Do You Trust The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines?

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Eating guidelines,,  set forth by the government and touted as ” the nation’s trusted resource for evidence-based nutrition recommendations serving to provide the general public, as well as policy makers and health professionals with the information they need to help the public make informed choices about diets at home, school, work and in their communities,”  are released by the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The fact that the USDA is involved in any health promoting efforts such as helping to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease is concerning because there is conflict of interest with its role in the agricultural industry.

According to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell, “Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives.” But empowering Americans to be informed decision makers in regards to food choices is NOT an act of the dietary guidelines.  The British Medical Journal published an article written by Nina Tiecholz,, that questions the current dietary guidelines citing its failure to utilize unbiased and relevant scientific literature that might contradict the last 35 years of nutritional advice. Cherry picking data misleads the public and we are catching on. Concerns over this have been voiced by over 29 000 submitted public comments.

In true political fashion, The US Department of Agriculture set up the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) to help keep current science literature available in its efforts to review research using a standardized fair process for identifying, selecting, and evaluating relevant studies. Yet in its own 2015 report, the committee admits that it did not use the literature from the NEL or any defined criteria for more than 70% of the subject matter they reviewed.

Instead, nutrition guidelines for professionals and the public were entrusted to “expert” professional associations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) funded by food and drug companies.  “The ACC reports receiving 38% of its revenue from industry in 2012, and the AHA reported 20% of revenue from industry in 2014”, like vegetable oil manufacturers.

It seems political funding may be driving the advice given within the Dietary Guidelines.  The “expert advice” provided by the AHA  promotes the use of unsaturated vegetable (corn and soy) oil to promote cardiovascular health over saturated fat. The current  literature does not support this position.

In fact, research shows a cause for concern when over consumption of vegetable oil changes the omega 3:omega 6 (ratio) and it becomes unbalanced. Higher intake of omega 6 unsaturated fat has a negative effect on heart disease risk, The author suggests, “using caution when recommending omega 6 fats like vegetable oil to the general population without considering, at the individual level, the intake of total energy and fats.”

In addition, omega 6 unsaturated fats are also linked to depression,,_omega_6_omega_3_Fatty_Acids,.1.aspx, cancer, and other health risks,

It may also not be well known that recent long term (one as long as 14 years) studies on saturated fat have shown no relationship between eating it and the incidence of heart disease or stroke,  Dr. William Briffa explains it nicely,

While the debate seems to focus on sugar and saturated fat, I would say the entire system and all nutrient recommendations needs a facelift. We need to fairly assess carbohydrates, fats, especially saturated fat;  and let’s not forget protein too.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for protein is 0.8 grams/kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound, enough to prevent a nutritional deficiency but certainly not enough across the board for an individual’s optimal health or to support recommendations for increasing activity levels.

Weight loss and sports nutrition studies on men and women show a benefit to increasing protein recommendations, up to 1.5-2 grams,, and doubling current recommendations from 15% to 30% for adults who are interested in losing weight,, It does not seem that any of this research was considered for the 2015 dietary guidelines.

If we are concerned with health and have the resources to test genetic health factors, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micronutrients, we can work towards giving the public much more than political fluff. We have the tools to make a difference and provide personalized care for each of you. Ultimately trusting general dietary guidelines may not be in your best interest. Be smart, stay active in all facets of your life and know that general politically driven advice given to the masses is likely not right for the individual (YOU)!

Trust yourself.


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High Carbohydrate Diet linked to Acne and Psoriasis

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You may understand the mechanism behind eating lower carbohydrates weight loss, diabetes and heart disease. Carbohydrates directly raises blood sugar and triggers a hormonal cascade that influences appetite, mood, fat storage and many health risk factors.  Current research implications suggests that skin conditions, like acne and psoriasis, are linked to metabolic health conditions and also call for a low carbohydrate meal plan for treatment.

It is interesting that recent published studies correlate skin conditions with diet and genetics. For example, Psoriasis is linked to diseases of carbohydrate metabolism such as diabetes and cardiometabolic conditions via immuno-inflammatory pathways, diet and other environmental factors, i.e. exercise, tobacco exposure… in this paper:

Gelfland JM. Psoriasis, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, and Obesity: Weighing the Evidence. JAMA Dermatology,  2016.

It is a cross-sectional, population-based study of about 34,000 Danish twins aged 20 to 71 years of age completed a questionnaire relating to psoriasis, diagnoses of type 2 diabetes and BMI.

The correlation was so strong, the author proposed, ” The weight of evidence linking psoriasis to cardiometabolic disease continues to increase, tipping the scale toward changing clinical practice in dermatology. Dermatologists’ may well need to screen for these conditions or offer some lifestyle counseling.”

A commentary by Bodo C. Melnik concurs. His paper entitled, ” Diet in Acne: Further Evidence for the Role of Nutrient Signaling in Acne Pathogenesis” is published in Acta Dermato Venereologica,,  discusses two randomized controlled acne studies.

Melnik states,  “Acne is absent in populations consuming paleolithic diets that are void of refined sugars, grains, milk and dairy products.”  He discusses a randomized controlled study, by Smith et al., showing that high glycemic diets increase the intensity of acne and sebum production; and also explains the evidence of another acne study showing a low glycemic load diet reduced the size of sebaceous glands, decreased inflammation, and diminished the expression of pro-inflammatory interleukin-8 and sterol regulatory element binding protein-1 (SREBP-1), the key transcription factor of lipid biosynthesis,

There is a direct connection with diet and acne through nutrient signaling. Acne outbreak occurs with high glycemic load and increased insulin ( IGF-1) and leucine (found in dairy products) levels.

Melnik  maintains Gelfand’s position and says, “Acne should be considered a disease of civilization, like obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer induced by Western diet. Early dietary counseling of teenage acne patients is thus a great opportunity for dermatology, which will not only help to improve acne but may reduce the long-term adverse effects of the Western diet and on more serious (genetic mTORC1-driven) diseases of civilization.”

Despite government guidelines and many expert opinions, mounting evidence continues to build towards eating foods that reduce inflammation (coconut and omega 3 foods) and maintain a normal glycemic load to circumvent insulin spikes (fats, protein, nuts/seeds, low glycemic non starchy salad vegetables). Eating balanced meals that are healthy and inline with lowering carbohydrates is the best way to treat and prevent skin conditions and many illnesses that plague us.


Posted by on May 17, 2016 in acne, psoriasis, wellness


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Pill Poppers Beware of Getting Robbed (Part 2)

Valerie's Voice: For the Health of It


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The continuation of my list of medications from last week that may rob you of your health is lengthy. You may be surprised at this list and may not realize that you are a pill popper because for some of these on the list you do not need a prescription and it is just over the counter medicine.

Get in the habit of knowing about what you ingest (food, beverage, pill ) or inhale, read the packaging and educate yourself on what you put into the body. This is important with concerns of nutrient depletion but also with other health issues. For example, taking a laxative may be very helpful in a time of need but it is also addicting. If you take laxatives for a long enough time period, your bowels will not work without them. This is true of nasal spray as…

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Posted by on May 9, 2016 in Uncategorized


Pill Poppers Beware of Getting Robbed

Valerie's Voice: For the Health of It

Pill poppers beware because you are getting robbed. I’m not just talking cash money but more importantly of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and other nutrients required in small amounts by the body) that are vital to  your health. You may think you are remedying a problem by popping a pill when in fact you may be creating additional health issues to deal with.

The drugs you use to better your health have side effects that you may or may not realize also have negative consequences on your health. Almost fifty percent of the US population uses one prescription medicine and over 20% of us use 3 or more prescriptions.

So this is why I decided against just mentioning statins (as promised 2 weeks ago), instead I will list a broader range of over the counter (OTC) and prescription drugs that may negatively impact how you feel.

For example, medications that reduce risks…

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Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Uncategorized


7 Safer More Effective Statin Alternatives

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This is the third and final blog in this series written to help you gain a better understanding of how prescription medications are understood and accepted by your doctor,, how they work to cause “uncommon” side effects,, and today, how you can achieve target health goals without statins.

You do not need to be a doctor to recognize symptoms that occur after starting a medicine. Trust yourself, do not “live with” symptoms and work towards finding a solution. We all (doctors, patients, family…) need to become better “listeners” to our bodies and more active as health problem solvers.

Statins are just an example (this is true for any prescription drug or over the counter medication) I am using because of their “miracle” drug status.

Natural, non-pharmaceutical statin options are listed below but just because they are natural, does not mean they do not have the potential to be dangerous. They may have interactions with other medications, foods etc… or you may have an individual reaction to any of these. Stick with brands that have the GMP (good manufacturing practice) stamp. So please, I cannot emphasize the importance of working with your doctor if you choose to try any of these.

You do not have to take all of these, one or two should do. You and your physician may need to experiment with statin alternatives based on your individual situation:

  1. Niacin: Vitamin B3 directly and noncompetitively inhibits, a key enzyme (hepatocyte diacylglycerol acyltransferase-2) for TG synthesis. The liver increases the breakdown of apo B and decreases VLDL and LDL particles, While its efficacy is hard to dispute, use caution when starting this supplement. Niacin is known for causing the “niacin flush”, a blush color and warm itchy feeling on the cheeks lasting about 20 minutes. To reduce your risk of this side effect, start the dose based on your body weight and sensitivity 150-250 mg increasing gradually to total desired dose as per your doctor. “To raise HDL and correct small LDL, a dose of 750-1000 mg a day usually provides full benefit. Increasing this dose to 1500 mg a day may provide slightly greater benefit. To reduce LDL or Lp(a), higher doses (from 1000 mg up to 4000-5000 mg per day) are often used, with higher doses providing greater effects. However, doses this high should be taken only with a physician’s supervision. Keep in mind that it may take three months or longer to realize the full lipid-optimizing benefits of niacin.”

Life Extensions discusses specific tips on how to use niacin avoiding the “flush”, including just drinking water, Slow release niacin can be toxic to the liver. Try immediate or extended release niacin.

  1. Red rice yeast extract (RRY): Used in Eastern medicine for over 1,000 years, RRY works similarly to a statin via monacolin K and its inhibiting enzyme action of HMG CoA reductase lowering cholesterol production by the liver. Indirectly RRY increases LDL receptors, helps to remove circulating cholesterol from the blood and increases bile acid secretion as well. 1,200-2,400 milligrams helps to maintain normal levels of TC, LDL-C, TG and possibly an increase in HDL-C.  RRY has been found to lower LDL 18-24%.

RRY can be used preventively as an anti-inflammatory and preventive remedy for         those who have a history of heart disease or heart attack. If you are 50-75 years old, the recommended dose is 1000 mg twice daily.

  1. Guggulipid: is the gum resin of the mukul myrrh tree used in Ayurvedic medicine for 3,000 years. Results from one scientific study show its efficacy for lowering LDL and total cholesterol while raising HDL in 60% of participants afrter 12 weeks in volunteers using 500 mg three times a day for 2 months.


4. Omega-3 fatty acids: Among many other positive roles in health, benefits for the heart are top of the list.  Omega-3’s help reduce artery plaque, thin the blood to help prevent strokes, reduces triglyceride production in the liver, and have anti-inflammatory properties. Use 1,000-4,000mg.

  1. Pantethine is Vitamin B5: It has been shown to ” lower cardiovascular risk markers in low to moderate cardiovascular disease risk participants eligible for statins according to NCEP guidelines”. In this study, subjects took pantethine (600 mg/day from weeks 1 to 8 and 900 mg/day from weeks 9 to16) or a placebo. Compared with placebo, the participants on pantethine showed a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL at 16 weeks. An 11% decrease in LDL from baseline was seen in participants on pantethine, at weeks 4, 8, 12, and 16, while participants on placebo showed a 3% increase at week 16,


6. Artichoke leaf extract (ALE): Standardized at 15% or 1800-1900 mg per day of Valverde Artischocke (Novartis Consumer Health) in 2 to 3 divided doses,, is made from basal leaves of the artichoke plant. It gained popularity for medicinal use in 1850 when a French physician successfully used the extract to treat jaundice. ALE has been found to raise levels of the protective apoA (carrier molecule that supports the increases in HDL cholesterol). Results of a pilot study showed a “significant 19% increase in apoA after 30 days of supplementation; in addition, the ratio of apoA to apoB rose by 19%. Its chlorogenic acid content or luteolin seem to also contribute to cholesterol control. Significant improvements were seen in the total cholesterol/HDL ratio and in the LDL/HDL ratio in supplemented patients, without adverse side effects.

“In a follow-up study, the same researchers found that when patients with mild cholesterol elevations took a daily 200 mg dose of artichoke leaf extract, their total cholesterol fell by nearly 10% after only 30 days.”

7. Curcumin (Curcuma longa): has been used for 4,000 years . In research published in theIndian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology,, healthy volunteers consumed 500 mg of curcumin per day for 7 days. Blood levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol dropped by 33%, total cholesterol dropped 11.63% , and HDL (“good” cholesterol) increased by 29%. Curcumin may best be absorbed when consumed with fat or “using an extract standardized to a high concentration”.

Statins are not “a miracle cure”, these alternatives are just as effective, if not more effective, and much safer heart healthy options.


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Drug Recommendations: Why Statins (And Other Drugs) Do and Don’t Work

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As part of, “Drug Recommendations: What’s Wrong With This Picture?” I am discussing why statins work and why they can cause more harm (side effects that most healthcare professionals do not recognize) then good.

Do not lose sight of the big picture. This scenario is not just true of statins. I am using statins as an example due to their popularity.  Most long term use of pharmaceutical drugs (prescribed or over the counter medications) can have multiple ‘UN common” heath risks that should not be shrugged off lightly by any healthcare professional; especially those who are doing the recommending. Please work with your doctor to find the right treatment(s) for you.

It is important, DO NOT disregard any symptom that occurs after starting any medicine, here’s why.

Statins work by INHIBITING the liver’s ability of an enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase a rate-controlling enzyme that produces cholesterol ) to produce cholesterol. The new injectable drugs on the market (Praluent or Repatha) will work to inhibit PCSK9. PCSK9 is another enzyme involved in different metabolic pathways that may cause a different set of side effects than statins; so be on the lookout. Both, BLOCK the liver’s normal function of making cholesterol.  Simple enough. Cholesterol is high, pop a pill that prevents the production of cholesterol and lower it.

Sounds simple and logical. But is it smart? Is it smart to try to stop a natural body process or to support it by reinforcing biological weaknesses that need help to improve function?

Cholesterol has body benefits. Cholesterol helps hormone balance, nerve signals, cells and cell membranes ward off oxidation and maintain electrolyte balance and it is involved in many other important activities  that contribute to good health.

When you take a statin that inhibits cholesterol there is a “domino effect” that has consequences on not just cholesterol and the liver but every cholesterol related task (enzyme reactions, sex hormones) and organs including your brain, body cells and muscles that work in conjunction with cholesterol.

This domino effect is the reason why so many people experience what are known as “uncommon” statin drug complaints such as muscle weakness and pain, memory loss, erectile dysfunction and much more. The biologic and medical rationale are detailed in the essay “How Statins Really Work Explains Why They Don’t Really Work,” written by Stephanie Seneff from Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

While statins can and do lower cholesterol, they do so by diverting from its normal working pathway in the liver to the muscles. The muscles are now burdened with doing the liver’s job.

Interestingly statins have been linked to diabetes and the reason maybe because of how it effects the liver, muscles and the resulting handling of fructose, hmmmm.

The heart is unscathed using lactate as a fuel and LDL is lowered.  We THINK we attained our goal of lowered heart disease risk but blood fructose levels are higher which is a risk factor for nerves, diabetes cardiovascular disease… Therefore exchanging one “focus” risk (LDL) for another less known risk (fructose).

More Statin Troubles:

  • LDL cholesterol acts as a bubble that delivers not only cholesterol but fat soluble antioxidants, vitamins (i.e. vitamin D affecting sex hormones including testosterone potentially contributing to erectile dysfunction) and minerals that are not as available to nourish cells.
  • HMG coenzyme A reductase is important for heart health and adequate amounts of cellular CoQ10 (an enzyme responsible for cell growth and maintenance, it functions as an antioxidant too). Statins work to inactivate HMG depleting CoQ10 leading to increased oxidation, muscle pain and memory loss,; see references 36-40.
  • Cells work to maintain fluid balance. Statins can cause changes in the cells sodium-potassium (Na+-K+) pump activity because potassium is more prone to leak from the cell.
  • Glial cells in the nervous system are also negatively affected by statins.

These are just a few possible reasons for statin associated symptoms. With or without a research study that are or are not recognized by a doctor, these are real symptoms that do exist. You are not crazy, I list some statin symptoms in another blog,, but you can find extensive statin side effect lists everywhere.

Are you interested in boosting liver function and supporting natural body processes?  Next week I’ll discuss statin alternatives that you can discuss with your doctor but there are natural alternatives to taking most pharmaceutical drugs.



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Drug Recommendations: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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I have written a couple of posts on statins to provide a complete  picture of the costs and benefits of using them. Statins remain very dangerous treatment alternative when compared with natural diet options like diet, exercise and supplements.  Yet the medical community continues to endorse statins despite the warnings.

Today’s blog uses statins as an  example of how health experts have gone wrong when providing prudent messages to the public  about taking medication. This will hopefully open your eyes as to how easy it is to fall victim to the dogma. Experts who speak to the public should be more responsible.

  • When a physician is on television and says ” we know NOW that our patients are not hypochondriacs, because we have results from our study to prove statins cause muscle pain, ” it is very concerning.

One, it gives a research study too much power in terms of how a patient is viewed, in this case a  “hypochondriac”.  Patients should not have to wait for a research study to be done to “prove” that what symptoms they feel are real. If you feel differently after adding a medicine into your daily routine, don’t be convinced, even if it is by your doctor, otherwise. Research is not the holy grail, you are.

Two, for those of you taking prescription medicine has your physician ever explained UNcommon drug side effects that might affect you? Have you tried discussing concerns about a prescription with a doctor and they are dismissed or are handed another pill to lessen  stress (because he thinks you are a hypochondriac)? Do you go with the flow and follow doctor’s orders? Do you use your gut instinct and try to find someone who can help figure out why you have these symptoms? Many people blindly follow doctors orders, they do not question or get a second opinion  then pay the consequences.

  • When recommendations by the government are supported with, ” Patients who aren’t responding to statins alone would continue taking themin addition to Repatha and maintaining a healthy, cholesterol-friendly diet.” – John Jenkins, director of the FDA Office of New Drugs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (, ” it makes me question the possibility of underlying motives.

Why would a doctor recommend you take a statin or any medication that does not work on its own and that has been linked to these negative health effects,              Pharmaceutical companies and politicians make a lot of money with your drug purchases.  Statins have become a $29 billion dollar business a year. Repatha is estimated to cost  14,00 a year/person and it will exceed statin profits by billions easily.

Accepting a doctor who dismisses your complaints, following advice to take medication that causes your body to exhibit negative changes or does not change the targeted blood work is the wrong picture.

The right picture is you, your health and being an advocate for yourself. Use common sense, have educated conversations with your doctor and make decisions together.  Medicine is sometimes necessary but not if it causes more harm than good. Health conditions caused by lifestyle should be cured by lifestyle, not drugs.

Next week I’ll discuss statin alternatives that may work for you.



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