Thursday, January 4, 2018

Mind that matters, misleading AARP... take it or leave it list

The quick lists of 5 things to do and 5 things not to do often provide inaccurate or even misleading information. AARP usually provides a nice sound bite of information about various things. Mental health comes up every year with a interesting brain health infographic in October 2016 (discover, connect, move, nourish, and relax). The December 2017 edition of AARP had a big section on brain health and avoiding Alzheimer’s disease. (Also see risk factors related to Alzheimer’s.) The Guard Your Mental Health section by Marty Munson offered a “take it” or “leave it” for several items. The thumbs up items were exercise, friends+family, manage blood pressure, and nutrition (Mediterranean diet as an example). Evidence shows that stimulating your brain met with mixed results; the way how you stimulate your brain is important so some things – even listening to music – work better than others.
The last three items really were surprising, and questionable.  Don’t sweat the aluminum in your antiperspirant since there is no evidence to link the trace aluminum from deodorants to mental health issues. (The lack of friends because you don’t use deodorants might also be a factor in the use-vs-don’t-use antiperspirant decision.) This is interesting, and it appears to be accurate. Trace amounts of aluminum should not be a big issue; aluminum is a very common element and we are continually exposed to it.
The idea to leave Ginseng was intriguing. It does not appear to help significantly with brain function; and, as with many supplements, there could be side-effects, especially for people with other health factors like diabetes. This sent me to look at the Shaklee product, MindWorks®, and the active ingredients that are rather strongly promoted with positive research. The ingredients in MindWorks all show pretty strong evidence to support a healthier body and brain: chardonnay grape seed extract, Guarana extract, blueberries, and green coffee bean extract. These ingredients have been shown to reduce cholesterol, improve blood flow, offer anti-oxidation, and improve cognitive function.
True, Ginseng has very little evidence to contribute to brain health (and reduced Alzheimer’s), but many other supplements do. Shaklee provides one of the best overviews on the subject of Alzheimer’s. Of course, general health, is critical. Anti-oxidants like B, E, and C are critical. There is a lot of support showing benefits from Gingko. So “leave it” related to Ginseng, seems accurate, but highly misleading, because it implies that there are no natural health remedies.
The really big erroneous and misleading factor; however, is the “leave it” for supplements. Not to fault Munson, specifically, there are several studies that show that people who take supplements are no more healthy than those who don’t take any supplements. However, the biggest landmark study on the issue compared people who took multiple Shaklee supplements (not just a multivitamin) with those who did not take any supplements at all. This landmark study (Block, et al., 2007) was conducted in 2007, but ongoing research continues to support its accuracy. The people who took the multiple vitamins were far healthier, even compared to people taking only a single multivitamin. Being general healthier is also directly correlated to brain health.
Shaklee recommends that people have an active and healthy lifestyle. If you don’t consistently eat well, then you should take supplements. For people worried about aging well, Shaklee offers a trifecta of products: MindWorks® as discussed above; Vivix® which is a patented resveratrol blend that is 13x more effective than resveratrol alone (vs gallons of red wine daily); and OmegaGuard® which provides a pharmaceutical grade omega-3 that helps to improve heart health. 
You will notice that many of the labels on Shaklee supplements are unique. The DTX Liver Health® does not say “active ingredient” it actually says “medicinal” information! They can only say that with actual clinical support. MindWorks™ says “Helps improve mental sharpness & focus and protect against age-related mental decline.**”.
Resveratrol (Shaklee’s Vivix®) is the one supplement you should take for age-related protection. There are literally thousands of studies showing the health and age-protection associated with resveratrol. You could drink a dozen or so glasses of Muscatine wine (or juice) each day which, arguably, might have its own set of side-effects; or you could take Vivix. With Vivix being magnitudes (13x) more effective than the available resveratrol alternatives, it seems like the best available alternative, even if it is a little pricy.
While we are on the miracle of Vivix, there are two new categories of products from Shaklee: Youth™ for rejuvenation of skin care which actually rebuilds the collagen layer of the skin (without Botox surgery); and treatment for eye health where age-related macular degeneration is actually reversed/improved.
Of  course, changes in unhealthy lifestyle should come first, and foremost. Quitting smoking, for example, will start saving money instantly, and extend your life dramatically.
Okay, okay. This looks like it is an advert for Shaklee. A place that is usually great for unbiased information is Wikipedia. But several entries on the Great Wiki in the sky are not only misleading, they are inaccurate. Look at the health benefit for resveratrol. Cancer is one sentence that says that resveratrol won’t cure cancer. HUH!?? That may, or may not be true, but what about the hundreds of studies that show it will lower the risks of you getting cancer in the first place… One sentence that misrepresents a single study in 2011 (Fernandez & Fraga) to say there is no evidence in any way related to longevity in humans. There is evidence in mammals, according to their review of available research, and further research in humans will likely find similar support (which this study didn’t find because they apparently weren’t looking very hard).
[At some point, I expect to come back to Wikipedia to fix some of these entries, it is in everyone’s best interest to have accurate and factual info there; unfortunately, the resveratrol “article” requires a total rewrite.]
So, yes, I trust the Shaklee information as a great place to start, and a trustworthy source of nutritional information. They are in the business of selling products too, but a well-educated, health and wellness conscious consumer/distributor is critical to Shaklee’s mission and ongoing success. Shaklee has been producing vitamins/supplement organically for decades, environmentally friendly household products for about a century and has operated at a zero carbon footprint since Y2K.
Shaklee is a nice picture of sustainability. Living healthier and longer, sounds good too.
We at SustainZine would like to wish you a healthy, wealthy and happy 2018.
Agustín F. Fernández & Mario F. Fraga (2011) The effects of the dietary polyphenol resveratrol on human healthy aging and lifespan, Epigenetics, 6:7, 870-874, doi: 10.4161/epi.6.7.16499

Block, G., Jensen, C. D., Norkus, E. P., Dalvi, T. B., Wong, L. G., McManus, J. F., & Hudes, M. L. (2007). Usage patterns, health, and nutritional status of long-term multiple dietary supplement users: a cross-sectional study. Nutrition Journal, 6(1). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-6-30