Nutrition


Food Label Zealots Hate Chemicals Unless They're in a Supplement Bottle

As a continuance of my assault on the misleading ideas about "natural" food, this is yet another follow-up to a series of blog posts where I discuss chemicals in foods and the concept of natural. In the last one, I talked about the difference between chemicals as nutrients and chemicals as pharmacologic agents. I explained that some chemicals in food do have a physiological effect beyond their basic biological functions. Others, such as compounds in herbals used for medicinal purposes simply have no function as a "nutrient." All of these, though, have one thing in common and that is summed up by saying that "The poison OR the remedy is in the DOSE." This is important in helping us recognize the difference between nutrition information and alternative medicine information.

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Misconceptions About Nutrition Information Versus Alternative Medicine

Food Nutrients and Toxic Plant Compounds, All from the Same Food

In my post Homeopathy Is Not a Drug and Other Babbles I had quite a rant, albeit a very informative one, about some idiotic things a NaturalHealth.com article said about homeopathy and about homeopathy quackery in general. If you read that you will be more in flow with what is to follow. Cuz I'm not done!

Much of that post concerned chemicals. The food faddist or the homeopathic zealot, when he hears the word chemical, cries "POISON!" Yet, chemicals are what our food is made of and the term toxic chemical, taken by itself, is meaningless.

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Natural and Processed Food, Nutritionism and Pollanisms

There has been a lot of support for Michal Pollan's books for the last few years (he was on Colbert ) and his books "In Defense of Food" as well as his earlier book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" are both very popular. I even saw Mike Boyle singing the praises of Pollan while imagining he knew more about nutrition than "nutritionists" by virtue of having read Pollan's books. Even though, strictly speaking, Pollan is not a nutritionist but a journalist. But hey, I've also seen Mike Boyle and others sing the praises of Mercola, so go figure. I would hesitate to get my nutrition information from a strength coach or a journalist. That is not to say that I would not take their advice, but only that I would hesitate to consider that advice as seriously as I would consider the advice of someone who is a nutrition specialist.

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Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamine) - When, How, and Why to Supplement

By Ken Adams, M.D. and Scott E. Conard, M.D.

Sources and Physiologic Functions

Sources

Liver, kidney, muscle meats, eggs, cheese, milk, and fish are excellent sources of vitamin B12. It is not found in plant foods or in yeast. Fermented foods such as soy sauce, tempeh, and miso, and fortified foods such as soymilk are also good sources of this vitamin.

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Heavy Metals Found In Protein Shakes: Should You Stop Drinking Them?

A recent investigation on protein drinks has been causing waves of concern or even alarm to ripple through the fitness and bodybuilding world. Supplement companies are up in arms and people are wondering whether they should stop drinking protein shakes after the magazine said they tested 15 protein drinks for heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury) and 3 of them came up above the proposed safe limits…

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The Role Of Soy In Vegetarian Diets

Soyfoods have long been prized among vegetarians for both their high protein content and versatility. Soybeans differ markedly in macronutrient content from other legumes, being much higher in fat and protein, and lower in carbohydrate. In recent years however, soyfoods and specific soybean constituents, especially isoflavones, have been the subject of an impressive amount of research. Nearly 2,000 soy-related papers are published annually. This research has focused primarily on the benefits that soyfoods may provide independent of their nutrient content. There is particular interest in the role that soyfoods have in reducing risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and certain forms of cancer. However, the estrogen-like effects of isoflavones observed in animal studies have also raised concerns about potential harmful effects of soyfood consumption. This review addresses questions related to soy and chronic disease risk, provides recommendations for optimal intakes, and discusses potential contraindications. As reviewed, the evidence indicates that, with the exception of those individuals allergic to soy protein, soyfoods can play a beneficial role in the diets of vegetarians. Concerns about adverse effects are not supported by the clinical or epidemiologic literature. Based on the soy intake associated with health benefits in the epidemiologic studies and the benefits noted in clinical trials, optimal adult soy intake would appear to be between two and four servings per day.

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Nutrition is Not a Top Ten Proposition and the Lycopene Bust

I'm going to give you three vegetables. You pick the best one.

  • Tomatoes
  • Green (Bell) Peppers
  • Spinach

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The Other Side Of Dogma - Alternative a Euphemism for Untested?

My last post about strength training and nutrition dogma dealt with the downside of the popular and untested beliefs that we cling to in the face of little to no evidence. Even so I pointed out that not all beliefs which appear to be dogmatic are "bad". Well, it just so happens that I think there are worse things than dogma.

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Nutrition is Not a True or False Proposition

I just came across a "nutrition quiz".

I got eight out of ten correct. Only eight? ME? You have got to be kidding me? I am a nutrition stud. Well, perhaps not exactly a nutrition stud but let's just say I do not get my nutrition information from steroid salesmen on bodybuilding forums.

One of the questions on the quiz involved brown rice. Go figure. I knew they wanted to hear that brown rice was healthier than white rice so that is what I answered but really I refuse to capitulate to the nonsense about brown rice being magical health pellets and white rice being evil little starch monsters.

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Food Oil Fatty Acid Content List: Saturated, Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated

These charts give the relative amounts of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids found in common the common food oils.

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The Role Of Carnitine in Disease

Carnitine is a conditionally essential nutrient that plays a vital role in energy production and fatty acid metabolism. Vegetarians possess a greater bioavailability than meat eaters. Distinct deficiencies arise either from genetic mutation of carnitine transporters or in association with other disorders such as liver or kidney disease. Carnitine deficiency occurs in aberrations of carnitine regulation in disorders such as diabetes, sepsis, cardiomyopathy, malnutrition, cirrhosis, endocrine disorders and with aging. Nutritional supplementation of L-carnitine, the biologically active form of carnitine, is ameliorative for uremic patients, and can improve nerve conduction, neuropathic pain and immune function in diabetes patients while it is life-saving for patients suffering primary carnitine deficiency. Clinical application of carnitine holds much promise in a range of neural disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, hepatic encephalopathy and other painful neuropathies. Topical application in dry eye offers osmoprotection and modulates immune and inflammatory responses. Carnitine has been recognized as a nutritional supplement in cardiovascular disease and there is increasing evidence that carnitine supplementation may be beneficial in treating obesity, improving glucose intolerance and total energy expenditure.

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What You Don't Get About Trans Fat, and a Little Peanut Butter History

What people don’t get about trans fat is that many of the products that have been villainized due to trans fat content, such as regular peanut butter, have always contained less than one gram of trans fat per serving. Some of them, in fact, may have always contained less than 0.5 grams of trans fatty-acids per serving.

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Grass Fed Versus Grain Fed Beef: Fatty Acid Profiles, Antioxidant Content and Taste

Growing consumer interest in grass-fed beef products has raised a number of questions with regard to the perceived differences in nutritional quality between grass-fed and grain-fed cattle. Research spanning three decades suggests that grass-based diets can significantly improve the fatty acid (FA) composition and antioxidant content of beef, albeit with variable impacts on overall palatability.

Grass-based diets have been shown to enhance total conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (C18:2) isomers, trans vaccenic acid (TVA) (C18:1 t11), a precursor to CLA, and omega-3 (n-3) FAs on a g/g fat basis. While the overall concentration of total saturated fatty acids (SFA) is not different between feeding regimens, grass-finished beef tends toward a higher proportion of cholesterol neutral stearic FA (C18:0), and less cholesterol-elevating SFAs such as myristic (C14:0) and palmitic (C16:0) fatty acids. Several studies suggest that grass-based diets elevate precursors for Vitamin A and E, as well as cancer fighting antioxidants such as glutathione (GT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity as compared to grain-fed contemporaries. Fat conscious consumers will also prefer the overall lower fat content of a grass-fed beef product. However, consumers should be aware that the differences in FA content will also give grass-fed beef a distinct grass flavor and unique cooking qualities that should be considered when making the transition from grain-fed beef. In addition, the fat from grass-finished beef may have a yellowish appearance from the elevated carotenoid content (precursor to Vitamin A). It is also noted that grain-fed beef consumers may achieve similar intakes of both n-3 and CLA through the consumption of higher fat grain-fed portions.

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Vitamin B12 In Health And Disease

Vitamin B12 is essential for DNA synthesis and for cellular energy production. This review aims to outline the metabolism of vitamin B12, and to evaluate the causes and consequences of sub-clinical vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency is common, mainly due to limited dietary intake of animal foods or malabsorption of the vitamin. Vegetarians are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency as are other groups with low intakes of animal foods or those with restrictive dietary patterns. Malabsorption of vitamin B12 is most commonly seen in the elderly, secondary to gastric achlorhydria. The symptoms of sub-clinical deficiency are subtle and often not recognized. The long-term consequences of sub-clinical deficiency are not fully known but may include adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes, vascular, cognitive, bone and eye health.

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Vitamin B6: Functions, Complexities, and History

In recent years vitamin B6 has become a focus of research describing the compound’s critical function in cellular metabolism and stress response. For many years the sole function of vitamin B6 was considered to be that of an enzymatic cofactor. However, recently it became clear that it is also a potent antioxidant that effectively quenches reactive oxygen species and is thus of high importance for cellular well-being. In view of the recent findings, the current review takes a look back and summarizes the discovery of vitamin B6 and the elucidation of its structure and biosynthetic pathways. It provides a detailed overview on vitamin B6 both as a cofactor and a protective compound. Besides these general characteristics of the vitamin, the review also outlines the current literature on vitamin B6 derivatives and elaborates on recent findings that provide new insights into transport and catabolism of the compound and on its impact on human health.

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