Subscribe to Dr. Mirkin's free FITNESS & HEALTH NEWSLETTER      

Added Sugars: Labels Can Deceive

Sugar added to food affects you differently than sugars in whole fruits and vegetables. Clinical trials in humans and population studies show that sugar added to foods increases risk for diabetes and heart attacks, while sugar in whole fruits does not.

Weight Gain with Sugar Plus Meat

If you take a sugared drink while eating meat, the animal protein reduces your ability to burn off the calories from sugar by more than a third. In this elegant new study, 27 healthy-weight adults spent two full days in a sealed "metabolic room" that measured how many calories their bodies burned each minute by tracking their intake of oxygen and outflow of carbon dioxide and measuring calories lost in their urine.

Artificial Sweeteners

Several papers have raised concerns about the long-term health effects of artificial sweeteners. In one study, researchers showed that a sweeter-tasting, lower-calorie drink caused people to eat more food, to have higher blood sugar levels and to be more likely to gain weight and become diabetic than a less-sweet, higher-calorie drink.

High Doses of Water-Soluble Vitamins May Be Harmful

It is well-known that taking large doses of the fat-soluble vitamins -- A, D, E and K -- can harm you. You may also be harmed by large doses of the water-soluble B vitamins or vitamin C.

Why Nuts Won’t Make You Fat

Nuts are a rich source of fat, but many studies have shown that the fat in nuts is absorbed very poorly. This month a study explains why nuts are not fattening.

Garcinia Cambogia: Questionable Safety of Weight Loss Supplements

The widely-advertised supplement Garcinia cambogia has not been shown to help people lose weight and keep it off, and may not even be safe. The main ingredient is extracted from the rusty-red fruit of a small tree that grows in Asia.

How Soluble Fiber Promotes Good Gut Bacteria

New research from the University of California-Davis shows how soluble fiber promotes the growth of healthful bacteria in your colon and discourages the growth of harmful bacteria, to improve your immunity and reduce your chances of suffering heart attacks, infections and some cancers.

Acrylamide and Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)

Acrylamide belongs to a class of chemicals that form advanced glycation end products, also known by their first letters as AGEs. They are a group of molecules that are formed when sugar attaches on protein when starchy foods such as potatoes and grains are cooked in the absence of water at very high temperatures.

Desire for Junk Food is in Your Genes

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors spent all their waking hours scrounging for food and trying to keep from starving to death. They developed a taste for the most calorie-dense foods that satisfied best, such as honey, meats and starchy roots.

Vegan Diet Helps Obese People Lose Weight and Reduce Risk for Type II Diabetes

A vegan diet with no added fats caused 117 obese people, average age 54, to lose 13 pounds over 16 weeks (JAMA Netw Open, Nov 30, 2020;3(11):e2025454). They decreased their risk of becoming diabetic by increasing the rate that they burned calories by more than 14 percent, and reducing insulin resistance.

Chewing Raises Blood Sugar Response to Food

Chewing rice 30 times before swallowing it raised blood sugar much higher than chewing rice 15 times.

Weight Loss

All of the popular diet books, regardless of the "scientific" explanations they give, recommend menus that give you 1500-1800 calories or less per day, and for most people this means you will be taking in fewer calories. You can lose weight on any low-calorie diet, but ask yourself: Is this a way of eating I can follow for the rest of my life?

Good Fats in Nuts

Nuts are a rich source of fat, but the fat in nuts is absorbed very poorly (Am J Clin Nutr, Jan, 2015;101(1):25-33). For example, the fat in almonds is located inside the cells of the almond kernel. Even after prolonged chewing, most of the almond cells remained intact and the fat is still inside the cells. Humans lack the enzymes to break down these cell walls. You have to liberate fat from inside cells to absorb it into your body.

Avoid Diets that Severely Restrict Carbohydrates or Fats

There are healthful and harmful fats and healthful and harmful carbohydrates. It makes no sense to try to restrict either most fats or most carbohydrates. You need soluble fiber and resistant starch carbohydrates to help prevent heart attacks and prolong your life, and you also need monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats to help prevent heart attacks, certain cancers and premature death.

Restricting Calories for Just Five Days a Month May Prolong Life

A new study from the University of Southern California shows that restricting calories just five days a month for three months: • helped people lose weight, • reduced a number of risk factors for cancer, diabetes and heart attacks, and • improved markers for living a longer life and tests for immune function (Cell Metabolism, published online June...

Plant-Based Diets Help to Prevent Dementia

A review of 14 studies with a total of 224,049 participants found that the MIND diet ("Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay") is associated with reduced dementia risk for middle-aged and older adults, and with reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Ultra-Processed Foods Associated with Increased Risk for Some Cancers

A UK-based study followed the amounts of ultra-processed foods consumed by 200,000 middle-aged adults for 10 years (EClinicalMedicine, Jan 31, 2023 31;56:101840). The authors found that eating ultra-processed foods was associated with a higher risk of developing cancer, particularly ovarian cancer, breast cancer and brain cancers.

Acid or Alkaline?

Advertisements for products such as coral calcium or alkaline water claim that they will neutralize acid in your bloodstream, but eating calcium or drinking alkaline water does not affect blood acidity. You should not believe that it matters whether foods are acidic or alkaline, because no foods change the acidity of anything in your...

Weight Loss Without “Dieting”

The rate of obesity in the U.S. is worse now than it has ever been: 43 percent are obese, 10 percent are morbidly obese, and childhood obesity rates have tripled from five percent in the early 1970s to more than 19 percent now. If you are trying to lose weight, or to avoid gaining weight, work on: picking the right foods, preparing your foods so you absorb fewer calories, and moving about before and after you eat.

Spirulina, Chlorella and Seaweed

You have probably seen ads telling you that spirulina, chlorella or blue-green algae are wonder foods that "may help increase energy, decrease fatigue, enhance brain function, oxygenate the blood, nourish the nervous system, improve memory and concentration, increase muscle mass, speed healing, protect against pollutants and radiation, purify the blood, relieve kidney stones, and improve over-all health." Should you believe these claims?

High Dose Vitamins Associated with Increased Risk for Lung Cancer

Vitamins B6 and B12 have been promoted by the supplement industry for many years, touting benefits such as increased energy and higher metabolism. A new study suggests that these high-dose vitamin supplements are associated with increased risk for lung cancer in men, particularly in smokers.

Emulsifiers in Processed Foods Associated with Increased Risk for Heart Attacks

The French NutriNet-Santé cohort study has strengthened the association between processed foods and heart attacks. Their results suggest a link between the dietary intake of emulsifiers and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dietary Recommendations Opposed by Industry

Corporate interests from the meat and sugar industries are actively disputing dietary recommendations that could help prolong the duration and enhance the quality of the lives of many North Americans.

Ketogenic Diets

Ketogenic diets are controversial popular diets that can temporarily help you to lose weight by restricting carbohydrates. A keto diet usually restricts carbohydrates that are absorbed only as sugars, and lets you eat lots of fat and moderate amounts of protein.

Why Sugar-Sweetened Drinks are Harmful

About 65 percent of North American adults drink sugar-sweetened beverages every day (NCHS Data Brief, No 270, 2017). Two recent studies show how sugared drinks are associated with liver damage and kidney stones. A study of nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women followed for an average of more than 20 years found that compared to women who had fewer than three sugar-sweetened drinks per month, those who drank one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day had an 85 percent increased risk for liver cancer and 68 percent increased risk for death from chronic liver disease.

Get Vitamins and Nutrients from Foods, Not Pills

Researchers at Tufts University analyzed data from 30,899 U.S. adults who had answered questionnaires on the foods that they ate and the supplements that they took, and were then followed for six years or more (Annals of Internal Medicine, May 7, 2019). A total of 3613 deaths occurred during the study period. The researchers...

Tobacco Company Strategies Used On Processed Foods

The greatest increase in "junk foods" (tasty processed foods with low nutritional value) in our food supply occurred when tobacco companies such as Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds owned the world’s largest food companies. They used some of the same chemicals and marketing techniques to sell food that they used to sell cigarettes.

Nitrates: One Reason to Eat Lots of Vegetables

Nitrates from the foods you eat can be converted in your body to nitric oxide, which widens blood vessels to increase blood flow throughout your body, to improve exercise tolerance and to help prevent heart disease and to lower high blood pressure

Cheese, Yogurt or Milk?

Much controversy still exists over whether dairy products are healthful or harmful. However, the recent literature shows that milk is a high-sugar drink, and accumulating evidence over the last few years shows that fermented dairy products such as cheese and plain yogurt, which humans have made for more than 8000 years, may be far more healthful than milk.

Do You Need Vitamin Pills?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend the routine use of vitamin or mineral pills to prevent chronic diseases (USPSTF Bulletin, May 4, 2021). Heart disease is the leading causes of death in the U.S. today, but taking vitamin pills has not been shown to prevent heart disease, and neither the American Heart Association nor the American College of Cardiology recommend them.