Which Supplements Are Good For Your Heart?

How Should You Interpret This Study? 

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

strong heartFebruary is Heart Health month. So, it is fitting that we ask, “What is the status of heart health in this country?” The American Heart Association just published an update of heart health statistics through 2019 (CW Tsao et al, Circulation, 145: e153-e639, 2022). And the statistics aren’t encouraging. [Note: The American Heart Association only reported statistics through 2019 because the COVID-19 pandemic significantly skewed the statistics in 2020 and 2021].

The Good News is that between 2009 and 2019:

  • All heart disease deaths have decreased by 25%.
  • Heart attack deaths have decreased by 6.6%.
  • Stroke deaths have decreased by 6%.

The Bad News is that:

  • Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in this country.
  • Someone dies from a heart attack every 40 seconds.
  • Someone dies from a stroke every 3 minutes.

Diet, exercise, and weight control play a major role in reducing the risk of heart disease. Best of all, they have no side effects. They represent a risk-free approach that each of us can control.

But is there something else? Could supplements play a role? Are supplements hype or hope for a healthy heart?

All the Dr. Strangeloves in the nutrition space have their favorite heart health supplements. They claim their supplements will single-handedly abolish heart disease (and help you leap tall buildings in a single bound).

On the other hand, many doctors will tell you these supplements are a waste of money. They don’t work. They just drain your wallet.

It’s so confusing. Who should you believe? Fortunately, a recent study (P An et al, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 80: 2269-2285, 2022) has separated the hype from the hope and tells us which “heart-healthy” supplements work, and which don’t.

How Was This Study Done?

Clinical StudyThis was a major clinical study carried out by researchers from the China Agricultural University and Brown University in the US. It was a meta-analysis, which means it combined the data from many published clinical trials.

The investigators searched three major databases of clinical trials to identify:

  • 884 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical studies…
  • Of 27 types of micronutrients…
  • With a total of 883,627 patients…
  • Looking at the effectiveness of micronutrient supplementation lasting an average of 3 years on either…
    • Cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides…or…
    • Cardiovascular outcomes such as coronary heart disease (CHD), heart attacks, strokes, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all causes.

[Note: Coronary heart disease (CHD) refers to build up of plaque in the coronary arteries (the arteries leading to the heart). It is often referred to as heart disease and can lead to heart attacks (myocardial infarction). Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a more inclusive term that includes coronary heart disease, stroke, congenital heart defects, and peripheral artery disease.]

The investigators also included an analysis of the quality of the data in each of the clinical studies and rated the evidence of each of their findings as high quality, moderate quality, or low quality.

Which Supplements Are Good For Your Heart?

The top 3 heart-healthy supplements in this study were:

Omega-3s And Heart DiseaseOmega-3 Fatty Acids:

  • Increased HDL cholesterol and decreased triglycerides, both favorable risk factors for heart health.
  • Deceased risk of heart attacks by 15%, all CHD events by 14%, and CVD deaths by 7% (see definitions of CHD and CVD above).
  • The median dose of omega-3 fatty acids in these studies was 1.8 g/day.
  • The evidence was moderate quality for all these findings.

Folic Acid:

  • Decreased LDL cholesterol (moderate quality evidence) and decreased blood pressure and total cholesterol (low quality evidence).
  • Decreased stroke risk by 16% (moderate quality evidence).

Coenzyme Q10:

  • Decreased triglycerides (high quality evidence) and reduced blood pressure (low quality evidence).
  • Decreased the risk of all-cause mortality by 32% (moderate quality evidence).
  • These studies were performed with patients diagnosed with heart failure. Coenzyme Q10 is often recommended for these patients, so the studies were likely performed to test the efficacy of this treatment.

There were three micronutrients (vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin D) that did not appear to affect heart disease outcomes.

Finally, as reported in previous studies, β-carotene increased the risk of stroke, CVD mortality, and all-cause mortality.

In terms of the question I asked at the beginning of this article, this study concluded that:

  • Omega-3, folic acid, and coenzyme Q10 supplements represent hope for a healthy heart.
  • Vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin D supplements represent hype for a healthy heart.
  • β-carotene supplements represent danger for a healthy heart.

But these conclusions just scratch the surface. To put them into perspective we need to dig a bit deeper.

How Should You Interpret This Study?

Question MarkIn evaluating the significance of these findings there are two things to keep in mind.

#1: This study is a meta-analysis and meta-analyses have both strengths and weaknesses.

The strength of meta-analyses is that by combining multiple clinical studies they can end up with a database containing 100s of thousands of subjects. This allows them to do two things:

  • It allows the meta-analysis to detect statistically significant effects that might be too small to detect in an individual study.
  • It allows the meta-analysis to detect the average effect of all the clinical studies it includes.

The weakness of meta-analyses is that the design of individual studies included in the analysis varies greatly. The individual studies vary in things like dose, duration, type of subjects included in the study, and much more.

This is why this study rated most of their conclusions as backed by moderate- or low-quality evidence. [Note: The fact that the authors evaluated the quality of evidence is a strength of this study. Most meta-analyses just report their conclusions without telling you how strong the evidence behind those conclusions is.]

#2: Most clinical studies of supplements (including those included in this meta-analysis) have two significant weaknesses.

  • Most studies do not measure the nutritional status of their subjects prior to adding the supplement. If their nutritional status for a particular nutrient was already optimal, there is no reason to expect more of that nutrient to provide any benefit.
  • Most studies measure the effect of a supplement on a cross-section of the population without asking who would be most likely to benefit.

You would almost never design a clinical study that way if you were evaluating the effectiveness of a potential drug. So, why would you design clinical studies of supplements that way?

With these considerations in mind, let me provide some perspective on the conclusions of this study.

Coenzyme Q10:

This meta-analysis found that coenzyme Q10 significantly reduced all-cause mortality in patients with heart failure. This is consistent with multiple clinical studies and a recent Cochrane Collaboration review.

Does coenzyme Q10 have any heart health benefits for people without congestive heart failure? There is no direct evidence that it does, but let me offer an analogy with statin drugs.

Statin drugs are very effective at reducing heart attacks in high-risk patients. But they have no detectable effect on heart attacks in low-risk patients. However, this has not stopped the medical profession from recommending statins for millions of low-risk patients. The rationale is that if they are so clearly beneficial in high-risk patients, they are “probably” beneficial in low-risk patients.

I would argue a similar rationale should apply to supplements like coenzyme Q10.

Omega-3s:

This study found that omega-3 reduced both heart attacks and the risk of dying from heart disease. Most previous meta-analyses of omega-3s and heart disease have come to the same conclusion. However, some meta-analyses have failed to find any heart health benefits of omega-3s. Unfortunately, this has allowed both proponents and opponents of omega-3 use for heart health to quote studies supporting their viewpoint.

However, there is one meta-analysis that stands out from all the others. A group of 17 scientists from across the globe collaborated in developing a “best practices” experimental design protocol for assessing the effect of omega-3 supplementation on heart health. They conducted their clinical studies independently, and when their data (from 42,000 subjects) were pooled, the results showed that omega-3 supplementation decreased:

  • Premature death from all causes by 16%.
  • Premature death from heart disease by 19%.
  • Premature death from cancer by 15%.
  • Premature death from causes other than heart disease and cancer by 18%.

This study eliminates the limitations of previous meta-analyses. That makes it much stronger than the other meta-analyses. And these results are consistent with the current meta-analysis.

Omega-3s have long been recognized as essential nutrients. It is past time to set Daily Value (DV) recommendations for omega-3s. Based on the recommendations of other experts in the field, I think the DV should be set at 500-1,000 mg/day. I take more than that, but this would represent a good minimum recommendation for heart health.

folic acidFolic acid:

As with omega-3s, this meta-analysis reported a positive effect of folic acid on heart health. But many other studies have come up empty. Why is that?

It may be because, between food fortification and multivitamin use, many Americans already have sufficient blood levels of folic acid. For example, one study reported that 70% of the subjects in their study had optimal levels of folates in their blood. And that study also reported:

  • Subjects with adequate levels of folates in their blood received no additional benefit from folic acid supplementation.
  • However, for subjects with inadequate blood folate levels, folic acid supplementation decreased their risk of heart disease by ~15%.

We see this pattern over and over in supplement studies. Supplement opponents interpret these studies as showing that supplements are worthless. But a better interpretation is that supplements benefit those who need them.

The problem is that we don’t know our blood levels of essential nutrients. We don’t know which nutrients we need, and which we don’t. That’s why I like to think of supplements as “insurance” against the effects of an imperfect diet.

Vitamins E and D:

The situation with vitamins E and D is similar. This meta-analysis found no heart health benefit of either vitamin E or D. That is because the clinical studies included in the meta-analysis asked whether vitamin E or vitamin D improved heart health for everyone in the study.

Previous studies focusing on patients with low blood levels of these nutrients and/or at high risk of heart disease have shown some benefits of both vitamins at reducing heart disease risk.

So, for folic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin D (and possibly vitamin C) the take-home message should be:

  • Ignore all the Dr. Strangeloves telling you that these vitamins are “magic bullets” that will dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Ignore the naysayers who tell you they are worthless.
  • Use supplementation wisely to make sure you have the recommended intake of these and other essential nutrients.

β-carotene:

This meta-analysis reported that β-carotene increased the risk of heart disease. This is not a new finding. Multiple previous studies have come to the same conclusion.

And we know why this is. There are many naturally occurring carotenoids, and they each have unique heart health benefits. A high dose β-carotene supplement interferes with the absorption of the other carotenoids. You are creating a deficiency of other heart-healthy carotenoids.

If you are not getting lots of colorful fruits and vegetables from your diet, my recommendation is to choose a supplement with all the naturally occurring carotenoids in balance – not a pure β-carotene supplement.

The Bottom Line 

The Dr. Strangeloves in the nutrition space all have their favorite heart health supplements. They claim their supplements will single-handedly abolish heart disease (and help you leap tall buildings in a single bound).

On the other hand, many doctors will tell you these supplements are a waste of money. They don’t work. They just drain your wallet.

It’s so confusing. Who should you believe? Fortunately, a recent study has separated the hype from the hope and tells us which “heart-healthy” supplements work, and which don’t.

This study was a meta-analysis of 884 clinical studies with 883,627 participants. It reported:

  • Omega-3 supplementation deceased risk of heart attacks by 15% and all cardiovascular deaths by 7%.
  • Folic acid supplementation decreased stroke risk by 16%.
  • Coenzyme Q10 supplementation decreased the risk of all-cause mortality in patients with heart failure by 32%.
  • Vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D did not appear to affect heart disease outcomes.
  • β-carotene increased the risk of stroke, CVD mortality, and all-cause mortality.

For more details on this study and what it means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Is Fast Food Fat Food?

Fat Metabolism Simplified 

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

If you are like most Americans, you have vowed to lose weight and/or gain health in 2023. But how do you do that? There are hundreds of diets to choose from. And each diet has its “story” – a mixture of pseudo-science and testimonials – designed to convince you to try it.

Forget the pseudo-science. Forget the testimonials. Instead, focus on the one thing these diets have in common. They are all whole food diets. They all eliminate sodas, fast foods, and highly processed convenience foods.

In fact, that may be the simplest thing you can do to lose weight and become healthier. Many experts say that any time you eliminate sodas, fast foods, and convenience foods you will lose weight. If that statement is true, it could explain the American obesity epidemic. Between 1977 and 2017, a span of just 40 years, fast food consumption:

  • Increased from 6% to 35% (a 6-fold increase) in the 40-65 age group, and…
  • 11% to 46% (a 4-fold increase) in the 12-39 age group.

But is it true? There are certainly reasons to think it might be:

  • Fast foods are high in fat, sugar, and calories and are low in fiber – all of which are associated with obesity.
  • Big Food Inc has researched the ideal combination of taste, mouth feel, and effect on blood sugar to create an addiction to fast food.

However, the studies linking fast food consumption to obesity have been flawed.

  • People who consume fast foods tend to exercise less and have a poorer diet, even when they are eating at home. Previous studies have not distinguished between fast food consumption and other things (diet, exercise, lifestyle) that are also linked to obesity.
  • Previous studies have often only assessed diet and other lifestyle factors at the beginning or end of the study. There is no way of knowing whether these values are typical for the entire timespan of the study.
  • Previous studies have only shown associations, not cause and effect.

The current study (AO Odegaard et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 116: 255-262, 2022) was designed to eliminate many of the flaws in previous studies.

Fat Metabolism Simplified

You have probably heard that belly fat increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers. This study looked at the effect of fast foods on belly fat, muscle fat, and fatty liver (liver fat).

However, belly fat is both simple and complicated:

  • It is simple in that it is easy to see. We talk about it as an “apple shape” and we measure it in waste circumference.
  • It is complicated because, anatomically, there are several subtypes of belly fat, and these authors chose to examine the effect of fast foods on each subtype.
  • However, the effect of fast foods on each subtype of belly fat, and the metabolic effects of each subtype, are similar. So, in the interest of simplicity, I will combine the subtypes and simply refer to the effect of fast foods on belly fat.

With that in mind, here is all you need to know about biology and metabolism of fat.

In addition to fat accumulation in the abdomen (belly fat), this study also looked fat accumulation in muscle (which I will refer to as muscle fat) and liver (which I will refer to as liver fat).

All three types of fat contribute to metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) characterized by:

  • Insulin resistance, which leads to an elevation of both glucose and insulin.
  • High LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol).
  • High triglycerides.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Inflammation

These metabolic effects increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, inflammatory diseases, and some cancers.

In addition, liver fat can lead to non-alcoholic liver disease, fibrosis of the liver, and cirrhosis of the liver.

How Was This Study Done?

clinical studyThis study recruited 5115 participants from the Coronary Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. This study recruited young adults (average age of 25) in 1985-1986 and followed them for 25 years. The participants were 57% female and 53% white.

As stated above, this study looked at the effect of fast foods on belly fat, muscle fat, and fatty liver (liver fat).

This study had numerous strengths:

  1. Unlike many other studies, variables like diet, fast food intake, and lifestyle were measured at multiple times during the study.
    • All participants entered treatment centers for physical exams, bloodwork, and lifestyle questionnaires at entry into the study (year 0) and again at years 2, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, and 25.
    • On years 0, 7, 10, 15, 20, and 25 the questionnaires included the question, “How many times in a week or month do you eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner out in a place such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Pizza Hut, or Kentucky Fried Chicken?” This question was used to calculate the number of times per week that participants ate fast food meals.
    • On years 0, 7, and 10 the quality of the non-fast-food portion of their diet was assessed by asking the participants to complete a comprehensive questionnaire about their typical intake of foods over the past month.
      • Diet quality was calculated using something called an alternative Mediterranean diet score because this calculation excludes foods commonly consumed at fast food restaurants. Thus, this calculation specifically measures the quality of the non-fast-food portion of their diet.
    • Each of these variables was averaged over the entire timespan of the study and trends (either an increase or decrease over time) were noted.
    • The outcomes of the study (belly fat, muscle fat, and liver fat) were measured at the end of the study (year 25) using CT imaging techniques.

2) The authors identified other factors that may have caused fat accumulation and corrected for them. For example:

    • Participants with the highest fast food consumption had lower educational level, lower income, poorer non-fast-food diet quality, lower physical activity, lower alcohol intake, higher caloric intake, and were more likely to be male and black.
    • Consequently, the data comparing fast food intake with fat accumulation were corrected for age, sex, race, education, income, smoking, alcohol, diet quality, caloric intake, and physical activity.

Is Fast Food Fat Food?

Fast food intake was equally divided into quintiles ranging from “Never to once a month” to “≥ 3 times per week”. When participants with the highest fast food intake over the past 25 years were compared to those with the lowest:

  • Their belly fat was higher by 48%.
  • Their muscle fat was higher by 27%
  • Their liver fat was 5-fold higher.
  • Their waist circumference (another measure of belly fat) was 11% (4 inches) more.
  • Their BMI (a measure of obesity) was 15% higher.

The authors concluded, “The results of this analysis robustly demonstrate that middle-aged adults who ate fast food more frequently over the past 25 years have significantly higher odds of MAFLD [fatty liver disease] and IAAT [belly fat]…aligned with poorer current and future cardiometabolic health [heart disease and diabetes] and chronic disease risk.”

What Does This Study Mean For You?

Several previous studies have shown that fast food consumption leads to fat accumulation and/or obesity. However, this is perhaps the best designed study on the effect of fast foods on fat accumulation and obesity to date. This is because:

  • It measured fast food consumption, non-fast-food diet quality, exercise, and many other lifestyle factors at multiple times during the 25-year study. That way we can be assured we are looking at fast food consumption and other lifestyle choices over the entire 25-year timespan of the study, not just at the beginning or end of the study.
  • The authors corrected the data for other lifestyle factors known to influence fat accumulation and obesity. Statistical corrections are never perfect, but these authors did their best to make sure the study only measured the effects of fast food consumption on fat accumulation.

Of course, this kind of study shows associations. It does not prove cause and effect. However, since 25-year double blind, placebo-controlled studies are not possible, this is perhaps the best study we may ever have.

That brings me back to your New Year resolutions. If you are like most Americans, you have probably resolved to lose weight and get healthier in past years – only to end the year fatter and less healthy than you started it.

You have probably tried dozens of diets. They worked for a while, but they were difficult to follow long term, and eventually you abandoned them.

My suggestion this year is to forget the crazy diets. Just go for a simple change. Eliminate sodas, fast foods, and convenience foods from your diet. You will lose weight. And you will be healthier. Guaranteed.

Of course, it’s not that simple. Remember that Big Food Inc has designed these foods to be addictive. Unless you have an iron will, you probably won’t be able to go cold turkey.

You may need a gradual approach. Replace sodas, fast and convenience foods one at a time. Find healthier substitutes for each fast food you replace. Then explore more convenient ways to eat healthy. It will be a journey. But the end results will be worth it.

The Bottom Line 

If you are like most Americans, you have vowed to lose weight and/or gain health in 2023. But how do you do that? There are hundreds of diets to choose from. And each diet has its “story” – a mixture of pseudo-science and testimonials – designed to convince you to try it.

Forget the pseudo-science. Forget the testimonials. Instead, focus on the one thing these diets have in common. They are all whole food diets. They all eliminate sodas, fast foods, and highly processed convenience foods.

Many studies have implicated sodas, fast and convenience foods in obesity and fat accumulation in our bodies. But these studies have all had their flaws.

A recent study looked at the association between fast food intake and 3 kinds of fat (belly fat, muscle fat, liver fat) over 25 years. All 3 kinds of fat are highly associated with metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) and several chronic diseases. More importantly, this study was designed to eliminate many of the flaws in previous studies.

When participants with the highest fast food intake over the past 25 years were compared to those with the lowest:

  • Their belly fat was higher by 48%.
  • Their muscle fat was higher by 27%.
  • Their liver fat was 5-fold higher.
  • Their waist circumference (another measure of belly fat) was 11% (4 inches) more.
  • Their BMI (a measure of obesity) was 15% higher.

The authors concluded, “The results of this analysis robustly demonstrate that middle-aged adults who ate fast food more frequently over the past 25 years have significantly higher odds of MAFLD [fatty liver disease] and IAAT [belly fat]…aligned with poorer current and future cardiometabolic health [heart disease and diabetes] and chronic disease risk.”

Simply put, the best thing you can do for your weight and your health this year is to eliminate sodas, fast foods, and convenience foods from your diet. You will lose weight. And you will be healthier. Guaranteed.

For more details on this study, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

 

Walking Your Way To Health

How Much Should You Walk? 

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

Overweight People ExercisingThe new year is almost here. If you are like millions of Americans, you may already be making plans to join a gym, get a personal trainer, or join a spin class.

The problem is these are all expensive options. And a good portion of that money is wasted. To put it into perspective, let’s look at some statistics

  • Around 6 million Americans buy gym memberships every January.
  • 67% of those memberships are never used.
  • For those memberships used in January, another 50% are not in use 6 months later.
  • Americans spend about 1.6 billion dollars on unused gym memberships every year.
  • And that doesn’t include those gym memberships that are only occasionally used.

If you want to get fit and healthy in the new year, perhaps you should consider a less expensive option – like walking. Your only investments are a good pair of walking shoes and a device that keeps track of the number of steps you take (eg, Fitbit, smart watch, or smart phone).

You still may give up on your New Year’s goal of getting fitter at some point. But you won’t have wasted so much money.

Of course, you probably have some questions about the benefits of walking, such as:

  1. Is walking enough to significantly improve my fitness and health?

2) How far (how many steps) should I walk?

3) How fast should I walk?

Fortunately, two recent studies (B del Pozo-Cruz et al, JAMA Internal Medicine, 182: 1139-1148, 2022; J del Pozo-Cruz et al, Diabetes Care, 45: 2156-2158, 2022) have answered all three questions.

How Were These Studies Done?

clinical studyThe first study (B del Pozo-Cruz et al, JAMA Internal Medicine, 182: 1139-1148, 2022) followed 78,500 participants (average age 61, 55% female, 97% white) enrolled in the UK Biobank study for an average of 7 years.

At the time of enrollment, each participant was given an accelerometer (a device that measures the number and frequency of steps) to wear on their dominant wrist for 24 hours/day for 7 days. The investigators used the accelerometer data to categorize several types of physical activity.

  • Daily step counts (the average number of steps per day for 7 days). These step counts were further subdivided into two categories:
  • Incidental steps (It was assumed that ˂40 steps/min represented steps taken that were incidental to normal daily activities).
  • Purposeful steps (It was assumed that ≥40 steps/min represented steps taken as part of planned exercise).
  • Stepping intensity (the highest frequency of steps/min averaged over 30 min intervals for all 7 days).

At the end of the study, each of these variables was correlated with the risk of premature deaths due to all causes, cancer, and heart disease.

The second study (J del Pozo-Cruz et al, Diabetes Care, 45: 2156-2158, 2022) was similar except that it:

  • Used data from 1687 adults (average age = 55, 56% male, with diabetes or prediabetes when the study began) in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the US.
  • Followed participants for 9 years instead of 7.
  • Only measured total steps/day
  • Correlated total steps/day with premature death for participants who already had prediabetes or diabetes when they entered the study.

Walking Your Way To Health

Study 1 looked at the effect of walking on health outcomes in multiple ways.

woman walking dog#1: Increase in number of steps/day:

  • On average study participants took an average of 7200 steps per day, but this ranged from a low of 3,200 steps/day to a high of 12,200 steps/day.
  • Each increase of 2,000 steps/day was associated with a:
    • 8% decrease in all-cause mortality.
    • 11% decrease in cancer mortality.
    • 10% decrease in heart disease mortality.
  • Overall, increasing from 3,200 steps/day to 10,000 steps/day decreased all-cause, cancer, and heart disease mortality by around 36%.
  • There was no minimum threshold to this beneficial effect of walking on the risk of premature death.
  • The benefits of walking appeared to plateau at 10,000 steps/day.

#2: Increase in number of incidental steps/day (steps taken that are incidental to normal daily activities):

  • On average study participants took 3240 incidental steps/day, but this ranged from a low of 2,100 steps/day to a high of 4,400 steps/day.
  • Each 10% increase in incremental steps/day was associated with a:
    • 6% decrease in all-cause mortality.
    • 6% decrease in cancer mortality.
    • 10% decrease in heart disease mortality.

#3: Increase in number of purposeful steps/day (steps taken as part of planned exercise):

  • On average study participants took 4,600 purposeful steps/day, but this ranged from a low of 1,600 steps/day to a high of 8,600 steps/day.
  • Each 10% increase in purposeful steps/day was associated with a:
    • 7% decrease in all-cause mortality.
    • 8% decrease in cancer mortality.
    • 10% decrease in heart disease mortality.

#4: Increase in speed of walking or cadence. The measurement they used was “peak-30 cadence” – the Walking Fasthighest average steps/min during a 30-minute interval within a day:

  • On average study participants had a “peak-30 cadence” of 76 steps/min, but this ranged from a low of 47 steps/min to a high of 109 steps/min.
  • Each 10% increase in “peak-30 cadence” was associated with a:
    • 8% decrease in all-cause mortality.
    • 9% decrease in cancer mortality.
    • 14% decrease in heart disease mortality.
  • The benefits of walking rapidly (increase in “peak-30 cadence”) were in addition to the benefits seen by increasing the number of steps per day.
  • Overall, increasing from a “peak-30 cadence” of 47 steps/min to 109 steps/min decreased all-cause, cancer, and heart disease mortality by an additional 34%.
  • There was no minimum threshold to this beneficial effect of increasing “peak-30 cadence” (the speed of walking) on the risk of premature death.
  • The benefits of increasing “peak-30 cadence” appeared to plateau at 100 steps/min.

#5 Effect of walking on the prevention of heart disease and cancer: The investigators measured this by strong heartlooking at the effect of walking on the “incidence” of heart disease and cancer (defined as new diagnoses of heart disease and cancer) during the study. They found.

  • Each 2,000-step increase in the total number of steps/day decreased the risk of developing heart disease and cancer by 4% during this 7-year study.
  • Each 10% increase in the number of purposeful steps/day decreased the risk of developing heart disease and cancer by 4% during this study.
  • Each 10% increase in “peak-30 cadence” decreased the risk of developing heart disease and cancer by 7% during this study.

The authors concluded, “The findings of this population-based…study of 78,500 individuals suggest that up to 10,000 steps/day may be associated with a lower risk of mortality and cancer and CVD incidence. Steps performed at a higher cadence may be associated with additional risk reduction, particularly for incident disease.”

Study 2 extended these findings to diabetes. They started with participants that had either prediabetes or diabetesdiabetes and followed them for 9 years. They found that:

  • Study participants with prediabetes ranged from a low of 3,800 steps/day to a high of 10,700 steps/day.
    • Prediabetic participants walking 10,700 steps/day were 25% less likely to die during the study than participants walking only 3,800 steps/day.
  • Study participants with diabetes ranged from a low of 2,500 steps/day to a high of 10,200 steps/day.
    • Diabetic participants walking 10,200 steps/day were also 25% less likely to die during the study than participants walking only 2,500 steps/day.
  • Even small increases in the number of steps per day decreased the risk of premature death for both prediabetic and diabetic participants.
  • Once again, 10,000 steps/day appeared to be the optimal dose to lower the risk of premature death for both diabetic and prediabetic patients.

The authors of this study concluded, “Accumulating more steps/day up to ~10,000 steps/day may lower the risk of all-cause mortality of adults with prediabetes and diabetes.”

How Much Should You Walk?

Walking CoupleThat was a lot of information. You are probably wondering what it means for you. Let’s start with the big picture:

  • Going from couch potato to 10,000 steps per day may reduce your risk of premature death due to all causes, cancer, and heart disease by 36% (24% if you are already prediabetic or diabetic).
  • Increasing the speed with which you walk from 47 steps/min to 109 steps/min sustained for 30 minutes may reduce your risk of premature death by an additional 34%.

In other words, simply walking more and walking faster can have a significant on your health. I am not recommending walking as your only form of exercise. I’m just saying not to consider it inferior to other forms of exercise.

  • There is no lower limit to the benefits of walking. Even small increases in the number of steps/day you take and the speed with which you walk may have a beneficial effect on your health.

In other words, you don’t need to speed walk 10,000 steps/day to reap a benefit from walking. Even small increases are beneficial. That’s good news for those of you who may not be able to speed walk long distances. It also means that if you are a couch potato, you don’t need to attempt 10,000 steps at high speed from day 1. You can work up to it gradually.

  • Incidental walking (walking that is incidental to your daily activities) is almost as beneficial as purposeful walking (walking as part of a planned exercise).

That’s good news for those of you who may not have time for long walks. It also means that advice like “park your car at the far end of the parking lot and walk” or “take the stairs rather than the elevator” can have a meaningful impact on your health.

  • The benefits of walking appear to max out at around 10,000 steps per day and a cadence of 100 steps/min sustained for 30 minutes.

That means once you get to those levels, it’s time to consider adding other kinds of exercise to your regimen. More and faster walking may offer little additional benefit.

Finally, in the words of the authors, “This information could be used to motivate the least active individuals to increase their steps and the more-active individuals to reach the 10,000-step target.”

The Bottom Line 

The new year is almost here. If you are like millions of Americans, you may already be making plans to join a gym, get a personal trainer, or join a spin class.

If you want to get fit and healthy in the new year, perhaps you should also consider a less expensive option – like walking.

Of course, you probably have some questions about the benefits of walking, such as:

1) Is walking enough to significantly improve my fitness and health?

2) How far (how many steps) should I walk?

3) How fast should I walk?

Fortunately, two recent studies have answered all three questions. They found:

  • Going from couch potato to 10,000 steps per day may reduce your risk of premature death due to all causes, cancer, and heart disease by 36% (24% if you are already prediabetic or diabetic).
  • Increasing the speed with which you walk from 47 steps/min to 109 steps/min sustained for 30 minutes may reduce your risk of premature death by an additional 34%.
  • There is no lower limit to the benefits of walking. Even small increases in the number of steps/day you take and the speed with which you walk may have a beneficial effect on your health.
  • Incidental walking (walking that is incidental to your daily activities) is almost as beneficial as purposeful walking (walking as part of a planned exercise).
  • The benefits of walking appear to max out at around 10,000 steps per day and a cadence of 100 steps/min sustained for 30 minutes.

In the words of the authors of these studies, “This information could be used to motivate the least active individuals to increase their steps and the more-active individuals to reach the 10,000-step target.”

For more details on this study and what it means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

Can Unhealthy Eating Give You Colon Cancer?

What Are Ultra-Processed Foods, And Why Might They Cause Colon Cancer? 

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

The new year is almost here. If you are like millions of Americans, you may already be making a list of potential New Year’s resolutions and “checking it twice”. If weight loss and a healthier diet are important to you, you may want to put cutting back on ultra-processed foods at the top of your list.

And that’s not easy to do. We love our junk foods and our convenience foods.

  • It’s so easy to just stop by the nearest drive-through to pick up a quick meal. And we are hardwired to desire sweet, salty, and fatty foods. That’s why we love the taste of junk foods.
  • We lead busy lives. It’s easier and quicker to pop prepackaged foods into the microwave or oven than prepare a meal from scratch.
  • Even when we go on a diet to lose weight or improve our health, we want quick and easy. And “Big Food Inc” is only too happy to grant us our wish. They offer ultra-processed meals for every weight loss plan and diet program.
  • Many of us are second or third generation junk and convenience food lovers. Junk and convenience foods have become normal. Ultra-processed foods now make up 57% of the daily calories consumed by most Americans.
    • For example, my mother believed in a balanced diet as long as the foods came from a can or a box. That was normal for me growing up. If my wife had not been brought up very differently, I would not be nearly as healthy as I am today.

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that ultra-processed foods are bad for us. In recent issues of “Health Tips From the Professor” I have shared studies suggesting that ultra-processed foods make us fat, increase our risk of diabetes, and increase our risk of cancer. And if that weren’t bad enough, ultra-processed foods give us gas.

The cancer study referenced above showed that ultra-processed foods increased the risk of overall cancer and breast cancer but did not break it down into other kinds of cancer.

Colon cancer ranks third in overall cancers and second in cancer deaths for both men and women. And foods like processed meats are thought to increase the risk of colon cancer. This inspired the authors of a recent study to ask whether ultra-processed foods increased the risk of colon cancer.

What Are Ultra-processed Foods, And Why Might They Cause Colon Cancer?

Fast Food ExamplesUltra-processed foods:

  • Usually go through several physical and chemical processes, such as extruding, molding, prefrying, and hydrogenation that can lead to the formation of toxic carcinogens that may increase the risk of colon cancer.
    • One example you may have heard about recently would be acrylamide in French fries. Another example would be nitrosamines in processed meats.
  • Are usually high in added sugar, fat, and refined starch which contribute to increased weight gain and obesity, an established risk factor for colon cancer.
  • Are usually low in phytonutrients, fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are known to reduce the risk of colon cancer
  • Typically contain ingredients of little or no nutritive value, such as refined sugar, hydrogenated oils, emulsifiers, artificial sweeteners, thickening agents, and artificial colors. Some of these ingredients, such as emulsifiers and artificial sweeteners, have been suggested to cause inflammation in the intestine, which is known to increase the risk of colon cancer.
  • Have long shelf-lives because of added preservatives. This allows migration of carcinogens such as bisphenol A from the packaging materials into the food.

Examples of ultra-processed foods include:

  • Sodas
  • Chips
  • Candy and packages of cookies or crackers
  • Most breakfast cereals
  • Boxed cake, cookie, and pancake mix
  • Chicken nuggets and fish sticks
  • Fast food burgers
  • Hot dogs and other processed meat
  • Infant formula
  • Instant noodles
  • Most store-bought ice cream
  • Flavored yogurt

How Was This Study Done?

clinical studyThis study used data collected from:

  • The Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) which enrolled 121,700 female nurses aged 30-55 in 1976 and followed them for 28 years.
  • The Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) which enrolled 116,429 female nurses aged 25-42 in 1989 and followed them for 24 years.
  • The Health Professions’ Follow-up Study (HPFS) which enrolled 51,529 male health professionals aged 40-75 in 1986 and followed them for 28 years.

After excluding participants who had incomplete data or a previous cancer diagnosis, the investigators running the study ended up with 67,425 women from NHS, 92,482 women from NHS II, and 46,341 men from HPFS for analysis.

Ultra-processed food consumption was scored as follows:

  • The dietary intake of each participant in the studies was assessed with a food frequency questionnaire every four years.
  • Each questionnaire was scored for the percentage of ultra-processed foods.
  • Then each participant in the study was ranked in terms of the percent ultra-processed foods in their diet averaged over the entire time they were enrolled in the study.
  • The participants were then divided into 5 groups based on the number of servings of ultra-processed foods/day they consumed, ranging from a high of 9 servings/day to a low of 3 servings/day.

Every two years the participants were asked to report any cancer diagnosis in the previous two years. Study physicians reviewed the medical records and pathology reports to confirm a diagnosis of colon cancer. If the patient had died, death certificates and medical records were used to confirm a diagnosis of colon cancer.

The investigators then compared the incidence of colon cancer in the group consuming the most ultra-processed foods to the group consuming the least ultra-processed foods.

  • These comparisons were adjusted for compounding factors like race, family history of cancer, history of endoscopy, physical activity, smoking status, alcohol use, aspirin use, menopausal status, and post-menopausal hormone use.
  • The comparisons were also adjusted for obesity and a healthy diet score called AHEI. I will explain the significance of these adjustments below.
  • Finally, the investigators looked at how various categories of ultra-processed food influenced the results.

Can Unhealthy Eating Give You Colon Cancer?

colon cancerHere is what the study found:

  • Men in the highest fifth of ultra-processed food consumption had a 29% higher risk of developing colon cancer than those in the lowest fifth.
  • No association between ultra-processed food consumption and risk of developing colon cancer was seen for women.

When they looked at subgroups of ultra-processed foods again comparing the top fifth in consumption with the lowest fifth:

  • Consumption of ultra-processed ready to eat products containing meat, poultry, or seafood increased the risk of colon cancer by 44% in men and 14% in women.
  • Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increased the risk of colon cancer by 21% in men but did not significantly affect risk of colon cancer in women.
  • Consumption of ultra-processed ready to eat mixed dishes increased the risk of colon cancer by 17% in women but did not significantly affect risk of colon cancer in men.
  • Consumption of ultra-processed dairy products decreased the risk of colon cancer by 17% in women but did not significantly affect risk of colon cancer in men.

The reason for the differing effect of poor diet on the risk of colon cancer in men and women is not clear, but it has been observed in previous studies.

The investigators concluded, “…high consumption of total ultra-processed foods in men and certain subgroups of ultra-processed foods in men and women was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Further studies are needed to better understand the potential attributes of ultra-processed foods that contribute to colorectal carcinogenesis.”

What Does This Study Mean For You?

There are several take-home lessons from this study:

1: The 29% increase in colon cancer risk reported for men probably underestimates the true risk. I say that because:

  • Ultra-processed food consumption increases the likelihood that you will gain weight, and obesity is a known risk factor for colon cancer. However, the 29% number was obtained after adjusting the data for obesity. Without that adjustment the increased risk would have been greater
  • Ultra-processed foods are low in the protective phytonutrients and fiber provided by fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. However, the 29% number was obtained after adjusting the data for a healthy eating index (which includes the amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the diet). Without that adjustment the increased risk would have been greater.

2: While we don’t know the mechanism(s) for the increased risk of colon cancer reported in this study, we can make some informed guesses. I say that because:

  • Once you have removed obesity and fruits, vegetables, and whole grains from consideration, you are left with:
    • The effect of ultra-processed foods on your gut bacteria.
    • The additives, preservatives, and other potentially carcinogenic chemicals in ultra-processed foods.

3: Finally, don’t think you are off the hook if you are a woman.

  • As I mentioned in the introduction, ultra-processed foods also increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and breast cancer.

And that brings us back to what I said at the beginning of this article, “If you are like millions of Americans, you may already be making a list of New Year’s resolutions and “checking it twice”. If weight loss and a healthier diet are important to you, you may want to put cutting back on ultra-processed foods at the top of your list.”

The Bottom Line 

A recent study showed that ultra-processed food consumption increased the risk of colon cancer in men, but not in women. The reason for the differing effect of ultra-processed foods on the risk of colon cancer in men and women is not clear, but it has been observed in previous studies on the effect of poor diet on colon cancer risk.

However, don’t think you are off the hook if you are a woman. Previous studies have shown that ultra-processed food consumption increased the risk of obesity, diabetes, and total cancers in both men and women and the risk of breast cancer in women.

The investigators concluded, “…high consumption of total ultra-processed foods in men and certain subgroups of ultra-processed foods in men and women was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.”

That brings me to my recommendation. “If you are like millions of Americans, you may already be making a list of potential New Year’s resolutions and “checking it twice”. If weight loss and a healthier diet are important to you, you may want to put cutting back on ultra-processed foods at the top of your list.”

For more details on this study and what it means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

 

 

500th Issue Celebration

Nutrition Breakthroughs Over The Last Two Years

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

celebrationIn the nearly ten years that I have been publishing “Health Tips From The Professor”, I have tried to go behind the headlines to provide you with accurate, unbiased health information that you can trust and apply to your everyday life.

The 500th issue of any publication is a major cause for celebration and reflection – and “Health Tips From The Professor” is no different.

I am dedicating this issue to reviewing some of the major stories I have covered in the past 100 issues. There are lots of topics I could have covered, but I have chosen to focus on three types of articles:

  • Articles that have debunked long-standing myths about nutrition and health.
  • Articles that have corrected some of the misinformation that seems to show up on the internet on an almost daily basis.
  • Articles about the issues that most directly affect your health.

Best Ways To Lose Weight

weight lossSince it is almost January, let’s start with a couple of articles about diet and weight loss (or weight gain). I have covered the effectiveness of the Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, DASH, vegetarian, and Vegan diets for both short and long-term weight loss in my book Slaying The Food Myths, so I won’t repeat that information here. Instead, I will share a few updates from the past 100 issues.

My Tips On The Best Approach For Losing Weight: Every health guru has a favorite diet they like to promote. I am different. My book, Slaying the Food Myths, is probably the first “anti-diet” diet book ever written. Based on my years of research I can tell you that we are all different. There is no single diet that is best for everyone. In this article I have summarized my tips for selecting the weight loss diet that is best for you.

The US News & World Report’s Recommendation For the Best Diets: Each year US News & World Report assembles some of the top nutrition experts in the country and asks them to review popular diets and rank them for effectiveness and safety. In this article I summarize their ratings for 2022.

Does Intermittent Fasting Have A Downside? In previous articles in “Health Tips From the Professor” I have reported on studies showing that intermittent fasting is no more effective for weight loss than any other diet that restricts calories to the same extent. But does intermittent fasting have a downside? In this article I reported on a study that suggests it does.

Can A Healthy Diet Help You Lose Weight? Most investigators simply compare their favorite diet to the standard American diet. And any diet looks good compared to the standard American diet. In this article I reported on a study that compared two whole food diets that restricted calories by 25% to the standard American diet. One calorie-restricted diet was more plant-based and the other more meat-based. You may be surprised at the results.

Omega-3s

Omega-3s continue to be an active area of research. Here are just a few of the top studies over the past two years.omega3s

Do Omega-3s Oil Your Joints? In this article I reviewed the latest information on omega-3s and arthritis.

Do Omega-3s Add Years To Your Life? In this article I discussed a study that looks at the effect of omega-3s on longevity.

The Omega-3 Pendulum: In this article I discuss why omega-3 studies are so confusing. One day the headlines say they are miracle cures. A few weeks later the headlines say they are worthless. I discuss the flaws in many omega-3 studies and how to identify the high-quality omega-3 studies you can believe.

Do Omega-3s Reduce Congestive Heart Failure? In this article I review a recent study on omega-3s and congestive heart failure and discuss who is most likely to benefit from omega-3 supplementation.

Plant-Based Diets

Vegan FoodsWill Plant-Based Proteins Help You Live Longer? In this article  I review a study that looks at the effect of swapping plant proteins for animal proteins on longevity.

Can Diet Add Years To Your Life? In this article  I review a study that takes a broader view and asks which foods add years to your life.

Is A Vegan Diet The Secret To Weight Loss? This is an update of my previous articles on vegan diets. This article asked whether simply changing from a typical American diet to a vegan diet could influence weight loss and health parameters in as little as 16 weeks. The answer may surprise you.

Is A Vegan Diet Bad For Your Bones? No diet is perfect. This article looks at one of the possible downsides to a vegan diet. I also discuss how you can follow a vegan diet AND have strong bones. It’s not that difficult.

Anti-Inflammatory Diets

What Is An Anti-Inflammatory Diet? In this article  I discuss the science behind anti-inflammatory diets Inflammationand what an anti-inflammatory diet looks like.

Can Diet Cause You To Lose Your Mind? In this article  I discuss a study looking at the effect of an inflammatory diet on dementia. The study also looks at which foods protect your mind and which ones attack your mind.

Do Whole Grains Reduce Inflammation? You have been told that grains cause inflammation. Refined grains might, but this study shows that whole grains reduce inflammation.

Nutrition And Pregnancy

pregnant women taking vitaminsHere are the latest advances in nutrition for a healthy pregnancy.

The Perils Of Iodine Deficiency For Women. In this article I reviewed the latest data showing that iodine is essential for a healthy pregnancy and discuss where you can get the iodine you need.

Do Omega-3s Reduce The Risk Of Pre-Term Births? You seldom hear experts saying that the data are so definitive that no further studies are needed. In this article I reviewed a study that said just that about omega-3s and pre-term births.

Does Maternal Vitamin D Affect ADHD? In this article I reviewed the evidence that adequate vitamin D status during pregnancy may reduce the risk of ADHD in the offspring.

How Much DHA Should You Take During Pregnancy? In this article I reviewed current guidelines for DHA intake during pregnancy and a recent study suggesting even higher levels might be optimal.

Is Your Prenatal Supplement Adequate? In this article I reviewed two studies that found most prenatal supplements on the market are not adequate for pregnant women or their unborn babies.

Children’s Nutrition

Here are the latest insights into children’s nutrition.Obese Child

Are We Killing Our Children With Kindness? In this article I reviewed a recent study documenting the increase in ultra-processed food consumption by American children and the effect it is having on their health. I then ask, is it really kindness when we let our children eat all the sugar and ultra-processed food they want?

Is Diabetes Increasing In Our Children? In this article I reviewed a study documenting the dramatic increase in diabetes among American children and its relationship to ultra-processed food consumption and lack of exercise.

How Much Omega-3s Do Children Need? In this article I reviewed an study that attempts to define how much omega-3s are optimal for cognition (ability to learn) in our children.

Diabetes

diabetesHere are some insights into nutrition and diabetes that may cause you to rethink your diet.

Does An Apple A Day Keep Diabetes Away? You may have been told to avoid fruits if you are diabetic. In this article I reviewed a study showing that fruit consumption actually decreases your risk of diabetes. Of course, we are all different. If you have diabetes you need to figure out which fruits are your friends and which are your foes.

Do Whole Grains Keep Diabetes Away? You may have also been told to avoid grains if you are diabetic. In this article I reviewed a study showing that whole grain consumption actually decreases your risk of diabetes. Once again, we are all different. If you have diabetes you need to figure out which grains are your friends and which are your foes.

Heart Disease

Here is an interesting insight into nutrition and heart disease that may cause you to rethink your diet.

Is Dairy Bad For Your Heart? You have been told that dairy is bad for your heart AND that it is good for your heart. Which is correct? In this article I discuss some recent studies on the topic and conclude the answer is, “It depends”. It depends on your overall diet, your weight, your lifestyle, and your overall health.

Breast Cancer

Here are some facts about breast cancer every woman should know.breast cancer

The Best Way To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer In this article I review two major studies and the American Cancer Guidelines to give you 6 tips for reducing your risk of breast cancer.

The Truth About Soy And Breast Cancer You have been told that soy causes breast cancer, and you should avoid it. In this article I review the science and tell you the truth about soy and breast cancer.

Supplementation

Vitamin SupplementsSome “experts” claim everyone should take almost every supplement on the market. Others claim supplementation is worthless. What is the truth about supplementation?

What Do The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines Say About Supplements? Every 5 years the USDA updates their Dietary Guidelines for foods and supplements. In this article I discuss what the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines say about supplements. Yes, the USDA does recommend supplements for some people.

Who Benefits Most From Supplementation? Not everyone benefits equally from supplementation. In this article I discuss who benefits the most from supplementation.

Should Cancer Patients Take Supplements? Doctors routinely tell their cancer patients not to take supplements. Is that the best advice? In this article I review a study that answers that question.

Can You Trust Supplements Marketed on Amazon? Amazon’s business model is to sell products at the lowest possible price. But do they check the quality of the products marketed on their site? In this article  I review a study that answers that question.

Is Your Prenatal Supplement Adequate? In this article I reviewed two studies that found most prenatal supplements on the market are not adequate for pregnant women or their unborn babies.

The Bottom Line 

I have just touched on a few of my most popular articles above. You may want to scroll through these articles to find ones of interest to you that you might have missed over the last two years. If you don’t see topics that you are looking for, just go to https://chaneyhealth.com/healthtips/ and type the appropriate term in the search box.

In the coming years, you can look for more articles debunking myths, exposing lies and providing balance to the debate about the health topics that affect you directly. As always, I pledge to provide you with scientifically accurate, balanced information that you can trust. I will continue to do my best to present this information in a clear and concise manner so that you can understand it and apply it to your life.

Final Comment: You may wish to share the valuable resources in this article with others. If you do, then copy the link at the top and bottom of this page into your email. If you just forward this email and the recipient unsubscribes, it will unsubscribe you as well.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

Is Your Prenatal Supplement Adequate?

What Should You Look For In A Prenatal Supplement?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

pregnant women taking omega-3You want to do the best for your unborn child. So, you try to find the best prenatal supplement. You may ask your doctor to recommend a prenatal supplement. You may ask your best friend what supplement she used when she was pregnant. Or perhaps you scan online reviews of prenatal supplements by random dietitians or nutrition gurus to select the “best” prenatal supplements.

Then you read the supplement label or the company’s website and see claims like:

  • “Supports optimal nutrition before, during, and after pregnancy”
  • “Packed with 16 nutrients to support fetal development, immunity, energy metabolism, and more”
  • “Concise prenatal formula supports both bone and brain development”

It sounds so good. You think you have found the perfect prenatal supplement. “Right?”

Perhaps not. A recent study (JB Adams et al, Maternal Health, Neonatology, and Perinatology, 8:4, 2022) did an in-depth review of prenatal supplement recommendations and how well prenatal supplements on the market met those recommendations.

The results were not encouraging. The authors concluded, “[Our] analysis found that prenatal supplements vary widely in content, often only contain a subset of essential vitamins, and the levels were often below…recommendations.”

In other words, their study found that most prenatal vitamins may not be adequate to support your needs and the needs of your child through pregnancy and breastfeeding.

I know this is likely to be a topic of great concern for many of you. So, I will examine the study in detail and give you some guidelines for selecting the perfect prenatal supplement.

How Was This Study Done?

clinical studyThis study can be divided into two parts.

#1: What Should The Ideal Prenatal Supplement Contain:

The authors started off by reevaluating the optimal recommendations for prenatal supplements. They reviewed over 200 articles, focusing on articles that:

  • Provided insight into optimal dosage [of essential nutrients] such as treatment studies on the effects of different doses on outcomes and biomarkers.
  • Were larger, more rigorously designed, such as randomized double-blind placebo-controlled studies.

The studies included in their review fell into three categories:

  1. The association of low levels of vitamins with health problems [during pregnancy and in the child after birth].

2) Studies on the changes in [blood] vitamin levels during pregnancy [when the mother is either] un-supplemented or supplemented (The blood level of many vitamins decreases dramatically during pregnancy without supplementation).

3) Clinical trials on the effect of vitamin supplementation on health problems [during pregnancy].

They used these data to create their recommendations for what an ideal prenatal supplement should contain. In some cases, their recommendations were higher than current RDA recommendations for pregnant women.

#2: How Do Currently Available Prenatal Supplements Compare With Their Recommendations For The Ideal Supplement?

For this part of the study, they created a comprehensive list of the nutrients provided by 188 prenatal supplements currently on the market using databases created by the National Institutes of Health. Where these databases were outdated, the nutrient list for that supplement was updated using information on the manufacturer’s websites or labels on retail websites such as Amazon.

Finally, they compared the nutrient content of all 188 prenatal supplements with their recommendations for the ideal prenatal supplement.

Is Your Prenatal Supplement Adequate?

Questioning WomanThere are four points I wish to make before I review the results of this study.

  1. I suspect you are most interested in finding out how prenatal supplements on the market compare with their recommendations for an ideal supplement, so that is what I will discuss below.

2) As I mentioned above, some of their recommendations exceed the current Daily Value (DV) recommendations for pregnant and lactating women. I will point that out whenever it significantly affects the comparisons.

3) The authors of this article made the point that most women going on a prenatal supplement will probably discontinue taking their multivitamin supplement. Thus, their recommendations included nutrients commonly included in multivitamin supplements. This is a valid point, and something you should consider when choosing a prenatal supplement. However, in my discussion below I will focus on the nutrients that are universally recognized as important for pregnancy and lactation.

4) The authors focused on prenatal supplements that had less than the recommended amount of essential nutrients. They did not ask how many of those supplements had excessive amounts of certain nutrients. In my non-systematic review of prenatal supplements, I found several that had doses of some nutrients in thousands of percent of the DV recommendations. In my opinion, this is potentially unsafe for pregnancy and nursing. I will cover this topic in more detail in my discussion.

With that in mind, here are the results of their review.

Vitamins:

When you look at vitamins that have long been recognized as essential for pregnant women, the results are encouraging:

  • Vitamin D, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 are found in adequate amounts compared to the DV in most prenatal supplements.

However, when you look at nutrients that have more recently been recognized as essential for pregnant women, the story is very different:

  • For vitamin K only 31% of prenatal supplements contain vitamin K and only 16% meet or exceed their recommendation for vitamin K.
    • Their recommendation (90 mcg/day) is identical to the DV for vitamin K. So, there is no doubt that most prenatal supplements do not provide adequate amounts of vitamin K.
  • For choline only 40 % of prenatal supplements contain choline and only 2% meet or exceed their recommendation for choline.
    • Their recommendation (350 mg/day) for choline is less than the 450 mg/day recommended by the NIH and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
    • The average prenatal supplement only provides 25 mg of choline, which is wildly inadequate by any standard.
  • For DHA only 42% of prenatal supplements contain DHA and only 1% meet or exceed their recommendation for DHA.
    • Their recommendation (600 mg/day) for DHA is higher than the 200 – 300 mg/day recommended by the most health organizations.
    • However, the average prenatal supplement only provides 94 mg of DHA, so even at 200 – 300 mg/day a substantial percentage of prenatal supplements do not provide adequate amounts of DHA.

Minerals:

calcium supplementsThis study did not consider minerals, so I will draw on another source to estimate the adequacy of minerals in prenatal supplements.

Three key minerals for a healthy pregnancy are iron, calcium, and iodine (Yes, I realize that iodine is not a mineral, but it is usually listed with the minerals on supplement labels. And it is also essential for a healthy pregnancy). Fortunately, another recent study (LG Saldanha et al, Journal of the American Academy of Dietetics, 117: 1429-1436, 2017) looked at the adequacy of these nutrients in 214 prenatal supplements. This study found:

  • The iron DV for pregnant and lactating women is 27 mg/day and 95% of prenatal supplements contained iron at the recommended level.
  • The calcium DV for pregnant and lactating women is 1,300 mg/day. A high percentage (91%) of prenatal supplements contain calcium, but many prenatal supplements only provide 100-200 mg of calcium. That is far less than the DV.
  • The situation for iodine is even more alarming. Only 50% of prenatal supplements contain iodine. And for those that do contain iodine, the average iodine content is only 150 mcg (The DV for pregnant and lactating women is 290 mcg/day).

It is no wonder the authors of these two studies concluded that most prenatal supplements on the market do not provide adequate amounts of all the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. The shortfalls are particularly acute for vitamin K, choline, DHA, iodine, and calcium.

What Should You Look For In A Prenatal Supplement?

Questioning WomanBy now you are probably wondering how you know a good prenatal supplement from a bad one. Here are six simple rules for choosing the ideal prenatal supplement.

  1. Don’t rely on health “gurus” to choose your prenatal supplement for you. I did a little “sleuthing” for you. I searched the internet for websites claiming to have identified the “best” prenatal supplements. I checked out the supplements they recommended, and here is what I found:
  • The supplements the gurus recommended checked all the boxes in that they had some of all the nutrients required for a healthy pregnancy.
  • However, the amount of those nutrients ranged from lows of 10-20% of the DV for pregnant and lactating women to thousands of percent of the DV for others.
  • In other words, they contained grossly inadequate levels of some nutrients and potentially toxic levels of others.

2) Don’t believe label claims or claims made on the manufacturer’s website. Remember the claim, “Concise prenatal formula supports both bone and brain development”, that I mentioned at the beginning of this article? The supplement associated with that claim had only 100 mg of calcium and no DHA. It is hard to imagine a supplement like that supporting either bone or brain health. The claim was bogus.

3) Don’t assume your doctor’s recommendation is the ideal prenatal supplement. A recent study (LG Saldanha et al, Journal of the American Academy of Dietetics, 117: 1429-1436, 2017) compared prescription (the kind your doctor is likely to prescribe) and non-prescription prenatal supplements. It found:

  • Compared with non-prescription supplements, prescription supplements contained significantly fewer vitamins (9 versus 11) and minerals (4 versus 8).
  • While prescription supplements contained more folic acid than non-prescription supplements, they contained significantly less vitamin A, vitamin D, iodine, and calcium.

4) Look for a prenatal supplement containing all the essential nutrients, not just those important for a healthy pregnancy. The authors of the first study made the point that most women will stop taking their regular multivitamin when they start their prenatal supplement. If that is you, your prenatal supplement should contain the nutrients you were getting from your multivitamin.

5) Look for a prenatal supplement that provide 100% of DV for all nutrients except the bulky ones. The ideal prenatal supplement should contain 100% of the DV for pregnant and lactating women for all essential nutrients. Avoid supplements with very low amounts of some nutrients and large excesses of others.

  • Bulky nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and choline are exceptions. It would be hard to get 100% DV for those nutrients in any supplement you could swallow.

6) Look for a prenatal supplement that “fills the gap” for bulky nutrients.

  • Fortunately, the NIH has estimated how much of these nutrients the average American woman gets in her diet. That allows us to estimate how much the average woman needs to get from her prenatal supplement to bring her total intake up to the DV for pregnant and lactating women. That amounts to 458 mg for calcium, 166 mg for magnesium, and 272 mg for choline.
    • That gives you a reasonable benchmark for assessing whether a prenatal supplement is providing enough of those important nutrients. When you read their labels, you will find most prenatal supplements are woefully inadequate for these nutrients.
    • You also need to ask whether your diet is “average”. For example, the average American gets 72% of their calcium from dairy foods. If you do not consume dairy, you may need to get more calcium from your supplement.

7) Avoid the excesses. Your unborn baby is precious. You don’t want to expose it to potentially toxic doses of vitamins or minerals. Avoid any prenatal supplement containing thousands of percent of the DV for some nutrients. And I would recommend caution with supplements containing over 200% of the DV for some nutrients if you are taking other supplements that may provide the same nutrient(s).

The Bottom Line 

Two recent studies have surveyed hundreds of prenatal vitamins and asked whether they provided adequate amounts of the nutrients that are essential for a healthy pregnancy. The results were shocking.

  • While most prenatal supplements provided adequate amounts of folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin D, and iron…
  • They were woefully inadequate for vitamin K, calcium, choline, iodine, and DHA – all nutrients that are essential for a healthy pregnancy.
  • Furthermore, prescription prenatal supplements (the kind your doctor is likely to prescribe) were no better than non-prescription supplements.

The authors of the first study concluded, “[Our] analysis found that prenatal supplements vary widely in content, often only contain a subset of essential vitamins, and the levels were often below…recommendations.”

In other words, their study found that most prenatal vitamins on the market may not be adequate to support your needs and the needs of your child through pregnancy and breastfeeding.

For more details on this study and my discussion of how you can select the ideal prenatal supplement for you and your unborn child, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

 

Does Magnesium Protect Your Heart?

Do You Need A Magnesium Supplement?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

Getting an adequate amount magnesium from our diet should not be a problem. Magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods with the best sources being legumes (beans), nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and dairy foods.

The problem is:

  • None of these foods contain enough magnesium by themselves to provide the RDA (420 mg/day for men and 320 mg/day for women) for magnesium. We need to consume a variety of these foods every day – something most Americans aren’t doing.
  • These foods are decent sources of magnesium only in their unprocessed form. And most Americans consume more highly processed foods than whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Two to three servings of dairy provide a decent amount of magnesium, but many Americans are cutting back on dairy. And plant-based dairy substitutes often provide much less magnesium than the dairy food they replace.
  • Finally, green leafy vegetables (iceberg lettuce doesn’t count) don’t make it into the American menu as often as they should.

As a result, recent studies find that at least 50% of Americans are not getting enough magnesium in their diet. In fact, the average magnesium intake in this country is 268 mg/day for men and 234 mg/day for women. And the figures are not very different in other developed countries.

Does it matter? Recent studies have shown that an adequate intake of dietary magnesium is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and all-cause mortality. This may be because of the of role of magnesium in supporting heart muscle contraction, normal heart rhythm, and blood pressure regulation. Adequate magnesium intake is also associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

But what if you have already had a heart attack? Is it too late for magnesium to make a difference? A recent study (I Evers et al, Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, August 12, 2022) was designed to answer this question.

The authors examined the effect of magnesium intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, all-cause mortality, and coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in patients who had experienced a recent heart attack.

[Note: CHD is defined as heart disease due to clogged coronary arteries, such as a heart attack. CVD includes CHD plus diseases caused by other clogged blood vessels, such as strokes and peripheral artery disease].

How Was The Study Done?

clinical studyThe authors used data from a previous study that had enrolled 4,365 Dutch patients aged 60-80 (average age = 69) who had experienced a heart attack within approximately 4 years prior to enrollment and followed them for an average of 12.4 years. All patients were receiving standard post-heart attack drug therapy.

The characteristics of the patients enrolled in the study were as follows:

  • Male 79%, female 21%
  • Average magnesium intake = 302 mg/day
  • Percent magnesium deficient: 72% of men and 67% of women
  • Percent taking magnesium supplements = 5.4%
  • Percent on drugs to lower blood pressure = 90%
  • Percent on statins = 86%
  • Percent on diuretics = 24%

Upon entry into the study the patients were asked to fill out a 203-item food frequency questionnaire reflecting their dietary intake over the past month. Trained dietitians reviewed the questionnaires and phoned the participants to clarify any unclear or missing items. The questionnaires were linked to the 2006 Dutch Food Composition Database to calculate magnesium intake and other aspects of their diets.

The patients were divided into 3 groups based on their energy adjusted magnesium intakes and those in the highest third (>322 mg/day) were compared to those in the lowest third (<238 mg/day) with respect to cardiovascular disease (CVD), all-cause mortality, and coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality.

The comparisons were statically adjusted for fiber intake (most magnesium-rich foods are also high fiber foods), diuretic use (diuretics reduce magnesium levels in the blood), age, sex, smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, obesity, education level, caloric intake, calcium, vitamin D, sodium from foods, potassium, heme iron, vitamin C, beta-carotenoids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, overall diet quality based on the Dutch Dietary Guidelines, systolic blood pressure, kidney function, and diabetes. In other words, the data were adjusted for every conceivable variable that could have influenced the outcome.

Does Magnesium Protect Your Heart?

When those with the highest magnesium intake (>322 mg/day) were compared to those with the lowest intake (<283 mg/day):

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality was reduced by 28%.
  • All-cause mortality was reduced by 22%.
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality was reduced by 16%, but that reduction was not statistically significant.

They then looked at the effect of some variables that might affect CVD risk on the results.

  • Diabetes, kidney function, iron intake, smoking, alcohol use, blood pressure, most dietary components and overall diet quality had no effect on the results.
  • The results were also not affected when patients using a magnesium supplement were excluded from the analysis. This suggests the effect of magnesium from diet and supplementation is similar.
  • However, diuretic use had a significant effect on the results.
    • For patients using diuretics, high magnesium intake versus low magnesium intake reduced CVD mortality by 45%.

How Much Magnesium Do You Need?

Question MarkYou may have noticed that the difference between the highest magnesium intake group and the lowest intake group was, on average, only 39 mg/day. So, the authors also used a statistical approach that utilized data from each individual patient to produce a graph of magnesium intake versus risk of CVD, total, and CHD mortality. For all 3 end points the graphs showed an inverse, linear relationship between magnesium and mortality.

From this, the authors were able to calculate the effect of each 100mg/day increase in magnesium intake on mortality risk. Each 100mg/day of added magnesium reduced the risk of:

  • CVD mortality by 38%.
  • All-cause mortality by 30%.
  • CHD mortality by 33%, and these results were borderline significant.

The inverse relationship between magnesium intake was observed at intakes ranging from around 200 mg/day to around 450 mg/day, which represented the range of dietary magnesium intake in this Dutch population group.

This study did not define an upper limit to the beneficial effect of magnesium intake because the graphs had not plateaued at 450 mg/day, suggesting that higher magnesium intakes might give even better results.

The authors concluded, “We observed a strong, linear inverse association of dietary magnesium with CVD and all-cause mortality after a heart attack, which was most pronounced in patients who used diuretics. Our findings emphasize the importance of an adequate magnesium intake in CVD patients, on top of cardiovascular drug treatment.”

I might add that this is the first study to look at the effect of magnesium on long-term survival after a heart attack.

Do You Need A Magnesium Supplement? 

magnesium supplements benefitsAs I said earlier, the best dietary sources of magnesium are beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and dairy foods. And:

  • None of these foods contain enough magnesium by themselves to provide the RDA (420 mg/day for men and 320 mg/day for women) for magnesium.
  • These foods are decent sources of magnesium only in their unprocessed form.

When unprocessed, each of these foods provides 20 to 60 mg of magnesium per serving. If we use an average value of 40 mg/serving, you would need in the range of 8-10 servings/day of these foods in their unprocessed form to meet the RDA for magnesium.

You could get a more accurate estimate of the magnesium content of your diet using the “Magnesium Content of Selected Foods” table from the NIH Factsheet on Magnesium.

Now you are ready to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Does my current diet provide the RDA for magnesium?

2. If not, am I willing to make the dietary changes needed to increase my magnesium levels to RDA levels?

If your answer to both questions is no, you should probably consider a magnesium supplement. A supplement providing around 200 mg of magnesium should bring all but the worst diets up to the recommended magnesium intake.

The current study did not define an upper limit for the beneficial effect of magnesium on survival after a heart attack but suggested that intakes above 450 mg/day might be optimal.

I do not recommend megadoses of magnesium, but intakes from diet and supplementation that slightly exceed the RDA appear to be safe. In their Magnesium Factsheet, the NIH states, “Too much magnesium…does not pose a health risk in healthy individuals because the kidneys eliminate excess amounts in the urine.”

The only concern is that magnesium from supplements is absorbed much more rapidly than magnesium from foods, and this can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea in some individuals. For this reason, I recommend a sustained release magnesium supplement, so the magnesium is absorbed more slowly.

Finally, we should not consider magnesium as a magic bullet. The current study statistically eliminated every known variable that might affect survival after a heart attack, so it could estimate the beneficial effects of magnesium alone.

However, survival after a heart attack will likely be much greater if diet, exercise, and body mass are also optimized.

The Bottom Line 

Recent studies have shown that an adequate intake of dietary magnesium is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and all-cause mortality.

But what if you have already had a heart attack? Is it too late for magnesium to make a difference? A recent study of heart attack patients in Holland was designed to answer this question.

The authors examined the effect of magnesium intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, all-cause mortality, and coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in patients who had experienced a recent heart attack.

When heart attack patients with the highest magnesium intake (>322 mg/day) were compared to those with the lowest intake (<283 mg/day):

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality was reduced by 28%.
  • All-cause mortality was reduced by 22%.
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality was reduced by 16%, but that reduction was not statistically significant.

The authors went on to look at the inverse linear relationship between magnesium intake and mortality risk. They found that each 100mg/day of added magnesium reduced the risk of:

  • CVD mortality by 38%.
  • All-cause mortality by 30%.
  • CHD mortality by 33%, and these results were borderline significant.

The authors concluded, “We observed a strong, linear inverse association of dietary magnesium with CVD and all-cause mortality after a heart attack…Our findings emphasize the importance of an adequate magnesium intake in CVD patients…”

I might add that this is the first study to look at the effect of magnesium on long-term survival of patients who have suffered a heart attack.

For more details on this study and my discussion of whether you might benefit from a magnesium supplement, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Can Tomatoes Be Engineered To Produce Vitamin D3?

The Good And Bad Of Genetically Modified Foods

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

GM FruitsThe Floodgates have been opened. The USDA has just approved a genetically engineered purple tomato that contains the anthocyanins found in blueberries, blackberries, and eggplant. It could be appearing in your supermarkets as early as next spring.

And that is just the beginning. Several other genetically modified tomatoes are waiting in the wings. One example is a tomato that has been genetically engineered to produce vitamin D3 (J Li et al, Nature Plants, 8: 611-616, 2022).

“Why would you want that?”, you might ask. The rationale is simple:

  • And vitamin D insufficiency is not a trivial matter. In the words of the authors, in addition to bone health, vitamin D insufficiency “impacts immune function and inflammation and is associated with increased risk of…cancer, Parkinson’s disease, depression, neurocognitive decline, dementia, and the risk of coronavirus disease…”
  • Add to that the fact that tomatoes are grown and consumed in more than 170 countries worldwide. The authors felt that increasing the vitamin D content of tomatoes could be a simple and effective way to improve the vitamin D status of millions of people around the world.

In their own words, “We have developed a new dietary source of vitamin D in plants to meet the increasing demand for ways to address vitamin D insufficiency, which is of particular relevance to those adopting plant-rich, vegetarian or vegan diets.”

But is that true and is it safe? That is the topic of today’s health tip. But before I cover those topics, I should give you some background on vitamin D metabolism in humans and in plants.

Metabolism 101: Vitamin D Metabolism In Humans & Plants

7-dehydrocholesterol is the precursor to vitamin D3 in both humans and plants, but the amount of 7-dehydrocholesterol and the metabolic pathways producing it are very different.

Human Vitamin D3 Metabolism:

  • In humans, cholesterol is the precursor to 7-dehydrocholesterol. About 70% of cholesterol is synthesized by the liver, with the remaining 30% coming from our diet.
  • 7-dehydrocholesterol is synthesized from cholesterol in the epidermis (outer layer) of our skin. It is present in large amounts there but is present in only small amounts in the rest of the body.
  • UVB light is a component of sunlight, and UVB light drives the conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D3 in our skin.

Plant Vitamin D3 Metabolism:

  • In plants, the pathway is reversed. 7-dehydrocholesterol is synthesized from other plant sterols. And 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted to cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol, in turn, is used to synthesize glycoalkaloid compounds that protect the plants from pests.
    • The gylcoalkaloids differ from plant to plant. In tomatoes the major ones are α-tomatine and esculeoside A and B.
    • α-tomatine and esculeoside A and B protect tomatoes from fungal, microbial, insect, and herbivoral attack.
  • Normally, 7-dehydrocholesterol and cholesterol present in very low amounts in plants because they are used to synthesize protective glycoalkaloid compounds.
  • UVB light is still required to convert 7-dehydrocholesterol to vitamin D3.

Can Tomatoes Be Engineered To Produce Vitamin D3?

Using modern genetic engineering techniques, the authors knocked out (deleted) the gene coding for the protein responsible for converting 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholesterol in tomatoes (shown as the red X in the figure above).

TomatoesIn the fruit:

  • 7-dehydrocholesterol levels are undetectable in ripe fruit of the wild-type tomato but were substantial in fruit of mutant tomatoes lacking the gene for converting 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholesterol.
  • As expected, levels of α-tomatine and esculeoside A and B were substantially lower in the fruit of mutant plants.
  • 7-dehydrocholesterol was evenly distributed in the skin and flesh of the fruit, which limited the ability of UVB light to convert all the 7-dehydrocholesterol to vitamin D3.
  • Even so, a one-hour exposure of the fruit to UVB light produced about 2 μg of vitamin D3 in a medium sized tomato.
    • That is equivalent to the vitamin D3 found in two eggs or 6 ounces of tuna, which are both recommended sources of vitamin D3.
    • The only non-fortified foods that are better sources of vitamin D3 are salmon and trout, which provide about 15 μg of vitamin D3 in a 3-ounce serving
  • The authors further speculated that the vitamin D3 content could be increased even more by:
    • Cutting the fruit into slices and air drying them in sunlight.
    • Removing the gene that produces UV-protecting chalcones in the skin of the fruit, thus allowing UVB light to penetrate further into the fruit. This is typical thinking by some of my scientific colleagues. If one mutation is good, two or more would be even better.

The authors concluded, “We have developed a new dietary source of vitamin D in plants to meet the increasing demand for ways to address vitamin D insufficiency”

In the leaves:

  • Qualitatively, the results were similar to those seen with the fruit.
    • 7-dehydrocholesterol levels were very low in the wild-type tomato but were substantially increased in the mutant tomatoes.
    • Levels of α-tomatine and esculeoside A and B were substantially lower in the leaves of the mutant plants.
  • Quantitatively, however, the results were different.
    • The amounts of 7-dehydrocholesterol were 300 to 600-fold higher in the leaves than in the ripe fruit.
    • The amount of vitamin D3 produced by a one-hour exposure to UVB light was 1,000-fold higher in the leaves than in the ripe fruit.
  • While people don’t eat the leaves of tomato plants, the authors visualized a different use for this material.
    • They envisioned using what would otherwise be waste vegetative material from growing tomatoes to produce vitamin D3 for vitamin D supplements.
    • This would be particularly beneficial for vegans because most vegan sources of vitamin D are vitamin D2, which is less effective than vitamin D3.

In the words of the authors, “The leaves of the mutant plants are rich sources of 7-dehydrocholesterol…[and could be used] for the manufacture of vitamin D3 supplements from plants that would be suitable for vegans…”

The Good And Bad Of Genetically Modified Foods

good news bad newsLike much else in today’s world of social media and online blogs and podcasts, both the benefits and risks of genetic engineering have been greatly exaggerated. I have discussed this topic at length in a previous issue  of “Health Tips From The Professor”.

On the one hand, my genetic engineering colleagues tend to focus on the genetic alteration that is beneficial and ignore other changes in the genetically altered food that could pose some risk.

  • I would be the first to admit that most of the risks are very small and unlikely to occur, but I think each potential risk should be thoroughly investigated before we release the genetically altered plant into the world.
  • As an analogy, I will use the story of Pandora’s Box. Pandora was given the box by an angry Greek God, who told her never to open it. But her curiosity got the beat of her. Once Pandora opened the box, she released sickness, death, and other evils into the world. And once they had been released, there was no way to get them back into the box. We don’t want to run this kind of risk with genetically altered plants.

On the other hand, there are the “Chicken Little’s” of the world who assume every potential risk is real and warn us that, “The sky is falling”. Most of the risks are theoretical only. They may never happen. I am just saying they should be examined before we release genetically altered plants into the wild.

In this article, I will try to avoid both extremes. I will put on my “sceptic’s hat” (Every good scientist keeps one of those in his or her closet) and carefully evaluate the benefits and the risks associated with using both the fruit and the leaves of this genetically altered tomato plant.

Tomato Fruit Engineered To Produce Vitamin D3

The Benefit:

The benefit is obvious. As the authors said, tomatoes are a widely consumed worldwide. The availability of an inexpensive plant source of vitamin D3 could go a long way towards improving vitamin D status in third world countries where vitamin D3 supplementation may not be practical.

SkepticMy Concerns:

  1. Are there health risks?
  • Most genetically engineered foods contain a protein sequence that is not found in the non-modified food. This raises the possibility of food allergies to the novel protein. The good news is that a protein has been removed in this mutant plant. There is no novel protein, so the chance of these tomatoes triggering food allergies is extremely small.
  • However, these fruits do contain altered DNA. As I said in my previous article, one could imagine scenarios in which this could pose a health risk. I also pointed out that this is a theoretical concern, not one that has been proven to occur.
  • In addition, these fruits have been irradiated with high-intensity UVB light for an hour. This converts some of the 7-dehydrocholesterol to vitamin D3. But what else does it do to the fruit? Are some of the changes harmful? The authors didn’t ask.
  • Finally, these fruits don’t just have higher levels of vitamin D3. They also have much higher levels of 7-dehydrocholesterol than normal tomatoes. In humans, 7-dehydrocholesterol is made in the skin epidermis and there is very little in other tissues.

Is dietary 7-dehydrocholesterol a problem? We don’t know. One recent study speculated that dietary 7-dehydrocholesterol may increase the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease more than dietary cholesterol. Perhaps more study is required before we assume that this genetic modification is only beneficial.

   2) Are there environmental risks?

  • The same genetic change that increases the 7-dehydrocholesterol content of the fruit decreases α-tomatine and esculeoside A and B levels. As I stated above, α-tomatine and esculeoside A and B protect tomatoes from fungal, microbial, insect, and herbivoral attack (In my yard, herbivoral attack would be deer).
  • The authors did not describe how these tomatoes were grown, but I would assume it was in a hothouse. That is customary for studies of newly genetically engineered foods.
  • This raises the question of how pest susceptible these tomatoes would be when cultivated outdoors. Would increased amounts of pesticides and fungicides be needed to raise them? If so, what would the environmental impact be? The authors gave no indication that they had thought about the environmental impact if, in fact, these modified tomatoes were widely grown to solve the vitamin D insufficiency, as they proposed.

3) Is there a risk of cross-pollination?

  • This is a major concern for any genetically modified crop. If the modified gene were easily spread to nearby fields by cross-pollination, it could decease crop diversity and create major problems for organic farmers. Again, the authors gave no indication that they had even thought about this issue.

4) Would these tomatoes be accepted in developed countries?

  • I ask this question because the genetically modified Flavr Savr tomato was introduced in the US in 1996 thumbs down symbolwith much fanfare, only to be withdrawn from the market in 1999 due to lack of consumer demand.
  • And this tomato is both genetically engineered and irradiated. I am guessing most consumers would simply prefer to take a vitamin D3

My overall evaluation. Despite what you may hear from genetic engineering gurus, I would give these genetically engineered tomato fruits a thumbs down. There are too many unresolved questions and concerns to consider them to be a beneficial addition to our food supply.

Tomato Leaves Engineered To Produce Vitamin D3

The Benefit:

Again, the benefit is obvious. As the authors said, most experts consider vitamin D3 superior to vitamin D2, and there are no plant sources of vitamin D3 that can be used to produce vitamin D3 supplements. Leaves from this genetically modified tomato plant could be an inexpensive vegan source of vitamin D3.

My Concerns:

1.  Are there health risks?

  • Despite what the “Chicken Little’s” of the world may have told you, there are no health risks when an individual food ingredient is purified from a genetically modified organism. For example, vitamin D3 purified from these genetically modified tomato leaves will contain no genetic material (DNA), no protein, no UV-damaged molecules, and no 7-dehydrocholesterol. It will be chemically and biologically indistinguishable from vitamin D3 obtained from any other source.

2)  Are there environmental risks?

  • The environmental risks are the same as for the fruit.

3)  Is there a risk of cross-pollination?

  • The risk of cross-pollination is the same as for the fruit.

thumbs up4)  Would this source of vitamin D3 be accepted in developed countries?

  • This should not be a concern. Nutrients from genetically modified microorganisms are widely used in natural supplements. And UVB irradiation is already used in the production of both vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 Any UV-damaged molecules are removed in the final purification steps.

My overall evaluation. I would give the tomato leaves a tentative thumbs up. If the environmental and cross-pollination concerns can be overcome, the leaves could be a valuable vegan source of vitamin D3.

The Bottom Line 

Vitamin D insufficiency is a major problem, both worldwide and in the United States. A group of scientists have attempted to solve this problem by producing a genetically modified tomato plant that produces 7-dehydrocholesterol, which can be converted to vitamin D3 by UVB irradiation.

Plant foods are not generally a good source of vitamin D3. Tomatoes are grown and consumed in over 170 countries. Therefore, the scientists proposed widespread cultivation of this genetically modified tomato plant as a solution to worldwide vitamin D insufficiency.

In addition, the leaves of these genetically modified tomato plants contain more 7-dehydrocholesterol than the fruit. Most experts consider vitamin D3 superior to vitamin D2, and there are no plant sources of vitamin D3. The authors of this study further proposed that the leaves from this genetically modified tomato plant could be an inexpensive vegan source of vitamin D3.

As I have discussed in a previous “Health Tips From The Professor” article, both the benefits and risks of genetically modified foods have been greatly overstated. In this article, I evaluated both the benefits and risks of using the fruit as a plant source of vitamin D3 and the leaves to produce vegan vitamin D3 supplements.

Based on a careful evaluation of benefits and risks I give the genetically modified fruit a thumbs-down. There are simply too many unanswered questions.

On the other hand, I give vegan vitamin D3 supplements produced from the leaves a tentative thumbs up depending on whether environmental and cross-pollination concerns can be overcome.

For more details on this study, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Can Healthy Eating Help You Lose Weight?

Who Benefits Most From A Healthy Diet?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney 

fad dietsFad diets abound. High protein, low carb, low fat, vegan, keto, paleo – the list is endless. They all claim to be backed by scientific studies showing that you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and triglycerides, lower your blood pressure, and smooth out your blood sugar swings.

They all claim to be the best. But any reasonable person knows they can’t all be the best. Someone must be lying.

My take on this is that fad diet proponents are relying on “smoke and mirrors” to make their diet look like the best. I have written about this before, but here is a brief synopsis:

  • They compare their diet with the typical American diet.
    • Anything looks good compared to the typical American diet.
    • Instead, they should be comparing their diet with other weight loss diets. That is the only way we can learn which diet is best.
  • They are all restrictive diets.
    • Any restrictive diet will cause you to eat fewer calories and to lose weight.
    • As little as 5% weight loss results in lower cholesterol & triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and better control of blood sugar levels.

Simply put, any restrictive diet will give you short-term weight loss and improvement in blood parameters linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. But are these diets healthy long term? For some of them, the answer is a clear no. Others are unlikely to be healthy but have not been studied long term. So, we don’t know whether they are healthy or not.

What if you started from the opposite perspective? Instead of asking, “Is a diet that helps you lose weight healthy long term?”, what if you asked, “Can healthy eating help you lose weight?” The study (S Schutte et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 115: 1-18, 2022) I will review this week asked that question.

More importantly, it was an excellent study. It compared a healthy diet to an unhealthy diet with exactly the same degree of caloric restriction. And it compared both diets to the habitual diet of people in that area. This study was performed in the Netherlands, so both weight loss diets were compared to the habitual Dutch diet.

How Was The Study Done?

clinical studyThis was a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of clinical studies. The investigators recruited 100 healthy, abdominally obese men and women aged 40-70. At the time of entry into the study none of the participants:

  • Had diabetes.
  • Smoked
  • Had a diagnosed medical condition.
  • Were on a medication that interfered with blood sugar control.
  • Were on a vegetarian diet.

The participants were randomly assigned to:

  • A high-nutrient quality diet that restricted calories by 25%.
  • A low-nutrient-quality diet that restricted calories by 25%.
  • Continue with their habitual diet.

The study lasted 12 weeks. The participants met with a dietitian on a weekly basis. The dietitian gave them the foods for the next week and monitored their adherence to their assigned diet. They were advised not to change their exercise regimen during the study.

At the beginning and end of the study the participants were weighed, and cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure were measured.

Can Healthy Eating Help You Lose Weight?

Vegetarian DietTo put this study into context, these were not healthy and unhealthy diets in the traditional sense.

  • Both were whole food diets.
  • Both included fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean meats.
  • Both restricted calories by 25%.

The diets were designed so that the “high-nutrient quality” diet had significantly more plant protein (in the form of soy protein), fiber, healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3 fats), and significantly less fructose and other simple sugars than the “low-nutrient-quality” diet.

At the end of 12 weeks:

  • Participants lost significant weight on both calorie-restricted diets compared to the group that continued to eat their habitual diet.
    • That is not surprising. Any diet that successfully restricts calories will result in weight loss.
  • Participants on the high-nutrient quality diet lost 33% more weight than participants on the low-nutrient-quality diet (18.5 pounds compared to 13.9 pounds).
  • Participants on the high-nutrient quality diet lost 50% more inches in waist circumference than participants on the low-nutrient-quality diet (1.8 inches compared to 1.2 inches).
    • This is a direct measure of abdominal obesity.

When the investigators measured blood pressure, fasting total cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels:Heart Healthy Diet

  • These cardiovascular risk factors were significantly improved on both diets.
    • Again, this would be expected. Any diet that causes weight loss results in an improvement in these parameters.
  • The reduction in total serum cholesterol was 2.5-fold greater and the reduction in triglycerides was 2-fold greater in the high-nutrient quality diet group than in the low-nutrient-quality diet group.
  • The reduction in systolic blood pressure was 2-fold greater and the reduction in diastolic blood pressure was 1.67-fold greater in the high-nutrient quality diet group than in the low-nutrient-quality diet group.

The authors concluded, “Our results demonstrate that the nutrient composition of an energy-restricted diet is of great importance for improvements of metabolic health in an overweight, middle-aged population. A high-nutrient quality energy-restricted diet enriched with soy protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fats, and reduced in fructose provided additional health benefits over a low-nutrient quality energy-restricted diet, resulting in greater weight loss…and promoting an antiatherogenic blood lipid profile.”

In short, participants in this study lost more weight and had a better improvement in risk factors for heart disease on a high-nutrient-quality diet than on a low-nutrient-quality diet. Put another way, healthy eating helped them lose weight and improved their health.

Who Benefits Most From A Healthy Diet?

None of the participants in this study had been diagnosed with diabetes when the study began. However, all of them were middle-aged, overweight, and had abdominal obesity. That means many of them likely had some degree of insulin resistance.

Because of some complex metabolic studies that I did not describe, the investigators suspected that insulin resistance might influence the relative effectiveness of the two energy-restricted diets.

To test this hypothesis, they used an assay called HOMA-IR (homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance). Simply put, this assay measures how much insulin is required to keep your blood sugar under control.

They used a HOMA-IR score of 2.5 to categorize insulin resistance among the participants.

  • Participants with a HOMA-IR score >2.5 were categorized as insulin-resistant. This was 55% of the participants.
  • Participants with a HOMA-IR score ≤2.5 were categorized as insulin-sensitive. This was 45% of the participants.

When they used this method to categorize participants they found:

  • Insulin-resistant individual lost about the same amount of weight on both diets.
  • Insulin-sensitive individuals lost 66% more weight on the high-nutrient-quality diet than the low-nutrient-quality diet (21.6 pounds compared to 13.0 pounds).

The investigators concluded, “Overweight, insulin-sensitive subjects may benefit more from a high- than a low-nutrient-quality energy-restricted diet with respect to weight loss…”

What Does This Study Mean For You?

Questioning WomanSimply put this study confirms that:

  • Caloric restriction leads to weight loss, and…
  • Weight loss leads to improvement in cardiovascular risk factors like total cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
    • This is not new.
    • This is true for any diet that results in caloric restriction.

This study breaks new ground in that a high-nutrient quality diet results in significantly better:

  • Weight loss and…
  • Reduction in cardiovascular risk factors…

…than a low-nutrient quality diet. As I said above, the distinction between a “high-nutrient-quality” diet and a “low-nutrient-quality” diet may not be what you might have expected.

  • Both diets were whole food diets. Neither diet allowed sodas, sweets, and highly processed foods.
  • Both included fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats.
  • Both reduced caloric intake by 25%.
    • If you want to get the most out of your weight loss diet, this is a good place to start.

In this study the investigators designed their “high-nutrient-quality” diet so that it contained:

  • More plant protein in the form of soy protein.
    • In this study they did not reduce the amount of animal protein in the “high-nutrient-quality” diet. They simply added soy protein foods to the diet. I would recommend substituting soy protein for some of the animal protein in the diet.
  • More fiber.
    • The additional fiber came from substituting whole grain breads and brown rice for refined grain breads and white rice, adding soy protein foods, and adding an additional serving of fruit.
  • More healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3 fats).
    • The additional omega-3s came from adding a fish oil capsule providing 700mg of EPA and DHA.
  • Less simple sugars. While this study focused on fructose, their high-nutrient-quality diet was lower in all simple sugars.

ProfessorAll these changes make great sense if you are trying to lose weight. I would distill them into these 7 recommendations.

  • Follow a whole food diet. Avoid sodas, sweets, and highly processed foods.
  • Include all 5 food groups in your weight loss diet. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and lean proteins all play an important role in your long-term health.
  • Eat a primarily plant-based diet. My recommendation is to substitute plant proteins for at least half of your high-fat animal proteins. And this study reminds us that soy protein foods are a convenient and effective way to achieve this goal.
  • Eat a diet high in natural fibers. Including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy foods in your diet is the best way to achieve this goal.
  • Substitute healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3 fats) for unhealthy fats (saturated and trans fats) in your diet. And this study reminds us that it is hard to get enough omega-3s in your diet without an omega-3 supplement.
  • Reduce the amount of added sugar, especially fructose, from your diet. That is best achieved by eliminating sodas, sweets, and highly processed foods from the diet. I should add that fructose in fruits and some healthy foods is not a problem. For more information on that topic, I refer you to a previous “Health Tips” article .
  • Finally, I would like to remind you of the obvious. No diet, no matter how healthy, will help you lose weight unless you cut back on calories. Fad diets achieve that by restricting the foods you can eat. In the case of a healthy diet, the best way to do it is to cut back on portion sizes and choose foods with low caloric density.

I should touch briefly on the third major conclusion of this study, namely that the “high-nutrient quality diet” was not more effective than the “low-nutrient-quality” diet for people who were insulin resistant. In one sense, this was not news. Previous studies have suggested that insulin-resistant individuals have more difficulty losing weight. That’s the bad news.

However, there was a silver lining to this finding as well:

  • Only around half of the overweight, abdominally obese adults in this study were highly insulin resistant.
    • That means there is a ~50% chance that you will lose more weight on a healthy diet.
  • Because both diets restricted calories by 25%, insulin-resistant individuals lost weight on both diets.
    • That means you can lose weight on any diet that successfully reduces your caloric intake. That’s the good news.
    • However, my recommendation would still be to choose a high-nutrient quality diet that is designed to reduce caloric intake, because that diet is more likely to be healthy long term.

The Bottom Line 

A recent study asked, “Can healthy eating help you lose weight?” This study was a randomized controlled study, the gold standard of clinical studies. The participants were randomly assigned to:

  • A high-nutrient quality diet that restricted calories by 25%.
  • A low-nutrient-quality diet that restricted calories by 25%.
  • Continue with their habitual diet.

These were not healthy and unhealthy diets in the traditional sense.

  • Both were whole food diets.
  • Both included fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean meats.
  • Both restricted calories by 25%.

The diets were designed so that the “high-nutrient quality” diet had significantly more plant protein (in the form of soy protein), fiber, healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3 fats), and significantly less fructose and other simple sugars than the “low-nutrient-quality” diet.

At the end of 12 weeks:

  • Participants on the high-nutrient quality diet lost 33% more weight than participants on the low-nutrient-quality diet (18.5 pounds compared to 13.9 pounds).

When the investigators measured cardiovascular risk factors at the end of 12 weeks:

  • The reduction in total serum cholesterol was 2.5-fold greater and the reduction in triglycerides was 2-fold greater in the high-nutrient quality diet group than in the low-nutrient-quality diet group.
  • The reduction in systolic blood pressure was 2-fold greater and the reduction in diastolic blood pressure was 1.67-fold greater in the high-nutrient quality diet group than in the low-nutrient-quality diet group.

The authors concluded, “Our results demonstrate that the nutrient composition of an energy-restricted diet is of great importance for improvements of metabolic health in an overweight, middle-aged population. A high-nutrient quality energy-restricted diet enriched with soy protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fats, and reduced in fructose provided additional health benefits over a low-nutrient quality energy-restricted diet, resulting in greater weight loss…and promoting an antiatherogenic blood lipid profile.”

In short, participants in this study lost more weight and had a better improvement in risk factors for heart disease on a high-nutrient-quality diet than on a low-nutrient-quality diet. Put another way, healthy eating helped them lose weight and improved their health.

For more details on this study, what this study means for you, and my 7 recommendations for a healthy weight loss diet, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Relief From Shoulder Pain

A Simple Self-Treatment For The Infraspinatus Muscle

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

This summer has been HOT! HOT! HOT!

HotHigh temperature records were broken not just in the USA, but all over the world!  The funny thing is it was sometimes hotter up north than down here in Florida.  A snowbird client came in several weeks ago and told me they came back to Florida because they don’t have central air in their house up north (never needed it before).  That’s pretty incredible.

Now, I won’t say it’s cool outside, but September is not quite as hot as the summer months.  Which brings me to my treatment of the month – shoulder pain.

With it so hot I believe that a lot of people are getting relief be being in a pool, or a lake, or the ocean.  People are enjoying swimming, and if you are swimming a lot, you could easily get shoulder pain. There is a muscle called the Infraspinatus that is a key muscle for swimmers, so let’s chat about it.

A Swimmer’s Nemesis And Power – The Infraspinatus Muscle

This is what the back of your left shoulder looks like if you took off your skin – fascinating!

There are 16 muscles that all insert into your shoulder, each pulling your arm in a different direction.  Each is important and you use them all every day. But we won’t go into all of them this month, we’re just looking at the large muscle inside the red circle.  (I’m not an artist so saying “circle” is just using creative license – LOL)

This is the Infraspinatus, which originates on the surface of your shoulder blade (the scapula). It inserts into the tip of your arm bone (the humerus), and when it contracts it pulls your arm back.

Think of taking a tennis serve, or doing a backstroke in the pool, and you can visualize the movement this muscle makes.

How A Muscle Works To Move A Joint

Did you ever play “tug of war” with a stick and rope when you were young?  Basically, that’s how muscles work together to move our joints.  When the side that is on the right is pulling on the rope, the stick moves to the right. The only way the stick moves in the opposite direction, in this analogy it moves toward the left, is the right side needs to stop pulling and the left side starts to pull. When that happens, the stick moves toward the left.

This is exactly what happens in our body when we want to move a joint. Two muscles insert into a bone that is at the joint.  One muscle (let’s say the infraspinatus) pulls on the insertion point at the tip of the shoulder on your arm bone (humerus), and your arm moves back.  A muscle in the front of your shoulder/chest (pectoralis major) needs to release for your arm to move in that direction.

Then, when you want to bring your arm forward, the pectoralis major contracts and pulls on your humerus, and the infraspinatus must release tension so your arm can move.  It’s pretty simple, and it’s exactly what happens with every joint in your body.

In my books, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and The Pain-Free Athlete, I show you how to self-treat all the shoulder muscles. This month I’m going to share with you how to self-treat the infraspinatus muscle.

A Simple Self-Treatment For The Infraspinatus Muscle

As I mentioned, there are 16 muscles that move your shoulder in all the directions you do every day.  It is important to have each of the muscles free of spasms in order to have full range-of-motion. With that said, here is the self-treatment for the infraspinatus muscle.

You can use a slightly used tennis ball to treat the muscle, although it may be too soft to be effective. I’ve found a new tennis ball may be too hard. I strongly recommend that you never use a lacrosse ball as it is much too hard and could easily bruise the bone. A bone bruise can cause pain for up to a year, so it’s certainly something to avoid.

I prefer my Perfect Ball because it is solid in the center and has a layer of softness around the outside.  This softness enables you to work deeply into the muscle without potentially bruising the bone.

The pictures below show you where the muscle is located and where to place the ball.  You can either lean into the ball on a wall, or you can lie on the floor as shown below.

When you locate a “hot spot,” where it hurts as you press on the point, just stay there for 30 seconds.

Next, release the pressure for 5 seconds to allow blood to flow into the muscle, and then press into the muscle again.  Continue this until it no longer hurts, and then look for another point. Repeat this on each painful point to enable a full release of tension and relieve pain and stiffness.

Even without working on the other muscles of the shoulder, you’ll get considerable relief by treating the infraspinatus muscle.

Have You Listened To My TEDx Talk?

The title is “The Pain Question No One Is Asking.”  It points a finger at a HUGE missing piece in our health care, one that affects millions of people.  The topic is controversial, so much so that it almost wasn’t approved because it asks a question that certain people don’t want brought to light.

You can see it by going to YouTube and putting in “Julie Donnelly, Pain”.

Please “like” and “share” it with others so TED will see that this is a subject people want to know more about.  Thanks!

Looking Ahead To October

Next month we will be looking at the #2 most prevalent pain problem in the USA.  Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is debilitating, and incredibly painful.  I know because CTS shut down my therapy practice in 1997.  I’ll tell you the short version of that situation and how it was the catalyst for me developing the self-treatments that reversed it for me. I’m happy to say that the self-treatments I developed have also helped hundreds of people around the world eliminate this problem from their lives.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

www.FlexibleAthlete.com

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Health Tips From The Professor