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Diet, Nutrition & Supplements (24)

Caloric Restriction for anti-aging and longevity - does it work in non-obese humans?

If you are following the anti-aging news, you’ve heard about the supposed benefits of chronic calorie restriction for increasing longevity. These claims are based on research done in various species such as flies, worms and mice.
 
Here I will explain that chronic calorie restriction makes it impossible to implement and reap the health benefits of an active lifestyle with regular exercise, and causes severe health consequences for humans.  
 
While animal studies can and do shed light on what’s going on at mechanistic level, we have to be very careful and resist the temptation to extrapolate results from animal experiments to humans.
 
Here I will make the case that chronic calorie restriction actually counteracts the prospects of a healthy vital long life.
 
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Effect of Fish Oil on Body Composition, Fat Burning & Energy Expenditure

In previous articles I covered the effects of fish oil supplementation on fat loss and muscle growth:
 
 
 
 
Here I will present the results of a more recent study that investigated the effects of fish oil supplementation on body composition and metabolic outcomes.[1]
 
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Ignore the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines!

On January 7th 2016, the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released. One would expect this to be a state-of-the art document with practical hands-on advice that will help people make better food choices and eat healthier. Not so! If you think the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines will tell you everything you need to know about what to eat and what not to eat, you will be greatly disappointed.

I would like to applaud the commentary by Dr. Katz “2015 Dietary Guidelines: A Plate Full of Politics”. Dr. Katz is the director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. His summary of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines is “a national embarrassment”.
 
In this article I will point our some issues that Dr. Katz raised, as well as add my own reflections based on avaliable scientific evidence. To make up for the glaring void of food recommendations, I will end with a practical list of foods you want to eat more of and those to avoid...
 
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The “good” HDL cholesterol under attack! - Defending Niacin, aka vitamin B3

Niacin confers tremendous beneficial effects on both lipids, inflammation and endothelial function. For more, see my previous article:
 
 
 
Despite this, two media attention grabbing studies - AIM-HIGH and HPS2-THRIVE - did not find any benefits of niacin supplementation in heart disease patients who were already on intensive statin treatment. 
 
Here I will summarize these studies and expose their multiple flaws, which never made it to the headlines...
 
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Niacin, aka vitamin B3 – what you need to know about potential side effects

In previous articles I have talked about the multiple beneficial effects of niacin supplementation – on both lipids (blood fats and cholesterol) and non-lipid outcomes.
 
While flushing is often reported to be the main side-effect of niacin supplementation, the flush is a natural reaction to high-dose niacin, and is not dangerous. Thus, while some people may find it uncomfortable, it is not a harmful side-effect. For more on that, see “Niacin - How to Beat the Flush
 
Other, potentially harmful side effects, are liver strain/damage, insulin resistance and blood glucose elevations, and uric acid elevations.[1] Here I will summarize what research shows on the severity of these side effects, and whether it is something you should worry about… 
 
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Krill Oil - what you need to know

Krill oil is becoming increasingly popular, and many people use it as an alternative to fish oil, since both provide the long-chain “marine” omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. 
 
In addition, krill oil has some unique properties, and marketing claims about krill oil’s purported superiority over fish oil abound, centering on the following:
 
- Krill oil provides some of the EPA and DHA in phospholipid form, which has been suggested to be absorbed more effectively.
 
- Krill oil contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid with health promoting effects.
 
- Krill oil contains the essential nutrient choline.
 
- There are supposedly fewer contaminants in krill oil than fish oil.
 
- Krill oil supposedly does not cause any fishy burping or other gastro-intestinal side effects.
 
In this article I will summarize the research on each of these points, and critically evaluate the related marketing claims...
 
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Niacin - How to Beat the Flush

I a previous articles I covered the tremendous health benefits of niacin supplementation, mediated via both lipid (cholesterol and blood fat) and non-lipid mechanisms, and what you need to know about niacin products:
 
Here I will explain what the notorious niacin flush is all about, and give you hands-on practical tips on how to beat it.
 
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Niacin Supplements - what you need to know about niacin products

In a previous article I presented the wide array of health benefit of niacin – a.k.a vitamin B3 – supplementation, related to both its lipid and non-lipid effects "Niacin – a.k.a vitamin B3 – the Neglected Broad Spectrum Cholesterol Drug! "
 
In this article you will get critical information about the different niacin products and names, and what to look for when shopping niacin supplements…
 
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Niacin – a.k.a vitamin B3 – the neglected broad spectrum cholesterol drug!

 

Niacin - vitamin B3 - when taken in high dose acts as a powerful cholesterol drug. Niacin is unique among all available cholesterol drugs because it has beneficial effects across the entire lipid/lipoprotein spectrum, including the three components of atherogenic dyslipidemia. 
 
To learn the basics about atherogenic dyslipidemia, see my previous article "Why you need to look beyond your LDL - “bad cholesterol” - level". 
 
Niacin is especially noteworthy because it is the most potent drug available for raising HDL levels.[1, 2] Besides boosting  HDL levels, niacin also markedly lowers triglyceride levels while reducing LDL to a smaller degree.[1]
 
The table below provides an overview of the effects of popular drugs and supplements on blood lipids.[3]
 
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Artificial Sweeteners and Diet Sodas - do they Help or Hinder Fat Loss?

The potential benefits and risks of artificial sweeteners and diet sodas are hotly debated. Critics state that artificial sweeteners and diet sodas are fueling obesity [1, 2], increasing the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease [2, 3], and of causing metabolic derangements.[2]
 
A popular argument against consumption of sweet-tasting but non-caloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages is that this interferes with appetite and physiological energy intake regulation.[2]
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