Doctor’s Tip: A potpourri of health tips
Today’s column consists of several short health tips from recent issues of Nutrition Action, published monthly by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. This organization’s mission is to provide evidence-based information “to educate the public, advocate government policies that are consistent with scientific evidence on health, and counter [the food] industry’s powerful influence on public opinion and public policies.”
• The lead article’s title in the June issue was “Fake Fiber? Good for health … or selling junk?” The public is beginning to realize that fiber is important for optimal health. The food industry is taking advantage of this by adding “fake fiber” to junk food such as candy (gummy bears), cakes, pastries, doughnuts, and cookies — and implying that since these unhealthy items have “fiber” they can be eaten with abandon. “Fake fiber” can be made in a lab or by processing certain plant products (e.g. corn starch or tapioca). However, the only fiber that has been proven to have health benefits is intact fiber in whole plants — not fiber supplements or “fake fiber.” Even when there is real fiber in junk food, the benefits of the fiber are far outweighed by the harmful effects of the junk food.
• One out of three American adults have prediabetes, and nine out of 10 don’t know it.
• Seventy percent of American adults and 33 percent of children and teens are now overweight or obese. Compared with normal-weight people, the 10-year risk of diabetes is eight times higher for overweight people, 18 times higher for people in the obese range, and 30 times higher for the very obese. To see if you’re overweight, google BMI and plug in your height and weight.
• Most restaurants serve oversized portions, which leads people to believe that eating this amount of food is normal — so they overeat at subsequent meals. Do what the Okinawans do — stop eating when you’re 80 percent full — take half your meal home.
• Fish oil does not help with memory loss or dry eyes.
• B-vitamins, including B12, do not help fatigue or reduce fracture risk.
• Americans don’t live as long as people in other developed countries. Researchers recommend the following to improve longevity: don’t smoke; maintain ideal body weight; exercise moderately or vigorously for at least 30 minutes a day; and eat a diet high in vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, polyunsaturated (plant) fats, and omega-3 fats — and low in red and processed meats, sugar, trans fat and sodium.
• A2 cow’s milk is being promoted as easier to digest, but there is no good evidence to support that.
• Injecting carbon dioxide into liquid makes it bubbly (e.g. soda and sparkling water). However, this also makes the liquid acidic — made worse if acidic flavors such as lemon or lime are added. An acid environment in the mouth can erode tooth enamel — and the enamel never comes back. So it’s best to drink plain water (or tea) and avoid carbonated drinks. If you insist on drinking CO2-containing beverages, don’t brush your teeth within 30 minutes of drinking them.
• Kava root has been used by generations of Polynesians as a mild sedative, but is used just occasionally. Kava drinks and supplements are now being marketed in the U.S., but their effectiveness is unclear, and kava can cause liver toxicity.
• At this point there is no evidence that vitamin K supplements improve bone health.
Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and other medical issues. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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