Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dear reader,

I've had comments from readers wanting me to look at or debate specific studies that are perhaps contradictory to ones that I cited. I sometimes think that this not really productive; in the sense of 'why debate how much phytoestrogens are in foods?' when the questioner's intention seems be to help people avoid these benign/beneficial substances which are shown (at the highest levels of intake!) to prevent cancer (lowers risk of certain cancers by about 30%) and heart disease while blocking the truly harmful xenoestrogens (external sources like agricultural and industrial chemicals or plastics) from docking to cellular receptors.

And I don't really want to publish people's comments that include links that send people to other websites; especially if they are not authoritative and non-commercial. In most cases I provide my own references and will happily publish relevant comments that avoid such links; though I of course reserve the right to debate these comments with a follow up comment of my own if I disagree with the point(s) being made.

I also don't want to debate the merits of whatever "expert" someone wants to throw at me because we all know that there are plenty of voices of all levels of credibility on the Internet; many do not list references (or data-dump bogus (irrelevant or unsupportive) ones as soy critics often do), evidently preferring to hear themselves pontificate rather than to review topics from a real scientific curiosity that allows for minds to expand and change. Even the real experts often disagree, since that is the nature of the scientific method; though I have seen the rare term "proven" applied to research on soy's benefits for heart health.

I believe that YOU are smart enough to compare arguments and consider the merits of everyone's "facts" and opinions. As you see from the published comments from readers on my own blog, I do respect, read, and reply to your comments and even appreciate a "healthy" debate on topics that are also important to you. While no one is perfect (especially me), at least I aspire to know my limitations and try to do the right thing. Hopefully, you will carefully read my blog and consider me to be a trusted source providing "Honest Nutrition". Thanks for letting me share this page with you!

Nutrients for Heart Health interview

From an interview of me by Whole Foods Magazine, february 2011:

Our aging population will naturally turn to nutrients as a core defense of their heart and cardiovascular (CV) health. Research continues to pile up to support the benefits of various vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, antioxidants, and other dietary supplements to optimize heart health. The trick is to communicate clear benefits associated with specific nutrients and formulas while treading on the right side of the label claims limits.

There are products that support various aspects of CV health. These include circulation, vascular health, heart energetics, fat metabolism, stress and cortisol control targeting abdominal fat, electrolyte metabolism, etc.

Additional heart support could be associated with blood sugar health, since diabetics disproportionately suffer and die from cardiovascular disease. Supporting nutrients to maintain healthy glucose metabolism include alpha lipoic acid, chromium, cinnamon, biotin, Gymnema sylvestre, corosolic acid, and others. The use of stevia as a sweetener can also be helpful in cutting carbohydrate intake; the whole herb, not the “Reb A” fraction commonly sold as a mass market sweetener, also has been shown to have supportive effects on pancreatic function, insulin sensitivity, and antioxidant benefits.

Many isolated nutrients have historically been used to support cardiovascular health, including amino acids (l-arginine, l-citrulline, l-carnitine), lecithin, vitamin E complex, CoQ10, B complex vitamins, methylators like TMG and SAMe, magnesium, antioxidants, plant sterols, sugar cane policosanol, and nattokinase. At the same time there are many botanicals for the same purpose such as hawthorn leaf and flower extract (not the berries, which are not shown to help the heart), and prickly ash bark. Whole foods or botanicals that support heart health include cayenne, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and whole fermented organic red yeast rice. And let’s not forget the benefits of fish oils and fiber, which do have FDA-approved qualified health claims.

Vitamin D also has a role in heart health, a benefit which the Institute of Medicine’s committee that released the new dietary recommendations did not endorse. By contrast, the FDA’s European counterpart EFSA (the European Food Safety Agency) has acknowledged a role for vitamin D in heart health: "The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the dietary intake of vitamin D and contribution to the normal function of the immune system and healthy inflammatory response, and maintenance of normal muscle function." The heart, of course, is a muscle; the body’s control of inflammation, calcium metabolism, and muscle function are all intimately related to heart health.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I'm now on Twitter

Look for a few messages a week related to nutrition from my Twitter tweets:!/neilelevin

Monday, January 10, 2011

Keyboard shortcuts for commonly used symbols in science and math

Sign * (Description) * Hold down ALT key and type on number pad:

¢ (cent) ALT 0162

½ (half) ALT 0189

¼ (quarter) ALT 0188

¾ (three quarters) ALT 0190

° (degrees) ALT 0176

µ (micrograms) ALT 0181

α (alpha) ALT 224

ß (beta) ALT 225

Γ (gamma) ALT 226

Δ (delta) ALT 235

Ω (omega) ALT 234

(greater than or equal to) ALT 242

(less than or equal to) ALT 243

(arrow up) ALT 24

(arrow down) ALT 25

(right arrow) ALT 26

(left arrow) ALT 27

(smiley face) ALT 1

(sun) ALT 15

(female symbol) ALT 12

(male symbol) ALT 11

What's the difference between non-GMO and organic?

IP-Certified Organics are produced without GMOs (genetically modified organisms) but are not tested for potential GMO contamination by pollen drift, etc. The IP stands for 'identity preserved"; in other words, there is an audit trail documenting the production and process inputs and a third party certifier overseeing and signing off on the paperwork. All crops and foods produced under this designation meet U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations under its National Organic Program (USDA-NOP) that include allowable and non-allowable agricultural and food production inputs. Such inputs include irradiation (not allowed), agricultural chemicals (only natural source ones allowed), and GMOs (not allowed). Theer are also lists of allowed/not allowed food addititives and rules for making label claims for organics.

IP-non-GMO certification is similar, but this certification is only for processes that exclude introducing GMO substances or seeds. The difference is that there are other restrictions as to what is allowed to be used with organics that don't apply to non-GMO conventional foods. For example, agricultural chemicals, synthetic food additives, etc are allowed with non-GMO but not for certified organics.

Testing is another issue. Testing of such products is not widely done, and studies have shown that there is less GMO contamination of certified organics than conventional crops when neither is supposed to contain GMOs. Exports to Europe may require GMO testing to be done and results must be under a threshold (typically 0.5% maximum). But most certified organic and non-GMO certified ingredients are not tested for residual GMOs that could have gotten in by seed contamination, pollen drift, handling errors, etc. and this is usually not considered to be a significant problem that requires testing.