NYT protein piece generates more heat than light

imagesThere’s been a lot of buzz this week about a column in the New York Times on the potential consequences of eating “too much” protein.

Well columnist Roni Rabin worries that the popularity of protein powders, drinks, and bars are “making it possible to effortlessly consume protein in amounts that far exceed dietary recommendations.”

She goes on to write that “the vast majority of Americans already get more than the recommended daily amounts of protein.”

But are they really? The Institutes of Medicine–a relatively conservative bunch–recommends that we get between 10 and 35% of our calories from protein. For a 150 pound adult, that translates into a range of 55 to 180 grams of protein per day. Continue reading “NYT protein piece generates more heat than light” >

Is coffee good or bad for PCOS?

coffee-722270_640Q.  My 22-year-old daughter has a mild case of PCOS and we are wondering about the effect of coffee on this condition. There is conflicting advice about this online. What are your thoughts?
A. You’re right! There are conflicting points of view regarding coffee/caffeine and PCOS. Many PCOS experts list coffee as a food to avoid. Yet this PCOS support website recommends coffee in an article on “Best beverages for PCOS”.

Much of the confusion centers around the effects of coffee on insulin sensitivity. As you may know, PCOS sufferers are more likely to develop insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Continue reading “Is coffee good or bad for PCOS?” >

Calcium Supplements: Safe or Not?

heart-care-1040250_960_720

The National Osteoporosis Foundation published a new report this week, insisting that calcium supplements are safe for your heart. Two weeks ago, Johns Hopkins cardiologist Erin Michos published a paper saying the opposite.

She notes that the NOF review (which was funded by a pharmaceutical company that makes calcium supplements) omitted certain studies (such as the ones she included in her own review) that might have changed the conclusion.

These are just the latest two volleys in a five-year-long tennis match between experts on whether you should or shouldn’t take calcium supplements.  And you thought politics was divisive.  Continue reading “Calcium Supplements: Safe or Not?” >

How the media distorts science. (Harumph!)

Two items crossed my Facebook feed within the last week or so that were textbook examples of how science is ridiculously twisted in pursuit of clicks.

The first one was just silly.

gin

In her column for the British website Stylist, headlined “5 Reasons Drinking Gin Could  Be Good for You,” Amy Lewis explains that juniper berries contain vitamin C and other antioxidants and phyto-compounds which, she claims, can fight colds and flu, protect the skin from drying, and boost digestion.

Forget for a moment that there is no credible evidence that juniper berries provide any of these health benefits. Let’s pretend, in fact, that these were all demonstrated effects of the juniper berry. What would this have to do with drinking gin? Absolutely nothing. Continue reading “How the media distorts science. (Harumph!)” >

New low glycemic sweetener is higher in calories than indicated

I recently received a sample for review of a new sweetener from Italy called Dolcedi, made from organic apples. According to the manufacturer’s website:

“Dolcedì’ can be used any way you would use traditional table sugar or honey and in the same proportions; one teaspoon of sugar equals one teaspoon of Dolcedì’.”

It’s promoted as having a lower glycemic index than sugar–which it does. But the manufacturer also claims that it’s 25% lower in calories than sugar–which it is not.

When used as directed, Dolcedi actually provides 31% MORE calories than sugar.

Continue reading “New low glycemic sweetener is higher in calories than indicated” >

Does drinking milk increase your IGF levels?

milk in glass bottlesSteve writes:

“I have been seeing a lot of information about milk and dairy raising levels of IGF1 in our bodies. The claim is that will increase the growth of cancer cells, particularly in hormonal based cancers like prostate and breast cancer. Apparently, high levels of IGF1 are good if you are growing but less important once you have matured.  Can you put our minds at ease, please? ”

Drinking a lot of milk might raise your IGF-1 levels, but it’s not because of the hormones in the milk itself. Any IGF-1 that may be present in foods such as dairy products is broken down during digestion and doesn’t have any biological effect in humans.  The amount of protein you take in, on the other hand, has a more direct effect on IGF-1 levels.

Dairy contains protein, of course, but so does meat, fish, beans, legumes, and so on. Continue reading “Does drinking milk increase your IGF levels?” >

Are avocado pits nutritious?

Avocados for Healthy Weight GainAmanda writes:

I’m seeing a lot of  claims about health benefits of eating avocado pits, but I’m having a terrible time finding solid nutritional information for them. Have you got any data?”

Amanda’s note was the first I’d heard about eating avocado pits. (My first thought was: How on earth do you eat one?) But a quick Google search reveals that adding avocado pits to smoothies is indeed a trending topic among the nutritionally ambitious.

None of the the standard nutritional databases I rely on include nutrition information on avocado pits, which are traditionally regarded as “inedible refuse.” However, I was able to dig up a couple of obscure papers on the nutritional value of avocado pits. (Thanks to my friends at the Hass Avocado Board for the assist.)

A lot of the excitement has to do with the fact that the antioxidant activity  of the pit is much higher than the antioxidant capacity of the part you usually eat. More antioxidants = more better, right? Actually not so much. Continue reading “Are avocado pits nutritious?” >