Tag Archives: paleo

Multivitamins: A Multibillion Dollar Waste of Money

Pills Pouring out of BottleIt’s a shame that a multibillion dollar industry is fueled by misleading people. The business of supplementation is championed by big businesses who utilize fear-mongering tactics to influence the public. These companies disseminate biased data and purport ridiculous claims. ‘We are a nation of rising chronic disease, take this multivitamin.’ ‘We are a nation of malnourished kids, take this multivitamin.’ ‘Autism linked to vitamin deficiency, take this multivitamin.’ ‘Agriculture has ruined our soil; it is depleted of nutrients, take this multivitamin.’ It is an infestation of pseudoscience propaganda that gets delivered daily to our email inbox and shared via social media.

Last night, I was in my normal geek mode and came across a news story on my Flipboard feed; Are multivitamins a waste of money?  I was glad to see an article disputing the inaccurate claims made by the industry. The article quotes an editorial published in this week’s Annals of Internal Medicine to support the claim that using supplements and multivitamins to prevent chronic conditions is a waste of money.

Hallelujah! Continue reading

ENOUGH! Weight Loss is NOT Rocket Science

This blog should more appropriately be titled my rant of the month:

How many diet fads come out every year? Atkins, Zone, Paleo, Low-fat, South Beach, Intermittent Fasting are some of the most popular, but there are hundreds more pumped out every year. Why do we have new diets every year? Because there is not, nor will there ever be, a diet that can guarantee weight loss. Researchers keep making weight loss a scientific endeavor. The researchers then publish the findings, sell books, get rich and then the diet fades. Enough already, weight loss is not rocket science. It’s simple: balance energy by eating better and getting off of your ass. To prove my point let’s compare the data on a controversial issue: high-protein, low-carbohydrate vs. low-fat diets.

In 2002 a study done from Duke University researchers comparing a high protein low carb diet versus a traditional low-fat diet. The results of this study became much publicized and launched the Atkins Diet revolution. It hit mainstream media with a left and right hook. The diet quickly became one of the best-selling diet plans of all-time. But pundits refuted the data stating unreliable and invalid data. Today, there is valid points of discussion made by both sides.

Like most research and controversial issue, the data is for and against the high-protein diet is equivocal. In 2003, the New England Journal of Medicine published two studies which compared a low-carbohydrate diet to a calorie-restricted, low-fat diet in obese adults (1, 2). After six months both studies showed that low-carbohydrate subjects lost more weight and had significant reductions in markers for cardiovascular disease. This includes decreased triglyceride levels. However, after one year of performing the diets, weight loss and triglyceride levels were similar. But like many diets, compliance is an issue and in both studies there was a high dropout rate – thus data is unreliable.

As I had mentioned, pundits refuted the data. Most stated, that carbohydrate restriction was not the reason for weight loss, rather it was attributed to calorie deficit. This is similar to the systematic literature review done by Bravata, et al concluded that participant weight loss on low-carbohydrate diets was a result of caloric restriction, but carbohydrate restriction (3).

So Atkins, does yield weight loss, but why? Can I really eat a bacon cheeseburger (with no bun) and lose weight? Physiologically, carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source. When we eat carbohydrates the food is broken down and stored in skeletal muscle tissue and liver as glycogen, an easy to use energy source. When we eliminate carbohydrates from our diet we also eliminate glycogen stores.  Without glycogen, our body must use fat as energy. Subsequently, our body enters a state of ketosis – a state where ketone bodies are produced when fatty acids are broken down for energy. The loss of glycogen stores – and associated water loss – coupled with increased fat metabolism creates weight loss. In addition, the breakdown of fat is much more difficult than breaking down glycogen. Thus, our body must expend more energy to convert fat to energy (4) – burn energy to create energy.

But there are risks to eating a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet, right? The answer is yes and no. Many have stated a high-protein diet causes kidney and liver issues as well as abnormal insulin metabolism. Levine et al performed a research review  on low-carbohydrate diets and found little data to say a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet causes health concerns (5). However, many studies have found that the diet does cause common side effects such as constipation, nausea, weakness, dehydration, and fatigue.

Is there a winning diet method? Simply put – the answer is no. While South Beach, the Zone, Atkins and others have all remained the most popular, there is not winner. If there were some magical remedy we would never again have new diet fads. After reviewing all of the data there is one constant: all weight loss is associated with negative energy balance. Meaning, you are burning more calories than you are consuming.

Remember Super-Size Me? The guy who ate McDonald’s everyday and gained weight. Well have you heard of Doug Logeais? He ate McDonald’s everyday for 30 days and lost weight! How, he exercised. He trained most days of the week at a high intensity – he burned more calories than he consumed.  Has anyone seen Michael Phelps’ diet? Big Mac, Pizza, soda, ice cream, 10,000 calories per day in food, but nobody says he has a weight problem. He is a long, lean and the greatest Olympic athlete of all time. Does he need to change his diet? Can you honestly say that he is doing something wrong? He is fit because his exercise off-sets calorie consumption.

My final opinion: regular physical activity combined with a well-balanced diet is paramount.  Weight maintenance requires permanent changes to eating habits and increased physical activity. The specific strategies for making those changes, and making them permanent, will vary from person to person. So, instead of a walking through the local book store of the best-selling diet book, save your money. Take a walk through your neighborhood. Instead of cheeseburger and fries – order a turkey burger and side salad. This is not rocket science – quit trying to make it more difficult than it is.

References: 

1      Samaha FF, Iqbal N, Seshadri P, et al. A low-carbohydrate as compared with a low-fat diet in severe obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003;348:2074–2081.

2      Foster GD, Wyatt HR, Hill JO, et al. A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. N Engl J Med. 2003;348:2082–2090.

3      Bravata DM, Sanders L, Huang J, et al. Efficacy and safety of low-carbohydrate diets: a systematic review. JAMA. 2003;289(14):1837–1850.

4      Buchholz AC, Schoeller DA. Is a calorie a calorie? Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(suppl):899S–906S.

5      Levine MJ, Jones JM, Lineback DR. Low-carbohydrate diets: assessing the science and knowledge gaps, summary of an ILSI North America workshop. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106:2086–2094.

 

 

Stop Destroying your Body!!

Have you ever wondered why the ankle swells after a sprain or why we get a fever or why you get allergies around pollen? This does not happen because our body is weak; it happens because our body is strong and functioning as it should. Swelling after a sprain is needed to heal damaged tissue. Fever from flu is because our immune system is attacking a virus. Runny nose, watery eyes from allergies is a histamine response from your body to protect. Our body is designed to protect itself – we are robots that have specific programs in place to counteract disease or illness. Unfortunately, we are preventing our body from doing its job.

In the cells of your body is a class of proteins called Sirtuins. These have specific jobs that are designed to help the body function, live, and heal. SIRT1 is a specific type of Sirtuin that is specifically designed to facilitate metabolism. Yes this little guy helps breakdown and utilize the food you eat. Previously, Leonard Guarente of MIT found that this protein has many benefits including protection against Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. Most recently, they found that when mice were fed high-fat diets a myriad of metabolic disorders developed when the protein was absent.  These proteins are helping to keep cells alive and healthy.

We are killing these proteins and preventing them from doing their job. Research has proven that diets high in fat produce inflammation (see my blog). During the inflammation process an enzyme called Capase-1 is released. The specific job of Capase-1 is to go out and cleave (destroy) proteins and ultimately alter the primary objective of the protein. Are you following me?

When we eat a high-fat diet SIRT1 wants to begin metabolism, however the Capase-1 enzyme destroys SIRT1 before it can do its job. What happens next? Well, fatty deposit storage increases, followed by multiple metabolic and cardiovascular disorders such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension (to name a few). By limiting high-fat intake and foods that initiate inflammation, we can allow our body’s natural protective mechanisms to go to work.

Stop Destroying your Body.
Reference:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Protein that boosts longevity may protect against diabetes: Sirtuins help fight off disorders linked to obesity.” ScienceDaily, 8 Aug. 2012. Web. 11 Aug. 2012.

Is Your Diet Making You Sick?

Inflammation is the body’s biological response to repair tissue and initiate healing after injurious stimuli has damaged tissue. When an irritant begins to damage tissue, a chemical response ensues. This response causes significant signs: Pain, Heat, Redness, Swelling and loss of function. Inflammation is how we survive and heal. Without this natural response, disease would take over our body. Inflammation is necessary; however, it can also be a serious problem, especially when the condition becomes chronic.

The inflammatory response is the same regardless of the location or the stimulus that caused injury. After trauma occurs hemodynamic changes occur along with the production of exudate or edema. In acute inflammation, the tissue initiates a repair and remodeling event to return tissue to a normal state. If the inflammation fails to resolve, or inflammatory mediators remained elevated, the tissue will begin a cyclical process of a continued inflammatory response; this is when chronic inflammation occurs.

Chronic inflammation is a common factor that may contribute to development of chronic diseases (1). Many diseases are now classified as inflammatory diseases, such as, vasculitis, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and arthritis. Elevated C-reactive protein (CPR) in the blood is a sign of inflammation. Individuals with chronically elevated CRP are three times more likely to have a heart attack than those who have low –levels. Now, studies are finding a correlation between chronic inflammation, chronic disease and poor diet.

Researchers have found the diet has an influence on inflammation. Specifically, excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, low dietary fiber intake, and a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratios are strongly associated with the production of proinflammatory molecules (2). Additionally, antioxidant’s decrease inflammation, and the low intake of antioxidants contributes to a proinflammatory state exacerbates disease (2). One large study compared a Western diet and a paleo-like diet. The western diet contained more red meat, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat. The Western diet group had greater levels of inflammatory markers, including CRP and E-selectin (3). Those following the paleo-like diet had a significant decrease of inflammatory markers (3).

In addition, the Mediterranean diet, which is comprised of whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids was found to reduce inflammatory markers compared to baseline levels and eliminate metabolic syndrome after two years of following a Mediterranean diet and exercise (4).   Cytokines, which are another key for chronic inflammation, are released by adipocytes. Thus general fat loss can reduce the expression of cytokines.

Clinical studies in adults with high cholesterol have shown that nuts lower LDL-cholesterol while improving the overall blood lipid profile (5). Frequent nut and seed consumption is associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), IL-6 and fibrinogen, even after adjusting for confounding factors(6). Consuming a high-almond diet (68 g/d per 8386 kJ) for four weeks significantly decreased serum E-selectin compared with the control diet in healthy men and women (6).

Chronic inflammation is linked to chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and arthritis. The rise of these diseases over the past few decades may be linked to the Western diet of saturated fats, low antioxidants, and refined carbohydrates. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and nuts as well as whole grains and high fiber have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation markers in the blood. Diet plays a much larger role than previously thought in the prevention of chronic disease. Are you ready to change your diet?

References:

  1. Stehouwer CDA, Gall M-A. Twisk JWR, Knudsen E. Emeis JJ. Parving H-H. Increased urinary albumin excretion, endothelial dysfunction and chronic low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes: progressive, interrelated, and independently associated with risk of death. Diabetes. 2002;51(4): 1157-1165.
  2. Neustadt J. Western Diet and Inflammation. IMCJ. Vol. 10: 2  Apr/May 2011.
  3. Lopez-Garcia E, Schulze MB, Fung TT, et al. Major dietary patterns are related to plasma concentrations of markers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Am JClin Nutr. 2004;80(4):1029-1035.
  4. Neustadt J. The food pyramid and disease prevention. Integr Med. 2005;4(6):14-19.
  5. Mukuddem-Petersen J, Oosthuizen W & Jerling J. A systematic review of the effects of nuts on blood lipid profiles in humans. J Nutr. 135: 2005. 2082–2089.
  6. Rajaram, S, Connell, KM, and Sabate´ J. Effect of almond-enriched high-monounsaturated fat diet on selected markers of inflammation: a randomised, controlled, crossover study. BR J of Nut.  2010: 103, 907–912.