Potatoes Potatoes won’t save your life if you’re frying them, covering them in cheese sauce, and giving fate the finger while eating them, but on their own, they’re a strong source of potassium.

Red wine
A glass or two of red wine guards against heart disease, thanks to antioxidants. On top of that, science has shown that abstaining from alcohol in general can actually lead to a shorter life span. By this point, it’s like, irresponsible not to be drinking the stuff.

Oysters offer an almost ludicrous amount of zinc, as well as vitamin D. And they are ludicrously delicious. They are the center of the world’s most ludicrously amazing Venn diagram.

Chicken wings
Chicken’s already a good source of protein. Chicken wings are required, by law (basically), to be consumed while watching sports. Throw some wings on the grill — maybe remove the skins if you want the healthiest option — and be a proud American.

Hey, good news, movie fans: a cup of air-popped popcorn contains 3.5g of fiber. That’s actually pretty good. Just know that all health benefits are lost when you order a barrel of the stuff, drench it in movie theater “I can absolutely believe it’s not butter,” and chow down on it while watching Michael Bay’s latest crime against humanity.

MyAchingKnees comment: Just don't eat the microwave popcorn. The bags are almost always lined with perfluorooctanoic acid which is a toxin and an carcinogen. Another toxin that can be found in many versions of microwave popcorn is diacetyl butter flavoring which as been linked to brain and lung health issues. Tertiary Butylhydroquinone is yet another toxin found in some microwave popcorns. This stuff, also called TBHQ has links to ADHD, increased allergies and asthma, dizziness and intestinal tract cancers.

Whole-wheat English muffin pizzas
English muffin pizzas are the best snack ever, and whole-wheat English muffins are high in fiber and low in cholesterol and completely free of trans fats and I can’t worry about proper grammar and syntax now because I’m gonna go make some.

Before I do that, just a heads up: according to Harvard, whole grains help to lower cholesterol, maintain steady blood sugar levels, and could even protect against some cancers. You just have to pay attention to be sure you get the real thing, since the labeling standards for whole-grain products need some more work.

Just make sure you use more beans than meat. That way you’ll get a good dose of fiber. And maybe don’t throw it on top of a hot dog.

Quality cheese – that is, organic and grass fed – is shockingly good for you, offering a hefty dose of vitamins, as well as omega-3 fats, and a whole bunch of other nutrients. Based on what we know about red wine, we can only assume people at wine and cheese events are essentially superheroes.

We’ve already established that alcohol isn’t always bad for you. And beer… well, there’s a good chance you like it. If you’re gonna indulge anyway, take comfort in the fact that 12oz of Guinness contains a mere 125 calories, not much more than a light beer. Those extra calories are definitely worth it.

MyAchingKnees comment: My suggestion - substitute the Guinness with Chimay. This is holy beer. Chimay is made at the Scourmont Abbey, a Trappist monastery, and therefore God wants you drink it.

Written by Thillist and published on Yahoo!

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

11 Serious Lack of Vitamin D Warning Signs did a good deed publishing these warning signs of Vitamin D deficiency, in their article "11 Serious Lack of Vitamin D Warning Signs". I have long thought that Vitamin D supplements are a great optimizer and I take between 3,000 and 5,000 IU each day, while the FDA recommends between 400 and 800 IU - but again, they work for the government. What this article doesn't address is the potential boost to your general immune system. I haven't been sick in over 11 years, while working in cold weather, around animals and all sorts of chemicals and toxins. Vitamin D is a keeper in my nutrient regimen.

Muscle Weakness Muscle weakness is usually caused by a Vitamin D deficiency. Muscles have Vitamin D receptors. They must have a constant supply of Vitamin D to function. If your body has a deficiency of Vitamin D, your muscles will have trouble functioning.

Bone Pain Shunning the sun and being lactose intolerant can leave you with a deficiency of Vitamin D. This can lead to bone pain, which can be difficult to distinguish from muscle or joint pain, but generally manifests as a deep, full pain that can't be isolated to an exact area.

Constant Respiratory Problems Studies show that Vitamin D may help defend against respiratory illness. This is especially true in children. If your child has severe asthma, you may want to increase their Vitamin D intake.

Sweaty Head Years ago, doctors used to ask new mothers if their newborns' heads were sweating more than normal. This is apparently a very early sign that a baby is Vitamin D deficient. If you're breastfeeding, you'll need to increase your sun exposure or consume more foods rich in Vitamin D.

Depression According to the Vitamin D Council, this essential nutrient helps your brain's neurotransmitters produce the fluid serotonin. This produces our feelings of happiness. Studies have linked low levels of Vitamin D with episodes of depression. This happens especially during the winter months, because of the lack of sun during that time of year.

Chronic Infections The Mayo Clinic has advised that Vitamin D is crucial to our body's health. It is a necessary vitamin in helping our body fight infections. If you notice you or your child is prone to getting infections, you might want to ask your doctor to give you a Vitamin D blood test.

Cardiovascular Disease Articles published by the National Institutes of Health have shown that deficiencies in Vitamin D can lead to congestive heart failure. Make sure your body maintains the proper amounts to guard against the risk. Home tests are available to check if you have a lack of Vitamin D.

Psoriasis Although psoriasis is not always caused by a lack of Vitamin D, it's used in treatment. The Mayo Clinic claims that if you have a lack of Vitamin D it will be harder for your body to defend itself against psoriasis.

Chronic Pain Studies have shown that low Vitamin D levels impact a person's chances of having chronic pain. People with darker skin are more prone to these effects, because they need more sun exposure to actually absorb any Vitamin D.

Tiredness Vitamin D is one of the necessary vitamins for your body to create energy. Without it you can end up feeling tired most of the day. This will make it hard for you to get around or even get to work. You should consult your doctor if you have constant feelings of tiredness.

Hypertension Harvard University conducted a study on women. The study showed that women with low levels of Vitamin D have a 67 percent increased risk of hypertension. If you suffer from anxiety, you may want to consider purchasing Vitamin D supplements and adding them to your daily routine.

Crankiness Vitamin D also affects the levels of serotonin in your brain, which is what impacts your mood. If you're feeling cranky, it might be because you're not producing enough serotonin!

Chronic Kidney Disease Kidneys are necessary to making the active form of Vitamin D for our bodies. Plus, as you get older, your kidneys are not as efficient at processing Vitamin D. Be sure to get some sun or take a supplement (and if you take a supplement, also take Vitamin K2 to activate the right proteins).

Reduced Endurance If you're an athlete and you're seeing your endurance decay for no apparent reason, it might be because you have low Vitamin D levels. Get enough Vitamin D to stay in your top performance level. You can obtain it in powder form to mix with your smoothies or protein shakes.

You're 50 or older If you're 50 or older, chances are you have a Vitamin D deficiency. The body simply doesn't produce as much Vitamin D as you get older, and so you should always make sure you're getting enough Vitamin D through other sources.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

15 Most Surprising Sources for Omega-3s — Ranked!

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids are likely one of the nutrients people don't get enough of. Lack of Omega 3's in the diet, or a larger than recommended ratio of Omega 6's to Omega 3s are thought to adversely affect cognitive function, joint pain and cholesterol levels. One of the things I tell parents with ADHD or ADD children is to try adding Omega 3's to the daily nutritional plan for their children and see if that has a positive affect.

This is from an Eat This, Not That! article.

Imagine if you could take a pill that prevented you from ever feeling fat, dumb or depressed. Oh, and imagine that same pill happened to protect against heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis, too. Not too shabby, right?

Well, omega-3 fatty acids can do all of that, and this life-saving fat comes as a natural ingredient in many of our healthiest (and most delicious) foods, especially salmon, which has more than 1,500 mg in a 3 ounce portion. But as for popping omega-3 pills? “Supplements just don’t cut it,” says Elizabeth Chew, a NIH official who conducted a recent study on omega-3 pills and found zero benefits, at least when it comes to the cognitive abilities of older folks.

So if you’re shelling money for fish oil tablets, consider this good news: You can stop swallowing those horse-pill sized gel caps and go back to eating real food—including burgers, cheese, and even pizza. The researchers at Eat This, Not That! magazine have identified some of the most unlikely, and most delicious, ways to get your 1,100 mg of daily omega-3s recommended by the National Institutes of Health (men should get 1,600 mg daily)—we call it The Ultimate Omega-3 Countdown! You won’t believe what’s #1.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that just any fish will be good for your health.

Omega-3 Superfood #15 Grass-fed Beef
Omega-3 Payoff: 160 mg per 6-ounce steak

Because they wander around in fields eating things like flax and purslane (about which you’ll read, below), grass-fed cows yield meat that contains about 4 times more omega-3s than grain-fed animals.

Omega-3 Superfood #14 Mustard Seed
Omega-3 Payoff: 230 mg per tablespoon

One tiny teaspoon of ground mustard provides 100 milligrams of omega-3s, plus serious fat-burning potential. Scientists at England’s Oxford Polytechnic Institute found that a teaspoon of the hot stuff was enough to boost the metabolism by up to 25% for several hours after eating. Researchers attribute the weight loss benefits to allyl isothiocyanates, compounds that give the mustard its characteristic flavor. You can use ground mustard seed as you would black pepper—put a dash on your salmon for a double dose of omega-3 goodness!

Omega-3 Superfood #13 Omega-3 Eggs
Omega-3 Payoff: 225 mg per egg

Eggs turn up on many of our “best lists” because they are chock full of protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and a fat-fighting nutrient called choline. Omega-3 enriched eggs are laid by hens that are fed flaxseeds, chia seeds, and fish oil, thereby automatically improving your cluck! Speaking of turning off fat genes, blast fat quickly green tea. In a recent study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4 to 5 cups of green tea each day with 25 minutes of exercise lost 2 pounds more than those who didn’t drink the tea. That’s why we made it part of our brand new weight-loss plan, The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Diet and Cleanse! Test panelists lost up to 10 pounds in just one week!

Omega-3 Superfood #12 Wild Rice
Omega-3 Payoff: 240 mg per ½ cup (uncooked)

Diet experts go ga-ga for brown rice, but it’s wild rice that tugs on our heartstrings as a weight loss wonder food. After all, the native American grain has nearly double the fiber and protein, and fewer calories than its arguably more popular cousin. Whole grains have a proven reputation as a weight-loss staple. In one study, Penn State researchers found dieters on a calorie-restricted diet who ate whole grains like rice lost significantly more belly fat than a group who consumed the equivalent number of calories from refined carbohydrates. Another grain high in omega-3s: kamut, which, along with a fruit that tastes like chocolate pudding—yes, chocolate pudding—is one of our 8 Stupendous Secret Superfoods That Burn Fat!

Omega-3 Superfood #11 Purslane
Omega-3 Payoff: 300 mg per ½ cup

What the heck is purslane? While not a common food in most of the U.S., this sour, slightly salty green is often used in Greek and Turkish cooking. You can find it at farmers’ markets in spring and summer, but the most likely place you’ll encounter it is growing in the cracks of your driveway. A weed to most, it was a regular part of Gandhi’s diet, and a mere half cup has more than 1,000 IUs of vitamin A. This might be the cheapest stealth health food in the world!

Omega-3 Superfood #10 Winter Squash
Omega-3 Payoff: 332 mg per cup (baked)

More squash = less squish. A cup of winter squash provides one-third the recommended daily intake of vitamin C — a nutrient researchers say is directly related to the body’s ability to burn through fat. In fact, one study by researchers from Arizona State University showed deficiencies of vitamin C were strongly correlated with increased body fat and waist measurements.

Omega-3 Superfood #9 Spinach
Omega-3 Payoff: 352 mg per half-cup (cooked)

At only 40 calories per cooked cup, spinach is also rich in vitamin E and two compounds called “betaine” and “choline” that work together to turn off fat storage genes. Recent research suggests compounds in the leaf membranes called thylakoids may also serve as a powerful appetite suppressant. Participants in the three-month study who drank a breakfast smoothie containing spinach thylakoids had fewer cravings and lost 5.5 pounds more than the placebo group.

Omega-3 Superfood #8 Fontina Cheese
Omega-3 Payoff: 448 mg per 2-ounce serving

Dairy has made a dietary comeback, with new research suggesting the high-fat products like cheese may help reduce the risk of obesity. Cheese-eaters lost more belly fat than a control group who took a calcium supplement, one study found. The group that nibbled cheese also exhibited increased levels of butyrate, a fatty acid found in the gut proven to improve fat metabolism. So enjoy a piece guilt-free and then maximize your fat burn with these sweet and salty 50 Best-Ever Snacks for Weight Loss!

Omega-3 Superfood #7 Red Lentils
Omega-3 Payoff: 480 mg per cup (raw)

Lentils are an inexpensive dietary pulse, touted by weight loss experts for their ability to boost fat metabolism and regulate appetites. Researchers say the slimming benefits can be attributed to resistant starch, a form of slow-digesting fiber that triggers the release of acetate, a molecule in the gut that signals the brain when it’s time to stop eating. In fact, people who ate a daily serving of lentils (about ¾ cup) felt an average 31 percent fuller compared to a control diet, a systematic review of clinical trials on legumes found.

Omega-3 Superfood #6 Anchovies
Omega-3 Payoff: 597 mg per 1 oz boneless

The debate over pizza toppings is settled. While salmon, tuna, halibut and other popular fish grab all the omega-3 glory, the humble anchovy is often forgotten about. But just a couple of slices of anchovy pizza get you more than halfway to your daily quota. The superfish is also rich in calcium and potassium (both essential weight-loss minerals) as well as vitamin A. If you’re adventurous, eat them with the bones still in: a 2015 study in Food Chemistry Journal found that the traditional way of eating anchovies yields 8 times as much calcium and twice as much iron as the cleaned-up, boneless option.

Omega-3 Superfood #5 Firm Tofu
Omega-3 Payoff: 814 mg per 3-ounce serving

It has the reputation of being bland and slimy, but like the high school nerd-turned-successful hottie, tofu is worth a second look. A solid curd made from mashed soybeans, it’s a terrific source of plant-based protein with proven weight-loss potential. One study published in the journal Nature showed dieters who followed a 12-week meal plan that included a soy-based protein replacement lost twice as much weight and saw greater reductions in cholesterol and belly fat than a control group whose equicaloric weight loss diet included protein from lean meats. And the omega-3 count is off the chart.

Omega-3 Superfood #4 Walnuts
Omega-3 Payoff: 2,500 mg per ¼ cup

Walnuts pack the most omega-3 punch of any nut or seed, and they’re also high in disease-fighting antioxidants. This combination, according to a recent study, is highly protective against heart disease. Walnuts help reduce blood pressure and decrease inflammation in the blood vessels during times of stress. Toss some into salads or eat a handful as an afternoon snack.

Omega-3 Superfood #3 Navy Beans
Omega-3 Payoff: 1 cup has 1,190 mg

Not only are beans a great source of belly-fat-fighting fiber, a single cup gives you nearly an entire day’s worth of omega-3s. Navy beans are packed with satiating protein, and brimming with vitamins and minerals. Studies show that navy beans in particular can help battle diabetes and obesity.

Omega-3 Superfood #2 Chia seeds
Omega-3 Payoff: 2,500 mg per tbsp

Yes, those same chia seeds of Chia Pet fame. These nutty-tasting seeds can be added to salads, smoothies, stir fry and more to give your meals an omega-3 boost, and just a tiny shake each morning on your cereal ensures you’re hitting your daily quota.

#1 Omega-3 Superfood is…. Flaxseed Oil!
Omega-3 Payoff: 7,300 mg per tbsp

While whole flaxseeds are high in omega-3s, their hard exteriors often resist digestion, meaning you don’t necessarily get the nutritional bang for your buck. Go for the ground version (also known as flax meal), or get nearly a week’s worth of the good stuff by drizzling a little of the oil onto your salad. Studies have found flax to be helpful for cardiovascular disease symptoms like hypertension, according to a recent study in the journal Hypertension. That’s why flaxseed oil fits in among our 8 Best Oils for Weight Loss.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Nutritional Science Isn’t Very Scientific

Nutritional Science Isn’t Very Scientific is the title of an article posted on

The author, Heather Tirado Gilligan, say's that the research behind dietary recommendations is a lot less certain than you think.
The potato industry recently scored a big victory, in what sounds at first like a familiar story of Big Ag winning out over public health. Eight years ago, over allegations of insufficient nutritional value, potatoes were excluded from a government program that helps pregnant women and young children improve their diets. The rationale was that aid recipients in the Women, Infants, and Children program already ate plenty of white potatoes, a widely consumed vegetable in the U.S.

But in February, potatoes were back on the menu after a fierce multiyear lobbying campaign by the National Potato Council. Nutritionist Marion Nestle and other progressive reformers called foul, denouncing the change. “Really?” Nestle scoffed. “I have a hard time believing that WIC recipients are suffering from lack of potatoes in their diets.” Several watchdog groups and the national WIC advocacy group opposed the change, too. “It’s disappointing that politics has trumped science,” Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told reporters.

But did science really lose? In this case, the potato industry had science on its side, the outcry from nutritionists notwithstanding. Despite the common belief that potatoes are nutritionally null, a report released in February by the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit, shows that white potatoes are an inexpensive source of potassium, fiber, and other needed nutrients, and one that people actually enjoy eating.

The takeaway from the potato controversy is not that lobbyists sometimes base their campaigns on real science. Rather it’s that the David-and-Goliath narrative of science versus Big Ag may be blinding us to another, even bigger problem: the fact that there is often very little solid science backing recommendations about what we eat.

Most of our devout beliefs about nutrition have not been subjected to a robust, experimental, controlled clinical trial, the type of study that shows cause and effect, which may be why Americans are pummeled with contradictory and confounding nutritional advice. Nutritional bad guys that have fallen from grace in the national consciousness—white potatoes, eggs, nuts, iceberg lettuce—have been redeemed years later. Onetime good guys, like margarine and pasta, have been recast as villains. Cholesterol is back in the probably-won’t-kill-you column after being shunned for 40 years, as of the latest nutritional advice from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in February. (That advice was still too timid, according to Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steve Nissen, who also wants the nutritional guidelines to admit our best evidence suggests fat isn’t bad for you either). And then there’s salt—don’t eat too little, says the newest research. You could die.

Amid the growing concern that nutritional advice to avoid high-fat food led to overconsumption of carbohydrates and caused spikes in illnesses like Type 2 diabetes, more and more scientists are starting to worry publicly that the basis of our dietary advice is scientific quicksand.

How potatoes were born again is a telling example of the uncertain foundation of nutrition. Potatoes had a bad rap in part because they are usually eaten deep fried, but even when they are not, they have a high glycemic index, according to prominent Harvard nutritionist Walter Willett. A high GI means that foods quickly turn into sugar (glucose) in the body and may eventually lead to heart disease and other illnesses, especially among diabetics, according to an analysis of data from the Nurse’s Health Study at Harvard, which Willett oversees. He placed potatoes in the same naughty group as candy in his influential 2005 book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating. One of his studies concluded that white potatoes are worse than soda, leading the L.A. Times to dub spuds public enemy No. 1 in 2011.

So how, just a few years later, did white potatoes return to the list of healthy foods? The IOM committee found a lack of evidence supporting claims that the tubers are unhealthy. WIC only pays for fresh produce, or frozen or canned fruits and veggies with nothing added, so there is no worry women in the program are using their vouchers for potato chips. No one contests the positives of potatoes—much needed micronutrients and fiber—and there isn’t enough proof, they found, that the GI is important to health. So white potatoes got the green light.

Willett calls the IOM potato report “myopic,” because other vegetables have the same needed nutrients as potatoes without the possible dangers of high GI foods that his studies have shown. And because micronutrient deficiency isn’t our biggest dietary problem, Willett told me in a recent email exchange, “obesity is likely to be of greater concern.” In other words, why take the risk on a possible downside to eating potatoes when you don’t need to?

Many nutritional studies are observational studies, including massive ones like the Nurses’ Health Study. Researchers like Willett try to suss out how changes in diet affect health by looking at associations between what people report they eat and how long they live. When many observational studies reach the same conclusions, Willett says, there is enough evidence to support dietary recommendations. Even though they only show correlation, not cause and effect, observational studies direct what we eat.

Apart from their inability to determine cause and effect, there’s another problem with observational studies: The data they’re based on—surveys where people report what they ate the day (or week) before—are notoriously unreliable. Researchers have long known that people (even nurses) misreport, intentionally and unintentionally, what they eat. Scientists politely call this “recall bias.”

The coupling of observational studies and self-reported data leads some observers to the conclusion that we know neither how Americans do eat nor how they should eat. A recent PLOS One article even suggests that several national studies use data that is so wildly off base that the self-reported caloric intake is “incompatible with survival.” If people had eaten as little as they reported, in other words, they would be starving.

Peter Attia, a medical researcher and doctor, started questioning the basis of dietary guidelines when he saw that following them didn’t work for his patients. They didn’t lose weight, even when they virtuously stuck with their diets. When he took a look at the research supporting the advice he was giving to his patients, he saw shoddy science. Attia estimates that 16,000 nutritional studies are published each year, but the majority of them are deeply flawed: either poorly controlled clinical trials, observational studies, or animal studies. “Those studies wouldn’t pass muster in another field,” he told me.

Attia co-founded the nonprofit Nutrition Science Initiative. NuSI has about $40 million from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to support clinical trials in nutrition rigorous enough to tell us what to eat. Its goal is to answer one fundamental question about how we should eat: Are low-fat or low-carb diets better for health?

The NuSI projects are not the first clinical trials in nutrition, and Willett pointed out to me that previous big and expensive trials have failed because people don’t follow their randomly assigned diet—and that is one key reason that the field has depended so heavily on observational studies. NuSI-funded trials try to correct for this problem: In one of the studies, subjects are isolated in a clinical residence for eight weeks at a time and every morsel of food they eat is controlled. In another, 150 overweight or obese subjects, all college students, faculty, and staff, eat every meal in a special dining hall. In the third study, participants aren’t isolated but are assigned to either a low-fat or low-carb diet and record what they’ve eaten immediately after they eat to sidestep recall bias. In two or three years, Attia estimates, results will be available.

Even if the participants in the NuSI studies do follow their diets perfectly, and even if researchers establish whether low-fat or low-carb is better, that won’t necessarily establish whether we should eat more or less of individual foods. What kind of carbs are good for you, and should potatoes specifically be avoided? Which vegetables should you be eating more of? It would take hundreds of clinical trials to come up with solid advice about which foods to eat and which to avoid—especially since genetic variations mean that different people have different nutritional needs.

In the meantime, should dietary recommendations end until we have solid clinical trials to show how to navigate our bewildering array of food choices? Should the government stop creating random purchasing restrictions for people who need help getting food on the table? One interesting bit of advice came in the many discussions following the IOM’s recent reversal on cholesterol—cardiologist Steve Nissen suggested that any recommendations come with a side of brutal honesty. “We are all guessing,” he said. “And we have to be more humble about telling people what we know and what we don’t know.”

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