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 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”, [] 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, [] 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.