FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Fighting Prostate Cancer with Food?

Plants contain phytochemicals

Nutrition and cancer associations have  been studied for years and unfortunately never have produced any practical, reasonable or consistent results as far as dietary therapeutic or preventive effects. Here are two interesting studies that at least suggest that maybe, just maybe, some cancer cells could be controlled by dietary phytochemicals from plant foods. The question remains as to just what combinations of these plant chemicals do the best job or are most efficacious and safe.

So what to do in the meantime? In my opinion, the take home message is to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits containing phytochemicals that work in a synergistic manner rather than individually. It appears that eating one type of food the media often labels “superfood”  for example, would probably have little effect on cancer cell destruction. That does help to explain why cancer research has not so far produced any promising dietary interventions. But stay tuned as we learn more. Be aware that dietary treatments for cancer have  dominated the area of nutrition quackery for decades.  There are few clinical trials available that test the diet-cancer hypothesis. For sure, cancer patients should not be reliant on untested cancer treatments from any source.

CLICK HERE.

An interesting video about this topic has been published from  Michael Greger, MD, FACLM on his website, NutritionFacts.org. To view this website and video:

CLICK HERE.


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The Lessons from Okinawa

Okinawan Market

Some of my favorite ways to study the effects of diets and lifestyles on health  is to take an objective look at the healthiest cultures on the planet. Although these studies are observational, they study real people living in a real environment. They provide us with invaluable information about how health and longevity are affected by the culture in which we live.  Granted, your diet is only part of the total equation.  And it must be emphasized that these healthy patterns are based on traditional habits of these cultures. When Western-type diets invade these populations, time and time again, their positive health statistics change generally for the worst. Please watch the video and then go out and buy some sweet potatoes.

CLICK HERE.


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Can a Supplement Extend Life?

One of the current theories of aging or longevity is the Telomere Theory. This theory claims that shorter or longer telomeres can predict how long we live. See a previous post HERE. Research tells us that the evidence of lifestyle interventions (diets, supplements, etc) to support these claims is weak. Bottom line: Be skeptical of companies that promote  diets or supplements that promise to affect your telomeres leading to increased health or longevity.

CLICK HERE.


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Websites: How reliable are they?


 

The article provides good advice for any website, but especially medical or nutrition websites.  They often seem to promote misinformation that sometimes borders on the absurd or at the least,  unsubstantiated by sound research.

Who can you believe? The term “nutritionist” is not legally defined and is used by a wide variety of people from those who seek a PhD from a non-accredited school to health food store representatives with no formal training. Registered Dietitians (RD) are nutritional professionals who have completed a a four year college degree and additionally  have met established criteria to certify them to provide nutrition counseling. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Medical Association and the American Institute for Cancer Research are non -profit organizations that provide reliable sources of nutrition information.

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The Nordic Diet? Is it Healthy?

The traditional diets rich in butter, meat, potatoes and cream of the Nordic countries are changing and so is the health profiles of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Fruit and vegetable intake was low due the lack of availability and short growing seasons.

  • In Finland, a national public health program resulted in heart disease mortality that plummeted 55 percent among men and nearly 70 percent among women.
  • In Norway, deaths from heart disease have declined sharply by 40 percent in the 40 to 49 years old age group  since the late 1970’s.
  • Life expectancy has increased in Sweden continues to rise. Cancer rates remain significantly less of a threat in this geographical area according to World Health Organization statistics.

Could their diet changes be one of the factors responsible? Take a look at the Nordic Diet.

CLICK HERE.

Check out a previous post on this diet HERE.


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The Search for a “Healthy Diet”

By Sally Feltner, PhD, MS, RDN  March 18, 2017

Does your doctor often say, “Watch your diet” or have you noticed that most diet advice recommends that you eat “a healthy diet.” But honestly, why should we believe anything nutrition scientists have to say at this point? There’s been little consistency in the advice we’ve been given for decades. We have gone from hearing advice, to advice, that contradicts the first advice, and now we’re back in some cases to the original advice again. A lot of that advice has even turned out to be actually harmful. Remember the recommendation in the middle 1990’s to switch to trans-fat laden margarines

When I first began to study nutrition in the 1980’s, we knew little about the causes of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes as well as dementia, bone loss, you name it. I have been through the low fat, the low carb, the high fiber, the whole grain, the low fat dairy eras etc. . as well as just about any fad diet or gimmick you could think of. What have we learned? Not much. We are still searching for the perfect diet, the magic supplement, the best “superfood” to keep us healthy and increase our lifespan.

This is not to say that there have not been any important discoveries. Back in the early days of nutrition research, the discovery of vitamins and minerals saved thousands of lives. We have clearly eliminated the deficiency diseases, at least in developed countries, of scurvy, beriberi, pellagra as well as the prevention of goiter (iodine). More recently, we learned to prevent the devastating effects of neural tube defects with the fortification of folate in grain products.

Recently, the latest rankings of the U.S. News and World Report 2017 Best Diet Rankings were published. The three best diets overall as well as the three best diets for healthy Eating were:

These three diets are important because each one has been shown be associated with positive health benefits. The DASH diet benefits are associated with blood pressure control and thus an decreased heart disease risk. The Mediterranean diet has heart benefits and improved cognitive (Alzheimer’s) health, and the aim of the MIND diet is a combination of the other two diets – the DASH and Mediterranean that zeroes in on foods in each that specifically affect brain health. Both the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet won honors in easiest to follow, important with any diet attempt. There is no sense to attempt a diet you cannot feasibly follow. It  should not be a “diet”, but a lifestyle.

Nutrition professionals need to be careful about how we support what we say. Instead of “we know,” we have to just admit that “we think.” People often become resentful when we pretend to know more than we really do and tell them what to eat and then have to backtrack on that advice years later.

Fortunately, there are other says to assess diet quality. For now, we also can rely on the observational studies that look at the traditional diets of certain populations and cultures have shown us the many lifestyles factors including diet that confer health and longevity.