Monthly Archives: January 2014

Are multivitamins a waste of money?

vitaminsThe vitamin and supplement industry rakes in $12 billion annually.

Yet, a new editorial, based on three studies, says multivitamins are a waste of money.

More than half of all adults in the United States take some sort of multivitamin; many do so in hopes of preventing heart disease and cancer or even to aid with memory.

But an editorial published in the recent Annals of Internal Medicine says that using supplements and multivitamins to prevent chronic conditions is a waste of money.

“The (vitamin and supplement) industry is based on anecdotes; people saying ‘I take this, and it makes me feel better,’ said Dr. Edgar Miller, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and co-author of the editorial.

“It’s perpetuated. But when you put it to the test, there’s no evidence of benefit in the long term. It can’t prevent mortality, stroke or heart attack.”

The editorial, Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements is based on three studies looking at the effects of multivitamins on preventing heart attacks and cancer, as well as improving cognitive function in men older than 65. All three studies were also published in this week’s Annals of Internal Medicine.

The first study was a meta-analysis of 27 studies that covered more than 450,000 participants and found that multivitamins had no beneficial effect on preventing cardiovascular disease or cancer.

In addition, taking vitamins didn’t prevent mortality in any way. However, the analysis did confirm that smokers who took only beta carotene supplements increased their risk of lung cancer.

When taking multivitamins to prevent a second heart attack, authors again found no beneficial evidence.

The second study looked at 1,700 patients who previously had heart attacks. They were assigned to take three multivitamins or placebos twice a day for five years. However, with more than 50% of patients stopping their medications, it was difficult for authors to come to any real conclusions about the vitamins’ effectiveness.

With such a high drop-out rate, “interpretation is very difficult,” said Miller.

The final study followed nearly 6,000 men older than 65, who took either a multivitamin or a placebo for 12 years. The men were administered cognitive functioning tests, and test results found no differences between the two groups.

However, Gladys Block, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at University of California Berkeley, pointed out that the group of men followed in the cognitive study were all physicians with no health problems.

“These are very well-nourished, very health-conscious people,” she said.

In fact, she says none of the studies accurately represents the American population.

Block has spent her life studying the role of Vitamin C, in particular, on disease risk factors and says that most Americans are undernourished. She says that most Americans don’t have a healthy diet, and therefore don’t get the vitamins and minerals they need.

“You’re not getting any of these micronutrients from Coke and Twinkies,” said Block.

“Two-thirds of us are overweight, a quarter over 50 have two or more chronic conditions, so there’s a substantial population that one would hesitate to call healthy.”

Block went on to say, “There’s always a nontrivial minority that’s actually getting a questionable level of some micronutrients. So multivitamins are a backstop against our poor diet.”

Cara Welch, senior vice president of the Natural Products Association, agreed with Block.

“It is pretty common that in this day and age with the lifestyle many of us lead that we don’t always take the time to have a balanced diet, and even if you do have a balanced diet, you can still have nutritional deficiencies.”

The National Products Association is the largest trade organization representing the manufacturers and retailers of the natural products industry, including vitamins.

The vitamin and supplement industry rakes in nearly $12 billion annually, according to the researchers, with multivitamins its most popular product.

“Multivitamins address the nutritional deficiencies in people,” Welch said. “We don’t believe they are the answer to all life’s ailments, as the editorial suggests.”

Miller, however, disagreed that the studies didn’t represent the general public.

“They didn’t select people who eat good diets or bad diets,” he said. “You assume that these people selected are the typical American diet. Taking a supplement in place of a poor diet doesn’t work.”

Some groups, however, do need supplements, he said.

“For people with deficiencies, malabsorption issues, and to prevent neural tube defects in pregnancy — there are a small number of conditions where we prescribe them.”

Miller also said the jury is still out on Vitamin D, which can help strengthen bones, and omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA.

1208825_1398605097034370_1229998298_nMiller said the studies were unlikely to change any clinical standards, and that focusing on diet and exercise remain key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

It’s something with which Block can agree. “Eat fruits and vegetables,” she said.

Related article: Children’s Vitamins Contain Hazardous Chemicals.

Our choice for over 20 years has been a whole-food based supplement called Juice Plus+.

Beauty is More than Skin Deep

Proper circulation is important for skin health, because it ensures the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to skin tissue.

Availability of the right nutrients is also crucial.

A new study, conducted by researchers at the Medical University of Graz, Austria and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, confirms the findings of previous research: Juice Plus+ improves markers of skin microcirculation, thus supporting healthy skin. In addition, it decreases markers of systemic oxidation and inflammation.

For this study, 42 obese, non-smoking pre-menopausal women were randomly assigned to take either Juice Plus+ Garden, Orchard, and Vineyard Blends (two capsules of each per day) or placebo (six capsules identical in appearance to the Juice Plus+ capsules) for eight weeks.

At the beginning and end of the study, markers of microcirculation were assessed at a skin depth of 2mm. The researchers also measured blood samples for markers of oxidative stress and inflammation.

The fact that the women were obese is significant, because carrying extra pounds causes structural and functional changes in skin microcirculation (as well as increasing oxidative stress and inflammation). In fact, the more excess weight a person carries, the more micro-vascular function becomes impaired. The researchers were curious to see if Juice Plus+ could help counteract this tendency.

Juice Plus+ positively impacts skin microcirculation

Eight weeks later, the results were clear. Compared to placebo, supplementing with Juice Plus+ significantly improved all three markers of skin microcirculation measured: capillary blood flow, oxygen saturation of hemoglobin, and the relative concentration of hemoglobin. All of these markers positively influence skin color. In addition, the Juice Plus+ group experienced significant improvements in several markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, while the placebo group did not — a change the researchers referred to as “remarkable.”

The results of this study build on previous research conducted at the University of Witten-Herdecke, Germany, and published in  Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, which found that Juice Plus+ increases skin microcirculation in healthy middle-aged women by 39 percent, and boosts skin hydration and thickness.

Juice Plus+ contains micro-nutrients that support skin health 

It’s been said that you can tell a lot about someone’s internal health by the health of their skin, and research supports this bit of common wisdom. When the skin is deprived of essential nutrients, unfavorable changes to skin physiology may occur, and skin disorders may develop. Inadequate dietary intake of nutrients, as well as poor microcirculation, can both negatively affect skin health.

Fruits and vegetables are natural reservoirs of vitamins and phyto-nutrients that play a role in skin health, and they have been shown to provide UV protection and improve skin structure and texture. By providing the vitamins and phyto-nutrients of an array of concentrated fruits, vegetables, and berries, Juice Plus+ delivers nutrition for skin health and improves skin microcirculation.

drray“We’ve seen the clinical data showing that Juice Plus+ reduces free radical damage and improves the immune system and the cardiovascular system,” explains Mitra Ray, Ph.D., a biochemist, lecturer, and co-author of Do You Have the Guts to Be Beautiful? (Shining Star Publishing, 2009). “What is really exciting, though, is that as your inside becomes healthier, this eventually shows up in your skin as well.”

Among other markers of skin health, the German study analyzed the impact of Juice Plus+ on skin density and thickness, which Dr. Ray says is very important. “Increased density and thickness indicate that the structural components that make up the skin are healthier at the molecular level,” she elaborates. “Because the skin exfoliates so often, this means that the new cells coming to the skin are healthier and more resilient.”

The German researchers also measured the skin’s properties as a barrier to water loss – hydration being another key link in Dr. Ray’s skin/nutrition chain. “The skin’s ability to stay more hydrated has the effect of making wrinkles look less visible. I personally noticed this in the fine lines on my forehead.”

Dr. Ray thinks this all just makes good nutritional sense. “Improved plant nutrition helps increase ‘microcirculation’ through the tiny capillaries that come almost to the very surface of the skin. This translates to better skin color and tone – what people refer to as a ‘healthy glow.’

The “Beauty of Juice Plus+” has been featured on Lifetime TV.

Dr. Ray, a longtime proponent of Juice Plus+, has seen the positive impact of taking Juice Plus+ on people’s skin – including her own. “Now we’re about to have our first clinical data to help support this observation,” she shares appreciatively. Please watch Dr. Ray’s video below.

The Easy Trick to Eat more Fruit and Vegetables

The latest dietary guidelines call for seven to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day (3½ to 6½ cups per day), based on an individual’s caloric needs; however, the vast majority of individuals don’t get close to that mark with their daily diet habits.

For some, fruits and vegetables aren’t the most appetizing food items, but thankfully there is one simple trick you can use to incorporate more of these healthy foods into your routine.

What’s the secret? It’s simple, and if you already have a sharp knife at home it won’t cost you a dime. According to recent research, all you need to do to eat more fruits and vegetables is–slice them. That’s right, just change the appearance of your produce slightly and your brain will be more inclined to see it as appetizing.

The power of marketing

You may not realize just how powerful an effect marketing and product packaging can have on you when you stalk the isles of the grocery store, but research suggests clever packaging is what draws people away from plain fruits and vegetables and convinces them to buy unhealthy alternatives.

According to a study by Cornell University, the packaging phenomenon is most evident among children, who tend to shy away from fruits and vegetables as it is. To investigate what affect changing the appearance of fruit might have on kids, researchers presented children with options of traditional, unaltered fruit versus sliced fruit, arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way on a plate.

At the end of the study held in school cafeterias as control settings, results indicated apple sales in schools with fruit slicers increased by 71 percent compared to control schools. What’s more, experts noted the percentage of students who ate more than half of their apple increased by 73 percent, an effect that lasted long after the study was over.

Though the research focused on apple consumption, experts were confident the slicing trick could be applied successfully to any fruits and vegetables, for any age group.

Really? Slicing is the trick to eating more fruits and vegetables?

Slicing will often do the trick to encourage you and your family members to eat more fruits and vegetables, but it certainly isn’t the only trick in the book. If you’re looking for ways to really boost your produce intake, try these other tricks from the Department of Agriculture:

  • Keep whole fruit (like apples, oranges, or grapes) in a bowl on the counter or in another area where it is seen often.
  • Buy frozen fruit in addition to fresh so you always have a supply on hand.
  • Add sliced fruits to breakfast meals, like on top of cereal.
  • Pack your lunch for the day with baggies of sliced veggies to avoid the hunger splurge at the vending machine.
  • Try eating fruits and vegetables with a health dip as a snack, as opposed to chips and dip.
  • Add vegetables to smoothies; the flavors often disappear but the health benefits remain.
  • Use vegetables as a base for main meals; instead of serving a meat over rice, serve it over mixed vegetables instead.
  • Be creative with fruit for dessert; a bowl of slice bananas and strawberries lightly drizzled with chocolate sauce can be just as delicious as a bowl of ice cream.

No matter what tricks you try to eat more fruits and vegetables, never forget the cardinal rules of produce: eat organic whenever possible to avoid dangerous pesticides and always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

Read the original article here.

At your upcoming SuperBowl party serve ‘super bowls’ of fruit, with plates of sliced fruit, veggies and a healthy dip. Try it, you’ll like it … and you’ll feel good!

Of course, Juice Plus+ is the perfect way to bridge your nutritional gaps!

Clearing Up Soy Confusion

An excellent article by Charlene:

“I picked up a copy of a magazine in a waiting room the other day. I saw an article on soy and decide to read it. This article was said it was going to dispel the rumours around soy. It started off saying, ”Soy. One minute it’s the answer to all our health problems, the next it’s a hidden hazard”. The author, Anna Cipollone, pored over the latest research to clear up the controversy. Unfortunately not all the research was accurate.

In this article, I’ll discuss Anna’s findings and offer a quality control soy checklist to ensure you are purchasing the best quality product.

Why dispel the rumours around soy?

Soy products come from the soybean, a legume native to northern China. The protein in soy is a ”complete” protein – the most complete you can get from vegetable sources – and just as good nutritionally as animal protein. In fact, with animal protein there is usually more fat and water content. For example a T-bone steak is 19% protein, 43% fat, and 36% water. When you heat animal protein to temperature of 110 degrees over 50% of the bioactivity is lost and you can destroy over 50% of some of the amino acids. Soy is also easier on kidneys than animal protein.

Returning to the article, here are the points that Anna challenged.

1. Soy causes cancer specifically in the breast and prostate.

The part she had right here was to avoid heavily processed soy foods. What she didn’t find in her research was that not all soy foods are created equal. Processing makes a big difference; whenever you cook a food you de-nature it and make it into something different. Depending on the processing, some soy products have lots of isoflavones, some none at all.  Isoflavones are the phytoestrogen compounds that are considered antioxidants and prevent cancer.

Commercially processed soy is alcohol-washed leaving little nutrient value.  For instance, soy sauce and soy oil have no isoflavones left at all.  In order to make “textured vegetable protein – TVP for short”, it is put through a high temperature, high pressure steam process that causes the soy to become carcinogenic or cancer-causing. TVP is what is used in soy meat substitutes and should be avoided. Commercial soymilk, soy flour and soy cheese should also be avoided.  So if you are ingesting “overcooked” commercial soy, yes it will contribute to cancer cells being formed in the body.

The other soy is cold water washed and very few companies use this method as it is more expensive but leaves the nutrients intact.  If you are ingesting a soy product that was processed through a cold water extraction technique, you get the very best of the soybean and all of the positive things like the phytoestrogens which inhibit breast cancer and prostate cancer. The phytoestrogens in soy protect the cell receptor sites from the xenoestrogens and any unwanted estrogenic compounds.  So the bottom line is, it is important to ask how soy is processed before ingesting it if you want to prevent cancer.

2. Soy is not heart healthy.

Soy has been proven to reduce high cholesterol levels – often around 10 % – in many studies. Controlled clinical trials have found that 25 grams of soy in the diet daily can reduce levels of LDL cholesterol while maintaining HDL cholesterol. It also prevents plaque formation, slows growth of existing plaque, reduces risk of blood clot formation, lowers blood pressure, and increases elasticity of vessels. In November 2000, the American Heart Association recommended that soy protein be added to our daily diets to help reduce cholesterol and as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle.

3. Soy is genetically modified (GMO).

I know companies that are very picky about their soy protein.  They will not use any ingredients that are genetically engineered, though it would cost them less to do so. Call the company to verify if you do not see “non GMO” listed on the label.

4. Soy makes menopause worse.

Women who consume soy foods over a lifetime have fewer symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, according to studies published in Lancet (1997) and Obstetrics and Gynecology (1998).  In preliminary clinical studies, soy increased or maintained bone density in postmenopausal women and alleviated mood swings, reduced hot flashes, sleep problems, etc.

5 & 6.  Soy makes you fat and makes your man infertile and busty.

The bottom line here again, is the quality of the soy products you are ingesting. If you are ingesting commercial soy, then you run the risk of the health challenges listed above.

7. Fermented soy is best.

This claim is comparing fermented soy with commercially unfermented soy products.  Here is a quality control soy checklist that ensures you have a good quality soy product that will give you the same benefits and more of unfermented soy.

Do not purchase soy products and expect them to produce positive health results unless you know that the following “ESSENTIAL SEVEN” quality controls have been met by the manufacturer:

1. The beans must be organically grown.

2. The beans must NOT be genetically engineered.

3. Each batch must be checked to confirm that it contains the 9 essential amino acids.

4. In the manufacturing process to produce the soy isolate, the crushed soy flakes must be water washed (not alcohol washed).

5. The anti-thyroid/anti-growth substance MUST be removed.

6. The process must be without heat.

7. The soy isolate in protein powders must have calcium added (when the oil is removed it becomes an acidic food – when calcium is added it makes it neutral again).”

Read more here.


How does the soy in Juice Plus+ Complete stack up to Charlene’s checklist? Here’s the answer from the Juice Plus+ ‘oracle’:

1. We are not organic, but we know our farmer, and we know what he puts on his fields and that is even better in my book!

2. We are most certainly non-GMO from seed to finished product.

3. Unless genetically modified, all soybeans contain the 9 essential amino acids so we are good there (we do check annually though).

4. We are one of the first to get water washed protein, so check!

5. I believe that she is either talking about trypsin inhibitors or phytic acid here.  Some of both are removed during processing, but neither really has anything to do with thyroid or growth issues.  This is one of those myths that got propagated from faulty science, mostly in animal or petri dish studies.  We rely on the human data, just like with Juice Plus+.

6. There is some heat, but it is minimal.  By the way, the only ways to remove the trypsin inibitors and phytic acid are with heat or solvent (alcohol).

7. All soy protein is neutralized during processing.  We do use calcium.

Liza Pepple
Director, Strategic Projects
The Juice Plus+ Company

Other related articles:

To learn more please watch these videos on the role of Juice Plus+ Complete in your health, fitness and nutrition program.

#itsyourlifemakeitcomplete

Ease the (Blood) Pressure

The silent killer  – high blood pressure – is at epidemic levels across the country. Preventable and reversible, high blood pressure — the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease — can be effectively controlled through medication. But what you eat and drink matters, too, and may control it just as well.

There are no warning signs or symptoms of high blood pressure, making regular testing a requirement for healthy living.

“High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and heart failure,” said Dr. Malissa Wood, co-director of the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “Currently, 77.9 million (1 out of every 3) adults have high blood pressure in the United States, and the estimated direct and indirect cost of high blood pressure in 2009 was $51 billion.

dash diet meal“Given that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans and it is highly preventable, we need to focus more on diet – both in maintaining or achieving a healthy weight as well as following a DASH-type diet to stay healthy. DASH stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension. This includes lots of whole grain products, fish, poultry and nuts. It is rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as protein and fiber and limits sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day ideally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, decreasing the average intake of sodium from 3,300 mg to 2,300 mg per day may reduce cases of high blood pressure by 11 million,” Wood said.

“Consuming less sodium is one way to help reduce blood pressure, but it’s not our only option,” said Dr. Rani Whitfield, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association national volunteer spokeswoman. “Foods that are rich in potassium like bananas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, lima beans and peas are heart-healthy options that can help get blood pressure under control,” said the family practitioner from Baton Rouge, La.

Researchers believe that potassium counteracts the effects of sodium and reduces blood pressure. “A recent study also suggests that foods high in nitrates like beets can be helpful in lowering blood pressure”, Whitfield said. “Nitrates open the blood vessels, reducing the blood pressure and increasing blood flow.”

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables like the DASH diet can help control blood pressure and may help prevent high blood pressure. This benefit may be partially derived from the calcium in fresh fruits and vegetables, said Wood.

The American Heart Association recommends eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings every day. An average adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Also, variety matters, so try a wide range of fruits and veggies.

In her “The Heart of the Matter” video (below), Dr. Tamara Sachs (Internal Medicine) discusses her professional experience with heart disease. She says:

“Health is more than the absence of disease: it is a balance between wellness and the many stressors in your life. The more active a participant you are in this dynamic process, the healthier a person you will become.”

“Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are two different things. Juice Plus+ is a perfect example. Knowing that we should eat more fruits and vegetables is one thing, but actually doing it is quite another. That’s why I recommend Juice Plus+ to all of my patients. It is a powerful and compelling product for those who wish to protect their health. I would never want to be without it. It is my foundational product for my patients, and I rely on it for my health as well.”

In no less than 6 clinical studies Juice Plus+ was shown to significantly improve markers of heart health, including reduction in homocysteine, systemic inflammation and the negative effects of a high fat meal (watch the video!)  Read more on this here and watch a Internal Medicince specialist, Dr. Tamara Sachs below:

Is a portion the same as a serving?

my plate usdaI keep hearing about portion control. What is a portion? Is that the same as a serving? A serving and a portion can be two different things.

The serving size is a standard, recommended amount of a food. For example, adults are recommended to have 7 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

A portion is the amount you eat at one time. This may be more than the recommended amount. One restaurant may have a larger portion of orange juice than another, and is likely larger than the recommended 4-ounce serving.

And portion control? We are rather terrible at it in the United States. We are experiencing “portion distortion,” where we are eating much greater amounts of food than needed in one sitting One factor at work is the size of our dishes.

Since the 1960s, the size of a standard dinner plate, bowl and glass has increased greatly. With larger dishes, we are serving ourselves more. We don’t like to have empty spaces on our plate or a glass half-empty! We should ditch our membership to the “clean plate club” and start using our salad plates for dinner. Read the full story at www.journal-news.com.

Fruits and Vegetables Significantly Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

A few days ago I posted an article by Dr. David Katz with the provocative title “Do Multivitamins Cause Breast Cancer?

Now let’s give you some better news!

A new study addressing patterns of diet and breast cancer has found that women whose diets are primarily plant-based, consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables, have significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer, while women who consume a diet high in wine, salad and low-fat dressing may have increased risk.

The study was led by researchers from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) and Columbia University who worked with information obtained from thousands of women to identify a correlation between dietary patterns and breast cancer.

While a lowered risk for breast cancer was observed in the plant-based diet group as a whole, of particular note were the women who reported consuming the highest amounts of fruits and vegetables. The researchers found this group to be 35 percent less likely to develop estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer than those who reported eating the fewest fruits and vegetables.

“The finding that women who are at high risk for ER- breast cancer can reduce their risk by consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is very encouraging. It provides a simple and important preventative measure for women to take, and one likely to reduce the risk of other major chronic diseases as well,” said Pamela Horn-Ross, Ph.D., research scientist at CPIC.

“The diet does not have to be vegetarian to make a difference,” Horn-Ross noted. “What we found is that the more fruits and vegetables consumed in the overall diet, the greater the benefit.” But she noted that even those consuming the greatest amounts of fruits and vegetables also consumed meat, chicken, fish, and grain-based foods to some degree.

The researchers observed that women who consumed larger amounts of salad, fish, wine, and coffee or tea had an increased risk of developing estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. “While alcohol consumption accounts for some of this increased risk, it does not explain it entirely,” said Lilli Link, MD, MS, a nutrition specialist in private practice in New York, formerly affiliated with Columbia University.

“Women who consume two or more glasses of wine (or any alcoholic beverage) a day while also taking hormone therapy are at especially high risk of breast cancer, so concurrent use of hormone therapy among women consuming this dietary pattern may account for some of the risk,” Link said. “However, at this time, we don’t know what other factors may be involved.”

Published in the Oct. 9, 2013 online version of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study, “Dietary patterns and breast cancer risk in the California Teachers Study,” included 91,779 women from a large, diverse group that consists of active and retired teachers and school administrators in California. The participants completed a comprehensive questionnaire in 1995 regarding health status, dietary habits and lifestyle information, and were followed for 14 years thereafter.

The five major dietary patterns identified in the study included the plant-based diet consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables; a diet high in protein and fat, with meat, eggs, fried foods and high-fat condiments such as butter and mayonnaise; a diet high in convenience foods, pasta and bread products; a diet high in legumes, soy foods, rice and dark leafy vegetables; and the “salad and wine” diet, high in salads, low-fat dressing, fish, wine, and coffee and tea.

Over the 14-year period, 4,140 of the participants were diagnosed with breast cancer. The diets high in carbohydrates, in protein and fat, and in legumes and soy foods neither reduced nor increased breast cancer risk.

bowlpeppersA number of reasons might explain why a plant-based diet might reduce breast cancer risk, the researchers suggested. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which may lower breast cancer risk by reducing the concentration of estrogen in the body and keeping glucose and insulin levels stable. Fruits and vegetables are also high in antioxidants, which have been shown to inhibit growth of breast cancer cells.

The authors noted that a major strength of this study is its basis in a large, diverse group with dietary data collected prior to breast cancer diagnosis and based on a widely-used and validated food frequency questionnaire. Certain limitations were noted as well, including possible changes to dietary patterns over time and lack of distinction between cooked and raw vegetables.

As you, my readers, know, Juice Plus+ contains the nutritional essence of many fruits, berries and vegetables, and the Juice Plus+ Complete ‘sister product’ extends the reach of health-giving food products in the form of a powdered drink mix. These products were the subject of a study at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX conducted a study on the effect of giving Juice Plus+ capsules and Complete to ovarian cancer survivors. The study was published in the March 2012 issue of the Gynecologic Oncology Journal. You can watch a webinar presentation by the lead researcher of this study Dr. Lovell Jones.

Low-Carb or Low-Fat?

North Americans in record numbers are dieting to lose weight – an estimated 50 million of us will go on a diet this year. The sheer number of diet books on the market today – more than 1,200 at last count – makes losing weight  overwhelming as well as confusing.

Many people are trying to fight the fat by cutting out the carbs. According to a recent survey, low carbohydrate diets are already being followed by 17 percent of Americans, a number that is growing by the day.

lowcarbWhat exactly are “low-carb” diets? Generally speaking, they are based on restricting the consumption of processed and refined carbohydrates, especially sugars, breads, pastas, and starchy vegetables.

There are numerous variations on the low carbohydrate theme. They differ in their recommendations as to just how low one’s carbohydrate intake should be and whether all carbs are created equal. One of the most popular allows unlimited consumption of protein and fats – including bacon, cheese, eggs, and butter – along with very limited quantities of all types of carbohydrates, even fruits and vegetables.

katzDavid L. Katz, M.D., of the Yale Preventive Medicine Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut is a nationally known nutrition expert and nutrition spokesperson for the American College of Preventive Medicine. He warns against any approach to losing weight – low-carb or low-fat – that doesn’t correct the energy imbalance that ultimately causes people to gain weight. “If you want to lose weight, you need to ingest fewer calories than you expend,” he explains.

“Any diet that doesn’t do that will not stand the test of time.”

fatcaloriesDr. Katz extends an important caution to low-carb dieters in this regard: be smart when it comes to consuming new low-carb products. Low-carb offerings, from crustless pizzas to bunless burgers, are popping up on restaurant and fast food menus everywhere. In grocery stores, low- or reduced-carb products – including low-carb beer, cereal, cookies, chocolate bars, chips, pork rinds, even low-carb marshmallows – are flying off the shelves, while their “high-carb” counterparts are seeing dramatic declines in sales. Last year, for example, Nielsen reported sales of instant rice were down 8.2%; pasta, down 4.6%; and, white bread, down 4.7%.

Dr. Katz says that it’s a case of history repeating itself. “Why don’t low-fat diets work? Snackwells, that’s the answer,” he explains, referring to a popular line of reduced-fat cookies and crackers.

It’s not all about Snackwells per se, of course. In fact, our focus on lowering fat has led Americans to reduce their consumption of fat from 40% of  calories in 1968 to 33% in 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We have similarly reduced the amount of saturated fat in our diets from 18% to 11%. So why are more than a third of Americans overweight or obese today, and why has that percentage continued to grow?

It’s because, in terms of body weight, a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) the average amount of fat in the American diet has actually increased from 81 grams to 83 grams per day, even though the percentage of calories from fat has gone down. How is that possible? It’s because the number of calories the average person eats has increased as well, from 1,989 to 2,153 calories per day. A low-fat diet only “works” (in terms of losing weight) if you reduce the percentage of  calories from fat while maintaining or reducing the total number of calories.

The same problem could occur with low-carb diets as well. Dr. Katz describes the problem this way: “as the food industry produces more and more products labeled ‘low-fat’ or ‘low-carb’ Americans line up to eat them.“ There are 3,800 alories produced in the U.S. every day for every man, woman, and child in America.

“We eat too much because there are too many calories available.” says Katz.

Another potential problem with low-carb product offerings is that there is presently no FDA definition for the term “low-carb.” This allows food manufacturers to make low-carb claims about products that may not be so low in carbohydrates after all.

Lisa Sanders, M.D., also from the Yale Preventive Medicine Research Center, believes that regardless of which side health professionals are on in the low-carb/low-fat diet debate, the reality is that “patients are using these [low-carb] diets. We need to work with that.” That’s where  Juice Plus+ can play an important role, both for low-carb dieters and the health professionals who look after them.

Dr. Katz recommends Juice Plus+ and, in my opinion, everyone needs Juice Plus+. But certainly no one needs Juice Plus+ more than the low-carb dieter. The problem is that while no one questions the nutritional value of the thousands of antioxidants and other phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables, fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates. Low-carbohydrate diets recommend that you eliminate or drastically reduce the consumption of all fruits and most vegetables other than a few green leafy ones.

In a very real sense, the nutritional baby is getting thrown out with the carbohydrate bathwater. Low-carb diets typically “allow” only four or five of the 17 different fruits, vegetables, and grains used to make  Juice Plus+. The few that they do allow tend to be ones like spinach, parsley, and kale that most people don’t like anyway – especially people who are being told that they can eat as much meat, butter, and cheese as they want.

newbottlescapsulesJuice Plus+ is the perfect addition to any low-carb diet because it helps provide the wide variety of healthful antioxidants and phytonutrients that can only be found in fruits and vegetables. Our recommended daily serving of Juice Plus+ – two Orchard Blend, two Garden Blend and two Vineyard Blend capsules – contains only 3 grams of carbohydrates. For perspective, the most popular low-carb diet limits carbohydrate intake to 20 grams a day, a mere fraction of the 250 grams of carbohydrates that the average person takes in.

Doctors and dieters concerned about the potential negative nutritional implications of low-carb dieting should take a serious look at  Juice Plus+. Juice Plus+ is also perfect for everyone watching the fat content of his or her diet, because Juice Plus+ contains no fat at all.

Despite the emerging popularity of low-carb diets, major disease prevention organizations, such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, still recommend that we eat at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day, preferably more.

So, the diet debate rages on. But whether you believe that low-carb or low-fat is the best way to shed pounds, there’s one thing you can count on: the nutritional goodness of  Juice Plus+ will be a good fit with any diet you choose.

Of course, all this talk about dieting misses the mark. The only way to be truly healthy and achieve our perfect weight, is to make the right choices every day: the choice to ‘eat clean’. That’s what our Transform2014 program is all about – learning the make the right choices, and making that a habit; for a lifetime.

trans2014journey

Do Multivitamins Cause Breast Cancer?

Following our report on Dr. David Katz’ presentation here in Vail, CO on Friday, here is another article by this amazing man.

He asks a provocative question: “Do multivitamins cause breast cancer.” His answer:

An observational cohort study conducted in Sweden, recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests they may.

In such trials, people answer questions about their lives, and are then observed to see what happens to whom. These studies can be powerful when large — this one followed nearly 35,000 women for close to ten years — but they are never as definitive as intervention trials in which people are randomly assigned to treatment A or treatment B. People who decide to do ‘A’ may differ in a whole variety of ways from people who decide to do ‘B.’

Current Issue CoverIn this case, they did. Women who took multivitamins also used oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy more, and exercised less, for example, than the women who did not take the supplements.

Roughly 25 percent of the women in the study routinely took a multivitamin, and were 19 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer after adjusting for other potential explanations.

There’s the headline, but let’s work those numbers over just a bit. That 19 percent risk increase, if real, is a “relative” risk increase. How big is the absolute risk?

A total of 681 cancers developed over roughly 10 years in 26,312 women not routinely taking multivitamins. The risk of breast cancer in these women in any given year was thus about 0.26 percent.

vitaminsIn the 9,017 women taking ‘multis’ routinely, there were 293 breast cancers over that same decade. Among these women, then, the absolute risk of breast cancer in any given year was 0.32 percent.

The relative difference between a risk of 0.32 percent and 0.26 percent is, indeed, about 19 percent. But the absolute difference is 0.06 percent. In other words, if multivitamins are truly the cause of the apparent risk difference, they would increase your breast cancer risk by considerably less than one tenth of one percent; 1,667 women would need to take multivitamins for a year before one extra case of breast cancer occurred.

So, clearly, there is no cause for panic.

But there is cause for reflection, and perhaps reorientation. After all, we take multivitamins in the hope they will do us good, not in the hope they won’t do us harm. And while evidence is scant that they do us good, this study is not the first to hint of potential harm — other researchers have found a similar association between multis and breast cancer.

There are plausible mechanisms. Tumors grow less well when certain nutrients — folate prominent among them — are in rate-limiting supply. A multivitamin might “feed” cells in a tumor.

If folate is the relevant nutrient in Sweden, it may not be relevant in the U.S., since we fortify our food supply with folate (doing so dramatically reduces the occurrence of a congenital anomaly called ‘neural tube defect’) and the Swedes do not. Even Americans NOT taking multivitamins are getting supplemental folate. Folate, however, is just one potential explanation for the findings.

Of course, if what prevents a tumor from growing is having too little of a nutrient to feed the tumor cells, it raises a question: is there enough of the nutrient to feed healthy cells optimally? Not getting cancer is important, but so is being vital and energetic. This study could not address that issue.

If we want optimal nutrients for healthy cells but don’t want to feed tumors, the source of nutrients may be crucial. The best source — the source strongly and consistently associated with lower risk of just about every disease — is wholesome foods. No supplement is a substitute for them.

newbottlescapsulesBut something called a “whole food based” supplement may come close. Products such as Juice Plus+, currently under study in my lab, take all of the nutrients from plant foods and concentrate them into capsules for those who simply can’t or won’t eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily (that’s most Americans!). Unlike multivitamins which take nutrients out of context and repackage them, whole food supplements maintain the natural array and concentration of nutrients — thousands of them — found in the foods themselves. It may be that nutrients only work as they should in concert, like the various instruments in a symphony orchestra. There is both science and theory to support this notion, although no decisive evidence yet that whole food supplements promote health over the long-term while avoiding potential harms of standard multivitamins. But it seems plausible to me that this might be true, and further study is well justified.

Finally, not all nutrients are equal when it comes to breast cancer risk. Supplementation with calcium, and possibly vitamin D, in the Swedish study were actually associated with reduced risk. So along with “don’t panic,” let’s add: don’t toss out the baby with the bathwater. I favor vitamin D supplementation, vary my calcium recommendations depending on diet, and routinely encourage supplementation with omega-3 oils. I have not yet abandoned use of multivitamins, but am growing steadily less enthusiastic.

If multivitamins increase breast cancer risk, the increase is very, very small. While quite meaningful at the population level, it is very unlikely to make a difference in your life. Still, the association could be real — and there are other ways to optimize your nutrient intake. The best of these is to eat those fruits and vegetables Mom recommended all along.

~ Dr. David L. Katz; www.davidkatzmd.com