Tips on Becoming an Armed and Informed Consumer of Dietary Supplements

 

Note from Rebecca: I am so grateful for Dr. Megan Holt’s wisdom, experience and insight on all things nutrition and wellness. There is A LOT of offerings out there that make claims to better our health but many are lacking in solid research and/or regulation. We are all about helping those in our community be better informed consumers of time and resources. Below, Megan will share some important information about dietary supplements – looking forward to your thoughts and questions!

Many of us regard dietary supplements as ‘harmless’, but did you know that supplements vary tremendously in terms of potency and purity?

We need to be concerned with not only the supplement’s effectiveness, but also with whether or not the supplement actually contains the stated ingredients in the stated amounts. Adulteration is common, as manufacturers, as well as suppliers of the raw ingredients, often try to cut costs by cutting corners.

Manufacturers may have the best intentions in terms of adhering to ethical standards, but perhaps suppliers of the raw ingredients are more concerned with profit.

Have manufacturers’ done their homework? The industry is ‘regulated’, but loosely at best.

Dietary supplements can be a wonderful resource for those of us who need them, and many of the claims regarding their benefits are supported by sound evidence. Asking the following questions of your provider may be helpful upon receiving recommendations to begin taking a supplement.

  1. What is the optimal daily dosage for my condition?
  2. Can you offer any reliable brand recommendations?
  3. Are there any supplement-drug or supplement-food interactions that I should be aware of?
  4. Can I instead meet these needs through the diet? How? Which foods and in what amounts?
  5. Where can I find evidence-based information on the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements?
  6. What are the known side effects?
  7. Has the supplement been tested by an independent lab? Is it USP (United States Pharmacopeial Convention) verified?
  8. How much do they cost?

This fabulous documentary (free to watch) “Supplements and Safety” is a great place to start.

The NIH Office of Dietary Supplements offers a number of helpful fact sheets on individual vitamins and minerals.

Further, PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset provides a rich database should you be interested in reading the literature on specific dietary supplements.

Your provider may not have all of the answers to these questions, but it’s important that they be able to speak to most of them. Advocate and ask – use your voice!

Make sure to join us on Thursday August 3rd, 2017 at 10am PDT for a conversation with Secrets from the Eating Lab Author Traci Mann, PhD + Rebecca Ching, LMFT. Click here to register for the free webinar!

 

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A Not So Celebration of the History of Popular Diets

I Choose Respect Over Body Shame
I Choose Respect Over Body Shame

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein

In honor of Respect Your Body Month, Potentia’s Coordinator of Nutrition and Wellness – Megan Holt, DrPH, MPH, RD – compiled a timeline and unpacked the history of  fad diets and their many claims. Somewhat humorous and ridiculous at times, this list is not an endorsement of any of these trends but is intended to reflect the the constant ebb and flow of claims on what is true health. We support a non-diet, intuitive eating approach to feeding – when appropriate – and are passionate about educating the community on the dangers of fad diets and the diet mentality. – Rebecca

1863 Banting’s Diet: One of the first documented low carbohydrate diets. William Banting was a carpenter and undertaker. “Bad” foods included sugar/starch, butter, milk and beer.

1830 Graham’s Diet: A Presbyterian Minister, Sylvester Graham, touted a ‘bland’, vegetarian diet free of milk, meat, alcohol, white bread and ‘excitatory’ spices (which, upon intake, cause a person to become ‘lustful’).

1920 Inuit Diet: Vilhjalmur Stefannson, an Arctic explorer, noted improved health and quality of life among persons living in Arctic regions by eating a diet consisting predominantly of whale blubber, raw fish and caribou, with minimal fruit and vegetables.  Thus, the Inuit Diet was born.

1930 Dr. Stoll’s Diet Aid: One of the first liquid supplement diets, shakes were given out as meal substitutes in local beauty parlors in efforts to popularize this diet.

1930 Hay’s Diet: Dr.Hay warned of ‘digestive explosion’ from consumption of fruit, meat and dairy at the same meal. He urged separation of foods into alkaline, acidic and neutral meal/snack categories.

1950 Grapefruit Diet: Consists of having ½ grapefruit daily, and minimal caffeine. Fatty meats, particularly bacon, may be consumed liberally, as the combination of grapefruit and saturated fat is “claimed” to accelerate the burning of body fat.

1980 Cabbage Soup Diet: This plan advises the consumer to consume cabbage soup at meal times for seven consecutive days, with the stepwise addition of beef, fruit, vegetables, brown rice and skim milk.

1980: Fat free/very low fat: Emphasized elimination of fat in the diet, given its caloric density and link to development of cardiovascular disease. Manufacturers quickly adapted by producing fat reduced versions of our favorite foods, using sugar to enhance palatability.

1990 Atkins Diet: Popularized by Dr.Robert Atkins, initial phases demand a carbohydrate intake not greater than 20g/day, and exclusion of fruit, starches/grains, added sugar, starchy vegetables and beans/legumes. Caffeine and alcohol are forbidden, but meat, eggs and oils may be consumed liberally.

2000 South Beach Diet: Essentially a tamer version of Atkin’s, partakers are allowed to include a greater percentage of calories from carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in later stages, and are discouraged from over consumption of fatty meats/foods rich in saturated fats.

2000 Master Cleanse: Users are ‘detoxified’ by adhering to a strict regimen that includes a mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and salt. The diet was originally publicized in the 1940’s by an alternative healer by the name of Stanley Burroughs.

Present day fad: The Paleo Diet, also referred to by some as the ‘Caveman’ diet, advocates a diet mimicking that of our Paleolithic ancestors. The Paleo diet features exclusion of processed grains/oils, legumes and dairy.  This sort of an eating style is not new, as it was initially popularized in the 1970’s, though it’s made a comeback in recent years.

Despite their obvious differences, many of these diets all share a few common features (aside from the lack of credentials or expertise of behalf their wealthy creators): They erroneously suggest that we can manage health/weight through black and white thinking, they don’t ‘work’, they aren’t sustainable and they lack supporting evidence.

What do you think about this list? Would you add to it?

How do you respect your body through how you feed yourself?

Please join the conversation over on Potentia’s Facebook page on Choosing Respect Over Body shame.

In good health –

Megan

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