What Does “Fattening” Mean?

Spaghetti, Noodles, Tomatoes, Pasta

A term used for decades to describe foods that would make one gain weight was the expression of  “fattening”.

Moderate avoidance (though not totally responsible) of these foods became the conventional wisdom to help avoid weight gain and became a dieter’s mantra.  In fact, food history indicates that body-weight was relatively stable until about the late 1990’s in the United States. At that time, dietary advice had shifted to low-fat diets with the added disadvantage of food companies at the time replacing fat in their food products with more carbohydrate-containing foods.

Keep in mind- basic biochemistry tells us that all carbohydrates (except for dietary fiber) are eventually converted to glucose in the body to be used for energy.  We are further reminded that some carbs are referred to as “starchy” (bad) and others as “non starchy” (good ).

The following article further elucidates the term of what are now commonly referred to as “white foods” and refers to their state of processing – refined or unrefined and how they may participate in our current obesity epidemic.

CLICK HERE.

The Microbiome: What We Know

Friendly Bacteria

The microbiome is one of the hot topics in the world of diet and nutrition science. Many claims are being made that attempt to associate “healthy” and “unheathy” microbes in the gut with certain diseases, e.g. Parkinson’s,  depression and even autism.

Here are some facts:

The gut microbiome is the most complex ecosystem in the world.

Diversity in the microbiome leads to health and is governed by our diet.

Seventy percent of Americans have digestive related symptoms or disease.

Diets can change the biome in 24 hours; however, usually this change is temporary.

Probiotics are not the only answer. Prebiotics may play more of a  role in feeding the microbiome and keeping it healthy. Short chain fatty acids called butyrate and other metabolites can be  the fuel for intestinal bacteria. It may be protective against the dangerous low-grade inflammation thought to be caused by a high-fat /high sugar diet or artificial sweeteners.

Prebiotic Foods: 

Jerusalem artichokes Sauerkraut
Onions Maple Syrup
Chickory root (inulin) Peas
Garlic Legumes
Leeks Eggplant
Bananas Honey
Fruit Green Tea
Soybeans Yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir

Best Advice: EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!

The composition of the microbiome can help to shape a healthy immune system.

In my opinion, we still are in the infancy stage in knowing just what microbes are helpful or harmful and how they affect our health.  We do know that treatment with fecal transplants can help to treat a persistent condition called Clostridium difficle or C. diff that can occur after using antibiotics or being in the hospital. Just recently, a friend of mine says she had the disease without taking antibiotics or being hospitalized; therefore, it may occur in the community as well.

The following article provides some common sense knowledge about this topic with some advice on dealing with the issue of diet, prebiotics and probiotics for our health.

CLICK HERE.

The Myths and Realities of Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements: The Myths and Realities

In 1994 Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which led to an explosion of manufactured compounds which are now number to more than 80,000 products on the market and the number continues to grow. Types of dietary supplements include:

  • Vitamins and minerals (Vitamin C and E, selenium)
  • Herbs (botanicals such as ginseng, ginkgo)
  • Proteins and amino acids (chondroitin sulfate, creatine)
  • Hormones, hormone precursors (DHEA, vitamin D)
  • Fats (fish oils, EPA, DHA)
  • Other Plant extracts (garlic capsules, fiber, echinacea, green tea)

A recent edition of Consumer Reports (December 2019) has provided a very comprehensive article by Kevin Loria entitled “Shop Smarter About Supplements”  that everyone should read if you take any dietary supplements to fully understand why consumers should be aware of the realities, both positive and negative of these products. Americans place lot of trust in diet supplement safety even though they are largely unregulated.

Here are some FACTS: Source: Consumer Reports

  • Percentage of Americans who take a supplement at least once a week: 68%
  • Percentage of Americans who take a supplement once a day: 54%
  • Percentage of Americans who say “supplements are safe”: 71%
  • Percentage of Americans who think supplements are tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): 48%
  • Percentage of Americans who think the term “natural” means a supplement is safe or wholesome: 33%
  • Percentage of Americans who think supplements are safer than Rx or over-the-counter drugs: 38%
  • Percentage of Americans who think supplements usually work as well as Rx drugs: 32%

However, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, diet supplements do not have to be tested prior to marketing or shown to be safe or effective. Although they are often advertised to relieve certain ailments, they are not considered to be drugs. They are not subjected to vigorous testing to prove safety or effectiveness, as drugs must be. The FDA largely relies on any claims from the manufacturers.  It has been shown that many industry-funded studies only favor positive results and many negative effects never see the light of day. So when you read in a headline for a supplement, “clinical trials have shown…,” the bias of the manufacturer of the study results may be suspected.

In fact, each supplement label must include the following declaration of any claim:

“This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

To summarize the realities:

  • FDA does not approve, test, or regulate the manufacture or sale of dietary supplements.
  • The FDA has limited power to keep potentially harmful dietary supplements off the market.
  • Dietary supplements often do not list side effects, warnings, or drug or food interactions on product labels.
  • Ingredients list on dietary supplement labels may not include all active ingredients.
  • Dietary supplements may not relieve problems or promote health and performance as advertised.
  • Many products may remain on the market because “there’s a strong placebo effect.”
  • “People will feel better if they think they’re going to feel better.”

What Can You Do?

  • Purchase supplements labeled  USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) and Consumer Laboratories (CL). They are tested for purity, ingredients and dose but does not address product safety of effectiveness directly.
  • Terms such as release assured, laboratory tested, quality tested, and scientifically blended on supplement labels guarantee nothing.
  • Check expiration dates on supplements.
  • Choose supplements containing 100% of the Daily Value or less.
  • Take supplements with meals.
  • Avoid calcium supplements made from oyster shells, bone or coral calcium. They may contain lead or aluminum.
  • Store supplements where small children cannot get at them. A high incidence of trips to the ER involve overdosing of a certain supplement by young children. Taking a large dose of iron can be life-threatening that can damage the intestinal lining and and may cause liver damage.
  • Tell your health provider about the supplements you take.  Consult your provider about health problems before you start taking supplements to try to treat health problems with herbal supplements.

Source: Judith E. Brown, Nutrition Now, 7th Edition.

Is Our Intake of Vegetable Oils Inflammatory?

Is Our Intake of Vegetable Oils Inflammatory? Some research suggests so.

Chronic inflammation is associated with the onset of many chronic diseases including heart disease and cancer. From eating different types of polyunsaturated fats, we can influence the presence of inflammation by the fact that certain hormone-like compounds called eisosanoids within the body are produced from polyunsaturated fats that affect blood clotting, blood pressure, immune function, and the inflammatory response. These fats are called omega-6 (inflammatory) or omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) fatty acids.

The problem is that the American Diet contains too many omega-6 and too little omega-3 fats. We ideally evolved on a ratio of these fatty acids as 1:1. Currently our diet has an unbalanced ratio of 1:20 of 6’s and 3’s respectively. The following article addresses the research that suggests that this issue may be partly responsible for our higher cancer rates than found in other countries with a more favorable ratio (closer to 1:1 of these fats. The last part gives us some sound advice on what to do with your diet to alleviate this problem.

CLICK HERE.

Lifestyle Factors and Dementia

Photo by Adam Jaime on Unsplash

There is a lot of attention being paid to the importance of lifestyle factors in the onset of chronic diseases we may encounter as we age. Alzheimer’s disease is dreaded by many people as well as other diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.

For a comprehensive article on the latest findings and facts for prevention and/or delay of onset, CLICK HERE.

It’s important to realize that these factors are still controversial and need more studies to follow up their effects on chronic diseases; however, drug therapy is sadly lacking at the present time and healthy living is not toxic and may be less inflammatory to our bodies.  Hopefully, as we learn more, healthy people can practice these lifestyles earlier in life rather than waiting until the disease process has begun.

Is Healthy Food More Expensive?

“Nobody disagrees: We Americans eat badly. We eat too many calories, too much highly processed food and not nearly enough vegetables.

Why is that? Ask the question, and you get a lot of answers, which is appropriate for a matter as complex as a country’s diet. But one of the answers that bubbles to the top almost every time is that nutritious food just costs more.” But does it?

Another  factor that has affected our eating behavior more recently is “Where do Americans Eat?” Another factor is flavor, taste.  Please read the Comments at the end of the article – they are always interesting and straight from the consumer’s standpoint.

CLICK HERE.

Red Meat: Use Some Common Sense

This debate still continues to capture the headlines – is red meat healthy or not for us or the planet? Food, Facts and Fads will continue to follow the research and attempt to offer some reasonable advice about this issue. Best approach? Be reasonable with your red meat consumption until further notice, but don’t panic. Americans are avid meat eaters and it’s difficult to know who to trust due to the biases of each side. For the latest CLICK HERE.