6/9/09

What to believe?

I love it when I receive emails from people who want to know about a supplement they found on the internet, or from a magazine or from the store. Mostly, people want my recommendation if it is worth taking, or most of all, if it is worth the money. Thank you for trusting my judgment.
It is amazing how many supplements are out there claiming to "treat, cure or prevent" certain conditions. However, because most products that we all take are not backed by the FDA, the product will probably say "helps increase bone strength" because it cannot say "prevents osteoporosis". If the FDA (Food and drug administration) approves a product, a qualified health claim on the bottle is based on emerging scientific evidence to make that claim. Not to worry that most products that you use say "this statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease". Go take a look and see how many supplements you take on a daily basis that are or are not supported by the FDA.

Sadly, it is up to the consumer to educate his/herself about the reason to use and the selection of quality products. More so, there are subtle differences in similar products and generally, there is an expensive product that claim to have something better than a cheaper version of a product but with almost identical ingredients. This then leads to misinterpretation and possibly, inappropriate use of the product.

Last night Karel found an article on Velo news that was really interesting.
Here's the link:
http://velonews.com/article/93024/the-explainer---getting-that-ol--epo-boost

The primary reason for the article was that there was an add on velonews.com promoting a product called "EPO Boost". As we all know, the last thing the cycling community needs is an add promoting cyclists to try a product claiming to boost EPO (erythropoietin). Whenever I see a product like this, I immediately look at the label of the product to see what is in the product to support the claims. Whether the product is claiming to boost red blood cells, human growth hormone, VO2 max or buffer lactic acid, the ingredients listed on the label will tell me exactly what I am taking in order to become a better athlete. Most products have herbs and natural stimulants which make you feel like you are getting stronger, leaner or faster.Unfortunately, only training will give you the competitive edge you are looking for. Not a $60 bottle of pills, which encourage you to take 10-15 a day. Although there are certain supplements out there which are essential to an athletes diet, because of extreme training (high volume or high intensity) and the need to supplement the diet with extra nutrients to support training, any product that claims to improve performance on that supplement alone, is probably too much of a good thing.
I wish there was an article like this for every product out there but hopefully this is a good start for the consumer (people like YOU) to start reading labels before taking a costly pill which has minimal effect in your body.

Onto a separate topic
I received about 10 emails this morning about baby carrots and chlorine on the carrots. Here is what the email said (below), which I read before reading the article on Snopes.com
http://www.snopes.com/food/tainted/carrots.asp
This is from the forwarded email I received:
"The article says that the small cocktail (baby) carrots you buy in small plastic bags are made from larger crooked or deformed carrots which are put through a
machine which cuts and shapes them into cocktail carrots. However, once the carrots are cut and shaped into cocktail carrots they are dipped in a solution of water and
chlorine in order to preserve them, the same chlorine in the pool. You will notice that once you keep these carrots in your refrigerator for a few days, a white covering will form on the carrots. This is the
chlorine which resurfaces. At what cost do we put our health at risk
to have esthetically pleasing vegetables?
Chlorine is a very well-known carcinogen, which causes Cancer.. I
thought this was worth passing on. Pass it on to as many people as
possible in hopes of informing them where these carrots come from and
how they are processed.I used to buy those baby carrots for vegetable dips. I know that I will never buy them again!!!!"

I wouldn't throw out your baby carrots just yet. First off, if this article was true, there would be an immediate news report on every television channel warning us not to buy carrots. Second off, Campy would be very upset because he loves carrots.

I just find it amazing that people will read into an article claim and be instantly convinced that the article is true. You only hear of things like this (with health food that we eat on a daily basis) every now and then and generally you are warned because of a food recall.

So, I wanted to create my own list of warnings...why don't people worry about these ingredients from foods that they eat on a daily basis...

Warning:
Don't drink Soda's!
Ex. Diet Dr. Pepper:
carbonated water, carmel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate, caffeine, phenylketonurics

Warning:
Don't eat colored cereals!
Ex. Lucky Charms
Whole grain oats, marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellows 5&6, Blue 1, Red 40, artificial flavor), sugar, oat flour, corn syrup, corn starch, salt, trisodium phosphate, color added, artifical flavor, vitamin E (mixed tocopherols).

Warning:
Don't eat soup!
Ex. Progresso Chicken and wild rice
Chicken broth, carrots, cooked white meat chicken, partically cooked wild rice (wild rice, water), partially cooked rice (Rice, water), tomatoes, celery, modified corn starch, contains less than 1% of water, salt, carrot puree, monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed corn protein, chicken fat, onion powder, autolyzed yeast extract, ascorbic acid, dried parsley, soy protein isolate, sodium phosphates, garlic powder, citric acid, ascorbyl palmitate, tocopherol, calcium chloride, natural flavor, sugar, beta carotene, alpha tocopherol.

Warning:
Don't eat organic granola bars!
Cascadian Farms Organic Sweet and Salty mixed nut chewy granola bars.
Tapioca syrup, peanuts, sugar, rolled oats, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, sea salt, malt extract, annatto color), cashews, vegetable oil (palm kernel and sunflower), almonds, cocoa powder, brown rice syrup, rice maltodextrin, soy lecithin, sea salt, vanilla flavor, nonfat milk, baking soda, natural flavor.

Well, as you can see, there is a lot put in our food that we eat. I am not sure if we can call it food. How about chemically modified food?
If you think about, what are we really eating when we eat cereal, a granola bar or soup? If we want to eat vegetables, why don't we just eat vegetables? The only reason why I put the organic granola bars is because many people believe that just because a product is organic that it is good for them. Sure, there may be more natural ingredients than a non-organic food (a product must read 100% organic if you want 100% organic ingredients, anything less has non-organic ingredients in it) but you are still getting fat, calories and sugar and those macronutrients, consumed in excess, can make you unhealthy.
I think it all comes down to understanding what you put in your body. There can be a healthy balance to taking supplements and eating real food. If you make a conscious effort to eat real food, there will be less of a need to take supplements for those missing ingredients. But as I mentioned before, there are times when a person needs to supplement regardless of the quality of the diet. However, regardless if you are a competitive athlete or fitness enthusiast, pay attention to what you put in your mouth because in the long run, you eat for fuel and to live a quality life.
A little of everything in moderation is fine, but don't let your little bit of everything be a daily thing.