Monday, August 31, 2015

“I heard that nuts are fattening. Are nuts good or bad?”

             Nuts are a great source of a number of nutrients and have several significant health benefits.  They are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, and other nutritious compounds1.  Even though nuts are very high in fat (up to 75% by weight!), consuming them as part of a well balanced diet has actually been found to improve blood lipid levels and decrease the risk of heart disease2. Incorporating more than three servings of nuts per week has been shown to decrease the risk for a number of serious health problems including cardiovascular disease and diabetes1.  An extensive study by Guasch-Ferre, et. al. examined and modified the diets of 7,216 patients who were at high risk for cardiovascular disease1.  They found that a diet high in nut consumption was significantly decreased risk of death, especially due to cardiovascular problems1.  Individuals who consumed more than three servings of nuts per week had a whopping 39% lower risk of death than individuals who did not consume nuts regularly1. 

            Another study conducted by Jaceldo-Siegl et. al., found that there was a strong association between nut consumption and decreased risk for obesity2.  In this study, the dietary, demographic and clinical data of 803 adults was studied and it was concluded that individuals consuming 16g of tree nuts per day were at a significantly lower risk of obesity2.  Although this study is of a much lower quality than the previous study, they do conclude that there is a correlation between high nut consumption and overall health2. 

            There is a significant amount of research available describing the health benefits of consuming nuts regularly as part of a balanced diet.  Although they are high in fat, they are packed with nutrition and may help to improve your cardiovascular health and decrease your risk for other illnesses.  Also, because nuts are so high in fat and so packed with nutrients, they are likely to keep you full longer, making for the perfect snack to hold you over between meals! Therefore, nuts are considered very nutritious and should not be avoided in the diet (unless you have an allergy or your physician recommends otherwise!).  Adding just three servings of nuts per week to your diet may have significant health benefits and assist in prevention of some serious illnesses and according to Guasche-Ferre, et. al., may also help you live longer1!


1. Guasch-Ferre, M., Bullo, M., Martinez-Gonzalez, M., Ros, E., Corella, D., Estruch, R., Fito, M., Aros, F., Waernberg, J., Fiol, M., Lapetra, J., Vinyoles, E., Lamuela-Raventos, R., Serra-Majem, L., Pinto, X., Ruiz-Gutierrez, V., Basora, J., Salas-Salvado, J. Frequency of nut consumption and mortality risk in the PREDIMED nutrition intervention trial. BMC Medicine. 2013; 11: 164. 

2.  Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Haddad, E.,  Oda, K., Fraser, G., and Sabate, J.  Tree Nuts are Inversely Associated with metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: The Adventist Health Study-2.  Public Library of Science.  2014; 9(1): 1-13.

3.  Fleming, Alesha.  Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic., Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.

Monday, August 24, 2015

“I've heard that I should take a fish oil supplement. I don’t want to; why should I?”

Fish oils are omega-3 fatty acids, also known as EPA and DHA, and have been found to play a significant role in cardiovascular disease prevention1.  You can get omega-3s from fatty fish such as salmons, sardines, and cod liver (hence the name fish oil).  There are also vegetarian sources available such as flax seed, flax seed oil and chia seeds.  Fish oils can also be taken in through supplements, but remember that it is usually better to get nutrition from whole food rather than from supplements, as it is typically absorbed and digested by the body much better this way.  Also, fish oil can become rancid so be sure to store supplements properly (liquid fish oil supplements should generally be refrigerated), and keep an eye on expiration dates, too! 

The particular article referenced here describes the effect of omega-3 supplement intake on coronary artery disease in patients with high cholesterol.  All patients involved in the study were given statin drugs and half of these were also randomly assigned 600mg of daily EPA supplementation, three times per day.  Patients’ diets were monitored throughout the course of the study, which spanned a total of five years.  At that point patients were re-admitted for a check-up.  Patients receiving EPA supplementation of 1800mg were found to have a 19% decrease in major coronary artery events, a 24% reduction in unstable angina (chest pain) and a 19% reduction in non-fatal coronary artery events.  Due to the size and extent of this study, we can conclude that the results that were gathered are in fact statistically significant, which leads us to conclude that there can be substantial benefits associated with fish oil supplementation in patients with cardiovascular compromise.  An interesting side note for this article is, that the study was conducted in Japan.  It was found that Japanese individuals naturally have higher plasma EPA levels in their bodies than Americans1 – reasons for this can vary from diet and exercise to genetics, or likely a combination of these factors.  However, there is a chance that this may affect the magnitude of the results that Americans would see with the same amount of omega-3 supplementation – could be more, could be less!  If you feel like adding omega-3 to your diet might be a good idea, talk to your doctor about adding some sources or a supplement to your diet.  It could very well have a significant impact on your health!


1. Yokoyama, M., Origasa, H., Matsuzaki, M., et al. "Effects of eicosapentaenoic acid on major coronary events in hypercholesterolaemic patients (JELIS): a randomized open-label, blinded endpoint analysis." Lancet. 2007;369(9567):1090-1098.

2.  Fleming, Alesha.  Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic., Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.

Eggs are very high in cholesterol - does that make them bad?

           It has long been assumed and accepted that dietary cholesterol may have a negative impact on cardiovascular health, and that consuming high levels of cholesterol may lead to an increased risk of coronary artery disease.  Today however, several studies have found that the correlation between dietary cholesterol consumption and an increased risk for coronary artery disease is trivial at best1,2.  Although increased cholesterol consumption has been found to minimally increase serum LDL levels, there seem to be no adverse cardiovascular effects, especially in healthy individuals with healthy, variable diets2
          Eggs are higher in dietary cholesterol than any other individual food item in the American diet, one egg yolk containing between 50 to 250g of cholesterol alone2!  It is largely for this reason that it has often been advised that egg consumption should be limited, due to the assumed correlation between cholesterol and coronary artery disease.  In reality, eggs are a great source of a number of micro- and macronutrients that have excellent health benefits2.  Research also suggests that egg consumption may have an impact on facilitating weight loss, since they make you feel full longer2.   
            An interesting side note to take into account is that approximately 15-25% of the population is “hyper-responders” to cholesterol ingested through the diet1.  One study found that in these individuals, LDL and HDL levels did significantly increase after ingestion of large amounts of dietary cholesterol (after the equivalent of approximately 3.5 eggs per day)1.  However, the ratio of LDL to HDL in these individuals remained unchanged1.  Interestingly enough, this was the only population to be found to experience a significant increase in LDL and HDL levels after consuming large amounts of dietary cholesterol.  Even individuals with hypercholesterolemia demonstrated no significant changes in LDL and HDL levels, even when adding up to seven eggs per week to their diets1
            So what does this all mean for us? Because egg consumption only results in a very small increase in serum levels of cholesterol in the general population, there is no evidence that suggests that there is an increased risk for cardiovascular disease associated with egg consumtion1.  In healthy individuals, there is no reason to exclude or limit egg consumtion1.  It is advised that, in order to decrease risk for cardiovascular disease, individuals should consume a diet rich in a variety of different foods containing a number of different micro- and macronutrients, and limit their intake of foods high in simple sugars and saturated fats1


1. Natoli, S., Markovic, T., Lim, D., Noakes, M., Kostner, K.  Unscrambling the research: Eggs, serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease.  Nutrition and Dietetics. 2007; 64: 105-111. 

2. Lee, A. and Griffin, B. Dietary cholesterol, eggs, and coronary heart disease risk in perspective.  British Nutrition Foundation.  2006; 31: 21-27. 

3.  Fleming, Alesha.  Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic., Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What’s The Deal With Gluten?

            Recently many people have been avoiding gluten like the plague, eliminating all things wheat out of their diet.  Within the past year or so that’s become a lot easier since everything, frequently including fruits and vegetable (things that never contained gluten to begin with) are labeled as being “gluten free”.  Many people even choose to purchase a product labeled gluten free just because they assume it to be healthier.  The funny thing is, most of us probably don’t even know what gluten is, let alone what it does or why its supposed to be bad for us!            
           This brings us to our first question: What is gluten? Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat including mainly gliadins and glutenins1.  These proteins contribute to the structure in bread and wheat products.  Gluten sensitive individuals typically have adverse reactions, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramping, and abdominal pain, after eating foods containing wheat products or any foods containing gluten1.  Some individuals suffer from celiac disease, which, in short, is an autoimmune disorder with genetic predisposition that causes an inflammatory reaction in the small intestine whenever gluten is ingested 2.  These symptoms are similar to those of individuals with gluten sensitivity, but much more severe.  If gluten is not removed from the diet, long-term effects such as anemia and vitamin deficiencies may also arise.  However, current research suggests that there is no reason for any member of the general population, except those suffering from celiac disease and other forms of gluten allergy or sensitivity to exclude these proteins from their diet1.  A recent double-blind study showed that individuals who have reported being sensitive to gluten, were in fact not just sensitive to gluten specifically, but a number of different foods, including some poorly-digestibly carbohydrates2.  Only 8% of the individuals participating in the study turned out to be purely gluten sensitive2.  
           So in conclusion, very few people actually seem to benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet.  Most individuals will actually benefit from consuming whole grain products, which actually have a number of different health benefits.  So, if you haven’t noticed any changes in your bowel habits after eating gluten, there’s probably no significant reason for you not to do so.  Regardless of your decision, be sure to always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet.


1.  Brouns, F., Buul, V. v., and Shewry, P. Does wheat make us fat and sick? Journal of Cereal Science, 58, 209-215.2.  Biesiekierski, J., Peters, S., Newnham, E., Rosella, O., Muir, J., and Gibson, P. No Effects of Gluten in Patients with Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity after Dietary Reduction of Fertmentable, Poorly Absorbed Short-Chain Carbohydrates.  Gastroenterology, 145, 320-328.

2.  Fleming, Alesha.  Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic., Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.