Archive for DHA
ARE FISH OILS BETTER THAN STATINS FOR HEART DISEASE? Not that this should come as a shocker, but the answer is a very, very strong yes. This current study on primary prevention of fatal heart attacks shows that those with the highest intakes of EPA + DHA (still only at a very low 234 mg /day) had a 62% lower risk of fatal heart attack (compare to less than 50% w/ statins). The absolute risk reduction is relatively unexciting, but consider this. Statins cost tens of billions / year to our health system. The cost of side effects is much, much higher (concerns over certain cancers, muscle problems, liver problems, and yes–even heart problems!). And statins work for heart disease only.
Fish oils, in this study, were at a very low level (234 mg vs at least 1,000 mg in most studies), cost much less, and rather than having negative side effects, they protect against many cancers, diabetes, depression, Alzheimer’s, stroke, blah, blah, blah… Get the picture? One last sickening fact–Omacor / Lovaza is a prescription of fish oils. Not the best quality. The cost to your insurance? $200+ / month. Biotics brand we sell in office that is of higher quality? $25 / month. That should induce gastritis…
WHICH FAT FROM THE SEA WILL KEEP YOU SMARTER? In this trial of omega 3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA, DHA) and cognitive function in middle aged (35-54) individuals, higher levels of DHA, the higher the levels of DHA, the better the mental performance. The ultimate source of DHA is primarily algae (hence finding it in “fish oils”–the fish eat the algae). It is extremely high in mother’s milk vs cow’s milk (30x higher), and infant formulas are only now starting to add it in.
Overall, a diet higher in DHA (mostly from cold water, wild caught fish, unless you actually like to gnaw on algae..) will be protective to the brain from the womb to the grave. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is almost completely devoid of omega 3 fatty acids. As an FYI–if you don’t have a Costco membership, get one. They have all kinds of cost-efficient, wild caught frozen seafood.
Probiotic bacteria reduced duration and severity of common cold.
I had a mom bring in her 1 yr old baby that had a history of reflux (meds at 3 months) and now recurrent ear infections. Figuring out what was wrong was not difficult (pretty clear cut allergy to dairy), but of issue was the multiple courses of antibiotics she had been on. Recently, she had taken her daughter to urgent care, and the physician recommended she give her daughter probiotics. A little surprising, but good nonetheless. Her pediatrician, however, told her later there was no evidence on probiotics. I told her she needs to find a pediatrician who has cracked a medical journal in the past decade. The bottom line is that these commensal bacteria are supposed to be there. The benefits of having them there are too many to mention. I firmly believe that this is the most devasting impact of innapropriate antibiotic use. Read More.
Daily Intake of Heat-Killed L. plantarum L-137 Augments Acquired Immunity in Health Adults.
The benefits of probiotics are derived not only from their living functions, but from their ability to modulate our immune system beginning from the gut. A large chunk of the control of our immune system starts in the gut (as much as 2/3 depending on who you talk to) and this then sends out the signal to the rest of our immune system. It’s one of the reasons why persons w/ celiac disease (allergy to gluten in grains) have a higher overall mortality rate if they continue to eat gluten. This activates the immune system, leading to an overall increase in systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation slows beats up our bodies, increasing the risk of chronic diseases. Read More.
Higher Plasma DHA is Associated with Reduced Progression of Coronary Atherosclerosis in Women with CAD.
There has been much controversy lately about whether coronary stenting leads to better outcomes years later or whether restonosis occurs. The current belief is that it MIGHT show a benefit. It still amazes me to what lengths we will go to avoid looking at just how effective lifestyle changes are at preventing CVD. The stenting procedure is expensive and not without it’s own set of risks. Lifestylel changes, however, are much cheaper, safety does not even come into play, and the positive effects of lifestyle changes extend beyond CVD. Read More.
Effect of DHA Rich Fish Oil in Leukocyte Function.
Just to show that effects of lifestyle changes (which would be associated with higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, to include DHA) have broader impacts. Read More.
Almonds Decrease Postprandial Gylcemia, Insulinemia, and Oxidative Damage in Healthy Individuals.
When discussing the health benefits of nuts, it is important to differentiate the unaltered nut (as found in most bulk food sections) vs the canned, “Plantars’ nut” type of nut. Most canned nuts have cottonseed oil added in, raising the levels of omega-6 and completely undoing the health benefits of the fats in the nuts. I recently had a patient that “tried everything” to lower her cholesterol. Reminds me of the drug commercials that make it sound like lifestyle changes are not always enough… A mere switching away from canned nuts brought her cholesterol under 200 for the first time in years. Besides the healthy fats, nuts contain a mixture of tocopherols and tocotrienols; compounds well known to protect us from oxidative damage. Read More.
The Epidemiology of Second Primary Cancers.
The issue here is twofold. First, I believe that our bodies are constantly fighting off cancerous cells. It is not until the immune surveillance is overwhelmed that cancerous tumors sneak past the immune system and begin to grow. This would indicate that the cancer that first shows up may just be one of many “hidden.” Thus, the idea that a second cancer may arise later fits in with this theory. Another issue is that chemotherapy is very damaging to the body and destroys the immune system. This would leave the body open to future cancers, especially if the needed lifestyle changes are not made. Likely a combination of the two is what occurs, as many oncologists do not even broach the idea of lifestyle changes with their patients. I have had patients see cardiologists that even go so far as to tell their patients to avoid any supplements because they don’t want it the “interfere” with the treatment. Read More.
Adolescent Milk Fat and Galactose Consumption and Testicular Germ Cell Cancers.
Almost everyone alive today has grown up under the idea that “Milk it does a body good.” Unfortunately, the research behind this is weak at best. Most people would accept that the drug companies have a tendency to market their products in a positive light that may not always be true. But, when it comes to the dairy industry, it is nothing but altruistic and the claims are never questioned. And yet the Courts recently forced the dairy industry to stop its claims of weight loss from dairy products because there is no evidence to support it. The idea that dairy is good for us is so ingrained in our culture that every public health recommendation, every school lunch program and every state medicaid program includes the recommendations for daily servings of dairy. But, so it’s not good for you–but bad? Dairy has been linked to Type 1 diabetes, increased IGF-1 levels which are linked to prostate and breast cancer and now testicular cancer at a frequency of 1 serving/day. Now THAT’S good marketing done on a poor product!!! Read More.
Low Micronutrient Intake May Accelerate the Degenerative Diseases of Aging Through Allocation of Scarce Micronutrients by Triage.
I would have to admit that through government mandating fortification of foods that we do okay on some of the basic stuff. Calcium, folic acid, vitamin C (at least enough to prevent scurvy), thiamine…. But it ends there. Our food is so processed that the redox potential of phytonutrients and many micronutrients are gone. This leaves our diet sufficient to keep us alive for a few years, but woefully prepared for a lifetime of health. So, basically, one theory purports that, in the absence of an adequate supply of micronutrients, the body will allocate these resources to functions that will keep us alive for today while NOT performing functions designed to keep the organism functioning at top capacity. Read More.
Muscadine grape products intake, diet and blood constituents of non-diabetic and type 2 diabetic subjects.
This is another example of how much a simple intervention can make a huge difference in outcomes. In 28 days of having 150 ml of grape juice per day (really not much more than a shotglass’ worth) these patients had much improvement in several markers of long term health. And this was not a pill or concentrate. A perfect example of how we can add in high nutrient-dense foods to improve our overall health. Read More.
Dangerous Deception — Hiding the Evidence of Adverse Drug Effects.
For many years, mainstream medicine has hidden behind the validity of their approach using pharmaceuticals that were based on clinical trials. The facade has come crashing down in so many ways–funding biases, canceling negative trials, not publishing negative trials, data manipulation… The list has become so extensive as to question every single trial. Is there really ANY validity to intervention trials? I personally lean towards basic physiology trials. No one has financial interests in these types of studies and bias is not as likely. Funding usually comes from government or universities w/ no goal for a positive or negative outcome. This is a very interesting article outlining the deception that occurred with the study and approval of Bayer’s drug aprotinin and how they hid negative effects from the FDA when they requested approval. Read More.
Vitamin C was inversely associated with 20-year incidence of stroke
Remember the recent study suggesting carotid artery thickening with vitamin C? Well, many people overreacted to just ONE article, much like they did several years ago when it was shown that vitamin C initiated DNA damage. Well, as for the DNA damage, everyone forgot to look at the fine print–vitamin C also protected against a more damaging type of DNA damage at the same time. This article now suggests a very strong protective effect of vitamin C on stroke. Entrez-PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=0011022052&dopt=Abstract
Public attitudes towards the healthiness of fruit juices
Too many people do not understand the differences in fruit juices. The concept that something like Sunny Delight should be given to kids is ridiculous–it’s basically sugar water. The same thing goes for fruit juice cocktails. The cocktails all have added sugar, 100% juices do not. Your best bet…pure, filtered water and the whole fruit. Synergy Abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-277x.2000.00001-16.x/abstract
The public perception of the role of dietitians
This review evaluates the public perception of dietitians. I have met many dieticians that are really very knowledgeable about functional medicine and health. Unfortunately, I feel that most dieticians are very poorly equipped to deal with human health. Truly understanding nutrition is a monumentous undertaking, and requires a strong foundation in physiology and biochemistry, coupled with hours and hours of continuing education. I have met too many diabetics who’s “nutritionist” had never even mentioned glycemic index. Considering that I believe that nutrition and lifestyle changes is one of the most powerful tools any physician can use, the public’s view of dietitians is upsetting. Synergy Abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-277x.2000.00001-2.x/abstract
Vitamin C and the healing of venous leg ulcers
Antioxidant therapy has many health benefits. By increasing the number of whole fruits and vegetables as well as increasing antioxidant intake can decrease risk, incidence and severity of almost every disease known to man. This study does not show a benefit of vitamin C. However, the dosage of 200 mg/day is considered very low. I would like to see the study done with several grams used, coupled with other antioxidants and ginko biloba. Since vitamin C is crucial for the formation of healthy connective tissue, the idea that vitamin C can help with wound healing is not unreasonable. Synergy Abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-277x.2000.00001-9.x/abstract
Tea and Heart Disease: Protection Via Estrogenlike Activity?
There are so many benefits coming to light about tea that it is surprising that it is not more popular. These benefits range from cancer prevention to heart disease to osteoporosis. The interesting thing about this abstract is that it does not differentiate between green and black tea. Most of the research points to green tea as being much more beneficial that black. Also of note is the quantity of tea consumed. Most studies look at 3-4+ glasses per day. Tea and Coronary Heart Disease: Protection Through Estrogenlike Activity? http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/9/2883.full
Panax Ginseng and Diabetes
This is an editorial commenting on the interaction between diabetes drugs and ginseng potentially resulting in hypoglycemia. My two cents on this…if panax ginseng has the potential to act as a glucose lowering agent, why would we not use it to reduce/eliminate the use of “accepted” diabetic drugs, all of which can have severe, sometimes fatal, side effects? Ginseng also has many other beneficial properties–can this be said of many of the diabetic drugs? Would we include liver failure with the troglitazone-class drugs and increased amyloid production killing off remaining beta cells with insulin secretagogues? Ginseng could be used with conjugated linoleic acid (a PPAR-gamma ligand much like the troglitazones) and exercise to strongly control many cases of diabetes. Panax (Ginseng) Is Not a Panacea http://archinte.ama-assn.org/issues/v160n21/ffull/ilt1127-5.html
Fish Oil Fatty Acids, DHA and DPA, and Acute Coronary Events
This is a nice overview of the benefical effects of essential fatty acids. It even notes a danger to many sources of fish today–high mercury content. Stick with deep sea, cold water fish to avoid mercury. And, note the use of hair analysis to measure mercury content. Hair analysis has long been thought of as “voodoo” and yet the research strongly favors the use of hair analysis for heavy metal exposure. Circulation — Abstracts: Rissanen et al. 102 (22): 2677 http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/102/22/2677
Impaired Arginine Transport in Human Heart Failure
L-arginine supplementation is such a simple and safe method for reducing the risks for cardiovascular disease. Although the research has been around for years, I still think it will be many more yet before arginine makes it into clinical practice. Probably will become popular just a few months after multivitamin use to lower homocysteine levels and CVD… Circulation — Abstracts: Kaye et al. 102 (22): 2707 http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/102/22/2707
Typically, the answer is a pretty strong no. The research on the benefits of healthy fats are all over the board, and this particular study is no exception. Ever since fats were demonized in the early 90s as a result of the USDA’s food guide pyramid (remember–the one with “fats and oils-use sparingly” at the top while refined carbs were proudly displayed across the bottom?) nutritional experts were warning about the detrimental effects from the lowered intake of omega 3 fatty acids. They predicted increased rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. And sure enough, we have seen increased risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity (among other chronic diseases).
The most common of the omega 3s are ALA, DHA and EPA. Each have health benefits of their own. ALA is principally derived from plant sources such as flax seed, nuts and seeds (pumpkin is high in ALA). The “fish oils” are DHA and EPA. Their ultimate source is DHA in algae. The vegetarian fish eat the algae, leading to higher levels of DHA in the fish. Salmon is a great example. These fish are then in turn eaten by large fish like halibut. The vegetarian fish like salmon, tilapia and trout are the better sources for the omega 3 fatty acids because the mercury content is lower. But NEVER eat farm raised–farm raised are fed corn (an omega 6 fatty acid), are high in pesticides and are dyed with a dye to give the “natural” color (wild caught salmon’s pink color is from the carotenoids in their diet).
From a supplement standpoint, it is rare that patients taking fish oils are taking decent dosages. This particular study, which shows strong benefit in those with chronic heart failure, found most benefit from 4 GRAMS per day. Not four capsules, but 4 grams. In many cases, the capsules will contain anywhere from 300 mg to 740 mg, depending on strength. Do the math–this could mean up to 13 capsules per day if it is the cheaper, less strength, supplements.