March 27, 2017

413 Kidney Stones [27 March 2017]

Kidney stones is a painful condition when crystals, usually calcium oxalate but also uric acid and other types, form in the kidneys. Small stones pass through without problems but larger ones can lodge in the urinary tract and block the flow of urine causing severe pain.

About 1 in 10 Canadians experience kidney stones at some time. Men are much more likely than women to develop kidney stones.

There is much you can do to prevent the formation of kidney stones:
• Drink 2-3 litres of water throughout the day to keep urine pale yellow
• Avoid soda pop as the phosphoric acid promotes stone formation
• Limit consumption of sugar, especially fructose
• Limit protein to 1g / 2 lbs lean body weight
• Limit red meat which lowers your citrate level
• Avoid or limit high oxalate content foods: beets, rhubarb, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes
• Avoid excess sodium
• Take extra magnesium, at least 1:1 with calcium
• Eat calcium-rich foods but go easy on calcium supplements – calcium in foods binds oxalates in the intestine preventing their absorption
• Maintain a healthy weight – obesity is a risk factor for kidney stones
• Exercise reduces risk of kidney stones

Stones that are too large to pass comfortably on their own require medical attention. Sound waves can be used to break up larger stones or surgery may be required. Potassium citrate is sometimes given to alkalize the urine and dissolve calcium oxalate stones but has some unpleasant side effects. Recent research using hydroxycitrate, an extract from the tamarind fruit (Garcinia cambogia) is showing promise of being a more effective and safer alternative.

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

March 20, 2017

412 Beauty from Within [20 March 2017]

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

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

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

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

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

March 13, 2017

411 Butter vs Vegetable Oil [13 March 2017]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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