3 Top Supplements for Cold And Flu

20 Oct

 

There is an endless list of natural approaches which people use to prevent or treat colds and flu, but not all have clinical evidence behind them. The following supplements, however, have shown an ability to help prevent or shorten a cold in most studies, and, in the case of vitamin D, to even reduce the risk of flu and pneumonia when it is used to correct a vitamin deficiency. In each case, you need to take the right supplement, at the right time, and in the right way to have the best chance of success. As I have said on the Dr. Oz Show in the past, you don’t always get what you want with dietary supplements, but my top picks, based on ConsumerLab.com’s latest tests, are listed below.

 Echinacea

Echinacea has a long history of use for treating respiratory infections. It’s not well understood how it works, but several studies show that echinacea can help you get over a cold faster and reduce symptoms.

Dr. Oz’s top picks are:

  1. Swanson Superior Herbs Elderberry Echinacea Goldenseal Immune Complex
  2. Gaia Herbs Echinacea Supreme Liquid
  3. A. Vogel Echinaforce

You need to be extra careful when choosing supplements with echinacea. Some herbal formulas list echinacea as part of a “blend” or “proprietary formula,” but fail to specify the amount or type of echinacea. All three of the products above list the right amount of extract from the types of echinacea which have been well studied.

The Swanson and Gaia products have also been checked by ConsumerLab.com to be sure they’re not contaminated with heavy metals, microbes and chlorinated pesticides. They also include ingredients, such as elderberry in the Swanson product, which may further help with colds. The A. Vogel product has not yet been tested by ConsumerLab.com, but a clinical study published after we completed our tests found it to reduce the number of cold episodes and their duration by 26% if taken throughout the cold season.

You should start using echinacea at the first sign of a cold, taking a total of about 900 mg of extract divided into two or three doses per day for one to two weeks. Echinacea should not be given to children under 12 and has not been well studied for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women. People taking immunosuppressants or with progressive systemic diseases like tuberculosis or multiple sclerosis or autoimmune conditions should consult a doctor before use.

Zinc
Zinc can be helpful for colds in two ways: First, your immune system needs zinc, so you want to be sure you’re not deficient – which is not uncommon in older people. Second, when taken as a lozenge, zinc works on the throat and can reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms. However, when used to treat a cold, zinc has to act directly on your throat where it may kill viruses. Just swallowing or even chewing a zinc supplement defeats the purpose. In fact, getting too much zinc may actually reduce your immunity.

ConsumerLab.com found the following three supplements contained the zinc they claimed without unwanted contamination from lead, a heavy metal which sometimes contaminates mineral supplements. Cold-Eeze has been clinically tested and found to work, providing 13.3 mg of zinc per lozenge and proper instructions on how it should be used. The ZAND lozenge has about half the zinc as Cold-Eeze, although it includes herbs which may be soothing on the throat. The last product is a zinc pill which would only be appropriate for treating zinc deficiency diagnosed by your doctor.

  1. Cold-Eeze Homeopathic Cold Remedy
  2. Zand Lemon Zinc Herbal Lozenge
  3. Vitamin World Chelated Zinc 50 mg

The Cold-Eeze lozenge should be taken at the first sign of a cold and allowed to dissolve in the mouth every two hours during the day. The lozenges should not be taken one after the other like candy, and should not be used for more than a week because the total daily dose of zinc is fairly high and would be unsafe if taken for too long. Note that recommended dosing may be different for children and pregnant women.

Vitamin D
3
Taking vitamin D3 is unlikely to help people who are not deficient in it. However, when vitamin D3 is given to people who are deficient, which is the case for as much as 40% of Americans, it does amazing things including reducing the risk of the flu and respiratory infections, including pneumonia. You’re more likely to be deficient if you don’t get out in the sun much (or if your extremities are totally covered with clothing or sunscreen when you do) and don’t consume much dairy or other foods with vitamin D. People with dark skin, the elderly, and those who are obese are more likely to be deficient.

You also don’t want to overdo it with vitamin D and, unfortunately, our tests have found some popular supplements to contain as much as 80% more vitamin D3 than listed. ConsumerLab has found the following to contain what they claim, plus, the dosage is moderate, they’re easy to take, and they cost just one to three cents per day.

  1. Vitacost Baby D3’s (400 IU per drop)
  2. Source Naturals Vitamin D-3 Drops (400 IU per drop)
  3. Spring Valley (Wal-Mart) D-3 (1,000 IU per soft gel)

The Baby D drops have no taste and it’s easy to add one or two drops (400 IU to 800 IU) to a food or beverage. By taking vitamin D with food, particularly those with fats or oils, you increase its absorption by as much as 50%. For people who normally don’t get enough vitamin D, 400 IU to 1000 IU daily may be needed year-round, and even higher amounts may be required to initially get levels up, such as 2,000 IU per day for several weeks – but check with your doctor. Ideally, your blood plasma level of vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) should be 20 to 30 ng/mL. Each 100 IU should boost your level by 1 ng/mL, although, if you are obese, 200 IU is required for the same rise, as vitamin D is fat soluble. There is growing evidence that some of the benefits of vitamin D start being lost as levels rise past 35 ng/mL and may not be safe above 50 ng/mL. People with hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria as well as heart disease should be particularly sure to consult their doctor before use.

More details about echinacea, zinc, and vitamin D supplements, including test results for many brands not mentioned above, are included in ConsumerLab.com’s online reports, which you can access for a limited time with 24-hour pass for Dr. Oz viewers at ConsumerLab.com/DoctorOz.

Help You Gut

17 Oct

Everydayroots - 12 Home Remedies To Get Rid of Gas And Bloating

Let us launch our journey to digestive health and banishing the bloat by eliminating the Terrible Trio from the diet: sugar, gluten and dairy.

What to Eliminate

Sugar drives inflammation and adds the “empty calories” that make healthy weight almost impossible. By emphasizing whole foods, especially vegetables and fruits, we’re saying good-bye to processed foods with all their added sugar and potentially toxic chemical ingredients. That includes sugary sodas, sweetened drinks, teas, artificial sweeteners and fruit juice.

Gluten, a protein compound, is found in wheat and other common grains and virtually everywhere in the processed food supply. Lose it! For many people, especially women, gluten triggers an immune-system response that can result in digestive upset, bloating and symptoms that pop up anywhere in the body, including fatigue and depression.

Dairy is probably the most common food sensitivity, causing bloat, gas and IBS-type symptoms. We’ll find out if dairy is causing you problems by eliminating it for the first and second weeks.

What to Limit

Give your gut a vacation from potential irritants by limiting:

  • Grains: Only a couple servings of gluten-free grains a week. On the good-to-eat list are: brown rice, certified gluten-free oats, and so-called “pseudo-grains” like quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth.
  • Caffeinated beverages: No more than one 8-ounce cup of coffee or two cups of tea (green, white or black) a day, without milk or cream.
  • Alcohol: None

What to Embrace

FFP: Fiber, fat and protein. That’s how I sum up how you should be eating this first week, and for all four weeks of the plan. Whenever you can, load up on vegetables with a full range of colors. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and the fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, helping to protect and maintain digestive health. Also great for fiber, in moderation, are fresh fruit and some whole grains like steel-cut, gluten-free oats; quinoa; and buckwheat. Healthy fats like nuts, seeds and avocados can help make you feel fuller in between meals and give your digestive system time to cleanse itself. Wild fish is a great source of healthy fat and the protein you need for a balanced diet. Lean chicken, turkey and beef, in moderation, are also good sources of protein, B vitamins and minerals like zinc.

How Will I Feel?

Everyone is different, but during this first week many of my clients feel their sugar cravings lessen and their belly calm down, resulting in less bloat and gas.

Add  fermented foods into the mix, foods like unsweetened plain non-milk yogurt and kefir; miso, tempeh and tofu made from soy; and fermented veggies like cabbage (sauerkraut) and beets. The live bacterial cultures in these foods interact with our own gut bacteria. They start working together to help improve our cholesterol, our blood pressure, our immunity, even our mood and they can help us maintain a healthy weight and eliminate bloat.

Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RD, LDN

Improve Your Health With Amino Acids

15 Oct

Improve Your Health With Amino Acid Supplements

When it comes to nutritional supplements, Dr. Whitaker is a firm believer that the most important one you can—and should—take is a high-quality daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. A potent daily multinutrient is the foundation of wellness, regardless of age or health status. Beyond a multi, Dr. Whitaker also recommend adding amino acid supplements for extra support. Here’s why.

What Are Amino Acids?

To fully appreciate the many health benefits of amino acids and amino acid supplements, it helps to have a basic understanding of the role these nutrients play in health and well-being. In a nutshell, amino acids are the essence of life. Using the genetic blueprint, DNA orchestrates the synthesis of amino acids, which link together to form proteins.

Proteins are the essential structural components of the body, making up about half of the dry weight of our cells, and the building blocks of enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and other molecules that signal and regulate cellular activity. Every protein in the human body is made up of various sequences of just 20 genetically-encoded amino acids—other amino acids are modified from these 20.

Obviously, we require a steady supply of amino acids, particularly the eight that cannot be synthesized by the body. That’s why dietary protein is so important—if the cells don’t have access to all the requisite amino acids, protein assimilation falters.

Other Benefits of Amino Acids

In addition to their role in protein production, some amino acids are powerful natural therapies when taken in supplement form. As such, there are a few amino acid supplements, in particular, that I recommend adding to your nutritional supplement arsenal.

Amino Acid Supplements: GABA

Let’s start with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA acts as a neurotransmitter, relaying information from one nerve cell to another. It is an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, meaning that in contrast to “excitatory” neurotransmitters, which facilitate the initiation of nerve impulses in neurons, it blocks them. In fact, GABA is your central nervous system’s most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter.

GABA is active throughout your brain, especially in the limbic system, which is sometimes referred to as your brain’s emotional center, because it is where pleasure, passion, love, hate, fear, and aggression originate. If there’s one area of your brain that needs to find a balance between excitement and inhibition, it’s the limbic system. Whether it’s the euphoria of new love and passion or the black cloud of fear and anxiety, intense emotions arise in the limbic system.

Here’s where GABA supplements come in. When the limbic system is hyper-excited and anxiety, fear, anger, panic, or other negative emotions get the upper hand, GABA restores balance by occupying the receptor sites that calm things down. It simply tones down the emotional alarm bells. If you’ve ever “taken the edge off” by having a cocktail or popping a tranquilizer, you’ve already experienced what I’m talking about. Both alcohol and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax) work their magic by attaching to these same receptor sites.

However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and have a huge abuse potential—and we all know the downside of too much alcohol. GABA supplements, on the other hand, are non-addictive, well tolerated, and have none of the drug side effects such as drowsiness, poor concentration and coordination, or a slowdown in reaction time. Available in capsule or powder form, GABA can be used for chronic or situational anxiety (some people take it before flying or public speaking engagements), as well as insomnia (it makes falling asleep easier).

Amino Acid Supplements: Glutamine

Another therapeutic amino acid supplement is glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in your body. Glutamine is especially supportive of the gastrointestinal system and is an excellent therapy for intestinal ailments. This is because it serves as the primary fuel for the enterocytes, the rapidly dividing cells that line the intestinal tract.

The lining of your gut is a highly selective barrier that allows only properly digested nutrients to pass through into the bloodstream while keeping everything else out. Unfortunately, bacterial overgrowth, chronic stress, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and other medications may irritate and damage this lining, creating spaces between the cells that allow larger molecules such as bacteria, toxins, and incompletely digested nutrients to pass through.

Known as intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome, this can set up a whole slew of problems, as well as further damage to the intestines, infections, allergies, and autoimmune diseases as the immune system reacts to these foreign molecules in the blood. In fact, research has shown that glutamine supplements dramatically reduce infections and death rates in hospitalized patients. According to a meta-analysis conducted by Brazilian researchers, “Glutamine administration improves the prognosis of critically ill patients, presumably by maintaining the physiologic intestinal barrier and by reducing the frequency of infections.”

You don’t have to be critically ill to enjoy the benefits of glutamine. By restoring the integrity of the gut lining, glutamine supplements also help patients with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and food allergies. Glutamine supplements also protect against damage caused by long-term use of NSAIDs.

Amino Acid Supplements: Arginine

The third amino acid I want to discuss is L-arginine. Arginine has multiple functions in the body, from muscle maintenance to immune system enhancement to wound healing. Its claim to fame, however, is its effect on the cardiovascular system: Arginine is the precursor to nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide, produced in the endothelial cells lining the arteries, is a signaling molecule that protects the arteries and fights cardiovascular disease on a surprisingly broad number of fronts. It relaxes the smooth muscle cells and causes the arteries to dilate, increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Plus, it reduces inflammation, a primary cause of atherosclerosis. And if that’s not enough, it protects against free radical damage, while also blocking the adhesion of white blood cells to the arterial walls—an early step in plaque formation. All these benefits from one little molecule!

The pharmaceutical companies have long recognized the importance of nitric oxide to vascular health and have come out with all manner of drugs that increase nitric oxide levels, including nitroglycerin for angina and Viagra for erectile dysfunction. But guess what does all this and more? Good old inexpensive, over-the-counter arginine supplements.

Due to arginine’s close relationship with nitric oxide, it’s not surprising that arginine supplements have been shown in clinical studies to reduce angina, improve erectile function, and improve symptoms of patients with heart failure. Other benefits of arginine supplements include lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, enhancing immune function, and increasing levels of growth hormone.

Reap the Benefits of These Amino Acid Supplements

Now that you are aware of the many benefits of amino acids and amino acid supplements, here are my dosage recommendations for each one. Note: Because amino acids are best absorbed on an empty stomach, you should take them 30 minutes before or two hours after meals.

GABA supplements: To relieve anxiety, take 500–750 mg as needed, up to three times daily. For insomnia, take 750 mg an hour before bedtime.

Glutamine supplements: To support intestinal health or to help resolve the conditions mentioned above, take 2–3 grams, in divided doses, daily.

Arginine supplements: For cardiovascular support or help with the other conditions mentioned above, the suggested dose is 2–6 grams, in divided doses, daily. Do not take arginine supplements if you are taking nitroglycerin or another nitrate drug.

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever taken these or other amino acid supplements?

Dr. Whitaker

Beyond Sleep: Other Benefits of Melatonin

13 Oct

Beyond Sleep: Other Benefits of Melatonin

 

Chances are you know that melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland, is an effective natural sleep aid, but that’s not all it is. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant and anti-aging therapy that has been shown to help prevent or treat multiple medical conditions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other lesser-known benefits of melatonin.

Benefits of Melatonin: Help for Heartburn and GERD

Researchers have discovered that one of the benefits of melatonin is its remarkable ability to suppress stomach acid and protect the esophagus from the caustic effects of gastric acid. In one study, 351 people with moderate to severe heartburn were either given the acid blocker Prilosec or a supplement containing 6 mg of melatonin plus B vitamins and amino acids. Within one week, those taking melatonin reported some improvement, and, after 40 days, they had complete resolution of symptoms. Conversely, only 66 percent of the patients on Prilosec had complete relief.

As such, supplemental melatonin is a good option if you’re looking for a remedy for heartburn or a safe, effective method for preventing and treating GERD naturally. The recommended dose of melatonin for GERD is 6 mg, taken 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. Be sure you’re taking a quality multinutrient supplement too, since B vitamins and amino acids appear to boost melatonin’s efficacy.

Benefits of Melatonin: Migraine Prevention and Treatment

Another one of the benefits of melatonin that isn’t widely known is its usefulness for migraine prevention and treatment. Research has shown that melatonin can help reduce the frequency and intensity of these bothersome, painful, and sometimes debilitating attacks.

In a study published in Neurology, researchers administered 3 mg of melatonin to 32 participants every evening, 30 minutes prior to bedtime. After three months of treatment, 78 percent of the subjects reported the frequency of their migraines was cut in half. None reported an increase in headaches. The study also found that the duration of migraines was shortened with melatonin.

If you want to give this safe, natural migraine therapy a try, I suggest following the study’s guidelines. Take 3 mg of melatonin 30 minutes before you turn in for the night.

Benefits of Melatonin: Cardiovascular Protection

Studies show that melatonin is also cardioprotective. Spanish researchers measured the nighttime melatonin levels of heart attack patients in a coronary care unit and then followed them for six months. They discovered that the patients who suffered a subsequent heart attack or sudden cardiac death during the follow-up period had significantly lower levels of melatonin than those who fared well. The dose of melatonin used in most of the studies was 3 mg, taken 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.

Benefits of Melatonin: Diabetes Prevention

You’re probably familiar with most type 2 diabetes risk factors and causes: excess weight, family history, poor diet, and inactivity. But researchers have uncovered another culprit: low levels of melatonin.

Scientists took a close look at 740 women enrolled in the landmark Nurses’ Health Study between 2000 and 2012, half who developed type 2 diabetes during that time and half who did not. Blood samples revealed that the 370 women who remained diabetes-free had markedly higher blood levels of melatonin. This led the researchers to conclude that low nighttime secretion of melatonin nearly doubles the risk of developing diabetes.

Benefits of Melatonin: Ward Off Macular Degeneration

Supplemental melatonin also shows potential in helping to prevent macular degeneration. Due to its powerful antioxidant properties, melatonin protects retinal cells against free radical damage.

In one study, researchers gave 100 patients with age-related macular degeneration 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime for three to six months. They found that the visual acuity in most of these patients remained stable, and there was far less retinal deterioration than expected.

Benefits of Melatonin: Alleviate Tinnitus

A study conducted at the University of Washington School of Medicine suggests that one of the benefits of melatonin is its ability to alleviate the bothersome symptoms of tinnitus—a condition that affects more than 15 million Americans and is characterized by a buzzing, ringing, or humming in one or both ears.

Researchers enrolled 24 patients, ages 18 to 70, who had been suffering with tinnitus for six months or longer and gave them 3 mg of melatonin every day for four weeks. During that time, and for an additional four weeks of follow-up, significant improvements in tinnitus were noted. An added, though not unexpected, bonus was that patients also reported better sleep.

Benefits of Melatonin: Cancer Prevention and Treatment

I want to close with one of the most exciting and promising benefits of melatonin: cancer prevention and treatment. One study showed that melatonin-depleted blood stimulates the growth of tumors in animals, while melatonin-rich blood reduces tumor growth. Canadian researchers also conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies involving patients with tumors of the breast, lung, brain, kidney, and skin who took 10 to 40 mg of melatonin a day. They concluded, “The substantial reduction in risk of death, low adverse events reported, and low costs related to this intervention suggest great potential for melatonin in treating cancer.”

Now it’s your turn: Do you know of, or have you experienced, any other benefits of melatonin?

Heal Your Body With Thermotherapy

10 Oct

Thermotherapy, or heat therapy, turns up in more than 26,000 scientific papers in the National Library of Medicine, and the list of conditions treated is diverse. That’s not surprising since people have been using heat to heal diseases and disorders for millennia. Hippocrates prescribed water and steam baths for pain and skin conditions, Native Americans sat in sweat lodges for rheumatism and other ailments, and cultures around the world have long recognized the healing properties of soaking in hot water.

The reason the benefits of thermotherapy are so diverse is because heat applied to specific areas or systemically to raise body temperature induces a number of physiological changes that result in significant healing throughout the body.

Heal Your Body With Thermotherapy

Benefits of Thermotherapy: Pain Relief

One of the most common applications and benefits of thermotherapy is natural pain relief. Raising tissue temperatures relaxes the muscles, reduces spasms and achiness, and improves range of motion. And because it also dilates the blood vessels, which boosts the delivery of oxygen and nutrients and the removal of metabolic waste products, it facilitates healing as well.

Showers, bathtubs, heating pads, moist towels, and reusable hot packs are great for treating yourself at home. However, as you know, your skin can only take so much direct heat.

High-intensity laser and infrared light therapy radiate specific wavelengths of light through the skin and into the underlying tissues, where they increase tissue temperatures, dilate blood vessels, and rev up cellular metabolism—all of which result in safe, effective pain relief.

Infrared light has a particularly good track record with neuropathy—an often-debilitating condition that is particularly prevalent in the lower extremities of people with diabetes—improving sensation, mobility, and quality of life. I had a patient with severe diabetic neuropathy who hobbled into the clinic on a cane. After treatment with infrared light plus hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the cane was history and he was able to get back on the golf course.

High-intensity laser, which penetrates even deeper, produces remarkable outcomes for all kinds of pain syndromes. A handful of treatments got rid of Louise’s sciatica, James’ plantar fasciitis, Elizabeth’s neck pain, and Teri’s knee injury, which had plagued her for five years.

Benefits of Thermotherapy: Help for Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Cancer

Thermotherapy is also a promising treatment for serious diseases. Heating the entire body and raising the core temperature increases heart rate, cardiac output (the amount of blood being pumped), and circulation. It also triggers the production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that dilates the arteries and protects the vascular endothelium—the thin layer of cells lining the blood vessel walls, which plays a key role in hypertension, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular conditions.

Japanese researchers tested the benefits of thermotherapy in patients with high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity by treating them with two-week courses of 15 minutes of infrared sauna followed by 30 minutes under a warm blanket. Significant improvements were noted across the board—including drops in blood sugar and body fat!

Because the positive effects of systemic thermotherapy on nitric oxide, cardiovascular markers, and insulin sensitivity are remarkably similar to those of exercise, the researchers proposed that regular saunas or hot baths are not only an excellent adjunct therapy but may be a viable option for patients with heart failure, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes who are unable to exercise.

When it comes to the benefits of thermotherapy, the most intense area of research currently underway is cancer. Full-body thermotherapy mimics fever in the sense that it steps up the activity of natural killer cells, T-lymphocytes, and other immune cells. It also has direct effects on tumor cells, which due to their abnormal vasculature are more sensitive to high temperatures. Furthermore, it dramatically increases the uptake of chemotherapeutic agents by malignant cells.

Broad Benefits of Thermotherapy

All of us could use a little heat from time to time. Full-body thermotherapy that works up a sweat mobilizes toxins and facilitates their removal via the skin. Warm compresses relieve muscle aches and dry eyes and help clear up sties, pimples, and minor skin infections. And there’s nothing like a hot, relaxing bath to relieve stress and promote sleep.

Infrared saunas, which use radiant energy to warm the body directly rather than heating the air, feel great and are much more comfortable than conventional saunas. In addition to feeling great, I know I’m reaping multiple health benefits of thermotherapy.

Gaining the Benefits of Thermotherapy

Here is what I recommend for utilizing the different types of heat therapy and specific benefits of thermotherapy:

  • To relieve chronic pain, apply heating pads, compresses, warm water, etc., over the affected area. Do not use on acute injuries (as it may increase inflammation) and be wary of burns.
  • For full-body thermotherapy, soak in a hot bath or sit in an infrared sauna for at least 15 minutes several times a week. Home infrared saunas are relatively easy to install. . Caution: These therapies are not recommended for pregnant women.

Fresh, Frozen, or Canned Vegetables and Fruit

8 Oct

Fresh, Canned, or Frozen Vegetables and Fruits—What’s Best?

 

During the colder, darker fall and winter months, fresh produce can be hard to come by. It’s either ridiculously expensive—or not available at all.

Fresh vs Frozen Produce

Fresh produce has to be picked before it is fully ripe to allow time for handling, shipping, and storage. But frozen fruits and frozen vegetables are picked at their prime and flash frozen immediately, which means that they often retain MORE vitamins, minerals, and nutrients than their fresh counterparts.

Canned vs Frozen Vegetables and Fruits

Several canned staples could be good in the cold months when it is hard to get fresh produce including beans, tomatoes, and pumpkin. The only downside to canned vegetables is that the preserving process can leach out some nutrients, texture is affected which is off-putting to some, and excess sodium is usually added. You can reduce the salt content a little by thoroughly draining and rinsing canned vegetables with water in a colander or mesh strainer prior to preparing them. Lastly, if you are buying canned fruit, only choose brands that are packed in water instead of syrup to avoid too much added sugar.

So now that we’ve established frozen vegetables and frozen fruits along with many canned items are perfectly acceptable, let’s talk about organic vs conventional produce.

When Buying Fresh, Canned, or Frozen Produce, Avoid the Dirty Dozen…

Is it important to be buying organic produce. The short answer is that whether you are buying fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables or fruits, you should look for organic versions of the 12 items on the list below. The reason is because of the high level of pesticides these fruits and veggies are treated with when grown using conventional farming techniques. (The ones at the top of the list have been shown to contain the most chemical residue.)

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines, imported
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Snap peas, imported
  12. Potatoes

… and Stick to the Clean 15

Conventionally grown fresh, canned, and frozen fruit and vegetables that contain the least amount of pesticides are categorized as the clean 15. The items on the list below generally contain very low levels of chemical residues. (The ones at the top of the list are the “cleanest.”)

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas, frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

Eat Your Veggies!

No matter what type of veggies and fruits you choose, they are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that are required for optimal health. So load up your plate and aim for a minimum of five servings per day.

Now it’s your turn: Where do you stand on the fresh vs. frozen produce debate?

Male Menopause? Alleviating the Symptoms of Andropause

6 Oct

 

In an effort to better describe the diagnosis and treatment of male-specific health issues that arise during mid-life, a new term has been coined in the medical community–andropause. Though it is often referred to as “male menopause,” andropause is more than the male equivalent of menopause, as it presents its own unique set of symptoms, causes and patterns of onset.

Andropause refers to the process a man undergoes when the body produces fewer androgens (male hormones). The hormone most strongly affected is testosterone, as it is the most dominant of all the male hormones we know of. Testosterone not only plays a vital role in male development, it greatly affects the overall health of a man’s body and mind.

Testosterone directly influences many bodily functions and organs, including the heart, prostate, muscles, blood sugar, fat metabolism, bone density, libido, and mental cognition. Sudden mood changes, depression and anger also may result from andropause. The decline of testosterone production gradually starts in the early thirties and continues through the mid-fifties.

In contrast to menopause, which happens over a much shorter period of time, the signs of andropause creep up gradually, making an accurate diagnosis tricky. Signs and symptoms of andropause can include loss of libido, enlarged prostate, weight gain, osteoporosis, sterility, urinary problems and infections, and digestive problems.

According to Culley C. Carson, M.D., Boston University, School of Medicine, it is estimated that more than 60 percent of men over age 65 have free testosterone levels below the normal values of men in the 30 to 35 age range. While the incremental loss of testosterone represents the natural life cycle in an aging, healthy male, more severe levels of decrease can prove detrimental.

According to classical texts, the physical and emotional effects of aging in general occur largely due to, but not limited to, the decline of the Mingmen Fire. Also known as the Ministerial Fire, it resides near the spine, between the two kidneys and at the level of the umbilicus. This life-giving force is the fuel from which all the organs of the body draw from. For instance, the Mingmen Fire provides the warmth and energy needed to stimulate the large intestine. Once in motion, it can perform its job of excreting waste from the body.

 

acupuncture points photo: Acupuncture acupuncture10.jpg

One reason why a man may experience the loss of libido or infertility in his middle or later years is due to the waning of the Mingmen Fire. If this is the case and the fire is out, other signs such as frequent urination, sore lower back or knees and/or lethargy may also be present.

For men, the onset of andropause may be gradual and, as such, the symptoms hard to diagnose. The natural decline of the Mingmen Fire or Ministerial Fire may also compound or worsen symptoms of andropause. When the Ministerial Fire is out, the body becomes cold and old age sets in. However, long before that, many of the mild to more severe conditions may respond very well to different acupuncture and Oriental medicine therapies.

Christina Sarlo LMT, L.Ac., NCCAOM

Easing Your Transition Through Menopause

3 Oct

 

As women enter the autumn of their reproductive years, major physiological changes occur that may give rise to symptoms of menopause. Like a plant going through many changes with the cycle of the seasons, it is natural for a woman in her middle years to cease menstruating on a regular cycle and to experience mild to extremely uncomfortable symptoms as a result.

The winter season of life, or menopause, is a time to take shelter and preserve energy. This is a quieter, calmer phase of life in which a healthy woman may need extra support to feel comfortable in her body as it changes. Age should bring wisdom, not excess heat and dryness that cause unnecessary discomfort. As women move from autumn to the winter phase of their natural feminine cycle, it is reassuring to know that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your health plan to support this transition.

Some of the most common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, insomnia, irritability, mood swings, osteoporosis, and dryness. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine provide treatments and lifestyle suggestions which may reduce the severity of these symptoms. The organ system most involved in producing these symptoms of menopause is the kidney, specifically the decline of kidney yin. Kidney yin is like a cool, refreshing reservoir of water and when it dries up, heat and dryness more readily ensue.

In general, yin represents the nourishing, cooling energies. When it reduces, metaphorically speaking, there exists in the body less water to put out the fire. Yang energy represents the moving, active principle which is like the rays of sunshine providing the sustenance needed for plants to thrive. However, when in excess, heat destroys plants and leaves them brown, dried and withered. Based on this premise, it makes sense that menopausal women can present with excess heat signs such as hot flashes and irritability.

According to the Huang di Nei Jing, the body dynamics of women significantly change every seven years. At 35 years of age, the blood and energy (Qi) of the Large Intestine and Stomach Channels start their decline. Here we see fine lines on the face and neck, thinning hair and a drier quality to the skin. For a woman of 42, these same channels weaken further as evidenced by deepening wrinkles, hair color changing to gray or white, and the continual loss of skin moisture and elasticity. At 49, a woman’s Conception Vessel and the related meridians exhaust themselves, giving rise to symptoms of menopause.

The changes in these meridians lead to the cessation of menstruation and loss of fertility. The Conception Vessel or Ren Channel is called the “sea of yin” and is closely associated with pregnancy, fetal development and reproductive health in general. The Chong Mai or Chong Meridian is known as the “sea of blood” and heavily influences blood flow in the uterus and the menstrual cycle.

In July of 2014, the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) conducted a large-scale analysis of previous scientific studies examining the role of acupuncture in reducing various symptoms of menopause. Out of the 12 studies analyzed, researchers concluded that acupuncture positively impacted both the frequency and severity of hot flashes. NAMS executive director Margery Gass, M.D. stated, “The review suggested acupuncture may be an alternative therapy for reducing hot flashes, particularly for those women seeking non-pharmacologic therapies.” While hot flashes may not pose a health risk in and of themselves, the severity of them may affect quality of life and cause great physical and emotional stress.

While AOM and Western Medicine offer different treatments for menopause, both traditions agree on certain suggestions for lifestyle choices and diet. Avoiding spicy foods, hot beverages, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes may help prevent the onset of hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms. All of these foods and substances irritate the body. Additionally, AOM considers cigarettes to be particularly detrimental for menopausal women because when smoke enters the body it dries up the yin and the fluids, which need to be preserved during menopause.
Christina Sarlo LMT, L.Ac., NCCAOM

Hyaluronic Acid benefits

1 Oct

Hyaluronic Acid Benefits: Healthy Joints, Skin, and More

Joint pain and stiffness, and sagging, wrinkled skin are common complaints as we get older. But what if I told you there is a natural compound that could provide substantial benefits for both of these seemingly unrelated problems? Well, there is: hyaluronic acid.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan, a very long chain of disaccharides (sugars) present in all connective tissues that is responsible for retaining moisture. As we age, levels of hyaluronic acid fall—some say by as much as 50 percent. Genetics, smoking, and magnesium and zinc deficiencies appear to accelerate this loss, but it happens to all of us to some degree. The result? Aching joints and sagging skin.

That’s why supplementing with hyaluronic acid can help promote healthy joints and skin. Let’s take a closer look at these benefits of hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic Acid Benefits: Promote Healthy Joints

One of the most researched benefits of hyaluronic acid is its ability to alleviate aching joints. Its effectiveness in this area isn’t surprising since hyaluronic acid is especially concentrated in the knees, hips, and other moving joints. It is a major component of both cartilage and the synovial fluid that bathes these joints, binding to water to create a thick, gelatinous substance that lubricates and protects the cartilage.

Together, synovial fluid and cartilage act as shock absorbers that can withstand a tremendous amount of wear and tear. However, in joints afflicted by arthritis, hyaluronic acid levels are extremely low, causing the synovial fluid to become less viscous and the cartilage less cushiony.

For years, orthopedists have injected hyaluronic acid directly into the synovial spaces of arthritic joints for relief of pain and inflammation. This “lube job” is a pretty helpful treatment, but regardless of its effectiveness, many people shy away from injections.

Supplements to the Rescue

Fortunately, research suggests that when hyaluronic acid is taken orally, it increases the body’s natural production of this protective substance, making it an excellent, noninvasive therapy for arthritis. In an in-house, placebo-controlled study of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, those taking 80 mg of hyaluronic acid daily for two months had a 33 percent average improvement in pain scores compared to a 6 percent improvement in the placebo group.

In another study, participants with osteoarthritis of the knee who took 200 mg of hyaluronic acid daily for a year and participated in a muscle strengthening exercise program reported significant improvements in pain, stiffness, and activities of daily living compared to the placebo group, who also performed the same exercises.

How Does Hyaluronic Acid Compare to Other Supplements for Joint Health?

So where does hyaluronic acid fit in with glucosamine and other supplements for joint health? Truth is, they work on a similar principle. They all, to varying degrees, activate the genes that turn on the production of hyaluronic acid. Another supplement I recommend for supporting joint health—natural eggshell membrane—also contains naturally occurring amounts of hyaluronic acid.

The bottom line: I’m not saying you should give up glucosamine or other supplements for joint health. But, if you’d like extra support for your joints, I suggest giving hyaluronic acid a try.

Hyaluronic Acid Benefits: Save Your Skin

In addition to playing a vital role in joint health, another one of the benefits of hyaluronic acid is its effectiveness at maintaining healthy, youthful skin. The reason is because hyaluronic acid is an essential component of the skin. Thanks to its ability to promote collagen production and retain hundreds of times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid keeps the skin plumped up and hydrated.

Estrogen is another molecular signal for hyaluronic acid production, which explains why young women have such beautiful skin, why sagging and wrinkling come on somewhat abruptly after menopause, and why hyaluronic acid is a godsend for aging skin. Not surprisingly, plastic surgeons have capitalized on this discovery.

Injections of hyaluronic acid such as Restylane are used for a variety of cosmetic procedures, from lip and cheek enhancements to wrinkle reduction. Hyaluronic acid is also a popular ingredient in a number of moisturizers and other topical skin treatments and shows promise in wound healing and burn treatment, reducing scarring and speeding healing.

Because oral hyaluronic acid supplements rev up the natural production of hyaluronic acid, they are simply another ticket to more youthful skin.

Hyaluronic Acid Benefits: Fountain of Youth?

A while ago ABC ran a special about the residents of Yuzurihara, Japan. They reported that the World Health Organization, after surveying the residents of nearly 1,000 villages and towns throughout the world, determined that Yuzurihara, which is about two hours from Tokyo, was the “village of long life.” More than 10 percent of its residents were over 85. Most of them looked far younger than their years, were in excellent health, and engaged in farming and other activities well into their 80s.

Their longevity was attributed, at least in part, to their consumption of vegetables rich in hyaluronic acid. Though I don’t believe in magic bullets when it comes to anti-aging, given these varied benefits of hyaluronic acid and its important role in the health of the skin and joints, it certainly can’t hurt to give it a try.

Recommendations for Oral Hyaluronic Acid

There is some controversy over hyaluronic acid supplements. Hyaluronic acid is a very large molecule—too large, some argue, to be absorbed. Nevertheless, it breaks down in the stomach and enough of it gets in to signal the production of more hyaluronic acid, which is the ultimate goal.

The suggested oral dose of hyaluronic acid is 100–200 mg per day. Be patient; it may take two or three weeks to notice effects.

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever taken supplemental hyaluronic acid?

Additional Treatments for Autoimmune Diseases

29 Sep

Real Treatments for Autoimmune Diseases

Rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), psoriasis, Crohn’s, and scores of other disorders fall into the general category of “autoimmune diseases.” These progressive disorders, which affect nearly 24 million people in this country, cause significant pain and disability.

Problem is, treating autoimmune disorders seems to baffle most conventional doctors. Sure, they’ll give patients prescriptions for powerful steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, and pain meds, but are these effective treatments for autoimmune diseases? Hardly.

How The Whitaker Wellness Clinic Treats Lupus, MS, and Other Autoimmune Conditions

At Whitaker Wellness, their approach to treating autoimmune disorders isn’t to attack an already compromised immune system. Instead, they bolster patients’ health with a solid nutritional supplement program, diet changes, and targeted therapies based on individual needs.

For instance, they treat rheumatoid arthritis with low-dose antibiotics, a simple yet often-overlooked therapy. Their patients with MS respond beautifully to low-dose naltrexone (LDN) and hyperbaric oxygen. And they offer a host of other non-drug therapies for treating autoimmune disorders, from high-dose vitamin D, probiotics, and natural anti-inflammatories such as fish oil and curcumin, to pain-relieving and regenerative modalities like microcurrent treatment.

Don’t Just Take My Word for It

How do you know these treatments for autoimmune disorders really work? Results speak for themselves.

Multiple Sclerosis: “I have multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and migraines. When I first arrived at the clinic, I had little energy and could barely walk. I could not raise my arms above my head, and numbness and burning in my hands limited their use. After four days of hyperbaric oxygen treatments, I was able to walk better, and by the second week I could put on my own make-up and hold a glass with one hand. Your genuine concern for my well-being is very comforting and encouraging.” — Denice W., California

Lupus: “I have had health problems most of my life, but it wasn’t until I was 25 and the mother of two boys that I was diagnosed with lupus. Although I was on a crazy regimen of chemo drugs and narcotic painkillers, I often had to walk with a cane. A dear friend of mine, who is an alumni of your clinic, kept telling me I needed to get out there ASAP. Earlier this year, I made the choice to take charge of my life, so I kissed my young family goodbye and spent 14 days at Whitaker Wellness. I have had tremendous results. My pain is gone, my head is clear, I am drug free—and no cane! I have been truly healed.” — Heather M., Texas

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Katherine Poehlmann developed rheumatoid arthritis after an ankle injury sustained in a fall. Concerned about the adverse effects of her increasingly heavy drug load, Katherine—a researcher by profession—searched for options and started following a protocol for low-dose antibiotics. Within eight months, she was in complete remission. She wrote an excellent book about her experiences and this therapy: The Infection Connection, available at amazon.com.

Multiple Sclerosis: Howard’s treatment course after he was diagnosed with MS at age 38 included steroids, interferon, narcotics for pain, and other medications. He was also hospitalized several times, had temporary vision loss, and sometimes required a wheelchair. Twenty years later, he learned about LDN. It changed his life. He feels fantastic, no longer uses a cane, and says, “If I didn’t know I had MS, I wouldn’t believe it.”

Say Adios to Autoimmune Disorders

 

Now it’s your turn: Have you tried any of these treatments for autoimmune disorders?

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