Want to Reduce Your Risk of Disease? Start With Chronic Stress!

26 Jun

stressHow do you feel at the end of the day – do you ‘switch off’ and spend some much needed time with the family or do you carry on working until late, persuading yourself to push even further and work harder?

A minimum of 60% of all diseases can be traced back to chronic stress and its ability to affect every cell in the body. Stress is actually caused by chemical reactions within the body that if left unchecked, can form illnesses and deadly diseases.

Many of the common symptoms associated with chronic stress include muscle tension or pain, stomach upsets, feelings of restlessness, chest pain, lowered sex drive, fatigue, lack of motivation, insomnia, depression, social withdrawal, overeating/under eating, drug and/or alcohol abuse amongst others.

The stress reaction is dealt with in the body in the same way, regardless of its cause. When it comes to feeling stressed, there are generally four parts to this process:

1. The brain receives an alarm, or a potential threat.
2. The amygdala portion of the brain that makes the decision sends this message to the hypothalamus.
3. The hypothalamus then releases adrenalin and cortisol, two stress hormones into the blood.
4. Adrenalin makes the heart beat faster, pumping more blood into muscles, encase the body needs to run. The cortisol boosts blood sugar levels so that the body has food needed to deal with the situation.

Primarily our bodies are designed to deal with short-term stress. There is some evidence to suggest that short-term stress can improve the immune system’s functioning, enhancing health in the process. Stanford University professors believe that acute stress may improve the immune system, enhancing health, but the problem occurs when the body is in a consistent state of stress and it doesn’t return to normal.

Every single organ in the body is affected by stress including the immune system, digestive system, muscles, brain, heart, libido and reproductive system. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to learn to relax and relieve stress on a daily basis if you want to achieve good health.

How You Can Release Stress

Regular exercise, plenty of rest, meditation and following a healthy diet are good ways to relieve stress and achieve an improved sense of well-being. However, 21st century living can be overwhelming and many of us are increasingly finding it difficult to find time for ourselves, let alone relax.

By following a healthy lifestyle and supplementing with the right nutrients, it’s possible to reduce stress and find peace.  A supplement that contains L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, Vitamins B3 and B6 and can help you combat stress and restlessness, particularly during times of mental or physical demands. For best results for a full night’s sleep, it’s recommended to take 2 capsules, 30 minutes before going to sleep to manage stress and helping to keep you asleep. For stress and anxiety, take 1 capsule in the morning, 1 at lunchtime and 1 at bedtime to produce effective all day relaxation.

Robert Redfern

Curcumin is as Effective at Relieving Depression as Prozac

25 Jun

depression

 

A landmark study has revealed the impact that curcumin has on depression. Curcumin is found in the Indian spice turmeric and research has shown it to be as effective as Prozac for treating depressive disorders, without any of the serious side effects. This brings new hope for people who want to find relief for their depressive symptoms.

Depressive disorders are estimated to affect approximately 14.8 million American adults or 6.7% of the population over the age of 18. Individuals in the grips of a depressive disorder may find their jobs, school performances, family relationships and physical health problems are all affected.

The randomized and controlled study of curcumin’s effectiveness found it can inhibit monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that is linked to depression if found in high levels in the brain. See study here for more information.

Curcumin has also been found to raise serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, related to feelings of calmness and well-being. This combination is potent as it demonstrates that regular curcumin use can significantly reduce any negative emotional symptoms.

By incorporating curcumin alongside a healthy diet, rest, regular exercise and stress management, it’s possible to find natural relief for depression. One of the major benefits of curcumin is that it has no negative side effects, whereas the same can’t be said for prescription antidepressants. The latter can often cause issues such as sleep disturbances, increased anxiety and serious problems such as schizophrenia.

The study shows the importance of natural alternatives for treating depression and its side effects compared to those associated with prescription drugs. While curcumin can be found naturally in turmeric and various curcumin capsules, it isn’t readily absorbed within the body in this form. When it’s bound to fat, the bio-availability of the curcumin increases up to 40x compared to ordinary curcumin, so this increases its absorption rate. For best results, it’s recommended to take the curcumin capsules 3 times a day on a daily basis.

Find out more about Curcumin here and here.

AnnaJones

The Role of Prebiotics in Maintaining Healthy Gut Bacteria

22 Jun

Dr. Williams has talked about gut flora and probiotics for decades…long before they became popular. When Dr. Williams was seeing patients, the link between bowel health and dozens of the most common health complaints seemed so blatantly obvious. When you treat the whole person instead of just treating a disease or symptom, an imbalance in the intestinal tract stands out like an elephant in the room.

At long last, in just the past few years, the importance of proper intestinal flora and probiotics are getting the attention they deserve. Research is confirming the direct connection between a disruption of gut flora and everything from heart and blood sugar issues to mental health problems. While the public and medical professionals are just starting to realize the importance of probiotics, we’ve been reaping the benefits for decades.

Prebiotics: Food for Friendly Bacteria

Another term you’re likely beginning to see more and more is “prebiotics.” Simply put, prebiotics are the food consumed by probiotics, the beneficial bacteria already residing in your gut. Probiotics are living microorganisms and need food to stay alive and flourish. Prebiotics, however, are not living organisms.

I don’t want to get into too much detail here, but in the long run, it will be helpful for you to understand a few details about prebiotics. It will enable you to improve your health and keep you from wasting money on unnecessary supplements.

For something to be considered a prebiotic, it has to meet three criteria. It must:

  • Not be broken down by stomach acid or enzymes in the body and absorbed into the body;
  • Be able to be fermented by the microflora in the gut; and
  • Be a food source only for the beneficial members of the gut microbial community and not those that are pathogenic.

For the most part, prebiotics are soluble fiber and non-digestible sugars. (I should say non-digestible by humans…the microbes in our gut can digest them.)

As you recall, there are two types of fiber—insoluble and soluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not.

Neither humans nor microorganisms can digest insoluble fiber. It’s mainly found in whole grains and vegetables. It acts like a broom that scrubs the digestive tract, creating a laxative effect. It’s actually an irritant that causes contractions and triggers the release of natural lubricants to move food and waste material through the digestive tract.

Soluble fiber mixes with water and becomes gel-like. It slows down digestion, which gives a feeling of fullness and helps reduce rapid rises in blood sugar and the resulting insulin release. This water-soluble fiber (a form of carbohydrate) moves through the digestive tract until it reaches the good bacteria in the colon. The bacteria ferment and feed on the fiber.

During the fermentation process, soluble fiber is converted to short-chain fatty acids like butyric acid. Butyric acid stimulates more good bacterial growth. It also improves mineral and fat absorption, and prevents inflammation and cancer formation. Its anti-inflammatory action can be extremely helpful in calming conditions like ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.

ButyrAid by Nutricology is an enterically coated tablet of butyric acid that I’ve found to be very effective. Most people don’t know that kombucha tea also contains relatively high levels of butyric acid. However, I look at the supplemental use of butyric acid products as a temporary solution. Once you get the proper microorganism balance in the gut and supply it with soluble fiber, butyric acid production can be restored to the area naturally.

The Most Common Prebiotics

The two most-widely accepted prebiotics are FOS (fructooligosaccharides, which includes inulin) and GOS (galactooligosaccharides). There are lots of other prebiotics, but there isn’t as much research as there is with these two.

From a chemistry standpoint, prebiotics are carbohydrates or sugars. Remember, they aren’t sugars that we can digest, so they don’t raise blood sugar levels or typically cause any issues. If you read prebiotic labels, you’ll see ingredients that end in “saccharides” and “ose,” which means sugar or carbohydrate. And you might see ones that end in “itol” for the alcohol sugars. But that’s enough chemistry.

About 'Prebiotic_(nutrition)'

Nature Provides Us the Prebiotics We Need

Probably the most important thing to remember is this: If your diet is right, Dr. Williams doesn’t think taking a prebiotic supplement is necessary. Some more advanced probiotic supplements include prebiotics to help keep the bacteria alive and extend the potency, which makes sense. But in Dr. Williams opinion, you don’t need to take separate prebiotic supplement. Our environment provides us with the prebiotics that we need. It’s been this way since birth.

Within the first four days of life, Bifidobacterium longum begins to colonize in the gut of newborns. As adults, we have hundreds of different species of bacteria in our gut, but Bifidobacterium longum is only found in newborns, and is the primary form of beneficial bacteria in the newborn’s gut. This bacteria feeds on a component of breast milk that is indigestible to the baby. It is commonly found in the feces of infants and been shown to coat the lining of the infant’s intestine and protect it from pathogenic bacteria. (Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis 06;29(5–6):345–352) (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011 Mar 15;108 Suppl 1:4653–4658) (J Nutr 12;142(11):1921–1928)

When you closely analyze breast milk, it isn’t loaded with extremely high levels of vitamins and minerals, yet a baby is able to survive and actually thrive on it. Much of this stems from the fact that their gut has only one type of bacteria and it feeds off what would be waste products in the milk (sugars that the baby can’t digest).

Once babies are switched to formula, the type of bacterium in their gut begins to change. The Bifidobacterium longum gets replaced with more adult forms of bacteria. These new forms require increased amounts and different sources of prebiotics. As a result, bowel movements change, and the risk of nutritional deficiencies, allergies, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory infections, and developmental problems increases.

There are a few reasons for this. Newborns grow at an extremely rapid rate, unlike adults. Their nutritional needs are different than an adult’s. Mother’s milk during this time is the perfect diet because it provides the correct amount of fat, carbs, and protein to the baby. The initial strain of Bifidobacterium longum is designed to help transform components in breast milk into the necessary fatty acids and other compounds needed for neurological development, hormone formation, and much more. (In fact, supportive research shows that breastfed babies may have slightly higher IQs, likely from the increased levels of fatty acids used to build neurological connections.) If a baby does not get these initial components, there’s an increased risk of developing the problems mentioned earlier.

The adult strains of probiotics that eventually inhabit everyone’s gut are beneficial, but it all has to do with timing. Since a baby’s immune system isn’t as developed as an adult’s, it’s not equipped to deal with an influx of many different strains of new bacteria. It adds extra physiological stress at a critical time in development.

Researchers have added prebiotics to baby formula to make it more like breast milk, but in reality, formula could never fully recreate the special components of breast milk.

Prebiotics in Food

The fact that our health is influenced by prebiotics from birth illustrates just how important they are. Fortunately, we don’t have to look too hard to find them in our food supply.

Most prebiotic supplements are made from grains like oats and corn. Obviously, most whole grains contain soluble fiber. This includes brown rice, whole grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, barley, oatmeal, flax, chia, etc. In an attempt to limit gluten, lectins, phytic acid, and starch consumption, many of us are trying to cut back on the grains in our diet. As such, it’s nice to know that prebiotics occur naturally in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, as well.

All you have to do is eat a variety of produce and you can forgo the cost of a prebiotic supplement. This includes vegetables like asparagus, leeks, artichokes, garlic, carrots, peas, beans, onions, chicory, jicama, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, kale, and chard. It’s interesting to note that cooking these vegetables doesn’t negatively affect the prebiotic fiber content materially. So you can eat them raw or cooked. As for fruits, fresh or frozen bananas, cherries, apples, pears, oranges, strawberries, cranberries, kiwi, and berries are good sources. Nuts are also a prebiotic source.

As Dr. Williams mentioned earlier, soluble fiber turns gel-like when mixed with water. Pectin, gum arabic, and inulin are soluble fibers that are often added to yogurts, jams, jellies, milk-based desserts, nutrition bars, drinks, and other products to improve texture and thickness and enhance the satiating power.

Just like you, Dr. Williams take quite a few supplements. And while he is always open to adding new ones to my regimen, if he can get what he needs from his diet, he’d much rather do that. Cost and convenience is always on his mind whenever he make any suggestion or recommendation. Such is the case with prebiotics.

For example, there’s a “method to his madness” when he talks about incorporating a morning protein shake into your routine. A little banana (and/or flaxseed, chia seed, berries, etc.) in the shake doesn’t just add flavor; it also furnishes prebiotics and helps provide satiety for hours. The lecithin granules in the shake aren’t just there to improve and protect nerve function, preserve memory, improve cholesterol levels, clear arteries, and protect you from liver damage. Lecithin is a prebiotic.

And, the use of xylitol as a sweetener isn’t just a safe, effective way to help control Candida yeast infections, prevent tooth decay, sinus, ear, and throat infections, and avoid blood sugar fluctuations that can lead to diabetes. Xylitol also happens to be a prebiotic. It is naturally found in some fruits and vegetables and it’s also produced in small amounts by the body. (Dr. Williams is not sure if he has mentioned it before, but xylitol is toxic to dogs, but not to cats, other animals, or humans.)

Help for a Common Prebiotic Problem

On the subject of xylitol, some individuals say they can’t use it because it causes gas, bloating, and intestinal discomfort. The same is true for many of the fruits, vegetables, and other foods mentioned earlier that are natural prebiotics. If you’re one of these individuals, there is a solution.

Understand that prebiotics will initially cause excess gas and intestinal problems when the pH of the bowel is abnormal. Excess gas formation is one of the primary symptoms indicating the need to reestablish the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are obviously needed and in most cases will solve the problem. However, if the pH of the colon is abnormal, it can make the probiotics less effective and the gas and abdominal discomfort will continue.

The ideal pH for the colon is very slightly acidic, in the 6.7–6.9 range. When there is an imbalance or lack of beneficial bacteria in the colon, the pH is typically more alkaline, around 7.5 or higher. The optimal pH range for gas-producing organisms is slightly alkaline at 7.2–7.3.

When someone starts taking a probiotic or a prebiotic supplement (or eats a prebiotic food), the beneficial microorganisms begin to increase in number. These good bacteria start to ferment more soluble fiber into beneficial products like butyric acid, acetic acid, lactic acid, and propionic acid. These acids provide energy, improve mineral, vitamin, and fat absorption, and help prevent inflammation and cancer. The extra acid also starts to lower the pH in the colon. As the pH passes through the gas-producing range, some individuals start to experience the problems I just talked about. If the pH never drops low enough to get out of the gas-producing range, eating that particular food becomes an ongoing problem.

Most of the time, continuing to take quality probiotics will eventually move the pH down to a point where these problems are overcome. In some individuals, however, it requires an additional step.

For decades, Dr. Williams has used a product called Lactic Acid Yeast by Standard Process Laboratories. Lactic acid yeast is a modified form of brewer’s yeast that works in your intestines to produce significant amounts of lactic acid. The additional acid stops the growth of harmful bacteria while allowing beneficial bacterial to flourish. It works rather quickly, and when followed up with probiotics, the results can be amazing.

I suggest chewing one lactic acid yeast wafer with each meal. In most cases, it will only be needed for five to seven days. During this time, I would also continue taking a probiotic. It’s one of the easiest and quickest ways to allow your body to adapt to any of the prebiotic foods I listed.

Lactic acid yeast wafers are also a godsend for stopping chronic diarrhea. By making the gut’s environment hostile to pathogenic bacteria and helping to increase anti-inflammatory fatty acids like butyric acid, these wafers provide a one-two punch against diarrhea. (Half a ground-up wafer works wonders for kids with diarrhea, too.)

Standard Process Laboratories typically only sells their products to physicians, but you can still find them online. Pure Formulas sells a 100-count bottle of Lactic Acid Yeast wafers for just under $20 with free shipping. Visit pureformulas.com/lactic-acid-yeast-100-wafers-by-standard-process.html or call 1-800-383-6008 FREE.

The Bottom Line on Prebiotics

If you include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, you can ignore all the hype and hoopla about prebiotic supplements. Invest your money in a quality probiotic and fermented foods. These are investments that will pay daily dividends for a lifetime.

Dr. Williams

How Selenium Works With the Thyroid

19 Jun

The FDA allows Selenium to be claimed as cancer prevention supplement. Yes, you read that right, the only supplement that carries an allowable cancer health claim. It is so important for making bodily processes work correctly.

Within the EU, as taken from their directive on Health & Nutrition claims, it has been confirmed that:

Selenium contributes to the normal function of the Immune System
Selenium contributes to normal Thyroid Function
Selenium contributes to the protection of cells from Oxidative Stress
Selenium contributes to the maintenance of normal Hair
Selenium contributes to the maintenance of normal Nails
Selenium contributes to normal Spermatogenesis

On its own it is very powerful but when used with Iodine it’s even better!

Why Iodine and Selenium work together…(technical jargon)…

Clinical Chemistry Blog Notes 5bA

Selenium is a chief component of the molecules, called seleno-proteins, which are necessary for the body to be able to create and use thyroid hormones.

Seleno-proteins:

  • Regulate thyroid hormone production
  • Support the conversion of thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3).
  • Protect the thyroid tissues
  • Help balance thyroid hormone production

Enzymes arranged around selenium, called seleno-de-iodinases help to keep T3 at an appropriate level in liver, kidney, thyroid and brain cells. Glutathione peroxidase is another enzyme, which helps to limit T4 when its levels go on the high side.

The problems which selenium deficiency can cause are made more serious when Iodine is also deficient. Selenium is crucial in aiding the body to recycle Iodine. Selenium deficiency coupled with an Iodine deficiency is likely to lead to thyroid imbalance.

Many people who are diagnosed with a thyroid dysfunction have a deficiency of Iodine, but research has shown that some may have a significant selenium deficiency as well. It’s vital to treat both deficits in order to re-establish thyroid stability.

As a quick recap, Nascent Iodine:

  • Contributes to normal Cognitive Function
  • Contributes to normal Energy
  • Contributes to normal functioning of the Nervous System
  • Contributes to normal Thyroid Function
  • Contributes to the maintenance of normal Skin

With all the total benefits available (proven), which become even more powerful when combined together, I can’t think of a better way to help protect your body from a whole host of diseases than with Iodine & Selenium.

Robert Redfern

How Much Protein?

15 Jun

The population (in general) may be seriously deficient in protein and especially the older population. There is emerging evidence that high quality proteins in ‘amounts greater than the amounts recommended by governments’, have benefits that extend well beyond simply the maintenance of muscle mass, bones and essential metabolism.

They can include body weight and fat mass loss, maintenance of lean mass (including avoiding or reducing age-related muscle loss (or malnutrition), and reduced risk of neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

An important review of the available evidence published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms, that protein intakes much higher than recommended by governments supports healthier weight and muscle management than the previous recommended amount.

Robert Redfern’s recommendation is:

Healthy Person 1gram/kg (2.2lbs) of bodyweight EG 60kg person = 60grams of protein/day
EG 60kg person = 60grams of protein/day
Unhealthy Person EG 60kg person (add 30gms) = 90grams of protein per day
Over 45 yr old EG 60kg person (add 30gms) = 90grams of protein per day

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Meat as a Source of Protein?

Grass fed, organic, raw meat, is a reasonable source of nutrition, protein and is bio-available. The problems come in the cooking and especially when overcooked or charred. This damages proteins and fats and creates various carcinogens that have well known consequences (for healthy and premature aging).  Another known problem is when meats are consumed with starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, wheat, or rice.

To be clear, char-grilling vegetables on the BBQ will produce the same carcinogens with the same damaging effects and so all are to be avoided.

Do I need supplements to help digest proteins?

Yes, it is a fact that in consuming food alone (even organic raw food) help is needed to ensure proper bio-availability.

The presence of friendly bacteria in probiotic supplements and prebiotic fiber are also critical to help maintain a healthy gut flora. The gut flora can play a central role not only in protein and other nutrient absorption in the gut, but also as a modulator of the immune system and of brain function.

A healthy person may only need one probiotic capsule every 3-4 days. Robert Redfern recommends one probiotic capsule daily.

A healthy person can take an Digestive Enzyme every day (with every meal) to ensure all of the foods and especially proteins are digested. By the age of 50 humans have less than 25% of the enzymes they had when they were 20.

Those who are on the higher amounts of protein in their diet, are eating lots of meats, losing muscle as they age, with serious health problems or are building muscle for sports will additionally need a dedicated enzyme supplement to ensure complete utilization of the high protein needed for such persons.

Below is a list of foods with the highest protein density, for more ...

Vegans

A vegan who eats no meats, and as well range of vegetables, eats nuts, seeds and fats, could eat 3-4 portions over days to achieve a healthy level of proteins.

Will this amount of Protein build more Muscle?

Muscle is built from amino acids and proteins and a large intake of these is essential for building muscle.  However the muscles can only rebuild with weights or careful tensing and stretching of those muscles. You should check with your doctor before starting weight building exercises.

Robert Redfern

 

Sjogren’s Syndrome: Fatigue

12 Jun
Fatigue is one of the most prevalent and disabling symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome. Here are some tips that can help
you cope with the problem:
Dr Oz: Adrenal Fatigue, Extreme Exhaustion & Secret Reason You’re ...
Work with your doctor to find a specific cause and treatment for your fatigue. The possibilities may include systemic inflammation, poor sleep, fibromyalgia, depression, hypothyroidism, muscle inflammation or side-effects of medications.
Know your limits and pace yourself. Plan to do no more than one activity on your bad days. Try to do more on your good days, but don’t overdo it!
Listen to your body and plan to take a 20-minute time-out every few hours to help you get through your day.  Educate your friends and family about what you are going through and how the fatigue in Sjögren’s syndrome can come and go.
The Real Cause of Tiredness in Children
Develop a support system to help you with tasks. Ask friends and family members to be prepared to do one or two chores for you on your fatigue days. Give them specific instructions in advance and be reasonable with your expectations. Get at least eight hours of sleep every night. If you wake up at night, plan extra time for sleep.
Get your body moving every day! This may help not only your fatigue but also your chronic pain, poor sleep and depression. Start with five minutes of aerobic exercise daily (e.g. walking, biking, running, elliptical, treadmill) and increase the duration by an additional two-to-three minutes each month up to a maximum of 25 minutes daily.  If you have a heart or lung condition, consult your doctor first.
fatigue 300x225 How to Cope With Spring Fatigue?
If you are still employed, ask your employer for accommodations because you have a medical condition. Try to work from home if possible to gain more flexibility with your work routine. Check the following resources (search“chronic fatigue”) to get more information on work accommodations and/or career options:
• Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center at http://www.dbtac.vcu.edu
• Job Accommodation Network at http://www.jan.wvu.edu
Identify the major stressors in your life and work with a mental health professional or your support system to minimize their impact.
Frederick Vivino, MD, FACR, University of Pennsylvania, P

What is a Sjogren’s Flare?

10 Jun

Medical dictionaries define “flare” as a sudden exacerbation of a disease. A flare is different from the day-to- day variation of symptoms that patients with chronic diseases experience and is characterized as a large and rapid increase in a patient’s usual symptoms. I like to define a flare as a sudden and significant increase in the activity of a disease. This definition allows us to use quantitative measures of disease activity to compare levels of disease activity from one point in time (e.g. baseline) to another (e.g. flare).

2015_SSF_Body_ImageSeveral measures of disease activity have been developed for Sjögren’s. The two most promising are the European League Against Rheumatism Sjögren’s Syndrome Disease Activity Index (ESSDAI) and the European League Against Rheumatism Sjögren’s Syndrome Patient Reported Index (ESSPRI). The first is a tool that measures disease activity from the physician’s perspective in the many organs and systems affected by Sjögren’s.

The second measures disease activity from the patient’s perspective and includes a patient’s global assessment of disease and individual measures of dryness, pain, and fatigue. These surveys have been developed to consistently evaluate disease activity in research settings such as clinical trials. Nevertheless, they could be used in clinical practice as guidelines for evaluating disease activity in the office or clinic. The ESSPRI is a simple tool that could be used in the clinic, much like the use of the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.

When patients say they are experiencing a flare, they usually mean that they are experiencing a marked increase in their Sjögren’s symptoms such as dryness of their eyes and/ or mouth, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue. Other symptoms might include swollen glands, skin rashes, or numbness and weakness in extremities. Physicians must make sure that these symptoms and signs are in fact a flare of the Sjögren’s and are not caused by other conditions that are not associated with Sjögren’s. These include infection, anemia, thyroid disease, drug side effects and fibromyalgia syndrome, to mention a few.

Since there is no specific treatment for Sjögren’s at present, treatment is symptomatic and dependent upon which organ system is involved. There are several things you can do to lessen the likelihood of getting a flare. Keep taking the medications prescribed for you on a regular, daily basis. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get restorative sleep. Try to minimize physical and emotional stress and develop good coping mechanisms when stress is unavoidable. Hydroxychloroquine has been shown to lower disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus and may be similarly helpful in Sjögren’s. Your physician also might recommend other medications to improve your symptoms.

-Neil I. Stahl, MD, FACR

 

Glaucoma

8 Jun

Glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness worldwide is the subject of a wide range of research and opinion as to both the causes and treatments.

What is Glaucoma?

 

July is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Many people confuse glaucoma with high pressures in the eye and equate the two.

Glaucoma is defined as damage to the nerve cells at the back of the eye and is now viewed as a neurodegenerative condition, rather than an eye condition per se. The optic nerve and the ganglion nerve cells in the retina are considered to be an extension of the brain.

The connection with high pressures in the eye is that as the optic nerve fibres enter the eye, they pass through a fibrous ‘sieve’. High pressures can cause the ‘sieve’ to be pushed out and distorted so it presses on the nerve fibres.

There are various way they can be damaged, including: trauma, oxidation from high carbs/sugar diet, poor blood flow, infection and genetic factors.

The most important factor is that early detection and treatment can prevent sight loss. Poorer outcomes can be expected in underdeveloped countries where regular eye checks are unlikely.

The early symptoms are not really noticeable and unless you are in the habit of visiting your ophthalmic optician at regular intervals, usually every two years, you are unlikely to detect changes until they become visually apparent.

Risk factors include ethnicity, diabetes, high blood pressure and low thyroid function and use of steroids

How is it treated?

The medical treatment of glaucoma generally focuses only on the management of high pressures.

The pressure is usually raised because a drainage channel (trabeculum) near to the Iris becomes blocked, reducing the flow of a watery fluid called aqueous humor from the inside of the eye.

Pharma Eye drops are applied daily to reduce the pressure. There are several types, intended to reduce the amount of fluid produced, or increase the outflow. These tend to have side effects. If you do use them, then be sure to squeeze the inside corners of your eye against the nose for a minute to stop the drops going into your sinuses where they can irritate the lining.

If this fails then surgery is used to widen the channel or insert a drainage tube. This tends to require repeating after a time.

What Can I do About it?

If you have any history of glaucoma in the family, then you should be offered annual checkups and it is important to keep to these.

There are two objectives in any natural treatment:

  • Manage the pressures in your eye
  • Protect and restore the Optic nerve and retinal nerve cells

Ocular Spray
Revision Formula

These two supplements contain a range of herbs and nutrients that have been shown to be beneficial for both objectives, including

Coleus Forskohlii – helps to relax smooth muscle and lower intraocular pressure

Bilberry extract – helps blood flow and strengthens blood vessels.

Gingko Biloba – helps blood flow to the retina and brain function

Alpha Lipoic Acid R – This is a very good antioxidant with many powers including protection of the optic nerve.

Brain Power – For support of normal brain function, including the retina.

Pedro Alvarez

Health Benefits of Tea

6 Jun

Health Benefits of Tea

 

As Chinese legend has it, the emperor Shen-Nung brewed the first cup of tea in 2737 B.C., when a few tea leaves accidentally fell into his boiling water. It was a serendipitous discovery. It quickly caught on as a beverage, and tea leaves are now cultivated in dozens of countries.

In 2014 alone, Americans guzzled down more than 3.6 billion gallons of this healthy beverage. Approximately 84 percent of the tea we drink is black tea, roughly 15 percent is green tea, and the remaining one percent is comprised of white, oblong, and dark teas. All are made from the same tea leaves. The differences are simply in the way they are processed and their levels of oxidation. Regardless of which one you choose, the health benefits of tea are undeniable. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular forms of this healthy beverage.

Iced Tea Health Benefits

Dr. Whitaker is often asked the question, “Is iced tea good for you?” In short, yes it is. Good thing since 85 percent of the tea consumed in the United States is iced. It’s refreshing on a hot summer day, it hydrates you, the small amount of caffeine offers a little kick—and it’s a healthy beverage option to juice and sodas. Another iced tea health benefit is that it is absolutely brimming with antioxidant-rich polyphenols that increase insulin sensitivity and protect against cardiovascular disease. And a recent study found that regular consumption of both green and black tea reduced risk of heart attack and stroke by 10–20 percent.

But be careful when reaching for the bottled varieties. Some prepackaged teas may have the same health benefits of tea that is fresh brewed. However, Snapple, Nestea, and many other popular brands also contain a lot of sugars and added calories. Look for unsweetened bottled iced tea or brew your own. If you’re a “sweet tea” fan use a natural sweetener like stevia, xylitol, or monk fruit extract instead of regular sugar to make it a healthy beverage.

Benefits of Herbal Tea

Green and black tea typically get all the glory. In addition to their cardiovascular benefits, they’re famous for protecting against diabetes, enhancing exercise endurance and weight loss, and staving off osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases. But many people aren’t aware of the health benefits of herbal tea. In a recent study, researchers found that people who drank herbal tea—even as infrequently as once a week—had a considerably reduced risk of colorectal cancer. No significant associations were observed between this type of cancer and drinking green/black tea, coffee, or milk.

The benefits of herbal tea extend far beyond cancer protection. A cup of hot chamomile tea at the end of the day is a great way to calm down and unwind. Mint tea can help ease gas pains and bloating. Cinnamon and hibiscus tea effectively lower blood pressure. And ginger tea is an excellent remedy for an upset stomach or nausea.

Bottom line: Tea—regular and herbal—is delicious hot or iced, making it a great choice year round. Keep a pitcher of homemade iced tea in your fridge. It’s simple to make; just steep five or six teabags in a couple of cups of boiling water for 10 minutes, add enough water to fill a large pitcher, and chill.

Reap the Benefits of Tea—In a Smoothie

If a cup of tea isn’t, well, your cup of tea, try this delicious smoothie recipe instead.

Green Tea Fruit Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients

½ cup strawberries

½ cup chopped peach

½ cup mixed berries

½ cup chopped banana

1 cup brewed green tea

Ice cubes

3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

Directions

In a blender combine the strawberries, peach, berries, banana, yogurt, and green tea. Add ice cubes and blend to desired consistency. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite way to enjoy this healthy beverage?

Acupuncture and Men’s Health

3 Jun

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Cardiovascular disease is the leading men’s health threat, with heart disease and stroke topping the list as the first and second leading causes of death worldwide. By integrating acupuncture and Oriental medicine into a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can dramatically reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Taking even small steps to improve your health can reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease by as much as 80 percent. Steps to prevention include managing high blood pressure, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress and getting better sleep. All of these issues can be helped with acupuncture and Oriental medicine

Acupuncture has been found to be particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure. By applying acupuncture needles at specific sites along the wrist, inside the forearm or in the leg, researchers have been able to stimulate the release of natural opioids in the body, which decreases the heart’s activity and reduces its need for excess oxygen. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

Lung Cancer

Acupuncture Points Database - Ren Channel

Lung cancer is the leading form of cancer that kills men. Tobacco smoke causes 90 percent of all lung cancer, so you should make every effort to quit smoking for improved health and longevity. If you are ready to quit smoking, acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help.

Shown to be an effective treatment for smoking and other addictions, acupuncture and Oriental medicine treatments for these issues focus on jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness–symptoms that people commonly complain about when they try to quit. Treatments also aid in relaxation and detoxification.

In one study on substance addiction, a team from Yale University successfully used auricular (ear) acupuncture to treat cocaine addiction. Results showed that 55 percent of participants tested free of cocaine during the last week of treatment, compared to 24 percent and 9 percent in the two control groups. Those who completed acupuncture treatment also had longer periods of sustained abstinence compared to participants in the control groups.

Depression and Mental Health

 

Location: Between the shoulder blades and the spine at the level of ...

Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, reports the Men’s Health Network, which attributes part of the problem to under diagnosed depression in men. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 6 million men have depression each year in America alone. It is now believed that the male tendency to hide feelings of depression and to not seek professional help has skewed previously reported numbers. Depression in men does not present solely as extreme sadness. Depression in men may present as anger, aggression, burnout, risk-taking behavior, mid-life crisis or alcohol and substance abuse.

When people are suffering from depression, brain chemicals and stress hormones are out of balance. Sleep, appetite and energy levels are all disturbed. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can alleviate symptoms associated with depression and mental health issues by helping to re-balance the body’s internal systems.

The growing body of research supporting the positive effects of acupuncture on depression, anxiety and insomnia is so strong that the military now uses acupuncture to treat troops with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and combat stress syndrome.

Prostate Health

The prostate is prone to enlargement and inflammation as men age, affecting about half of men in their sixties and up to 90 percent of men in their seventies and eighties. If left untreated, benign prostate gland enlargement, which presents with symptoms such as frequent nighttime urination, painful urination and difficult urination, can lead to more serious conditions such as prostate cancer, urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones and incontinence.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to treat prostate problems to relieve the urinary symptoms and prevent more serious conditions from occurring. The few studies completed on acupuncture and prostatitis show positive results, with participants noticing a marked improvement in their quality of life, a decrease in urinary difficulties, and an increase in urinary function.

Reproductive Health

While reproductive health concerns may not be life threatening, they can still signal significant health problems. Two-thirds of men older than 70 and up to 39 percent of men around the age of 40–report having problems with their reproductive health. Oriental medicine can help treat various male disorders.

As men age, a decrease in the function of male reproductive organs occurs and they experience andropause, or male menopause. Andropause differs from menopause in that it is not characterized by a dramatic or marked physiological change. Unlike the more dramatic reproductive hormone plunge that occurs in women during menopause, changes in men occur gradually over a period of many years.

Christina Sarlo LMT, L.Ac., NCCAOM

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