Tag: Vitamins

How legitimate are the studies done on Juice Plus?

Juice Plus+ is a whole food nutritional supplement that contains phytonutrients (plant nutrients) from 30 fruits, vegetables, berries and grains in the form of very concentrated extract powders that are taken in the form of a capsule. Juice Plus+ is made by a company located in Memphis, TN called The Juice Plus Company.

The Juice Plus Company is a company that has operated with the same CEO (Jay Martin) since its inception in the early 1980s. The company market Juice Plus+ through the direct sales method, so you won’t see any of their ads on the TV anytime soon. What is interesting about this product and company is the amount of university-level research that has been performed using the Juice Plus+ product. There have been more than 20 studies performed using name brand Juice Plus+ that have been published in prestigious medical and scientific journals.

No other nutritional supplement has had this number of name-brand research studies published before. What is even more remarkable is that all of these studies showed positive health benefits. Some people reading this might be thinking that any company can just buy research studies like this, so it is not very impressive. So what makes this body of research different is that these studies were performed using the “Gold Standard” of research. Gold standard research puts measures in place that make it impossible to “buy” or otherwise influence.

To be considered gold standard research, a study must be double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomised, and cross-over. Let’s clarify what each of these terms mean in a research setting.

 

  • Placebo Controlled: A placebo is usually a sugar or otherwise inert pill that looks exactly like the pill being studied. A placebo is used to measure the effects a person experiences by “thinking” they are taking the pill, when in fact they are just taking the sugar placebo.
  • Double-Blinded: When a research study is double-blinded, neither the research project’s observers nor the participants know whether they are taking the real thing or just the sugar pill. This serves to ensure that personal bias does not affect both the observer’s observations and conclusions or the study participant’s perception of the pill’s effects.
  • Randomised: Randomisation is important to a study to ensure that the changes seen during the study are not the result of how the study participants were chosen. It ensures there is no bias in how the participants are selected.
  • Cross-Over: A study that has a crossover has the placebo and the Juice Plus+ groups switch groups so that both groups have a chance to take both the placebo and the real thing. Usually there is a washout period in between so that the group taking the real thing has a chance to flush it out of their body before switching to the other group. This is used to ensure that the Juice Plus+

 

When a study is performed using these measures in place, you can be ensured that the results are honest and believable. Most companies do not structure studies of their own products like this. They want to be sure they get the results they are looking for so their product looks good. The fact that The Juice Plus Company has performed so much research on Juice Plus+ and the results have all been positive tells me that Juice Plus+ is a supplement worth looking into.

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Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?

They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

True about cars, refrigerators, radios, and virtually every other consumable good–including food.

Beside compromises in flavour, the nutrition of vegetables and fruits aren’t what they used to be.

Over the last fifty years, food has been cultivated with higher yields and pesticide resistance in mind. The number of varieties of apples, for example, has dwindled from the thousands to less than one hundred that are grown to be sold in the marketplace. The sacrifice of higher yield is nutrition.

“Nutrient decline has occurred because the focus of plant and animal breeders, farmers, and agribusiness has been on increasing yields, not on food nutritional quality. The reason for this focus is clear–farm commodity markets, federal farm policy, and those funding agricultural research have rewarded yield increases above all else.”[1]

A study published ten years ago found that the levels of key vitamins and minerals in forty-three fruits and vegetables declined significantly between 1950 and 1999. Riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and protein contents have all decreased in much of the produce we eat. A British study of minerals in vegetables and fruits from 1930 to 1980 showed reduced levels of not only calcium, but copper, iron, magnesium and potassium as well.

The Dirt on Plant Nutrition

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In addition to the selection of varieties now grown commercially for food, the nature of the soil has changed by virtue of a switch to chemical fertilizers and changes in farming techniques.

“Early studies of fertilization found inverse relationships between crop yield and mineral concentrations—the widely cited ‘dilution effect’…recent side-by-side plantings of low- and high-yield cultivars of broccoli and grains found consistently negative correlations between yield and concentrations of minerals and protein.”[2]

Conventionally-raised produce is fertilized with synthetics to make it grow faster and larger. Plants don’t behave as they naturally would, growing longer root systems to get enough nutrients to grow. The chemicals don’t nourish the soil adequately, or the micro-organisms that are so necessary to the health of the earth and the plants from which it grows.

Crop rotation, employed for thousands of years, is much less prevalent on factory farms than it used to be; nutrients taken from the soil aren’t naturally replenished and eventually soil loses the ability to feed the plants sown–leading to wider use of fertilizers. Weeds and insects become tolerant of the herbicides and pesticides used, leading to other and more toxic chemicals to kill them.

Nutrient decline isn’t limited to produce.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, grains are less nutritious than in the past. Proteins in wheat, corn, and soy beans have declined a great deal in the last fifty years although the volumes grown are greater.

Hundreds of studies have shown that organic produce is more nutritious. This is due in part to the methods uses for farming: soil is nourished using compost, manure, and cover crops. Crops are regularly rotated, which reduces the incidence of pests and disease. Micro-organisms thrive in the enriched soil and in turn feed the plants. Many would argue that organic produce is more flavourful as well.

The implications aren’t limited to the nutrient content of an individual food.

Greater nutrient density means you not only get more necessary vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients but your body won’t prompt you to eat more to get what it needs. Americans eat plenty–but the nutrition in the foods we eat is questionable. Part of the reason we overeat is because our bodies aren’t getting enough from what it is we are eating.

It is certainly feasible to put the nutrients back into our food by returning to natural farming. The quality of the food we eat is more important than the quantity. On top of that, we are all stewards of the land and all its inhabitants. How we treat it directly affects us and future generations.

sources:
[1] http://organic-center.org/publications/
[2] http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/44/1/15.full



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fruit, Healthy Food, Nutrition, vegetables, Vitamins

What are Phytonutrients and Why are They Important?

You may or may not have heard of the newest reason why you should eat your vegetables. Mom always told us to eat them and we’ve all heard about how good they are for us. They provide us with fiber and are a good source of vitamins and minerals. But now we’re hearing they do so much more.

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Unlike us, plants are unable to run away when threatened by outside danger. Because of this, plants have developed their own protection from these outside threats. Scientists have been busy studying these tiny compounds we call phytonutrients. Simply put, phytonutrients are chemical compounds in plants that protect it from germs, pests, and environmental toxins. They have discovered up to 40,000 different ones and are still discovering more. It appears as though it’s not just the vitamins and minerals that make vegetables so good for us. And the great news is that we are still learning of all the ways we can benefit from consuming phytonutrients. In general, we can say that phytonutrients help prevent disease and infection, and improve general wellness. Specifically, there are plenty of known benefits of eating phytonutrients. Some of the main benefits include:

1. Antioxidant: They can act as an antioxidant, ridding our bodies of damaging free radicals. If left to roam in the body, free radicals can cause damage to cells, proteins, and even your DNA.

2. Antibiotic: Phytonutrients are known to boost your immune system to help prevent bacterial infections.

3. Cancer preventative: Some of the phytonutrients studied, specifically in broccoli and tomatoes, may have cancer preventative properties.

4. Anti-inflammatory: Many are known to have properties to reduce inflammation, benefiting anyone with an inflammatory condition. This would include any condition ending in “-itis.”

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5. Immune support: Phytonutrients have qualities to support your immune function, which will help prevent disease and help you heal quicker. Immune function decreases naturally as we grow older, and eating a diet full of phytonutrients may slow that process down.

6. Tissue support and protection: They are known to strengthen tissue and speed healing. It’s best to choose organic plant-based foods so we’re not ingesting any pesticides with our phytonutrients. Make use of local farmers’ markets and stock up on great tasting fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only do we get the best produce from our local markets, everything is picked when it’s ripe, providing us with more phytonutrients than from the produce you’ll find in the grocery store. Many of the farmers who frequent farmers’ markets follow organic farming principles, and all you need to do is ask if they do. So, we can support our local farmers and our health will benefit too. We’re very lucky—phytonutrients can be found in almost every plant-based food. This means if we eat a diet including lots of fruits, vegetables, herbs, beans, nuts & seeds, tea, and whole grains, we’re getting a lot of phytonutrients too. It’s easy to add more phytonutrients into your diet. For breakfast you could add spinach to your strawberry smoothie. At lunch you could add pumpkin seeds, carrots, red peppers, and blueberries to your mixed green salad. Since phytonutrients contribute to the color, tastes, and smell of the plant, make your food as colorful and tasty as you can. It just takes a little creativity in the kitchen. Your health and your taste buds will thank you! – 

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fruit, health, juice plus, Phytonutrients, Vitamins

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