Health habits and other characteristics
of dietary supplement users: A review
It’s always a welcome development to see a story that backs up what the majority of Americans already know. Taking nutritional supplements is part of a healthier lifestyle and in fact, healthier outcomes. That’s quite a contrast to the negative press appearing regularly about how nutritional supplements are worthless or even dangerous. Just keep taking big pharma’s answers to all our health problems. Talk about not being clear on the health care concept. I guess two thirds of adult Americans must be wrong.
Published: 6 February 2014
Annette Dickinson and Douglas MacKay
Dietary supplements are used by half to two-thirds of American adults, and the evidence suggests that this usage is one component of a larger effort to develop a healthier lifestyle. Dietary supplement users tend on average to be better educated and to have somewhat higher incomes than nonusers, and these factors may contribute to their health-consciousness.
Dietary supplement use also tends to be more prevalent among women than among men, and the prevalence of use increases with age in both men and women. Numerous surveys document that users of dietary supplements are significantly more likely than nonusers to have somewhat better dietary patterns, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid tobacco products.
While supplement users tend to have better diets than nonusers, the differences are relatively small, their diets have some substantial nutrient shortfalls, and their supplement use has been shown to improve the adequacy of nutrient intakes. Overall, the evidence suggests that users of dietary supplements are seeking wellness and are consciously adopting a variety of lifestyle habits that they consider to contribute to healthy living.
Exercise is good. Did we need another study to tell us that? Maybe we should be talking about bio-identical hormone replacement therapy instead of how exercise helps mitigate synthetic hormone replacement drug therapy.
Moderate exercise like brisk walking may cut women’s stroke risk 20 percent.
Moderate exercise also helps offset some of the increased stroke risk in women taking postmenopausal hormone therapy.
Women don’t need to run marathons or do intense aerobics to reduce their stroke risk. Moderate-intensity exercise — such as brisk walking or playing tennis — may do the trick, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014.
“I was surprised that moderate physical activity was most strongly associated with a reduced risk of stroke,” said Sophia Wang, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and professor in the department of population sciences within the Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. “More strenuous activity such as running didn’t further reduce women’s stroke risk. Moderate activity, such as brisk walking appeared to be ideal in this scenario.”
The study found that moderate exercise also helps offset the increased stroke risk seen with postmenopausal women taking menopausal hormones, but not completely.
Researchers analyzed information from the 133,479 women in the California Teachers Study to see how many suffered a stroke between 1996 and 2010. Those who reported doing moderate physical activity in the three years before enrolling in the study were 20 percent less likely than women who reported no activity to suffer a stroke. “The benefits of reducing risk of stroke were further observed among the group of women who had a sustained moderate level of physical activity over time,” she said.
Postmenopausal women taking menopausal hormone therapy had more than a 30 percent higher risk of stroke than women who never used menopausal hormone therapy. After the women stopped taking hormones, their risk began to diminish. (They still rerain from distinguishing bio-identical hormones from the synthetic hormones shown to cause problems – unlike bio-identical hormones).
“The effects of physical activity and hormone therapy appear immediate and the benefits of physical activity are consistent in premenopausal and postmenopausal women,” Wang said. Therefore, Wang recommends that women incorporate some type of physical activity into their daily routine. “You don’t have to do an extreme boot camp. The types of activities we’re talking about are accessible to most of the population.” Power walking and recreational tennis, for example, do not necessarily require special memberships to gyms.
The study also found that women with diabetes had elevated stroke risk, although this group encompassed women who also were overweight. “Physical activity, obesity and diabetes are all highly correlated with one another,” Wang said. “Stroke prevention among diabetics is thus a particularly important scientific question to address.”
Although 87 percent of the women were white, Wang said she believes the study’s results may also apply to women in other racial/ethnic groups because the amount of stroke risk reduction was so robust. Further studies are needed to determine how much moderate exercise helps those with diabetes avoid strokes.
Co-authors are: Leslie Bernstein, M.S., Ph.D.; James Lacey, Jr., M.P.H., Ph.D.; Kamakshi Lakshminarayan, M.D., Ph.D. Mitchell Elkind, M.D., M.S., M.Phil; Daniel Woo, M.D.; Ph.D.; Jenna Voutsinas, M.P.H.; and Chengyi Zhong, M.P.H.
Author disclosures are on the abstract.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The California Teachers Study group is funded by the National Cancer Institute.
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Related Resources from Horphag Research
A ‘Movement of Movements’
Along with campaigns against fracking and climate change, perhaps the largest and most dynamic grassroots movement in North America today is the anti-genetic engineering, Millions Against Monsanto food movement.
International in scope, the food movement has galvanized around the backlash against GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Yet there’s something much larger at work. It’s bigger than GMOs. And it’s bigger than food.
People are connecting the dots. Between industry’s corruption of our food and farming systems, and corporations’ attacks on our state and local rights. Between secretly negotiated international trade agreements, and corrupt federal government officials.
Between Democracy and Corporatocracy.
The growing strength of this “Movement of Movements” provides hope in desperate times that we can rise to the occasion and continue to win over the hearts and minds of the majority. So that we can address not only the crucial issues of food and farming and public health, but also related life-or-death issues such as climate change, economic justice and militarism.
The news was already out there, in the form of small leaks. But yesterday, February 6, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) made it official. The multi-billion lobbying group, representing junk food manufacturers, pesticide companies and Big Pharma, will pursue a “voluntary” federal GMO labeling bill, one that would preempt states’ rights to enact their own GMO labeling laws.
The GMA has formed a coalition – that’s its logo to the right, with a burger front and center – of 28 other industry groups that will push Congress to pass a law requiring the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to “reaffirm” its “role as the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients [GMOs].”
What does that mean? Companies that pollute your environment and poison your food want the FDA to come up with a worthless, voluntary labeling standard. And oh by the way, they also want the FDA to rule that it’s perfectly fine to label GMO-contaminated food as “natural.”
Now all this new coalition, deceptively named the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, needs are a few legislators to sponsor their new bill. We can’t wait to find out who those legislators will be—the ones who are willing to sponsor a bill that more than 90 percent of Americans will oppose.
In the meantime, let’s keep hammering the FDA.
More here and here
TAKE ACTION: Tell the FDA: No Watered-Down, Voluntary Federal GMO Labeling Rules!
Read the GMA’s GMO talking points
Tailoring people’s diet to optimize their health and minimize their risk of disease, is a new scientific approach called personalized nutrition. But it remains a challenge.
After personalized medicine, we are entering the era of personalized nutrition. But this approach requires testing before being applicable. This is what a new EU-funded research project, called food4me, is attempting to do.
The project involves recruiting volunteers, analysing their food intake and blood samples and their genetics through a mainly web-based approach. Participants will receive dietary advice taking into account their food preferences. They will also receive help to plan their nutrition according to their genetic profile and blood test results.
Awareness and Telling the Truth
But part of the problem with customising dietary advice is that people often tweak the truth. “When you ask people to write down what they have eaten they try to cheat on you. They cheat on themselves too,” explains nutritional scientist Hannelore Daniel, chair of nutrition physiology at the Technical University of Munich, Germany.
She is the project scientist responsible for reviewing how technology can help get around such cheating and how it can better dispense advice. “In the near future, we will have new tools that, for example, take a photograph of your plate. Software then analyses the volume of fresh broccoli, French fries or whatever else is there. It then goes back and calculates the nutritional composition and says this person has so many calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats and at the same time it can record and feed in likes and dislikes,” she explains.
Tri Corders and Star Trek Medicine
At the moment, nutritionists take such information directly from people and come up with advice for each individual. But Daniel is working towards the day when the computer can come back without any human input. “Computers can learn and we can define sophisticated algorithms. You could have an artificial dietitian that comes via a video and tells you what to do or not do,” she tells CommNet. Part of the project is also looking at how consumers would react to such personalised advice.
Experts say personalised advice could jolt people enough into changing their diet. “Often the people that need the diet the most are the ones that do not follow it,” explains José Ordovás, professor in nutrition and genetics at Tufts University, located near Boston in Massachusetts, USA, who is not part of the project. Therefore, “one of the goals of the personalised recommendations based on the genome is to provide that ‘teachable moment’ that makes people more aware of the problem and the solution, and this may motivate them to adhere to a good diet for which is evidence supporting the benefit,” he tells CommNet.
“Computers can learn and we can define sophisticated algorithms. You could have an artificial dietitian that comes via a video and tells you what to do or not do,”
One such example is seen in the work of Anne Parle-McDermott, geneticist and leader of the nutritional genomics group at Dublin City University, Ireland, who is unravelling how the nutrient folate plays a role in health and disease. She has been focusing on a gene variant affecting 10% of the population in Ireland. These individuals would benefit greatly from greater folate intake, as they “tend to have a higher risk of certain diseases including birth defects and potentially raised blood pressure.” Knowing this fact might well influence people’s diet or lead them to take folate supplements, she thinks. And being able to test and then influence a person’s diet to take this into account could mean fewer birth defects. Having such clear benefits should spur demand for personalised nutrition.
Further personalised diet applications can already be anticipated. For example, a major part of Daniel’s project focuses on dried blood spots. Some of her project partners employ high-tech chemical techniques to see what a person’s levels of fatty acids, glucose, cholesterol or vitamins like the B vitamin folate. For example, “we are exploring whether we can get a good idea of someone’s vitamin D status by analysing a few cells that we take from their skin. The cells are taken using a sticky tape,” Daniel tells CommNet. She is also analysing folates using dried blood spots with a partner at her university.
José Ordovás concludes: “There are healthy and unhealthy diets. This is the starting point. Then, we can go deeper and develop healthier diets for specific groups of individuals that may need fine tuning.”
That’s what playing the “Is It Healthy?” Game looks like when science and technology are used in service to nutrition.
Notes for editors http://www.commnet.eu