December 19, 2011

145 Chocolate & Heart Disease [19 December 2011]

For the last column of 2011 I want to share some good news – chocolate is good for your heart! Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, contains flavanol, an antioxidant flavonoid which, among other benefits, protects the heart from free radical damage. Epidemiological studies have suggested that chocolate may be beneficial for the heart and a 2010 study supports this hypothesis.

The study looked at nearly 5,000 Americans ages 25 to 93 who were participating in a Family Heart Study. Use of chocolate was assessed through a questionnaire. After adjusting for known risk factors, those who had chocolate 4 or more times a week had only 43% as many incidents (57% lower) of coronory heart disease (CHD) as those who reported eating none. It definitely wasn’t the sugar though – participants who had non-chocolate candy had a 49% higher incidence of CHD.

Other benefits of dark chocolate:
• lowers blood pressure
• lowers cholesterol
• may prevent cancer (research is looking at pentameric procyanidin, a compound found in chocolate which stops cell reproduction in tumors)
• thins the blood and prevents the formation of blood clots
• releases endorphins in the brain and elevates your mood.

A few words of caution: the calories in the added sugar and fat can be significant. The caffeine and theobromine may be addictive (is that a bad thing?). Chocolate is known to be a migraine trigger. And chocolate contains arginine which should be avoided when fighting or preventing virus infections like herpes.

For some reason I have a sudden craving for almond bark! I think I’ll pop across the hall and buy a bag. The hard part is to make it last all week instead of eating it all at once. Enjoy the holidays! Back in two weeks.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

December 12, 2011

144 Obesity & Heart Disease [12 December 2011]

Being overweight is a strong risk factor for heart disease (and many other health conditions). A recent study in Greece suggests that it is not the extra fat we carry but the metabolic syndrome which frequently accompanies obesity that should be our biggest concern. Metabolic syndrome, which I have written about previously, is a combination of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin resistance.

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in September 2011, followed 550 people in their 50s and 60s for six years. It showed for the first time that otherwise healthy obese people have a lower risk of heart disease than normal weight people with metabolic syndrome. This held true after adjusting for known risk factors including age, sex, cigarette smoking, glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia, blood pressure and waist circumference.

Those with metabolic syndrome, regardless of weight, had 2.13 to 2.66 times the risk of a normal weight person without the syndrome (the highest risk was for the obese with the syndrome). Those without the syndrome had between 0.41 and 1.12 times the risk (the healthy obese people actually had the lowest risk). The study did NOT suggest that being obese is healthier (besides it is associated with other problems like cancer and arthritis which were not included in this study). It clearly does however support my belief that metabolic syndrome is a very significant health risk, whether you are overweight or normal. The study also warns that this pattern may change in older populations (healthy overweight seniors are rare).

As I have explained before, insulin resistance (IR) is the key to metabolic syndrome. When IR is controlled, blood pressure and cholesterol are normalized and inflammation is reduced (all without the need for drugs I might add). The best way I know to control insulin resistance, even if you only need to lose 10 or 20 lbs, is with the Ideal Protein diet. And if you are overweight but still healthy, now is the best time to deal with it before these other health problems arise.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

December 5, 2011

143 The Vitamin E Families [5 December 2011]

Did you see the recent news story that 400 IU of Vitamin E raises prostate cancer risk 17%? It’s typical of a number of recent news items in the popular media written by journalists who don’t dig deep enough to learn the whole truth. What the vitamin E stories didn’t say is that the supplement used was synthetic alpha tocopherol which has known toxic effects. Synthetic vitamin E (dl-alpha tocopherol or all-rac-alpha-tocopherol acetate) is best avoided – use only the biological form d-alpha tocopherol.

There are two families of vitamin E, each with four “siblings” – the better known tocopherols and their cousins the tocotrienols, each with alpha, beta, gamma and delta forms. Alpha tocopherol is the most biologically active form and is often the only E in cheaper supplements. The problem with taking only alpha tocopherol is that it displaces gamma tocopherol which is known to prevent cancer (a large study from Johns Hopkins showed a 5 fold reduction in prostate cancer risk in men who had the highest gamma tocopherol levels). A mixed E with all four forms of tocopherols is better, and those including the tocotrienol family are best.

Tocopherols are best known for their antioxidant properties – protecting our cells from damage by free radicals and other carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals). Tocopherols also promote heart and circulation health, enhance the immune system, protect the brain, help with PMS and menopausal symptoms, improve fertility, prevent cataracts, and slow the aging process.

Recent studies of tocotrienols are very promising, especially in cancer prevention. Studies are showing that delta tocotrienol induces aptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. Tocotrienols may also slow angiogenesis – the development of new blood vessels to feed growing tumours. Tocotrienols are also many times more efficient at finding and neutralizing free radicals than the tocopherols.

I would like to see the study referred to in my introduction repeated using a natural complete vitamin E. The results would likely be quite different.

Main sources: mercola.com and Cancer Defeated Newsletter #138, November 27, 2011

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

November 28, 2011

142 Soda Pop [November 28, 2011]

Do you drink soda pop? If yes, then quitting may be the best single thing you can do to improve your health – maybe even better than quitting smoking. Here’s why.

The sugar content of most sodas is about 30 teaspoons in a 1L bottle. Most of the sugar in soda is in the form of high fructose corn syrup – the cheapest but also the most deadly (see my column #55 March 22, 2010). High sugar consumption is linked to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver & kidney disease, high triglycerides, vascular heart disease, and aggressive anti-social behavior. One quarter of Americans now consume 180 lbs or more of added sugar a year (that’s a pound every two days).

Diet sodas aren’t the answer either. There are other health problems with the synthetic sweeteners used in soda (see my column #14 June 1, 2009). The flavors are all synthetic chemicals with absolutely no nutritive value and questionable safety. Carbonated beverages removes oxygen from your blood and the phosphoric or citric acids leach calcium from your bones and teeth.
When you think about it, there is really no good reason for drinking pop and plenty for avoiding it. Your body needs plenty of pure water, it does not need sugar and artificial flavors. If you were offered poison and told that it tastes good and that drinking it would make you “cool” or popular, would you? Probably not. How many million dollars of advertising would it take to change your mind?

The principle of moderation may apply here. My wife Donna remembers as a child getting a small bottle of Orange Crush at the spring sports day once a year. I might drink a can or two of ginger ale a month. More than one a week however could be jeopardizing our health. Make the switch from drinking pop to water and discover how your health will improve. It may not be easy to quit though – I’m told that certain pops can be quite addicting. It will be worth it though because when it comes to beverages, water is still the real thing!

For more information see mercola.com and many other websites on the topic.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

November 21, 2011

141 Vitamin D2 or D3? [21 Nov 2011]

Like it or not, winter is here in Saskatchewan and vitamin D synthesis from sunlight is again negligible (even if we were brave enough to stand naked outside for an hour at noon). In past columns on Vitamin D I always recommended D3 over the frequently prescribed D2 form. Two studies published this year compared these two forms of vitamin D.

“Vitamin D supplementation for prevention of mortality in adults”, [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21735411] published in July looked at 50 randomized trials with 94,000 participants over an average of 2 years. Of the 50 studies, 32 used D3 and 12 used D2. The remaining studies used two other forms of vitamin D – alfacalcidol and calcitriol. The authors found that D3 showed a significant decrease in mortality (deaths of participants from all causes) while the other forms had no significant effect.

Other findings in this meta-analysis were: that alfacalcidol and calcitriol increased the risk of hypercalcemia (excess blood calcium), and that D3 combined with calcium increased the risk of kidney stones. [Drinking sufficient water and taking vitamin K2 might alleviate the kidney stone risk.]

The other study “Vitamin D(3) is more potent than vitamin D(2) in humans” published in March, [www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21177785] compared the potencies of D2 and D3. This was a small trial involving 33 healthy adults given 50,000 units weekly of either D3 or D2 (because D is a fat soluble vitamin, it can be taken in weekly doses instead of daily). After 12 weeks vitamin D levels were measured in blood and subcutaneous fat. The study concluded that D3 was 87% more potent than D2 in raising blood levels, and produced 2 to 3 times the amount of stored vitamin D in fat. The study concluded: “Given its greater potency and lower cost, D3 should be the preferred treatment option when correcting vitamin D deficiency.”

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

November 15, 2011

140 Dietary Fiber [14 November 2011]

Fiber (which my parents called “roughage”) is an essential part of our diet. It helps regulate bowel movements, keeps our blood sugar levels in balance, and helps us achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stools, preventing constipation. It also helps remove toxins from the colon and improves the pH, resulting in a lower risk of colon cancer. Sources of insoluble fiber are wheat bran, flaxseed, whole grains, root vegetable skins, beans and popcorn.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel. It slows emptying of the stomach allowing sugar to be released more slowly and blood sugar levels to stay more even. It also binds with fatty acids causing them to be expelled in the stool. This results in up to 10% of dietary calories to be expelled instead of stored, and also improves cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber also binds with and helps removes toxins. Sources include psyllium hulls, oat bran, legumes, fruits and vegetables.

We need both types of fiber. If you can’t get enough in your diet, there are fiber supplements available. Brenda Watson in her 2007 book “The Fiber35 Diet” recommends flax and other fiber sources rather than psyllium which she says often causes gas, bloating and constipation. A proprietary fiber compound PGX (PolyGlycopleX) made from konjac root works especially well at controlling blood sugar by lowering the glycemic index of foods (Michael Murray & Michael Lyon, “Hunger Free Forever” 2007).

As part of a weight control program, fiber plays several roles. High fiber foods have a low energy-density allowing you to eat more food with fewer calories. Fiber makes you feel full thus controlling your appetite (you can consume far more calories from apple juice than whole apples). Finally, by controlling blood sugar, it reduces carbohydrate cravings, lowers insulin resistance, and promotes burning of calories rather than storage as fat. To improve your health, prevent disease, increase your energy and maintain a healthy weight, simply add more fiber to your diet.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

November 7, 2011

139 Ten Tips for a Healthy Heart [7 November 2011]

What can we do naturally to keep our heart healthy? Dr. Zolton Rona wrote an article in 2007 with these 10 tips:

1. Eat more heart-friendly foods: garlic, berries, turmeric, green tea, citrus fruits for vitamin C and bioflavonoids, broccoli & other cruciferous vegetables, fish & flaxseed for omega 3. carrots & other high carotenoid foods.
2. Don’t smoke. If exposed to second hand smoke, take 1-2,000 mg vitamin C daily.
3. Instead of dieting, control weight by avoiding processed foods, especially sugar. Note: the Ideal Protein Diet is heart friendly because it preserves muscle while lowering high insulin levels which stress the heart.
4. Exercise daily – minimum 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.
5. Take heart-healthy supplements. See full article on website for suggested list.
6. Control stress to protect the heart.
7. Drink alcohol and coffee in moderation – a glass of red wine and 1 cup of coffee daily may benefit the heart. For additional beverages substitute green tea.
8. Besides cholesterol, have your blood tested regularly for glucose, ferritin, homocysteine, alpha-lipoprotein, fibrinogen and highly sensitive C-reactive protein, high levels of which are associated with a higher risk of heart problems.
9. Check blood pressure regularly.
10. Read health and nutrition magazines and websites to keep up with the latest research (this article is already four years old).

You can read the full article on my website. Click the Exan Website button to open the Health Tools website. Then click Health Articles > 2007 > February > Features and scroll down to the article. While there, explore the hundreds of other articles on many different natural health topics.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 31, 2011

138 The Cholesterol Theory of Heart Disease [31 October 2011]

Did you notice in last week’s column the reference to the inverse correlation between cholesterol levels and mortality in women? This deserves further discussion.

The same 1990 Bethesda conference found a correlation between cholesterol and mortality for men, but only when cholesterol was very high (over 240 mg/dl) or very low (below 160). For women, the inverse correlation held over the entire range of cholesterol levels.

This is just one more added to a growing stack of studies (and group of scientists) which do not support the cholesterol and saturated fat theory of heart disease. So how did the theory originate and why is it still so widely held?

The cholesterol theory was first proposed over 100 years ago by a German pathologist who discovered cholesterol in arterial plaque. In 1913 a Russian scientist found that feeding cholesterol to rabbits caused atherosclerotic changes in their arteries.

A study published in 1953 by Dr. Ancel Keys known as the “Seven Countries Study” claimed to prove the link between dietery fats and heart disease. Had Keys however used the data from all 22 countries then available, there would have been no correlation.

Next was the Framingham Study which identified heart disease factors including smoking, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, and high cholesterol. The cholesterol link, however, was weak and a director of the study, Dr. William Castelli, later wrote of their findings in a 1992 editorial that “…the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol”. Another Framingham finding (which was ignored) was that people whose cholesterol had declined were more likely to die prematurely than those whose cholesterol had remained the same or increased.

The U.S. Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) trial, first published in 1999, publicized that people who ate a low-saturated fat and low-cholesterol diet had a (small) reduction in heart disease. But they neglected to mention that mortality from all causes was actually higher. And so on.

For more detailed analysis see “Debunking the Myth About High Cholesterol Levels” on www.mercola.com.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 24, 2011

137 Cholesterol, Vitamin D & Pregnancy [24 Oct. 2011]

If you are pregnant, vitamin D and cholesterol are essential to your growing baby.

Fat is so important to a healthy pregnancy that ovulation ceases when body fat falls below 17%. Dietary fat is also important to fertility: a study at the Harvard School of Public Health found that low fat dairy foods increased ovulation problems, but even one daily serving of high fat dairy (whole milk or ice cream) normalized ovulation. Don’t overdo it though – obesity is also a factor in infertility, however as I have explained in other columns, saturated fat is not as significant a factor in obesity as carbohydrates and particularly fructose.

Women should not worry about dietary cholesterol either. The cholesterol you eat has a negligible effect on blood cholesterol levels and, in any case, there is growing evidence that high cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease. In fact, when researchers from around the world met in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1990 to compare results on cholesterol studies, they found an inverse correlation between cholesterol levels and mortality in women. Yes that’s right, the lower your cholesterol, the more likely you are to die! And whatever you do, do not take statin drugs in pregnancy. They are now known to cause birth defects reminiscent of the Thalidomide tragedy of the 1950s, only worse as most end in miscarriage.

The reason that fat is so important in pregnancy is that sufficient amounts of both cholesterol and vitamin D are critical to the healthy development of embryonic brain and nerve cells. Vitamin D is of course converted from cholesterol in the skin in the presence of ultraviolet light. The myelin sheath is made of fat and cholesterol, and defects in it are linked with many neurological disorders. For example, a recent study found a correlation between low cholesterol and autism in children.

So it now appears that following the old well-intended advice of staying out of the sun and avoiding dietary fat could be the worst thing you could do for your developing baby.

Source: essay by Dr Stephanie Seneff on Mercola.com

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 17, 2011

136 Eliminating MSG [17 Oct 2011]

Last week we looked at the health risks of excess monosodium glutamate (MSG). This week I want to show you how to find and reduce it in your diet.

First, who should be concerned about avoiding MSG?
• Not just those who experience the immediate temporary symptoms sometimes called “Chinese restaurant syndrome”, because the disabling neurological effects may take years to develop.
• Anyone who doesn’t need to put on more fat because of its property of encouraging overeating.
• People diagnosed with cancer because it has been shown to increase the growth and spread of tumors.
• Anyone who wants to prevent neurological diseases like MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, asthma and epilepsy.
• In short, everyone.

MSG is found in many processed foods (it’s one of Colonel Sander’s “11 secret herbs and spices”). One estimate has the average American consuming 2 pounds a year.

Avoiding processed free glutamic acid (the chemical from MSG that causes the problems) is not as easy as you may think. There are more than 40 different food ingredients that contain this chemical. Some common examples are: glutamic acid, monosodium glutamate, monopotassium glutamate, calcium glutamate, magnesium glutamate, yeast extract, “hydrolyzed protein”, textured protein, caseinate soy protein, and whey protein. For a complete list of names and tips on avoiding glutamic acid see www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources_printable.pdf.

Glutamic acid and its glutamate salts should not be confused with the amino acid L-glutamine – a supplement used to enhance muscle building and wound healing. Glutamic acid is itself an amino acid and acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter, which is why an excess can cause neurological problems.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 11, 2011

135 MSG: Much More than a Buzz [11 Oct 2011]

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a common but controversial food additive approved for use in Canada.

Health Canada’s position follows that of most food manufacturers, that MSG is a natural substance whose safety is unquestioned. In fact in Canada MSG is considered a “flavour enhancing ingredient” and is not regulated as a food additive. The Health Canada website states: “…MSG is not a health hazard to consumers… However, some individuals who consume MSG may exhibit an allergic-type reaction … [and temporarily experience] a burning sensation, facial pressure, headache, nausea and chest pains.”

This “Chinese restaurant syndrome” buzz may be the least of our worries. MSG also affects the leptin receptors in our hypothalamus so that even after eating enough we still feel hungry. This makes it a food manufacturer’s dream but also a likely contributor to the obesity epidemic. In fact scientists now use MSG when they want to fatten lab animals for research.

Free glutamate (released by MSG) is an excitotoxin, a substance that over stimulates nerve cells and can damage or even kill them. Lab animals fed MSG show toxic degenerative changes in their liver, kidneys, eyes, nerves and brain. MSG has been linked to a long and growing list of conditions: stroke, heart attacks, epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, autism, ADHD, asthma, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer. And unlike the immediate buzz, these conditions may take years to develop.

Even more disturbing is the discovery that glutamate feeds cancer cells, causing them to grow faster and become more invasive. To date, MSG has been linked to melanoma, breast, thyroid and colon cancers as well as glioblastoma multiforme, a particularly nasty brain cancer.

Note these are links only, and more study is required to prove a causal connection. Health Canada must wait until proof is indisputable before acting, but you don’t! Next week: how to identify and eliminate MSG from your diet.

Sources: Cancer Defeated Newsletter #122 “This Food Additive is Like Fertilizer for Cancer” October 2, 2011; website of Russell Blaylock MD, neurosurgeon.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

October 3, 2011

134 Maca [3 Oct 2011]

A radish-like plant from the Andes Mountains of South America is growing in popularity in Europe and North America as a medicinal herb.

The root of the maca plant (Lepidium meyenii) has several medicinal properties that:
• increase energy and endurance
• relieve stress
• strengthen the immune system
• restore hormonal balance in both men and women
• enhance libido and sexual function.

Controlled clinical trials over the past 20 years have confirmed many of the nutritional and healing properties of maca. For example, athletes have been using it to improve performance, and trials have shown that maca increases energy, strength, endurance and blood oxygenation.

Maca’s other benefits appear to be hormonally facilitated. Its unique nutritional profile supports the pituitary and hypothalamus glands which control all the other endocrine glands. This explains why it benefits both men and women, easing menopausal symptoms in women, improving erectile dysfunction in men, and increasing libido in both. Maca’s (indirect) support of the adrenal glands explains how it increases athletic endurance, improves the ability to deal with stress (both physical and mental), and enhances the immune system.

Side effects of insomnia, anxiety and headaches have been reported in some people. Consult a health care practitioner before using maca if you are taking antidepressants, blood thinners, digoxin, or are diabetic. And, as always: This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 26, 2011

133 Trigger Points [26 Sept. 2011]

As part of my continuing education credit requirements as an RMT, I took a course in Advanced Trigger Point Techniques (TPT) last weekend. We learned a new way to work trigger points that is faster, more effective and – best of all – painless! If you or someone you know suffers from soft tissue pain, I’d love to show you how TPT can relieve your pain.

Trigger points are small hyperirritable spots in muscles, tendons and ligaments that are painful with pressure and often refer pain to other areas in a predictable pattern. Pain with movement or stretching which limits the range of movement of a joint is likely caused by trigger points. Depending on location, trigger points can also cause: dizziness, headaches, tinnitus, buckling knees, muscle fatigue (your arm feels “heavy” or you feel “too tired” to hold your back straight), and stiffness after resting or over-exertion.

Trigger points are often caused by trauma such as a motor vehicle accident (e.g. whiplash) but can result from any injury or strain (excessive or repetitive) to the soft tissue. These can remain latent in the body for years until activated. Factors which activate trigger points include: over exertion of the tissue, prolonged stretch or shortening of the tissue, postural imbalance, getting chilled, general fatigue (lack of sleep), sudden movements, viral infections, high stress, and dehydration.

It usually takes several one-hour massage treatments using TPT to clear an area of the body. After therapy you should feel lighter and looser, and be able to move more freely without pain. A cleared area should remain pain free unless the factors which caused or activated the trigger points are still in effect.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 19, 2011

132 Umckaloabo - A “New” Cold Cure [19 Sept. 2011]

A species of South African geranium used for centuries in Zulu medicine has become the newest remedy for the common cold. The scientific name is Pelargonium sidoides; the Zulu name for the herb is Umckaloabo (call it “Umcka” for short).

Several recent controlled studies from Europe have shown that Umcka reduced the severity and duration of both acute bronchitis and the common cold. In one study total cold symptom severity was reduced to half that of the placebo group after 5 days. This degree of improvement is superior to that of other common over-the-counter cold treatments including natural remedies like vitamin C, Echinacea and zinc.

Umcka works in three ways: it has antiviral, antibacterial and expectorant properties. It prevents bacteria and viruses from attaching to the mucous membranes. It also stimulates the body’s immune system and prevents bacteria and viruses from multiplying. Finally it loosens mucous making it easier to cough up contaminated phlegm.

Umcka appears to be a very safe herb. No significant adverse effects were noted in any of the studies I reviewed, and few have been reported in Europe despite the increasing popularity of the herb. Like most cold remedies, results improve significantly if the treatment is started within 2 days of cold onset. For more information see the Herbal Africa website. Here is the abstract on one of the studies done at the National Medical University in Kiev.

Umcka has been widely used in Germany since the 1980s (one formula is an approved drug for the treatment of acute bronchitis) and is now available in North America. That’s what I plan to use next time I start to come down with a cold.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 12, 2011

131 Tamanu Oil [12 Sept. 2011]

Tamanu oil has been used for centuries in the South Pacific Islands and SE Asia to promote skin health. It is extracted from the kernel of the Tamanu fruit and has a rich woody spicy smell. It is readily absorbed and penetrates all three skin layers for deep healing.

Tamanu oil contains a unique fatty acid calophyllic acid, a natural antibiotic lactone, and an anti-inflammatory compound calophyllolide. These and other components give the oil powerful properties to: protect skin from oxidative damage; speed healing of many different skin conditions; relieve neuralgic pain; and promote cicatrization (the growth of healthy new tissue).

Tamanu oil can be used effectively for:
• Acne and acne scarring
• Psoriasis and eczema
• Dry or scaly skin
• Bed sores and diabetic skin ulcers
• Diaper rash
• Stretch marks and scar tissue
• Age spots and wrinkles
• Burns and sunburn
• Insect bites and blisters
• Foot and body odor
• Neuralgia and joint inflammation
• Wound healing and skin regeneration

Apply Tamanu oil full strength to the skin. It absorbs quickly and does not leave a greasy residue. Tamanu oil is safe even on broken skin. For more information see www.wildtamanuoil.com

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

September 6, 2011

130 Acid Reflux [6 September 2011]

Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. The esophagus lacks the protective lining of the stomach and is irritated by the strongly acidic stomach content, causing pain known as “heartburn”. This happens rarely because the stomach is too acidic, but because of either inappropriate relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter or a hiatal hernia. Dr Jonathan Wright found that 90% of his patients with GERD, when tested, actually had low stomach acid. Underlying causes of acid reflux can be an infection by Helicobacter pylori bacteria or stomach gas from insufficient stomach acid.

Standard treatment for acid reflux is the use of ant-acids to neutralize the stomach acid or stronger prescription drugs called proton pump inhibitors. While these alleviate the symptoms, they do not address the underlying causes. In fact lowering stomach acid reduces your ability to control H. pylori and other food-borne bacteria, parasites and yeast. It also impedes digestion of food, particularly protein and calcium (increasing risk of osteoporosis), and is associated with a long list of other diseases.

Fortunately there are safer more natural ways to prevent or alleviate acid reflux:
• eat slowly and chew food thoroughly; avoid overeating or drinking too much with meals; avoid too much fatty or fried foods
• avoid eating for 2 hours before bed or when under stress
• sleep with head of bed elevated 6” and lie on left side
• take apple cider vinegar or sauerkraut with meals to increase stomach acid
• take Betaine HCl and Pepsin supplements to increase stomach acid
• fortify the good bacteria in your digestive tract with a probiotic along with a prebiotic (#003 16 March 2009 and #078 30 August 2010)
• control H. pylori (#058, 12 April 2010) with antibiotics or mastic gum
• exercise; lose excess weight; stop smoking

Sources and further reading:
• Gut Solutions by Brenda Watson, ND and Leonard Smith MD, 2003
• Why Stomach Acid is Good for You – Natural Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, Reflux & GERD by Jonathan Wright MD and Lane Lenard PhD
• Mercola.com “Why Does Successful Treatment of GERD Increase Cancer
• CBS news story on acid drugs “Are Nexium and Prilosec Too Popular?” quoted on Renew Life website

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

August 29, 2011

129 Salt in Balance [29 August 2011]

I wrote about the health benefits of reducing salt in my July 27 2009 column #022. It now appears that reducing sodium is only half the equation – increasing potassium is just as important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) studied more than 12,000 adults for 15 years and found that those with the highest sodium and lowest potassium intakes had the highest risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Those with the lowest risk had the lowest ratio of sodium to potassium intake, nearly equal amounts of each. Source: Archives of Internal Medicine July 11 discussed in a Los Angeles Times article by Jill Adams.

Sodium, of course, is an essential nutrient – we can’t live without it – and the emphasis on cutting salt is leading to more cases of sodium deficiency. This condition, called hyponatraemia, is more common in the elderly and is often misdiagnosed. A Rosetown octogenarian friend began having strange symptoms a few years ago and was diagnosed with hyponatraemia. His doctor prescribed potato chips (I can think of healthier sources of salt), and he quickly recovered.

Dr. David McCarron, a nutritionist and professor at U of California, recently wrote in the Financial Post that the recommendation to restrict salt for heart health is based solely on opinion – there is no reliable evidence supporting it. First, he writes, “…only a minority of individuals’ blood pressure is sensitive to salt.” Secondly, three different trials testing low-sodium diets on people with kidney and heart disease showed higher risk of hospitalizations, cardiovascular events, and death in the low-sodium group. McCarron called for large-scale controlled trials to test the current policy of sodium restriction for safety and effectiveness.

Meanwhile, what to do? Don’t overdo salt but don’t eliminate it completely either (if you still eat a lot of processed foods, you needn’t worry about a deficiency!). And make sure you are getting enough potassium – balance is the key to health.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

August 22, 2011

128 Cell Phone Safety [22 August 2011]

I’ve written about this before [columns #004 March 23, 2009 & #068 June 21, 2010] but two recently published studies show why there is still some uncertainty about cell phone safety. It is not surprising that the study which reported no conflict of interest found serious cause for concern while the one funded by the telecommunications industry (along with other conflicts of interest) was more reassuring. 

The first study “Long-Term Exposure to Microwave Radiation Provokes Cancer Growth…Exp Oncol 2011 begins “In this review we discuss alarming epidemiological and experimental data on possible carcinogenic effects of long term exposure to low intensity microwave radiation…” and calls for “urgent reevaluation… of safety limits for non-ionizing radiation…” 

The second study “Mobile Phones, Brain Tumours and the Interphone Study: Where Are We NowNational Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 2011, concludes: “Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumours in adults.”

Not true says Dr. Magda Havas, Associate Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University, who reviewed these studies in her website [www.magdahavas.com]. She found that the NIEHS study ignored “inconvenient” evidence and misinterpreted other data. For example the Interphone Study referred to does in fact show an increase in ipsilateral gliomas (brain tumours on the phone side of the head) after 10 years of exposure. The NIEHS study also dismisses childhood studies for being shorter than 15 years, ignoring a study which showed that those who started using a cell phone before the age of 20 increased their risk of brain tumours 5 fold well before 15 years. 

You can reduce your risk by minimizing the use of your cell phone (see my March 2009 column for tips) and by installing an electromagnetic shield on your phones. I recently found a source of inexpensive cell phone radiation shields [www.cellshieldforyou.com]. 

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

August 15, 2011

127 Toxic Mold [15 August 2011]

After this wet spring and summer, there could be mold growing in your home. Mold thrives in cool, moist dark areas like our basements. Mold is never good news and some, like black mold, is downright toxic. Spores and chemicals produced by mold can result in severe health problems like headaches, allergies and respiratory disease in people with compromised immune systems. To eliminate mold in your house, first block the moisture source and dry the affected area. Moldy material like wallboard may have to be removed. Get advice from an experienced professional or visit a reputable website like the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp [www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca].

Something I have learned about that you may not find on these websites is the Thieves© blend of essential oils which has been shown to be very effective in cleaning mold. Dan Burke, a construction business owner had so much mold on his boat he thought it would be a total loss. He bought and applied 8 different cleaners – including bleach – plus some Thieves© blend from his mother-in-law. To his surprise, Thieves© removed the mold most completely and it lasted the longest [www.secretofthieves.com/mold.cfm]. Edward Close, a mold consultant with 30 years experience, discovered that Thieves© worked much better for eliminating mold spores than the strongest hospital disinfectant available [www.moldrx4u.com].

Experience has shown that for best results, first diffuse Thieves© for 24-48 hours to remove spores from the room. Then clean visible mold with Thieves© Household Cleaner wearing a mask, goggles and rubber gloves. Thieves© is powerful, long-lasting, safe to use (it’s included in my toothpaste) and even smells nice. The name comes from robbers entering homes where people were dead and dying during the Black Plague in Europe who used the herbs in the Thieves© formula to protect themselves from the disease.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

August 8, 2011

126 Thyroid Health [8 August 2011]

Following up on last week’s column on iodine, let’s look at other factors affecting thyroid health. The main function of the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in your throat, is regulation of metabolism – controlling the growth and rate of function of many systems of the body. It is often called the “thermostat of the body”. The thyroid is itself controlled by the pituitary and hypothalamus glands, and influenced by the adrenals, so problems in these will also affect thyroid health and function.

The thyroid produces two main hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The liver converts the T4 to the active form T3. An imbalance occurs if too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) of these hormones are produced. The conventional treatment for hypothyroidism is to prescribe levothyroxine sodium (Synthroid) in response to a TSH lab analysis (which measures T4 levels). There are two problems with this approach. First, the TSH test misses any problems in the conversion to T3 (adding a “Free T4 and Free T3 Test” improves diagnosis), and often ignores subclinical cases (where a sluggish thyroid is causing problems but falls within the “normal” range with no obvious symptoms). Secondly the synthetic drug is not identical with thyroxine; it doesn’t work as well, has more side effects, and (according to greenmedinfo.com) may even make the condition worse by competing with your own thyroxine for receptor sites. (This is another example of the patent laws undermining our health – there is a financial disincentive to produce a bioidentical thyroxine, which would be more effective and much safer!)

Other factors affecting thyroid health include:

  • Adrenal fatigue – chronic stress elevates cortisol levels which lowers thyroid hormone production (just when you actually need more!)
  • Gluten, soy and other food allergies cause antibodies to attack the thyroid
  • Deficiencies in iodine or the amino acid tyrosine may limit thyroid function
  • The thyroid is particularly susceptible to chemical toxins including bromine, chlorine, fluorine (fluoride), PFOA, perchlorate, and triclosan
  • Conversion of T4 to the active form T3 requires adequate selenium, Omega 3 EFAs and zinc

There are 69 signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism listed on DrLowe.com. Here are a few of the most common:

  • fatigue, lethargy and brain fog; 
  • weight gain; 
  • hair loss; 
  • dry skin, eyes and mucous membranes; 
  • feeling unusually cold; 
  • excessive muscle tension and trigger points. 

One home test is to measure basal body temperature using a special thermometer – temperatures below 36.5 C (97.6 F) may indicate low thyroid function.

Some ideas for naturally improving thyroid function:

  • Eat a nutritious diet with as much raw organic vegetables as possible
  • Eat iodine rich kelp or supplement with iodine
  • Eat fish regularly or supplement with Omega 3 EFA
  • Optimize your vitamin D levels with sunlight and supplementation
  • Take a multi vitamin-mineral with zinc and selenium
  • Avoid soy and any foods to which you are sensitive
  • Minimize exposure to toxins – avoid fluoride; use stainless steel cookware; filter drinking, cooking and bathing water; use an air purifier in your home
  • Detoxify your body with chlorella or a herbal detox program; use a sauna
  • Manage stress to avoid excess adrenaline and cortisol
  • Exercise

Sources: mercola.com and greenmedinfo.com. A more technical source of information on current thyroid research is DrLowe.com.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

August 1, 2011

125 Iodine [1 August 2011]

Iodine is an essential trace mineral that has many functions besides its main role as a component of the thyroid hormones. Iodine is essential for proper brain development in infants and young children; deficiencies during pregnancy can result in severe intellectual disabilities, and may play a role in some ADHD cases. Iodine deficiency results in an enlarged thyroid gland, commonly called a goiter, but iodine is essential for the function of all the glands and hormones in the body, not just the thyroid. Iodine deficiency has been linked to breast cancer and possibly to ovarian and prostate cancers. It has been used to prevent and treat ovarian cysts and fibrocystic breast disease.

Iodized table salt is our main food source, and may be inadequate. We all are (or should be) reducing our salt intake, so are getting less iodine as well as sodium. Sea salt is low in iodine, and even iodized salt may not contain as much as we thought – a University of Texas study found half of 90 salt samples analyzed didn’t meet the FDA’s recommended level of iodine. Kelp is the richest natural food source of iodine, but is rarely on the menu in this country. That leaves supplementation to ensure that we are getting enough. Iodine is available as kelp tablets or capsules, and as a liquid supplement.

And how much iodine is enough? The Canadian RDA is 150 mcg (0.15 mg) for adults, less for children. Japanese who are among the healthiest people in the world (with low rates of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers) consume an average of 13.8 mg (nearly 100 times the Canadian RDA). Several studies have shown that to prevent and control fibrocystic breast disease, a minimum of 5 mg per 50kg (110 lb) body weight is required. David Brownstein, author of the book “Iodine – Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”, found 96% of 4,000 Americans tested to be deficient in iodine. Maybe they were following the Canadian RDA?

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

July 25, 2011

124 Chlorella – the Almost Perfect Food [25 July 2011]

Chlorella vulgaris is an edible single-celled green fresh-water algae. Chlorella has been called an almost perfect food because of its nutrient content and medicinal properties. Chlorella is 60% protein, containing all the essential amino acids. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially folate, B12, GABA, beta carotene (in a wide spectrum of carotenoids), iron, iodine, magnesium and zinc. It is also very high in chlorophyll.

Chlorella has a wide range of health benefits:
• Boosts your immune system
• Increases your energy levels
• Improves your digestion
• Helps heal GI tract conditions like ulcers, colitis, Crohn’s and diverticulosis
• Balances (alkalizes) your body’s pH
• Enhances your mental focus and concentration
• Normalizes your blood sugar and blood pressure
• Lowers cholesterol and reverses atherosclerosis
• Reduces cancer risk and shows anti-cancer activity
• Freshens your breath

I consider chlorella’s most useful property to be its ability to eliminate toxins from the body, including heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. Ideally chlorella should be taken with every meal of seafood to bind and eliminate any mercury before it’s absorbed. A Rosetown hairdresser uses chlorella to prevent headaches from perm chemicals.

Sources: www.mercola.com and www.evolutionhealth.com.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

July 18, 2011

123 The American War on Cancer [18 July 2011]

In 1971 the American government under President Nixon declared war on cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) promised to slash cancer mortality in half by 2000. They constantly reassured the American people that great progress is being made while calling for ever increasing funding. So 40 years and billions of dollars later, is America winning the war? Sadly the statistics show otherwise.

Incidence rates (% change) for major cancers between 1975 and 2007 show a reduction for Male Lung Cancer (-22) but increases for other major cancers: Childhood (+30), Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (+82), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (+67), Postmenopausal Female Breast (+23), Testes (+60), Thyroid (+145), Melanoma (+163), Kidney (+107), and Female Lung (+110).

Dr. Samuel Epstein in his 2011 book NCI and ACS: Criminal Indifference to Cancer Prevention and Conflicts of Interest explains why America is losing the war on cancer. The focus of the NCI and ACS is on pharmaceutical treatments rather than prevention. Less than 3% of NCI’s budget was allocated to environmental causes of cancer, and ACS actively defends known and suspected carcinogens like pesticides and cosmetic ingredients (possibly because its major corporate supporters are chemical and pharmaceutical companies?). Epstein documents many other conflicts of interest within the NCI – e.g. board members with ties to chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Instead of using tax and charitable money to research promising non-patentable nontoxic cancer treatments, NCI actively blocks their funding. The ACS goes further and attacks doctors who are successfully treating cancer with “unproven” therapies. Dr. Epstein concludes that prevention is the easiest and most effective way to reduce cancer incidence and death, but the war effort has been sabotaged.

See http://cancerdefeatedpublications.com/newsletters/11/071011.html for a review of Epstein’s book.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

July 11, 2011

122 MS & Vitamin D [11 July 2011]

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic autoimmune disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. The myelin sheath covering nerve fibers is damaged by inflammation, affecting nerve impulses. There has been much in the news lately about the CCSVI theory of MS and Dr. Zamboni’s “Liberation Treatment” (a topic for a future column), but another theory links MS to a vitamin D deficiency.

Several facts and observations link MS to vitamin D:
• MS is more frequent at high latitudes (such as Saskatchewan)
• Increased sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of MS
• More frequent MS symptoms are reported during winter and spring
• A 2011 British study found that UVB exposure [the sunlight that creates vitamin D] could explain 61% of MS prevalence in England
• Lower levels of vitamin D are linked to a higher risk of MS

Vitamin D is believed to affect MS by suppressing cytokines, which reduces inflammation. A 2009 study found that Vitamin D controls a gene variant known to increase the risk of MS, and suggested that a deficiency of vitamin D during fetal development and early childhood may increase the risk of developing MS. While vitamin D’s role in preventing MS is clear, its use as a treatment is controversial. The official line is that there is no evidence supporting amelioration of symptoms by supplementation; many people with MS, however, have reported improvements. Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends optimizing vitamin D levels to between 50-70 ng/ml for healthy adults, and even higher for people with chronic auto-immune diseases His preferred source is sunbathing; with high D3 supplementation he strongly recommends blood levels be monitored to avoid overdosing.

For more information, see vitamindcouncil.org and mercola.com

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

July 4, 2011

121 Seabuckthorn [4 July 2011]

Seabuckthorn is a hardy shrub native to northern Eurasia where its orange berry has been used as food and medicine for millennia. Modern research is uncovering many nutritional and medicinal properties of this beneficial plant.
• The bright red berry oil contains at least 18 different antioxidant carotenoids, several flavonoids, and both families of Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols).
• The berry, and its juice, is one of the richest sources of vitamin C.
• The clear golden seed oil is high in Omega 3 EFA (linolenic acid), and contains vitamins K, B12 and vitamin E (both tocopherols and tocotrienols), phospholipids, and over 17 phytosterols (including beta sitosterol).
• The seed oil has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
• The seed oil is light and readily absorbed making it ideal for skincare products. It has been found beneficial in the treatment of acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.
• The berry oil is a rich source of a rare Omega 7 EFA (palmitoleic acid) which is a component of skin fat. It supports wound healing and is beneficial for the mucous membranes of the digestive, urinary and reproductive systems.
• Seabuckthorn leaves also contain many beneficial compounds and have been used medicinally in Asia for skin conditions including burns, bedsores, eczema, and radiation injury. Many Chernobyl victims were treated with seabuckthorn.
• Seabuckthorn juice was used by the early Russian cosmonauts, and by Chinese athletes in the 1988 Olympics, to improve endurance and to better handle stress.
• Seabuckthorn is now grown in Saskatchewan where it thrives in our climate and soil. It is available in health food stores as berry juice, berry oil & capsules, seed oil & capsules, and in a variety of cosmetics.
For more information see www.seabuckthorn.com
This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

June 27, 2011

120 Safe & Effective Sunscreen [27 June 2011]

Summer is finally here and with it the risk of sunburn. Moderate sun exposure is safe and healthy but sunburn should be avoided. What should we look for in a sunscreen that is both safe and effective in protecting our skin from burning?

There are two types of ultraviolet radiation – UVA and UVB. UVB radiation has longer wavelengths (closer to the blue color spectrum) and is necessary for the production of Vitamin D in our skin. UVA has much shorter wavelengths (closer to microwaves) and is responsible for sunburn and skin cancer. UVA radiation occurs throughout the daylight hours, even through cloud cover, while UVB occurs mainly at midday.

When choosing a sunscreen, read the ingredient labels. Sunscreens in Canada are regulated as over the counter drugs and all ingredients must meet the GRASE (generally recognized as safe and effective) conditions. Most of the chemical ingredients, however, block only the UVB not the UVA rays. Since Vitamin D’s role in preventing cancers is becoming well established, the UVB blockers may do more harm than good! And many of the chemical ingredients like OMC and butyl methoxydibenzolmethane were found to be toxic in animal studies, while oxybenzone and dioxybenzone are powerful free radical generators.

The two safest and most effective ingredients for blocking the harmful UVA are zinc oxide and titanium oxide.

What else can you do to take advantage of the health giving properties of the sun while avoid its dangers? First cover up during the morning and evening UVA-only hours when you can’t produce vitamin D anyway but can still burn. Get some exposure during the UVB peak hours in early afternoon, but be careful to avoid sunburn as this is a known risk factor for melanoma. Start slowly and gradually increase the length of your exposure to the sun. After your skin starts to feel warm or turn slightly pink, it’s time to cover up with protective clothing or a safe effective sunscreen.

UVB radiation has also been implicated in skin cancers, and both UVA and UVB are at highest concentrations in early afternoon, so caution is required in obtaining your daily dose of Vitamin D. Environmental Working Group, an independent organization, tests and reports on the safety and effectiveness of sunscreens. Check the rating of yours here http://www.ewg.org/skindeep and click on “Sun”.

What you eat can also help protect your skin from too much sun. Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids (from food or supplements) are essential for healthy skin. Eat plenty of raw vegetables for their protective antioxidant properties. Astaxanthin is especially protective from UV radiation damage (see column #115 May 24, 2011).

Summer has finally arrived and with it the sun. Enjoy it safely.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. This column is updated from #017 June 22, 2009.

June 20, 2011

119 Fish Oil Quality [20 June 2011]

There are many issues that affect the quality of a fish oil supplement. Here are some factors to consider in choosing yours:

• EPA and DHA content. Higher EPA concentrations work better for improving mood (depression), concentration (ADD) and inflammation (arthritis, skin conditions, allergies); higher DHA formulas work better for pregnancy, brain health (Alzheimer’s) and cardiovascular health (heart & arteries).
• For environmental reasons, the fish should be harvested from sustainable, wild and unthreatened sources. Small short-lived species (anchovies and sardines) are lower in accumulated toxins (eg mercury) than larger fish (tuna) and especially farmed fish (salmon).
• Enteric coating capsules open in the small intestine not the stomach, increasing absorption and preventing fishy after taste.
• Fish oil supplements come in two different forms – triglyceride and alcohol. During the refining and concentrating process the essential fatty acids (EFA) are removed from their natural triglyceride (TG) bases and combined with an ethanol molecule to form an ethyl ester (EE). Most supplement manufacturers leave them in this EE form; only one that I know of (Ascenta) converts the EFAs back to the TG form. This step adds to the cost but the TG form is safer and up to 50% better absorbed. Here’s a simple test to see if your fish oil is EE or TG form: open several capsules in a polystyrene foam cup and wait 10 minutes – the EE oil will leak through the cup.
• A final consideration of course is the cost and the number of capsules required per day.

Drop in and let us help you decide which fish oil is best for you.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

June 13, 2011

118 Natural Insect Repellent [13 June 2011]

Mosquito season is upon us with a vengeance. And, since the arrival of West Nile disease a few years ago, mosquitoes are now a health hazard, not just a nuisance. What’s best to keep them from eating us alive?

The most popular repellents contain the chemical DEET (which is the active ingredient in the famous Watkins insect repellent – which now comes in a spray pump btw). There are a few safety concerns about DEET, however. A number of cases of seizures and 4 deaths have been associated with DEET, but these are very rare. Another study found that increased DEET exposure correlated with increased insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognition (thinking) in a group of Everglades National Park employees. Children and pregnant women are the most vulnerable to toxicity. Use repellents sparingly on children (don’t let them apply it on themselves) and do not apply to their hands (they rub their eyes and put their fingers in their mouth). Use loose clothing and netting to minimize the need for repellent.

Fortunately there are effective non-toxic natural alternatives. One disadvantage of many natural repellents is they require more frequent applications.
• Citronella oil is a popular choice but may irritate skin
• Lemon eucalyptus has been shown to be as effective as DEET but is hard to find
• Other essential oils with insect repelling properties include catnip, clove, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, neem, peppermint and tea tree
• Eating raw garlic is a folk remedy some people swear by (and others swear at)
To mix your own repellent, use 1 part essential oil to 10-20 parts carrier oil (such as light edible oils or witch hazel). Apply every hour or so by rubbing on exposed skin or spraying on skin and clothing. Or buy one of the prepared natural repellents such as Buzz Away (which has a new stronger formula effective for 4-8 hours).

Enjoy a bug-free summer!

June 7, 2011

117 Child Abuse or Rickets? [6 June 2011]

Families are being torn apart because of misdiagnosed infantile rickets. Dr John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council documents several cases where infants with broken bones that the parents cannot explain result in the children being taken from their parents and charges being laid.

Often the infant is asymptomatic (has no evidence of external injury like bruises or swelling) but the fractures must be explained somehow and the parents are the most likely suspects. Social workers have not always been trained to consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency rickets. Even if the infants are tested for vitamin D and calcium levels, the tests may be normal or even high because by this time they are healing from damage done before birth due to the vitamin D deficiency of their mothers. Vitamin D is necessary for the development of strong healthy bones during gestation as well as throughout life after birth.

The pain suffered by the babies with broken bones is bad enough, but the emotional trauma to the parents and the infant from the forced separation and false allegations may be worse. The stories related on the Vitamin D Council’s website are heart-wrenching. Fortunately more cases are arriving at the truth, and hopefully social services in the northern latitudes where D deficiencies are more common are learning about this phenomenon. Even more importantly, physicians are encouraging mothers to supplement with vitamin D during pregnancy so these situations are prevented from ever occurring.

For more information on this topic see www.vitaminDcouncil.org and search for rickets.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 30, 2011

116 Vitamin D & Autism [30 May 2011]

Autism is a neurological disorder that severely affects the social and communication behavior of children. Its cause is not well understood but a strong genetic component is recognized. Treatments to date have not been very successful.

In 2005 Dr John Cannell developed the theory that a deficiency of vitamin D during pregnancy and infancy greatly increases the risk of autism. Subsequent research has shown remarkable improvement in autistic children treated with high levels of vitamin D. Evidence in support of his theory includes:
• Increased prevalence with latitude (similar to MS – a topic for another week)
• Higher rates for children born in the spring (whose mothers would be sunlight deprived during pregnancy)
• Increased risk for children of dark-skinned mothers living in high latitudes (eg a study of Somali immigrants in Sweden)
• Extremely low D levels measured in mothers of autistic children
• Animal studies of young deprived of vitamin D during gestation show brain abnormalities similar to those in autistic children
• Children with rickets frequently have autistic markers that disappear with vitamin D treatment

Cannell’s subsequent research with vitamin D as a treatment for autism shows great promise. While vitamin D cannot reverse the damage to the genes, it does control the expression of many genes in the brain. At this time there are no controlled studies of autism treatment with vitamin D, but many anecdotal reports of improvement have been published in Dr. Cannell’s newsletter. The best outcomes occur in children started at a young age and with very high levels of supplementation, which require monitoring by a knowledgeable physician. For more information on Cannell’s work see www.vitaminDcouncil.org. or more specifically
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/neurological-conditions/autism/

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 26, 2011

115 Astaxanthin [24 May 2011]

Astaxanthin is the most potent member of the carotenoids – antioxidant pigments that give vegetables (and some animals) their bright colors. As an antioxidant, astaxanthin is 11 times stronger than its more famous cousin beta carotene (the precursor to vitamin A).

Here are some interesting facts about astaxanthin:
• It is only produced by a specific marine algae to protect itself from UV radiation
• It gives salmon and flamingoes their pink color from feeding on the algae
• It is a very strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and free radical scavenger
• it crosses the blood brain barrier and blood-retinal barrier, providing protection to the brain, spinal cord and eyes
• It offers even more protection to the eye than zeaxanthin and lutein, two other carotenoids known for their eye protecting properties
• It protects your eyes from glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, inflammatory eye diseases, and eye fatigue
• research is showing similar benefits for the brain and central nervous system, reducing symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Parkinsons and MS
• it protects from radiation damage from UV sunlight (sunburn) and X-rays
• animal studies show promise of astaxanthin as an immune support and prevention for cancer
• it increases muscle endurance (assisting salmon with their upstream migration)
• It is non-toxic – there have been no adverse reactions observed
• Natural astaxanthin from marine algae is more effective and safer than synthetic astaxanthin (used by some fish farms); wild Pacific salmon have superior astaxanthin content than farmed fish
• Krill oil contains significant amounts of astaxanthin, making it a better choice than fish oil for your omega 3 EFAs
• It is available in a concentrated supplement; Dr. Mercola recommends 2 mg per day

For more information, visit http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/14/astaxanthin-the-worlds-strongest-antioxidant.aspx or search astaxanthin on mercola.com.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 16, 2011

114 Gout [15 May 2011]

Gout is an extremely painful type of arthritis that commonly occurs in the big toe but also in feet, ankles, knees, hands and wrists. Gout is caused by the formation of needle-like uric acid crystals in the joint fluid which causes pain and inflammation. Uric acid is a byproduct of breakdown of a group of chemicals called purines, found in organ meats and certain fish (herring, sardines, anchovies). At normal levels uric acid is a beneficial antioxidant, but in higher quantities it can cause gout. Recent research found that the sugar fructose, either alone or in sucrose (table sugar) and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), increases uric acid levels, thus aggravating gout. Kidney disease, Metabolic Syndrome, obesity, and being male are risk factors in gout.

Here are some tips to relieve or prevent gout:
• avoid purine-rich foods – reduce organ and red meats (and their gravy), certain fish (see above) and shellfish; avoid brewer’s yeast
• eliminate fructose – soft drinks, processed foods, fruit juices, excess fruit
• minimize or eliminate alcohol consumption
• drink plenty of pure water (10-12 8oz glasses a day)
• normalize high blood sugar and insulin levels, both of which increase inflammation (see my columns on the Ideal Protein diet to learn how to reduce blood sugar without increasing insulin levels)
• drink milk or eat yogurt at least once a day
• eat sour or black cherries (or juice (1oz) – the juice concentrate has less sugar than the whole fruit
• other items that may help include vitamin C, vitamin B5, vitamin E, alfalfa tablets, celery seed, celery juice, lemons, blueberries, strawberries
• herbs and spices such as turmeric & nutmeg and Omega 3 EFAs may reduce inflammation; herbs such as devil’s claw and yucca may also provide relief
• there are effective homeopathic remedies for gout

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 9, 2011

113 Grass-fed Beef [9 May 2011]

I believe grass-fed beef and bison are healthier meat choices than “conventional” grain-finished animals. Yes they may be more expensive because it takes more time and land to finish them, the meat won’t be as tender because fat marbling is reduced or absent, and the meat may have a “grassy” taste. But here are the reasons why I think grass-fed beef is better for both the consumer and the environment:
• Grass (and hay) are the normal diet of ruminants; the heavy corn and grain diet upsets their digestive systems which increases risk of bloating, makes the stomach more acidic, and increases the need for antibiotics (which likely contributes to the development of resistant “superbugs”)
• Grass-fed beef has a lower overall fat content; the fat in grain-fed marbled meat is more difficult to trim off
• Grass-fed beef contains 3 to 5 times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a beneficial fatty acid shown to prevent cancer and reduce abdominal fat while increasing muscle. The natural form of CLA found in meat is more effective and safer than that sold in supplements.
• The Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio is closer to the ideal of 1:1. A study by North Dakota State University found the Omega 6:3 ratio was 4:1 in grass-fed bison and 21:1 in grain-fed bison.
• Grain-fed beef has a higher vitamin E content
• E. coli bacteria thrive in the acidic stomachs of grain-fed ruminants, increasing the risk of meat contamination
• Fossil fuel consumption is higher in the production of grain for feed, and in the distribution of manure from feedlots, thus contributing more to climate change (although grass-fed animals produce more methane)
• Finally, increasing grass-fed beef requires more land in grass which benefits grassland birds [http://trevorherriot.blogspot.com/2009/03/to-make-prairie-part-ii-grass-fed-beef.html]

For more discussion on this topic see www.mercola.com/beef/references.htm or www.johnrobbins.info/blog/grass-fed-beef/. The book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan (2006) looks at this issue within a larger context.

April 28, 2011

112 A Sabotaged Cancer Study [2 May 2011]

Nutritional programs for treating serious diseases like cancer are often criticized for not having controlled studies published in medical journals. Lack of funding for non-patentable therapies is one reason. Another is the reluctance of medical research organizations and the medical journals to become involved with “unconventional therapies”. Finally, even should a study be carried out, bias against the natural therapy can sabotage the results, as we shall see in the case of Dr Gonzalez.

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, a researcher at Sloan-Kettering, became interested in the results of Dr. William Kelley’s work with terminal cancer patients using a nutritional program. Gonzalez wrote a monograph on 22 of Kelley’s advanced pancreatic cancer cases: 10 didn’t follow the program (dissuaded by family or doctors) –average survival 60 days; 7 followed the program partially and incompletely – average survival 300 days; 5 completed the full program – average survival 8.5 years. One of these was still living, cancer-free, 29 years later. Despite, or perhaps because of, these remarkable findings, Gonzalez was unable to find a publisher for his monograph. Even with the help of Dr Robert Good, president of Sloan-Kettering and a very respected author, no journal would publish so much as one case study because the results were “too controversial”.

In 1993 the National Cancer Institute (NCI) supervised a pilot study (funded by NestlĂ© Foods) with Gonzalez of 11 patients with advanced “untreatable” pancreatic cancer. Completed in 1999, the study showed that of the 11, 5 survived 2 years; 4 survived 3 years and 2 survived 5 years. By comparison, a chemo drug was approved for pancreatic cancer based on 18% (of 126 patients) surviving 1 year with none surviving longer than 19 months. Next the NCI funded a large scale clinical trial to test the nutritional program against the best available chemo. Unfortunately a flawed methodology included patients so sick they were unable to eat or died before even starting the program. Gonzalez estimates only 5 or 6 of the 39 patients in his group were able to do the program. The study of course concluded that the nutritional therapy was of little or no benefit. For the complete story including an interview with Dr Gonzalez, search “Gonzalez” on www.mercola.com or go to http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/04/23/dr-nicholas-gonzalez-on-alternative-cancer-treatments.aspx

For information on the Kelley metabolic cancer program see this critique by Melina A. Roberts BSc. (Hons.) University of Waterloo, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, published in the Townsend Letter June 2003. http://www.townsendletter.com/June2003/kelleycritique0603.htm

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

April 25, 2011

111 GE Benefits [25 April 2011]

Last week my column questioned the safety of genetically engineered foods; this week I will look at potential benefits. Promoters list increased yield, herbicide tolerance (reducing tillage), insect resistance, and drought and frost resistance (increasing range). In short, all the traits that conventional breeding has been working on for centuries, only greater and faster. Sounds wonderful, but how have these panned out so far?

Genetic engineering could potentially improve nutrient levels of foods (tomatoes with higher vitamin C for example) but for private companies to carry out the expensive research, the resulting crops have to be profitable either for the farmer or the company itself. Most of the registered GE crops to date have been engineered for herbicide resistance – particularly glyphosate (Roundup). Significant increases in the use of this herbicide is leading to proliferation of glyphosate-resistant “superweeds”, requiring even more herbicide use. A 2006 USDA report showed that with most GE crops yield and farm incomes have increased; with a few they have decreased.[http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib11/eib11.pdf] A 2009 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists “Failure to Yield” concludes “Traditional breeding [so far] outperforms genetic engineering hands down” [my insertion – Stan].
[http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/failure-to-yield.html]
I would like to hear from some local canola producers of their experience.

To be fair, the industry is in its infancy and improved technology should eventually make the process cheaper, more accurate (safer) and more beneficial. But in the meantime adequate evaluation of the crops’ safety would increase the cost of production far beyond any added value. Thus the only way the industry can survive this period is to bypass all safety issues. At this, as discussed in last week’s column, they have been too successful. For more on this topic, see the website of The Institute for Responsible Technology [http://www.responsibletechnology.org].

April 18, 2011

110 GE Foods Revisited [18 March 2011]

A column in last week’s Eagle by agriculturalist Kevin Hursh promoted genetically engineered foods as the lowest risk pathway to feed a growing population. He assures us “there is not a single credible health concern [with GE crops]” and that “approval of new traits requires exhaustive research” implying that approval is based solely on sound science. I just wish that was true.

Jeffrey M. Smith in his books “Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating” (2003) and “Genetic Roulette: the Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods” (2007) documents the concerns of many scientists worldwide, and exposes how the biotech corporations managed to get their crops approved.

Smith’s second book, Genetic Roulette, describes 65 different health hazards of GE foods identified by animal studies. The list includes allergies, impaired immune system, infertility, changes in the GI tract and other major organs, accelerated aging, and premature death. I mentioned a few of these in my column on GM Foods a year ago (#53 March 8, 2010).

Genetic Roulette also documents the methods used by biotech corporations to obtain approval in the US and other countries: bribes and threats to government officials; flawed studies (poorly designed, manipulated data, critical omissions); critics silenced (scientists like Arpad Pusztai and Kirk Azevedo fired or threatened); repetition of their mantra “there is no difference” until everyone believes it; and painting of critics as ignorant anti-science crackpots.

For the full story, read these books and study the website of The Institute for Responsible Technology [www.responsibletechnology.org].

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

April 15, 2011

109 Diabetes Tips [11 April 2011]

I’m reading a book called “Diabetes without Drugs – the 5-Step Program to control blood sugar naturally and prevent diabetes complications” by Suzy Cohen RPh, 2010. Suzy is a pharmacist with more than 20 years experience and writes a syndicated health column “Dear Pharmacist”.

In Chapter 1 the book explains how chlorine bleaching of wheat flour creates a byproduct called alloxan which is a powerful toxin that kills Beta pancreatic cells (the ones which produce insulin). I always knew that white flour baking was bad for us because of the high glycemic index value, meaning that it quickly converts to sugar spiking our blood glucose levels. But I had no idea that it was actually killing our pancreas cells! Animal studies confirm that alloxan consumption increases the risk of diabetes. Lab animals are deliberately injected with alloxan to make them diabetic, but we do it to ourselves with doughnuts and muffins. Unbleached white flour, or better yet whole grain flour (with more of the original nutrients left in), is a healthier alternative. The author also recommends 400mg of mixed natural Vitamin E to counter oxidative damage by past consumption of bleached flour products.

Step 1 of the program is a green drink. Ideally, you should juice and drink your own organic raw veggies every morning, but if that’s not possible there are many great tasting healthy green products at your health food store. These nutritious tonics are loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, chlorophyll, enzymes and antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase. This should be in addition to your recommended servings of fruit and vegetables (see The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention veggie calculator at www.fruitandveggiesmatter.gov).

Avoiding bleached flour and adding a green drink are only two ideas out of the 5 steps described in Cohen’s book. If you or someone you love has diabetes (or doesn’t want to ever get it), I recommend this book. You can read reviews and excerpts from the book here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1605296759/optimalwellnessc

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

April 4, 2011

108 Bones & Vitamin K [4 April 2011]

My last two columns looked at four bone builders and how our body’s pH affects bone health. Continuing this theme, let’s examine the role of vitamin K in calcium metabolism.

To simplify the amazingly complex physiology of bone formation, vitamin D helps us absorb calcium while vitamin K directs it where we want it - into our bones, not our arteries and joints. Taking high doses of calcium has been associated with increased heart attacks, likely because of arterial calcification due to insufficient vitamin K. Vitamin K activates a bone-forming protein hormone called osteocalcin, allowing it to bind calcium into the bone matrix. At the same time, vitamin K assists vitamin D in promoting the production of Matrix GLA Protein which prevents calcium from attaching to artery walls. Studies have confirmed that increased vitamin K is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) goes to the liver where it is used in the blood clotting system. A diet high in raw vegetables should provide all the K1 you need. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is the form that helps builds strong bones and protects your arteries. K2 is produced by good bacteria in your colon; however, little is absorbed before being expelled from the body. The liver will convert some K1 to K2. Supplementing K2 will ensure that your bones will benefit from the calcium you ingest. The RDA of 120mcg for men and 90mcg for women is sufficient for blood clotting purposes, but for bone and heart health Dr. Mercola recommends 150 - 300mcg. There is no known toxicity with high levels of K1 and K2. The synthetic form, Vitamin K3, is toxic and should be avoided. Note: if you are taking a blood thinner like warfarin, you should consult your doctor before taking vitamin K.

For more information on Vitamin K see my column #76 from August 17, 2010 and Dr Mercola’s article of March 26, 2011 “The Missing Nutrient…” at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/03/26/the-delicate-dance-between-vitamins-d-and-k.aspx

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

March 28, 2011

107 Bones & pH [28 March 2011]

Last week we looked at the four things which research has proven to increase bone formation: MCHC calcium, strontium, Milk Basic Protein, and exercise. This week I want to discuss how our bodies’ pH (acidity) affects our bones.

Most people are too acidic as a result of a diet high in animal protein and grains, and low in fruits and vegetables. Chronic stress adds to the acid load.

The pH of the blood must be kept within a narrow range to maintain life. If our diet is acid producing, our bodies pull calcium and other minerals from the bones to act as buffers and neutralize the acid. It does this by both increasing the breakdown of bone and inhibiting the building of bone. A simple home test for saliva and urine pH will indicate if acidity is a concern for you.

So how can we alkalize ourselves to preserve our bones? Avoid excess animal protein (ironically including calcium-rich cheeses) but don’t eliminate them since protein is necessary for bone growth as well as many other functions. Reduce all grain products – bread, cereal, rice, pasta and baking. Oatmeal is one of the highest acid producing grains but is beneficial for other reasons. Balance the protein and grains you do eat by increasing fruits and vegetables. Fats and sugar are pH neutral. If diet doesn’t bring your pH back in line, there are alkalizing supplements available that can help. See my column # 26 from August 24, 2009 for more on pH.

To keep your bones strong and healthy, get adequate calcium and its cofactors from diet and supplements, and take Vitamin D. Keep your pH in balance by eating more fruits and vegetables and less animal protein and grains. And exercise regularly, particularly weight-bearing exercise.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

March 21, 2011

106 Bone Builders [21 March 2011]

There are only four things which research has proven to increase bone formation. The list contains a few surprises – yes calcium is one of them but only one particular form of calcium. Vitamin D, while necessary for calcium metabolism, is not on the list. And neither are any of the antiresorptive drugs now commonly prescribed for osteoporosis.

1. Ossein microcrystalline hydroxyapatite complex (MCHC) is the only calcium proven to halt and reverse bone loss. Other forms of calcium (including synthetic calcium hydroxyapatite), and vitamin D will slow the loss but not stop it. MCHC is a crystalline mineral complex found in bone and contains other essential components in addition to calcium.

2. Strontium is a trace mineral that recent research has shown to be a key to bone growth. In addition to making up a small but significant part of bone structure, it has been found that strontium stimulates the production of bone cells while inhibiting bone resorption. And because it’s a natural nutrient not a foreign molecule, there are no unwanted side effects. Note: strontium must be taken at different times than calcium so cannot be combined in one formula.

3. A specific protein discovered by scientists in Japan called Milk Basic Protein (MBP) has been found to increase bone growth. Studies show that MBP promotes bone formation and suppresses bone resorption. MBP also supports the production of collagen, the first step in new bone growth.

4. While the first three may be hard to find and “a bit pricey” (my euphemism for expensive) the fourth item is free – physical exercise. Jogging on icy streets, however, is not a recommended activity for the prevention of broken bones!

So if you want to rebuild bone, you need to add these four items into your program.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

March 12, 2011

105 Natural Sleep Aids [14 March 2011]

Last week we looked at some of the heath problems caused by inadequate sleep. This week we’ll explore some natural means to improve sleep:
• Establish a routine: go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends! Be consistent with naps.
• Avoid stressful activities (TV, video games, homework, discussing your “relationship” with your spouse) for an hour before bed.
• Listen to relaxing music or read a relaxing enjoyable book (not a horror murder mystery!). Try journaling your thoughts to help you unwind.
• Keep your bedroom completely dark – remove night lights, cover clock/radio dials, use light-tight window blinds. Wear an eye mask if necessary. The pineal gland produces melatonin and serotonin only in the dark.
• Avoid coffee and alcohol in the evening.
• Empty your bladder just before bed and don’t drink any fluid for several hours before bedtime to minimize getting up in the night.
• Eat a high protein snack with a small piece of fruit prior to bedtime.
• Exercise in the morning or early afternoon; a gentle relaxing activity in the evening may help you relax.
• Get a massage as often as possible – my clients often comment that they sleep better after a massage treatment.
• Apply essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, citrus, Jasmine or Sandalwood to your face (avoid the eyes), soles of the feet, or your pillow.
• Drink a cup of chamomile tea or a herbal blend designed as a sleep aid.
• There are many effective herbal and nutritional sleep aid supplements.
• Melatonin is an effective sleep aid – use the lowest strength that works for you.
• If stress is keeping you awake, nutritional formulas to help you deal with excess cortisol should help.

Sources: “Snooze it or lose it!” by Irene Seiberling, The Star Phoenix, March 8, 2011 B6; www.mercola.com

Wishing you all a good night’s sleep!

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

104 Importance of Sleep [7 March 2011]

Last week we looked at sleep as important for the production of the hormone leptin which suppresses appetite and promotes burning rather than storage of fat. Weight gain is only one of many heath problems caused by inadequate sleep. Here are a few more:
• Fatigue, inability to concentrate, and irritability
• Higher risk of cardiovascular disease
• Increased risk of high blood pressure
• Weakened immune system – more susceptible to colds and flu
• More rapid tumor growth – sleep is critical if you are fighting cancer
• Digestive problems like stomach ulcers and constipation
• Depression and other mood disorders
• Increased cortisol production which can lead to memory loss and insulin resistance
• Lower production of melatonin which, besides regulating sleep, is an important antioxidant
• Reduced production of Growth Hormone (by the pituitary gland during sleep) which causes more rapid aging. You not only feel older – you are older!

The Canadian Sleep Society reports 1 out of 3 Canadian adults have some problem sleeping, and for 1 out of 10 it is serious enough to affect their health. Loss of sleep is cumulative and cannot be made up by sleeping in on the weekend; it’s important to get adequate sleep every night. For growing children and teens, sleep is even more important. Next week we’ll look at some natural ways to promote healthy sleep.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

103 Sleep, Leptin & Weight [28 February 2011]

You would think that staying awake longer would cause you to lose weight – and it may if the reason you are awake is stress that has excess adrenaline and cortisol coursing through your veins – but research has found the opposite to be true. People who sleep less than 6 hours a night are more likely to gain weight than those who get 7 or 8 hours. Why is this? And no, it's not the extra hour or two of snacking! One explanation involves the hormone leptin.

Researchers found that sleep reduces ghrelin (a hormone that increases appetite) and increases leptin (the hormone that suppresses appetite and increases burning rather than storing of fat). The short sleepers were hungrier and snacked more, and preferred high-carb snacks. Lack of sleep also increases the risk of insulin resistance (which I have written about in several previous columns), Type II Diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Leptin is released from fat cells when fat is stored in them. A diet high in sugars and other simple carbohydrates results in a large amount of leptin being released, in an attempt to curb your appetite. At some point your body becomes resistant to leptin (similar to insulin resistance) and the leptin signals telling you to stop eating are ignored (like a stuck thermostat). You stay hungry and keep piling on the fat. When tested, almost all overweight people had ample leptin levels, but it wasn’t doing its job because of leptin resistance. Leptin resistance is now known to be a factor in many health problems besides obesity: heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, inflammation and aging. And leptin is the most likely suspect for regaining fat after losing weight on a conventional diet (the yo-yo effect).

The role of leptin in weight management, and how to control it with diet, is explained in detail in Dr. Ron Rosedale and Carol Colman’s 2004 book “The Rosedale Diet”. The key is a diet high in good fats with the right amount of high quality protein and healthy carbohydrates. And don’t forget your 8 hours of sleep!

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

102 Heart Health #2 [22 February 2011]

Last week we looked at some ways to improve our heart health: eating more fruits and vegetables, managing our blood lipids & insulin levels, avoiding excess weight, and managing stress.

Here are a few more ideas to keep our hearts in good health.
• Exercise – I mentioned exercise last week as a way to improve blood lipids, but its benefits go far beyond that. Most studies show that inactive people are generally twice as likely to develop heart disease as active people.
• Vitamin D – a study of women over age 65 found a 31% reduction in heart disease for those taking vitamin D. One possible mechanism for this is that vitamin D reduces insulin resistance.
• Vitamin E – two 2002 studies in the New Engl J Med showed reductions in heart disease with vitamin E supplementation (of at least 100 IU per day for 2 or more years) of 41% for women and 37% for men
• Magnesium – many studies have shown that low magnesium levels increase the risk of death from heart disease.
• Homocysteine – high blood levels of this amino acid is an indication for high risk of heart disease, possibly by promoting blood clots. Homocysteine levels are reduced by the vitamins folic acid, B6 and B12.
• Lutein – best known for its role in preventing age related vision loss, has also been found to prevent hardening of the arteries.
• Nattokinase – an enzyme derived from fermenting soybeans, has proven to be more effective than aspirin in dissolving blood clots and “thinning the blood” and has great potential for prevention of heart disease.
• L-Arginine – an amino acid required for your blood vessel lining to produce nitric oxide which improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
• Fructose – lowers your ability to produce nitric oxide, another reason to avoid sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.