Search Term: " PhD "
Is CBD Oil The Supplement That Your Workout Is Missing?
May 29, 2018 09:16 AM
Although hard evidence about the effects of cannabinoids like CBD is difficult to come by, our growing understanding of the body's natural endocannabinoid systems suggest that there is at least the potential for benefits from CBD for athletic performance. CBD, for example, may help boost the endocannabinoid system's suppression of pain and inflammation. However, it is also important to note that THC, the psychoactive ingredient in whole marijuana, appears to decrease long-range endurance. More research is sorely needed to understand just how CBD and other cannabinoid compounds impact athletic performance.
"Despite anecdotal evidence that CBD oil might help with athletic performance and recovery, there actually haven't been any clinical trials examining those effects, says Brook Henry, PhD, an assistant research scientist at the University of California, San Diego's Center for Medical Cannabis Research and department of psychiatry."
Read more: https://www.refinery29.com/cbd-oil-for-exercise
Selenium, vitamin K2 and nicotinamide riboside ride new research toward roles beyond being ...
May 26, 2018 09:16 AM
When we're in need of a new multivitamin, we typically just run to the local drug store and take whatever we see on the shelf. Lately, researchers have been digging deeper into what these mainstream pharmaceutical companies are putting into these multivitamin supplements. A good example is a chemical called selenium. Studies by certain commercial corporations claim that it has cancer fighting abilities, but the research seems to be a bit vague and even watered down.
"New indications for ingredients that have been featured in many multivitamin products have helped to expand their reach into different formulations and even standalone products."
Read more: https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Article/2018/04/24/Selenium-vitamin-K2-and-nicotinamide-riboside-ride-new-research-toward-roles-beyond-being-multivitamin-bit-players
How arthritis can affect your eye sight
October 28, 2017 01:14 PM
Although we normally think of arthritis as a disease affecting our joints, it can affect other parts of our body including our eye sight. Dry eyes can be caused by some arthritis medications. Inflammation from Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause Scleritis which could cause your eyeball to split open. Glaucoma can also come as a result of arthritis medication. Inflammation may also result in Cataracts. All of these eye conditions are things you should discuss with your healthcare professional.
"Rheumatoid arthritis can cause the wall of the eye, the sclera, to thin out, prompting the eyeball to split open."
Read more: https://startsat60.com/health/everyday-health/vision/how-arthritis-can-affect-your-eye-sight
Why do we need fiber?
September 03, 2017 09:14 AM
There are actual reasons why we need fiber. Fiber is neither a vitamin, nor a protein, yet we still need it in our diet. If you eat the right amount of it, fiber has a lot of different benefits that you will gain for your body. If you eat foods that are very high in fiber, then you can stop having constipation as well as hemorrhoids. Dietary fiber can also help you lower your cholesterol.
"Fiber is sometimes referred to as “nature’s broom” because it helps “clean out” the intestinal tract."
Read more: http://www.phillyvoice.com/why-do-we-need-fiber/
7 Healing Reasons To Take An Oatmeal Bath
May 13, 2017 11:44 AM
You may have never taken an oatmeal bath before now but if not you should at least consider it. They are great for you. They can have a positive affect on the body. This explains seven ways in which they can help. You may be afraid they feel unpleasant but that isn't the case either. Many people do this and don't complain about the feeling at all. People swear by oatmeal baths for their ailments.
"Since ancient times, healers have recommended oats for more than just relieving sustenance and constipation. Oats have been long-recognized as a healing treatment for a number of skin conditions."
Read more: http://www.thealternativedaily.com/reasons-to-take-an-oatmeal-bath/
How To Cure Obesity | Natural Remedies For Obesity
March 17, 2017 11:44 AM
Would you believe that more than 1/3 of all adults in the US suffer from obesity? With this condition comes an influx of health concerns and problems, from an increased risk of heart disease to breathing problems like COPD. But now, if you are one of the people suffering from obesity, you can fight back. There are many natural remedies that may very well help you lose weight and reduce the problems that come with obesity. What can you do?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cjESSiyJuM&rel=0
"There are many ways for obesity to be treated naturally, you do not have to turn to drugs or surgeries."
Green Gorilla Rolls-Out Their Master Grower® Division Announcing Dr. Av Singh PhD., PAg. as a ...
February 27, 2017 04:59 PM
Dr. Av Singh, PhD., PAg. is the newest advisory board member to Green Gorilla. He will help further the Master Grower Division of the company. Dr. Singh has an array of experience in Canada with organic agriculture. His expertise will be used in the designing of the best nutrients and the best way to cultivate the medicinal marijuana so there is little negative affect on the environment.
Boost your memory now, avoid dementia later
February 17, 2017 05:59 AM
My father played tennis and basketball during his youth, then shifted to golf in his mid- 40s. He didn’t smoke or drink except occasionally, during special occasions. He shunned rich foods and had a simple diet of fish, lean meat, fruits, and vegetables. He is, to this day, still driving his car and playing golf at age 96! He is the chairman emeritus of the Senior Citizens Golfers and leads the group to attend golf tournaments abroad once a year.
Relax With Passion Flower, and Overcome Your Insomnia
June 09, 2011 11:33 AM
Passion flower is used by many people to help them relax and overcome their insomnia. People who find it difficult to sleep have discovered that a few drops of passion flower extract or a passion flower tea before bed can help them relax and get to sleep. They are amongst a growing number of people trying to avoid diazepam and Valium as a means of relaxation and overcoming stress, because it doesn’t get them hooked.
According to a study carried out by some PhD researchers and reported in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics in 2001, the alkaloids and flavones contained in passion flower are just as good as these oxazepams at calming your general anxiety levels, yet do not impair your ability to work as the likes of diazepams such as Valium do, and are also non-addictive.
Passion flower works by calming you down through its effect on the neurotransmitters in your central nervous system, and not only overcomes general anxiety symptoms, but helps you to relax and sleep well at night. It is a natural substance, unlike the synthetic chemical nature of diazepam and other oxazepams and many insomniacs find it a godsend.
April 08, 2010 04:31 PM
Comments by Craig Gerbore, CEO of Madhava:
Reading through the attack articles and blogs that have surfaced recently one could think that using agave is bad for one's health. These claims are utterly false and misleading. They are extreme views drawn from extreme examples and applied way out of context. They are propagandizing and clearly designed to frighten, not educate. All of the fears and concerns associated with the overconsumption of sugars and calories in general have been unfairly cast on agave.
What is a "healthy" sweetener? One that you use moderately and sensibly.
Health concerns related to fructose and caloric sweeteners are all dependant on the overconsumption of them. All foods have calories and it is the overall consumption of calories that lead to obesity and related issues, not any one food source.
Agave's caloric value is comparable to the other sweeteners in the category. Due to its greater sweetness though, less agave is used compared to the others, so agave actually can reduce caloric consumption per serving. This is due to a higher fructose content. The higher content does not mean higher consumption though, due to the smaller portion used. But, it is not the single serving that matters, it is the number of servings which lead to the overconsumption issues which may result in health concerns.
As a reference point, 9-10 teaspoon servings of agave would be the approximate caloric equivalent of one 16 oz soft drink. With this perspective, is agave really being overconsumed as a choice of sweetener for home use?
Every single health issue which the attackers have tried to associate with agave is really the result of a caloric overconsumption issue. There are no documented issues with normal, moderate consumption of agave or sweeteners in general as part of our everyday diet. For reasons unknown, some have attempted to isolate agave from the real world and real world conditions with the goal of inhibiting agave's use. They play on people's fears, reference false information and fail to address health issues in any meaningful way.
The purpose of this article is to debunk the controversial misinformation surrounding agave. All information debunking the myths and misinformation is based on current science and facts. It is our goal to provide you with useful information so that you can make your personal nutritional choices in a well-informed, science-based manner.
The Agave Controversy: Exposing the fraudulent article by Rami Nagel
By Dr. Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, FACN, CNS, FISSN
And Craig Gerbore, CEO Madhava
The controversy about agave syrup was manufactured by the publication of a single article on the internet, which has been reproduced and adapted for virtually every other article produced on the internet and other media venues. That article, written by Rami Nagel and published on Naturalnews.com, was highly biased and full of inaccuracies, half-truths and misinformation about agave. Since the Naturalnews.com article has been the sole source of nearly all other popular articles in public media, we want to set the record straight with science-based, reliable information to offer a more balanced resource to those interested in learning more about agave syrup. Who is the author, Rami Nagel?
According to the description on the Naturalnews.com website, Rami Nagel is a "citizen journalist". This means that Mr. Nagel is self-employed, and not employed as an in-house journalist by the website. He wrote and published the article without any editorial or content oversight, and the editor of the website, Mike Adams, makes it clear that the article was not checked for incorrect or inaccurate information or facts. The introduction to the article, written by Mr. Adams, states that readers had written to comment that Mr. Nagel's resources were biased with conflicts of interest due to their financial interests in competing sweeteners, such as brown rice syrup. So even the website editor himself states that the article is not fact-checked, and it is biased and unbalanced.
Who is Russ Bianchi?
The sole resource interviewed for the article is Russ Bianchi, identified by the author as Managing Director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc. Mr. Bianchi has clear conflict of interest ties to the sweetener industry. We have documentation of the fact that Mr Bianchi had plans to market a product named Replace. It was to be touted as a low calorie alternative sweetener composed of natural and artificial ingredients! Mr Bianchi was prevented from marketing this sweetener as the result of a lawsuit against him by the owner of the formula.
Mr Bianchi is quoted by Nagel extensively and exclusively. Many, if not all, of his statements are blatantly false or misrepresentations of fact. He is clearly propagandizing against agave nectar.
Was anyone else interviewed for this article?
Yes. Craig Gerbore, president and owner of Madhava Agave Syrup, was extensively interviewed by the author but no parts of that interview were included in the article.
It is important to note that neither Mr Nagel or Mr Bianchi have not made themselves available for questions on their statements since the articles appearance. They remain out of sight and have entirely avoided the controversy their statements created.
What is agave nectar?
The opening line of this paragraph in the article by Mr. Nagel states:
"The principal constituent of the agave is starch, such as what is found in corn or rice."
This is absolutely false. There is no starch in agave. The source of carbohydrate in agave syrup is inulin, a polysaccharide made up primarily of strings of fructose units. Starch is a polysaccharide made up of strings of glucose molecules. They are significantly different, and this difference is why agave syrup is naturally sweet.
The very basis of the argument presented by Mr. Nagel is false.
The agave plant is a succulent, similar to a cactus. The agave sweetener comes from both the Salmiana agave plant and the agave Tequilana (Blue Agave) which are both organically farmed in Mexico and certified organic by USDA approved certifiers. As the salmiana plant grows it produces a stalk called the "quiote" and when this is removed, a natural liquid called "aquamiel". The liquid is collected from the plant, while Blue agave pinons are harvested and shredded to remove the similar juice. Either can be naturally processed thermally or by enzymes into agave nectar.
The juice of the plant is not naturally sweet. The string of connected fructose units that makes up the major proportion of inulin does not have a sweet taste, but when the fructose units are separated (the process is called hydrolysis) by the addition of an enzyme, similar to digestion, or thermally for most blue agave, the syrup becomes quite sweet. That is the entire processing chain for agave nectar. There are no additives, other ingredients or chemicals in Madhava agave nectar. It is absolutely pure and organic and GMO free.
? Mr. Nagel claims that agave syrup is a "refined corn fructose" similar to high fructose corn syrup. This is absolutely false. There is no relationship between agave syrup and high fructose corn syrup in any way, including the source of the product, or the manufacturing process.
? Mr. Nagel refers to a "confidential FDA letter" from Mr. Martin Stutsman, claiming that agave is fraudulently labeled. We contacted Mr. Stutsman at the United States Food and Drug Administration, and his response made it clear that there was never a "confidential FDA letter". He did publish a public letter referenced in an FDA document as "FDA letter from Martin Stutsman to Dr. Eric
Wilhelmsen (Wilhelmsen Consulting), May 8, 2000", regarding evaporated cane juice, a topic wholly unrelated to agave syrup.
? He continued in his response to us that the paragraph in Mr. Nagel's article inaccurately reflected the substance of his comments in the document.
This link will take you to the original document in which the letter was referenced (reference #2):
In fact, Mr. Nagel fabricated the entire story of the letter. Mr. Stutsman is a lawyer, not a doctor. The quotes were completely taken out of context from the document, and the quotes never referred to agave syrup at any time. Nagel goes on to further misrepresent Mr. Stutsman's intent in the published document by weaving in other inaccurate information that is thoroughly unrelated to the original document. Mr Bianchi's subsequent statements on labeling issues are false and without merit.
Mr. Nagel is clearly caught red-handed. He has misrepresented the words of a government official, lied about the facts, and twisted the information to achieve his own agenda. This strategy is repeated throughout the article.
? Mr. Nagel continues his deceptive writing by referring to a quote by the late Dr. Varro Tyler in his book, The Honest Herbal. The first line of the paragraph is a direct quote from the book. Nothing else in that paragraph remotely resembles anything else found in Dr. Tyler's book. Mr. Nagel is trying to claim that agave syrup contains large quantities of saponins, and that they can be harmful to health. Here is the debunking of that paragraph:
1. Dr. Tyler does not include the variety of agave plant used for agave syrup.
2. The entire discussion is about the use of the sword-shaped leaves and the stem. Agave syrup is produced from the natural liquid in the plant. The saponins are isolated from the leaves of the plant.
3. There is no documented evidence to suggest agave syrup contains worrisome levels of saponins and the entire rest of the discussion about health dangers is fabricated and false.
People are going to continue to consume sweet food and drink. There are only three categories of choice to sweeten food. Those are artificial sweeteners, stevia, or caloric sweeteners from natural sources, sugars.
Most people will not choose artificial. Many will not choose stevia. That only leaves the category of sugars. In this group, agave is a good choice due to its organic quality, ease of
use, neutral flavor, low glycemic index and the fact that less is used to equal the sweetness of the others in the category.
The sweeteners in this category are composed of three primary sugars used to sweeten foods: glucose, fructose and sucrose. These sugars belong to a class of compounds known as carbohydrates. "Saccharide" is a term that denotes sugar, or substances derived from sugar. Monosaccharides are simple or single sugars; disaccharides are derived from two joined monosaccharides and when they are hydrolyzed, or separated, they yield two molecules of simple sugar. Strings of more than two sugar molecules are called polysaccharides. This category includes compounds such as starches, cellulose and inulin.
Glucose and fructose are monosaccharides. Glucose and fructose are found abundantly in nature in fruits and plants. Sucrose is the disaccharide formed by the joining of glucose and fructose, also known as table sugar. When comparing their relative sweetness, glucose is the least sweet tasting, sucrose is next, and fructose is the sweetest of the three sugars, measured as 1.4 times sweeter than table sugar. Because it is so sweet, people typically use less fructose when sweetening foods compared to sucrose.
? In the article by Mr. Nagel he states , "fructose is not what is found in fruit. Commonly, fructose is compared with its opposite and truly naturally occurring sweetener, known as ‘levulose' (made by nature)..."
Another fabrication. In fact, levulose is just another name for fructose. There are various nomenclatures used in the scientific naming of compounds. Fructose and levulose are exactly the same thing; the names are interchangeable. It is no different than if you called your father, "dad", and your sibling called your father, "father". He would still be the exact same person. Fructose and levulose are different names for the exact same thing: a sugar found in nature.
Mr. Bianchi also is quoted to say that the body does not recognize the fructose in agave. This is another false piece of propaganda which demonstrates just how far he is reaching. If this were true, it would have no impact on us. He immediately contradicts himself with the claims of detrimental effects caused by the overconsumption of fructose.
Sugars can be compared to each other in their ability to raise blood sugar levels by using the Glycemic Index. The scale is set from zero to 100, where low numbers do not have much impact on blood sugar levels, and high numbers raise blood sugar levels quickly. Fructose is very low on the scale. Because agave syrup is high in fructose, it has a rating of 32 or lower. Honey, which has a higher proportion of glucose to fructose, has a Glycemic Index of 58. Sucrose has a Glycemic Index of 68, and glucose, serving as the index standard, is 100.
All sugars, whether fructose, glucose, sucrose or others, contribute 4 calories per gram to our total diet. 1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams = 16 calories
In addition to calories, sugars sweeten our foods offering a desirable taste and adding enjoyment and pleasure to our dining. During cooking and baking, sugars allow for browning and the unique consistencies of syrups, candies, frostings and frozen desserts. The varieties of sugars, such as crystallized table sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, molasses, honey and agave nectar, among others, contribute different properties and flavors to foods.
When you add your own sugar to foods you are in control of how much sugar you use. Most people would never add as much sugar as do the food manufacturers. Moderate amounts of sugar can certainly be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet for an active individual. Natural sugars are easily metabolized and utilized by the body, offering a very efficient source of fuel for physical and mental activity.
Of course, sugars should be used in moderation in the diet. This can control calories and help create a diet that is dense in nutrients.
Impact of sugar on health and disease
? The remainder of Mr. Nagel's article works to link agave syrup with the increased incidence of obesity, diabetes, metabolic disease, and the general rise of morbidity and mortality in the population. This is an overconsumption issue involving far more than the occasional use of agave. Here are the facts:
• Rats that are fed a high fructose diet become obese and will develop the chronic diseases associated with obesity: insulin resistance, diabetes and metabolic disease.
• No one should eat a diet that reflects this type of experimental diet.
• Too much sugar in the diet, whether from fructose, glucose or sucrose, can be unhealthy. Diets high in sugar promote tooth decay and periodontal disease; create an overabundance of calories and a deficit of nutrients. This scenario typically leads to weight gain and the development of chronic disease.
• Active individuals can include a moderate amount of added sugar in their diet without negative health consequences. When calorie intake is balanced with physical activity, sugar serves as an efficient source of fuel for muscles, the brain and the central nervous system.
• According to the World Health Organization (2003), individuals can healthfully include 10% of their daily calories from added sugars. This translates into 200 calories for a 2000 calorie diet, or 12½ teaspoons of added sugar daily. Clearly, one can safely add a couple of teaspoons of sweetener to a cup of tea or coffee, or have a little sweetened food without worrying about their risk of developing disease.
• Agave syrup, which is sweeter than other sugars and low on the Glycemic Index scale, is a good choice to include as one of the added sugars in your diet because you will use less sugar (and therefore fewer calories) and minimally raise blood sugar levels.
Just a teaspoon of agave: the healthy use of sweeteners in your diet
We all want to live healthier and longer lives. Diet and nutrition plays a key role, impacting our health and our ability to perform physically and mentally now and into the future. Food offers us not only sustenance, but also pleasure and enjoyment. Food is present in so many parts of our lives: at celebrations, business events, family events, religious and spiritual occasions, sports outings, the focus of our family meals, intimate dinners, and sometimes just the excuse to socialize.
Sweet foods make us feel good. Sugar allows for the elevation of serotonin in our brains, the "feel good" neurotransmitter that elevates mood, helps us focus, and in the evening, helps us relax and sleep.
Sugar is a source of energy for our muscles, brain and central nervous system. Without sugar our bodies will not function at peak capacity.
Too much sugar, however, is not good. In small amounts sugar energizes us, but in large doses, repeated throughout the day, day in and day out, sugar puts stress on the body. The extra calories can lead to weight gain and obesity, which in time can lead to chronic disease. In the short term, high sugar intakes can lead to a nutritionally deficient diet and a sense of being on an emotional roller coaster.
So be selective about your use of sugars and use them in moderation in your diet. Just like all foods, a variety will enhance the nutritional content of your diet and the flavor and tastes that you can enjoy. Since sugars come in different forms and have different flavors, they can be used most effectively in specific foods and beverages. For instance, agave syrup is liquid and less viscous than honey, making it easy to mix into cold liquids like iced tea and coffee, and is great to add to cold unsweetened cereals for a little sweet taste. Agave's mild flavor allows chefs and bakers to sweeten foods lightly, without overpowering the taste of the dish.
Pay attention to how much sugar is added to your diet every day. Read labels so that you know when sugar is added to manufactured foods. Keep the consumption of added sugars in your diet to no more than 10% of your total daily calorie intake so that you have plenty of room for nutrient dense foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein-rich foods, nuts, seeds and healthy oils.
Remember that nutrition is a science based on facts. We are making great advances in our understanding of the science of foods and nutrition. Beware of people with hidden agendas using fear tactics to influence your choices. Don't take their opinion at face value. What are their credentials? What conflicts of interest do they have? If they do not disclose conflicts, then assume that they are manipulating the truth.
Most of all enjoy food. Think about what you need to eat to promote whole health. Don't overindulge, but don't deprive yourself of the bounty of wonderful tastes, either. Use celebrations as occasions to enjoy your favorite foods and try new ones. A teaspoon or two of sugar easily fits into the diet of an active, healthy person. Agave syrup offers an organic low-glycemic choice for those looking for that option.
Resources for this article:
Charley H. Food Science, 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY, 1982.
Figlewicz DP et al. Effect of moderate intake of sweeteners on metabolic health in the rat. Physiology and Behavior 98:618-624, 2009
Johnson RK et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 2009
Tyler VE. The Honest Herbal, Third Edition. Pharmaceutical Products Press, New York, NY, 1993.
Myth: Agave Nectar is bad for you and should be avoided at all cost!
April 08, 2010 04:14 PM
Agave Nectar attacks have increased recently; this is at a result of its popularity. More and more shoppers are finding Agave Nectar to be an amazing sugar substitute. With this the popularity of blogs and pop up articles have caught on as "Agave" has become a new buzz word such as "Green." The main source of the unfounded attacks on Agave are directly linked to one article written and posted on the web by a "Spiritual Psychologist" with no medical, science, or industry background.
Furthermore, the authors sole "sweetener” expert has direct links to artificial sweeteners discrediting both the author’s creditability and the "experts" motives. Not only does the "expert" have direct links to a potential competing sweetener, but has a history of questionable business practices. The complete disregard for medical, scientific, industry facts by the author and industry "expert" is appalling. Not to mention they should be ashamed for their fear based tactics and questionable ethics. We think it should be noted that the author himself has avoided entirely the controversy he created and has not made himself available to address questions about the errors of fact, the manipulation of information and misstatements included in his article, the purpose of which was not to educate, but an attempt to derail the rising popularity of agave nectar.
Madhava Honey has recently added to our consulting team, Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD, FACN, CNS, FISSN. She has written several books on the topic of High Performance Nutrition and worked with groups such as the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sonics, Miami Heat, Gatorade Sports Nutrition Speakers Network and a former Educational Advisory Board member of the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. She will be consulting with us and providing Madhava consumers with the facts about Agave Nectar and Fructose in a balanced diet.
Vitamin D Supplements
July 29, 2008 02:55 PM
Scientists at the Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, California have recently begun studying whether there is substantial convincing biological or behavioral evidence that links vitamin D deficiency to brain dysfunction. The study found that there is biological evidence which proves that there is an important role for vitamin D in the development of the brain and its function. Supplementation for groups that are chronically low in vitamin D has been found to be extremely beneficial. Vitamin D is involved in brain function through its wide distribution of vitamin D receptors throughout the brain.
Vitamin D affects the proteins in the brain that are known to be involved directly with learning, memory, motor control, and possibly even maternal and social behavior. Research has shown that supplementation is beneficial to those groups whose vitamin D status is extremely low, especially nursing infants, the elderly, and African Americans, but the need for further study has been established. The authors of the study argue that vitamin D supplementation is necessary for those groups that are at risk.
Increased vitamin D levels protect the body against osteoporosis, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. There is now evidence that suggests that vitamin D may help protect against a potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure which occurs in some people as they get older. A study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition had researchers finding that as many as 60 percent of whites and more than 90 percent of blacks who participated in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey had insufficient blood levels of vitamin D.
Researchers also investigated the association between vitamin D, blood pressure, and age. This investigation found that people with lower blood levels of vitamin D had significantly higher increases in systolic blood pressure as they aged than did those people who had healthy levels. Actually, the age-related rise in blood pressure turned out to be 20 percent lower in those people who had healthy vitamin D levels, as oppose to those people who did not. This suggests that vitamin D deficiency may play a critical role in high blood pressure development.
Many other studies have suggested that there is a role for vitamin D in reducing blood pressure. According to Vin Tangpricha MD, PhD., an assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Lipids at Emory University School of Medicine, there is not enough evidence that vitamin D prevents hypertension available, however, because vitamin D insufficiency is highly prevalent throughout the United States, it may be a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement solely because of the strong evidence on vitamin D’s ability to prevent osteoporotic fractures. It has been noted that further studies are needed in order to determine vitamin D’s effect on blood pressure.
Additionally, it needs to be determined if giving all patients vitamin D will help lower blood pressure. Those people who have a family history of other risk factors that are associated with high blood pressure, such as being older than sixty-five, should have their blood pressure checked regularly. Be sure to look for more studies and information on the effects of supplemental vitamin D on both white and black habitants of the United States to help battle vitamin D deficiency. To learn more about supplemental vitamin D, contact your local health food provider.
Is Saw Palmetto's Safe?
July 15, 2008 06:58 PM
Saw palmetto, a small palm tree which is found in Florida and South Carolina, produces berries which contain many beneficial compounds. Florida is the biggest producer of saw palmetto. Small patches of this herb can be found from the southeast coastline of South Carolina and southeastern Georgia to southern Mississippi. But it does not grow naturally in Texas, Mexico, or the Caribbean. It grows in every Florida County, but much of its production is found in South Florida.
Supplements that contain saw palmetto are extremely effective in treatment of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH), one of the most common health conditions in older men, with half of all men aged 40-60 and more than 90 percent of men over 80 having BPH. BPH is caused by the conversion of estrogen to a very potent form of testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Saw palmetto berry extract has been found to relive the symptoms of BPH by furthering the production of DHT. With the use of saw palmetto extract, it has been found that most men achieve some relief of symptoms within the first 30 days.
Additionally, saw palmetto is an herb that is commonly used to treat benign prostate enlargement, is rich in phytosterols, especially beta-sitosterol. Also, saw palmetto is very effective for excess testosterone, as it promotes testosterone excretion. Native Americans use the fruit for food, but it is also used in the treatment of a variety of urinary and reproductive system problems. Similarly, the Mayans drank it as a tonic, while the Seminoles used the berries both as an expectorant and as an antiseptic.
Recent concerns over the safety of saw palmetto supplements for prostate health have emerged and may be unfounded. A new study reported that there were no adverse effects from the supplementation of saw palmetto. The randomized clinical trial, Saw palmetto for Treatment of Enlarged Prostates (STEP) study, recruited two hundred and twenty-five men, all of which had moderate-to-severe symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Each of these men was assigned to receive either 320 milligrams per day of a saw palmetto supplement or a placebo.
This study lasted one year. After the study, researchers concluded that there were no significant differences between the groups when it came to suffering from at least one serious adverse event. 5.4 percent of men in the saw palmetto group had one serious adverse event as compared to 9.7 percent in the placebo group. There were also no significant differences that were observed when it came to non-serious symptomatic adverse events, as 34.8 percent of men in the saw palmetto group experienced such an event, compared to 30.1 percent in the placebo group.
The study was welcomed by Daniel Fabricant, PhD., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the industry association of the Natural Products Association. Dr. Fabricant said that he agreed with the authors of the study and that the results are reassuring, saying that he believe the study supports the viewpoint that those people with experience in botanicals have held for an extended amount of time in that when they are used responsibly and the amounts and concentrations are supported by clinical literature, botanicals are extremely safe and effective.
Weight Loss and Calories
June 24, 2008 02:45 PM
Although conventional wisdom argues that a calorie is a calorie, regardless of where it comes from, whether that be from a salmon fillet or an ice cream cone. But you don’t have to be a nutritionist to realize that there’s a huge difference between the nutrition of salmon verses that of ice cream. Legions of chronic dieters understand the differences, based on their personal experiences. For example, they claim that they gain a large amount of weight after eating one slice of pizza that is rich in carbohydrates, but do not after eating a large chicken breast and steamed broccoli meal that contains even more calories.
There is now a legitimate scientific explanation for why some calories are different from others. Doctors Eugene J. Fine, MD, and Richard D. Feinman, PhD, of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn have explained that the widely held calorie-is-a-calorie belief is based on the law of thermodynamics, which is a key concept in physics. The first law in thermodynamics is about the amount of energy that goes into a system being equal to the amount of energy being released. To lose weight along this line of thinking, you need to either eat fewer calories or burn off more of them.
However, researchers have pointed out that the second law of thermodynamics can be associated with living creatures. The second law of thermodynamics claims that an inherent variation and inefficiency in all biological and biochemical processes. This can also be understood by saying that people burn energy less efficiently than cars and light bulbs do, while some people burn energy less efficiently than other people do.
There are many reasons that a calorie is not always a calorie. If you have a higher resting metabolic rate, you will do a much better job of burning all sorts of calories, as compared to someone who has a lower metabolic rate. If you secrete a lot of insulin due to being pre-diabetic or overweight, then you’ll be much more likely to make fat than muscle. Also, if you eat foods that have transitive fats, you’re a lot more likely to gain weight around your waist. It is recommended that people eat the highest quality of calories as possible. This includes nutrient-dense foods such as fish, chicken, fresh vegetables, minerals, quality protein, and healthful fats. These foods provide us with the most vitamins that are necessary for a healthy and balanced diet.
The alternative, which is not recommended, is a lot of sweets, soft drinks, breads, pastas, bagels, and muffins. These foods provide mostly empty calories in the form of sugars and starches. These foods also trigger the production of excess insulin, which will cause you to store these calories mostly around your waste, which is an occurrence that is definitely unwanted by the majority of people.
Due to the above facts, we can finally conclude that a single calorie from a salmon fillet is not the equivalent to a single calorie from an ice cream cone, as the calorie from the salmon fillet is packed with many more vitamins and nutrients that the ice cream cone is lacking.
June 26, 2007 02:39 PM
Eighty percent of Americans over 50 years old suffer from some form of degenerative joint disease, and many others suffer from sports injuries, tennis elbow and tendonitis, which can result in symptoms not unlike arthritis—soreness, stiffness, and general pain in the region. An ever widening number of people are newly discovering a well-established natural remedy for these symptoms—and numerous others—with MSM.
Methylsulfonylmethane (meth-l-sul-fonil-meth-ane), or MSM, is a natural nutrient found in many foods and is a vital building block of joints, cartilage, skin, hair and nails. It also supports a wide number of biochemical processes in the body, including energy production.
Due to the demineralization of the earth over time, many naturally occurring elements—including MSM- are not available in foods in high enough quantities to deliver therapeutic value. As a dietary supplement, MSM must be synthesized. When made correctly, it is identical to what is found in nature, and can be taken alone or in combination with other health supplements.
According to Stanley W Jacob, MD, Ronald M Lawrence, MD, PhD, and Martin Zucker, authors of The Miracle of MSM, MSM is rapidly establishing a reputation as a safe, natural and effective solution for many types of pain and inflammatory conditions, including degenerative wear-and-tear arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic back pain, chronic headaches, muscle pain, Fibromyalgia, tendonitis, and bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, TMJ, post-traumatic pain and inflammation, and heartburn. MSM also has benefits for allergy sufferers. According to Jacob, Lawrence and Zucker, “After many years of treating pain patients with MSM, it has become clear that perhaps a single most powerful benefit it offers is quick relief of the symptoms of common allergies. In hundreds of cases, this nutritional supplement has proved highly effective.”
The primary reason for MSM’s value is its high sulfur content. MSM contains 34 percent sulfur—the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and one critical to making collagen, the primary constituent of cartilage and connective tissue. MSM is thought to deliver sulfur to the body in a usable way so it can be incorporated into these tissues. Many people using MSM as a dietary supplement have attested to its effectiveness.
“I was acquainted with an elderly woman who had been on Prednisone for severe arthritis for a number of years,” says Rob Benjamin, director of quality control for Bergstrom Nutrition in Vancouver, Washington. “Her doctor had to take her off of it because of what it was doing to her kidneys. Her knuckle joints were about an inch and a half thick. I gave her a sample of MSM, then ran into her about six days later. She came up, threw her arms around my neck and took her gloves off, and the thickness of her knuckles had reduced to almost normal. All the swelling was gone.”
The leading MSM product, manufactured to the most stringent product specifications available, is OptiMSM®, made by Bergstrom Nutrition. The crucial step that makes OptiMSM of such a high quality is its distillation process, in which heat is used to separate pure MSM from impurities and the by-products of manufacturing. The company has evolved the exact boiling points that allow MSM to be isolated, consistently producing the purest MSM available.
“Our methods are more expensive and more energy intensive,” Says Benjamin. “But our prime concern is delivering the purest product available.”
Peter Gilliham’s Natural Vitality is proud to include OptiMSM in its daily multi nutrient Organic Life Vitamins (OLV).
Heart Disease and Low Magnesium
April 20, 2007 11:57 AM
According to A Rosanoff, PhD, founder of the Center for Magnesium Education and Research, “The most important market for impeding heart disease is a low magnesium to calcium ratio (Mg:Ca) in the cells. All the usual markers (or risk factors) for heart disease—e.g., high total cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol and High LDL cholesterol, high Homocysteine, high C reactive protein, syndrome X with its high blood sugar, active type 2 diabetes and hypertension—can all be a result of low magnesium status.”
The vast scientific evidence backing this bold statement is summarized for the lay public in the book The Magnesium Factor by Mildred S Seelig, MD, and Andrea Rosanoff, PhD.
D-Ribose supplied by Bioenergy Life Science
April 19, 2007 02:44 PM
A UNIQUE SUGAR MAY BE KEY TO ENERGIZING THE FAILING HEART Bioenergy Life Science's D-ribose offers promising options for energy-deprived hearts
MINNEAPOLIS, MN, APRIL 18, 2007-Following the recent publication in the New England Journal of Medicine that the failing heart is an "engine out of fuel" (N ENGL J MED 356;11, March 15, 2007), Bioenergy Life Science reports that D-ribose, a simple, five-carbon sugar, is a plausible option for addressing the nation's heart disease epidemic.
"When heart failure develops, many factors are involved, but energy deprivation is among the most important," said John St. Cyr, MD, PhD, the medical director of Bioenergy Life Science. "We've learned recently that patients with heart disease may have a deficient supply of high energy compounds. Past studies have demonstrated that D-ribose supplementation enhances the return of ATP levels with an associated improvement in diastolic function."
D-Ribose, unlike glucose, is a five-carbon sugar important for DNA, RNA, and most importantly, ATP, the "energy currency" of the cells. ATP is crucial in maintaining the integrity and function of every cell, which is necessary for day- to-day health. Ribose is one of the essential components of the ATP molecule.
D-Ribose, as a supplement, has repeatedly shown to improve functional capacity, quality of life, and everyday activities for patients afflicted with congestive heart failure.
Dr. Neubauer's article, "The Failing Heart - An Engine Out of Fuel," calls attention to the important underlying metabolic problem in patients with heart failure. "D-ribose could aid in this metabolic deficiency," said Dr. St. Cyr. "The number of heart failure patients continues to grow every year. By replenishing ATP to an energy-deficient heart we can significantly improve a patient's quality of life."
NHA/Washington Update - Statistics Lie
April 06, 2007 04:57 PM
The mass media targets antioxidants with misleading stats.
The smear campaign against nutritional supplements continues in 2007, with headlines such as the following: “Antioxidants Don’t help You Live Longer,” “Antioxidants Might be Dangerous,” “Antioxidants Do Not Prevent Disease and May Increase Mortality.” Do you notice a theme? Antioxidants are the latest target for media manipulators seeking to steer the public away from life-enhancing nutrition.
The study that spawned these alarmist headlines, first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is a “meta-analysis”; this means it draws its conclusions from a number of different studies. In this case, 68 studies involving 232,606 people were analyzed. Meta-analyses are an example of how easily statistics can lie.
Like 2004’s infamous vitamin E-bashing meta-analysis (which proclaimed vitamin E to be deadly, even though it focused on elderly patients who were already stricken with disease), the recent meta-analysis of antioxidants has a preordained outcome—results are determined by which studies are chosen for analysis. Experts have pointed out significant flaws in the execution of this meta-analysis; for example, it includes studies that administered many different combinations of antioxidants, and in varying doses. In addition, these Hitler-skelter antioxidants and dosages are scattered across a wide range of people, everyone from male doctors to elderly nursing home patients. Finally, this meta-analysis neglected to include the most significant antioxidant study ever conducted in its findings. The china study, which in surveying 800 million people was one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind, verified antioxidants effectiveness in fighting cancer, heart disease and stroke. Why was it not included in the meta-analysis?
Even a junior high school science student would question this meta-analysis’s statistical significance. So how can mass media transform this flawed study into headlines that proclaim antioxidants will kill you?
The answer is because the media gets away with it. In our fast paced world, where celebrity rehab stints are front page news, fact-driven journalism is fading—and distracted news readers are enabling its demise. The solution? Consider media reports with awareness and intelligence, and never assume that headlines speak truthfully.
The recent antioxidant bashing study crumbles when subjected to awareness and intelligence. In addition to the obvious study flaws, and even more telling: stories coving the study with headlines proclaiming “antioxidants may increase mortality” are grievously misleading; as it turns out, the study did not identify any causes of death—which were surely diverse given that the study tracked over 200,000 diverse people. Believe the headlines, however, an antioxidants causing all the deaths when in fact they probably caused none—an example of the absurd “association with out causation” logic that may destroy our right to take safe, natural supplements.
Continue investigating and you will find that Denham Harman, MD, PhD, the “father of the free radical theory of aging,” antioxidants pioneer and professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, is able-bodied and active at age 91. Harman takes antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium daily—a revelation with more credibility than any antioxidant bashing hatchet-job study.
Educate yourself about antioxidants and other supplements that Congress is trying to take away from you. Fight to keep your health under your own control, always. Patronize the natural health food store that are committed to providing you with quality products and reliable knowledge. For more information, visit www.nha2007.com
Betaine HCI and Pepsin
January 28, 2007 08:41 PM
Betaine HCI and Pepsin
Betaine HCl is a form of HCl used as a nutrient to supplement the stomach’s own production of HCl, or stomach acid. While occasional indigestion may be a result of acid irritating tissue in the structure above the stomach known as the esophagus, a line of research suggests that the cause of this irritation may actually be less than optimal stomach acid production. Stomach acid is normally produced by the parietal cells of the stomach and the function of stomach acid is to break down food that enters the stomach into smaller fragments and nutrient components. These components move through the stomach into the small intestine where they are further broken down by digestive enzymes in the upper part of the small intestine. The individual nutrients that result from the digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates can then be absorbed and assimilated by the body and used for metabolism and growth. However, optimal stomach acid production is certainly a major step for the efficiency of the digestive process. Less than ideal stomach acid production prevents foods from being broken down properly and places an added burden on the remainder of the digestive process, including enzyme production from the pancreas.
As mentioned earlier, the presence of optimal stomach acid is necessary for the digestion and absorption of critical nutrients. Amino acids and other peptides from proteins, minerals, vitamin B12 and folic acid are examples of nutrients that require proper levels of stomach acid for their absorption and usage. The presence of adequate acid in the stomach is also required for the conversion of the digestive enzyme pepsin. Pepsin is produced in the stomach from its precursor pepsinogen, which is secreted by cells known as chief cells, and functions to help with the digestion of proteins. Pepsin breaks proteins down into their amino acid components. Since stomach acid is essential to the process of absorbing our nutrients from food, lack of sufficient acid production may lead to decreased health and general well-being.
Ideal stomach acid production is also essential for maintaining a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines. Firstly, acid production in the stomach itself provides a protective barrier that keeps the stomach environment safe. Secondarily, low levels of stomach acid can lead to improperly, incompletely, or poorly-digested food fragments that may cause an imbalance in the growth of normal bacterial flora in the intestines. Achieving the correct balance of flora is a key to maintaining proper digestive function and overall health.
Research also suggests that the body’s capacity to produce stomach acid normally declines as we age. Moreover, stress and other factors may impact proper stomach acid production. Occasional heartburn, bloating, belching, discomfort, and a "sour stomach" may often result from this. Food that we eat enters the stomach through the esophagus, or food pipe. At the junction of the esophagus with the stomach is a muscular structure known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). When food enters the stomach for digestion, the LES normally contracts, narrowing the passageway between the esophagus and the stomach and preventing the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus. A major trigger for the process of tightening the sphincter is the presence of sufficient stomach acid.
When sufficient stomach acid is sensed, the LES will close. However, in conditions where there is a lack of stomach acid, the sphincter remains open, allowing stomach contents, including acid, to flow back through the opening, potentially creating a sense of irritation and discomfort. Adequate stomach acid production is an essential criterion for the sphincter to function properly and prevent the backflow of stomach contents.1
A recent study assessed the incidence and causes of low vitamin B12 levels in elderly patients. The researchers suggest that the incidence of decreased vitamin B12 in the elderly, based on results of some epidemiological studies, is as high as 30-40%. When they looked at the possible causes of low B12 levels in 200 individuals that they followed, they found that food-B12 malabsorption accounted for 60-70% of the cases.2 In other words dietary B12 is bound to foods, generally animal proteins. The protein is normally broken down in conjunction with acid and pepsin in the stomach. However, low production of stomach acid may decrease the efficiency of this process and vitamin B12 remains bound to the protein source, leaving it unavailable to be absorbed. The absorption of countless other nutrients may also be impacted by low stomach acid and pepsin levels.
Gentian is an herb that is native to parts of Europe and Asia. The root has been used extensively by traditional herbalists to support digestive function due in large part to its bitter constituents. Its present day use as a therapeutic herb dates back to the Romans and Greeks, and related species have even been used in the Indian Ayurvedic system. Various traditional texts classify gentian as a bitter tonic and digestive stimulant, due to its ability to promote the secretion of digestive enzymes. The German Commission E has approved the use of gentian for digestive support, which leads to an increased secretion of saliva and digestive juices.3
Supplementation with the combination of nutrients and cofactors present in Betaine HCl Pepsin & Gentian supports the normal digestive function of the stomach and helps to ensure that the body maintains the efficiency of nutrient absorption from the foods that we eat. Gentian serves to stimulate digestive secretions in the stomach, priming it to digest the food that we eat, while supplemental Betaine HCl and pepsin provide support to the body’s innate production of these digestive factors.
Take 1 capsule with each meal, or as recommended by a healthcare professional.
1. Wright, Jonathan V., MD and Lane Lenard, PhD. Why Stomach Acid is Good For You. New York: Evans, 2001. 2. Andres E, et al. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency in elderly patients. CMAJ 2004; 171(3): 251-259. 3. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A and J Brinckmann, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000.
A Testosterone Breakthrough to Restore Health and Youth
May 29, 2006 07:17 PM
There is a powerful new performance-enhancing ingredient clinically proven in humans. Its called LJ100 Tongkat Ali. Four years ago no one in the United States had heard of Tongkat Ali. Today the herb is becoming increasingly well-known as an athletic performance enhancer, overall youth-promoting agent, and libido builder.
Tongkat Ali is the popular folk name for Eurycoma Longifolia, a medium sized, slender rain forest tree. The name Tongkat Ali means Ali’s walking stick and the plant is native to Malaysia, lower burma, Thailand and Indonesia. Tongkat Ali enjoys a history of use that dates back to the 1700’s, and today there is a growing body of serious science that corroborates its traditional uses, specifically for the patented and proprietary brand LJ100 Tongkat Ali standardized extract containing 28% bioactive glycopeptides.
LJ100 Tongkat Ali
LJ100 is a proprietary, patented ingredient, and has become recognized as the premier brand of Eurycoma Longifolia for supplements that build and tone muscles, boost energy levels, decrease body fat, slow the aging process, and increase libido for health-conscious consumers. LJ100 has undergone an exclusive, patented extraction process to capture the most potent, biologically active compounds. SourceOne Global Partners, headquarters in Chicago, holds the exclusive distribution rights to market and sell LJ100 Tongkat Ali in dietary supplements.
ATP and Lean Muscle
In studies, LJ100 Tongkat Ali extract greatly increases ATP production. ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is the basic unit of energy in the body, responsible for keeping us alive and going. By increasing ATP, overall energy and vitality are increased. Most people seek more energy and LJ100 Tongkat Ali provides it, without hyper stimulation, jittery nerves or insomnia. Promoting human energy production is a valuable health benefit by itself to make LJ100 Tongkat Ali an enduring botanical superstar. People want energy more than just about any other functional attribute.
Endocrinologists have known for a long time that testosterone increases the body’s ratio of lean muscle mass to fat. In both animals and humans, LJ100 Tongkat Ali increases muscle mass. In a study of men, half the subjects ingested LJ100 and half did not. In an eight-week physical training program the men who consumed LJ100 experienced greater gains in muscle mass and strength than those that did not. This demonstrates the powerful anabolic properties of Tongkat Ali. Instead of turning to the use of dangerous and potentially lethal steroids, it is recommended that more athletes opt for Tongkat Ali. In Malaysia, many professional field hockey players use LJ100 Tongkat Ali as an androgen and swear to its performance-enhancing effects. According to Chris Kilham, ethno botanist, author and lecturer, in a recent article in Physical Magazine,. “LJ100 Tongkat Ali has potential to revolutionize the sport nutrition category.”
Maintaining Normal cortisol / Testosterone Ratios
LJ100 is clinically proven to enhance weight loss and maintain high energy levels by maintaining normal levels of cortisol and testosterone during weight loss. More particularly, LJ100 studies have shown it to help maintain normal (low) cortisol and normal (high) testosterone levels during the stress of weight loss. This hormonal control provides energy to a person in a weight loss phase while simultaneously helping them lose weight. As a result, effective doses of LJ100 help prevent the body from seeking to gain weight by storing fat and increasing appetite. LJ100 can help stop the “yo-yo” diet effect where a dieter’s initial weight loss of a few pounds sends the body into catabolic state, leading to binge eating and fat storage.
LJ100’s Testosterone Breakthrough
LJ100 Tongkat Ali root contains numerous beneficial compounds, including potent protective antioxidants which inhibit cellular aging. What excites many people about LJ100 Tongkat Ali is that the root significantly boosts libido in men and women by increasing testosterone. Agents identified as glycoproteins are now proven to be the libido boosting ingredients in the plant.
Increasing testosterone is the key factor is the key factor in increasing libido. Testosterone is the most important of the male sex hormones, known as androgens, produced in the gonads. Testosterone plays a key role in the development and maturity of male sex organs. The hormone promotes secondary sex characteristics, including appearance of facial hair, enlargement of the larynx (producing a deeper voice), sexual desire and sexual behavior. Testosterone also stimulates metabolism, promotes lipolysis (Burning of fat), increases the formation of red blood cells and accelerates muscle growth.
Testosterone doesn’t stay with us from age 30 or so, blood levels of this hormone decline at a rate of about 2 percent per year. By age 50, the level is around 55 percent. As testosterone decreases, muscle tone, energy and sex drive all begin to decline. But testosterone is not just for men. The same decline in testosterone occurs in women, though the amounts involved are lower. In both sexes, sex drive, function, fat metabolism and energy decline into middle age.
One of the questions that many health researchers have pondered is what if you could boost your testosterone levels to more youthful levels? With LJ100 Tongkat Ali extract you can. And that makes LJ100 are true fountain of youth.
LJ100 Tongkat Ali “is the Greatest”
Don’t be fooled by wannabes. Only LJ100 delivers efficacy, standardization and supporting scientific research. When compared against lesser quality products, research showed LJ100 to increase serum testosterone levels 100% after two weeks, while some other products showed only an 8% improvement in serum testosterone level. Ali is the greatest only if it is LJ100 TongKat Ali.
Dr. Zheng-Xian Liu, PhD, has more than 18 years of experience in the Nutraceutical business and more than 34 years of experience in R & D. he received a doctorate of biochemistry and nutrition at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He was an NIH post-doctorate research fellow at Duke University Medical Center, specializing in free radical biochemistry, and a Pratt research fellow in nutrition. He also served as a member of the editorial board of journal of Advancement in Medicine and has published more than 60 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Night Health: A new approach to improving sleep.
May 12, 2006 05:41 PM
Our night health, including the quality of our sleep and dreams, may be the most critical overlooked factor contributing to both emotional and physical illness in modern times. For millions, night is a time of growing frustration and deepening struggle with insomnia as well as compromised and insufficient sleep. Mounting data has confirmed that sleep problems are strongly associated with virtually all major illnesses ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes, infections and cancer, and obesity to depression.
Night health refers to a new approach to sleep and dreams that integrates complementary and alternative medicine with effective conventional perspectives. It is essentially a comprehensive body-mind approach to sleep. The first in a series of articles introducing the concept of night health, this article begins with a closer look at the limitations of the simulated sleep offered by sleeping pills. It then examines the basic alternative of supplemented sleep: the place of natural sleep-supporting supplements. Finally, it offers suggestions for increasing the utilization of such alternatives by supplementing supplements with essential information, education and guidance offered by a new and unique software program and the first book about integrative sleep health.
As the public becomes increasingly aware of the health ramifications of sleep disturbances, more and more people are turning to sleeping pills. In fact, according to the IMS Health research, about 42 million prescriptions for sleeping pills were filled last year in the U.S. This represents a nearly 60 percent increase over the past five years alone. Some projections anticipate that the current $2.7 billion in annual sleeping pill sales will more than triple by 2010.
But instead of solving the problem, sleeping pills often make sleep problems worse. Sleeping pills commonly result in dependence. They can alter normal sleep architecture, cause amnesia and residual daytime “hangovers,” and they often result in rebound insomnias when discontinued. Some sleep specialists argue that sleeping pill use is further associated with significant increases in mortality. Given the sense of desperation that can accompany insomnia, even such very serious concerns have not prevented sales of sleeping pills from skyrocketing in recent years.
We are currently witnessing an unprecedented advertising campaign on the part of the pharmaceutical industry designed to convince the public that sleep medications are indeed a safe and effective strategy for addressing sleep problems. Despite clever and seductive advertising, however, it remains highly questionable whether sleeping pills can truly offer us sleep. I believe it is more accurate to say that they result in a kind of artificial or simulated sleep. Compared to natural slumber, sleeping pills cause a chemical knockout. Unfortunately, so many people have slept poorly for so long, they have forgotten what it is like to experience truly restorative, deep and refreshing natural slumber. Instead, many people now hold a naïve, limited sense of healthful sleep, confusing it with being knocked out. And sleeping pills satisfy that very naïve notion of sleep.
Rather than artificially simulating sleep with chemical knockouts, sleep-promoting supplements such as melatonin, valerian, and other botanicals support that body’s own sleep-facilitating mechanisms more naturally. Such products work in greater harmony with nature and, unlike conventional drugs, they do not stimulate sleep, they supplement sleep. I think of natural supplements inviting us to sleep. The very potency of many natural products lies in their very gentleness, which works cooperatively with both body and mind to induce healthful sleep.
I believe that the potential benefits and markets for such supplements remain largely untapped. Consumers’ expectations that sleep aids should knock them out rather than gently assist them in letting go into sleep must be addressed through targeted education and information campaigns. Consumers also need to learn how to use alternative sleep supplements in the context of a healthy sleep lifestyle or positive night health.
As helpful as they can be in promoting night health, sleep supplements alone will not do the trick. In fact, I believe many people get discouraged and discount the potentially positive benefits of sleep supplements after using them without proper guidance and understanding. Sleep supplements work best when they are geared to work synergistically as a part of a larger night health promotion program.
The availability of a wide range of over-the-counter health supplements offers an important freedom in healthcare choices. But with increased freedom comes increased responsibility. Consumers need to become significantly more informed. Particularly with regard to night health, such supplements need to be personalized and prescriptive. When it comes to sleep health, one size does not fit all. Whether we choose melatonin or valerian or a specific blend depends upon who we are and exactly what we need. By prescriptive I do not mean ordered by a physician, but specifically tailored to the needs of the individual.
Because of a significant shortage of health care professionals knowledgeable about sleep and the alarming trend towards increased use of sleeping pills, I have assisted in the development of a unique software program that provides sleep solutions that are both personalized and prescriptive. After more than a decade in development, the sleep advisor—an expert software system that thoroughly evaluates and provides personalized comprehensive recommendations for improving sleep—is now available.
More recently, I completed the first truly integrative book on night health. Healing night: the science and spirit of sleeping, dreaming, and awakening offers a new, comprehensive perspective on night health that complements the sleep advisors high pragmatic approach. Together, healing night and the sleep advisor offers essential supplements to sleep supplements.
Rubin R Naiman is a psychologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the university of Arizona’s health sciences center. He is also the sleep and dream specialist for dr. Andrew weil;s world renowned program in integrative medicine. Currently he serves as the sleep specialist at Miraval Resort, and is in private practice in Tuscon, AZ.
The above article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat a particular illness. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of a holistically competent licensed professional health care provider. The information in this article has not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Rubin R. Naiman, PhD
Viterol A - Viatrozene gel 16% - reduce the signs of aging!
February 25, 2006 02:05 PM
New Man Food
July 27, 2005 04:31 PM
New Man Food
Listen up, guys. Masculinity isn’t defined by what you eat. It’s all about how well you hold up through the years, which means taking care of yourselves. So ditch the doughnuts, double burgers and draft beer, and adopt a healthier diet. Here’s how!
Back in 1982, a best-selling, humorous manifesto of masculinity known as Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche epitomized the male backlash against feminism, by then a formidable force in the American cultural landscape. But the joke, it turns out almost 25 years later, is on the men- and not just because quiche doesn’t have that many fewer calories than a Quarter Pounder. We may have maintained out mach-ness all these years by eating “manly food,” but we’ve become unhealthy and ultimately weaker because of it.
In 2000, the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that among men 20 years and older, a whopping 65.1 million (67.2%) were considered overweight and 26.6 million (27.5%) were considered obese. Only 30.6 million (31.8%) of men 20 to 74 were considered to have a healthy weight. The fallout from such a fatness factor is that more men are dying each year of heart disease and related illnesses and more money than ever is being spent on health care (to say nothing of how poor male health affects the women and children who depend on the men in their lives). Another cheeseburger, guys?
Those numbers, though shocking at first, shouldn’t be that surprising. As a gender, men are more vain, ego-driven and stubborn than women. How does this manifest itself when it comes to wellness? Until a man is hit with his first health crisis, no matter what the age, he thinks he’s indestructible.
That’s why it’s so difficult to convince men to get regular medical checkups (which they should do especially when they hit 50). It’s not that many American men aren’t trying to lose pounds. It’s just that they are a bit misguided in their efforts. Weight-conscious men really gravitated to the Atkins diet. Why? Because at the same time the plan says to cut carbohydrates and increase protein, it gives men carte blanche to eat mass quantities of high-fat “manly” foods like beef and pork. Trading pounds for clogged arteries doesn’t seem like a good deal.
So the time has come for all American men to turn their testosterone-driven energy into changing their nutritional lifestyle. We have to stop eating the same high-caloric and fat-laden foods we usually consume in large doses and start pursuing a diet based on variety, moderation and balance. It’s time to start eating “new” man food: the kind of foods that will make us feel (and look) like a new man.
Out With the Old
But before we can embrace the new, we must wean ourselves off the old, particularly the male habit of eating food in humongous portions. Easier said than done because all of us, men and women, have found it hard to resist the marketing power of super sizing. Who among us wants to feel like and idiot because we didn’t double the size of popcorn, soda or french fries for a mere 49 cents? But resist we must.
We also have to steer clear of the killer Fs-fried food and fat. New York-based nutritionist Annie Hauck-Lawson, PhD, RN, says that also requires willpower because fried foods can be addicting. “They taste so good and fat conveys a lot of flavor,” she admits. “So the best strategy is going cold turkey to get that taste off the palate.” Hauck-Lawson also suggests not beginning a meal with fried foods or fatty meats.
“The start of the meal is when you’re the most hungry so you’ll eat the most during the first course.” She says. “If you start most lunches and dinners with a broth-based soup or a big salad, you’ll load up on high-fiber, high nutrient foods rather than high-fat foods and you’ll be too full to eat the bad stuff. Besides, food can be broiled with herbs and spices instead of being fried and still be delicious.”
Nutritionists like Hauck-Lawson strongly advise men to eat more fiber-base foods, which means adding more fresh fruits and vegetables (about five servings a day), whole grains and beans to the diet. Fiber may not sound manly, but it aids digestion, reduces the risk of colon cancer by moving waste out of your system, supports healthy cholesterol levels and makes you feel full so you won’t gorge yourself on those super-sized portions.
And when you’re eating all those nutritious and healthy new man foods, please don’t offset the benefits by washing it down with soft drinks. Did you know that a can of cola contains 39 grams of refined sugar, which is equivalent to seven teaspoons of the sweet stuff? Okay, we know what you’re going to say when we mention water as an alternative. B-O-R-I-N-G! But you can’t ignore a liquid that is crucial to your hydration, digestion and metabolism. If you must drink something interesting with your meal, try an organic red wine, which can have a positive effect on cholesterol and blood pressure. (When the liquid is the meal, a smoothie can fill the bill.)
During and after your transitional phase into the new man food lifestyle, nutritional supplements can ensure that you get enough vitamins and minerals from your diet. Besides taking a general multivitamin designed for men, you should incorporate heart- and prostate-healthy supplements such as omerga-3 fatty acids (especially if you aren’t eating more fish), magnesium, lycopene (found in abundance in tomatoes), zinc and vitamin D, which supports bone health and offers cancer protection. (You should see a licensed practitioner for guidance on which supplements are best for someone in your age group.)
What it boils down to, guys, is choices. We can choose to be set in our unhealthy eating ways or act like men and do the work it takes to make the adjustments. “men have been stereotyped as meat and potatoes freaks and that view is fairly accurate,” says Hauck-Lawson. “Trying to get men to eat healthier has been difficult.” But then she offers a carrot that men just might bite on. “Look at it this way: if a man eats more fish, fruit and vegetables for the nutrients he needs to stay healthy, he looks smart. And to women, smart is sexy.”
Pain - Post Op and Relaxation
July 13, 2005 09:24 AM
Relaxation, Music Reduce Post-Op Pain. New research has found that relaxation and music, separately or together, significantly reduce patients' pain following major abdominal surgery. The study, published in the May issue of the journal Pain, found that these methods reduce pain more than pain medication alone. Led by Marion Good, PhD, RN, of Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, the study is supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), at the National Institutes of Health. "This is important news for the millions of Americans who undergo surgery and experience postoperative pain each year," said Dr. Patricia A. Grady, director of the NINR.
"Better pain management can reduce hospital stays and speed recovery, ultimately improving patients' quality of life." Dr. Good and her research team studied three groups of patients undergoing abdominal surgery. In addition to the usual pain medication, one group used a jaw relaxation technique, another group listened to music, and a third group received a combination of relaxation and music.
Findings revealed that, after surgery, the three treatment groups had significantly less pain than the control group, which received only pain medication. "Both medication and self-care methods which involve patient participation are needed for relief," said Dr. Good.
"These relaxation and music self-care methods provide more complete relief without the undesired side effects of some pain medications." The findings have important implications for the 23 million people who undergo surgery and experience postoperative pain annually in the United States. Pain can hamper recovery by heightening the body's response to the stress of surgery and increasing tissue breakdown, coagulation and fluid retention. Pain also interferes with appetite and sleep and can lead to complications that prolong hospitalization.
Dr. Good and her research staff worked with 500 patients aged 18-70, who were undergoing gynecological, gastrointestinal, exploratory or urinary surgery. Prior to surgery, those in the music, relaxation or combination groups practiced the techniques. The relaxation technique consisted of letting the lower jaw drop slightly, softening the lips, resting the tongue in the bottom of the mouth, and breathing slowly and rhythmically with a three-rhythm pattern of inhale, exhale and rest. Patients in the music group chose one of five kinds of soothing music--harp, piano, synthesizer, orchestral or slow jazz.
On the first and second days after surgery, all patients received morphine or Demerol for pain relief by pressing a button connected to their intravenous patient controlled analgesia pumps. The groups receiving the additional intervention used earphones to listen to music and relaxation tapes during walking and rest, while the control group did not. The research team measured the patients' pain before and after 15 minutes of bed rest and four times during walking to see if the sensation and distress of pain changed.
Dr. Good found that during these two days postsurgery the three treatment groups had significantly less pain than the control group during both walking and rest. "Patients can take more control of their postoperative pain using these self-care methods," says Dr. Good. "Nurses and physicians preparing patients for surgery and caring for them afterwards should encourage patients to use relaxation and music to enhance the effectiveness of pain medication and hasten recovery."
Dr. Good's findings have implications for future research into the effectiveness of self-care methods on other types of pain, including chronic pain, cancer pain, and pain of the critically ill.
Vitamin D Lack Linked to Hip Fracture. Vitamin D deficiency in post-menopausal women is associated with increased risk of hip fracture, according to investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. In a group of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fracture, 50 percent were found to have a previously undetected vitamin D deficiency. In the control group, women who had not suffered a hip fracture but who were hospitalized for an elective hip replacement, only a very small percentage had vitamin D deficiency, although one-fourth of those women also had osteoporosis. These findings were reported in the April 28, 1999, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study, conducted by Meryl S. LeBoff, MD; Lynn Kohlmeier, MD; Shelley Hurwitz, PhD; Jennifer Franklin, BA; John Wright, MD; and Julie Glowacki, PhD; of the Endocrine Hypertension Division, Department of Internal Medicine, and Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR. These investigators studied women admitted to either Brigham and Women's Hospital or the New England Baptist Hospital, both in Boston, between January 1995 and June 1998.
A group of 98 postmenopausal women who normally reside in their own homes were chosen for the study. Women with bone deterioration from other causes were excluded from the study.
There were 30 women with hip fractures caused by osteoporosis and 68 hospitalized for elective joint replacement. Of these 68, 17 women also had osteoporosis as determined by the World Health Organization bone density criteria. All the participants answered questions regarding their lifestyle, reproductive history, calcium in their diet, and physical activity.
Bone mineral density of the spine, hip, and total body were measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) technique, as was body composition. Blood chemistry and urinary calcium levels were analyzed. The two groups of women with osteoporosis did not differ significantly in either time since menopause or bone density in the spine or hip. They did, however, differ in total bone density.
The women admitted for a hip fracture had fewer hours of exercise than the control group. Fifty percent of the women with hip fractures were deficient in vitamin D, 36.7 percent had elevated parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels (a hormone which can stimulate loss of calcium from bone), and 81.8 percent had calcium in their urine, suggesting inappropriate calcium loss. Blood levels of calcium were lower in the women with hip fractures than in either elective group.
These researchers propose that vitamin D supplementation at the time of fracture may speed up recovery and reduce risk of fracture in the future. Current Dietary Reference Intake Guidelines contain a daily recommendation of 400 IU of vitamin D for people aged 51 through 70 and 600 IU for those over age 70.
"We know that a calcium-rich diet and regular weight-bearing exercise can help prevent osteoporosis. This new research suggests that an adequate intake of vitamin D, which the body uses to help absorb calcium, may help women to reduce their risk of hip fracture, even when osteoporosis is present," observed Dr. Evan C. Hadley, NIA Associate Director for geriatrics research.
"Osteoporosis leads to more than 300,000 hip fractures each year, causing pain, frequent disability, and costly hospitalizations or long-term care. "Prevention of such fractures would greatly improve the quality of life for many older women and men, as well as significantly reduce medical costs." The bones in the body often undergo rebuilding. Some cells, osteoclasts, dissolve older parts of the bones. Then, bone-building cells known as osteoblasts create new bone using calcium and phosphorus.
As people age, if osteoporosis develops, more bone is dissolved than is rebuilt, and the bones weaken and become prone to fracture. Also in many older persons, levels of vitamin D in the blood are low because they eat less or spend less time in the sun, which stimulates the body's own production of vitamin D.
Experts do not understand fully the causes of osteoporosis. However, they do know that lack of estrogen which accompanies menopause, diets low in calcium, and lack of exercise contribute to the problem. Eighty percent of older Americans who face the possibility of pain and debilitation from an osteoporosis-related fracture are women. One out of every two women and one in eight men over the age of 50 will have such a fracture sometime in the future. These fractures usually occur in the hip, wrist, and spine.
Sleep Apnea, Diabetes Link Found. Adults who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are three times more likely to also have diabetes and more likely to suffer a stroke in the future, according to a new UCLA School of Dentistry/Department of Veterans Affairs study published today in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Sleep apnea, a serious condition marked by loud snoring, irregular breathing and interrupted oxygen intake, affects an estimated nine million Americans. The culprit? Carrying too many extra pounds.
"The blame falls squarely on excess weight gain," said Dr. Arthur H. Friedlander, associate professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the UCLA School of Dentistry and associate chief of staff at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Los Angeles. Surplus weight interferes with insulin's ability to propel sugars from digested food across the cell membrane, robbing the cells of needed carbohydrates. Diabetes results when glucose builds up in the bloodstream and can't be utilized by the body. Being overweight can also lead to obstructive sleep apnea, according to Friedlander.
"When people gain too much weight, fatty deposits build up along the throat and line the breathing passages," he explained. "The muscles in this region slacken during sleep, forcing the airway to narrow and often close altogether." Reclining on one's back magnifies the situation. "When an overweight person lies down and goes to sleep," Friedlander said, "gravity shoves the fat in the neck backwards. This blocks the airway and can bring breathing to a halt."
Friedlander tested the blood sugar of 54 randomly selected male veterans whom doctors had previously diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. He discovered that 17 of the 54 patients, or 31 percent, unknowingly suffered from adult-onset diabetes. Using the same sample, Friedlander also took panoramic X-rays of the men's necks and jaws. The X-rays indicated that 12 of the 54 patients, or 22 percent, revealed calcified plaques in the carotid artery leading to the brain.
These plaques block blood flow, significantly increasing patients' risk for stroke. Seven of the 12, or 58 percent, were also diagnosed with diabetes. In dramatic comparison, the 17 patients diagnosed with diabetes showed nearly twice the incidence of blockage. Seven of the 17 men, or 41 percent, had carotid plaques. Only five of the 54 patients who displayed plaques did not have also diabetes. If he conducted this study today, Friedlander notes, he would likely find a higher number of diabetic patients. After he completed the study in 1997, the American Diabetes Association lowered its definition for diabetes from 140 to 126 milligrams of sugar per deciliter of blood.
"This is the first time that science has uncovered a link between sleep apnea and diabetes," said Friedlander. "The data suggest that someone afflicted with both diabetes and sleep apnea is more likely to suffer a stroke in the future." "Persons going to the doctor for a sleep-apnea exam should request that their blood be screened for diabetes, especially if they are overweight," he cautioned. More than half of the individuals who develop diabetes as adults will need to modify their diet and take daily insulin in order to control the disease, he added.
Stress, Surgery May Increase CA Tumors. Stress and surgery may increase the growth of cancerous tumors by suppressing natural killer cell activity, says a Johns Hopkins researcher.
Malignancies and viral infections are in part controlled by the immune system's natural killer (NK) cells, a sub-population of white blood cells that seek out and kill certain tumor and virally infected cells. In a study using animal models, natural killer cell activity was suppressed by physical stress or surgery, resulting in a significant increase in tumor development.
These findings suggest that protective measures should be considered to prevent metastasis for patients undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, according to Gayle Page, D.N.Sc., R.N., associate professor and Independence Foundation chair at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. "Human studies have already found a connection between the level of NK activity and susceptibility to several different types of cancer," says Page, an author of the study.
"We sought to determine the importance of stress-induced suppression of NK activity and thus learn the effects of stress and surgery on tumor development. "Many patients undergo surgery to remove cancerous tumors that have the potential to spread. If our findings in rats can be generalized to such clinical settings, then these circumstances could increase tumor growth during or shortly after surgery." The research was conducted at Ohio State University College of Nursing and the Department of Psychology at UCLA, where Page held previous positions, and at Tel Aviv University.
Results of the study are published in the March issue of the International Journal of Cancer. In laboratory studies, Page and her colleagues subjected rats to either abdominal surgery or physical stress, and then inoculated them with cancer cells. In the rats that had undergone surgery, the researchers observed a 200 to 500 percent increase in the incidence of lung tumor cells, an early indicator of metastasis, compared with rats that had not received surgery.
The experiment also showed that stress increased lung tumor incidence and significantly increased the mortality in the animals inoculated with cancer cells. "Our results show that, under specific circumstances, resistance to tumor development is compromised by physical stress and surgical intervention," says Page.
"Because surgical procedures are life-saving and cannot be withheld, protective measures should be considered that will prevent suppression of the natural killer cell activity and additional tumor development. "Researchers do not yet know how to prevent surgery-induced immune suppression, but early animal studies have shown increased use of analgesia reduces the risk."
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Health. Lead author was Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu, Ph.D., and other authors were Raz Yirmiya, Ph.D., and Guy Shakhar.
Hyaluronic Joint Complex - w/Glucosa, Chondr, & MSM - The Next Generation in Joint Formula
June 29, 2005 11:45 AM
Hyaluronic Joint Complex™ with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and MSM The Next Generation in Joint Formulas
Every movement you make requires your joints to help your body flex, bend and twist into that next position. But with time and use, your joints can begin to break down, resulting in discomfort. Source Naturals understands how difficult it is to live with joint discomfort. That’s why we developed HYALURONIC JOINT COMPLEX. This powerful formula combines the most popular, scientifically researched ingredients for joint health—hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. Together, these ingredients promote joint, tendon and ligament flexibility and easy joint movement. Joints are cushions made of flexible and protective cartilage—containing outer layers that surround a lubricating fluid. It is this design of your joint and other connective tissues that gives your body structure, height and the ability to move without damaging the bones and muscles that hold you up. HYALURONIC JOINT COMPLEX provides the key nutrients needed to support this complex structure.
BioCell Collagen II®—Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide chain found throughout the body. It is a major component of joint tissue that helps to hold lubricating moisture in joints and cartilage, affecting their resilience, elasticity, and strength. BioCell Collagen II® is a patented hyaluronic acid, which has undergone an absorption enhancing hydrolyzation process that yields low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, and Collagen Type II peptides, unlike other preparations that have not been hydrolized. The low weight allows these compounds to deliver greater support for your joints.
Glucosamine—An Amino Sugar
Glucosamine is an amino sugar—a molecule made from an amino acid and a simple sugar. Amino sugars are the basis of virtually all connective tissues and lubricating fluids in the body. Just as amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, amino sugars are the building blocks of giant molecules called glycosaminoglycans (GAG’s), also known as proteoglycans and mucopolysaccharides. GAG’s are large, spongy, water-holding molecules that form the glue that holds us together. This substance is found in all connective tissue and mucous membranes. Numerous double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have examined the positive effects of oral administration of 1,500 mg of glucosamine sulfate-the amount in one daily use of HYALURONIC JOINT COMPLEX. To ensure optimal absorption, this formula contains glucosamine sulfate, N-acetyl glucosamine and glucosamine HCl.
Chondroitin sulfate is the most abundant GAG in the body. Its main role is in keeping cartilage fluid and elastic. It is found naturally in the body, where it is one of the critical compounds that makes up connective tissue. Connective tissue is responsible for building and supporting cartilage found in the joints and elsewhere.
Dietary Sulfur for Joint Lubrication
Both glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate provide an additional source of sulfur, a mineral that is important for healthy connective tissue. HYALURONIC JOINT COMPLEX also features MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, a naturally occurring form of organic sulfur found in body fluids and tissue, cow’s milk, plants and most natural foods. Sulfur may promote joint flexibility due to its role in supporting joint lubrication and movement. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated the effects of MSM with promising results.
Supporting Ingredients for Joint Health:
Manganese Ascorbate and Vitamin C Manganese is involved in the production of a wide variety of enzymes. These enzymes influence such biological processes as the production of collagen and the metabolism of protein and cholesterol. Manganese is also necessary for the growth and maintenance of tissues, cartilage and bones.
The manganese ascorbate used in this formula also provides 55% vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for the production and stability of collagen, the major protein in cartilage and connective tissue. It also protects cells from harmful free radicals.
Innovative natural products, such as HYALURONIC JOINT COMPLEX, are an integral part of the Wellness Revolution. Taking personal responsibility for your health is at the heart of this revolution. Your local health food outlet is your source for nutritional education and advanced natural products. Source Naturals is pleased to partner with these outlets to bring you HYALURONIC JOINT COMPLEX—the next generation in joint formulas.
GPC (GlyceroPhosphoCholine) Versatile Life Support Nutrient ....
June 21, 2005 05:25 PM
Parris Kidd, Ph.D.
GPC or GlyceroPhosphoCholine (pronounced gli-sero-fos-fo-ko-lean) is a nutrient with many different roles in human health. It reaches extremely high concentrations within our cells, and its abundance in mother's milk suggests it is crucial to life processes. Clinically, GPC has been most intensively researched for its brain benefits. Biologically, it has great importance for the skeletal "voluntary" muscles, the autonomic nervous system, kidneys, liver, and reproductive organs. GPC goes beyond being a brain nutrient; it is a nutrient for vitality and long life.
As a dietary supplement, GPC's brain benefits are unique. It boosts mental performance in healthy young people, as shown by three double-blind trials. In trials on middle aged subjects, GPC improved several physiologic measures of mental performance: reaction time, visual evoked potential, and EEG delta slow waves. In the elderly, GPC improves mental performance and provides noticeable revitalisation. In 11 human trials with 1,799 patients, memory, attention, and other cognitive measures improved. So did mood (including irritability and emotional lability), and patients often developed renewed interest in relatives and friends. GPC was well tolerated, and generated no bad drug interactions. A large trial on elderly subjects with memory challenges published in 2003 concluded GPC had significant benefits for these individuals.
Circulatory deprivation or surgery can challenge healthy brain function. GPC can speed recovery and support improved quality of life. In four trials with GPC on 2,804 subjects who experienced difficulties under these circumstances, up to 95% showed good or excellent improvement. GPC consistently improved space-time orientation, degree of consciousness, language, motor capacity, and overall quality of life. The investigators concluded GPC offered marked benefits, with an excellent benefit-to-risk profile. Up to half of patients who survive bypass surgery experience problems with memory and other mental performance. A double-blind trial conducted with bypass survivors for six months determined that the GPC group had no remaining memory deterioration, while the placebo group failed to improve.
GPC supports human health through a variety of mechanisms:
1. It helps keep choline and acetylcholine available to the tissues. Choline is an essential nutrient and GPC appears to be the body's main choline reservoir. GPC in mother's milk represents the baby's main source of dietary choline. Acetylcholine (ACh) is an important substance employed extensively throughout the body. ACh is a major brain transmitter; the motor nerves use ACh to drive the skeletal ("voluntary") muscles; the autonomic nervous system uses it to pace all the organs. ACh is also central to mental and physical endurance, and mind-body coordination.
2. GPC is a major cell-level protectant, not as another antioxidant but in pivotal roles of osmotic pressure regulator and metabolic antitoxin. GPC for osmotic regulation can reach very high concentrations in the kidney, bladder, liver, brain, and other organs. As metabolic protectant, GPC shields proteins against urea buildup.
3. GPC is a major reservoir for cell membrane omega-3 phospholipids. These substances are the major building blocks for cell membranes. Enzymes couple GPC with the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, to make the phospholipid PC-DHA. This makes membranes especially fluid, enabling membrane proteins to perform with better efficiency. GPC produces PC-DHA in the skeletal muscles, wherein fluidity is essential for contraction. Muscles that function abnormally can show GPC deficiency.
4. GPC contributes to both male and female in reproduction. As spermatozoa mature, GPC is used to make PC-DHA that makes their membranes fluid to enable motility. With men, the lower their semen GPC the greater the likelihood of poor sperm motility and with it, infertility. Once semen is inserted into the female, an enzyme in uterine secretions breaks down the semen's GPC into substances that energize the sperm to achieve fertilization.
Oral intake of GPC in the clinical trials was usually 1,200 milligrams (mg) per day, taken early in the day on an empty stomach. A reasonable dietary supplementation regimen is 1200 mg/day, taken in divided doses (AM and PM) between meals for 15-30 days, and thereafter 600 mg/day for maintenance. Symptomatic subjects can take 1200 mg/day until adequate improvement is achieved. Young, healthy subjects may experience benefit from daily intakes as low as 300 milligrams. GPC is very safe, being compatible with vitamins and nutrients and with pharmaceuticals. In clinical trial comparisons, GPC's benefits surpassed the nutrients acetylcarnitine and CDP-choline.
GPC is unmatched for its support of active living and healthy aging. In some 23 clinical trials GPC improved mental performance in all functional categories. GPC can revitalize the aging brain, facilitating growth hormone (GH) release and boosting nerve growth factor actions. GPC's ample presence in human mother's milk suggests it could be conditionally essential. By supporting mental integrity, mind-body integration, the autonomic system, and the body's other organs, GPC enhances the active lifestyle. GPC is remarkable nutritional support for optimal health at any age.
Parris M. Kidd, PhD is a cell biologist trained at the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco. Since entering the dietary supplement field in 1983, he has published many in-depth reviews of integrative medicine in the journal Alternative Medicine Reviews, and is science columnist for totalhealth magazine. Dr. Kidd is internationally recognized for his accomplishments in dietary supplement product development, documentation and quality control.
Disclaimer: the above article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat a particular illness. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of a holistically competent licensed professional health care provider.
June 18, 2005 09:11 AM
Mushroom Miracles by Bert Hoffman Energy Times, April 12, 2004
Mention mushrooms and few people immediately recognize these humble fungi as important tools that can be used to boost well-being. More often, folks identify mushrooms as food with a peculiar appeal. But mushrooms' potential impact on health far surpasses their culinary reputation.
You don't have to stretch your imagination too far to understand why mushrooms have been much neglected in the modern, Western medical search for plants that can boost health.
Unable to make chlorophyll, often dependent on the kindness of other nutrient-producing organisms for their survival, these humble fungal denizens of dark, damp spaces seem to prefer an anonymous existence that is out of sight and out of the consciousness of the scientific mind.
However, mushrooms have now assumed a spot in the center of the research spotlight. Because of their potent content of natural chemicals that appear to have a strong influence on human health and well-being, during the past decade mushrooms have been the subjects of intensive studies on how they can be used to reduce the risk of cancer and to treat these diseases.
Appropriately, this recent round of research began in a place that has long revered these diminutive organisms: Japan. Japan and other Oriental countries have traditionally recognized the immense value of mushrooms as both food and medicine.
Food and Medicine
As an ancient Chinese saying notes, "food and medicine share a common origin." And one of the very earliest Chinese medical books, Shen Noug's Herbal (Shen Noug Pen Ts'ao Jing), first noted the extraordinary beneficial effects of eating mushrooms 2,000 years ago, back in the first century.
More recently, but still well ahead of Western medical experts, in 1575, Pen Ts'ao Kang Mu (a Chinese compendium of medicinal therapies), written by Li Shi Zhen, outlined the medical benefits of about 20 mushrooms.
Nowadays, modern researchers believe mushrooms' usefulness stems from the fact they contain a wealth of antioxidants. But these aren't just any antioxidants. Scientists think that some of these chemicals can potentially drop your risk of cancer, significantly lower blood pressure, help the body fight diabetes, offer protection for the liver, alleviate some of the ill effects of inflammation, lessen the chance of blood clots and help the body's immune system fend off viruses and other microbes. Quite a collection of benefits for these lowly beings!
The 10,000-Year Mushroom
Through the ages, the reishi mushroom (also known variously as the Mannetake, or 10,000-year mushroom, and the Immortality Mushroom) has been the most popular mushroom in Chinese, Korean and Japanese cultures. The reishi mushroom is frequently depicted in a wide variety of traditional Oriental artwork and even puts in an appearance in Chinese royal tapestries.
To some, reishi's power goes beyond the natural and include the supernatural. Originally grown on aging plum trees, reishi is also sufficiently well regarded to be employed by the Japanese as a good luck charm. But you don't have to believe in the supernatural to be superbly impressed with reishi. The beneficial natural substances in reishi include steroids, lactones, alkaloids, triterpenes and polysaccharides.
Of these chemicals, polysaccharides (complex chains of sugars) in particular have intrigued researchers looking into the way mushrooms help health. These polysaccharide macromolecules are very large (for molecules) and complex, a complexity that leads researchers to believe they are capable of conveying a huge amount of biological information that help the immune system stop cancer in its early stages. The differences in the benefits of various polysaccharides stems from their intriguing geometrical shapes.
Even though two distinctive polysaccharides may contain the same number of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms, their three-dimensional differences-the way they are structured and branch off in different directions-can endow them with very different health benefits.
Though they all share a basic structure (usually, these molecules consist of a main chain of atoms with various side chains), the slight variations of the side chains changes their effects.
By deciphering the microscopic structures of these molecules, scientists think they are beginning to uncover which ones are most effective against cancer. For instance, in isolating a particularly useful polysaccharide called beta-D-glucan from reishi, researchers have found that this substance fights tumors in lab experiments (Chem Pharm Bull 1981; 29: 3611).
Meanwhile, beta-D-glucan and other extracts taken from the maitake mushroom have also been shown to possess powerful anti-cancer effects in lab experiments (Immunopharm Immunotox; 19:175).
In one instance, researchers in the laboratory who were trying out various substances on prostate cancer cells found that applying extracts of maitake results in a kind of programmed self-destruction (apoptosis) of these undesirable cancer cells (Molec Urol; 4:7). In addition, another substance known as maitake d-fraction has been shown to strongly fight cancer in lab animals-in one study, their liver cancer growths were reduced by up to 90% (Ann NY Acad of Sci; 833:204).
At the same time, research in China on people has demonstrated that maitake may help reduce tumors and alleviate the effects of leukemia (Alter Comp Ther 12/98; 420).
According to A.S. Daba and O.U. Ezeronye (Afr Jrnl Bio 12/03; 672), "Mushroom polysaccharides offer a lot of hope for cancer patients and sufferers of many devastating diseases.
" [These substances support]...a fundamental principle in Oriental medicine...[they help] regulate homeostasis of the whole body and... bring the diseased person [back] to his or her normal state."
The Activity of Active Hexose Correlated Compound Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC), an extract taken from shiitake and other mushrooms, is a relatively new substance that is also being researched for its anti-cancer benefits.
Studies on AHCC began in Japan in the 1990s when scientists looked at how it could potentially help people recovering from liver cancer. In those tests, researchers found that giving people AHCC apparently helped them survive longer.
In the future, scientists feel certain that they will uncover even more anticancer uses for mushrooms and the chemicals they contain. A key advantage to these natural substances is their lack of side effects. For instance, in research on an anti-cancer chemical called lentinan, taken from shiitakes, investigators have found that less than one percent of people experience the kind of discomfort that make them discontinue treatment. (This chemical has been used to treat stomach cancer.)
But a long list of beneficial mushroom substances are probably still waiting to be discovered. More evidence of mushrooms' benefits: A study of mushroom workers in a part of Japan called the Nagano Prefecture found that these farmers enjoyed a significantly lower cancer rate than other inhabitants of that part of the country.
In the rest of Japan, about one in six hundred people dies of cancer. But that rate death rate drops to about one in a thousand for mushroom raisers who eat a diet heavy in mushrooms.
John Smith, PhD, from the University of Strath-Clyde, notes that "...increasing evidence [shows] mushrooms offer a remarkable array of medicinally important compounds that have yet to be evaluated by Western medical scientists." Mushrooms offer the best of both worlds: good health that tastes great.
June 18, 2005 09:07 AM
Anti-Aging Nutrients by Edward C. Wallace, DC, ND Energy Times, February 3, 2000
What's the big deal about trying to live longer? As you grow older (and the American population grows older alongside you) you may want to postpone the inevitable. Few wish to hasten "the journey from which no traveler returns." But as we approach that final bon voyage, chances are we desire clear sailing-aging without disability and with a peaceful, easy feeling.
How Do We Age?
Science has long puzzled about what causes the wrinkles, pains and deterioration of aging. In the search for causes, two basic theories have won over the most proponents: The first holds that cells are programmed with biological clocks that predetermine how many times they can reproduce before becoming non-functional. This theory has been largely formulated by the researcher Leonard Hayflick, MD.
The second basic theory, introduced by Denham Harman, MD, PhD, in the mid 1950s, holds that cells eventually break down due to attack by caustic molecules called free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
Programmed Cell Theory
In the early '60s, Dr. Hayflick observed that human fibroblasts (cells from connective tissue) in the laboratory refused to divide more than about 50 times. Dr. Hayflick also found that even if he froze the fibroblasts after 20 divisions, they would remember that they only had 30 divisions left after thawing.
Fifty cell divisions have been called the "Hayflick limit." Based on this research, scientists theorize that cells maintain a genetic clock that winds down as old age ensues. Many researchers believe the hypothalamus gland is the force behind our aging clocks, signaling the pituitary gland to release hormones that cause aging.
Free Radical/Oxidative Stress Theory
The other popular theory of aging pictures the human body as a cellular battlefield where attackers called free radicals damage our cells and tissues, making them age. In this scenario, a process called oxidation is the chief aging villain. On a microscopic level, oxidation generally entails molecules or atoms losing electrons. (Gaining electrons is called reduction.) The molecules or atoms that take these electrons are oxidizing agents.
Free radicals are substances that can exist with missing electrons, making them readily able to donate or accept electrons and damage structures in cells. As such, they are highly reactive, binding with and destroying important cellular compounds. Most of the free radicals in your body are made during metabolic processes. More are added from the food you eat and environmental pollution. Most of these free radicals contain oxygen molecules. As each cell makes energy in little structures called mitochondria, free radicals result. These oxidant by-products can damage DNA, proteins and lipids (fats). Consequently, toxic by-products of lipid peroxidation may cause cancer, inhibit enzyme activity and produce mutations in genetic material that make you age faster.
DNA Repair Theory
Free radical damage to DNA can cause cells to mutate or die. Your body makes enzymes that can repair this damage and slow aging. But, over time, the amount of damage overwhelms the body's ability to fix things. As cells grow older, their ability to patch up DNA diminishes and the rate of damage proceeds faster than repair. The result: We age and eventually die.
What Can We Do?
The free radical theory of aging suggests that taking antioxidants (compounds known to prevent free radical damage) in our food or as supplements may slow aging.
In the publication Age (18  1995: 62), it was reported that "aging appears to be caused by free radicals initiated by the mitochondria at an increasing rate with age. Superoxide and hydrogen peroxide radicals formed by the mitochondria during normal metabolism are major risk factors for disease and death after about the age of 28 in developed countries. Antioxidants from the diet lower the production of free radicals without impairing essential reactions to maintain body function."
Common dietary antioxidants include: vitamins E and C, carotenes, sulphur containing amino acids, co-enzyme Q10 and flavonoids (a group of plant compounds or pigments responsible for the color in fruits and flowers). In addition, melatonin, DHEA and the amino acid compound glutathione may also prove of benefit.
Glutathione along with the enzyme glutathione peroxidase are an essential part of free radical "quenching." (Quenching means changing free radicals into benign substances no longer capable of harm.) Deficiencies may suggest a decreased capacity to maintain detoxification and metabolic reactions in which glutathione plays a role, resulting in increased free radical stress and/or lipid peroxidation. Drinking too many alcoholic beverages can result in glutathione deficiency.
In a study in which 39 healthy men and 130 healthy women between the ages of 20 and 94 were evaluated for glutathione levels, the older subjects had significantly decreased levels (especially in the 60 to 79-year-old group). The authors felt that physical health and longevity were closely related to glutathione levels (Jrnl Lab & Clin Sci 120(5), Nov. 1992: 720-725). Poor nutrition and/or deficiencies in essential micronutrients and many prescription medications may contribute significantly to detoxification capacity in an aged individual. All of these circumstances are common in the elderly.
Eating a poor diet that contains too many processed foods without many fruits and vegetables can compromise your body's ability to detoxify pollutants, toxins and other harmful compounds. That can set off metabolic processes capable of fomenting large increases in free radical stress that can accelerate aging. Unfortunately, even in a country as prosperous as our own, nutrient deficiencies are frequent, especially in older citizens.
A study that looked at what elderly people consumed compared their reported intake with the 1989 Recommended Dietary Amount (RDA) and 1980 RDA: One of four people consumed only two-thirds of the RDA for calories and 60% consumed less than two-thirds of the RDA for vitamin D. As for other nutrients, 50% were found to have inadequate zinc levels (less than two-thirds of the RDA), 31% lacked calcium, 27% were short of vitamin B6, 25% didn't get enough magnesium, 7% missed out on folate and 6% ate less than two-thirds of the requirement for vitamin C (Nutrition Reviews (II), September 1995: S9-S15).
When researchers examine what everyone in the U.S. eats, they find that only 9% of Americans consume the recommended five servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept 1993).
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is naturally high in antioxidant compounds and is believed to help you live longer. Unfortunately, if you buy your produce in the supermarket, those fruits and vegetables may also be rich in pesticide and herbicide residues (Consumer Reports, March 1999). Obviously, organic produce lacks these residues. But, in any case, research continues to indicate that a diet low in meats and animal fat and high in vegetables protects against antioxidant damage.
A six-year study of 182 people over age 70 in rural Greek villages found that those following their traditional diet of olive oil, whole grain breads, fresh fruits and vegetables and wine were less likely to die during the study than those who consumed more red meat and saturated fat. The most important foods in lowering the risk of early death included fruits, vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), nuts, dairy products and cereals (BMJ 311, 1995: 1457-1460).
Another article in Epidemiology highlights the evidence that eating a vegetarian diet increases your chances of living longer. Included in this survey is a recent country-wide study of diet and health in China, showing that the traditional near vegetarian diet of 10% to 15% of calories coming from dietary fat reduced the chances of heart disease, diabetes and many types of cancers (Epidemiology 3, 1992: 389-391).
Staying skinny and limiting what you eat may also increase longevity. Scientific studies have previously shown that being overweight can theoretically curtail your life, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other life-shortening conditions. Animal studies have also shown that restricting food can slow diseases associated with aging. Researchers believe that cutting calories helps your immune system stay younger by reducing the formation of substances that are called proinflammatory cytokines.
Specifically reducing your intake of fatty foods may decrease your chance of coming down with autoimmune diseases. Researchers think omega-6 fatty acid vegetable oils (like corn oil) may increase free radical formation and decrease levels of antioxidant enzyme messenger RNA in addition to other effects (Nutrition Reviews 53, 1995: S72-S79). Another study found that cutting calories lowers the levels of oxidative stress and damage, retards age-associated changes and extends maximum life span in mammals (Science 273, July 5, 1996: 59-63).
In yet another study, it was shown that caloric restriction early in the life of lab animals increased their life span by a whopping 40% (Australian Family Physician 23, July 1994: 1297-1305). Today's modern higher-fat, low-fiber diet with substantial sugar consumption represents everything the longevity researchers say you shouldn't eat.
Longevity and Exercise
Exercise may slow aging. When researchers looked at the exercise habits of 17,000 men, average age of 46, they found that those who took part in vigorous activity lived longer.
Exercise can improve both cardiac and metabolic functions within the body, while also decreasing heart disease risk. Even modest exercise has been shown to improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels (JAMA 273, April 19, 1995: 1179-1184). In a study of how exercise affects your chances of living longer, 9,773 men underwent preventive medicine examinations on two different occasions. When the researchers looked at who lived longest, they found the highest death rate was in men who were unfit during both physical exams.
The Treadmill of Life
The lowest death rate was in the men who worked out and were in good shape. The researchers concluded that for each minute increase in how long a man could keep treading on a treadmill (between the first and second exam) there was a corresponding 7.9% decrease in the risk of dying (JAMA 273 , April 12, 1995: 1093-1098).
Since exercise can increase oxygen consumption up to 10 times, boosting the rate of production of free radicals, researchers believe that older individuals need more antioxidant nutrients to protect them. In a paper published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research (1997), researchers stated that if you regularly exercise in your golden years, you should take more antioxidant vitamins to compensate for this risk.
Melatonin is not often thought of as an antioxidant, but, instead, as a sleep aid. Melatonin, however, is an effective and efficient free radical scavenger and may help stave off the effects of aging. Melatonin protects against what are called hydroxyl free radicals. Research shows that older people's lack of melatonin may make them more susceptible to oxidative stress. In one study, researchers felt that new therapies aimed at stimulating melatonin synthesis may eventually lead to therapies for the prevention of diseases related to premature aging (Aging and Clinical Experimental Research 7, 1995: 338-339). Melatonin was shown to provide antioxidant protection in several ways.
Toning Down Enzymes
Melatonin can ease the effects of enzymes that generate free radicals, enhance the production of glutathione peroxidase (an antioxidant) and defuse the caustic action of free radicals that contain hydroxyls. In several studies, DHEA supplementation has been shown to potentially revive immune function in older adults (Exp. Opin. Invest. Drugs 4, 1995: 147-154).
In a study of 138 persons older than 85 years compared to 64 persons 20 to 40 years of age, scientists found that the younger people had four times as much DHEA in their bodies.
The researchers believe that our bodies make less and less DHEA as we get older. The authors of this study raise the possibility that declining DHEA may be partly to blame for our biological clocks running down (New York Academy of Sciences 1994: 543-552).
Vitamins E & C
A growing body of research also supports the benefits of taking vitamins E and C to hold off the effects of getting old. Researchers writing in Free Radicals and Aging (1992: 411-418) point out that as you get older your body is home to more and more free radical reactions that may lead to degenerative diseases like heart disease and arthritis. Research has found that in older people with exercise-induced oxidative stress, taking vitamin E every day may significantly fight off free radicals. (To investigate this effect, scientists measured waste products in urine that result from free radical reactions.) Their conclusion: Dietary antioxidants such as vitamin E may be beneficial.
Chronological Age Vs.Biological Age
Vitamin C also looks to scientists like a good anti-aging bet. Research in the Journal of Advancement in Medicine, (7, Spring 1994: 31-41) showed that folks consuming larger amounts of vitamin C were less likely to experience clinical problems at all ages. Those taking in less than 100 mg of vitamin C per day also suffered the most problems.
In this research, individuals over 50 years of age who daily consumed the largest amount of vitamin C were as healthy or healthier than the 40 year olds who were taking the least amount of vitamin C.
A similar relationship appears to exist for vitamin E and serum cholesterol levels. In a study of 360 physicians and their spouses, researchers found that people in their 50s who consumed more vitamin E had lower cholesterol than those in their 30s who were taking less.
And the longevity beat goes on: In a study evaluating environmental tobacco smoke and oxidative stress, researchers divided 103 people into three groups. Researchers blew smoke at 37 of these folks without protection while 30 of them got to breathe tobacco smoke but took antioxidant supplementation. Another 36 of them merely had to read magazines from doctors' offices. The results: After 60 days of supplementation the antioxidant folks had a 62% reduction in evidence of oxidative damage to their DNA. Cholesterol levels dropped and so did antioxidant enzyme activities. The researchers concluded that taking antioxidants provided a modicum of protection against environmental poisons.
The range of antioxidant nutrients used in this study included: beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and selenium as well as copper (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 7, November 1998: 981-988).
When you mention carotene or carotenoids, most people think of the beta carotene that makes carrots orange. But more than 600 carotenoids are present in colorful vegetables and many of these misunderstood substances are more potent antioxidants than beta-carotene.
Carotenoids have been shown to destroy oxygen free radicals in lipids (fats), help protect our cells from the sun's ultra violet radiation and enhance our natural immune response (J. Nutr 119, Jan. 1989: 112-115).
Some evidence seems to show that how much carotenoids you (and other mammals) have in your cells may be the predominant factor in determining life span (Proc Natl Acad Sci 82 , 1985: 798-802). Therefore, a diet rich in carotenoids (leafy green vegetables, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, squash, citrus fruits and tomatoes) along with supplementation seems to be just what the fountain of youth ordered.
Flavonoids, a group of antioxidant plant pigments, seem to be able to protect specific organs. For instance, the flavonoids in milk thistle (Silybum marianum) have been used for ages for liver problems. Bilberry has been found protective for the eye and hawthorn for the heart and circulatory system.
Numerous studies have shown the many beneficial effects of flavonoids with perhaps the best known being the ability of anthocyanidins in wine and grape seed extract to help protect your blood vessels and capillaries from oxidative damage (Phytotherapy 42, 1986: 11-14; Am J Clin Nutr 61, 1995: 549-54).
Flavonoids are found in vegetables and such fruits as blackberries, blueberries, cherries and grapes. A diet rich in these foods helps ensure an adequate intake of these important nutrient compounds.
Amino Acid Health
Methionine and cysteine are sulphur containing amino acids (protein building blocks), both of which are essential in maintaining levels of glutathione, a substance that plays a major role in quelling free radicals. Studies have found that as we age, the level of these important amino acids in our bodies decreases. (NEJM 312 , 1985: 159-68). As it has been shown that adding cysteine to the diet of test animals can increase their life expectancy considerably, researchers believe these amino acids can help us live longer too.
Attitude & Behavior
Get more sleep! A recent study showed that men who habitually napped were less likely to have a heart attack. The men in this research who regularly napped for at least 30 minutes per day had about a 30% reduction in heart problems while those who napped for a full hour had a 50% reduction compared to non nappers. Naps of longer duration did not seem to increase the benefit. In the same research, investigators also found that spending time with a pet or merely contemplating nature could also improve cardiac health. Sensuality, optimism and altruism also appeared to have health benefits (Family Practice News, December 15, 1998: 14-15).
In another study, this one in American Psychologist, researchers from the University of California found that people who are self-indulgent, pampered and achieve by running roughshod over the competition are less likely to outlive their healthy peers. Being egocentric, impulsive, undependable and tough-minded were predictors of poor physical health and a shorter life. So loosen up and be nice to your fellow humans! (U.C. Davis Magazine, Fall 1995: 14).
Longevity at Last
While no one has suggested that taking supplements, eating vegetables or exercising can, as of yet, extend the human life span past the generally recognized limit of about 120 years, researchers believe they can improve your odds of longer life. And by staying healthier, your old age will be more enjoyable, too.
Nothing to Sneeze At
June 18, 2005 08:41 AM
Nothing to Sneeze At by Carole Poole Energy Times, August 14, 2004
To many, nothing is more annoying than a persistent allergy. Runny nose, itchy eyes, hives, sneezing, coughing...Frequently, allergies seem to represent suffering with no end.
When you are sensitive to something in your environment, often your only hope for relief appears to be to flee to an elsewhere that eludes the problematic, trouble-making allergen.
Complementary measures are available that can lower your risk of allergic reactions. Heading off allergic reactions before they strike can help you enter a comfort zone that leaves nothing to sneeze at.
Limit Your Antibiotics
While people have always suffered allergies, today, many experts agree, allergies are on the rise. One possible explanation: antibiotics. For instance, research at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit demonstrates that kids who get antibiotics within six months of being born run an increased risk of being allergic to dust mites, ragweed, grass and animals. At the same time, if two or more cats or dogs live with them, they reduce their chances of allergies (Eur Respir Soc ann conf, 2003).
" I'm not suggesting children shouldn't receive antibiotics. But I believe we need to be more prudent in prescribing them for children at such an early age," Christine Cole Johnson, PhD, says. "In the past, many of them were prescribed unnecessarily, especially for viral infections like colds and the flu when they would have no effect anyway."
Dr. Cole's investigators found that by age 7, kids who got one or more rounds of antibiotics were:
When antibiotics are necessary, they are crucial to quelling bacterial infections. However, if you or your children suffer colds or flus, diseases caused by viruses, antibiotics have no effect on your illness but could increase your chance of developing allergies.
" Over the past four decades there has been an explosive increase in allergy and asthma in westernized countries, which correlates with widespread use of antibiotics and alterations in gastrointestinal (GI) microflora," says Mairi Noverr, a researcher on a study linking allergies to antibiotic use (104th Gen Meet Amer Soc Microbiol, 2004). "We propose that the link between antibiotic use and dysregulated pulmonary immunity is through antibiotic-induced long-term alterations in the bacterial and fungal GI microflora." While a lot of research needs to be done, it may help to fortify the probiotic, or good, microbes in your intestines with probiotic supplements. One study has shown that giving probiotics to pregnant women helped their children avoid allergic eczema, a skin condition (Lancet 2001; 357:1076-9).
Green Tea Relief
Research has demonstrated that various types of tea can produce a range of health benefits. Tea drinkers can add allergy relief to that list.
Research in Japan demonstrates that for the allergy-oppressed, green tea may help them have nothing to sneeze at. In laboratory tests, scientist found that green tea contains a substance that blocks one of the immune cell receptors which is often a part of the allergic response. The substance, methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), is believed to have a similar effect in the real world (J Agr Food Chem 10/9/02).
" Green tea appears to be a promising source for effective anti-allergenic agents," notes Hirofumi Tachibana, PhD, the study's chief investigator and an associate professor at Kyushu University in Fukuoka. "If you have allergies, you should consider drinking it." Traditionally, many people have consumed tea as part of their effort to suppress sneezes, coughs and itchy eyes caused by allergies. This experiment supports the evidence that green tea, in particular, has a reliable effect.
According to Dr. Tachibana, green tea's anti-allergenic benefits have not been completely established, but tea apparently has the potential to be effective against allergens like dust, chemicals, pet dander and pollen.
EGCG has also been shown to be a very active antioxidant, helping to quell the destructive effects of the caustic molecules known as free radicals. Green tea is richer in EGCG than black tea or oolong tea (a type that falls between black and green).
Although other research has demonstrated that EGCG offsets allergic responses in lab animals fed this substance, scientists don't completely understand why it works for allergies. Researchers theorize that EGCG restricts the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE), two substances secreted in the body as part of the chain of chemical reactions that lead to an allergic reaction, says Dr. Tachibana.
This study shows, for the first time, that a methylated form of EGCG can block the IgE receptor, which is a key receptor involved in an allergic response. The effect was demonstrated using human basophils, which are blood cells that release histamine. As of now, nobody knows how much green tea you need to guzzle to have the best protection against allergies and, of the several varieties available, nobody knows which green tea is best.
Outside of the US, green tea is the second most popular beverage in the world, right behind water. In the US, however, black tea is more popular than green. But the allergy sensitive should think and drink green.
Stay Away from Diesels
Those who are allergic to ragweed or pet dander usually know they should avoid the source of their allergies. But now scientists have found that, for many allergy sufferers, diesel exhaust can also worsen sneezes and wheezes.
Scientists at two southern California schools have shown that about half of us have inherited a sensitivity to diesel pollution that can make our allergies significantly worse (Lancet 1/10/04). "[T]his study suggests a direct way that pollution could be triggering allergies and asthma in a large number of susceptible individuals...," says Frank D. Gilliland, MD, PhD, the study's lead author. Diesel exhaust particles are thought to act as destructive free radicals in the lungs, forming caustic molecules that damage lung tissue. This irritation can cause your immune system to create larger amounts of compounds that make you sneeze and wheeze more.
The Antioxidant Advantage
Antioxidants, scientists believe, can help defuse this damage and ease the body's allergic responses. The California scientists looked at two antioxidant enzymes the body makes to protect the lungs called glutathione S-transferase M1 (GSTM1) and glutathione S-transferase P1 (GSTP1). Only about five of ten people's immune systems can make all the effective forms of these enzymes. The rest of us lack this protection to some degree, and the immune system in about one in five people can't make any effective form of these enzymes.
The research team found that people allergic to ragweed who lacked these antioxidant enzymes suffered more when they took in both ragweed pollen and particles from diesel pollution.
Breathe Easier With C
This research may help explain why many health practitioners recommend vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, to allergy sufferers. Vitamin C "prevents the secretion of histamine by the white blood cells, increases the detoxification of histamine and lowers the blood-histamine levels," says Sylvia Goldfarb, PhD, author of Allergy Relief (Avery/Penguin).
Scientists continue to study the allergy conundrum. Meanwhile, sip a cup of green tea and shut the window before the next truck comes by.
The Colds & Flu Report
June 18, 2005 08:38 AM
The Colds & Flu Report by Sherrill Williams Energy Times, October 13, 2004
The nose knows the misery of a cold: stuffiness, watery eyes, sore throat and nagging cough. These annoyances are especially frustrating when there's not enough time in your busy schedule to be sick.
Traditional remedies help: Slurping a cup of Grandma's chicken soup. Sweating in a hot bath. Climbing under the covers until further notice.
While no one can guarantee you won't catch a cold this year, a few simple measures can limit your sick days and give you the best chance to dodge upper respiratory distress. The common cold is a frequent and expensive problem, causing about 15 million lost work days for Americans each year. Some people seem just about immune to the group of viruses that cause colds. But others may endure as many as 12 colds per year. For the lucky ones, a cold's irritations last a couple of days. For the unfortunate, a cold can drag on for a couple of weeks.
Influenza (commonly known as the flu) has many of the same discomforts as a cold, and both disorders originate in the upper respiratory tract. But while a cold usually stays on tract, the flu is often accompanied by fever, prominent headaches and severe aches and pains around the body. Fatigue from the flu can last as long as two to three weeks during recovery. All this distress demonstrates that your body is fighting off the invaders.
Traditional healers advocate the use of the herb echinacea at the first sign of getting sick. Echinacea, commonly known as purple coneflower, is native to North America and was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia until the 1950s.
Rosemary Gladstar, a Vermont herbalist and author of Family Herbal (Storey Books), suggests taking echinacea (Echinacea ssp.) in frequent small amounts in tincture or tea form at the first sign of cold or flu.
" Most of the compounds in echinacea are water soluble, so it makes a fine tea," says Gladstar. She also encourages echinacea tea as a gargle or spray to relieve sore throats.
Research at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts validates what traditional healers such as Rosemary Gladstar have known: echinacea works best if taken at the onset of colds or flu. In an animal study, scientists found that echinacea triggered a humoral immune response, an immune reaction that spurs the production of special proteins that latch onto and destroy viruses (Immunopharmacology & Immunotoxicology 2003 Nov; 25(4):551-60).
In another study, researchers found that echinacea enhances immune actions called T cell subsets or helper cell activity (Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 2004 Jul; 27(7):1004-9). Helper cells are lymphocytes that take part in the destruction of viruses. In the quest for the kind of immunity that makes you less vulnerable to infection by troublesome viruses, Gladstar says that "echinacea is safe for children, the elderly and everyone in between."
C Is for Colds-And So Is E
The reputation of vitamin C as the anti-cold nutrient has been batted back and forth in the media for decades. Your body can't store up much of this antioxidant water-soluble vitamin, so you have to consume it every day on a regular basis. And while vitamin C may not prevent the common cold, research does demonstrate that it can help reduce a cold's severity and make it go away faster (Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 1999 Oct; 22(8):530-3).
Adequate vitamin C is crucial for a healthy immune system. Even a marginal deficiency of this nutrient can leave you more vulnerable to the viruses that cause cold and flu. Plus, if you get a runny nose, researchers believe vitamin C can act as a mild antihistamine, slowing that runny nose to a walk.
In a University of Texas study reported at the 60th Anniversary meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in 2003, daily doses of vitamin C were shown to significantly aid immunity.
After two weeks of taking vitamin C, the people in this study had their blood examined. Researchers found increased numbers of NK (natural killer) cells, immune warriors that destroy infected cells. In addition, vitamin C activated T cells, a class of immune cells that also fight viruses.
And now a newsbreak: you can add vitamin E, vitamin C's antioxidant companion, to your cold prevention shopping list, at least if you're a senior citizen. According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2004; 292(7):828-36), nursing home residents aged 65 and older who took vitamin E enjoyed a 20% risk reduction when it came to developing upper respiratory infections.
Don't Be Sick, Stay Happy
" When you smile, the whole world smiles with you" is a melody that is music to immunity. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have found that folks who are relaxed, happy and maintain positive emotions are less likely to catch colds. In addition, people who are depressed, nervous or angry are more likely to complain of cold symptoms whether or not they actually have a cold (Psycho Med 2003 Jul; 65:652-7). According to Sheldon Cohen, PhD, "Study participants who had a positive emotional style weren't infected as often and experienced fewer symptoms compared to people with a negative emotional style."
So you don't have to be a passive cold victim this winter. When viruses threaten you, according to Mary L. Hardy, MD, you can also try:
" The first caution I give people is to get a good diagnosis," says Dr. Hardy. "If your cold is not acting like a normal cold, or if it has lasted more than a short amount of time, make sure you don't have a more serious condition, such as pneumonia." In that case, seek professional help.
But if you've contracted a run-of-the-mill winter cold, keep your spirits and immunity up! Even if you've been impulsively singing and dancing in the rain, the chill and wet won't result in a cold if you let a smile be your immune umbrella!
Vision Quest - help fight eye problems.
June 18, 2005 08:34 AM
Vision Quest by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, February 11, 2004
Since your eyes are in constant use every day, exposed to the damaging energy of sunlight and pollutants that waft through the air, these delicate orbs are often in danger of wearing out.
To keep this vital part of your anatomy functioning as you age, you have to feed and care for your eyes properly. Otherwise, you are in real danger of losing your vision and independence.
Your vision may be in danger. Experts estimate that 8 million Americans over the age of 55 are at serious risk of blindness linked to a condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD can wipe out your central vision and is the primary cause of blindness in Western society.
While AMD causes no pain, it blurs the sharp, central vision necessary for driving, reading and other activities where you need to see either up close or straight ahead. During AMD, the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to pick out fine detail, is destroyed. The macula sits at the center of your retina, the nerve center at the back of your eye that senses light and sends optic signals to the brain.
Age is not the only risk factor for AMD. Scientists have isolated a genetic defect that can lead to some forms of macular degeneration (Nature Genetics 2001; 27:89-93). Smoking and excessive exposure to sunlight are other hazards best avoided if you want to save your sight.
In many cases, AMD progresses so slowly that victims of this condition don't even notice that their vision is deteriorating until much of it is irrevocably gone.
Dry and Wet AMD
Wet AMD occurs when blood vessels in back of the retina start to overgrow and leak blood. As this occurs, blood and other fluids push on the macula and quickly damage its sensitive nerve endings. When wet AMD occurs, you lose your central vision rapidly. If straight lines appear wavy to you, you may be suffering from wet AMD. If you notice this or other unusual vision changes, contact an eye care specialist as soon as possible. You need what is called a comprehensive dilated eye exam that can uncover signs of AMD.
Dry AMD strikes the eye when light-sensitive cells in the macula slowly deteriorate, gradually blurring central vision in the affected eye. As dry AMD progresses, a blurry spot in the center of your vision may appear. Eventually, as more of the macula becomes dysfunctional, the central vision in the eye can gradually disappear.
The most common sign of dry AMD is slightly blurry vision. This can make it hard to recognize faces and also make it harder to read without very bright light. Dry AMD generally attacks both eyes, but vision can be lost in one eye while the other eye stays normal. In the early stages of dry AMD, drusen, yellow deposits that gather under the retina, may form. Dry AMD progresses in three stages:
Vitamins and Minerals for AMD
Fortunately, scientists have found ways to combat AMD: An analysis of a study called the national Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) shows that more than 300,000 Americans could avoid losing their sight to AMD if they took daily supplements of antioxidant nutrients and zinc.
This conclusion, reached by scientists at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute, is based on research involving more than 4,500 adults suffering various stages of AMD. The study demonstrated that people who already had some AMD could lower their risk of the more advanced form of this condition by 25% when they took vitamin C, natural vitamin E and beta carotene along with zinc. Those suffering from advanced AMD lowered their chances of losing vision by about 19%. (Supplements did not affect the risk of cataracts or the chances of some vision loss for people in the early stages of AMD.)
" Without treatment to reduce their risk, we estimate that 1.3 million adults would develop the advanced stage of AMD," says Neil M. Bressler, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins and author of the current study, published in Archives of Ophthalmology (11/03).
According to Dr. Bressler and the other researchers, people who now have intermediate AMD (some vision loss) in one eye have about a 1 in 16 chance of having their vision deteriorate until they have advanced AMD. They also calculate that about 1 in 4 of those with intermediate AMD in both eyes and 43% of those with advanced AMD in one eye will develop advanced AMD in five years without treatment.
In their view, older people at risk of AMD blindness should take daily supplements of 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 milligrams of natural vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta carotene, 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide and 2 milligrams of copper as cupric oxide. Evidence also exists that a diet which is high in fat can cause AMD to progress to an advanced stage. The exceptions: The healthy fats found in fish and nuts (Archives of Ophthalmology 2003; 121:1728-37).
Oddly enough, some of the same pigments that color vegetables and other foods also color your eyes. And scientists believe that those pigments, which are classified as carotenoids, help protect the eyes by helping them fight off the negative effects of caustic molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are formed when the energy from sunlight strikes the eyes and disrupts the composition of natural chemicals found there.
When scientists compared healthy eyes with eyes suffering from AMD, they found that AMD eyes contained lower levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid pigments contained in egg yolk, spinach, broccoli and other dark green vegetables (Ophthalmology 2003; 109:1780). Furthermore, they found that levels of these chemicals generally decline as you grow older.
" This research is a major step toward large-scale clinical studies to prove the extent to which lutein and zeaxanthin protect against age-related macular degeneration," says Paul S. Bernstein, MD, PhD, at the University of Utah School of Medicine at Salt Lake. "We know that these carotenoids are specifically concentrated in the macula of the human eye."
Dr. Bernstein adds that, as you age, taking supplements containing lutein and other antioxidants may lower your AMD risk. In his investigation, people with AMD who did not take lutein had one-third less lutein in their eyes than older people whose vision was normal.
Another eyesight hazard is cataracts, in which the eye's lens-the part that focuses incoming light onto the retina-becomes cloudy. Cataracts form when the proteins found in the normally clear lens become damaged; signs include progressively blurred vision (especially outdoors), focusing problems, seeing streaks of light from headlights and stoplights, and colors that look faded.
Cataract is the leading cause of blindness worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. One of every six Americans 40 and older suffers from some degree of cataract; it affects half of all Americans who reach age 80. Nuclear cataracts, the most common form of this disorder, develop in the center of the lens and tend to grow slowly. Cataracts may also develop at the back of the lens; this form is linked to eye trauma and long-term use of certain medications, including steroids.
Like AMD, cataracts become more common as people age. Up to 40% of individuals between the ages of 75 and 85 have them, compared with only 5% to 10% of those folks under the age of 65. And like AMD, sunlight exposure and smoking increase the risk of developing cataracts, as does the presence of diabetes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin, the carotenoids that are so plentiful in the macula, are also found in the lens (although in lower concentrations), leading many researchers to believe that these nutrients may help drop your risk of cataract development. Early studies indicate that an increased intake of lutein and zeaxanthin reduces one's chances of needing cataract surgery, the most common surgery in the United States (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999; 70(4):509-16; 517-24).
Antioxidants and the Lens
Scientists believe that free-radical damage is a leading cause of cataracts, and so it isn't surprising that antioxidants have proved useful in preventing this problem.
Almost 500 women filled out diet questionnaires as part of a very large research effort called the Nurses' Health Study; those who had taken vitamin C supplements for 10 years or longer enjoyed the lowest rates of nuclear cataracts (Archives of Ophthalmology 2001; 119:1009-19).
So the answer to lowering your risk of eye problems is clear, whether you are already in your mature years or plan to be someday: Lead a healthy, eye-friendly lifestyle, eating a diet filled with colorful fruits and vegetables. Take frequent walks and jogs around the block.
And yes, when you kick back and take your just-as-frequent doses of antioxidant supplements, you're allowed to take your sunglasses off and see the world clearly.
June 14, 2005 06:11 PM
by Charles Scott Energy Times, January 4, 2005
If you want to stave off infections, aging-even liver cancer-get your fill of chlorophyll, a vital nutrient in plants.
The green in plants possesses unique powers. Green landscapes soothe the soul. A verdant expanse of green vegetation offers comfort, peace and ecological consolation. What makes some plants, including vegetables, green: Chlorophyll, a substance that is also a crucial nutrient for better health.
Chlorophyll is a special chemical that consists of molecules which enable plants to collect sunlight. In a complex molecular process, vegetation then uses chlorophyll to harness the power from the sun's rays and build carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. Those carbohydrates form the basic nutritional building blocks that we and other animals need to survive and thrive.
Besides enabling the creation of carbohydrates, research shows that chlorophyll itself can help lower our risk of diseases like cancer. A recent study in China demonstrates that daily supplements of a chemical derived from chlorophyll can protect DNA, the genetic material in cells. When DNA is damaged and malfunctions, cells may reproduce wildly and become cancerous tumors. The latest experiments, performed by scientists affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Oregon State University (OSU), show that chlorophyll and its chemical relatives may insulate DNA from unhealthy changes linked to aflatoxin, a fungus that often contaminates corn, peanuts and soybeans. In China, liver cancer associated with aflatoxin is a widespread problem.
" In the area of China in which we did our study about one in 10 adults die from liver cancer, and it's the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide," says George Bailey, PhD, a professor of environmental and molecular toxicology at OSU. "The findings of this research could be enormously important to many areas of China, Southeast Asia and Africa, where aflatoxin-related liver cancer is a real concern. Many of these deaths might be preventable with supplements that cost pennies a day."
This research looked at about 180 people in Qidong, China. When people in the study were given supplements containing chlorophyll derivatives, they had less than half the DNA damage of people who didn't take supplements.
According to the scientists, chlorophyll and similar substances may act as interceptor molecules, blocking the absorption of carcinogens. As John Groopman, professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, observes, the supplements these people took "...can effectively reduce aflatoxin levels, which should reduce the risk of liver cancer."
Closer to home, other researchers point out that chlorophyll-rich vegetarian foods may help protect us from carcinogens in the typical American diet.
If you've ever enjoyed a hunk of grilled meat, you've consumed substances scientists call heterocyclic amines, which are contained in the charred part of meat cooked on a grill. Studies have shown that these tasty tidbits can increase your risk of breast and other types of cancer. (Your risk from charred meat greatly increases if you are also a smoker.) However, if you eat a food like spirulina, a blue-green algae high in antioxidants that also contains plenty of chlorophyll, its protective substances can bind with these carcinogens within your digestive tract and keep them from being absorbed.
Green Keeps You Younger
While we always hear that eating more fruits and vegetables enhances our health, new research shows that eating green foods adds extra power to an anti-aging program.
Two experiments at the University of South Florida Center for Aging and Brain Repair, published in the Journal of Neurobiology (7/15/02), show that spirulina and other greens can help shield the brain from the antioxidant damage that accumulates as one ages and may help reverse declines in learning and memory.
The first study found that a diet rich in spinach helped lab animals stay smart as they grew older. Spinach's benefits, according to the researchers, are due to its rich antioxidant content, which can counteract free radicals (caustic molecules) created in the body during normal metabolism and increased by exposure to environmental pollutants, sunlight and radiation. When free radicals attack, cell walls and other cellular structures are compromised and DNA can malfunction. A lifetime of free-radical damage can slow your thinking and may be one of the causes of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, says Dr. Paula Bickford, lead author on the project.
The second study found that the protective effect of green plants may be linked to their ability to reverse age-related accumulations of potentially harmful inflammatory substances in the brain. In this research, spirulina improved neuron function, lowered inflammation in the brain and reduced levels of chemicals linked to oxidative damage. In fact, spirulina didn't just slow the deterioration of neurotransmitter interactions caused by aging, it actually improved their function.
" Not all foods are created equal," says Dr. Bickford. "Cucumbers taste good and have lots of fiber. But unlike spirulina and apples, they are not rich in phytochemicals that have antioxidant or anti-inflammatory effects in the brain."
Aside from assisting brain function, spirulina also seems able to help pump up the immune system. Researchers at the University of California at Davis found that adding spirulina to cultured immune system cells significantly increases the production of infection-fighting cells called cytokines.
A number of previous laboratory studies have found that spirulina can balance immune response: While easing allergic reactions, this powerful green food also was found to enhance the ability of immune cells called macrophages to both destroy bacteria and eliminate cancerous cells.
" We found that nutrient-rich spirulina is a potent inducer of interferon-g (13.6-fold increase) and a moderate stimulator of both interleukin-4 and interleukin-1b (3.3-fold increase)," notes Eric Gershwin, professor at UC Davis. "Together, increases in these cytokines suggest that spirulina is a strong proponent for protecting against intracellular pathogens and parasites, and can potentially increase the expression of agents that stimulate inflammation, which also helps to protect the body against infectious and potentially harmful micro-organisms."
What this means for you: Spirulina holds the potential to help the body protect itself against battalions of infectious invaders. " People have used foods like yogurt and spirulina throughout history," says Judy van de Water, PhD, associate professor at UC Davis. "Through research, we are learning exactly how these foods improve immune system function and how they are a beneficial addition to our diet."
Throughout the history of life on earth, the healthy development of animal and human life has depended on green plants. Today, as our environment deteriorates and our bodies are under attack from an increasingly polluted world, we need those health-boosting greens more than ever.
Catch Your Breath
June 14, 2005 05:56 PM
Catch Your Breath
by Carl Lowe Energy Times, October 10, 2004
Asthma is on the rise. This serious breathing problem already afflicts 300 million people around the world and is expected to hinder the lung function of 400 million people in 20 years (Annual World Asthma Meeting, 2/17/04).
In the US, asthma continues to strike our kids. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (2/24/03), the rate at which kids developed asthma doubled between 1980 and 1995. By 2001, 6.3 million American kids had asthma. The cost of treating all these kids: more than $3 billion a year.
Few researchers are prepared to state definitively why asthma rates have continued to climb during the past two decades. However, many investigators point to factors that seem inextricably linked to this disorder, which is marked by wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing spells.
A report from the American Public Health Association and researchers at Harvard puts a lot of the blame for the high rate of asthma on global warming, smog and the atmosphere's growing burden of carbon dioxide. These are linked to industries and car exhaust that release pollution.
In this increasing burden of toxins released into the atmosphere, the rate of asthma among toddlers has grown to be particularly worrisome. Their rate of asthma has climbed more than twice the national average: by 160% between 1980 and 1994. According to these researchers (Inside the Greenhouse: The Impacts of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and Climate Change on Public Health in the Inner City), global warming-which involves large increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide released by internal combustion engines and and industrial processes-has fomented the asthma epidemic in several ways:
• Extra heat in the atmosphere has stimulated rapid plant growth that results in more fungus, pollen and spores; this causes allergies that often lead to asthma. Weeds like ragweed, which release allergenic particles, have greatly increased during the past few years. • Extreme weather has caused more floods and damp houses, leading to more indoor air pollution from molds. • Diesel pollutants are now combining with pollen and mold to irritate lungs, causing troublesome allergic reactions.
Bus Fume Hazards
The report notes that in neighborhoods like Harlem, in New York City, 25% of all children suffer asthma. Rates are particularly high in children who live in apartments that are located along bus routes.
A finding that surprised the scientists is the fact that carbon dioxide released by city traffic and the burning of coal and natural gas persists over urban areas, causing a dome of CO2 pollution.
Research on air quality in New York City, Phoenix and Baltimore shows that these lingering CO2 domes contain from 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide to 600 ppm. Those levels are significantly above the global average of 379 ppm. Over the course of the earth's history, going back more than 400,000 years before the Industrial Age, research shows the atmosphere has averaged only 180 to 280 ppm.
Breathing difficulties that increase at night can point to asthma, according to Robert Fink, MD: "Asthma can be a nocturnal disease, at its worst between 10 pm and 4 am, when cortisol [a hormone that regulates many bodily functions] levels are lowest" (Pediatric Asthma: Diagnosis and Treatment Goals, Medscape).
Dr. Fink says that if problems with breathing are bad enough to interfere with sleep, a health practitioner should be consulted to analyze the difficulty.
Diet and Asthma
Although nobody can guarantee protection against asthma, research suggests that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce your risk. For instance, a study in Australia found that people who ate the most apples and pears reduced their chances of suffering from this breath-robbing disorder.
In research involving about 1,600 people, aged 20 to 44, they found that those who consumed the largest quantity of these fruits enjoyed the lowest rate of asthma (AJCN 2003; 78:414).
This is the latest study to confirm the fact that apples and other fruits help to keep lungs healthy. " There is extensive evidence from studies over the last 10 to 15 years that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial to lung health," observes Carol Trenga, PhD, a research scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle. "The most compelling evidence is linked to fruits high in vitamin C, which are associated with improved lung function in the general population of adults and children."
Produce for Smokers
Quitting smoking represents one of the best ways to reduce lung disease. But even if you smoke, research on smokers has found that those who ate a moderate amount of fruits and vegetables have fewer lung problems (American Thoracic Society 97th International Conference 5/2001).
And you don't have to change your diet very much to make a difference: In that research, merely eating one and half pieces of fruit a day or eating about a tablespoon of vegetables daily significantly dropped smokers' chances of serious lung disease.
Fruits and Veggies to the Rescue
In a study at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, scientists looking at the diets of more than 2,500 people found that eating five or more apples or three tomatoes a week increased lung function. Eating apples and tomatoes also reduced the risk of wheezing.
" The likelihood is that any effect is due to the concerted action of all the nutrients in apples and tomatoes, especially the antioxidants that are particularly rich in the peel of apples and contribute to the coloring of tomatoes," says researcher Sarah Lewis, PhD.
" Antioxidants may work by protecting the airways against the insult of tobacco smoke and other atmospheric pollutants," she adds. Dr. Trenga recommends that everyone eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. She also notes, "[I]t is reasonable to suggest modest supplementation with for example, vitamin C (250-500 mg twice/day) and vitamin E (up to 400 IU per day), in at-risk populations as a complementary therapy after considering the specific needs of the individual...These levels are very safe and have other health benefits (such as vitamin E and heart disease) in addition to potentially improving lung health."
Since asthma is linked to allergies, herbs that help to quell respiratory allergies can possibly lower your risk of asthma. A blend of standardized herbal extracts that contains Phyllanthus emblica (Indian gooseberry or amla), Terminalia chebula (Harda or Haritaki), Terminalia bellerica (bedda nut tree), Albizia lebbeck (Indian walnut), Zingiber officinale (ginger root), Piper longum (Indian long pepper), and Piper nigrum (black pepper) has been found to improve breathing and reduce the effect of allergies (FASEB J 2004; Vol II:A912, Abs. 600.8). Other studies have shown that these herbs can relieve nasal congestion, ease sneezing and clear bothersome mucus (J Am Coll Nutr 22(5): Abs 46, 2003).
Avoiding antibiotics may also lower the risk of asthma. " Over the past four decades there has been an explosive increase in allergy and asthma in westernized countries, says Mairi Noverr, PhD, a researcher who has looked at the lin between antibiotic use with asthma and allergies. " We propose that the link between antibiotic use and dysregulated pulmonary immunity is through antibiotic-induced long term alterations in the bacterial and fungal GI microflora."
In other words, Dr. Noverr's research shows that beneficial bacteria in people's intestines, which take part in strengthening immunity and regulating the immune response to pollen, may have been harmed by the overprescription of antibiotics by physicians. Dr. Noverr and his fellow researchers gave lab animals antibiotics before exposing them to candida albicans (a yeast infection). They then exposed the animals to mold spores. The result: a greater sensitivity to inhaling the spores and breathing problems similar to what people experience during hay fever season (104th General Meeting American Society of Microbiology).
" The studies presented here are the first direct demonstration that antibiotic therapy can promote the development of an allergic airway response," says Dr. Noverr. On a global scale, the outlook for asthma is worrisome. As other countries continue their industrial growth, the burden on the earth's atmosphere will grow. Meanwhile, few serious measures are being taken to reduce global warming, and the national diet frequently neglects lung-friendly vegetables and fruits. But within that uncertain scenario, you can boost your chances of healthy lungs: Eat more apples. Stay away from smoky buses. Hope for clear skies.
Pep Up and Go!
June 14, 2005 05:45 PM
Pep Up and Go!
by Harris Parker Energy Times, February 2, 2000
Feel your energy flagging?
You've lost count of the number of phone calls you fielded all afternoon-the last was from your son, who missed the late bus home from school-and colleagues needing your decision are lined up outside your office. Your husband has invited clients home for dinner. You wilt like a new hairdo on a damp August day and pray for a miracle to jump-start your engine.
Your pep quotient depends on three essential ingredients: nutrients you consume through your diet and supplements, how much you exercise and your sleep schedule.(Of course, if you're troubled by any kind of disabling, ceaseless fatigue accompanied by mental fuzziness, joint pain, sore throat, swollen glands, headaches and other chronic distress, consult your health practitioner.)
Vitamins and Energy
Certain nutrients are called vitamins because scientists consider them to be crucial for vitality. They generally function as coenzymes, partnering with the enzymes that are catalysts for the chemical reactions constantly taking place in our bodies. Our need to replenish our store of vitamins, which may merge with cell, muscle, enzyme, hormone, blood and bone structure once they have been absorbed, depends on their rate of utilization, according to The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery) by Shari Lieberman, PhD, and Nancy Bruning.
While a low-fat diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables helps supply important nutrients, a B complex supplement and a balanced multivitamin can guarantee daily vitamin levels.
Be Energetic with B Vitamins
Vitamins, especially the B vitamins, play extremely important roles in producing cellular energy. The chart on page 39 lists the key vitamins and describes their effects as well as the consequences of not getting enough of them. Their benefit is felt most profoundly in the energy producing process known as the Krebs cycle (which we'll explain in a moment).
Vitamins B2 and B3, for example, supply the major building blocks for substances that are called flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD and FADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD and NADH), which are critical elements of energy production in the Krebs cycle as well as a process called oxidative phosphorylation.
Hundreds of Reactions
Even though you may never have heard of NAD and NADH, these molecules are found in very many places throughout your body; they play a role in hundreds of biochemical reactions in all kinds of cells. B vitamins also combine with other materials to build coenzymes, chemicals which help form other chemicals necessary for cellular energy. B vitamins are crucial: miss out on one or more and you may break these metabolic chains necessary for peak energy.
Energy to Spend
The main energy currency of every cell single cell is ATP: a chemical called adenosine triphosphate. This material is used by cells for every imaginable task including reproduction, growth, movement and metabolism. Specialized metabolic cycles within the cell are designed to generate ATP.
Consequently, the more ATP our cells create, the more energy can be generated. The raw materials used to make cellular energy are glucose (blood sugar) and "free" fatty acids. The best way to supply your cells with the sugar they need is to consume complex carbohydrates which also supply fiber and other nutrients. When you eat carbohydrates, they are made into glucose which is stored as a starch called glycogen in muscles and the liver. Your body can rapidly turn glycogen into glucose for extra energy. (The process of making energy from glycogen yields carbon dioxide and water as well as ATP.)
The first step in making glucose into energy is called glycolysis. This complicated process requires nine different steps. During these steps, glucose is made into a substance called pyruvate. The process of glycolysis requires ATP, but yields twice as much ATP as is present when it starts.
From here, the process gets a little more complicated as pyruvate enters into a complex chain of events in tiny cellular structures called mitochondria. (Many metabolic events take place in the mitochondria.) The pyruvate molecules are converted to a molecule known as acetyl coenzyme A and eventually made into carbon dioxide, water and more ATP.
This process is known as the Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle. It also involves a series of events known as oxidative phosphorylation in which NADH formed during the Krebs cycle is oxidized to form ATP.
Why is fat such a concentrated source of energy? Free fatty acids enter the Krebs cycle to help generate ATP much more efficiently than glucose - producing roughly six times more energy per gram than glucose.
And Don't Overlook. . . . . .other supplements that may aid energy production: • Alpha Lipoic Acid, an antioxidant that works in the fatty tissues of cell membranes and in cells' watery interiors • Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone as it exists everywhere in the body, acts like a vitamin because it stimulates some reactions. CoQ10 protects cell membranes, especially of the heart, against oxidation and toxins.
Ginsengs: Energy Generators
With their legendary and slightly mysterious characteristics, the ginsengs are greatly respected natural energy boosters. " Perhaps no herb has excited so much interest in medical circles as ginseng, and yet, strangely, it does not actually 'cure' any one particular ailment," reports Michael Hallowell, the author of Herbal Healing (Avery) and a frequent lecturer on botanic medicine. "Rather, its virtue lies in its tremendous power as a tonic and invigorator. Russian athletes are prescribed large amounts of ginseng because researchers in Moscow have shown that it not only improves stamina, but also increases the efficiency with which blood is pumped to the muscles."
What are the physiological mechanisms that allow ginseng to bolster your get up and go? In order to unravel the legend and lore of ginseng, the first step is understanding the intricacies of the three types: • Asian (Panax ginseng), which produces the strongest and most profound stimulation; • American (Panax quinquefolium), which soothes at a more subtle level; • Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus), a stamina booster embraced by a wide range of athletes. All three varieties are treasured for their ability to help people adjust to stress.
The ginsengs are adaptogens, "biologically active substances found in certain herbs and plants that help the body and mind adapt to the changes and stress of life," says Stephen Fulder, MD, author of The Book of Ginseng and Other Chinese Herbs for Vitality (Inner Traditions). "Stress is not an illness in itself. Stress is change, our ability to adapt to all the changes that occur in life, emotional or physical, from exercise, work, chemicals, drugs, food, radiation, bacteria, disease, temperature, or simply too many late nights or too much fun."
The body reacts to stress by producing the hormone adrenaline, which throws the whole body into a state of alert. Metabolism, blood pressure and circulation accelerate; immunity and resistance drastically decline; performance suffers.
Enter the ginsengs, with their varied, subtle tonic qualities. The Greek name for this herb, "panax," means "panacea" or cure-all. But the Chinese, who first referred to it 2,000 years ago, more literally called it "ren shen" or "person root," in reference to its physical resemblance to a miniature human form.
" Most exhibit medicinal properties, but each species has a different chemical makeup and has a unique application in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)," says Kim Derek Pritts, author of Ginseng: How to Find, Grow and Use America's Forest Gold (Stackpole). "In general, all true ginseng contains biologically active saponins (chemicals similar to human hormones), essential oils, carbohydrates, sugars, organic acids, nitrogenous substances, amino acids, peptides, vitamins and minerals."
Building Vital Energy
All the ginsengs strengthen, nourish and build Qi, the TCM concept describing basic vital energy circulating through our bodies. Every physical and mental function, from breathing, thinking, nutrition and circulation, is regulated by Qi. Although many of the Native American tribes used the abundant, indigenous Panax quinquefolium ginseng extensively, particularly to increase mental acuity and boost fertility, the herb never has been as popular in North America as it is in Asia. American ginseng traditionally has been a lucrative export crop to China, where the wild native variety suffers from overharvesting. Even today, according to Paul Bergner in The Healing Power of Ginseng & the Tonic Herbs (Prima), 95% of the American ginseng crop is exported to China, where XiYang Shen, or "western sea root," as it is called, is immensely valued and costs double what it does here.
Jacques MoraMarco, author of The Complete Ginseng Handbook: A Practical Guide for Energy, Health and Longevity (Contemporary), as well as a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of Eastern medicine, suggests American ginseng for a slight energy boost. The moderate effect of American ginseng is considered a more appropriate tonic to the intensity of our pace and diet.
Variations on a Theme
In TCM terms, American ginseng cools and moistens, as well as lubricates and strengthens the body. It is reputed to reduce fevers and night sweats and alleviate hot, dry lung problems like smoker's cough. With its emollient qualities, American ginseng is considered to treat dry, wrinkled skin effectively.
The Bolder Energizer
Asian ginseng, which includes red Korean panax, is a bolder energizer taken by those who feel depleted from anemia, blood loss, cardiovascular weakness, injury, shock or trauma, as well as the disabling effects of age. In general, Asian ginseng is warming and stimulating, urging the body to run faster.
Siberian ginseng, though botanically not a true ginseng, still acts similarly to Asian ginseng in its reputed power to control stress, boost energy, support the immune system, enhance performance and increase longevity. Called Wu Cha Seng in Chinese, Siberian ginseng is perceived by natural practitioners as an ideal herb for the healthy who want to lift both stamina and endurance. Experts believe it counteracts the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to injury, pain or emotional turmoil.
Natural Energy Boosters
The herbal pharmacopeia includes several other natural energy boosters available in various forms-shakes and bars for those on the run-loaded with nutrition absent from commercial snacks. Some choices: • Ginkgo biloba-used in Chinese medicine to heat the body and increase sexual energy. Ginkgo enthusiasts take this herb to increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and generally increase circulation. • Gotu kola-may stimulate the central nervous system and help eliminate excess fluid, thereby reducing fatigue. • Astragalus-a Chinese herb that enhances energy and builds the immune system. It is credited with strengthening digestion, improving metabolism, increasing appetite, combating diarrhea and healing sores. • Schisandra-also a Chinese herb, treats respiratory illness, insomnia and irritability and rejuvenates sexual energy. Its mild adaptogens help the body to handle stress. • Licorice-is a favored endocrine toner in Chinese medicine. It is reputed to support the adrenals, the pair of small glands directly above the kidneys that secrete steroidal hormones, norepinephrine and epinephrine, the "fight or flight" hormones. People with high blood pressure or edema, or pregnant women, should avoid it. • Ashwagandha-an Ayurvedic herb used for thousands of years in the traditional healing of India as a potent strength builder for men and women.
Experienced herbal practitioners acquire an impressive and fascinating store of knowledge and experience-you'll find it helpful to visit one as you begin your course of ginseng or other energy-boosting herbs.
When you visit a TCM practitioner, you'll notice that she evaluates your body's condition through an extremely careful examination of all the different systems: Several pulse points are felt in order to ferret out and detect troubling abnormalities. The condition and color of the tongue is observed to decipher digestive disorders. In addition, your urine may be examined to determine other imbalances and specific health problems.
In many cases, your TCM practitioner will recommend ginseng as an adaptogen that can give you an overall boost. When taking ginseng, follow the directions on the package. Note: in some cases, you may want to consume a little bit less if you suffer headaches, insomnia or high blood pressure. Consult your health practitioner if you are afflicted with either acute inflammatory disease or bronchitis.
Then take comfort in the eternal soothing wisdom of Chinese Traditional Medicine. In the first century A.D., the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Husbandman's Classic of the Materia Medica) effusively described ginseng and the tonic herbs in this beguiling and intriguing manner: "The first class of drugs...are considered to perform the work of sovereigns. They support human life and they resemble heaven. They are not poisonous regardless of the quality and duration of administration."
America's Most Wanted
June 14, 2005 05:23 PM
America's Most Wanted
by Brian Amherst Energy Times, January 6, 2000
The United States eats well, a little too well, according to experts. Amply supplied with a large supply of high-calorie food, our diets might seem to be chock full of every conceivable nutrient. Well, to the question "Getting all the right vitamins, minerals and other nutrients?" the most appropriate answer seems to be "Not exactly." Eating a lot doesn't equal eating a lot of the most important vitamins and minerals. So, which vitamins and minerals are likely to show up in short supply in the typical American diet? Calcium certainly sits at the top of list. According to the most recent Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals, which is conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), women and girls age 12 and up are not consuming adequate calcium from their diet. Research reveals that about 1200 mg. day suffices for those over age 50 and 1000 mg a day should be adequate if you're between the ages of 19 and 50. Since strong bones are formed during "the first three decades of life," says Laura Bachrach, MD, of Since strong bones are formed during "the first three decades of life," says Laura Bachrach, MD, of Stanford University, ". . .osteoporosis is a pediatric disease." For long-range protection against that bone-weakening disease, kids should eat calcium-rich, low-fat dairy products and plenty of leafy greens (broccoli, cabbage, kale) as well as salmon (with bones), seafood and soy. But the calcium campaign does not end in early adulthood. Bone mass begins to deteriorate at about age 30. Menopausal hormonal changes can exacerbate bone brittleness. Medical conditions, including cancer, liver disease and intestinal disorders; prescription drugs; tobacco and alcohol indulgence; or a decline in activity, especially the weight-bearing kind, also jeopardize bone strength. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about one in every two American women will break a bone after age 50 due to osteoporosis. That translates into about half a million fractured vertebrae and more than 300,000 shattered hips. Frequently, those breaks are life-threatening.
The critical role of calcium in many body functions is perhaps the most extensively clinically documented among nutrients. Researchers in the Department of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, reviewed epidemiological and clinical studies conducted over the past two years on the relationship between dietary calcium and blood pressure (J Am Coll Nutr October 1999: 398S-405S). "Nearly 20 years of investigation in this area has culminated in remarkable and compelling agreement in the data," the researchers report, "confirming the need for and benefit of regular consumption of the recommended daily levels of dietary calcium." Investigators at the State University of New York, Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, presented results of their studies of calcium and vitamin C and gum disease at the June 26, 1998 meeting of the International Association for Dental Research. Two separate inquiries revealed that people who consumed too little calcium as young adults, and those with low levels of vitamin C in their diets, appear to have nearly twice the risk of developing periodontal disease later in life than folks with higher dietary levels of either nutrient.
Calcium: Much Documented Researchers offer extensive evidence of calcium's benefits on many fronts: n Osteoporosis poses a threat to older men as well as women, according to Randi L. Wolf, PhD, research associate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Dr. Wolf presented her award-winning study to an October 3, 1999 meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Dr. Wolf suggests that men increase their consumption of calcium, particularly after age 80, to avoid age-related declines in the amount of calcium absorbed. According to Dr. Wolf, "It appears that the hormonal form of vitamin D, which is the main regulator of intestinal calcium absorption, may have an important role. We are conducting more research to better understand the reasons for why calcium absorption declines with age in men." n Scientists at Tufts University in Boston did some earlier work on the calcium-vitamin D connection and reported it in the September 4, 1997 New England Journal of Medicine. Using the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) increased recommended daily intake of 1200 milligrams of calcium and 400 to 600 international units of vitamin D for people over 50, the Tufts researchers found that with supplementation of the nutrients, men and women 65 and older lost significantly less body bone and, in some cases, gained bone mineral density. n Two studies published in American Heart Association journals show that atherosclerosis and osteoporosis may be linked by a common problem in the way the body uses calcium. The September 1997 Stroke revealed that, in a group of 30 postmenopausal women 67 to 85 years old, bone mineral density declined as atherosclerotic plaque increased. Researchers reporting in Circulation (September 15, 1997) advanced the theory that the osteoporosis-atherosclerosis connection may be related to a problem in handling calcium. n For people who had colon polyps removed, taking calcium supplements decreased the number of new polyps by 24% and cut the risk of recurrence by 19%, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Medicine. The study, published in the January 14, 1999 New England Journal of Medicine, was a first in crediting calcium with anti-cancer properties.
The D Factor
Without adequate vitamin D, your absorption of calcium slips and bone loss can accelerate, increasing the risk for fractures. Fifty percent of women with osteoporosis hospitalized for hip fractures at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston had a previously undetected vitamin D deficiency (Journal of the American Medical Association, April 28, 1999). University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute researchers told participants at the April 14, 1997 meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research that vitamin D "significantly inhibits highly metastatic, or widespread, prostate cancer in animals," suggesting its potential for treating men with similar conditions. Few foods that Americans eat, except dairy, contain much vitamin D, but we can usually synthesize sufficient amounts from as few as five minutes' exposure to the sun. But as skin ages, its ability to act as a vitamin D factory decreases. According to Michael F. Holick, the director of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University Medical Center, upwards of 40% of the adult population over age 50 that he sees in his clinic are deficient in vitamin D. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences (the official body that decrees the required amounts of necessary nutrients) increased the daily recommendations of vitamin D to 600 IU for people over 71, 400 IU for those aged 51 to 70 and 200 IU for people under 50. The best dietary sources, apart from dependable supplements, are dairy and fatty fish like salmon. Four ounces of salmon provide about 300 IU.
The Facts About Fats
The American lust for low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets filled with sugary foods has exploded into nothing short of "obsession," according to experts at the General Research Center at Stanford University Medical Center (Am J Clin Nutr 70, 1999: 512S-5S). That mania oftens robs us of the crucial balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids typical of the Mediterranean diet that protect us from heart disease by controlling cholesterol and making blood less likely to form clots. These fatty acids cannot be made by the body but are critical for health: n Omega-3 fatty acid (linolenic acid) comes from fresh, deepwater fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) and vegetable oils such as canola, flaxseed and walnut. n Omega-6 fatty acid (linoleic acid) found primarily in raw nuts, seeds and legumes and in saturated vegetable oils such as borage, grape seed, primrose, sesame and soybean. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat consumption to 30% of daily calories. Saturated fats like those in dairy and meat products as well as vegetable oil should comprise 10% of total calories; total unsaturated fat (fish oils, soybean, safflower nuts and nut oils) should be restricted to 20 to 22% of daily calories.
Be Sure About B12
Vitamin B12 presents a particular problem for the elderly because older digestive systems often don't secrete enough stomach acid to liberate this nutrient from food. (The elderly have no problem absorbing B12 from supplements, because it's not bound to food.) Vitamins generally moderate the aging process but, ironically, that process and the diseases that frequently accompany it affect vitamin metabolism (Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax 83, 1994: 262-6). And because of those changes, we need more of certain vitamins. This is the case for vitamins D, B6, riboflavin and B12. Crucial for health, B12 is necessary to prevent anemia, and, according to recent studies, needed (along with folate and B6) to help stave off heart disease. B12, with thiamine and niacin, boosts cognition (Adv Nutr Res 7, 1985: 71-100). Screening for vitamin B12 deficiency and thyroid disease is cheap and easy and can prevent conditions such as dementia, depression or irreversible tissue damage (Lakartidningen 94, 1997: 4329-32). In the January 5-12, 1999 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, the AHA urged doctors to screen levels of homocysteine (the amino acid byproduct of protein digestion that damages arteries, causes heart disease and, possibly, strokes) in patients at high risk for heart disease. They also recommended all Americans to up their daily levels of vitamins B6 and B12, as well as folic acid. Since fruits, vegetables or grains lack B12, vegetarians need B12 supplements. And they're a good idea for the rest of us, too.
Folic Acid Benefits
Folic acid made headlines in the early 1990s when the U.S. Public Health Service declared that "to reduce the frequency of neural tube defects [spina bifida, or open spine, and anencephaly, a lethal defect of the brain and skull] and their resulting disability, all women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consume .4 milligrams (400 micrograms) of folic acid per day." This recommendation followed voluminous research that showed taking folic acid was associated with a significantly reduced risk of birth defects. (The advisory is based on the fact that nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned. If you think you are pregnant, consult your health practitioner for supplementary advice.)
A Team Player
Folic acid's efficacy intensifies when it works with other nutrients. Among many studies on the preventive powers of folic acid on birth defects, one published in The New England Journal of Medicine (327, Dec. 24, 1992: 1,832-1,835), disclosed an even greater decrease in neural tube defects when supplements of folic acid contained copper, manganese, zinc and vitamin C. As a warrior against homocysteine, folic acid joins the battalion of B12 and B6 in detoxifying this harmful protein. At the University of Washington's Northwest Prevention Effectiveness Center, researchers recently analyzed 38 published studies of the relationship between folic acid, homocysteine and cardiovascular disease and, according to associate professor Shirley A. Beresford, MD, folic acid and vitamin B12 and B6 deficiencies can lead to a buildup of homocysteine.
Canadian researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (275, 1996: 1893-1896) that men and women with low folic acid have a 69% increase in the risk of fatal coronary heart disease. This 15-year study of more than 5,000 people stressed the need for dietary supplementation of folic acid. Folic acid also has been credited with the potential to protect against cancers of the lungs, colon and cervix. It appears to help reverse cervical dysplasia, the precursor cells to cervical cancer, especially for women taking oral contraceptives, which may cause a localized deficiency of folic acid in the cells of the cervix. According to Shari Lieberman, PhD, and Nancy Bruning, authors of The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery), folic acid derivatives work with neurotransmitters, the chemicals that permit signals to be sent from nerve fiber to nerve fiber. A lack of folic acid can cause some nervous-system disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia and dementia; it also may be related to some forms of mental retardation. Other supporting roles of folic acid, according to researchers: the formation of normal red blood cells, important for preventing the type of anemia characterized by oversized red blood cells; strengthening and improving white blood cell action against disease; limiting production of uric acid, the cause of gout.
The Best Sources
Many foods are rich in folic acid: beef, lamb, pork and chicken liver, spinach, kale and beet greens, asparagus, broccoli, whole wheat and brewer's yeast. But experts believe that only 25 to 50% of the folic acid in food is bioavailable. Processing also reduces an estimated 50 to 90% of its content. Folic acid supplementation overcomes these obstacles with little risk, as it has no known toxicity. Women taking folic acid who are current or former users of oral contraceptives may require additional zinc. And be sure to augment your folic acid supplement with its synergistic counterpart, vitamin B12.
Focus on Fiber
The American Heart Association came out squarely behind fiber in a June 16, 1997 issue of its journal Circulation: Double your daily intake to lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. The American diet is consistently low in fiber, notes Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, author of the article. Twenty-five to 30 grams a day from foods (or supplements) are not only heart healthy but seem to aid weight control.
Getting enough iron? An estimated 25% of adolescent girls in the United States are iron deficient, according to an October 12, 1996 issue of the British medical journal The Lancet, which reported that girls who took iron supplements performed significantly better on verbal tests than those who took a placebo. "Teenage girls should be regularly tested for iron deficiency because rapid growth and the onset of menstruation during puberty increase the body's need for iron," says Ann Bruner, MD, of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and a lead author of the study.USDA data reveal that women up to age 50 also tend to get much less than recommended levels of iron, a lack of which leads to anemia, a deficiency of red blood cells, hemoglobin or volume of blood. For kids, deficiency is more common from six months to four years and during the rapid growth spurts of adolescence when the body is growing so quickly that the body's iron stores may sink to dangerous levels. Vegetarian women run the greatest risk for deficiency, as meat is iron-rich; foods like beans, grains and vegetables also contain some iron. Supplements, of course, supply easily absorbable iron. And to absorb iron from vegetarian sources, take vitamin C with your meals. That boosts the amount of this mineral you will take in. Bear in mind, however, that certain folks-older men and post-menopausal women-generally have adequate dietary supplies of iron. Of greater concern, in fact, is excessive iron, and for these folks iron-free multivitamin and mineral supplements are available.
Ante Up the Antioxidants
Antioxidant nutrients help protect the body from oxygen-scavenging molecules called free radicals. The products of pollution, the body's own metabolic processes and other sources, free radicals are linked to heart disease, cancer and other chronic health problems. The most important antioxidants, which include vitamin C, E, beta carotene, and selenium, are often lacking in the American diet. Plus, optimal amounts of vitamin E cannot be consumed from food. You need supplements. The bottom line: even though we live in a land of plenty, you can still miss vital nutrients. So make sure to consume these vital substances.
Source of Missing Nutrients In the search for the nutrients missing from America's diet, one big help is the sprout. The sprout is truly one of nature's heavyweights: fresh, tiny and moist, its power punch of vitamins, minerals, protein, chlorophyll and disease-busting phytochemicals land it in a weight class far beyond that of its full-grown competitors. Size does NOT matter to this nutritional giant. A championship belt currently wraps around the miniscule broccoli sprout, catapulted into the ring by Paul Talalay, MD, professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Talalay discovered that the seedlings contain substantially more of the cancer-fighting substance sulforaphane than mature plants (Proc. Natnl. Acad. Sci. USA, 94, 10367-10372). Sprouts, the quintessential health food of the Sixties, provide a wonderfully varied and versatile way to get your daily greens. Raw or cooked, strong or mild, vegetable and grass sprouts and their algae cousins add low-calorie texture to recipes and a rich, diverse complement of nutrients and fiber.
Ancient Asia to the Modern Lab
Asians stir-fried sprouts as one of the earliest fast foods as long as 5,000 years ago. The ancient Chinese relied on sprouts for year-round vegetables in colder regions of their vast country. Today, researchers studying sprouts and adult plants have identified their important chemoprotective and other health-bolstering substances. In Paul Talalay's research project at Johns Hopkins, scientists found that three-day-old broccoli sprouts contain up to 50 times more sulforaphane than mature plants, which prompts the body to produce an enzyme that prevents cancer tumors from forming. Uniform levels of the compound saturate the shoots, unlike the chemically uneven adult plants. The Brassica family of broccoli and cabbage is richly endowed with phytochemicals that also help reduce estrogen levels associated with breast cancer. Other phytochemical compounds in the Brassica family are associated with the prevention of stomach and lung cancers. Most of the initial landmark work on phytochemicals' cancer-fighting powers has taken place since 1989 under the aegis of the National Cancer Institute's "Designer Food Program," which isolated, for example, the isoflavones in beans that seem to neutralize cancer-gene enzymes.
Strong Suit: Soy and Spirulina
The isoflavones and phytosterols in soy produce an estrogenic effect that appears to relieve menopausal symptoms and help prevent breast cancer. Soy foods expert Mark Messina, PhD, has done extensive work on the subject, some of which has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83, 1991: 541-6. Researchers also have synthesized a bone-strengthening form of soy isoflavones called ipriflavone, following impressive clinical trials in the treatment of osteoporosis (American Journal of Medicine, 95 [Suppl. 5A] (1993): 69S-74S). Spirulina and other micro-algae are fascinating organisms that inhabit a niche between the plant and animals kingdoms. Named for its tiny spirals, spirulina, a blue-green algae, grows in saline lakes but is cultured for maximum nutritional content. In her book Whole Foods Companion (Chelsea Green), Dianne Onstad notes that spirulina contains "the highest sources of protein, beta carotene and nucleic acids of any animal or plant food." Its nucleic acids, she says, benefit cellular regeneration; its fatty acids, especially GLA and omega-3 acids, make it one of the most complete foods. Sprouts, like any other produce, should be rinsed thoroughly before serving. People at high risk for bacterial illness-young children, the very elderly or folks with weakened immune systems-should limit their consumption of raw sprouts. But no matter how you eat them, you may find more spring in your step from these tiny, sprouting nutritional wonders.
Energize Your Life!
June 14, 2005 05:06 PM
Energize Your Life!
by Laura Weiss Energy Times, December 1, 2003
If every fatigued day leaves you wondering where your energy went, you need a personal energy makeover.
"Energy, some special kind of energy, just leaks out and I am left lacking the confidence even to cross the street," Diane Arbus, the photographer, once complained. And while Ms. Arbus tried to overcome her energetic and spiritual ups and downs with her art, you can use lifestyle changes as well as self-expression to revive your vigor.
To Sleep, Perchance to Energize
When you're looking for a boost in personal energy, you've got to get enough sleep, insists Jacob Tietelbaum, MD, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery). Dr. Teitelbaum emphasizes that unless you "give your body eight to nine hours of sleep per night," your personal energy will never be adequate.
Studies show that getting less than six hours sleep a night hurts your mental performance and drains your energy (Sleep 3/15/03). As your sleep debt builds up, your energy drops down.
"[Our studies show] the importance of sleep as a necessity for health and well-being. Even relatively moderate sleep restriction, if it is sustained night after night, can seriously impair our neurobiological functioning," says Hans P.A. Van Dongen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Sleep and Chronobiology at Penn State.
A recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that Americans, on average, are getting less than seven hours of shuteye a night. That sleep deficit drains energy.
Watered Down Energy
Added to that sleep requirement, Dr. Teitelbaum stressed in an interview with Energy Times, a lack of water can deplete your personal energy.
"The number one problem is often dehydration," he says. "Make sure you stay hydrated. Although I think it's a bad idea to [obsessively] count glasses of water, you should carry a bottle of water with you, check your lips and if they feel dry drink more water." Overall, your body is about 60% water and 70% of your muscles consist of water. If you let your water levels dip too low, your muscles suffer and your energy levels dip as well. Research shows that as your body dries out, your mental processes can slow down. And the hotter the temperature, the more fluid you may lose (AIHAJ 2002; 63(2):190-8).
B Vitamins for Energy
Also important for keeping your energy up "is getting enough of the B vitamins and magnesium." And even though Dr. Teitelbaum advocates the necessity of a well-rounded multiple vitamin and mineral supplement plus an adequate diet and amino acids to get all the nutrients you need, he recommends "taking a high-level B complex. The RDAs (the government's Recommended Daily Amounts) are inadequate."
In the body, B vitamins are used for the production of energy on a cellular level. For instance, vitamin B1 (thiamine) is crucial for burning carbohydrates effectively. And vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is necessary for the body's ability to properly use B1. At the same time, vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is required for proper nerve function. The need for B12 may necessitate a supplement: Up to 30% of everyone over the age of 50 may have trouble absorbing B12 from their food (Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci 1996; 33:247). Plus, since vegetables contain very little absorbable B12, vegetarians of all ages may also require B12 supplements.
Dr. Teitelbaum also believes that taking malic acid, a nutrient derived from apples, can help. Along with the B vitamins, malic acid is used by the body in the production of energy. When taken with magnesium, malic acid has been shown to ease the pain of fibromyalgia (J Rheum 1995; 22(5):953-7), a condition characterized by fatigue and lack of energy accompanied by painful muscles and joints.
Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) represents a potential tool for controlling blood sugar and improving stamina.
According to Dr. Teitelbaum, "...Asian ginseng enhances energy, raises blood pressure and improves adrenal function...Asian ginseng has such a wide mix of health benefits that its name, Panax, comes from the Greek roots of pan (meaning 'all') and akos (meaning 'cure')-that is, 'cure all.'"
Research on people with diabetes shows that this herb may help control blood sugar levels. People who suffer what is called type 2 diabetes often eat small meals to keep their blood sugar from varying too much. (Rising and falling blood sugar can drain you of energy as well as make diabetic problems worse.)
An investigation of how another form of ginseng, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), affects blood sugar after eating found that it tempered changes by up to 20% (Arch of Internal Med 4/00). These scientists found that folks with diabetes did best when they took the herb within two hours of a meal.
Ready to re-energize? Time to stop skimping on sleep and rushing through inadequate meals. For all of us, slowing down and giving our bodies a chance to regenerate its zip can make the big energy difference.
Building the Burn
June 14, 2005 12:09 PM
Building the Burn by Marjorie Flakowitz Energy Times, June 11, 2004
When was the last time you exercised? During the past decade, the number of obese Americans has jumped by 50%. A big factor in this increase: lack of physical activity.
Today, technological society seems to make everyday life effortless: car windows retreat at the push of a button, remote controls keep couch potatoes from budging off the cushions and video games have replaced non-cyber ball playing. Americans don't move around and burn off the calories they eat. Instead, our sedentary ways are causing big stomach bulges and a big bulge in health problems linked to being overweight.
Want to lose those pounds? Consuming the right nutrients and pounding the pavement are a great start.
Number of Large Americans Grows Larger
Fifty-five out of every 100 Americans are now overweight. And the numbers continue to surge. To take yourself out of these alarming statistics, plan a consistent exercise program. If the thought of sweating during strenuous workouts at the gym scares you, relax. You don't have to do that much. According to a long list of research, a few half-hour walks a week can put you on the road to weight loss.
For instance, researchers at Duke found that walking a total of only 12 miles a week can help you control your weight even if you're not dieting (Archives of Internal Medicine 1/12/04). Of course dieting and taking the right supplements will help you lose weight a little faster, but walking burns off the pounds.
In the study at Duke, scientists gathered about 180 overweight, sedentary people and assigned them to one of four groups. The first group had to jog about 20 miles a week. The second group jogged 12 miles a week. The third group walked 12 miles, and the last group didn't do a thing.
" We found that the two low-exercise groups lost both weight and fat, while those in the more intensive group lost more of each in a 'dose-response' manner," says Cris Slentz, PhD, one of the researchers. " Simply put, the more you exercise, the more you benefit. Just as importantly, the control group of participants who performed no exercise gained weight over the period of the trial."
Everybody who was exercising lost weight; their stomachs and hips shrank. The folks who did nothing didn't just stay at the same weight; their weight went up.
Dr. Slentz adds, "From the perspective of prevention, it appears that the 30 minutes per day will keep most people from gaining the additional weight associated with inactivity. Given the increase in obesity in the US, it would seem likely that many in our society may have fallen below this minimal level of physical activity required to maintain body weight."
Of course, limiting the carbohydrates you consume and eating more protein at the same time as you exercise can help you lose weight more effectively. To help your body utilize protein more fully to fuel your exercise, many experts recommend taking enzyme supplements.
One of the most valuable enzyme combinations in this process is Aminogen(r), an all-natural, patented plant enzyme that assists the digestive tract in liberating the amino acids that are the building blocks of dietary protein. By helping separate these amino acids, absorption is boosted through the walls of the small intestines and your metabolism is better able to take up proteins and use them.
Add Chromium to Exercise
The mineral chromium is another supplement found helpful in aiding weight loss. An eight-week study at the University of Texas, Austin, compared weight loss among obese women who exercised and took chromium with the number of pounds that were lost by women performing the same amount of exercise without taking supplements (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 1997; 29:992-8).
The result: women taking chromium lost a significantly greater amount. How does chromium work? A study at the University of Vermont found that chromium may help muscles take blood sugar (glucose) out of the blood more effectively by improving what's called insulin sensitivity (18th International Diabetes Federation Congress, Paris, 8/03).
Insulin is released by the pancreas to help cells take in glucose. By exercising and keeping your weight down, and becoming more insulin sensitive, you potentially reduce your chances of getting diabetes. The cells quickly respond to insulin and blood sugar stabilizes.
On the other hand, when insulin sensitivity drops significantly, the body may suffer what's called insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that complicates and slows the removal of sugar from the blood. The Vermont researchers found that chromium increases the activity of a protein called Akt phosphorylation. This is a natural substance made by the body that makes cells more sensitive to insulin and speeds the movement of blood sugar into cells, where it can be burned for energy. So, in combination with exercise, which also helps the body become more responsive to insulin, chromium may help keep blood sugar under control.
As Sandra Woodruff points out in her book Secrets of Good Carb, Low Carb Living (Avery/Penguin), "[P]hysical activity boosts the body's ability to process carbohydrate and helps reduce insulin resistance....Exercise acts much like an insulin-sensitizing drug to make the body's cells more responsive to insulin, which enables them to remove sugar from the blood more efficiently." The results of exercise and getting sufficient chromium can help support weight loss and healthy blood sugar levels. The Vermont research team found that the exercising chromium takers boosted their insulin sensitivity by almost 9%.
Building a Lean Body
A prime benefit of exercising while you lose weight is that physical activity builds muscle tissue. Muscle tissue, even at rest, burns more calories than fat cells, so having extra muscle means you can eat more and still maintain or lose weight. An aid in this process is Coleus forskohlii root, Benth., a plant that originated in India. Research shows that forskohlii furthers molecular energy processes within cells that support the development of lean body tissue (muscle) and the enzymatic reactions that break down fat.
In a study of about two dozen women who took forskohlii extract, researchers found that taking this supplement was associated with feeling more energetic and less hungry (Experimental Biology meeting, 2002). According to Vladimir Badmaev, PhD, who has studied forskohlii, this herb's help in supporting lean body tissue is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.
" In highly overweight individuals, fat tissue can constitute up to 70% of body weight. The remaining proportion of body composition corresponds to the lean body mass. Lean body mass is composed of muscle, vital organs, bone, connective and other non-fatty tissues in the body," says Dr. Badmaev.
" The body's metabolic rate is in direct proportion to the amount of lean body mass. Therefore, safely maintaining or increasing lean body mass is an important consideration for any weight-loss strategy."
The Skinny on Calcium
Calcium, long known for its ability to strengthen bones, is now turning out to play a key role in weight maintenance as well. In one study, obese mice who were put on calorie-restricted diets lost body fat when fed extra calcium (Experimental Biology meeting 2000). Both supplemental calcium and low-fat dairy proved effective. What's more, low-fat dairy's ability to burn fat and provoke fat loss have been confirmed in additional research (Obesity Research 4/04; 12:582-90).
Fat cells contain calcium, and scientists believe that the more of this mineral a fat cell contains, the more fat will be burned off. This action is especially important when you cut back on calories, since that often gives your body the idea that it's starving, leading your metabolism to slow and making weight loss extremely difficult.
A Complete Program
To lose weight efficiently, stay in top shape and retain your feelings of energy, you also have to make sure you get enough of the vitamins and minerals necessary for good health.
For those eating a high-protein diet who are limiting their fruits and vegetables, taking a supplement that incorporates nutrients from fruits and vegetables can help restore your feelings of well-being and help maintain your motivation for dieting and losing weight. (Supplements are available that deliver these nutrients without carbohydrates.)
In addition, supplements of what are called ketogenic amino acids-the natural substances that form protein's building blocks-can also help fuel your weight-loss program. These special nutrients can be efficiently used for the body's energy needs, a process that helps you lose weight.
And don't forget to keep moving! Soon you may have the kind of results researchers produced at the University of Pittsburgh when they studied women who exercised 40 minutes, five times a week (Journal of the American Medical Association 9/10/03). Those women lost 25 pounds in six months.
Your results may be just as good or better!
Fats: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
June 14, 2005 11:18 AM
Fats: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly by Thomas Sherman Energy Times, October 15, 2004
We need fat to absorb vitamins, to keep our brains sharp, to survive. But not all fats are our friends. Find out which ones are the heroes and the villains in your diet.
In a lot of cases health fads don't live up to their hype. But the case for consuming more good fats-the omega-3 fatty acids found primarily in fish, flax and hemp oils-is strong and growing stronger. As a nation we eat too little of these good fats, and our health would improve greatly if we relied a little less on the bad saturated fat in burgers, skipped the ugly trans fats in fries and indulged in more salmon and other seafoods.
Fish and the Heart
Need proof? A wealth of research supports fish oil's desirable effects, especially on heart health. While many people believe that heart disease is primarily a problem for men, women who have passed through menopause are just as susceptible to heart problems.
" [Our] findings suggest that all women, and most likely men, would benefit from regular fish intake," says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston. "A tuna fish sandwich counts, as does almost any other type of fish that is baked, broiled, grilled, or poached." But she points out that fried fish, which is often cooked in hydrogenated oils, is not helpful.
In research on more than 200 women, performed at the Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, scientists found that the arterial blockages among women who dined on fish were less (and impeded blood flow less) than in women who hardly ever ate seafood. Fish was especially helpful for women who had diabetes, a disease that makes you more prone to heart and circulation problems (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 9/04).
These effects are important: Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women, and older women who suffer from diabetes are particularly susceptible. The number of people with diabetes has been increasing of late, mainly due to the fact that Americans are overweight. Right now about 18 million people have diabetes and another 20 million are expected to suffer this condition in the next four decades.
" This study shows that following the current guidelines of eating at least two servings of any type of fish per week slows down the progression of heart disease in women with coronary artery disease (CAD), especially those who were also diabetic," says Dr. Lichtenstein, coauthor of the study. "We further found that eating one or more servings per week of fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna or other dark-fleshed fish, is equally effective."
Dangerous disruptions in heartbeat, known as arrhythmias, may also be affected by fish oil. "[E]xperiments show that fatty acids from omega-3 fish oils are stored in the cell membranes of heart cells and can prevent sudden cardiac death or fatal arrhythmias," notes Alexander Leaf, MD, medical researcher and professor at Harvard University.
Fat for Your Brain
The right kind of fat is also crucial for the function of your nerves and brain tissue, which is 60% to 70% fat. Incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into those cells can help keep your brain firing on all synapses. It may lower your risk of Alzheimer's disease, an irreversible form of mental deterioration that kills 100,000 Americans a year. About a thousand people a day in the US are found to have Alzheimer's, and experts believe that over the next 40 years 14 million of us will be doomed to being enveloped by the mental fog this condition produces.
Research indicates that our brains probably need omega-3 fats for protection against the kind of damage that causes our mental capacities to slip. Once Alzheimer's starts, deterioration accelerates because brain cells start losing these fats.
In experiments performed at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (Neuron 9/2/04), scientists looked at how a lack of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, one of the omega-3 fats found in fish), affected the cellular processes that lead to Alzheimer's. They found that the part of brain cells that receive signals from other brain cells, the receptors, are vulnerable to damage from chemical reactions that take place inside the cells. However, DHA offers antioxidant protection against this destruction.
When brain cells were denied DHA, the cells' receptors suffered extra harm. But when fish oil was present, brain cells were protected. In addition, animals that received extra omega-3s were better able to learn and find their way through mazes.
Greg Cole, PhD, senior researcher on this study and a professor of neurology at Geffen, says, "We saw that a diet rich in DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, dramatically reduces the impact of the Alzheimer's gene [which made the animals more susceptible to Alzheimer's]. Consuming more DHA is something the average person can easily control. Anyone can buy DHA in its purified form, fish-oil capsules, high-fat fish or DHA-supplemented eggs." Fishes rich in omega-3s include salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and herring.
Protecting Kids from Asthma
A surprising benefit of omega-3s has been found in pregnant women and their newborns: Pregnant women with asthma who eat fish rich in omega-3s during their pregnancy lower their children's risk of asthma.
Not just any fish will do. The study (American Thoracic Society International Conference 5/25/04) discovered that mothers who ate fish sticks during pregnancy doubled the asthma risk in their kids. " Fish sticks are deep-fried, and they contain omega-6 fatty acids, which encourage inflammation of the airways," says study co-author Frank Gilliland, MD, PhD, professor at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. "Oily fish [like salmon and trout] contain omega-3 fatty acids, which appear to be anti-inflammatory, and lead to the reduced potential for developing asthma and allergies."
The USC investigation showed that when women with asthma ate oil-bearing fish during pregnancy, the risk of asthma for their children dropped more than 70%. The more fish that mom consumed, the less likely her baby was to develop asthma. Unfortunately, the study did not find the same benefit in women without asthma.
" A family history of asthma is a very strong risk factor for a child developing asthma," Dr. Gilliland says. "It appears that oily fish interacts with the genes involved in the predisposition to develop asthma, and somehow reduces the risk."
Although most of us try to avoid accumulating unsightly fat around our hips, the right kind of fat plays an integral part in the functioning of our bodies and may even keep us alive. Fats don't get much better than that.
Your Healthy Harvest
June 14, 2005 11:05 AM
Your Healthy Harvest by Marjorie Flakowitz Energy Times, August 15, 2004
Once frowned on by conventional farmers, organic food has won respect from everyone concerned about the health of both the earth and the people who inhabit it.
Today, organic farming is considered one of the most rapidly growing areas of American agriculture. Organic foods sales topped $9 billion in 2002 and grew about 20%, up to almost $11 billion in 2003 (Organic Trade Association).
So when you buy organic, you join an expanding market that takes advantage of great-tasting, good-for-you food. Long ago, when the practice of farming was first devised, all farming was organic farming. So today's organic movement is bringing farming back to its roots.
But, safe to say, that is not what's motivating most consumers. A main reason for the popularity of organic food derives from the reassurance that organic foods, raised without artificial chemicals and pesticides, cut your exposure to toxic residues. A growing body of research shows organic food is richer in beneficial natural substances, too.
" Organic food and organic farming represent a philosophy that goes beyond just the quality of the food," says Steve Meyerowitz in The Organic Food Guide (Globe Pequot). "It strives to maintain the integrity of the entire food chain-plants, soil, air, water, animals and people. We are all part of the same ecosystem."
By eating organic, you eliminate pollution both from your body and the earth. Because our bodies are made of the animal and plant products we consume, our internal, physiological ecosystem and the earth's environment are inexorably entwined.
Chilling Arctic Evidence
As evidence of this connection, consider what's happened in the Arctic. Researchers who have analyzed Arctic water, ice, snow, soil and plants have found that chemicals used in farming and industry in other parts of the world have traveled north and accumulated in alarming quantity. How and if these chemicals break down depends on sunlight and the amount of organic matter contained in Arctic waters (American Chemical Society, 9/11/03).
" Once pollutants enter the water column, their behavior is poorly understood-particularly the processes that govern their lifetime and concentrations," says Amanda Grannas, PhD, a researcher at Ohio State University. "Such pollutants are now being found in wildlife, from fish to seals to whales, and even in people living in the Arctic."
Dr. Grannas and others looked at the pesticides lindane and hexachlorobenzene (HCB), two chemicals that have migrated to Arctic waters. Lindane is used by American farmers to treat seeds before they are planted. HCB, banned in the US in 1984, is still used in other countries to protect wheat from fungus.
The scientists found that sunlight at the top of Arctic waterways can help break down some pesticides. At lower depths, however, cut off from the sun's rays, pesticides can remain largely intact. In this research, lindane proved to persist much more readily than HCB.
" Lindane is one of the most persistent of pollutants," warns Dr. Grannas. "This could be because it's photochemically inert, whereas pollutants like HCB degrade relatively quickly. The main message is that pollutants can behave quite differently. These pollutants already affect local ecosystems, and could have repercussions for human health."
Organics Means More Benefits
Researchers are also finding that organic produce contains larger quantities of beneficial natural chemicals. For instance, one study (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 2/26/03) showed that berries and corn grown organically can have almost 60% more polyphenolics. Polyphenolics are antioxidants plants use for protection against disease and which are good for humans. Researchers believe that when crops are grown conventionally, protected by pesticides and herbicides, they produce fewer of these substances. " This really opens the door to more research in this area," says Alyson Mitchell, PhD, assistant professor of food science at University of California at Davis, who led the research.
These scientists compared levels of total polyphenolics and vitamin C content in marionberries (a type of blackberry) and corn grown organically, sustainably or conventionally, and also looked at chemicals in strawberries grown either sustainably or conventionally. (Sustainable farming falls between the organic and conventional methods, and concentrates on farming that's self-sufficient-for example, feeding cows hay you've grown yourself, and then using the cows' manure to fertilize another crop.) They found that organic marionberries and corn had 50% to 58% more polyphenolics. The sustainably grown strawberries had 19% more polyphenolics. And all the organic produce contained more vitamin C.
Self-Defense for Plants
According to Dr. Mitchell, the organic crops contained the high levels of polyphenolics you'd expect to find in wild plants, suggesting that, on conventional farms, pesticides reduce the necessity for plants to make these protective, natural chemicals. " If an aphid is nibbling on a leaf, the plant produces phenolics to defend itself," she says. "[P]henolics guard the plant against these pests."
Pesticides kill insects like aphids and thereby reduce the antioxidants produced by the plant. " This helps explain why the level of antioxidants is so much higher in organically grown food," Mitchell says. "By synthetically protecting the produce from these pests, we decrease their need to produce antioxidants. It suggests that maybe we are doing something to our food inadvertently.
" We know [polyphenolics] are beneficial [to human health], but we don't know what types of polyphenolics are beneficial, or in what quantities," Dr. Mitchell notes. " Originally, the question was just really intriguing to me. I found that the higher level of antioxidants is enough to have a significant impact on health and nutrition, and it's definitely changed the way I think about my food."
Vitamin C in Oranges
Meanwhile, nutritional research on the vitamin C in oranges turns up similar results: organic oranges are richer in this antioxidant nutrient than conventionally grown oranges (Great Lakes Regional Meeting, American Chemical Society, 6/2/02).
The more common supermarket oranges are significantly larger than organically grown oranges, and they have a deeper orange color. Because of their larger size, "we were expecting twice as much vitamin C in the conventional oranges," says Theo Clark, PhD, chemistry professor at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.
But when he isolated the chemicals in the oranges and further refined his search with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), spectroscopy demonstrated that organically grown oranges possess 30% more vitamin C than the conventionally grown fruits-even though they are only about half as large.
Dr. Clark isn't sure why organic oranges are richer in vitamin C, but he says, "...[W]e speculate that with conventional oranges, [farmers] use nitrogen fertilizers that cause an uptake of more water, so it sort of dilutes the orange. You get a great big orange but it is full of water and does not have as much nutritional value.
" However, we can only speculate. Other factors such as maturity, climate, processing factors, packaging and storage conditions require consideration." Along with analyzing oranges, Dr. Clark and his research team questioned about 70 people to measure their concept of the nutritional value of organic oranges. In this survey, 85% of the respondents thought that organic oranges have a higher nutritional content than conventionally grown fruit.
Dr. Clark's laboratory work shows that "they were right on." In Dr. Clark's view, these issues are important because consumers have a right to know the real nutritional content of organic produce, and the fact that analyses show that organic fruit has much more vitamin C validates the benefits of eating organic.
Both plants and animals protect themselves from disease with many of the same chemicals. The natural substances that, in a farmer's field, defend vegetables from insects and microbes before they are harvested for your dinner go to work defending your body after you eat and digest them.
When you eat organic you bolster your health with more of these natural wonders. No wonder organic is becoming so popular!
Truth in Labeling
June 14, 2005 10:44 AM
Truth in Labeling by Diane Stanton Energy Times, June 14, 2004
Do you or don't you read food labels when you shop? If you don't, you're missing out on a prime source of information about your meals. If you want control of your health, focus on package labels and pick your foods carefully.
The large print on food labels focus on what are called macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat and protein. Some of the smaller categories convey information about vitamins, fiber, and minerals, as well as the totals of fat and saturated fat contained in food. So, you have no excuse for claiming ignorance about your diet: the truth is in the labels.
Food labels can be confusing to the uninitiated. Go into a big food store and you can be faced with what seems to be a forest of food information: more than 15,000 labels. Add to that fact that every year more than 30,000 new food products can be introduced to the marketplace, and what you're faced with is a jungle of food labels.
That overwhelming wealth of food label information doesn't mean you should throw up your hands in dismay and give up reading and deciphering labels. You should arm yourself against that sea of labels with knowledge and, by understanding them, end your confusion and build your health.
A hundred years or so ago, food labels were only required to list the name of the food contained inside the package. The contents, quality and processes used to make the food were often a mystery. Little or no disclosure to consumers was made about how their food was created.
By the early 1920s, the federal government, via the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), began requiring food companies to list the net weight of food on labels as well as the names and addresses of food processors and distributors. Finally, by the 1970s, listing basic nutritional information was mandated in a uniform way so that shoppers could have some basis for comparing foods. Then, in 1990, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act made major alterations to the kinds of labels that had to be included on food packages.
The FDA and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) required significant changes to food labels that were supposed to make it easier for consumers to eat healthier diets. The labels requirements of 1994 included five major changes:
Consumer questions regarding food labels have led researchers to look into ways to help shoppers comprehend what food labels tell them. These studies are designed to help consumers match up their nutrition requirements with the foods they buy.
For instance, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, scientists have devised a label tool called See It, Do It, Teach It to help people improve their diets through comprehension of food label information. " One of the goals of the project was to help...teenaged girls and menopausal women understand how they can get the daily requirement for calcium into their diet in order to help prevent osteoporosis," says Karen Chapman-Novakofski, PhD, associate professor and nutritionist in the school's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.
According to the See It, Do It, Teach It program, you should think of food labels as consisting of two sections:
" Much more attention has been paid to what people should limit rather than the nutrients needed. The average consumer doesn't know, for instance, how much vitamin A 10% of the Daily Value is, or how much calcium 25% of the Daily Value is," Dr. Chapman-Novakofski says.
Upping Calcium Intake
In their eight-week study of people's calcium consumption (Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 4/04), the University of Illinois research team found that people didn't know how much calcium was in the food they ate.
After the initial part of the study, in which participants were shown how to look for calcium on labels, "the post-test revealed that the participants significantly increased their calcium intake to 821 mg per day, up from 372 mg per day," notes Dr. Chapman-Novakofski.
" That's a lot closer to the daily requirements of 1,200 mg per day for men and women over 50, 1,000 mg for men and women aged 19 through 50 and 1,300 mg per day for [youths aged] 9 to  years," she adds.
Parts of the Label
The first item at the top of a nutrition food label tells you the portion size that the label measures. An important point to remember: these sizes are determined individually by each manufacturer. Consequently, all of the other values on the label are measured per portion.
So, if you are comparing foods made by two different companies that employ very different portion sizes in their nutritional calculations, your label comparisons may be complicated.
Another fact to be aware of: the listed portion size may be an odd division of the food within the container and not reflect a common-sense division. For instance, some food packages are labeled as containing 2.5 portions.
And, to make things even more interesting, small boxes of candy that you might think contain barely enough for one helping may be labeled by the manufacturer as having two or more portions. As a result, if you eat the whole box, you often have to at least double the number of indicated calories, etc. to figure out the nutrients and calories you are consuming.
The section of the label that notes calories, calories from fat and percent daily values is listed under the portion size. Here you are told how many calories you consume when you devour one portion and how many of those calories are derived from fat.
This label focus on fat originated when consumers and dietitians were very concerned about Americans' fat consumption and hadn't yet switched their focus to carbohydrate consumption as a prevalent dietary health priority.
Also included on the label: the daily value percentages aimed at showing you how much out of a total day's intake of various nutrients a portion bestows upon you.
These percentage numbers are based on a theoretical analysis of a diet that contains 2,000 or 2,500 calories a day. (A notation at the bottom of the label tells you whether the calculation is based on 2,000 or 2,500.)
If you've been eating a low-carb diet (or are planning this type of diet), the section of the label that lists carbohydrates may be especially useful. Under this heading, the label lists the totals for fiber and sugar.
No matter what diet you are on, dietary fiber is desirable, since it represents indigestible carbohydrates that both pass through you without conveying any calories and keep beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract healthy.
Most people want to limit their sugar totals, however, since this nutrient may raise your risk of being overweight and, when you eat a lot of it, may contribute to immune problems.
Interestingly enough, when food chemists compute what is in food, they perform lab tests known as assays to distinguish its ingredients. (The manner in which these tests are performed are very strictly regulated by the FDA.)
In fact, just about every nutrient listed on a food label is determined by laboratory test except for the carbohydrate content: the amount of water, fat, crude protein and ash are determined this way. But the total carbs are computed by simply subtracting the total of the other ingredients from the total amount of food, a kind of process of elimination.
So while fat and protein are measured with precise lab tests, carbohydrate totals are figured by the leftovers. (The water and ash, by the way, are not usually listed on food labels.)
Within the general carbohydrate group, are several categories of carbohydrates that produce very different effects in your body. These categories can be divided into sugar, sugar alcohols, dietary fiber and a collection of various chemicals that include organic acids, flavonoids, gums, lignans and others.
According to the FDA, the food label only has to list the total carbs, sugar and dietary fiber. But some food companies now list things like sugar alcohols.
Blood Sugar Effects
Not all of these types of carbohydrates behave the same way in your body. For example, when your body digests table sugar, it turns immediately into blood sugar. So sugar and most other carbohydrate is what we call "digestible carbohydrate." Other carbs, such as sugar alcohol or glycerine, can be digested but do not turn to blood sugar. Still others, such as dietary fiber, are indigestible and pass through your body without impacting your blood sugar level.
To date, the FDA has not focused on these important biochemical differences and treats all carbohydrates alike. This means that when you look at a food label, you do not see a number for the carbs that impact your blood sugar level. To do so, simply subtract the number of grams of fiber from the total number of carbohydrate grams.
Recently, the phrases "low carb," "net carb" and "impact carbs" have begun to appear on food labels. These are not defined by the FDA; they were put on labels by by companies to help consumers pick out foods that are acceptable on low-carb diets. To arrive at the total of net carbs, food companies subtract the total amount of fiber and sugar alcohol from the total carbohydrates.
Since the body cannot digest fiber, this nutrient (which is still important for good health) is not calculated into the total amount of carbohydrates. As for sugar alcohols, while-technically speaking-these are carbs and they do have calories, they have little effect on blood sugar and usually are not counted in total carbohydrates.
According to the American Dietetic Association, people with diabetes who are managing their blood sugars using the carbohydrate counting method should "count half of the grams of sugar alcohol as carbohydrates since half of the sugar alcohol on average is digested.
" Fiber is not digested, however. If the serving of food has more then 5 grams of fiber one should subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbohydrate grams." As you can see, when it comes to food, as in most things, knowledge is power. If you want power over your health, you need power over the food you eat. The road to that power is by reading food labels. What's in the food you're eating every day may surprise you.
Eat to Live - fruits and vegetables are more effective than foods like ...
June 14, 2005 10:38 AM
Eat to Live by Mary Menendez Energy Times, April 14, 2004
By now, most everyone with even a cursory interest in health knows that fruits and vegetables are more effective than foods like cheeseburgers at making your body more resistant to chronic diseases such as cancer.
But beyond that generality, few people seem to know how to fine-tune their meals for the most anti-cancer bang per bite.
Over the course of the lifetime of planet Earth, the plant world has devised and concocted a wealth of nutrients that can help your body fight off cancer.
It's time to put them to work for you.
Would you be interested in a tasty, quick way to cut your chances of certain types of cancer in half? The means to this desirable end are about as close as your refrigerator and your dining room table: All you have to do is cut open and eat a single orange every day.
According to cancer research in Australia, adding that extra serving of citrus fruit to your diet every day, only once a day, boosts immunity enough to significantly lower your risk of some common cancers.
" Citrus fruits [protect] the body through their antioxidant properties and strengthen the immune system, inhibiting tumor growth and normalizing tumor cells," says Katrine Baghurst, PhD, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). According to Dr. Baghurst and her fellow researchers, oranges possess the most antioxidants of any fruit: more than 170 different phytochemicals.
The protection you can get from oranges is due to their influence on immunity. Your immune system has the assigned task of protecting you against cells that can turn cancerous. Sixty of the chemicals in oranges are substances called flavonoids that can help the immune system fend off inflammation and tumors.
When Americans eat fruits and vegetables, they don't eat the ones with the most anti-cancer (or other) health benefits. Instead, we dine on the same so-so produce too frequently. If we want more health benefits from our veggies, we'd better look to expand our culinary horizons.
" While people understand they should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day, they are not translating 'variety' in a way to capture health benefits, such as reducing their risk of developing chronic diseases," says Susie Nanney, PhD, acting director of the Obesity Prevention Center at Saint Louis University.
" People aren't eating the fruits and vegetables that contain the most nutrients," warns Dr. Nanney. "People are quite frankly confused about nutrition. I feel their pain."
Unfortunately, Americans rely too often on iceberg lettuce, corn, apples, potatoes and bananas; a steady diet of that produce doesn't produce the same benefits as indulging in a wider variety of vegetarian foods.
Dr. Nanney points out that the vegetables and fruits most effective at helping the body fight cancer are dark green leafy veggies, citrus (oranges, grapefruits), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) and produce that has yellow or orange color.
Making Dinner Plans
Dr. Nanney's spectrum of desirable foods includes:
" When we look at how to get the most bang for your buck, the most power, it's by eating these other fruits and vegetables instead of the traditional choices," Nanney insists.
Studies show that tomatoes, colored by a pigment called lycopene, may be particularly helpful in lowering men's chances of prostate cancer. For instance, research on about three dozen men with prostate cancer found that those taking supplements of lycopene and other tomato phytochemicals had smaller tumors and less spread of their cancers (Exper Bio and Med, 2002; 227: 881).
The researchers conclude that "lycopene may have an antitumor effect and may be useful as an adjunct to standard treatment of prostate cancer, such as surgery, radiation therapy, hormones and chemotherapy. In addition, lycopene supplementation appears to have reduced the [spread of cancer within the prostate], suggesting that lycopene may have a role in the prevention of prostate cancer."
In a study on African-American men, who suffer a higher rate of prostate cancer than other Americans, researchers also found that lycopene can limit the DNA damage that may presage cancer (Amer Chem Soc Meeting #222, 2001).
" This study does not say that tomato sauce reduces cancer," cautions Phyllis E. Bowen, PhD, a nutritionist at the University of Chicago and lead investigator in the study. " It says that it reduces DNA damage that we think is associated with cancer."
Other studies have confirmed the finding that men who eat tomatoes suffer less prostate cancer. And if you want the most anti-cancer benefit from tomatoes, better cook them.
According to Rui Hai Liu, MD, Cornell assistant professor of food science, "[Our] research demonstrates that heat processing actually enhanced the nutritional value of tomatoes by increasing the lycopene content-[the] phytochemical that makes tomatoes red-that can be absorbed by the body, as well as the total antioxidant activity. The research dispels the popular notion that processed fruits and vegetables have lower nutritional value than fresh produce."
While you're making an effort to eat more of the colorful vegetables, you should also eat less fatty red meat and cut back on high-fat dairy foods, according to research from Harvard.
In this study, which covered eight years and looked at the diets of more than 90,000 women, scientists found that those premenopausal women who ate the most fatty red meat and regular milk had the highest chance of developing invasive breast cancer.
The scientists taking part in this study believe that eating more saturated fat from meat may increase hormone levels that boost the chances of breast cancer (Jrnl Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:1079).
In this research, the total amount of fat didn't affect cancer risk, but the amount of animal fat did. Women who ate the most red meat had a 54% higher chance of breast cancer. Aside from avoiding red meat, women who wish to lower their risk of breast cancer should also limit their consumption of alcoholic beverages.
A study of two thousand post- menopausal women found that those who averaged about two drinks a day raised their risk of breast cancer by about 80% (Cancer Epidem, Biomarkers and Prevention, 10/03).
Here, too, researchers believe that alcohol affects the level of hormones that influence cancer.
The moral of the research into how food can slow cancer risk: Eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits early and often. Limit meat and alcohol.
Change the color of the fruits and vegetables on your plate for a better chance of a brighter future.
Celebrating Women: Age Is Just a Number
June 13, 2005 07:43 PM
Celebrating Women: Age Is Just a Number by Carl Lowe Energy Times, March 10, 2004
As women age, their physical needs shift. The health challenges that face a woman in her thirties do not match those of a woman in her fifties.
At the same time, some basic health needs stay constant: At any age, every woman requires a wealth of vitamins, minerals and the other natural chemicals that fruits, vegetables and supplements supply. She also constantly needs families and friends to support her spiritual health.
As the internal workings of your body alter, your lifestyle must stay abreast of those adjustments. Peak health demands a finely tuned health program designed with your individual needs-and your stage of life-in mind.
Ages 30 to 45
When it comes to maintaining health, younger women might seem to have it easier than older women. If they exercise and stay in shape, they maintain more stamina than women 10 to 20 years their senior.
Unfortunately, many women in this age group mistakenly think they don't have to be as careful about their lifestyle habits and their eating habits as they will in later decades. But even if your health doesn't seem to suffer from poor eating choices or a sedentary lifestyle right away, your foundation for health in later life suffers if you don't care for yourself now.
By age 45 you should have established the good habits that will carry you successfully through the aging process. As an added bonus, good lifestyle habits pay immediate dividends. If you pay attention to your nutrients and get plenty of physical activity when younger, you'll feel more energetic and probably enjoy better emotional health.
Set Health Goals
According to Gayle Reichler, MS, RD, CDN, in her book Active Wellness (Avery/Penguin), good health at any age doesn't just come to you-you have to plan for it. In order to stick to good habits, she says, "living a healthy lifestyle needs to be satisfying." Reichler believes that you need to picture your health goals to achieve them: "Every successful endeavor first begins in the mind as an idea, a thought, a dream, a conviction." Good health at this age and in later years requires a concrete strategy and visualization of how your body can improve with a healthy lifestyle.
Your long-term health goals at this age should include an exercise program that will allow you to reach a physically fit old age with a lowered risk of disability. In addition, your short-term plans should encompass losing weight, staying optimistic, living life with more vim and vigor, increasing your capacity for exercise and lowering your stress.
As Reichler points out, "Your long-term goal and your ideal vision establish what you want to achieve....[You should do] something good...for yourself every day and every week that makes your life easier and more consistent with your goals."
Develop an Eating Plan
Today, the average American gains about two pounds annually. As a result, every year a greater portion of the US population is obese and overweight. By controlling your food intake earlier in life, you may be able to avoid this weight gain. In his book Prolonging Health (Hampton Roads), James Williams, OMD, recommends basic changes to your diet that can provide long-term support of your health:
Get Supplemental Help
If you're in your thirties or forties and you don't take at least a multivitamin, start taking one today! A large body of research shows that taking vitamin and mineral supplements over a long period of time significantly supports better health.
Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important supplemental nutrients, helping to build stronger bones now that can withstand the bone-loss effects of aging.
Calcium can also help keep your weight down. One study of younger women found that for every extra 300 milligrams of calcium a day they consumed, they weighed about two pounds less (Experimental Biology 2003 meeting, San Diego).
In the same way, taking vitamin D supplements not only helps strengthen your bones, it can also lower your risk of multiple sclerosis (Neurology 1/13/04). In this study, which looked at the health records of more than 180,000 women for up to 20 years, taking D supplements dropped the chances of multiple sclerosis (although eating vitamin D-rich foods did not have the same benefit). And if you're thinking about having children at this age, a multivitamin is crucial for lowering your baby's risk of birth defects and other health problems. A study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that women who take multivitamins during pregnancy lower their children's risk of nervous system cancer by up to 40% (Epidemiology 9/02).
" Our finding, combined with previous work on reducing several birth defects with vitamin supplementation and other childhood cancers, supports the recommendation that mothers' vitamin use before and during pregnancy may benefit their babies' health," says Andrew F. Olshan, MD, professor of epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health. "We believe physicians and other health care providers should continue to educate women about these benefits and recommend appropriate dietary habits and daily dietary supplements."
In particular, Dr. Olshan feels that folic acid (one of the B vitamins), and vitamins C and A, are particularly important for lowering the risk of childhood cancers and birth defects.
Ages 45 to 55
When you reach this in-between age-the time when most women have moved past childbearing age but haven't usually fully moved into the post-menopausal stage-you enjoy a propitious opportunity to take stock of your health and plan for an even healthier future. One thing that may need adjustment is your sleep habits, as sleeplessness is a common problem for women in this age group. Even if you haven't been exercising or watching your diet until now, it's not too late to start. Making lifestyle changes at this age can still improve your chances for aging successfully.
For instance, it is at these ages that women should have their heart health checked. Research published in the journal Stroke (5/01) shows that having your cholesterol and blood pressure checked at this time more accurately shows your future chances of heart disease than having it checked at a later date after menopause, in your late fifties.
" The premenopausal risk factors may be a stronger predictor of carotid atherosclerosis [artery blockages] because they represent cumulative risk factor exposure during the premenopausal years, whereas the risk factors...during the early postmenopausal years have a shorter time for influence," says Karen A. Matthews, PhD, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In other words, Dr. Matthews' research shows that if you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol before menopause, you are at serious risk for a stroke or heart attack soon after menopause: These are important reasons that you need to start improving your health habits immediately.
Increase in Heart Disease
Before menopause, a woman's hormones and other physiological characteristics usually hold down her chance of heart disease. After menopause, when hormones and other bodily changes occur, the risk of heart attacks and stroke in women rises significantly. (Heart disease is the leading killer of women.) At least part of this increased risk is linked to the postmenopausal decrease in estrogen production.
Dr. Matthews studied about 370 women in their late forties, measuring their weight, their BMI (body mass index, an indication of body fat compared to height), blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Ten years later, after the women had entered menopause, she and her fellow scientists used ultrasound to measure blockages in these women's neck arteries (a sign of heart disease).
The researchers found that indications of potential heart problems (such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight) when women were in their forties did indeed forecast future difficulties.
" Women who had elevated cholesterol, higher blood pressures and increased body weight before menopause had increased blood vessel thickening and atherosclerotic plaque formation in the neck arteries after menopause. Such changes in the carotid arteries are associated with an increased heart attack and stroke risk," says Dr. Matthews.
Heart Health Factors
The four main lifestyle factors you should adjust at this age to support better heart function are diet, stress, exercise and weight. According to Dr. James Williams, "[M]ore than any other cause, dietary factors are the most critical factor in cardiovascular disease." He recommends eliminating "dietary saturated fatty acids as found in flame-broiled and fried meats." He also urges women to eat more fish and poultry, consume organic fruits and vegetables and cut back on refined sugar.
Stress becomes an ever more important heart disease factor at this age as estrogen begins to drop.
" Our study [in the lab] indicates that stress affects estrogen levels and can lead to the development of heart disease-even before menopause," says Jay Kaplan, PhD, of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (The Green Journal 3/02).
Dr. Kaplan's research shows that stress in women ages 45 to 55 may reduce estrogen earlier in life and make women more susceptible to the arterial blockages that lead to heart disease. "We know from [lab] studies that stress can lower estrogen levels to the point that health is affected," he says.
Stress can also hurt bone health: In a study of 66 women with normal-length menstrual periods, estrogen levels were low enough in half of the women to cause bone loss, making the women susceptible to osteoporosis.
Exercise and Weight
Although exercise used to be considered to be mainly a young woman's activity, the thrust of recent research suggests that physical activity actually becomes more important to health as you get older.
A 17-year study of about 10,000 Americans found that exercising and keeping your weight down is probably the most important thing you can do to lower your risk of heart disease as you enter your forties and fifties (Am J Prev Med 11/03).
Of the people who took part in this study, more than 1,500 people died of heart disease. Those who performed the most exercise were thinner and had a 50% chance less of dying of heart disease than overweight nonexercisers.
" The fact is that those who both exercised more and ate more nevertheless had low cardiovascular mortality," says Jing Fang, MD, a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.
An added benefit of exercise: If you burn up calories exercising, you can eat more and not have to worry as much about being overweight.
Supplements and Diet
If you're a woman at midlife, a multivitamin and mineral is still good nutritional insurance. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are also important for getting enough phytochemicals, the health substances in plants that convey a wealth of health benefits.
As you enter this age group, your immune system gradually slows down. To help support immune function, eating produce rich in antioxidant nutrients, and supplementing with antioxidants like vitamins C and E as well as carotenoids, can be especially important. For example, a study of people with ulcers found that people with less vitamin C in their stomachs are more likely to be infected with Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers and is linked to stomach cancer (J Amer Coll Nutr 8/1/03).
This research, which looked at the health of about 7,000 people, found that vitamin C probably helps the immune system fend off this bacterial infection.
" Current public health recommendations for Americans are to eat five or more servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day to help prevent heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases," says Joel A. Simon, MD, MPH, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
Calcium and Bones
At midlife, calcium continues to be a vital mineral for supporting bone health.
According to Gameil T. Fouad, PhD, "It has been routinely shown that a woman's calcium status and level of physical activity (specifically, the degree to which she participates in weight-bearing exercise) are positively associated with bone mineral density. It is less well appreciated that this is a process which takes place over the course of a lifetime."
Dr. Fouad adds that calcium works in concert with other vitamins and minerals to keep bones healthy: "Research in the United Kingdom involving nearly 1,000 premenopausal women over age 40 illustrates those women with the highest bone density tended to have the highest intake of calcium. Surprisingly, this study also demonstrated that calcium does not act alone: those women with the best bone health also had the highest intakes of zinc, magnesium and potassium."
Dr. Fouad stresses that supplements should go together with a lifestyle that includes enough sleep and exercise to help the body stay in top shape.
" As a general guideline," he says, "a woman concerned with her mineral intake should take concrete steps to make sure she is getting adequate rest, is eating a well-balanced diet focused on fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein as well as getting adequate exercise....A multi-mineral containing bio-available forms of zinc, magnesium, copper and selenium is probably a safe addition to anyone's routine. Taking these proactive steps dramatically reduces the chances that deficiencies will arise."
Ages 55 and Beyond
Entering the post-menopausal phase of life can present challenging opportunities for a new perspective on life and health. While some signs of aging are inevitable, experts who have looked at how the human body changes with age are now convinced that healthy lifestyle habits can improve how well you can think, move and enjoy life well past age 55.
As Dr. Williams notes, "In your fifties, the force of aging is undeniably present: Your body shape changes and organ function declines, both men and women have a tendency to gain weight....Heart disease becomes more common, energy and endurance are considerably reduced and your memory begins to slip."
But Dr. Williams also points out that you don't have to age as rapidly as other people do. He believes you should employ a "natural longevity program...[that starts] to reverse the course of aging as early as possible."
One key to staying vital as you age is your outlook on life, an aspect of life that's greatly enhanced by strong social ties.
Avoiding the Aging Slowdown The latest research shows that one of the most crucial ways to slow the effects of aging is to exercise and keep your weight down. It won't necessarily be easy, though. The change in hormonal balance at this age makes the body more prone to extra pounds (Society for Neuroscience Meeting, 11/12/03).
" In women, it has been demonstrated that major weight increases often occur during menopause, the time in a woman's life in which cyclic ovarian function ends and the ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone decline," says Judy Cameron, PhD, a scientist in the divisions of reproductive sciences and neuroscience at the Oregon Health & Science University.
In Dr. Cameron's lab trials, she has found that the decrease in estrogen after menopause "resulted in a 67% jump in food intake and a 5% jump in weight in a matter of weeks."
In other words, the hormonal changes you undergo as enter your late fifties causes your appetite to grow as well as your waistline: Developments that increase your chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and joint problems.
Vigilance against this weight gain is necessary to save your health: Start walking and exercising. Research on exercise in people aged 58 to 78 found that getting off the couch for a walk or other physical activity not only helps control weight but also helps sharpen your thinking and helps you become more decisive (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2/16-20/04, online edition). This recent study, done at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found that performing aerobic exercise improved mental functioning by 11% (on a computer test).
" We continue to find a number of cognitive benefits in the aerobic group," says Arthur F. Kramer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois. "The brain circuits that underlie our ability to think-in this case to attend selectively to information in the environment-can change in a way that is conducive to better performance on tasks as a result of fitness." In simple terms, that means that walking at least 45 minutes a day boosts brain power as well as protecting your heart.
An Herb for Menopause
The physical changes that accompan> y menopause can be uncomfortable. But traditional herbal help is available: Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), an herb used for eons by aging women, has been shown in recent studies to be both safe and effective (Menopause 6/15/03).
" This [research] should reassure health professionals that they can safely recommend black cohosh to their menopausal patients who cannot or choose not to take HRT [hormone replacement therapy]," says researcher Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico Department of Family and Community Medicine.
While HRT has been used to help women cope with menopause, a flurry of studies in the past few years have shown that HRT increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Instead, black cohosh, which alleviates such menopausal discomforts as hot flashes, has been shown to be much safer.
Keeping Track of Crucial Vitamins
While continuing to take multivitamins and minerals at this age is important, some experts believe that as we grow older, vitamin D supplementation, as well as taking antioxidant nutrients, is particularly vital. Arthritis is a common affliction of aging, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one particularly destructive form of this joint problem. But taking vitamin D can significantly lower your risk of this condition.
When scientists analyzed the diets of 30,000 middle-aged women in Iowa over 11 years, they found that women who consumed vitamin D supplements were 34% less likely to suffer RA (Arth Rheu 1/03).
Other vitamins are equally important to an older woman's well-being. For example, vitamins C and natural E have been found to lower the risk of stroke in those over the age of 55 (Neurology 11/11/03). In this study, smokers who consumed the most vitamin C and natural vitamin E were 70% were much less likely to suffer strokes than smokers whose diets were missing out on these vitamins.
Rich sources of vitamin C in food include oranges and other citrus fruits, strawberries, red and green peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils such as sunflower seed, cottonseed, safflower, palm and wheat germ oils, margarine and nuts.
Saving Your Sight
After age 55, your eyes are particularly vulnerable. Eight million Americans of this age are at risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that destroys structures in the back of the eye necessary for vision (Arch Ophthal 11/03). But you can drop your risk of AMD by taking supplements of antioxidant vitamins and zinc, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute.
Their research shows that a dietary supplement of vitamins C, natural vitamin E and beta carotene, along with zinc, lowers the chances of progressing to advanced AMD in certain at-risk people by about 25%. Daily supplements also reduced the risk of vision loss by about 19%.
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin also help protect aging eyes. When scientists compared healthy eyes with eyes suffering from AMD, they found that AMD eyes contained lower levels of these vital nutrients (Ophthalmology 2003; 109:1780). Furthermore, they found that levels of these chemicals generally decline as you grow older.
Healthy at All Ages
When it comes to designing a healthy lifestyle, general rules like these can be followed, but you should individualize your plan to fit your needs. No matter which type of exercises you pick out or what healthy foods you choose, look for a strategy and a plan you can stick to. If you think a selection of foods are good for you but you absolutely hate their taste, chances are you won't be able to stick to a diet that includes them.
The same goes for exercise: Pick out activities that you enjoy and that you can perform consistently. That increases your chance of sticking to an exercise program.
Staying healthy is enjoyable and it helps you get more out of life every day, no matter what stage of life you're in.
Say Goodbye to Headaches
June 13, 2005 07:25 PM
Say Goodbye to Headaches by Susan Weiner Energy Times, December 8, 1999
What's in a name? A headache by any other name hurts just as much. But categorizing your headache can be as overwhelming as finding an obscure breakfast cereal at the supermarket. Medical folks pigeonhole headaches as tension headaches, allergy headaches, morning headaches and sinus headaches, plus the organic, migraine, cluster, trauma, TMJ, eyestrain, rebound, exertion, hormonal and muscle tension varieties. You may also suffer the self-induced hangover and toxicity headaches.
Americans are no strangers to self-medication, and as a society we battle these headaches by consuming nearly 80 billion tablets of aspirin each year, about 20 million aspirins a day, according to Burton Goldberg, co-author of An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Headaches (Future Medicine Publishing). And while we drown ourselves in over-the-counter and powerful prescription products, our tolerance, just like a drug addict's, grows. So what begins as a twodose headache slowly evolves into three, four or five doses, until you realize that no dosage can make your headache go away.
Unless you're fond of medieval practices such as ritualistic healings and bloodletting, drugs seem the only answer to headache misery. But even modern medicine has been unable to solve headaches. Rather than a cure, medications provide only temporary relief, and even that isn't guaranteed. Additionally, over-reliance on medications can lead to chronic head pain. According to Goldberg, rebound headaches often result from the consumption and withdrawal of drugs.
Halt Your Headaches
Rather than strive to simply eliminate headache pain, why not identify the underlying cause and prevent the headache? Almost always, every type of headache results from a health or lifestyle-related activity. In an ideal world, the best approach would be to eliminate the tensions, stress, frustrations, anger, insufficient sleep, excessive drinking and poor diet that contribute to your headaches. For better or for worse, however, you can't always: a. quit your job; b. ask your spouse to leave; c. sit on the beach all day; or d. all of the above. But you can make appropriate lifestyle changes and learn to express suppressed feelings.
This approach, lifestyle modification, is a treatment program based on a Loma Linda University study, originally published in Medical Hypothesis and the Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine and later explained in No More Headaches, No More Migraines: A Proven Approach to Preventing Headaches and Migraines by Zuzana Bic, DrPH and L. Francis Bic, PhD (Avery). The program, conducted on a group diagnosed with chronic migraines, dramatically decreased the frequency, intensity and duration of headaches in nine of 10 headache sufferers. Rather than demand radical life changes, the lifestyle modification program introduces gradual changes in three specific areas: nutrition, exercise and understanding stress. The study doesn't expect you to change your entire diet, join a gym and eliminate everything that triggers stress, but teaches techniques to make subtle lifestyle changes and reduce the impact of daily stress. These same techniques can also improve sleep patterns, a factor known to affect headaches. The lifestyle modification approach clarifies that while very few headaches directly result from existing acute conditions, recurring headaches often derive from a larger lifestyle factor. If these issues are ignored, the body's natural defense mechanisms may kick into overdrive and become exhausted, leaving you susceptible to other chronic diseases. By finding and eliminating the cause of your headaches, you may be saving yourself from other eventual illnesses.
Willing to make some lifestyle changes and step away from medications? Try these remedies, courtesy of Nature's Pharmacy by Lynn Paige Walker, PharmD and Ellen Hodgson Brown, JD (Prentice-Hall).
For simple headaches, start with relaxation and neck stretches. Or try rubbing your forehead with peppermint oil, a natural antispasmodic and diuretic shown in German research to be as effective as acetaminophen in easing tension headaches.
Never underestimate the old-fashioned ice pack to the forehead as an effective treatment that works by constricting the swollen blood vessels that cause your head to ache. If the ice pack isn't enough, try putting your arms in icy water up to your elbows to constrict additional blood vessels. But if it's a sinus headache you're fighting, take the opposite approach and try hot compresses.
The herbal, and original, form of aspirin is white willow bark. Used by Chinese practitioners 2,500 years ago, it contains salicin, nearly the same pain reliever found in aspirin. Other herbal aspirins include meadowsweet tea, just as effective as aspirin with few side effects. For migraines, Walker and Brown recommend feverfew and magnesium supplements, which reduce nerve excitability and migraine susceptibility. In fact, individuals with frequent headaches have been found to have low brain and tissue magnesium, says Julian Whitaker, MD, author of Julian Whitaker's Guide to Natural Healing (Prima). For all headaches, Goldberg suggests essential fatty acid supplementation with evening primrose oil (EPO), which improves circulation, helps regulate inflammation and relieves pain.
The Curse of the Migraine
Migraines, a debilitating headache distinguished by a throbbing pain, may be humanity's oldest malady. The name is derived from the word the Greek physician Galen used to describe the disorder in 200 A.D. Six-thousand-year-old Sumerian writings refer to the ravages of migraines, and prehistoric skeletons bear testimony to a crude form of trephination-holes chiseled in skulls to allow the escape of pain-creating demons, according to Lifetime Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies by Myra Cameron (Parker Publishing).
In the common migraine, throbbing pain develops gradually from distended veins around the brain and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. These miseries can be preceded by 15 to 90 minutes of an "aura," which includes visual disturbances, distorted perception, hallucinations, flashes of light and temporary loss of sight or hearing. In fact, skeptical historians attribute some of the religious visions of the Middle Ages to the visual effects of migraine aura, according to Cameron.
Snacking on high fiber foods between three light meals each day helps stabilize blood sugar and prevent migraines. And while some doctors summarily attribute migraines to diet, other experts attribute at least half of all migraines to food sensitivities. The most common edible villains are aged cheeses, yeast breads, chocolate, cured meats, citrus fruits, eggs, fermented foods, wheat, milk, milk products, alcoholic drinks and food additives, including nitrates and MSG.
Suggested daily supplements for migraine-susceptible individuals include a multivitamin, one capsule of B complex to help maintain normal vascular control, 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams in divided doses of vitamin C with bioflavonoids to assist the production of anti-stress hormones, and 500 to 1,000 milligrams of magnesium to reduce nerve excitability and pain. At the onset of a migraine, says Cameron, try homeopathic remedies, dilutions of natural substances from plants, minerals and animals. For throbbing pain, take natrum muriaticum according to package directions. Other homeopathic options to explore include iris versicolar, lac defloratum and sanguinaria.
Take Charge of Your Headaches
Headache management involves managing your life. Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Calmly discuss your feelings. Take a leisurely stroll at lunch. Walk your dog, or a neighbor's dog, after dinner. Keep a food diary. Sit and stand tall. Skip the fast food tonight. Join a yoga class. Take vitamins and supplements. Get a two-hour massage. Turn the television off earlier and sleep in a little later.
Taking the time to care may take effort, but it will soon become second nature. Invest in yourself. It's your most precious possession.
Home on the Range
June 13, 2005 03:52 PM
Home on the Range
by Janis Jibrin, RD Energy Times, September 5, 1999
Got chicken? Americans can't seem to get enough of this bird. Last year each of us ate, on average, just about 80 pounds of chicken, a whopping increase over the 49 pounds we each devoured in 1980 and an eight-pound increase from 1995. Part of this food's popularity comes from its lean image as a healthier, less fatty alternative to red meat (don't forget to take the fatty skin off). Chicken's also a cheap protein source: At many popular supermarkets you'll find weekly specials at about a dollar a pound.
But at health food markets, chicken can cost upwards of $1.69 a pound. These birds may be touted as raised in an organic, stress-free environment and on a vegetarian diet, free of antibiotics. For many people, this poultry is a better buy.
The Alternative Chicken
Most of the supermarket chicken you pick up in grocery refrigerated cases are broilers, birds bred to mature in about eight weeks. In comparison, in the '60s, chickens needed 14 weeks to become adult poultry. Conventionally-raised broilers eat grain mixed with whatever's cheapest on the market, such as recycled cooking oil that's been used to fry fast foods and animal parts.
These birds reside in chicken coops the size of football fields and don't see the light of day until transported to the slaughterhouse. On the other roost, alternatively raised chickens are brought up in a variety of ways (see box), but usually enjoy a more relaxed life and diet.
Chickens on the farm receive antibiotics for two reasons: To fight off the diseases that can run rampant through a crowded chicken coop and to encourage faster growth.
Antibiotics Stimulate Growth
Mark Cook, PhD, professor of animal science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, explains, "Gut bacteria trigger an immune system assault, which makes chickens a little feverish, suppresses appetite and slows growth. Antibiotics stimulate growth indirectly, by keeping bacteria levels down, and preventing the immune reaction." When birds get sick, they often get dosed with even more antibiotics.
This widespread antibiotic use has come home to roost and may contribute to the growth of bacteria that, frequently exposed to chemicals, have evolved ways to keep from being killed by pharmaceuticals.
This development threatens human health. Bacterial infections that people contract, once easily cured by penicillin or other drugs, are now tougher to eradicate. For instance, campylobactor, a common bacteria found in chicken, and responsible for some food poisonings, now demonstrates signs of resistance to drugs like floroquinolones. A powerful class of antibiotics, floroquinolones used to dependably conquer this infection.
"Floroquinolones are an extremely important class of antibiotics, used to treat many types of infections such as urinary tract infection, a wide variety of gastrointestinal illnesses, pneumonia, almost everything," says Kirt Smith, DVM, PhD, epidemiologist, acute disease epidemiology section, Minnesota Department of Health.
A study by Dr. Smith, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (340, 1999: 1525-32), showed that the percent of floroquinolone-resistant campylobactor appearing in infected people in his state-Minnesota-climbed from a little over 1% in infected people during 1992 to 10.2% in 1998. He and other scientists strongly suspect that the rise is a direct consequence of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision to allow floroquinolones in poultry feed beginning in 1995.
Although it was nearly impossible for Dr. Smith to trace the precise origin of campylobactor poisoning, he believes chicken was usually the source-and not just U.S. chicken. Many of the infected people had returned from Mexico and other countries.
"Sales of floroquinolones for poultry use in Mexico has increased dramatically," notes Dr. Smith.
Many alternative chicken producers do not use any antibiotic-laced feed at all. Other farmers adjust the feed to lower gut pH, making it more acidic and lowering chances of bacteria. At the U. of Wisconsin, Dr. Cook is developing antibodies to suppress the immune response to bacteria so chickens won't need antibiotics to spur growth. Buying and dining on chicken raised with little or no antibiotics could beneficially lower your risk of contracting a hardy bacterial infection. Better to catch campylobactor from an antibiotic-free chicken than a conventional chicken, speculates Dr. Cook. "There's less likelihood the bug will be resistant, and a better chance your problem can be cured with antibiotics," he explains.
And, looking beyond your own immediate health risk, buying antibiotic-free chicken makes a small contribution to stopping the spread of antibiotic resistant bugs. A Matter of Taste Conventionally raised chickens get little exercise and live only eight weeks, so they're tender but bland.
"There's not much taste in a modern chicken. Free range or organically grown, older birds usually have more taste," notes Dr. Cook.
The days of barnyard chickens happily clucking and strutting around in picturesque nature have disappeared with the family farm. Today, chickens lead a meager existence. After hatching, baby chicks are tossed into a gigantic hen house that is home to up to 30,000 birds. Their short lives are lived within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mandated 3/4 square foot per chicken. In that squeeze, birds can catch "chicken influenza," especially in winter when it's too cold to let in much fresh air.
Laying hens don't experience much more of a peaceful existence. These birds live their years with about five other hens, so crowded they can't flap their wings. Cages, suspended in the air, let eggs roll into a holding area. So they don't peck each other, hens are often debeaked, a painful process that can cause infection.
Hens go through natural laying and "dry" cycles. Growers manipulate this cycle by "forced molting," depriving hens of food for four to 14 days to keep them constantly laying. By the end of two years, hens are worn out. Their inactivity weakens their bones enough that electrical stunning, the usual method for knocking chickens out before slaughter, shatters their bones. So some wind up being plucked and boiled alive, according to Mary Finelli, program director for farm animals and public health at the Humane Society of the United States. The meat from these hens, tougher than other birds, was probably in your deli lunch sandwich. It's also used in the school lunch program or may end up in dog food.
"Generally, organically-grown broilers and hens have it better because room to move is part of the organic certification process," says Finelli. Finelli suggests visiting chicken suppliers to find out how chickens are treated. Or, she advocates a Humane Society book listing reliable firms. For a local producer call the society: 202-452-1100. According to a Consumer Report report, some growers force chickens out the last week of their lives to brand them "free range." So free range isn't a prime standard for choosing a decently raised chicken. However, turkeys thrive outdoors, so choosing free-range turkey is often a good idea for better tasting poultry.
In any case, organic is your best bet for chicken without pesticides. Make it your main choice for your 80 pound yearly consumption!
To fight cruel treatment of poultry:
• Forced Molting Ban. Forced molting is shocking hens for more eggs. To support petitions banning forced molting write: Docket Manage-ment Branch, FDA, Dept. Health & Human Serv-ices, 12420 Parklawn Drive, Room 1-23, Rock-ville, MD 20857. Include docket # 98P-0203/CP
• Downed Animal Protection Bill (House Bill 443, Senate Bill S515) spares some animals from the tortuous journey from chicken house to slaughterhouse. Mandates humane euthanization.
Menopause: Disease or Condition?
June 13, 2005 03:44 PM
Menopause: Disease or Condition?
by Mary Ann Mayo & Joseph L. Mayo, MD Energy Times, September 4, 1999
It's front-page news. It's politically correct and socially acceptable. Talking about menopause is in. Suddenly it's cool to have hot flashes. Millions of women turning 50 in the next few years have catapulted the subject of menopause into high-definition prominence.
It's about time. Rarely discussed openly by women (what did your mother ever advise you?), meno-pause until recently was dismissed as "a shutting down experience characterized by hot flashes and the end of periods." Disparaging and depressing words like shrivel, atrophy, mood swings and melancholia peppered the scant scientific menopausal literature.
What a difference a few years and a very vocal, informed and assertive group of Baby Boomers make. Staggered by the burgeoning numbers of newly confrontational women who will not accept a scribbled prescription and a pat on the head as adequate treatment, health practitioners and researchers have been challenged to unravel, explain and deal with the challenges of menopause.
Not An Overnight Sensation
Menopause, researchers have discovered, is no simple, clear cut event in a woman's life. The "change of life" does not occur overnight. A woman's body may begin the transition toward menopause in her early 40s, even though her last period typically occurs around age 51. This evolutionary time before the final egg is released is called the perimenopause. Erratic monthly hormone levels produce unexpected and sometimes annoying sensations.
Even as their bodies adjust to lower levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, some women don't experience typical signs of menopause until after the final period. A fortunate one-third have few or no discomforts.
According to What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause (Warner Books) by John R. Lee, MD, Jesse Hanley, MD, and Virginia Hopkins, "The steroid hormones are intimately related to each other, each one being made from another or turned back into another depending on the needs of the body...But the hormones themselves are just part of the picture. It takes very specific combinations of vitamins, minerals and enzymes to cause the transformation of one hormone into another and then help the cell carry out the hormone's message. If you are deficient in one of the important hormone-transforming substances such as vitamin B6 or magnesium, for example, that too can throw your hormones out of balance. Thyroid and insulin problems, toxins, bad food and environmental factors, medication and liver function affect nutrient and hormone balance."
The most important reproductive hormones include:
Estrogen: the female hormone produced by the ovaries from puberty through menopause to regulate the menstrual cycle and prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Manufacture drops significantly during menopause. Estradiol is a chemically active and efficient form of estrogen that binds to many tissues including the uterus, breasts, ovaries, brain and heart through specific estrogen receptors that allow it to enter those cells, stimulating many chemical reactions. Estriol and estrone are additional forms of estrogen.
Progesterone: also produced by the ovaries, it causes tissues to grow and thicken, particularly during pregnancy, when it protects and nurtures the fetus. Secretion ceases during menopause.
Testosterone: Women produce about one-twentieth of what men do, but require it to support sex drive. About half of all women quit secreting testosterone during menopause.
Estrogen's Wide Reach
Since estrogen alone influences more than 400 actions on the body, chiefly stimulating cell growth, the effects of its fluctuations can be far-reaching and extremely varied: hot (and cold) flashes, erratic periods, dry skin (including the vaginal area), unpredictable moods, fuzzy thinking, forgetfulness, fatigue, low libido, insomnia and joint and muscle pain.
Young women may experience premature menopause, which can occur gradually, as a matter of course, or abruptly with hysterectomy (even when the ovaries remain) or as a result of chemotherapy. Under such conditions symptoms can be severe.
In the 1940s doctors reasoned that if most discomforts were caused by diminishing estrogen (its interactive role with progesterone and testosterone were underestimated), replacing it would provide relief. When unchecked estrogen use resulted in high rates of uterine cancer, physicians quickly began adding progesterone to their estrogen regimens and the problem appeared solved.
For the average woman, however, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) became suspect and controversial, especially when a link appeared between extended use of HRT (from five to 10 years) and an increase in breast and endometrial cancers (Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 37, 1997). The result: Women have drawn a line in the sand between themselves and their doctors.
Resolving The Impasse
Since hormone replacement reduces the risk of major maladies like heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, colon cancer and diabetes that would otherwise significantly rise as reproductive hormone levels decrease, most doctors recommend hormone replacement shortly before or as soon as periods stop. Hormone replacement also alleviates the discomforts of menopause.
But only half of all women fill their HRT prescriptions and, of those who do, half quit within a year. Some are simply indifferent to their heightened medical risks. Some are indeed aware but remain unconvinced of the safety of HRT. Others complain of side effects such as bloating, headaches or drowsiness.
Women's resistance to wholesale HRT has challenged researchers to provide more secure protection from the diseases to which they become vulnerable during menopause, as well as its discomforts. If the conventional medical practitioners do not hear exactly what modern women want, the complementary medicine community does. Turning to centuries-old botanicals, they have validated and compounded them with new technology. Their effectiveness depends on various factors including the synergistic interaction of several herbs, specific preparation, the correct plant part and dosage, harvesting and manufacturing techniques.
Research demonstrates that plant hormones (phytoestrogens) protect against stronger potentially carcinogenic forms of estrogen while safely providing a hormone effect. Other herbs act more like tonics, zipping up the body's overall function.
Help From Herbs
Clinical trials and scientific processing techniques have resulted in plant-based supplements like soy and other botanicals that replicate the form and function of a woman's own estrogen.
The complementary community also can take credit for pushing the conventional medical community to look beyond estrogen to progesterone in postmenopausal health.
Natural soy or Mexican yam derived progesterone is formulated by pharmacologists in creams or gels that prevent estrogen-induced overgrowth of the uterine lining (a factor in uterine cancer), protect against heart disease and osteoporosis and reduce hot flashes (Fertility and Sterility 69, 1998: 96-101).
A quarter of the women who take the popularly prescribed synthetic progesterone report increased tension, fatigue and anxiety; natural versions have fewer side effects.
These "quasi-medicines," as Tori Hudson, a leading naturopathic doctor and professor at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon, calls them, are considered "stronger than a botanical but weaker than a medicine." (Hudson is author of Gynecology and Naturopathic Medicine: A Treatment Manual.)
According to Hudson, the amount of estrogen and progesterone in these supplements is much less than medical hormone replacement but equally efficacious in relieving menopausal problems and protecting the heart and bones.
According to a study led by Harry K. Genant, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, "low-dose" plant estrogen derived from soy and yam, supplemented with calcium, prevents bone loss without such side effects as increased vaginal bleeding and endometrial hypoplasia, abnormal uterine cell growth that could be a precursor to endometrial cancer (Archives of Internal Medicine 157, 1997: 2609-2615).
These herbal products, including natural progesterone and estrogen in the form of the weaker estriol or estrone, may block the effect of the stronger and potentially DNA-damaging estradiol.
Soy in its myriad dietary and supplemental forms provides a rich source of isoflavones and phytosterols, both known to supply a mild estrogenic effect that can stimulate repair of the vaginal walls (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83, 1991: 541-46).
To enhance vaginal moisture, try the herb cimicifuga racemosa, the extract of black cohosh that, in capsule form, builds up vaginal mucosa (Therapeuticum 1, 1987: 23-31). Traditional Chinese herbal formulas containing roots of rehmannia and dong quai have long been reputed to promote vaginal moisture.
Clinical research in Germany also confirms the usefulness of black cohosh in preventing hot flashes and sweating, as well as relieving nervousness, achiness and depressed moods caused by suppressed hormone levels. It works on the hypothalamus (the body's thermostat, appetite and blood pressure monitor), pituitary gland and estrogen receptors. Green tea is steeped with polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, that exert a massive antioxidant influence against allergens, viruses and carcinogens. The risks of estrogen-related cancers such as breast cancer are particularly lowered by these flavonoids, as these substances head directly to the breast's estrogen receptors. About three cups a day exert an impressive anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, antiviral and anticarcinogenic effect.
Other phytoestrogen-rich botanicals, according to Susun Weed's Menopausal Years: The Wise Woman Way (Ash Tree Publishing), include motherwort and lactobacillus acidophilus to combat vaginal dryness; hops and nettles for sleep disturbances; witch hazel and shepherd's purse for heavy bleeding; motherwort and chasteberry for mood swings; dandelion and red clover for hot flashes.
Our Need For Supplements
Adding micronutrients at midlife to correct and counter a lifetime of poor diet and other habits is a step toward preventing the further development of the degenerative diseases to which we become vulnerable. At the very minimum, you should take:
a multivitamin/mineral supplement vitamin E calcium
Your multivitamin/mineral should contain vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Look for a wide variety of antioxidants that safeguard you from free radical damage, believed to promote heart disease and cancer, as well as contribute to the aging process.
Also on the list: mixed carotenoids such as lycopene, alpha carotene and vitamin C; and folic acid to help regulate cell division and support the health of gums, red blood cells, the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system.
Studies indicate a deficiency of folic acid (folate) in 30% of coronary heart disease, blood vessel disease and strokes; lack of folate is thought to be a serious risk factor for heart disease (OB.GYN News, July 15, 1997, page 28).
Extra vitamin E is believed to protect against breast cancer and bolster immune strength in people 65 and older (Journal of the American Medical Association 277, 1997: 1380-86). It helps relieve vaginal dryness, breast cysts and thyroid problems and, more recently, hit the headlines as an aid in reducing the effects of Alzheimer's and heart disease. It is suspected to reduce the thickening of the carotid arterial walls and may prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which contributes to the formation of plaque in arteries.
Selenium also has been identified as an assistant in halting cancer (JAMA 276, 1996: 1957-63).
The Omegas To The Rescue
Essential fatty acids found in cold water fish, flaxseed, primrose and borage oils and many nuts and seeds are essential for the body's production of prostaglandin, biochemicals which regulate hormone synthesis, and numerous physiological responses including muscle contraction, vascular dilation and the shedding of the uterine lining. They influence hormonal balance, reduce dryness and relieve hot flashes.
In addition, the lignans in whole flaxseed behave like estrogen and act aggressively against breast cancer, according to rat and human studies at the University of Toronto (Nutr Cancer 26, 1996: 159-65).
Research has demonstrated that these omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can reverse the cancer-causing effects of radiation and other carcinogens (Journal of the National Cancer Institute 74, 1985: 1145-50). Deficiencies may cause swelling, increased blood clotting, breast pain, hot flashes, uterine and menstrual cramps and constipation. Fatigue, lack of endurance dry skin and hair and frequent colds may signal EFA shortage. Plus, fatty fish oils, along with vitamin D and lactose, help absorption of calcium, so vital for maintaining bone mass.
In addition, studies show that the natural substance Coenzyme A may help menopausal women reduce cholesterol and increase fat utilization (Med Hyp 1995; 44, 403, 405). Some researchers belive Coenzyme A plays a major role in helping women deal with stress while strengthening immunity.
Can't shake those menopausal woes? Menopause imposters may be imposing on you: The risk of thyroid disease, unrelenting stress, PMS, adrenal burnout, poor gastrointestinal health and hypoglycemia all increase at midlife. Menopause is a handy hook on which to hang every misery, ache and pain but it may only mimic the distress of other ailments. For this reason every midlife woman should have a good medical exam with appropriate tests to determine her baseline state of health. Only with proper analysis can you and your health practitioner hit on an accurate diagnosis and satisfying course of therapy.
And if menopause is truly the issue, you have plenty of company. No woman escapes it. No woman dies from it. It is not a disease but a reminder that one-third of life remains to be lived. Menopausal Baby Boomers can anticipate tapping into creative energy apart from procreation. If not new careers, new interests await. An altered internal balance empowers a menopausal woman to direct, perhaps for the first time, her experience of life. She has come of age-yet again. Gone is the confusion, uncertainty, or dictates of a hormone driven life: This time wisdom and experience direct her. There is no need to yearn for youth or cower at the conventional covenant of old age. Menopause is the clarion call to reframe, reevaluate and reclaim.
Mary Ann Mayo and Joseph L. Mayo, MD, are authors of The Menopause Manager (Revell) and executive editors of Health Opportunities for Women (HOW). Telephone number 877-547-5499 for more information.
June 13, 2005 01:18 PM
by Cal Orey Energy Times, August 2, 1999
Depression plagues the creative and the mundane. The disparate desperate driven to distress by depression include painters, poets, actors and musicians as well as truck drivers, clerks, electricians and physicists. The victim list encompasses Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, Audrey Hepburn, Virginia Woolf and Ludwig von Beethoven, as well as millions of other sharers of melancholy misery.
More than 17 million American men and women experience depression in one form or another every year, according to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) in Alexandria, Virginia. This includes the deeply destructive major, or clinical, depression, the wide mood swings of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), and dysthymia, a milder, long-lasting form of emotional suffering.
Twice as Many Women In the depression scenario, women suffer twice as much: Two times as many women as men endure clinical depression, reports the NMHA. The mood-deteriorating effects of the hormonal disruptions women are heir to may be partly to blame.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about one of 10 Americans wades through at least one depressive swamp sometime during his or her life.
The good news: Research shows that diet and lifestyle can lower your risk of depression.
Birth of the Blues
Nowadays, mounting evidence suggests that depression may result more from physiological factors than psychological woes.
Some of the hidden reasons why you may be depressed include: nutritional deficiencies, exacerbated by overdosing on too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol and high fat foods; allergies; anxiety and chronic stress; and a chemical imbalance in the brain's gray matter. According to the NMHA, people with depression often possess too little or too large a quantity of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Changes in levels of these brain chemicals may cause, or contribute to, clinical depression.
The NMHA also reports that an imbalance of melatonin, a chemical made by the body's pineal gland (located at the base of the brain), contributes to a form of wintertime depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This hormone is made at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, the body may oversupply this hormone during winter's shortened daylight hours.
Since the B vitamins are often involved in the production of energy, and a large component of depression may encompass the inability to get out of bed and deal with the world, experts believe that at least some of the signs of depression are linked to B deficiencies. For instance, studies cited in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Prima) by Michael Murray, ND and Joseph Pizzorno, ND, demonstrate that folate deficiency and lack of vitamin B12 can compromise mental health (Drugs 45, 1993: 623-36; Lancet 336, 1990: 392-5).
Inositol: This vitamin is also part of the B vitamin complex, and it, too, has shown its ability to lift spirits. Research work in Israel shows that daily inositol given to 28 depressed patients for four weeks produced an overall positive effect. (Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 7:2, May 1997: 147-55). Inositol is found in whole, unprocessed grains, citrus fruits (except lemons) and brewer's yeast.
NADH: Allan Magaziner, DO, in his book The Idiot's Complete Guide To Living Longer & Healthier (Alpha), reports that brain energizing NADH, a metabolite of vitamin B3, enhances the production of the key neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. "In a recent clinical trial," he claims, "nearly all patients given NADH for depression reported improvement in their symptoms and the absence of side effects or adverse reactions."
Another substance winning the spotlight for its effect on mood is SAM-e: S-adenosylmethionine. In New York on February 24, a symposium coordinated by the American Health Foundation met to hear researchers present information from studies of SAM-e's ability to possibly ease depression.
"SAM-e is a natural product. You and I have it but as people age it declines in production in the body. And that's why we believe supplementation in older people is a beneficial means of bringing that back up and helping people that have depression," said the lead symposium researcher, John H. Weisburger, PhD, MD, Director Emeritus, American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York.
Another researcher, Teodoro Bottiglieri, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Studies and Neurology, Director of Neuropharmacology at Baylor University reported: "SAM-e has been shown to enhance brain dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitter metabolism and receptor function. It may also aid in the repair of myelin that surrounds nerve cells. These mechanisms are likely to be responsible for the antidepressant effect of SAM-e."
(Bottiglieri is co-author with Richard Brown, MD, and Carol Colman of Stop Depression Now, a report on the powers of SAM-e just published by G.P. Putnam's Sons.)
SAM-e was first touted as an antidepressant in Italy in 1973. It's been reported that nearly 40 clinical trials demonstrate its beneficial effects as a natural antidepressant.
For instance, an analysis of more than 1000 people suffering depression showed that the effect of antidepressants in patients taking SAM-e was 17% to 38% better than dummy preparations. Conventional antidepressants show a 20% effectiveness rate (Bressa G. Acta Neurol Scand S154, 1994: 7-14).
5-HTP: Another popular supplement to boost mood and relieve depression is hydroxytryptophan. "This medication is actually a brain chemical that is metabolized from tryptophan into serotonin," says Magaziner. And since low serotonin levels have been linked with depression, and certain prescribed medications may up serotonin levels, 5-HTP is in demand.
"One of the more impressive studies supporting the efficacy of 5-HTP for depression evaluated 100 people who had previously found conventional antidepressant therapy to be inadequate. Forty-three of these folks reported a complete recovery, and eight showed significant improvement," reports Magaziner. Not only has 5-HTP been shown to work slightly better than drugs known as SSRIs (these include Prozac), he adds, it has fewer side effects than standard antidepressants, too. DHEA: Medical experts also believe that levels of the hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) may influence mood. Ray Sahelian, MD, in his book All About DHEA (Avery) reports an interesting study conducted by Dr. Owen Wolkowitz of the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco. A group of six depressed middle-aged and elderly individuals who took DHEA found that within a month they had better memory and mood. (Biological Psychiatry 41, 1997: 311-18.) "In addition," adds Sahelian, "other studies have also found that DHEA increases energy levels and a sense of well being." But follow package directions: Some people complain of greater irritability and overstimulation with DHEA, when they take large amounts.
St. John's wort: still the most touted natural therapy for defeating depression. In Europe, 23 clinical studies, reviewed in the August 3, 1996 British Medical Journal, found that this herb, also known as Hypericum perforatum, can be helpful in alleviating cases of mild to moderate depression. The work, which included 757 patients, has shown that hypericum produced fewer side effects than conventional anti-depressants.
Although experts have never satisfactorily explained exactly how St. John's wort benefits the brain, some theorize that it boosts serotonin levels. And it can help SAD sufferers.
"In a recent study of 20 people with SAD, four weeks' worth of St. John's wort significantly alleviated feelings of depression. Those people who added full-spectrum lights to the treatment program gained an even greater benefit," notes Dr. Magaziner.
Valerian: Anxiety and stress, which can cause depression and insomnia, may be helped by this herb, says the prolific Dr. Sahelian in his book Kava: The Miracle Antianxiety Herb (St. Martin's). In 101 Medicinal Herbs (Interweave), Steven Foster reports that "Ten controlled clinical studies have been published on valerian...one of which suggests that valerian should be used for two to four weeks before daily mood and sleep patterns improve."
Amino Acid Help
Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, may also help improve mood. (For more on protein, see page 65.) These chemicals are used by the body to construct neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that facilitate mental activity.
For instance, the amino acid L-tyrosine is necessary for the formation of transmitters adrenaline and dopamine. This substance, therefore, is given to alleviate depression and anxiety.
The substance L-dopa which is given to victims of Parkinson's disease is concocted from tyrosine. And several antidepressants alleviate bad moods by boosting the interaction of brain chemicals related to tyrosine.
In addition, since tyrosine is used to make adrenaline, this amino acid may be helpful for folks trying to cope with the mood problems related to stress.
Another amino acid that experts believe useful for better moods, L-methionine, is used by the body to make choline, a crucial substance for brain function. (Choline goes into the formation of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.)
Methionine has been given to people suffering from schizophrenia and depression as well as to those with Parkinson's. Methionine plays a number of crucial roles in the brain and body since it helps form other vital proteins.
For those concerned about preserving a positive mood, researchers are positive that smoking worsens depression. A study at the Department of Behavioral Services at the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan found that daily smokers run twice the risk for major depression compared to those who only smoked occasionally.
Unfortunately, the investigators found that not only did smoking seem to lead to depression, depression, in turn, led to more smoking (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2/99).
"Smokers who have depression tend to see their smoking become a daily habit and it may be because they use nicotine to medicate their depressed mood," reported Naomi Breslau, PhD, who headed the research. Over a five year period, the researchers looked at about a thousand young people aged 21 to 30. They found that daily smokers generally start smoking in adolescence, and those who report early depression are three times as likely to eventually become daily smokers.
If you're feeling down, don't give up hope. Although depression can prove to be a depressingly complicated malady, daily, healthy habits can offset its effects. Getting consistent exercise, dousing your cigarettes and turning to herbal and nutritional help to treat mild depression may defeat those blues.
Botanical Arsenal - Plants can help our bodies fight off cancer's deadly ...
June 13, 2005 10:31 AM
Botanical Arsenal by Fred Thomas Energy Times, May 3, 1999
The complexities surrounding the various types of cancer stem from the variety of ways in which these diseases can wreak their havoc. Luckily, the equally complex world of plants contains novel compounds that can help our bodies fight off cancer's deadly progress.
Research into these botanical compounds is mushrooming. An example: The mighty maitake, a fungus with flair, alternately known as the king (it can grow as large as a basketball, worth its weight in silver to the ancient Japanese); the prince; the Hen of the Woods (it sticks out of from trees when it grows in the wild); and the dancing mushroom to those who leaped for joy when they found one growing in its native northeastern Japan.
Researchers today dub it with a new moniker: Herbal Heavyweight.
Mushroom with Potential
The maitake, with such other medicinal mushrooms as shiitake and reishi, historically has been eaten to promote general well-being and vitality. In the modern lab, however, scientists focus on the potent immune enhancing powers of maitake, which spotlight its cancer fighting potential.
Twenty years ago, maitake, Grifola frondosa, was an obscure, largely unavailable mushroom. A series of significant Japanese studies then catapulted it into prominence-and popularity.
Hiroaki Nanba, PhD, of the department of immunology at Kobe Women's College of Pharmacy on Kobe, Japan, and a leading international researcher on maitake, conducted the preliminary tests on the mushroom, demonstrating that it stimulates immune function and inhibits tumor growth.
In 1986, Dr. Nanba fed powdered maitake to mice injected with tumor cells; 86.3% displayed inhibited tumor growth.
Dr. Nanba and his colleagues went on to run additional mouse tests, finally reporting that this potent mushroom "directly activates various effector cells (macrophages, natural killer cells, killer T-cells, etc.) to attack tumor cells."
From then, maitake mushrooms were headed to fame as cancer ninjas.
Stoking The Immune Engine
Like other mushrooms, maitake is rich in complex polysaccharides, immunomodulators that successive tests after Dr. Nanba's have shown to be effective in cancer and AIDS treatment.
The polysaccharides in maitake have a unique structure, rendering them some of the most powerful to be studied (Chem Pharm Bull 1987:35:1162-8).
What makes maitake a particularly hot property is beta-D-glucan, its primary polysaccharide. Studies show that the body absorbs it readily, at which point it effectively stimulates interleukin-1, natural killer cells and macrophages, anti-tumor warriors that battle solid cancers (Chemotherapy 1990;38:790-6; also International Conference on AIDS, Amsterdam, 1992).
Effective And Safe
In addition to lab tests, trials on people have shown that maitake may offer powerful therapy against liver and stomach cancer (studies in China), breast and colon cancer (US research) and Kaposi's Sarcoma, the virulent cancer attacking AIDS sufferers.
Importantly, studies show that no side effects or interactions accompany maitake's efficacy.
Maitake fortunately has won the interest and enthusiasm of the scientific community. Currently, researchers at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, headed by Denis Miller, MD, are completing an exhaustive test of the anticancer and immunostimulatory actions of maitake on folks with advanced colorectal cancer. These investigators hypothesize that the polysaccharide beta-glucans derived from the fruitbody of maitake fight tumors and boost immune function. "Though it cannot be said that maitake ...[is] the cancer cure," said Dr. Nanba in his closing remarks at the Adjuvant Nutrition in Cancer Treatment Symposium in Tampa, Florida, in October 1995, "one can safely say that they do maintain the quality of life of patients and improve the immune system, resulting in the possible remission of cancer cells with no side effects."
More Bodily Benefits
Maitake maven Dr. Nanba also has tested-with strongly positive results-the effect of maitake on blood glucose, insulin and triglycerides in mice, whose levels of all three substances declined when they were fed the mushroom (H. Nanba working paper, Anti-Diabetic Activity by Maitake Mushroom, 1994).
With colleagues, Dr. Nanba showed that maitake lowered blood pressure in hypertensive rats (Chem. Phann. Bu//36:1000-1006,1988). Other studies suggest it may accelerate weight loss.
This admirable adaptogen (meaning it helps the body adapt to stress and normalize its functions) is water soluble and may be eaten in food or taken as a supplement. Vitamin C is believed to intensify maitake's beta-glucans and enhance their absorption.
It's not just what you eat that may help protect against cancer, but what you drink as well. Research from China and Japan, where tea is the everyday drink and rates of several cancers like breast and prostate are lower, may persuade you to turn over a new leaf in your own beverage choice. One of the first studies to spark interest in tea came from Shanghai (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, June 1, 1994), where people who drank two to three cups a day were found to have about a 60% reduction in the risk of cancer of the esophagus. The reason: tea leaves contain compounds called polyphenols, potent antioxidants.
In fact, in tests at the University of Kansas, three of these, known as catechins, far outshone the common antioxidant vitamins C and E. Clinical trials are just starting, but early results are encouraging. A team of Chinese scientists reported that in a third of people with precancerous mouth sores who drank three cups of a mixture of green and black tea the lesions shrank significantly.
Researchers at the Saitama Cancer Center in Japan found that green tea seems to improve the prognosis of breast cancer. They followed a group of women with early-stage tumors for seven years. Those who drank more than five cups of green tea a day were only half as likely to suffer a recurrence as patients who consumed fewer than four cups a day.
And at the University of Indiana, toxicologist James Klaunig found that the lungs of cigarette smokers who drank the equivalent of six cups of tea a day suffered 40 to 50 percent less damage from the toxins in smoke, potentially lowering their risk of lung cancer and other pulmonary problems. Simultaneously, research from Purdue University suggests tea's cancer-discouraging powers go beyond being an antioxidant. Scientists Dorothy and D. James Morre showed that a tea catechin dubbed EGCG inhibits a growth-promoting enzyme on the surface of many cancer cells-happily without affecting normal cells. And researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine found that EGCG counteracted another enzyme, urokinase, that helps cancer cells spread. To top it off, Mayo Clinic scientists recently showed that EGCG prompted prostate cancer cells to commit suicide (Cancer Letters, Aug. 14, 1998).
So far, most tea research has focused on green tea, and investigators agree it's more potent than the black tea most Americans favor. But because both kinds come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis (it's the processing that makes the difference as black tea is fermented, green tea isn't) both contain cancer-fighting polyphenols, just in different quantities. As long as the tea you drink (even decaffeinated) is fresh brewed, it's likely to provide some benefit; powdered and prepared teas probably don't. And adding milk may dilute the effect.
Astragalus Against Tumors
Astragalus, an herb commonly used in Asia to boost stamina, has impressed western doctors for its potential for helping people cope with chemotherapy. As John Diamon, MD, W. Lee Cowden, MD and Burton Goldberg point out in the Definitive Guide to Cancer (Future Medicine), "Astragalus appears to protect the liver against the harmful toxic effects of chemotherapy and may be effective in treating terminally ill liver cancer patients." (They cite a study in the Jrnl of Ethnopharmacology 1990, 30:145-149.) In addition, they point out, research in Japan supports using a ginseng-astragalus combination to improve the function of natural killer (NK) cells which can boost immunity (Japanese Jrnl of Allergy, 37:2, 1998, 107-114).
Other studies confirm astragalus' potential in fighting off cancer. Research at the General Hospital of PLA, Beijing, showed that flavonoids (pigments) in astragalus could help protect cell membranes from oxidative damage caused by ultraviolet exposure (Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih, 21(12):746-8; 1996 Dec).
A study of laboratory animals at Cunma University in Maebashi, Japan, found that Astragalus could help preserve immune function against the harmful side effects of chemotherapy (Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih, 15(2):101-3, 1995 Feb).
Like a flame attracting moths, garlic bulbs have irresistibly drawn the attention of medical researchers. A study at Aarhus University, Denmark, found that skin cells in laboratory dishes treated with garlic supplements lived longer, healthier lives than untreated cells (Jrnl Ethnopharm, 1994. 43:125-133).
Meanwhile, a long list of research demonstrates that garlic's phytochemicals may fight tumors and reduce the carcinogenicity of the pollutants and chemicals that assault us daily. A study in China reported in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine showed that garlic helped slow tumors in lab animals (1983, 11:69-73). Another study in the Journal of Nutrition found that compounds in garlic could "suppress the growth of human colon tumor cells" (126, 1355-1361).
Added to those benefits, Robert A. Nagourney, MD, reports in the Journal of Medicinal Food (1:1, 1998, 13-28), garlic may "modify the carcinogenicity of foodstuffs." In other words, studies show that garlic can make chemicals in foods like pork less likely to cause your cells to become cancerous. (Ind J Physiol Pharmacol, 39:347-353).
DNA, the stuff that genes are made of, face constant threats from free radicals, caustic molecules that can alter cellular structure and possibly cause genetic mutations that lead to cancer. But research into what are called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC), flavonoids (pigments) derived from fruits vegetables, grape seed extract and the bark of maritime pine trees shows that OPC may be able to shield DNA from injury.
In particular, studies of a grape seed extract called Activin have demonstrated this substance can help liver cell DNA escape a destructive process called peroxidation (FASEB, 11:3, 2/28/97).
In these experiments, Activin demonstrated the ability to inhibit the growth of tumor cells as well as slow the replication enzymes of HIV viruses. This protective ability proved to be more potent than that of vitamin C, beta carotene and vitamin E.
What does the future promise to reveal? Scientists believe that many unexamined plants probably contain undiscovered phytochemicals that hold great potential for helping us fight the cancer epidemic.
Certainly, if the next few years produce as many results as the past decade, the next millennium will witness a long line of cancer-prevention discoveries. Before long, you should be able to take advantage of these potent substances.
As you gulp your garlic, tip your tea cup, mull your maitake, acquire Activin and await your astragalus, you may meditate on what may soon be added to our growing anti-cancer arsenal. Undoubtedly, scientists with a botanical bent will be uncovering more coveted anti-cancer secrets before too long.
Hearty Soy - Soy will cater to your cardiovascular well-being...
June 13, 2005 10:19 AM
Hearty Soy by Joyce Dewon Energy Times, January 5, 2004
It's a diet food, it's a health food. Any way you look at it or eat it, soy's combination of benefits and its versatility as a component of a heart-healthy diet have led to a widespread popularity that continues to grow.
No matter what your taste preference, a soy food is available to satisfy your picky palate and cater to your cardiovascular well-being.
Annual sales of soy in the US continue to grow more than 10% a year, edging toward the $4 billion mark. Today, the average American consumes about 10 mg of soy protein a day, even though the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends taking in at least 25 mg of soy to benefit your heart. Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has signaled its approval of the soy bandwagon, allowing claims that daily soy can help lower the risk of cardiovascular complications.
As Good as a Drug
Researchers who have investigated how soy can help lower cholesterol and shrink the risk of heart disease have concluded that soy, in a diet with fruits and vegetables, can be as effective as cholesterol-reducing drugs (JAMA 7/22/03).
Researchers at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital compared the cholesterol-lowering power of soy and other vegetarian foods with that of lovastatin, a standard pharmaceutical used to reduce cholesterol.
In the study, scientists fed people a diet that, along with soy, had large amounts of nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, and high-fiber foods like oats and barley plus margarine made with plant sterols (natural substances derived from leafy greens and vegetable oils). Researcher David Jenkins, PhD, a nutrition science professor, thinks these foods may be good at dropping cholesterol because human evolution makes us well-adapted for an "ape diet," one high in fiber, vegetable protein, nuts and plant sterols.
According to Dr. Jenkins, "As we age, we tend to get raised cholesterol, which in turn increases our risk of heart disease. This study shows that people now have a dietary alternative to drugs to control their cholesterol, at least initially." Dr. Jenkins also thinks that soy and a vegetarian diet can be used to maintain normal cholesterol levels.
Dr. Jenkins' heart-healthy diet, designed to be easily prepared and consumed, includes oat bran bread and cereal, soy drinks, fruit and soy deli slices. For instance, in his study, a typical dinner consisted of tofu baked with eggplant, onions and sweet peppers, pearled barley and vegetables.
Dr. Jenkins adds, "The Food and Drug Administration has approved these cholesterol-lowering foods as having legitimate health claims for heart disease risk reduction. They're also being recommended by the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program as foods that should be incorporated into the diet. And we have now proven that these foods have an almost identical effect on lowering cholesterol as the original cholesterol-reducing drugs."
Dr. Jenkins regrets that health practitioners often give drugs to people with high cholesterol instead of trying to control the problem with soy and other vegetarian foods.
Soy Safety Affirmed
Recently, some doctors have spread the story that soy may increase the risk of cancer because natural chemicals in soy act like estrogens, hormones that may contribute to breast and other cancers. However, research has failed to support this supposition.
As Dr. Jenkins points out, "the concerns have been whether soy estrogen might lead to hormone-dependent breast cancer or abnormal sexual development in children, yet we found no evidence to support this."
In another of Dr. Jenkins' studies, people were put on diets high in soy to see how their estrogen levels were affected. Then, the researchers measured estrogen byproducts in their urine. Since estrogen stimulates breast cancer cells to produce a special protein, the researchers measured the amount of this protein produced by each urine sample to calculate how much estrogen was present.
The total estrogenic activity in the urine of women on soy dropped to lower levels than it had been before they ate soy. "This finding suggests that soy may not have the estrogenic effects that were thought to alleviate menopausal symptoms but it refutes claims about its purported hormone risks," Dr. Jenkins says.
The study also demonstrated that soy can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of oxidized cholesterol, which is thought to stick to coronary artery walls and form dangerous plaques. Dr. Jenkins' other research demonstrates that soy consumption reduces cholesterol in general while also decreasing the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body and maintaining the HDL (good) cholesterol. According to Dr. Jenkins, this confirms that soy should be promoted for its important role in preventing heart disease without fear that it will promote cancer.
In another study in China, researchers compared the dietary habits of more than 350 women with breast cancer to the foods eaten by more than 1,000 women who did not have cancer (Amer Assoc Canc Res Second Annual Intl Conf Fron Can Prev Res 10/27/03, Abst 1274). They found that eating large amounts of soy did not raise the risk of breast cancer.
Of course, anyone can develop allergies to almost any food, soy included. If eating soy causes you discomfort, find another source of healthy protein (see box on whey protein above).
Isoflavones, soy's plant estrogens, are believed to create some of the most significant heart-healthy soy benefits. Consequently, researchers urge those concerned about their cardiovascular health to combine a diet high in soy, fruits and vegetables with exercise for the highest level of heart protection. Cheaper than cholesterol drugs, tastier than many other healthy foods and available in so many forms, soy's popularity will certainly continue to explode. Soy burgers, soy drinks and soy just-about-everything will continue to be a big part of our lives.
Recognizing the Signs: Roadmap to a Healthy Heart
June 13, 2005 10:06 AM
Recognizing the Signs: Roadmap to a Healthy Heart by Louis McKinley Energy Times, January 2, 2004
From time immemorial, people have tuned into life's lessons that come from the heart. Sadly, times are changing: If you're like most inhabitants of today's harried world, you may be too distracted to detect important clues about your cardiovascular circumstances.
And while heart lessons may be more complicated than simply connecting the physiological dots, understanding those heart messages are imperative for improving and maintaining your heart health.
Every cell in your body relies on heart-powered blood flow to keep it supplied with nutrients, oxygen, hormones and other natural chemicals necessary for survival. Without that supply of life-giving substances, few cells in the body-including those within the heart itself-can survive very long.
And just as damage to a major roadway can cause mayhem with traffic patterns, damage to blood vessels and the heart can wreak a lumpy cardiovascular havoc that blocks the passage of blood and endangers your heart's well-being.
Your Heart Disease Chances
Within the last ten years, scientific research performed by investigators around the world has focused on the specific factors that most strongly influence your chances of developing heart disease and suffering either a heart attack or a stroke.
While much of your risk depends on your genetic inheritance and family history, several factors that determine your heart health are within your control.
The most important factors you can do something about include:
* Smoking: free radicals generated by burning tobacco causes significant damage to blood vessels and other cells
* Lack of exercise: the human body is designed for consistent, moderate physical activity; without exercise, the body slacks off in creating antioxidant protection for arteries
* Diabetes: when excess blood sugar persists, physiological processes begin that endanger the heart and arteries
* Cholesterol: when oxidized (a chemical process that has been compared to a kind of internal rusting), cholesterol can form artery-blocking plaque; antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and natural vitamin E may help the body limit this process
* High blood pressure: excessive pressure within the blood vessels raises the risk of damage to the heart and arteries; a program of weight loss and exercise can help control blood pressure
* Being overweight: the extra body fat carried around your middle is linked to a greater risk of heart problems
Heart Attack Signs
Do you think you know what a heart attack feels like? Well, if you think it feels like a dramatic pain somewhere in your chest that knocks you to the floor, you're probably wrong. "Most heart attacks do not look at all like what one of my colleagues calls the 'Hollywood' attack-the heart attack you see on television or in the movies," warns Julie Zerwic, MD, professor of surgical nursing who has studied what happens when people develop heart disease and suffer damage to their hearts.
"The symptoms [of heart problems] are not necessarily dramatic. People don't fall down on the floor. They don't always experience a knife-like, very sharp pain. In fact, many people describe the sensation as heaviness and tightness in the chest rather than pain," she says. And, if you're a woman experiencing a heart attack, you may not even feel discomfort specifically in your chest. Instead you may experience a severe shortness of breath. The apparent ambiguity of the discomforts caused by a heart attack lead many people to either ignore them or take hours to realize they need to go to the emergency room at the hospital.
Consequently, much fewer than half of all individuals undergoing a heart attack actually go to a hospital within an hour of the start of the attack. That delay can be a fatal mistake.
"Timing is absolutely critical," laments Dr. Zerwic. "If treatment starts within a hour after the onset of symptoms, drugs that reestablish blood flow through the blocked coronary artery can reduce mortality by as much as 50%. That number drops to 23% if treatment begins three hours later. The goal is to introduce therapy within two hours."
However, in Dr. Zerwic's research, only 35% of non-Hispanic whites go to the hospital within an hour of the start of a heart attack. And among African-Americans, the number of people going to the hospital right away drops to a frighteningly low 13%.
Often, people will lie down or use a heating pad to relieve the tightness they feel in the chest," says Dr. Zerwic. "They may take some medicine and wait to see if that works. All these steps postpone needed treatment."
Signs of a possible heart attack include:
* Chest discomfort: Heart attacks most frequently cause discomfort in the center of the chest that can either go away after a couple of minutes (and come back) or persist. The discomfort may feel like strong pressure, fullness or pain.
* Upper body discomfort: An attack may set off pain or discomfort in either or both arms, and/or the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
* Shortness of breath: Chest discomfort is frequently accompanied by shortness of breath. But it's important to note that shortness of breath can take place even in the absence of chest discomfort.
* Other signs: You can also break out in a cold sweat, or feel nauseated or light-headed.
A Woman's Sleep Signs
If you are a woman who suddenly experiences a marked increase in insomnia and puzzling, intense fatigue, you may be in danger of an imminent heart attack.
In an attempt to understand how women's symptoms of heart problems differ from those of men, researchers talked to more than 500 women in Arkansas, North Carolina and Ohio who had suffered heart attacks. (Technically, what they had experienced is referred to as acute myocardial infarction.)
They found that chest pain prior to a heart attack was only reported by about 30% of the women surveyed.
More common were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances and shortness of breath (Circulation Rapid Access, 11/3/01).
"Since women reported experiencing early warning signs more than a month prior to the heart attack, this [fatigue and sleep problems] could allow time to treat these symptoms and to possibly delay or prevent the heart attack," says researcher Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, nursing professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. In Dr. McSweeney's study, more than nine out of ten women who had heart attacks reported that they had had new, disturbing physical problems more than a month before they had infarctions.
Almost three in four suffered from unusual fatigue, about half had sleep disturbances, while two in five found themselves short of breath.
Other common signs included indigestion and anxiety.
"Women need to be educated that the appearance of new symptoms may be associated with heart disease and that they need to seek medical care to determine the cause of the symptoms, especially if they have known cardiovascular risks such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight or a family history of heart diseases," says Dr. McSweeney.
Dr. McSweeney warns that, until now, little has been known about signs that women are having heart trouble or heart attacks. The fact that most of Western medicine's past attention has been on heart problems in men has obscured the warning signs in women. As part of Dr. McSweeney's studies, she and her fellow researchers have discovered that more than 40% of all women who suffer a heart attack never feel any chest discomfort before or during the attack.
"Lack of significant chest pain may be a major reason why women have more unrecognized heart attacks than men or are mistakenly diagnosed and discharged from emergency departments," she notes. "Many clinicians still consider chest pain as the primary symptom of a heart attack."
Vitamins for Diabetes and Heart Disease
Having diabetes significantly raises your chance of heart disease, which means that keeping your blood sugar levels under control can reduce your chances of suffering a heart attack.
Today, 17 million Americans have diabetes and, as the country's population in general gains weight and fails to exercise, the number of people suffering this problem continues to grow.
The first line of defense against diabetes consists of exercise and weight control. All you have to do is take a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day to drop your chances of diabetes (American Journal of Epidemiology 10/1/03).
"We have found that men and women who incorporate activity into their lifestyles are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who are sedentary. This finding holds no matter what their initial weight," said Andrea Kriska, PhD, professor of epidemiology at University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
To help your body fight the development of diabetes, researchers also recommend vitamin C and natural vitamin E.
Researchers working with lab animals at the University of California at Irvine have found that these antioxidant vitamins can help insulin (the hormone-like substance secreted by the pancreas) reduce harmful blood sugar. In addition, these vitamins shrink the chances of organ damage that can be caused by diabetes (Kidney International 1/03).
In this investigation, these vitamins also helped reduce blood pressure, another risk factor that raises heart disease risk.
"Blood pressure was lowered to normal, and free radicals were not in sufficient numbers to degrade the sugars, proteins and nitric oxide," notes Nick Vaziri, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California. "We think this shows that a diet rich in antioxidants may help diabetics prevent the devastating cardiovascular, kidney, neurological and other damage that are common complications of diabetes."
Free Radical Blues
Dr. Vaziri and his group of researchers found that untreated diabetes raised blood pressure and increased the production of free radicals, caustic molecules that can damage arteries and the heart. Free radicals can change blood sugar and other proteins into harmful substances, boosting tissue and heart destruction.
In Dr. Vaziri's work with lab animals, he found that treating diabetes with insulin lowered blood pressure and helped keep sugar and protein from changing into dangerous chemicals, but allowed the free radicals to subvert nitric oxide, a chemical the body uses to protect itself from free radicals.
In this investigation, adding vitamins C and E to insulin insulated the body's sugars, proteins and nitric oxide from oxidative assault. This produces a double advantage: Lowering the risk of heart disease and other damage to the body from diabetes.
Maitake, an Oriental mushroom that has been shown to have many health benefits, can also be useful for people with diabetes who are trying to avoid cardiovascular complications. Laboratory studies in Japan demonstrate that maitake may help lower blood pressure while reducing cholesterol (Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 1997; 20(7):781-5). In producing these effects, the mushroom may also help the body reduce blood sugar levels and decrease the risk of tissue damage.
Tobacco smoke is one of the most notorious causes of heart problems. In the same way a hard frost exerts a death grip on a highway, the smoke from cigarettes can freeze up arteries and hamper their proper function. A healthy artery must stay flexible to comfortably allow adequate circulation.
But "...when blood vessels are exposed to cigarette smoke it causes the vessels to behave like a rigid pipe rather than a flexible tube, thus the vessels can't dilate in response to increased blood flow," says David J. Bouchier-Hayes, MD, professor of surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who has studied the deleterious effects of tobacco.
This rigidity is called endothelial dysfunction. When arteries are rigid, blockages gum up vessels, clots and other impediments to blood flow appear, and your risk of heart attack and stroke increases (Circulation 2001 Nov 27; 104(22):2673).
This condition can also cause chest pain (angina) similar to that caused by a heart attack, and should be evaluated by a knowledgeable health practitioner.
Although all experts recommend you stop smoking to lower your heart disease risk, some studies have found that Pycnogenol(r), a pine bark extract that helps the body fight inflammation, may ease some of smoking's ill effects.
In a study of platelets, special cells in the blood that can form dangerous blood clots, researchers found that Pycnogenol(r) discouraged platelets from sticking together (American Society for Biochemical and Molecular Biology 5/19/98). By keeping platelets flowing freely, this supplement may alleviate some of the heart-threatening clots that tobacco smoke can cause.
In Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional therapy from India, an herb called guggul has also been used to lower the risk of blockages in arteries. This herb, derived from the resin of the mukul tree, has been shown to reduce cholesterol by about 25%. People taking this herb have also reduced their triglycerides (harmful blood fats) by the same amount (Journal Postgraduate Medicine 1991 37(3):132).
The Female Version of Heart Disease
For one thing, women often don't suffer from the crushing chest pain that for most people characterizes a heart attack; instead, many women experience back pain, sweating, extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, anxiety or indigestion, signs that can be easily misread as digestive troubles, menopausal symptoms or indicators of aging.
The genders also differ in how heart disease poses a threat. While men seem most endangered by the buildup of blockages in arteries, women apparently are more at risk from endothelial dysfunction. But more study needs to be done since, in many cases, researchers have been unable to pin down the precise mechanism that causes many women to die of heart disease.
Scientists have found that the number of women in their 30s and 40s who are dying from sudden cardiac arrest is growing much faster than the number of men of the same age who die of this cause. But research by the Oregon Health & Sciences University and Jesse E. Edwards Cardiovascular Registry in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows that while doctors can pinpoint the coronary blockages that kill men, they can't find specific blockages in half of the female fatalities they have studied (American Heart Journal 10/03).
"This was an unexpected finding. However, the study underscores the need to focus on what is causing these younger women to die unexpectedly because the number of deaths continues to increase," says Sumeet Chugh, MD, a medical professor at Oregon.
Since the failure of arteries to relax probably contributes to heart disease in many women, eating red berries, or consuming supplements from berries such as chokeberry, bilberry or elderberry, may be important in lowering women's heart disease risk. These fruits help arteries expand and allow blood to flow freely.
Red berries are rich sources of flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocynanins. The anthocyanins are strong antioxidants that give the berries their color. Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine have found that these chemicals can interact with nitrous oxide, a chemical produced by the body, to relax blood vessels (Experimental Biology conference 5/20/02).
As researchers work to devise lifestyle roadmaps that can steer you around the perils of heart disease, they are finding that exercise is a key path to avoiding cardiovascular complications.
A 17-year study of about 10,000 Americans found that those who exercised and kept their weight down (or took weight off and kept it off) experienced a significantly lower risk of heart problems (Preventive Medicine 11/03).
"The fact is that those who both exercised more and ate more nevertheless had low cardiovascular mortality," says Jing Fang, MD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York. Burning calories in physical activity may be the secret to reducing heart disease risk and living longer, she says.
Dr. Fang's research used information collected from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 1975 and then computed how much people exercised, how their body mass indices varied and which of these folks died of heart disease during the next two decades.
In the study, more than 1,500 people died of heart disease. Those who worked out and consumed more calories cut their risk of heart disease death in half.
Exercise Is Essential
"Subjects with the lowest caloric intake, least physical activity, and who were overweight or obese had significantly higher cardiovascular mortality rates than those with high caloric intake, most physical activity, and normal weight," Dr. Fang notes. The individuals in the study who were overweight and didn't exercise had a bigger risk of heart disease even if they tried (and succeeded) at eating less.
"This suggests that heart disease outcome was not determined by a single factor, but rather by a compound of behavioral, socioeconomic, genetic and clinical characteristics," according to Dr. Fang.
According to researchers, if your job requires a great deal of physical activity, your health will be better if you get another job. Exercise on the job not only doesn't decrease your risk of heart disease, it may actually raise it. The reason: On-the-job activity is linked to heart-endangering increases in job stress.
Research into this subject, performed at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, found that while recreational exercise slowed hardening of the arteries, workers who had to exert themselves during the workday had arteries that were blocked at a younger age (American Journal of Medicine 7/03).
In this study, researchers examined about 500 middle-aged employees as part of what is called the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study.
"We found that atherosclerosis progressed significantly faster in people with greater stress, and people who were under more stress also were the ones who exercised more in their jobs," says James Dwyer, PhD, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School. According to Dr. Dwyer, "This suggests that the apparent harmful effect of physical activity at work on atherosclerosis-and heart disease risk-may be due to the tendency of high-activity jobs to be more stressful in modern workplaces.
"It appears from our findings that the psychological stresses associated with physically active jobs overcomes any biological benefit of the activity itself."
On the other hand, the scientists found that heart disease drops dramatically among those who exercise the most in their spare time. In the study, people who vigorously worked out at least three times a week had the lowest risk. But even those who just took walks enjoyed better heart health than people whose most strenuous activity was working the TV remote. Dr. Dwyer says, "These results are important because they demonstrate the very substantial and almost immediate-within one or two years-cardiovascular benefit of greater physical activity."
Lowering your risk of heart disease is substantially up to you. Listen to what your heart tells you it needs; then, exercise your right to fetch some cardiovascular necessities.
Hidden In Plain Sight - The spreading epidemic: Diabetes.
June 12, 2005 06:02 PM
Hidden In Plain Sight by Carl Lowe Energy Times, October 7, 2003
Today, a devastating disease is striking millions of Americans. Sixteen million Americans already have this disease, and every day another 2,200 Americans learn they have it. The spreading epidemic: Diabetes.
The potential ramifications: Millions of people more susceptible to heart disease, dementia, infections, amputations and blindness. Lowering your risk for diabetes is relatively simple and terribly important. Because dealing with some of its effects once you are its victim can be much more complicated.
Signs of Trouble
"Approximately one in four individuals over the age of 60 has type 2 diabetes, which is a remarkable statistic," says Gerald Shulman, MD, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale University. "And, if you add impaired glucose tolerance [a condition that often leads to diabetes], you're talking about 40% of the population."
The economic burden of this epidemic is staggering, estimated at about $100 billion a year and growing.
If you never exercise, carry around a substantial amount of stomach fat and have seen your weight climb significantly over the years, you are among the people at higher risk for diabetes.
These lifestyle habits eventually render your body unable to efficiently process blood sugar. In technical terms, researchers investigating how the body uses and misuses blood sugar have identified what they have called "syndrome X" or "metabolic syndrome," a condition that puts you at high risk for both diabetes and heart disease.
If you have three or more of the following signs, you now have metabolic syndrome and, unless you change the way you live, may eventually suffer diabetes (Circulation 7/14/03):
* Fat around your middle
* High blood pressure
* High triglycerides (blood fats)
* Low level of HDL ("good" cholesterol)
* High fasting blood sugar
In a study of more than 6,000 men in Scotland, having three of these metabolic problems almost doubled the risk of heart disease and more than tripled the risk of diabetes. If you have four of these risk factors, your risk of heart disease just about quadruples, and your diabetes risk skyrockets almost 25 times.
The cells in your body get the energy they need to survive when they take sugar out of your blood and oxidize it along with fatty acids. Normally, insulin, a hormone-like substance released by the pancreas, speeds the absorption of blood sugar by the cells. When your pancreas cannot make insulin at all or makes too little, you suffer what is called type 1 or juvenile diabetes. This condition is usually treated by taking insulin.
But if your pancreas secretes what should be enough insulin for glucose absorption, and your cells are still unable to take sufficient sugar from your blood, you have what is called type 2 or adult-onset diabetes.
Understanding exactly why cells develop difficulties in taking sugar out of the blood and using it for energy has long troubled medical investigators. This condition, before it develops into full-blown diabetes, is called insulin resistance. Researchers have now linked it to malfunctioning mitochondria, the little structures in cells that make the energy that keeps cells functioning.
Scientists have long known that, as you age, you become more susceptible to diabetes. And when researchers compare the mitochondria in young people with those found in the cells of the elderly, they find that older mitochondria are more sluggish.
The mitochondria within the cells oxidize glucose and fatty acids to make energy. (They accomplish this in a complicated metabolic action called the Krebs cycle.) Difficulty with this process, or insulin resistance, can occur when fat and fatty acid waste products accumulate in your liver and muscle tissue.
"We hypothesized that there were two routes to this type of fat accumulation," says Dr. Shulman. "One is that the fat cells might release more fatty acids to be delivered to muscles and/or defects in mitochondrial oxidation might then lead to the accumulation of these fatty acids."
Research confirms that fatty molecules probably collect in muscle cells because the mitochondria's ability to burn fat breaks down over the years. On average, mitochondrial activity dips about 40% in older people.
Dr. Shulman thinks that the final coup de grace in the development of diabetes from insulin resistance takes place when the mitochondria malfunction in the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
Although Dr. Shulman says that more research is needed to understand why mitochondrial function slips with age, he recommends keeping your mitochondria from slacking off by exercising. Studies now show that regular physical activity can probably increase the mitochondria in your muscles by activating release of an enzyme called AMP kinase. "...an encouraging note in this study is that-since we've shown that exercise leads to more mitochondria by activation of [the enzyme] AMP kinase-by staying active, the elderly might...maintain mitochondrial content and head off such health problems," says Dr. Shulman. "This is yet another reason for seniors to maintain an active lifestyle," he adds.
Maitake for Metabolic Syndrome
Another natural way to fight the metabolic syndrome is with an extract of the maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa). The extract, called sx-fraction, is attracting research investigating its ability to help the body manage blood sugar more efficiently. In one study, five people with diabetes improved their blood sugar levels with sx-fraction (Diab Med 2001; 18).
This research found that taking maitake sx-fraction is often accompanied by drops in blood glucose levels ranging from 30% to 63%. According to Mark Kaylor, PhD and Ken Babal, CN, in Syndrome X and SX-Fraction (Woodland), "...Studies have demonstrated that whole maitake or its fractions are potent agents for improving 'diabetic conditions.'"
Take the Whole Grains Home
Eating a daily dish of whole grains, like whole wheat and brown rice, can also reduce your risk of diabetes (AJCN 8/22/03). In a twelve-year study of more than 40,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75, researchers found that those who ate three servings of whole grains a day cut their risk in half.
The researchers found that even overweight people lowered their chances of diabetes by eating whole grains and exercising.
Consuming more magnesium also helped; whole grains contain amounts of this mineral missing in refined-grain foodstuffs. Magnesium improves insulin response.
In an age of junk food, our simple taste for sugar and refined grains may threaten our health. Yet, your defense against this scourge is no further away than simply eating more fibrous foods and going for a simple, everyday walk.