September 26, 2016

388 Omega 3 Sources [26 Sept 2016]

Omega 3s are arguably the most important family of essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are the most studied EFA and play a number of important roles in our health.

There are three different Omega 3s in human physiology: ALA, EPA and DHA. While ALA (alpha linolenic acid) plays a small role in our bodies, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are much more important. I have previously written about the health benefits of Omega 3s for brain development (December 2012), brain healing (August 2015), depression (March 2011) and inflammation (March 2011).

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) is a relatively short chain EFA with only 18 carbon atoms. It is found in certain nuts and seeds, particularly chia, flax, camelina and hempseed. ALA can be converted into one of the longer carbon chain forms, EPA or DHA, but the enzyme required for this conversion is not very efficient, generally converting less than 1% of the ALA. For this reason, EPA and DHA are best obtained from the diet.

By far the best source of the long chain Omega 3s is fish oil or krill oil (seal and whale blubber is another source but rarely found on supermarket shelves or in supplements for that matter). I previously wrote (June 2011) about the relative benefits of the triglyceride and ethyl ester forms of fish oil supplements.

Krill oil has several benefits over fish oil. The omega 3s from krill oil are in the phospholipid form which is the form used in our cell membranes. It is more readily absorbed so you need less (which is a good thing because it is slightly more expensive). Krill oil also contains astaxanthin, a valuable antioxidant that I discussed in a column in May 2011. And because it is lower in the food chain than fish, krill is much cleaner from toxic metals like mercury. Another excellent source is fish roe (eggs) which, like krill oil, is rich in phospholipid form Omega 3s.

Unless you eat a lot of the right kinds of fish, such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel, and keep your intake of Omega 6 vegetable oils to a minimum, you would likely benefit from an Omega 3 supplement.

Stop in and let us show you the different Omega 3 supplements we carry and help you decide which is best for you. We have fish oil, fish roe oil, and krill oil in liquid, capsules, and chewables for children.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 19, 2016

387 Boulardii – the Probiotic Yeast [19 Sept 2016]

There is one probiotic that is not a beneficial bacteria – it’s a beneficial yeast. Saccharomyces boulardii is not related to the pathogenic yeast Candida albicans. Because it is a yeast and not a bacteria, boulardii has many special benefits.

First, it is not affected by antibiotics so can be used to maintain beneficial bowel flora while taking antibiotics (which affect only bacteria). It is however affected by antifungal drugs so should be taken a few hours away from such medications.

Boulardii has proven effective in preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. It also helps control more serious acute or persistent diarrhea and diarrhea in children.
Boulardii has been shown helpful in the treatment, and especially prevention, of Traveler’s Diarrhea, which is caused by unfamiliar “bugs” in the water. Boulardii keeps fairly well at room temperature so makes the ideal travel probiotic. Start a week before you leave on a holiday and then take the bottle with you.

Boulardii is proving to be an important adjunct in treating Clostridium difficile (known as C-diff), a common, highly contagious, and difficult to treat bacterial infection. Taking boulardii along with the antibiotic treatment significantly reduces the rate of recurrence of C. difficile infection. Boulardii produces an enzyme which breaks down C. difficile toxin A, stimulates antibody production against toxin A, and inhibits adhesion of C. diff to the intestinal walls.

Another difficult to treat infection that boulardii is proving helpful with is Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria recently found to cause peptic ulcers. Taken with the antibiotic treatment, boulardii increases the rate of recovery and also helps prevent diarrhea, a common side effect of the antibiotic treatment.

Caution – severe diarrhea is potentially serious and requires medical aid. Boulardii and other probiotics seem to work best in conjunction with the appropriate antibiotic treatment, but in mild cases may be effective on their own.

In summary, supplementing with Saccharomyces boulardii could help prevent and treat diarrhea caused by antibiotic treatment, and prove helpful along with antibiotics for serious infections like C. diff and H. pylori. Boulardii has also been used for a variety of bowel conditions involving dysbiosis like IBS, IBD, Crohn’s disease, and colitis.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 12, 2016

386 DIND Examples [19 Sept 2016]

Last week I wrote about drug-induced nutrient depletion (DIND) but didn’t have room to list many examples. So this week I’ll look at some of the more common drug categories and the nutrients that they deplete:
• Antibiotics (Penicillin, erythromycin, azithromycin) – calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, biotin & K, beneficial gut bacteria
• ACE inhibitors – zinc, sodium
• Antacids – B12, folic acid, iron, zinc, D, magnesium
• Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – glutathione, B12
• Antidepressants, Tricyclics – CoQ10, B12,
• Antidepressants, SSRIs (Prozac, Paxil) – folic acid, melatonin
• Beta Blockers – CoQ10
• Birth Control Pills – folic acid, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, zinc, selenium
• Bronchodilators - potassium
• Calcium channel blockers - potassium
• Corticosteroids (Prednisone) – calcium, magnesium, folic acid, potassium, D, selenium, zinc
• Diuretics, Loop (furosemide) – calcium, magnesium, potassium, B1, B6, C, zinc
• Diuretics, Thiazide – magnesium, potassium, zinc
• Diuretics, Potassium Sparing – folic acid, coQ10, calcium, iron, zinc, C
• Estrogen hormone replacement – B6
• Metformin – B12, folic acid, magnesium, CoQ10
• NSAIDs – folic acid, iron, potassium, vitamin C
• Resins cholesterol drugs – beta-carotene, folic acid, A, D, E & K
• Statins – CoQ10, copper, selenium, zinc
• Thyroid hormone (Synthroid) – calcium

This isn’t a comprehensive list and may not have mentioned your particular prescription or OTC drugs. It’s still a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist, refer to a book on the topic, or find a good reference site on the internet.

ND Notes (2)2

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 6, 2016

385 Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion [6 Sept 2016]

I first wrote about drug-induced nutrient depletion (DIND) seven years ago in September 2009 (#29). A recent article on the topic in ND Notes (2)2 reminded me of the importance of this topic. The article states that over a thousand commonly prescribed drugs, and many OTC drugs, can deplete us of essential nutrients.

It is estimated that DIND is responsible for up to 30% of drug side effects. Seniors are particularly at risk for DIND – they take more prescription drugs, metabolize the drugs more slowly, and have less efficient digestive systems to start with.

Drugs deplete nutrients in several different ways. Antibiotics change the microflora in the gut which can lower the production and assimilation of several vitamins like K and B12. Some medications block the production in our body of an essential nutrient, such as statins blocking coenzyme Q10. Some, like Ritalin, suppress appetite which reduces the consumption of food (and nutrients); others induce hypoglycemia which causes cravings for sugar. Diuretics increase the excretion of certain minerals like potassium, magnesium and zinc. Ant-acid drugs make the stomach too alkaline to properly digest protein and certain vitamins and minerals. Some weight-loss and cholesterol-lowering drugs bind to, and then excrete, fat in the digestive tract, taking fat soluble vitamins and folic acid with it.

Some DINDs are well known and a prescription often is accompanied with a balancing prescription, like diuretics and potassium. The depletion of CoQ10 with statins resulting in muscle pain is catching on and knowledgeable doctors will recommend supplementation with a prescription. Many others however are missed completely, and too often another drug is prescribed for the side effects of the first, compounding the problem.

There isn’t room here for a comprehensive list of DINDs. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist, get a book like the one by Pelton and LaValle I discussed in 2009, or find a good reference site on the internet. (One I found is by Dr. J. Whitaker).Then look up your drug(s) to see what nutrients you need to be replacing. Maybe those pesky side effects that make you want to flush the pills down the toilet can be easily remedied with appropriate supplementation, allowing you to remain compliant with your meds and, hopefully, healthier.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

August 29, 2016

384 Curcumin & Alzheimer’s [29 Aug 2016]

I previously wrote about curcumin for its use in reducing pain and inflammation (#294 Nov. 2014) and as an adjunct in cancer treatment (#329 July 2015). I recently learned of its potential in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Curcumin is an extract of the spice turmeric which gives curry its yellow color. Chronic low-grade inflammation is increasingly recognized as playing a role in age-related diseases including arthritis, heart disease, dementia, some auto-immune diseases, and cancer. Curcumin is one of the strongest natural anti-inflammatories known, so it makes sense that it could be useful in preventing or treating these conditions. But is there any evidence for curcumin and Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s Disease is associated with an accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the brain forming what’s called amyloid plaque. In column #334 (August 2015) I described how the newly discovered glymphatic system clears this plaque from our brain during sleep. A 2005 mouse study found that curcumin blocked the formation of amyloid plaque in the brain.

India is probably the world’s biggest consumer of curry (and therefore curcumin) and, it turns out, also has the lowest incidence of dementia. A 2006 study of 1,010 Asian adults aged 60-93 found that those who ate curry more often had significantly better scores on a Mini-Mental State Examination. A two-year study published in 2001 compared older adults in India and Pennsylvania and found the incidence rate per 1000 person-years for Alzheimer’s disease was 4.7 in the Indians compared to 17.5 for the Pennsylvania population.

In column #333 (August 2015) I listed 10 things you could do to reduce your risk of developing dementia: reduce sugar; avoid diabetes; eat enough good fats; keep your weight down; exercise; don’t smoke; avoid excessive alcohol; control blood pressure; get enough sleep, and stay mentally and socially active. Then in column #336 (Sept 2015) I added: optimize vitamin D levels. Now it looks like we can add another: take curcumin to control chronic inflammation.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

August 22, 2016

383 Blocking the Truth [22 Aug 2016]

I’m normally skeptical of claims of media bias by people who disagree with a published news item. Recently I came across a book that opened my eyes on the extent of corporate and government influence on mainstream news in the USA (and I’m sure in Canada too).

Sharyl Attkisson is a 30 year veteran investigative journalist (and with 5 Emmys, must be a good one!). She was the reporter who in 2009 exposed the CDC’s cover-up in the H1N1 Swine ‘Flu “epidemic”. She has exposed many other scandals and controversies under both Republican and Democratic US governments.

Her 2014 book “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington” tells the story of her growing frustration in getting her stories aired on CBS TV. She reports her own experiences and puts it in perspective of the larger picture of “the decline of investigative journalism and unbiased truth telling in America today”. CBS upper management began blocking publication of certain stories. Her telephone was tapped and computers infected with a spyware owned by the CIA and FBI. In frustration she finally left CBS after 20 years to work independently. The book “Stonewalled” is one result.

How does this relate to health? It’s not just government that influences media – corporate sponsors also have undue influence with their advertising dollars. Pharmaceuticals and biotech industries particularly have a long history of quashing unfavorable stories. Here are some of the issues that, according to Attkisson, mainstream media will no longer touch:
• Vaccination safety – this one is particularly taboo
• GMO & glyphosate safety – look what they did to Dr. Oz last year
• Side effects of pharmaceuticals – especially popular ones like statins

So don’t assume because you see or hear nothing on these issues on TV or in the daily newspaper that they are unquestionably safe. Rather it’s because no one is allowed to question them. We can no longer depend on mainstream media to provide unbiased reporting.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

August 15, 2016

382 Supplement Safety [15 August 2016]

Over the past year there have been several major news reports in The United States and Canada questioning the regulation, safety and efficacy of health supplements. The first was CBC’s Marketplace which reported in November 2015 that certain fish oils, vitamin C, and protein shakes did not meet their label claims. However after retesting it was discovered that the original lab tests were incorrect and there were in fact no problems with the products.

In March 2013 the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report on adverse events from supplements. Since 2008 the FDA has required supplement manufacturers to report any adverse effects from their products. Between 2008 and 2011 there were 6,307 serious (e.g. requiring a hospital visit) adverse event reports (AERs) for supplements (average 1,577 a year). The same report estimated over half (68%) of Americans use supplements, so this is amazingly low from 157 million supplement users over 4 years (1/100,000 users). During the same period there were 1,736,437 AERs from pharmaceutical drugs, with fewer (only 48%) of Americans using them (average 434,100 per year or 1/253 users). In 2008 alone there were 26,517 AERs for vaccines and 526,527 AERs for approved pharmaceutical drugs.

The nature of the supplement AER’s were generally less serious than for drugs. 21% were for accidental ingestion by children (whose parents took them to the hospital as a safety precaution). Of the remaining AERs, 35% were from energy and weight loss products. Many of these contain caffeine which resulted in heart palpitations, prompting a visit to the hospital where they were examined and sent home. Deaths from supplements are very rare, less than one a year, in contrast with pharmaceuticals which kill over 100,000 Americans each year – more than from motor vehicle accidents!

While this data shows the overwhelming safety of supplements compared with drugs, I don’t want to leave the impression that supplements should be used carelessly. Balance is essential with many nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Choose quality reputable brands, use only what you need, do your own research, and get advice from knowledgeable professionals.

CBC MarketPlace documentary
GAO report
Health Impact News: GAO report critique
Mercola: Consumer Reports article critique

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.