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Probiotics Offer Benefits to Most

By the NEEDS Wellness Team166674176

Probiotics are microorganisms that exert beneficial effects in humans and have been the subject of many recent scientific studies. They benefit us in wide variety of ways, including averting harmful organisms from growing (such as yeast), preventing food and environmental allergies, enhancing the immune system, assisting in the digestion of foods, and promoting the degradation of toxins. Some strains of probiotics have also been shown to bind mercury and other heavy metals, preventing their absorption into the body. Also, probiotics have been shown to prevent and inhibit the growth of colon, liver, and breast cancer. The health benefits of these organisms are so profound; it is one of the few supplements we recommend that almost all people include as part of their daily regimen.

Probiotics are found in a variety of foods, including cheese, yogurt, butter, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. However, most of us can’t or don’t eat these foods in sufficient enough quantities to counteract the challenges of modern life. The proper balance of these microflora can be thrown off by a diet high in meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and other processed foods. Also, constipation, diarrhea, stress, birth control pills or other forms of estrogen replacement therapy, chlorinated water, and antibiotics in the food supply also readily off-set the balance of these beneficial organisms.

So, supplementation is necessary. There are many probiotic products to choose from.

Someone who has difficulty swallowing capsules should consider the tiny Acidophilus Pearls from Enzymatic Therapy; because these do not need to be refrigerated, they are also great for when you travel.

Ideally, infants and toddlers should have primarily Bifidobacterium in their intestines to help prevent and stop diarrhea and to aid in the prevention of allergies. Supplementing with a powdered form of Bifidobacterium, either by itself or with a small percentage of Acidophilus, is easy with infants by dipping your fingertip in the powder and having your child suckle it. Adding one-eighth teaspoon to food, such as applesauce, is a great way to provide the Bifidobacterium to toddlers. Children older than two can be given combinations with higher percentages of Acidophilus.

In order to acquire the most significant benefits that probiotics can provide, maintenance is essential. For maintenance, we suggest the use of products that have a multitude of probiotic strains present to provide broad coverage, such as Flora Biotic Plus from Nutrineeds or Garden of Life‘s Primal Defense.

One of the principal foundations of good health is maintaining a vigorous digestive tract. Probiotics are fundamental to this and have been shown to have so many immediate and long-term positive health effects. They inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that cause digestive stress, improve digestion of food and absorption of vitamins, stimulate the body’s natural defense mechanism – the immune system, and help make vitamins needed by the body. With all of these outstanding health benefits, you should consider the importance of working them into your daily routine.

July 30, 2013 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Nature’s Solution – TO THE COMMON COLD, BRONCHITIS and SINUSITIS

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BY DON BROWN, N.D.

Cold season can extend from fall well into spring. It is worth spending a moment discussing the ancient Zulu remedy for successfully fighting off symptoms such as runny and stuffy noses, sore throats, and coughs.

Native to the coastal regions of South Africa, Pelargonium sidoides was described as “umKhulkane” (denoting respiratory infection) and “uHlabo” (roughly meaning chest pain) by the Zulu. The herbal remedy was introduced to Europeans in the late 19th century by the Englishman and TB-sufferer, Charles Stevens. On a trip to South Africa to seek a cure for TB, he consulted a tribal healer who gave him a strong concoction of Pelargonium sidoides root. Fully recovered, he returned to England with this new remedy and popularized it throughout Europe as “Steven’s Consumption Cure.”

The rediscovery of the root extract occurred in Germany where a standardized product known as Umckaloabo® has been approved for the treatment of bronchitis, tonsillitis, and sinusitis. The overwhelming success of the product has led to its recent introduction to the United States as Umcka Coldcare from Nature’s Way.

Specific findings of the Pelagonium sidoides root include:

Common Cold: A recent study gave 93 adults suffering the common cold either Pelargonium sidoides root extract (30 drops or 1.5 mL three times per day) or a placebo for 10 days. By the fifth day, the majority of participants taking the herbal extract reported not only feeling better, but were back to almost 75 percent of their normal level of activity. Those taking the placebo didn’t feel much better and were at only about 50 percent of normal activity. By day 10, 82 percent of those taking the herbal remedy were back to their normal daily routine compared to only 54 percent of those taking the placebo.

Bronchitis: A clinical study treated 468 adults with bronchitis with either the Pelargonium sidoides root extract (30 drops three times per day) or a placebo. Treated for only seven days, symptoms such as cough, chest pain, sputum production, and shortness of breath, were reduced by almost 50 percent in those persons taking the herbal extract compared to those taking the placebo. Coughing either improved or disappeared in 89 percent of those taking Pelargonium sidoides compared to only 57 percent of those taking the placebo.

Sinusitis: A frustrating and difficult condition to treat, sinusitis is often a recurring problem and resistant to repeated antibiotic use. A new study has shown that using Pelargonium sidoides root extract (60 drops or 3 mL three times per day) for 21 days dramatically reduces not only symptom severity in adults with acute sinusitis, but also improves sinus health. Using x-rays to check for sinus congestion, the study found that almost 98 percent of those taking the herbal extract had normal x-rays by the end of the study compared to only 10 percent of those taking a placebo. Notable is that none of the participants took antibiotics.

As stated above, the researched Pelargonium sidoides root product used in these clinical studies is available in the product Umcka Coldcare™ from Nature’s Way. The safety and effectiveness of this extract for both adults and children makes it a must-have for any natural medicine cabinet.

January 23, 2013 at 8:07 pm Leave a comment

More Joint Support Than Ever Before!

As you grow older, age-related stiffness and discomfort in the joints becomes a fact of life. Activities once routine become a challenge as limited mobility hampers your every move. You now have a more potent option to provide broad-spectrum support for aging joints. ArthroMax™ Advanced with UC-II® and AprèsFlex™ is a multi-nutrient formula based on the very latest data on natural support for joint health. The new ArthroMax™ formula provides more joint support than ever before, enhanced with two innovative, clinically validated ingredients: AprèsFlex™ and UC-II®.

AprèsFlex™ represents a quantum leap forward in the delivery to aging joints of boswellia, long prized for its ability to help with inflammatory issues. It is a superior inhibitor of the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase or 5-LOX.   Excess activity of 5-LOX results in the accumulation of leukotriene B4, a proinflammatory compound that affects aging joints. Boswellia has been shown to bind directly to the 5-LOX enzyme, preventing it from facilitating production of pro-inflammatory leukotrienes. (46,47)   AprèsFlex™ boswellia absorbs into the blood 52% better than previously available forms of boswellia, for superior effectiveness.

In addition to AprèsFlex™, this new ArthroMax™ contains a novel standardized chicken cartilage: UC-II®. New data shows it helps with immune issues that can impact joint discomfort and ease of motion in aging individuals.

Taken orally, UC-II® travels to the intestinal tract where it “introduces” the immune system to the same type of collagen molecules found in joint cartilage.

Not just any form of collagen will do. Normally, when chicken collagen is processed, its molecular shape is changed. It loses bioactivity and becomes denatured—which researchers found has no beneficial effect (2) on the immune system. Fortunately, a unique processing technique preserves the correct molecular shape of the collagen (3,4) and preserves its bioactivity (5)—producing a form known as undenatured collagen. The result of this innovative process is an undenatured chicken collagen called Bio-Collagen with Patented UC-II®.

Scientific studies have found that UC-II® reduced sensitive joint discomfort and eased joint function. (1,6-10) One double-blind, placebo-controlled study on patients found that UC-II® provided relief by 33%, and decreased joint discomfort scores by a remarkable 40% in just 90 days.(1)

References

1. Int J Med Sci. 2009;6(6):312-21. 2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1986 Oct;83(19):7443-6. 3. Int Immunopharmacol. 2011 Jan;11(1):12-8. 4. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 2002;22(3-4):101-10.  5. Immunol Rev. 2005;206:232-59. 6. J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Aug;28(4):385-90. 7. J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Jun;30(3):275-8. 8. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2007;17(4):189-96. 9. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). Epub 2011 May 30. 10. J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Dec;32(6):577-84. 46. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):373-8. 47. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Sep 19;107(2):249-53.

Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Reprinted with exclusive permission of Life Extension Magazine

September 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

Ease Anxiety with Clinically Studied Lavender

Image

Lavender, an herb long prized for its pleasing fragrance, is also an effective remedy for anxiety. Taken orally, lavender extract can be as effective as some of the conventionally prescribed alternatives. Lavender has been used, both internally and by aromatherapy, for centuries for anxiety and depression, as well as for insomnia and gastrointestinal distress (Greive, 1931). Modern analytical methods show more than 160 constituents, many of which interact synergistically to contribute to lavender’s healing effects (Cavanagh et al, 2002).

 

Clinical Trials of Oral Lavender

Although much previous research on lavender was on its effects when administered as aromatherapy, two controlled clinical trials of have explored the effects of oral, pharmacopoeia-grade lavender oil on anxiety.

 Kasper and colleagues compared lavender oil (WS® 1265) against placebo for anxiety in 221 adults from 21 primary care or psychiatric practices. (Kasper et al, 2010). Subjects took 80 mg of lavender oil or placebo for 10 weeks. Those taking lavender showed a total reduction in anxiety scores decrease of 16 points versus 9.5 points for those taking placebo. The lavender was also superior to placebo in terms of having more people respond and fewer people relapse.

 In another study, researchers compared lavender oil (WS®1265) to a low-dose, commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drug. (Woelk & Schlafke, 2010) The lavender oil, a steam distillate of Lavandula angustifolia, decreased mean anxiety total scores by 45%, versus 46% in the drug group. At the conclusion of the trial, 40% of the lavender group and 27% of the drug group met criteria for remission; the lavender group had a response rate of 52.5% compared to 40.5% of those on the drug.

 Safety Assessment

Lavender oil products for oral use should comply with the most stringent quality standards, such as those set forth in the European Pharmacopoeia.  When in compliance with or exceeding these standards, and used at the recommended dose, there is no reason to expect any significant adverse effects. As a precaution, oral lavender oil is not recommended for children only because there are insufficient data available pertaining to this use.  Unlike commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drugs, for example, lavender does not cause psychological or chemical dependence.

  REFERENCES

 

Kasper S, et al. Int Clin Psychopharmacol 2010; 25:277–87

Woelk H, Schlafke S. Phytomedicine Int J Phytotherapy Phytopharmacol 2010; 17:2: 94–99.

Blumenthal M, ed. Lavender flower. In: The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; 1998:159–60.

 

 

Bio: Jeremy Appleton, ND is a licensed naturopathic physician with an extensive background in natural medicine and education. He graduated from National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM), and did his residency at Bastyr University, where he was also on faculty. He served as chair of the nutrition department chair at NCNM for 5 years. He has lectured extensively around the world on topics in nutrition, botanical medicine and dietary supplement quality issues. He is currently Director of Scientific Affairs at Integrative Therapeutics.

 

 

 

 

September 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment

MK4: The Missing Ingredient for Fracture Prevention

by John Neustadt, ND

More than 10 million Americans have the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis—approximately 15% of women and 4% of men over the age of 50. Another 34 million or so have osteopenia—bone density that is below normal and may lead to osteoporosis. And every year, two million people with osteoporosis have a so-called “osteoporotic fracture,” usually of the hip, spine, or wrist.

Experts know that an osteoporotic hip fracture is disastrous, as 12% to 40% of victims die within six months (partly because they tend to become depressed and more sedentary). But when Australian researchers studied more than 4,000 people age 60 and older for 18 years, they found that almost any kind of osteoporotic fracture increased the risk for death. Focusing on people over age 75, they found that breaking a wrist increased mortality risk by 40% in women and 80% in men, a spinal fracture doubled mortality risk in both sexes, and a hip fracture more than doubled mortality risk in women and tripled it in men.

It has also been found that bone mineral density (BMD) does not accurately reflect fracture risk. A dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) test measures the BMD in your hip, spine, and wrist. A score of –1 to –2.5 indicates osteopenia and a score under –2.5 signals osteoporosis. But in one study, 82% of women who reported fractures of the wrist, forearm, hip, rib, or spine in the year after a BMD test did not have scores indicating osteoporosis (scores of –2.5 or lower). Overall, BMD predicts only 44% of fractures in elderly women and 21% of fractures in elderly men.

The BMD test indicates the hardness of bone, imparted by the minerals calcium and magnesium. But flexibility is what helps bones resist fracture—the bone’s ability to bend a bit and not break. Flexibility is created by the bone’s collagen, the protein-rich infrastructure. To build bone collagen, you need vitamin K.

The Power of MK4
Doctors from England analyzed the data from 13 studies on osteoporosis and a form of vitamin K called MK4. They found vitamin MK4 decreased hip fractures by 73%, spinal fractures by 60%, and non-spinal fractures by 81%. Compare those results to the average 19% decrease in fracture risk from taking supplements of calcium and vitamin D (which aids in the absorption of calcium). And in a clinical trial, when MK4 (45 mg daily) was combined with calcium and vitamin D, the patients had an incredible 87% fracture reduction.

To help my patients, I developed a supplement that contains the same amount and type of the nutrient (45 mg of MK4) used in the clinical trials. The supplement, called Osteo-K, also contains calcium and vitamin D.

MK4 May Help You if You’re Taking Corticosteroids
Medications called corticosteroids (cortisone, prednisone, hydrocortisone) are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. They are synthetic versions of cortisol, an adrenal hormone. They often are prescribed to help control the symptoms of chronic diseases with an inflammatory component, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and severe asthma. Taken regularly for six months or more, corticosteroids can cause osteoporosis. Additionally, taking these medicines for more than six months increases the risk for vertebral fracture by up to 200%. Clinical trials have shown that taking 45 mg daily of MK4 decreases bone loss and fractures caused by corticosteroids.

MK4 May Help You if You’re Taking Acid- Blocking Medicine
Medications such as Protonix, Prevacid, Zantac, Nexium, Aciphex, Prilosec, are powerful acid-suppressing medications. Many people take them for years without knowing that they increase the risk for osteoporosis and fractures. In one study published in the JAMA, taking these medications for four years increased the risk for hip fracture by nearly 60%. While no clinical trials have been conducted with MK4 and acid-blocking medications, MK4 has been shown to decrease bone loss and fractures due to many medications, including prednisone, leuprolide, and phenytoin.

What About Taking Bone-Building Drugs?
You might think that a MK4 supplement would be a lightweight compared to the widely prescribed bisphosphonate drugs, such as alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel), raloxifene (Evista), and zoledronic acid (Zometa). But drugs are less effective at decreasing fracture risk than vitamin K. For example, Fosamax decreases vertebral fracture risk by 47%, compared with a reduction of up to 60% for MK4. And the latest research shows that these bone-building drugs can hurt your health, causing esophageal cancer, heart problems, osteonecrosis of the jaw, and even increased fracture risk!

If you are concerned about losing bone density in the natural aging process, or you currently have low bone density, consider adding Osteo-K to your supplement regime.

Caution: If you are taking the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin), talk to your doctor before taking any type of supplemental vitamin K, which can block the action of the drug.

John Neustadt, ND is co-founder and president of NBI Health, has published more than 100 scholarly research reviews and consumer articles and is editor of the textbook, Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine. He has appeared on local, national, and international radio shows reaching more than two million listeners. In August 2008, Dr. Neustadt was voted Best Doctor in the annual Best of Bozeman (MT) survey. Dr. Neustadt, along with Steve Pieczenik, MD, PhD, authored three medical books.

References:
Siris ES, Chen Y-T, Abbott TA. Bone Mineral Density Thresholds for Pharmacological Intervention to Prevent Fractures. Arch Intern Med 2004;164:1108-12.
Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Torgerson DJ.. Vitamin K and the Prevention of Fractures: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials Arch Intern Med 2006;166:1256-61.
Yang YX, Lewis JD, Epstein S, Metz DC. Long-term proton pump inhibitor therapy and risk of hip fracture. JAMA. 2006;296(24):2947-2953.

June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

Super Zeaxanthin to Support Super Vision, Day and Night

Submitted by Life Extension Foundation

The eye is a highly complex organ that detects light and converts it to electrochemical impulses in neurons. It must safely harvest, control, focus, and react to light in order to produce vision. Light enters the anterior (front) portion of the eye through the clear cornea and fluid-like aqueous humor, and is then focused by the clear lens before entering the gel-like vitreous humor. It must pass through a nerve layer of ganglions connected to photoreceptors (both rods and cones) where light signals are converted to electrical signals that are transported to the brain. Behind the photoreceptors is the retinal pigmented epithelium, which nourishes the retinal visual cells and removes waste from the constantly active photoreceptor cells. The retinal pigmented epithelium rests on a thin, connective tissue-like support structure called Bruch’s membrane (vitreous lamina), which also serves to create a blood-brain barrier for transport of nutrients, waste products, and critical oxygen. The macular region of the human retina is yellow in color due to the presence of the macular pigment, composed of two dietary xanthophylls, lutein and zeaxanthin, and another xanthophyll, meso-zeaxanthin. The latter is formed from lutein in the retina.

By absorbing blue light, carotenoids protect delicate photoreceptor cells in the retina’s macula from light damage. The density of your macular pigment (composed of lutein, zeaxanthin, and meso-zeaxanthin) is essential to proper vision. These carotenoids act as antioxidants and protect the macula from damage by photo-initiated oxidative stress. Unfortunately, this density declines naturally over time. Some aging people also lose their ability to convert lutein into meso-zeaxanthin inside their macula. Eating lots of lutein- and zeaxanthin-containing vegetables can help maintain the structural integrity of the macula. However, since meso-zeaxanthin is not part of the typical diet, it cannot be replaced except in supplement form.

This Super Zeaxanthin with Lutein, Meso-Zeaxanthin, plus Astaxanthin and C3G formula, from Life Extension, provides therapeutic doses of all three carotenoids to help protect your precious eyesight, plus an additional carotenoid, astaxanthin, to help fight eye fatigue.

Super Zeaxanthin formula now includes C3G (Cyanidin-3-glucoside), a cutting-edge berry flavonoid compound that helps to stimulate regeneration of rhodopsin. Rhodopsin is a compound in the eyes that absorbs light in the retina. As rhodopsin dramatically declines over time, it leads to a progressive loss of night vision. By helping to maintain rhodopsin, C3G helps to support night vision.

References:
1. Ophthalmology. 2008;115(2):324-333.e2.
2. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1993;34(6):2033–2040.
3. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Apr;49(4):1679-85.
4. J Med Liban. 2009 Oct-Dec;57(4):261-7.
5. Report by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Sept. 2001

May 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

Professional Strength Greens with Capros®

Submitted by Innate Response Formulas

Renewal Greens, by Innate Response Formulas, is a professional strength greens drink that has clinically proven benefits, boasting absolutely no fillers of any kind. It is a completely grain-free and dairy-free formulation, making it ideal for gut health protocols and detoxification. A unique feature of Renewal Greens is that it contains Capros, a superfood derived from Indian gooseberry that has proven to support cardiovascular health.

Clinically Proven Benefits
Capros (Phyllanthus emblica) is traditionally used in Ayuervedic medicine to support healthy skin because of its effective detoxifying and rejuvenating capabilities. Capros has recently been shown to inhibit the activity of collagenase, an enzyme that breaks down and degrades collagen. Capros protects the skin’s collagen, an important factor in maintaining healthy skin and protecting the skin from premature aging. It also protects against oxidative stress by serving as a powerful and broad-spectrum natural antioxidant. Capros, combined with a broad phytochemical blend helps restore pH balance to the body and provides cardiovascular support.

The Ideal Greens for Promoting Gut Health
To maximize digestive health, a greens formula should be made without grains such as corn, gluten, rice, or fillers. Gluten and similar proteins found in grains can be difficult to break down. Cereal grains tend to have proteins that are high in the amino acid “proline.” These prolamines (proline-rich proteins) are tough to digest, resulting in gut irritation.
Another sign of a good greens formula is the absence of lectins, a group of proteins commonly found in cereal grains (even those that are gluten-free), soy, and legumes. The digestibility of lectins varies greatly from person to person, but for some, certain lectins are not broken down in the normal digestive process. This leaves large, intact proteins in the gut, leading to irritation and nutrient absorption difficulties.
Dairy provokes an inflammatory response in the gut, spikes insulin levels, and has an acidifying effect on the body; therefore, it should be avoided in a greens formula.
The ideal greens formula contains digestive enzymes and probiotics to support gut health and the overall health of the digestive system.

Great Taste Without Compromise
Compliance can be difficult when it comes to changing long-standing diet and exercise preferences. If you are not getting enough vegetables and fruits in your diet, a greens drink is an excellent way to introduce vital nourishment into your daily routine. Renewal Greens is packed with over 40 different fruits, vegetables, and botanicals per serving — specifically formulated to increase daily nutrient intake. Renewal Greens has no added sugar — just the pure, wonderful taste of a variety of organic foods and herbs. It is completely free of anything synthetic or artificial, and is gluten-, lectin-, and dairy-free. Renewal Greens is also casein- and whey-free, and the probiotics included are grown from lactose-free sources. Suitable for vegans and vegetarians, Renewal Greens products are vigorously tested for herbicides, pesticides, and heavy metals to ensure a potent, pure health solution. As a part of the product development process, Renewal Greens has been compared to other greens powders in blinded tests and it always comes out on top, cementing it as the best-tasting professional-strength greens product available.

May 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

Healthy Mouth = Healthy Person

Submitted by Everyday Throat Spray

BreatheSeasonal allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to pollen from flowers, weeds, and trees, causing the body to release an inflammatory substance called histamine. The symptoms from these allergens include sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, and irritation in the throat.

A good throat spray can help alleviate allergic irritation, with ingredients such as osha root and echinacea. Throat spray can also relieve a sore throat from a cold, remedy bad breath, and prevent periodontitis, a condition that can lead to more serious health problems such as heart disease.

A Natural Solution
Everyday Throat Spray is an all-natural, certified-organic throat spray that was designed to address everything from bad breath to a sore throat. The secret to Everyday Throat Spray is its very unique formula which was made in conjunction with a medical herbalist. For throat sprays to be effective, they need to be used on a regular basis, so we took care to create a flavor that tastes great. The following ingredients in Everyday Throat Spray address all aspects of treating infections, viruses, and inflammation to maintain good oral health.

Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver has been known as a remarkably effective natural antibiotic for centuries. It aids in killing unwanted bacteria to help keep the mouth, gums, and throat healthy and fresh.

Osha Root
Osha has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, making it the ideal antidote for viral infections of the sinuses, throat, and upper and lower respiratory systems. It helps bring up respiratory secretions and relaxes smooth muscles, making it beneficial for coughs and asthmatic breathing difficulties.

Echinacea
Echinacea supports the immune system to reduce infections and relieve sore throats.

Ginger
Ginger helps create a feeling of warmth and well-being. It has an anti-inflammatory action and helps alleviate persistent coughs, colds and flu, and other related problems of the respiratory system.

Licorice
Licorice’s effect on respiratory problems is mainly due to the presence of glycyrrhizin in it, which acts as an expectorant and helps prevent and ease coughing. Glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than sugar lends a subtle, sweet flavor, and acts as an anti-inflammatory and antiallergenic.

Peppermint Oil
The essence of peppermint has both cooling and warming properties, and gives a pleasant flavor to the throat spray.

May 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Three Supplements to Prevent Insulin Resistance

By Dr. Jen Morganti

November is “National Diabetes Month”, but as a Naturopathic Doctor, I would prefer to rename it “National Insulin Resistance Month.” Focusing on this condition is the most effective way to reduce the incidence of diabetes. Insulin resistance tends to lead to Type 2 diabetes, which is primarily developed in adulthood and accounts for over 90% of diabetic cases. Bad habits, such as fast food, sedentary lifestyle, and smoking are all contributors. The good news is that it is largely avoidable or correctable through basic diet and lifestyle modifications. Type 1 diabetes, typically diagnosed at a younger age, tends to be related to genetics or autoimmune disease. In both cases, there is not enough insulin being produced by the pancreas to handle glucose in the blood.

The role of insulin, produced by the pancreas, is to shuttle glucose (sugar) to tissue cells to store for use as energy. When cells’ insulin receptors are resistant to insulin, they ignore the glucose delivery, so blood levels increase. The pancreas is programmed to respond by producing more insulin. Eventually both insulin and glucose levels become elevated and the pancreas exhausts itself, yet cells aren’t getting the energy that they require. The excess glucose in the blood must be reduced by whatever means necessary; if it can’t be delivered to cells, it ultimately converts into fatty acids and stores in tissues as fat. Insulin resistance ultimately leads to weight gain, manifesting as a “spare tire” around the waist.

To put the brakes on the insulin/glucose culmination, let’s take one step back and ask what causes cells to stop responding to insulin in the first place? One of the key culprits is excessive inflammation, which has been created by fat cells, especially when there are a lot of them. Fat secretes inflammatory chemicals (called cytokines) that cause cells to become resistant to insulin. Insulin resistance in turn triggers sugar to be converted to more fat. The cycle perpetuates itself; fat cells cause insulin resistance, and insulin resistance contributes to fat cells and weight gain.

To break the vicious cycle, we need to question where the extra fat cells came from because they are responsible for producing inflammatory chemicals. The simple answer is the Standard American Diet (SAD). Those fast, convenient, processed meals are full of saturated fat and sugar, which increase the size and number of pro-inflammatory fat cells. So the unavoidable first step towards diabetes prevention requires switching to a nutrition-packed, moderate-calorie, anti-inflammatory, whole foods diet. The result will surely be weight loss and diminished inflammation, with cells regaining the ability to respond to insulin appropriately.

After establishing a solid foundation of healthy foods, add some herbs and nutrients that act to diminish inflammation and potentially improve insulin sensitivity. The herbal extract curcumin, derived from the tasty Indian spice turmeric, has been the subject of thousands of studies. One of the known super powers possessed by curcumin is it’s antiinflammatory activity, which, among other things, may effectively improve cells’ sensitivity to insulin and lower blood sugar levels.

A second delicious spice that helps prevent insulin resistance is cinnamon extract. There have been some conflicting studies about cinnamon’s role, but on a positive note, certain cinnamon extracts have been shown to reduce secretion of inflammatory cytokines from fat cells. By decreasing overall inflammation, cells become more sensitive to insulin. Cinnamon has also been shown in studies to reduce the amount of insulin released after eating, and helps keep blood sugar levels balanced. You can benefit from adding cinnamon to food on a daily basis, and take a standardized extract in pill form.

The recent plethora of vitamin D research has helped establish its potent anti-inflammatory actions, so it comes as no surprise to find that vitamin D deficiency is related to increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. A few studies have suggested that supplementing with vitamin D may improve insulin resistance. Anyone struggling to fend off diabetes should take a simple vitamin D blood test, setting a goal of over 50 dl/ml. That goal becomes more achievable when supplementing with 2,000- 5,000 IU of vitamin D a day.

Ultimately, inflammation is at the root of insulin resistance and diabetes. The key to prevention is dietary modification and supplementation to aid in weight loss and decreased inflammation. Under these conditions, insulin resistance can be reversed and blood sugar levels normalized.

References:
J Clin Invest. 2006;116 (7):1793–1801
Eur J Nutr. 2011 Apr; 50 (3):151-61
Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2011; 4:205-12
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep; 65(9):1005-15

November 4, 2011 at 11:46 am 2 comments

Congratulations to our Contest Winner!

Congrats to L.P. from central New York! She won a free copy of the Whole Life Nutririon Cookbook and a free consultation with Tom Malterre, CN. Here was her submission, and as she replied when asked for permission to publish her story; “This is my soapbox” .

“I have been gluten free for six years.  My first challenge was accepting the diagnosis because I had not been sick.  My doctor found it looking for an answer to another problem. To begin one has to understand that we are a society whose food is wheat based and the majority of gatherings include food.  Therefore, I am constantly explaining why I cannot eat something. It is hard to convince people that “just a little” won’t hurt. Even my own mother still says, “I can’t believe that you can’t have a little bit”.  When you don’t appear sick, then you must be OK, right?  Going along with this is finding suitable substitutions for the things that one has loved.  I like to cook and have a good sense of taste so I have done a lot of experimenting.  Lately, however many, many new items have come to market which are good but you never know until you try them. Some of the products available are not great.  I feel like a super sleuth detecting all the hidden sources of gluten.  It takes a lot time and energy.  I even had a pharmaceutical company tell me that their product may or may not have gluten so I should try it and see what happens.”

We hope this enticing cookbook will help L.P. further expand her meal options, and that the consultation with Tom helps to make her day-to-day challenges a little easier!

October 31, 2011 at 7:22 pm Leave a comment

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