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Saturated Fat, Multivitamins and Carob

February 24, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

I’m always on the lookout for signs that things can change for the better. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of only seeing the faults that are inherent in a world run by infinitely fallible human beings. But where does that get us? Instead of simply getting angry or frustrated at the current tide, we can all look for evidence of even the smallest victories and try to build upon them.

In my line of work I come across a lot of criticism relating to my personal choice of diet – a low carbohydrate, whole food based menu plan. Some health columnists, nutritionists and physicians are vehement in their position that carb restricted diets are dangerous because they’re rich in fat. However, there’s an even greater concern that most of these people share – a steadfast fear of the damage supposedly caused by saturated fat. The bottom line is that they generally believe that saturated fatty acids will literally lead to clogged arteries. Apparently, a group of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health Boston didn’t get that memo.

One example that strengthens my hope for the future of medicine is published in the March 2010 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. There, two papers address the controversial issue of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. The ultimate conclusion of the piece is that there may be some benefit to substituting polyunsaturated fats for saturated fat, but it’s foolhardy to reduce saturated fat and replace it with dietary carbohydrates. The final sentence of the summary states that natural interventions that hope to reduce “atherogenic dyslipidemia should primarily emphasize the limitation of refined carbohydrate intakes”. A separate analysis of 347,747 men and women by the same team of researchers revealed that saturated fat consumption was not associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease or stroke. (1,2)

Multivitamins are still not being “prescribed” by many general practitioners. Some members of the allopathic community are far more comfortable filling out a prescription for a medication than recommending that patients pay a visit to a health food store and pick up a multivitamin/mineral supplement. But that’s likely to change as the number of positive, scientifically-based studies on multivitamins continue to be published in reputable medical journals.

  • A new trial presented in the International Journal of Obesity reports that the use of a daily multinutrient formula can help reduce body fat, total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and waist circumference in obese women. Supplementing with a multi was also shown to increase the level of cardio-protective HDL cholesterol and resting energy expenditure (a measure of ones metabolic rate). These findings are based on a 26 week double-blind, placebo-controlled study that involved 96 women with ages ranging from 18-55. (3)
  • African American women are estimated to “deliver preterm and low birth weight infants two to three times more frequently than their white counterparts”. However, the odds of delivering a healthy baby are greatly improved if these expectant mothers use a multivitamin. It seems that the added nutrition is capable of increasing birth weight, fetal growth and extending gestational age. (4)
Carob Fiber Lowers Several Cardiovascular Risk Factors Including Triglycerides
Source: J. Nutr. 136:1533-1538, June 2006 (link)

One of the goals I have for this website is to help my readers find safe and viable alternatives to potentially dangerous medications. Statin drugs are the most frequently prescribed medications currently used to lower cholesterol. However, there’s great controversy about their overall impact on cardiovascular health and questionable side effect profile. What’s even more disconcerting about these drugs is that they’re now being recommended for use in a more aggressive manner than ever before. Some cardiologists are even suggesting statins for “at-risk” children and in individuals who don’t yet have high cholesterol. (5,6)

Carob fiber appears to fall under the category of a safe and viable alternative for cholesterol management. A recently published study examined the effects of 8 grams of carob fiber in a group of 88 adults with elevated cholesterol concentrations. Half of the volunteers were provided with 4 grams of carob fiber twice daily for a total of 4 weeks. The remainder was given a placebo. It’s important to note that the carob fiber used in this experiment contained a high percentage (84%) of naturally occurring, plant based antioxidants known as polyphenols. Those receiving the carob supplement demonstrated a 17.8% drop in total cholesterol, a 22.5% decline in LDL (”bad”) cholesterol, a 16.3% reduction in triglycerides and a statistically relevant improvement in their LDL:HDL cholesterol ratio. The participants using the placebo did not exhibit any beneficial shifts in lipid levels. (7)

When comparing a natural food to a medication, you have to look beyond the specific numbers that researchers report. For instance, the antioxidants contained in carob fiber have recently been shown to ferment in the human colon and eventually make their way into the bloodstream. This offers hope that said polyphenols can exact systemic benefits besides just moderating cholesterol levels. In addition, some investigations suggest that carob extracts may be helpful in protecting against serious health threats such as colon cancer. This is what I call a “side benefit”. (8,9,10)

Remaining hopeful allows you to find possible solutions to health care problems. If I adopted the belief that modern medicine would never be receptive to the use of natural remedies, then I wouldn’t have bothered to share this information with you today. Because of hope, I can now present this data to my own doctor and encourage others to do the same. By doing so, we’re not only fighting the good fight for ourselves and our loved ones, but also supporting the fine men and women who are devoting their professional lives to conducting this valuable research. Their battle against the establishment is even greater than the struggles we find in plotting our own health care plans. These researchers are in the thick of things and need all the positive reinforcement they can get.

Be well!

JP

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16 Comments & Updates to “Saturated Fat, Multivitamins and Carob”

  1. anne h Says:

    I hope you don’t get tired of me saying this…
    Another great post, JP!

  2. JP Says:

    Are you kidding me? It brightens my day!

    Thank you, Anne! I appreciate your encouragement and support! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Sai Says:

    Good Day JP!

    Awesome Post! Let me share with you this experience, My wife has slightly high cholestrol and MD prompty advised Lipitor. After taking it for 4 weeks she started to get flashes in her left eye. We went to 4 retina specialists and also to neuro-opthalmologist and no one could figure out what was going on, the lights were getting real flashier. I asked her to STOP the Lipitor and within 2 weeks the lights went away. It has been more than 4 months now and everything is fine. Please tell me about that Carob Fiber (any Brand in particular), Also what is you thought on this product? http://www.xtend-life.com/product/Cholest-Natural.aspx. Please advise!

    Best Regards

    Sai.

  4. JP Says:

    Hello, Sai! :)

    Thank you for sharing your wife’s frightening experience with Lipitor! I recently convinced my father to try a few natural remedies rather than use a similar medication.

    If your wife’s cholesterol is only slightly elevated, I would attempt to address it via diet first. If you feel comfortable doing so, please let me her lipid levels – here or by e-mail. If she can accomplish her goal by making a simple shift in diet … all the better.

    This seems like a good carob product:

    http://livesuperfoods.com/LSF034.html

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Sai Says:

    Jp:

    Thanks! What is your email?

    Best Regards

    Sai.

  6. JP Says:

    It’s my pleasure, Sai. :)

    You can reach me at jp@healthyfellow.com

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Lots of contradictory info on this subject. I’m trying to stick to a balanced but low calorie diet. http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=High-fat+diets+raise+stroke+risk+in+women%3AStudy&NewsID=229807

  8. JP Says:

    That’s true, Iggy.

    I personally think the danger some studies find has to do with food and/or environmental combinations:

    For instance, the article states that, “Eating a lot of fat, especially the kind that’s in cookies and pastries, can significantly raise the risk of stroke for women over 50, a large new study finds”.

    We also know that Mediterranean style diets, which can be relatively high in fat, do not have this effect. In fact, quite the opposite.

    My hunch is that junk food and/or lots of carbs + unhealthy fats = disaster.

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    Until recently, manufacturers used transfats in cookies & pastries. Now, presumably, they’re switching to coconut & palm oil which are healthier.

  10. JP Says:

    Iggy,

    Some manufacturers are doing that to be sure. Unfortunately, many of their products are still quite toxic for other reasons – artificial colors, flavors, preservativess and sweeteners.

    A quick note about most commercially applied coconut and palm oils – they tend to be highly refined in order to extract the taste and color typically found in untouched oils. This is very similar to the difference between virgin olive oil and light olive oil.

    Be well!

    JP

  11. Pilot Says:

    I have never really been into taking vitamins, but as I started getting older, I wanted to take care of my healthy and keep myself going. Since I am a super healthy guy, I have to make sure I get all of my supplements, and sometimes that can be hard just from food. I found dr max powers multvitamins on sale and they sound easy and safe to use. I have had a bad experience with some vitamin brands because they will upset my stomach, be a bad form to take or not show results.

    I take one in the morning with breakfast and it has really seemed to help me stay healthy and have more energy. I like that they are all natural and not made with gelatin, and they contain both calcium and iron which I need. A bottle is reasonably priced and is a balanced formula that keeps me going and healthy.

  12. JP Says:

    Pilot,

    I’m not sure if you’re female or male. Please note that most older men (and some older women) do not require supplemental iron. This is the reason why multivitamin/mineral formulas for men and seniors omit this nutrient.

    Be well!

    JP

  13. Iggy Dalrymple Says:

    My mom’s CPA came by to deliver her tax return. He’s a small thin man about age 70. He had a long vertical scar on his throat where he had his carotid artery was cut open and cleaned out. He said his total cholesterol was 100.

    Every time my mother takes statin drugs she has a bad reaction. 1st I took her off Lipitor, then they put her on Zocor. Not as bad but bad enough to stop. My soon to be 90 year old mother’s TC is 275.

    I found a study that revealed that in the elderly a 150 TC has 5.2 times the deaths as a 275 TC.

  14. JP Says:

    Update:

    http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2015/03/30/STROKEAHA.114.008270.abstract

    Stroke. 2015 Mar 31.

    Multivitamin Use and Risk of Stroke Mortality: The Japan Collaborative Cohort Study.

    BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: An effect of multivitamin supplement on stroke risk is uncertain. We aimed to examine the association between multivitamin use and risk of death from stroke and its subtypes.

    METHODS: A total of 72 180 Japanese men and women free from cardiovascular diseases and cancers at baseline in 1988 to 1990 were followed up until December 31, 2009. Lifestyles including multivitamin use were collected using self-administered questionnaires. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) of total stroke and its subtypes in relation to multivitamin use.

    RESULTS: During a median follow-up of 19.1 years, we identified 2087 deaths from stroke, including 1148 ischemic strokes and 877 hemorrhagic strokes. After adjustment for potential confounders, multivitamin use was associated with lower but borderline significant risk of death from total stroke (HR, 0.87; 95% confidence interval, 0.76-1.01), primarily ischemic stroke (HR, 0.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.63-1.01), but not hemorrhagic stroke (HR, 0.96; 95% confidence interval, 0.78-1.18). In a subgroup analysis, there was a significant association between multivitamin use and lower risk of mortality from total stroke among people with fruit and vegetable intake <3 times/d (HR, 0.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.65-0.98). That association seemed to be more evident among regular users than casual users. Similar results were found for ischemic stroke.

    CONCLUSIONS: Multivitamin use, particularly frequent use, was associated with reduced risk of total and ischemic stroke mortality among Japanese people with lower intake of fruits and vegetables.

    Be well!

    JP

  15. JP Says:

    Update 05/27/15:

    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/7/5/3796/htm

    Nutrients. 2015 May 19;7(5):3796-812.

    Improved blood biomarkers but no cognitive effects from 16 weeks of multivitamin supplementation in healthy older adults.

    Supplementation with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients may be beneficial for cognition, especially in older adults. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of multivitamin supplementation in older adults on cognitive function and associated blood biomarkers. In a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial, healthy women (n = 68) and men (n = 48) aged 55-65 years were supplemented daily for 16 weeks with women’s and men’s formula multivitamin supplements. Assessments at baseline and post-supplementation included computerised cognitive tasks and blood biomarkers relevant to cognitive aging. No cognitive improvements were observed after supplementation with either formula; however, several significant improvements were observed in blood biomarkers including increased levels of vitamins B6 and B12 in women and men; reduced C-reactive protein in women; reduced homocysteine and marginally reduced oxidative stress in men; as well as improvements to the lipid profile in men. In healthy older people, multivitamin supplementation improved a number of blood biomarkers that are relevant to cognition, but these biomarker changes were not accompanied by improved cognitive function.

    Be well!

    JP

  16. JP Says:

    Updated 12/18/16:

    https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2016/3092828/

    Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:3092828.

    The Effects of Four-Week Multivitamin Supplementation on Mood in Healthy Older Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

    Objective. Nutritional deficiencies have been associated with cognitive decline and mood disturbances. Vitamin intake can influence mood and randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that multivitamin supplements are capable of reducing mild symptoms of mood dysfunction. However, few studies have focussed on healthy older women. Methods. This study investigated the effects of four weeks’ multivitamin supplementation on mood in 76 healthy women aged 50-75 years. Mood was assessed before and after intervention in the laboratory using measures of current mood and retrospective experiences of mood over the past week or longer. Mobile phones were used to assess changes in real-time mood ratings, twice weekly in the home. Results. There were no multivitamin-related benefits identified for measures of current mood or reflections of recent mood when measured in the laboratory. In-home assessments, where mood was rated several hours after dose, revealed multivitamin supplementation improved ratings of stress, with a trend to reduce mental fatigue. Conclusions. Over four weeks, subtle changes to stress produced by multivitamin supplementation in healthy older women may not be detected when only pre- and posttreatment mood is captured. In-home mobile phone-based assessments may be more sensitive to the effects of nutritional interventions compared to traditional in-laboratory assessments.

    Be well!

    JP

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