August 25, 2014

282 Iodized Salt [25 August 2014)

In my article on iodine a few years ago [#125 1 Aug 2011] I hinted that iodized table salt may be inadequate as an iodine source. Lynne Farrow, author of “The Iodine Crisis: What You Don’t Know About Iodine Can Wreck Your Life” (2013) explains why in an essay titled “Debunking ‘Iodized’ Salt”. Farrow gives three reasons why iodized salt is an inadequate source of iodine.

1) Iodine, as potassium iodide, is not stable in salt and sublimates (vaporizes) after opening, especially with high humidity. After about a month, half of the iodine is gone. Who knows how much is left after a few years.

2) Even if the salt is consumed fresh from the factory, only about 10% is absorbed. The sodium in salt competes with iodine for absorption, making salt a questionable food to fortify with iodine.

3) While the iodide form in iodized salt is used by the thyroid and may prevent goiter, it’s not the only form your body needs. Women particularly require the iodine (I2) form for breast and ovarian health.

The amount of iodine in salt is insufficient for several additional reasons. For starters, only about 20% of the salt consumed in North America is iodized. Salt added to processed foods is not iodized. Neither are sea salts or other gourmet salts.

The Canadian RDA of 150mcg for adults is the minimum to prevent goiter in most people. Like the amount of vitamin C needed to prevent scurvy, this amount is much lower than what our bodies need for optimum health. Pregnant women and growing children need sufficient iodine for brain growth. Much higher amounts are required to prevent fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer.

Many nutritionists are now recommending a minimum of 12.5 mg total of iodide and iodine. They also recommend avoiding sources of the other halogens – bromide (found in commercial flour and baked goods), fluoride and chlorine – which compete with iodine contributing to a deficiency.

August 18, 2014

281 Disappearing Microbiota [18 August 2014]

I have written several columns on the many problems associated with dysbiosis (an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the digestive tract) and the benefits of probiotics.
• The obvious problems include digestive disorders like gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea [03].
• Upper respiratory infections like thrush, “strep throat”, sinus and ear infections can be prevented by introducing a particular strain of S. salivarius to the mouth [72].
• Infection by a bacterium H. pylori causes stomach ulcers [221].
• Dysbiosis can cause Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS) like colitis and Crohn’s which can lead to leaky gut syndrome and food allergies.
• Our immune system [78, 173] is affected by dysbiosis, causing autoimmune conditions like eczema, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
• The work of Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride [147, 172] links unhealthy gut bacteria to neurological and psychiatric disorders ranging from ADHD and autism to schizophrenia.
• Dysbiosis can even prevent weight loss.

Now microbiologist Martin Blaser takes this even further in his 2014 book Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues. Modern scientific study of the human microbiome – the thousands of species of bacteria that coexist in or on our bodies – is revealing how critical it is for our health. Blaser writes
“The microbes that constitute your microbiome … play a critical role in your immunity as well as your ability to combat disease. In short, it is your microbiome that keeps you healthy.”
He then makes a convincing case that loss of many of these species is responsible for the recent worldwide proliferation of the “modern plagues” of obesity, childhood diabetes, asthma, hay fever, food allergies, esophageal reflux, certain cancers, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, autism, eczema, and others.

Blaser believes that the loss of diversity within the human microbiome is an even more serious problem than the antibiotic-resistant super bugs. He calls the problem the “disappearing microbiota” and warns of a coming “antibiotic winter” if the problem isn’t addressed.

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

August 11, 2014

280 Collagen – Healthy Skin, Hair, Nails & Bone [11 August 2014]

The key to healthy skin, hair, nails and bone is collagen. Collagen is a strong flexible protein that acts as the main structural component of connective tissue. We need a lot of it to maintain optimum health: it makes up 70% of our skin and 30% of our bones. But collagen production slows as we age, beginning at age 21.

Collagen and another protein, elastin, give skin its elasticity and a firm smooth appearance. As we age and produce less collagen and elastin, the skin thins and develops wrinkles, giving us our “mature” look.

Our hair and nails are made of another protein called keratin. Keratin production also slows as we age so our hair grows thinner and weaker and our nails become brittle.

As you know, bones are made of calcium and some other minerals, and bone mineral density is a measure of its strength. But it is collagen strands within the bone that the minerals are bound to. As we age there is less collagen and the bones become thinner and less flexible no matter how much calcium we consume.

What can we do to increase collagen? When we eat collagen-containing foods and supplements they are broken down in digestion into the required amino acids but don’t guarantee that they will be used to produce collagen. Fortunately a particular silica compound called choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA) has been found to stimulate our body’s production of collagen.

Clinical studies have shown that ch-OSA supplements will:
- increase skin collagen and elastin, improving elasticity and reducing wrinkles
- increase hair thickness and body
- increase nail strength and break-resistance
- increase healthy joint cartilage
- increase bone mineral density, strength and flexibility

The compound ch-OSA is available in Canada as BioSil in both liquid and capsule form.

I wrote about the health and beauty benefits of Silica in April 2013.

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

August 4, 2014

279 Organic - There is a Difference! [4 August 2014]

Two years ago in October 2012 (#185) I wrote about a review by Stanford University which concluded that “The published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods”.

Last month a meta-analysis of 343 peer-reviewed publications – described as the largest study of its kind – was published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The authors found “statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop-based foods.” More specifically they found that conventional compared to organic crops had:
• substantially lower levels of antioxidant compounds
• pesticide residues 3-4 times more likely with levels 10 – 100 times higher
• nearly double the concentration of Cadmium
• some nutrients (minerals and vitamins) were significantly lower, most about the same, and protein was generally higher

Antioxidants including phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanins were 18 to 69% higher in the organic crops. Antioxidants are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), neurodegenerative diseases (eg Alzheimer’s and MS), and some cancers.

Cadmium is a heavy metal which displaces zinc in the body and is highly toxic at very low levels. According to the authors, a doubling of cadmium intake from food could put some people over safe intake levels.

Charles Benbrook, the sole American co-author wrote:
“This study is telling a powerful story of how organic plant-based foods are nutritionally superior and deliver bona fide health benefits”.
Why the change from the earlier study? Project leader Carlo Leifert explains: “We benefited from a much larger and higher quality set of studies than our colleagues who carried out earlier reviews.” The team found the quality and reliability of comparison studies had greatly improved in recent years, leading to the discovery of significant nutritional and food safety differences not detected in earlier studies.

Sources and Resources
BJN abstract
Washington State University News - with list of resources links
Mercola review
The Salt blog post

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