Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

SupplementsThe editorial couldn’t be clearer, with the title “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements.” It was published in the prestigious journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

With respect to multivitamins, the studies published in this issue and previous trials indicate no substantial health benefit…Beta-carotene, vitamin E, and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements are harmful,… Other antioxidants, folic acid and B vitamins, and multivitamin and mineral supplements are ineffective for preventing mortality or morbidity due to major chronic diseases.
Unfortunately, despite the growing evidence that most vitamins and supplements aren’t worth the money, the use of them continues to grow.
Despite sobering evidence of no benefit or possible harm, use of multivitamin supplements increased among U.S. adults…Sales of multivitamins and other supplements have not been affected by major studies with null results, and the U.S. supplement industry continues to grow, reaching $28 billion in annual sales in 2010.
In his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. Colin Campbell makes the case for why vitamins and supplements won’t give you the nutritional value of eating whole foods. He explains that your body breaks down whole foods and uses the nutrients it needs in their natural state, not when certain parts are separated from the whole. The complexity of the digestive system – which Campbell believes we will never fully understand – makes it imperative that in order to have good health you need to eat whole foods.
Disclaimer: because of my whole food, plant-based diet I do take vitamin B-12, as suggested by most physicians who work with patients who do not eat meat or dairy.
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Obesity, Not Old Age, Drives Healthcare Costs

Obesity in the US 2012

Obesity in the US 2012

A recent article from The Atlantic highlighted a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shattered some myths about the US Healthcare Disease Care system.

The study authors—a combination of experts from Alerion Advisors, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Rochester, and the Boston Consulting Group—take a point-by-point look at why healthcare costs so much, why our outcomes are comparatively poor, and what accounts for the growth in medical expenditures.

The number one myth is that old age accounts for the majority of healthcare spending – when in fact it is obesity.

Actually, chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, among people younger than 65 drives two-thirds of medical spending. About 85 percent of medical costs are spent on people younger than 65, though people do spend more on healthcare as they age.

“Between 2000 and 2011, increase in price (particularly of drugs, medical devices, and hospital care), not intensity of service or demographic change, produced most of the increase in health’s share of GDP,” the authors write.

The biggest-spending disease with the fastest growth rate was hyperlipidemia—high cholesterol and triglycerides—for which spending grew by 14.4 percent annually between 2000 and 2010.

All you have to do is look around and see the increase in people’s waistlines or the proliferation of fast food and junk food everywhere.

These two maps also tell the story. The map at the beginning of the post is the Obesity map for 2012 from the United Healthcare Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings website. The one below is the map from 1990. The growth in the rate of obesity is astounding.

Obesity in the US 1990

Obesity in the US 1990

We are eating ourselves sick with the Standard American Diet (SAD) full of meat, dairy and eggs cooked with fat, sugar and salt. This way of eating is impacting all of us – high healthcare costs, productivity loss from hospitalizations and increased death rates.

It’s time to change to a whole food, plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. (You knew I was going to go there sooner or later, didn’t you?)

Other findings in the study include:

  • The US does not have the best healthcare system in the world (why are there still people who would have us believe that we’re still number 1? We haven’t been for decades. We spend more than other Western countries for worse outcomes.)
  • Spending more on IT and technology is not making the system more cost-efficient (Your doctor has an iPad! – does that make them a better doctor?)
  • The rate of increase in medical costs has slowed down (thanks in part to the recession and the Affordable Care Act)

We are on a path to have this generation of Americans living shorter lives than their parents because of our diet and health habits. It’s time to change.

More Voices Against Statins

pills

It seems I wasn’t the only one concerned about the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology’s new guidelines for lowering cholesterol and suggesting the use of statins for more patients.

On November 13, the New York Times published an op-ed piece entitled “Don’t Give More Patients Statins.” The piece was written by John D. Abramson, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and the author of “Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine,” and Rita F. Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center and the editor of JAMA Internal Medicine. Continue reading

Why Don’t We Just Put It in the Water?

pills

New heart disease and stroke prevention guidelines were released Tuesday (Nov. 12) by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology.

Highlights of these new guidelines are that obesity should be treated like a disease and cholesterol-lowering drugs could prevent cardiovascular disease in more Americans than previously thought. The guidelines also urge overall healthy diets rather than stressing about occasional indulgences. And they give doctors formulas to calculate heart and stroke risk specifically for African-Americans.

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs should now be prescribed to an estimated 33 million Americans without cardiovascular disease who have a 7.5 percent or higher risk for a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.

If followed, this would double the number of people taking these drugs. Why don’t we just put it in the water? In 2010, there were 221 million adults 21 or older in the US. If we are considering giving these drugs to 65 million of them – that’s 30% of the adult population.

This is craziness. Drugs have side effects. The known side effects of statins – according to the Mayo Clinic are:

  • Muscle pain and damage
  • Liver damage
  • Digestive problems
  • Rash or flushing
  • Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
  • Neurological side effects

If we give these drugs to more and more people, what are the long-term health implications? What are the long-term financial implications? Who is going to pay for a third of US adults to take these drugs?

When will we get serious about changing the dietary and exercise habits of Americans instead of giving them more pills to hide the problems?

When will we stop suggesting diets like DASH that can only reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but won’t make you heart attack- and stoke-proof the way a whole food, plant-based, oil-free diet can?

Why are researchers and clinicians like Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard ignored when guidelines are created by groups like the AHA? These doctors have over 20+ years of research and studies that prove the effectiveness of whole food, plant-based diets and the health risks of consuming even moderate amounts of meat, dairy and eggs.

As Dr. Esselstyn reminds us, “Moderation Kills.”

In his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. Campbell described the cozy relationship between groups like the AHA and the drug manufacturers and dairy and meat industry groups. (And the takeover of government agencies and research groups by the same monied interests.) The AHA can’t tell you to change your diet and give up meat, dairy, eggs, sugar and oils without losing funding.

Statins won’t keep you from getting heart disease or stroke. Don’t ask your doctor if statins might help reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Instead, find a doctor who can help you change your diet and lifestyle to quickly show real results.

Read this account of a man who had his “first 8 stents” done at the age of 31, and 9 years and numerous procedures later, he became heart attack proof following Dr. Esselstyn’s recommendations. He writes:

I have lost 48 pounds. My blood work has gone from total cholesterol of 208, LDL of 93, HDL of 41, and triglycerides of 368 last June to most recent results of total cholesterol of 89, LDL of 19, HDL of 53, and triglycerides of 83. That transformation is nothing short of amazing.

Take control of your health. Follow the links in the Nutrition section on this site and get the information you need to find your own path to health and well-being.

Just Another Statistic

Leading Causes of Death statistics from CDC Website

Leading Causes of Death statistics from CDC Website

Five years ago my uncle, my dad’s only sibling, died from complications after heart surgery. He had a minimally invasive procedure done with a da Vinci device. The surgeon performed his task flawlessly, but the assistant punctured one of his lungs when removing the device. Other missteps by the hospital staff further complicated his already weakened system and he never regained consciousness.

A recent article in Forbes, Stunning News On Preventable Deaths In Hospitals, describes the magnitude of this issue:

In 1999, Americans learned that 98,000 people were dying every year from preventable errors in hospitals. That came from a widely touted analysis by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called To Err Is Human. This was the “Silent Spring” of the health care world, grabbing headlines for revealing a serious and deadly problem that required policy and action.

As it turns out, those were the good old days.

According to a new study just out from the prestigious Journal of Patient Safety, four times as many people die from preventable medical errors than we thought, as many as 440,000 a year.

Continue reading

“Game Changing” Way to Increase Revenue for Supplement Makers

Supplements are Big BusinessThe Headline: ‘Game changing’ economic report: Supplements could save billions of dollars in health care costs

The Reality: A website – Nutraingredients-usa.com with Breaking News on Supplements & Nutrition – is letting you know about the fantastic study done by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) Foundation on the wonderful impact of supplements on chronic diseases and healthcare costs. What is the CRN Foundation?

A charitable 501(c)(3) foundation of the dietary supplement industry that provides consumers with information about responsible use of dietary supplements, and provides researchers and healthcare practitioners with education on the proper role of supplements in a healthy lifestyle.

The CRN promotes itself as “The Science Behind the Supplements.”

The ‘game changer’ here is to get consumers to spend their dollars on supplements on the chance that doing so will save billions of dollars on healthcare costs.

The sad fact is that the majority of our healthcare costs – 75% according to this study – go to treating chronic diseases, while very little – 3% – is spent on prevention.

However, shifting some of that 75% to paying for supplements is not the answer – or a game changer. The answer is found by changing people’s lifestyles. Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet; exercising and reducing stress.

These have been shown to reduce chronic illnesses like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s and more.

Read Dr. Colin Campbell’s book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition to get another perspective. He argues that the reductionist mindset in nutrition and science keeps us from looking at the whole body and the way our food interacts with it. Trying to reduce whole foods to supplements to target one certain aspect of nutrition or disease is not a ‘game changer,’ it is a dead end.

Do One Thing

The Unhealthy Truth

I discovered the author of this book today and watched her TED talk (see below) about her transformation from a mother who fed her four children the Standard American Diet (SAD) to an activist for healthy, organic food and against the additives and processes – like growth hormones and GMOs –  that are destroying our health.

Her book is called – The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick – And What We Can Do About It – I can’t wait to read it.

Robyn O'BrienRobyn O’Brien‘s journey started the morning her youngest child had an allergic reaction to part of her breakfast. A former financial and food industry analyst, she researched what was happening to the food system and what had caused her daughter’s allergy.

She discovered the additives and processes that are used in the United States, but are banned in Europe, the UK and other countries. She also discovered the impacts of these unhealthy changes – the US has the highest incidence of cancer in the world and we spend the most money on healthcare – with poorer outcomes. Then looking deeper still, saw how our government is subsidizing the companies making the unhealthy products and making it more costly to grow and market organic food.

Robyn founded a nonprofit organization – The AllergyKids Foundation. It’s mission:

Restore the health of American families by addressing the needs of the 1 in 3 American children that now has allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma and the role that additives in our food supply are having on our health.  The Foundation also works closely with those fighting cancer, particularly those with specific dietary needs.

Robyn is passionate about these issues and on a mission to change the current system for the health of our families, economy and nation. Her TED talk ends with a call to Do One Thing. None of us can do everything, but we all can do one thing to make a difference.

For me, this blog is how I am doing one thing to make more people aware of the problems with the current system; the impact of the Standard American Diet on our health and the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

What is the one thing you can do today to make a difference?

National Cancer Institute Can’t Find the Link Between Diet and Cancer Right Before Their Eyes

nci-logo-english

Diet quality linked to pancreatic cancer risk

That was the headline that caught my attention. The study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and AARP found these results

In a large new study of older Americans, researchers find that people with the healthiest eating habits are about 15 percent less likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those with the poorest diets.

In the analysis of data on more than 500,000 Americans over age 50, men in particular, especially those who were overweight or obese, appeared to benefit most from a high quality diet.

It also found

Among men who were overweight or obese, however, those with healthy eating scores in the top-fifth group were 28 percent less likely than their counterparts in the bottom-fifth to develop pancreatic cancer.

Despite these findings, the NIH researchers could not find a definitive link between diet and cancer.

Lead author Hannah Arem of the National Cancer Institute

It is important to note that our findings are based on overall diet and not individual foods. A combination of many foods contributed to the observed association between greater compliance with the Dietary Guidelines and lower risk of pancreatic cancer

Perhaps she should read Colin Campbell’s book Whole – Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. In his book he shows why researchers need to stop looking at individual foods or nutrients and study the whole process of how our bodies use the foods we eat to slow or promote cancer.

Past studies looking at the relationship between diet and risk for pancreatic cancer have tended to focus on individual foods and found few connections, according to her (Arem) team’s report, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

No surprise there.

The researchers did find that people who ate a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet had better results than others. Another said that eating a healthy diet “has not yet translated into noticeable reductions in the incidence of the major cancers with diet-related etiology”

Maybe this researcher should read the literature published by Drs Dean Ornish or Neal Barnard. Their research shows the positive link between eating a WFPB diet and reducing cancer risk.

It is sad when the scientific community can’t make the connection between diet and disease promotion or prevention.

There are doctors and researchers who have found a positive link between a healthy diet and lowering the risk or reversing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and more. As Dr. Campbell points out in his book, the top research agencies and disease advocacy groups have been taken over by people who serve the system, not the public. Until this changes more people will get cancer and other chronic diseases because our SAD (Standard American Diet) provides a fertile breeding ground for their growth.

The Health Care System is Waking Up to WFPB

kaiser-permanente-logoThe objective of this article is to present to physicians an update on plant-based diets. Concerns about the rising cost of health care are being voiced nationwide, even as unhealthy lifestyles are contributing to the spread of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. For these reasons, physicians looking for cost-effective interventions to improve health outcomes are becoming more involved in helping their patients adopt healthier lifestyles. Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.    Spring 2013 Kaiser Permanente Journal

Kaiser Permanente, America’s largest managed care company and hospital system, told their doctors to “consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients…encouraging whole, plant-based foods and discouraging meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.”

This is big news and may be the start of a trend in the health care arena to promote nutrition over drugs and surgery.

Read the entire article here.