Teen Contracts Hepatitis After Trying to Lose Weight With Green Tea

Here’s something to think about next time you get one of those “miracle green tea” emails in your inbox: doctors treating an unidentified British teenager say she contracted hepatitis and jaundice as a result of her attempts trying to lose weight by drinking diet green tea. And the scary thing is she’s not the only person to suffer this fate.

Source: Teen Contracts Hepatitis After Trying to Lose Weight With Green Tea

The tea is believed to be the vector, not the actual cause.  Additives and/or pesticides are believed to be the actual cause, due to overdosing on green tea.  Read the directions, when in doubt – ask.

I’ve been there, trying to offset the hunger or desire to eat for various reasons.  Rushing does not help, and incrementally making adjustments to your diet will allow you to adopt a new lifestyle easier.  There really aren’t shortcuts.

Stop Taking Fish Oil Pills

The market for fish oil supplements is worth $1.2 billion annually, and you know what? It’s full of shit.

I mean that literally and figuratively. The side effects of taking dietary fish oil include anything from nosebleeds to diarrhea. But you’ve been told for years that the precious omega-3 fatty acids in these supplements can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Many labels will also tell you that taking fish pills boost your brain function and prevent cognitive decline. The only problem is that an increasing number of clinical studies say that these claims just aren’t true.

Source: Stop Taking Fish Oil Pills

I’d originally preferred natural sources to supplements.  In the last year, research have reinforced this is a wise idea.  Some supplements are known to cause [prostate] cancer, but muscle building supplements have not been linked conclusively to cancer.  Some supplements contain an amphetamine-like substance, while others have asparagus and lies.  Business – the reality of making a profit – is largely to blame.  It’s not like natural sources aren’t at risk either – farmed salmon are dyed pink.

Top 10 Stubborn Exercise Myths That Just Won’t Die

“No pain, no gain!” “You’ll never bulk up without supplements.” “Crunches are the key to six-pack abs!” It seems there are more questions and half-truths in the market about healthy exercise than there are clear, definitive facts—but the exercise industry is a multi-billion dollar business in the United States alone, built partially on selling gadgets and DVDs with incredible claims to people desperate to lose weight or look attractive. Meanwhile, good workout plans and simple truths lurk in the background waiting for their time to shine. All of this results in a ton of misinformation about exercise in general, and while the reality is different for everyone, we’re taking some of those commonly held exercise myths to task, and we have science to back us up. Let’s get started.

Source: Top 10 Stubborn Exercise Myths That Just Won’t Die

Why Your Fitness App Can’t Tell If You Have a Vitamin Deficiency

Diet tracking tools often include data about the vitamins and minerals you are (or aren’t) getting. While it’s fine to use that as motivation to eat a few extra veggies, you shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that you have a vitamin deficiency or need megadose supplements. Here’s why.

Source: Why Your Fitness App Can’t Tell If You Have a Vitamin Deficiency

Add to the fact that some food labels could be overestimating calorie counts…  And doctors might not be the best nutritional resource.  But blood tests are a good place to start.  Something else I learnt recently was that a nutritionist (like accountant) is generally not subject to professional regulation – a dietician is.  A dietician can be a nutritionist, but a nutritionist doesn’t mean they are a dietician.  The distinction can be regional – you’ll have to investigate for yourself to know what is what in your local area.

The part about the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) points out that though I mention the Daily Value (DV) when talking about how much vitamin K is in a given food, that value might be more (or less) than you need or want.

No, Muscle-Building Supplements Haven’t Been Proven to Cause Cancer

It seems like every day, there’s a study that comes out each day linking something new to cancer. One such study by researchers at Brown University recently linked muscle building supplements (or MBS) to cancer. Will your daily creatine habit really lead to an untimely demise?

Source: No, Muscle-Building Supplements Haven’t Been Proven to Cause Cancer

Selenium, Vitamin E Supplements Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

When the SELECT trial started in 2001, there were high hopes it would prove that taking vitamin E or selenium could help prevent prostate cancer. The newest results from the trial show just the opposite—that taking selenium or vitamin E can actually increase the odds of developing prostate cancer.

Bottom line: men shouldn’t take selenium or vitamin E as a way to prevent prostate cancer, or anything else for that matter.

Although SELECT was supposed to last until 2011, it was stopped three years early because neither vitamin E nor selenium were showing any benefit—and there were hazy warning signs they might be doing some harm.

Source: Selenium, vitamin E supplements increase prostate cancer risk

There’s no mention of the quality of the supplements – some are just asparagus and lies, and/or could contain a ‘Amphetamine-like’ compound.  But the fact the study was stopped early is damning.

There’s nothing about if natural sources were better.

Study Finds Cancer Link for Muscle-building Supplements

A new study associates taking muscle-building supplements with an increased risk of testicular cancer. Men who used such pills and powders were more likely to have developed testicular cancer than those who did not, especially if they started before age 25, took more than one supplement, or used the supplements for three or more years.

Source: Study finds cancer link for muscle-building supplements

The study was looking at the use of creatine, androstenedione, and a host of other supplements. The study shows that supplements that include both protein and creatine in them had a significantly increased risk of testicular cancer for the user.

It’s well proven that exercise, such as strength training, raises testosterone – we shouldn’t be surprised that there is a downside. The benefits to longevity and health almost certainly outweigh the risk. But it is also possible that those who report that they use creatine and other supplements are more likely to use illegal steroids even though they do not report it…

This is an epidemiological study – not an experimental one – and the results are not experimental and cannot be compared to those of a single experimental study. They contrast the rates of cancer amongst individuals who self-reported usage to those who report no usage (control). Assuming the epidemiologists used appropriate sampling numbers and a truly random sampling design, the results are as accurate as the statistics.

There is actually no correlation involved in this analysis since they are using odds ratios. What that means is the results are based on probabilities, not numerical relationships. Again, this is based on a lot of assumptions about the distribution of testicular cancer in a population and that the methods of data collection met the statistical assumptions for the odd-ratio analysis.

Need to Recover from a Workout? Fast Food Is Just as Effective as Supplements

After a strenuous workout, top athletes and everyday exercisers regularly reach for energy bars, protein powders, or recovery drinks, thinking that these dietary supplements provide boosts that normal foods do not.

A new study, however, finds that — when it comes to exercise recovery — supplements are no better than fast food.

The multi-billion-dollar sports supplement industry is a true behemoth. With catchy taglines and sparkling testimonials from top athletes, they’ve convinced millions of people to use their products. University of Montana graduate student Michael Cramer decided to find out if their claims of superiority stood the test of science, so he pit some of the most oft-used supplements, including Gatorade, PowerBar, and Cytomax “energy” powder, against a few of McDonald’s most vaunted contenders: hotcakes, hash browns, hamburgers, and fries.

…Though the research was solidly controlled, the findings are limited by the small number of subjects. Moreover, the results may not apply to less-trained individuals.

Source: Need to Recover from a Workout? Fast Food Is Just as Effective as Supplements

This isn’t all that surprising, as it’s a short-term study (1 pre and post-recovery workout for each diet) focusing on exercise recovery and glycogen recovery. Any high-glycemic carbohydrates will restore glycogen levels quickly following exercise so what form you take them in isn’t that important – when you just look at glycogen levels and short-term recovery.  Long-term may be a different story though – the fast food diet may not enable you to maximize adaptations to exercise. Having said that you will still get the some (likely a lot) of the benefits of exercise.  People who exercise do not suffer as much of the bad effects of a 1 week high-fat meal (source 1, source 2).

In terms of “as macronutrient content is the same then there shouldn’t be a difference”?  Not necessarily, not all protein is equal (whey protein having the maximal increase on protein synthesis both at rest and following exercise). So 25 grams of whey protein should cause a bigger increase in protein synthesis than 25 grams of protein from a burger. It’s likely there’ll be differences in fat type (i.e. saturated vs unsaturated) as well.

This is what I think is most disheartening about the diet craze. Any effort placed on exercise and eating better has tremendous gains. Pop culture has instilled this idea that there’s a rigorous plan required to lose weight and stay in shape. Eating better doesn’t necessarily mean going vegan. It could be as simple as eating whatever you want but in smaller portions. Incorporating more fruits/veggies. Something, anything. Any exercise is better than no exercise. Even if it means going to the gym twice a week, that can be significant.

What Vitamins to Take, What to Skip, and How to Know the Difference

Wandering into any conversation about vitamins and other health supplements is wandering into a thicket of hyperbole and half-truths. We’re here to cut through some of the bullshit in the $28 billion supplements industry.

The biggest fallacy we need to let go of is that all vitamins are good, and more vitamins is always better. Vitamins are potent chemicals packed in potent pills.

…It’s also worth noting, the quality of supplement products varies greatly from brand to brand. Not only can the amount of active ingredient differ from the label, but adulterants can also be sneaked in. If you’re wondering if your (expensive) brand is up to snuff, Consumer Labs regularly publishes tests comparing the quality of different brands. Pro tip: More expensive is not always better.

Source: What Vitamins to Take, What to Skip, and How to Know the Difference

The article doesn’t mention potassium or magnesium.  I prefer to source such things from plants/etc, rather than pills personally.

Mixing Meds With Dietary Supplements?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning that prescription or over-the-counter medications, when taken with a vitamin, mineral, or other dietary supplement, could seriously endanger your health. Here’s what you need to know.

The FDA says that some dietary supplements can increase or decrease the effects of certain medications by changing the way they’re absorbed, metabolized, or excreted. As a result, mixing dietary supplements and medications could have dangerous, even life-threatening, consequences.

Source: Mixing Meds With Dietary Supplements Could Be a Danger

Supplements don’t fall under FDA regulation.  But the article doesn’t mention the Grapefruit Effect.