Nutrition and Lifestyle

The PR sounds like, finally, we have a cure-all. No, it's not homeopathy or chiropractic manipulation, but a fermented tea product — kombucha. Kombucha was originally a Chinese product with about 2,000 years of history. The Chinese called it the "elixir of life." Unfortunately, they didn't collect any data on its benefits. However, that hasn't stopped enthusiasts from promoting it for, well, just about anything. Just a few of the claims include:

  • detoxifies the liver and helps prevent cancer
  • prevents and treats "all forms of arthritis"
  • aids digestion and gut health, which in turn helps with fibromyalgia and depression [?]
  • strengthens the immune system since it is loaded with antioxidants

So what is this miraculous elixir? It's ...

Want to decrease your risk of death? Try eating hot red chiles — or so you might think based on a recent paper in the journal PLOS One. Drs. Mustafa Chopan and Benjamin Littenberg from the University of Vermont School of Medicine analyzed data from the NHANES III survey, 1988-1994. They were particularly interested in possible associations between the use of spices and health, so they examined the data for consumption of red hot chili peppers and ascertained if there were any link between that consumption and risk of mortality from any cause.

Data on the frequency of hot red chili pepper consumption was derived for over 16,000 adults who took part in the NHANES surveys.  Participants were followed for a median of nearly 19 years, and the primary independent variable was...

It's a curious fact of life that the older we get, the more we become like babies. Indeed, many of us can look forward to a future in diapers without any hair or teeth. 

Being toothless, known more formally as "complete edentulism," is a lot more common than you may think. Dentures and permanent false teeth cover up the fact that many people are walking around with phony chompers. Just how many?

Recently, the CDC released data from a survey conducted from 2011-2014. They examined people aged 65 and over, and they categorized the data by age and race. 

The survey showed that nearly 15% of Americans aged 65-74 had lost all their natural teeth, while...

Probably the most widely used dietary supplements in the US are multivitamin/mineral (MVM) ones. According to the 2007-2010 NHANES survey, 49 percent of adults said they used some supplement, and MVMs were most frequently reported by about 32 percent of adults. Led by Dr. Karen W. Andrews, scientists from the USDA, NIH, and Purdue University collaborated in an investigation of the content of such products — specifically on the accuracy of label claims and chemical analyses of the labeled pills. The rationale for the study was to provide accurate information when assessing the contribution of such supplements to Americans' diets. In many cases, the authors state, manufacturers provide more than the labeled amounts of some nutrients to ensure that the appropriate amount will still be...

Young adulthood is supposed to be an exciting time. Getting a job, buying a home, and starting a family are on the agendas of many people in this age group. Unfortunately, this facet of the American dream has been snatched away prematurely from an increasing number of young people.

A new and disturbing report in The Lancet, based on data collected from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, shows an increase in the death rates from 1999 to 2014 for young Americans, driven substantially by a shocking increase in the mortality of white women aged 25 to 35.

The graph (on left) depicts the average annual change in death rate by age and sex for men (...

If you've been reading ACSH's writings for any time at all, you know that we're not on the "natural is better or safer" bandwagon. We've told you about many naturally-occurring potential health threats, such as arsenic in groundwater and solanine in potatoes. But now, a somewhat bizarre chain of events has uncovered a new, all natural health threat — lychee nuts.

Lychees, which are fruits, not nuts, originally came from China, but now are also grown in Vietnam, Bangladesh and India. They grow in clusters on trees as in the photo below.

The white, translucent lychee fruit is covered by a thin, bumpy skin that turns red when ripe. It contains a reasonable...

Here we are in the middle of winter in the northern part of the country, and obviously it's not a great time to be finding locally-grown (or even California-grown) tasty tomatoes. Anyone who loves the flavor of red ripe tomatoes knows well that you're not going to find them in your local supermarket this time of year (Sure, you can get tomatoes shipped from the southern hemisphere, or those grown in greenhouses, but somehow the taste just isn't the same as those grown in New Jersey in July or August (or even in your backyard). And let's be honest, the chances that you'll get a great-tasting tomato at your local supermarket is pretty low at any time of year! That's at least partly because tomato breeders have concentrated on "shippability", breeding fruit that can withstand the rigors...

Your dog loves rawhides - that's a fact. But someone may have told you to stay away from them. Why? Take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Debunked about your pet's favorite chew bone. 

You might think that the obesity epidemic has fueled a horde of weight-loss diets, but really the concept of a quick, relatively painless food prescription has been around well before the uptick in adiposity became a public health focus (think the Atkins diet from back in the '70s). Of course, some weight loss diets are supported by scientific research, but then many are not. And we must admit that in no other area of public health has pure creativity played such a seminal role.

So what characterizes a fad diet? I like Wikipedia's succinct definition: "A fad diet... is a diet that makes promises of weight loss or other health advantages such as longer life without backing by solid science, and in many cases [is] characterized...

Being the serious healthcare professional that I am, I view no task as too large or rigorous when it comes to ensuring the public’s safety. That's why I readily accepted the grueling assignment of investigating the “‘8 Wellness Trends for 2017- and Beyond’ as identified by the Global Wellness Summit.”  

If we weren’t a non-profit, I would sacrifice for the greater public good and tackle this one on the front lines by going to fabulous saunas. After all, assessing and reviewing primary sources is always my mantra when rendering comprehensive and thorough “expert” opinions. But, alas, voluntarily subjecting myself to luxurious spa services around the world—though clearly vital— is apparently not “cost effective” or...