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Why Your Sodium to Potassium Ratio Is Important
August 04, 2023 02:09 PM
The typical Western diet is largely comprised of processed foods, which are notoriously high in processed table salt. This results in an imbalance in the sodium to potassium ratio, a significant health concern. Sodium is necessary for a variety of bodily functions; however, too much can be detrimental, leading to hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Simultaneously, potassium is often neglected, despite its crucial role in muscle function, nerve signaling, and balancing fluids.
The general dietary advice suggests a potassium to sodium intake ratio of 3:1. However, the reality in diets, particularly those in America, often sees this ratio inverted. The excessive sodium consumption is linked to a myriad of health complications, including high blood pressure and heart disease. Conversely, potassium, a mineral that aids in nerve function and muscle control, is consumed in insufficient quantities. This is a troubling trend that underscores the importance of dietary change towards natural, unprocessed foods.
The importance of potassium is often overshadowed by the emphasis on limiting sodium for reducing chronic disease risk factors. Potassium plays an essential role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels by counteracting the effects of sodium. Furthermore, the mineral is crucial for other functions like heart and muscle cell functioning, nerve transmission, and maintaining fluid balance.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered that individuals with the lowest risk for heart complications or death from any cause were those consuming between four to six grams of sodium per day. This is a fascinating discovery, as this intake is significantly higher than the U.S. daily recommended limits. It suggests a need for a reconsideration of current sodium intake guidelines.
Another consideration to balance the sodium-potassium ratio is the type of salt consumed. Unprocessed, natural salts like sea salt and Himalayan salt contain higher potassium levels compared to standard table salt. These natural salts provide a variety of minerals and trace elements that contribute to our overall health and wellness. It's crucial to note that switching to natural salt should be part of a broader shift towards a diet rich in fresh, unprocessed foods.
Why You Should Focus on Increasing Potassium
While it's beneficial to monitor and moderate sodium intake, it's equally important to shift our focus towards increasing potassium consumption. Potassium-rich foods, such as leafy green vegetables, bananas, potatoes, and beans, not only contribute to a well-rounded and nutritious diet but also help in maintaining an optimal sodium-potassium balance in the body. A high potassium intake can counteract the effects of sodium, aiding in blood pressure regulation and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, an elevated potassium level supports various bodily functions, including nerve transmission, muscle contraction, and fluid balance. Thus, prioritizing potassium intake forms a cornerstone for an overall healthier dietary approach. It is recommended that individuals consume 5 grams of potassium daily and potassium to salt ratio should be 2 to 1. To boost potassium intake, one can take a potassium supplement or add the following foods to their diet or both: Watermelon, Orange juice, Boiled red potatoes, Avocado, Bananas, Cantaloupe, Oranges, Coconut water, Tomatoes, Yogurt, Winter squash, and Wild-caught salmon.
Why Low-Salt Advice Can Be Harmful
Contrary to popular belief, adhering to low-salt advice can sometimes pose risks to certain individuals. While it is true that excessive sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems, sodium still plays a vital role in our bodies. It assists in nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and maintaining the body's fluid balance.
In fact, low sodium levels in the body, a condition known as hyponatremia, can lead to symptoms such as headache, nausea, fatigue, and in severe cases, coma or even death. Moreover, a low-salt diet may lead to increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. This can potentially elevate the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Low-salt diets can also exacerbate the risk of certain health conditions. For instance, individuals with conditions like Addison's disease or certain kidney disorders, where the body struggles to maintain a balance of electrolytes, might find a low-salt diet harmful.
Therefore, it is crucial to balance the intake of sodium, considering both the potential risks associated with too much, or too little, sodium. The key is to consume sodium from natural and unprocessed sources, such as Himalayan salt, fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats, which also provide a host of other nutrients necessary for overall health. As with most things in nutrition, moderation and balance seem to hold the answer rather than extreme restriction. The RDA - recommended daily allowance of sodium is 3.5 grams. It is advised to consume 3.5 grams of natural salt each day by way of foods or combination of foods plus Himalayan salt to reach that goal.
The Impact of Excessive Salt Intake on Certain Health Conditions
While moderate salt intake is vital for normal physiological functions, its excessive consumption can have detrimental effects, particularly for individuals with certain health conditions. For instance, endocrine disorders, high aldosterone levels, Cushing's syndrome, and elevated cortisol levels can all heighten the body's sensitivity to sodium, making it even more essential to monitor and limit salt intake.
Endocrine disorders, which involve imbalances in the body's hormone production, can often lead to increased sodium retention, exacerbating issues of water retention and swelling. Similarly, high aldosterone levels, a hormone that regulates sodium and potassium balance, can cause the body to retain excessive sodium, leading to high blood pressure and potential damage to the cardiovascular system.
Cushing's syndrome, a condition characterized by excessive cortisol production, can lead to a host of symptoms, including high blood pressure and rapid weight gain, both of which can be intensified by high sodium intake. The excessive cortisol found in Cushing's syndrome promotes sodium retention, further elevating the risk for hypertension.
Similarly, elevated cortisol levels, even outside of Cushing's syndrome, can lead to heightened sodium retention, contributing to high blood pressure, fluid retention, and an imbalance of electrolytes. Therefore, individuals with these conditions should be particularly mindful of their sodium intake.
In these scenarios, reducing salt consumption can help mitigate the associated health risks and symptoms. Switching to a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, and taking conscious steps to limit the use of added table salt can play a crucial role in managing these health conditions. As always, it is essential to seek personalized advice from a healthcare professional, as individual needs may vary.
In summary, while salt is often villainized in the health community, its consumption, especially from natural sources, is vital for maintaining bodily functions like nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and fluid balance. However, excessive or inadequate sodium intake can have adverse health effects, such as hypertension, imbalances in cholesterol and triglycerides, and even hyponatremia in severe cases. Certain health conditions, including endocrine disorders, high aldosterone levels, Cushing's syndrome, and elevated cortisol levels, can also exacerbate these risks, making it crucial for individuals with these conditions to carefully monitor their salt intake. On the other hand, increasing potassium intake can help maintain an optimal sodium-potassium balance, reducing blood pressure and lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases. In a nutshell, moderation and balance are key in sodium consumption, but the emphasis should be on consuming more potassium-rich foods to ensure your potassium intake is higher than sodium levels which will ensure a healthier dietary approach.
This Is What Happens To Your Body After Eating Watermelon!!
August 12, 2017 05:14 AM
Watermelon is one of those fruits that makes summer what it truly is, and if you are like most people, you enjoy eating it on a regular basis when it is in season. But, do you know what happens to the body when you consume Watermelon? If you do not know, maybe the time to learn has come. It might very well surprise you to learn what happens to the body after you eat Watermelon.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icSucKKjbnw&rel=0
"As it's name implies, Watermelon is made up of water-92% to be exact."
Top 7 Foods That Fight High Blood Pressure Naturally
July 23, 2017 05:14 AM
High blood pressure can be dangerous. Hypertension is when it gets really high and that's a real concern for many. This gives examples of foods which can help fight it, though, so there's hope. High blood pressure can be caused by stress. Many people have it for this reason. It would e easy enough to add these foods to your diet even if you can't do much about your stressers. All you have to do is find recipes you like which contain the ingredients, but watch your salt intake since that is counterproductive.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yBxbacWL0s&rel=0
"For millions of people, blood pressure can reach dangerously high levels."
8 Heart Healthy Foods You Need Every Day
February 24, 2017 02:59 PM
What you eat has a huge effect on your body. Food can do a lot for your body. While there is food you should eat, there are a few that should be consumed every day. Yogurt, Watermelon and tomatoe are just a few of the so called super foods you should be eating every day.
"While many people are enamored by Valentine’s Day, health experts take the time to remind us that we need to take care of our heart. One way is to start eating heart healthy foods."
Reduce blood pressure in overweight individuals by consuming watermelon both at rest and under ...
November 15, 2016 02:59 PM
Watermelon is being tested as a new tool in the fight to lower blood pressure. There are already some really great ways to help reduce blood pressure. Quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine consumption can really help lower blood pressure, and exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can also help. In addition, cutting down on salt and lowering our sugar intake are some of the first things doctors prescribe to help fight high blood pressure. It seems Watermelon may now be another tool to add to the arsenal.
"A study has shown that blood pressure in overweight individuals can be reduced by consuming Watermelon both at rest and under stress"
What are the Benefits of Jiaogulan
July 10, 2014 08:20 PM
What is a jiaogulan
Jiaogulan is also known as Gynostemma pentaphyllum is an adaptogenic herb and the vine from the Cucurbitacea family of plants that grows naturally in Asia, and most specifically in China, Japan as well as in Korea. This plant is related to plants such as the Watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber as well as to the gourds. Praised in China as xiancao, the Jiaogulan herb is an incredibly useful life giving plant, the herb of immortality with a powerful adaptogenic capabilities and antioxidant properties. Its adaptogenic capability is derived from its components and substances that aids in revitalization thus bringing the whole body back into balance.
Benefits of jiaogulan
Generally, this plant offers numerous health related benefits with minimal side effects. To Begin with its adaptogenic capabilities, not only helps the body to resist the effects of a stressful conditions, but it also promotes the condition known as homeostasis which helps the body to achieve a state of balance through by regulating various and numerous internal body process. To be more specific, the Jiaogulan herb has adaptogen properties that address both the excess output and the deficiency in the body immune and the endocrine systems. Basically, the adaptogens and the saponins in this plant not only aids the body to regulate itself, which is indeed a key factor in the prevention of diseases and defects such as diabetes, stroke, insomnia, cancer, heart attack, hypertension, atherosclerosis, hormonal imbalance as well as prevention of the high blood pressure, aiding in the proper function of the cardiovascular as well as helping to regulate the cholesterol level in the body among many more.Additionally, Jiaogulan has some collective chemical compounds known as gypenosides.These gypenosides compounds offer protection against free radical elements and thus against oxidative stress within the brain, which are known to be the main trigger of the Parkinson disease. Their antioxidant capability improves immunity, reduces the effects of aging and speeds the rate of muscle recovery. This herb also has the capability to release nitric oxide, which helps to relax the body blood vessels, its antioxidant compounds ensures you leave free of the radical compound hence your longevity. If you need to build your body mass, muscles,your strength as well as to reduce fatigue, then this herb will be so suitable for you. Finally, the the Gynostemma also has important minerals, vitamins,amino acid and traces of minerals, which of course is generally essential to the body.
What Is Glutathione Good For?
April 14, 2012 08:03 AM
What is Glutathione?
Glutathione (GSH)is a tripeptide derived from non-proteinaceous amino acids. Contains apeptide bond between the group unusual amino of the cysteine group and the carboxylside chain of glutamate. Glutathione, an antioxidant, helps protect cells from reactive species of oxygen such as free radicals and peroxides. Glutathione is nucleophilic at sulfuracceptors and conjugated electrophilic attack poisonous. Groups thiolare maintained in a reduced state to a concentration of about ~ 5 mM in animal cells. Indeed, glutathione reduces any link disulfideformed with in proteins cytoplasmic cysteines by acting as a donor of electrons.In the process, glutathione is converted to its oxidized form glutathione disulfide (GSSG). Glutathione is found almost exclusively in its reduced form, since the enzyme that turns its oxidized form, glutathione reductase,is constitutively active and inducible to oxidative stress.In fact, the ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione in cells is often used scientifically as a measure of cellular toxicity. H2O2+ GSSG + 2 ------- 2GSH H2O.
Advantages of the Glutathione
Before discussing the benefits of L-Glutathione, let's first talk a little about the nutrient. Glutathione is an antioxidant enzyme dominant which is soluble in water.It is absorbed mainly in the liver.It helps fight against free radical damage.The free radical damage is harmful relatives. Glutathione is involved in a variety of other functions in the body.
The function of Glutathione - Benefits of Glutathione
Glutathione works in DNA synthesis and repair, protein and prostaglandin synthesis, and amino acid transport.It helps in the metabolism of carcinogens and toxins.Immune system is improved through the use of Glutathione, and contributes to the prevention of cellular oxidative damage, and activation of enzymes. Glutathione also helps and maintains the functions of other antioxidants.
There is the possibility of a deficiency of glutathione. It usually occurs during aging.For example, it is seen in macular degeneration related to age, diabetes, and lung and gastrointestinal diseases. It may be the cause of pre-eclampsia, Parkinson's, AIDS and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Where to get Glutathione
Some sources of glutathione include fruits such as tomatoes, Watermelon, grapefruit, oranges, peaches and cantaloupe.It is found in vegetables such as avocados, potatoes, spinach, okra, acorn squash, and asparagus.It is found in most meats as well. Other sources of vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, parsley, and not only provide GSH - glutathione peroxidase, but it also stimulates the body to make more BA.Since cooking destroys much of glutathione, you will get more to eat raw or steamed vegetables for the best benefits of Glutathione.
Reduced glutathione is in a supplementation that we personally use a company called source naturals a Natural Product meeting the above requirements.The nutrient content in their signature product - Total Balance.
How Does Lycopene Help Improve Prostate Health?
August 18, 2011 10:16 AM
Lycopene is a bright red carotenoid pigment and phytochemical found in tomatoes and other red fruits and veggies, like red carrots, Watermelons and papayas however not strawberries. Although most chemical carotenes has vitamin A activity, lycopene does not. Lycopene is an essential intermediate in the biosynthesis of many carotenoids and in algae, plants, and other photosynthetic organisms.
A term that describes a large range of more about 600 pigments which give plants their red, orange or yellow colouring is carotenoid. Some of the most commonly known in a regular Western region diets are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.
Attention has been paid most to alpha-carotene and beta-carotene since these are the ones that can be synthesized by our body to form vitamin A, one of the body’s very powerful antioxidants.
Lycopene, in particular, is has even been credited with some of the many anti-oxidant functions previously credited to beta-carotene.
Prostate cancer is most common among men over the age of 50. The cause of this type of cancer, like almost all other cancers, is unknown, but some studies indicate alteration in testosterone metabolism possibly plays a role in its development. Prostate cancer generally grows slowly and can be undetected until late in the stage of the decease since it does not show any symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms can include painful urination, a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder, or blood showing with the urine. According to some studies prostate cancer patients that supplement with lycopene in addition to surgical procedures to remove the testicles may experience, less bone pain, and live longer than those who does not supplement.
It has also shown that groups of patient that were tested with lycopene supplementation has a higher survival rate after a time frame of two years and no adverse side effects were observed in these men as well. This is achieved through lycopenes proven role in keeping the pathways open between cells which is vital in allowing the immune system to hold off cancer cells in its early stages. Although more research is still required to iron out what exact amount of lycopene will be most effective, the current results are already encouraging. However eating a moderately sized tomato a day can approximately provide 4 mg of lycopene and other tomato products, like an 8-ounce tomato juice or tomato paste provides up to 15 mg of lycopene just to give all the men out there an estimate. These are small portions of the diet that could easily be added without any major adverse effect to weight or health and seems too small to ignore given the possible benefits and minimal negative effects if any.
Additional Lycopene Benefits
It also has been found that lycopene can possibly as important as beta-carotene in protecting against the process of oxidation of Low Density Lipids (LDLs), also known as the “bad cholesterol”, which is now held to be the main cause of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries which leads to cardio-vascular diseases like stroke or heart attack.
Grab Some Lycopene today and experience the benefits for yourself!
Can Lycopene Help with Prostate Problems
May 09, 2011 11:14 AM
Lycopene and The Prostate.
Lycopene is an organic compound often associated with tomatoes. It is almost always touted to prevent prostate cancer, though the scientific community has not come to a conclusion yet. Scientists are nevertheless positive that it is good for the prostate, for it displays antiproliferative effects on prostate cells. Laboratory studies are very promising as it appears to inhibitory effect on tumor growth.
Prostate health has long been tied to consumptions of foods rich in lycopene. It is a carotenoid that is bright red in color, and as such can easily be obtained from brightly colored plant products, such as Watermelon, papaya, pink guava, and apricots in addition to tomatoes. Like other carotenoids, it displays antioxidant properties. In fact, it is the most efficient scavenger of singlet oxygen of all antioxidants that are classified as carotenoids.
Reverses Oxidative Damage
There have been numerous studies on lycopene in the past few decades, and many of them have noted its antioxidant potential. It has become common knowledge that lycopene is good for the prostate, but not all people know that the prostate gland is its primary storage in the human body. Indeed lycopene interferes with the health of cells and tissues that make up the prostate gland.
One study that tracked down malignant prostate tissues prior to scheduled surgical removal studied the effects of regular intake of lycopene. It was documented and published that lycopene concentrations in the prostate doubled and the oxidative damage to DNA in prostate tissues decreased, suggesting a dose-related efficiency in the prevention of cellular damage brought on by free radicals and other reactive oxygen species.
Induces Apoptotic Death
High consumptions of lycopene appear to directly counteract with cancer cells and tumor growth, not only in the prostate gland, but also in the lungs, breasts, ovaries, stomach, and cervix. It has also been tied to other disorders of the prostate, such as prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. It has been noted to slow down cell proliferation that leads to the enlargement of the prostate.
More imporatantly, lycopene seems capable of inducing the cellular process called apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in prostate tissues, most notably in carcinoma regions. This is also evidenced by a significant decrease in prostate-specific antigen in the blood, the reason why lycopene has gained the attention of researchers for prostate health, spurring a number of studies in recent years.
Maintains Prostate Health
Lycopene levels in the human body are largely dependent on dietary intake. As a general rule, the higher the intake of lycopene is, the healthier the prostate becomes. First, it neutralizes reactive oxygen species such as singlet oxygen and free radicals. It also inhibits the multiplication of prostate cells, effectively preventing benign prostatic hyperplasia, which is believed to afflict up to 80 percent of the male population. For those suffering from prostate enlargement, it slows the progression of the disease.
If you are, 40 years old or more you should consider taking lycopene as a preventative daily!
Lycopene is More than Just a Tomato Extract!
February 08, 2011 04:38 PM
Lycopene is a naturally occurring antioxidant, and a very powerful one at that. Like beta-carotene, it is a carotenoid, a phytochemical that gives certain plants their orange or bright red pigmentation. While lycopene belongs to a group of carotenoids called carotene, known precursors of vitamin A, it does not get converted into vitamin A inside the human body, which is not a bad thing, inasmuch as lycopene in itself exhibits antioxidant properties that surpass the effects of vitamins.
Tomatoes are very rich in lycopene, and indeed consumptions of tomatoes have been reported to show the antioxidant properties of lycopene. Papayas, pink guavas, and Watermelons are also good sources of this compound, but the plant source identified to have the highest concentrations of lycopene is Gac, in English also known as Sweet Gourd, a bright red fruit native to Southeast Asia and largely unknown to the rest of the world. With that, a significant fraction of the total lycopene consumption worldwide is derived from tomatoes.
Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)
Chemical reactions in the human body that respond to the presence of oxygen are part of a process called oxidation, which takes place everywhere else in nature. These reactions entail a change in the oxidation number of atoms or molecules involved in the movement of electrons between molecules inside the body, giving rise to toxic by-products collectively known as reactive oxygen species.
When cells produce the energy that they use to power their physiological functions, they also produce reactive oxygen species, or ROS, which is now believed to be a key factor in the progression of physical infirmities associated with the aging process of human beings and other mammals. That being said, ROS are actually in the employ of the immune system, and particularly effective against pathogens, which may be invasive extracellular matter or harmful microorganisms.
Every single cell make use of enzymes that change the chemical makeup of unnecessary ROS, which must always be kept in check as they damage cells even at low amounts. These enzymes outmaneuver the damaging activities of ROS, thereby protecting the cells. In spite of that, the human body is known to produce more ROS as we age or during long-standing exposure to stress.
Lycopene versus ROS
One type of ROS is singlet oxygen, a form of oxygen that is highly reactive to free radicals. In fact, singlet oxygen is a known catalyst of free radicals especially when it gets excited at the molecular level. Lycopene is the best known carotenoid to counter the damaging effects of singlet oxygen in the human body, and reported to have antioxidant properties far superior to vitamin E and glutathione.
The good thing about lycopene is that its bioavailability compounds when exposed to heat, so cooking tomatoes actually brings out the goodness of this chemical compound. Lycopene acts against the proliferation of cancer cells in a number of mechanisms, and, to date, there have been innumerable reports in support of the role of lycopene against most known types of cancer.
Have you had your Lycopene today?
Detoxify With L-Citrulline
April 13, 2009 03:51 PM
L-citrulline is an alpha-amino acid, first isolated from the Watermelon in 1930: hence the name, citrullis being Latin for that fruit, the skin of which is rich in the substance. It is used to enhance performance in sports, particularly through aiding recovery after exercise, and also helps the liver to detoxify the blood.
It is not an essential amino acid in that it is produced by the body and need not be part of your diet. It is a precursor to arginine, which involves the sustained release of nitric oxide in the endothelium that promotes increased flow of blood and the blood vessels as described further below. One of the biochemical pathways for its biosynthesis involves the urea cycle, whereby the toxic ammonia is detoxified into an easily excreted form through its conversion to urea.
The urea cycle consists of five reactions, and citrulline is formed in the second of these. In the first of these, ammonia reacts with bicarbonate to form carbamoyl phosphate, the phosphate coming from the two molecule of ATP used to energize the reaction. These are converted to adenosine diphosphate (ADP), and the carbamoyl phosphate then reacts with ornithine to form citrulline, which takes part in step three that eventually leads to the formation of urea.
The second way in which L-citrulline can be biosynthesized is from the oxidation of arginine, a natural amino acid. Arginine is oxidized into N-hydroxyarginine, and then into L-citrulline with the release of nitric oxide.
So that's how it is produced in the body, but how does it help sportsmen, and what part does it play in detoxification? Its effect on recovery after exercise is connected with blood flow. Energy is created in the mitochondria that are contained in every cell off the body. Among the raw materials needed for the production of energy are glucose and oxygen: glucose obtained from the carbohydrates in your diet, and oxygen transported by the hemoglobin or red blood cells.
Both of these rely on blood flow: greater the volume of blood transported to the cells then the greater the ability of these cells to produce energy. During periods of exercise, a good supply of blood is required to provide the raw materials needed for the energy demand of the muscles involved in the exercise. Not only that however, but recovery after exercise involves the replacement of electrolytes, the glycogen used in extensive aerobic and anaerobic exercise and protein replacement, particularly where catabolism has occurred.
In order to supply these raw materials at an adequate rate, it is necessary for the flow of blood to the appropriate muscles to be sufficient. A major restriction to increase blood flow is elasticity of the blood vessels and cells. Although a healthy heart is capable of providing the necessary quantities of blood, and hence of nutrients, any restriction to the flow could cause dangerously high blood pressure.
Nitric oxide plays a signaling role in enlarging blood vessels to allow an increased blood flow when it is needed by the body. It can provide more blood to the stomach during digestion and to the muscles during exercise and recovery.
During hard exercise, nitric oxide can act as a pump that provides blood during exercise and also during recovery. It can therefore provide more rapid gains in lean mass, increased endurance and faster muscle recovery. The way it does this is to send a signal to the smooth muscles to relax; smooth muscles such as those found in veins and arteries, so resulting in vasodilation therefore allowing increased blood flow.
It is the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels, which uses the nitric oxide to provide the relaxation signal to the smooth muscles surrounding it. In fact, it is the effect of nitric oxide that enables those living at high altitudes to develop increased stamina and speed over those at lower altitudes, and find more world records seem to be broken during athletics meetings, such as Olympic Games, held at high altitudes. This is because the production of nitric acid is increased at higher altitudes with slightly lower oxygen levels. This is the same effect that is used by vasodilators such as amyl nitrite and Viagra that work by increasing nitric oxide levels in the smooth muscle wall of the blood vessels.
It should not be surprising therefore, that L-citrulline should work in a similar way, since it is intimately involved in the production of nitric oxide. Although this is now generally understood, what part does supplemental citrulline play in the body if it is a non-essential amino acid?
Supplemental L-citrulline is useful in supporting the detoxification of ammonia in the liver when supplies of ornithine carbamoyl transferase is naturally in short supply. This is the enzyme that catalyzes the reaction between ornithine and carbamoyl phosphate to form citrulline. Supplements can then help in the removal of ammonia from the blood, and also provide material for the continued production of nitric oxide support muscular activity and its recovery after exercise.
Ammonia itself is a by-product of intensive exercise, and without the urea cycle the body would rapidly become polluted. It is a very toxic product, and causes the death of thousands of people each year. This is generally in people who suffer liver and kidney disease, and the ammonia can be broken down and excreted.
Your brain cells are particularly sensitive to ammonia, and as levels increase the effect progressively ranges from drowsiness thru tremors to coma and eventual death. Any condition, therefore, that reduces the body's capability of metabolizing ammonia is potentially very serious, and any supplement that can help prevent this is valuable.
L-citrulline is believed to help in such situations, although any condition affecting the efficiency of the kidneys or liver and that can cause toxicity due to ammonia or any other toxic substance, should be referred to your physician. It is for its effect in increasing blood flow to provide sufficient raw material, for both the energy needed for high levels of exercise and for muscle recovery, that citrulline is predominantly used as a supplement.
June 19, 2008 12:48 PM
The B vitamins are integral to body growth and development. They play a great part in the activities of enzymes that regulate chemical reactions in our body. Different B vitamins exist in various animal and plant foods. Examples of some of these are cereals and whole grains, pork, seafood, eggs and liver. They are also in dairy products, dried beans, chicken, Watermelon and grapefruit to name a few among the many sources. Supplements are another great way to ingest B vitamins.
These vitamins consist of a group of eight water-soluble nutrients:
* B1 – Thiamine * B2 – Riboflavin * B3 – Niacin * B5 – Pantothenic Acid * B6 – Pyridoxine * B7 – Biotin * B9 – Folic Acid, Folate * B12 – Cobalamin
When the body takes in these B vitamins, it uses them in different ways. The body uses B1 and B2 to affect enzymes (proteins) that have an influence on muscles and nerves. When B1, thiamin, enters the system, the body uses it to help convert glucose into energy. It uses B2 to help repair hair, skin and nails. Vitamin B3 helps maintain skin health and digestive functions. This vitamin also helps maintain the health of the body's nervous system. Vitamin B5 affects the body's normal growth and development overall.
The body uses B6 to break down protein and to maintain the health of the red blood cells. It also uses this kind of B vitamin to keep the nervous system and components of the immune system healthy. The B7 vitamin helps the body produce hormones. It also helps it break down carbohydrates and proteins. The B9 vitamin also helps the production of red blood cells. The body uses B9 in its cells so they can manufacture and maintain DNA. This DNA contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all living organisms known to man. The body uses vitamin B12 to help produce blood cells and uses it in nervous system functions.
Since the B vitamins are water-soluble, they do not remain stored in the body if too much of them are ingested. The exceptions are B12 and folate (B9), which the liver stores. The body eliminates most of any extra amounts of the rest of the B vitamins through the urine. However, it's wise to take only what your particular system requires when it comes to these vitamins.
Because the body uses the B vitamins to aid so many vital functions, certain things happen when the body does not get enough of them. Some people may experience numbness and tingling in their arms and legs if they're deficient in B vitamins. Muscle cramps can occur as well as tiredness. Anemia is a concern if a person does not get enough of these vitamins, as is depression. Loss of appetite and abdominal pain are symptoms of vitamin B deficiency as well. Therefore, it is important that one ingest the B vitamins on a regular basis.
Just eating foods that contain these B vitamins prepared in any manner is not enough. Because the body uses these vitamins to support important functions, it needs them in full measure. Extended cooking times and food processing can dilute the strength and concentration of these vitamins. Alcohol can diminish their useful effects too.
The right amounts of B vitamins on a regular basis are part of a comprehensive health strategy. The body uses the required amounts efficiently to promote overall health. Used in conjunction with the other vitamins and minerals we need, the B vitamins can make daily living that much more energetic.
Fruit and Vegetable Lightning drink mixes from Natures Plus
February 06, 2007 02:41 PM
Enjoy the Rainbow – the Color Wheel of Fruits and Vegetables
We’ve all heard the statistics, and have probably seen the signs in the produce section of our favorite grocery store: eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day is important,
Chances are also pretty good that we’ve also seen the newest food pyramid, encouraging Americans to “eat a rainbow of frits and vegetables.” That is, choose from the rich variety of colors for the best all-around health benefits.
In this Ask the Doctor, we’re going to look at the unique health components of different colored fruits and vegetables, and why they’re so important. Plus, we’ll learn about supplemental options, like fruit and vegetable drink mixes, for those days when our diets just aren’t that great.
Q. What’s the big deal about fruits and vegetables?
A. Well, for the main reason that they are whole foods – created by nature (or at least generations of farming) and are rich in a variety of nutrients. Processed foods can’t match the health benefits of strawberries or broccoli – items that have fiber, vitamins, and enzymes built right in.
Q. What does “eating a rainbow” of fruits and vegetables really mean?
A. This is simply an easy way of remembering to get as much color variety in your diet as possible to maximize your intake of a broad range of nutrients. The colors of fruits and vegetables are often a tangible clue to the unique vitamins and other healthy substances they contain. Getting a variety of colors, therefore, means getting a variety of the essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and strong.
Enjoying the Rainbow: Fruit and Vegetable Benefits:
Q. Can you tell me a little more about the healthy components of fruits and vegetables?
Let’s take a look at some of the most well-studied and important nutrients:
Quercetin is found in apples, onions and citrus fruits (also is hawthorn and other berries and apple-related fruits usually used in traditional herbal remedies and modern supplements). It prevents LSL cholesterol oxidation and helps the body cope with allergens and other lung and breathing problems.
Clinical studies show that quercetin’s main points of absorption in the body appear to be in the small intestine – about 50%. The rest – at least 47% is metabolized by the colonic micro flora – the beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum. You may consider adding these beneficial bacteria (found in yogurt) either through the diet or a supplemental form.
Ellagic Acid is a component of ellagitannins – dietary polyphenols with antioxidant (and possibly anticancer) properties. Polyphenols are the basic building blocks of many plant-based antioxidants. More complex phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids are created from these molecules.
Ellagic acid is found in many fruits and foods, namely raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates, and walnuts. Clinical studies suggest that ellagitannins and ellagic acid act as antioxidants and anticarcinogens in the gastrointestinal tract.
Ellagitannins are durable antioxidants, and happily, they do not appear to be diminished by processing, like freezing. This means the benefits are still strong, even in frozen packs of raspberries or strawberries, or some of the better multi-ingredient supplement drink mixes.
In scientific studies, ellagic acid also showed an anti-proliferative effect on cancer cells, decreasing their ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production. ATP is the molecule that provides the primary energy source for the cells in our bodies. In a sense, ellagic acid seems to deprive cancer cells of their fuel.
Beta-Carotene: Probably the best-known of the carotenoids, beta-carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A. Many vegetables, especially orange and yellow varieties, are rich in this nutrient. Think summer squash, yams and of course, carrots.
Beta-carotene has long been associated with better eyesight, but it has other benefits, too. In a scientific study, beta-carotene decreased cholesterol levels in the liver by 44% and reduces liver triglycerides by 40%.
Lycopene is a carotenoid mostly found in tomatoes, but also in smaller amounts in Watermelon and other fruits. Clinical studies have shown that lycopene consumption may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. In fact, high intakes of lycopene are associated with a 30% to 40% reduced risk. And, as good as beta-carotene is, its cousin, lycopene, seems to be an even stronger nutrient, protecting not just against prostate cancer, but heart disease as well.
Lutein is found in many fruits and vegetables, including blueberries and members of the squash family. Lutein is important for healthy eyes, and in fact it is found in high concentrations naturally in the macular region of the retina – where we see fine detail. It is one of the only carotenoids, along with its close sibling zeaxanthin, that is found in the macula and lens of the eye.
Lutein also supports your heart, too. In a scientific study, lutein reduced atherosclerotic lesion size by 43%. In other words, high intakes of lutein may actually help prevent coronary artery disease!
Interestingly, as is the case with lycopene, cooking or processing foods with lutein may actually make it more easily absorbed.
In clinical studies, men with high intakes of lutein (and its close cousin, zeaxanthin, found in broccoli and spinach) had a 19% lower risk of cataract, and women had a 22% decreased risk, compared to those whose lutein intakes were much lower.
Vitamin C: One of the best-known nutrients out there, vitamin C keeps our immune system strong; speeds wound healing, and promote strong muscles and joints. A free-radical fighter, vitamin C prevents oxidative damage to tissues, builds strength in collagen and connective tissue, and even reduces joint pain.
Sources of vitamin C are scattered throughout the spectrum of fruits and vegetables.
Potassium: Most Americans are deficient in potassium. For the most part, it’s hard to get too much of this valuable mineral. Potassium does great things for our hearts. Higher intakes of dietary potassium from fruits and vegetables have been found in clinical research to lower blood pressure in only 4 weeks.
Many researchers believe that the typical American diet has led to a state of chronic, low-grade acidosis – too much acid in the body. Potassium helps change pH balance to a more alkaline environment in the body and increases bone density.
This was proven in the long-running Framingham Heart Study which showed that dietary potassium, (along with magnesium and fruit and vegetable intake) provided greater bone density in older individuals.
Fiber is another food component many just don’t get enough of – especially if they’re eating a “typical American diet.” Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. However, fiber from a good fruits and vegetable drink mix should be derived from inulin and chicory root. This soluble fiber source not only adds to the overall amount of fiber you need (25 to 38 grams a day), but also provides a nice “nesting ground” for the beneficial bacteria that populate the intestines. And, even though some fiber has a bad rap for inhibiting mineral absorption, inulin and chicory root are “bone building” fibers – they actually help the body absorb calcium.
Flavonoids are an overarching term that encompasses flavonols, anthocyanidins, and flavones, isoflavones, proanthocyanidins, Quercetin and more. They are almost everywhere: in fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs, nuts and seeds – even in the coffee, wine and tea we drink. Flavonoids are responsible for the colors in the skins of fruits and the leaves of trees and other plants.
Flavonoids have many health benefits. They can help stop the growth of tumor cells and are potent antioxidants. Additionally, flavonoids have also been studied for their ability to reduce inflammation.
Anthocyanins: High on the list of important “visible” nutrients are anthocyanins. They color fruits and vegetables blue and red.
Anthocyanins are members of this extended family of nutmeats, the flavonoids. Typically found in high amounts in berries, anthocyanins are readily absorbed in the stomach and small intestine.
As antioxidants, anthocyanins dive deep into cell membranes, protecting them from damage. IT may be one reason why the anthocyanins from blueberries are considered such an important component in battling neuronal decline, like Alzheimer’s. Blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are also excellent sources of this flavonoids group.
SDG lignans, (short for secoisolariciresinol diglucoside) are polyphenolic components of flaxseed, pumpkin and other herbal sources. Much of the recent research surrounding lignans has focused on flaxseed. In scientific and clinical studies, lignans from flaxseed support hormonal balance and may have cancer-preventing abilities. In fact, in one study, flaxseed lignans reduced metastatic lung tumor by 82% compared to controls.
The lignans in pumpkin seed, also considered a major source, target 5-alpha reductase activity.
This enzyme catalyzes the conversion of testosterone into the more potent dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT, like testosterone, is a steroid hormone or androgen. Androgens are responsible for the development and maintenance of masculine sex characteristics in both men and women. Excess levels of DHT can cause serious problems with prostate or bladder health. That’s why modulation of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme is so important – it helps maintain healthy testosterone and DHT levels. By balancing the levels of these key hormones, pumpkin seed lignans provide protection for prostate and bladder cells.
In addition, pumpkin seed has been shown to modulate the enzyme aromatase. Aromatase is present in the estrogen-producing cells of the adrenal glands, ovaries, testicles, adipose tissue, and brain. Aromatase converts testosterone, an androgen, into estradiol, and estrogen.
Inhibition of the aromatase conversion can help maintain a balance of healthy testosterone levels in women, which has been shown to strengthen pelvic muscles and reduce incidence of incontinence.
In fact, a clinical study, involving a pumpkin extract in conjunction with soy, resulted in significant support for bladder health. After two weeks of supplementation, 23 of the 39 postmenopausal women enrolled in the study showed great improvement in urinary frequency and sleep. By the end of the six week study, 74.4 percent of participants found pumpkin extract safely and significantly improved “nocturnia,” that is, the need to urinate frequently at night. For individuals with 2 to 4 episodes of nocturnia prior to the stud, and 81.8% improvement was seen – also showing great improvement in sleep quality. After all, if you don’t have to wake up every couple of hours to go to the bathroom you’re bound to get better sleep.
Beta glucan: Mushrooms are intense immune-boosting powerhouses due to their beta-glucan content. Three well-studied power-house mushrooms that contribute beta glucan to the diet include maitake, reishi and shiitake.
The most significant constituents of mushrooms are long chain polysaccharides (molecules formed from many sugar units) known as beta-glucan. These huge molecules act as immunoregualtors in the human body, helping to stabilize and balance the immune system.
This includes specific support of white blood cells, or lymphocytes, the primary cells of the immune system. Lymphocytes fall broadly into three categories: T cells, B cells, and natural killer (NK) cells.
In one clinical study, 165 patients with various types of advanced cancer were given maitake mushroom compounds alone or with chemotherapy. Cancer regression or significant symptom improvement was observed in 58% of liver cancer patients, and 62% of lung cancer patients. Plus, when maitake was taken in addition to chemotherapy, the immune cell activities were enhanced 1.2 to 1.4 times, compared with chemotherapy alone.
In another clinical study, researchers determined that Reishi increased the number of cancer killing white blood cells and made them more deadly to cancer cells.
And, in a scientific study of human breast cancer and myeloma cancer and myeloma cancer cell lines, shiitake compounds provided a 51% antiproliferative effect on the cells – inducing “apoptosis’ – the programmed cell death that should occur naturally.
While beta-glucan are distributed throughout the mushroom body, the beta-glucan concentrations are significantly higher in the mycelium – the interwoven fibers or filaments that make up the “feeding structure” of the mushroom.
Bioflavonoids are commonly found in bright yellow citrus fruits, including lemons, limes and oranges. They are responsible for the bright pigment found in the skin of the fruit, and are considered a “companion” to vitamin C, seeming to extend the value of the nutrient within the body.
Hesperidin is just one of the valuable bioflavonoids found in citrus. Hesperidin appears to lower cholesterol levels, as well as support joint collagen in examples of rheumatoid arthritis.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG):
Polyphenols, most notably EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate, are well-studied and powerful components of tea. EGCG has been shown to reduce colon and breast cancer risk. Green tea also boosts the immune system and encourages T-cell formation – part of the front-line defense of our bodies against sickness and disease.
Q. I’ve been seeing articles about fruits, vegetables and supplements touting “high ORAC value.” What does this mean?
ORAC is an acronym for Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity, and is simply a measurement of antioxidant activity of nutrients. Oxygen radicals, or free radicals, are unstable molecules. They grab electrons from other cells to use for themselves, and in the process can damage them. It is believed that free radical activity plays a role in the development of many diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and also plays a role in aging.
Antioxidants help prevent this damage by “loaning out” extra electrons to stabilize free radicals/ Consider any fruit or vegetable with a high ORAC rating as having a lot of “antioxidant power.”
I know I should eat more fruits and vegetables, but it just seems so hard to get five servings a day.
The number one excuse I hear for not buying frits and veggies is that “fruits and vegetables are too expensive.” But are they really? Certainly, fresh foods that aren’t in season and have to be shipped a distance can be a bit pricey. If anyone added up how much spend on fast food, or prepackaged or processed snacks, it would probably be shocking.
Luckily, there are many ways to get your “Daily 5”. For instance, frozen fruits and veggies retain much of their nutrient profile. They can be an excellent alternative when certain foods are out of season. So too, are fruit and vegetable drink mixes – excellent supplemental sources of some of the nutrients our bodies need most.
More recently, the American
Of course, for people not accustomed to the fiber in fruits and veggies, there is some reason to think it’ll increase gas. When cell walls break down, and fiber passes through the system, it can create flatulence. Folks who eat fruits and vegetables every day generally don’t have this problem. Their systems are already accustomed to it.
For those just starting out on a better diet, however, start slowly – it helps your body adapt. Cooking vegetables can help, too, because it begins breaking down the cell walls early on.
One thing is certain, however. The “Typical American Diet” and good health are mutually exclusive. The increase in type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and hypertension all point to the abuse our bodies suffer by eating diets high in fatty meats, processed sugars, and refined grains.
Q. Can I just drink fruit and vegetables drinks in place of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables?
Green drinks and fruit and vegetable drink mixes aren’t meant to replace whole foods, but they can be an excellent substitute when you’re rushed or traveling or just trying to fill everyday nutritional gaps. Their whole food ingredients absorb very easily and gently in the gut, and many of these drink mixes contain healthy doses of fiber, too.
Green drink mixes and food-based drink mixes combine many colorful fruits and vegetables and sometimes grasses in a healthy, mixable supplement assortment. While there have been many advancements in the field of green drinks, there are only a few that take the primary reason we eat into consideration: taste!
Happily, there are some companies out there with great-tasting drink mixes that also formulate based on the color concept, ensuring you get the broadest assortment of nutrients from a full range of fruit and vegetable colors to promote optimal health.
High-quality fruit and vegetable drink mixes offer the best from nature’s color wheel in a convenient and great-tasting supplement. So, the next tie you feel like taking a coffee break – try a fruit and veggie break instead. Your body and spirit will thank you.
Lycopene for Prostate health...
October 13, 2005 10:18 AM
Lycopene – for Prostate
Lycopene - Have you had your tomato sauce today? This member of the family of phytochemicals known as carotenoids, is a powerful antioxidant that is found in red fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes, Watermelon, red grapefruit, and guava. Researchers have linked the frequent use of lycopene from tomatoes to lower risk of prostate and other cancers. Interestingly, in one study, researchers found that significantly lower serum and tissue lycopene levels were observed in the cancer patients than in their control group, indication that lycopene prevents oxidative damage of biomolecules and consequently reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
July 14, 2005 05:05 PM
Nature's Cancer fighters ...
July 07, 2005 12:36 PM
Cancer has always been a word no one wants to hear from a doctor's lips. But as a fatal disease, cancer has gone from dread to worse, passing heart disease as the number-one killer of Americans under the age of 85 (a category that includes the overwhelming majority of us). While death rates for both illnesses has dropped over the past few years, the improvement has been much more pronounced for cardiovascular disorders.
According to the American Cancer Society, 476,009 people died of cancer in 2002 (the last year for which statistics are available). Behind every one of those numbers is a web of lives tangled by cancer's relentless onslaught: A child who misses a mother's comforting arms, a bride without a father to walk her down the aisle, a spouse coming home to a dark, cold house every night. And for those fortunate enough to survive a cancer encounter, there's always the dark worry of recurrence that surfaces with every ache or twinge.
Many people think of cancer as either a random calamity of a genetically driven inevitability, but it ain't necessarily so. Diet is coming up big as a major cancer-risk player: For example, eating a lot of red meat, especially highly processed meats such as bacon, has been linked to high colorectal cancer risk in an investigation published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. On the positive side, a number of nutrients have shown cancer-fighting power, such as the recently discovered link between the B vitamin folate and reduced risk of colon and other cancers (see page 57). Other useful nutrients appear on the chart that follows.
Of course, risk always varies from person to person, and there are some lifestyle issues, like not smoking, that are no-brainers when it comes to cancer deterrence. But isn't it nice to know that protection from such a terrible disease might be as close as the end of your fork?
Nature's Cancer fighters
Vitamin E, Natural
Lose the Gluten - everyone who suffers from food allergies
June 10, 2005 10:20 PM
Lose the Gluten by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, October 14, 2004
Are you a glutton for gluten, the sticky protein found in bagels and many other breads? Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy the taste of fresh-baked bread because it contains this natural substance that can cause allergic reaction or intolerance in susceptible folks.
And while not everyone who suffers from food allergies or intolerances has a problem with gluten, other foods that can cause distress include items like Watermelon, fish or even the benign-seeming peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Still, with a little guidance, even if you have an allergy or two, you can enjoy meals and reduce food-related difficulties when you make food choices wisely.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, more than one in 50 adults and one in 12 children in the US suffer food allergies. But the problem may be even larger. Researchers believe even more of us have food allergies and don't know it: many food allergies and intolerances may be mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome or conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome.
The involvement of the immune system in an allergy represents the dividing line between intolerance and allergy. A food allergy strikes when the immune system attacks food ingredients as though they were threatening substances. Usually, proteins trigger these physiological alarms. The most common food allergens include wheat, soy, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, fish, tree nuts, milk and Watermelon. Fortunately, many children who suffer allergies outgrow them as their bodies mature.
Signs of a food allergy may include a rash, hives, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchy skin, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the airways and a condition called anaphylactic shock, a serious occurrence that can cut off breathing and requires immediate medical help.
If you believe you have a food allergy, see your health practitioner. If you have reasons to suspect an allergy to a particular food, avoid it altogether.
Intolerance Versus Allergy
Food intolerances are more common than allergies. They happen when food irritates the digestive system or offers substances that the digestive tract cannot break down. A food intolerance, however, does not provoke the immune system into an attack. The most common foods that cause intolerance are wheat, rye and barley; they all contain gluten.
Figuring out an intolerance generally requires adding and eliminating foods to gauge your response. Signs can include nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headaches and irritability or nervousness. If you suspect you have a food intolerance, keep a food diary-recording what you eat and how you feel afterwards.
In addition, an elimination diet, wherein you avoid certain foods and track your responses, can help determine food intolerances. After you have dropped certain foods from your diet, reintroduce them, one at a time, until you eat a food that causes a return of your problems. These foods should then be permanently avoided.
Celiac sprue is a particularly severe inflammatory response to wheat or other grains containing gluten. According to the National Science Foundation, one in every 200 Americans suffers from this often misdiagnosed condition. That's more than a million of us!
If left untreated, celiac sprue can cause anemia, contribute to osteoporosis by limiting calcium absorption and increase the risk for intestinal cancer. Signs include headaches, weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, fatigue and neurological symptoms. The only treatment is to avoid all grains that contain gluten.
According to researchers in England, celiac sprue is often mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome, type 1 diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome and can result in infertility (Med J Austral 2004 May 17; 180(10):524-6). Because sprue can confuse health practitioners, many people spend years trying to find an answer to their discomforts before finding that a gluten-free diet relieves their pain.
According to the Celiac Sprue Association, if you have gluten intolerance you should avoid durum wheat, semolina wheat, rye, kamut, spelt, barley, triticale and often oats. Some people find they can tolerate spelt, a distant cousin to wheat that's high in fiber and contains more protein (talk to your practitioner). Oats are generally well-tolerated by most people with gluten intolerance, but because oats are often processed on the same machinery as wheat, they may have traces of gluten. If you are gluten intolerant, you can still eat rice, corn, soy, potatoes, beans, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot and amaranth.
Other food ingredients can trouble digestion. They include:
If you have what seem to be allergies and intolerances, fermented foods that contain beneficial bacteria (probiotics) can aid the functioning of your digestive tract. Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk and sauerkraut supply active bacterial cultures and are generally easy to tolerate because they are predigested. According to researchers at Tufts University, yogurt can improve your digestive health and soothe difficulties linked to allergies and intolerances (AJCN 2004 Aug; 80(2):245-56).
In addition, yogurt and other probiotic foods have been found to reduce the recurrence of irritable bowel flare-ups and may help reduce the risk of colon cancer. Yogurt improves gut microflora, increases bowel transit time and enhances immune response. Probiotics are also available as supplements.
If you have problems with certain foods or additives, becoming an amateur food detective can make meals more pleasant. Before eating a packaged food, always read the label; if you are unsure of the ingredients, contact the food manufacturer. But, in any uncertain situation, if you are in doubt of a food's ingredients, do without. Better to avoid food problems than realize too late that you've eaten a food that has upset your digestion.
Some people find their food intolerance comes and goes, often depending upon the amount eaten and how often a food is consumed. For example, some people with lactose intolerance find they can have a little milk in their coffee or on their breakfast cereal one day a week, but have problems if they drink milk on two consecutive days.
While deciphering which foods in your diet cause you problems can be time consuming, the reward for eliminating these nutrients, better digestion, is great. Don't give up! Persevere and, eventually your digestion will thank you.
June 10, 2005 03:24 PM
by Henry Wolfe Energy Times, July 11, 2003
Nutrients do you no good if you don't absorb them. Eating the right stuff and taking the right nutrients can still be wrong if they never make it out of your digestive tract and into your bloodstream.
For instance, dietary supplements usually should be taken along with food. The presence of food in the digestive tract aids the absorption of nutrients. As a general rule, if you take dietary supplements on an empty stomach, most of their contents will probably pass through you and never escape your intestinal tract before they are eventually eliminated. This is particularly true for the fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D and E. By consuming fatty foods when you take these supplements, you enable your body to absorb a large amount of these valuable substances.
But there is at least one exception to this rule: Amino acid supplements (protein building blocks) should usually be taken on an empty stomach. Otherwise the other amino acids present in your meal may interfere with your use of these nutrients and counteract the benefits of the supplements.
The Standardization of Herbs
Taking herbs presents different challenges than consuming dietary supplements. While the chemical structures of nutrients in supplements are usually precisely identified, the active ingredients in herbs is usually a mixture of chemicals. Often, too, researchers disagree on exactly which active ingredients in herbs produce the health benefits linked to these botanicals.
But in an effort to derive the most from these substances, many experts recommend what are called standardized forms.
Standardized herbal supplements are formulas that have been created to insure they contain consistent and reliable amounts of certain beneficial chemicals that scientists have identified in these plants.
In the creation of these supplements, experts determine the standardized chemicals that are most likely the basis of the herbs' effectiveness.
By standardizing certain of the supplements' ingredients, therefore, standardized herbs limit the variation among batches of the product. You can rely on the fact that every purchase will contain the same amount of ingredients taken from the original plant. According to Michael Janson, MD, author of Dr. Janson's New Vitamin Revolution (Penguin/Avery), "Although herbs have a long history of use for medicinal purposes, it is only recently that they have been analyzed to reveal their most active components. These active chemicals are commonly present in very variable amounts in herbs, depending on where and how they are grown, soil quality, when they are harvested, the amount of rain and sun, and other factors.
"Standardized herbs have guaranteed specific amounts of the known, active herbal components, as well as the other factors that might be of help but are not as well studied" (www.drjanson.com).
Herbalists who specialize in using entire plants in their practices can recommend non-standardized preparations that you can often use.
In general, that kind of herbal use is more effective when you secure expert advice. If you lack access to an experienced herbalist and you're choosing botanicals on your own, standardized preparations are easier to take.
Absorption From the Gut
Most of the nutrients you take in are absorbed through the walls of your digestive tract. This most often takes place in the small intestine.
What to watch out for: Fast food, fast living and long work hours afflicts our digestion and can disrupt proper absorption. You have to be relaxed to properly absorb the nutrients in your food and supplements.
Consequently, the occasions for meals should be relaxed and enjoyable moments. Set aside enough time to appreciate, taste and thoroughly chew your food. Adequate digestion and absorption begin in your mouth.
Another way to increase nutrient absorption is with the use of digestive enzymes. Since the digestive tract depends on the enzymatic breakdown of food that reduces nutrients to absorbable form, taking enzymes can help your intestines make better use of nutrients as they pass through the digestive tract. Normally, enzymes are present in raw food, like uncooked fruits and vegetables. Since most of our food is eaten after it is heated, a process that breaks down enzymes, not many enzymes are present in today's diet. Therefore, taking supplemental enzymes may increase absorption.
Beyond everyday stress, a variety of problems can make absorption go astray, allowing important nutrients to escape and permitting unwanted substances to enter the body. For instance, a significant digestive malfunction that many experts have focused on in recent years is a condition that has come to be called "leaky gut."
As Anil Minocha, MD, director of digestive diseases at the Mississippi Medical Center and author of Natural Stomach Care (Avery), points out, "In a healthy individual, the wall of the intestinal tract is designed to absorb food molecules and prevent harmful microorganisms and toxic materials from passing out through the bowel wall and into the bloodstream. "In today's heavily polluted environment, the gastrointestinal tract of even the healthiest individual is called on to process an overwhelmingly large flow of septic and infectious materials."
Because of these digestion destroyers, as we take in a startlingly large amount of viruses, bacteria, toxic chemicals, fungi and processed foods, our digestive systems are often overwhelmed and are rendered unable to perform their tasks correctly. This constant assault on the stomach and intestines takes a serious toll. A frequent product of this process is the digestive walls' loss of their crucial ability to keep out unwanted toxins and organisms as they become, in Dr. Minocha's words, "loosened and inflamed." As a result, instead of keeping out harmful substances and absorbing helpful nutrients, spaces open up that begin to allow in "bulky, partially digested food particles, toxic substances and infectious microbes."
According to Dr. Minocha, the first signs of this absorption problem can include complaints such as allergic reactions, skin problems, joint pain, digestive difficulties, nausea, fatigue and lack of energy.
To improve your digestive absorption, Dr. Minocha recommends a six-part program that includes these steps:
* Detoxification by means of fasting and avoiding harmful items like sugar, over-processed foods, coffee and alcohol
* Taking herbs that can help the digestive tract heal, recover and repair itself; these include garlic, ginger and milk thistle
* Replenishing the beneficial bacteria of the digestive tract by eating yogurt
* Keeping track of your daily diet and eliminating foods that cause allergies and other reactions
* Consuming more fruits and vegetables while eating a high-fiber, mostly vegetarian diet
* Developing consistent, healthy lifestyle habits; these include not smoking, cutting the size of your meals and eating in moderation, exercising several times a week and controlling stress
Young and Old Digestion
The nutrients in your diet can also beneficially influence the state of your digestive system and its ability to distinguish among substances that are supposed to gain entrance to your body and those that should be kept out. Since aging can further compromise the discriminatory ability of your gut, Dr. Minocha also recommends a steady diet of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables plus supplements to keep your digestive tract functioning at full capacity as you grow older.
Among the nutrients he recommends:
* Coenzyme Q10: By middle age, your body makes less of this powerful antioxidant that helps cells generate energy in the mitochondria (structures within cells that may decrease with age).
Dr. Minocha notes that research demonstrates CoQ10 may be able to help people with diabetes control harmful metabolic byproducts that appear in their bloodstreams.
* Natural Lycopene: This antioxidant, responsible for the red of both tomatoes and Watermelon, has been shown to lower the risk of both heart disease and prostate cancer. As an antioxidant, natural lycopene also helps protect the digestive tract.
Absorption of the proper nutrients may be the key to health for many people. By paying closer attention to the well-being of your digestive tract and practicing lifestyle habits that promote maximum absorption, you may be able to substantially improve your nutrition and your health.
LYCOPENE - Tomatoes Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before ...
June 03, 2005 10:51 AM
It’s hard to imagine that the ancestor of the beefsteak tomato was a tiny yellow fruit first harvested by the Incas. Tomatoes have come a long way since their origin in the Andes, becoming more popular than any other fruit or vegetable in America. (Botanically, the tomato is really a fruit, despite the Supreme Court’s 1893 ruling that it’s a vegetable.) Today, our appreciation of this dietary staple is entering a new chapter. Modern nutrition science has delved into the biochemistry of the tomato and discovered unique phytonutrients with powerful influences on the human body. Utilizing this research, Source Naturals has introduced a concentrated form of the tomato’s most vital nutritional compound: Lycopene.
Tomatoes and their Healthy Red Color
Lycopene is the pigment that gives tomatoes, Watermelons and some grapefruits their healthy red color. Found most abundantly in tomatoes (Lycopersicon esulentum), lycopene is a member of the carotenoid family. This group of phytonutrients are major contributors to the health of the human race. (Phyto is derived from the Greek word for plant.)
Over 500 different carotenoids have been identified by science, and almost 10% of them are found in human blood and tissue. Best known is beta-carotene, whose important benefits have been well-documented. Other familiar phytonutrients include allicin from garlic, and capsaicin from chili peppers. Lycopene, lutein, alpha-carotene and betacarotene are the most abundant of the carotenoids present in human blood and tissues. Human breast milk has been found to contain 19 carotenoids, including lycopene. Like many carotenoids, lycopene has evolved as an integral part of human biochemistry, with many benefits to our well-being. Since mammals cannot synthesize it, lycopene must be obtained from the diet.
One of the most interesting aspects of the way phytonutrients interact with the human body – beyond their broad spectrum antioxidant activity – is their tendency to be “organ specific.” Different carotenoids have an affinity for different organs in the body! In the case of lycopene, it’s the most plentiful carotenoid in the prostate gland. Studies have explored the link between diets high in lycopene and proper prostate function.
Lycopene Protects Cells
Research has shown that lycopene may protect DNA by its powerful antioxidant activity against singlet oxygen free radicals, dangerous forerunners to cellular damage. Lycopene was found to be the most efficient biological carotenoid to neutralize singlet oxygen – almost 3 times more powerful than beta-carotene. Also, lycopene has a “sparing effect” for beta-carotene: lycopene sacrifices itself to free radicals so that beta-carotene can be reserved for conversion to vitamin A. Lycopene has another ability that has excited further investigation. It increases gap junctional intercellular communication, which is the chemical and electrical coupling between neighboring cells. This enables a healthy exchange of the signals that regulate normal growth – thereby offering a protective influence on cellular reproduction.
Getting the Most From Tomatoes
Until recently, lycopene was not commercially available, and hasn’t been studied as extensively as has beta-carotene. But now, thanks to a unique (non-chemical) proprietary process, lycopene can be obtained from specially bred and cultivated tomato varieties that are rich in lycopene, and very red. Source Naturals LYCOPENE is standardized to 5% lycopene in a base of vegetable oil. It also contains small amounts of other carotenoids, naturally present in tomatoes. While it’s important to continue eating fruits and vegetables, we can also benefit from the fruits of nutritional research. This is especially important since so much of our food supply has become denatured, lacking the traditional nutrition our bodies require. Source Naturals LYCOPENE is a significant step toward reclaiming the nutrients we need to help create a life of health and vitality. Get a taste of the 21st Century – Source Naturals LYCOPENE.