No! Save your money and buy real fruit, not dried-orange capsules or blueberry pills. Juice Plus+ comes in a variety of flavors, such as Orchard Blend capsules made by freeze-drying seven fruits. These products are typically sold through multi-level marketing programs. They claim to contain beneficial “live enzymes.” But enzymes are proteins produced by living cells and, when swallowed, are digested like any other protein. They don’t make it past the digestive tract to enter the bloodstream and body. These products also claim to boost immunity. There are no well-designed research studies (other than those conducted by the company, which of course has a vested interest that can bias results) to support these claims. If highly-processed fruit powders can boost immune function, imagine how much more effective real fruit would be! Granted, the capsules probably have some of the original antioxidants found in real fruit, but it’s difficult to say how much, since Juice Plus+ capsules have no nutritional labels. You can’t tell how much vitamin C or any of the 100s of 1000s of phytochemicals found in real fruit remains after the freeze-drying process. Keep in mind that it is impossible to cram 5 to 10 servings of fruits or vegetables into a fraction of an ounce of dried fruit powder, so it’s no wonder this product relies heavily on testimonials, not scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals. Stick with Mother Nature’s real stuff and skip the hype of these capsules or any other processed product that promises to replace real food. Photo credit: jalb via Compfight
Theoretically, chromium should aid weight control, since this trace mineral enhances insulin activity, the hormone that regulates blood sugar and fat levels while stimulating protein synthesis in muscles. It made sense when preliminary research found that athletes lost more body fat and gained more lean tissue (i.e., muscle) when they took chromium supplements. These initial studies were seriously flawed and subsequent studies did not support the chromium-weight loss connection. If there is any benefits of chromium to weight loss, they are minor at best. However, some people report some weight loss when they increase chromium intake, so there might be something to this issue; unfortunately, with so many pieces still missing in the puzzle, we just don’t know.
There is evidence that many Americans’ diets are low in chromium, so increasing your intake by eating more whole grains, bran breakfast cereals, canned vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, raisins, nuts, mushrooms, oysters, chicken, meat, seafood, and other chromium-rich foods is important for overall health. Boosting your chromium intake with better food choices or supplements (limit the dose to no more than 200 micrograms a day) will help manage blood sugar, which could help side-step diabetes later in life. Whether it will transform your body into that lean, muscular number in the supplement ads is highly unlikely. But then, I bet you already knew that!
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There are no studies to support the claim that low-carb dieters need a specially formulated supplement. Granted, low-carb diets restrict or eliminate many nutritious foods, which can lead to poor intake of B vitamins (especially folic acid), fiber and magnesium because of few whole grains, calcium and vitamin D because of too few milk products, and beta carotene and vitamin C from too little produce. You easily can cover your nutrient basis with a less-expensive, moderate-dose multi, a calcium-magnesium supplement, and a fiber product (better yet, lose weight on a more sensible, healthy diet…but that’s another matter). No supplement can replace the thousands of health-enhancing phytochemicals lost when colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other real foods are restricted on a low-carb diet. Also, don’t be fooled by claims that specially-tailored supplements contain extra nutrients designed to speed fat burning and aid weight loss on low-carb diets. Some products add carnitine, yet no research has found dieters to be deficient in this compound. Others add extra chromium to help build muscle, a benefit that turned out to be more hope than help.
That’s not saying you shouldn’t supplement. While you always should turn to food first for your nutritional needs, the reality is that when you drastically cut calories, restrict entire food groups, or go to any extreme to lose weight, your health suffers. Even non-dieters often fall short of optimal when it comes to one or more nutrients, so it’s a good idea for any dieter to take an inexpensive, broad-range, moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral supplement, plus extra calcium and magnesium. Just don’t expect it to turn a high-fat menu into a healthy meal.
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Possibly. People have been using garlic for centuries (think Egypt at the time of the Pyramids) to prevent infection, but it’s only in the past few decades that scientists isolated numerous sulfur-containing compounds in garlic that have potent antibacterial and possibly anti-viral effects. These sulfur compounds destroy germs’ ability to grow and reproduce, much in the same way as penicillin fights infections. A well-designed study of nearly 150 people supports the value of garlic for preventing and treating the common cold. In this study, people received either garlic supplements or placebo for 12 weeks during “cold season” (between the months of November and February). Those who received the garlic had significantly fewer colds than those who received placebos. Plus, when faced with a cold, the symptoms lasted a much shorter time in those receiving garlic compared to those receiving placebos.
The trick is getting enough, without sacrificing your social life. While some researchers suggest as much as 10 cloves a day, others say that as little as 2 to 3 cloves is enough, especially if combined with a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and high in vitamin C. That’s as simple as adding a few cloves to pasta sauces, stews, soups, or salad dressing. When it comes to garlic supplements, most clinical studies have used aged garlic extract (AGE) or enteric-coated, dried garlic tablets (dose: : 600 to 1,200 milligrams daily in divided doses).
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Current discoveries into mapping the human genome might well be the key to unlocking the mystery of nutritional individuality. The three billion nuceotides distributed sequentially among 23 pairs of chromosomes provide a staggering field for nutrient variations. If the metabolic pathway influencing nutritional requirements for each of the 40+ nutrients (not to mention the almost one million phytochemicals!) was affected independently on even two sites at a single genetic locus, we could expect that the number of variations in nutritional variability could be in excess of 200 trillion!
Each of us is genetically unique in our nutritional needs. But, while each of us might not fit the “normal range,” we haven’t a clue as to what to do about that. Until human genome sequencing explains this topic, it’s easy for the message to be misused to justify taking megadoses of vitamins, going on low-carb fad diets, injecting growth hormone, or other senseless, and potentially harmful, practices. Yes, you are unique. Just how unique is still a mystery. Until we know more, trust that the Recommended Dietary Allowances or RDAs are the best approximation of what most people need. You can go higher, say up to 300% for most nutrients without doing harm, but don’t pay extra for tests or supplements touted as specialized to your individual needs. Most will tax your pocketbook more than improve your health. Keith Ramsey via Compfight