Is Butter Better?

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For many years, butter was replaced by margarine on the menus of health-conscious consumers. But like many dietary taboos, that’s beginning to change. A little butter is better than the fake stuff, says Daily Health News contributing medical editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND. Butter is a natural food that supports good health, while margarine is a processed product chemically fashioned from refined polyunsaturated oils. Don’t take this as Read the rest of this entry »

Dietary Supplements Update


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  • Black cohost or red clover do not work better than a placebo in treating hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.  (published in Menopause by University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • Ginkgo biloba does not help prevent or delay severe memory loss or Alzheimer’s, according to a study published in November in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Conducted in five medical centers, the study looked at more than 1,500 people, 75 and older, for six years. The herb, taken twice a day in standardized doses, did not reduce the rate of dementia or slow the development of Alzheimer’s, whether subjects began the trial with normal or impaired memory. This study adds to the substantial body of evidence that ginkgo extract does not prevent mental decline.  (Journal of the American Medical Association).
  • There is no evidence that Amberen can reverse menopause and cure hot flashes, or restores the estrogen cycle.  There is no known way to reactiviate menopausal ovaries so that they produce more estrogen. 
  • Umcka (also known as umckaloabo) does have weak antimicrobial properties and has some evidence to back it up.  It is often prescribed for colds and other respiratory tract infections in Europe, especially Germany, where it is licensed by the government.  However, the research is preliminary and very limited. Not much is known about its side effects. And as with all herbal remedies in the U.S., the products are not standardized, and there’s no guarantee that the bottles contain what’s listed on the labels.
  • Don’t take any “muscle-building” supplement that claims to mimic or affect hormones such as testosterone or estrogen in the body, the FDA recently warned. Marketed as alternatives to anabolic steroids for building muscle and improving sports performance, these products may contain hidden synthetic steroids or steroid-like substances that can cause kidney or liver damage and other serious adverse effects. The FDA cited eight products made by American Cellular Labs, but said there are many others like them.
  • Created in 1961, Lipo-Flavonoid is said to improve tinnitus, as well as Ménière’s disease, an inner ear disorder whose symptoms include episodes of tinnitus.  Most of the research cited by the company is decades old, and the only study that seems to have tested the actual supplement, from 1970, is not available for review. It is probably safe to try Lipo-Flavonoid, but there seems tobe no evidence that it works.
  • There is no evidience that any pill can reduce cellulite (Cell-U-Loss and Celluscience) and may contain ingredients of questionable safety.  Some may have a mild diuretic effect that temporarily reduce cellulite appearance.
  • (Cortislim) Nobody knows what role the hormone cortisol play in weight gain or weight loss.  Beware of websites offering do it yourself saliva tests to check your hormone balance and cortisol level.  They want to sell questionable or bogus weight loss products.
  •  TheraTears and MaxiTears are basing their claims more on theory than on solid evidence.  Dry eyes can be due to many factors, but some researchers think that omega-3s may also promote production of an oily substance that helps prevent evaporation of the tear film.  You can try an omega-3 supplement to see if it helps—or simply eat more fish. It’s not known what formula or dose would be most effective.
  • Before taking herbal products, check for interactions at
  • Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps form carnosine, important to muscle function during exercise. Recent study: Participants (about age 73 on average) who did not increase their normal levels of exercise and took 800 mg of this supplement three times a day for 90 days had a 67% improvement in their fitness levels — and did not experience any ill effects while taking the supplement.  (Jeffrey Stout, PhD, assistant professor of exercise physiology, University of Oklahoma)
  • The ingredients in products such as Blue Steel and Hero, two dietary supplements sold online as natural ED treatments, may dangerously lower blood pressure, especially among men who take medication to control diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol or heart disease. These supplements have not been proved safe and are not approved by the FDA.
  • Canadian investigators report that hospital patients’ blue moods took a dramatic turn for the better when they were given safe and inexpensive vitamin C supplements.  (Nutrition, Aug. 2010) 



Kosher – Anyone?

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More people are turning to kosher foods even if it costs more – not because they are Jewish but because they think these foods are safer, healthier, and of better quality. There is little published research comparing the safety of kosher and nonkosher foods.  It is not purer or more wholesome, not necessarily more nutritious or flavorful, and has just as much sugar and fat than nonkosher.  The salting process may reduce attachment of bacteria to the carcass surface and so they are easier to rinse off.  But, this is not a sterilization process and you still need to handle the meat carefully.  The kosher symbol is no guarantee of safety.  Read the rest of this entry »

Where’s the Added Sugar?

Regular sodas add the most sugar to a typical American’s diet.


It isn’t hard to reach—and far exceed—the new limits set for added sugar by the American Heart Association— 25 grams a day for women, 37. 5 grams for men (see page 1). Even foods like yogurt and baked beans may be loaded with extra sugar, beyond the sugar naturally in them. Sugar content varies among brands; the amounts below are averages. Many people consume more than the serving sizes listed. For example, we list a cola as 8 ounces, but soda cans are 12 ounces and bottles are 16 ounces or larger.

Beverages (8 oz)                  Added sugar (g) Read the rest of this entry »


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Goji is actually a generic term given to various berries in the Lycium family that grow in Asia, where they’ve been consumed for centuries to supposedly promote good eyesight, agility, and longevity, among other benefits. Wolfberry is another common name for these small, red, tangy berries.  There is no evidence to support the claim that they prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Other claims—that they ward off everything from cancer and liver disease to impotence and obesity—are also unproven. According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, there is insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of goji berries for any medical condition. Moreover, goji may interact with blood thinners (such as warfarin) and other medications. And as with some other food imports from China, the FDA has issued import alerts on goji berries for having illegal pesticide residues.

 There’s nothing magical about goji berries—or “Tibetan” goji berries, in particular. They are healthful, but not the “healthiest food source on the planet.” All berries, including blueberries, are nutritious and high in antioxidants. Go for goji if you like it and can afford it, not in hopes that it will prevent or cure any disease. There’s no evidence to support the use of goji capsules.

 Nearly as inflated as the health claims is the price of goji juice ($20 to $35 for 32 ounces), which is often sold through multi-level marketing programs. The dried berries are about $1.50 an ounce; fresh berries are rarely available here.

(source: UC Berkeley)

Is Wetter Water Better Water?

There’s a huge market for waters with additives: vitamins, minerals, herbs such as ginseng and ginkgo, flavorings, mint, aloe, fiber, green tea, caffeine, and more. On market shelves and in many vending machines, you’ll find products such as Vitamin Water, Dasani Plus, SmartWater, Propel Fitness Water, SoBe Lifewater, and Snapple Antioxidant Water.  These waters are usually not as sugary as a regular soft drinks—though some, like most VitaminWater products, do contain as much added sugar. The vitamins and minerals in them are certainly not going to make you healthy, boost immunity or energy, or relax you, despite the claims. recently found that one vitamin water had 15 times as much folic acid as claimed—1, 500 micrograms, a potentially risky level for some people if they drink it regularly (see Wellness Letter, September 2009). On the other hand, unless you drink the water with food, you cannot absorb much of the added vitamin E, D, A, or K, since these need some fat to be absorbed. You do not need the herbs and other substances in these products. Read the rest of this entry »