Subscribe to Dr. Mirkin's free FITNESS & HEALTH NEWSLETTER      

Cheese and Yogurt are OK, but Milk is a High Sugar Drink

Milk is a high-sugar drink. We know that D-galactose, a sugar found in milk, causes the same oxidative damage and chronic inflammation that is associated with diabetes, heart attacks, certain cancers and bone loss.

Limit Fried and Browned Foods

A study of more than 150,000 older U.S. veterans showed that eating fried foods is associated with increased risk for heart attacks (Clinical Nutrition, July 05, 2019). Another study of almost 107,000 women, ages 50-79, followed for an average 18 years, found that one serving or more of fried chicken a week was associated with a 13 percent higher risk of death during the study period, and a serving of fried fish or shellfish per week was associated with a seven percent greater risk of death.

Big Sugar Paid Harvard to Say that Sugar is Healthful

My faith in several of my Harvard mentors during the 1950s and 1960s has been shattered by an article that appeared this week in JAMA Internal Medicine (September 12, 2016). Cristin E. Kearns, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF, discovered letters in the archives at Harvard, the University of Illinois and other libraries showing that...

Overnight Fasting

Fasting can help people lose weight and slow the diseases being overweight causes (Obesity, Feb 2018;26(2):254-268). For several years I have been recommending the various types of intermittent fasting, but perhaps the easiest way to use fasting for weight loss and weight control is just to eat during the daytime and avoid eating at night.

Pesticides

Many people who want to follow a high-plant diet are concerned about pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 20,000 farmers and their families are poisoned by pesticides each year, but no studies have shown pesticide poisoning from routine consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Is Honey More Healthful than Sugar?

Some people believe that honey is more healthful than sugar. They tell us that honey is a quicker source of energy and a rich source of minerals, and is less fattening. All of these claims are untrue. As far as your body is concerned, there is no difference between honey and table sugar.

How to Cook Whole Grains

Whole grains are easy to cook on the stovetop, just as you would cook rice or pasta. I always cook one pound (2½ cups) of whole grains at a time, since they keep well -- refrigerated or frozen. Leftovers can be reheated in a microwave or used in salads. I make my own "instant grains" by packaging ½-1 cup portions in baggies and storing them in the freezer. They take a minute or less to thaw in the microwave.

Processed Meats and Cancer Risk

The World Cancer Research Fund International Continuous Update Project has released its recent findings from their review of about 400 studies. They found that the risk for colorectal cancer increases by 12 percent for every 100 grams per day of processed meat or red meat.

Hidden Sugars

The average North American takes in 150 to 200 pounds of sugar a year. Most of your sugar intake comes from added sugars in drinks and packaged, frozen and canned foods that you buy in grocery stores or eat in restaurants. More than 75 percent of the packaged foods in your grocery store have added sugar in them. Many of these foods do not taste particularly sweet, so you don't even realize that you are eating sugars.

High Doses of Water-Soluble Vitamins May Be Harmful

It is well-known that taking large doses of the fat-soluble vitamins -- A, D, E and K -- can harm you. You may also be harmed by large doses of the water-soluble B vitamins or vitamin C.

Why Whole Grains are Healthful

A popular book, Grain Brain, claims that carbohydrates are "destroying your brain". He says that "even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more". A similar book, Wheat Belly, makes many of the same claims. Most of these authors' arguments against eating carbohydrates are based on data about refined carbohydrates and excess calories.

Good News About Nuts and Peanuts

Several recent articles show that eating tree nuts or peanuts with a high-fat or high-sugar meal prevents the expected high rise in blood factors that increase risk for the inflammation that can lead to diabetes, heart attacks or strokes.

Artificial Sweeteners, Obesity and Diabetes

Virtually all scientists agree that North Americans need to reduce their intake of sugar, but their views on artificial sweeteners are not as clear. Increasing evidence is showing that artificial sweeteners are not benign substitutes for sugar. In a new study, people who took sucralose (an artificial sweetener) for just one week developed signs of insulin resistance and diabetes.

Eat Breakfast, Especially if You Want to Lose Weight

If you are trying to control your weight, you should not skip breakfast because the food that you eat in the morning causes you to burn more than two and a half times as many calories as the food you eat at night.

New Data on Meat

Researchers followed 536,000 men and women, ages 50 to 71, for an average 16 years and found that those who ate the most meat from mammals and processed meat had a 26 percent greater risk of dying within the study period than those who ate the least.

Heart Attacks Again Linked to Red Meat

A prospective study from nine European countries (European Heart Journal Trial) followed for 12.6 years showed that heart attacks are strongly associated with eating mammal meat and processed meats. Many previous studies have shown that a vegetarian diet is associated with reduced heart attack risk.

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.

Good Fats in Nuts

Nuts are a rich source of fat, but the fat in nuts is absorbed very poorly (Am J Clin Nutr, Jan, 2015;101(1):25-33). For example, the fat in almonds is located inside the cells of the almond kernel. Even after prolonged chewing, most of the almond cells remained intact and the fat is still inside the cells. Humans lack the enzymes to break down these cell walls. You have to liberate fat from inside cells to absorb it into your body.

Coconut Oil is Not a Special Health Food

Coconut oil does not help a person lose weight, lower blood sugar levels, or dampen down harmful inflammation (Circulation, Jan 13, 2020). The authors reviewed 17 studies and found that coconut oil increased blood levels of the harmful LDL cholesterol much more than the increase from soybean, olive, safflower, canola or palm oils.

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.

The Saturated Fat Debate

Have recent headlines made you believe that you can eat unlimited amounts of saturated fat in red meat and dairy products? I hope not. A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health shows that when people replace five percent of calories from saturated fats with the same amount of calories from:polyunsaturated fats, they gain a 25 percent reduction in heart disease

Prebiotics and Probiotics in Foods or Supplements

More than 100 trillion bacteria live in your colon. Some are healthful, while others can be harmful. Your healthful bacteria eat the same foods that you do and stay in your colon.

Weight Loss with Intermittent Fasting

Eating regular meals five days a week and markedly reducing calories for the other two days may be the best way to lose weight and keep it off. This approach to weight loss is called "intermittent fasting." We have some good data on how effective this diet regimen is for animals, but we are just starting to see the results of research on humans. Most of the studies on humans do not ask participants to avoid all food on their "fast" days.

Why You Feel Sleepy After Eating

If you feel sleepy after eating, particularly after sweets or bakery products, you are normal. Eating sugary foods causes your brain to make large amounts of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, that makes people fall asleep naturally at night.

Fiber, a True Superfood

Hundreds of studies done in the last 15 years have shown how your microbiome (gut bacteria) helps you to retain your health, and that what you eat determines the ratio of healthful to harmful types of bacteria in your colon. These bacteria govern your immune system that determines, to a large degree, what diseases you will develop and how long you will live.

Weight Gain with Sugar Plus Meat

If you take a sugared drink while eating meat, the animal protein reduces your ability to burn off the calories from sugar by more than a third. In this elegant new study, 27 healthy-weight adults spent two full days in a sealed "metabolic room" that measured how many calories their bodies burned each minute by tracking their intake of oxygen and outflow of carbon dioxide and measuring calories lost in their urine.

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks can raise blood pressure and may cause irregular heartbeats, according to a new study conducted at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Which Vegetable Oils Are Best?

Fats are classified by their chemical structures into saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated types. The chemical stability of a fat is determined by its structure. All fats are made of carbon atoms held together by electrical bonds. These bonds can be single bonds that are stable and double bonds that are far less stable. The stability of a fat or oil depends on the number of double bonds between the carbon atoms. The more double bonds, the less stable the fat.

Acrylamide and Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)

Acrylamide belongs to a class of chemicals that form advanced glycation end products, also known by their first letters as AGEs. They are a group of molecules that are formed when sugar attaches on protein when starchy foods such as potatoes and grains are cooked in the absence of water at very high temperatures.

Meat and Colon Cancer: New Studies

This week, a study from Spain adds to the evidence that eating any type of meat (red, white processed, cured or organ meat) is associated with increased risk of colon cancer, and that cooking and processing meat increases risk.