Did You Know… with Mike Furci


A column by Mike Furci that brings you research, trends and other info to help you with your fitness, health and nutritional needs.

… a new study found an association between L-carnitine, an amino acid found at high levels in red meat and heart disease risk. Dr. Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic, who led the study, tested the carnitine and TMAO levels of omnivores, vegans and vegetarians, and examined the clinical data of 2,595 patients undergoing elective cardiac evaluations. They also examined the cardiac effects of a carnitine-enhanced diet in normal mice compared to mice with suppressed levels of gut microbes, and discovered that TMAO alters cholesterol metabolism at multiple levels, explaining how it enhances atherosclerosis.

The researchers found that increased carnitine levels in patients predicted increased risks for cardiovascular disease and major cardiac events like heart attack, stroke and death, but only in subjects with concurrently high TMAO levels. It’s important to emphasize that in scientific terms association doesn’t show cause, and to be careful of the credence given because a study said so.

Meanwhile, a meta-analysis of 20 studies involving more than 1.2 million participants from 10 countries who were followed for up to 18 years, found no definitive association of daily consumption of red meat heart health (Boston.com). Heart disease does have a strong association with consumption of processed carbs and fats like vegetable oils and man-made trans fats (Fats, April 18,2006). It is important to keep in mind that there are many other studies done on L-carnitine that do not show any adverse health effects at a variety of doses. In fact, the National Institutes of Health fact sheet on L-carnitine shows it’s not only safe, but good for the heart and peripheral artery disease.

… that pre-workout stretching is still touted by many trainers and coaches. A study examined the effects of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching and static stretching (SS) on maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). Thirteen participants completed 3 different conditions on 3 nonconsecutive days in a random order: (SS), (PNF) and no stretching (control, CON). The MVC of knee and elbow flexion and the vastus lateralis muscles were measured. Researchers concluded although stretching has a positive effect on range of motion (ROM), it has been shown repeatedly to have a detrimental effect on muscular performance. ((2013). Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(1), 195-201)

Bottom line, stretch after your workouts to avoid reducing the musculotendinous stiffness, because hampers the excitability of the muscles being worked, thus hindering performance.

… moderate beer consumption might not be associated might not be associated with the proverbial beer gut. Thirty five observational studies and 12 experimental studies were used to assess the evidence linking beer consumption to abdominal and general obesity. A review of the literature by researchers concluded, the available data provide inadequate scientific evidence to assess whether beer intake at moderate levels (<500 mL/day) is associated with general or abdominal obesity. Higher intake, however, may be positively associated with abdominal obesity. ((2013). Nutrition Reviews, 71(2), 67-87) – Payment required for full article

… B12 deficiency is another reason not to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. The goal of the present literature review was to assess the rate of B12 depletion and deficiency among vegetarians and vegans. Using a PubMed search to identify relevant publications, 18 articles were found that reported B12 deficiency rates from studies that identified deficiency by measuring methylmalonic acid, holo-transcobalamin II, or both. The main finding of this review is that vegetarians develop B12 depletion or deficiency regardless of demographic characteristics, place of residency, age, or type of vegetarian diet. Vegetarians should thus take preventive measures to ensure adequate intake of this vitamin, including regular consumption of supplements containing B12. ((2013). Nutrition Reviews, 71(2), 67-87) – Payment required for full article

“The B12 found in plant sources is an analog and will block the absorption of real B12. Until recently, vegetarian and vegan literature claimed that certain plant foods could provide B12 — seaweeds, fermented soybeans, spirulina, even unwashed vegetables that have been fertilized with manure. Proponents of vegetarianism pointed to inhabitants of India, who did not seem to exhibit signs of B12 deficiency in spite of very low levels of animal foods in the diet. Yet as early as 1974, an American study found that 92 percent of vegans, 64 percent of lactovegetarians, 47 percent of lacto-ovovegetarians and 20 percent of semi-vegetarians have blood levels below normal, that is, below the low range that marks the onset of pernicious anemia.” ((2005, July 28). Wise Traditions)

… Dr. Jose Katz, a cardiologist from the New York area, and owner of Cardio-Med Services and comprehensive Healthcare and Medical Services, admitted to falsely diagnosing and ordering diagnostic tests regardless of patient symptoms. He also testified to allowing unlicensed practitioners to treat and diagnose patients. As part of his plea, Katz admitted that he bilked Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurers out of $19 million between 2004 and 2012. This is the largest amount of healthcare fraud discovered in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Katz was released on a $200 000 bond and faces between 57 and 87 months in prison. Moral of the story: take charge of your health by educating yourself and being inquisitive. ((2013, April 11). medscape today)