Q. I enjoyed your article about saturated fats. My husband and I have been eating saturated fat and avoiding all the “white stuff” like flour and sugar. We have been separating “fuels” by having protein and fats or lean protein with healthy carbs at our meals.
I have lost 30 pounds. My cholesterol went from 204 to 160, and my triglycerides from 140 to 41.
A. For decades, nutrition scientists have told us that eating saturated fat would lead to clogged coronary arteries. This seemed logical, but it was not based on evidence.
The most recent study, called PURE (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology), followed more than 135,000 people for seven years. During that time, about 4,700 had heart attacks or strokes, and nearly 6,000 died. Those who consumed a high-carbohydrate diet rich in sugars and processed flour were more likely to suffer such consequences (The Lancet, online, Aug. 29, 2017).
According to the authors, “High carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of total mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality.” Surprisingly, the more saturated fat these individuals consumed, the lower their risk of stroke.
Q. I thought soy milk was supposed to be a healthy food. I have a low thyroid condition. I had checked to make sure there weren’t any food interactions with the Synthroid I was prescribed and didn’t see anything worrisome.
I started drinking a cup of soy milk per day. Over just a few months, I gained 25 pounds, and my TSH reading rocketed up to four times what it had been. I’ve been unable to take that weight gain off even with increasing dosages of Synthroid. My body temperature is low, and I have debilitating fatigue. Are there supplements I should avoid?
A. If you take your Synthroid with soy milk or coffee, you may not absorb the full dose (Clinical Therapeutics, February 2017). ConsumerLab.com recently summarized interactions with supplements. In addition to soy, minerals such as iron or calcium and antacids such as aluminum hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide can interfere with levothyroxine absorption. You should leave at least four hours between swallowing any of these and taking your thyroid hormone.
You can learn more about treating your thyroid problem from our “Guide to Thyroid Hormones,” available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. If taking your Synthroid in the morning is too complicated, you might consider taking it at bedtime.
Q. My husband’s gas decreased when I added probiotics to the vitamins I give him in the mornings. He also has less gas when he avoids milk and milk products, but he won’t do that! He likes having a glass of milk with his cereal in the morning, even though it makes him stink for the rest of the day. Any ideas?
A. It is possible he is lactose intolerant. When people cannot digest milk sugar, they often experience gas and digestive upset.
There are dairy products such as Lactaid that are low in lactose. That should reduce his gas production. Pills that contain the lactase enzyme that breaks down lactose also might help.
Bismuth, found in Pepto-Bismol and Devrom, can reduce the unpleasant aroma from flatulence. He should follow the dosing instructions to avoid overdosing on bismuth.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them at Questions@PeoplesPharmacy.com. Their newest book is “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”