Drink Tequila for Stronger Bones! – Reading Health Claims Critically

“Drink tequila for good bone health!”

“Love tequila? You might just have got another solid reason to drink up!”

“This isn’t the first time tequila has been hailed for its health benefits either – it can also help lower blood sugar, aid weight loss and even fight cholesterol.”

Dressing Up the Research

A friend, in good fun, recently sent me the article with these provocative claims supposedly on research that “says” drinking tequila would keep my bones strong!

Journalists have been having fun with crazy health claim headlines and stories for a for a long time and “snake oil” remedies for everything that ails us has been hawked for even longer.

It’s OK To Be Critical

Have fun reading them, but don’t bet on the claims changing your life other than the laughter is actually good for your health!1,2,3

Is laughter good for your health? Well, maybe. I did give you some citations from peer-reviewed literature listed on the National Institute of Health’s PubMed website.

So, it, therefor, must be true that laughter makes you happier, healthier and live longer.

Right? Well, probably.

What these studies do reasonably conclude is that laughter is associated with exam or test outcomes commonly considered to be associated with “good” health and longevity.

That conclusion could still be wrong.

Science Isn’t Supposed To Be “Sexy”

Science is like that – it’s not very “sexy” or “flashy” unless you’re an academic. People who’s lives revolve around research – scientists, academics, clinicians – get really excited about this dry peer-reviewed research with solid design and sound statistical analysis. My wife chuckles, shakes her head and thinks I’m really a bit “off” when I get all excited and animated about reading some obscure study I find particularly fascinating and meaningful.

Research study abstracts don’t make for good news headlines, though.

If It’s Too Good To Be True…

Always keep in mind that the more spectacular the headline the less likely it is to be true! Be open and be critical.

So, what about drinking tequila for strong bones? What does the “tequila study” actually say?

A group of mice ingesting diets supplemented with agave fructans showed increased blood osteocalcin and calcium and bone calcium compared to controls.

That’s it. The fructans are fructose polymers found in the agave used to make tequila. But, the fructans along with other sugars  in agave are broken down during fermentation when making tequila.

So, is tequila a source of fructans? No.

Will drinking tequila make your bones stronger? Nope…sorry.

If you like drinking tequila, you’ll have to come up with something else if you feel you need a justification.

The Moral of the Story?

Always be ready to say, “Hey, wait a minute!”

Always check it out before you believe claims. Journalists giving you the lowdown on the latest health related research need to be taken with a grain of salt! Consider the source. Are you given a link to the research they’re telling you about? Is the feel of the coverage focused on informing you or is it to entertain you? How far has the connection between the research the recommendations been stretched?

We are living in an incredibly exciting time for health related research. The pace of studies and connections being made between the sciences constantly quickens.

Keep your mind open, but keep it sharpened, too. It’s fine to add something new into your health habits – if it’s reasonable. Just remember to keep those things that make the biggest difference – whole foods, clean air and water, exercise, sleep, nurturing relationships, a sense of purpose, work…oh, and laughter, too, the science proves it!

References

1 Clark A, Seidler A, Miller M, 2001, Inverse association between sense of humor and coronary heart disease, Int J Cardiol. 2001, 80(1):87-8.

2 Kimata H, 2004, Laughter counteracts enhancement of plasma neurotrophin levels and allergic skin wheal responses by mobile phone-mediated stress, Behavioral medicine, 29(4), pp. 149-52.

3 Sugawara J, Tarumi T, Tanaka H, 2010, Effect of mirthful laughter on vascular function, The American journal of cardiology, 106(6), pp. 856-9.

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