March 20, 2017

412 Beauty from Within [20 March 2017]

Cosmetics is a multi-billion dollar industry, supported by people trying to beautify their skin from the outside. But if your body doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to maintain and repair the cells, you are at best wasting your money. At worst, the toxic chemicals in many cosmetics can actually age your skin faster.

Your skin, hair and nails need the following nutrients (available in a single supplement) to support your natural beauty:
Collagen is the main structural component of the skin and determines its firmness and tone. Peptan hydrolyzed collagen increases collagen and hyaluronic acid in the skin
MSM provides sulfur needed for all connective tissue. It reduces wrinkles, moles, brown spots & scar tissue; heals cracked skin; and speeds growth of hair and nails
• L-Cysteine is important for repair of skin, hair and nails and for cell detoxification
• B vitamins – Biotin (B7), Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), B6, and B12 all play essential roles in the growth and repair of skin, hair and nails
• Vitamin C is essential for collagen production and connective tissue health
• Vitamin E works with vitamin C to protect the skin from UV radiation damage
• Minerals zinc, selenium, and silicon are essential for protecting and repairing cellular damage
Hyaluronic acid, an essential component of connective tissue, increases hydration, tone and elasticity of the skin therefore reducing wrinkles

A healthy diet and lifestyle are also essential for inner beauty:
• diet with plenty of vegetables, fruit, nuts
• plenty of fresh clean water
• avoid smoking, excess alcohol consumption
• ensure adequate sleep and exercise
• optimum sun exposure (avoid burns)
• avoid chemical exposure from home and “beauty” products

True health and beauty comes from within. You can not only look but feel younger!

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.

March 13, 2017

411 Butter vs Vegetable Oil [13 March 2017]

A re-evaluation of data from an old study has thrown new light on the butter vs vegetable oil controversy. For decades now the advice to replace saturated animal fats (which includes butter) with vegetable oils has gone unchallenged. The theory was that saturated fats increased cholesterol and cholesterol increased risk of heart disease. A few suspected that the science behind this advice was lacking, but their protests were largely ignored.

The study, called the Minnesota Coronary Experiment, was carried out between 1968 and 1973 [way back when I was in high school] on 2,350 residents of psychiatric hospitals and a nursing home. The residents were randomly divided into two groups: a low saturated high linoleic acid (mostly corn oil) “intervention group” and a high saturated fat “control group” (butter, margarine and lard).

The data was re-evaluated by a team from the U of N Carolina School of Medicine. They discovered that while the unsaturated diet significantly lowered cholesterol, it did not lower the risk of death in the under 65 year olds and actually increased risk of death in the 65 and older group. While specifically avoiding any suggestion that butter might actually be good for you, the researchers concluded that their “findings add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of benefits, and underestimation of potential risks, of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid”. They also ran a meta-analysis of five random controlled trials comparing a diet with saturated fats versus vegetable oils and found no difference in deaths from heart disease or any cause.

This reminds me of the Sydney Diet Heart Study from 1966-73 which was re-evaluated in 2013 and also found that replacing saturated fats with linoleic acid increased the rates of death from heart disease and from all causes.

I have written several columns on this topic: The Cholesterol Theory of Heart Disease [#238 Oct 2011]; Cholesterol & Saturated Fat [#244 Nov 2013] and Saturated Fats Found Not Guilty [#259 March 2014]. I refer to other studies that show that cholesterol is not the villain in heart disease; that it is not the addition of linoleic acid or the reduction of saturated fats, but the increase in Omega 3s that lowers risk of heart disease; and that reducing refined carbs is far more important than changing fats.

British Medical Journal article
Pub Med review
Science Daily Report
Nutrition & Healing newsletter

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

March 6, 2017

410 Apple Cider Vinegar – Hype & Science [6 March 2017]

This morning as I was searching for a topic for this week’s column I found two emails in my inbox relating to apple cider vinegar (ACV). One, from the Institute for Natural Healing (INH), linked to an article which describes apple cider vinegar as “no doubt the most beneficial natural health tonic ever known to man”.

The other was the Nutrition Action newsletter published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) which said the only thing “special” about apple cider vinegar is “good marketing”.

First, the hype. The INH article claims cider vinegar: promotes weight loss; kills cancer cells; alkalizes the body; balances blood sugar; supports the heart and other organs; builds strong bones and teeth; improves digestion; eases nausea; cures heartburn; relieves nerve and joint pain; flushes out toxins; and boosts immunity.

The INH article also said that research is starting to validate the “mounds of anecdotal evidence that ACV is … effective”. But does it? According to Nutrition Action, the studies, what few there are, don’t hold up to the claims. It concedes that there is some evidence that ACV could help lower blood sugar in prediabetes. But in the Japanese study quoted by INH on weight loss, obese adults lost only four pounds in three months taking ACV. There are no ACV studies on cancer.

So what conclusions can we draw from these opposing views? First don’t believe everything you read, especially on the internet. Someone trying to sell you something is unlikely to provide a balanced view of the research. Second, just because there are no studies doesn’t mean that something doesn’t work, just that it hasn’t been proven yet (but still should not be used in advertising!).

Apple cider vinegar was one of the first “health foods” and was popular back in the 1960s along with wheat germ, alfalfa tablets and brewer’s yeast. I suspect that the greatest benefit from ACV comes from the bacterial culture in “the mother”, the cloudy mass at the bottom of the bottle. We learn more every year about the importance of healthy gut flora. Will ACV live up to all the claims? Probably not. But it shouldn’t hurt you (just rinse your mouth with water after drinking to protect your tooth enamel). Try it if you want; if you feel better, great; if not then quit.

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

February 27, 2017

409 Choline – an essential nutrient [27 Feb 2017]

Choline is an essential vitamin-like nutrient. Our bodies can synthesize small amounts of choline but we must get most from our diet. It was discovered in 1862 but was only recognized as an essential nutrient in 1998. I have previously written about lecithin [#94 Dec 2010], phosphatidylcholine [#247 Dec 2013], and phosphatidylserine [#248 Dec 2013].

Choline serves many functions in the body:
• Essential for synthesis of cell membranes and DNA
• Plays role in cell communication
• Transports triglycerides out of the liver
• Along with folate is essential for fetal development of the brain and nervous system
• Essential for children’s growth and development
• Precursor to neurotransmitter acetylcholine, necessary for nerve and muscle function
• Assists in reduction of homocysteine which is associated with heart disease
• Component of lecithin, phosphatidylcholine, and betaine

A deficiency of choline can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; muscle damage and pain; neural tube birth defects; brain dysfunctions like learning disabilities, memory loss, and inability to focus or concentrate; lack of energy or fatigue; and increased homocysteine levels (and therefore increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and bone fractures).

The American Institute of Medicine set “adequate daily intake values” for choline at: 425 mg for women, 550 for men, 450-550 for pregnancy, 550 for breastfeeding, and 230 for children. Genetic factors may cause some people to require more. Up to 3,500 mg daily is considered safe.

Food sources include beef liver (470mg per 5oz serving), egg yolks (150mg in 1 large egg), fish, shellfish, beef (especially grass-fed), turkey, chicken breast, dairy products, goat milk, beans and peas (including peanuts), Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and spinach. Soy and sunflower lecithin are also good sources. Choline is available as a supplement, often with inositol, another vitamin-like nutrient. Choline is often included in B complex and multivitamin formulas.

A 2015 study in the USA found 90% of participants had inadequate intakes of choline. Are you getting enough?

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.

February 20, 2017

408 Nutrients for Diabetic Neuropathy [21 Feb 2017]

Tingling, numbness or pain in the hands and feet are symptoms that affect 60-70% of people with diabetes. This condition is called diabetic neuropathy and is caused by excess sugar in the blood and cells.

Sugar molecules combine with protein and fat in our cells in a process called glycation. This is the same process that occurs when you toast bread or caramelize onions. The resulting sugar-protein compounds are called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGES). These AGES attack the myelin sheath that surrounds nerves and the nerves themselves, and also trigger an inflammatory response. The result is numbness, tingling and pain. The peripheral nerves in our hands and feet are the longest and thinnest so are the most affected.

There is much you can do to prevent and even reverse diabetic neuropathy naturally. The most important thing is to control blood sugar levels; avoiding refined carbs. Other helpful lifestyle choices are to keep blood pressure under control, stay active, manage stress, and don’t smoke. Supplements that have shown promise include:

• Benfotiamine, the fat soluble form of B1, has been shown to reduce the production of AGES, improve nerve function and peripheral sensation, and reduce nerve pain
• Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that inhibits glycation by converting more glucose into energy (which most of us could use!), improves blood flow to nerve cells, and reverses nerve dysfunction caused by high sugar levels (see #89 Nov 2010)
• Acetyl L-Carnitine, an amino acid, improves nerve function relieves diabetic pain and promotes nerve regeneration (see #239 Oct 2013)
• Methylcobalamine, the active form of vitamin B12, helps rebuild the myelin sheath and peripheral nerves and protect them from further damage (see #339 Oct 2015)
• Vitamin B6 promotes the synthesis of neurotransmitters necessary for healthy nerve function
• Omega 3 (fish oil) and GLA (evening primrose oil) are anti-inflammatory and reduce numbness, tingling and pain (see #388 Sept 2016)
• Capsaicin cream applied topically may temporarily relieve pain

Be patient - it often takes several weeks to see improvements as the nerves heal.

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

February 13, 2017

407 Tom Brady and his Guru [13 Feb 2017]

Did you see last Sunday’s Super Bowl game? I’m not a sports fan by any stretch but a news item about winning quarterback Tom Brady’s masseur-trainer caught my eye.

Tom Brady, at 39, played one of the best ever NFL football games and walked off the field feeling great. In his own words “I never hurt. My arm never hurts, and my body never hurts. I know how to take care of it…”

It wasn’t always that way. Brady had two knee surgeries and a serious infection in 2008. His shoulder hurt too. Brady confesses “When I was 25, I was hurting all the time, and I could never have imagined playing this long” [17 seasons].

Then he met Alex Guerrero and hired him as his personal masseur and trainer. Besides regular massage treatments Guerrero advised Brady on which exercises to do and which to avoid, with emphasis on keeping the muscles strong and pliant. Then there’s diet and supplements. Brady avoids “inflammatory foods” including dairy, white sugar and white flour. He satisfies his craving for sweets with foods like avocado ice cream. He also practices meditation and yoga.

A little background on Alex Guerrero is in order here. In 2003 he was investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for unsubstantiated health claims for his product Supreme Greens and for calling himself “Dr. Alejandro Guerrero”. The study he used to market the product turned out to be a sham, and he was not, and is not, a doctor of any kind. He was investigated again in 2011 for promoting a new product, NeuroSafe, as an aid to recovery from concussion. I make no excuses for this – if you make health claims for a product, you need the science to back them up. I don’t know what’s in NeuroSafe – it could have helpful ingredients (see my article #331 Traumatic Brain Injury, Aug 2015) – but again you need the research to prove it.

Other trainers and the NFL medical staff consider Guerrero a quack and aren’t pleased with Brady’s decision to ignore their advice. But I believe that if he hadn’t made the changes he did, he would have been retired years ago with injuries that would still be causing him pain today. And you can’t argue with Sunday’s results.

Whatever our age and game in life, good nutrition, proper exercise and regular massage treatments should go a long way to keeping us pain free for life.

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

February 6, 2017

406 Collagen Supplements [6 Feb 2017]

In August 2014 [#280] I wrote about collagen and the silica supplement sh-OSA (BioSil) that stimulates our body’s production of this important protein. A few months later in October 2014 [#289] I discussed the benefits of bone broth, one of which is to promote collagen production. This week I want to revisit the topic and discuss collagen supplements.

Collagen is important for our health for many reasons:
• It is the most abundant protein in the body making up 25% of our body weight (yes, that’s one quarter!)
• It is an essential component of bone, skin, muscle, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and the lining of the digestive tract
• It provides the “glue” for bone minerals, keeping bones strong & resilient
• It is essential for repairing broken bones or soft tissue injuries
• It keeps skin elastic, smooth and wrinkle free

Taking collagen supplements provides the amino acids you need to produce collagen in your body. It also provides these amino acids for other vital functions that, if in short supply, our bodies will steal from the collagen in our joints and bones. Thus collagen supplements can prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

In summary, you should take a collagen supplement to:
• prevent or reverse osteoporosis
• prevent or reduce joint pain or stiffness
• promote healing of broken bones or injuries
• increase performance and reduce joint pain in athletes
• heal the digestive tract and prevent leaky gut syndrome
• have supple and younger looking skin

Collagen supplements come in powder, liquid and capsule form. The best type is called hydrolyzed collagen, meaning that the large collagen molecules are broken down into smaller more easily digested pieces called peptides.

Hyaluronic acid [#15 June 2009] and vitamin C are also required for collagen production. Both are available as supplements. Anthocyanins, flavonoids found in dark fruit and berries, assist collagen in forming strong connective tissue.

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.