Snake Oil Supplements

Scientific evidence for popular health supplements

(Showing tangible human health benefits when taken orally by an adult with a healthy diet)

Information is beautiful - This visualization generates itself from this Google Doc. So when new research comes out, the data is quickly updated and the image regenerated. (How cool is that??)

Note: You might see multiple bubbles for certain supplements. These are because some supplements affect a range of conditions, but the evidence quality varies from condition to condition. For example, there’s strong evidence that garlic can lower blood pressure. But studies on whether it can prevent colds have produced inconclusive results. In these cases, the supplement is given another bubble.

See it in its interactive mode on Information is beautiful – Snake Oil Supplements


Oils for your Health

Which oil is right for you? That depends largely on the type of cooking you’re doing. An oil’s smoke point, which is the point when oil starts burning and smoking, is one of the most important things to consider. If you heat an oil past its smoke point, it not only harms the flavor, but many of the nutrients in the oil degrade—and the oil will release harmful compounds called free radicals.
If you’re wondering which is the best cooking oil for your health—and which oils are not healthy—there’s some disagreement. TIME spoke to two cooking oil experts—Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Lisa Howard, author of The Big Book of Healthy Cooking Oils—about how to choose the best option.

  1. Olive oil

    • Use only extra virgin (not refined, and therefore of high quality containing a large amount of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fatty acids)
    • Relatively low smoke point, so only use for low and medium-heat cooking
    • Also use for baking and as a dressing
    • Be aware that many “extra virgin” labeled olive oils may not be. Use one of the following: California Olive Ranch “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, Colavita “Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, Lucini “Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil”, Trader Joe’s “ Extra Virgin California Estate Olive Oil”, Trader Joe’s “100% Italian Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil”
  2. Coconut oil

    • High in saturated fat, which has resulted in conflicting recommendation for health
    • High smoke point, so use when cooking at a very high temperature or frying food
  3. Vegetable oil

    • Most vegetable oils on the market are a blend of canola, corn, soybean, safflower, palm and sunflower oils
    • Refined and processed, past their heat tolerance and become rancid in the processing
    • Lack of flavor and nutrients
    • Associated with more degradation of land for production
  4. Canola oil

    • Derived from rapeseed
    • Contains a decent amount of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats
    • High smoke point, so use when cooking at a very high temperature or frying food
    • Refined and processed, unless “cold-pressed”
  5. Avocado oil

    • Unrefined
    • Higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil, so use when cooking at a high
    • Contains both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (it has one of the
      highest monounsaturated fat contents among cooking oils) as well as vitamin E
    • Expensive
  6. Sunflower oil

    • High in vitamin E
    • High smoke point
    • High in omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory (while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory)
  7. Peanut oil

    • Highest monounsaturated fat contents among cooking oils
    • Flavorful with a nutty taste and smell
    • High smoke point
  8. Walnut oil

    • Low smoke point

See the article in Time, Jul 23, 2018 

Do I have to do cardio to lose weight?

If your goal is fat loss, the answer is NO! But that does not mean that you can give up on cardio for some of the other health benefits that it provides.

Now, while cardio isn't necessary for weight loss, that doesn't mean cardio is unnecessary ~in general~. The American Heart Association currently recommends 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise per week (spread over five days) OR 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise per week (spread over three days) plus two strength training sessions for optimal heart health. (Only about 23 percent of Americans are meeting those requirements, though.) That's because getting your heart rate up is still crucial for keeping your heart healthy.

The thing is: Strength training, when done strategically, can definitely get your heart rate high enough to count as vigorous cardiovascular exercise. (Here's a primer on how to use heart rate zones to train for max exercise benefits.) "Compound movements are a great way to get your heart rate up while doing strength training," explains Gozo. Because you're working several muscles at once, your heart rate is going to climb. (If you've ever heard your heartbeat in your ears after doing a few heavy deadlifts, you know exactly what she's talking about.) Plus, by minimizing the rest you take between sets, adding heavier weights, and/or stepping up your pace, you can boost your heart rate.

See Shape Article 6 Jul 2018

Resistance Training May Help Relieve Depression

Another great reason you should be strength training!

Strength training is good for your body and your mind, according to a new review of more than 30 previously published studies.

The paper, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, found that resistance exercise training (RET), such as weightlifting and strength training, is associated with a significant reduction in depressive symptoms. It also, of course, comes with physical benefits, like making bones stronger and preventing chronic conditions.

While the current review specifically examined resistance training, plenty of evidence suggests that other forms of physical activity, such as aerobic exercise, cardio and yoga, may also improve depressive symptoms.

See Time Magazine Article 9 May 2018

Why Weight Training Is Ridiculously Good For You

Modern exercise science shows that working with weights—whether that weight is a light dumbbell or your own body—may be the best exercise for lifelong physical function and fitness.

Resistance training counteracts all those bone losses and postural deficits.. Through a process known as bone remodeling, strength training stimulates the development of bone osteoblasts: cells that build bones back up. While you can achieve some of these bone benefits through aerobic exercise, especially in your lower body, resistance training is really the best way to maintain and enhance total-body bone strength.

More research links resistance training with improved insulin sensitivity among people with diabetes and prediabetes. One study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that twice-weekly training sessions helped control insulin swings (and body weight) among older men with type-2 diabetes. 

Strength training also seems to be a potent antidote to inflammation, a major risk factor for heart disease and other conditions.

Lifting “almost to failure”—or until your muscles are near the point of giving out—is the real key, regardless of how much weight you’re using. 

See Time Magazine Article 6  Jun 2018

Are Omega-3s Good for Your Brain?

There’s a reason fish oil capsules and other omega-3 supplements are so popular. “Omega-3 fatty acids are involved in many different fundamental [brain] processes,” says Simon Dyall, a principal academic and head of nutrition at Bournemouth University in the UK.

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids—namely EPA and DHA—and their metabolites influence gene expression, oxidative stress, cerebral blood flow, levels of neurotransmitters, and other brain-related processes such as the production of new neurons, Dyall explains. DHA in particular is an essential building block of the brain’s cell membranes. So at a molecular level—like a house without bricks or walls—the brain could not exist without omega-3 fatty acids.

There seems to no downside to eating more fish, with omega-3 fatty acids are uniquely high in fish, with a typical portion of salmon providing 2.5 to 3.5g. There is no official daily recommendation, but 250-500 mg is "recommended".

Before relying on supplements, it might be worth considering that something else in fish is also, or in combination [with omega-3’s], having some benefit.

If you want to double down on omega-3 and take a supplement along with your weekly portions of fish, the NIH states that the potential side-effects are mild. Just be sure to keep your supplement intake below 2 grams per day to avoid potential (though unlikely) health complications—including reduced immune function or increased bleeding, the NIH warns. (Ask your doctor first if you’re on prescription meds—especially blood thinners.)

So should you be taking an onega-3 supplement? Maybe, but look at your weekly fish consumption first.

See Time Magazine Article 20 Jun 2018

Top 15 Omega-3 Foods

If you are spending money on expensive omega-3 supplements, consider looking at  adding some of these foods to your diet.

  1. Spinach -Omega-3 Payoff: 352 mg per ½ cup (cooked)
  2. Fontina Cheese -Omega-3 Payoff: 448 mg per 2-ounce serving
  3. Navy Beans -Omega-3 Payoff: 1 cup has 1,190 mg of ALA
  4. Grass-fed Beef -Omega-3 Payoff: 160 mg per 6-ounce steak
  5. Anchovies -Omega-3 Payoff: 597 mg per 1 ounce boneless
  6. Mustard Seed -Omega-3 Payoff: 230 mg per tablespoon
  7. Walnuts -Omega-3 Payoff: 2,500 mg per ¼ cup
  8. Winter Squash -Omega-3 Payoff: 332 mg per cup (baked)
  9. Eggs -Omega-3 Payoff: 225 mg per egg
  10. Purslane -Omega-3 Payoff: 300 mg per ½ cup
  11. Flaxseed Oil -Omega-3 Payoff: 7,300 mg per Tbsp
  12. Wild Rice -Omega-3 Payoff: 240 mg per ½ cup (uncooked)
  13. Chia Seeds -Omega-3 Payoff: 2,500 mg per Tbsp
  14. Red Lentils-Omega-3 Payoff: 480 mg per cup (raw)
  15. Firm Tofu -Omega-3 Payoff: 814 mg per 3-ounce serving
Is It Possible To Eat Too Much Fruit?

So is it bad for your health to eat a lot of fruit? Though a famous study from 1980 argued that based on the evolution of human jaws and teeth, our ancient ancestors used to eat a diet dominated by fruit, there’s not a lot of good evidence for or against fruit-heavy diets for modern humans. “There are some people out there who are fruitarians, and from what we can tell they’re perfectly healthy,” says Dr. Robert Lustig, a neuroendocrinologist and professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. (However, full-blown fruitarianism is so restrictive that it has been linked to nutritional deficiencies in some people, and may be unsafe for children and those with certain medical conditions, like diabetes.)

One critical thing to keep in mind: Drinking fruit juice or fruit-based smoothies is not the same as eating whole fruits, and both of those beverages may pose a number of health risks. Some recent evidence, including one 2013 study from Harvard School of Public Health, has linked fruit juice to an increased risk for diabetes.

See Time Magazine Article 6 Jun 2018

Andrew TomasComment
11 Best Foods For Your Immune System

Vitamin C has a reputation for being a feel-good nutrient, so it will come as no surprise that this list is full of foods with high levels of it. In the body, vitamin C behaves as an antioxidant, which means it protects cells from free-radical damage. Consuming it also helps the body better absorb iron, which is critical for normal immune-system function.

Just in case don't read the article, here are the 11 foods that they mention. But please go to the article as it contains information about each food, how to to eat it and additional health benefits of each.

  1. Jalapeño peppers
  2. Lemons
  3. Apples
  4. Chicken soup
  5. Garlic
  6. Grapefruit
  7. Ginger
  8. Sage
  9. Chamomile tea
  10. Fennel
  11. Cranberries

See Time Magazine Article 19 Jun 2018

10 Foods Filled With Probiotics

One of the most crucial parts of our body when it comes to health is our microbiome—the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut. Scientists are learning that the bacterial communities we live with are linked to everything from body weight to asthma to acne. Having the right balance of bugs may keep us well in the long term. Some bacteria in the gut are good for our health, while other strains raise our risk for disease.

Just in case don't read the article, here are the 10 foods that they mention. But please go to the article as it contains information about each food, how to to eat it and additional health benefits of each.

  1. Cottage cheese
  2. Kimchi
  3. Sauerkraut
  4. Yogurt
  5. Miso
  6. Pickles
  7. Kombucha
  8. Apple-cider vinegar
  9. Tempeh
  10. Parmesan cheese

See Time Magazine Article 12 Apr 2018

Andrew TomasComment