Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Why so-called 'superfoods' could be BAD for you: Nutritionist says kale can send your thyroid haywire and quinoa irritates the gut

They are hailed as the key to health, but so-called superfoods may do more harm than good, a nutrition expert has warned.

Foods such as Gillian McKeith's favourite goji berries, quinoa and kale can cause a host of problems from thyroid malfunction to arthritis flare-ups, says Petronella Ravenshear .

Writing in this month's Vogue, she says: 'My only comment about these foods is that they should be avoided'.

She goes on to explain that kale - a favourite among celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow - and increasingly used in 'green smoothies' can 'interfere with thyroid function' when eaten raw.

Eating too many grains such as quinoa, regardless of how healthy they are - can cause an overload of potentially gut-irritating compounds.

This may be because it may not be as wheat-free as originally thought.

Meanwhile goji berries are rich in a chemical compound that increases the risk of a digestive syndrome condition called 'leaky gut'.

Research last year found that 61 per cent of people have bought a food or drink because it had been labelled as a superfood.

But the British Dietetic Association has warned that many products give us false expectations of the benefits or are not fully substantiated.

For example, you would need to drink 13 servings of goji berry juice to get as many antioxidants as one red apple.

Ms Ravenshear adds that chia seeds - another celebrity favourite - can also cause gut problems.

Although high in protein and omega-3, they swell up to a gelatinous mass in the stomach.

While this may help curb the appetite, they are also high in phytates - (antioxidant compounds that have the potential to inhibit the absorption of certain mineral, says Ms Ravenshear.

And goji berries? 'Consume with caution, especially if you have arthritis, and instead eat blueberries, raspberries,strawberries and blackberries for antioxidants – and a better taste,' she advises.

Ms Ravenshear said: 'Their [superfoods] appeal is easy to understand: we all long for a magic bullet for weight loss, detoxification and general rejuvenation, and we worry about how much nutrition there is in modern farmed food, so we seek out superfoods to fill the potential nutritional gaps.'

'They might be exotic and packed full of promise, but do we need to eat little-known berries from far-flung places or the foods of ancient civilisations to stay well? Superfoods notwithstanding, their lives were short and brutal; the average Aztec lived for 37 years.

'And who’s to say they might not have preferred a comforting carrot and chicken casserole to another bowl of quinoa or chia seeds? They simply ate what they could find, and fished and hunted when they got the chance.'

So what should we be eating? Ms Ravenshear  goes on to explain that at the end of last year, experts at the Institute for Functional Medicine conference voted for the following foods: avocado, spinach, seaweed, pomegranate, blueberries, broccoli (and all cruciferous vegetables), grass-fed buffalo/beef, wild Alaskan salmon, almonds, coconut oil, olive oil and green tea.

However, some experts have an even stronger stance. Last year, a leading scientist said fashionable anti-cancer superfoods and supplements do not prevent the disease and may even cause it.

James Watson - who helped discover the structure of DNA - said the cure for many cancers will remain elusive unless scientists rethink the role of antioxidants, which include vitamin pills and food such as blueberries and broccoli.

It is widely believed that superfoods boost health and fight cancer by mopping up oxygen molecules called free radicals.

But Dr Watson argues these free radicals may be key to preventing and treating cancer – and depleting the body of them may be counter-productive.

He said a vast number of studies had found antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium, to have ‘no obvious effectiveness’ in preventing stomach cancer or in lengthening life.

Instead, they seem to slightly shorten the lives of those who take them, and vitamin E may be particularly dangerous.


Men who are circumcised after 35 are nearly HALF as likely to develop prostate cancer

Men circumcised  late in life would be a most unusual group.  Generalizing from them would be most incautious. Probably health fanatics

Men who are circumcised as adults are nearly half as likely to develop prostate cancer, a study has found.

Those who have the procedure after the age of 35 are 45 per cent less at risk than uncircumcised men, according to research published by a Canadian university.

As a whole, men who are circumcised are 11 per cent less likely to later develop prostate cancer compared to those who are not.

Prostate cancer is rare amongst Jewish or Muslim men, the majority of whom are circumcised.

While the specific causes of this cancer remain unknown, three risk factors have been identified: aging, a family history of this cancer, and Black African ethnic origins.

Researchers at the University of Montreal and the INRS-Institut-Armand-Frappier interviewed a group of Montreal men where half had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2005 and 2009.

Although men who had undergone the procedure as adults were significantly less likely to later develop prostate cancer, those circumcised before the age of one was 14 per cent less likely.

The study also found that circumcision had a particularly strong preventive effect among black men.

Among the black men interviewed in the study, the risk of prostate cancer was 1.4 times higher than the white men.

The risk of prostate cancer decreased by 60 per cent among black men who had been circumcised at any stage of their life.

This follows an American study published last week which found that the health benefits of male circumcision far outweigh the risks by more than 100 to one.

The study found that over their lifetime, half of uncircumcised men will contract an adverse medical condition caused by their foreskin.

In infancy, the strongest immediate benefit is protection against urinary tract infections (UTIs) that can damage the kidneys.

The study, by  Professor Brian Morris and co-investigator Dr Tom Wiswell, of the Centre for Neonatal Care in Orlando, Florida, showed last year that over the lifetime, UTIs affect one in three uncircumcised males.


No comments: