LAND OF CONFUSION: How Poor Science and Misleading Media Coverage Create Public Confusion About How Dietary Supplements Affect Health
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This non-commercial website features my writings on nutritional topics: natural health, health freedom, dietary supplements/vitamins/herbs, organic & biotech food, poor studies, misleading press, etc. Not intended as nutritional counseling, prescription or treatment of disease. Older articles may contain outdated info. Links to Google ads are independent of my content. Copyright 2006-2016 by Neil E. Levin, except as noted.
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I submitted this response to Dr. Mercola' website today regarding his assumption that flax oil would be covered by an article regarding the risks of dietary ALA. For more information on this issue, please see this article: http://www.udoerasmus.com/articles/udo/flax_prostate.htm My submission to Mercola.com regarding his posting: http://www.mercola.com/2004/jul/21/flax_seed_oil.htm Your headline is misleading. In the article in question: http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/80/1/204/T1 it appears that you extrapolated the conclusion to include flax oil without any documentation in the study data, since flax was not listed as one of the major sources of ALA. Neil Levin, CCN, DANLA
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 11:49 AM
http://www.saynotogmos.org/ud2005/ujun05b.html#afraid Very interesting REFERENCES available below, not in published article (click on title above for link to full article without references as published by a newsletter): WORLD HUNGER: UNITED NATIONS: THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME http://www.wfp.org/aboutwfp/introduction/hunger_causes.asp?section=1&sub_section=1 UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2005/89259/index.htmlhttp://www.fao.org/DOCREP/FIELD/006/AD690E/AD690E00.HTM FAO: 'Agricultural production could probably meet expected demand until 2030 even without major advances in modern biotechnology.' " (The New Scientist, by Debora MacKenzie, March 4, 2003.) EXPERT CAUTIONS: USA TODAY/REUTERS report on European attitudes toward GMOs: http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/~steggall/10Jan-18May2000.html More on European distrust of government food regulations based on mishandling of other food crises: New Scientist, "Young, not Mad", July 8, 2000, p.5. The editors of the respected UK medical journal The Lancet have strongly criticized the presumption that GE foods entail no greater risks of unexpected effects. They stated there are "good reasons to believe that specific risks may exist" and that "governments should never have allowed these products into the food chain without insisting on rigorous testing for effects on health." Vol. 353, No. 9167, p. 1811 (May 29, 1999). The January 2001 report of the expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada states that (a) it is "scientifically unjustifiable" to presume that GE foods are safe and (b) the "default presumption" for every GE food should be that the genetic alteration has induced unintended and potentially hazardous side effects. The Royal Society of Canada: Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology: Elements of Precaution: Recommendations for the Regulation of Food Biotechnology in Canada www.rsc.ca/foodbiotechnology/indexEN.html and http://www.rsc.ca//files/publications/expert_panels/foodbiotechnology/GMreportEN.pdf DO GMO CROPS LOWER CHEMICAL USE? Herbicides lose effectiveness only 2-3 years after planting herbicide-resistant biotech crops:'Resistance is useless', New Scientist, 19 February 2000, p. .21. Extensive evidence shows that farmers who plant crops that are genetically engineered to resist the herbicide Roundup are now applying more of it to their fields. (Dr. Charles Benbrook, Pesticide Outlook, October 2001, Pages 204-207.) NUTRIENT DIFFERENCES IN GMOS: Lappe MA, Bailey EB, Childress C, Setchell C. Alterations in clinically important phytoestrogens in genetically modified herbicide-tolerant soybeans. J Medic Food 1999; 1: 241-43. The Monsanto analyses of glyphosate-resistant soya showed that the GM-line contained about 28% more Kunitz trypsin inhibitor, a known antinutrient and allergen: "GM Food Debate" Letters re: the Pusztai and Ewen publication, The Lancet. Volume 354, Number 9191. November 13, 1998 Recent investigation by scientists at Japan's Nagoya University reveals that Monsanto's data on the "Roundup Ready" soybean actually shows important differences between it and its conventional counterpart. For instance, after heat processing of both the GE and non-GE beans, the concentrations of three harmful substances were significantly higher in the GE samples.(Technology and Human Beings, Nov.2000, p24-33) CROP YIELD AND QUALITY: A dramatic increase in root-knot nematode susceptibility was seen in the transgenic cultivar:Patrick D. Colyer,* Terrence L. Kirkpatrick, W. David Caldwell, and Philip R. Vernon. Plant Pathology and Nematology: Root-Knot Nematode Reproduction and Root Galling Severity on Related Conventional and Transgenic Cotton Cultivars. The Journal of Cotton Science 4:232-236 (2000) Anthan, George. “Genetic Changes Affect More Than Yield.” Des Moines Register. June 18, 2000. The Independent, London, June 11/ Geoffrey Lean Elmore et al, "Glyphosate-Resistant Soybean Cultivar Yields Compared with Sister Lines", Agron J 2001 93: 408-412 Evidence of the Magnitude and Consequences of the Roundup Ready Soybean Yield Drag from University-Based Varietal Trials in 1998. By Dr. Charles Benbrook, Benbrook Consulting Services, Sandpoint, Idaho http://www.biotech-info.net/RR_yield_drag_98.pdf UNRESOLVED SAFETY ISSUES: Playing God in the Garden' by Michael Pollan The New York Times Sunday Magazine (October 25th 1998). http://www.organics.org/features/god_garden.htm Genetically modified foods & health: a second interim statement. British Medical Association Board of Science and Education. March 2004 http://www.bma.org.uk/ap.nsf/Content/GMFoods Ho MW, Ryan A and Cummins J. Cauliflower mosaic viral promoter – a recipe for Disaster? Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease 1999 11, 194-7. Ho MW, Ryan A and Cummins J. Hazards of transgenic plants with the cauliflower mosaic viral promoter. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease 2000, 12, 6-11. "Astonishing denial of transgenic contamination" by Mae-Wan Ho, Science in Society 2002, 15, 13-14. Netherwood T, Martin-Orue SM, O'Donnell AG, Gockling S, Gilbert HJ and Mathers JC. Transgenes in genetically modified Soya survive passage through the small bowel but are completely degraded in the colon. Technical report on the Food Standards Agency project G010008 "Evaluating the risks associated with using GMOs in human foods"- University of Newcastle. Doerfler, W. and Schubbert, R. (1998). Uptake of foreign DNA from the environment: the gastroinestinal tract and the placenta as portals of entry, Wien Klin Wochenschr. 110, 40-44.p. 40. Ferguson GC and Heinemann JA. Recent history of trans-kingdom conjugation. In Horizontal Gene Transfer 2nd ed. (ed. M Syvanen & CI Kado), pp 3-17, Academic Press, San Diego, 2002. UK Food Standards Agency: GM crop DNA found in human gut bugs http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/rowett1.pdf Cellini F, Chesson A, Colquhoun I, Constable A, Davies HV, Engel KH, Gatehouse AM, Karenlampi S, Kok EJ, Leguay JJ, Lehesranta S, Noteborn HP, Pedersen J, Smith M. Unintended effects and their detection in genetically modified crops. Food Chem Toxicol. 2004 Jul;42(7):1089-125. Review. PMID: 15123383 Taylor SL, Hefle SL. Will genetically modified foods be allergenic? J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 May;107(5):765-71. Review. PMID: 11344340 ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS: Herbicide tolerance can spread from biotech crops to weeds:Sample, Ian, "Modified crops could corrupt weedy cousins", New Scientist, 15 July 2000, p.6. Calif. county voters ban biotech crops, animals. The Associated Press http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4438280/ Vacher C, Weis AE, Hermann D, Kossler T, Young C, Hochberg ME. Impact of ecological factors on the initial invasion of Bt transgenes into wild populations of birdseed rape (Brassica rapa). Theor Appl Genet. 2004 Aug;109(4):806-14. Epub 2004 May 5. PMID: 15340690 Haygood R, Ives AR, Andow DA. Consequences of recurrent gene flow from crops to wild relatives.Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Sep 22;270(1527):1879-86. PMID: 14561300 Gepts P, Papa R. Possible effects of (trans)gene flow from crops on the genetic diversity from landraces and wild relatives. Environ Biosafety Res. 2003 Apr-Jun;2(2):89-103. PMID: 15612275 Arnaud JF, Viard F, Delescluse M, Cuguen J. Evidence for gene flow via seed dispersal from crop to wild relatives in Beta vulgaris (Chenopodiaceae): consequences for the release of genetically modified crop species with weedy lineages. Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Aug 7;270(1524):1565-71. PMID: 12908976 Spencer LJ, Snow AA. Fecundity of transgenic wild-crop hybrids of Cucurbita pepo (Cucurbitaceae): implications for crop-to-wild gene flow. Heredity. 2001 Jun;86(Pt 6):694-702. PMID: 11595050 Ellstrand NC. Current knowledge of gene flow in plants: implications for transgene flow. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003 Jun 29;358(1434):1163-70. Review. PMID: 12831483 Jenczewski E, Ronfort J, Chevre AM. Crop-to-wild gene flow, introgression and possible fitness effects of transgenes. Environ Biosafety Res. 2003 Jan-Mar;2(1):9-24. Review. PMID: 15615064 Gressel J. Tandem constructs: preventing the rise of superweeds. Trends Biotechnol. 1999 Sep;17(9):361-6. Review. PMID: 10461182 Dunfield KE, Germida JJ. Impact of genetically modified crops on soil- and plant-associated microbial communities. J Environ Qual. 2004 May-Jun;33(3):806-15. Review. PMID: 15224914 Giovannetti M. The ecological risks of transgenic plants. Riv Biol. 2003 May-Aug;96(2):207-23. Review. PMID: 14595899 ETHICAL CONCERNS & MISC. DANGERS: The USDA co-owned the original patent on Terminator genes:http://www.nal.usda.gov/bic/monsan~1.htm USDA regulations on introducing new biotech crops:http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/notgen.html
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 5:50 PM
Click on title to see the information about the talk.
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 5:41 PM
Click on title, which is a link to an abstract of the 9-month, double-blind, randomized controlled study done by the Department of Nutrition at the University of California (Davis). This is a gold standard, American university study of the highest quality.
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 5:18 PM
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 2:19 PM
Alternative Med: Second Opinion By Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA The op-ed piece on August 7 titled “No Alternative” leaves me with no alternative but to critique the selective facts presented. That article does not accurately represent the facts involved in these studies. The author begins by claiming that rigorous assessments of glucosamine and saw palmetto “failed to show clinical efficacy”. That statement is so over-generalized that it is demonstrably untrue. In the case of glucosamine, long term studies have shown that it helps to prevent narrowing of the spaces between joint structures. This is an important clinical determination of whether or not a joint is disintegrating or maintaining its cushioning structures. I have been told by leading physicians at Northwestern University’s Medical Center that glucosamine is an important component of their arthritis protocol for this reason, and the scientific evidence is convincing to these professionals. In the study cited in the article, the author was incorrect in saying that “there was no statistical benefit” for glucosamine. The actual study did note a statistically significant benefit, saying, “For patients with moderate-to-severe pain at baseline, the rate of response was significantly higher with combined therapy (glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate) than with placebo…” In other words, the supplements were effective for those with the worst arthritis pain! This was only a 24 week trial, and although longer term studies show that maintaining joint structure distances is not directly related to reducing joint pain, in this study glucosamine and chondroitin did help those suffering the most from arthritis pain. Other studies have shown the long term joint structure protection for patients given glucosamine. Another study was cited as proof that the herb Saw Palmetto “failed to show clinical efficacy”. That is not an accurate statement, as the herb was used only on those with more severe forms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), while it has historically only been used on milder forms. One study testing a dietary supplement on the sickest patients, when the herb has not even been previously thought to work on severe cases, is not in any way representative of the body of science that has found this herb to be successful in mild cases of BPH. Yet another example given was of the herb St. John’s wort. Yes, it was not successful against major depression, a use which no one had ever claimed. The previous science successfully used the herb against mild depression. More telling, a prescription drug –tested and officially approved for use against depression – was equally ineffective against major depression, a fact that was curiously absent in the article, implying a pro-pharmaceutical bias combined with a bias against dietary supplements and other alternative modalities. The study went far beyond known uses of either of these therapies, and no one should use the results as “proof” that the herb (or the drug) is ineffective for typical uses. The journal American Family Physician reviewed the medical literature and reported, “St. John's wort has been found to be superior to placebo and equivalent to standard antidepressants for the treatment of mild to moderate depression.” I find the unrepresentative samples of negative data used in the article to be extremely misleading, creating a false impression that natural products never work. It calls into question the objectivity of the author that there is no appropriate context to these few examples, and that large bodies of science are ignored in order to make his point. That is unscientific, not the tens of thousands of published studies on nutrition, dietary supplements and complementary medicine that were too unimportant to mention. It would be unfortunate if people do not consider the well-documented uses of alternative medicine and instead believe that the magic of conventional medicine can cure all. The good doctors at Northwestern are enlightened enough to endorse a science-based complementary care model that seems to work. I urge the Journal’s readers to check the facts for themselves before accepting this prescription for ignorance. Get a second opinion. REFERENCES: Clegg DO, et al. Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and the two in combination for painful knee osteoarthritis. N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 23;354(8):795-808. PMID: 16495392 Rovati LC, et al. Assessment of joint space narrowing with conventional standing antero-posterior radiographs: relief in mild-to-moderate pain is not a confounder in recent osteoarthritis structure-modifying drug trials. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006;14 Suppl A:A14-8. Epub 2006 May 5. PMID: 16678450 Pavelka K, et al. Glucosamine sulfate use and delay of progression of knee osteoarthritis: a 3-year, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Arch Intern Med. 2002 Oct 14;162(18):2113-23. PMID: 12374520 McAlindon TE, et al. Glucosamine and chondroitin for treatment of osteoarthritis: a systematic quality assessment and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2000 Mar 15;283(11):1469-75. Review. PMID: 10732937 Wilt T, et al. Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(3):CD001423. Review. PMID: 12137626 Bent S, et al. Saw palmetto for benign prostatic hyperplasia. N Engl J Med. 2006 Feb 9;354(6):557-66. PMID: 16467543 Fong YK, et al. Role of phytotherapy in men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Curr Opin Urol. 2005 Jan;15(1):45-8. Review. PMID: 15586030 Wilt TJ, et al. Phytotherapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Public Health Nutr. 2000 Dec;3(4A):459-72. PMID: 11276294 Wilt TJ, et al. Saw palmetto extracts for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: a systematic review. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1604-9. Erratum in: JAMA 1999 Feb 10;281(6):515. PMID: 9820264 Szegedi A, et al. Acute treatment of moderate to severe depression with hypericum extract WS 5570 (St John's wort): randomised controlled double blind non-inferiority trial versus paroxetine. BMJ. 2005 Mar 5;330(7490):503. Epub 2005 Feb 11. Erratum in: BMJ. 2005 Apr 2;330(7494):759. dosage error in text. PMID: 15708844 Lecrubier Y, et al. Efficacy of St. John's wort extract WS 5570 in major depression: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Aug;159(8):1361-6. PMID: 12153829 Kasper S, et al. Superior efficacy of St Johns wort extract WS(R) 5570 compared to placebo in patients with major depression: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center trial [ISRCTN77277298]. BMC Med. 2006 Jun 23;4(1):14 [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 16796730 Schulz V. Safety of St. John's Wort extract compared to synthetic antidepressants. Phytomedicine. 2006 Feb;13(3):199-204. Epub 2005 Nov 2. Review. PMID: 16428030 Lawvere S, Mahoney MC. St. John's wort. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Dec 1;72(11):2249-54. Review. PMID: 16342849
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 4:26 PM
This is a link to an article quoting me about the New Scientist magazine article that was critical of antioxidants. Link to news report citing me in NutraIngredients-USA: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/news/ng.asp?n=69668&m=1NIU807&c=bbimgilqonrtbqy Link to original article in New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/health/mg19125631.500 (Full text of my comments to New Scientist are shown below, in posting of August 6, 2006.)
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 12:49 PM
Antioxidants Misunderstood By Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLACertified Clinical Nutritionist, Diplomate in Advanced Nutritional Laboratory Assessment In the August 5, 2006 issue of New Scientist the article, “The Antioxidant Myth” somehow failed to uncover some of the truths about antioxidants, raising questions about the depth of the reporting and the lack of understanding of the interactions between antioxidants that is so critical to their functioning. It is telling that much of the criticism of antioxidants comes from science that is testing single nutrients, using a drug model. But knowledgeable antioxidant researchers are aware that this is a “family” of nutrients that can synergistically “recharge” each other, making single nutrient studies fairly irrelevant as to the holistic interaction of these substances in vivo. For example, a study in Finland was halted early because of a widely reported increase in cancer rates among male smokers taking beta-carotene. (1) A more complete analysis published in July 2004 took another look at data from that same study, but now taking into account total antioxidant intake, which exonerated beta-carotene as a cause of the cancers/deaths. The smokers’ risk of getting lung cancer was strongly associated with low total antioxidants in the diet. (2) Another large study has noted that high carotenoid intake, confirmed by measures of blood levels, was associated with lower mortality rates among the elderly over a ten year period. (3) Still, news reports continue to refer to beta-carotene as harmful, and even the NIH has failed to consider the evolution of the data showing that low total antioxidant status is the key risk factor, one that even supplementation with beta carotene alone cannot be expected to correct. Vitamin E is another example. The New Scientist article says that “There is even some evidence that vitamin E supplements can be harmful”, right before quoting a scientist as saying that a re-analysis of the data showed “no change in mortality”, asserting that the “evidence” of the vitamin causing harm was “flawed”. This was due to the use of a poor statistical model (4) that was corrected in a later publication (5) and should not reflect on Vitamin E’s fine safety record (6). The article also questioned the use of Vitamin E and other antioxidants as dietary supplements, rather than from food, though published studies have shown that Vitamin E from dietary supplements is clinically effective. (7-8, 13-17) Levels of Vitamin E above 100 IU daily are associated with decreased risk of coronary heart disease and certain types of cancer, as well as enhancement of immune function. These vitamin E intakes are considerably above levels obtainable from diet alone. (9-11) Antioxidants are also shown to help against aging. Lutein supplements have been shown to be useful against age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly, in the Veterans LAST study (Lutein Antioxidant Supplementation Trial). Vitamin E has been shown to reduce formation of cataracts. (12) The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study demonstrated a 32% reduction in prostate cancer incidence in response to daily alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E) supplementation. (13) ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) mortality was 62% lower among long-term users of vitamin E than among nonusers. (14) In a study of cancer patients done for the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, “Subgroup analysis did identify a statistically significant 9% reduction in all cause mortality” and “13% reduction in all-cancer mortality associated with supplemental vitamin E in combination with other micro-nutrients.” (15) In a study done by Tufts University, the USDA and the National Institute on Aging, published in JAMA, it was reported that with 200 IU per day of vitamin E given to elderly people, “we observed a protective effect of vitamin E supplementation on upper respiratory tract infections, particularly the common cold, that merits further investigation”. (16) In another clinical trial, Vitamin E (VE) “strongly affected the expression of an array of genes encoding for proteins directly or indirectly involved in the clearance of amyloid beta, changes which are consistent with a protective effect of VE on Alzheimer's disease progression”. (17) Much of the negativity about antioxidants in the article comes from a single scientist in Singapore and does not accurately express the state of the science on the topic. Other problems commonly arise from the use of meta-analyses, a statistical analysis of previously published studies that often multiplies confounding variables and can produce inaccurate results if done by people unfamiliar with the intricacies of nutrition and supplementation. Unfortunately, this article in New Science uses old science that has been virtually repudiated and has not included a fair representation of the whole body of science in which antioxidants do have documented benefits for problems associated with aging. REFERENCES: 1. N Engl J Med. 1994 Apr 14;330(15):1029-35. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. 2. July 2004 American Journal of Epidemiology Development of a Comprehensive Dietary Antioxidant Index and Application to Lung Cancer Risk in a Cohort of Male Smokers. Margaret E. Wright , Susan T. Mayne, Rachael Z. Stolzenberg-Solomon, Zhaohai Li, Pirjo Pietinen, Philip R. Taylor, Jarmo Virtamo and Demetrius Albanes 3. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;82:879–886. Plasma carotene and alpha-tocopherol in relation to 10-y all-cause and cause-specific mortality in European elderly: The Survey in Europe on Nutrition and the Elderly, a Concerted Action (SENECA). Buijsse B, Feskens EJ, Schlettwein-Gsell D, Ferry M, Kok FJ, Kromhout D, de Groot LC. 4. Edgar R. Miller, III, MD, PhD; et al. High-dose vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality, a dose response meta-analysis of randomized trials. Annals of Internal Medicine: Online: Nov. 10, 2004: Print: 4 January 2005 Volume 142 Issue 1 5. John N Hathcock, et al. REVIEW ARTICLE: Vitamins E and C are safe across a broad range of intakes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 81, No. 4, 736-745, April 2005. 6. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids. A report of the Panel on Dietary Antioxidants and Related Compounds, Subcommittees on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000. 7. Emmert DH, Kirchner JT. The role of vitamin E in the prevention of heart disease. Arch Fam Med. 1999 Nov-Dec;8(6):537-42. 8. Stampfer MJ, et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary disease in women. N Engl J Med 1993;328:1444-9 9. Bauernfeind, J. Tocopherols in Foods. In: Vitamin E: A Comprehensive Treatise. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York and Basel, pp. 99-167, 1980. 10. Horwitt, M.K. The Promotion of Vitamin E. J. Nutr. 116:1371-1377, 1986. 11. Weber, P., Bendich, A. and Machlin, L.J. Vitamin E and Human Health: Rationale for Determining Recommended Intake Levels. Nutrition 13:450-460, 1997. 12. Annals of Ophthalmology. Vol. 123 No. 4, April 2005 13. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 97, No. 5, 396-399, March 2, 2005 14. Ann Neurol. 2004. Volume 57, Issue 1 , Pages 104 – 110 15. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Summ). 2003 Oct;(75):1-3. Review. PMID: 15523748 16. JAMA. Vol. 292 No. 7, August 18, 2004 17. Gene study suggests vitamin E helps blocks Alzheimer's. Nutr Neurosci. 2005 Feb;8(1):21-9. PMID: 15909764
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 5:32 PM
A) Most traditional cultures use green foods in the form of salads, cooked greens or wraps. An example of a wrap is the Greek dish where rice and vegetables are wrapped in grape leaves. Banana leaves have been used as a wrap in Latin American traditional cuisine. These dishes are usually baked, though some can be eaten raw. The wrap isn’t always edible, though it may still impart flavor or nutrients to the contents. Salads can vary considerably from region to region, using mostly native vegetation, often cultivated. Americans have raised salads to an art form with salad bars, where the full plates are as unique as snowflake designs. Raw greens are often eaten in fermented form, especially in Asian countries. Traditional fermented foods include cabbage (kimchee, sauerkraut) and pickles (almost any firm vegetable). Some form of fermented food (including fish eggs and dairy) is in the traditional diet of most cultures. Steamed greens are fairly widespread, worldwide, and seem to be preferred to raw salads in many Asian countries. In the American south, ham or lard is often added to cooked greens (as well as to cooked beans) to add flavor and improve ‘mouth feel’. Seaweeds are often used in the diet of many coastal cultures, and they are also used for fertilizer. These consist of varied species, with some useful eaten raw - including dried dulse, a good source of iron and trace minerals - and others toasted or added to soups or stews. Of course, sushi wraps are usually made from nori. Kelp is a traditional source of iodine and other trace elements. Juicing cereal grain leaves in their green vegetable stage is perhaps a more modern source of greens, though it is possible that people chewed leaves while working the fields. Fresh greens have long been a treasured food in temperate climates after the winter season ends. Green foods are known today as blood builders and detoxifiers. The green pigment, chlorophyll, is known for improving bad breath, being an internal deodorant, and stimulating the formation of red blood cells. In fact, the chlorophyll molecule has many similarities with the red blood cell. As a detoxifying agent, chlorophyll is associated with the reduction of harmful substances and the inhibition of cancer cells. For those who do not consume adequate amounts of a variety of green foods, there are green food supplements. These are roughly classed into land and sea vegetable sources, and are also available in combinations of the two. Algal and plankton sources, such as chlorella, spirulina and blue-green algae, are also available. These are high protein (about 60%), high carotenoid foods. Some have good levels of Vitamin B12, the anti-inflammatory fatty acid called GLA, blue pigments (good for the eyes), antioxidants, etc. These are primarily cultured in fresh water, some within controlled environments. Chlorella is usually sold with the cell walls mechanically broken, often by utilizing ultrasound, to allow digestion. Spirulina is available as US-grown natural spirulina or India-grown certified organic spirulina. The main difference is that the US-grown products use a mined nitrate that is classified as a potential environmental hazard, also being non-renewable. Certified Organic Spirulina uses a proprietary, vegan source of nitrogen as a fertilizer that is certified as being environmentally friendly. These are both high quality spirulina sources and NOW offers both sources in its product line. For land sources of green foods, there are both dried plant powders and dried juice powders. Some are freeze-dried to preserve nutrients. Some are spray-dried onto another substance to make them more soluble, or instant, using material such as maltodextrin (usually corn-derived) which are listed on the labels. Wheat grass and barley grass are two traditional cereal grasses consumed in pills, capsules or beverages. These are typically harvested young, before the grassy leaf becomes mature and could form grains. These grasses are considered gluten-free green vegetables at this stage of development. Nutritionists recommend that people eat green foods daily. Head lettuce is a poor source of iron and chlorophyll; dark-green leafy greens are by far the healthiest options. For those who need to supplement their diets, a tablet, capsule or powder may be the next best option. Chlorophyll itself is available in capsules or liquids, often mint-flavored. This allows people to consume the green pigment directly without most of the other components of the green foods. Alfalfa, Barley or Wheat grasses are also available, some coming from powdered green leaves and some from dried, pressed juices. The juices tend to be more mixable in liquids and more concentrated in nutrients, though lacking the fiber of a whole leafy green. It is best to start slowly and work up to the full recommended serving for greens. Some people may experience digestive discomfort from an abrupt change, such as adding large doses of greens. On any supplement, I recommend ramping up to full dose gradually, also adding just one new product at a time so one can tell the effects of that particular product independently of other changes. Greens are also good to enhance GI tract health, especially the environment for beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics.
Posted by Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA at 10:45 AM