Charlyn Fargo, Contributors
Finally, a study we can trust when it comes to whether we need to take a multivitamin or not! Over the past few years, research has shown conflicting results as to whether multivitamins were beneficial when it came to improving heart health or cancer risk.
Results from the National Institutes of Health-funded Physician's Health Study II were released last November. The Harvard study was the only large-scale, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that looked at the long-term effects of multivitamins on the health of more than 14,000 men over more than 10 years.
While they found no significant cardiovascular health benefits associated with taking daily multivitamins, the researchers found an eight per cent reduction in total cancer risk among daily multivitamin users.
We all know a pill can never replace the complex nutrients in whole foods. It's food, not pills, that lowers risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer due to the phytochemicals that are in food. Scientists have found that the bioactive compounds work in synergy, so their combined effects are greater than the sum of individual effects. That's why a dose of vitamin C in a pill will never equal the vitamin C effect that comes in an orange.
At the same time, a daily multivitamin is great insurance for those days when we don't get enough fruits and vegetables and whole grains in our diet.
- Information courtesy of the Environmental Nutrition Newsletter, February 2013.
Should we eat fruits alone?
Q: I've heard that fruit should be eaten alone rather than with other foods. Is that true?
A: No. You may see articles suggesting a myriad of problems that stem from eating fruit along with other foods, but none are based on science. One thing you may read is that you cannot digest fruit if other foods are present in your stomach at the same time, so the fruit ferments causing indigestion or heartburn after a meal.
This is absolutely untrue: Carbohydrate digestion begins with enzymes in the saliva and continues as food passes through the stomach and then the intestine. Enzymes that break down carbohydrate in fruit are separate from those that break down protein and fat. Eating different types of food together does not inhibit digestion. The stomach puts out large amounts of acid; food does not sit there rotting or fermenting.
You may also hear claims that fruit combined with other foods leads to becoming overweight because the body cannot digest them. But this, too, is untrue. Mixing foods at a meal does not leave the body unable to digest them. And even if it did, undigested food passes out as waste material; it cannot possibly turn into body fat.
Excess body fat comes from just the opposite: more calories consumed, digested and absorbed than our bodies burn. If anything, combining fruits with other plant foods like vegetables and whole grains could be beneficial. Fruit can be a filling appetiser to help limit calories at a meal, a delicious addition to salads and a satisfying way to end a meal on a sweet note. Don't be afraid to combine fruit with whatever foods you want.
Information courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian from Springfield, Ill. For comments or questions, contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.