Recovery – It’s as Important as the Workout

28 Aug

Sporty woman drinking detox smoothie

 

When it comes to exercise and consuming the right nutrients, often people are far more concerned with what to put into their bodies before a workout in order to get maximum results and far less concerned about what to put into their bodies after the workout. The truth is that your post-workout nutrition can be as important as, if not more important than, your pre-workout nutrition and could affect your long-term results.

Proper post-exercise nutrition helps with replenishing vital nutrients for your body and repairing stressed muscles, which can help you to recover more completely and aid better performance during your next workout. It’s the ultimate pre-exercise nutrition for your next workout.

Now that you understand the importance of post-exercise nutrition, the next part is finding out what to eat or drink after your workout for the best results. This will vary from person to person based on a variety of personal factors as well as the types of exercise you do. High-intensity interval training, long-distance running, and weight lifting all have different demands and create different nutritional needs.

Here are tips for post-exercise nutrition.

1. Regardless of length and intensity of the workout, start with water. Drink at least one or two glasses of water immediately after your workout. Water keeps you hydrated and helps to flush out exercise byproducts like lactic acid that muscles make during activity. Restoring hydration levels after your workout can result in healthier muscles that recover faster.

2. Smoothies and shakes are a good option for those who may have trouble eating solid food right after a big workout. The first 30 minutes to an hour after exercise is an important time for delivering nutrients like sugar, protein, vitamins, and minerals to your body that will help it to recover effectively. If you’re going to go with a smoothie or shake over solid food, I recommend making one that includes both carbohydrates and proteins. Contrary to what most people believe, carbohydrates are essential for muscle recovery as a source of energy for rebuilding damaged muscle fibers. As a result, you should actually aim to have more carbohydrates than protein in your post-workout smoothies or shakes at a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio. Carbohydrates both provide energy for muscle repair and help replenish the body’s glycogen stores (energy).

A “zero-carb” protein drink post workout, or at any time, is pretty useless because it fails to provide your body with the calories needed to rebuild and put the protein to good use.

For cardiovascular exercise of 90 minutes or longer, you might need to increase your post-workout consumption, as well as your carb ratio. A 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio has shown good recovery results in research of runners and some of the latest research actually recommend 1 gram of carbohydrate and 0.25 grams of protein for every pound of bodyweight. You will want to split the total post-exercise consumption in half in the form of a smoothie within 30 minutes of finishing your run, then the other half in the form of whole foods approximately 90 minutes later (within two hours of completing your run).

3. Lastly, some recovery drinks, protein powders, and meal replacement shakes you find in stores today may use poor-quality proteins and nutrients, which are not effectively absorbed by the body. Therefore we have to do our own research to find products that use higher standards for manufacturing and production, as well as use the highest-quality ingredients.

Remember that post-exercise nutrition is vital to your body’s recovery and long-term results.

Sergio Rojas

3 Ways to Improve Vision Naturally

26 Aug

More than ever, we are using our eyes to stare at small type and images on computer screens, televisions, and cell phones – which leads to eye fatigue and an increase in age-related eye problems. But diminished eyesight does not have to be an inevitable part of living long. Follow these three tips to sharpen your own vision so you can see your way to a future of longevity.

Eat for Bright Eyesight Protect your peepers with a vision-ary diet! Our eyes require multiple nutrients to function optimally. Start with these:

Vitamins A, C, E, and minerals like copper and zinc are essential to eyesight. Antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, protect the macula from sun damage. Get these antioxidants from dark leafy greens, egg yolks, yellow peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Notice any color patterns here? Current research shows that consuming yellow and green vegetables can help prevent age-related macular generation, a leading cause of blindness. Foods rich in sulfur, cysteine, and lecithin help protect the lens of your eye from cataract formation. Excellent choices include garlic, onions, shallots, and capers. Anthocyanin-rich blueberries, grapes, and goji berries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve your vision. DHA is a fatty acid found in coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, and cod. DHA provides structural support to cell membranes to boost eye health.

Exercise Your Eyes

These simple exercises will help you maintain optimal vision and may also keep those annoying eye floaters at bay. Perform these exercises first thing in the morning, before bedtime, or any time your eyes feel fatigued. Make sure that your hands are clean and that your mood is relaxed. Commit to daily practice and you may just see better results within one month.

Warm your eyes. Rub your palms together to create heat, and then place them against your eyes for five seconds. Repeat this three times. Roll your eyes. Start by looking up and then slowly circle 10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise. Focus. Hold a pen at arm’s length, focus your eyes on it, and slowly bring the pen closer until it’s about 6 inches away from your nose. Then slowly move it back, keeping your eyes focused on the pen, 10 times in all. Massage your temples. Using your thumb knuckles, massage your temples in small circles, 20 times in one direction and 20 in the other. Repeat the same actions above the mid-point of the eyebrows at the forehead, then below the eyes on both sides of the bridge of the nose. Take a mini-nap. Put your head back, close your eyes, and relax for 3 minutes.

Give Your Eyes Some R&R

Getting enough sleep is essential for eye health. Sleep allows your eyes to fully rest, repair, and recover. Insufficient sleep may weaken your vision, so shoot for 8 hours of sound sleep a night.Give your eyes a break once an hour during your workday: Rest your eyes 10 minutes for every 50 minutes spent reading or in front of the computer. If your eyes feel overly tired, lie down and place cooling cucumber slices over your eyelids.

Dr. Oz

Adrenal Fatigue

24 Aug

 

Doctors use the term adrenal fatigue to describe unchecked stress that ages the body.

Adrenal exhaustion can make a person feel tired, heavy, and sick.

Before rebuilding your adrenal support system, be sure to account for and manage adrenal stressors.

Common causes of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Irregular or poor sleep
  • Frequent travel
  • Over training at the gym
  • Skipping meals or using stimulants (like coffee) to get through the day
  • Strained relationships, caring for sick family members, or juggling career and family
  • Illness, such as an ongoing Candida yeast infection
  • Leaky gut or poor digestion

What Is Adrenal Fatigue?

The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They pump out regulatory hormones, helping the body to adapt to stress.

These are hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which raise blood sugar, activate the muscles of the body, and send oxygen to the brain. In a time of dire need, stress hormones activate the fight-or-flight response, keeping you on your toes and ready to move.

Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline also weaken the immune system, halt tissue regeneration, and shut down digestive function. When stress is ongoing, this can become a problem. This means that cortisol is always high. Worse — ongoing stress can eventually weaken the adrenal glands that produce stress hormones, flat-lining cortisol levels.

When this happens, stress or no stress, your body simply does not have the energy that it needs to respond.

9 Signs of Adrenal Fatigue

When your adrenals are tired and overworked, they lose their ability to regulate stress hormones. Unless you are born with compromised health, this type of exhaustion usually takes years — if not decades — to accumulate.

For example, when you skip meals often, your body scrambles to keep blood sugar stable, and this drives up your need for stress hormones. A high-sugar diet is no better; again, we see stress hormones increase when meals are filled with sugar and processed carbohydrates.

Before the adrenals fall into full-time exhaustion, other signs of hormonal shifts begin to emerge.

Red flags that may indicate adrenal fatigue include:

  1. Weight gain, especially around the middle
  2. Difficulty regulating blood sugar
  3. Poor digestion and signs of yeast infection
  4. Wrinkles and signs of premature aging, such as graying hair
  5. Tiredness during the day, which peaks around 3-5 o’clock in the afternoon
  6. Changes in mood, such as depression or anxiety
  7. Trouble sleeping
  8. Loss of libido
  9. Changes in menstrual cycle

The Adrenal Fatigue Controversy

As you delve deeper into discovering what is causing your collection of “mysterious symptoms,” you may stumble upon the adrenal fatigue controversy. There are several organizations that deny the condition exists, including The Hormone Foundation of the Endocrine Society. This outlook can be discouraging when you are trying to get to the root of your health problem — especially if you are brushed off by your doctor.

But not all medical professionals agree with the adrenal fatigue “myth.” According to Dr. Richard Shames, who has undergone extensive training with the NIH and co-authored Thyroid Power, years of research support adrenal fatigue, dating back to Dr. Fuller Albright’s work in the 1930s.1 Based on his 30 years of experience in medicine, Dr. Shames disagrees with the Endocrine Society’s rejection of adrenal fatigue.

Countless studies support the importance of the adrenals — to regulate circadian rhythms and coordinate the body as its “adrenal clock.”2 When the adrenals start to go haywire, every part of the body can be affected. For example, healthy adrenals are needed to regulate blood pressure, and research suggests that some cases of particularly dangerous high blood pressure could be caused by mutations in small groups of cells in the adrenal glands.3

5 Steps to Rebuild Your Adrenal Health

Adrenal exhaustion can make a person feel tired, heavy, and sick. When the adrenals are exhausted, they are no longer able to maintain appropriate levels of cortisol.

Fortunately, there are 5 ways you can fight adrenal fatigue and reclaim your health:

  1. Improve digestion. It’s critical to nourish the adrenals as poor digestion wears them out. Diet is one of the most important factors in healing the adrenals. When you nourish these precious organs with essential minerals, they can continue to create energy for your body.
  2. Cleanse toxins. Cleansing can have a huge impact on your adrenals. An overburdened liver may make it almost impossible to bring the adrenals back into balance. To support the adrenals, you must also give the liver the extra detox support it needs.
  3. Conquer infection. Research shows that the microbes in your body pick up on stress. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline can make bad bacteria and yeast like Candida even more virulent and toxic to the body. Displacing the harmful microbes with the help of good, probiotic microbes is one of the best ways to get rid of long-term infection.
  4. Rebuild the gut. Rebuilding your gut with friendly probiotics can not only prevent adrenal fatigue in the future, but it can improve whole-body health — by boosting immunity, controlling inflammation, supporting weight loss, clearing the skin, aiding in detoxification, and even reducing the risk of disease.
  5. Replenish good bacteria. Restoring levels of friendly bacteria in the gut is the final step in adrenal recovery: Probiotics cover all the bases by helping you better digest food, assimilate nutrients, and strengthen immunity. Healthy gut bacteria help to naturally boost energy levels by aiding in digestion — when your body can easily digest and absorb, it can create energy more efficiently.

When you restore your adrenal health, you restore the systems that produce energy and manage stress — this means your digestive system, which has a close relationship with your immune system and your brain. This also means your detoxification pathways, primarily the liver and the large intestine.

REFERENCES:

  1. Shomon, Mary. “The Scientific Validity of Adrenal Fatigue and Mild Adrenal Insufficiency.”
  2. Cell Press. “How The Adrenal ‘Clock’ Keeps The Body In Synch.”
  3. Koshiro Nishimoto, Scott A. Tomlins, Rork Kuick, Andi K. Cani, Thomas J. Giordano, Daniel H. Hovelson, Chia-Jen Liu, Aalok R. Sanjanwala, Michael A. Edwards, Celso E. Gomez-Sanchez, Kazutaka Nanba, William E. Rainey. Aldosterone-stimulating somatic gene mutations are common in normal adrenal glands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201505529 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1505529112.

Adaptogenic Herbs Help Sleep and Mood

21 Aug

Mood and Sleep Disorders

Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are those which persistently affect a person’s emotional state (mood) and adversely influence their daily life. Anxiety and depression are often concurrent with impaired sleep and cognitive function. These conditions may be triggered by a variety of factors including nutritional, psychological, biochemical, emotional, environmental, social and spiritual. Genetic tendencies and brain disease are also factors. While most of us experience some degree of anxiety, depression or insomnia in our lives, for some these are chronic and even debilitating conditions. Cognitive, mood and sleep disorders affect many people, adversely influencing their ability to lead vibrant, healthy lives and to respond appropriately to
the many challenges of life.

In 2012, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States,1 with incidence of about 6.9% of adults. Women are 70% more likely to experience depression. Findings show that eleven percent of Americans, aged 12 years and over, take antidepressant medication. Twenty-three percent of women age 40 to 49 take antidepressants, more than in other age groups.

According to the NIMH, 40 million adults, or about 18.1%, of adults in America, suffer from some type of anxiety. This is almost three times the incidence of depression. Women are 60% more likely than men to experience some form of anxiety. Anxiety disorders are common in Western countries, ranging between 13.6% and 28.8% of the population. Three out of four people with chronic anxiety experience one or more other mental disorders during their lifetime. Many suffer with generalized anxiety disorder, which includes chronic worriers or those who experience low level chronic anxiety with an inability to relax. Additionally, people with chronic anxiety experience trouble with their sleep cycle or ability to experience a deep, restorative sleep. Inadequate sleep adversely affects mood, anxiety and the ability to function well at work and socially. This is reported to be an issue for one third of Americans.

Healing Response and Restorative Sleep

It is essential to initiate the healing response and restore vital function to resolve impaired or prolonged stress response. Evoking the healing response facilitates restorative processes at all levels. This includes addressing physiological, nutritional, emotional/mental, spiritual and lifestyle issues. Sleep disturbance is consistently a risk factor for development of and recovery from mental/emotional disorders. It is a clinical factor in chronic arousal conditions such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), attention disorders, dementia, Alzheimer’s, anxiety and depression. Lack of sleep or other interruption of the normal, restorative sleep cycle furthers the maladaptive stress response. It triggers mood disorders including
anxiety, depression, and disrupts cognitive function.

We spend an average of about 30% of our lives sleeping and if our normal, personal circadian rhythm and sleep cycle is disrupted, a myriad array of health issues can ensue. Our metabolism, hormonal levels, cellular healing and repair, nervous system response and other functions perform in a specific chronobiological rhythm. Cortisol levels tend to rise in the early morning and dip in the evening before sleep. Our body typically cools during the very early morning hours and warms as we prepare to get up. Night shift workers or those whose work shifts are constantly changing from day to night shifts are found to be at greater risk for immune system issues and even certain kinds of cancer because with a disrupted sleep pattern, natural physiological processes cannot function optimally.

Foundational to any healing process is the ability to sleep well, which is also a key indicator of physical, cognitive and mental health. Sleep, of course, has a profoundly restorative function. Sleep is characterized by quiescence and reduced responsiveness. It has a restorative effect that optimizes neurocognitive, emotional and physiological functions during our waking time. Additionally, researchers find that sleep has transformative effects – promoting lasting changes in the brain, enhancing brain function and exerting a positive influence of learning and memory.8 Studies find that cognitive and emotional memories of events are processed and organized during sleep. Sleep is a state of rest but not of inactivity. There is a lot of neurological activity with neurons firing during the nighttime as the brain and nervous system work to integrate our experiences. Researchers find that sleep is a highly-organized, cyclic process with specific states and transitions. Both sleep and wakefulness are regulated by interacting homeostatic and circadian processes.

Therapeutic Approaches

Adaptogenic Herbs

 

 

Botanical-and-Nutritional-Compounds-to-Optimize-Neurocognitive-Health

Adaptogens are the elite class of herbs essential for restoring the foundation of well-being, normalizing unction and fueling the vital and reserve energy so the body has the ability to heal
and repair. Adaptogens, group of unique botanicals, are particularly suited to addressing the multitude of issues due to exhaustion and depletion of reserves from a prolonged stress response. They engage he body’s healing response by normalizing function, enhancing repair mechanisms and promoting restorative sleep.

Normalizing function (whether hypo- or hyper-) involves mechanisms such as lowering corticosteroid levels, which allows the neuroendocrine
system to return to a balanced rhythm of activity and repose.

When a person is in a state of exhaustion, they literally have no energy, from the cellular level p, with which to engage in the healing process. They are too exhausted to relax, just as tired
little children get wired and won’t sleep. As the person’s energy reserves are restored and their stress response calms, they re able to return to a normal rhythm of activity and relaxation.
Nighttime sleep is when the body does restorative and healing work at the cellular, organ, energetic and other levels of the system.

Adaptogenic herbs were first researched and designated as such by Russian scientists. They were looking for on-toxic herbs to enhance physical stamina, performance and endurance in Russian
athletes, cosmonauts and factory workers during prolonged stress, workload and athletic performance. They searched amongst botanical compounds with long histories of safe use in humans as an alternative to pharmaceutical compounds that have adverse side-effects offering short-term benefits with long-term adverse effects on well being. The simplest definition of adaptogens is any compound that (1) acts in a nonspecific manner to strengthen physiological adaptation, (2) exerts a normalizing action upon physiological responses, and (3) has a restorative effect on the organ and energy systems, enhancing optimal function – all with no side effects and while bringing the system as a whole back into its natural state of harmony.

This approach to healing has been utilized for thousands of years by ancient medicines, such as Ayurvedic and Chinese, along with the more modern Vitalist herbal tradition. Each of these traditions recognizes that there is a vital life force or energy that drives the neuroendocrine, cellular and other systems of the body. This vital life force is known in ancient traditions around the world as Prana (Ayurveda), Qi (Chinese Medicine), Ki (Kiatsu in Japan) and a multitude of other names. In these age-old medical traditions, specific herbs are recognized, classified and used according to their ability to nourish and support this vital life force in its very specific manifestations, and in relation to specific organ systems and functions.

Supportive, Adjunct Compounds and Formulations

adapation plants

Supportive herbs, nutrients and natural compounds are used to focus therapeutic support in a particular area, such as cardiovascular or neurocognitive. These play a supportive and/or adjunct role in the overall therapeutic treatment. Often nutritive or other natural compounds enhance formulations through their calming, supportive or nourishing functions. B-complex vitamins support a multitude of metabolic pathways and enhance healthy neurotransmitter function. Herbs high in flavonoids and other such compounds provide raw materials for healing and repair in
cells, vascular tissue and organ function and can provide anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative benefits. Carnitine supports mitochondrial function and energy metabolism at the cellular
level.

For cognitive and mood issues, many nervine herbs both nourish and calm the nervous system. Which of the hundreds of nervine herbs is chosen depends on the person and their needs. There is also a host of nutritional, herbal and other natural compounds to consider. Many of these are discussed later in this paper. Combination botanical formulas provide foundational support. Such formulas combine adaptogenic herbs with organ- and system-specific botanicals and nutrients. When higher doses of individual nutrients are desired, these can be integrated into the overall program tailored for the individual. For example, glycine is a key nutrient to modulate anxiety. It can be especially beneficial when taken at night before bed, often combined with the glycinate form of magnesium. Therapeutic dose of glycine for this purpose is usually between 150mg to 300mg before bed. A formula containing glycine combined with supportive herbs and
nutrients can enhance beneficial results. If additional amounts of glycine are desired, it can be used singly to meet the desired dosage.

A formula containing a number of compounds can provide a synergistic blend that is greater than one compound given alone, even at a higher dose. But individual response can differ, and some may benefit with additional amounts of specific compounds or botanicals. This is one way that protocols can be tailored for specific needs.

Glycine

Glycine is a nonessential amino acid and neurotransmsitter that is metabolized in the brain. It inhibits release of norepinephrine and exerts a calming influence. For this reason is found to
modulate anxiety. Receptors for glycine are found throughout the vertebral central nervous system, in the brain stem and in the spinal cord and throughout the tissues. Highest concentrations of glycine are found in the thalamus, amygdala, substantia nigra and other areas.25 GABA receptors, melatonin, serotonin and dopamine play a big part in controlling mood, circadian rhythm, sleep duration and depth. Glycine is a precursor to GABA.

Nervines

Nervines are a broad group of herbs that help calm and restore balance to the nervous system. Some nervine herbs are nutritive and restorative, such as Milky Oats (Avena sativa), which is also
a restorative tonic for the adrenal axis. Others calm the nervous system on a spectrum from gently calming to strongly sedating. Gently calming nerviness such as Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) and Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), are excellent for children and for sensitive adults. More strongly sedating nerviness, such as Kava Root (Piper methysticum) are useful to dampen an over-reactive nervous system.

Since adaptogenic botanicals work in a non-specific manner, they work on the system as a whole while modulating the neuroendocrine and immune system function and response. Adaptogenic botanicals enhance a resilient stress response and the capacity to achieve the best therapeutic benefits from any integrative protocol. Use of botanical and nutritional medicines to support and balance hormonal and neurotransmitter responses and to calm and nourish the nervous system offer a foundational approach to any integrative program. This is central to address issues such as cognitive health, mood and a restorative sleep cycle to enhance optimal well-being.

Donald R. Yance Jr., RH (AHG), CN and
Suzanne E. Sky, L.Ac., MTOM

 

Curcumin Shows Potential Benefits For Preventing Cataracts

17 Aug

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Studies are revealing the benefits of turmeric for cataracts. The Indian spice containing curcumin is recognized for its numerous antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Researchers  now believe that curcumin has the potential to prevent cataracts from developing.

Cataracts are cloudy patches on the lens that can cause blurred or misty vision. They are relatively common and often develop in the lens as we get older. It prevents the light from reaching the back of the eye and over time it can worsen and start affecting vision for the worst.

A study investigating curcumin’s effects on rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes found that one of the main causes of the cataracts is diabetes. Researchers also tried to determine if blood sugar levels were reduced in the cataracts of subject animals.

Their findings indicated that curcumin can significantly delay cataract progression. The curcumin was also found to successfully boost antioxidant levels while inhibiting lipid peroxidation. The researchers concluded that turmeric and curcumin have the potential to prevent cataracts from forming in rats with diabetes.

Another study involving curcumin found that it can potentially delay galactose-induced cataracts while reducing galactose-induced apoptosis. The researchers are now hoping to apply these same agents of curcumin when treating diabetes and any resultant cataracts within humans.

Turmeric is often cited as being beneficial for eye health due to it containing curcumin, but its low bio-availability means it’s not readily absorbed within the body. Thankfully, it’s best absorbed when bound to fat.

Curcumin

All round Herb for general well-being. Curcumin, is the main biologically active part of Turmeric. Over 500 references to articles on Turmeric and Curcumin have been published in peer reviewed professional journals.

It has been identified in pharmacology as:

Antibacterial • Anti-inflammatory • Antivral • Diuretic • Anti-oxidant • Anti fungal • Anti yeast • Carminative Antiallergenic • Anti-spasmodic • Anti-tumour

Turmeric and Curcumin traditionally been used to support those suffering from pain and inflammation:

Acne • Digestive Disorders • Allergies • Gallbladder Problems • Ascites • Liver Damage • Auto-immune Disorders • Liver Disorders • Burns • Skin Rashes • Chicken Pox • Tumours • Diabetes • Ulcers and Eye Problems such as Cataracts

If that is not enough, Turmeric has been used for thousands of years by Indian Women to make their skin beautiful and blemish free.

No side effects have been found taking high doses of Curcumin; rare cases of stomach upset or diarrhea may be resolved by temporally, reducing the dosage and taking with food.

Curcumin Tea

For hundreds of years, the phytochemicals in plants have been utilized to accelerate the natural inflammatory response of the body, either when it is injured or just plain worn out. A good example of this goes back thousands of years to the Greeks and the Romans. Both societies reduced pain and inflammation with the help of the bark of the willow tree, which eventually evolved into what we now know as aspirin.

Residents of the islands of Okinawa in Japan have utilized the phytochemicals in plants, specifically the curcuma plant, to increase their longevity and live a healthier life. Curcumin is a standardized extract from the dried root of the curcuma plant, the root being the portion used for medicinal purposes. The curcuma plant is a perennial originating from India and is found throughout Southern and Eastern Asia. The plant, a member of the ginger family, can mature and grow up to 3 feet tall.

Curcumin belongs to a class of compounds known as curcuminoids. Other than being an important component of turmeric, Curcumin is a natural polyphenol, in other words a group of chemicals which provide many health benefits. The Okinawans partake in these benefits by drinking Curcumin tea. Curcumin tea is a simple, yet effective way these islanders have found to enjoy the multitude of benefits Curcumin has to offer.

American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD, tells us,

There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea. I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking.”

Curcumin Tea Recipe

Curcumin tea is quick and easy to prepare.

All that is needed is: 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric and 2 cups of water.

Preparation:

  • Boil water.
  • After the water reaches the boiling point, reduce to simmer.
  • Add ground turmeric.
  • Continue to simmer for approximately five to ten minutes.
  • Use mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain.
  • Enjoy as is or add any additional desired flavors, e.g., lemon juice.

Curcumin tea can be enjoyed twice a day; however; women who are pregnant or nursing or those diagnosed with serious health concerns, e.g., heart disease, gallstones, or bile duct problems, should stay away from Curcumin tea.

Robert Redfern

Chronic Inflammation Can Lead to Cancer

14 Aug

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Researchers have discovered that the immune system is capable of creating cancerous DNA mutations that can fight off infections. Chronic inflammation that’s caused by exposure to dangerous chemicals and disease can lead to cancers, according to researchers from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Recent findings from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper published this week, have found a number of chemical warfare agents used within the immune system that can fight off infections. This causes DNA mutations, leading to cancer.

Inflammation is thought to cause or promote one in five cancers and this includes mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that’s caused by inflammation. According to research associate Bogdan Fedeles from the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT, all of these are followed by chronic exposure to asbestos, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

What is Inflammation?

The body produces inflammation as a response to harmful irritants or any invading pathogens. The invaders are attacked by the immune system by a number of reactive molecules and this is designed to neutralize it and this includes nitric oxide, hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorus acid.

The molecules cause collateral damage within healthy tissue and around the site of infection, but the presence of foreign pathogens can activate the immune response that tries to fight off any bacteria. However, this process can damage normal cells.

Studies Support The Link Between Inflammation and Cancer

The presence of lesions or structural damage to DNA otherwise known as 5-chlorocytosine (5CIC) were shown within the inflamed tissue of mice that were infected with the Helicobacter Hepaticus pathogen. This lesion is a kind of damaged DNA base cytosine and it’s caused by reactive molecules known as hypochlorus acid, one of the main ingredients that’s found in household bleach and is also generated within the immune system.

The 5CIC lesion was found high levels within the tissue according to lead researchers, John Essigmann, the William R. (1956) and Betsy P. Leitch Professor in Residence Professor of Chemistry, Toxicology and Biological Engineering at MIT.

DNA sequencing of the gastrointestinal tumors was found to reveal two kinds of mutation: cytosine ( C ) bases that changed to thymine ( T ) bases and adenine ( A ) bases that also changed to guanine ( G ) bases. As 5CIC has not been studied yet as a potential carcinogenic mutagen, further investigation is needed to determine if it’s mutagenic.

Researchers firstly looked at the specific site of the 5CIC lesion within the genome of the bacterial virus. They also replicated this virus within the cells. The discovery from the researchers was that instead of pairing a guanine base with a cytosine, by pairing it with an adenine base for 5% of the time, according to Essigmann this caused a medically relevant mutation frequency.

Research also suggests that when the immune system is triggered by an infection, it fires hypochlorus acid at the location, damaging the cytosines within the DNA of the surrounding tissue. Any damage caused to the cytosines then becomes 5CIC.

Additionally, researchers have hypothesized that hypochlorus acid can damage the cytosines within the nucleotide pool and this causes the nucleotide reservoir to become a part of the replicating cells DNA.

By replicating the lesion containing genome along with various kinds of polymerase, the enzyme assembling DNA that includes human polymerases was determined and it was confirmed that 5CIC is mutagenic within human DNA. “The same kind of mutations were seen within cells and this made the researchers confident that this occurs where 5CIC levels are high within human cells.”

This technique was developed in Essigman’s laboratory and found that by placing the 5CIC lesion at a specific site along with the bacterial virus genome, then replicating the virus within the cell. Researchers then paired the 5CIC with an adenine base for 5% of the time to create a medically relevant mutation frequency.

These findings suggest that when an infection is triggered within the immune system, it fires hypochlorus acid at the site and this damages cytosines in the DNA of the healthy tissue. This damage then causes cytosines to become 5CIC.

To confirm that 5CIC is mutagenic within human DNA, researchers replicated the genome containing the lesion within a variety of different types of polymerase, the enzyme assembling DNA, including human polymerases. In each of these cases it was found that the 5CIC was mutagenic, causing the same kind of mutations seen within cells. This gave them confidence that this phenomenon can also happen in human cells containing high levels of 5CIC.

How To Avoid Inflammation

What we eat on a daily basis is one of the biggest contributors of inflammation. Avoiding starchy carbohydrates in the form of pastas, cereals, sugary drinks and junk food is recommended. All of these foods promote inflammation in the body and promote disease, making it more difficult to get healthy.

Robert Redfern

How To Get Better Sleep

12 Aug

Let’s face it, few things are as frustrating as tossing and turning, looking at the clock as another hour goes by, and wishing (and wishing) for a good night’s sleep. Sleep is important for optimal health, which is why you should do all you can to get better sleep. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to ensure you sleep better and start reaping the benefits of sound slumber.

Six Sure-Fire Tips for Better Sleep

  1. Turn out the lights. Light exposure at night disrupts the production of the sleep hormone melatonin (see more about melatonin below)—and you don’t even need to see the light in order to be affected by it. A low-watt night-light in an adjacent bathroom is acceptable, but when you are ready to go to sleep, all other lights (and the television) should be off, and the shades should be drawn. Blackout drapes are also a good investment.
  2. Keep cool, sleep better. Research reveals that keeping your bedroom cool is the ticket to better sleep. Drops in core temperature signal the brain that it’s time to turn in for the night. And several studies found that people with insomnia slept more soundly when they wore “cooling caps,” plastic caps with tubes that circulate water to cool down the head. So set your thermostat to 65 or 66 degrees and aim for a skin temperature of around 90 degrees. A thin pair of pajamas and a light blanket or sheet should do the trick. One caveat: Don’t get too cold. Shivering or being chilled leads to restless sleep.
  3. Turn down the volume. Everyone sleeps better when it’s quiet. If you are sleep deprived because of noise disturbances you can’t control—such as street noise or a snoring bedmate (get them checked for sleep apnea!)—then you may want to consider using ear plugs. Another good solution is to use a white noise machine that blocks out sound and lulls you into deep, better sleep.
  4. Don’t read, use your laptop, or watch TV in bed. The truth is you shouldn’t use your bed for anything except sleep (and sex). If you spend significant time watching TV, reading, or just loitering in bed, your body won’t take the cue that “bed” equals “sleep.”
  5. Cut back on alcohol and caffeine late in the day. Both alcohol and caffeine can contribute to sleep deprivation. If you’re especially sensitive to caffeine, you’ll want to avoid caffeinated beverages any time after noon. As for alcohol, one glass might relax you—but any more can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep. The closer to bedtime, the greater the effect.
  6. Don’t eat right before turning in. If you eat right before bed, your stomach is still working hard to digest that meal when you are trying to nod off, and it can make sleep elusive. For better sleep, try to avoid eating 2–3 hours prior to bedtime.

If these tips for better sleep don’t work for you, I implore you to try natural sleep aids instead of prescription medications. The dangers of sleeping pills far outweigh their meager benefits and make no sense when safe, natural alternatives exist.

The Very Real Dangers of Sleeping Pills

According to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six adults with a diagnosed sleep disorder and one in eight adults who simply have trouble sleeping use prescription sleep aids.

This is just one of the key findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which was conducted to determine how many US adults use sleeping pills. The survey also found that use is highest among adult women, and that usage also increased with age (with the highest percentages in the 50+ age brackets) and level of education (greater than a high school degree).

Folks, these findings are troubling, to say the least. The dangers of sleeping pills are very real. All sleeping medications—both benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Restoril, and Halcion) and the newer non-benzodiazepine sedative hypnotics (Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta)—have serious side effects. They include daytime drowsiness, cognitive impairment, balance problems, a strong potential for addiction, and according to a recent study, increased risk of death.

If you are currently taking a prescription sleep medication to get better sleep, I strongly encourage you to talk to your doctor about discontinuing it. Instead, give these safe, natural sleep aids a try and see which one works best for you. 

Natural Sleep Aids Work Wonders

  1. Supplemental melatonin. The best-studied natural sleep aid is melatonin, the “hormone of sleep.” Melatonin’s production in the pineal gland is cued by light—levels rise in the evening as darkness falls and ebb toward the morning. Today’s plugged-in, lit-up world blurs the signals for melatonin release, resulting in disturbances in our sleep-wake cycles. By restoring natural levels, supplemental melatonin promotes sound, restful sleep. The suggested dose is 1–6 mg (average 3 mg) 30–60 minutes before bedtime.
  2. Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis). This calming herb helps curb the anxiety that leaves many people tossing and turning. One recent study involved a group for whom sleeplessness is a common complaint: postmenopausal women. After four weeks of taking either a concentrated valerian extract or a placebo, 30 percent of the women in the valerian group had improvements in quality of sleep compared to just four percent in the placebo group. The recommended dose of this natural sleep aid is 500 mg before bedtime.
  3. L-theanine (from green tea), GABA, lemon balm, chamomile, and hops also relieve stress, induce relaxation, and facilitate sleep. Look for them as standalones or in combination natural sleep aid products and use as directed.

 

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any tips on how to get better sleep?

Dr. Whitaker

Foods That Reduce Pain

10 Aug

Foods That Reduce Pain and Inflammation

 

Because of the relationship between pain and inflammation, people living with pain are also likely to have inflammation, even if the inflammation is not visible. And when inflammation gets worse, pain gets worse.

Although you might think you have no control over inflammation, you actually have more influence on it than you might think—particularly when it comes to what you eat. That’s because some foods increase inflammation and pain while other foods decrease it!

Let’s take a closer look at some of the foods that reduce pain:

Antioxidant Fruits and Vegetables

One of the easiest ways to manage pain with food is to eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help fight free radicals and reduce inflammation. Good food sources of antioxidants include:

Fruits

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cherries
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons)
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes (dark colored varieties: purple, black, red)
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries

Veggies

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Eggplant
  • Green peppers (also yellow and red varieties)
  • Hot peppers (jalapenos and other varieties)
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnip greens
  • Winter squash (butternut squash, acorn squash, etc.)

Anti-Inflammatory Spices

There are two spices that stand out for managing pain: ginger and turmeric.

Ginger has an anti-inflammatory effect and is known for being able to soothe upset stomachs. Before you start eating ginger regularly or taking it as a supplement, however, you should talk to your doctor. Ginger has natural properties that thin the blood, so it may be necessary to adjust your medication if you are taking a prescription blood thinner.

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice used in curry. If you are a bit of a chef, you can have fun with Indian recipes (many of which use a lot of turmeric), but be careful if you handle it in the kitchen. Turmeric has a tendency to turn things yellow, including your clothes, dish towels, and fingers.

 

Water

There are few things in a pain diet that will have as much immediate positive impact as drinking plenty of water every day.

Water helps lubricate joints, fight dehydration (many aches, including headaches, are the result of being dehydrated), enable your kidneys to properly filter toxins from the blood, and ensure that your body can make enough blood to maintain adequate circulation. Your body also needs water to repair itself. When the body can’t get enough water, it will divert what little it does get to its more primary functions—and that means some of the “repairs” must go undone, which can result in pain.

The old rule of thumb about drinking eight glasses of water a day is good, but I think six glasses a day will offer benefits in terms of managing your pain. You do not need to buy fancy bottled water; regular tap water is just fine. Remember, though, that water is not the same as other liquids. Do not count coffee, tea, sodas, power beverages, or flavored waters in your six to eight glasses a day.

 

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids play a powerhouse role in managing pain by reducing inflammation, suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that can attack your joints, and improving circulation. They also may reduce anxiety, not to mention lower your cholesterol and reduce risk of heart attack.

The body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids on its own, which means you must get omega-3 fatty acids from food or supplements—there is no other way. Food sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Trout
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Some types of seaweed (used a lot in Japanese cooking and sushi)
  • Soybeans
  • Eggs (look for brands that are “omega-3 fortified”)
  • Flax (as seeds, flour, or flaxseed oil)

Unfortunately, many people find that these natural dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids are not enough to keep the body in good supply. For that reason, I recommend that anyone living with pain take a good quality omega-3 supplement in addition to regularly adding these foods to meals.

Monounsaturated Fats

When it comes to fat, it is much smarter to opt for monounsaturated fats like olive oil. Olive oil is not only a “good fat,” it actually decreases inflammation in the body! As for other fats, opt for lean proteins (leaner cuts of meat, fish), skim or low-fat milk, and low-fat dairy products.

Dr. Pergolizzi

Keep Your Skin Healthy with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

7 Aug

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be very effective at treating skin conditions. Treatments can provide quick relief for acute symptoms, as well as significant and lasting relief from recurrent or chronic skin conditions.

The skin reflects and reacts to imbalances within the body’s internal landscape and the effects of the environment. Internal disharmonies caused by strong emotions, diet, and your constitution can contribute to the development of a skin disorder. Environmental influences, such as wind, dryness, dampness and heat can also trigger or exacerbate skin disorders.

To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy, blood and lymph circulation improves the skin’s natural healthy color. Promotion of collagen production increases muscle tone and elasticity; this helps to firm the skin. Stimulating the formation of body fluids nourishes the skin, adding moisture and making it softer, smoother and more lustrous.


General skin conditions that can be treated with acupuncture and Oriental medicine include acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives). Evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for skin disorders, such as hives, can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 AD. Medicinal plants and stone needles were utilized to relieve and cure discomforts of the external areas of the body.

Oriental medicine does not recognize skin problems as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of techniques including acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, if 10 patients are treated with Oriental medicine for eczema, each patient will receive a unique, customized treatment with different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

Acupuncture views nutrition in a complex light, through the application of Oriental medicinal wisdom to dietary habits. In short, certain foods are considered too “yang”, or hot, to eat in excess during the warmer months, while others are prized for their “yin” ability to cool the body. Overall, the goal is balance between the internal yin and yang of the body. A healthy, nutritional diet, good sleep and moderate exercise can keep your skin and physical form at its best.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a skin disorder resulting in rough, red and itchy patches on the body. In addition, there can be a host of other symptoms and complications that can greatly vary between individuals. For some, small blisters may be present that when scratched, may bleed or ooze fluid and then crust over when dry. For others, a persistent need to scratch itchy skin may cause anxiety and sleep problems. Other symptoms of eczema include nighttime itching, red or brown skin discoloration, bumps that ooze fluid and harden when dry, scaly-looking, thick, cracked or dry skin, skin inflammation or sensitive, uncomfortable skin sensations. Complications that may arise from the symptoms of eczema include asthma, allergies, skin infections, insomnia, emotional problems or eye problems.

Usually, eczema is considered a chronic condition as it can take a long time to resolve. There may be long periods of remission, when the skin shows no symptoms. However in the presence of a trigger, such as pollen or dust, or after a stressful life event, symptoms of atopic dermatitis may come back. Other potential triggers for eczema include dry skin, bacteria and viruses, stress, excess sweat, hot and humid environmental conditions, wool, certain chemical cleansers and soaps, smoke/air pollution and certain foods like eggs, milk, wheat gluten or peanuts.

Due to the red and itchy nature of skin affected by eczema, acupuncture and Oriental medicine largely defines this condition as one related to heat. This manifestation of heat on the skin may stem from an internal imbalance (e.g. a weakened immune system), an allergic reaction (e.g. peanut allergy) or a combination of both these internal and external factors.

According to the philosophy of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, there are many reasons why the body may succumb to a heat condition and lead to the manifestation of eczema symptoms. Strong or prolonged emotions such as anger, rage or jealousy may contribute to a pathological buildup of heat. Overworking may also be a contributing factor, as this may interfere with other activities such as exercise and things that bring joy and pleasure into one’s life.

Each patient will have a different set of circumstances. At the time of your visit, mention any emotional or behavioral difficulties you feel may be related to your eczema. This way, a treatment plan can be developed that will address all of your symptoms.

Christina Sarlo LMT, L.Ac., NCCAOM
Experience Your Chi

How to Build a Treatment Plan for Managing Pain

5 Aug

Learn why a multi-modal approach is the best way to maximize your ability to control pain

There are two lies that bedevil just about any person who suffers from chronic pain. The first is that there is nothing you can do about your pain except to live with it. The second is that there is a fast and easy “magic bullet” that will instantly make you pain free for the rest of your life.

The truth of the matter is that there are many safe and effective ways to manage pain, but probably no single therapy that will cure you of all your ills. It’s my opinion—and other pain specialists agree—that the best way to manage pain is to take a multi-modal approach. In other words, you’ll get the best results by combining several therapies so that you are fighting pain in more than one way at a time.

What Are the Treatment Modes for Managing Pain?

Generally speaking, pain treatments fall into one of three categories. Let’s look at each and then review how to decide which therapies you should use.

Conventional Medical Therapy

“Conventional medical therapy” is a formal way of saying “the stuff that doctors usually do to help treat pain”—namely, drug therapy and surgery.

Drug therapy. Let’s talk about medications first, because they are the most common way of controlling pain. There are many popular pain relievers on the market. These include over-the-counter options like aspirin, acetaminophen, and NSAIDs, as well as prescription narcotics such as morphine, oxycodone, and other opioids.

While drugs are often effective, they are not always safe due to the side effects they cause. This poses a dilemma for many people with chronic pain, because the pills that help reduce pain usually are not safe to take over the long term. For example, you may find relief with a shot of morphine—but that isn’t really a feasible solution for every day of the rest of your life. Even drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen are associated with serious risks if you take too many of them, or take them over a long period of time.

The truth is that pills are not always the answer for people living with pain, and they must be used very carefully.

Surgery. Surgery is another common conventional therapy. The decision to have surgery is a big one, but for many people with chronic pain, surgery is a good solution—although it may not provide complete pain relief. Talk to your doctor about the risks of surgery as well as the potential benefits, and proceed with caution.

Natural Therapies

Natural therapies can help with managing pain, too, but they are less well studied by physicians. Examples of natural therapies include, but are not limited to:

  • Massage
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic medicine
  • Vitamins
  • Herbal remedies
  • Pain diet
  • Exercise
  • Heat therapy and cold therapy (i.e., a heating pad on an aching back or an ice pack on a sore knee)

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine (also known as CAM) is being studied and even offered at some of the world’s most prestigious medical centers. CAM approaches to pain include, but are not limited to:

  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Chinese herbal therapies
  • Reflexology
  • Biofeedback
  • Deep relaxation
  • Talk therapy
  • Meditation
  • Spiritual pursuits

How Should I Go About Building a Pain Treatment Plan?

To build your multimodal treatment plan, simply combine the conventional medicine (medication, surgery, physical and rehabilitative therapy) with natural and CAM approaches (diet, exercise, relaxation, massage, acupuncture, and so on) that work for you—keeping in mind that the benefits of any therapy you try should outweigh its risks.

Finding your ideal treatment mix will be a process of trial and error. The best thing to do is to test and try different approaches, keeping an open mind about all of them. Some things you will be able to do yourself (ice packs, heating pads, over-the-counter topical products, more sleep, a different mattress or pillow, a stretchy bandage to support a joint, quitting smoking or drinking, cutting sugar out of the diet, etc.), and others will require the help of a professional (chiropractic treatments or massage, for example).

Not everything will work as well as you want it to work—but now and then, something you did not think would work at all will provide major relief. I encourage you to educate yourself on as many treatment options as possible and not be shy about trying them. You have to be your own advocate!

 

 

Get Into the Right Mindset

One last point I want to make is about managing expectations. My experience has shown me that many people living with pain are often extremist in their thinking—either they want their pain to be totally cured, or they’ll just grit their teeth and endure it. Both are extreme points of view and not especially realistic. Therefore, it’s important to manage your expectations toward the middle.

Chances are good that your pain did not come over you all at once, and chances are good that your pain is not going to go away all at once. In fact, in your earliest stages of pain treatment, your goal should be “pain management.” Managing pain does not mean that your pain is totally gone (although that could happen); it means that your pain is lessened and under better control.

You’re playing a numbers game by trying to find several things that control your pain. For instance, let’s take a person with low back pain. She may find that getting more sleep reduces her pain about 10 percent. A heating pad helps another 10 percent, a new mattress helps 40 percent, and some exercises in the swimming pool help another 40 percent. That is a lot of little stuff—but it adds up to 100 percent relief.

If you find something that relieves even a small amount of your pain, keep doing it. Anything you can do to managing and control pain is good therapy.

Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi

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