When you don’t have all the Facts


by Risë Rafferty

Recently, my husband shared an article with me discussing the nutritional advantages that white rice has over brown rice. It presented the case that minerals are better absorbed from fortified white rice than brown rice. The culprit for binding mineral bioavailability in the brown rice was identified as phytate.

Articles sourced from those who promote “ancestral” forms of eating have expressed their concern that phytic acid found in grains, nuts, seeds and beans represents a serious problem in our diets. Calcium, iron and zinc deficiencies are attributed to this anti-nutrient. Some have even labeled it a toxin.

There are those who have witnessed the deficits in calcium, iron and zinc along with key vitamins in developing countries where the major staples of the diet are plant foods, namely grains. Associated with diets based on unrefined cereals and legumes, the nutrient deficiencies are considered to be partially due to poor bioavailability as a result of phytate content. Bioavailability is referring to the actual absorption and utilization of the nutrient. It is influenced by dietary and physiological factors. The emphasis in this arena is what can be done to increase bioavailability.

Interestingly enough, phytic acid is not the only ingredient in plant foods that is classified as an anti-nutrient. Oxalic acid, found in spinach, inhibits calcium absorption. Enzyme inhibitors, found in soybeans, prevent protein absorption. Why would anti-nutrients be found in foods that we have thought to be nutrient rich; which we believe were designed to provide optimal nutrition?

Phytate is found in the bran and germ of grains, in legumes, nuts and seeds. It prevents premature germination and stores the phosphorous that plants need to grow. We wouldn’t be able to store these food items through the winter if it weren’t for phytates. When seed germination begins, for example, after a good soaking in the ground, “phytate is hydrolysed, and phosphorous along with minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron are liberated, becoming available for germination and development of the seedlings.”1


Phytate’s molecular structure is attracted to minerals and binds with them, plain and simple. Phytate sounds fine and dandy for the seed’s sake, but what about its impact on us?

Lab analysis and experiments have demonstrated that when phytic acid is added to refined flour magnesium absorption is decreased. “Consuming 5-10 mg of phytic acid can reduce iron absorption by 50%.”2 While in the intestines, phytic acid can bind the minerals iron, zinc, and manganese. Once bound, they are then excreted. All that good nutrition is whisked away.

Interestingly enough, however, there are others who have found a bright side to the apparently bleak phytate saga. They call phytate a phytochemical, an antioxidant, a blood sugar lowering agent, and an anti-cancer compound. Another term for phytate is inositol hexaphosphate (IP6). I will cite some conclusions of researchers who approached phytate from the other side of the mountain.

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Calcium in a Vegan Diet


Most people equate calcium with milk. While milk does contain calcium, there are many people who wish to avoid milk products for other health reasons. Are there any sources of calcium for those of us who do not drink milk?

Clarifying questions such as

  • Why is Calcium Important for the Body?
  • What Inhibits Calcium Absorption?
  • Medical Issues Related to Calcium Deficiency


… will help you to better understand and implement the intake of calcium in a vegan diet.

Read the whole article.

Source: Life&

The Reversal on Fish Oil

The Reversal on Fish Oil
Are the purported benefits of fish oil supplementation for the prevention and treatment of heart disease just a “fish tale“? Thanks torecommendations from organizations such as the American Heart Association that individuals at high risk for heart disease ask their physicians about fish oil supplementation, fish oil has grown into a multibillion dollar industry. We now consume over 100,000 tons of fish oil every year.

But what does the science say? A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,highlighted in my video Is Fish Oil Just Snake Oil? looked at all the best “randomized clinical trials evaluating the effects of omega-3’s on lifespan, cardiac death, sudden death, heart attack, and stroke.” The studies told the subjects to either eat more oily fish or to take fish oil capsules. What did the study find? Overall, the researchers found no protective benefit for all-cause mortality, heart disease mortality, sudden cardiac death, heart attack, or stroke.

What about for those who already had a heart attack and are trying to prevent another? Still no benefit. Where did we even get this idea that omega 3’s were good for the heart? If we look at some of the older studies, the results seemed promising. For example, there was the famous DART trial back in the 80s involving 2,000 men. Those advised to eat fatty fish had a 29% reduction in mortality. Pretty impressive—no wonder it got a lot of attention. But people seemed to have forgotten the sequel, the DART-2 trial. The same group of researchers, and an even bigger study (3,000 men). In DART-2 “those advised to eat oily fish and particularly those supplied with fish oil capsules had a higher risk of cardiac death.”

Put all the studies together, and there’s no justification for the use of omega 3s as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice or for guidelines supporting more dietary omega-3’s. So what should doctors say when their patients follow the American Heart Association advice to ask them about fish oil supplements? Given this and other negative meta-analyses, “our job as doctors should be to stop highly marketed fish oil supplementation in all of our patients.”

I’ve previously discussed fish oil supplements in the context of risks versus purported cardiovascular benefits:

But if the benefits aren’t there, then all one is left with are concerns over the industrial pollutants that concentrate in the fish fat (even in distilled fish oil, see Is Distilled Fish Oil Toxin-Free?).

These same contaminants are found in the fish themselves. This raises concern for adults (Fish Fog), children (Nerves of Mercury), and pregnant moms:

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More Than an Apple a Day ,and From Table to Able.

Image Credit: Jo Christian Oterhals / Flickr

Antioxidants Can Make Cancers Worse

Photo credit: Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic, via Wikimedia Commons

While many proponents of dietary antioxidants or supplements will claim they have incredible anticancer properties, amongst other things, the literature on these molecules is conflicting and animal and human studies of antioxidants as a potential cancer therapy have been largely disappointing. In fact, some trials have even found that antioxidant supplements can worsen some cancers. For example, vitamin E increases cancer burden and mortality in mouse models of lung cancer. This was particularly surprising since certain properties of cancer cells seemed to suggest that, in theory, they should be beneficial. The subject is therefore confusing and calls for much needed clarification.

In an attempt to address this issue, two researchers scoured the literature and came up with a hypothesis that may explain why these supplements are ineffective as a cancer therapy. The study has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Continue reading

Why Coconut Water Could Replace Your Sports Drink


Coconut water has taken over the shelves of grocery stores in the past few years, and nutritionists say that some of the hype may in fact be deserved. The drink comes from young, green coconuts, and is rich in potassium and antioxidants. And, compared with sodas or even sports drinks, coconut water is relatively low in calories and sugar. However, the product should not replace water as the main source of hydration, according to experts.

“Coconut water is another beverage option on the market that does offer some nutritional benefits,” Allison Massey, a registered dietician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, told Live Science in an email. For instance, it is a source of potassium and small amounts of sodium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus, she said. However, experts stress that regular water should still be the main source of hydration, and it is best to incorporate coconut water as an additional beverage option from time to time.

“Generally, water should be a staple when it comes to hydration,” Massey said. “Coconut water is simply another beverage option that can be incorporated in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet, if individuals enjoy drinking it.” [10 New Ways to Eat Well] Read full article.

Source: LiveScience, Photo: Shutterstock

Die immensen Auswirkungen der Muttermilch auf Kind und Mutter

Empfehlung der WHO: ausschließliches Stillen während der ersten 6 Monate, d.h. keine andere Nahrung oder Flüssigkeit ➝ danach neben geeigneter Beikost bis zum Ende des 2. Lebensjahres und darüber
hinaus weiter stillen (solange Mutter und Kind es wünschen)

bei uns werden mit 6 Monaten nur noch 10% der Kinder gestillt (obwohl 85% stillend aus dem
Krankenhaus entlassen werden, danach gibt es aber gleich den ersten Knick ➝ 2 Wochen später werden nur noch 66% gestillt)

Auswirkungen auf die mütterliche Gesundheit:
•schnellere Rückbildung der Gebärmutter ➝ durch Oxytocin
•Anpassung an SchlafS/WachSRhythmus des Kindes ➝ durch Prolaktin
•mehr Gelassenheit, Stressfähigkeit ➝ ebenfalls durch Prolaktin (postnatales Depressionssyndrom
bei stillenden Frauen deutlich geringer)
•schnelleres Erreichen des Gewichtes, das man vor der Schwangerschaft hatte ➝ durch
•weniger Insulinbedarf bei diabetischen Müttern ➝ weil sie in einer anabolen Phase sind
•positiver Einfluss auf Endometriose
•Laktationsamenorrhoe und Kontrazeption
•stillende Frauen haben während der Laktation eine verringerte Knochendichte, danach kehrt sie
aber wieder zum Ausgangswert zurück
Auswirkungen auf die kindliche Gesundheit:
•Verdaulichkeit der Muttermilch ist gut ➝ fördert die Mekoniumausscheidung (Frühgeborene
haben geringere Neigung zur nekrotisierenden Enterocolitis, wenn sie mit Muttermilch ernährt
werden ➝ Milch passt sich an Bedürfnisse des Kindes an: bei Frühgeborenen andere
Zusammensetzung als bei Termingeborenen)
•weniger Allergien (Asthma)
•weniger DurchfallsS/Atemwegserkrankungen, Otitis media (weniger Paukenröhrchen , … )
•geringeres Risiko für chronischSentzündliche Darmerkrankung (Mb. Crohn, Colitis ulcerosa),
Erkrankungen des rheumatischen Formenkreises (juvenile rheumatoide Arthritis) und Diabetes
mellitus Typ 1
•weniger Inzidenz von kindliche Lymphome und Leukämien
•seltener SIDS, Vernachlässigung (bonding)
•direkte Vorteile im Krankenhaus: kürzere Nahrungskarenz vor und nach geplanter OP (weil
Muttermilch schnellere Darmpassage hat)
•weniger Arbeitsausfall berufstätiger Eltern (Kinder sind seltener krank)
•Muttermilch kostet kein Geld (Formulanahrung kostet etwa 75 Euro pro Monat)
•seltener Übergewicht/Adipositas ➝ je länger ein Kind gestillt wird, desto geringer ist das Risiko für Adipositas (unterschiedlicher Proteingehalt ➝ Muttermilch hat <1 g Protein/100 ml, während
Formulanahrung deutlich mehr enthält, nämlich 1,2S1,3 g/100 ml)

Langzeitauswirkungen auf:
•Diabetes mellitus Typ 2

Long-term daily multivitamin supplement use decreases cataract risk in men

Long-term daily multivitamin supplement use may lower cataract risk in men, according to a study of nearly 15,000 male physicians published this month in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Researchers also find a slight, though statistically non-significant, increase in age-related macular degeneration risk among multivitamin users; call for further study.


Past observational studies have indicated a relationship between nutritional supplement use and eye health. However, randomized trial data on the effects of long-term multivitamin supplement use and risk of eye diseases are limited and, in some cases, non-existent. To address this, researchers based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School – as part of the Physicians’ Health Study II (PHS II) – conducted a randomized, double-blind study from 1997 to 2011 of 14,641 U.S. male doctors age 50 and older. Half took a common daily multivitamin, as well as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene supplements. The other half took a placebo.
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Study Finds Aspirin Reduces Risk Of Melanoma In Women

Aspirin wird 100 Jahre

In the largest study ever to explore new ways to prevent melanoma, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that women who took aspirin on a regular basis reduced their risk of developing this skin cancer (melanoma) by an average of 21 percent.

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