Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another Nail in the Antioxidant Coffin?

The WACS (Women's Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study) followed 8171 women over an approximately 10-year period to study the effects of antioxidant supplements Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Beta-Carotene. Their conclusion was that none of these supplements improved cardiovascular outcomes in any combination as compared to placebo. The study also added Folic Acid about half-way into the experiment.

While the study authors were quick to single out and pan antioxidant supplements, they did not go so far as to exclude dietary sources of these vitamins. The implication (in my mind) is that small amounts of antioxidants may provide some benefit but that benefit cannot be magnified by loading up on antioxidants via supplements. Keep in mind, nobody refuted the finding that cholesterol oxidation plays a significant factor in atherosclerosis. They simply said that supplementing dietary sources of the studied antioxidants provides no benefit. But, they also determined that, contrary to other findings, these supplements did little or no harm.

A big fat "I told you so" goes to Drs. Linus Pauling and Mathias Rath (yeah, yeah, I know, they used FAR less than what YOU recommend and didn't include L-Lysine and Proline in the study).



Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Glycemic Index Versus Load - Another Diet Myth

Yet another study confirms that diets composed of low Glycemic Index (GI) foods are better for both lipid management and weight loss. But, by only stressing GI they overlook the other half of the equation, Glycemic Load (GL). Put simply, it's not just how high the GI is of a particular food but how much of the high GI component is in the food product per gram or unit volume consumed.

GI is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrate portion of a food is converted to glucose and raises blood sugar. High GI foods raise your blood sugar rapidly and provoke a rapid and equally high insulin response. The body really hates this! However, GI is ONLY a measure of rate of change, not how much glucose/insulin is actually generated.

GL is a measure of the grams of carbohydrates in a quantity of food times its GI (divided by 100) and is a better indicator of how the body will respond to eating it. You can eat low GI food and still provoke a high insulin response if you eat enough of it. Similarly, eating small amounts of a high GI food may do little damage.

But foods are not composed purely of carbohydrates. There is another factor that must also be considered, carbohydrate density. For example, corn, and therefore popcorn, has a high GI. That would suggest popcorn is a food to avoid. However, popcorn is mostly air and does not contain many carbohydrates per unit volume. While the few carbohydrates in popcorn does indeed have a very high GI, you have to eat a fair amount to raise blood sugar.

Compare a cup of watermelon to a cup of high-fructose sweetened soda. Both have an identical volume. Watermelon also has a slightly higher GI than soda (72 versus 68). Yet a cup of watermelon has a GL of less than 1/3 that of soda simply because it is less than 1/3 as carbohydrate dense as soda. You are far better off consuming a cup of watermelon than a cup of soda even though watermelon has a higher GI.

I suppose if you are dealing with simpletons who cannot comprehend math or portion size you simply tell them to avoid high GI foods entirely. If you consider yourself a simpleton then just ignore this rant! Otherwise, pay attention to GL rather than GI.

Simply said,


Diet Coke Dilemma: Junk Food Junk Science

This is the kind of statistical nonsense that makes a numbers guy's blood boil (like mine). A recent study by a researcher at the Boston University School of Medicine found that persons who drank more than one soft drink per day had a higher risk of developing the dreaded "metabolic syndrome" and IT DIDN'T MATTER IF THE SOFT DRINK WAS SUGAR FREE. Of course, the bonehead media jumped on this paradoxical statement as they always do to generate provocative headlines. And, of course, the conclusion is, in a word, BULLSHIT!

Of course, we all know that metabolic syndrome is a major heart disease risk and that it has grown to epidemic proportions largely because of Americans (especially kids) consume a great deal of sugar and processed carbohydrates. So let's set a few things straight and rehash once again how figures lie and liars figure.

First, the study never said that sugar-free soda caused metabolic syndrome. It merely stated there was an association. I wish I could remember the name of the medical researcher who offered this great analogy.

"Everytime a plane flies over my backyard, my dog barks at it. Everytime my dog barks at a plane it continues to fly away and does not land in my backyard. Therefore, while I can say my dog's bark is ASSOCIATED with planes not landing in my backyard, I cannot say my dogs bark CAUSED the plane to fly away." Get the picture? Barking dogs clearly scare away postmen, robbers, cats, and rabbits but not airplanes even though from, a statistical association standpoint, the observations may be identical.

The same is true in this instance. It is likely that people who consume soft drinks of any kind are more likely to engage in other high risk behavior that IS causal (like eating a Big Mac and fries). But does that mean it makes no difference if you drink Diet Coke or regular Coke? HELL NO! But, that's not the way the press writes it.

Sheesh! It never ends.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

OK - Time to Stop Holding Back - TYP is King

Because I am so close to Track Your Plaque (TYP) and author Dr. William Davis I have been reluctant to be too effusive about the TYP heart disease reversal program on this blog for fear of losing my objectivity. But at some point, when a concept keeps proving to be right you have to finally give in to the notion that perhaps, just perhaps, a guy is on to something.

First, it was the begrudging admittal by the American Heart Association that heart scans really are effective measures of heart disease. TYP was the first to incorporate heart scans as the basis for developing personalized heart disease reversal programs.

Next, TYP was on the cusp of recognizing the potential of several novel treatments like L-Arginine and Vitamin D.

Then TYP starting seeing tremendous amounts of heart disease reversal in their clinical practice (double-digit reversal percentages are common under the TYP program in a universe where even a 1% reversal may mean a HUGE reduction in heart attack risk) .

But the final straw for me was the latest Stanford University School of Medicine study proving the efficaciousness of the bedrock TYP 60/60/60 principle (lipoprotein targets 0f 60 LDL cholesterol, 60 HDL cholesterol, 60 Triglycerides). The HDL and Triglyceride targets were never really in question but there had been much concern that an LDL level of 60 or less might actually be harmful (cancer risks were the primary concern). The Stanford Study of 6000 persons laid this worry to rest showing that, even at LDL levels as low as 40mg/dl, all cause mortality dropped almost 50%. The joke among the researchers was that "you can't be too rich or too thin or have too low a cholesterol level."

The TYP program continues to be right time after time after time. I am one of the most skeptical guys in the world. Dr. Davis himself will tell you I constantly challenge his work (OK, in the past it may have bordered on harrassment). But, geez, I am a numbers guy. When you are right this many times in a row, it just can't be dumb luck. I guess that makes me a Track Your Plaque partisan. At least I'm warnin' ya!

Track, Smack, and Jack That Damn Plaque!


Blog Directory - Blogged