Archive for August, 2011
One of my top picks for vitamin must-haves is probiotics, those beneficial bacteria that naturally reside in the intestinal tract, but are often insufficient. Probiotics are an obvious choice for treating digestive disorders of course, but a lesser-known, but equally important benefit is that they support the intestinal tract’s own immune system, called gut associated lymphoid tissue or GALT. An even more compelling reason to choose probiotics as a “must-have” is the ample clinical research to support their efficacy.
In one of the many existing clinical trials, researchers looked at the immune activity of probiotics by monitoring their effects in a small group of healthy, elderly volunteers over the course of 12 weeks. Half the group drank plain milk and the other half drank milk supplemented with Bifidobacterium lactis twice a day. They were tested for specific immune parameters, including interferon production (known to have antiviral activity), and phagocyte activity (immune cell that digests foreign microbes). It was found that drinking the probiotic fortified milk significantly increased the immune parameters within six weeks as compared to drinking the plain milk.1
Another small study compared the immune effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus versus Bifidobacterium bifidum in healthy adults and found that both strains significantly enhanced phagocyte activity in just three weeks. 2
Taking a different approach, one study examined the effects of Lactobacillus casei in smokers, a population known to have suppressed immune systems, looking specifically at natural killer cell activity (direct killing immune cells). Half the group drank milk fortified with the probiotic and half drank the placebo milk. All the smokers were found to have supressed immune reponses before starting the supplementation, but in the group supplementing with L. casei, there was significant improvement in the natural killer cell activity as compared to the group taking placebo. 3
So how do they work? Probiotics reside all the way from the mouth down to the intestines, but the majority of the beneficial bacteria are concentrated in the large intestines. They help line the intestinal wall and prevent microbes from being absorbed systemically, thus improving intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). Probiotics stimulate the different parts of the immune system, but most importantly, they have the dual ability to the ability to act as a “modulator” by boosting immune cells that are sluggish or calming an overactive immune system. 4
Probiotics may not be an obvious choice for immune support, but when added to your supplement regime, you’ll find it can make a big difference in your overall wellbeing!
1)European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2000) 54, 263±267
2) Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 78, No. 3. 1995
3) Preventive Medicine 40 (2005) 589–594
4) Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73(suppl):444S–50S.
Do you know how much sugar you consume everyday? Sugar creates inflammation, and inflammation leads to weight gain, joint pain, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other health problems. Sometimes we aren’t aware of how much sugar is in our food and drinks, but it is surprising how fast it can add up! These visual aids are pretty compelling…
What are the benefits of Manuka honey? The last time we checked, there were 75 scientific studies revealing a wide array of benefits. It has been shown to have great antimicrobial effects when applied directly to wounds to speed healing, and in some cases was shown to be a good alternative to antibiotic-resistant infections such as MRSA. One study proposed the antimicrobial activity was partially due to the fact that honey lowers the pH of the tissue, making it impossible for bacteria to survive. It is used in some hospitals as wound dressing and has been particularly useful for treating ulcerated skin, with no known side effects.
Internally, Manuka honey acts as a prebiotic and helps promote the growth and activity of bifidobacteria in the intestine. It has been shown to alleviate dyspepsia and other chronic intestinal issues. It has natural antioxidant qualities and can be used in beauty treatments such as facials and hair conditioner.
Y.S Organic Bee Farms Raw Manuka Honey Active 15+ is tested and verified to have 15% phenol solution, indicating its antimicrobial and antioxidant activity. Y.S Organic Bee Farms offer only certified-organic honey granted by U.S.D.A. / N.O.P. (United States Department of Agriculture / National Organic Program) organic certification.
Experience the power of Manuka honey! You will not be disappointed.
Magnesium is a basic but significant mineral that is involved with over 325 biochemical reactions in the body. Because it’s such a critical nutrient, it’s a problem that over 60% of Americans are deficient in this key nutrient. Some of the reasons for deficiency include the fact that our food has lower magnesium content due to poor quality soil, we lose magnesium when stressed, and sweating causes magnesium depletion.
You probably don’t want to read a list of the 325 biochemical reactions that rely on magnesium, so let’s just stick with the three “I” s: Insomnia, Inflammation, and Insulin resistance.
Insomnia can be caused by many reasons, with magnesium deficiency being at the top. Magnesium calms the nervous system, relaxes muscles and counters stress. Replenishing magnesium can lead to a longer, uninterrupted sleep pattern.
Insulin resistance is when cells don’t respond adequately to insulin’s attempt to shuttle glucose into the cell after eating, resulting in elevated blood sugar and increased fat storage. It is the hallmark of pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Research shows that people with adequate magnesium levels have improved insulin sensitivity. People with the highest magnesium levels have a lower risk of developing diabetes, even if they have the risk factors such as smoking, low activity level and excessive weight.
Inflammation is at the root cause of so many health problems, such as arthritis, heart disease and obesity. Magnesium has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory. More than one study has shown that as magnesium levels decrease, CRP (a marker for inflammation) increases. Elevated CRP is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Magnesium comes in many forms, but be sure to avoid the oxide form. You may want to try powdered magnesium citrate. To determine the appropriate dosage, start with one or two pills, and increase the dosage over the course of a few days, until it has a laxative effect, then decrease the dosage slightly. This method determines the appropriate dosage for your individual body, based on your level of deficiency. Magnesium is a simple nutrient, but it can make a huge impact on your health!
Fish oil is one of those supplements that everyone should be taking, especially if you are concerned about aging and memory loss. Two studies from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that Omega-3 fatty acid consumption slows age-related cognitive decline.
One study, conducted in theNetherlands, tracked the fish consumption of 210 healthy men age 70 to 89 over a five-year period. All of the men started the study with stable cognitive function. At the study’s conclusion, the men who did not consume any fish (which is an excellent source of EPA and DHA omega-3s) experienced cognitive decline four times greater than men who consumed fish on a regular basis. In this study, a clear dose-response relationship demonstrated that daily consumption of a total of 400 mg of EPA and DHA omega-3s was protective against decline in cognitive function.
A second study, conducted in theUS, followed over 2000 middle-aged adults over nine years. They found that by the end of the study, those who had higher blood levels of omega-3s had significantly better verbal fluency than those with low levels.
The best source of Omega-3s is fish; however, pollutants such a methyl mercury, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenols are showing up in this invaluable food source. A safer alternative is to take a high-quality fish oil supplement, which is molecularly distilled to remove the toxins and heavy metals. Fish oil has a wide variety of proven health benefits, so I recommend taking 3-4 grams of fish oil or cod liver oil daily for brain health, heart health and joint health.