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Eat this, don’t eat that — wait, never mind

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I had just downed my usual handful of vitamins with a cup of coffee. My ears perked up when a cable channel announced this — “Breaking News: According to the latest research, vitamins are a big waste of money.” Huh? I almost choked up the vitamins.

The report went on to say that if you don’t have a deficiency, there’s no reason to take any supplements. We are better off buying fruit with the money. I buy fruit and vitamins but now reside in the land of “fixed income.” Was I wasting money?

I have a doctor’s appointment coming up. I will get his take. But wait…by the end of the month, this study may be outdated.

Remember when you thought butter was bad for you? The “I can’t believe it’s not butter” commercial caused a duel between butter and margarine that has become a classic. It was once thought that butter was high in saturated fat, however, a Harvard study seems to have put this fear to rest. It’s margarine with its high trans-fat content that is the heart disease enabler. But, not so fast…. newer kinds of margarine are lower in saturated fat.

Coffee has been studied ad nauseam. Coffee was linked to heart disease and cancer; it has addictive properties and is a stimulant. That’s why many of us can’t get moving without that cup of Joe. Newer studies have shown that coffee is loaded with antioxidants and enhances brain function. It may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other brain-related diseases. And yet, my husband, Sweet Frank, drank gallons of coffee throughout his lifetime and he died of a horrendous brain disease.

Eggs were once touted as an open assault on your heart. More recent studies cast this assumption aside. The studies suggest that there is no evidence that dietary cholesterol results in plaque building up in our arteries. Well, that’s a new one for me, I’ll put this on my “ask the doc” list.

Is there much ado about nothing concerning red meat? It was once thought to be a great source of protein and other nutrients. Then came the damning news — studies began to link saturated fat (red meat) with heart disease and cancer.

Afterward, a study out of Harvard in 2014 found no link between the consumption of red meat cancer and heart disease. However, folks, nix the pastrami on rye — processed meats still get a D.

Remember when pork was a no-no? Pork is now as healthy as skinless chicken — “skinless” being the operative word.

Are you as confused as I am?

Morgan Spurlock directed, produced and starred in the documentary “Super-Size Me.” Spurlock ate only what was on the McDonald menus three times a day for 30 days. Physicians were surprised at the deterioration in his health physically and emotionally after his experiment was over.

As a result of Spurlock’s experiment, McDonald’s once touted as unhealthy added salads to their menu. However, new studies (you guessed it) found that some salads, not exclusively from McDonald’s, contain more fat and calories than a Big Mac!

Let’s play the blame game:

I read an article that blamed the news media for this apparent flip-flopping. Yup, blame the news media, they are the source of fake news, so say some folks!

Here’s the skinny: It’s the way the news media interprets scientific facts. Most research papers get broken down, so they are palatable to the public. I get it: Try reading the New England Journal of Medicine. The article suggests that journalists report on the summary — the CliffsNotes version, without delving into the particulars.

The headline will scream “Salads have more calories and fat than a Big Mac” instead of “Some salads have more calories and fat than a Big Mac.”

Let’s look at the researchers: There is evidence that some studies are flawed or too small. Citizens are bombarded by medical research that can’t stand the test of time. Sometimes medical journals or pharmaceutical companies that sponsor research will only report positive results, leaving out negative findings.

Some studies are pushed by people or organizations who will benefit financially. Other studies may be conducted for no other reason than to give researchers qualifications for promotions or tenure.

I took hormone replacement therapy when it was hyped as the greatest thing for women since we were given the right to vote. The flip side some years later showed HRT was found to increase the incidence of breast cancer and stroke.

The bottom line:

There are excellent scientific studies and physicians. Overall, folks are benefiting from all the twists and turns of medical research.

The American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “moderation in all things.”

I’m with Emerson. Whether it’s a burger or salad, juicy steak or chicken, a lot can be said for moderation.

Postscript: This column was ready to be filed when I read that Vitamin D and magnesium are important supplements.

Geez: You can’t make this stuff up: Maybe I should stop reading!

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Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.