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Get Calcium from Foods, Not Pills

Osteoporosis or low bone mass affects 55 percent of people over age 50 in the United States, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. A study of 1,064 women followed for 15 years shows that not getting enough calcium is associated with smaller spinal bones and weaker spines. You need an adequate amount of calcium to keep your bones strong, but many people take calcium pills when they should be getting their calcium from foods. Calcium pills have not been shown to strengthen bones and they can have many serious side effects.

Fiber Wins Again

Two new studies add to the huge body of research showing that perhaps the most important dietary recommendation is to eat lots of fiber, which is found in plants. You keep on gaining health benefits until you reach at least 25 to 29 grams of fiber per day.

Coffee Guidelines

The European Food Safety Authority has just released a 120-page report reviewing the health benefits and risks of coffee and advises against drinking more than four cups of coffee per day. The U.S 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends close to the same limit.

More Reasons to Eat Plants

Two strong studies show that 1) giving people with heart disease a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat is more effective than taking statin drugs in preventing heart attack deaths, and 2) eating red meat regularly increases risk for death from a heart attack.

Stevia May Affect Gut Bacteria

Amid growing concerns about artificial sweeteners, many of my readers asked whether stevia can also change gut bacteria. Stevia is a sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of a plant, Stevia rebaudiana, and is almost 200 times sweeter than regular table sugar. In 2008, the FDA declared that stevia was safe in foods and beverages.

Should You Eat Breakfast?

Skipping breakfast will not help you lose weight or cause you to gain weight. This month's issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition contains three studies on breakfast. One study shows that whether you eat breakfast or not doesn't affect your weight at all (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014;100:507-13). Three hundred volunteers...

Desire for Junk Food is in Your Genes

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors spent all their waking hours scrounging for food and trying to keep from starving to death. They developed a taste for the most calorie-dense foods that satisfied best, such as honey, meats and starchy roots.

How Red Meat May Increase Risk for Cancer

This week, Dr. Ajit Varki of the University of California at San Diego showed for the first time that feeding genetically-engineered mice a sugar called Neu5Gc, found in red meat, caused them to produce anti-Neu5Gc antibodies that caused spontaneous cancers (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online Dec. 29, 2014). Several previous studies...

Eating at Night Increases Risk for Obesity and Diabetes

A study of 20 healthy, normal-weight people found that changing their evening meal from 6PM to 10PM significantly increased their markers for becoming obese and developing diabetes.

Eat More of the Good Carbs

People who ate the most whole grains were at the lowest risk for developing diabetes, according to a recent review of data from the Nurses' Health Studies and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study.

Don’t Count Calories

Contestants on the television program The Biggest Loser dropped an average of 129 pounds, yet six years later, most have regained more than 70 percent of their lost weight, largely because dieting decreased their ability to burn calories. They now burn about 500 fewer calories each day than would be expected for a person of the same age and weight.

Cooking and Human Evolution

For years, anthropologists have told us that humans dominate the earth because they learned to make tools that could kill big animals that would give them more food so that they could survive. Dr Richard Wrangham of Harvard thinks they are all wrong. He thinks that man dominates earth because he learned how to cook.

Long Fasts May Increase Diabetes Risk

At the European Society of Endocrinology meeting in Barcelona (May 20, 2018), a study was presented that found that three months of alternating 24-hours of fasting on one day and eating unrestricted food on the next day caused rats to eat less total food and lose total body fat, but the rats developed signs of becoming diabetic.

Alcohol Has No Health Benefits

A study from New Zealand showed that 30 per cent of alcohol–related deaths were from cancer, and 60 per cent of those deaths were from breast cancer. One third of these deaths were associated with an average of fewer than two drinks a day.

Fiber Helps to Prevent and Treat Obesity and Diabetes

More than 70 percent of North American adults are overweight and almost 50 percent will become diabetic. A new study from China shows that eating more fiber-containing foods encourages growth of bacteria in your colon that can lower high blood sugar levels to normal.

Ignore Grain Brain and Wheat Belly: Eat WHOLE Grains

Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis and Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter are two best-selling books that tell you to avoid wheat and other grains. Dr Davis claims that wheat makes you fat and causes many diseases, and by eliminating wheat you will lose weight and prevent these diseases. Actually, he proposes a low-carbohydrate diet that may cause you to lose weight, but he does not have data to show that it helps you keep that weight off over time. He and Dr. Perlmutter both claim that avoiding wheat cures diseases, but they have no data to support these wild claims . . .

How Gut Bacteria Affect Weight

Since bacteria in your colon eat the same food that you do, what you eat determines which types of bacteria thrive in your colon. These bacteria are a prime driver of how high your blood sugar rises after meals and how many calories you absorb from the food you eat.

Are Processed Foods Making Us Fatter?

A small but well-designed study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows how eating processed foods, compared to unprocessed foods, leads you to eat more calories per day and gain more weight.

How Much Alcohol is Safe?

A review of 83 scientific studies covering almost 600,000 current alcohol drinkers in 19 higher-income countries shows that men and women who take in as few as six drinks a week (100 grams of alcohol) are at increased risk for death from strokes, heart failure, heart disease and aortic aneurysms, but not heart attacks.

Do You Need Vitamin D Pills?

North Americans spent more than $936 million on vitamin D pills in 2017, doctors ordered more than 10 million laboratory tests for vitamin D for Medicare patients at a cost of $365 million in 2016, and 25 percent of older adults take vitamin D supplements. A Kaiser Health News investigation recently reported that the man most responsible for the obsession with vitamin D pills, Boston endocrinologist Michael Holick, has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by supplement and drug manufacturers, the indoor-tanning industry and commercial laboratories that run blood tests for vitamin D.

Sugar-Added Foods Increase Diabetes Risk

Sugar-added to foods, but not in whole fruits, increases risk for diabetes, heart attack and premature death, according to a new summary of animal and human studies, clinical trials in humans and epidemiological human population studies (Mayo Clinic Proceedings, published online January 29, 2015). The report shows that adding sugar to foods and processing...

What Makes a Healthful Recipe?

All of my healthful recipes fit into the Modified DASH Diet that Dr. Mirkin recommends for total health (to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, control weight and prevent or control diabetes): Up to 8 servings of WHOLE grains (serving size is 1/2 cup) At least 5 Vegetables At least 5 Fruits Up to 3 servings of fat free...

Another Reason Not to Take Calcium Pills

A well-planned study shows that taking calcium pills, both with and without vitamin D, is associated with increased risk for pre-malignant serrated colon polyps.

Dietary Changes Lecture Slides

This video contains slides from Dr. Gabe Mirkin's 2018 lecture on Dietary Changes to Help You Lose Weight and Prevent Heart Attacks, Diabetes and Cancers    

How Fiber Helps to Prevent Disease

We have known for a long time that high-fiber foods such as vegetables, fruits and seeds are associated with lower risk for heart attacks, strokes, many cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes, dementia and other diseases. Recent studies on gut bacteria are helping to explain why fiber-rich foods are beneficial.

Eating Fermented Foods Can Improve Colon Bacteria

A study from Stanford shows that eating fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, fermented cottage cheese, kimchi, fermented vegetables, vegetable brine drinks, and kombucha increases the diversity of colon bacteria, which decreases inflammation associated with many different diseases. The more fermented foods you eat, the greater the gain in bacterial diversity.

Take Vitamin D Pills Only If You Have a Deficiency

Doses of vitamin D greater than 4,000 IUs increase risk for kidney stones, calcification of blood vessels and even the very cardiovascular disease you were seeking to prevent. The dose of vitamin D recommended by the National Academy of Sciences is 600 international units daily for those up to 70 years of age , and 800 IU for those over 71.

Milk is Not Essential for Health

The main argument for drinking milk is its high calcium content. Milk and cheese contribute 46 percent of the calcium intake by the average American, but researchers have found many recent studies showing that American adults do not need to take in that much milk to provide enough calcium to help prevent bone fractures.

Artificial Sweeteners Are Not Benign

Researchers followed 104,760 participants and found that people who drink large amounts of either sugared drinks or artificially sweetened beverages are at increased risk for developing new heart disease such as stroke, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), heart attacks or acute coronary syndrome

Fried vs Unfried Potatoes

A study of 4400 North American men and women, ages 45 to 79, followed for eight years, showed that those who ate fried potatoes two or more times a week were at increased risk for dying during the study period, compared to those who ate fried potatoes occasionally. Those who ate potatoes that were not fried had no increased risk of death.