Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’
By Jen Morganti, ND, NEEDS Education Director
One of the most common nutrient deficiencies associated with a poorly functioning thyroid is iodine. But other nutrients are also critical for a healthy thyroid. A form of thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s disease, is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies attack important enzymes involved in thyroid hormone production. The end result is hypothyroid symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, joint stiffness, or unexplainable weight gain.
Autoimmune diseases are typically triggered by excessive inflammation which can be caused by factors, such as food sensitivities or leaky gut problems. Nutrient deficiencies may occur and in the case of Hashimoto’s, vitamin D deficiency is common. This deficiency is acknowledged by mainstream medicine, but what is not understood is if D deficiency is the cause or result of the disease.
A study done in Greece, a region known for abundant sunshine and presumably plenty of vitamin D (via synthesis in the skin) explored the connection between vitamin D and Hashimoto’s disease. Researchers set out to investigate the number of Hashimoto’s patients who were deficient in vitamin D and to determine the outcome of replenishing the nutrient in the cases of deficiency.
Out of 218 Greek Hashimoto’s patients, the rate of vitamin D deficiency (set at <20ng/mL) was a remarkable 86%. Most of these patients were found to get plenty of daily sun exposure and shouldn’t have been deficient. So it’s plausible that their ability to convert sun exposure to vitamin D was impaired for some reason. The goal of the study was to increase vitamin D levels in the deficient patients to at least 20ng/mL. They took 1200 IU – 4000 IU vitamin D3 daily to achieve this goal.
To determine the effect of increasing vitamin D levels on the disease, anti- TPO levels were measured before and after the study. Anti-TPO antibodies are the marker for this particular autoimmune disease and higher levels indicate a more severe case of Hashimoto’s disease.
When the four month study was complete, anti-TPO antibodies decreased significantly—on average about 20%. Based on this limited study, it seems that vitamin D deficiency was at least partly the cause of Hashimoto’s. Because of their initial success, it would have been interesting to extend the study and see if continuing vitamin D supplementation dropped anti-TPO antibodies further over the course of the following year.
Vitamin D is surely not the only factor to cause Hashimoto’s disease, but it appears that being deficient in the nutrient can be one of the triggers for this autoimmune disease for those whom are predisposed. If you suffer from Hashimoto’s or have a family history of it be sure to check your D levels, but also investigate food allergies, especially gluten sensitivity, and take a good multivitamin to get the necessary co-factors for thyroid hormone production.
By Jen Morganti, ND, NEEDS Education Director
About 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack annually, equal to about 1 every 43 seconds. About one-third of those heart attacks are not the first incident. Surviving and recovering from a heart attack (myocardial infarction or “MI”) is a major relief, but it’s not the end of the story. A heart attack can cause damage to the heart and if it doesn’t heal properly, there is risk of progressing to heart failure.
The structure and function of the heart ventricles, the two lower chambers of the heart that collect and pump out circulating blood, can be damaged from a MI. Standard pharmaceutical medications do not offer options to improve ventricle healing.
A recent study explored the possibility of fish oil being used to help the heart heal. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, MI patients took either 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids or 4 grams of corn oil as placebo. This study lasted 6 months. At the beginning and end of the study, scientists tested the patient’s “left ventricular end-systolic volume”, which basically means the amount of blood left in the ventricle after pumping it out. A strong, healthy heart will pump out all of the blood, but residual blood in the chamber is the sign of a weaker heart.
At the end of the 6-month study, the people taking omega-3 fatty acids had a significant improvement in their heart ventricle performance as compared to those taking the placebo. The fish oil group also had a significant increase in omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. The researchers also noted a trend that suggested that those with the highest levels of omega-3 had the best rate of improvement in ventricle function.
Previous studies have confirmed that fish oil can be helpful for preventing cardiovascular disease in patients who have it or are at risk, but this is the first study to look specifically at how omega-3 fats can heal the heart tissue after a MI. A longer term study with ongoing fish oil supplementation would be helpful to determine if the healing prevents progression to heart failure.
Effect of Omega-3 Acid Ethyl Esters on Left Ventricular Remodeling After Acute Myocardial Infarction, Bobak Heydari, et. al. Circulation. 2016; 134:378-391, published online before print August 1, 2016.
Artham SM, Lavie CJ, Milani RV, Anand RG, O’Keefe JH, Ventura HO. Fish Oil in Primary and Secondary Cardiovascular Prevention. The Ochsner Journal. 2008; 8(2):49-60.
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, NEEDS Director of Education
A beneficial but lesser-known nutrient making its way onto nutrition facts labels is choline, an essential nutrient associated with heart health, improved liver function, maternal and fetal health, child development, cognition, and sports performance. In the first update to the nutrition facts label in 20 years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for manufacturers to voluntarily label choline, paving the way to help Americans look for and include this essential nutrient as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
In addition, for the first time, the FDA established a reference daily intake (RDI) for choline of 550 mg per day, which was the adequate intake (AI) amount set in 1998 by the Institute of Medicine—now the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Health, and Medicine Division. Despite choline’s recognized and well-established health benefits, almost 90% of Americans are not getting enough choline every day.
“Choline is perhaps one of the most underrated nutrients, yet a large body of evidence supports a range of benefits at all life stages, from maternal health and infant nutrition to healthy aging,” said Marie Caudill, PhD, RD and professor in nutritional sciences at Cornell University. “By using the Nutrition Facts label to check choline amounts in foods, Americans will soon be able to look for this essential nutrient and better meet their daily goals.”
Food sources of choline include eggs, beef, chicken, fish, certain seafood, toasted wheat germ, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. Some multivitamins and prenatal vitamins contain choline and certain packaged foods, such as infant formula, may be fortified with choline to boost intake. Foods with at least 55 mg of choline per serving are considered a “good source” of the nutrient.
Excerpted from the Choline Information Council website: http://cholinecouncil.com/ latest_information/cholinelabel.
By Jen Morganti, ND, NEEDS Education Director
They say you can’t stop time, but you can slow the aging process to help you look and feel your best! Part of the secret is to protect mitochondria, those pint-size powerhouses that make energy (ATP) for our cells, tissues, and organs. Mitochondria slow down with age and cause some of the physical manifestations of aging, such as fatigue, weaker muscles, declining brain cell communication, and slower organ regeneration.
Scientists have recently discovered another role that mitochondria play beyond ATP production—they contribute to the activity of stem cells. You probably have heard about stem cells in the context of stem cell treatments, which uses stem cells from other sources to treat various conditions, such as heart disease, joint disease, and neurodegenerative conditions. But in this case, we are talking about the stem cells that naturally exist in our body. They are essential for restoration of organs and muscles; however, as we age they tend to slow down and become less effective with their regenerative powers.
One way to restore the capacity of mitochondria and consequentially stem cells may be through nutrients. A new study found that a type of B vitamin, called nicotinamide riboside, may provide rejuvenation to stem cells and help with muscle regeneration in older people, based on test results in mice. If the effect is similar in humans, it means there is potential for improving muscle and cell regeneration as we age, which equates to improved energy for more activities and potentially less muscle stiffness and pain.
Nicotinamide riboside is a nutrient that boosts NAD production, a vitamin B-like compound found in all living cells, which is used in the mitochondrial production of energy (ATP). It’s through this NAD/ATP production pathway that nicotinamide riboside boosts mitochondria and therefore boosts stem cell function. This study on mice has shown how nicotinamide riboside can help activate muscle stem cells, but it also theorizes that this benefit may extend to nerve and skin cells—meaning better cognitive function, less wrinkles, and slower aging.
Nicotinamide riboside isn’t a magic bullet for anti-aging because there are many other facets to the aging process, such as hormone decline, including thyroid, progesterone, or testosterone, as well as free radical damage that must be addressed. But, this form of B vitamin is a good addition to any comprehensive plan for healthy aging and could help combat some of the visible signs of aging.
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, NEEDS Director of Education
If you have ever tried yoga, you already know how wonderfully de-stressing and energizing it can be. But what you may not have realized is that it can also help lower cholesterol! A recent small study was conducted in India to determine if a consistent yoga program could help address high cholesterol. Twenty-two women who took thyroid medication for hypothyroidism participated in this study. All had high cholesterol—a common symptom related to low thyroid—high TSH, low thyroid, and all took prescription thyroid medication.
In this study, the women participated in intense yoga practice for one hour daily for six months. The yoga sessions included sun salutations, meditation, breathing practices, and a variety of yoga postures. After practicing for six months, it was shown that their total cholesterol and triglycerides decreased significantly, and their HDL (beneficial cholesterol) increased significantly. There were only slight improvements in thyroid issues; TSH levels decreased slightly, but not significantly, and seven of the twenty-two women were able to lower their thyroid medication doses.
High cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis or “clogged arteries,” putting a person at risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and heart attack. Statin drugs are commonly prescribed to reduce cholesterol levels, but they come with risk for other side effects, such as muscle pain, liver damage, and neurological effects. So it makes sense to try alternative, natural treatments to lower cholesterol as an initial trial. It would be wise to take red yeast rice, fish oil, and milk thistle to lower cholesterol levels, along with healthy eating and a consistent yoga practice.
This small but interesting study indicates that long term yoga practice may be part of an effective plan for reducing stress, balancing thyroid hormones, and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease.
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, NEEDS Director of Education
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that almost 10 percent of the U.S. population has Type-2 diabetes, and over one third of U.S. cases go undiagnosed. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death and because of a large aging population, statistics are expected to continue to increase steadily.
People with diabetes have high blood-sugar levels (hyperglycemia) caused by insulin resistance or insulin deficiency. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and acts like a taxi that shuttles glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells, where it is either stored or made into energy (ATP).
Insulin resistance occurs when there is plenty of glucose in the blood, but the cells block insulin from entering and refuse delivery of glucose. In diabetes, there isn’t enough insulin, usually because of pancreas dysfunction due to the constant stress of producing more and more insulin.
There are two types of diabetes, Type-1 and Type-2. Type-2 is by far the most prevalent type, yet it is highly preventable and treatable through lifestyle modifications. Type-2 was once called “adult-onset diabetes,” but that term has faded over the past decade because it is now showing up increasingly in younger people. Type-2 diabetes develops due to a combination of genetics, lack of exercise, and most significantly, poor dietary choices. As we get older, the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes increases due to the compounded effects of chronically elevated blood sugar levels, which put excessive strain on the pancreas.
Type-1 diabetes is primarily diagnosed in children. Their pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. It isn’t the result of lifestyle and environmental factors; therefore, it can only be treated by delivering insulin through injection. Only 5% of the U.S. cases of diabetes are Type-1 and there are no known alternative treatments.
Escalating Rates of Diabetes in the U.S.
Some of the complications of hyperglycemia and diabetes include obesity, cataracts, glaucoma, blindness, nerve damage, periodontitis. Other conditions and complications related to cardiovascular disease include: high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and hypertension. The combination of hyperglycemia, cardiovascular disorders, and obesity constitutes metabolic syndrome, causing an escalated risk of heart attack. It is estimated that over 30% of the U.S. population has metabolic syndrome.
Type-2 diabetes is most prevalent and most within our control to reverse, with a little determination and commitment. The rate of diabetes in the U.S. would significantly decline if we focused on better dietary choices and using supplements that are proven to control blood glucose, rather than depending on drugs to regulate insulin and blood sugar.
Recently, a study was presented at the Endocrine Society Annual Meeting about the effects of adding healthy protein to the diet to help stabilize blood sugar and encourage weight loss. Researchers contended that the key to healthy weight loss and blood-sugar stabilization is a diet plan that includes a high calorie, high-protein breakfast, a medium-sized lunch, and a smaller dinner, which is practically the exact opposite of how many Americans eat.
The focus of the study was to determine if the quality of protein was significant. Study participants had type-2 diabetes and were overweight or obese. They were divided into three groups: group one ate primarily whey protein shakes for breakfast, group two had other protein sources, such as eggs, tuna, or soy for breakfast, and group three had a high-carb breakfast. After 12 weeks, group one lost almost 17 pounds, group two lost over 13 pounds and the high carb breakfast group lost almost 7 pounds. Group one also showed the most improvement in HbA1C blood levels, which is an indicator that blood-sugar levels were more stable over the long run as compared to the other two groups.
Beyond adding whey protein to your meals, these supplements have been found to help support stable blood sugar levels:
Berberine: A large body of research shows that berberine helps improve insulin resistance and stabilizes blood sugar levels, sometimes as well as metformin, a diabetic medication.
Chromium: Improves sensitivity to insulin, helps lower blood sugar. Recommendation: up to 1,000 mcg/day.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: A strong antioxidant. Improves insulin sensitivity and prevents or slows kidney damage; also improves symptoms of diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain). Recommendation: 600-1,200 mg/day.
Magnesium: May improve insulin production in the elderly. Also shown to prevent diabetic retinopathy—a major cause of blindness. Recommendation: 200-600 mg/day
Vitamin E: Those with low levels of vitamin E are more likely to develop diabetes. Shown to improve insulin resistance and decrease damage to nerves, eyes, and kidneys; also reduces chances of stroke. Recommendation: 800 IU/day.
B-vitamins: Shown to reduce blood sugar. B12 may significantly reduce nerve pain and improve nerve functioning when given orally at 500 mcg three times daily. Biotin, another B vitamin, has profound benefits for many with diabetes when given at 16 mg/day for a few weeks; some people’s fasting blood sugar reduced by as much as 50 percent.
The key is to prevent the progression of diabetes as early as possible. With proper diet, exercise, and supplements, you can improve blood-sugar stability and prevent the damaging effects of insulin resistance.
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-04-large-whey-proteinbreakfast-diabetes.html JAMA May 19, 2015, Vol 313, No. 19 http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/age/fig1.htm
Carol B. Blair, BS, DiHom, CNC
We’ve all heard the ads about high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) with the catch phrase “Sugar is sugar.” Not true! Because high-fructose corn syrup is derived from corn (genetically modified, at that), the corn industry tried to call it “corn sugar,” but the FDA denied their claim. As you know, I am not a fan of the FDA, but it appears they finally got something right!
High-fructose corn syrup is highly processed and that processing comes with a price.
First and foremost, according to research published in Environmental Health, most of it is contaminated with mercury, which is used in the processing. Mercury is a poison linked to brain disorders including tremors, Parkinson’s, memory loss, and even Alzheimer’s. Remember the “mad hatters?” That term was coined because mercury was used in the hat-making process, and the makers went “mad.”
Due to the fact that high-fructose corn syrup metabolizes to fat very quickly in the body, and because of its rapid absorption into the blood stream, it causes insulin spikes. Weight gain is the result because insulin is a fat-storing hormone. Also, Dr. Mark Hyman states that HFCS “goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol); this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called ‘fatty liver,’ which affects 70 million people.” Other metabolic disturbances such as increased appetite, accelerated aging, and diabetes also occur.
So what are some of the major products that contain high-fructose corn syrup? Unless you are a label reader (I am!), you’ll probably be surprised. Here are some of the common ones: cereal, salad dressing, pudding mixes, many yogurts (you just think you’re eating something healthy with many brands), candy, chocolate bars, ketchup, juices, bread, and pizza sauce. However, soft drinks are the biggest culprit of all. Many people have a very bad habit of drinking soft drinks instead of water. Don’t make the mistake of drinking low calorie, artificially sweetened, soft drinks as a replacement. I haven’t decided yet which one is worse–the high-fructose corn syrup or the artificial sweeteners!
We all know sugar isn’t good for us but the catch phrase, “Sugar is sugar,” is not true. High-fructose corn syrup is used because it is cheap–plain and simple. Don’t sacrifice your health for it.