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Choose juice drinks wisely

Filed under: Nutrition, Diet

With so many fruit juices on grocery shelves, do you find yourself asking, “Which one do I choose?"

With so many fruit juices on grocery shelves, do you find yourself asking “Which one do I choose?"  Look for fruit juices that are labeled “100 percent fruit juice” and read the ingredients. Juices that contain high fructose corn syrup or other sugars are an be labeled as a fruit drink, fruit punch, or fruit cocktail. These drinks add calories and contribute to obesity. Choose 100 percent fruit juice to optimize nutrition with natural ingredients, vitamins, minerals, and no artificial flavorings or sweeteners.

Not all carbohydrate foods are equally effective

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Certain foods raise blood sugar better than others. It's important to what to eat after a moderate to high intensity mission or exercise.

As stated in the Warfighter Nutrition Guide (chapter 5) , certain foods raise blood sugar, or glucose, levels better than others. Ultimately, blood glucose from foods you eat are stored in the muscles and liver, in the form of glycogen, to supply energy for future physical activity.

The term glycemic index (GI) is used to describe how high a particular food will raise blood glucose. A high GI food is more effective for replenishing muscle and liver stores of glycogen than one with a low GI. Immediately after a moderate/high intensity mission or exercise, eat foods and beverages that have a moderate to high GI to replenish the glucose used up.

Click here for more information on the Glycemic Index.

Understand cholesterol-related food claims

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Filed under: Nutrition, Diet
Be an educated consumer and learn what common cholesterol-related nutrient content claims mean.

Do you find the nutrient claims listed on many foods confusing?  You are not alone!

Such claims are strictly defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here are common cholesterol-related nutrient content claims with a detailed description of what each means. If a food claims to be cholesterol free, it means that one serving of the product contains less than two milligrams of cholesterol and two grams or less of saturated fat. Low cholesterol means that one serving contains 20 or fewer milligrams of cholesterol and two grams or less of saturated fat. Finally, reduced cholesterol means at least 25 percent less cholesterol than the regular product and 2 grams or less of saturated fat. Arm yourself with this information and be an educated consumer next time you shop.

Eat a PBJ post-workout

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Want a great post-workout meal?

It’s important to eat something after a strenuous workout to replenish muscle stores of carbohydrate and have plenty of protein available to repair the body. Try a peanut butter and jelly (PBJ) sandwich for a great post workout meal! It’s cheap and packed with nutrition if you use natural peanut butter without added sugar and fats, and whole-grain bread.

For other post-exercise snacks please visit the Warfighter Nutrition Guide.

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Have your children drink more water for good health

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Your child may not be drinking enough water to stay healthy.

Dietary data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 2005-2006) for children between ages two through 19 suggest that children may not be drinking enough water for optimal health. The study also found that children and adolescents may be getting as much as two-thirds of their total water intake with their main meals. Try replacing non-nutritious beverages like sodas with nutritious beverages (or better yet, plain water) at meal time. This  could have a positive impact on the diet, weight, and health of your children.

What’s a health claim?

A recent FTC complaint against POM Wonderful products had us wondering what exactly a health claim is.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently filed a complaint against POM Wonderful products due to deceptive advertising. POM Wonderful has claimed that its products will reduce (or treat) heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. The FTC says that these claims are not supported by scientific research.

So, what’s a health claim and what’s considered acceptable advertising as such?

A health claim statement has to have a food substance, food, or dietary ingredient, and a health condition or disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain health claims that, based on scientific evidence, show a link between a food or supplement and a health condition or disease. Health claims cannot state that a food product or supplement can treat or cure a disease. It may claim to minimize a disease risk; for example, a product advertised as low sodium can state the approved claim that “diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a disease associated with many factors.”

Health claims shouldn’t be confused with structure/function claims. These claims do not have to be approved and reviewed by the FDA, yet they must be truthful in stating that a substance maintains structures and/or functions of the body.  We see these claims on many fiber-rich products, like “fiber maintains bowel regularity,” or a dairy product stating that “calcium builds strong bones.” Unlike health claims, structure/function claims cannot be linked to a health-related condition or disease.  Also, an important point to keep in mind: if a dietary supplement label makes a structure/function claim, it must also state this disclaimer: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

There are also nutrient content claims.  These describe the amount of a nutrient in a product.  Descriptions such as free, low, high, and rich in are used, or other terms that describe the nutrient content to that of the content in another product, such as reduced, lite, less, or more.

Manufacturing companies want consumers to buy their products.  We, as consumers, must be savvy as we try to choose products that are healthy for our families and us. False health claims are used on food products as well as dietary supplements. They claim to help us lose weight, cure diseases, and prevent memory loss. The FDA has not approved claims that focus on the treatment of diseases. They have, however, set forth regulations to authorize health claims after the scientific evidence has been presented and reviewed.

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Confused about supplements?

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Wandering down the aisle of a store looking for a dietary supplement can be overwhelming and intimidating. The Natural Medicines Database can help.

Wandering down the aisle of a store looking for a dietary supplement can be overwhelming and intimidating. There are so many to choose from, and we often have to make our choices based on advertising claims and rely on the manufacturers for ingredient information. Does the supplement actually have the ingredients claimed on the label? Will it have the reported effect on our health?

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database is the “scientific gold standard” for evidence-based information on dietary supplements and natural medicines, including drug interactions, effectiveness, safety and use, and more. HPRC has partnered with Natural Medicines Database to allow healthcare providers, Warfighters, and military families to search this comprehensive database in order to make informed decisions about dietary supplement use. The Natural Medicines Database also has “Natural MedWATCH,” which allows users to report an adverse event associated with the use of dietary supplements or natural medicines so that they can then forward the report on to the appropriate regulatory agency.

By going to the HPRC homepage, users can access any of the three database choices provided: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database for Health Professionals, Consumers, or Natural MedWATCH. After choosing one of the sites, first-time users should sign up for an account, which is done with an active DoD email address. Once inside this vast database, a user can search for an individual natural medicine ingredient of interest or a brand name product.

The professional version of the database includes:

  • Evidence-based monographs available for individual natural ingredients.
  • Scientific names of ingredients
  • Information on safety, effectiveness, mechanism of action, adverse reactions, interactions, and dosage/administration (which are not necessarily recommended or safe doses) of ingredients
  • Patient handouts
  • Brand-name product searches by ingredient
  • “Natural Product Effectiveness Checker” for medical conditions
  • “Natural Product Drug Interaction Checker” for a list of drugs/natural products interactions
  • Comprehensive information on brand-name products, including ingredient lists and summary reports on effectiveness, interactions, and adverse effects.
  • Up-to-date information for over 60,000 brand name products

The consumer version, for military families and Warfighters, contains the same research-based information on herbal remedies, dietary supplements and other natural products, but in an easier-to-understand version. An important point consumers should be aware of is that it may be necessary to research each individual ingredient in a product before making a decision to use it for health benefits.

So, if you want to find credible, evidence-based information on dietary supplements and/or natural products, search the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Evaluating natural health products can be daunting and there is no other comprehensive, reliable site like it to guide you in making your decision.

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Check out "Life’s Simple 7"™

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An online resource by the American Heart Association lists steps that are crucial to our health.

The Simple 7™ is an easy way to figure out how to achieve good health. This online resource, provided by the American Heart Association, lists seven steps that are crucial to our health. We list their steps for you below:

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Engage in physical activity.
  4. Eat a healthy diet.
  5. Manage your blood pressure.
  6. Take charge of your cholesterol.
  7. Keep your blood glucose at healthy levels.

With Life’s Simple 7™, you'll find out where you stand, how you're doing, and also get you your own personal heart score and health plan.

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Make the next potluck a healthy one!

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Potlucks can be healthy gatherings, too.

Instead of asking your friends to bring their usual comfort foods to dinner at your house, suggest that everyone bring a healthy option instead. Place caloric restrictions or assign different people to fruit, vegetable, or meat dishes. This will help get everyone involved in healthier eating habits.

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The regulation of dietary supplements

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When you choose a multivitamin or supplement from the store, have you ever wondered how to choose?

When you choose a multivitamin or supplement from the store, have you ever wondered how to choose? Or if there’s any regulation to ensure the one you choose is safe, and that you’re getting what you’re paying for? Regulation is perhaps the least understood aspect of the dietary supplement industry. We, here at HPRC, hope we can shed some light on the matter. Look for the quickest way to ensure quality and safety in your supplements at the end of the article.

Dietary supplements are regulated, but not as strictly as many might want. Oversight of dietary supplements began with the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). Since supplements are intended to supplement one’s diet, they are regulated the way food is, and not as drugs are. Under DSHEA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements by holding manufacturers accountable in five important areas: Manufacturers are required to ensure that the supplement is safe; make truthful claims; abide by current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs); submit to FDA all reports of serious adverse events, and notify FDA before it markets a supplement containing a “new dietary ingredient” (NDI).

What consumers should know is that manufacturers cannot sell unsafe, ineffective supplements; they have to document that their product will not harm anyone, and provide convincing evidence that the product does what it claims. To further ensure safety and effectiveness, the FDA closely regulates supplement labels for accuracy and honesty. All information on the label must be truthful and conform to all FDA standards. It has to list the sources of all components, and the amount of key nutrients and ingredients. Manufacturers are also required to report to the FDA before marketing supplements containing new dietary ingredients, which must have data supporting safety of the ingredient. The FDA also regulates manufacturing standards using the current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) to ensure product quality and safety. Violation of cGMP is a violation of the law. Lastly, the FDA requires manufacturers to report on serious adverse events that may occur from consumers using their products.

Despite this oversight, there’s a misconception that dietary supplements are not regulated. This could be because supplements don’t require pre-market approval, and the post-market responsibility of FDA simply ensures compliance with the regulations listed above. The downside of this is that some unsafe and contaminated products end up on the market. Once there, the FDA has to prove that the product is unsafe (or show that the information on its label is untruthful or misleading), before it can be removed from the market. Also, although supplement labels are highly regulated, the content of separate brochures and fliers is not subject to FDA rules.

Enforcing regulations take time and resources. Since the cGMP rule went into effect in June 2008, the FDA has conducted approximately 55 inspections for compliance with the new regulations – and in light of the thousands of companies manufacturing supplements, there’s some dissatisfaction with the progress of the FDA.

So how can you protect yourself, as a consumer, from ineffective or even potentially unsafe supplements? There’s a simple answer: When purchasing dietary supplements, choose products approved by independent organizations that offer certification or verification. Look for supplements whose labels display a seal from the  United States Pharmacopeia (USP), the non-profit NSF International, or the Natural Products Association (NPA). Since these verifications are voluntary and are performed at the company’s expense, you can be certain that approved products have little or no contaminants, that the ingredients are present in the labeled amounts, and the labels are accurate.

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