September 24, 2012

184 Eat Your Broccoli Raw [24 Sept 2012]

Eating cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels Sprouts – has been known to reduce cancer risk for years but studies were inconsistent. Only 69% of 55 large epidemiological studies looking at cruciferous vegetable consumption and cancer found a significantly lower risk. The reason may be that these studies did not consider whether the vegetables were eaten raw or cooked.

A 2008 study at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, found a reduction in bladder cancer deaths of 40% for those who ate 3 or more servings of raw cruciferous vegetables per month! This was an average for both smokers and non-smokers; for non-smokers who ate the raw veggies compared to smokers who didn’t the reduction was 73%. There was no correlation in this study with cancer deaths and consumption of cooked cruciferous vegetables or of other fruits and vegetables cooked or raw.

The protective compounds in cruciferous vegetables are believed to be isothiocyanates, which are destroyed by cooking. These compounds are known to reduce the carcinogenic action of free radicals, preventing the formation of cancer cells. A recent study found that a particular isothiocyanate called PEITC can also kill existing cancer cells. This study, published in August 2012 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that PEITC reduced mammary tumors in susceptible mice by 56% by preventing the formation of new blood vessels (essential for tumor growth) and by apoptosis (cell death).

Another study found that PEITC was even more effective at slowing growth of prostate cancer when taken along with curcumin (from the spice turmeric). Other research has shown that PEITC reduces cancer risk by affecting the HER2 and mutant p53 genes associated with cancer growth.

The message is clear – broccoli and its cruciferous cousins are good for us, but for best protection they should be eaten raw at least once per week.

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

September 17, 2012

183 Two Unproven “Miracle” Fat-Burners [17 Sept 2012]

Two herbal weight loss products have been hot topics on the Dr. Oz show in the last few months: raspberry ketones and green coffee bean extract. How do these products work? Are they effective? Are they safe?

Lindsey Duncan, ND, CN, promoted the use of green coffee bean extract for its content of chlorogenic acid (CA) – not the caffeine, which is about 20 mg per serving compared to 100 mg for a cup of strong coffee. The roasting process destroys the CA so drinking coffee doesn’t have the same effect. A small controlled human trial at U. of Cranston in 2011 found that the green coffee bean extract increased fat loss with no significant changes to the diet and with no adverse effects reported. This result was considered consistent with previous animal and human studies. The mechanism for this effect is not well understood. Animal studies found that CA slows the absorption of fat from the small intestine and increases fat metabolism in the liver. CA may also inhibit the breakdown of starch to sugar in the small intestine as well as influence glucose metabolism.

“Fitness expert” Lisa Lyn promoted raspberry ketones (RK) on the Dr. Oz show where Dr. Oz called it a “miracle in a bottle to burn your fat”. Two small studies with mice found that RK appears to improve the fat-burning ability of the excitatory neurotransmitter norepinephrine and to increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone that improves the sensitivity of insulin (exercise is known to increase adiponectin). Since RK has not yet been tested on humans we don’t know how it works in people or what side effects and drug interactions they may have.

Despite the lack of research both products have been approved for sale in Canada and have been selling like hotcakes, mostly I suspect due to Dr. Oz’s “miracle in a bottle” hype. If you have already tried either, I’d like to hear your experience. If you aren’t happy with the results or are serious about losing weight, ask me about a medically sound safe and effective weight loss program that I can confidently recommend.

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

September 10, 2012

182 Boosting Nitric Oxide [10 Sept 2012]

In the last two columns I wrote about the health benefits of Nitric Oxide (NO) and why we need more as we age. This week let’s look at how to increase our levels.

L-arginine is a nitric oxide donor and supplementing with this amino acid has been touted as the best way to increase NO levels (see June 11 column #169). But there are problems with L-arginine – it shouldn’t be used by people who have had a heart attack or who have atherosclerosis. Also the chemical pathway to convert arginine to NO doesn’t work so well in people over 40 – the very ones who need it the most. Fortunately there are foods, and a new supplement, that use different enzyme pathways that are safer and more effective.

Certain vegetables, the dark leafy greens, are rich in nitrate and nitrite which the body can convert to NO. An analysis of the factors in the Mediterranean diet found that the most significant food was not olive oil, fish or beans but vegetables, particularly those high in nitrates. Vegetables which are highest in nitrates (in decreasing order) include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, chicory, bok choy, beets, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli. Other foods which promote the production of NO (but do not contain much nitrate) are apples, pomegranate juice, red wine, dark chocolate, black and green tea and fish oil. Watermelon contains L-citrulline, an amino acid that converts to L-arginine in the body. Citrulline has been found to be safer and more effective at raising NO levels than arginine.

The new supplement for raising NO levels is called Neo40. It contains L-citrulline, vitamin C, beet root and hawthorn (beet root and hawthorn are very high in nitrates). Neo40 is mixed with saliva in the mouth to convert nitrates to nitrites. A recent study found Neo40 to be much more effective than L-arginine in raising blood levels of nitrite which is a biomarker for NO levels.

For more information on nitric oxide and Neo40 see and a book called “The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution” by Nathan S Bryan and Janet Zand, 2010. For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.