Natural Supplement Companies & Shady Research
In my last post, I discussed how pharmaceutical companies can skew medical research and statistics. They aren’t the only ones trying to profit from science studies.
A supplement manufacturer recently sent me an email about a study that shows that their meal powder is helpful for lowering cardiovascular risk through positive effects on cholesterol that exceed benefits that can be seen with simply adopting a mediterranean diet. Great News! Right? Maybe not.
The study lasted 12 weeks and has two parts. In one, people are eating a “Mediterranean” (quotation marks to be explained in a moment) diet, while the other group eats a “Phytochemical Enriched Diet” (PED). The results of the study show that “Mediterranean” diet participants reduced their cardiovascular risk by 2.9% while the PED dieters reduced their risk by 5.6. The “Mediterranean” dieters did very good, but the PED dieters did much better.
Actually reading the study brought up some concerns about the validity of the research results:
- the “Mediterranean” dieters consumed only 12 grams of fiber per day (a very low amount that is equivalent to the fiber found in only 1/3 cup of chickpeas or garbanzo beans)
- Mediterranean diets are known for improving cholesterol values
- Mediterranean diets are known for being fiber-rich
- According to According to the Institute of Medicine (the same organization that establishes Daily Recommended Allowances for micronutrients), the daily recommended allowance of fiber is 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men
- One of the health benefits of fiber is it’s ability to improve cholesterol values
- The PED group in the study consumed 21 grams of fiber per day – 75% more fiber than the “Mediterranean” diet group
Based upon these observations, the study reveals the importance of fiber for improving cholesterol values and cardiovascular risk. Based upon their own statistical analysis, the researchers show that the fiber intake is the most likely cause for the improved results in the PED group. However, the study is written as though the “Phytochemical Enriched Diet” in their proprietary “medical food” is the factor for the improved cardiovascular risk. BALONEY!
The Bottom Line:
When natural medicine or supplement companies spend plenty of their own money on research, they are more likely to bias their results, just like pharmaceutical companies. In either case, the result is harm to people’s health at worst or harm to their bank accounts at best.
Eating more fiber by consuming more vegetables, fruits and whole grains is a great first step for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer!