Posts Tagged ‘Heart disease


Dieting in the U.S.—A Statistical Snapshot of What Works and What Doesn’t

If there is one thing that Americans are obsessed with, it’s dieting. Just turn on any television and you are bombarded with ads for weight loss drinks, programs and foods that are guaranteed to have you looking slim and trim in a matter of weeks. But given the enormous amount of money spent on the quest for a smaller waistline (upwards of $69 billion each year), the growing obesity epidemic suggests measuring waistthat diets generally do not generally work.

Following are a few facts about dieting in the US:

  • At any given time, 50% of women and 25% of men are on a diet.
  • Dieters lose between 5% and 10% of their starting weight within the first six months, but 66% of them gain it back within a year, and 95% of them have regained all the weight they lost, and more, within 5 years.
  • The average diet costs 50% more than what the average American spends on food each week.
  • Between 40% and 60% of American high school girls are on a diet at any given time.
  • Both men and women who participate in a formal weight loss program gain significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who do not participate in a formal program.

Dieting is actually unhealthy. Studies have shown that repeatedly gaining and losing weight causes damage to the immune system and increases rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke. This is not to say that there is nothing you can do to lose weight, but it’s important to find a way of eating that does not involve dieting.

What does seem to work, according to the most recent research, is changing what we eat. In contrast to what we have heard for years, a calorie is not just a calorie. One calorie of sugar is not metabolized by the body in the same way as one calorie of broccoli. The first raises insulin levels, causing that calorie to be stored as fat, and the second does not, so it gets used as immediate energy, along with providing important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the effects of three different types of diet consisting of the same number of calories: a standard low-fat diet (60% carbs, 20% protein, 20% fat), an ultra-low-carb (Atkins) diet (10% carbs, 30% protein, 60% fat) and a low-glycemic diet (40% carbs, 20% protein, 40% fat). The low-fat dieters fared worst. The Atkins dieters burned 350 more calories per day than the low-fat dieters, and those following the low-glycemic diet burned 150 more calories per day than their low-fat diet counterparts. However, the Atkins type diet causes inflammation and raises cortisol, which can damage the heart, so your best bet is to follow a diet consisting mostly of low-glycemic foods.

Although the percentage of carbs in the low-glycemic diet were just slightly less than those in the low-fat diet, those carbs consisted of vegetables, fruit, legumes and minimally processed grains, whereas the low-fat diet included processed foods. Processed foods have had many of the compounds removed (such as fiber) that slow the release of sugar into the blood. A diet consisting of whole foods, minimally processed grains and moderate amounts of fat is still delicious, and you won’t have to feel that you are starving yourself. Over time you will find that you are slowly losing weight, and in a way that is healthy and more likely to become permanent.


Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.


High Blood Pressure Facts and Fiction

High blood pressure (hypertension) is widespread, affecting approximately 25% of the population.  If the condition remains untreated, it can lead to more serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. 

However, there are many myths about high blood pressure in the popular press.  So in the following paragraphs we’ll separate fiction from fact to provide you with a more accurate understanding of this common health problem.

Fiction: The lower your blood pressure, the better.

Fact: Low blood pressure can also lead to health problems.  It can cause dizziness or fainting, increasing your risk of falls, and (if it is severe), can even lead to shock and death.

Fiction: Young people do not need to have their blood pressure checked.

Fact: While young people are at lower risk, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) advises that everyone have their blood pressure checked from the age of 18.

Fiction: High blood pressure always has symptoms.

Fact: This is not necessarily the case.  While some experience sweating, nervousness and sleep disturbances, approximately one in three adult Americans with high blood pressure have it and are not aware of it.  This is the reason hypertension is sometimes called “the silent killer”.

Fiction: Blood pressure is only high because you are at the doctor’s office.

Fact: Many people get nervous while at the doctor’s office, which can raise blood pressure levels.  However, repeated high readings should be an indication that it is not a situational condition.  Home blood pressure monitors are now easily obtainable.  So take your measurements at home a few times and then share the results with your doctor.

Fiction: If you have high cholesterol, you must have high blood pressure.

Fact: Although the risk factors for both are often the same (poor diet, lack of exercise, etc.), having one does not necessarily mean you have the other.  You should have both your blood pressure and cholesterol checked periodically to ensure that you do not have either.

Fiction: Women do not need to worry about getting high blood pressure.

Fact: Although middle-aged men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women, the numbers begin to even out after a woman reaches menopause.  In fact, African-American women over age 65 have the highest rate of high blood pressure.  Other women at higher risk are those with a history of the disease in their family, those who are on birth control pills, those who are pregnant, and those who are overweight.

Fiction: Over-the-counter medications are always safe for those with high blood pressure.

Fact: Decongestants can both interfere with blood pressure medications and raise blood pressure.  If you are looking for cold and flu remedies, ensure that they do not contain decongestants.

Fiction: Insulin injections cause high blood pressure.

Fact: It was once believed that people taking insulin were at greater risk of hardened arteries and high blood pressure, but this idea has since been disproved.

Fiction: As your blood pressure improves, it’s all right to stop taking your blood pressure medication.

Fact: It is never a good idea to stop taking your blood pressure medication until you have consulted with your doctor.  Suddenly stopping your medication can cause your blood pressure to spike suddenly, stressing the heart, causing an irregular heartbeat and increasing your risk of a heart attack.  It can also cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness and insomnia.  If you decide to discontinue taking your medication, do so slowly, and always under a doctor’s supervision.


Dr. P. Dubois, DC, CCSP.

Dr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.



Why We Shrink as We Get Older

If you’ve ever noticed that the car ahead of you in traffic seems to be driving itself, there’s a good chance that the person driving it is elderly.

Shrinking in height as we age is quite normal, and some people start to get shorter starting at about the age of 30.  Only about 20% of the population does not noticeably shrink, which is due to a combination of good genetics and a healthy lifestyle.

Not only do we shrink with age, but our height also varies considerably each day, by up to three-quarters of an inch.  The vertebral discs that are sandwiched between the vertebrae, and which act as shock absorbers for the spine, are composed of up to 88% water.  In the course of our daily activities, this water is slowly squeezed out of these discs every time the spine moves.  Then when we are lying down at night in bed and pressure is taken off the discs, the disks reabsorb the expelled water, similar to a sponge.  So it’s likely you are somewhat taller when you first get up in the morning than you are at the end of the day.

With age, a number of degenerative processes can interfere with keeping the vertebral discs properly hydrated, causing them to become less pliable.  In addition, bone degeneration can contribute to the gradual collapse of the vertebrae, particularly in the upper back, which causes what’s referred to as “dowager’s hump,” that can take some inches off your height.

Studies have found that men lose and average of 1.2 inches in height between the ages of 30 and 70, and 2 inches in total by age 80.  By comparison, women lose 2 inches in height between age 30 and 70 and a total of 3 inches by age 80.

While genetics plays the largest role in how much you shrink as you age, lifestyle choices can make a significant difference as well.  Those who smoke, are obese, have diabetes, get little aerobic exercise, drink excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine and who do not follow a healthy diet are at greater risk of losing a significant amount of height as they age.

And while losing some height as we age is normal, losing too much over a short period of time can be an indicator of a more serious health condition.  It is not unusual to shrink in height by a quarter inch to a third of an inch each decade after the age of 40.  However, if you are a man between the ages of 45 and 65 and notice that you are shrinking, you should see your doctor.  Rapid loss of height in men can be an indicator of heart disease and can suggest they are at greater risk of a fracture of the spine or hip.  A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that men who lose two or more inches within two years after age 70 have a 54% greater risk of a hip fracture, and women have a 21% greater risk.

Another study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that men who had shrunk 1.2 inches or more over a 20-year span had a 46% greater likelihood of heart disease and were 64% more likely to die from any cause.

The best way to help preserve your height is to eat a balanced diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D) and to get plenty of exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise (which includes walking and running), which helps to keep bones strong.


Dr P. Dubois, DC, CCSP.

Dr. Dubois,a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system.Amongst hispatients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levelswho benefited from his chiropractic care.



Are Supplements Dangerous? Part II


This is the second part of three of the article written by my good friend, Professor Steve Chaney.

“I covered the first six of those warnings in the last article. In summary, all of those warnings were true, but they pertained to such a small portion of the food supplements in the market that they were almost meaningless. The only value of the first six warnings in the Consumer Reports article would be that they might make some consumers more discerning when they shop for food supplements – by that I mean they might be better able to avoid the ones that are either worthless or dangerous or both.

The seventh warning is that the heart and cancer protection of food supplements is not proven. In a sense, that statement is also true. It is extremely difficult to definitively prove the efficacy of food supplements. However, the article is written in such a way that one might be led to believe that food supplements have definitely been proven not to be effective. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that some experts have an anti-supplement bias. They require multiple studies before they will admit that a supplement might be beneficial. However, they accept a single study suggesting that a supplement doesn’t work or that it might be harmful as the absolute truth. These reports are picked up by the media, and after they’ve been repeated often enough they take on a life of their own. They become “urban myths”, and become generally accepted as true.

So I would like to take a little more time and discuss some of the claims that in this section of the Consumer Reports article.

The first claim is that calcium supplements inevitably increase the risk of heart attack. I have discussed this claim in detail in a previous “Tip From the Professor” titled “Designing the Perfect Calcium Supplement”. You will find this article and other previous “Tips From the Professor” as free resources at .

In short, I have argued that the problem is likely one of calcium supplement design rather than a characteristic of all calcium supplements. Those calcium supplements designed solely to get calcium into the bloodstream quickly are problematic because all that excess calcium has to go somewhere – and calcification of our arteries is not a good thing.

What you should look for is calcium supplements that are designed to maximize the incorporation of calcium into your bones. Not only is that likely to decrease the risk that the calcium ends up somewhere where it shouldn’t be, but it also increases the probability that the calcium ends up where it should be – in your bones.

The second claim is that omega-3 fatty acids don’t actually decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke. The authors of the Consumer Reports article did note that several previous studies had shown that omega-3 fatty acids decreased the risk of heart attack, but seemed to suggest that those studies were invalidated by a recent study showing no effect of omega-3 supplementation in people at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

I have covered that study in my previous “Tip From the Professor” titled “Omega-3s: The Wrong Question”. In short, the problem with the most recent study was that the patients in the study were already on 3 to 5 drugs that lowered the risk of heart disease. All this study showed was that omega-3 fatty acids did not offer any incremental benefit for patients who were already maxed out on medications.

This study was silent on the important question of whether omega-3 fatty acids by themselves might decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Thus, this most recent study does not invalidate the several previous studies showing a beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The third claim is that antioxidant supplements might actually increase the risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer.

I have addressed the issue of whether antioxidants in general increase the risk of cancer in my “Tip From the Professor” titled “Antioxidants and Cancer“. In short, that claim is based on a single, flawed meta-analysis.
That study excluded any studies showing beneficial effects of antioxidants. In addition, the increased cancer risk reported in the meta-analysis was almost entirely due to a single study in which vitamin E was combined with estrogen replacement therapy – which is known to increase the risk of cancer.

The authors of the Consumer Reports article completely ignored a second publication that reanalyzed the data and pointed out the flaws in the previous study. They also ignored a recent study showing that antioxidants significantly decreased cancer risk. The details for all of this information can be found in my “Antioxidants and Cancer” article.

I addressed the issue of whether vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer in my previous article titled “Another Day, Another Study”. In short, I pointed out that the study suggesting that vitamin E increased the risk of prostate cancer had several flaws, and was directly contradicted by two previous studies showing that vitamin E significantly decreases the risk of prostate cancer.

In summary, I don’t mean to suggest that studies claiming that certain supplements could do some harm are completely baseless. In fact, I have long warned that high potency, high purity individual nutrients, such as pure alpha-tocopherol or pure beta-carotene, do have the potential to cause more harm than good. That is because they can interfere with the absorption of similar nutrients that have beneficial effects themselves. I have long advocated for a holistic approach to supplementation rather than relying on individual high potency, high purity supplements.

Based on the recent research with calcium supplements I would add the warning that supplements that are solely designed on the basis of how fast the nutrients can get to the bloodstream, without any consideration of where they go once they get into the bloodstream, also may have the potential to do more harm than good.

However as a scientist I am appalled that single studies suggesting lack of efficacy or the potential for harm are given more weight than multiple studies suggesting the benefits of supplementation. I think much more research is needed before we start to tell people to avoid antioxidant supplements or that supplements don’t really provide any benefits. If we look at the total body of published literature, the evidence for the benefits of supplementation far outweighs the evidence for risk.”

Written by Prof. S. Chaney.


About the Author: Dr. Chaney has a BS in Chemistry from Duke University and a PhD in Biochemistry from UCLA. He did hold the rank of Professor at a major university where runs an active cancer research program and has published over 100 scientific articles and reviews in peer-reviewed scientific journals.




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