Male Menopause? Alleviating the Symptoms of Andropause

25 Oct

Though 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 Oriental medicine 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.

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.

Stay Gut Healthy To Improve Sleep and Relieve Stress

20 Oct

Our gut plays an important role in keeping us healthy…but did you know it also has an impact on our stress levels and can even help to promote a good night’s sleep? The gut microbiota or bacteria live in the intestine and this plays an important role in digestion and metabolism.

Numerous links have been made between the gut microbiota and anxiety, depression and stress. The gut itself can also play a role in effecting our sleep quality. The “gut-brain-axis” has also been found to have a profound effect on gut health and the microbiome. The gut brain axis has also been shown to send signals to the brain via the vagus nerve and this can have a direct effect on influencing mood, memory and cognition. This also has the potential to cause anxiety this could have an impact on sleep quality, causing sleeping problems in the long term

When the body is healthy, the bacteria are contained safely inside the gut and remain in a balanced state. This is because the gut can nurture or even control the behavior of the bacteria. Yet when the normal channels of communication within the gut are hijacked, then this is known as a bi-directional relationship with the central nervous system or “gut-brain axis” where messages are being sent to and from the gut into the brain.


The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut-brain axis states that we all have a ‘second brain’ and it’s located in the gut, influencing our mood and well being. The gut contains hundreds of millions of these neurons and its main job is to transmit information from the microbiota to the brain and back. The relationship between these brains is what is behind certain mental disorders such as anxiety or depression.

One recent study found that adding a good “strain” of bacteria i.e. lactobacillus to the gut, reduced anxiety levels within mice. The effect of this was noted as being blocked after the vagus nerve, i.e. the main connection between the brain and the gut was cut. There is a suggestion here that the gut-brain axis is used by the bacteria and this can affect the brain.

This connection was made clearer when the bacterial metabolites (by-products) from digestion of fiber were found to increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter which can activate the vagus…suggesting that this is one way in which gut bacteria is linked with the brain.

Gut bacteria can affect the brain in various ways and this includes bacterial toxins and metabolites scavenging nutrients and changing taste receptors…thereby stirring up the immune system.

There are human studies that have looked into people with depression and they found from studying feces, that the bacteria differed from healthy volunteers. Changes within gut bacteria vary because of the use of antibiotics, probiotics, or even specific breeding techniques that can be associated with anxious and depressive behaviors. These can also be “transferred” from one test subject after a fecal microbiota transplant.

One study this year found that gut microbiota samples from people with depression were used to colonize test subjects that were “bacteria-free”. Gut microbiota can affect mood and this is associated with contions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), along with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and how this is related to gut microbiota. IBS is often considered as a “gut brain disorder” and this is often made worse by stress, while over half of IBS sufferers also have difficulties with anxiety and depression.

Ongoing research into gut bacteria is also investigating how it plays a role in the symptoms of IBS, along with diarrhoea, constipation and gastrointestinal pain.

The gut also affects our sleep quality and timing by affecting our sleep-wake cycles also known as our circadian rhythm. Earlier this year a study examined patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and they found that higher levels of “bad” clostridium bacteria are associated with the increased likelihood of fatigue and sleep problems. There is also a suggestion that an unbalanced gut may make sleep problems worse.

Evidence is emerging that circadian rhythms regulate the gut’s immune response. The effect of the immune cells on the body’s biological clock means that it can provide insights into any possible relationship between sleep and the gut. Any disruptions to the Circadian Rhythm can lead to a range of health issues and this includes metabolic and inflammatory disease, mood disorders and obesity.

How Probiotics Can Help

Studies have shown that probiotics (live bacteria) can help to reduce cortisol levels, and this plays an important role in stress. Along with decreasing anxiety and also depressive behaviors. Although there are very few studies in humans, large studies show that people who follow a balanced diet will have lower rates of mental illness. In this way, diet is a clear indication of gut microbiota and mental health. Although research is ongoing as to whether healthy gut microbiota underlies this relationship. When the brain is healthy, then the healthy gut microbiota are too.

To ensure healthy gut microbiota, it’s essential to take a good probiotic such as a proprietary blend of Leonardite and Class 1 beneficial microorganisms. This promotes normal bowel function, stabilizes the gut mucosal barrier and supports normal absorption and assimilation of nutrients into the gut. To improve brain health therefore, it’s vital to have a healthy gut and digestive system. Probiotics play an essential part in this process and for this reason, are worth including in your diet which include improving sleep and reducing stress amongst other benefits.

Robert Redfern


3 Natural Sweeteners for Cancer Prevention

17 Oct

Our health and our health care system both rank at the bottom of virtually every study and survey today, yet Americans spend more on health care and supplements than any other country.

As we take every supplement under the sun and bathe ourselves in coconut oil and fish oils, people are coming to the realization that a “cure-all” just doesn’t exist.

However (and this is a HUGE however), if a “universal remedy” does exist, we would need to completely remove sugar from our diets.

The Sugar Habit

What makes it so difficult to cut harmful sweeteners out of your diet? Consuming sugar and simple carbohydrates can lead to an addictive dopamine cycle.

Research has actually shown that there is a neurochemical similarity between intermittent binging on sucrose and drugs of abuse: “both can repeatedly increase extracellular [dopamine levels] in the nucleus accumbens.”  In fact, sugar is more addictive than cocaine.  Eight times more addictive, to be precise, according to Mark Hyman, MD.

Have you ever wondered why it’s so challenging to eat just one cookie or have one slurp of a cola? Like narcotics, the dramatic fall back to Earth after riding high on the sugar clouds will create an intense craving in your body for another “hit.”

This is why it’s important to consume as many natural, whole foods as possible because they will trigger a gradual, moderate amount of feel-good hormones. However, eating sugary treats will cause a spike in these feel-good hormones which then causes people to crash soon afterwards.

How Sugar Affects Immunity

Everything should be done in moderation, right?

Absolutely not. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Immediately after it’s been consumed, sugar literally shuts down white blood cell effectiveness and puts the body in danger for up to 5 hours.  Most people don’t realize this.

According to nutrition expert K.C. Craichy (Quest for the Cures), just 100 grams of sugar inhibits our white blood cell’s ability to kill the pathogens in our body by up to 90%. And this happens within 15 minutes of consumption.

To put this in more familiar terms, American Anti-Cancer Institute Founder Bob Wright confirms that data from a 1973 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition still holds true today: “One can of [soda] has enough sugar to shut down 50% of our immune system for a minimum of 4 hours.”

And, according to the American Anti-Cancer Institute:

When we consume sugar, we are simultaneously shutting off our defenses while pouring gasoline on the fire that is Cancer. When we take into account that “50 to 70% of our total immune system cells cannot see cancer … even on our best day,” the notion of adding sugar to our diet seems even more blasphemous (A.J. Lanigan, Quest for the Cures).

More Risks With Sugar Than Previously Expected

Sugar is conceivably the most dangerous substance on the planet and we should avoid it like the plague. Nancy Appleton, PhD, even claims that there are literally 141 ways sugar ruins your health.

Sugar contains absolutely no nutritional value, and it has been reported to:

  • Cause dental cavities.
  • Cause skin conditions like acne and eczema.
  • Contribute to hormone imbalance and adrenal fatigue.
  • Deplete your body of natural energy and prevent mineral absorption in your bones.
  • Encourage stomach ulcer formation.
  • Feed candida.
  • Greatly inhibit metabolism.
  • Lead to osteoporosis and arthritis.
  • Cause gallstones.
  • Spike blood sugar levels.
  • Suppress the immune system.

Sugar is literally everywhere and that’s the real danger of sugar.

The American Nutrition Association says:

“According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average adult in the United States takes in 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or a whopping 150 pounds a year, while teens pile in 34 teaspoons a day. That’s more than twice the amount of sugar we should be eating.”

3 Natural Sweeteners Safe To Enjoy

Thankfully, natural sweeteners are readily available so kicking the sugar habit can be a cinch if you use these three instead of sugar.

Stevia – By far the healthiest and sweetest natural sweetener, stevia is an herb that has been shown to help reverse diabetes and obesity. Stevia is the best natural sweetener for two reasons:

  • It is a natural plant that has powerful healing properties.
  • It has no calories and has a 0 glycemic index. When it is used instead of sugar (and other natural sweeteners), blood glucose levels are not affected.

Of the 350 scientific articles referencing stevia, we are starting to see that stevia can help with more than diabetes and obesity. The Nutrition and Cancer Journal, for example, recently published a groundbreaking study showing how stevia can actually help prevent and kill breast cancer.  Time will tell how truly effective this wonderfully sweet herb can benefit our health and wellness. When you purchase stevia it should be slightly green.

Raw Honey – Ranking #2, most raw, unfiltered honey is a rich source of: (15)

  • Amino acids
  • B vitamins (B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid)
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc

Honey is an extremely effective wound healer and has also been known to help with irritable bowel syndrome, acne, eczema, MRSA, tooth decay and a slew of other disorders.

Taking just one teaspoon of local raw honey has been shown to enhance immune function by building a tolerance to local pollen.

The International Archives of Allergy and Immunology published an article that discovered that pre-seasonal daily use of birch pollen honey decreased allergy symptoms by 60%!

Maple Syrup – Shown to kill colon cancer cells, maple syrup is a delightful replacement for most baked good recipes.  It is rich in calcium, iron, zinc and manganese. University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram states:

“I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it. It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.”

What About Agave & Sugar Alcohols?

Both agave and sugar alcohols like xylitol have been praised for being “natural” sweeteners and many health care providers are recommending them because they are low on the glycemic index. First of all, they are anything BUT natural. Secondly, they are quite toxic to the body.

Ever since the 1950s, researchers have known that xylitol:

  • Cannot be properly metabolized by humans.
  • Causes digestive issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea.
  • Gets stored in the liver, which can contribute to long-term liver damage.

Agave is even worse. A great explanation came from a recent Dr. Oz article where the famed medical celebrity retracted his opinion of agave.

“After careful consideration of the available research, today I’m asking you to eliminate agave from your kitchen and your diet. Here’s why:

“We used to think that because agave has a low-glycemic index and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does, it would be a good alternative for diabetics. But it turns out that although agave doesn’t contain a lot of glucose, it contains more fructose than any other common sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup.”

Does It Sound Too Good To Be True?

Let common sense be your guide when it comes to choosing sweeteners. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Enjoy stevia, raw honey and maple syrup – these three have been tested by both time and science to not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but are also healing and life giving.

Dr. Z.

Curcumin May Improve Vascular Health and CVD

14 Oct


Curcumin may improve vascular health within healthy people, according to a new study and data published within the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. The study indicated that by taking 8 weeks of Curcumin on a daily basis, it can result in a 3% increase in flow-mediation dilation (FMD – a measure of blood flow and vascular health) when compared with a placebo.

Researchers recruited 59 healthy men and women with an average age of 21 to participate in this double-blind, randomized, and placebo controlled parallel study. The participants were assigned to one of three groups, the first received a placebo, while the other two received 50mg of 200mg of curcuminoids per day, taking 250mg of a curcumin supplement daily.

The participants focused on the lower FMD values at the start of the study (at less than 7%) and they found that FMD improved by 3.0% in the 200mg per day curcuminoids group, and this is relative to the placebo. There was also a 1.7% increase in FMD in the lower dose curcumin group, relative to the placebo although no statistical significance was reached.

The research findings suggested that chronic supplementation with at least 200mg of Curcumin per day can enhance endothelial function (the lining of the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels that circulates blood), when this is measured by FMD in young and healthy subjects. The researchers summarized that taking Curcumin orally is therefore a good recommendation for anyone who wants to decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease…even in those who are apparently healthy.

The study provides support to the growing body of science which supports Turmeric and Curcuminoids’ many potential health benefits…especially when it comes to supporting brain, cardiovascular, joint and muscle health. The researchers also looked at the potential role Curcumin played and noted the potential benefits that occurred, via its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.

Researchers also concluded that subsequent studies into Curcumin should ensure that the supplement is supplied at a sufficient dose and is therefore of a suitable quality. The Curcumin used within this current study has been shown to have a 45.9 fold higher absorption rate when compared to standard Curcumin. They believe this explains why it was effective, although previous studies have reported little or no appearance of Curcumin in blood circulation following a high dose of the supplement…the novel form used in this current study was found to improve FMD, even though the highest dose was limited in comparison – to 200mg Curcumin.

Curcumin Has Many Vascular Health Benefits

This study provides further evidence that cardiovascular health can be significantly improved by taking a high-quality Curcumin supplement. Along with following a really healthy diet and lifestyle plan, it’s possible to receive good health and heart benefits when this is followed consistently.

Robert Redfern

6 Nutrients To Naturally Relieve Rheumatoid Arthritis

12 Oct

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a painful condition affecting the joints and is primarily caused by inflammation. Common symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis include joint pain and tenderness, fatigue, swelling and tenderness, joint warmth and a loss of motion.

Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect various parts of the body, and may have knock-on effects that affect moods, emotions, happiness and productivity. The causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis may vary but is believed to be a result of a resident virus from previous infections. This results in inflammation within the body


Thankfully, there are natural methods that can be used to provide relief from the painful symptoms that Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause. Here are just five of the best…

  1. Vitamin D. This is a critical nutrient that plays a massive role in improving general health. The body’s primary source of Vitamin D is from sunlight and this promotes synthesis within the body. It is technically a vitamin rather than a hormone, and while it can be derived from certain foods, such as fatty fish and dairy products which are Vitamin D fortified…a deficiency in this vitamin has been linked with rickets, weakening of the bones, etc. One of the best possible ways to get Vitamin D is to supplement, taking it with your most fatty food of the day. Studies in India have shown that patients who received 60,000IU of Vitamin D per week for 6 weeks, experienced significantly improved symptoms.
  2. Omega-3’s. These are most commonly found in fish oils and are considered essential fatty acids. These are necessary for human health, yet unfortunately the body isn’t capable of making them. Omega-3’s have to be derived from fish like salmon and tuna, although it is available in certain foods such as algae, krill, some plants and nuts. Fish oil supplements in particular have been marketed as good for improving joint health and many studies have shown that it can improve arthritis in people who were undergoing treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Patients who took the fish oils also described a decrease in their use of NSAIDs by up to 59%.
  3. Probiotics. Chinese researchers have found there’s a link between imbalanced gut bacteria and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Patients who had the condition were found to have low levels of the gut bacteria heaemophilius. They also found that certain minerals had trouble metabolizing. While other studies also showed the effectiveness of supplementing with a probiotic on people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Patients who were given six weeks of supplements with the Bacillus Coagulans bacteria to determine if they saw any improvements in their symptoms, when compared with a control group. They discovered that the patients who took a probiotic experienced improved mobility and reduced levels of the C-reative protein that is produced by the liver in response to inflammation.
  4. L-Glutamine is an amino acid that’s important for preventing muscle catabolism and increasing energy. This amino acid can support healthy joints and muscles, along with relieving muscle pain in the process. Glutamine is the most common amino acid found in muscles as over 61% of the skeletal muscles is Glutamine. This amino acid can be easily depleted however and it’s therefore essential that this amino acid be taken regularly to minimize muscle breakdown.
  5. Serrapeptase. A proteolytic enzyme originally derived from silkworms but now manufactured within a laboratory, the Serra Enzyme can safely dissolve inflammation and dead tissue from within the body. Once dissolved, it is naturally eliminated from within the bloodstream and excreted via the kidneys and other organs. Serrapeptase is highly effective at relieving inflammation and symptoms of arthritic pain, so that once this is dissolved, the body can naturally begin to heal itself.
  6. Curcumin. This is a powerful antioxidant that contains many natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help to relieve many common every day painful health conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis according to studies. Curcumin derived from the ancient Indian spice turmeric has been used for thousands of years for its anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.

Robert Redfern

Why ‘Gluten-Free’ Is Not Enough To Stay Healthy

10 Oct

Gluten-free foods are often marketed as a ‘healthier’ alternative to wheat or many starchy carbohydrates that naturally contain gluten to give foods texture and firmness. Yet according to new research, many food items labelled as “gluten-free” are not 100% free of this protein that can otherwise leave people with a gluten intolerance in severe pain.

There are many health reasons why people avoid foods containing gluten and some of these include the link between stomach pain and diarrhea, which can leave them malnourished. The research in this particular case, found that of all the items marked as gluten-free, only 14% contained detectable traces of the protein, according to scientists.


Sufferers of Celiac Disease or those who have had an adverse reaction to gluten, may find that cutting out certain foods can help with stopping agonizing symptoms. They also found that even with gluten-free alternatives to breads, cereals and pastas, sensitivity can vary between sufferers – with food having to be less than one part per million to protect from many symptoms. However internationally, food codes only require gluten-free products to contain less than 20ppm.

The research from The University of Western Australia tested 169 gluten-free products. 41 crackers, breads, and biscuits, 37 cereals, flours and grains, along with 30 condiments and sauces. The researchers also tested 21 spices, 16 pastas, 15 drinks and soups, along with 9 confectionery products. Gluten was found in 14% of the products, yet at very low levels within all of them.

Twenty of the items were found to have detectable levels of gluten and these were all less than one part per million – the other four had levels much higher. The Lead Researcher of the study believes that the standards should be revised to mention that these products ‘contain one ppm or less’ of gluten as opposed to ‘no detectable traces’. While these tiny traces of gluten are being found in some foods, researchers suggest that it’s still possible to consume them without fear.

There Is a Safer and Healthier Option

A better way to ensure you avoid all gluten is to choose more natural options, rather than relying on “gluten-free” processed foods. This is because these foods are still high in sugars and do nothing to benefit your health. Anyone who suffers from gluten intolerance or simply wants to improve their health should consider eating more whole plant foods, or foods that use only single ingredients.

The good news is that taste or texture don’t have to be sacrificed either – it’s still possible to enjoy all of your favorite foods and gain all of the health benefits from following a gluten-free diet. Healthy alternatives to processed “gluten-free” products such as pasta, breads, cereals, cakes, noodles, pizza etc can be prepared at home using sprouted buckwheat flour, sprouted oats and legume pasta.

Robert Redfern

Immune Boosting Shot an Alternative to the Flu Shot

8 Oct

When our bodies are stressed during weather changes, family vacations or during a time you are exposed to crowds of people carrying germs, it is a good thing to keep your immune system in mind. The best way to avoid the flu is to have a strong immune system. Eat right and drink water, exercise, get enough sleep.  The flu shot is deceptive marketing at its best. No one is flu shot deficient. What we need is to learn how to beat disease God’s way!

Please be a natural healthcare advocate, and share this information with your loved ones. It’s the only way to spread truth…

By taking this immune boosting shot, you can help keep away those pesky viruses. Who will complain about taking a dose of delicious raw honey in the morning? Plus, some pumpkin spice is nice – it gives the immune boosting shot a nice flavor.

Immune Boosting Shot
  1. Mix together in a glass bowl and enjoy twice daily at the onset of a cold, or once per day for prevention.
  2. Wash down with pure, filtered water.
  3. Be sure to not use for more than two weeks at a time.
*Immune Boost Blend:
  1. Equal parts Cinnamon, Clove, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Orange and Lemon Essential Oils

Dr. Eric Z

Surprising Health Benefits of Biotin

19 Sep

Known as a water-soluble B-vitamin (B7), Biotin helps the body to convert food into energy. This is vital during breastfeeding and pregnancy in particular. Biotin plays an important role in the overall health of your hair, skin and nails.

Biotin or Vitamin B7 was once called co enzyme R and vitamin H. The H stands for Haar und Haut, which is the German for hair and skin. As biotin is water-soluble it means that the body doesn’t store it, even though it has many important functions within the body. Biotin plays an important part in the function of several enzymes known as carboxylases. These enzymes participate in important metabolic pathways and this includes the production of glucose and fatty acids.


The commonly recommended intake is 5mcg per day for infants and 30mcg for adults. Breastfeeding women can take up to 35mcg per day. While a B7 deficiency is considered rare, it’s believed that some groups such as pregnant women may experience it in a mild form. Here are some of Biotin’s amazing benefits…

    1. Plays a Key Role in Macronutrient Metabolism. Biotin is essential for energy production and requires several enzymes that are needed to enable it to function properly. These enzymes in particular are involved with carb, fat and protein metabolism. This initiates critical steps within the metabolic processing of these nutrients. The B7 plays a vital role in Gluconeogenesis and this metabolic pathway enables glucose from other sources other than carbs, such as amino acids. Vitamin B7 containing enzymes can help to initiate this process. Biotin is also involved with fatty acid synthesis and in the breakdown of several important amino acids including leucine.


    1. Helps with Brittle Nails. When nails are weak they can easily become chipped, split or cracked. This is a common condition estimated to affect around 20% of the world’s population. Biotin can benefit brittle fingernails [1] and studies have shown that taking B7 regularly can improve symptoms including nail thickness, while reducing nail splitting.


    1. Biotin is associated with Increased Hair Growth and this promotes healthier and stronger hair. There is actually relatively little evidence to support this but a biotin deficiency can lead to hair loss, indicative of how important this vitamin is for hair [2]. Supplementing with B7 is recommended for anyone experiencing hair loss, yet improving hair growth in healthy people has not yet been determined.


    1. Important During Pregnancy. It’s estimated that up to 50% of women are deficient in B7 and this means it may affect their wellbeing slightly although it’s often not severe enough for any noticeable symptoms to occur. Deficiencies are believed to happen because biotin breaks down much faster in the body during pregnancy. This is a cause for concern as some non-human studies indicate that a biotin deficiency during pregnancy may cause birth defects. [3] It’s therefore imperative to consult a doctor/dietitian or nutritionist before taking any supplements during pregnancy or throughout the breastfeeding process.


    1. Supports Skin Health. A deficiency in B7 can cause skin problems including red and scaly skin rashes. [4] Certain studies also indicate that biotin deficiency can cause seborrheic dermatitis or cradle cap. [5] Biotin also has an important role in effecting fat metabolism and this is important for skin health.


    1. Can Affect Multiple Sclerosis. The autoimmune disease known as Multiple Sclerosis or M.S. affects the protective covering of the nerve fibers in the brain causing damage or destruction to the spinal cord and the eyes.  The protective sheath is known as the myelin and this is believed to be an important factor in producing it. Two randomized controls have been carried out on people who have progressive M.S and the preliminary results are promising.


  1. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels Within Diabetics. Research has indicated that biotin concentrations in the blood can be lowered in people with diabetes as compared with healthy individuals. Studies have also shown that when biotin supplements are combined with the mineral known as chromium, it can help to lower blood sugar levels especially in people with Type 2 diabetes.

Robert Redfern

Selenium A Vital Element To Boost Your Immune System

13 Sep


When it comes to taking care of your health and wellness, you can find a lot of inspiration in nature’s elements. One of the best ways to get a boost to your immune system is by taking minerals. Selenium is one such mineral that’s commonly found in foods such as sunflower seeds and nuts.

Selenium can be found in the food we eat daily, but the amount contained within will vary. This is because selenium is stored in the soil and the amount can vary depending on its location. When plants grow in soil rich in selenium, they too will absorb a large amount of the mineral.

Despite the fact selenium is common in the soil as well as water, many people around the world are deficient in this mineral. This can pose a threat to human health and wellbeing over time, especially when you consider just how valuable the mineral is for the process of fighting off miscellaneous diseases; everything from cancer to common colds.

Selenium Benefits

Perhaps one of the best things about selenium is that you don’t need a lot of it to receive significant benefit. In fact, the human body doesn’t need very much at all in terms of a daily serving — usually around 50 micrograms for an adult is advised. The important thing to remember is not to exceed the daily dose of selenium, as overuse has been correlated with some risks. Of course, you should also know that getting too much selenium is really hard to do unless you’re adding an extremely large amount of the supplement.

So why is it so hard to get a regular dose of selenium in your diet? Part of the problem is the sheer amount of processed foods that we eat…and selenium cannot handle processing, which causes the mineral to break down and become inert.

The powerful healing ability of selenium to impact our health comes from the fact that it is packed with antioxidants. This means it has the potential to prevent health issues and fend off infections or illnesses.

Selenium is often a “forgotten mineral,” meaning not many of us think about how important it is to our daily health and wellbeing. When we do not get enough of this mineral, our bodies are at risk for a number of problems including infectious disease and even heart problems.

Another important thing to mention about selenium: It plays a major role in alleviating stress, which is a big step in preventing diseases and health issues. As you know, stress is one of the key contributors to the way our body handles illness.

Perhaps one of the most shocking correlations between selenium levels and health are the links between its deficiency and cancer. In fact, recent studies from 2015 and 2016 have shown that the more selenium you have in your body, the less likely you are to have cancer, especially those types found in the bowels.

Preventing cancer isn’t the only benefit though. Selenium also offers to help:

  • Boost the immune system through antioxidants
  • Repair damaged skin cells and reverse aging
  • Support overall body health

The boosts to your immune system are one possible correlation when it comes to fighting cancer, but studies are still underway to determine the exact cause. Since selenium targets your immune system, you can also expect to experience better overall well-being and more resistance to infectious diseases. Some people have even reported recoveries from antibiotic-resistant viruses!

When it comes to a whole body approach to improving our health, selenium can be a powerful weapon in our arsenal. For one, selenium is an effective tool when staving off an infection, and this includes both bacterial and viral infections. The reason it is so helpful is because it triggers a boost to your immune system through micronutrients found in the mineral.

These micronutrients are called seleno proteins, and they help control the body’s response to infection by reducing stress and inflammation.

You can also help your thyroid just by supplementing your diet with Nascent Iodine and Selenium which is essential to activate the iodine. The proper functioning of your thyroid is dependent a lot on the levels of this mineral in the body. This is due to the proteins discussed above. It truly is a “whole body” micronutrient.

Bottled Water, Tap Water, Filtered Water: Which one is Best?

15 Aug


We used to take our water for granted.

We rarely think about where it came from, or what it may have in it.

Then bottled water came on the scene. At first, it was a nice convenience, and a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. But then there was all that plastic clogging up our oceans and other waterways, say nothing of our landfills.

Better to drink tap, we all thought.

So we went back to our faucets, but then we heard stories of the contamination. Back in the 1980s, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from the DuPont plant (Teflon) contaminated drinking water in Ohio and West Virginia.

Decades later, in 2015, the same chemical popped up in Hoosick Falls, New York, and several other nearby areas in the Northeast, spurring the EPA to issue a new, lower level recommendation for PFOA.

Then there was the astounding recent case of contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, where after the state decided to switch the source of their supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, between 6,000 and 12,000 children were exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead.

It’s enough to confuse even the least eco-conscious individual, who care about their own health, but also want to do what’s best for the planet.

Where do we go for our water? What’s the best choice?

What’s Really in that Bottled Water?

You already know that bottled water is contributing to environmental waste, but you may not know the details:

  • Bottles take over 1,000 years to biodegrade. If they’re incinerated instead, they produce toxic fumes.
  • Only one out of five water bottles are recycled.
  • U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles.
  • It takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one bottle than it does to fill it.
  • We use 17 million barrels of oil each year to produce water bottles.
  • Every square mile of the ocean has over 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in it.

But let’s put aside all the environmental problems for a minute. Is bottled water better for you? In other words, is it less toxic than tap water?

In many cases, no. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle, sometimes further treated, but sometimes not.

The NRDC conducted their own tests on water bottles, and found that of the 1,000 bottles they tested (about 22%) contained chemicals above state health limits in at least one sample. They also found that samples of two brands were contaminated with phthalates—toxic plasticizing chemicals linked to asthma, hormone disruption, diabetes, and other health issues.

You’d think that government regulation would help reduce the risks, but the problem is that two different organizations regulate tap and bottled water. The EPA regulates tap, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations bottled. That means that while tap water has to be disinfected, filtered to remove pathogens, and tested for viruses, bottled water doesn’t have to be.

City water is also tested more frequently than bottled water. Manufacturing plants have to test for bacteria just once a week—city tap has to be tested 100 or more times a month.

And don’t think you can get around these issues by buying a certain type of bottled water. The EPA notes that labels can be confusing.

  • Spring water: May be collected where water flows to the earth’s surface, or from a borehole that taps into the underground source.
  • Glacier water: Not regulated and may not indicate where the water is from.
  • Mountain water: Also not regulated.
  • Purified: Not necessarily free of microbes—just indicates that it was treated to remove chemicals and pathogens.

They add that bottled water can come from a ground water source, just like tap water, or from surface water source, like a river or stream. Most comes from groundwater, which is generally safer, but some comes from the public water system and just receives additional treatment before its bottled.

What about the bottle itself? Some studies have found that toxic phthalates can leach from the bottle into the water over time. One study, for example, found that water stored for 10 weeks became contaminated with phthalates.

Most bottles today are considered safe, but if they’re stored in hot or warm temperatures, leaching becomes more likely. Even leaving a bottle in a hot car can change it enough to allow chemicals into the water.


So Is Tap the Better Option?

Considering all this, it certainly seems like tap water would be the better alternative.

You definitely get rid of the plastic problem with tap. There are no bottles, and you aren’t exposed to any chemicals leaching from the plastic.

But how safe your tap is depends on a number of things. These include:

  • Where it’s coming from—the source. The source of water in Flint, Michigan, for example, when it changed, resulted in contamination.
  • The pipes in your building—some older homes and buildings have pipes that may contaminate water.
  • How the water is treated to remove contamination.

There still are risks for contamination with tap water. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), since 2004, testing by water utilities discovered pollutants in tap water. A 2003 study, for example, reported that the quality of drinking water varies from place to place, and that some can be contaminated with arsenic, fluoride, or pathogens.

A 2009 article in Scientific American reported on a three-year EPA study that found 202 unregulated chemicals in the tap water of 45 states. A similar EWG analysis of 20 million tap water quality tests taken between 2004 and 2009 found 316 contaminants, including weed killers, industrial solvents, refrigerants, and perchlorate.

The EPA regulates 114 of those contaminants, setting maximum levels that were achieved 92 percent of the time, but the EWG expressed concern about the rest of the chemicals, which have no federal safety standards. (Find the EWG’s top –rated and lowest-rated water utilities from their 2009 testing here.)

The EPA is considering regulating additional chemicals, including pesticides and disinfection products, but these things take time, and so far we’re still waiting on most. The EPA has stated that it is “developing or reviewing regulations for certain drinking water contaminants,” including lead, copper, perchlorate, and chromium.


Option Three: Use a Water Filter

With the reports out of the Northeast and Michigan areas, many people are understandably nervous about their tap water supply.

You can get more detailed information on your water by ordering a do-it-yourself water testing kit, or arranging for a water quality test from a water filtration company. You can also ask for the annual drinking water quality report from your water supplier. Called the “Consumer Confidence Report (CCR),” it tells you where your water comes from and what’s in it.

The EPA has a handy page here where you can insert your state and county to receive more information on your water.

If you have a private drinking well, realize that the EPA does not regulate that, and that many states and towns don’t require testing after installation. It’s up to you to get your water tested regularly.

Finally, the best option all the way around may be to install a filter on your water faucet. You won’t be using bottled water and contaminating the environment, and you’ll be adding another layer of safety to your tap water supply.

Here are a few good guidelines to follow when purchasing a filter:

  • Choose a filter made to remove contaminants that may be found in your water—another reason to get a report or home test such as those mentioned above.
  • Carbon filters are affordable and remove many common contaminants, like lead and disinfection byproducts.
  • Reverse osmosis filters are more expensive, but are also more effective at removing contaminants, catching those that carbon filters miss, like arsenic and perchlorate.
  • Change your filters as directed to avoid letting contaminants through.
  • Check out the EWG’s water filter guide here.

All filters require regular cartridge replacement and/or other maintenance in order to remain effective. Here are four things you need to know:


  • Many types of water filters, particularly carbon filters, contain cartridges that must be replaced periodically.
  • A filter cartridge’s life span, also known as its capacity, is based on the amount of water that can flow through it before it needs to be replaced.
  • Most counter-top, faucet-mounted and under-the-counter filtration systems have greater capacity than pitcher filters.
  • How often you must change cartridges, and how much they cost, greatly affects the total annual cost of any system.


  • A filter cartridge contains a material, called the media, that “traps” contaminants and removes them from the water flowing through. Those impurities remain in the filter media.
  • Once the media in the cartridge is saturated, the filter can no longer remove contaminants and is effectively useless.
  • Bacteria may accumulate in older cartridges, potentially causing more harm than good.


  • Most filtration systems also rely on mechanical filtration to remove excess sediment and particulate matter from the water.
  • Too much trapped sediment may clog the system and lower the flow rate.
  • Depending on your filtration system, a good cleaning may solve the problem; in other cases a new cartridge may be necessary.


  • Reverse osmosis systems, in addition to often having one or more cartridges that must be replaced periodically, have a special membrane that must be replaced every 2-3 years.
  • Water softeners based on ion-exchange technology use salt ions to remove excess calcium and magnesium from the water. The salt gets depleted over time has to be replenished periodically.
  • Many manufacturers recommend additional regular maintenance tasks for reverse osmosis filters and water softeners. It is important to follow the manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations.

Maintenance Issues to Consider Before Purchasing A Filtration System


  • A cartridge’s capacity, listed in gallons, is usually listed under the product description and specifications on the label, as well as in the user manual available on most manufacturers’ websites.
  • Since most users do not know or track to the amount of water they use, manufacturers also suggest how often the cartridge should be replaced.
  • The lower the capacity, the more frequently you will need to change the cartridge and the more it will cost to keep your filter working well.
  • Some water filters contain a gauge of some kind that will alert you when it’s time to replace a cartridge. It’s unclear how accurate these are, however, so it’s best to be proactive about filter maintenance.


  • Cartridge prices can vary tremendously. To estimate your annual costs, consider both the number of cartridges you would need in a year as well as the unit cost of each one you buy.
  • In addition to any necessary filter cartridges, consider what other components of your water filter system may need replacement or maintenance. Two examples: reverse osmosis membranes and salt for ion exchange water softeners.
  • A cheaper filtration system that requires more frequent cartridge replacement may be more costly over the long term than a more expensive system.


  • Some filtration systems require professional maintenance services.
  • There are several different types of salts for ion-exchange water softeners. Be sure to purchase salt that is compatible with your system.
  • Consult the user manual before replacing a filter cartridge or cleaning your system!
  • The Nitty Gritty of Filter Types and Technologies

    Although there are hundreds of brands of home water filters, they all rely on a small number of technologies to remove contaminants. That does not mean that every filter that uses a given technology is as good as another, but it does mean that you can get a good idea of the general pros and cons of the different systems relatively easily.

    A few tips to keep in mind:

    • Some filters use a combination of technologies, while others rely on just one.
    • To ensure that a filter removes a particular contaminant, verify that it is certified for that contaminant by a reputable, independent agency. For example, some carbon filters can remove chloramine but others cannot. Filters vary widely in quality.
    • Some filters are labeled “NSF certified.” NSF is a reputable product evaluation company, but its certifications are not all the same. It may certify that a filter will improve water’s taste and odor but not necessarily guarantee that it will remove any specific contaminants. Read the fine print.
    • EWG’s water filter guide only includes filters that have been certified by the California Department of Public Health and/or NSF to reduce one or more common drinking water contaminants.

    The basics of common water filter technologies

    Carbon/Activated Carbon: Activated carbon chemically bonds with and removes some contaminants in water filtered through it. Carbon filters vary greatly in effectiveness: Some just remove chlorine and improve taste and odor, while others remove a wide range of contaminants including asbestos, lead, mercury and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, activated carbon cannot effectively remove common “inorganic” pollutants such as arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrate and perchlorate. Generally, carbon filters come in two forms, carbon block and granulated activated carbon.

    Carbon Block: Carbon block filters contain pulverized activated carbon that is shaped into blocks under high pressure. They are typically more effective than granulated activated carbon filters because they have more surface area. Their effectiveness depends in part on how quickly water flows through.

    Granulated Activated Carbon: These filters contain fine grains of activated carbon. They are typically less effective than carbon block filters because they have a smaller surface area of activated carbon. Their effectiveness also depends on how quickly water flows through.

    Ceramic: Ceramic filters have very small holes throughout the material that block solid contaminants such as cysts and sediments. They do not remove chemical contaminants.

    Deionization: These filters use an ion exchange process that removes mineral salts and other electrically charged molecules (ions) from water. The process cannot remove non-ionic contaminants (including trihalomethanes and other common volatile organic compounds) or microorganisms. EWG’s water filter guide does not include any filters based on this technology.

    Distillation: This technology heats water enough to vaporize it and then condenses the steam back into water. The process removes minerals, many bacteria and viruses and chemicals that have a higher boiling point than water. It cannot remove chlorine, trihalomethanes or volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). EWG’s water filter guide does not include any filters based on this technology.

    Fibredyne block: This is a proprietary type of carbon block filter that claims to have a higher sediment holding capacity than other carbon block filters.

    Ion Exchange: This technology passes water over a resin that replaces undesirable ions with others that are more desirable. One common application is water softening, which replaces calcium and magnesium with sodium. The resin must be periodically “recharged” with replacement ions.

    Mechanical Filters: Like ceramic filters, these filters are riddled with small holes that remove contaminants such as cysts and sediments. They are often used in conjunction with other kinds of technologies, but sometimes are used alone. They cannot remove chemical contaminants.

    Ozone: Ozone kills bacteria and other microorganisms and is often used in conjunction with other filtering technologies. It is not effective in removing chemical contaminants. EWG’s water filter guide does not include any filters based on this technology.

    Reverse Osmosis: This process pushes water through a semi-permeable membrane that blocks particles larger than water molecules. Reverse osmosis can remove many contaminants not removed by activated carbon, including arsenic, fluoride, hexavalent chromium, nitrates and perchlorate. However, reverse osmosis does not remove chlorine, trihalomethanes or volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Many reverse osmosis systems include an activated carbon component than can remove these other contaminants. Quality can vary tremendously in both the membrane system and the carbon filter typically used with it. Consumers should also be aware that reverse osmosis filters use 3-to-20 times more water than they produce. Because they waste quite a bit of water, they are best used for drinking and cooking water only.

    UV (ultraviolet): These systems use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. They cannot remove chemical contaminants. EWG’s water filter guide does not include any filters based on this technology.

    Water Softeners: These devices typically use an ion exchange process to lower levels of calcium and magnesium (which can build up in plumbing and fixtures) as well barium and certain forms of radium. They do not remove most other contaminants. Since water softeners usually replace calcium and magnesium with sodium, treated water typically has high sodium content. Some people may be advised by their physicians to avoid softened water. For the same reason, it is also not recommended for watering plants and gardens.

    Type Description Pros Cons
    Pitcher/Large dispenser Pitchers or large dispensers are typically fitted with an activated carbon filter that can remove contaminants and improve taste and odor. Models vary, but many reduce chlorine, lead, mercury and (less frequently) disinfection byproducts. This filter style works well for filtering drinking water and can be stored in the refrigerator. Inexpensive. No installation required. Available in various sizes and styles. If filters are replaced regularly, yearly cost may equal expense of faucet, countertop or under-sink filters. Can require frequent filter changes. Filtering is slow.
    Faucet mounted Faucet-mounted filters attach directly to the end of the faucet. Most can be pivoted to an “on” or “off” position, allowing you to collect filtered water for drinking and cooking. This filter style typically uses an activated carbon filter that can remove contaminants and improve taste and odor. Models vary, but many reduce chlorine, lead, mercury and (less frequently) disinfection byproducts. Relatively inexpensive. Easy to install. Allows user to switch between filtered and unfiltered water. Filtration is fast enough to fill cooking pots. Does not work with all faucet styles. May slow down faucet flow rate. Typically must change filter more frequently than with countertop or under-sink filters.
    On-counter On-Counter filters typically sit on the counter, with a line connecting directly to the faucet. A diverter value allows you to switch between filtered and unfiltered water. You collect filtered water from an extra spout or faucet on the filter unit. Models use a range of technologies, including activated carbon and reverse osmosis. Effectiveness varies widely between models, but many on-counter filters will reduce a wide array of contaminants. May allow user to switch between filtered and unfiltered water. Typically requires relatively infrequent filter changes. Ideal for filtering both drinking and cooking water. Requires installation and possibly plumbing modification. Can be expensive, though not always.
    Under-sink Under-Sink filters are mounted underneath the kitchen sink, where they are fitted to the water supply line. Some models have a separate spout or faucet for water collection. Models use a range of technologies, including activated carbon to reverse osmosis. Effectiveness varies widely between models, but many under-sink filters will reduce a wide array of contaminants. Placed out-of-sight under the sink. Typically requires filter changes relatively infrequently. Ideal for filtering both drinking and cooking water. Requires installation and possible plumbing modification. Can be expensive, though not always

Do you filter your water? Please share your thoughts. 

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